This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us Part II.
The first season of HBO’s The Last of Us has widely been considered a success. From the casting to how the show molds the story itself for a new medium, both newcomers to Joel and Ellie’s journey and longtime fans of the games have found The Last of Us to be a compelling and engaging show. Adapting The Last of Us Part I was certainly no easy feat, but The Last of Us Part II is a different beast entirely.
Not only does the second game have more story and characters to cover, it has also proved to be a lot more controversial than its predecessor – especially when it comes to the playable character Abby. Abby was a new character in The Last of Us Part II, and while she’s introduced fairly early into the game, the player doesn’t really get to experience the full emotional depth of her story until about halfway through. For a majority of the first half of the game, the player controls Ellie, who is close to five years older than when we last left her in The Last of Us Part I, as she tries to find Abby and get revenge on her for killing Joel.
This act was unforgivable for many people, and they loathed the fact that they then had to play as and empathize with Abby, whose own father was killed by Joel in the previous game. So many of these “fans” were enraged and hated what Abby did that they took to the internet to voice their complaints, going so far as to send death threats to Laura Bailey, the actor who did the voice acting and motion-capture work for Abby, as well as Jocelyn Mettler, who provided the face model for the character.
With Abby likely to be introduced in season 2 of The Last of Us, there have been many people on the other side of things – both Abby supporters and neutral parties – who have shared their worry for whoever the show casts. Whoever takes on this role will not only have to deal with game players who hate Abby, they’ll likely also have to deal with those who are experiencing this story for the first time through the show and spent all of last season getting attached to Pedro Pascal as Joel.
But despite the enormous amount of hate that this actor will likely unjustly receive, there are still plenty of fans who are looking forward to seeing Abby’s side of the story adapted for the series. Fancastings have been circulating since The Last of Us season 1 ended, and have only seemed to increase since series co-creator Craig Mazin revealed back in August that the role of Abby has already been cast. Shannon Berry (The Wilds), Katy O’Brian (The Mandalorian), and even Florence Pugh (Black Widow, Midsommar) were early frontrunners among fans, but lately Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart), who was originally up for the role of Ellie in the HBO series, has also been circulating as a potential candidate.
As exciting as it is to speculate who could take on such an important and emotional role, true fans of The Last of Us and Abby’s story are right to be scared for whoever ends up portraying her in the series. Social media is great for connecting fans around the world to each other and the artists they love, but it can also be a cesspool of trolls that hide behind anonymous accounts while they threaten to kill actors for doing their job. Laura Bailey and Jocelyn Mettler certainly did not deserve the hate they got for playing Abby in the game and it’s such a shame that the actor playing her in the series will likely have the same happen to them.
Whoever plays Abby in the series shouldn’t have to delete their social media just to avoid being harassed by “fans.” Abby is a complicated character who makes choices we might not agree with, but that’s kind of the point of the game. Playing as Abby in The Last of Us Part II after we’ve seen her do something terrible and violent to a character that we and Ellie have grown to love lets us see her as more than just some mustache-twirling villain that we have to face in a boss fight. Being mean to and threatening an actor because you don’t like how their character’s story made you feel is certainly a choice, and if you really feel that strongly, maybe it’s time to go touch some grass, look deep into the mirror, and consider who the true villain of this story really is.