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In 'The Last Of Us', Is Killing A Child Necessary To Preserve Humanity?

In 'The Last Of Us', Is Killing A Child Necessary To Preserve Humanity?

An argument concerning the moral dilemma presented in "The Last of Us" has reignited due to viewers being presented with Joel's inescapable decision: rescue one child or preserve mankind?

The debate over the meaning of "The Last of Us" has been ongoing for some time among gamers, and the HBO Max TV show has only brought the story to a wider audience. For those unfamiliar, the plot follows two individuals who traverse post-apocalyptic America after a zombie outbreak.

Joel (Pedro Pascal) is a dad in anguish from the passing of his adolescent daughter during the initial stages of the crisis. Ellie (Bella Ramsey) is a fourteen-year-old orphan who never experienced life in an uncorrupted environment. What makes Ellie one-of-a-kind is her invulnerability to the cordyceps brain infection that transforms people into cannibals.

The two of them spend the whole time trying to make it to the Fireflies base where one doctor is desperate to use Ellie's immunity to develop a vaccination against the fatal cordyceps. During the journey, Joel begins to act like a dad to Ellie, creating a powerful father-child connection. That is why he responds in a violent manner when they eventually meet the doctor who says he can rescue humanity, but only by taking Ellie's life to get her brain and fabricate a treatment.

Joel shoots his way to Ellie, who is in the hospital, in order to rescue her before the vaccine can be made. At the end of the season, he deceives her about why they had to leave without being able to create the cure, knowing that if she had known the truth, she would have willingly given up her life.

Troy Baker, who lent his voice to Joel's character in the game, stated that his view of the events has altered since he became a dad.

When queried if he would have made the same choice, the actor spoke, “In creating the first part, I was at a setback compared to [game writer Neil Druckmann], because he was a parent. I was acting. This was a true potential for him – what would I appear like if I were to lose my daughter?”

"As for my son," Baker added, "I can't imagine what I'd be like without him. But if I had the chance to save him, I would do anything. Anything. People have asked why Joel acted as he did when he could have saved the world, and my answer is always the same: he did save the world - the world was that girl. And that's it."

Arguments revolving around the morality of sacrificing one person's life for the sake of a larger group tend to overlook the necessity of consent, particularly the consent of those who are minors.

Despite the likelihood that Ellie would have agreed to the operation even if she had been made aware of its fatal consequences, it is still not permissible for adults to let her decide on matters with such far-reaching effects. This raises many topical discussions concerning other decisions of considerable consequence that children should or should not be permitted to make.

Adults should safeguard children, not condone them deciding when it's time to end their lives. Consequently, many Americans remain justifiably appalled regarding the recent allowance of pediatric assisted suicide in Canada.

Craig Mazin, a co-showrunner, offered his opinion on Joel's decision.

Mazin commented to The Hollywood Reporter that when someone loves someone or something without conditions, they can be driven to do questionable things to protect them.

We found many instances of this happening around the world, so we decided to take the pieces of the story and, for each episode, use them to explore the theme in some manner.

Mazin admitted he was uncertain about the "right" decision to make. "Morally, I'm at a loss," he mentioned. "It's a difficult decision. I'm debating it in my head. I think a lot of people are in the same boat."

The New York Times reviewer was understanding of Joel's desire to protect Ellie, but asserted that she should have been allowed to have agency in whatever decision she made, including the option of death.

James Poniewozik noted that in the finale, Joel was unsuccessful in his parenting of Ellie in a manner that is common with parents: out of love and fear. He commented that Joel lied to Ellie, aware that she would be mad if she found out the truth of why the Fireflies no longer needed her.

The reviewer went on to say, "Perhaps he doesn't want her to feel bad or bear ill feelings towards him. It could be that he believes, if given the opportunity, she would opt to save the world over herself."

Poniewozik states that Joel has done terrible things to make it through the end of the world, but the most unforgivable action he takes is to take away Ellie's autonomy, turning her into a character who is not in control of her own life.

The season finale of “The Last of Us” evokes the classic trolley car morality question. This renowned ethical puzzle poses the question of what a person would do if they had the power to switch a train that was about to kill five people to a route that would only take the life of one.

The response to this question varies for many people, depending on who is positioned on the track. If that someone is your own offspring, then this can be seen as the decision Joel made.

Steven Gimbel, who is a professor of Philosophy at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, shared his thoughts on the matter. According to him, "We are more sensitive to people we are close to and those we feel are like us. If the issue is concerning the wellbeing of all humankind, that's a different story. We can grasp why Joel took the choice he did. Most people, myself included, would have gone with the same option."

Gimbel suggested that Joel should have opted to make the difficult decision to sacrifice Ellie's life for the sake of the greater good. "It would have been agonizing, yet sometimes the right thing is not easy," he stated.

When considering the application of this analogy to “The Last of Us,” it is important to remember that there was no assurance that the doctor would be successful in developing a vaccine that could oppose the cordyceps, although he was optimistic. Hence, allowing the doctor to extract Ellie's brain with the aim of creating a possible cure just provided the potential for saving humankind.

Even if the doctor had been assured they could save all of mankind, would it be permissible to take the life of a child without revealing this to her? Would the response be different if the grown-ups had let Ellie know that she had to pass away for the greater good and she accepted this sacrifice?

"The Last of Us" was full of liberal-leaning plot points, from celebrating LGBTQ characters to promoting communism as a perfect system, and of course showing Christians as the bad guys. Fortunately, the show made a wise move in having Joel take heroic action to safeguard the girl who meant the world to him.