The Last of Us: Sacrificing loved one to save humanity

In the video game, The Last of Us, Joel refuses to let doctors and scientists extract the brain out of Ellie’s head (a procedure that would kill her,) even though she is immune to the zombie disease that has ravaged the land and potentially represents a vaccine cure for humanity. (The doctors/scientists needed Ellie’s brain in order to develop vaccines.)

This thread poll isn’t about zombies, but about a broader hypothetical in general: Would you sacrifice a loved one for the sake of a potential cure for humanity?

Edit: The poll didn’t post, for some reason! :smack:

For all humanity? Yes…and I know my loved ones/family/friends would agree with the principle, so I wouldn’t be going against their choices or desires.

And, yeah, if my brain holds the only chemical cure that would save the whole species of mankind…take my brain, please.

(I’m not really happy with the phrase “potential cure” here! But, well, if extinction is the only alternative, I guess even a long-shot gamble is worth trying.)

Can I attach a proviso, like, “…Yes, but in return, you have to legalize prostitution?”

What has humanity ever done for me?

You should change the question - would YOU sacrifice yourself for humanity. I’m not sacrificing ANYONE else for humanity. That’s their decision. If it comes down to me sacrificing my wife for humanity, sorry, you’re all doomed.

This situation is slightly more complex than you’re letting on. Ellie absolutely wanted to do this. After the midway point of the story she had been through so much shit, including almost being viciously beaten to death, that she was emotionally broken. She was sullen, withdrawn, and barely joked around anymore. The only thing keeping her going was knowing that she could provide a cure.

She didn’t know she was going to die from the operation, because they never told her. She wasn’t strictly making an informed decision, but literally everyone that knew her personally was absolutely certain that she would have sacrificed herself had she been informed. Including Joel.

Joel broke her wishes, and rescued her; not for her, but because he selfishly didn’t want to lose his surrogate daughter. Not only that, he outright lied to her that the operation was successful and she had provided a cure. It’s pretty clear Ellie didn’t buy it, but chose to accept the lie because it was all she could do to keep going on.

In that case, I don’t know. I have to admit it’s plausible I’d do the same thing as Joel, but I can’t defend it as anything other than morally wrong.

If its me or my wife humanity is screwed. I don’t want to die but I’m not going to sacrifice her for me to survive and if we don’t survive I don’t really care about the rest of you. Now once we have kids there may be a different conversation but otherwise I’m worried about two people.


My loved ones have done a LOT for me. Humanity has done Jack Sh-t for me.
Easy Call.

I will offer to sacrifice just as much humanity as I can lay waste to the minute they try to make that decision for me though.
Also an Easy Call.

I’d have a hard time sacrificing my 17yo diabetic cat to save humanity.