The Last of Us Episode 8: Why Joel called Ellie “baby girl”

Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us Episode 8HBO

At the end of The Last of Us Episode 8, in the aftermath of her fight with David, Joel calls Ellie “baby girl” in one of the show’s most emotional moments – but why?

In our review of Episode 8, we called it “a total knockout, bringing the game’s scariest villain to life with a complex, brilliant performance by Scott Shepherd and Bella Ramsey at the peak of her powers.”

With Joel slowly recovering from his stab wound, Ellie takes it upon herself to venture out into the Colorado woods to hunt for food. After shooting a deer, she encounters David, the preacher and leader of a nearby resort-turned-town.

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He may seem nice at first, but there’s way more at play here, culminating in a fiery, terrifying game of cat-and-mouse that leads into Joe and Ellie’s biggest scene to date.

Spoilers for The Last of Us to follow…

Why Joel called Ellie “baby girl” in The Last of Us

Joel calls Ellie “baby girl” for a simple, tear-jerking reason: this is what he called his daughter Sarah, and it’s the first time he’s said it in 20 years, signifying that he finally views Ellie as his own child.

It comes after Ellie kills David in the restaurant. When she emerges from the burning building, she’s shaken and scared, but Joel grabs hold of her and assures her everything is going to be okay.

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“It’s okay, baby girl. I got you,” he says as he hugs her, before holding her close as they walk away.

If you cast your mind back to the heartbreak of Episode 1, Joel calls Sarah “baby girl” repeatedly as she passes away in his arms. He’s always been characteristically guarded about any sort of paternal bond with Ellie, but he’s managed to accept her for what she is, not just to him, but to the fans: his daughter.

In the game, Joel finds Ellie as she’s hacking David to death with a machete. When he grabs her, she screams: “Don’t f*cking touch me,” but when she realizes it’s Joel, she calms down.

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“It’s me, it’s me,” he assures her. “He tried to,” Ellie explains, prompting Joel to pull her closer and say: “Oh, baby girl.” Ellie softly whimpers his name, and they both leave.

During the Definitive Playthrough, Troy Baker – who voiced Joel in the game – revealed this moment was “100% improvised.”

Neil Druckmann told him: “I don’t know what you’re going to say to her, but nobody else needs to know – it’s a moment between the two of you… what would you say to Ellie in this moment for her to hear you and get her out of this moment?”

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The Last of Us Episode 9 will be available to watch on March 12 in the US and March 13 in the UK. Check out the rest of our coverage here.