The Last of Us show had a pretty gruesome episode this week. The Winter section has long been regarded as the original game’s darkest section, reckoning with its most villainous figures and horrifying realities of the post-apocalypse. Because of that, it’s perhaps merciful on the showrunner’s part that the show omits the most heartbreaking death of the series: the rabbit that Ellie shot dead in the game.
[Spoilers for The Last of Us game and show follow]
The winter section starts with a cold (sorry, sorry) open of a small rabbit emerging from a hole surrounded by fresh snow. It sniffs about as it assesses its surroundings. Then, just as we’ve had long enough to get attached to the cute little fella, an arrow pierces its neck, pinning it to the ground.
As its eyes go white, we then find out the arrow came from none other than Ellie. She’s hunting for food, and this little guy just happened to scamper out into her sight line. Fortunately for us, this is a cutscene rather than a playable segment. So if you had your scruples about shooting the rabbit, that was thankfully taken out of our hands. However, the same can’t be said for a deer that Ellie sees shortly after, which acts as a tutorial to reintroduce the games’ mechanics after it switches the player from Joel’s perspective to Ellie’s.
The rabbit scene has taken on a new life years after The Last of Us launched in 2013. This is primarily thanks to streamer Negaoryx, whose reaction to Ellie’s killing shot became a meme in its own right back in 2019.
Now, Negaoryx’s reaction has been used as an overlay for plenty of other viral videos. As it turns out, plenty of other media merits a jarring shift from adoration to immediate shock and sadness.
A rabbit does still make a quick appearance in the episode, as Ellie sees it before the deer. While she was ready to shoot it with her rifle, it manages to run away before Ellie can get a clear shot. This feels like a knowing nod to fans, but it’s easy to imagine a version of this segment where Ellie did shoot the rabbit that was cut for time’s sake. But anyone who’s played The Last of Us Part II knows Ellie will go hunting again, and there may be another chance for HBO to recreate this scene next season.
While the rabbit scene doesn’t happen in the show, Ellie still goes hunting in episode 8, though she uses the rifle we saw Joel teach her to use instead of a bow. Sadly, the deer she kills does put her in the path of David, who is just as much of an awful bastard as he is in the game, if not worse.