He is forced to shoot his neighbor dead in self defense.After calming Sarah, he is joined by his brother Tommy in the evacuation.Additionally the two often went on several hikes together (reinforced by pictures of hiking scenery in his house).In the hours leading up to the outbreak, Sarah gives him a new watch as a birthday gift to replace the one he had broken months before.After losing his daughter Sarah in the outbreak, Joel becomes a ruthless and cynical smuggler eventually tasked with smuggling and protecting Ellie, a young girl who is the key to mankind's survival.Joel eventually comes to form a strong bond with her. A brutal survivor with few moral lines left to cross.In his adult years, Joel worked in construction as a carpenter.
Joel’s conscience slowly dwindles away as he shuts down his emotions to cope to his new life.His job kept him fit, and he also owned a treadmill (seen in his bedroom).Despite his long working hours he still spent quality time with Sarah, as seen in photographs displayed throughout their home showing the two on a cruise, at a carnival with Tommy, and at one of Sarah's soccer matches.After running through the city, Tommy stays to hold off the infected so Joel and Sarah can flee.
The pair make it to the highway, but encounter a soldier.
However it is later revealed, through a conversation between him and Ellie, that the subject of whatever happened is very painful for Joel to talk about.