Joel And Ellie Originally Had A Puppy Companion In The Last Of Us

Joel And Ellie Originally Had A Puppy Companion In The Last Of Us

Like any game, The Last of Us went through a lot of changes during its development. Unlike with most games, though, fans got a taste of those changes during a PAX Prime panel yesterday called “Pitching The Last of Us.” Be warned: there are spoilers below.

It turns out that the infected were almost much different, the storyline almost featured a vengeful-and-totally-alive Tess chasing after Joel and Ellie (hence the above image), and — oh yeah — they almost adopted a puppy. A freaking puppy! Ellie would find it and the duo would decide to raise it, according to Game Informer. It’s unknown whether this would have had any gameplay implications, but can you imagine siccing an adorable puppy on Joel and Ellie’s opponents?

Naughty Dog also illuminated some scrapped infected designs during the panel, as described by GI:

Before the team landed on the fungal infected you see in the final product, the zombie-like creatures looked like bald, fanged beasts with stringy fungus growing off their back. Another scrapped encounter shows Joel scrambling away from an infected elephant with tendrils of fungus extending from its legs and blooming mushrooms on its head.

And it turns out the game originally glossed over the hospital scenes, flashing forward to Joel and Ellie’s escape before revealing in a cut scene that Joel killed all the doctors and doomed humanity. Naughty Dog previously discussed some of this with us, saying that the change helped the ending mirror the beginning.

Check out Game Informer’s full report for some other lost details, including a half-improvised song-and-dance number during the game’s climax. Nope, not joking.


  • The story was brilliant, they made the right decisions in the end. Just like they do with all of their games!

    • The story was brilliant but I don’t think all of their decisions were great. I would have liked a lot more choice in how I dealt with situations, and the linearity is really bad on your 2nd playthrough.

      • I can’t overly fault the game’s linearity because I compare it with what other games offer and I see how far it overachieves them…. BUT, I definitely agree with you, a bit more choice would have really elevated the game. It comes down to the the economics of creating content that many people won’t see, which most developers naturally shy away from, but they’ve got to learn to embrace that because it’s the best part of what makes games as a medium interesting.

        • I agree. The best part of games is being able to experience things that not everyone else experienced. That’s how they can be so different from movies and books.

          It would be nice to have multiple pathways, but I can understand why they don’t. Still, Deus Ex had them and that was more than 10 years ago. Back when game development was much, much cheaper.

          I would have LOVED the ability to pick a non-lethal ending at the hospital. I still shudder when Joel stabs the surgeon in the throat. Possibly the last surgeon in the world. Who’s training is now priceless. All Joel had to do was knock him out. But they took away all my choices and that… didn’t sit well for me. It’s supposed to be an interactive medium. Still loved the game though.

          • Watch out for spoilers! To bad the spoiler tags don’t seem to work.


            Yep that’s definitely a part they could have included a bit more choice in without it dramatically inflating the budget (being at the end of the game you don’t need to show how that choice effects different things). A disarming option really should have been included, and even a non lethal but still violent take down like shooting him in the leg would be good, I expect a lot of players approached that situation differently, but they only really had 3 different outcomes (depending on how many you kill and in what order). I’d like to know what percentage of players would have chosen the non-lethal version (I killed em all).

            Apparently that part started as a non-interactive cutscene, and was only changed to be playable later on in development, which might explain why it’s so limited. They had a real opportunity there to create another water-cooler talking point there, so it’s a shame they missed it.

  • Having a dog grow alongside you as you progress through different timelines in a game is just the thing game development needs 😀

  • I’m glad we ended up with what we got. I think a puppy would have come off as trying too hard to make you care, and the hospital level is one of my favourites in the game.

    • It definitely isn’t. It appears to be a mockup of one of the directions they decided not to go, although I won’t go into detail to avoid accidentally spoiling anything for you. 🙂

      • As long as we don’t spoil the part where it turns out Ellie is an alien/god come to save humanity from the fungus zombies nothing important will be spoilt.

  • You guys are missing the bigger picture here. WE ALMOST GOT TO FIGHT SOME INFECTED ELEPHANTS. That would have been cool as fuck.

  • I can already pircture the set up for the puppy…

    After a tormenting event, Joel and Ellie will be sitting down to a meal by a fire and the pup will come and steal Joel’s food so he’ll get to say “Ahhhh! NAUGHTY DOG!

  • As obvious as it sounds, a puppy would not have survived. Especially the (spoiler) scene where Joel and Ellie almost drown in the tunnel.
    Also, infected elephants would have sucked. It was already shown that the fungus does not affect animals, so this would have been pointless.

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