Near the beginning of the story, Ellie is a foil to Joel’s counterpart: Tess. Tess is a cold woman who is all about business and can be seen as even more masculine than Joel. Ellie and Tess are together for about 15% of the game before Tess is bitten by the zombies, but in that time, Ellie develops the hardened personality such as Tess and is able to mature at an alarming rate.
Joel is established to be the opposite of the male figure stereotype from the beginning of the game. When his daughter dies, Joel bursts out crying, showing his vulnerability immediately from the opening sequence. As the game progresses, he begins to care for Ellie like his own daughter: he shields her from danger, keeps her back from the zombies, and ultimately lays himself down for her safety. Joel’s masculine image is laced with an emotional depth that is not present in Chris in Resident Evil 5. Joel is the closest thing to a leading man in the story, but he ends up co-leading through Ellie, even though the player does not control her.
The two develop emotionally as a pair. While Joel opens up to become more father-like to Ellie, Ellie also opens up to revel a scarred childhood that was rough. And even thought the age gap between the characters is about 30 years, their characters develop as friends so that they end up with a strong friendship relationship by the end of the narrative. At the beginning of the narrative, Ellie tries to talk to Joel by asking him many questions about their trip ahead, and Joel just repeatedly tells her to go to sleep. They gradually open up as they trust each other, and Ellie is used as a device to find out more about Joel as she slowly pries him open along the length of the story. No emotional connection is ever established between Chris and Sheva, making it hard for the developers to establish a connection between the two in the game. Without a connection between the characters, their qualities can only be judges on their individual merits, which in Resident Evil 5 ultimately boils down to their appearance, while The Last of Us uses these relationships to make their dynamic relationship grow.
Visually, “Naughty Dog resists the urge to sexualize any female characters in The Last Of Us or serve them up as eye candy for male players to ogle,” taking away one major complaint from most gender equality movements. Visuals are a stark impression, and The Last of Us leaves a good taste in the viewer’s mouth (Killingsworth, 2013). None of the female characters are paraded around in skintight clothing or chainmail bikinis, but are dressed as normal survivors in regular clothing. They do not have abnormally large body parts, and were not augmented in any way to appear perfect to the male gaze. In a similar way, the men are not portrayed as giant muscle men. In fact, Joel is portrayed at a middle-aged man who has aches and pains. His hair is graying, and he has a lean physique; his body is typical of the average American 45 year old. The...