Fallout

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This is about the game series; if you're looking for radioactive fallout see The Deadliest Mushroom.

It has been many decades since the winds of the apocalypse blew in over America and took the old world with it, leaving only the Wasteland in its place. The event, known as "The Great War", was the culmination of a long and bloody struggle between USA and China over the last oil in the world. It came in the form of a massive global nuclear attack, which in two hours bathed the Earth in fire and radiation and ended all human civilization. But the human race is stubborn, and not so easily eradicated, and now small societies are starting to pop up all over the North American mainland, and you, the player, can either help them prosper or take away their hope, and watch them wither and die.

Arguably one of the best examples of how to make a nonlinear RPG ever, the original two Fallout games are loved by a small but passionate audience across the world, who laud the game's intuitive turn-based action and detailed world building, which takes its atmosphere from The Fifties' pop-culture and Weird Science stories from Pulp Magazines. The biggest draw is the way the games - particularly Fallout 2 - allow the player to do pretty much whatever they want.

Character creation is very flexible, letting the player specify their age, race, sex, physical and mental statistics, known skills and special talents. The player is then dumped into a post-apocalyptic wasteland with a distant end goal, no clear means of how to reach it, and a map that gives directions only as far as the one nearest settlement.

It quickly becomes clear that Fallout is very flexible when it comes to completing goals. For example, upon entering a crime-ridden area, the player can help the sheriff to take down the crooks, help the crooks take over the town, or Take a Third Option and mindlessly slaughter every living thing in sight (hey, at least there's no more crime). A Karma Meter tracks the player's behavior, and affects the reaction of other NPCs; if you're too good then criminals won't trust you with their missions, but being too evil means the same for law-abiding folks. If you ever gain "child killer" status you'll be ostracized by almost everyone.

Fallout 2 takes this even further, with the player able to gain all kinds of different statuses. They can be deputized into the police force, become a porn star, join the Slavers and sell captured tribespeople (or their own NPC friends!), join "The Brotherhood of Steel", go grave robbing, or become made men in the post-apocalyptic Mafia. They can even choose to play with an Intelligence score of 1, which makes them barely smart enough to speak, and completely changes the way the game plays.

Sadly, the multitude of options made the sequel incredibly buggy and virtually unplayable without patches (included in today's jewel case versions, so you have no excuse not to play it). Still, despite isometric 2D graphics that look distinctly crude by today's standards, the Fallout games continue to appeal to thousands worldwide because of their incredible depth.

The original Fallout games were followed by a pair of non-RPG spin-offs. The PC-based Fallout Tactics was a tactical strategy game that used settings, characters, graphics and the turn-based combat engine from the Fallout games. Fallout: The Brotherhood of Steel was a 3D, above-viewed shoot-em-up that challenged the player to wipe up the wasteland as a member of one of the clans from the RPGs. They both received variable reviews, although Fallout Tactics has built up a cult following, the console games never gained all that many equals.

Producers Black Isle had nearly completed a third game in the Fallout series, code-named "Van Buren", when parent company Interplay went bankrupt and shut them down. After spending several years as Vaporware, Interplay sold the rights to the series to Bethesda Softworks, best known for The Elder Scrolls, to save themselves from bankruptcy.

Bethesda chose to start development of Fallout 3 from scratch; their game was released October 2008, and is a fully-three-dimensional game with light FPS elements. It follows a Vault Dweller from Vault 101 as he or she searches for a lost father. The FPS elements were integrated well into the experience, and character advancement is far more enjoyable than in the Elder Scrolls games.

On April 20, 2009, Bethesda Softworks announced Fallout: New Vegas, with Obsidian Entertainment as the developers. The game came out on October 19, 2010 in North America and October 22 in Europe (the days the bombs fell) on the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Somewhat ironically, Obsidian is run by Black Isle refugees, the developers of the first two Fallout titles, and several Obsidian employees worked on Black Isle's original Van Buren project. Fan reaction is perhaps best described as "a tiny spark of hope shining through lots and lots of cynicism."

On May 30, 2018, Bethesda announced Fallout 76, to be released in November 2018. Among other features, Fallout 76 appears to be the long-awaited multiplayer version of the game.

List of Fallout titles:

  • Fallout 1: The original game. Technically titled 'Fallout: A Post-Nuclear Role Playing Game'.
  • Fallout 2: The extremely good sequel.
  • Fallout: Van Buren: The original Fallout 3, canceled due to Interplay's bankruptcy which caused the closing of Black Isle. Surprisingly, the game is still at least partly canon, even though it was never released.
  • Fallout 3: The wildly popular First Person version.
  • Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel: A linear spinoff developed by 14 Degrees East, featuring a Genre Shift to squad-based tactics a la Jagged Alliance. Received good reviews, and is generally regarded as decent, but was poorly advertised and isn't as well known as the main games in the series. Semi-canon, with Broad Strokes.
  • Fallout Brotherhood of Steel: Another linear spinoff, this one developed for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Received mixed to terrible reviews and sold poorly. One of the last games produced by Interplay before they went bankrupt. Acknowledged as non-canon.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: An RPG by Obsidian very much in the same vein as Fallout 3, released in October 2010.
  • Fallout 4: Another RPG in the vein of Fallout 3 by Bethesda, released in November 2015. The game is mainly set 10 years after Fallout 3 in the region around Boston known as the Commonwealth.
  • Fallout Shelter: A simulation game where you can manage your own vault.
  • Fallout Extreme: Working title for a canceled project briefly developed by 14 Degrees East which would have been a sequel to Fallout Tactics released on the Xbox. It would have apparently been a first-person/third-person squad-based tactics game with strategic overworld management similar to Jagged Alliance, but never got past the concept stage.
  • Fallout 76, announced in May 2018 for a November 2018 release.

Interplay, during its financial difficulties, proposed an MMO based on the Fallout franchise. They had been going forward with it, but then as of January 9, 2012, gave up the rights to carry on after a settlement with Bethesda.

See also Wasteland, the series' Spiritual Predecessor, and Arcanum, the series' Steampunk sister game.

Note: Tropes relating to the series and the Fallout Universe in general goes here. Please put tropes that applies to individual games in the series on their respective pages.

Tropes used in Fallout include:
  • 100% Heroism Rating
  • Abdicate the Throne: So to speak. Sometimes the diplomatic solution in regime-change type quests involves the officeholder stepping down willingly.
  • Abusive Precursors: The Enclave, the remnants of the United States Government, the main antagonists of the second and third games.
  • Action Girl: Any female PC can choose to be an Action Girl. There's even a Perk with this name for female characters (and Action Boy for male).
  • Action Pet: The dog companions.
  • After the End: Nobody knew who fired the first missile that triggered the apocalypse, and by the end of the day, nobody cared. It was considered the end of the world. But still, humanity survived (mutated, blood thirsty, and completely shattered), and the world moved on. The Great War wasn't the end, simply one more sad chapter.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Varies quite a bit. Artificial intelligences are rare, bulky, immobile machines in Fallout (with the exception of the "androids" developed at post-war MIT). Some intelligences are sane and helpful, others are unstable but relatively harmless, and a few are villains.
    • A Brotherhood of Steel computer in the second game implies that a fully self-aware AI is just as capable of going insane as humans are. This causes problems when for example you have one running in complete isolation for years...
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Insofar as the idea of "crime" can exist in a society with no more centralized legal structure. Any sort of wrongdoing will typically be met with the same sort of response: everyone in the settlement attacks you. Take a step into a place you aren't allowed, steal a bottle of Nuka-Cola, or simply act like a Jerkass to the wrong person, and you can expect violence. Subverted in some settlements with jails and order, in these places you can actually be imprisoned. Fallout: New Vegas gives a Hand Wave that NCR's troops are miserable due to the state of the Mojave and this is why they're so on-edge and don't care to punish crimes fairly, but it's still silly that a dozen armored troops will open fire on you just for taking a tin can off the floor that was marked as owned.
  • The Alleged Everything: 80% of the tech you find is literally falling apart, broken, or trying to kill you. However, that doesn't mean that technology is useless.
  • Alternate History: The Fallout timeline diverges from the real world just after World War II, with the social, political, and technological status quo of The Fifties enduring well into the late 21st century. The changes are minor at first but continue to cascade as the decades go by. Some of the changes include: NASA being replaced by the United States Space Agency (U.S.S.A.), American astronaut Captain Carl Bell becoming the fist human in space instead of Yuri Gagarin (though the game mentions that Russia and China dispute this), the first lunar landing occurring a few days earlier then it did in Real Life and with a different module and crew, the states are divided into thirteen commonwealths in the 1960s and the American flag is changed to reflect this (it now depicts thirteen stars, twelve in a circle and one in the middle) and then there is the divergent technological development.
    • Note that it's rather strongly implied that this 50s Stasis was limited mostly to the United States, and even in the US there were some slight changes (the band Ratt, and thus presumably the rock and alternative rock genres, are confirmed to exist in the Fallout universe, for example). Also, there's also a running undercurrent that the optimistic happy cheerful retro-futuristic utopia was teetering on the brink of collapse and massive social upheaval by the time the bombs finally fell (a few months before the Apocalypse, for example, the President was unanimously impeached for annexing a sovereign nation).
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: The picture of Uncle Sam with a huge sack of loot from the Fallout 1 opening movie is based on an actual, real-life WW 2 U.S. propaganda poster, and not originally made for the game to parody U.S. imperialism. Of course, the image had a much different context back in WW 2 than in the modern era.
    • If you look closely, you can see Uncle Sam is in fact carrying a flag and pole, but the way it's bunched up makes it look like a sack with stars and stripes.
  • Ammunition Backpack: The Minigun, Grenade Machine-gun, Flamer and Gatling laser from Fallout 3 onwards.
  • An Aesop:
    • The tentative aesop of the series is being able to let go of the past, both the glories and the hardships, because clinging to old values and methods when they don't work anymore harms the world of the present. Several major antagonists are Well-Intentioned Extremists who either seek the power of the old world for nefarious ends, and/or want to rebuid society in their own way to try and recapture the "glory" of the pre-war world.
    • Another aesop is the impact one person can make on the world, if they have the will to make a difference, and how their actions can ripple out and change the world in ways they never intended. Throughout the series the various player characters become famed as Messianic Archetypes to the generations that come after, when often their adventures at the time were comparatively small-scale simple good deeds: protecting a village from raiders allowed that village to become a regional government, and smashing some alcohol stills turned a Wretched Hive into a civilized community. Fallout: New Vegas in particular has a reveal in which what your character thought was just another delivery turned out to be the doom of an entire region of the wasteland, and they never even knew it until coming back years later to see what was left of it.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Vaults were never meant to save anybody. The Enclave, a cabal of members of the government and some powerful MegaCorps, were considering colonizing an entirely new world once Earth got nuked to hell and back, but wanted to know if people could handle generation ships. So the Vault Experiment was hatched: except for a handful of "control" Vaults, every supposed shelter would have a flaw that would test the population inside. One was deliberately overcrowded, one's door would never close all the way, one was inhabited by a thousand men and one woman (another had the same setup, but flipped the roles), one would pump hallucinogenic gas in the air systems, one was a test to see how an all-powerful Overseer would behave, and so forth, with cameras and uplinks sending all the data to a secret command and control Vault.
  • Apocalypse How: The Great War caused a Planetwide Class 2. Fortunately, by the time of Fallout: New Vegas, the less scorched and anarchic areas of the world have small but functioning cultures.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Many can be found throughout the series.
  • Arc Words: "War. War never changes."
  • Artificial Stupidity: Companions are ridiculously inept at times. To recount the many ways they are Too Dumb to Live:
    • In the first two games, they will liberally use burst weapons and grenades if they have them and are able to use them, the former is very likely to kill you if you're in the way, and the latter, no companion has the Throwing skill needed to use grenades without them blowing up in their own faces most of the time. Not even the companions who are supposed to be good at it. On the plus side, enemies with burst weapons and explosives will gladly tear their own allies to shreds trying to hit you (one can sometimes even get characters with rocket launchers to use them at point blank range).
    • In the first game, your NPC companions will not use any armor you give them, meaning they will go through the whole game with the leather jackets or leather armor they start with. This makes them extremely vulnerable to death late in the game when you take on enemies armed with rocket launchers, plasma rifles and miniguns.
    • In the more recent games, companions cannot jump over any obstacle. If you jump up or down a cliffside, they will take the long way around. Better hope there aren't enemies in their way as they do it too because they're liable to get themselves delayed - or killed - off-screen in a pointless fight.
    • In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, "stealth" is not in any companion's vocabulary. They will enter Sneak mode and sneak with you, but the second they spot an enemy they charge in guns blazing. The only way out is to have them wait for you in an out-of-the-way area and go it alone.
      • Fallout 4 fixes this a bit, as companions will stay stealthier and hold fire until you've been fully spotted, making it possible to stealth kill multiple enemies without your companion going ham on them and exposing your position. It's even possible for companions to draw aggro separately from you, but they will almost always retreat to your side and draw enemy fire, even when using a stealth boy.
    • NPCs universally suffer from Suicidal Overconfidence and will eagerly run into combat with a dozen enemies, even if at a glance the player could tell they wouldn't survive to see their next turn for it.
    • Due to some glitchy programming with how enemies handle aggro, it's possible to accidentally hit a friendly NPC while trying to shoot an enemy, and as a result your companions will presume you see them as an enemy and attack them, or the hit NPC will turn their attention to fighting you. Fight in towns with allies and enemies scattered between innocent bystanders, a single stray bullet hitting a civilian because they ran between you and the enemy could result in you having to massacre the town in self-defense.
    • In Fallout 2, if your stats are high enough, some enemies will flee combat from you. Then when you end combat, they will slowly walk back to where they were at the start of combat, likely triggering combat again. No choice to break the loop but shoot them dead.
    • NPCs have no sense of moderation at all when it comes to combat, and will always use the most powerful weapon you gave them that has ammo. This is particularly annoying when giving your companions grenades or mines (so that you don't have to haul them around yourself) and they wind up throwing them at one-hit-point nuisances like radroaches.
  • Art Major Biology: Somewhat justified since the Fallout laws of physics are literal interpretations of 1950s pulp comic "SCIENCE!"
    • Super Mutants are mentioned to have a quadruple DNA helix: they are formed by exposing adult humans to a virus. Radiation (and exposure to trace amounts of Forced Evolutionary Virus in the air) turns those heavily exposed into zombie-like Ghouls, or gives them odd mutations, such as regeneration or harmless DNA screwups. These absurdities are entirely intentional, though. Quadruple DNA helices are real and known to happen in nature, even in humans. However, unlike in Fallout, this doesn't cause fantastic mutation; rather, these quadruplexes are generally found at the ends of chromosomes to protect them from damage.
      • It's a bit more complicated than that. The FEV virus is derived from an earlier project called the "Pan-Immunity Virion Project" whose purpose was to protect people from biological weapons by synthetically inducing quadruple helixes in DNA strands. The side effect of the project was that the subjects grew stronger and larger: this became the FEV virus we see in the Fallout universe as the focus shifted to creating super soldiers. The other side effect of the quadruple helix scenario became that of sterility, and that becomes a plot point. The Ghouls, however, have mostly been RetConed away from FEV exposure, and now play this trope straight by being created only by Radiation.
    • The Ghouls - humans deformed by exposure to intense radiation - can live for hundreds of years, implying that radiation gives you magical immortality rather tha just, y'know, killing you. Excused by the world working the way scientists believed it did during the 1950's. Of course, most people who are exposed to lots of radiation just get cancer and die, like the rest of us. Very few actually go through ghoulification.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Robots take more damage when hit in the head with a targeted attack—but then again, so does every other enemy in the series.
    • Not the Sentry Bots! Nope, the mechanized terror of the Capitol Wasteland take half damage from headshots, and only take full damage from torso shots. The only reason to aim for the head is to cripple their sensors so their gatling machine guns LASERS and rockets aren't so frighteningly accurate.
    • You may be an all intelligent mad scientist bent on dominating the Mojave, Mr. House, but please explain why you thought building robots with ONE leg supported by a TIRE was such a good idea?
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Seen in Fallout 1 with the Lieutenant and the Master. Averted in Fallout 2 with President Richardson, who's a standard unarmed civilian, and in Fallout 3 with Colonel Autumn, who is only slightly tougher than a normal enemy soldier. Played straight in Fallout 3 with Bonus Boss Commander Jabsco of Talon Company (who has a rocket launcher and more health than almost any other character in the game), and Chinese General Jingwei in the Operation: Anchorage DLC expansion (who has an insane amount of health which, combined with his body armor, makes him the 2nd toughest enemy in the entire game next to the 15-foot tall Super Mutant Behemoth, possibly to encourage the player to convince him to surrender instead, or maybe just an example of Executive Meddling on the part of General Chase). Both seen and averted in Fallout: New Vegas. The NCR President and General are both bog-standard humans, while Caesar himself is only about as tough as an Elite Mook. Legate Lanius, however, is a frickin murder machine (for reference, the guy can take multiple anti-tank rounds to the face and still have more than 3/4ths of his health left).
  • Auto Doc: The Trope Namer. For the most part, they seem to work pretty well, but A.I. Is a Crapshoot is still in full affect here.
  • Badass Bookworm: Virtually any character build in any of the games that relies heavily on intelligence. The intelligence attribute contributes to skill points granted per level. As a result, high level intelligent characters will almost certainly have mastered a wide variety of skills, including ones related to direct combat. In order to even get access to cybernetic combat implants, one must first have substantial skill as a medical doctor.
  • Badass Normal: The Vault Dwellers and the Chosen One all perform some pretty amazing feats.
    • The Lone Wanderer and their Dad, especially Dad, are quite amazing for wastelanders.
    • The Courier. Getting shot in the head almost at point-blank range, twice and buried while still alive? Meh, some sleep, a tiny scar, and he/she's good.
    • Arguably, Dogmeat from Fallout 3: he has absurd amounts of regenerating health and a very powerful melee attack. For a Non-Human Sidekick, he's a veritable Disc One Nuke, since he can be obtained very early on and will f*ck up every single enemy low- and mid-level enemy without any help. Band of Raiders? No problem. Horde of Mirelurks? Enjoy the show. Brigade of Super Mutants? They'll be running scared. He's either a seriously mutated canine or the Chuck Norris of dogs. Honestly, you're his sidekick.
  • Ballistic Discount: You can kill pretty much anyone and take their stuff, shopkeeper or not, which includes killing them with a gun they just sold you and taking back your cash. Be aware that eyewitnesses (aside from your ludicrously loyal companions) will open fire.
  • Before the Dark Times: Pre-War United States. While it was better than the Wasteland, in reality, it was really a Crap Saccharine World, and an Eagle Land type 2.
  • Berserk Button: Set from the first game has a very short fuse, and tends to act violently when it's out.
    • Apparently Brick from the third game has one too. Her mercenary colleague Reilly relates a story in which she nearly creates a bloodbath when a merc from rival Talon Company spits on her boot.
    • Rhombus is slightly better than Set, as he at-least forgives you, albeit still as harshly.
  • BFG: The "Big Guns" skill determines how well you can use them. Without question, any given game in the Fallout series has many more BFGs than any other video RPG.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Thanks to its endless Commie witch-hunt, pre-War America saw this as a good thing. Actual quote from the museum of technology Vault tour: "Concerned about security? Our eye-on camera allows the Overseer to watch your every move. You'll never be alone again!" Yay?
  • Bittersweet Ending: Fallout ends with the player banished from the Vault forever despite saving most of West Coast humanity. Depending on the choices you made in Fallout 2, a lot of places can end up badly despite your best efforts (or more likely, because of them). In Fallout 3, Lyons' Heroic Sacrifice ending probably falls here, as it's your ally sacrificing herself to activate Project Purity to provide clean, fresh water to the Wasteland. It doesn't solve everything, but it's a start. Of course, you're a cowardly bastard for not doing it yourself. The Corrupt and Coward Endings are even worse. Finally, one of the third game's optional sidequests is a setup for a Shout-Out to the ending of the first (and it hurts just as much). Pretty much every ending for Fallout: New Vegas has some negative consequence to it.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The main purpose of the Bloody Mess trait, which causes your enemies to die in the most horrific ways from even the lightest of death blows. At its best, your enemy may spontaneously be reduced to bloody chunks from being hit by a teddy bear. Fallout 3 made it both amusing and helpful by tacking on a + 5% damage bonus. Even without Bloody Mess, you still get this effect from rare, good crits.
  • Blown Across the Room: Most guns simply poke holes in enemies until they fall down, but the Gauss Rifle from Operation Anchorage will send enemies flying on a critical hit. It's a good idea to knock the particularly tough enemies down to render them temporarily out of action. Plus, sending giant scorpions flying around ass over teakettle is hilarious. In the original two games, certain critical hits with most weapons will blow enemies (or you!) right off their feet and send them tumbling across the room, sometimes knocking them unconscious. In Fallout 4, if you're Too Dumb to Live and try to fire a weapon like a Fat Boy without power armor, you'll end up Blown Across the Room in Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Body Horror: Several, but none come close to The Master.
  • Boring but Practical: In all games, Small Guns is the combat skill that will get you through with the least fuss. A hunting rifle acquired fairly early on will serve you well for a very long time.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Deathclaws are the Devil. In all five games.
  • Bragging Rights Reward
  • Brain In a Jar: Appears repeatedly throughout the series, most notably the "robobrain" enemy.
  • Canine Companion: A dog is a staple companion character in all the Fallout games. Dogmeat serves as one for the player in the first two Fallout games. His desendent with the same name serves as the canine companion in Fallout 3. Fallout: New Vegas has cyber-dog Rex. Dogs are a recruitable race in Fallout Tactics. A dog can be obtained in Brotherhood of Steel with a perk. Non-player characters such as merchants and raiders occasionally have a canine by their side as well. The NCR and Caesar's Legion also join in with the puppy love.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Despite having almost no inconsistencies with previous games, Brotherhood of Steel isn't considered canon by Bethesda, likely due to the negative fan opinion of the game. Fallout Tactics is considered Broad Strokes canon due to design inconsistencies with the rest of the series.
  • Captain Ersatz: Say "hi" to Riddick in Fallout Tactics.
  • Cartography Sidequest: In Fallout 3, you can map out the Wasteland for Reilly after you've saved her squad in exchange for caps. Two smaller ones appear in Fallout 2. Vault City asks you to map the grid squares surrounding Gecko and to find a route to NCR. Technically, you just have to get to NCR. It doesn't matter if you go by way of New Reno and San Francisco.
  • Chainsaw Good: The 'Ripper' weapon is, quite literally, a chainsaw stuck on a one-handed sword hilt.
  • The Chosen Zero: When you have a character with low intelligence, pay a visit to your Vault or your native village and the locals will all express various levels of horror that your drooling moron of a character is the only thing standing between them and total destruction.
  • Church of Happyology: Hubology. See the trope's page for details.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Used quite a bit. In Fallout Tactics, there is an option so that the offensive words are bleeped out and/or replaced with less offending words.

ALARM! Intruders in the camp! Wake up you piss ant sons of bitches! I'll swear I'll cut the balls of anyone I don't see fighting! Get up you curs! If they escape, God help me, I'll burn you motherfucking still to the ground!

  • Cool Shades: Appear often: depending on the game, they may provide stat bonuses or just look good.
  • Corrupt Politician: There aren't many elected officials, but for those there are, this trope is usually in full effect.
  • Crapsack World: The world is a ruined, post-apocalyptic wasteland, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. It only gets worse, folks. There are giant radioactive insects and arachnids, really unsociable mutants, proto-zombies of every flavor and variety, mass starvation, dehydration, radiation sickness, rampant slavery, murder on a scale that can potentially reach genocide, and generally life itself only continues to remind the human race of how royally they screwed up the planet. Sure, there are examples of civilization trying to rebuild itself, but that results in places like the den of vice New Reno and fascist communities like Vault City. Still, the player can - should they so choose - leave the gameworld a little better than they found it. Or just make it massively worse, of course...
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight in general: everything, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, fights just as well at 1 HP as at 100. However, critical hits to a specific location (usually eyes or a limb) can cripple that part and reduce stats or fighting ability.
  • Critical Failure: You can drop your weapon, lose your ammo, lose your turn, injure yourself, and so on. At the extreme end, energy weapons can blow up in your hands. This can also apply to non-combat skills, jamming locks and triggering traps. Oh, and the Jinxed trait in the first two games made it happen to everyone around you, which could make the early game very very challenging since every miss had a good chance of being a critical miss. You could, however, make up for most of the negative effects of the trait by having a high Luck Stat, and you furthermore chose Unarmed, which does not have very harsh punishments for failures, as your primary combat skill, you suddenly have a very effective character build.
  • Critical Hit: Each game has its own Critical Hit mechanics. In general, critical hit rate is determined by the Luck stat, equipment and perks.
    • In Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics, called shots to specific body parts (especially the eyes) had a higher chance of being critical hits. Critical hits were resolved by rolling on a table that included results like triple damage, bypassing armour, and instant death. Infamously, it was possible to roll an instant death result that did not ignore armour, generating the "[Target] was critically hit for 0 damage and died from the pain" message.
    • In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, a critical hit simply multiplied damage by a weapon-specific coefficient. In addition, a sneak attack critical did double the damage of a regular critical hit.
    • Fallout 4 downplays its Critical Hits to merely double-damage attacks that can't be triggered during regular combat, but instead are manually triggered during V.A.T.S. attacks where they guarantee that an attack will hit its target. Certain weapon mods can increase Critical damage and a number of perks allow the player to store more criticals or even gain criticals outright on a V.A.T.S. kill.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Arguably the ghouls are. Sure, they make third degree burn victims look pretty, but they are immune to radiation and can't apparently die from old age. In fact, if they were able to breed they might be considered an improvement over humanity.
    • Super Mutants were specifically designed to be superior to humans in coping with the harsh Wasteland, but it came at the cost of them being sterile and not very bright (with a few exceptions).
      • These exceptions are much more common on the West Coast, especially with the Nightkin, who are generally intelligent, stronger than the average Super Mutant, and are invisible thanks to Stealth Boys. However, due to overuse of Stealth Boys, most Nightkin have gone insane
  • Deadpan Snarker: Every protagonist.
  • Deconstruction:
    • The first two games (and, to an extent, Fallout: New Vegas) deconstruct the Idiot Hero. Generating a hero with an Intelligence score of 3 or less makes you have hilarious conversations with the world, true; however, you get fewer skill points from leveling-up, you are locked out about from about 90% of the quests, most of the people don't give you anything for your efforts and treat you like a joke. Furthermore, can't really make a lasting impact on the Wasteland in general. Sure, you save your hometown, but everyone else is pretty much screwed.
    • The entire series is a deconstruction of the supposed "moral purity" of The Fifties, showing exactly what would happen if the Moral Guardians who say this had their way and the actual 1950's continued forever.
  • Defector From Decadence:
    • The talking Deathclaws in Fallout 2: somehow, they built a moral and social structure, though their creators certainly wouldn't have encouraged it.
    • The Capital Wasteland branch of the Brotherhood of Steel deviated from their original mission (gathering up old technology) to helping the inhabitants of the wasteland. This change lead to a significant number of BoS members claiming Lyons was a defector. So the Defectors from the Defector from Decadence became the Outcasts, who are a lot less altruistic, especially if they see you handling any piece of technology more sophisticated than a gun.
    • This is actually the origin story for the original Brotherhood too, they started out as U.S. soldiers that discovered the horrific FEV experiments happening in the Mariposa Military base which they were set to guard. They executed the scientists and defected from the military, however, as this was happening the bombs were dropped and news of their defection was never received by the Government.
  • Desert Skull: The series loves this trope.
  • Dirty Communists: Going by Pre-War propaganda, the entire nation of China. You get to fight a simulation of them in the Operation: Anchorage DLC. Likewise, Liberty Prime figures anyone who gets the receiving end of one of his nuclear footballs is a communist, regardless of what he's actually fighting. Then again, that just makes it better.
  • Disaster Democracy: The Enclave, a descendant from the pre-war American government claims to be this, but they're really not much better than a tyrannical dictatorship trying to enforce their rule over the wasteland. The NCR is a better, more noble example, especially by the time of Fallout: New Vegas. However, they're generally handicapped by the bureaucracy and red tape that plague most democracies while their overambitious expansionist policies leave them with a lot of enemies.
  • The Ditz: Harry, who is easily the dumbest Super Mutant in the entire series.
  • Doomed Hometown: The first two games start out with the player having to stop their hometown's impending destruction.
  • Downer Ending: They're available if you really go out of your way to achieve them. Bear in mind that since even 'good' endings tend to be bittersweet, the "bad" endings can be hugely depressing.
    • The Pre-War world struggled with resource shortages, oppressive governments, and brutal warfare for twenty-five years before it all ended in a blaze of nuclear fire. Whats worse is that most of their problems could easily have been fixed as the technology for renewable energy and resources already existed before the War broke out, but the surviving nations had been fighting the same war for so long they were incapable of changing. Ironically, many of these technologies survived the war, hidden away in protected goverment bunkers, and can be found and revived by the player.
  • The Dragon: Lieutenant to the Master in Fallout 1, Horrigan to Richardson in Fallout 2, and Colonel Autumn to Eden in Fallout 3. In Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar's right hand is Legate Lanius, while President Kimball's number two is General Lee Oliver. Benny was this to Mr. House (and you can take his place), and Yes Man is this to you, if you choose the Independent path.
  • Dragon Their Feet: In Fallout 2 and Fallout 3, you don't confront Enclave superweapon Frank Horrigan or Enclave military commander Colonel Autumn, who will "spare" you with a successful speech check until after you've already killed the Big Bad President and wiped out the Enclave's main base. Likewise, in Fallout, the final two missions are to kill the Big Bad and to destroy the Super Mutant vats (guarded by The Dragon), and you can tackle them in any order you want (Although canonically The Dragon and the vats were destroyed after the Master's death). Likewise, in Fallout: New Vegas, Legate Lanius and General Oliver lead the Caesar's Legion and NCR forces during the game's final battle, despite Caesar himself and President Kimball both likely having died earlier in the game.
  • Drive-In Theater: You find a few in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. In the latter, it's where you start off the Old World Blues DLC.
  • Drop the Hammer: Sledgehammers and Super Sledgehammers.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Performance-enhancing drugs (Mentats, Buff-Out, Psycho, Med-X, Jet, UltraJet) are all over the place in each game, but also can cause addictions each time they're used... and the withdrawal symptoms that result affect a player's statistics in a negative manner until cured (or unless you keep taking the drug). There are also characters like Cassidy in the second game who can die if they use drugs, and Super Stimpaks can be used as a covert method of assassination as the side effects will cause enough damage to kill President Dick Richardson (or any other 'friendly' NPC), allowing you to take their items without fear of the reprisals that direct action would cause. One particular NPC (Councillor Westin) will explode if you use one on him!
    • Interestingly inverted in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, where addiction is a non-issue if drugs are taken in moderation (ie no more than once every 30 to 48 in-game hours) but alcohol always has a chance of addiction. Considering Bethesda has a habit of making alcohol the bad item in the Elder Scrolls series while making in-universe illicit drugs useful, this isn't surprising. On the other hand, Fallout: New Vegas features the Fiends, an entire gang of junkies who are undeniably the biggest scumbags of the game.
  • Eagle Land The prewar United States was heavily into Type 2, so much so that they were pretty much outright villainous. The Enclave continues this trend.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, especially.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Vaults themselves. And let's not forget the ever so expansive Raven Rock. Both justified, as some of the Vaults are supposed to hold hundreds, and in a few cases thousands, of people, and Raven Rock is based on the actual Raven Rock government complex.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Prolonged FEV exposure can mess you up in an impressive manner. The Master began as a human who got dipped in an FEV vat for an unusually long time, and emerged as a formless, tormented mass of flesh that expanded throughout the entire base, merging with its electronics and computer systems, and absorbing any other life form it found into itself, becoming a demented Hive Mind that viewed itself as a perfect being.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • Fallout 1 had the cloaking-device-equipped Nightkin as the Super Mutants' Elite Mooks.
    • Fallout 2 had the Enclave Soldiers in the Poseidon Oil Rig, wearing Advanced Power Armor, equipped with energy weapons and full of stimpaks.
    • Broken Steel includes the Enclave's elite Sigma Squad. And the Hellfire Troopers.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has NCR Rangers and Centurions.
  • Escort Mission: Fairly common in this series, but most of them are pretty relaxed. There aren't very many situations where the escortee moves at their own pace. Most of the time, they're just following you.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: And not just regular Pintos, nuclear-powered Pintos. Broken down, nuclear powered Pintos. That produce a mini-nuclear explosion, complete with mushroom cloud, when you shoot them. A notable example from Fallout 3 is a section of highway that is just loaded with them, and a raider camp living in between them all. Set off one on the end of the highway and watch the chain reaction.
  • Exclusively Evil: The majority of the Vault 87 Super Mutants in the third game (likely Justified by the FEV there having different properties). Averted with the Super Mutants created elsewhere in the first and arguably more the second, as well as Fallout: New Vegas.
    • The nameless Raider factions in DC definitely count, as well as the Fiends and Jackals and Vipers of Fallout: New Vegas.
      • The Great Khans also qualify during the time of Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, but by Fallout: New Vegas, they have suffered significant Villain Decay to hardly qualify for this trope anymore, and can even be convinced to make a full on Heel Face Turn.
  • Expansion Pack: Bethesda Software added a lot to the main questline of Fallout 3 with the downloadable addons, including one module that revisits a key battle in the background of the Fallout world (the Battle of Anchorage), another that allows players to visit a city mentioned in passing by another NPC, and one that promises to address the brevity of the main questline by allowing players to continue the game after the controversial ending.
  • Expy: In Fallout 3, the Enclave Officers greatly resemble the Imperial Officers of Star Wars.
  • Extremity Extremist: It is possible to play this way in all games.
  • Eye Scream: Eyes can be targeted, as can the groin, and is in fact a better target (blinding, one-hit kills). Get your accuracy with any weapon class up to a high enough level, and shots to the eyes can and will solve most of your combat-related problems. Eyeballs are also part of the gibs in Fallout 3, and if a critical hit to the head is scored, they will fly out at high speed, sometimes hilariously towards the camera in VATS mode. Lampshaded by one character's combat taunts: "There's nothing wrong with you that a critical to the eyes won't cure."
  • Fantastic Drug: Jet, Mentats, Psycho and Buffout, the series stand-bys.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The most blatant is Caesar's Legion, which was modeled in-universe on The Roman Empire and is sometimes hard to tell apart from the real thing. The New California Republic is very much like the pre-war United States. The Shi Empire is pretty much Imperial China reborn. And while probably not deliberate, the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel has a lot in common with early Prussia.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: This has been the case since the first game and was used for its Talking the Monster to Death option. The handful of talking Super Mutant NPCs in the first two games occasionally mention it.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Technically the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system is classless. However, in the first two games there are three character templates that are implied to be optimal for completing the game: the "warrior", "thief" and "diplomat" templates. The three premade characters in both Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 always fit these templates.
    • Though in Fallout 1... It's hinted in future games that the diplomat was canon.
  • Final Death: Once a team member is killed, they're dead forever. This is Earth, not Toril, and there are no such things as resurrection spells. In the first two games, every NPC (including essential quest killers) is killable. In Fallout 3, every character except children and those deemed essential are, meaning you can always progress in the game but can screw yourself out of a lot of potential loot and XP. In Fallout: New Vegas, your allies are just KOed for a few seconds in normal mode. In Hardcore though, it's Final Death.
  • Five-Token Band: Varies by game, but you're almost always going to have a colorful entourage. Humans, ghouls, Super Mutants, robots, dogs, robot dogs and even a friendly neighborhood Deathclaw!
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Deathclaws. What pre-war animal did they mutate from? Jackson's Chameleons.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Loads of them:
    • Strength. Perception. Endurance. Charisma. Intelligence. Agility. Luck.
    • Generalized.Occupational.Aptitude.Test.
    • Garden of Eden Creation Kit.
    • Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Various issues specific to each game can be found on their pages.
    • No matter how dangerous- or mutated-looking your henchmen are, NPCs will never react with the immediate violence that one might expect from bringing, say, an eight-foot-tall creature in an all-concealing robe (Goris) - or a giant yellow-green mutant with a gatling laser (Fawkes) - into their secret base/peaceful village.
    • Up until Fallout 4, SPECIAL stats and Skills had no correlation besides the former giving a small boost to the latter. This allowed for the amusement of a character with a Charisma of 1 being able to max out Speech to be a slick smoothtalker, or a character with an Intelligence of 1 to max out Repair and Science to be a master craftsman and programmer.
  • Gatling Good: Miniguns are generally pretty good weapons, though not particularly reliable against heavily armoured opponents. They tend to veer between Ludicrous Gibs and just bouncing off.
  • Gay Option: Only for lesbians in the first game, but in Fallout 2 there are options for both sexes, though slightly more for women than men (though only men can have kids, by sleeping with female NPCs; one area has not one but two alternate endings because of this). Fallout 3 mostly avoids the issue altogether by not even including a straight option. Male and female player characters can hire Nova, the town prostitute in Megaton, and Bittercup, the town goth in Big Town, develops a crush on the player regardless of gender (though her crushes are mostly her turned into a Perky Goth and giving you whatever crap she found in the patrols). You can also nail one ghoul chick in Necropolis, she gives you a stimpack. Fallout: New Vegas adds 2 new perks, Confirmed Bachelor for men, and Cherchez La Femme for women, which will give special dialogue options when dealing with an NPC of the same sex, (and a 10% damage bonus against the same sex) much how the Black Widow and Lady Killer perks function when dealing with the opposite sex. If you have this perk, you can recruit one follower (which one depends on your gender, there's one for each) bypassing the usual skill check needed by flirting with them, essentially giving you a same sex romantic option. If you are a man with the perk, you can also get all your stuff repaired for free any time you want by flirting with an NPC and asking him to be "friends". Unrelated to the perk, but you can also hire same-sex prostitutes, male or female, in New Vegas if you should so choose.
    • In Fallout 1, rescuing Sinthia at the hotel in Junktown will get the player a 'reward'… whichever the main character's gender may be.
  • Generation Xerox: Everyone from the original Vault 13 Dweller's bloodline seems to have pure Badass embedding in their genes. First there is the original Vault Dweller, who stops a plot to turn the population of the Wasteland into super mutants by destroying 2 underground lairs, saves quite a few communities along the way, and ends up as the chief of a tribe, before going adventuring again in old age, presumably dying somewhere out in the wastes. Then, 80 years later, his grandchild, The Chosen One, stops a plot to commit a holocaust on the Wasteland by blowing up an oil rig, again saving some developing communities along the way, and ends up becoming head of a new civilization. And then there is the Chosen One's illegitimate bastard-child he had with one of the women from the Bishop crime family, who, already at age 13, takes control over the family, and leads it to victory over New Reno's other crime families and, despite been a powerful mafia boss in crime ridden city at a time where the average lifespan is about 35 years, manages to live the age of 73, where he dies peacefully in his sleep. This ending was confirmed as canon in Fallout: New Vegas, by Bruce Isaac, who fled town after stealing from the casino and sleeping with Mr. Bishop's daughter.
    • Likewise, the Cassidy clan are also hardasses with a tendency to associate with legendarily awesome people.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The "forced evolutionary virus", although it doesn't quite work as intended.
    • And of course because this is Fallout, the Pre-War government's love of genetic engineering, though great, doesn't hold a candle to the Pre-War love of nukes.
  • Giant Robot: Surprisingly uncommon. But there are a few.
    • Liberty Prime.
    • Fallout Tactics features a few as enemies towards the end of the game. Best dispatched at long range with volleys of plasma/laser fire.
  • Global Currency: Bottle caps in the first game, endorsed by the Water Trader's Union, which also mints them (many of the 'caps' are not actually caps but rather cap-shaped coins). New California Republic Dollars in the second, as the NCR is the dominant power in the region. Ring pulls in Fallout Tactics. Caps again in Fallout 3, since it takes place 3000+ miles away from the NCR, and there is no group big enough to mint money on the East Coast. Caps again in Fallout: New Vegas because the NCR lost the gold it backed its dollars with (there is NCR paper money and Legion coin, but those are treated as barter items in most cases).
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Brotherhood of Steel in general, though it does have a few genuinely kind members.
    • Despite being one of the nicest major factions in the series, many of the New California Republic's actions in Fallout 2, such as hiring raiders to attack Vault City and having dealing with the crime families at Reno, are morally questionable. There are also certain political elements within the government who are attempting to turn the alliance into more of fascist police-organization. As one NPC puts it, "their heart is in the right place, but their head is up their ass!"
  • The Great Offscreen War: The Great War that created the setting.
  • Grenade Tag: Planting explosives on someone via pick-pocketing.
  • Groin Attack: The first two games featured the groin as a legitimate target on any creature. Yes, you can punch rats in the groin. Even better, you can sledgehammer a rat in the groin. Which is still nowhere near as twisted as firing a rocket at a child's groin.
  • Hegemonic Empire: New California Republic have annexed regions by military force, but they prefer to expand through peaceful settlement and inviting existing frontier settlements to join them. By the time of Fallout: New Vegas, it is engaged in a three-way power struggle over control of New Vegas, a very advanced, prosperous and independent settlement.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Used in the first two games for all non-voiced dialogue.
  • Hero of Another Story: Many, but especially your companions.
    • Harold, who has lived for almost four centuries, been in every game but Fallout Tactics, has wandered almost the entire United States Wasteland, was buddies with the Master before they were both mutated, and may eventually bring life back to the world.
  • Hide Your Children: Majorly averted in Fallout 1 and Fallout 2. Kids are a regular part of the civilian population, and you can freely blow them away in a variety of gruesome ways. The game even produces funny *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* combat dialogue if you do so. Further, in one town, you are practically encouraged to do so, as the little bastards hang around in front of quest-critical stores and attempt to pickpocket you (and no matter how high your steal skill, it's nigh-impossible for you to take what they have back; you have to buy them from the merchant they report to). Note, however, that actually killing children will mark you as a "Child Killer," which causes pretty much everyone except the most evil characters to hate you on sight. This was taken literally in the European releases of both games, in which the children were simply made invisible (they're still there - they will steal from you and occasionally say things and can be killed with explosives). Fallout 3, though used the "children are present but invulnerable" variant (though you can at one point help a slaver kidnap one and sell another into slavery yourself).
  • Horror Hunger: Cannibalism is a mutation. Ordinary humans who eat human flesh too often sicken and die, but a subset have a natural hunger for human flesh and an ability to eat it without getting fatal rad poisoning (at least not as fast). Several organizations of cannibals exist who have either kicked the habit, tried to, or found a substitute.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Frank Horrigan, the genetically engineered synthetic cyborg homocidal maniac specially created by the Enclave, who is forever sealed in a suit of power armor that continually pumps him with life support. Dead Money, Fallout: New Vegas DLC, has the Ghost people. The Cloud apparently changed normal human beings into feral, nocturnal, gas proof, limb-regenerating, and hard to kill abominations sealed in hazmat suits, with their only purpose now being to stab, throw a spears, and chuck bombs.
  • Human Resources: In Fallout 1, your character could discover through simple investigation that the meat used by Iguana Bob, the local fast food vendor, was secretly made out chopped up human cadavers. If the player has high enough stats they can blackmail Bob. By Fallout 2, his great-grandson has built an entire franchise...
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Played straight, eating nets you a few HP. This can also be gained as a perk, it increases your vulnerability to poison and radiation, but increases the health you get back from food and medicine. Builds favoring the Survival skill over Medicine in New Vegas can actually heal gunshot wounds better by eating than by using stimpacks. There's even a drug ("Hydra") that can regrow broken limbs!
  • Hypocritical Humor: Liberty Prime has a few choice slogans that fall into this category. "Democracy is non-negotiable!"
  • Identical Grandson: Confirmed by Fallout: New Vegas; the Chosen One from Fallout 2 looks almost exactly the same as his grandfather. And is just as Badass.
  • Idiot Savant: Your character can be mentally retarded to the point of being incapable of forming coherent speech, but can still learn to hack advanced computers and repair complex machinery. Lampshaded by Loxley in the original:

Loxley: Bloody fine job making it through the defenses, mate! I'm rather impressed. Toss me your name!
You: Nuhhh?
Loxley: Well, "Numa-numah-num-nuhhh", how did a total moron, such as yourself, get past my defenses? Sorry, no idiot savants allowed, we like good conversation here. Jasmine, show our drooling friend the door please.

  • I Love Nuclear Power: Both subverted and played straight. Most of the wildlife has been hideously mutated by the Forced Evolutionary Virus, which has itself been mutated by the radiation, which is what results in the weird mutations. This, of course, leads to giant cockroaches, flies, and scorpions, provides ghouls with immunity to radiation poisoning and a nasty skin condition, as well as giving the player character a few perks, rather than premature baldness, brittle bones, sterility, or a slow death. On the other hand, an excess of radiation will kill you and ruin your stats until you deploy the RadAway. Oh, and make you grow an extraneous toe in Fallout 2.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The cannibal perk, along with some stuff in the first and second. Andale in the third. Fallout: New Vegas even adds the option to harvest dead bodies for a snack later. On top of that, cannibalizing a corpse is the ONLY way to instantly regenerate health in Hardcore mode.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers/Multi Melee Master: If you have a high enough MELEE score, you can use anything from a steak knife to a flaming lawnmower blade to a chainsaw to a genuine Masamune katana.
  • Inescapable Ambush: Having a very good or very bad (karmically) character is a good way to have a price put on your head. A very good character is less likely to encounter an ambush that's inescapable, though, particularly with a high level of Outdoorsman. The ambushes in general start being (somewhat) escapable in Fallout 3.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Alien Blaster and the Fat Man in the third game. They're so powerful they will kill anything in one shot (except Behemoths, who can tough out a few hits). The fact they have a finite amount of ammo keeps them from being a Game Breaker.
    • And there's the Infinity Plus 1.5 Sword, the Firelance, a unique Alien Blaster spawned by a random trigger.
    • Don't forget the Infinity Plus Two Sword, the experimental MIRV which is just a Fat Man that fires 8 mini-nukes at a time.
    • Operation Anchorage gives you a literal Infinity Plus 1 Sword: General Jinwei's Shocksword. A sword with a taser built-in. It hurts. A lot.
      • Which is unfortunately beaten by the handmade flaming sword, provided you have the pyromaniac perk...
    • Also, the Gauss Rifle from Fallout 2. In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, it is more of an Infinity-1 Sword to the Alien Blaster and YCS/186 respectively.
    • Fallout 1 had an Infinity+1 Sword in the form of the Alien Blaster pistol, the game's most powerful weapon, which used energy plasma ammo and thus (theoretically) had potentially unlimited usage. However, it only appeared in a rare random encounter (a literal Luck-Based Mission, meaning your Luck stat: it influenced your chance of positive random encounters, and the Alien Blaster required a very high Luck to even have a chance at getting) that didn't occur in every playthrough. It also had the downside of relatively limited range, but most characters could still fry a Deathclaw before it laid a finger on them.
    • The Gauss Pistol in Fallout 2 was always potent, and with the right build had the potential to regularly kill 6 enemies each turn.
    • The Terrible Shotgun in Fallout 3 was capable of truly obscene damage when combined with sneak attacks and Perks that increased critical damage, in some cases able to kill the mighty Super Mutant Bohemoth in a single shot.
    • Similarly, the YCS/186 from Fallout: New Vegas is also extremely ridiculous. It's a unique gauss rifle with a scope that is accurate at all ranges, and can deal a ton of damage with the right perks and skills. In fact, it's possible to completely take down the final boss in one shot quite easily.
    • The MF Hyperbreeder Alpha, a laser recharger pistol added with the Gun Runners Arsenal DLC. An automatic laser pistol that fires three-shot bursts in VATS mode, recharges its own ammo quickly, and does some significant damage. While not apoclyptically powerful, it's reliable enough to keep you safe against all but the most overpowering opponents.
  • Instant AI, Just Add Water: At least one in each game... ZAX in Fallout, SKYNET (no, not that SKYNET) in Fallout 2, and President Eden (also of the ZAX series) in Fallout 3. Interestingly, ZAX and SKYNET are mostly benevolent (although it's suggested SKYNET is not to be entirely trusted), although Eden ends up as the game's Big Bad.
    • At the end of Fallout Tactics, after defeating a army of cold, merciless robots and exploding the front door of Vault 0 with a nuke, you came face to face with the Calculator, a super-powerful AI that's pretty much Instant AI, except you had to add... BRAINS. Human brains, if possible, but rat brains worked as well. Some other robots are also powered like that, like the Robobrains, SKYNET and Protectons.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Appears in most of the games. Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 were in the era of game interfaces where such fences were the norm. Fallout 3 made certain piles of concrete debris 'insurmountable' to force you to detour through tunnel zones, though equally high piles out in the open countryside could readily be scaled. Fallout: New Vegas has some particularly lazy examples of this: the overworld is cut into cells to ease loading times, and one can only transit between cells at passes. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell this to the designers who made the visual landscapes, meaning the Courier is often unable to climb two-degree slopes at the edges of cells. In particularly buggy areas such as the area aound Nelson, the Courier can end up several dozen feet off the ground by skimming a cell edge.
  • Invulnerable Civilians: In the first two games, all characters were killable by the PC, but were never subject to random deaths by other objects in the gameworld outside of battles that put NPCs in harm's way, such as the large Regulator shootout in the Boneyard in Fallout 1. Also, NPCs accidentally hitting (usually shooting) other NPCs in combat would often cause the injured party's AI to retaliate, along with other NPCs on the injured party's computer-defined "team." In a densely populated area such as the Den with many "teams" a few stray bullets or molotov cocktails can easily result in the townspeople all but wiping each other out with no input from the player. Very not invulnerable. And also amusing.
  • It Got Worse: In Fallout 1, the shattered post-nuclear war civilization seems pretty bad. However, it's downright civilized compared to Fallout 2, where prejudice, slavery, drug abuse and rampant crime become virtually endemic everywhere except the New California Republic (The NCR, meanwhile, can become something of an imperialist police state depending on the player's actions). This actually makes sense: in Fallout 1, most people are still just decent folks trying to survive, crime is the exception rather than the rule, and everyone is less than a generation removed from pre-war civilization, so old civilized values still linger. By Fallout 2, everyone has been living by "the law of the jungle" for several generations, with the values of pre-war civilization not even a memory except in the NCR. In Fallout 3, civilization seems to have settled somewhere between the state of the world in the first two, at least where D.C. is concerned.
    • Subverted in Fallout: New Vegas, the most recent and the chronologically latest game. The Outer Vegas area mostly escaped nuclear attack, and the Vegas Strip itself is still running and open for business. The NCR and the Legion provide stable, functioning governments in their respective territories (although the former is open to corruption and bureacratic incompetence while the latter is prone to brutality, slavery and misogyny and beholden to the whims of an insane dictator). The Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel have retreated, and the only real threats left are petty bands of raiders.
  • It Just Bugs Me: The ending of the third game prior to Broken Steel bugs so many people that it has the dubious honor of having its own page.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Nuclear cars were a big thing in the 50's, and were thought to be replacing gas-powered ones. They obviously didn't work out. The retro-future of Fallout began to gradually phase out gas engines in favor of miniature reactors in the mid-2070s because by that point, the world's supply of gasoline was nearly exhausted. This is a major part of the backstory: the Resource Wars that eventually led to the whole nuclear apocalypse were fought over petroleum, and uranium once the world's petroleum was depleted. In the first two Fallout games, nuclear-powered vehicles were extremely rare, with most vehicle wrecks you find being of conventional, non-explodey gasoline-powered cars. Nuclear-powered cars were presumably more common on the East Coast because either the factory producing them was closer or they were simply more widely distributed there, although the most likely explanation is simple Rule of Cool.
  • Jerkass: It probably has something to do with the fact that their entire civilisation has been reduced to rubble and every day is a struggle for survival, but even setting aside the various raiders, slavers and other such Complete Monsters, there sure are a hell of a lot of assholes wandering around. Almost every single person you meet has some kind of chip on their shoulder.
  • Karma Meter: Each of the games (minus the fourth one) has one (see their pages for details). It affects NPC reactions, and can cause hostiles opposed to your philosophy to ambush you.
  • Killer Robot: Robots in general are fairly homicidal in this series, but special mention has to go to Cerberus, guard dog of the Ghoul city Underworld. He will extol the virtues of his Ghoul masters, then curse the "pansy zombie programming" which prevents him from slaughtering them. If you have the Robotics Expert perk, you can remove his combat inhibitor. Hilarity Ensues, since Cerberus by himself can slaughter the entire population unaided in some cases. Of course, he'll try to kill you given the chance, too, but he's not that strong compared to you.
  • Knight Templar: The Enclave, at least in Fallout 2. All mutants must die for the 'true' humanity to rise again. 'All mutants', at this point, is basically all of the surviving humans... after all, unless they've been kept isolated, they may have recessive mutant genes!
    • The Brotherhood of Steel's dogma maintains that they're the guardians of the all the old world's advanced technology. They therefore hoard all the tech they have without sharing, and steal tech from their neighbours to "keep it (the technology) safe from abuse." They help you against The Enclave because the latter are a threat to their technological superiority.
    • The Mid-Western Brotherhood of Steel, based in Chicago, are a little better in that they interact peacefully with the tribals around them and help them. They are still a fascistic militant group and their 'interaction' is basically a glorified protection racket "for your own good", but they at least seem intent on including outsiders in building a better tomorrow.
  • Lampshade Hanging: There's a lot of this, whether it be by NPCs or by the main character him/herself, particularly the Chosen One from the second game, provided he/she isn't an idiot.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Red Ryder Limited Edition BB Gun. It does virtually no damage to enemies... unless you hit them in the eyes, in which case it becomes the most powerful weapon in the entire game and has a near 100% crit rate, regularly resulting in Ludicrous Gibs even against Super Mutants and Nightkin. It is, however, useless against enemies that don't have eyes. The same BB Gun makes its return in Fallout: New Vegas. The weapon has an extremely high critical damage multiplier and perfect accuracy, and while hidden, with the right perks, its damage output surpasses everything short of an Anti-materiel rifle with a sneak attack critical.
  • Living Legend: By the end of any given game, the protagonist will have been everywhere, met everyone, changed everything for better or worse, and become a legend. Or maybe you just skipped right to the end, because you can do that.
  • Living Relic: Despite the nuclear annihilation and the 200+ years that have passed since then, there are still several characters that serve as living remnants of pre-war America. There are a significant number of pre-War ghouls (most prominently Lockhart from Point Lookout, Raul from Fallout: New Vegas, and Dean Domino from Dead Money), a handful of sentient computers (ZAX, SKYNET, Button Gwinnett (possibly), and President Eden), a few Brains In A Jar (Professor Calvert, the Think Tank), and a few pre-war individuals who were preserved in suspended animation (Mr. House, the Tranquility Lane inhabitants, and the prisoners aboard Mothership Zeta). Of them all, most have either adapted to the new world (in the case of the Ghouls), or are cripplingly insane (in the case of Calvert and the Think Tank), with only Mr. House and President Eden really holding onto the vision of pre-war America and trying to restore it in the Wasteland in their own way.
  • Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair: An underlying theme of the game. Especially prevalent in Fallout 3, where you see the ruins of Washington, DC. Several landmarks are crumbling shadows of what they once were. The White House is simply gone. And it's eerie and nearly empty despite a few survivors and a plethora of things (human or otherwise) that want to kill you.
  • Luck Stat: Puts the L in SPECIAL. Increases your chances at critical hits, positive Random Encounters and all sorts of other nice things. In Fallout: New Vegas, one dialogue option for characters with high enough Luck lets you successfully guess a password off the top of your head. And it's not even "swordfish"...
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Will happen after taking the Bloody Mess perk/trait, which does exactly what it says to your enemies. A starting-out character with the trait can punch a hole in a gecko, or kick a rat and make it explode.
  • Made of Iron: The hillbillies in the Point Lookout DLC for the third game are absurdly hard to kill for no explainable reason. The Enclave should ditch their power armor project and just make armor out of hillbilly hides.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Allegedly Van Buren was going to have one as a companion NPC. He is referenced pretty often in Fallout: New Vegas when dealing with Caesar's Legion and appears in the Honest Hearts DLC as The Atoner. There, he's revealed to be Joshua Graham, Caesar's former Legate who was burned alive and thrown into the Grand Canyon for failure during the First Battle of Hoover Dam, only to survive and return to his home, New Canaan (formerly known as Ogden).
  • Mascot: Both in-world and out-of-world, the Vault Boy: the wavy-haired, perpetually smiling figure in the jumpsuit whose picture accompanies all Skills, Traits and Perks. In-world, he was the mascot for Vault-Tec. Out-of-world, he serves the same purpose for the series.
  • Match Maker Quest
  • Medieval Stasis: From 1823 to 1950, there was a world of difference, from technology to culture to politics in the span of 127 years. From 1950 to 2077? Not so much. Still holds true for after the Great War, with over 200 years having passed and very little actual rebuilding being witnessed.
    • Unless its California, then there's a ton of rebuilding.
  • The Messiah: You, should you decide to play your character this way. However, you can run the full morality gamut from this all the way to Complete Monster.
  • Money Spider: Justified. You can find random loot on ghouls and centaurs, but that's the stuff they were carrying before getting zombified/dipped in FEV.
  • More Dakka: Everyone loves Miniguns, and you should too. Speaking generally, the best guns in the games are either a minigun of some type or Energy Weapon of some kind (see also Beam Spam above).
  • Multiple Endings: Yet another staple of the series. The Dev Team Thinks of Everything is in full effect here, though the best endings are always canon. Except for Fallout: Tactics...
  • Mushroom Samba: Vault 106, and the Walking With Spirits quest in Point Lookout.
  • The Musketeer: Enemy too close? Drop the sledgehammer.
  • Mysterious Protector: The "Mysterious Stranger" perk in Fallout 2, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, with the Miss Fortune Perk added in the last.
  • Mythology Gag: In Fallout, recruitable NPC Tycho mentions he's a Nevada Ranger. The Nevada Rangers were the protagonists of Wasteland, the game to which Fallout is a Spiritual Successor. The Big Bad of Fallout Tactics also seems to be a subtle Shout-Out to the Big Bad of Wasteland. Also, some Rangers holed up in the Capital Wasteland. Interestingly, Tycho's description is "a man in dusty leather armor with a trench coat and gas mask"... and that's exactly what the NCR veteran Rangers wear in Fallout: New Vegas (and are prominently featured on the box art).
  • Necessarily Evil: Lord Ashur from The Pitt addon.
  • New Old West: Certain elements of the Capital Wasteland (bounty hunters, travelling traders beset by robbers, a heroic (or villainous) drifter, etc.) hearken back to Westerns, but with places like Rivet City or the Vaults, its mixed in with Sci-Fi.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Fallout: New Vegas. A good part of the first act is spent in towns such as Goodsprings and Primm (Goodsprings being more rural, Primm being slightly more advanced). Escaped convicts also show up, and they can take over Goodsprings (with your help), and they have already taken over Primm when you arrive there.
    • California has a smattering of this as well. Especially in Fallout 2, where the New California Republic is expanding its borders, and there are several mining and 'frontier' type towns (although they were there long before the NCR formed, they just give that vibe). This would've gone a step further in the "Van Buren" version of Fallout 3 with a subplot about the establishment of railroads.
    • Fallout: New Vegas takes this and runs with it all the way to the finish line, down to their being a Perk called "Cowboy".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Fallout 2, a special random encounter sends you back in time to Vault 13 shortly before the beginning of the first game... where you do a nice job breaking their water chip. You cannot return to your own time without doing so. You can drop a (entirely useless) replacement water chip if you happen to have it, but the game doesn't recognize this.
  • Nice Job Guiding Us Hero: If the Vault Dweller recruits water merchants to send supplies to Vault 13, they will extend the water chip deadline with 100 days, but it allows the Master's super mutants to find the Vault earlier.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Subverted. Ghouls are actually the most peaceful "race" in the Fallout universe (implied to be because while they may be tough, they're really not good fighters), although you do very rarely have random encounters with Ghoul bandits and psychotics. They're also immortal unless they die by violence, which provides a strong incentive to avoid it.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The final boss of Fallout 2, Frank Horrigan, is described as a "genetically engineered cyborg psycho secret agent."
  • No Canon for the Wicked: All the games officially end on a happy(ish) note.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Sheriff Killian Darkwater bears an astounding resemblance to Clint Eastwood.
    • And, for that matter, to Richard Dean Anderson, who voices the character.
    • Not to mention Dragon Frank Horrigan.
    • There's also the Hubologist cult members Juan Cruz and Nikki Goldmann from Fallout 2.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Every game has at least one, even if it's just a trusty dog.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: If you sell out your people to the first game's Big Bad, and if you attack anyone in the starting village in the second. In the third, you will get one for revealing the code to the purifier to Colonel Autumn. Idiot.
  • One-Gender Race: Justified with Super Mutants since they're asexual thanks to the FEV mutation.
    • In the first two games, there were female Super Mutants: they used the same sprites but their description and dialogue clearly pointed out that they were female.
      • Justified in that East Coast mutants were formed by a different strain of FEV. Fallout: New Vegas has been confirmed to contain both gray-skinned multigendered West Coast mutants and the green asexual East Coast mutants of the third game.
        • Actually, there's only Mariposa mutants here. The Fallout 3 mutants in early screens were placeholders.
  • One-Hit Kill: In Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, if a targeted shot rolls an extremely high critical (101+), it will result in an instant-kill, even if the actual damage is not enough to fell the enemy. This can happen only on targeted attacks to the head, torso or eyes.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Agility and Intelligence share this status since the original combat system relied on Action Points tied to agility and combat skills, which were partially tied to Intelligence. Dialogue options were also dictated by Intelligence.
  • The Order: The Brotherhood of Steel, deliberately modeled after medieval knightly orders.
  • Pacifist Run: Possible in all the games, to an extent.
  • Padded Sumo Gameplay: The first two games have this issue in the very late game, where opponents with power armor are almost incapable of doing even a single point of damage except in critical blows, so combat basically boils down to watching "0 Points Of Damage" bullets bounce off each other until "Critical Hit for 999 HP" obliterates somebody.
  • The Pennyfarthing Effect: Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 have this in spades. Most prominently, you won't get any description of a usable object in the environment or even any indication that it's usable without first switching to the "look" cursor.
  • Planimal: Spore plants, one of which becomes sentient.
  • Post-Peak Oil: Before the Great War, peak oil was the cause of the Resource Wars that devastated both Europe and the Middle East. Gas prices reached up to $1450.99 per gallon for regular. The United States (and possibly China) were only saved by going to an all-nuclear society, while the rest of the world ended up collapsing. It was all made moot however, when everyone started to sling nukes at each other.
  • Powered Armor: Iconic to the series. Some variant of it is always the best armor in the game—whether Hardened Power Armor in Fallout 1 or Advanced Power Armor Mark II in Fallout 2—providing excellent protection from firearms and environmental hazards as well as a significant strength boost. Worn by both the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave.
    • In the third game, however, it loses a little of its luster as all forms of it excluding the Infinity Plus One Armor decrease Agility, which is the primary statistic for VATS (unless you hate VATS, which just makes that a null issue). On top of that, other armor types nearly match the T-51b in protection, while being far lighter. And it still doesn't do you any good in the end. The Operation Anchorage DLC fixed this unintentionally with the glitched Winterized T-51b, which is essentially indestructible in addition to having the highest damage reduction available: Broken Steel also added Enclave Hellfire armor, which doesn't have the Agility penalty.
    • Fallout 4 completely overhauls how power armor works. Instead of being an inventory item, it's now a separate world object that you have to enter and exit. It still boosts your Strength and other stats (depending on how you customize it). You can detach and swap out armor plates from the main armor frame, and you can customize your armor with different features (including a jetpack). You also take no fall damage from any height and can actually inflict damage by landing from a height near NPCs. In addition, your damage resistances are raised to extremely high levels, and you take almost no radiation damage. To balance it out, however, they now require the relatively rare Fusion Cores to be operated, and they only last about 20 minutes (shorter if you run/sprint or use the jetpack) before you need a new one, or else become severely encumbered. Also, Power Armor is the only armor with item health, with each armor piece separately taking damage and requiring frequent repairs with semi-rare components at Power Armor Stations.
  • Power Fist: Infinity+1 Sword for characters using the Unarmed skill; can be upgraded to a Mega Powerfist in some games.
  • President Evil: Big Bad U.S. President Richardson in Fallout 2, who also serves as President Exposition.
  • Press X to Die: Several examples. In Fallout, a nuke timer can be set to 30 seconds. Suffice it to say you're going to get a front-row seat.
  • Previous Player Character Cameo: The player character from the first Fallout game reappears in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel games as an NPC.
  • Punch Clock Villain: One recurring theme throughout the series regarding the major evil organizations: the leadership is damn ruthless if not outright Complete Monsters, and the rank-and-file have their share of True Believer fanatics and sadists, but many of them are actually just regular joes who think they're doing the right thing, simply obey because they've never known of any other alternative, or are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Members of the Big Bad faction of one game often show up in later games as friendly supporting characters, having mellowed out in the interrim after the downfall of their leaders.
  • Punched Across the Room: Requires a very good damage roll if fighting barehanded, but it is possible to hurl someone a fair distance (a couple hexes, depending on damage, in the first two games) if you do more than 10 points of damage in melee. The sledgehammer weapons greatly increase the distance traveled.
  • Putting on the Reich: The Enclave are very similar to Nazis, goals and methods wise.
  • Ragnarok Proofing: Averted in the first two games, which pretty much assume complete destruction of every identifiable landmark that hasn't been constantly maintained (one location, appropriately called Junktown, is apparently constructed entirely out of scrap wood, stone and metal).
  • Random Encounters: Justified in that you are watching your GPS too closely to notice anything around you. Your first warning is a lightning bolt. Then you get YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED A RADSCORPION/ PEASANT HERDING BRAMIN/GROUP OF RAIDERS/ETC./ETC.
  • Rare Guns: Desert Eagle, G11s, the automatic shotguns of Fallout 2, and several others from the list.
  • Raygun Gothic
  • Real Is Brown: Very much so.
  • Recurring Element: Harold.
  • Recycled in Space: The Enclave are essentially Nazis IN AMERICA.
    • Which wouldn't be special. They are more extreme then the real life US-american Nazis though...
    • Caesar's Legion are Romans IN THE WASTELAND.
  • Refuge in Vulgarity: The second game on has occasional gags like this. To its detriment, Brotherhood of Steel is absolutely buried in it.
  • The Remnant: Where to start? You've got the remnants of the Master's Army and the Enclave (the remnants of the US government) in Fallout 2 and Fallout 3, as do the game's ghoulified Chinese soldiers on U.S. soil, still holding their positions and waiting for word from a headquarters that was (presumably) vaporized long ago.
    • The Brotherhood of Steel is technically a Remnant of the U.S Armed Forces, though their founders deserted the goverment just before the War.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, you get the Enclave Remnants, making them the remnant of the remnant of the US Government.
  • Robot Buddy : Skynet and K-9 in Fallout 2, RL-3 in Fallout 3, ED-E and Rex (technically, it's a cyborg dog, but still...) in Fallout: New Vegas.
  • Romance Sidequest: One of the few Western RPG tropes not used in the series. In Fallout 2, you could get married, but it was a Shotgun Wedding with a one-night stand treated mostly as a joke, and you couldn't have any meaningful interactions with your spouse after the marriage anyway. An optional romance subplot was planned for Fallout: New Vegas but it was ultimately scrapped.
  • Sailor Earth: Want to make an original character who also grew up in a vault? Easy, just make up a number between 001 and 999 and add the word "Vault" infront of it.
  • Scavenger World: It's a post-apocalyptic series, it goes without saying. That said, it's not like scavenging is the only thing people do, and there are several communities dedicated to rebuilding and creating things anew. In Fallout 2, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, many parts of the Wasteland have actually become quite civilized again.
  • Schizo-Tech:
    • People before the Great War had robots with advanced AI, wrist-mounted computers, laser weaponry, and powered armor, but were stuck on rotary phones (mobile phones don't exist), color televisions were a luxury, and their recording devices were audio-only reel-to-reel casettes. The series is vague on the degree to which the Internet and its associated functions were developed, but it's mostly implied to not have existed and only major companies had their own internal email messaging system. Computers are also relatively primitive, the more powerful ones demanding large terminals to operate, and reading into the system specs given on some systems shows them to be utterly pathetic compared to modern home computers even in the 90s. The reason for all this is two-fold, partially to conform to the franchise's Raygun Gothic motif, and partially to explore what kind of gaps in technological progress could result in that aesthetic becoming reality.
    • The Post-War world - naturally - has even more of this going on. The average Wastelander may live in a ramshackle wrought-iron and plywood shack, and work the fields, the Brahmin pens, or hunt with a scavenged ancient rifle or revolver that's held together with duct-tape and faith. Tribals may be even more primitive, with loincloths and spears made from sticks with kitchen knives tacked on the end. The NCR is one of the more advanced and stable civilizations out there; some of the bigger and richer cities and towns will have functional electricity and running water, and they have the know-how to build and maintain some fairly advanced tech themselves, but overall nothing we would consider cutting-edge (on average, the NCR's tech level is somewhere between the Wild West and the U.S. circa WW1). The Commonwealth Minutemen, an organization that can set up peaceful settlements with downed airplane engines serving as ersatz windmills, utilize any tech they can get their hands on - which manifests in their primary weapons being crank-powered laser muskets. The Brotherhood of Steel have access to energy weapons, Power Armor and robots, but they hoard it all and actively seek to confiscate most examples from Wastelanders.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Plenty of opportunities to do this in all the games since they keep track of the multiple factions.
  • Shout-Out: Everything from Monty Python to Star Trek to half the post-apocalyptic science fiction ever made.
    • A certain piece of armor makes the character sprite look like Mel Gibson's character in The Road Warrior, and wearing it in the presence of a dog named "Dogmeat" causes it to join your party.
    • You can also come across the TARDIS in the middle of the desert. Or a crashed whale and a potted plant that seems to have fallen from a great height. Or... well, you get the idea.
    • In the second game, hurting Dogmeat when he's not of your party summons a leather jacket-wearing man with an Aussie accent named Mel who immediately attacks you.
    • Fallout 1 is very similiar to first Mad Max, Fallout 2 is very, very similar to Mad Max 2 (a stranger (protagonist of Fallout 1) founds a tribal culture (Arroyo, but Max literally founded them) and becomes something of a messiah to it. Plus, Hakunin bears striking resemblance to that shaman kid from the second film.
    • The mission "Those!" involving ants who have been enlarged by use of radiation, refers to the 1954 film Them, with the same plot.
    • The intelligence-boosting chems featured in almost all of the games are called "Mentats".
    • Many of Three Dog's antics are tributes to a multitude of radio personalities. The "fortified bunker in the middle of the DC hellhole" sounds an awful lot like Mark Levin's "underground command post deep in the bowels of a hidden bunker" (you have to hear the cadence to believe it). His howling is likely a tribute to Wolfman Jack. The real radio junkies among us could probably point out far more.
    • Sifting around one of the computers in the Museum Authority Building will bring up a memo concerning the transfer of a young marine biologist named Gillian Taylor being transferred to San Francisco Aquarium.
    • PRIME CUT IS MADE OUT OF PEOPLE! IT'S PEOPLE I TELL YOU!!!!!!!
    • One of your possible allies is named Jericho.
    • The Abominations of mothership Zeta are implied to be humans altered by alien experimentation. When they see you, they point and shriek in a manner reminiscent of the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's scary as hell.
    • In Fallout 2, one of the possible companions Cassidy will say, "Wish I had a Limit Break" in combat.
    • Three Dog occasionally says "Hello chiiiiiildren!"
    • When hacking average difficulty computers, one of the possible passwords can be "DURASTEEL", a metal building material from Star Wars.
    • A particularly "slow" NPC in Fallout 2 will occasionally say "Zugzug" when you click on him.
    • Cut content from Fallout 2 (available through the restoration project mod) includes a toaster which constantly asks if you want toast.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Fallout 1 featured a detailed description of cell division, and how a mutagenic artificial virus interfered at the anaphase stage. In many ways, the result of this interference is the single most fantastic element of the story; everything else follows reality.
    • In Fallout 2, Myron's explanation for how Jet was discovered, although somewhat fantastical, is quite complex.
    • Each of the games (Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 especially) put tons of work into making their in-game settings be as accurate to their real-world counterparts as possible (within reason, of course).
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar's Legion are heavily based after the Roman Empire In-Universe... and it can actually be pretty hard at times to tell them apart from the real thing.
    • While not nearly to the Legion's extent, the Commonwealth Minutemen in Fallout 4 are based after the real-world colonial militias that fought in the American Revolution on not just an aesthetic level. Similarly, most of the espionage tactics used by the Railroad (i.e. dead drops) are based on methods used by the CIA during the Cold War.
    • In all games, accumulating one thousand rads of radiation will lead to the character's death. In reality, that is roughly the point where death from radiation poisoning is certain (of course in practice it varies from individual to individual, but hey, it's a nice round number).
  • Sickly Green Glow: Nuclear waste in general, but also the Glowing Ones: Feral Ghouls who have adapted to extremely radiated areas.
  • Skippable Boss: Thanks to Fallout's commitment to "multiple solutions", there are several. This includes the Lieutenant and the Master in the first game, General Jingwei and Colonel Augustus Autumn in the third, Legate Lanius, Father Elijah, the Think Tank and Ulysses in Fallout: New Vegas, and Swan and Oswald the Outrageous in the fourth. Subverted now and then: Frank Horrigan in the second game will only let you get out over his dismembered corpse, and Kellogg even lampshades the series' tendency for this to happen before starting combat. Check the particular game pages for more details.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Slightly towards idealism, unbelievably... if you're a good or neutral character. There's a reason why tropes like Earn Your Happy Ending exist.
  • Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Action by Action by virtue by the action point system.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration
  • Social Darwinist: Some of the Villain by Default factions, and even some of the seemingly-nice groups, hold this opinion.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Many dialogue options in invoke this character trope.
  • Solo Character Run: Extremely common throughout the series due to Artificial Stupidity. In Fallout 1, companions did not level up, could not change their starting armor, and were generally liabilities due to friendly fire and obstructing doors or corridors. This situation has improved as the series progressed.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the 1988 game Wasteland.
  • The Sponsor: The player becomes this for NPCs with whom he will spend a grand total of four minutes in conversation (in contrast, if the player character gets addicted in Fallout, the only moral support they get is a shot of detox meds and a stern reprimand).
  • Stealth Run: Possible in all three games.
  • Stock Footage: One piece of promotional art for Fallout: New Vegas was just concept art for Paradise Falls from Fallout 3, with the sign in the background changed.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Each Definitely Final Dungeon inevitably ends in this, in every game. In Fallout Tactics, you choose whether it does or not. Canonically, however, it does.
  • Super Soldier: The original and current point of creating Super Mutants, Deathclaws and Power Armor. This was the US's hat before the war.
    • As for the far extreme of Super Soldiers in Fallout; Talking Deathclaws and Frank Horrigan.
  • Survivalist Stash: All over the place, with varying degrees of loot. Some have their locations hinted at by notes or dialogue, and some are just lying in the middle of nowhere. And, of course, you're likely to stockpile a few of your own once you start to exceed your encumbrance limit.
  • Take That: The series as a whole is one to those who idealize the past, and wish they born in a time other than the period they live in now (though it mostly applies to the 1950's in particular).
  • Take Your Time: Subverted in the first game. Played straight in all subsequent games.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: A very common way to deal with the Final Boss and/or Big Bad is to talk your way out of the fight, or you can avoid it entirely.
    • In Fallout 1, the Master can be talked into destroying himself if you convince him his plan will fail. The Dragon, the Lieutenant, can be avoided by self-destructing the base.
    • In Fallout 2, you can talk the Mad Scientist who is responsible for the Big Bad's scheme into sabotaging it. The Big Bad will happily converse you with, but conversation goes nowhere and he's not a fighter so he doesn't attack you unless you strike first. You also set their base to self-destruct, ensuring his death anyway. In a rare case for this series, the Final Boss cannot be talked down, and this is almost lampshaded by allowing you to ask "can't we talk this over?" and the villain laughing "we just did".
    • In Fallout 3, Autumn can be talked into walking away by convincing him he fights for a lost cause.
      • The add-ons: Operation Anchorage lets you convince the final boss to kill himself. The Pitt lets you talk one of the two villains (depending on quest options) into fleeing, the other must die. In the other three add-ons, the final villain must be killed.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, you may face one of two final bosses, or both. Both can both be talked into standing down without a fight. The Big Bad of the Legion, Caesar, must be killed, but he's a Bonus Boss, and his death is not demanded by the story.
      • The add-ons: Old World Blues lets you talk the villain into reforming, Dead Money lets you snare the villain in a Death Trap without fighting him, and Lonesome Road lets you talk down the final boss. Honest Hearts plays with this by having Joshua Graham subdue the villain, Salt-Upon Wounds, in a cutscene, and you can either talk down Joshua into letting him live, letting him fight for his life, or just let him kill him.
  • Techno Wreckage: The abandoned vaults, the Glow and the Sierra Army Depot.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The box for the Fallout Trilogy has a screenshot of the final boss battle for Fallout 2.
  • Universal Ammunition: Justified with energy weapons, where the ammunition is essentially just batteries, and only a few different sizes exist. Averted for firearms, however. Various ammunition types exist in the game, and each gun will only fire ammunition it's chambered in. Fallout: New Vegas extends this to include traditional "low power" civilian loads, such as using .38 Special in a .357, or .223 in a 5.56mm, provided the cartridge dimensions are near-identical. This mirrors reality as well.
  • Useless Useful Spell: There are a few traits and perks in the series that are theoretically awesome but useless in practice, such as the third game's 'Nuclear Anomaly' perk (funny, and occasionally handy, but it doesn't discriminate between friend and foe and cannot be turned off), the first and second game's 'Skilled' and 'Night Person' traits and 'Presence' perk, and a few others.
    • Fast Shot (-1 AP to shoot, no aimed shots) + One Handed (Bonus to hit with one-handed weapons, penalty with two-handed) is a fun combination for role-playing purposes and not using Gifted. Pretty viable in Fallout 2 with some Melee/Unarmed skill and gets better once you get a .44 Magnum.
    • Computer Whiz and Infiltrator in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Respectively allows you to re-hack a computer if you locked it after failing to hack it and to pick a lock you've broken by trying to force it. Useless for two reasons : you can leave the computer and retry anytime as long as you didn't locked it and forcing the lock is an option.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The MO of quite a few villains throughout the series.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Five of them:
    • Fallout: a big Cathedral in the middle of the ruins of Los Angeles inhabited by strange cultists and a shadowy atmosphere. Bellow, there is a dark Vault filled with Super Mutant Nightkin elite troopers, mad scientists, mutated aberrations, cultists and crazy FEV-induced psykers. The walls are full of a grotesque biological goo that looks strangely alive. At the end of your way, you have to pass a corridor where your nemesis starts blasting you with his immense psionic powers. At the end, you meet what can be accurately called the strangest being of the wastelands: insane, super-intelligent, grotesquely mutated. There's also an old military laboratory in the remote badlands west of Vault Thirteen, guarded by strong mutant soldiers and robots. The base is brightly-lit, yet the atmosphere is dense and shadowy. In the depths of the base, big vats of bubbling green fluid contains, depending on the point of view, either the key to the evolution of the human race, or its eventual demise.
    • Fallout 2: the Enclave Oil Rig, the stronghold of the extremely well-equipped remnants of the United States Government, a massive fortress significantly larger than any other settlement or dungeon, populated by an army larger than all other armies combined, consisting of incredibly tough Powered Armor-wearing soldiers loaded with the best weapons in the game and lots of stimpacks. Indeed, unless you're an insanely tough, completely combat-oriented character, your only viable means of getting through is to disguise yourself by wearing one of their own armored suits and sneaking past everyone.
    • Fallout Tactics: Vault 0. For most of the first half of the game, you are just expanding the Brotherhood's influence, crushing rebellions, killing raiders, so on and so forth, but then you run into the Super Mutants, who were the reason the Midwestern Brotherhood was sent over the mountains in the first place. But even they're not the true enemy- they were merely mobilizing to fight an even more significant threat- robots, centered around Vault 0, and towards the end of the game you move further and further into Colorado and into the mountains, until you start seeing real snow (unusual in a setting without much weather) and finally end up getting into the heavily-guarded Vault 0... by blasting it open with a nuke. From that point on, all bets are off, and you can't go back to home base...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can be a sick, sick bastard if you so desire. Pimping your wife and then divorcing her, becoming a slaver, causing gang wars, murdering children... if you count post-end-of-game results, your actions can cause entire cities to fall apart.
    • A minor, but rather poignant, bit of cruelty is convincing Moira to give up on her Wasteland Survival Guide. Not only is this considered evil, but it gives you a perk called Dream Crusher and forever dampens her ordinarily cheery attitude. There are benefits, of course, but they really went out of their way to make you seem like a bastard for doing it.
    • In Broken Steel, you can wipe the Brotherhood HQ right off the map, kill off any stragglers, and get a special Magnum if you do.
    • Mid- to endgame main quests in Fallout: New Vegas requires you to screw over each main faction except the one you favor, and it's quite possible to have them think you're working for them up until the moment of betrayal. It's quite easy (and historically appropriate) to visit Caesar for a negotiation and stab him to death, and Mr House, well... given what a pitiful creature he's become, it's hard not to feel like a heel for ending his dream.
    • Fallout 4 downplays this the most out of the series... and you can still do some utterly despicable things. For example, you can sell a Ghoul child to some slavers, or if you refuse, give up his entire family to the slavers. In one Diamond City quest, you can ambush a chem deal, and then murder your partners to take all the chems and money for yourself. Also, the vast majority of the populaces of the Prydwen, Institute, and Railroad HQ aren't immortal, meaning you can go on a kill-happy murder spree if you want to.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you're a slaver, childkiller or just an evil, evil bastard, a lot of folks won't take too kindly to you.
    • Wiping out entire towns for the fun of it tends to lock out access to quests and items. If you want an Infinity +1 Rifle, go ask Bob in Junktown... oh, you mercilessly slaughtered the settlement? Shucks, tough luck.
  • Villain Protagonist: Just one of the many possible playthroughs for the player character in Fallout.
  • Was Once a Man: Every ghoul and super mutant you encounter was a human once.
  • Wasteland Elder: A lot of towns have them. This includes Little Lamplight, whose "Elder" is about 12.
  • We Can Rule Together: The Master, President Eden and Caesar all make similar offers to the player character. The Master is actually good for it, while Eden's plan will get you killed (though to be fair, Eden might not have known that), and Caesar doesn't exactly have the best track record of keeping his promises (especially if you're playing a female character, given Caesar's view on the place of women in society).
    • In Dead Money, the player can make this offer to the Big Bad, Father Elijah, but only if they have a negative relation with the NCR, whom Elijah wants to overthrow.
  • Web Games: Bethesda created a demake of Fallout 3 for browsers. The graphics are 8-bit style and similar to the early Dragon Quest games. The demake is currently only in Japanese, but it's fascinating: http://www.bethsoft.com/jpn/fo/fo_quest/index.html
  • We Have Reserves: The New California Republic defeated the Brotherhood of Steel because the Brotherhood, being an elitist order, had too few members to conscript for troops. For years, they fought the war under the assumption that their technological superiority gave them the advantage, until it became clear that they were doomed because they could not replace their troops fast enough.
  • Weird Science: The Fallout 'verse runs on 50-style B-movie SCIENCE!
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Fallout 1's Master. The Vault 101 Overseer (Amata's Dad, at least, if you don't kill him) is one of these as well.
  • What's an X Like You Doing In a Y Like This?
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Master from the first game. Once you learn about everything he's gone through and witnessed, it's not hard to see why he became so insane.
  • A World Half Full: The series in general. Yes, its a post apocalyptic wasteland, but the remaining inhabitants are more or able to get through the day. Of course, playing a Good character makes it count even more.
  • Wretched Hive: New Reno, The Den, Paradise Falls, Evergreen Mills, The Pitt, Nipton before the Legion, anyway.
    • Paradise Falls is so bad that its the only town you can completely massacre (preferably with Lincoln's hat and Repeater for extra irony) with absolutely no repercussions.
      • Not just no repercussions, they actually reward you with positive karma for killing any named character that isn't a slave (except for Jones' two slaves, who count as slavers for mission purposes).
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Inversion: while searching Vault City's database for your vault in Fallout 2, your character will notice a Pip-Boy hole if his/her Perception is above or equal to 7. Shoving your Pip-Boy in will give you the location of nearly all the locations (normally, finding the vaults would be an ardous task with several middle men involved).
  • Zeerust: The surviving pre-apocalypse architecture and technology is highly reminiscent of '50s Pop Art: complete with muscle cars, vacuum tube computers, and tin-can robots. Background material establishes that America (and by extension, the world) never really moved beyond the 1950's in terms of values. The 60's revolution was either much less influential, only effected music, or both, and there was no 80's technological shift due to the absence of the transistor. As a result, even though the world "ended" in 2077, culturally, it had barely progressed at all.