‘The Last Of Us’ Fireflies, Explained: What Was The Involvement Of The Fireflies In The Game?

The year is 2013, a deadly virus that originated somewhere in South America made its way to the United States and as it made its presence known, chaos ensued, and death followed. The cordyceps brain infection (CBI) acted as civilization’s final stand, one they couldn’t overcome, and society collapsed. The United States of America, once bustling with life turned into a wasteland full of humans who were mutated thanks to the virus and turned into undead monsters called clickers. As the cities collapsed one by one and life as we know it started ceasing to exist, the government took action. Survivors from the outbreak were walled off into pockets called the quarantine zones where they started to make their living. The government did the best it could but after some time, all of their measures went in vain, they disbanded themselves and the United States became a police state ruled by Homeland security and the military. 

A dying world where society and civilization are in shambles, food and rations are in limited supply and where people spend their lives inside walled off zones with strict rules and laws, all being overseen by people wielding guns is a recipe for disaster. Disaster did follow as the survivors started asking questions and their answers? The butt of a gun to their face. Times are dark and desperate. There is no light looming on the horizon. Everywhere you look, death follows. The winters are cold with no heat or blankets to warm people up. Food is in short supply and the limited amount that is assigned to each person needs to be earned. Society has collapsed in such a manner that even after finding a cure for the virus and getting people back on their feet, it may never make it back to the way it used to be. All of this brings out the desperation in people. Desperate to survive. Desperate to live. Desperate to see the light of tomorrow as with each passing day, things get worse and worse.

Maintaining a happy, healthy and positive environment in a world like this with terrible living conditions is next to impossible. When all hope is gone, no matter how hard you try, you can’t see past the gloom that surrounds you. The thing that adds insult to injury here is the way these people are treated. Order needs to be maintained and what remains needs to be saved but at what cost? Human beings are some of the most corruptible species out there and once the government falls and the military takes control, that corruption shows its colors in the form of totalitarianism. The military practically works with the tough love philosophy and while they are doing their job, they do it in a way that gives them absolute power and control. The people who dare question them are not met with answers but with beatings. Any kind of rebellion ends up with innocents being gunned down by them and no one gets to question their methods or raise their voices against them. If you think about it, what other choice do they have in times like this? However, if the government were still around then things might have been different. The government would never allow or condone this shoot first, ask questions later philosophy when it comes to innocent people. The government, despite having its own lust for power and greed, would watch out for the people when they look up to them. This belief led to the formation of a group. A group that abhors the radicalism that the military throws at them. A group that believes that things should be handled diplomatically and in a civilized manner despite the times. A group that doesn’t want power for themselves but wants a democratic way of decision-making like it was before. A group called fireflies. 

The formation of the fireflies began once the military started imposing martial law across several quarantine zones throughout the country. They started with protests that soon turned into riots and weren’t afraid of taking a bullet to stand up for their cause to restore the government. The people of the quarantine zones stood behind the fireflies as they themselves were sick and tired of the military and fireflies gained more and more members across the country. After numerous members of the fireflies were executed by the military, the group gained full support from the people and started staging riots and rebellions throughout the quarantine zones all over the country. They failed in a lot of cases resulting in the deaths of a lot of Firefly members, the military and innocent people. At the same time, they were successful to some extent and pushed the military away from quarantine zones like Pittsburgh and Seattle. Corruption is a thing that even the Fireflies aren’t immune from as observed by a lot of people from across all settlements who claim that the Fireflies use the people to get rid of the military so they can rule them for themselves. What is right and what is wrong in this world? Are there seriously no good guys here?

The answer to that question is a yes. Yes, there are a lot of people among the Fireflies who are good and want to do good for the people of this country. Although, I must say here that just like everything else in this world (just like the real world) isn’t simply black or white but comes with shades of grey in between. By the 2020s, Fireflies gained a ton of popularity and notoriety and by the 2030s, they came packed with huge numbers and picked fights with the military quite regularly. One such member who wanted to do good for the people went by the name of Marlene, the leader of the Fireflies. Alongside wanting to restore the government, Marlene’s sole purpose was to find a cure and end this damn outbreak once and for all. By this point in time, the Fireflies established their base which was the University of Colorado and started wearing a patch of yellow to make the people aware of them and to let them know that they are always there to lend a hand. Their base was full of scientists working on a cure but to no avail, while on the other hand, Firefly soldiers sparked rebellion after rebellion all over the country. An unfortunate accident leads them to flee from their base and re-establish it once again, this time inside Saint Mary’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

As the years went on, their numbers started dwindling with countless members dying and others abandoning ship. Despite that, Marlene’s hunt for the cure doesn’t stop and after years of looking for a cure and failing, Marlene stumbles upon something, or someone, that may as well be the key to ending all this. A young girl named Ellie who was bitten and yet remains immune to the effects of the virus. Ellie and Marlene share a mutual person of interest between them as Ellie’s mom is Marlene’s closest friend. Marlene comes up with a plan to extract Ellie from Boston and take her to the base so the scientists can study here and maybe come up with a cure, but her plans face some hurdles, and she leaves Ellie in the custody of a man named Joel and his partner Tess. Marlene then makes her way back to Salt Lake City and awaits Joel and Ellie’s arrival as 2034 approaches and Joel finally reaches the Firefly base with Ellie. 

Marlene informs Joel that Ellie will not survive the procedure and Joel who now shares an unbreakable bond with Ellie thanks to their journey, responds with violence, killing every last member in the base alongside Marlene which marks the end of the Fireflies. 

The Fireflies are the necessary evil in this world, an evil that fights the other evils that rule people with an iron fist. An evil that, to a degree, uses people to fulfill their own ulterior motives. An evil with good ideas and good intentions perhaps but not the best practices or a sense of uniformity. As I mentioned in the beginning, not everything here is black and white and not everyone is purely good or evil and the Fireflies are no exception to that rule. The Fireflies started with the mantra “when you are lost in the dark, look for the light” which they proudly sprayed all over the place with an insignia but as we all know, the fire can burn hot and wild only for so long and with the passage of time, somewhere along the way, The Fireflies themselves got lost in the dark. 


See more: ‘The Last of Us’ All The Monsters Shown In The Video Game, Explained In Depth


Kartik Sharma
Kartik Sharma
Kartik is sometimes a freelance content writer and an actor. He loves spending his time reading books, playing videogames, dabbling in music, exploring different cultures and languages, etc. loves everything that is art and loves to explore new horizons.

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