Who Are the Fireflies? The Last of Us Rebels Explained

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We know for a fact that the entire storyline of The Last of Us takes place in a world that had become ravaged by the Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI) outbreak, which caused infected humans to mutate into bloodthirsty monsters that were responsible for the downfall of human society and civilization. As such, FEDRA rose as the only government arm that controlled the Quarantine Zones (QZs) all over America. But because FEDRA was cruel and harsh, another militant group called the Fireflies rose up to challenge the people behind FEDRA. So, who are the Fireflies in The Last of Us?

The Fireflies are a militant revolutionary group that opposes FEDRA and is looking to establish a new order in the Quarantine Zones after they saw how harshly FEDRA treated the survivors in the camps. On top of that, the Fireflies are also actively working on a vaccine for the Cordyceps Brain Infection.

At first, it looks as if the Fireflies are the good guys. However, things aren’t really black or white in the world of The Last of Us because different people are willing to go to different lengths to get what they want, and that includes the Fireflies. As the game would suggest, the Fireflies aren’t exactly the good guys, and they aren’t evil as well. That’s something we’ll try to look at in this article.

Who Are The Fireflies In The Last Of Us?

One of the things that we know about the world of The Last of Us is that the CBI outbreak has caused the entirety of human civilization and society to fall apart. In that regard, there are only a few government entities left to help keep the human race alive, as FEDRA took it upon itself to become the only authority when it comes to the QZs where the survivors live.

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But the problem with FEDRA is that it tends to have a harsh way of doing things as it implements the law of the QZs in a strict manner that makes it difficult for people to live proper lives as human beings. Human rights have all become an afterthought to FEDRA as the people that work for this military group are willing to do anything to make sure that people are kept in line. And that includes executing violators on the spot to set an example to other people to never cross the line.

Because of the harsh way that FEDRA did things, the people needed to fight back. We’ve seen this throughout history when a tyrannical leader or authoritative figure pushes the people back enough for the people to want to push back. That is why a revolutionary group of people was organized to combat FEDRA in the world of The Last of Us. These are the people called the Fireflies, as this is a revolutionary and militant faction that aims to go against FEDRA.

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We saw in episode 1 what kind of people the Fireflies are as they tend to operate outside of FEDRA’s radar. Marlene, their leader, was introduced quite early in the series. And Joel tends to call her Queen Firefly due to her status as one of the top people in this organization.

The thing about the Fireflies is that they operate all over the country as an organized militant group that works in cells. Despite that, it seems like Marlene is the person that every Firefly looks up to. And we saw what kind of a leader Marlene was in episode 1 when she was able to keep all of the Fireflies in line.

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In the video game, the Fireflies were looking to restore the type of governance that was prevalent before the time of the CBI outbreak, as the current government under FEDRA is one that is tyrannical. There is no room for democracy in the martial law regime under FEDRA, as people are forced to follow the rules or die. That means that the Fireflies are looking to depose FEDRA and establish a new order that is similar to the way things were run back before the world fell apart.

What Is The Role Of The Fireflies?

As revealed in episode 1, it seems like the Fireflies have a grand plan because of how important Ellie is to Marlene. She hired the services of Joel and Tess to make sure that Ellie would be delivered safely to the other Fireflies, and it seems like there is a good reason for that. And we found out at the end of episode 1 that Ellie was infected but was immune to the CBI.

In that regard, it is possible that the reason why Marlene is so obsessed with delivering Ellie safely to the other Fireflies is the fact that she could be the key to the vaccine. The games show that the Fireflies are some of the few people that actively work on finding a vaccine for the CBI, and that’s why Ellie is so important to them, as her blood could be the key to ending the pandemic once and for all.

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Nevertheless, things aren’t as simple as that. The Fireflies, on paper, may seem like the good guys. After all, we often look at the ones that are trying to overthrow a corrupt and tyrannical government as the good guys in a larger story. But the world of The Last of Us isn’t exactly black or white.

There are grey areas in The Last of Us, and it does seem like the Fireflies also commit different atrocities and acts, as the video games suggest. That’s because Marlene and the Fireflies are hellbent on finding a cure for the CBI and are willing to do anything, no matter what it takes. And this is where the story of Joel and Ellie comes in, as they are in the middle of things when it comes to the goals of the Fireflies.

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In a sense, Joel was right in episode 1 when he said that he didn’t trust Marlene and the Fireflies. After all, his younger brother, Tommy, an idealistic person, left the Fireflies in the past when he became disillusioned by what they truly are and what they do. And that means that the Fireflies aren’t exactly the good guys as well.

As such, morals are still regarded as some of the most important things for a person to have in the world of The Last of Us, as people now operate in morally grey areas to survive. Joel himself did horrible things in the past to make sure that he survived, but he knows for a fact that he should put those days behind him. On the other hand, the Fireflies seem to operate in the morally grey areas as well as they believe that the ends justify the means. And no matter how noble or idealistic their purpose may be, the fact is that they aren’t as good as they seem to be.

  • Ysmael Delicana

    Ysmael “Eng” Delicana is a writer based in Davao City, Philippines. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Ateneo de Davao University before continuing to teach part-time at the same university. While teaching was a fun gig, being a geek and a writer seemed to be his cal...