I know there have been plenty of threads about this in the past year, but I just can't help but to bring it up again because I'm among those few who recently finished the game. And of course, don't continue the thread if you haven't finished the game, it will spoil the ending.
The ending was completely overwhelming that I couldn't bring myself to do anything else other than think about the ending. Everyone had different opinions and beliefs about how the ending played. Some people considers Joel as a sociopath, or a psychopath even. I personally think, throughout this journey, Joel was having a battle with himself. Joel is fighting the feelings he has for Ellie, remember the time he said, "You're not my daughter, and I sure as hell ain't your father.", but as it turns out, he truly cares about her. Eventually, Joel stopped fighting, and accepted it and allowed this feeling inside. And when he heard that Ellie was not going to live in the process of creating a possibly vaccine for the virus, he couldn't accept her death. He straight up lied to her at the end, but I think Ellie knows that he isn't being honest but still decides to go with it.
We don't know if Ellie wanted to live or sacrifice herself to save the world, but surely, the choice was hers. But Joel chose to save Ellie instead of saving the world- or at least, saving those who are still alive. Even if they managed to create a vaccine, it still not a cure. It won't bring back what is already lost, it will just prevent more from what is already happening. And I'm pretty sure the Vaccine won't get to everyone. And yes, I agree that Joel is selfish, but he is human. Humans are selfish. At the end, he said you gotta keep going and look for something to fight for. Joel finally found someone to fight for, and that is Ellie.He has killed people for Ellie, and he put his life above hers.
I think, this is about The Last of Us. The Last of Humankind. Not humankind as a population in whole, but the last of . The last of those who still care about each other enough to solely save the life of a single beloved person and leave the rest of the world to die. Remember The Hunters? They kill people for their own needs, and I'm pretty damn sure they would kill each other when the time came for them to do it- and Joel said he used to be one of them too. Joel is only one out of a million, a single person that decided the fate of humanity- who chose a girl over the possible guaranteed life of millions- who knows, maybe only thousands. But he is also, one of The Last of Us. :)
Its not a happy ending for the world, but its a human ending. And I think Joel made the right choice.
Remember what that cannibalistic David from winter said: