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Villain Overview

You sacrifice the few to save the many.
~ Joel's philosophy on surviving.
If somehow the Lord gave a second chance at that moment...I would do it all over again.
~ Joel to Ellie on taking her from the Fireflies.

Joel Miller is the main protagonist and playable character in the videogame The Last of Us, he also appears as a minor protagonist in The Last of Us: Left Behind and as the overarching protagonist in The Last of Us Part II. Joel is a hardened survivor living and working as a hunter then a smuggler and arms dealer in a post-apocalyptic America. Even though Joel acts as one of the main protagonists in the game (and is willing to keep Ellie safe), he still has many traits of a villain, such as selfishness and capacity for extreme violence and brutal murder all in the name of survival.

He is voiced by Troy Baker, who also has voiced Schneizel el Britannia in Code Geass, Jin Kariya in Bleach, Kyle Rondart in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Kaguro in Kekkaishi, Gin in Case Closed, Frank Archer in Full Metal Alchemist, Greed in Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Biowulf and Van Kleiss in Generator Rex, Steeljaw in Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Kagan in BloodRayne 2, Hades in 2010's Clash of the Titans video game, Destroyer and Straga in Darksiders, Two-Face in the Arkham series, Delsin Rowe in Infamous: Second Son, The Joker in Arkham Origins, The Arkham Knight in Arkham Knight, Kai Leng in Mass Effect 3, Magni in God of War (2018), Pagan Min in Far Cry 4, Erron Black and Shinnok in Mortal Kombat X, Rhys in Tales from the Borderlands, Revolver Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Gul'dan in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, The Boss (Defeault Male Voice) in Saints Row, Thomas Wayne in Telltale's Batman, James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2 HD, Mitsunari Ishida in Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, Arlon in Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Higgs in Death Stranding.

Personality

I struggled for a long time with survivin', and no matter what, you keep finding something to fight for.
~ Joel to Ellie.

Joel has been described as a "violent thug, a brutal killer, and a torturer". He is shown to be able to kill his enemies with noteworthy brutality, earning his infamous reputation to those he encounters. David and his men referred to him as a "crazy man". During the aftermath of the epidemic that struck the country, he resorted to ambushing survivors for their supplies and much later working in black-market dealings and smuggling items or people of interest through quarantine zones or other designated areas.

Because of this, he has accumulated valuable knowledge in regards to surviving the post-apocalyptic environment. Ellie notes that Joel has stained his hand with innocent blood when he reveals to her that he has been "on both sides," thus having the knowledge about a hunters' ambush and anticipating it. This dark past likely contributed to his experience as a hardened survivalist.

He also becomes hugely dedicated to Ellie, using any means possible to save her and keep her safe. He tortures several people to find out Ellie's location, even going as far as to torture to death the rest of his prisoners after he has already gained information about Ellie's site. Ellie also cares greatly for Joel when she cares for him after he was gravely injured. Just as Joel cared for her and protected her throughout their journey, the two slowly developed a father-daughter bond.

However, Joel's other side is also portrayed. Before the apocalypse, he works hard to raise his daughter, single-handedly. The outbreak and Sarah's death changed him into an apathetic and ruthless and estranged man. He wears the watch that Sarah gave him the day before the initial infection broke out as a reminder. It is also strongly hinted that the man suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to his past deeds and being forced to close away his humanity to survive his new life. He has nightmares and refuses to discuss any of his allies who have passed away (Tess, Henry and Sam), going as far as to forbid Ellie from bringing them up.

Upon meeting Ellie, he initially has a rocky relationship with her. However, Joel later grows to trust her and finds her reliable at most times, such as Ellie spotting for Joel or providing support. As time passes, Joel establishes a father-daughter relationship with Ellie, reminding him of his beloved daughter, Sarah. Whether being selfish or not wanting to lose another 'daughter' to the whim of another again, he chose to save Ellie and try and start some semblance of a normal life again, despite this action costing the potential salvation of humanity.

It is speculated that his decision to massacre everyone inside the Fireflies facility in Salt Lake City is to cut all loose ends, to ensure that no one will know Ellie. Thus no one would go after her in the future.

In this sense, he is the opposite of Marlene, who intends to sacrifice Ellie for a chance to save the rest of humanity. Described as being in his late 40's and early 50's, Joel knows what the world looked like before it was devastated. Over time, he has begun to become less bound by morality and more driven by doing whatever is necessary to survive. "What he wouldn't do in the past is almost a daily occurrence at this point," Bruce Straley, the game's director, notes.

In the second game, the time Joel had spent in Jackson clearly caused him to regain his humanity. He showed to be far less cynical, and more openly cheerful and caring towards others. At the same time however, he also felt guilty for having lied to Ellie and would eventually be forced to admit the truth when Ellie went to the Firefly hospital herself. After Ellie cut all ties with him, Joel became very depressed and disheartened, but still remained protective of Ellie by telling Jesse to look out for her during her patrols.

Joel remained caring towards Ellie, despite the fact that she now resented him for having lied to her and prevented her from potentially saving the lives of so many with a vaccine. He would stick up for Ellie, as shown by him pushing Seth for his homophobic remark towards her and Dina. When Ellie confessed that she would like to try and forgive him and repair their relationship, Joel became overjoyed to the point where he teared up, saying that he would like that as well. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be.

His lessened cautiousness of strangers would sadly lead to his downfall, as him and Tommy would be brought back to Abby Anderson's group where her and the WLF members would proceed to exact their revenge on him. Rather than beg for his life, Joel accepted his fate and told Abby to say whatever she wanted and get it over with, likely accepting that he must face whatever he had brought on with his actions. In his final moments, Joel could only look at Ellie one last time before meeting his end. Even worse for wear, his death would spark a vengeful movement in those left behind, only causing his loved ones more pain and sorrow.

Trivia

  • His signature weapon appears to be the revolver.
  • He was named after the director Joel Coen, who famously directed No Country for Old Men.

See also

Navigation

           The Last of Us.png Villains

Protagonists
Joel Miller | Ellie

Fireflies
Ethan | Joe Warren | Marlene

Cannibals
David | James

Washington Liberation Front
Abby Anderson | Owen Moore | Mel | Nora Harris | Issac Dixon

Seraphites
Emily

Others
Infected | Federal Disaster Response Agency | Bandits | Head Surgeon | Hunters | Jimmy Cooper | Reuben | Robert | Smugglers | The Military

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