**This post will have spoilers on the Last of Us' ending, if you haven't finished the game, leave this post now.***
(I posted my thoughts in various forums, and this post will have many similarities.)
So I've noticed that a lot of people had mixed feelings of the Last of Us' ending. While some people view Joel as the bad guy for "dooming" humanity, I actually don't see it that way. In fact, I would argue Joel did the right thing. Allow me to explain.
While Ellie was immune, that doesn't guarantee a working vaccine or cure. Today, there are people immune to aids, but they still have not found a cure or a viable vaccine. I think this proves that immunities do not guarantee vaccines or cures. We can't find a cure or vaccine for aids, and we have people immune in a world that has plenty plenty of resources, scientists, supplies etc. The Last of Us' world has limited supplies, limited resources and hardly any scientists. The chances of them creating a vaccine from Ellie was slim to none. In addition, even if they somehow created a vaccine, distributing throughout the entire world would be a difficult task considering it was full of infected and humans trying to kill you. The reason there would still be infected is because a vaccine is not a cure, it just creates an immunity. So bloater, Clickers, Stalkers and runners would still be a threat.
Here's how I view Joel. Joel lost his daughter Sarah in the beginning of the game. This made him a bitter, heartbroken man. The next 20 years of his life he was cruel, and he forgotten how to love. When he first met Ellie, she was just a job to him, just cargo as Tess put it, but as they crossed the country escaping death around every corner, both Ellie and Joel slowly began to care for each other. Ellie became a surrogate daughter to Joel, and after seeing his daughter Sarah die in the beginning, there was no way Joel was going to let his "daughter" Ellie die.
It could be considered selfish for saving Ellie, but I think Joel was under the impression Ellie would live. He had no idea they needed to remove her brain, and I don't think Ellie knew either. Since there was no guarantee they could create a vaccine or a cure, and the world was broken, Joel did what was right for him, and what was right for the game.
After everything Ellie and Joel had been through, could you see it ending any other way? Could you see Joel letting someone he loved die... after Sarah?
If you still feel sour toward Joel's actions, let me leave you with this thought:
If there was a little girl today who was immune to cancer, I think many parents would happily volunteer their daughter to be tested in the effort to create a vaccine or cure. However, if doctors approached her parents and said "In order to create a vaccine or cure, we have to kill your daughter to study her immunity", I think most loving parents would do anything in their power to save their daughter. While letting your daughter die for the greater good is noble, and possibly the right thing to do, I think most loving parents in Joel's position would attempt to save their daughter. It might be selfish, but it's profoundly human and it represents and parent's love for their child against all odds, logic and reason. What Joel did at the end of the game, as strange as it may sound, was loving Ellie more than anything in the world. Any good parent would do the same.
So at the very least, Joel's actions were driven by his love for Ellie. But I personally believe the fireflies wouldn't be able to reverse engineer a cure or a vaccine. I don't think Ellie's immunity guaranteed a vaccine or cure. They could have tried, but would most likely fail.
I don't believe Joel is a bad person.
Saving Ellie was definitely the right decision and any other choice would of been just WRONG. Ellie had pretty much became a "second daughter" to Joel at that point of the game and who'd sacrifice their own daughter because of a possible cure for a world that doesn't have much left of it.
Oh, and right shoulder default blows.
There could have been a choice ending like press L2 to leave Ellie (bad ending) or press R2 to save Ellie (better ending, it wasn't happy now, was it?). But I am pretty sure everyone would have pressed R2 then.
I have acquired the grade of Master in The Last of Us story/character/game knowledge as I have played it through 9 times.
... I have no life.