Although there’s no doubt that Laura Bailey’s Abby Anderson, co-protagonist of The Last of Us Part II, will go down as one of the most divisive and perhaps misunderstood video game characters of all time, her fate during the game’s closing act is far from the one originally written for her.
Caution: The remainder of the article will include story spoilers for The Last of Us Part II, do not read on if you’re yet to play the game.
As anybody who has played The Last of Us Part II would be aware, despite revenge leading to the grisly deaths of all of her friends, Abby spares the lives of Ellie, Dina, and Tommy after a showdown at the theatre. She instead heads back into the world with Lev, the Seraphite boy she’d saved and become guardian to, in search of the Fireflies in hopes she could leave obsessive hatred behind to rekindle that part of her humanity.
The pair are ultimately taken hostage by human slavers in coastal California, and things look pretty grim for them until Ellie—still hellbent on squaring the ledger for Joel’s death at Abby’s hands—arrives to set them free from their captivity.
What follows is one of the more uncomfortable and conflicting scenes of the game where Ellie bludgeons a reluctant Abby in knee-deep water. After being plagued by traumatic memories of Joel’s murder throughout the campaign, she instead sees a flash of him perched up with his guitar. At this moment, she lets Abby and Lev leave.
It’s been revealed in the commentary tracks for The Last of Us Part II that it was originally planned for Abby to die at Ellie’s hands here in a moment that certainly would have brought the cycle of violence full circle.
“So originally, the concept was that Abby dies here,” explained the game’s co-writer Halley Gross as the scene depicts Ellie pinning Abby underwater.
“I did not know that Abby died here originally,” revealed the character’s voice actor, Laura Bailey, in bewilderment. Bailey’s work on the game would ultimately earn her a Game Award and a BAFTA.
“Originally, I think, both Yara and Lev died and this was just Abby by herself when you meet up with her,” expanded Neil Druckmann, creative director.
“And then Ellie kills Abby.”
“I think leaving Ellie with three percent of the humanity that she got from who she was, that scrappy kid that Joel helped shape—I think if she killed Abby you’d never see that kid again,” continued Gross.
“And this gives a hope that she’s still in there a little bit and could be revived in the same way that Abby was revived. In the right circumstance.”
With two big themes of the game being forgiveness and redemption, I do feel as though following through on killing Abby would have left Ellie in a dark, inescapable place. At least we know watching her walk away from the farm right before the credits roll that there’s hope for her still.
See our full review, more guides and other content for The Last of Us Part II Remastered right here.