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Why Did Ellie Cut the Infected in HBO’s The Last of Us? Explained

Ellie in HBO's The Last of Us
Image Source: HBO and WarnerMedia

Why Did Ellie Cut the Infected in HBO’s The Last of Us? Explained

The kids are not alright.

HBO’s The Last of Us takes plenty of liberties with the source material it’s based off of, and it’s largely to the benefit of the series. More often than not, it allows the show to explore the motivations and emotions of its characters with scenes that are more interpretive, allowing the imagery and intricacies of the actors’ performances to shine. This can also lead to somewhat confusing moments though, and a certain moment in Episode 3 likely left you asking: Why did Ellie cut the infected in HBO’s The Last of Us?

Why Did Ellie Not Kill the Infected Immediately in The Last of Us? Explained

The reason Ellie cut the infected and didn’t kill it immediately in HBO’s The Last of Us is simple, if a bit dark: she wanted to cut something living to see how it felt.

This ties into the different interpretation of Ellie the show runners are going for with the series. As the creators stated during the Inside the Episode video for Episode 1, the Ellie in the TV series has pre-existing violent tendencies which have been nurtured by the world she’s been growing up in. Whereas Joel’s daughter Sarah would have shied away from violence and death — and even wept for the person who died — Ellie enjoys seeing someone injured, especially if they pose a threat to her.

This has led to her being far more numb to violent actions and behaviors, with these aspects of her only being nurtured further by being around Joel.

The scene with the infected is meant to sell this further. Instead of holding any reverence or fear of it based on the fact that it used to be human, she only sees a thing she can toy with to test her own limits and sate her darker desires.

Did Ellie Want to Hurt the Infected?

There’s also the real possibility that she wanted to hurt or torture the infected.

Though it hasn’t been clearly established in HBO’s The Last of Us, signs seem to be pointing toward the fact that the events from the game’s Left Behind DLC occurred in the show’s continuity as well. This would mean that Ellie was bitten at the same time as her friend and first love Riley, and was then forced to watch her die after they agreed to let the infection take them together; only to discover that she was immune.

This would understandably result in trauma for a young teen. Combined with her pre-established darker tendencies, this could and would lead to actions such as torturing the creatures she sees as responsible for her pain.

That’s everything you need to know about why Ellie cut the infected in HBO’s The Last of Us. For more on the series, check out some of our related articles down below. They include everything from explainer guides for other ambiguous scenes to news stories covering the wider franchise’s developments.

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