The Last Of Us: 5 Similar Dynamic Duos Like Joel & Ellie

Adam Fay,

In case you’ve been living under a rock (like some kind of infected fungi) you’d know that The Last Of Us is the latest in a long line of HBO TV hits. The series (adapted from the popular video game) follows two apocalypse survivors who face insurmountable odds to outrun both a fast moving virus, and the remaining humans intent on staying alive no matter what.

Outside of the unforgettable Ep 3 (a landmark episode by anyone’s measure) the beating heart of the show lies in the relationship between Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey). This surrogate parent connection is not new in Movies and TV, in fact there have been several similarly iconic examples of this type of relationship.

Here’s our list of 5 similar Movie and TV Duos that captures the same emotional dynamic as Joel and Ellie.

1. Arya Stark and The Hound

Game of Thrones

Game Of Thrones made some questionable choices in the duration of the series (er…season 8 anyone?) but when it hit the mark, there really was no other show that could come close. One such example of when the series excelled was the unlikely pairing of these two great characters.

Season 4 had us cheering the unique partnership between Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann). Granted, there’s not much in common on the surface (certainly not in appearance) but as the story unfolded, this pairing quickly became one of the coolest, most kick-ass duos of the entire series.

Their initial time together was icy to say the least, but their bond grew over time and became one of the biggest reasons to tune in when the show was at its absolute peak.

2. Ripley & Newt


It’s without doubt one of the best Action/Sci-Fi movies ever made, and just like The Last Of Us, the relationship between two of Aliens central characters provides so much of the tension and heart of the story.

After locating Newt (Carrie Hen), the sole survivor of an off-world colony overrun by the deadly Xenomorphs, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) takes the child under her wing. Both characters are mourning the loss of their family and their surrogate mother/daughter relationship is the driver of much of the plot in Aliens.

In fact, it’s when Newt is abducted by the Xenomorphs that Ripley must step up and take matters into her own hands in some of the most grippingly fist-pumping action revenge ever put on film.

3. Din Djarin and Grogu

The Mandalorian

It’s Pedro Pascal again…and this time with an even younger (and much greener) surrogate accomplice. The Mandalorian has won over many Star Wars fanatics with its engrossing action and storylines, but perhaps its most successful attribute was the introduction of Grogu in season 1 (also known to many as Baby Yoda)

The dynamic between the two characters has become the backbone of the show’s success, providing the titular hero some much needed emotional depth beyond his usual stoic, task-driven bounty hunter persona. His need to protect and fight for The Child is strikingly similar to Pedro Pascal’s character in The Last Of Us, both roles see him as the father-figure protector, risking life and limb for his surrogate child.

4. T-800 & John Conner

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

In one of the most ingenious sequel flips of its time, Terminator 2: Judgment Day swapped Arnold Schwarzenegger’s emotionless killing machine from the original movie, into a no-holds-barred protector of all that is good in the follow up. What’s more, the pairing of the T-800 with the young John Conner (Edward Furlong) brings with it a terminator who shows humour and humility.

Even more compelling is the role of surrogate father that John places upon the machine, displayed beautifully in the movie when he tries teaching it some fundamentals of human behaviour. There’s a certain sadness in John’s need to make the T-800 the father he never had.

Not many Action films can get anywhere near this level of emotional depth and complexity.

5. Carl & Russell


If you can survive the first 10 minutes of Disney/Pixar’s UP! without becoming a blubbering, weeping puddle of mess…you’ll watch on to find one of the most lovely and enduring surrogate relationships in the history of cinema.

At 78 years old, Carl Fredricksen attaches a thousand balloons to his house in an attempt to visit Paradise Falls, the destination he and his wife always wanted to visit. Unbeknownst to him, his young neighbour Russell inadvertently comes along for the journey.

As their wild ride faces endless obstacles we see the once grumpy, humourless Carl slowly drop his guard and find genuine connection with the young boy.

You’d never guess it at first glance, but the parallels between Carl and Russell’s relationship in UP!, and Joel and Ellie in The Last Of Us cannot be denied. Both Carl and Joel have suffered immense loss, and it takes the innocence and joy of a child to find their way back from this despair.

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