The Last of Us: Why Abby Is So Controversial

As HBO prepares to adapt The Last of Us Part II, let’s dive into why the game’s second protagonist is an online lightning rod.

The Last of Us Part 2 Abby
Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment

This article contains a major spoiler for The Last of Us Part II and therefore The Last of Us season 2 as well.

HBO has officially announced that Kaitlyn Dever will be playing Abby in the second season of The Last of Us. Abby is a controversial character first introduced in The Last of Us Part II, and according to HBO’s description, is “a skilled soldier whose black-and-white view of the world is challenged as she seeks vengeance for those she loved.” While this description fits right into the on-screen world created by Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin, Abby has a complicated history that takes more than a sentence to encapsulate. Who is she exactly and makes her so controversial among fans of the game? Allow us to explain.

Abby Kills a Beloved Character

The Last of Us Part II begins roughly five years after the events of the first game with Ellie and Joel living in Jackson, Wyoming. Though they’ve become a bit estranged in their relationship, the two have settled into life in the town and do their part to keep the citizens safe from stray clusters of the infected. Early on, players also have the opportunity to control a new character, Abby, whose quest to avenge the death of her father brings her to the outskirts of Jackson and into Joel and Ellie’s radius. It turns out that Joel is the man she’s been looking for, and she brutally murders him in front of Ellie, Tommy, and the player as they lose control over Abby in this cutscene.

To make things even more interesting, about halfway through the game the player is shifted from Ellie’s perspective back to Abby’s. After spending hours as Ellie in Seattle, seeking vengeance for Joel’s death, we then spend close to the same amount of time as Abby, learning about her life and realizing that, like Ellie, she’s also a person caught in a vicious cycle of violence and death. To put it mildly, some people weren’t too thrilled by this exercise in empathy.


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