What Happens to Riley in 'The Last of Us'? Character's Fate Explained

The Last of Us takes a step back from the action of Joel and Ellie's quest across America in order to give viewers a glimpse at the teen's back story, and in particular her relationship with Riley Abel.

Episode 7 is titled "Left Behind" (more on that later) and explores Ellie's past as a means of explaining her current state of mind while trying to save Joel after he was wounded badly in Episode 6.

That is where Riley (played by Storm Reid) comes in and the character is of great importance to the teen's arc throughout the series. Here is everything you need to know.

Who Is Riley in 'The Last of Us' Games?

The Last of Us
Above, Bella Ramsey as Ellie Williams and Storm Reid as Riley Abel ride a carousel together in "The Last of Us" Episode 7. It's unclear from the episode if Riley (also inset) survives being bitten by an Infected. Liane Hentscher/HBO

Riley is a character that appears in The Last of Us: Left Behind, a downloadable expansion pack to the original game.

The expansion featured two stories. The first is set three weeks before the events of The Last of Us and follows Ellie's time with Riley, as shown in Episode 7 of the HBO show.

In the second part of the Left Behind pack, players follow Ellie (Bella Ramsey) as she tries to find the medical supplies she needs to save Joel's life.

'The Last of Us' Episode 7 Recap

As mentioned, Episode 7 returns to Ellie and Joel (Pedro Pascal) shortly after the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode, and it begins with the teen trying to save Joel's life.

Joel, however, tells Ellie that she should leave him and go back to Tommy (Gabriel Luna). He is insistent, but Ellie doesn't want to do what he says. That's when viewers are introduced to her past.

When Ellie said everyone in her life had "either died or left her" she was referring, in part, to Riley, her best friend when she was living in a FEDRA training center before being bitten by an Infected.

Riley had run away from the center but returned one night to tell Ellie she had joined the Fireflies. She asks Ellie to spend the evening together to see the "five wonders" of the mall near the FEDRA base that had been sealed off.

The pair have a sweet time together, playing video games, using a photobooth and exploring the mall as best they can. Things are going well, and the pair even share a kiss, but ultimately things take a dark turn when a Runner attacks them.

Both Ellie and Riley are bitten in their fight against the Infected, and after realizing their lives are effectively over they try to decide what to do.

Riley shares that they have three options, though she only gives two: Use her gun to kill each other, or stay together as long as possible before they succumb to the Cordyceps Brain Infection.

What Happens to Riley in 'The Last of Us'? Character's Fate Explained

The Last of Us
Above, Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey, L) and Riley Abel (Storm Reid, R) explore an abandoned mall in "The Last of Us" Episode 7. Viewers know that Ellie, of course, survived being attacked by a Runner in the past. Liane Hentscher/HBO

Episode 7 of The Last of Us ends without explaining exactly what happens to Riley after she and Ellie are bitten, only showing the pair wrapped in each other's arms after discussing their options.

Ellie, as viewers well know, survived the bite she received from the Runner that attacked her and Riley, thus making her realize that she is immune to the Cordyceps Brain Infection.

Unfortunately, Riley is not so lucky. Though it is not shown in the game either what happens to her, Ellie does explain to Joel during The Last of Us Part I that Riley succumbed to the infection and died.

The Last of Us airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.