Fallout TV Show: Ending Explained - IGN (2024)

It’s safe to say that at the end of its eight-episode first season, Prime Video and the Westworld team of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have seemingly pulled off the impossible and successfully adapted Fallout for television.

While Prime Video's TV treatment doesn’t directly adapt any of the video game storylines, there are connective tissues throughout the show that call back to various games in the series, all culminating in a season finale which sets up a tantalizing new adventure to one of Fallout’s most beloved settings.

Spoilers for major plot points in the Fallout TV Series.

The Fallout TV Show's Ending Explained

The Secret of Vault 33

Fallout begins 219 years after the nuclear war of 2077 decimates the United States and forces select citizens to enter nuclear war-protection shelters known as Vaults. Initially, it was set up to make viewers think that the story was a spiritual adaptation of Fallout 3 where our protagonist, Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell), is forced to venture outside into the Wasteland and rescue her father, Overseer Hank MacLean (Kyle MacLachlan).

Fans of the Fallout games know that each Vault set up by Vault-Tec wasn’t just a shelter from nuclear war, but also a testing site where the corporation could run various experiments on its residents. It’s initially suggested that the MacLean’s Vault 33 was designed to simulate a “perfect meritocracy.”

Fallout TV Show: Ending Explained - IGN (1)

This is in fact not the case at all. In reality, Vault 33 is part of a trio of inter-connected Vaults alongside Vault 32 and Vault 31, the latter of which actually houses loyal Vault-Tec employees from the year 2077 who were cryogenically frozen. This was done intentionally by Vault-Tec to ensure that its most loyal and successful employees could be awoken in the future to take charge of what’s left of the United States after the war ends and when radiation levels on the surface subside enough for them to rise up and take command of the wasteland.

Vault 32 and Vault 33 were designed as “breeding pools”, with highly desirable genetic subjects for Vault-Tec employees in Vault 31 to mate with and produce successful, Vault-Tec-aligned offspring, including Lucy and her brother. This test would’ve continued to run unbeknownst to the inhabitants of Vault 33 if it weren’t for a raider leader named Moldaver (Sarita Choudhury) – later revealed to be the head of the scrappy remains of the New California Republic – who invades the Vaults and kidnaps Hank.

It’s a Faction vs. Faction World

True to Fallout, various factions exist within the Wasteland and the show creates a mcguffin that pits these vying parties together. Along with the aforementioned Vault-Dwellers and Moldaver’s NCR raiders, the show spends a lot of time focusing on the Brotherhood of Steel as well as the other inhabitants of the Wasteland.

It all begins when Siggi Wilzig (Michael Emerson), a scientist of the Enclave, escapes the compound with a mysterious blue pill injected into his neck. This pill, it turns out, is a cold fusion reactor designed to produce unlimited energy. It was originally developed in the year 2077 by Moldaver before Vault-Tec acquired the technology, only to shelve it as it threatened bringing peace to a world fighting over finite resources. And as we know, peace is bad for Vault-Tec’s business. The reactor kicks off a race between Lucy, the Brotherhood of Steel, and a bounty hunter Ghoul named Cooper Howard (Walton Goggins) to acquire the reactor for their own personal reasons.

Prime Video's Fallout: The Brotherhood of Steel

The Brotherhood’s motives for acquiring the cold fusion reactor aren’t wholly clear other than they believe that with its unlimited power the Brotherhood will be able to conquer the Wasteland for themselves, and they send an ambitious squire named Maximus (Aaron Clifton Moten) to help the Knight Titus (Michael Rappaport) acquire the reactor.

While Lucy only wants the cold fusion reactor to use it as a bartering chip to free her dad from Moldaver’s raiders, Cooper initially sets out to collect the bounty on Wilzig’s head before finding out this bounty mission is tied to his own past.

A Showdown With Vault-Tec

Just as in the Fallout video games, Lucy starts off as a doe-eyed vault-dweller only to learn over her arduous journey that Vault-Tec is in fact not the altruistic corporation its image purported it to be. Instead, it’s revealed from various flashbacks to Cooper’s life in 2077 (where he is a famous Hollywood actor) that when Vault-Tec’s fortunes were threatened with a potential peace treaty that would make its hundreds of nuclear fallout shelters obsolete, Vault-Tec went ahead and launched its own nuclear weapons, thereby kickstarting the war themselves. They did so to ensure the company’s marquee product, the vaults, wouldn’t end up being defunct, unused relics.

It’s in these flashbacks that we get a glimpse of Vault-Tec’s true, sinister nature. Not only does Cooper’s wife and Vault-Tec executive, Barb Howard, reveal the company’s plans to drop nuclear bombs on America itself, but Vault-Tec makes a secret pact with America’s other successful companies like Westec to give them free reign of various Vaults throughout America for them to run their own twisted experiments. According to Vault-Tec, this would allow the companies to determine which one of them was best positioned to lead the post-war United States. In other words, a capitalist fight over the future.

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However, what Vault-Tec and the other corporations didn’t take into account was the human tenacity for survival. While Vaults were reserved mostly for the wealthy, those who were unable to afford a place in the Vaults didn’t all just die off in the Wasteland once the bombs landed. At some point, 200 or so years after the first nuclear weapons were dropped on America, societies like the New California Republic rose up from the ashes with vibrant cities like Shady Sands as its capital.

While it's still a mystery how Moldaver survived for so long, it’s implied that she established Shady Sands which briefly served as a technologically advanced safe haven in the Wasteland. At some point, Lucy’s mother took her two children and briefly escaped Vault 33 and ended up staying in Shady Sands, at least until her husband found them.

As previously mentioned, Lucy’s father Hank is a dyed-in-the-wool Vault-Tec employee, meaning any threat to Vault-Tec’s supremacy needs to be squashed, including the New California Republic. In the final episode, Moldaver reveals that after Hank took the children back into the Vault, he not only dropped a nuclear bomb on Shady Sands, but did so knowing his wife was still there, turning her into a Ghoul.

What Happens in New Vegas

As the Brotherhood of Steel and Cooper arrive at Moldaver’s new base of operations where she is holding Hank hostage, Lucy learns the truth about her Vault and Hank, driving a wedge between father and daughter. As a fight between Moldaver’s forces, the Brotherhood, and Cooper breaks out, Lucy finds it hard to forgive her father. But that doesn’t matter in the end as Maximus — whom Lucy develops a romantic relationship with over the course of the series — ends up freeing Hank before Lucy could decide whether to even rescue him.

Hank proceeds to steal a Power Armor and attempts to leave Moldaver’s compound with Lucy before getting interrupted by Cooper who, remember, is also from the year 2077 just like Hank. More than that, Hank was a personal assistant to Cooper’s wife at Vault-Tec, having even picked up Barbara’s laundry on several occasions. Without support from her daughter and unable to return to Vault 33 — which has been taken over by another unfrozen Vault-Tec employee — Hank flees to presumably a safe haven for Vault-Tec employees, which is none other than New Vegas.

The glowing familiar sign of the Wasteland’s sinful capital is the final shot of the Fallout series, teasing a new adventure in the New Vegas strip for season 2.

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Is There Any Connection to the Games?

It was revealed that Todd Howard specifically requested Prime Video's Fallout creative team avoid any storylines that could potentially be used for Fallout 5. But that doesn’t mean the writers completely avoided dipping into Bethesda’s games at all.

While Prime Video's TV show tells an original story set in the Fallout universe there are threads that connect the show to the games. The cryogenic plot device, for example, is something the show borrowed from Fallout 4, where the game’s protagonist and other residents of Vault 111 were cryogenically frozen as part of the experiment run on the vault’s citizens.

Lucy’s journey begins with her setting off to find her kidnapped father, which echoes the start of Fallout 3. Meanwhile, the show sets up a second season set in New Vegas, which is of course the setting to one of the most beloved games in the series.

And those are just the big picture connections. The Fallout TV series does an amazing job weaving in references, big and small, throughout the first season which eagle-eyed viewers, as well us at IGN, have found littered around the Wasteland. The writing also functions on a meta level with Cooper at one point complaining about how the Wasteland somehow finds a way to send its inhabitants on time-consuming side adventures, just like how Fallout’s open world is filled with optional quests players can partake in.

Ultimately, the Fallout TV series once again raises the bar for video game adaptations following the successful Last of Us adaptation. And we can’t wait to see what’s in store next for season two.

Matt T.M. Kim is IGN's Senior Features Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.

Fallout TV Show: Ending Explained - IGN (2024)


Fallout TV Show: Ending Explained - IGN? ›

Instead, it's revealed from various flashbacks to Cooper's life in 2077 (where he is a famous Hollywood actor) that when Vault-Tec's fortunes were threatened with a potential peace treaty that would make its hundreds of nuclear fallout shelters obsolete, Vault-Tec went ahead and launched its own nuclear weapons, ...

What did the ending of Fallout mean? ›

The Fallout Ending & Real Meaning Explained. The Fallout's ending highlights the lasting impact of trauma from school shootings, showing recovery is far from linear.

How does the Fallout series end? ›

After the chaos, The Ghoul and Lucy are left wondering what's next, and, seeing that her eyes have been opened, he invites her to join him as they together seek whoever's calling the shots these days for Vault-Tec—Lucy loads her gun, and while Fallout may have wanted us to think she was taking a shot at Cooper, she was ...

How did Moldaver survive? ›

Moldaver eventually ended up in Shady Sands, became someone of importance in the NCR, and then... boom. My best guess has to do with the Shady Sands ritual in Vault 4. It's entirely possible that she's been kept alive through some sort of dark power like with Constance Blackhall.

Why did Hank go to New Vegas? ›

It's presumed that New Vegas is where Hank will hide out from Lucy and The Ghoul and possibly seek refuge with someone in line with his and Vault-Tec's mission.

Why was Vada crying at the end of Fallout? ›

However, this moment is interrupted by a news alert about another school shooting in Ohio. The news returns Vada to her trauma, and she is roiled in emotional pain as the movie closes, with the sounds over a black screen suggesting that she is having a panic attack.

Was Mia in love with Vada? ›

In order to cope with her trauma, she takes ecstasy, and Nick has to help her through the resulting high. After another night of drinking, Mia tells Vada that she is falling in love with her, and they have sex.

Is there going to be a season 2 of Fallout? ›

At 9.30 a.m. Los Angeles time, the day after Fallout has been renewed for a second season by Prime Video, co-showrunners Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet log on to Zoom to chat through the finale with GQ.

Is there going to be a season two of Fallout? ›

Prime Video announced on April 18 that they are obviously going to renew Fallout for a second season, especially after the love it received from all the vault dwellers, raiders, and super mutants.

Is there a season 2 for Fallout? ›

Has 'Fallout' been renewed for season 2? Yes! Amazon announced the season 2 renewal just a week after Fallout's premiere on April 10, 2024.

Why did Hank lose his gun? ›

Jesse eventually calls Walt and says he agrees to the partnership. At the DEA office, Hank admits to assaulting Jesse, resulting in him being suspended without pay and having his gun confiscated. As Hank departs, he learns Jesse is not pressing charges after all.

Where did Hank McLean go at the end of Fallout? ›

At the end of the Fallout Season, Hank is freed by Maximus (Aaron Moten); he doesn't return to Vault 33; instead, he flies away in his Brotherhood of Steel Power Armor to land in New Vegas, where unfinished business awaits him.

Why did Hank get paralyzed? ›

Hank is able to kill one brother and mortally wound the other, but he himself becomes temporarily paralyzed from the waist down after the gunfight, with the doctors fearing he may become paraplegic without physical therapy.

Why did Vada kiss Quinton? ›

Vada and Nick argue about her poor coping mechanisms, resulting in her venting to Quinton and then trying to kiss him, who gently rejects her as he is not emotionally ready for a relationship. She withdraws further from her family and friends, including Mia.

What is the canon ending of Fallout 1? ›

Fallout 1's ending is largely outlined in the Vault Dweller's Memoirs from the Fallout 2 manual. Highlights include: Male Vault Dweller killed the Master, then the Lieutenant. Rescued Tandi and killed all the Khans except one.

Does Vada like Quinton or Mia? ›

Vada is bisexual. She is seen attracted to Quinton, the two share a kiss and the crush is obvious. She also is shown to be attracted to Mia, as they kiss and sleep together and are shown to have a deep connection and love for each other.

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