Does Ellie kill Riley in The Last of Us? Here's why we don't see Riley's death

27 February 2023, 12:54 | Updated: 27 February 2023, 14:06

Bella Ramsey and Storm Reid talk about Ellie and Riley's first love

By Katie Louise Smith

How does Riley die in The Last of Us? Here's why the HBO show and the game doesn't reveal how Riley actually died.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Another week, another devastating episode of The Last of Us. Viewers who already knew exactly what 'Left Behind' meant for Ellie in the games braced themselves for another absolutely heartbreaking hour of TV, and those who had no idea... well, now you know.

'Left Behind' tells the story of Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and her best friend Riley (Storm Reid) as they set off to explore an abandoned mall. The show's narrative deviates from the game slightly where Joel and his injury is concerned, but the storyline between Ellie and Riley is exactly the same.

The episode also finally touches on Ellie and Riley's brief romance, where it's revealed that the two are each other's first loves. But after finally confronting their feelings towards each other and sharing a kiss, tragedy strikes.

If you've watched the episode, you'll know that this is where Ellie and Riley get bitten. And much like the game, the show has now left people wondering what actually happened to Riley and how she actually died.

How does Riley die in The Last of Us?

Does Ellie kill Riley in The Last of Us? How does she die?
Does Ellie kill Riley in The Last of Us? How does she die? Picture: HBO

What happens to Riley in The Last of Us game?

Riley's death is not shown in either the game or the show. It's implied that she is dead, but the way in which she actually dies is not revealed.

After being bitten, Riley and Ellie discuss what they're going to do next. This scene in the show is exactly the same as it is in the game.

"Way I see it, we got two options. Option one, we take the easy way out. It’s quick and painless. I’m not a fan of option one," Riley says to Ellie. "Two. We fight… there’s a million ways we should’ve died before today. And a million ways we can die before tomorrow. But we fight… for every second we get to spend with each other. Whether it’s two minutes. Or two days. We don’t give that up."

The two then decide to wait it out and "be all poetic and just lose our minds together." In the show, Ellie and Riley sit and cry in each others arms. In the game, their last scene sees Riley say "come on, let's get out of here" to Ellie as she gets up to leave.

At some point after those scenes the two go their separate ways, presumably when Riley turns and Ellie doesn't.

How does Riley die in The Last of Us? Does Ellie kill her?
How does Riley die in The Last of Us? Does Ellie kill her? Picture: HBO

Does Ellie kill Riley in The Last of Us?

One popular (and absolutely horrifying) theory about Riley's death is that Ellie actually killed Riley herself, but that's never been confirmed.

In episode 4, after Ellie shoots the guy attacking Joel, Ellie tells Joel that it's not the first time she has shot/hurt/killed someone. That one line left viewers panicking for weeks that the show would reveal that Ellie's first kill was actually Riley.

However, in episode 7, we see that Ellie kills the Runner who attacks them both by stabbing them in the head. Presumably, that was Ellie's first kill.

The show then leaves viewers the same way the game does: Riley's actual cause of death still remains unconfirmed, and the haunting question about whether Ellie had to kill her after she got infected remains.

Watch The Last of Us episode 8 trailer

In an interview with Variety, Bella Ramsey explained why the show followed the lead of the game of decided against showing Riley's death. When asked if they shot a scene showing Riley turning into an infected, Bella said: "I’m sure they talked about that possibility, but the first scripts that we got, you didn’t see it."

"I think sometimes the things that you don’t see are more impactful, because then it’s left to your imagination, which can sometimes be even darker than what maybe you’d see on screen," she continued. "I like that it ends so poetically. I think it’s more heartbreaking, Riley saying, 'Let’s be all poetic and lose our minds together,' it’s horrendous to then know what happens after that."

"The fear and the confusion that Ellie felt, and the survivor’s guilt. There’s so much that comes with that. I think it’s actually more impactful that it wasn’t shown. You see the effects of that on Ellie throughout the rest of the season."

Read more The Last of Us news here:

WATCH: Evangeline Lilly & Kathryn Newton try to name every Marvel movie In 1 minute

Evangeline Lilly & Kathryn Newton Try To Name Every Marvel Movie In 1 Minute | Quantumania