The Last of Us fans are distraught at Ellie and Riley’s tragic gay love story in episode 7: ‘I feel hollow’

Bella Ramsey as Ellie (L) and Storm Reid as Riley (R) in The Last of Us. (HBO)

Fans of HBO’s hit series The Last of Us are distraught following another ‘devastatingly beautiful’ queer love story, this time featuring Bella Ramsey’s Ellie and Storm Reid’s Riley.

The seventh episode of The Last of Us, titled “Left Behind“, has provided yet more heart-wrenching content for LGBTQ+ viewers as it explores the backstory of Ellie’s relationship with her best friend Riley.

Based on the events of Left Behind, a DLC released for 2013’s The Last of Us video game, the episode introduces the character of Riley by way of an origin story for Ellie.

In the expansion, players learn how Ellie gets infected (or not, as the case may be), as well as who Riley is – and the trip down memory lane is prompting viewers to lament yet another heartbreakingly emotional episode of television.

Following the events of the previous episode of The Last of Us, in which Joel (Pedro Pascal) is brutally wounded and nearing death, “Left Behind” opens with Ellie attempting to patch up her protector.

As she struggles to care for Joel, we travel back in time to when Ellie was training to become a FEDRA soldier in the Boston Quarantine Zone. Ellie’s best friend and roommate Riley has been missing for three weeks; but one night, she reappears in Ellie’s dormitory to tell her that she has joined the Fireflies, a group of resistance fighters.

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Determined to have one last night together, the pair sneak into an abandoned mall and explore the sights: a carousel, an arcade and a photo booth – which is all very lovely, until they’re attacked by a Clicker (infected), who bites both the girls.

As the infection takes hold, Ellie and Riley kiss – a direct adaptation of the Left Behind expansion pack – though Ellie does not succumb to the horrors of the fungus.

In short, it’s another absolutely heart-wrenching hour of telly – but, as with Bill and Frank’s tragic love story in the third episode of The Last of Us, fans have once again taken to Twitter to express their love for the show’s commitment to queer representation and faithful adaptation of the source material.

As with episode three of The Last of Us, which put survivalist Bill and his partner Frank’s relationship in the spotlight, a select corner of the internet have taken it upon themselves to condemn the inclusion of lesbian characters – despite the fact that said characters are directly adapted from video game canon.

Happily, it’s taken no time at all for other Twitter users to shut the bigots down.

“Bestie they are literally lesbians,” wrote one person in response to the HBO Max Twitter account calling Ellie and Riley ‘best friends.’

The queer joy (and anguish) has widely drowned out the homophobia, however, with queer gaymers and viewers rejoicing at the representation.

Naturally, the gay jokes are out in full force.

During the sixth episode of The Last of Us, fans went wild after they spotted who they think could be Ellie’s future girlfriend, Dina, a character at the centre of the game’s 2020 sequel, The Last of Us: Part Two.

In the sequel, Ellie and Dina embark on a bloody quest for revenge across the US, which also features a trans character, Lev.

And in case you’d missed the discourse around the Bloater, in episode five, gay Twitter pronounced the horrifying creature (a larger-than-usual zombie) a ‘gay icon’.

The Last of Us is available to stream on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK.

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