NOTE: This article contains minor spoilers for The Last of Us. If you haven’t played it: (1) Why not? And (2) read at your own discretion.
Ellie Williams (her last name is not canon) may not strike too many people as a badass at first glance. At 19 years old, she’s one of the youngest playable female characters in gaming. Don’t let her age fool you, however. Ellie is quite an awesome young lady, when you get down to it. We here at PCU loved The Last of Us, and the game just would not have been the same without the snarky-yet-innocent, and cautious-yet-brave Ellie.
At the time that we as the players are introduced to Ellie, we see an angry young lady who is relatively alone in the world. She’s being smuggled out of one of the safe areas in the post fungal apocalypse that is the world of The Last of Us, and we’re not sure why – nor does our character, Joel, even care. It’s a job. Throughout the game, however, we see Ellie turn from an emotional girl to a brave and confident young woman, ready to take on whatever this world has to throw at her. We also see her teach Joel a thing or two about relating to others; and while that may not seem very badass in and of itself, it is. Think of it this way: how can you help or save someone else if you can’t relate to them? How can you be a “little ass-kicker” (to quote Daryl Dixon) if you have no understanding of your fellow humans?
Later in the game, we come to find out that Ellie is immune to the fungal infection that was responsible for all but destroying civilization, and she’s the only person ever known to have this immunity. Therefore, at least from a genetic point of view, Ellie is alone. Ellie has to learn to kick as much ass as possible, but she has no one who TRULY understands what it’s like to be her. She has had to fight to be taken seriously all her young life, as well as fight to survive against the crazy creatures, and sadistic humans (definitely play the DLC called Left Behind to get a better sense of what I’m referring to here) that inhabit this post-apocalyptic world in which she lives. She has had to watch others suffer and die at the hands of something to which she is completely immune. One can’t imagine what that might feel like, and Ellie has to build up a pretty tough psyche in order to deal with it.
Another one of the things that I believe makes Ellie such a badass, is her attitude. Intellectually, she knows that she has this thing going on that she has to rationalize, but she’s also clever, and is able to retain a sense of humor, sass, and sarcasm; even in the toughest of situations. While Ellie’s smart mouth does get her into trouble on occasion, she is still able to crack off one-liners and insults in a way that would make Robin Williams proud. That attitude seems to be one of the things that keeps Ellie and Joel grounded, and keeps them from slowly going mad.
Finally, look at the trial-by-fire method that Ellie has to go through in order to learn to fight. She goes from never having handled many weapons in her life (let alone fired a gun), to acting as a sniper for Joel, and a near-expert archer. Ellie becomes more hardened, and more willing to take on things in a smart manner quite rapidly. She basically transforms from a bratty teen to almost the equivalent of a soldier in the span of what appears to be about a year.
Ellie definitely captured the attention of many gamers when The Last of Us was released in 2013. Now, we’re definitely looking forward to seeing what the upcoming PlayStation-exclusive The Last of Us: Part II (which unfortunately does not yet have a release date) has in store for an older, more seasoned Ellie. Based on the reveal trailer from 2016’s PlayStation Experience, it looks like Ellie will get even more badass! She’s grown up some, and the sense we get from that short teaser trailer is that she’s bound & determined to take someone out. The look on Ellie’s face when we see her just screams vengeance, and it doesn’t seem like anyone (like Joel, for instance) is going to stop her. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing where Ellie’s story goes.