Who Were Danny and Ish in The Last of Us? Explained

danny ish tlou
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The Last of Us Episode 5 was an absolute emotional rollercoaster (as is the rest of the show), filled with action, death, and epic side characters that appeared in the games as well. Henry and Sam were, obviously, the two we get the most familiar with, but there are two more that fans got quite curious about. So, who were Danny and Ish in The Last of Us?

Danny and Ish were ‘protectors’ of a small underground community formed in the sewers of Pittsburgh in The Last of Us game, or the tunnels below Kansas City in the TV show. They scavenged armor, assault rifles, sawed-off shotguns, and supplies from dead soldiers on the surface to protect their community.

While we never actually see Danny and Ish alive in the game or the show, we learn a lot about them through notes, and letters found scattered throughout the game. If you want to learn more about who these two protectors were, keep reading this article.

Did Danny and Ish appear in The Last of Us game?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, we never see Danny and Ish appear in The Last of Us games, nor the show. Not alive, at least. However, we learn a lot about them and their life through notes and letters found around Pittsburgh in the game. 

Firstly, there’s a child’s drawing of the two found in the sewers where their community lived after the outbreak. The drawing depicts Danny and Ish side by side in what appears to be military armor, holding rifles, along with the words: ‘Danny & Ish – our protectors.’ Danny seems to be bulkier and wearing a baseball cap, while Ish is leaner and more agile.

To learn who they were, however, we need to start with Ish’s story, which Joel learns more about through each note he finds in the game. On a side note, his name references Isherwood Williams, the main character and leader of a post-apocalyptic community from George R. Stewart’s novel, Earth Abides, written in 1949. 

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He had a similar storyline to Ish from The Last of Us. So, before the cordyceps outbreak, Ish was a fisherman, and he was out at sea on his trawler for a few months after the outbreak happened. However, he was forced to return to shore and did so near a sewage entrance in Pittsburgh.

Ish realized it could serve him as a great hideout from the infected, with huge metal doors and a fence. He decided to make it his home and started constructing a safe house. Soon, Ish needed supplies, so he started scavenging through nearby suburbs. As he did so, he stumbled upon a family – Susan, Kyle, and their kids.

Ish was ready to be shot at sight, but instead, the family spared him, offering to trade supplies with him. He did so and returned to the sewers but got lonely after a while. So, Ish decided to go back and ask the family to join him in the sewers, where it’s safe.

They agreed, and over time, they saved more people and kids, turning the sewers into a community – they even created a school for the kids and had running showers, beds, and rain catchers for water supply. They even let the kids draw a castle around the entrance, as they did in the show as well. That’s when Danny came into the picture.

danny ish entrance
The Last of Us Game – entrance to Ish’s underground community

Ish met him while out scavenging, and soon, Danny became a vital part of their community. The two became their community’s protectors as they scavenged for armor, weapons, and supplies from dead soldiers on the surface.

The end of the sewer community

The way their community ended is the perfect example of how unforgiving the post-apocalyptic world was. Everything they built came crashing down in a moment when somebody inadvertently left the door open. A horde of infected flooded their community, ripping them apart in a matter of moments.

Ish, Susan, and a couple of kids (none biologically Susan’s) managed to get away and close the doors with the infected inside. Kyle, Susan’s husband, was left inside, trapped in a closet with several children and the horde of infected trying to claw their way in. One note led us to believe Kyle shot all the children before ending his own life to save them all from the fate of the infected.

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Ish, Susan, and a few survivors took refuge in the suburbs, with Ish protecting what was left of their community. We don’t really know how their lives ended, and we never get an exact word on what happened to Danny either.

The man behind The Las of Us Game, Neil Druckmann, shared in an interview for IGN: Podcast Beyond that a note from Ish was supposed to be found in The Last of US: Left Behind in a mall in Colorado, explaining where Ish and his community ended up. 

However, the idea was scratched, as Druckmann believed it was just too coincidental and that it was better to leave the players imagining what happened to Ish and Danny themselves instead of serving up an improbable answer like that.

Who were Danny and Ish in The Last of Us TV series?

Now that you know who Danny and Ish were in The Last of Us game, you might wonder, are Danny and Ish the same characters in The Last of Us TV series?

The answer is – yes. Even the drawing that Joel, Ellie, Henry, and Sam found in the makeshift underground community in Episode 5 is the exact same drawing you find in the game. We don’t get such an elaborate backstory as we do in the game, but the premise is the same.

Danny and Ish were the protectors of an underground, post-outbreak community and even created a school for the children that were the members of the community. 

danny ish school tlou
Underground school for children in The Last of Us Game/TV Series

As for their demise, Joel said something along the lines of: ‘Somebody probably didn’t follow the rules, and they all got infected,’ which is essentially what happened to them in the game – somebody accidentally left the door open. Those few moments were enough for the end of the community forever.

The only difference is the situation didn’t happen in Pittsburgh but in Kansas City, and they weren’t exactly in the sewers, but rather the tunnels below KC. We don’t know if Ish was a fisherman, too, but it doesn’t really hold that much weight for the story in the first place.

Were Danny and Ish members of FEDRA in The Last of Us?

In the drawing Joel and Ellie find in the underground compound, you can clearly see that Danny and Ish are both wearing some kind of armor – that pretty much looks identical to FEDRA military armor. So, were Danny and Ish actually members of FEDRA?

One explanation could be that they were, in fact, FEDRA soldiers that simply broke away from the organization, not wanting to be as vile and cruel as we learn that FEDRA was in Kansas City. Perhaps they didn’t want to rape, murder, and torture people for twenty years (as Henry said to Joel FEDRA did in KC), so they created their own community underground and protected it.

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However, if that were the case, one would think that FEDRA would go after two rogue members, especially if they had an underground community. That’s why I believe the answer is much more straightforward.

Much like in the game, Danny and Ish probably simply scavenged the armor and weaponry from dead soldiers and wore them to protect their community. That’s why the child drew them in FEDRA armor, not because they were actually FEDRA soldiers.

danny ish compound
Image: HBO

I have to say, though, that this was by far the best episode of the show so far for me. The way that the showrunners honor everything from the game while making slight adjustments to make everything even more shocking, riveting, and emotional is beyond remarkable

I can’t wait for the next episode, which will take a bit longer to arrive since Episode 5 came out earlier due to Super Bowl. Episode 6 is coming out on February 19, 2023, exclusively on HBO and HBO Max.

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