Episode 3 of the popular adaptation saw a touching showcase of Bill and Frank’s relationship, which has prompted fans to resurface the old debate asking if Joel is gay or not in the franchise, and we explore the possibilities alongside previewing episode 5.

Episode 4, titled Please Hold My Hand, saw the arrival of Melanie Lynskey’s antagonist, Kathleen, in Kansas City, while she was searching for Henry before Joel and Ellie stumbled into the Hunters’ territory.

Created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann for HBO and based on the 2013 video game of the same name by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us series follows smuggler Joel who must escort teenager Ellie across a post-apocalyptic America ridden with infected creatures.

Exploring if Joel is gay or bisexual in The Last of Us franchise

While Joel has never been referred to as gay or bisexual in the video game, nor confirmed to be by the source material’s director, fans have noticed a few glaring clues that may hint at the protagonist’s preference.

We know that he was married to Sarah’s mother, but the pair separated, and part of the fandom wondered if this had anything to do with Joel coming out.

Joel’s relationship with Tess is an interesting one to navigate. There’s a clear closeness between them but we never see anything romantic happen between them. The pair share a bed in HBO’s adaptation, but that could just be a sign of good friendship or companionship at the end of the world.

Others have pointed out Bill’s remark to Joel, asking “Trouble in paradise?”, which seems to suggest he was in a relationship with Tess.

Some fans also believe that Joel may have traded sexual favors for the loot he got from smugglers in the QZ, however, that could also come from a mindset of surviving rather than anything else.

For now, Joel is considerably shut down after the loss he has suffered, in both the game and the HBO series, which may be the reason behind his lack of intimacy with anybody.

Joel and Tess in The Last of Us Part 1
Screenshot taken from offical The Last of Us Part I – Launch Trailer – Playstation youtube channel

HBO amplified the video game’s diversity

HBO’s adaptation of the source material developed Bill and Frank’s ambiguous relationship from the video game, which blossomed into an emotional third episode for the show.

It was hinted at in Naughty Dog’s first game that Bill was gay, however, a romantic relationship with Frank was never aired.

Ellie, however, is known to be gay in the source material, first sharing a kiss with Riley when she was younger and later forming romantic involvement with Dina in The Last of Us Part II.

Fans learning about the story through the adaptation alone know about Joel’s previous marriage and his connection to Tess, but viewers will have to wait and see if HBO decides to take Joel’s preference in another direction.

Nick Offerman, Murray Bartlett as Bill and Frank in The Last of Us episode 3
© 2022. Warner Media, LLC.

The Last of Us episode 5 preview

The Last of Us episode 5, which is yet to receive a title, is scheduled to release on Sunday, February 12, 2023, on HBO and HBO Max.

The episode will debut at Midnight PT in the United States, however, fans watching in the UK can watch episode 2 at 2 am GMT on Monday, January 23, 2023.

Episode 5 will see riots break out across Kansas City amidst Kathleen’s search for Henry and Sam, while Joel and Ellie unite with them elsewhere.

The Last of Us episode guide and release schedule lets you know when every episode airs, along with titles as they are announced.

By Jo Craig – [email protected]

The Last of Us is now showing on HBO and HBO Max.

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