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Who are the Fireflies in The Last of Us?

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The first episode of HBO’s The Last of Us introduces us to a new world overrun by a fungal infection. Boston, where the second half of episode 1 takes place, still survives and is run by a totalitarian group called FEDRA. And, with every harsh regime, there are freedom fighters to rise up against oppression. In The Last of Us, these are the Fireflies, but who are they, really? 

Spoilers to follow for episode 1. 

 

The Fireflies in The Last of Us so far

While we are given a bit more context for FEDRA in the first episode, the background on the Fireflies hasn’t been revealed yet.

What we do know is: 

  • The Fireflies are a militant, armed group opposed to FEDRA’s iron first control of Boston (and, presumably, other cities where FEDRA is the authority). It’s clear FEDRA has labelled them as terrorists (as they are accused of being such a few times), but they always maintain they are working to free the city from tyranny.
  • They leave messages around the city to either inspire hope or lure others to their cause. They also actively recruit, as we see in one scene where a man approaches Joel with that goal in mind.
  • The Boston contingent is run by a woman named Marlene and her (presumably, though it’s never stated directly) second-in-command, Kim. Marlene has ties to people in other (safer?) parts of the country, and her goal is to get Ellie to one of these safe zones.
The Last of Us Fireflies
Credit: The Last Of Us on HBO

What are the Fireflies in The Last of Us game? 

Their lore in the game is a bit more complex that my brief explanation below, so you can read about it in detail on The Last of Us Wiki. Similarly to the show, they arose as a counter to FEDRA.  

In the game’s history, they were the reason for several massive protests and riots against FEDRA control and they successfully defeated regimes in other cities. Yet, citizens feared the Fireflies would be as bad of leaders as FEDRA and ousted them from power in much the same way. 

The Fireflies also spent time and resources searching for a cure for the infection, which is similar to their goals in the show. 

The Fireflies Logo
Credit: The Last of Us

How Will FEDRA Differ in the Show?

In the game, the Fireflies were as much the antagonists to Joel and Ellie as FEDRA. They were willing to use people as they saw fit and resorted to a “the end justifies the means” approach to accomplishing their goals. It will be interesting to see if the show takes this same approach or whether they will soften them into either neutral parties or even protagonists. Marlene was also the leader of the Fireflies in the game, so whether she’s revealed to be the leader or just the leader of the Boston faction will likely be shown. 

Either way, it was fun to see that Marlene wore green in the show, as this was a callback to the game (as Fireflies wore green or yellow to show they were part of the group). It will be interesting to see what direction the show takes the Fireflies, and whether they will, indeed, light up the darkness. 

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T. S. Beier is obsessed with science fiction, the ruins of industry, and Fallout. She is the author of What Branches Grow, a post-apocalyptic novel (which was a Top 5 Finalist in the 2020 Kindle Book Awards and a semi-finalist in Hugh Howey's 2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition) and the Burnt Ship Trilogy (space opera). She is a book reviewer, editor, freelance writer, and co-owner of Rising Action Publishing Co. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two feral children, and a Shepherd-Mastiff.

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