Riley Abel is a character mentioned in The Last of Us and appears in The Last of Us: American Dreams and the DLC, Left Behind as a protagonist and friend of Ellie. A sixteen-year-old survivor living in Boston, Riley dislikes the military and often speaks favorably of the Fireflies, defending their supposedly radical actions.
Last of Us: American DreamsEdit
During Ellie's earliest tenure in the quarantine zone, Riley prevents further harm from coming to the newcomer when she stops a group of bullies from beating her up.
Grabbing the offending boy by the wrist she tosses him to the ground and threatens him; the threat is enough to send him and his gang running. Amused by the turn of events, Riley inquires what they wanted with Ellie and the young girl responds with the suggestion that they wanted to steal something of hers. Riley, eyeing her Sony Walkman with curiosity, advises Ellie to watch her back and make friends quickly. Her advice is immediately dismissed by Ellie, offended by the idea that she needed help at all.
Riley notes that Ellie has “serious trust issues” and spots the zone’s authority figure immediately afterward. Before she leaves, she tells Ellie to run and bumps past her as she takes off. Ellie doesn't realize until later that Riley pick pocketed and stole her Walkman during her escape.
In the mess hall Riley and her friends are discussing the actions of the Fireflies that led to the decimation of a jeep and the death of an individual being scanned for infection. Riley believes that they had to have been cornered or pushed into such drastic measures. One of her friends warns her to watch what she says out in the open about the Fireflies; Riley suggests that her friend not believe everything said to him as the situation was bound to be more complicated than described.
Ellie confronts Riley in the mess hall and demands that she give her Walkman back. Riley denies knowing what she is talking about. Ellie continues to press the issue until Riley relinquishes the Walkman and insults her taste in music.
Later that night, Riley creeps through the school with the intention of leaving the quarantine zone. Ellie manages to sneak up and surprises Riley as she is about to leave the building. Embarrassed, Riley orders Ellie go back to her room. Ellie refuses, demanding Riley show her how to get out of the quarantine zone. Riley hesitates before she finally concedes and allows Ellie to follow her.
She acknowledges Ellie by using her name, tells the girl not to make her regret her decision. The two manage to get across the yard undetected by the patrolling guards and begin to climb over the fence. Ellie inquires to how Riley knows her name, and Riley responds with a vague answer and a smile before she finally introduces herself.
Leaving the Quarantine ZoneEdit
Outside of the school, Riley leads Ellie across the city’s rooftops, undetected by the soldiers patrolling the streets below. She stops on the ledge of a building just below her and asks Ellie if she ever thinks about the future. Ellie takes the question lightly, thinking it rhetorical. Riley elaborates on her question more seriously and asks Ellie again what she wants to do with her life.
Ellie assumes there isn’t much of a point to thinking about the future, considering their circumstances, but Riley asserts her mindset is exactly how the authorities within the quarantine zone want people to keep thinking. Riley tells Ellie she won’t spend her life being told what to do as a soldier; she has three months before her sixteenth birthday and she intends finding out the answer herself. Ellie, however, remains baffled and continues to ask Riley what more could their lives be.
Riley ignores her question, instead asking if she’s ever ridden a horse. When Ellie answers in the negative, Riley leads her down into an abandoned mall. They wander through the structure until Ellie spots an arcade across from them. Riley follows her inside and watches her pretend to play “Triple Phoenix”; Riley dismisses the game as something for children and substitutes her favorite game, “The Turning”, a brutal fighting game. Riley becomes despondent when Ellie cites the fortune of the children that came before them and decides to leave, believing they are wasting time inside the arcade.
They arrive at a camp where Riley’s friend, Winston lives. The man is upset that Riley has brought yet another one of her friends to visit him, but Riley reassures him that Ellie’s on the level. When he asks for compensation Riley pulls from her jacket a bottle of whiskey she stole from the school. In exchange for the alcohol, Riley asks Winston to teach Ellie how to ride a horse.
Riley takes Ellie out to the stables and gives her a few pointers on how to behave around horses. As she prepares the horse for the ride, Ellie asks her if she’s acting out on purpose to get kicked out of the school. Riley tells Ellie she doesn’t want to be stuck in general population, where she would be treated worse and given less in rations. She wants to be free of the whole system. When Winston finally takes Ellie for her ride, Riley searches his tent for his walkie-talkie and discovers it sometime during their absence. She feigns innocence when they return, sitting on the ground and reading a magazine.
As Winston prepares to return the horse to the stables, he tells Riley to go home and avoid trouble. Riley laughs at his advice, saying that she’d have to be caught in order to be in trouble. Their conversation is cut short by an explosion outside the mall. Winston mounts his horse and orders Riley return to the school, before heading off to find his unit.
Riley ignores him and listens to the radio chatter on his walkie-talkie. Ellie, realizing that she was used to distract Winston, becomes furious with Riley. However, a report of a Firefly sighting interrupts her outburst. Riley, excited that the attack came sooner than expected, plots to leave the quarantine zone for good. She intends on finding and meeting the Fireflies. When Ellie objects to the idea, Riley chooses to leave her behind.
Meeting the FirefliesEdit
Using Winston’s walkie-talkie, Riley follows the progress of the military’s fight with the Fireflies through the abandoned streets. She tells Ellie there’s no chance of convincing her that heading straight for the battle is a bad idea. Using the rooftops, Riley and Ellie follow the smoke and sounds of gunfire from above until they reach McMillan and Jordan. Realizing the Fireflies are trapped, Riley pulls two smoke grenades from her jacket and offers one to Ellie. Hesitant, Ellie tells Riley what they’ll do may harm someone.
Riley assures her none of the soldiers will be hurt, she intends on giving the Fireflies a chance to escape. She tells Ellie that this is their chance to change their fate and fight the control of the military. She asks if Ellie is willing to let them control her or if she’s strong enough to fight for “something else”. Frustrated, Ellie unpins the grenade and tosses down into the street. The subsequent detonation of the grenade and the Fireflies escape excites Riley, who boasts loudly from the rooftop.
Her shout alerts the military to their presence and forces them to run when they open fire. Climbing down from the rooftops, Riley and Ellie take refuge in an alley behind a dumpster. When Ellie mocks Riley’s assurance of their safety, Riley is quick to remind her that she’s still alive. Taking a breather, Ellie asks her where she found the grenades. Riley reveals she stole them from Winston and her theft suggests that their “amazing friendship” was over. Ellie notices someone standing in the door way of a building with yellow “quarantine” tape hanging from its walls.
Riley realizes the girl approaching them is infected and urges Ellie to run. However, before either can escape, the infected woman attacks them. She manages to pin Riley down, Riley grabs a nearby rock and smashes her in the face just as she bites her on the arm. Ellie attacks the infected woman from behind with a stick; the woman charges her and knocks her down. Ellie manages to hold her off long enough for Riley to stab her through the neck with the broken part of Ellie’s stick.
Panicked, Riley begins to realize she’s been bitten and tries to dissuade Ellie from checking her arm. Ellie grabs her arm and pulls the sleeve away to reveal no bite marks or punctures. Riley brushes her fear off in a show of bravado, but admits she was scared when Ellie hugs her. Their moment of respite ends when two more infected appear and chase them.
Riley and Ellie run until they reach a dead end. They're saved seconds before the infected can reach them when a Firefly guns them down. Relieved, Riley thanks the Fireflies and starts to introduce herself when one of them attacks her with a stun rod. She hits the ground, unconscious, and is taken on the order of Marlene who recognizes Ellie.
Return to the Quarantine ZoneEdit
Riley regained consciousness as Ellie negotiated for her release with Marlene. Ellie asked if she was alright as one of Marlene's men untie her, Riley answered in the affirmative. When Marlene gave Ellie a red envelope, she indirectly tells them to return to the quarantine zone.
Riley argues against the order, she tells Marlene that she wants to join the Fireflies. Marlene refused to listen to her despite Riley affirming that she wanted to help her organisation restore democracy and save the city. Their argument is cut short when a group of smugglers discover their hiding place and hold them at gunpoint. The smugglers open fire on the Fireflies first, killing the man closest to Riley. Fearing for Riley's life, Ellie dives in front of her as Marlene shoots one of the smugglers.
Riley and Ellie duck into a corner for safety while Marlene runs for cover. Seeing that she is pinned down by gunfire, Riley jumps out from cover and attempts to grab a nearby gun lying on the ground. One of the smugglers grab her by her hood, stopping her. Ellie hits the man with a brick, distracting him long enough for Riley to grab the gun and shoot him in the shoulder. The man is incapacitated long enough for Marlene to kill him. Despite the number of dead surrounding them, Riley states that her efforts make the second time she helped Marlene and the Fireflies.
Angry, Marlene grabbed Riley by the jacket and slammed her to the ground. She questions whether or not Riley thinks this is all game. Though Riley attempts to protest, Marlene tells her that dressing up like her and memorizing the charter of the Fireflies doesn't mean she understands what becoming a Firefly means. Upset, Riley admits to killing her father when he became infected. However, her admission does not sway Marlene from her decision and Riley reaffirms that she believes in the cause of the Fireflies. Marlene showed her one of the bodies of her men and brought into question his beliefs.
Threatening Riley with a gun, she suggests maiming Riley, as many of her men have ended up crippled fighting for what they believed in. When she asks if Riley still wants to become a Firefly, Riley's determination remains firm. Ellie bites the man holding her back when she hears Marlene cock her gun. She threatens to shoot Marlene if she didn't move away from Riley, firing one round when the woman tries to dissuade her.
Marlene convinces Ellie that she knew her mother, Anna, and promised to look after her. Ellie asks Riley what she should do. Riley tells her to put the gun down, Marlene has been nothing except honest with them. Afterward, Marlene gives Ellie her mother's switchblade and tells them to return to the school.
Disillusioned, Riley follows Ellie out of the sewer and back onto the surface. When Ellie noticed her friend was troubled, Riley declared that there was no way out for them. Refusing to believe that, Ellie dismisses her mother's letter, the Fireflies and everyone in the city.
She suggests that they run away and leave the zone in search of another place for them both. Riley begins to cry and asked her to stop talking, knowing that leaving the zone would likely end in their deaths. They return to the school and go their separate ways, Riley telling Ellie that she'll see her tomorrow.
Last of Us: Left BehindEdit
Joining the FirefliesEdit
Despite the rejection she experienced after meeting Marlene, Riley was still determined to become a Firefly. After parting ways with Ellie following a heated argument between them, she came across Trevor, the Firefly that Ellie bit during their altercation with the smugglers. Assuming she had gone unnoticed, she followed him until he led her into an alley.
There she was ambushed by several other Fireflies and taken directly to their hideout. She came face to face with Marlene who merely asks, "What took you so long?" Marlene reveals that their previous encounter was a test to see just how committed Riley would be to their cause. As a part of her initiation ceremony, Riley was ordered to kill someone who had become infected. Afterward, Riley inquires whether or not Ellie could join them, a request Marlene would deny shortly before forbidding Riley to see Ellie again.
Riley remained on her own for six weeks and made no contact with Ellie. Three weeks prior to the events to meeting Joel, Riley chose to return and visit her friend. Entering her bedroom, she pretended to be an Infected and surprised the sleeping Ellie. Ellie knocked her off the bed and nearly stabs her, but hesitates. Riley makes fun of her reaction and inquires whether or not she wants to know what she has been up to. Instead of answering, Ellie tells Riley she thought she was dead. Understanding Ellie's frustrations at her disappearance, Riley reveals that she has become a Firefly and offers to explain what she has been up to.
Upon exiting the school, they encounter a patrol and duck inside an abandoned building for cover. As Riley leads Ellie through the structure, she reveals how she became a Firefly after she tailed one of the men they met previously when they found Marlene. As they travel further up and inside the building, Riley asks about Ellie's social life, whether or not she hung out with the other kids in school, particularly Tino and her other friends as she knows Ellie speaks with them. Ellie tells her she doesn't socialize with many people and that she never made an effort to become close with Riley's friends.
As Riley surveys the area from a damaged wall, Ellie asks if Riley has "found the light" and whether or not she buys into the creed of Marlene's cause. Noting her skepticism, Riley merely tells her that with the Fireflies, she is "not a solider". As they prepare to leave the ruined building, Riley rebukes a radio transmission that purports to have kept the Quarantine Zone free of the infection for thirty days.
She tells Ellie that the Infected continue to appear in the zone more than the military let on, and they were being less than honest with the population. She nearly reveals that one of the stipulations to becoming a Firefly was to kill an infected, but she veers from the subject entirely. Riley tells Ellie to hide when she spots another patrol on the approach, they watch the trucks pass in the distance.
Continuing on, Ellie suggests that she become a Firefly; however, Riley tells her Marlene wants her "safe" inside the school, concerned that Riley would get her into trouble. They finally enter the mall Riley brought her to when they first met. Riley attempts to recall that day, but Ellie demands to know why she brought her here. Riley merely tells Ellie she has a surprise for her and refuses to provide a solid answer.
When Ellie spots a poster for a water gun, she tells a disbelieving Riley that she almost stole back their guns from "Corporal Dickhead", but she was caught in the act. Traveling down an escalator, Riley tells her to give up trying to get the guns back. They come across Winston's camp, Riley laments the loss of her friend and asks how he died. When Ellie tells her that he died of a heart attack, Riley wonders how many survivors are afforded the chance to die of natural causes post-outbreak.
Searching through his tent, Riley discovers a bottle of alcohol and offers Ellie a drink. Riley drinks in his memory and leaves the bottle behind. Reaching the other end of the mall across from Winston's camp, Riley and Ellie attempt to lift a car to use to climb to the other side of the mall. However, the support beam gives way and the route is blocked. Riley suggests finding another way to their destination. Ellie spots an open window above a door and offers to hoist Riley up and over to unlock the door.
Riley complies with the plan and climbs over the window. Riley unlocks the door and plays another prank on Ellie, scaring her with a clown mask. Surprised by the collection of Halloween decorations inside, Riley spies and a werewolf mask and tells Ellie to put it on. Though her friend is less than compliant, Ellie goes along with Riley and pretends, halfheartedly, to be a werewolf.
Exploring the rest of the store, Riley finds a Frankenstein mask and hides inside a coffin in a another attempt to frighten Ellie again. They fool around in the store for a while longer before moving on. On the other side of the mall, Riley decides that they should toss bricks at the windows of blue and red cars down below. She says that if one of them wins, they get to ask the other a question and answer without sarcasm.
If Riley knocks out of all of her windows first, she asks what is required to become friends again. Ellie responds initially with sarcasm before she tells Riley to "keep doing what you're doing. It's working". If Ellie wins she has a chance to ask one of three questions. They move on heading into the back of the mall. Ellie inquires again why were in the mall and Riley reveals that the military lied about how the power systems worked in the city. She tells Ellie that the entire city still has power, the military just "flipped the circuit breakers".
Opening a junction box, she has Ellie restore power to the entire mall. Excited by the prospect of an energized mall, the two take off back down the hall toward the exit. However, Ellie hesitates and tells Riley that she is aware of her attempts to get back into her good graces. Riley apologizes for the things she said to Ellie before she left, that she didn't mean any of it. They step through the double doors and a marvel at the sight of the illuminated carousel.
When Ellie asks whether or not military would notice the mall lights, Riley assures her that, according to a girl named Melanie, the exterior lights don't work. Ellie climbs onto one of the horses as Riley powers the carousel. She watches Ellie go around for a moment before obliging her friend's request to climb aboard. However, the moment she does the power appears to give out. Sitting beside her friend, Riley reveals she found another "book of puns" for Ellie. Ellie jokes that Riley may be her favorite person again, to which Riley responds "I know my girl".
Leaving the carousel, Ellie trades jokes with Riley as they move on. Entering a nearby photo booth, Riley and Ellie take several pictures together. They are prompted to share their photographs on Facebook, and though the term confuses the two, they fool around with password and username prompt. Their attempt to connect with the social network site fails and they try to print out their photographs; they are met with several "retry" prompts that fail. Frustrated, Riley pounds on the photo booth screen until the machine loses power.
They decide to continue exploring as another loud speaker announcement alerts them of the 6am shift. Riley and Ellie make fun of the woman over the speaker, quoting cautionary messages verbatim. They take the escalator up to Raja's Arcade and discover Riley's favorite arcade game, "The Turning", is busted. Instead of moving on, Riley helps Ellie imagine how the game would be played when she tells her to close her eyes and describes the setting.
Afterward, Riley overhears music coming from the door ahead and moves to open it, insisting they push forward. Ellie tells her friend she has no chances to mess up at the school again and tells her they'll pick up where they left off. Riley tells her its not possible and finally reveals the real reason: the Fireflies assigned her to another group in a different city, she leaves the day after. When Ellie fails to respond in the way she had hoped, Riley decides to forgo any further conversation and heads off to investigate the music.
On the other end of the mall she discovers a department store. Ellie catches up to her and the two get into an argument over the things Riley said to her before she left. Riley tells her guilt was not the reason she came back to see her despite what she said. Tossing her backpack down onto the floor she tells Ellie that she got the water guns back and was nearly shot in the process of stealing them.
Ellie acknowledges Riley's efforts with a game of water tag; Riley beats her despite Ellie's protests otherwise. They prolong the game, Riley conceding that if Ellie beats her, she'll name her the official winner. Despite Ellie's efforts, Riley beats her every time. Ellie gives up and tells Riley that she meant what she said when she told Riley to "go" as it was her dream to join the Fireflies before they met.
Riley is assured by her friend that she'll be fine and that they'll see each other again. After they make amends, Riley asks whether or not she still had her walkman; Ellie answers in the affirmative and Riley decides to use one of the store's radios to plug the walkman into. Riley stands on top the fractured surface of a counter and the two proceed to dance to the music.
Ellie stops, Riley attempts to get her going again, but her friend resists and suddenly asks her not to leave. Riley regards the Firefly pendant on her neck before she breaks the chain and drops it on the floor. Taking the action as an oblige to her request, Ellie kisses Riley and apologizes almost immediately afterward. Riley tells her she has nothing to apologize for.
Infected and DeathEdit
When they attempt to figure out their next move, they are caught off guard by the sudden appearance of Runners. Riley fires her gun and the two run for cover. They block the door they used to escape and Riley leads Ellie through the back of the mall to safety. Blocking off another door, Riley helps Ellie lift the gate off the ground and chooses to hold it up until Ellie can find something to wedge between the gate. When she does, Riley scrambles under the gate as a Runner attacks her. She kills it with two shots to the head. They make a run through the docking area which is becoming overrun with infected. They duck under a broken blockade, Riley gets ahead of Ellie and is immediately ambushed from the side.
Ellie jumps on the Runner's back and stabs it to death. Impressed, Riley leads Ellie further up into the mall toward the scaffolding to escape but their path is blocked by more infected. Taking an alternate route, they exit the room through an open window.
Traveling across scaffolding, they almost make it out of danger when the shelf Ellie uses to climb to safety tips over and sends her falling over the edge of the scaffolding. Riley makes it down to her and saves Ellie from the infected attempting to bite her. However, Riley is ambushed by an oncoming Runner, prompting Ellie to recover to stab and slit its throat. With all the Runners dead, Ellie assumes the worst is over when Riley notices her arm; Ellie discovers she's been bitten and Riley reveals her own bite on the palm of her left hand.
Riley attempts to console Ellie with some idea of hope after she throws a fit and destroys several flower pots with a pipe. She tells her friend they have two options; shoot each other, an option she's not fan of, or fight the infection and spend as much time as possible together. When Ellie asks whether or not there's an third option, Riley merely apologizes and stands up. The two then leave the mall.
The Last of UsEdit
In the end, it was Riley who succumbed to the fungal infection and died. However Ellie did not, learning that she was somehow immune and later made her way to Marlene.
Ellie would mention Riley a few times during her journeys with Joel but only finally tells him about her and the day they were bitten by the infected in the mall after the events at Salt Lake City. Riley's death is one of many losses that would contribute to Ellie's survivor's guilt and the sense of responsibility to provide a cure with her immunity.
- Last of Us: American Dreams
- Last of Us: Left Behind
- The Last of Us