How does Tess die in The Last Of Us?

Tess (Anna Torv) squatting down to speak to Ellie in The Last Of Us
Tess' part in Joel and Ellie's journey is now over. (Image credit: HBO)

*This article contains major spoilers for The Last Of Us

The Last Of Us' second episode comes with a second gut punch for Joel (Pedro Pascal). After losing his daughter during the initial outbreak of the Cordyceps infection — a moment he's clearly still processing two decades on — he ended up being forced to say goodbye to his smuggling partner, Tess (Anna Torv) as they set out to take Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to the Fireflies. 

Fans of the game will have known this death was coming, but the nature of how she went out was somewhat different in the show. Read on for a breakdown of exactly what happened to Tess in the final moments of the second episode of the HBO Max and Sky TV show, and how it differs from what happens to Tess in the original PlayStation game. 

And If you're looking for a full rundown of how Joel, Ellie, and Tess made it to the proposed meeting point where they were handing Ellie over, check out our The Last Of Us episode 2 recap.

How does Tess die in The Last Of Us TV series?

Tess (Anna Torv) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) stand at the firefly rendezvous point in The Last Of Us

Tess begs Joel to go on without her.  (Image credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO)

We rejoin Joel and Tess as they're making their way Ellie through the ruins of Boston under orders from Marlene (Merle Dandridge) to hand Ellie over to a group of Fireflies at the Massachusetts State House. 

They face plenty of dangers as they explore the bombed-out buildings en route to their destination, including a life-or-death encounter with two Clickers, advanced forms of the infected creatures that roam the land.

When they reached the State House, Ellie sussed out that Tess had actually become infected (possibly from the earlier struggle). With her secret out in the open, Tess begged Joel to carry on without her and to take Ellie to Bill and Frank, two smugglers that we've only heard mention of in the show so far.

Joel is reluctant, but Tess convinces him that Ellie's immunity to the infection is worth taking a chance on. At the same time, she starts flooding the place with fuel from drums left over by the Fireflies and throwing grenades onto the floor, as a swarm of infected Runners begins making their way toward them.

As Joel finally drags Ellie from the scene, Tess resolves to stay behind to prevent the horde from coming after them. With the fuel and explosives set, she takes out her lighter and begins to try to strike it as the infected swarm the building.

Instead of charging right at her, one runner instead slowly walks up to her and gives her a kiss in order to transfer tendrils of the mutated cordyceps fungus into her body. At that moment, Tess finally manages to strike a flame and drops the lighter.

We then jump outside to Joel and Ellie. They've just left the building behind as it explodes and flames start spreading, leaving them to complete the next part of their journey without Tess in tow. 

How does Tess die in The Last Of Us game?

Tess (Anna Torv) in front of a car in The Last Of Us

Tess' final scene plays out slightly differently in the original game. (Image credit: HBO/Sky)

As we've already mentioned, Tess' death has been somewhat altered in comparison to what happened in the original video game. Whilst she does still give her own life in order to buy Joel and Ellie some more time to escape the building, she's fending off a different set of foes. 

In the game, Joel, Tess, and Ellie make it to the building and stumbled across the dead Fireflies. Again, Tess is determined that they get Ellie out of Boston, and then Ellie in turn realizes that Tess is infected. 

Once again, they have a conversation where Tess insists that Joel get Ellie out of the city limits. However, here's where the differences begin: Instead of asking him to take Ellie to Bill and Frank, Tess begs Joel to find a way to get Ellie to Tommy, Joel's ex-Firefly brother.

Instead of a swarm of infected runners, this time the trio is dealing with an influx of FEDRA soldiers, and Tess — who tells Joel she is determined she "will not turn into one of those things" — decides to give her life fighting them off, rather than succumbing to the infection. Joel wants to stay and help, but Tess shoves him away.

In total, Tess manages to kill two FEDRA soldiers before they overwhelm her. As Joel and Ellie head off on their own, they hear Tess screaming, and Joel catches a final glimpse of her body as they leave the building.

The Last Of Us airs Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max and Mondays at 2 am and 9 pm on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK.  

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at

Martin is a Staff Writer with, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.