The Last of Us is structured around the seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring. Each season gets its own chapter, and each season has its own mini story arc. But if we pull back some, the game is clearly split into two distinct narrative arcs, one comprised of summer and fall, the other comprised of winter and spring. For this post, I’m mainly interested in the summer and fall arc, in which The Last of Us plays out like a travelogue. On their journey, Joel and Ellie meet three sets of friendly people: the loner Bill, the brothers Henry and Sam, and the leader of a peaceful community Tommy. These three sets of characters pull double-duty when it comes to theme and character development. They all give different responses to the thematic question, “How do you keep living when the world is dead?,” and they all also represent the past, present, and future of Joel and Ellie.