A whole lot was different initially when Naughty Dog was mapping out the plot of of its post-apocalyptic action adventure. The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckman shed a bit of light on the game's original ending.
In the latest issue of GameInformer (via Videogamer) Druckman explained:
Originally in the story Tess took more of a villain role. Tess was betrayed by Joel and took on a mission to pursue him across the country. That storyline never worked out. The storyline shifted and Tess took on this role where she became more of a believer and she helped motivate Joel.
Ellie's arc originally was that she didn't kill any non-infected people until the end, when she was going to kill Tess when Tess was torturing Joel. What we realized is that we had to get Ellie engaged more in the combat because when she was disengaged from the action for that long you didn't care so much. So that changed pretty early on. We decided it wasn't going to be about the first time she killed someone, it was more about this coming of age story of the impact that the horrors of violence has on her over the course of the game.
With regard to the ending (SPOILERS) Druckman went on to say that they team initially wanted to go with something a bit more hopeful. Naturally that didn't quite fit in with the rest of the experience, so they had to scrap it.
The original ending when we pitched the game was a much more hopeful ending, where Joel and Ellie make it to San Francisco and that is a town run by people who are trying to restore society. Joel has killed all these doctors and lied to Ellie, and Ellie just fully buys into the lie. So, you're left with the idea that they are going to live the rest of their lives in this town.
The camera pulls back and maybe everything is going to be alright for these two. I was working on writing, and it didn't feel honest anymore. After everything they've done and everything they've been through, that was letting them off a little too easy - especially for Joel.
Druckman teased fans on Twitter by posting the image you see above, along with the sub-heading: "See how it originally ended as @bruce_straley and I re-pitch The Last of Us for you. #PAX." The panel will be held on August 30th.