The Last of Us Episode 1: Who is Marlene?

Cameron Frew
Marlene in The Last of Us HBO show an dgameHBO/Sony

Who is Marlene in The Last of Us? Episode 1 of the HBO adaptation introduces one of the show’s most important characters, so let’s get into who she is.

In our review of The Last of Us Episode 1, we said it “achieves the impossible: adapting one of the greatest – if not the greatest – video games of all time with respect, flair, and reaching heart-breaking greatness.”

The show follows Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), an unlikely duo forced to work together for the good of mankind on a cross-country trip across America amid a deadly, monstrous fungal pandemic.

Article continues after ad

In Episode 1, we meet Marlene, a major character in the game – so, let’s break down who she is.

The Last of Us Episode 1: Who is Marlene?

Marlene is played by Merle Dandridge, reprising her role from the original game. Based in the Boston quarantine zone, she’s the leader of the Fireflies, a rebel group trying to overthrow FEDRA and find a cure to the Cordyceps virus.

In the first episode, we see her winning over Ellie, whom she held captive while the Fireflies made sure she wasn’t infected, despite being bitten. She also reveals she was responsible for putting Ellie into a FEDRA school.

Article continues after ad

She’s shot in a skirmish, so she asks Joel and Tess to take Ellie to a Fireflies base at the Capitol building.

Sign up to Dexerto for free and receive:
Fewer Ads|Dark Mode|Deals in Gaming, TV and Movies, and Tech

We won’t spoil what happens in the game, but Dandridge spoke about reprising her role in live-action, and how it allowed her to explore parts of the character that she never thought she’d be able to see.

“Further down in the season, some of the things that I get to do and things that have only lived in my heart as part of her heartbreak and part of her joy and the beautiful things that have happened to her, we get to see them on the camera, on-screen,” she said, as per Slash Film.

Article continues after ad

“And because serial television and long-term television is what it is, the possibilities are endless of what you will get to see play out in this world.”

The Last of Us Episode 2 will be available to watch on January 22 in the US and January 23 in the UK.

For more TLOU content, check out some of our below guides:

Joel & Tess explained | Sarah spoilers | Fungus threat is terrifying | The dog’s fate | Who is Marlene? | Why is Ellie so important? | Soundtrack choice | FEDRA & the Fireflies explained

Article continues after ad

Related Topics

About The Author

Cameron is Deputy TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He's an action movie aficionado, '80s obsessive, Oscars enthusiast, and a staunch Scot. He earned a First-Class Honours Degree in Multimedia Journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University, accredited by the NCTJ and BJTC. He began his career at UNILAD, starting as a Junior Journalist and becoming Entertainment Editor prior to joining Dexerto. You can contact him at