Joel's dead, Ellie's pregnant - The Last of Us 2 theories fans are all arguing over

In what was a surprise to maybe three people, The Last of Us 2 was announced with a teasey trailer and the promise from director Neil Druckmann that it would be 'story about hate'. 

But hating who, though? Since the reveal, the internet's gone nuts pulling apart several theories about what the game might be about. All with just enough of a grain of truth to consider. Let's run through them, shall we?

Joel is dead and Ellie is hallucinating

This is the main theory that fans are really going at, and it's really polarising the community. Some are convinced, others are say it's too obvious. 

The theory seems to have started because of the profound separation between the two in the trailer and the way Joel appears, walking out of the light like all good dead apparitions should. 

AND THEN HE DISAPPEARS. Just kidding, that's just the GIF looping obviously. 

That image of him up there is the only clear look we get, and something is slightly off about it. He doesn't seem to have aged, for example, and if anything he looks younger. He also seems pristine - his clothes are perfect, there's no blood on him. He doesn't have so much as a scuffed knuckle. Ellie, on the other hand, looks like she just murdered a full of house of people. But: Naughty Dog has a long history of deliberately misleading people in its trailers

Some fans have noted that Ellie is wearing a man's shirt because of the side it's buttoned on, and hypothesised it's Joel's. Although in the 'scavenge what you can' world of TLOU I'd argue beggars can't be choosers when it comes to the correct gender placement of fastenings. 

Another theory is that Joel committed suicide at some point in the past and that revolver he's holding is the gun he did it with, forever fixed in his hand by Ellie's memory. 

I also personally find the phrasing of his one line interesting: "What are you doing kiddo? Are you really going to go through with this?" It's an oddly passive couple of sentences that you might say if you couldn't actually influence the person you're talking to.

However, many people hate this theory pointing out that it's just such an obvious twist, as well as citing the game's buddy combat system - Ellie needs a partner for team brickings and wall climbing. Although that has been countered with the idea that Ellie could be projecting Joel on to someone else. 

Ellie is dead

Stop it. She's the playable character according to Naughty Dog. 

That said, the studio did emphatically say you wouldn't play as Ellie before the first game came out, to keep the surprise of you actually playing as Ellie. As we've established, you can't trust a damn thing they say. 

Also, Joel's lines make no sense if he's talking to a ghost 

Ellie will die and you'll finish as Joel or a new character

You're all just guessing at this point, aren't you? 

Ellie is, or was, pregnant

Now this is interesting. A lot of people are arguing that the guitar is hiding a baby bump. Now while this poses a few problems in terms of how Ellie is going to shiv people while with child - I'm not saying she can't, but it's going to be a little harder - there is a precedent here. 

Namely this comic cover which is found as an Easter egg in Uncharted 4: 

At the time, some people wondered if this could be a sequel or comic book related to Ellie's mother. However, now some are thinking this could actually be Ellie. While she's immune to the fungal spores, genetics means there's no guarantee a child would be.

Now, there are a few problems here. Ellie is gay, for one thing. But there's this bit of concept art that leaked a while back: 

It was kind of dismissed at the time but that guitar seems to link firmly it to the new trailer. 

Those armoured soldiers don't look like scavengers, they look like part of a well organised group. What if a government organisation kidnapped Ellie and inseminated her to try and capitalise on her immune DNA. They either took the baby, or she escaped, and these are the people she's going to hunt down and kill. 

Check out the 'sharpie test for her tattoo as well by designer Natalie Hall.

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Those reaching plants and butterflies are all very 'growth' and 'birth' flavoured motifs.

And, finally, it's a game about Ish and ghost Joel...

You remember Ish? He was a character you came across in an underground settlement full of children where everyone died. This leaked cover seems to confirm this rumour. Assuming it's real of course. 

(Image credit: Image credit)

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Leon Hurley
Managing editor for guides

I'm GamesRadar's Managing Editor for guides, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.