The Last of Us 2 Had a Darker Ending, Abby Was Different

Neil Druckmann and Halley Gross reveals The Last of Us Part II original, darker ending and story changes for Abby.

Despite suffering from a major story leak, PlayStation 4-exclusive action-adventure game The Last of Us Part II from developer Naughty Dog and publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment has sold over 4 million copies in less than weeks.

Recent release of a series of concept arts online and an interview with Naughty Dog developers reveal a much darker ending for The Last of Us 2 and a different direction that was originally planned for newly introduced character Abby.

the last of us part 2 darker alternate ending abby different story
The Last of Us 2 Had a Darker Ending, Abby Was Different


Regardless of being one of the most-anticipated releases of this year, The Last of Us Part 2 is a topic for debate due to its unexpected story direction, additional new character and an ending that seemed unjustified to many series fans.

In a recent interview, Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann and The Last of Us 2 co-writer Halley Gross talked details about some deleted scenes that never made it to final game and were eventually scrapped at some point.

joel miller final moments
Final Moment of Joel

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Druckmann initially wanted Joel to say his daughter's name, Sarah in his last moments when his brain is already sprayed over the floor but then Troy Baker (Mortal Kombat X, Resident Evil 6) suggested, "I don't think he should say anything".

Naughty Dog shot both versions for that sequence but ended up using Troy's idea as it seemed more powerful. Gross confirmed that they planned for entirety of the game's plot to take place over a span of five days instead of just three.

joel miller fate
Joel's Tragic Fate

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They also considered introducing a girlfriend character for Joel and wanted to make The Last of Us Part II an open-world experience. Players were supposed to spend playing most of their time in Jackson, which trimmed down to a few hours.

One of the early pitches had Ellie visiting Seraphite island and there was so much to explore during her time there. Throughout her journey of going through Hell and keep moving forward, more about Seraphites were to be discovered.

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During farm sequence, there is a journal entry of Ellie killing a boar and even cut-scenes were shot for that. It was a playable segment of her hunting a boar but was ultimately left off due to pacing of its story and production purposes.

Naughty Dog had plans for a very different story path for one of their newly added character, Abby. She has quickly become one of the most hated one within TLoU2 for killing Joel early in the game following a very brief introduction.

abby anderson final concept art
Abby Final Concept Art

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She was supposed to join Joel's community early on as a playable new character and would betray them later. According to Druckmann, this idea didn't work as his death is a crucial point and it needed to take place early in the game.

She came to a walled community in Jackson, Wyoming, posing as a friend where Ellie and Joel have settled down now. She would stay there waiting for a perfect time to strike and players were meant to spend much more time with her.

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Since Joel's death is what caused Ellie to go on a revenge quest, adding several more hours into that would have stalled main story. Abby's role ended up being smaller in final version of Last of Us 2 than what Naughty Dog actually planned for.

Concept for Abby Anderson is what motivated Druckmann to make TLoU2 about empathy and he used Joel to create that feeling at the beginning and her role kept getting shorter as they continued development until they settled for it.

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Before end credits for The Last of Us II stats rolling, there is a brutal fight scene between Abby and Ellie in Santa Barbara. Regardless of being spared by Abby in Seattle, she couldn't live with Joel's killer getting away without facing justice.

So, she leaves Dina behind with an intent to kill Abby but ended up sparing her life to break the cycle of violence. Throughout halfway into development, Ellie was supposed to kill Abby but then someone had to end the cycle of violence.

abby versus ellie
Abby Versus Ellie

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Last month, Naughty Dog released The Art of The Last of Us Part II, in association with Dark Horse Books. It features various concept artworks, portraits, alternative looks for characters of The Last of Us including Joel, Ellie and Abby.

In early concept arts, Abby looked more akin to Joel's former "partner" Tess from original The Last of Us. She didn't look anything close to her final design that depicts her with a muscular build as a result of years of strength training.

abby primary concept art
Abby Primary Concept Art

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Overall goal for portraying Abby was to create a character that seems formidable and Naughty Dog made several changes into her design. Initially, she used to wield a machete and carry a rifle on her back before they finalized her look.

In original concept, Abby was meant to infiltrate a winter dance festival in Jackson and will get intimate with Joel and become entangled but that version of her doesn't look like she is at her early twenties and appears as more feminine.

abby meets joel
Abby Meets Joel

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In final released version of Last of Us 2, players meet Abby fighting an infected horde at the outskirts of Jackson, Wyoming. She then came across Joel Miller and his brother Tommy shortly before getting attacked by her group of friends.

Joel's tragic demise was depicted a bit differently and it started in much more brutal way than just getting shot in his leg. You can find an image of Abby chopping off his wrist with a machete before holding a wounded Joel at gunpoint.

abby anderson vs joel miller
Abby Corners Joel

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Although there was no mention of the infamous golf club Abby used on him in The Last of Us 2, Joel was tortured to death and it was gruesome. A heartfelt scene of Ellie crying over his dead body apparently didn't make it to final cut as well.

Though her reason to kill Joel seemed a bit out of place in opening hours of TLoU2, players get to see things from her perspective. Neil Druckmann originally had plans to give her more playtime during opening part of story campaign.

ending of joel miller
Ending of Joel

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She came to a walled community in Jackson, Wyoming, posing as a friend where Ellie and Joel have settled down now. She would stay there waiting for a perfect time to strike and players were meant to spend much more time with her.

Druckmann draws a parallel to what Joel Miller did back then at Firefly hospital in original The Last of Us to save Ellie's life and most players understood the hard choices he made even though not necessarily agreeing to his actions.

abby anderson early concept art
Abby Early Concept Art

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In similar comparison, Abby's story is in reverse to Joel as people barely known her at that point when she killed a much-loved character. Everyone has already seen him go through pain and personal suffering to become who he is in present.

Though ending of The Last of Us Part 2 was a bit frustrating to many series fans, it was more fitting for Ellie's character. Druckmann believes that she still has goodness in her heart and maybe someday she will be able to move on.

abby's original fate
Abby's Original Fate

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Naughty Dog's early scrip had a much slower pace for overall story, which was cut-short over time. These concept arts and interviews shows that how much change story-based games can really go through during development phase.

Neil Druckmann remained very coy about whether they will develop The Last of Us Part III but didn't completely deny its possibility. Meanwhile, you are welcome to check out The Art of The Last of Us Part II, available on Amazon right now.
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  • Rominikst
    Rominikst October 1, 2020 at 8:29 AM

    Part III will be awesome.
    Anything they want to share will be :)

    • Ben
      Ben December 3, 2020 at 5:30 AM


    • Anonymous
      Anonymous April 14, 2021 at 11:15 PM

      I also agree, so if they are making a 3rd game I might just die-

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous August 25, 2022 at 5:51 PM

    Yeah, all this id was confirm for me that they suck at story telling and having things be consistent with characters and the world they built. I'm glad people stop buying part 2 or just destroyed the disk if they couldn't return it. Part 3 better not happen, they've done enough damage to themselves as - even they don't see it and some people like this game.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous September 2, 2022 at 6:31 PM


    • Anonymous
      Anonymous June 26, 2023 at 9:03 PM

      it's not that deep

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous October 26, 2022 at 4:28 PM

    Ellie should’ve killed midby. Or they could’ve atleast gave us a choice to kill her or spare her.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous November 6, 2022 at 3:35 PM

    To be honest even if i like tlou2 i liked the first concepts more , there's something about Abby looking like Tess and getting close to Joel first , Joel muttering Sarah's name, that just would have made it so much more emotional and make more sense than Abby just offing Joel and move on w no remorse , her part was just frustrating and definitely most of the players did not feel any empathy for her even after showing her past .
    The open world was nice tho but it's true that it would have been nice to learn more about the seraphites
    Also i feel like Ellie sparring Abby because she still has some good in her heart is a nice thing but definitely not to break the cycle of violence because then pt3 would be kinda pointless

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous February 9, 2023 at 5:38 PM

      I believe in part 3 Ellie will find the remaining Fire Flies and tell them who she is and she will willing allow them to perform the operation that they were about to do in the 1st game resulting in her death

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