Joel Miller

Image of Joel

"I struggled for a long time with survivin'. And you—
... No matter what, you keep finding something to fight for."

— Joel, The Last of Us


Joel was born on September 26, likely sometime between 1984 and 1985 growing up in Texas alongside his brother Tommy. Joel raised Tommy through their childhood, to which the pair heavily struggled with.

"Tommy saw the world one way, I saw the other."

— Joel, The Last of Us

Not much is known about Joel's early life other than that he has previously revealed that, during his youth, he aspired to become a singer. However later, Joel ended up having a daughter named Sarah and was married to her mother for a short period of time. Unfortunately with the responsinilites that come with being a father, he never had the opportunity to attend college to chase that dream of becoming a singer.

The wherabouts of Joel’s wife are unknown, however it is discovered through a conversation between Ellie and Joel, that the subject of whatever happened is very painful for Joel to talk about. As a result he raised his daughter as a single parent for the majority of his life where the two lived together in a typical tow story single-family home somewhere in or around Austin, Texas.

In his adult years, Joel worked in the construction industry as a carpenter. It is assumed that Joel had ambitions to start his own independent business due to a copy of “Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Startup” on his bedside table.

Even though Joel works long hours he was still able to spend quality time with his daughter. All throughout his house we can see evidence of that through the various pictures displayed in their home: one showing the two on a cruise, at a carnical with Tommy and another at one of Sarah’s soccer games. The two also often ventured out on hiking trips together.

Throughout the outbreak, Joel is seen wearing a broken watch that was given to him by his daughter in the hours before the outbreak. This memento is cherished by Joel and he manages to hold on to it for the many years following the start of all the chaos.


Described as being in his late 40's, Joel knows what the world looked like before it was devastated. Over time, he has begun to become less bound by morality and more driven by doing whatever is necessary to survive.

"Endure and Survive"

— Joel, The Last of Us

Joel has been described as a "violent thug, a brutal killer, and a torturer." He is shown to be able to kill his enemies with noteworthy brutality, earning his infamous reputation to those he encounters. David calls him a "crazy man." During the aftermath of the epidemic that struck the country, he has resorted to working in black-market dealings and smuggling items or people of interest through quarantine zones or other designated areas. Because of this, he has accumulated valuable knowledge in regards to surviving the post-apocalyptic environment. After the death of his beloved daughter Sarah, Joel has become more broody and damaged. His personality becomes darker and apathetic. Joel rarely shows signs of happiness and often cynical. Ellie notes that Joel has stained his hands with innocent blood when he reveals to her that he has been "on both sides", thus having the knowledge about a hunters' ambush and anticipating it. This dark past likely contributed to his experience as a hardened survivalist.

He also becomes extremely dedicated to Ellie, using any means possible to save her and keep her safe. He tortures several cannibals to find out Ellie's location, and then kills the other prisoner after he has gained information about Ellie's location. Ellie also cares greatly for Joel when she cares for him when he was injured, just as Joel cared for her and protected her throughout their journey. They had a father and daughter bond.

It is at strongly hinted that Joel suffers from PTSD due to losing his daughter and committing acts necessary for his survival. He is reluctant or simply refuses to speak about people he has lost along the way.

However, Joel's other side is also portrayed. Prior to the apocalypse, he worked hard to raise his daughter by himself. The outbreak and Sarah's death changed him into an apathetic, ruthless, and estranged man. Upon meeting Ellie, he initially has a rocky relationship with her. However, Joel later grows to trust her and finds her reliable at most times such as Ellie spotting for Joel or providing support. As time passes, Joel establishes a father-daughter relationship with Ellie, reminding him of his beloved daughter, Sarah.

Whether being selfish, or not wanting to lose another 'daughter' to the whim of another again, he chose to save Ellie and try and start some semblance of a normal life again. His decision to kill Marlene inside the Fireflies facility in Salt Lake City is to ensure that no one will have the knowledge of Ellie and thus no one will go after her in the future. In this sense he is the opposite of Marlene, who intended to sacrifice Ellie for a chance to save the rest of humanity.


As a hardened survivalist, Joel displays terrifying intensity, strength, cunning, and fierce fist-fighting prowess; he can perform fatal chokeholds, string combinations of hard punches, and other miscellaneous attacks with little fatigue or hesitance, and he has become adept to the point where he can out-brawl and overwhelm opponents half his age quite quickly. Joel is able to use these attributes very efficiently and this often strikes fear into the hearts of human enemies, as evidenced by the fact that after Joel physically overwhelms survivors, they will beg Joel not to kill them.

He can also hold his own against competent combatants. He successfully overpowered and badly beat Henry, despite being surprised, and later easily parried his gun from him while shoving him to the ground. He could pin Robert and break his arm, shove his brother Tommy against a locker, tackle a soldier and overpowered Ethan; a trained Firefly; despite being held at gun point. He could even overpower two cannibals, despite not having fully recovered from his life-threatening wound. Undeterred by being disoriented after a car crash, Joel was also able to overpower a Hunter and impale him on a shard of broken glass.

However, his strength isn't always as consistent. Having been dazed due to falling from a great height, he was tackled by a Runner, unable to force it of off without assistance. He was subdued by Bill, almost bitten by a Clicker when tackled by it (having to be saved by Tess), and was nearly killed by a hunter who held him underwater, needing Ellie to intervene. A Cannibal also managed to tackle him off a ledge, leading to him being critically wounded by a piece of rebar.

Joel is also an expert at wielding a wide range of weapons, from handguns to rifles and bows, which he can use with great proficiency. He is shown to be an expert tactician, able to use both stealthy and overt means to overcome overwhelming odds. He is also adept at crafting improvised weapons and tools (possibly due to his background in construction), and possesses an acute sense of hearing that allows him to pinpoint the relative location of those around him when focused. Joel is also a strong swimmer and can also hold his breath for a relatively long period of time.

Joel is still human, however, and is just as vulnerable to death and injury as other survivors. Unlike Ellie, he is not immune to the cordyceps infection and thus cannot survive in a spore-filled environment without a gas mask. When he was mortally wounded, he was unable to move faster than a walk and struggled to climb over obstacles or stay on top of Callus. The wound also caused him to contract wound septis, leaving him bed ridden for several weeks, needing antibiotics to cure him.