The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog created one final closing scene for the game, and during The Last of Us: One Night Live, yesterday's one-off live performance based on the game's story, the studio presented the epilogue for those in attendance.
(Warning: Spoilers for The Last of Us follow.)
NeoGAF members who were in the audience provided details on the forum about the show and epilogue. According to those reports, Neil Druckmann, writer and creative director of The Last of Us, introduced the final scene after the credits rolled by saying that it was a special treat for the audience — Naughty Dog will never release it publicly.
The performers, Troy Baker as Joel and Ashley Johnson as Ellie, acted out the epilogue on stage. According to the attendees' reports, the scene finds Joel and Ellie, the two protagonists of The Last of Us, living at the dam where Tommy, Joel's brother, was holed up. Joel mentions to Ellie that Tommy is trying to get him to tie the knot with a woman at the camp named Esther. But Ellie seems distant — perhaps because of her suspicions that Joel was lying to her about what happened in Salt Lake City.
Joel brings out his guitar and plays a song for Ellie about their journey together, and he is "clearly communicating how important she is to him," according to one report. Ellie warms to Joel, and he tells her a cringe-worthy pun that could've come from one of her joke books: "What's the downside of eating a clock? It's time-consuming." They laugh, and then Joel hands her his guitar and promises to teach her how to play, before leaving the room. Ellie strums one note on the guitar as the scene ends.
Druckmann explained that the idea behind the sequence was to say goodbye to Joel and Ellie, and to the four years that Naughty Dog spent developing The Last of Us. In what is perhaps a strange coincidence, the very end of the epilogue bears some similarities to a piece of fan art (see above) that Marek Okon, one of the game's artists, posted on his Facebook page in May.
You can watch the entire performance of The Last of Us: One Night Live — aside from the post-credits epilogue — below. For more, check out our review of The Last of Us Remastered on PlayStation 4.
Correction: Druckmann commented on the epilogue in a tweet a few days after One Night Live to clarify a few facts. The article above said Naughty Dog "cut" the epilogue from the game, which is inaccurate. Druckmann said he wrote the epilogue specifically for the live performance; it was not part of the original script for The Last of Us, and we've edited the article to reflect this.
Druckmann added that the epilogue takes place "a few WEEKS after the game"; some attendees had erroneously reported that the scene was set four years after the end of The Last of Us, but Druckmann was referring to the time Naughty Dog spent making the game. And according to Druckmann, the song Joel sings to Ellie in the epilogue is "Future Days" by Pearl Jam — the closing track on the band's most recent album, 2013's Lightning Bolt.