The Last of Us fans are roasting HBO for calling The Last of Us’ Ellie and Riley ‘best friends’

Screenshots from episode 7 of The Last of Us showing Ellie and Riley smiling moments after they have kissed.

This week’s episode of HBO’s The Last of Us has yet another devastating queer love story, this time detailing the backstory of Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Riley (Storm Reid).

While episode seven, entitled “Left Behind”, begins by portraying the pair as best friends and roommates, as part of a flashback, it ends with them kissing after they are bitten by a clicker (a person infected with the virus which is at the heart of the show). They’re awaiting their demise, and effectively professing their love for each other as they do so.

The characters are, therefore, queer – but apparently not in the eyes of those controlling the HBO Max Twitter account.

Over the weekend, the account posted an image of Bella and Riley looking intently at each other as they ride a carousel in an abandoned shopping centre, captioned with: “That best-friend stare.”

On the one hand, it’s probably a fair post from in the interest of avoiding spoilers for those who are yet to watch the episode. On the other hand, the queers of Twitter are fed up with clear LGBTQ+ relationships being relegated to “friendships”.

In response, the comment section under the tweet is a delicious masterclass in harmless trolling, full of memes about lesbian erasure.

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Best friends? “That’s what my dad says of my girlfriend of three years,” joked one tweeter.

“Omg, that best-friend stare!! Such good friends,” another tweeted, alongside a photo of two women getting married. 

“Best friends doing things only best friends would do,” teased another, sharing a gif of the game version of Ellie and Riley kissing.

Defending HBO, one fan wrote: “Everyone needs to chill in the replies. Let the straights find out in their own time.”

Some tweeters are wondering whether HBO failed to label Ellie and Riley as queer in their tweet in a bid to trick homophobes into watching the episode, much as director Peter Hoar did with the Bill and Frank storyline in episode three.

Queer relationships being referred to as friendships has been going on for ages, particularly in a historical context.

Abraham Lincoln, for example, used to share a bed with his male roommate, Joshua Speed, “because he couldn’t afford a mattress”, but many historians refuse to acknowledge the possibility that the future president might not have been 100 per cent straight.

The Last of Us star Bella Ramsey has recently expressed her joy as it’s been confirmed that the show’s second season will explore the lesbian relationship (or, ahem, friendship) between her and Dina, a character from the game’s sequel.

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