As Abby crosses paths with first Joel and then Ellie, we learn why Abby’s story is important and how it sets up the events of the rest of the game. Abby is in Jackson to kill Joel and when she accomplishes this, brutally caving Joel’s skull in with a golf club while Ellie is forced to watch, players suddenly find themselves having to say goodbye to one of the series’ main protagonists.
About an hour or two into the game, Joel’s already dead, a decision on Naughty Dog’s part that’s turned out to be a bit controversial with some players. But why did Abby kill him in the first place? Let’s discuss.
Why did Abby kill Joel?
Abby finds Joel almost by accident, running into him while trying to escape a horde of runners in the snow-covered mountains outside of Jackson. Their meeting couldn’t be more opportune for Abby, who has brought a group of former Fireflies all the way from Seattle to punish the smuggler who robbed the world of a possible cure to the Cordyceps virus. But for Abby, finding Joel is about something much more personal than the fate of humanity.
We learn during the Abby section of The Last of Us Part 2 about midway through the game that Joel killed Abby’s father, Dr. Jerry Anderson, the Firefly surgeon who was trying to find a cure for the virus in the group’s Salt Lake City lab in St. Mary’s Hospital in the first game. In The Last of Us Part 2, we see as Abby finds her dead father bleeding out in an operating room, a moment that forever changed young woman and put her on a path of revenge.
In flashbacks throughout the sequel, we see how Abby becomes obsessed with finding Joel. It’s this thirst for revenge that sets her on a collision course with Ellie. When Abby finds and kills Joel, she’s avenging her father’s death but also perpetuating a cycle of violence that will eventually lead to more loss of life, particularly the lives of her friends, who die by Ellie’s hand in her own quest for vengeance. This, in turn, sends Abby on a rage-fueled quest to find Ellie and punish her what she did to Owen, Mel, and the others. It’s a never-ending cycle that began with Joel’s own life-or-death decision in the first game.