How does Riley die in The Last of Us? Ellie’s best friend makes her debut in Episode 7, but how does she die in the game, and is it different in the show?
In our review, we said the game’s “most poignant backstory gets the treatment it deserves; beautifully adapted, engagingly performed by Ramsey and Reid, and a reminder that love left behind is never love lost.”
Episode 7 picks up immediately after the last chapter’s cliffhanger, with Ellie trying to help Joel after he got stabbed at the university. As she tries to find supplies, we flash back to three weeks before she met him, where we’re introduced to her best friend Riley.
It’s a direct adaptation of the Left Behind DLC, released in 2014 after the original game, so you may be wondering: how does Riley die in the game, and how does it compare to the show?
Spoilers for The Last of Us to follow…
How does Riley die in The Last of Us show?
While we don’t see Riley die, it’s presumed she was killed by Ellie after turning infected. The pair were bitten in the mall by a runner, but they decided to carry on and “lose their minds together.”
After Ellie and Riley share their first kiss while dancing to Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe in fancy-dress masks, an infected emerges from the backroom. They manage to fight it off, with Ellie killing it with her knife, but they both have bite marks.
Ellie smashes every glass cabinet in the shop before slumping down next to Riley, who gives her two options: they shoot themselves (which she doesn’t want to do) or wait it out until it’s all over.
The episode ends before we see anything that happens to Riley. Given Ellie told Joel in a previous episode that she’d killed someone before, the only explanation is that she put Riley down after she turned.
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How does Riley die in The Last of Us game?
Again, Riley dies offscreen in The Last of Us. Ellie tells Joel her name at the end of the game, and in the Left Behind DLC, her final moments are exactly the same as the show: she sits with Ellie and they commit to “fight” until they can’t anymore.
The exact events that lead to them being bitten are slightly different. After they kiss, they’re chased by a horde of infected who heard the music. While they outrun most of them, they’re still bitten in the ambush.
You can watch the original Left Behind ending below:
Ellie still smashes up stuff around her, before they have the same heartbreaking conversation. “Way I see it, we got two options. Option one, we take the easy way out. It’s quick and painless. I’m not a fan of option one,” Riley says.
“Two. We fight… there’s a million ways we should’ve died before today. And a million ways we can die before tomorrow. But we fight… for every second we get to spend with each other. Whether it’s two minutes. Or two days. We don’t give that up.
“I don’t want to give that up. My vote. Let’s just wait it out. You know, we can…be all poetic and just lose our minds together.”
It’s also never confirmed in the game if Ellie killed Riley – but just as it’ll be in the show, the details of this tragedy can remain unspoken.
The Last of Us Episode 8 will be available to stream on March 5 in the US and March 6 in the UK. Check out the rest of our coverage here and the trailer for the weeks ahead here.