Are Joel and Tess Together in The Last of Us? Relationship Explained

tess and joel

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During the early part of HBO’s version of The Last of Us, it was quite apparent that Joel was not alone in the different things that he needed to do to survive the Cordyceps Brain Infection outbreak. We are talking about Tess, who we met in episode 1 of The Last of Us as Joel’s partner and ally in smuggling Ellie out of the Boston QZ. Of course, wherever Joel was, Tess was also there. So, are Joel and Tess together in The Last of Us?

It is likely that Joel and Tess are romantically involved in The Last of Us. That’s because, in episode 1, we saw that a woman was crawling up into bed with him. Considering that Tess is the only woman that Joel is remotely close to and trusts well enough, it is likely that they are together.

The thing about the relationship of Joel with Tess is that it is quite ambiguous in the game as it was never mentioned whether or not they were together. Nevertheless, more clues were given in HBO’s version of The Last of Us, as we saw both of them together in bed. This gives us an idea of what kind of relationship they have. So, with that said, let’s look at this relationship closely.

Are Joel And Tess Together?

When we met Joel during the prologue of HBO’s live-action version of The Last of Us, he was a man that lived together with his daughter as he raised her as a single father. Of course, the setup worked well for him because he seemed to be happy with the kind of life he had with his daughter. Nevertheless, it was still clear that he wasn’t romantically involved with anyone back in 2003.

The Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI) outbreak happened, and that was when Joel lost his daughter to a soldier that shot her. After that, 20 years went by, and Joel was now living in the Boston Quarantine Zone (QZ), where he now lives an entirely different life. Joel now works as a smuggler that is skilled at getting people and things in and out of the QZ without FEDRA authorities noticing it. And he worked in that profession together with a woman named Tess.


As the episode continued, it was clear that both Joel and Tess were quite close with one another and were always around each other. Of course, we saw how well they worked together when they were able to get to the Fireflies’ base to recover the weapons that should have gone to them instead of the Fireflies. And that was when they ended up taking a job from Marlene, who wanted them to smuggle Ellie out of the Boston QZ into the Capitol Building in Boston so that the Fireflies there could take her.

In that regard, the duo of Joel and Tess took Ellie and proceeded to smuggle her out of the QZ. But while the main story revolves around their job of taking Ellie to the Fireflies in Boston, the thing is that Joel and Tess seem to be rather close with one another without being romantic. So, are Joel and Tess together in The Last of Us?


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In the game, people often question whether or not Joel and Tess were romantically involved, as there were hardly any hints regarding their relationship. However, because the creators of the HBO version did indeed admit that they were going to introduce a few changes to the series, there was a subtle hint regarding the relationship between Joel and Tess.

When Joel was in bed and was having a hard time sleeping, we saw a woman getting in bed with him. This woman had her back turned against the camera but eventually showed the side profile of her face. It is likely that this woman was Tess, as Joel wouldn’t have allowed just about any other woman to crawl up to bed with him.

joel and tess

Throughout Joel’s life in the QZ, Tess was the only woman remotely close to him, as he didn’t trust a lot of people. He made sure to keep his circle small because trust was important in a world where people value their survival more than their relationships with others. Of course, we know for a fact that Joel is still affected by the death of his daughter, and that made him a man that kept his circle small because he didn’t want to lose another person in his life again.

As such, it is likely that Tess was the only woman he ever trusted to be in his inner circle during the time of the CBI outbreak. And that is why it is likely that this woman that crawled into bed with him is Tess, who Joel trusted well enough to share an apartment with and live together.

What Is Joel’s Relationship With Tess?

Of course, despite the fact that there is a good chance that Tess was the woman that crawled into bed with Joel during that scene in episode 1, that isn’t really conclusive proof that they are together. So, what exactly is Joel’s relationship with Tess?

It is likely that Joel and Tess see each other as partners that they can trust in a world where trusting a person can get you killed. Due to the state of the world at that time, the most important thing that people needed to do was to make sure that they survived the CBI outbreak. As such, we know for a fact that Joel and Tess trust each other well enough to work with one another for years and even live with one another under one roof.


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Nevertheless, the lack of any romantic or sexual tension between the two was quite evident, as some people would think that they are merely business partners that have each other’s back in a world where it was important to find people that you could trust. As such, it is likely that romance was something that neither Joel nor Tess ever thought of when they started working together, as their primary goal was to help each other survive by working together.

Of course, it is more than possible that they are romantically or even sexually involved with one another, but it is more likely that they care each other more as people that worked together for a very long time to survive a dog-eat-dog world. That is why Joel probably trusted Tess well enough to share a bed with him and why neither of them ever tried to define their relationship.

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