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. Even other outlaws.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 spin-offs. The PC-based Fallout Tactics was a Tactical RPG which focused on squad-based tactical combat. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel for the Playstation 2 and Xbox was a 3D, above-viewed Hack And Slash that challenged the player to wipe up the wasteland as a member of one of the clans from the original games. They both received variable reviews, although Fallout Tactics has built up a cult following, Brotherhood of Steel never gained all that many enthusiasts.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, 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.On April 20, 2009, Bethesda Softworks announcedFallout: New Vegas, with Obsidian Entertainment as the developers. The game came out on October 19th, 2010 in North America and October 22nd 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."List of Fallout titles:
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 New Vegas: An RPG by Obsidian very much in the same vein as Fallout 3, released in October 2010.
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.
Abdicate The Throne: So to speak. Sometimes the diplomatic solution in regime-change type quests involves the officeholder stepping down willingly.
Absurdly Sharp Claws: In the possession of the aptly nameddeathclaws, genetically engineered killing machines with claws the size of machetes. In each game they are one of the toughest commonly occurring enemies, and their claws can even be MacGyvered into one of the more deadly unarmed weapons in the game.
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).
An Aesop: The tentative aesop of the whole series, and especially Fallout New Vegas, is to let go of the past, no matter how wonderful it seems. The point is even made explicit in a speech by Moira Brown and (through reverse example) President Eden in Fallout 3.
This extends into the backstory as well: the prewar United States was obsessed with the cultural norms and standards of an idealized utopian version of the 1950s, clinging almost religiously to the memories of the past. As a direct result of this obsession, America was a dystopian hellhole under a thin veneer of happiness, where the government actively used mind control and brainwashing to control the populace, political dissenters were sent to concentration camps to be used as test subjects for horrific genetic experiments, safety regulations were virtually nonexistent, and free, independent thought was seen as a menace to be stamped out at all costs. In short, America's obsession with the past led directly to its downfall. This is all epitomized by the Enclave, who claim to be the official remnants of the US Government (although there are more than a few hints of there being an Enclave/Wall Street Cabal controlling Washington before the war as well). Their obsession with the legitimacy of their authority and their mission to reconstruct America just like it used to be leads them to (repeatedly) attempt to scour the continent of all life that was touched by even a hint of mutation (which sums up to around 95% of all living things). They also refuse to acknowledge the reconstruction efforts of the NCR, even though the NCR itself is "based on the values of the Old World".
The Brotherhood of Steel's raison d'etre is to gather up all of the Old World tech they can find, including taking it out of the hands of those "misusing" it (in practice, everyone who isn't part of the Brotherhood). It can be assumed that the founders intended, at some point, to use all of that stuff they'd preserved and protected to jump-start the reconstruction... but by the time of the later games, hoarding artifacts of the Old World has become the mission in and of itself. The stockpiles will never be used and outsiders will never be "ready". While some have seen where this is going and broken away from doctrine to start actually helping people, the core Brotherhood seems doomed to extinction or irrelevancy as the rest of the world rebuilds around and without them.
Another one is that a single random person can make a huge impact on history. Fallout 3 and New Vegas in particular have your character of humble origins ultimately deciding the fate of your territory (the Capital Wasteland and New Vegas respectively) for generations to come. This is even discussed and deconstructed in the Lonesome Road add-ons for New Vegas, where you learn you destroyed an entire community completely on accident and now the last survivor seeks to make you take responsibility for your actions....and then he's going to nuke the Mojave.
The early two games, particularly the second one, reinforce this theme in the very game mechanics and the hundreds of side quests and dozens of optional settlements as well. The world you could explore was not based entirely around the player character, unlike most RP Gs, but that doesn't mean you cant change the course of the wasteland forever by involving yourself in its day to day struggles: strength the trade routes and allow the economies of major towns to prosper, assist ranches to solve potential food shortages, combat raiders to make every day life safe for all, and over throw a genocidal evil empire or two to close out the day. It also builds on the general World Half Full nature of the setting itself, since even though the future is an irradiated hell hole of mutants and slavers and Mad Max come to life, you can still make things better for the average citizens and paragon for the ideal that just because the world has gone up in smoke doesn't mean we all still can't help one another out.
After the End: Nobody knew who fired the first missile that triggered the apocalypse. By the end of the day, nobody cared. Everyone considered it would be the end of the world. But humanity still survived, mutated, blood thirsty, and completely shattered, but still the world moves on. The Great War isn't the end, simply one more sad chapter.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Mostly averted in the first two games — in fact, on multiple occasions the AIs you encounter in prewar facilities are the only things that aren't malfunctioning. Played straight with President John Henry Eden, who turns out to be a computer, and also considers himself a far greater president than any human because of this. Also played straight in Fallout Tactics - the Big Bad is an insane AI and his army of robots, in a Shout Out to Wasteland. Despite this, Tactics has several interesting subversions. Originally, the Calculator was going to be a perfectly rational computer, still soullessly following orders after its superiors were dead. This was changed in the game, where the Calculator is now not a computer, but several dozen insane disembodied brains. The (completely sane) computer itself, which oversees the brain's actions, offers the protagonist the chance to upload his own, sane mind into the machine. This returns the calculator to sanity, and to your control. Depending on how nice you are, this could be an Earn Your Happy Ending or a Bittersweet Ending. Simply destroying it works too, and that gives you the slightly good canon ending. Or you could shove the Jerk Ass's brain into it, creating the worst ending.
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. In the third game, this is mostly be because of the programming. It's the same reason the guards pull swords running to arrest you in Oblivion for simply picking up a cup that happens to be owned, even accidentally. Since Fallout 3 has neither a jail system nor any form of fine to pay for your crimes, it practically only leaves one option: attack the perpetrator. This can become especially tricky if you do this kind of stuff in places like Paradise Falls, since all non-prisoner NPCs will turn hostile permanently. In certain towns in the first two games the situation is similar - in Klamath, for example, if you do so much as insult someone the entire town tries to kill you. Note that the towns in question are frontier settlements with little or no government - once you get to more 'civilized' areas there are militias, sheriffs, and even outright organized police forces, all of whom typically have jails of some sort, and dispense means of justice other than 'shoot everyone'.
Alternate History: The Fallout timeline diverges from the real world just after World War II. Without the invention of the Transistor, the social, political, and technological status quo of The Fifties endured 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 first 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.
Always Chaotic 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 New Vegas. The various raider factions usually fall in this category too.
Ammunition Backpack: The Minigun, Grenade Machine-gun, Flamer, and Gatling laser from Fallout 3 onwards.
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. Suffice it to say that your character, by comparison, got off light.
Armed With Canon: When Chris Avellone, who began his involvement in the series as a designer on Fallout 2, got promoted to lead designer for the cancelled original version of Fallout 3 he used the supplementary Fallout Bible which he wrote to kill off or retcon elements in the series he didn't like.
get the fuck away from the force field that will kill you! There's a doorway, right over here! No! Bad dog!
Hey, Dogmeat, when I tell you to wait over there, would you stay there, and NOT charge towards the 50-foot tall Behemoth when I'm about to nuke it to death with the MIRV?!
Stop charging recklessly at those Plasma Turrets in Navarro, Goris!
Stop throwing grenades into the middle of the party, Marcus!
Where's Cassidy? - Ask that big green guy behind me.
Dammit, Sulik, why the hell are you eating my surgically-removed sixth toe in the middle of combat?
Everybody, just because you accidentally shot a friendly does not mean you have to finish the rest of them off!
For the love of God, Fawkes, it's a rock! Jump over it! Or hell, step over it! It doesn't go up to your shin!
Fawkes, was shooting up the entire of Megaton really necessary? I know Moriarty is kind of a dick, but really?
Dammit Charon, it's a two-foot drop into a trench, just climb down... no, don't run away looking for another way down! And he's gone; alright, he'll come back eventually when he finds a way... wait, he died!?
For Christ's sake, Dad! There's a wall here, and a fire there, and that turret is not on our side!
Whoa, Dad, I guess I underestimated you, where did you get that flamer? Well, there are a couple more Raiders in our way, let's- NO DON'T DROP THE FLAMER AND START USING A TIRE IRON AGAIN.
ED-E, please STOP ramming into those Cazadores while playing your annoying guitar sound!
And you know being quiet is part of sneaking, not blasting your little music clips whenever you see a Deathclaw?!
Boone, you know I like your shooting, but that doesn't mean you should shoot every enemy we pass by, especially if we're trying to sneak and they haven't seen us yet!
Likewise, Ms. NCR Ranger, it's really cool that you come help when I call on the radio, but I had this crazy thought that maybe we could walk from Vegas to Bitter Springs WITHOUT WAGING WAR ON EVERY WILD ANIMAL FROM HERE TO NEW RENO.
Boone, don't switch to your Machete, dammit!
BOONE! I know you probably know a bunch of these NCR guys here at Camp Golf... BUT COULD YOU NOT RUN OFF WITHOUT TELLING ME?! ESPECIALLY as I'm about to leave when there are Cazadores nearby?!
Veronica, there's a reason I'm trying to snipe the Deathclaw Mother with the Anti-Materiel rifle at a hundred feet!
Woah... the Raiders have a Super Mutant Behemoth locked up in Evergreen Mills? That's pretty badass... Wait... Where's Star Paladin Cro- NO DON'T OPEN THAT GATE YET... Dammit Cross, could you at least use the Assault Rifle and shoot it through the fence instead of trying to Super Sledge it?
Ted (Gunderson), can you at least try to sneak?! I'm trying to save your life from a crazy cannibal, for Dog's sake.
Butch, for some strange reason, the Super Mutant Overlord is not scared of your switch blade, no matter how many times you threaten to 'rumble'.
"Alright guys, you've locked me in a corner, and I really don't want to reload, so would you mind moving... that's it. Good... wait, no, TYCHO! Stop getting in front of me! There are only so many hexagonal spaces to click on! Damn it!"
Asshole Victim: The United States in the backstory. Bearing little resemblance to its real-world counterpart, Fallout-universe America is a dystopian, jingoistic, genocidal imperialist state that thinks nothing of rounding up political dissidents at gunpoint and sending them to concentration camps to be used as test subjects in horrific medical experiments. Even after the nukes fall, it's really hard to feel sorry for Fallout's America.
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.
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 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).
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.
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
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: 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 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 if you score a kill in the right spot using VATS.
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.
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.
Bowdlerise: German, and sometimes European in general, versions of the games are edited to remove gore, violence towards children, and other such controversial content. Besides that, the first game provides option to censor all non-PG level swear words (and some PG level ones too, apparently just in case).
Brain in a Jar: Appears repeatedly throughout the series, most notably the "robobrain" enemy.
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.
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 descendant with the same name serves as the canine companion in Fallout 3. Fallout 2 also has two cybernetic dogs called K-9 and Robodog, and a "special encounter" jinxed dog called Pariah. New Vegas has cyber-dog Rex and in the DLC "Old World Blues" you can get his female "counterpart" Roxie. Dogs are a recruitable race in 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. In Fallout 3 there is even a perk called Puppies! so you can get a replacement for Dogmeat if he dies (you get one of his offsprings) And most players always regret when his dog companion dies, but generally gives a f*ck if its a human/ghoul/mutant/whatever companion. Hell!, basically one of the game premises is about you traveling the whole wasteland with a dog, so this trope is one of the main plots in the whole Fallout saga
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 also 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.
Cluster F-Bomb: Used quite a bit. In the first three games 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: equipping a pair of these gives a + 1 to Charisma. There's also a unique pair of Lucky Shades, which give the wearer a + 1 to Luck.
Corrupt Politician: There aren't many elected officials, but for those there are, this trope is usually in full effect.
Cowboy Bebop At His Computer: A rather hilarious example, as some dubious journalists saw a Fallout 3 promo shot of a ruined Washington, D.C., without a watermark and assumed it was created by terrorists as a warning. Seriously.
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...
Crippling The Competition: Throughout the series, you can use target shots to aim at enemy body parts. Shooting the eyes or head lowers their accuracy, shooting the arms may prevent them from using certain weapons, and shooting the legs lowers movement speed.
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: A prominent feature in the first two games. 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.
The Sniper perk for ranged weapons in Fallout and Fallout 2. It made a separate roll for a critical (equivalent to your Luck * 10) after rolling for a successful hit depending on the character's Luck Stat. If Luck was maxed to 10, every single successful hit would automatically roll critical. Even more damage could be applied through the use of targeted shots.
The Slayer perk, only in Fallout and Fallout 2, was the Sniper perk equivalent for hand-to-hand characters. Instead of rolling for a critical, every hit was automatically upgraded to a critical.
All the main games allowed for a type of critical that would trigger if the target was struck while the player was undetected. Fallout 1, 2, and Tactics had the Silent Death perk, which would enable a critical when sneaking an from behind, and only while unarmed.
Critical Hit Class: In earlier titles, this was a very common endgame build, with perks that granted stratospheric critical rates and improved rolls on the critical table. Sniper gave guns a critical chance equal to 10x your luck stat, while Slayer gave automatic melee criticals.
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).
Damage Reduction: Damage Threshold and Damage Resistance, with slightly different formulas in each game.
Dark Lord On Life Support: Mr. House from Fallout New Vegas, who has managed to prolong his life by confining himself to a sophisticated life support chamber. Opening the chamber will ensure his eventual death due to being exposed to outside contaminants.
Mad Scientist Dr. Stanislaus Braun from Fallout 3 has spent the past 200 years in a VR/life support pod overseeing the Tranquility Lane simulation, and is terminally dependent on it, as he tells the Lone Wanderer in the sim.
Caesar isn't technically on life support, but has a crippling brain tumor, hence Lanius being Dragon-in-Chief.
The first two games (and, to an extent, New Vegas) deconstruct the Idiot Hero. True, generating a hero with an Intelligence score of 3 or less makes you have hilarious conversations with the world; but you get fewer skill points from leveling-up, you are locked out of about 90% of the quests, and most of the NPCs don't give you anything for your efforts and treat you like a joke. Furthermore, an Idiot Hero 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 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.
Designated Hero: invoked The player can make their character one. You can openly be a sadistic bastard who steals, lies, backstabs and murders their way through the wastelands, but by the end of the game your character will be a hero known across the Wastelands for their great deeds. Played straightest in Fallout and Fallout 2, where your character will become famed in later games regardless of their actions towards the other settlements. Played with in Fallout 3 where there were evil endings and characters reacted appropriately to you taking them. Averted in New Vegas where if you join House or NCR with negative karma, people and the endings will acknowledge you as an evil person that just happens to feel like working for the good guys, and if you join the Legion you become villified along with them. The narrator will even dwell a bit on the contradiction of a character with good karma helping the Legion to archive their goal.
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.
The Dragon: Lieutenant to the Master in 1, Horrigan to Richardson in 2, and Colonel Autumn to Eden in 3. In 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 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 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 3 and New Vegas. In the latter, it's where you start off the Old World Blues DLC.
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!.
Interstingly inverted in Fallout 3 and 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 inThe Elder Scrolls series while making in-universe illicit drugs useful, this isn't surprising. On the other hand, New Vegas features the Fiends, an entire gang of junkies who are undeniably the biggest scumbags of the game.
Dump Stat: Strength. All it affects in any game is carry weight, melee damage, and in some games your hit points and which weapons you can use. Carry weight is rarely an issue since there's always companions to unload stuff on, and melee attacks are never used except for a handful of quests and in character builds focused on it. As for weapon usage, most guns don't have a Strength requirement higher than the base 5, and by the time you want to use the larger guns that need more, you have access to Power Armor and implants to increase Strength.
Eagleland The prewar United States depicted itself as Type 1 but in fact was heavily into Type 2. Fallout is one of the very few cases in Western media in which the USA is actually depicted as being outright villainous; the prewar government was an Orwellian nightmare that makes the real-world Soviet Union look positively warm and fuzzy in comparison, and their successors, the Enclave, are even worse.
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.
This was also the reason for the the drug "Med-X." It was originally morphine.
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.
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.
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 2 always fit these templates.
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 New Vegas, your allies are just KOed for a few seconds in normal mode. In Hardcore, though, it's Final Death.
Five-Token Band: Your party can include humans, ghouls, Super Mutants, assorted robots, various dogs, and even a friendly neighborhood Deathclaw!
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Fawkes is a Super Mutant, and also a potential follower. Naturally, Super Mutants are not exactly well-liked, but because Fawkes is a follower, no one will bat an eyelash in even the most heavily populated of places. Even the Brotherhood, which makes a living hunting these monsters, will not care. Fawkes lampshades this by commenting on how surprised he is that people won't shoot him on sight simply because he is in your company. It is subverted in one instance, though; if you bring Fawkes along for the Reilly's Rangers quest, the Rangers on the roof will turn hostile the second you hit the steps. They've been fighting Super Mutants for a while now, after all, and the sight of another isn't helping. Of course, if you tell Fawkes to hang back, greet them, then pick him up, they will not care.
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: In Fallout 2 there are same-sex Optional Sexual Encounters available for both sexes, though significantly more for women than men (in fact, there are more lesbian options than straight ones for women). 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). 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.
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, their grandchild 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 in one of the endings in Fallout 2, you father a bastard-child 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.
Likewise, the Cassidys are also hardasses with a tendency to associate with legendarily awesome people.
Genius Ditz: In every game you can set your character's Intelligence so low they're incapable of speaking properly and can't understand what others are saying either. Doesn't stop you from using skill points to let them pick locks, hack computers, and be master doctors. It'll just take longer since lower Intelligence means fewer skill points.
Giant Robot: 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 Hub Trading Companies due to their rarity and he difficulty in counterfeiting them. New California Republic Dollars in the second, as the NCR is the dominant power in the region. Ring pulls in Tactics. Caps again in Fallout 3, though this time without a justification as to why. Caps again in New Vegas because the NCR lost the gold it backed its dollars with and the trading companies are honoring old promises. 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!"
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.
Harold, who has lived for almost four centuries, been in every game but 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: Completely 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.
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...
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, the 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.
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: Fallout 2 has you play as the grandchild of the original game's protagonist, and since the game recycles the sprites for the main character, you look exactly alike. The uncanny resemblance is commented upon by Tandi, a character appearing in both games.
Idiot Savant: Your character can be mentally challenged 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!
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. Certain perks also cause you to heal/regenerate broken limbs when irradiated.
I'm a Humanitarian: The cannibal perk, along with some stuff in the first and second. Andale in the third. 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.
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, as long as you don't Fast Travel, or exit from underground too often. That game decides to add a separate and special Inescapable Ambushset by the Enclave right after you get the G.E.C.K., but that's a cutscene rather than combat-based. And if you switch your karma during your career, you'll end with both side hunting you (and shooting each other).
Infant Immortality: Averted in the first and second games, which let you kill children (though doing so is a great way to irreversibly wreck your reputation with the Childkiller title.)
Instant A.I., 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: The constant insurmountable piles of concrete scattered around downtown D.C. that prevent any sort of easy movement through the city are very irritating, forcing the player to use the sewers to get around. Especially annoying, considering similar piles of concrete that have the advantage of not being located at the edge of an area are quite easy to climb. 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.
I Want My Jet Pack: 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 favour 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 civilisation has been reduced to rubble and every day is a struggle for survival, but even setting aside the various raiders and slavers, there sure are a lot of assholes wandering around. Almost every single person you meet has some kind of chip on their shoulder.
Karma Meter: Not displayed on screen, but as a number in your character information in the first two (and abstracted into five terms in the third, each referencing a different amount). It affects NPC reactions, and can cause hostiles opposed to your philosophy to ambush you.
Hilariously, killing Fiends (violent drug addicts) in New Vegas grants an obscene amount of Good Karma, meaning that wiping out their den in Vault 3 has a very good chance of bringing a Very Evil character to Very Good.
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.
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.
Legendary in the Sequel: From a naive man/woman in a stupid blue jumpsuit, the Vault Dweller's many achievements have made him/her a household name by Fallout 2.
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 it's return in 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 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.
In Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, the Bloody Mess perk can actually make corpse looting tedious if you mow down a large number of targets in a small area; you'll likely take a while sifting through the mess.
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 New Vegas when dealing with Caesar's Legion and appears in the Honest Hearts DLC as The Atoner.
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.
Medieval Stasis: From 1843 to 1960, there was a world of difference, from technology to culture to politics in the span of 127 years. From 1960 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 in places.
However, this applies primarily to fashions and society: Communism was still the great menace, women were still chained to the stove, and cars were still curvy and chromed. Bomb-shelter architecture, particle physics, and weaponized viruses (not to mention propaganda-as-mind-control) all made great strides under the Powers That Be of pre-war America.
The Messiah: You, should you decide to play your character this way.
Money Spider: Mostly averted in that only humanoid enemies drop money. Played straight with centaurs in Fallout 3 though.
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.)
Mysterious Protector: the "Mysterious Stranger" perk in 2,3 and 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 New Vegas (and are prominently featured on the box art).
A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Enclave, due to their autocratic and militaristic rule and their stated goal of wiping out all "mutants" to keep humanity "pure", are frequently compared to nazis.
New Old West: Certain elements of the Capital Wasteland (mining and 'frontier' type towns, 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, those elements are mixed in with Sci-Fi.
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.
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."
Non-Standard 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 The Dragon.
One-Hit Kill: In Fallout 1 and 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: Intelligence across the series, since higher Intelligence means more skill points per level, unique dialogue options with smart characters, and it increases a lot of skills innately. In the first two games Agility was also very important, as it increased combat skills and allowed more Action Points, but in Fallout 3 and New Vegas it has lower value since VATS is entirely optional for use in combat.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Played with for the player characters across the series. The first game never gave you a name or nickname, but games since have decided the player character of the first game is "The Vault Dweller". The second game, you're "The Chosen One", but no one outside your tribe refers to you this way and will be amused if you say that it's your title. Fallout 3, Three Dog dubs you "The Lone Wanderer" but no one else uses the term. New Vegas flips this, you're "The Courier" to everyone except Mr. New Vegas, who just refers to you as an anonymous civilian or courier. Both Bethesda era games occasionally include the option for you to mention your name in dialogue, but for obvious reasons (ie, all NPCs are voiced) no one will ever refer to you by name.
The Order: The Brotherhood of Steel, deliberately modeled after medieval knightly orders.
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: 1 and 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.
Plasma Cannon: Plasma weapons are high-end energy weapons. In the first two games, the Glock 86 Plasma Pistol and Winchester P94 Plasma Rifle (stretching the definition of rifle, being held like a heavy weapon) filled the role. In Fallout 3, a completely new style of plasma weaponry was introduced, using an Raygun Gothic styling and visibly showing the plasma arcs in the firing chambers. This latter style was retconned/reconciled in Fallout New Vegas as being a more standard-issue-practical plasma weapon compared to the pre-Fallout 3 versions that never made it past prototyping before the Great War. In game terms, the Fallout 3-style weapons were lower-tier, and the (renamed) Fallout 1-style weapons were higher-tier. In New Vegas, you can even find the Super Prototype of the Fallout 3-style rifle, the Q-35 Matter Modulator.
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 1 or Advanced Power Armor Mark II in 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.
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.
Punch Clock Villain: One recurring theme throughout the series regarding the major evil organizations; the leadership is ruthless, 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.
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: Happens whenever you travel across the map screen in Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics. Not all random encounters are hostile though, some are even beneficial, and with a high Outdoorsman skill you can circumvent most of them.
Rare Guns: Desert Eagle, G11s, the automatic shotguns of Fallout 2, and several others from the list.
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 waiting for the war to end.
In New Vegas, you get the Enclave Remnants, making them the remnant of the remnant of the US Government.
Retro Universe: Fallout America is an amalgam of all the decades of the Cold War, as well as the Sci Fi Produced during those decades. The Forties give the setting its wartime propaganda, urging you to buy Victory Bonds. The Fifties give it their Pre-War fashions and car designs; Fifties Sci Fi gives it nuclear cars and the styling of its robots. The Sixties give it the use of the word "hippies" (in Fallout 3) and anti-war graffiti (all over Hidden Valley in New Vegas). The Seventies give it the punk fashion of the raiders and the oil crisis. The Eighties give it computers that look like Commodore 64s. The post-war civilizations also show elements of the Great Depression and 19th century frontier times.
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 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 New Vegas but it was ultimately scrapped.
Scavenged Punk: Much of the weapons, equipment, clothing, armor, and at least one entire city are made of Pre-War junk.
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 and New Vegas, many parts of the wasteland have become quite civilized again.
Schizo Tech: People before the war had AI, antigravity, robots, computer-assisted driving, pocket computers, satellite-based weapons, and powered armor, but color TV and mobile phones? Hell, they weren't miracle-workers. Justified somewhat in that pre-War society is supposed to represent the Raygun Gothic image of the future popular in the 1950s, not necessarily the future of our world.
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.
Most of the special encounters are Shout Out material.
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.
Myron's explanation for how Jet was discovered, although somewhat fantastical, is quite complex.
Skippable Boss: The Lieutenant and the Master in the first game, General Jing-Wei and Colonel Autumn in the third. All of them could be skipped by either a stealthy or a diplomatic approach - and only diplomatic for the last two. New Vegas brings in Legate Lanius, capable of surviving multiple antitank rounds to the forehead, who can be convinced to step down with a maxed-out Speech or Barter skill.
You can potentially do this to Legate Lanius in New Vegas. For the DLC, you can with a bit of work skip fighting Father Elijah, the Think Tank, and Ulysses. The first is a bit tricky, though, as you have to both succeed at a skill check to convince him to enter the vault, and then sneak out of the vault without him seeing you, and get to the elevator before he closes the forcefields. Screwing up at any point activates the forcefields and forces you to fight Elijah.
Social Darwinist: Capital Wasteland Super Mutants. One of their battle quotes is even "WE ARE THE FUTURE!" Considering they have no reproductive ability and can only reproduce by turning normal humans into more Super Mutants, this seems unlikely... but they are pretty stupid.
This is actually the key to an alternate way to win Fallout. If you find proof of their sterility and tell The Master about it he'll kill himself, making this a good option for nonviolent characters.
In New Vegas, there is neither a definitive Big Bad nor a definitive Definitely Final Dungeon, so instead you get Ulysses, who is a Foil to the main character, and the fact that he is willing to nuke all of civilization back to the stone age marks him as one of the main antagonists of the game. Even if you stop the launch, the nukes still go off.
Super Soldier: The original and current point of creating Super Mutants, Deathclaws, and Power Armor. This was the US's hat before the war.
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 Your Time: Averted in the first game. Played straight in all subsequent games.
Talking the Monster to Death: A viable means of defeating the Big Bad in Fallout 1, if your speech and science skills were high enough, was to show him that his plan was doomed to failure and thus convince him to commit suicide. There were, technically, three final bosses of Fallout 2. The traditional one, of the big bad with heavy armor and weapons, just ignored you if you tried this, but you could still convince many of his men to side with you against him. The second of the big bads was an empty suit who you don't have to kill but can make things easier when you take on the boss. The third you could talk into releasing a virus into the base which kills everyone but yourself, your companions, your villagers, and the other two big bads. New Vegas allows a character with maxed-out Speech to convince the nigh-indestructible Legate Lanius that he cannot hold both his target in the West (Nevada and eventually California) and his homeland in the east (Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Utah).
Additionally, the Chinese general who functions as the Big Bad of Operation Anchorage can be convinced to commit suicide rather than fight and be killed. Good thing, too, because he's ridiculously tough.
Nearly every final boss in this series can be talked down. Frank Horrigan, from Fallout 2, is an exception. You can, however, talk a squad of Enclave soldiers into defecting and fighting him for you.
The Lieutenant from the first game is another exception. Non-combat characters are highly advised to avoid him and sabotage his base instead.
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 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.
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 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.
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, 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.
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: Most major villains tend to be these (or at least, they think that they are). The Vault 101 Overseer is one as well.
What Could Have Been: Originally, Fallout was going to be based on a licensed version of the paper RPG GURPS, from Steve Jackson Games, and would have published under the name Vault 13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure. But due to disagreements, including Steve Jackson disliking the appearance of Vault Boy on the character creation screen, and the execution of the insurgent from the intro, the deal was called off. Instead, Black Isle thought up the SPECIAL system, which has been used in every Fallout game ever since.
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.
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.)
Played straight early in Fallout 1, when you discover that Vault 15's water-purification chip is utterly inaccessible.
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. There was no 60's revolution, no 80's technological shift, nothing like that at all. As a result, even though the world "ended" in 2077, culturally, it hadn't progressed a bit.