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The Last of Us Series: Producer Explains Why Joel Is So Bad In Episode 6

The Last of Us main character Joel struggles with anxiety and panic attacks.

The Last of Us main character Joel struggles with anxiety and panic attacks.

The HBO series The Last of Us doesn’t do much, but does some things differently than it was in the game template. This includes, among other things, the portrayal of Joel in episode 6. He is not doing well at all and that is perhaps clearer in the film than in the game. Why is that? Among other things, on the perspective and the possibilities of the medium.

DANGER, spoilers for episode 6 of the TLoU series follow!


The Last of Us: That’s what Joel is about in episode 6 so much more visibly bad than in the game

What’s the matter? In episode 6 of The Last of Us series we experience a Joel who actually wants to give Ellie away. He wrestles with his difficulties in helping and protecting her. This leads to serious panic attacks and apparently some kind of anxiety disorder.

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In an interview on The Last of Us Podcast, Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin explain why they do it differently than they do in-game and why.


It’s all about how the events surrounding Henry and Sam still affect Joel. When he steps out of the hut in episode 6, he clutches his chest and is obviously having difficulties – he is feeling bad.

“What’s happening is Joel is having a panic attack and doesn’t know why. It’s your body telling you you’re in terrible danger but you don’t understand why.

This episode revolves around Joel and how he realizes how scared he is of her [Ellie] will die and it’s his fault.”


(Source: TLOU Podcast)

In the course of the series it was seen again and again how Joel Ellie can help, but also how he fails. Joel focuses primarily on the negative. He attaches more weight to that than to the positive and successful events.

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Joel doesn’t just want to let Ellie go because he’s doing it for her and thinks it’s for her best. He’s actually doing it to protect himself.


In the game such conflicts and feelings were conveyed mostly through dialogue because we usually see Joel from behind. His face and the movements in it usually remain hidden during play.

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“We have Joel [im Spiel] just made distant, like their relationship had regressed. Here [in der Serie] we can have intimate close-up moments with the camera, we can show that in more subtle ways.


Ellie’s reaction is like when you look at your parents who have always been protective of you. Then you don’t want to accept that they have any weaknesses.”

If you’re wondering after the end of episode 6 whether Joel’s journey might end early at this point, we’ll answer the question in a separate GamePro article – provided you really want to know if Joel dies and don’t prefer to wait until Episode 7 of The Last of Us is out.

How do you like the approach of the film adaptation in episode 6?