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Video Game: Fallout 3

The third numbered, fifth released and fourth in the timeline (thanks to Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel being declared non-canon) game in the popular Fallout series, released in 2008. Developed by Bethesda Studios, rather than Black Isle, and set in the D.C. area rather than the West Coast. It incorporates FPS elements into the RPG structure for the first time in the main series, and in contrast to the first two games and the later New Vegas, is much more of a dungeon crawler through the rubble of the capital rather than focusing on questing between towns.

Vault 101 is an okay place to live. It's an underground paradise with many technological wonders. It saved humanity from the War two centuries ago, and has been home to everyone within it for generations. Your life is okay, too. Your father is both head doctor and a nice guy, and your mother... Well, your mother was probably nice too, before she died. You grew up more or less normally, despite the antics of resident bully Butch DeLoria, greaser and all-around Jerkass. Your best friend Amata is a nice girl too, even though her father the Overseer is a bit obsessive. Yes, things are fine in Vault 101, and there's no reason they wouldn't be, since the Wasteland is far behind the thick Vault door, if it even exists.

It is here you were born, and it is here you will die, because in Vault 101, no one ever enters, and no one ever leaves.

Indeed, all things considered, Vault 101 is an okay place to live, and nothing will ever change that. Then, sometime after you turn 19, you wake up to find Amata nervously telling you that your father has escaped the Vault, the Overseer has locked everything down, and he's sent security officers to kill you. She hands you a gun and, before you know it, you're discovering that Vault 101 is not as wonderful as you had been led to believe; all the technology is barely working, there are gigantic mutated cockroaches infesting many areas, and the Overseer is a tyrannical maniac who will stop at nothing to keep the Vault closed forever.

Soon you have followed in your father's footsteps and escaped the Vault as security guards pepper the closing Vault door with bullets. As you climb out of the dingy tunnel, you find yourself staring into the radioactive remains of several hundred square miles of Washington DC, southern Maryland, and northern Virginia. This is the Capital Wasteland, and somewhere out there is a single familiar face, amid the strange creatures, hostile and crazy people, pre-war robots still fighting old battles and a new threat looming over everyone. You will learn why he left, learn how to make the Wasteland your home, learn the impact you had before you even knew it. Survive in a new world; find your father; shape the future of the Wasteland.

Oh, and the Capital Wasteland is not an okay place to live.

This Video Game contains the following tropes:

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    Tropes 0-C 
  • 0% Approval Rating: Despite his soothing, charismatic voice and a virtual monopoly on airtime in Post-nuclear holocaust America, President Eden is widely considered a joke by the people of the Wasteland. In fact, many people assume he's either an old pre-war broadcast playing on a loop, or a crazy guy broadcasting from a bunker somewhere. However, when the Enclave makes their appearance on the scene after a 35 year absence, he quickly reaches Not-So-Harmless Villain status, what with the wanton genocide of Wastelanders left-and-right. And the latter suggestion wasn't far off when in a later quest that involves retrieving an important item for the Brotherhood of Steel, you end up getting captured and hauled in that very bunker - specifically, a well-armed and well-fortified secret base.
    • However several people do still tune into Enclave Radio, if only for the music.
  • Abandoned Laboratory: Nearly all of the Vaults you encounter are the unfortunate aftermaths of one of Vault-Tec's experiments that worked more or less as they were intended to.
  • Abnormal Ammo: Many of the custom weapons, and some other weapons, use unusual ammunition, but the Rock-It Launcher takes this trope and runs with it (behind the barn for a roll in the hay, then makes it breakfast in the morning), as it fires anything from tin cans to human skulls to teddy bears and after one of the DLCs you will be able to shoot a piece of your own brain. And they're all equally effective if you've got enough points in weapons.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Downtown DC is a honeycomb of subway, maintenance and sewer tunnels connecting to each other and the surface, and is chock full of ghouls, raiders, radroaches and more. It's quite easy to get lost down here if you don't watch your Pip Boy map, and if you're actively looking for another location when you get into them, good luck.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Even with the advanced (in spots) technology of the 2070s, it's pushing it to believe that the various office buildings, sewers and underground bunkers mostly still have functioning lights, plumbing, gas mains and ventilation. To say nothing of turrets, (some) terminals, robot recharging stations and robots that are ticking along nicely despite 200 years without maintenance.
  • Action Bomb: A Broken Steel endgame perk, Nuclear Anomaly, turns you into one, sort of. When you get down to very low health, you cause a nuclear explosion, obliterating nearby enemies and healing yourself.
  • Affably Evil:
    • US President (and head of the Enclave) John Henry Eden is quite charismatic, polite, and has a very calming, gentle voice (by Malcolm McDowell). He's also a genocidal supercomputer.
    • To say nothing of Allistair Tenpenny, who is one of the nicest, most polite characters in the game. He greets you warmly every time you talk to him, and even rewards you for coming up with a peaceful solution to the ghoul problem. He also wants to blow up a civilian settlement because it ruins the view from his balcony, and is so evil that killing him actually grants you good karma.
  • A.K.A.-47: While not as pronounced as in the sequel, several guns in the game are clearly based on real-life firearms.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: No matter if you murder somebody or steal a bottle of Nuka-Cola, any crime you commit in this world is punishable by death. One loading screen explains that there is no jail system... but plenty of ammunition.
  • All There in the Manual: Quite a bit of background information for the Capital Wasteland is included in the Fallout 3 Official Game Guide.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: All the raiders are homicidally insane, drug-crazed loonies who live in shelters with human remains used as decoration. Text logs and messages suggest them to be capable of reasoning, but gameplay-wise all they ever do is attack anything and everything regardless of consequences.
  • Always over the Shoulder: When in third person. Averted in the PC port, with the Free Rotating Camera.
  • Amazon Brigade: Off-camera, but apparently the National Guard unit stationed at the Germantown PD was an all-female unit.
  • American Accents: Obviously, everyone in the Washington D.C./Pennsylvania area has an American accent, besides Evil Brit Alistair Tenpenny and Irish stereotype Moriarty, but two that stand out for being different are Colonel Autumn of the Enclave, who has a Southern accent of a polite-but-sinister flavour that fits his status as the ruthless military leader of the bad guys, and Moira Brown, Megaton's irrepressible tinkerer in science, who has a Midwestern accent that sounds particularly cheerful and friendly.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Flak and Shrapnel share a bed and run a store together in Rivet City. Though the bed sharing may come from a script in the programming that requires the two to be near each other. As seen if you enslave Flak Shrapnel will start wandering the wastes, though some say this is a Good Bad Bug because it adds Character Development and a Tearjerker into the game.
    • Carol and Greta from Underworld. After your first meeting with Carol, Greta will tell you not to get involved with her regardless of the Lone Wanderer's gender. Also they both run a business together just like Flak and Shrapnel. Alternatively the relationship could be seen as mother and daughter due to a comment made by Carol that Greta was jealous of the attention Gob was getting when he was around. It has been confirmed by both Carol and Gob that Carol adopted him and there is nothing romantic involved.
  • Amusing Injuries: It is possible to get blown across town with a broken leg and a concussion if you stand in the right place when a nuclear-powered car goes up.
  • Anal Probing: The Mothership Zeta DLC sees the Player Character abducted on board a spaceship and probed.
  • Another Man's Terror: One vault in Fallout 3 will put the PC through a lot of this.
  • Anti-Mutiny: The East Coast Brotherhood of Steel decided to work to eradicate the East Coast variant of Super Mutants, instead of solely pursuing technology. The West Coast (the leaders) allowed this, but subsequently refused them supplies, back-up, or other tech, and a group of Brotherhood members left to form the Outcasts, which stay true to the original BoS. They're not evil, just rude, elitist jerks.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The computer entries of vault residents. Also the holotapes found in Lamplight Caverns of a schoolteacher and her students trapped in a cave after the bombs fell, and after she is gone, the tapes of the first kid elected mayor of Little Lamplight. Nancy Croydon's logs outside Germantown Police HQ.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1 and class 2, depending on the area. Events in the story lead to the possibility of a class 5.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: It's fairly short even by video game standards, and can be very annoying to sniper-type players who could easily make the shot in certain other games. The sniper scopes aren't exactly the best quality in the Wastelands though, which can have the annoying consequence that the gamer is more accurate than the character using the V.A.T.S.
    • PC users can enter in a cheat code that gives them a .44 magnum that will instantly kill anything. Line a bus up in your sights at the absolute very edge of the horizon (or as far as it will render in the graphics) and shoot it. You will see the explosion. Even if you wouldn't be able to see any humanoid enemies walking around at the same distance, the game will tell you that they died by a critical hit if you shoot them
  • Arc Words and Arc Number: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." -Revelation 21:6
  • Arrow Cam: Used for some bullets (and particularly railroad spikes) fired in VATS.
  • Artifact Mook: The game has Super Mutants all the way over on the East Coast, which suggests they're far more numerous than their origins would suggest. They get another, independent origin story in the main quest here, though.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The "Head of State" Non Player Characters' route between the Temple of the Union and the Lincoln Memorial is long, full of double-backs and treks through Absurdly Spacious Sewers and subway tunnels. In fact, it's typical for them to never reach their destination at all, leaving players with a broken quest.
    • Companions and escorted NPCs love to jump in front of you during combat. Fortunately this works in your favor too; many is the melee-based raider who gets cut down by another raider behind them with a gun or explosives.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Experimental MIRV, which fires eight mini-nukes at once and will kill anything including a Super Mutant Behemoth. The problem is that mini-nukes are extremely rare, only being sold one or two at a time by one or two merchants, and unless there's a good fifty feet between the impact point(s) and you, you're likely to blow yourself up firing it.
    • Rippers deal crazy amounts of damage outside of VATS, but are uncommon and their properties cause them to break down incredibly fast. Auto Axes from the Pitt DLC share these characteristics, but are heavier with more power.
    • The Big Guns degrade fast, use lots of ammo (or have single-shot projectiles that are rare/expensive), and getting duplicates for spare parts is much harder than most weapons.
    • The giant robot Liberty Prime is as awesome as giant robots go- from his instant-kill eye beams to the nuclear bombs he chucks like footballs, he's a force to be reckoned with... if only they didn't have so much trouble powering the whole thing.
    • The Nuclear Anomaly Perk allows you to set off a small nuclear explosion, killing anyone unfortunate enough to be standing to close to you, once your health drops below a certain point. Problem is that at higher difficulty levels, you take too much damage from enemy attacks for it to go off before you die.
    • The Prototype Medic Power Armor. Sure, it boosts a cool Mister Gutsy-esque voice once you wear it, and does alert you when an enemy is near, but it's a double-edged sword when it comes to trying to be stealthy, because of said voice giving away your position when that happens. The enemy will know where you are even if you equip a Stealth Boy after that, and will promptly attack you. Also, once your health is down to about less than 50%, it will automatically administer Med-X to boost your damage resistance assuming you have some in your inventory. It really isn't that useful a feature in combat when you already some perks that boost your DR in combat. On the plus side, since it's power armor, at least you have some DR to begin with, so it isn't too impractical.
    • The Here and Now perk. The good news: You instantly gain another level, more skill points to distribute, and another perk to choose. The bad news: You could have chosen a perk that actually serves a better use instead, since leveling up in the game is not that terribly important nor does it take very long to do so. Also, since levels are limited, you lost out on a useful perk you could have used.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood.
    • Outcast NPC Rococo Rockfowl
  • An Axe to Grind: The Auto-Axe and Variants in The Pitt and the regular Axe in Point Lookout.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Billy Creel of Megaton adopted young Maggie after her parents were killed by raiders, and raises her very well in the town. He is also one of the town's toughest inhabitants, and will use his .44 magnum to ferocious effect to cook any fool who tries to attack the town.
  • Badass Bystander: It is quite surprising how many NPCs will run in and start attacking you if you provoke them, even picking up weapons lying around to gun you down. If you're on an Escort Mission, your escort may pick up the rifle of an enemy you just shot and help you take out the rest. If there's an NPC you want to survive, you can also reverse-pickpocket better armor and weapons onto them and they will use them, even if it's power armor and a plasma rifle.
  • Badass Longcoat: Invoked. Lucas Simms, the Regulators, and Colonel Autumn wear longcoats, and in each case the character is viewed in-universe as a badass.
  • Base on Wheels: The Enclave's massive Mobile Base in the climax of the Broken Steel expansion.
  • Beam Spam: There are Gatling Lasers in the game, as apparently the brother of More Dakka would not be left out.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Yao Guai are giant, mutated black bears that move as fast as Deathclaws.
  • The Beastmaster: The Animal Friend perk makes you this. Even the nearby Yao Guai will help you against those pesky mutants and mercenaries.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Following the Good Karma path tends to pay off.
    • Being nice to Gob in Megaton will net you a 10% discount from him. He's even willing to risk pissing off Moriarty.
    • Releasing Fawkes from confinement pays huge dividends. One-Man Army-type benefits.
  • Behind the Black: Despite the Warp Whistle effectively being a "skip journey" option rather than a true teleport, half the time you'll appear at your destination standing bang in the middle of a mercenary squad out for your blood.
  • Bi the Way: Possible for female player characters who can flirt with Bittercup, hire Nova and show attraction towards Amata. Possibly with Bittercup, who will flirt with a female character, though other characters claim that she has a reputation for promiscuity.
    • Averted with Trinnie at The Muddy Rudder: she'll flirt if you're a male, but she doesn't take kindly to other women in the bar. Buying her a drink seems to calm her down, though.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Vault-Tec attempted to give this trope a positive spin with their cheery advertising campaign (heard in-game at the Museum of Technology).
    "Concerned about security? Our I-On-U camera allows the Overseer to watch your every move. You'll never be alone again!"
    • Also, the Enclave Eyebots.
    • Three Dog, too, can seem remarkably well-informed for a man who so rarely leaves his rooms.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Ohhh, boy. Let's see, Radroaches, Bloatflies, Radscorpions, Fire Ants...
  • Big Damn Heroes: The player can do this for Reilly's Rangers, who are pinned down by Super Mutants in the Statesman Hotel.
  • Bigger Stick: The Brotherhood employs Liberty Prime as their bigger stick against the more numerous and technologically advanced Enclave. Then the Enclave brings out their bigger stick, their missile satellite.
  • Bilingual Bonus: You don't have the in-game translator to help you to figure out anything Toshiro Kago in Mothership Zeta is saying, unless you understand Edo period Japanese.
    • Also, Yao Guai is Cantonese for hungry ghosts.
    • Yao Guai is also 'monster' or 'devil' in Mandarin.
  • Bishonen Line: The mirelurks are mutated crabs and look crustacean with shells and pincers. Mirelurk kings however are implied to be mutated from turtles, and have humanoid heads, fingers and toes with no shells. Downplayed of course, since they still look very fishy.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Many of the sidequests, although the Karma Meter will often have its own ideas about Good and Evil.
    • Professor Calvert is a Card-Carrying Villain who has a bevy of mindless cultists at his disposal and should you choose to serve him, tries to kill you while Desmond is simply someone from before the Great War who has scores to settle. He's also a Jerk Ass master of the Cluster F-Bomb, so pick your poison.
    • Dr. Braun in Vault 112. After entering one of his "tranquility pods", you have two choices to escape. Either you comply with Braun's "games" for his own amusement, leaving the other citizens to their eternal torments, or you pull one over on Braun himself and kill the other citizens. It's only considered a mercy killing for the one person who knows what she is in.
  • Black and White Morality: As far as the overarching Struggle Between Good And Evil goes, the factions line up pretty neatly. The Enclave are firmly on the "Evil" side aside from their Utopia Justifies the Means intentions, and the East Coast Brotherhood are pretty much totally good guys aside from being Fantastic Racists. Meanwhile the vast majority of the Super Mutants and Raiders are Chaotic Evil. Whatever your Karma is, you still have to fight for the Brotherhood against the Enclave and Super Mutants to get anything done.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Jonas, killed out of spite for helping James leave 101. Moreover, Catherine is the first character to die in the game. While the game never shows you what she looks like, use of PC consule commands and an Easter Egg in Fallout: New Vegas show that she's black.
  • Black Widow: The name of a perk, that enables a Female PC to deal more damage to men, and also opens a lot of dialogue options while talking to them. It also has a Spear Counterpart for male PC's called "Ladykiller" that has the same effect for women.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Can be done by aiming at the opponent's weapon, in VATS or manually, though it will damage the weapon and you'll need to repair it if you plan on picking it up to use after killing the enemy. Alternately you can shoot the arm being used to hold the weapon, and the enemy will drop it.
  • Blatant Item Placement: You'll find stashes of useful items all over the place, despite the fact that a lot of them should have been looted a long time ago.
    • In a cross between this and Negative Continuity, items that could not (or would logically not) have existed before the atomic war will sometimes turn up while you're plundering undisturbed pre-War sites - for various reasons this includes dirty (irradiated) water, leather armor, Jet (a drug that canonically wasn't invented until 120 years after the Great War), and Tales of a Junktown Jerky Vendor, a book that references a post-War settlement by name.
  • Blinding Camera Flash: Your character being blinded by one on his birthdays as a child is used to transition to the next point of your character's childhood/the tutorial.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Chinese computer terminals Operation Anchorage are all translated by faulty software that only translates in the most literal sense, not taking into account transitions of grammar or syntax. The end result is easy enough to understand, but it's still filled with lots of Engrish and random symbols for untranslatable words.
  • Body Horror: Centaurs, trogs, ghouls, etc. Applies to most mutated creatures that were once human, but have been transformed into a grotesque resemblance by some horror of the wastes. It's usually as a result of being exposed to vast amounts of radiation, exposure to FEV or TDC, or attempts at combining humans with other animals in sadistic experiments, but there are many other factors as well.
  • Book Ends: A very particular example if you go by the ending sans Broken Steel. You die activating Project Purity at the command console when a blast of radiation hits you. A holotape in the building has a recording of James getting frisky with Catherine as she's trying to install radiation filters, and it's implied this was how you were conceived.
  • Boom, Headshot: Can go either way depending on the damage you deal. If you have Bloody Mess perk, then most of the time you get something else entirely.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Alcohol boosts charisma and strength at a cost to intelligence, and like all chems there is a risk of getting addicted. The Party Boy/Party Girl perk in Broken Steel eliminates the withdrawal effects, though.
  • Boring but Practical: The hunting rifle (and especially its unique incarnation, Ol' Painless). Bolt action, ugly as sin. Will kill what you need dead, spare parts and ammo are staggeringly abundant. Until you get into the game's top-tier items it remains a workhorse gun for most encounters, and some players stand by Ol' Painless as one of the best guns in the game.
    • The Silenced 10mm Pistol. Easily repairable, plentiful ammo, and obtainable early on, if you need someone dead quickly and quietly without alerting every hostile in range during the early parts of the game, this comes in very handy.
  • Brain in a Jar: Professor Calvert in Point Lookout. Also, the heads of a certain kind of robot, the Robobrain, appears to be nothing more than a brain in a dome full of liquid.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Enclave. If you played the previous Fallout games, you should know this already. It certainly comes as a surprise to Nathan, the Enclave-loving citizen of Megaton.
  • Bucket Helmet: The Mechanist.
  • Bullet Time: VATS, which for all intents and purposes causes the game to lean a bit closer to be a turn-based RPG.
  • Bully Hunter: You have the option to exact revenge against Butch DeLoria should you choose.
  • But Thou Must: The original ending. Fixed with the Broken Steel DLC.
  • Caffeine Bullet Time: Nuka-Cola Quantum gives you enough of a kick to make this a literal example, by boosting your AP.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": These ain't your daddy's Fire Ants...
  • Calling Your Attacks: Happens once early in The Adventures of Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood, when Herbert and Argyle need to get past a guard:
    Argyle: Hey, buddy, got a light?
    Guard: What?
    Argyle: Lotus Kick!
    Guard: Aieee!
  • Cannibal Larder: The settlement of Andale's Dark Secret (besides generations of Villainous Incest) is that the inhabitants are cannibals. The garden shed behind the Wilsons' house is their larder, with a fridge containing lots of "strange meat," and multiple skeletons from their prior victims.
  • Captain Obvious: Charon, Fawkes, and RL-3 in Take It Back! suddenly remember they're rad-immune if you have Broken Steel.
  • Cartography Sidequest: Given by Reilly; you'll get caps for every location you discover since the last time you visited her. If you've already discovered every location before-hand, all you have to do is exit the base, reenter and talk to her to claim your reward for all of them.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Unlike the other robot models, the Robobrains gently rebuke you in a soothing voice while you're fighting them.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Many of the Raider outfits on a female character, but especially the Raider Bombshell Armor from The Pitt.
  • Chainsaw Good: Rippers.
  • Character Derailment: In-Universe. A computer in the ruins of Hubris Comics in D.C. contains a letter to the editor that calls out a writer for turning a well-developed comic book villain (the AntAgonizer) into a For the Evulz nutcase.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Once you first behold Liberty Prime, you know that he's going to be kicking some ass by the end of the game.
    • "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." -Revelation 21:6 That is to say, '216' is the code to activate the purifier at the end of the main story arc.
  • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: Known simply as "Sugar Bombs". The cereal pieces are even shaped like miniature nukes.
  • Clip Its Wings: The game allows you to target bloatflies' wings in VATS mode. This is roughly equivalent to shooting the legs of dirt-bound foes and will severely reduce their movement speed (although even crippling their wings won't stop them flying altogether).
  • Clone Degeneration: Whatever the hell happened in Vault 108, it certainly didn't end well. You will usually first encounter the body of "Gary 42" before you encounter numerous other Gary #s. The only thing any of them are capable of saying is "Ahh, Gary!" in an expecting and welcome tone of voice. Then they attack you.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Both in NPC dialogs as well as Enemy Chatter.
    • In particular there are Mayor MacCready of Little Lamplight (particularly striking since he's eleven at most) and Desmond Lockheart from Point Lookout. Neither of them seem capable of forming a sentence without swearing.
  • Collection Sidequest: Finding all of the Vault-Tec Bobbleheads in the Capital Wasteland; collecting all 100 steel ingots in The Pitt; finding thirty Nuka-Cola Quantum for The Nuka-Cola Challenge.
  • Color Wash: The entire game is overlaid with a very noticeable green color filter, which can be disabled via modding.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Sierra Petrovita in Girdershade is blissfully clueless that her self-appointed protector Ronald Laren is only sticking around in the hopes of having sex with her. Even when he's obviously (to the player) hitting on her.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Certain weapons have a special effect of dealing additional damage per hit that ignores damage resistance. The catch? This only activates when an enemy NPC is using it against you.
    • In addition, NPCs can, after running up against something long enough, simply clip forward. This is mainly to help get them out of spots where they can get stuck, however this applies to all NPCs, including any enemies. Don't be surprised to see a Raider clip through a fence to get to you.
  • Continuity Nod: At the end of the Trouble On the Homefront quest, Amata's informing you that you must leave the vault forever now intentionally mirrors the ending of the first Fallout.
  • Cool Clear Water: Averted; providing fresh water is, in fact, the driving purpose of the game. All water 'in the wild' is radioactive, the only clean water comes out of purifiers. Particularly jarring in Oasis, an Arcadia which otherwise looks like it was pulled straight out of Oblivion.
  • Cooldown Manipulation: The Level 20 Perk Grim Reaper's Sprint refreshes your Action Points fully after a kill in VATS. In effect, combined with a powerful weapon, this became an endless kill chain until everything around you was dead. This Game Breaker was thus Nerfed in Fallout: New Vegas to a flat amount instead of a full refresh.
  • Cool Plane: The Enclave's Vertibirds.
  • Cool Shades: Lucky Shades
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Mothership Zeta. A samurai, a cowboy, a wastelander, a soldier two centuries out of place, a Plucky Girl, and you versus hundreds of little green aliens.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Tranquility Lane, a computer simulation in Vault 112, where a little girl (who's actually Dr. Braun) forces you to perform a series of increasingly evil acts before letting you leave with your father.
  • Crapsack World: The entire Fallout series takes place after a nuclear war between America and China. The prewar world was pretty Crapsack-y to begin with if the little tidbits of history you can find are any indication, but atomic Armageddon sure didn't help.
    • Unlike Nevada in the sequel game Fallout: New Vegas, The Capital Wasteland is almost completely uncivilized. There are a few isolated settlements, the largest being housed in a derelict aircraft carrier. The rest are a few tiny shanty towns like Megaton, and Tenpenny Tower which is a holdout for a few rich cowards. The rest of the area is populated by opportunistic raiders, hostile animal life and super mutants. Unlike New Vegas and the NCR, there is no agriculture to speak of, and absolutely no manufacturing of any kind. Any tools and weaponry to be found are from scavenged ruins.
  • Creepy Child: Betty is the queen here, although quite a few children exhibit Troubling Unchildlike Behavior.
  • Creepy Cleanliness: Vault 112. There's a good reason for that.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Wadsworth, the Robotic butler in your house in Megaton, jokes: "Photons have Mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic."
    • The only active church in the Capitol Wasteland is St. Monica's, a post-apocalyptic saintnote  with a heavily Catholic-themed backstory. The priest preaches about Purgatory and will not have his acolyte, Diego, sleep with or marry the woman he loves and be a priest at the same time.
  • Critical Hit Class: It's one of the possible ways to build your character, as critical rates are determined by the player's Luck stat, weapons, and a good number of the game's perks.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: See Gorn and Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Take It Back! quest.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: There's some very interesting people wandering the wasteland with fantastic skills that could be used for the betterment of humanity. Take The Mechanist, able to build and maintain a small army of combat-ready robots, or the Surgeon, a Mad Scientist implied to be able to control ghouls and super mutants via computer chip implants, who appears in a sidequest and never again.

    Tropes D-G 
  • Darker and Edgier: By far when compared to the rest of the previous entries in the Fallout franchise. Not that the series was lighthearted before, but compared to the first two games, this one tones down the humor and ups the violence and atmosphere.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: You can set your race to Hispanic or Afro-American and get a head of blood crimson hair through the customization screen.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The dialogue choices give the player many opportunities to be this.
    (Standing outside a military bunker)
    Brotherhood Outcast: We don't want your corpse stinking up our little patch of heaven.
    Player: You're right, a rotting body would really clash with the drapes.
  • Death from Above: The Highwater Trousers Kill Sat (an Easter Egg), and how the Enclave destroy Liberty Prime in the Broken Steel expansion.
  • Deceased and Diseased: Ghouls are crawling with radiation, and higher-level ones can use radiation attacks to infect the player.
  • Defector from Decadence: Old Man Harris used to be one of the lunatics in Andale until he had a Heel Realization and realized just how batshit insane his family had become and how horribly fucked up what they practised really was. In fact, if you kill them all he not only thanks you for what you did, but he also take in their children and promises to teach them how to be something other than practitioners of Villainous Incest and being prone to I'm a Humanitarian.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Tranquility Lane.
  • Design Compromise: Rivet city, compare the concept art and the finished product.
  • Development Gag: Assuming the "Wasteland Survival Guide" quest ends with the guide's publication, the Lone Wanderer can snidely ask Moira Brown if she wants him/her to print and distribute the book, too. She replies it's not necessary. A cut quest actually did require you to get it printed.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • If you manage to get up to the sniper nest overlooking the gate at Megaton and talk to the guard stationed there, he will tell you off for distracting him and then he'll wonder how you managed to get up there anyways. There's no path up there so the only way up is with the console or glitches.
    • If you bypass talking to Three Dog in your search for James, when you go find him later he'll offer up a different reward than info on where he is in exchange for you helping him. And if you already have the quest item he sends you to retrieve, you can tell him so and he appropriately remarks that you must be psychic or something.
  • Diegetic Interface: The Pip-Boy 3000! But not the HP/AP gauges, compass, or ammo counters that form the in-game HUD.
  • Dirt Force Field: Averted, everyone from raiders to the Tenpenny residents are covered in grime and are all cases of Unkempt Beauty.
  • Dirty Communists: How Liberty Prime views whatever it fights. Ironically, he continues to do so even when fighting against the staunchly anti-Communist Enclave.
    • The Mr. Gutsy robots do the same.
  • Disaster Democracy: The Republic of Dave. There's even a quest titled Election Day that lets you manipulate the election result.
  • Disc One Final Boss: The (most likely) first Behemoth you come across, just outside of Galaxy News Radio.
  • Disc One Nuke: Once you know them, there are ways.
    • The Replicated Man's plasma rifle can be obtained very early in the game if you know where to look for it; getting it doesn't involve combat or dungeon exploration, and it is one of the most powerful weapons in the game.
    • On your way to GNR studios, quite early in the game if you follow the main quests, you'll find a dead Brotherhood of Steel member and can loot his Power Armor. Unfortunately in this game you need special training to wear it and so it can't be used yet. However, your henchmen suffer no such drawback and can slip it on right away. You can then repair the suit with armor from any other Brotherhood soldiers the Behemoth kills shortly after... especially if you take a less than entirely active role in that fight for a while... and your henchman will be pretty much invincible until the Enclave shows up.
      • On top of that, that same corpse is also carrying a Fat Man, and the optional objective tells you to pick it up so you can use it against said Behemoth, giving you a literal Nuke.
    • The best armor in the game can be accessed quite early with the Operation: Anchorage DLC. Completing the DLC near the start of the game will open access to the Winterized T-51b Power Armor. It requires Power Armor Training but the simulation before unlocks the ability after you complete it. In total, the helmet and the armor, collectively offers 55 damage resistance (only standard Brotherhood of Steel Power Armor or special Enclave Power Armor matches it), +33 radiation resistance, and +1 charisma. Both parts of the suit also have the highest item hit points in the game (Helmet: 999,100/100 hit points and Armor:9,992,000/100 hit points) effectively meaning they will never break and require repair or lose any damage protection points.
      • The Gauss Rifle comes along with the armor. It has a high base damage, a tremendous critical hit multiplier, a high chance of knockdown, has a scope for sniping, ammo is the plentiful microfusion cells, and combined with the finesse perk it becomes all but game breaking. The only drawback is the single shot magazine and slow reload.
  • Disney Death: With the Broken Steel DLC, the original sacrifice at the end of the game becomes a two week coma, both for the PC and Sentinel Lyons (Unless Lyons, even though more or less better than you, is sent in which means death).
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Death is the only punishment for almost any crime in the wasteland. From murder to lockpicking a crate of vendor goods to stealing a bottle of Nuka-Cola, everyone in the vicinity will open fire. And God help you if you try to open the door to GNR studios before the all-clear is sounded. The only crime people don't attack you on-sight for is pickpocketing — they give you a warning, then they attack you.
    • Oddly, this carries over to the pre-war too. There are many security robots you can find in old factories and other buildings, and they will often ask for an ID card or some other miscellaneous item you could find nearby to show them you're authorized to be there. Otherwise they consider it trespassing, give you one warning to leave, then start the laser fire.
    • Sonora Cruz, head of the Regulators, sums it up pretty well: "In the Wasteland, there's only one brand of justice - the gun."
  • Divide and Conquer: Sometimes when you fast travel, two enemies will happen to be in the area when you arrive. If you manage to stay out of their way, they'll fight each other to the death before noticing you, the survivor usually being considerably softened up by that point.
  • Doomed Hometown: Vault 101
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: A very painful example. One quest has you retrieve 30 Nuka-Cola Quantums for Sierra Petrovita, and her neighbor Ronald pays you to retrieve them for him instead, so he can give them to Sierra to try and talk his way into her bed. Giving him the bottles gets you negative karma. However, a quest in Rivet City has you retrieve ant queen pheromones for Angela Staley so she can use them to seduce an acolyte named Diego, who she is attracted to but he has taken a vow of celibacy and won't break it. This quest gives you positive karma. Giving a guy some material goods to try and win favor with a woman he lusts for is apparently bad, while giving a woman animal pheromones so she can seduce a priest is good.
  • Downloadable Content: There were five DLC'S released: Operation Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta. The "Game Of The Year Edition" already has all the expansions bundled in.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. On your way to the GNR studios, the Brotherhood of Steel is attacked by a Super Mutant Behemoth. An optional task you can complete is to grab the Fat Man off the body of a dead soldier and fire a nuke at the Behemoth to kill it. Afterward, the Brotherhood will acknowledge that a civilian carrying a nuke is a scary sight, but they pay you the respect you deserve for saving their lives.
  • Drop the Hammer: Quite a lot can be found, also one of the favorite melee weapons for super mutants. They go from hand-hammers that are classed as Vendor Trash, to wieldable sledgehammers, up to the mighty Super-Sledge.
  • Egopolis: The Republic of Dave, formerly the Kingdom of Tom, and potentially later Bobland or Bobtopia.
    • Formerly the Republic of Stevie-Ray, Billsylvania, The New Republic of Stevie-Ray, and later possibly the Democracy of Rosie.
    • If Dave loses the election he invades Old Olney and proclaims it The New Republic of Dave. Any Deathclaws living there will be quite opposed to this invasion.
  • Eldritch Location: The Dunwich Building. You have hallucinations showing you how the place used to look in prewar times, doors open and shut randomly, and some items move about at their own accord. And then there's the Obelisk, with its highly radioactive nature, and ghostly whispers emanating from it. And the kicker? You enter the building from the north...but once inside, the door you just came in through is at the southern end.
    • Considering the name...
    • It's also later involved in disposing of a "holy" book with decidedly Lovecraftian elements.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Hilariously averted with Fawkes. No one cares you have a Super Mutant trailing you.
    • Fawkes will often marvel at this while you're traveling.
    "I'm amazed people trust you enough not to attack me!"
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Biwwy in Wittle Wampwight.
  • Enemy Chatter: Most humanoid and robot enemies taunt you if they detect your presence. This is quite stupid on their part since it helps you locating where and who or what they are.
  • Energy Weapons: They are generally the most powerful ranged weapons apart from the biggest of big guns and unique small guns.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: With mushroom clouds, thanks to their fusion engines.
  • Evil Former Friend: Crowley was a friend of other people, but after being trapped and left behind, got a brooding anger against his former companions. He asks the wanderer to assassinate them and give him their keys as 'proof.' The keys actually have another purpose.
  • Evil Is Petty: Trying to play as an evil character can result in this at times. Many of the quests in the game are heavily skewed toward the Good end of the scale, especially if you want the best rewards available. Even if you make it clear to the NPCs that you're a selfish, greedy, money-grubbing bastard who's only doing it for the rewards, you still get Good Karma at the end. The result is a lot of random acts of theft and/or violence to offset this.
    • Tenpenny wanted Megaton destroyed because it blocked his scenic view. Granted, he wanted the people evacuated before it was bulldozed, but he's not particularly upset when he learns his associate Mr Burke, asked you to simply nuke the town with everyone still inside.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Crowley and Tenpenny
    • Alternately, Roy Phillips and Tenpenny. Though it just seems like Black and Gray Morality at first glance.
    • Talon Company vs the Super Mutants. The two factions can often be found engaged in turf wars over the downtown ruins.
  • Excessive Steam Syndrome: In the add-on Mothership Zeta, the featured ship has an area called 'steamworks' which is mostly filled with steam releasing pipes (there's also several "cryo chamber" areas with leaking coolant and evaporation).
  • Expansion Pack: Several, including one that changes a much-reviled element of the ending.
  • Explosive Leash: The Paradise Falls slave collars.
    • The Pitt Bridge (from The Pitt DLC) is an indirect example. In addition to crossing the most irradiated body of water in the game, it is mined and choked with exploding cars.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Many of the ghouls you can encounter in Underworld lived through the war and can tell you what, frequently little, they can remember of the time before. Carol was born in 2051, twenty-six years prior to the Great War. Meanwhile, some of Fawkes' dialogue implies that he was alive during the initial FEV experiments conducted in Vault 87.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Defender Sibley at the end of Operation Anchorage.
  • Fake Irish: Invoked. Moriarty's accent is quite exaggerated. It turns out he's faking it in the hopes that it will make him more likable.
  • Fantastic Racism: According to the Enclave, their ultimate goal is to ensure Humanity's survival... too bad their definition of Humanity is Enclave and Vault-born Humans only. If you were born in the Wasteland, the Enclave considers you impure.
    • This potentially may be part of the reason why The Overseer despises the Lone Wanderer and his/her father. Also why drinking tainted Aqua Pura kills you.
    • The Enclave's primary opposition, the Brotherhood of Steel, isn't much better. Both the Lyons and Outcast factions don't have a high opinion of Wastelanders (Vault-born or otherwise), though the former is more tolerant. If you're a Ghoul or a Super Mutant, the Brotherhood and the Enclave are going to shoot you.
    • This makes the mutual non-aggression between the Ghouls and Super Mutants stand out more, even if the reason is more practical than ideological. The Ghouls just want be left alone. The Super Mutants leave the Ghouls alone since they're terrible (or even non-viable) as mutation stock.
    • The majority of people towards the ghouls, being pretty much a sentient Zombie, their appearance naturally repulses others.
    • On one minor happy note, normal racism doesn't seem to apply anymore. Even the Enclave, with its focus on genetic purity, doesn't care which particular genes its troopers carry.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Ghouls calling unmutated humans 'Smoothskins' (weirdly enough, even some who don't seem to mind humans overall still use the epithet), humans calling ghouls 'zombies', and Three Dog and the Brotherhood of Steel calling Super Mutants 'Frankensteins' and 'Uglies'. Even 'ghoul' presumably started out this way, before being reclaimed once they started forming their own societies.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Capital Wasteland / Lyons Brotherhood of Steel detachment has some resemblance to early Prussia.
  • Fast-Forward Mechanic: There is a "Wait" action.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Whatever happens to prisoners of the Super Mutants. In Vault 87 you can learn that most get sprayed with FEV to transform them into more Super Mutants. Or, if they're really unlucky, into a hideously deformed corpse.
    • Everyone in Tranquility Lane if you comply with Dr. Braun's games (only one of them is aware of what is happening. The others are Brainwashed and Crazy.) Dr. Braun himself if you activate the Chinese Invasion scenario (in which case everyone else dies.)
  • Five-Man Band: Your Ragtag Band of Misfits in Mothership Zeta.
    • The Hero: You, obviously
    • The Lancer: Somah, your first ally and the only one from the same timeframe as you.
    • The Big Guy: Paulson, a cowboy sheriff and general tough guy.
    • The Smart Guy: Elliot, the Combat Medic who adapts some of the alien technology you find into workable items
    • The Chick: Sally, also a Tagalong Kid, she helps you free the others and guides the group around the ship.
    • The Sixth Ranger: Kago, a Japanese samurai, the communication barrier results in him eventually heading off on his own, only to pull a Big Damn Heroes during the final battle.
  • Flaming Sword: The Shishkebab. Also, Jingwei's Shocksword is the electric version.
  • Floorboard Failure: A couple of buildings have this as a scripted event. The Point Lookout expansion has you falling though several floors and into the basement.
  • Forced Tutorial: Growing up in Vault 101.
  • Foreshadowing: If you happen to know the geography of a certain country that gained notoriety in literature, you should know what to expect in the village of Arefu as it shares the name with a commune in Romania where stands Poenari castle, seat of Vlad III, commonly known as Dracula.
    • Another is the Dunwich Building. Just by virtue of knowing where the name comes in, you know to load up before you head in...
    • In Vault 101: "No one ever enters, and no one ever leaves."
    • After the quest "The Superhuman Gambit", the kid Derek Pacion suggest that the Wanderer can become a superhero with the power to command deathclaws. In Broken Steel, the Wanderer can use Enclave controlled deathclaws against them.
    • Buy Charon's contract, and he'll part ways with his loathsome former master with a shotgun to the head. If you have bad karma and release him from the contract, he'll try the same on you.
    • Revelation 21:6 starts, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end..." The first time you hear this as at the beginning of the story (and of your life). Guess at what other point this passage becomes relevant.
    • The poem Beatrice gives you for your tenth birthday is full of these, including the sans-Broken Steel ending. It's basically a summary of everything that happens in the game, but there's no way you can know that when you first receive it.
  • For Science!: This might as well be Moira's mantra, given her inability to see why someone (namely, you) wouldn't want to walk into a minefield, cripple and/or irradiate themselves, and infiltrate the lair of sewer monsters for the sake of her current project.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Mr. Burke
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: The Family is a group of reformed cannibals, modeling themselves after classic vampire lore to curb their cravings for human flesh. Most of them, including their leader, are quite friendly and civil, and are Noble Demons at the very worst. You'll have the option of making a deal with them to secure blood packs so they no longer have to feed on people, and protect the settlement that was once terrified of them. You can even become one.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: By actively accumulating Bad Karma, you can become one of the most hated and feared inhabitants of the Wasteland.
  • Future Imperfect: The destruction or misplacing of almost all pre-War records, and the extremely spotty nature of schooling (for the few that get any at all) result in this trope being played straight. Only a few NP Cs, such as Hannibal Hamlin or Rivet City's Abraham Washington, know any history - and even they're spotty enough on details that their work almost resembles a Cargo Cult.
    • The Cargo Cult aspect also rears its head in a certain criminal hideout, where an unmistakable shrine to Abraham Lincoln can be found in the basement.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Averted. Anyone can die (except for children), ally or enemy. This can become troublesome if you find a quest giver or merchant in the wilderness being attacked by something, as you will want to make sure they live so you can at least finish the quest.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Willow, the Ghoul sentry outside Underworld, mentions how the Ghouls and Super Mutants leave the other alone. She will not fight any Super Mutants that come by her. The only exception to this is if a Super Mutant accidentally hits her. Even then, she will only kill the one that hit her and stop afterwards.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: On several points.
    • Some followers who would ordinarily be unwelcome in areas go totally unnoticed when they're with you. All bets are off if you dismiss them while in that area, however, which can lead to some amusing scenarios (e.g. dismissing Star Paladin Cross in the middle of the Outcast base will lead to the Outcasts attacking Cross and her pretty much massacring the entire base solo).
    • Even though the Player Character can learn to pick locks, plenty of doors are impossible to pick and have to be opened through some kind of plot-advancing task.
    • You don't have to eat and drink because of hunger and thirst, but you can eat forty cans of pork and beans - in less than a second - in order to replace all that blood that just went spewing out of you.
    • Despite two hundred years of scavenging, almost every place you go to has tons of nice stuff lying around. And despite the atomic war and 200 intervening years of non-stop mayhem, there are still so many humans around that piles of fresh corpses can be used as decorations at every Raider and Super Mutant stronghold.
  • Game Mod: Ranging from the obligatory NSFW mods to things like a Mininuke Minigun.
  • Gang Of Bullies: Butch and the Tunnel Snakes of Vault 101, based on the "greasers" of the 1950s.
    • Most of the factions in the game, such as the Raiders and the Supermutants, skip straight from this to Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Gatling Good: Miniguns and Gatling Lasers make a return here. Though extremely powerful, they have even stronger unique versions if you really need to dish out the hurt.
  • Genius Bruiser: Fawkes, a Super Mutant who managed to retain his rational intelligence. Though he swings from Warrior Poet to Blood Knight pretty regularly.
  • Genius Ditz: Megaton's Moira Brown. Described as eccentric by other townsfolk, and obviously quite ditzy when you meet her, yet, with a little help, is able to write a book that can help everyone across the wasteland survive everyday life.
    Moira: Huh, did you know the human body can survive without a stomach or a spleen? Oh, hey, what's up?
  • Genre Savvy: Officer Herman Gomez knows all too well that he doesn't stand a chance against the Wanderer, when he or she re-enters the vault. Rather let that one go.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Mirelurks!
  • Giant Mook: Super Mutant Behemoths!
  • Give Him a Normal Life: Dad expected you to stay in the vault and live a (relatively) normal, safe, and happy life after he leaves for the Capital Wasteland. His departure is exactly what keeps that from happening.
  • Gladiator Subquest: The Hole in The Pitt DLC, though this one is actually part of the add-on's main questline, not a 'subquest'.
  • Gorn / Ludicrous Gibs: The Bloody Mess perk, which gives a high chance of any enemy the player kills to gib ludicrously regardless of how they die.
    • Laser weapons can reduce the subject to a pile of ash if they kill on a Critical Hit. Plasma weapons reduce the target to green goo.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Gratuitous Chinese in this case. The cover of the stealth skill book, the Chinese Army Spec Ops Training Manual, and the bottom of the Chinese Pistol have Chinese writing. The Chinese Remnants and the randomly located Chinese Radio Beacon signal speak Chinese. Somewhat unsurprising given the game setting's Great War between China and the United States.
    • The writing on the Brass Lantern in Megaton and how the Yao Guai got their name, on the other hand, are harder to explain.
  • Greaser Delinquents: The Tunnel Snakes
  • Grenade Tag: Reverse pickpocketing grenades. There's even an achievement for it.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The central theme in The Pitt DLC. You can aid the slave rebellion, which wants to destroy the raider army oppressing them and kidnap the boss' baby daughter so they can try to create a cure for a mutagenic disease that is crippling their society, but without the raider army they'll be short of supplies and they have no scientific or medical knowledge, so their attempts to create a cure are likely not going to work. Or you can side with Lord Ashur, who leads the slaves and raiders so that he can create an industrial powerhouse and is working on a cure for the disease himself, but came to and stays in power through violence, oppression and control, and the value of the society he's creating compared to the cost is dubious. Complicating the matter is that the future of The Pitt's people isn't examined, and the player's actions to aid either side could lead to the city prospering or perishing either way through circumstances not explored.
  • Grimy Water: Dirty, irradiated water is the norm rather than the exception.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Tell Clover to get lost. She (almost) starts to cry and asks, "But...but what did I do?"

    Tropes H-K 
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Bobby pins, with a screwdriver to turn the tumbler.
  • Hair Trigger Sound Effect: The Mysterious Stranger is ALWAYS accompanied by his mysterious guitar riff. And if you use console commands to get his weapon, the Mysterious Magnum, you can enjoy it too!
  • Happily Adopted: Maggie's perfectly happy being under the care of Billy Creel.
  • Happy Fun Ball: The Giddyup Buttercup machines in Mothership Zeta.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: Talon Company, the Raiders, and the Super Mutants are simply hostile at all times regardless of your personal morality or actions. With a few scripted exceptions, the Enclave are the same way.
  • Hand Wave: After Broken Steel, the Enclave are finished and the Brotherhood's war against them has been won. You're told told that their forces in the field will continue fighting for months before the news reaches them, but this doesn't make sense: the Enclave are the most technologically-equipped faction, their field bases all have communication arrays and their troops appear to have radios. However, it does explain why the player will still have random encounters with them.
  • Have You Tried Rebooting?: The computer used to reach Vault 87 appears to be non-functional. To proceed, you have to ask one of the children why it doesn't work (that child turned it off), and ask him to head to the terminal to turn it back on.
  • Herr Doktor: A Morally Ambiguous one named Braun, no less, who is responsible for many of the experiments in the Vaults.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The Point Lookout DLC. You're fighting a tribe of crazy, inbred, backwoods yokels who have formed a cult around a Mad Scientist Brain in a Jar. Their mutations stem more from inbreeding than actual radiation, though it probably helped.
  • Historical Injoke: Crossing over with The Cloud Cuckoo Lander Was Right, the robot in the National Archives who thinks he is Button Gwinnett may just know a lot more than he appears to, as if you convince him you are Thomas Jefferson, he tells you to give his regards to Sally (Hemmings.) Sally Hemmings was a slave with whom Thomas Jefferson had an affair, and possibly children. This fact was hushed up and denied by both historians and relatives of Jefferson for years.note 
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: General Jingwei from the Anchorage simulation is arguably an in-universe example. The first thing you see him do is execute an American POW in cold blood; also he's one of the strongest human NPCs.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: It isn't difficult to line up shots from behind cover, but landing them is another matter. You will often see your bullets ricochet off the air six inches away from an obstacle. Environmental features have much larger hitboxes than would be expected, leading to "clear shots" being stopped by the air around obstacles.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Quite a few sidequests involve NPCs who appear to be patiently waiting for some to show up and solve their problems. In the less obvious cases, they're implied to have been at a stalemate for a long time, and getting an external agent to intervene is the only way to feasibly break it (e.g., Arefu).
  • Hollywood Density: Usually averted, but in one case it flip-flops. In The Pitt expansion you are sent on a quest to collect 100 steel ingots. If you collect them all in one go, then they stack and only weigh as much as the first ingot, but if you collect some, turn them in and then go back, then they still stack but their weight quickly adds up.
  • Hollywood Night: The night in Fallout is always about as bright as a clear, moonlit night.
    • Either that, or everything in the D.C. area is faintly luminous these days (check the name of the game again).
  • Homemade Inventions: All the custom weapons. Note that unless you take a certain perk post-Broken Steel you yourself can't come up with them, you have to find the schematics first.
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: One interpretation, and quest completion option, of the Oasis.
  • Hulk Speak / You No Take Candle: The super-mutants talk in mono-syllabic grunt-like speech. Subverted with Fawkes, who retained his intelligence and as such, although he speaks in the same style as the other super-mutants, is a lot more articulate. Learning about said articulation is one of the dialogue options players have when they encounter him.
  • Human Resources: The Little Lamplight caverns produce a kind of edible fungus which scrubs rads and cures health, and is thus enthusiastically gobbled up by the kiddies. Sounds too good to be true? It's best fertilized by human flesh.
  • Humongous Mecha: Liberty Prime. It is also a bit of a Deconstruction, in that it takes a lot of power to operate. Reconstructed at the end, in a Crowning Moment of Awesome
  • 100% Heroism Rating: Having the best karma rating means that you'll occasionally have people run up to you while you're in Megaton and give you supplies. And if you have very evil karma, slavers in Paradise Falls will also occasionally run up and give you supplies.
    • Go to either extreme, and you'll have either ultra-evil mercenaries (if you are good) or vigilante "lawmen" (if you are evil) attack you as random encounters. Also, one perk gives you a substantial bonus to your Speech skill, provided that you maintain a Neutral karma level. To put this in perspective, you can earn enough Karma points to be "Good" or "Evil" before you leave the tutorial level.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Some weapon names, such as Man Opener, Jack (a unique Ripper), Rock-it Launcher, Board of Education, etc.
  • Idiot Ball: Surely the Overseer realizes the lack of genetic stock in the Vault means that every person he has murdered on a whim brings the Vault one step closer to eventually dying out due to inbreeding? This is actually one of the arguments you can use to convince him to step down as Overseer. His reaction suggests that he was aware of the problem but chose to downplay its significance because it conflicted with his ideology.
    • By the time you have the option to use the FEV Virus to wipe out all mutated life in the Wasteland, you can't have missed the fact that this will also mean that you can never trust water from an unknown source again... You were technically born in the Wasteland.
      • Although you will find people on forums complaining about their mysterious deaths, apparently having failed to follow the plot at all.
  • I Lied: The Tenpenny Towers quest can be resolved by talking the residents into letting Roy's ghouls into the tower, and getting both sides to agree to a non-violent solution. Once you let them in, the ghouls kill all the humans anyway after a period of time. However, you can prevent this by killing Roy outside the front door, after he gives you your quest reward but before he enters the tower.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Strange Meat is PEOPLE! The Town of Andale is full of cannibals.
    • One of the available perks can make you a humanitarian, too.
  • Improbable Power Discrepancy: The Tribals and Swampfolk in Point Lookout, who are nearly naked and equipped with 19th century rifles and woodcutting axes, are significantly tougher and more dangerous than the Powered Armor wearing Elite Mooks of the Enclave (or even the energy-shield-equipped alien soldiers in Mothership Zeta).
    • Clover, to a lesser extent.
    • The Lone Wanderer, a nineteen year old more or less fresh out of a Vault. Compare with Butch DeLoria.
  • Improvised Armour: Most of the Raiders. You can't make your own at a Workbench — you can make a nuclear hand grenade, but not a Bucket Helmet.
    • The Armored Vault 101 suit, a regular jumpsuit that's been modified with leather armor to offer more protection.
  • Improvised Weapon: You can come across schematics for some fairly powerful weapons built of some semi-common wasteland components; such as a gun that fires railroad spikes (ouch), a dart gun firing toxic radscorpion ammo (which cripples the legs of anything it hits), a mine made out of a lunchbox and cash which causes more damage than standard antipersonnel mines, a flaming sword, and a soda-and-cleaning-supply nuclear hand grenade. Possibly the best example is the Rock-It Launcher, as on top of being crafted from scrap in its own right, it's also able to use any piece of random Vendor Trash as ammunition.
    • Many of the melee weapons weren't meant for cracking skulls. Initially.
  • Indestructible Edible: All the Pre-War junk food is still nourishing, if slightly radioactive. Possibly justified by the fact that irradiating food does make it last longer.
  • Infant Immortality: Children can never be harmed or killed.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: Several. Deathclaw Gauntlet, generic Chinese assault rifles, Ol' Painless, Lincoln's Repeater, double-barrel shotguns, A3-21's Plasma Rifle, Wazer Wifle, Gauss rifle, Tesla Cannon, gatling lasers, dart guns.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Plenty! Shishkebab, Jack, Xuanlong Assault Rifle, Perforator, Backwater Rifle, the Terrible Shotgun, Alien Blaster, Firelance, Metal Blaster, Atomic Pulverizer, MPLX Novasurge, Destabilizer, Vengeance, Slo-Burn Flamer, Experimental MIRV, Nuka Grenades.
    • For PC users, a cheat code (console activated by the ~ key) can give them a One-Hit Kill .44 magnum (the one carried by the Mysterious Stranger, no less).
  • Informed Ability:
    • Super Mutants and Raiders appear to make camps and form plans - the former allegedly capture people to drag back to Vault 87 and turn into more Super Mutants with FEV (or chop them up and eat them), and the latter have a big camp in Evergreen Mills and a group of them in Springvale School were using slave labour to try and tunnel into Vault 101. None of this intelligence is displayed in-game; both will simply fight you (or any other NPCs) to the death as soon as they see you.
    • The martial skill of any NPC that is said to be particularly tough: An Outcast patrol might be wearing power armor, or a Raider gang are thought to to be best avoided but they likely won't be as effective against each other as the vault kid with a shotgun and guidance from beyond the screen.
    • Ronald Laren in Girdershade has fought off a number of raiders and animals, according to his neighbour Sierra, but if he charges out into the wasteland while you're there, he's likely to be killed by the first radscorpion he meets.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: We never do learn the motivation of the Mothership Zeta aliens... except that they're colossal bastards.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: In Operation: Anchorage, you may come across Chinese computers. Your Pip-Boy will attempt to translate the text on their screens into English, but does a poor job of it. The terminal in Mama Dolce's is also this, but already in Engrish.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: You can purchase decoration themes for your house as well as useful upgrades such as a workbench, lab table, and a soda machine (it makes your soda cold, improving its HP restoration ability). And any clutter (old books, dinner plates, teddy bears, etc) you can pick up around the game world can be placed in your house. Trying to do the last thing can cause much frustration thanks to a rather wonky physics engine.
    Singer: Instead of landing on Plymouth Rock / Plymouth Rock would land on them!
  • Invisible Wall: Invoked to prevent the player from wandering off the map and, in other instances, save your computer from trying to process everything at once.
  • Irony:
    • James just wanted you, his only son/daughter, to live a quiet, safe, and peaceful existence on your own while he snuck out of the vault into the wasteland in pursuit of his of shattered dreams. Too bad that the very act him leaving is what forced you out of the vault and into danger anyways.
    • Liberty Prime destroying the last remnants of the American Government.
    • The Steelyard in The Pitt is in working condition despite the nuclear war because it was abandoned after a massacre of union labor at the hands of the robots bought to replace them after they rioted. The supervisor's Apocalyptic Log ends with him stating; " ...let this be an example of how not to replace humans with machines." Well, loser, you should be pretty happy that your workplace remains open as a robot-free slave labor camp.
    • The Brotherhood of Steel's original mission in the Capital Wasteland was to recover lost technology and the Outcasts left because Elder Lyons made the decision that helping the local Wastelanders was more important than their original goal. By the end of the game (especially with the add-ons) the Brotherhood of Steel has made entirely new weapon systems, reactivated a super robot from the Pre-War period that single-handedly curb-stomped the Enclave, and have recovered so much of the Enclave's advanced technology that they are practically swimming in it. No good deed goes unrewarded, eh?
  • Item Amplifier:
    • There is a perk that doubles the effects of books, which naturally increase stats by 1 point.
    • An item called the Food Sanitizer increases the amount of health recovered by food items by 20%.
  • Item Crafting: With a workbench, some schematics, and delightfully random junk, you can create some of the most powerful (and coolest) weapons in the game with no fuss.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: You can threaten the vault overseer if he doesn't give the key to the secret passage to the surface. Since he doesn't want Amata harmed...
  • Japanese Ranguage: The People's Republic of America radio broadcast.
  • Joke Item: Some of the weapons you find are totally useless, such as BB gun and pool cue which you are better off using your fists.
  • Jump Scare: Maze-like caves and vaults with low lighting and blind corners, spooky ambient noises, and surprisingly stealthy ghouls, super mutants and giant insects — in short the game is full of chances to invoke this trope, and it's good at it. You'll appreciate companions not just for the extra gun but for the extra eyes, otherwise you're bound to be skulking through an empty vault and suddenly scream because you just got attacked from behind by a ghoul. Out in the Wastelands, Yao Guai and Deathclaws are NOTORIOUS for doing this.
    • You're deep in the tunnels of the Marigold Station. You've got the constant chitter of ants in your ears, you don't know if something worse is down here, it's dark and you're looking around every corner for enemies. Bonus points if you're low on ammo and/or health so you're even more on edge. You open what appears to be just another door, and are immediately yelled at by a human scientist working in a secret lab. And he's complaining because you startled him!
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The katana in the game is well above average.
  • Kill Sat: The Enclave use one in Broken Steel to destroy Liberty Prime. You can also use it at the end of Broken Steel to either destroy the Enclave's mobile base, or to blow up the Citadel. Doing the latter, however, earns you a What the Hell, Hero? response.
  • Kudzu Plot: From a gameplay perspective, at least. It's just about impossible to go through the main quest without picking up a dozen or so sidequests along the way, even if you make a conscious effort to avoid doing so. Of course, actually doing them is still entirely up to you.

    Tropes L-O 
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Knickknack salesman Crazy Wolfgang is delighted to know that you take such an interest in his junk. Of course, no one could possibly be more invested in his junk than him, but he appreciates the enthusiasm anyway.
  • Large Ham: There are a few. Robots in particular seem programmed to over-act.
    Mr. Buckingham: You have insulted my honor and for...that you must die! *flamethrower*
  • Large Ham Radio: Three Dog lampshades this. You can ask him why he acts the way he does, and he explains that if you're going to fight the Good Fight, then you must give it your all. All the time. That's why he talks like an on-air radio DJ while he's off air.
  • The Last Dance: The soldiers you thaw out and revive in Mothership Zeta are expressly told that their revival is only temporary, and they will die in due time. They are more than eager to fight for you and their commanding officer for what little time they have left.
  • Less Embarrassing Term
    • A former childhood bully, Butch becomes the hairdresser for Vault 101 (which is the job he got on his G.O.A.T. exam), though he insists that he's not a hairdresser, but a barber.
    • This is later invoked and inverted by a Ghoul Barber in the Underworld who prefers to be called a hairdresser.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Dart Gun doesn't seem very powerful (low damage, moderate poison effect), but note the additional effect: "Damage left/right leg (-1000 points)". That's right, it instantly cripples any organic enemy, transforming Ghouls, Yao Guai, Deathclaws, Mirelurks and even Super Mutant Behemoths into limping target practice. Oh, and it's a totally silent, zero spread weapon that does more overall damage than the Silenced 10mm Pistol - you can quietly headshot half of Evergreen Mills with a high enough Small Guns skill.
  • Level Scaling: The level of the enemies in an area are based on your level when you enter it for the first time. This means, if you enter an area at level one, you'll deal with level one type foes, even if you re-enter after reaching level 30.
    • It is possible to encounter enemies that you normally wouldn't see until later in the game. For example, if you get your karma high enough early on (like, say, by defusing the bomb in Megaton) and then head out to do some exploring, you might meet your first Talon Company hit squad while you're still wearing a Vault 101 jumpsuit and carrying a measly 10mm pistol. And gods help you if you wander too close to Old Olney without being at a high level and carrying a lot of firepower.
      • When you reload an area (even if it means the game reloading your last save if you die), the game may spawn one of a few different random encounter options, including a Mexican Standoff between wastelanders over some pure water, and a Deathclaw(which may or may not be crippled) in the immediate nearby area. The good news is if you do find a Deathclaw while on your travels to Minefield or Arefu, killing it will give you access to a weapon that you will probably never give up for the rest of the game.
  • Little Green Men: You can find the corpse of one. In the Mothership Zeta expansion pack, you find out it wasn't alone.
  • The Load: Almost anyone you have to escort as part of a quest. On the other hand, you can give them armor and weapons from your inventory, which makes them slightly less useless. Slightly.
  • Logic Bomb: With high enough science skill, you can do this to get President Eden to self destruct.
  • Lost Forever: Actually quite a few places cannot be revisited. This includes Raven Rock, the Mobile Base Crawler in Broken Steel, and a lot of areas on the alien ship in Mothership Zeta. After the start of the game, Vault 101 can be revisited for a single quest, before and after which it's inaccessible. Also, it goes without saying that choosing to nuke Megaton will lose you any associated quests, followers and equipment you might have wanted (with one exception, see below) — but that just serves you right. Raven Rock, Megaton and Vault 101 all contain Bobbleheads, missing any of which renders the Gotta Catch 'Em All achievement unwinnable.
    • Moira will survive your setting off the Megaton nuke (albeit as a ghoul) so that you don't lose the "Wasteland Survival Guide" quest. However, after a few in-game days, she'll move to Underworld - and she's very likely to die in the process. If you don't want to lose access to the quest for good, it's advised that you finish it before you set off the bomb.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The "Tranquility Lounges" in Vault 112 and Tranquility Lane that they take you to.
  • Luck Stat: The "L" in SPECIAL of course. Each point of Luck is worth an extra multiplier chance of critical hits and provides bonuses to all starting skill levels. It also affects what loot and/or caps can be found in containers across the world. The higher your Luck, the more/better stuff you will find.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: With the Bloody Mess perk when you kill an enemy more than likely one or more of their limbs will go flying around the room.
  • Master Computer: President John Henry Eden, a.k.a. a ZAX supercomputer that has become sentient.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Dunwich Building. Something is wrong with that place. It's probably best left undisturbed.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Mr. Burke doesn't just sound like "berk", he's also named after a famous Victorian murderer (who many people mistakenly think was a grave robber because, like them, he sold the bodies to doctors). Even that doesn't hint at quite how evil he is.
    • Mr. Crowley and his Arch-Enemy Allister Tenpenny are named after Aleister Crowley, an occultist and coiner of the term Magick.
    • President John Henry Eden. Named after both the folk hero John Henry and his ultimate goal in recreating paradise.
    • The curator of the American history museum in Rivet City is Abraham Washington. He's well aware of his name too.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Protectrons, sentry bots.
  • Mega Corp.: The Capital Wasteland houses the former headquarters of a corporation that is guarded by robotic sentries with shoot to kill orders, ran trial tests that resulted in several deaths, and is more concerned with stock loss than the death or dismemberment of its employees. No, they are not a military contractor or a pharmaceutical company. They make soft drinks.
  • Mercy Kill: The "good" way to end the Tranquility Lane simulation is to kill everyone inside it, sparing them from their torturer, while leaving the torturer trapped there forever. The only actual mercy given is to the one citizen trapped inside is aware of what she is trapped in. The others are "blissfully" integrated into the simulation - they don't remember the thousands of times they've been tortured and/or murdered thanks to induced amnesia.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: In the Pitt DLC, kidnapping Ashur's daughter vs. leaving the anonymous Pitt Slaves to their fate are considered roughly equal in terms of moral weight.
  • Mind Screw: As you go through Vault 106, you'll hit pockets of the hallucinogenic gas, bringing on some weird moments.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In Moriarty's Saloon, if a male character talks to a male Megaton resident, sometimes they'll say "This isn't that kind of bar."
  • Modular Epilogue: The ending consists of three different consecutive scenes determined, respectively, by whether you sacrificed yourself or chickened out and chose an ally instead, whether you were good, neutral, or evil on the Karma Meter, and whether you infected the Wasteland's water supply.
  • Money for Nothing: Fairly quickly you'll find yourself swimming in caps with nothing to spend them on. The things you'd want to spend money on can be found easily by looting enemies and checking every container you see, and what you don't keep can be sold. The best weapons and armor are naturally quest rewards, and once you have them other equipment is only useful for repairs, and if you don't need to repair anything they're Vendor Trash. There's also numerous unmarked quests that reward you substantial amounts of caps for bringing someone certain types of item, and can be repeated indefinitely. Just keep in mind which junk items to hoard (Sugar Bombs, Blood Packs, Nuka Cola Quantums, etc.) and where to trade them in.
    • Rare ammo for guns like the magnum and sniper rifle are the exception. You will have more than enough caps to buy a few hundred bullets for them, but no one has that much to sell.
    • Most irritatingly, merchant inventories are dictated by player level. Meaning that a level 6 Lone Wanderer with 15000 caps will find that no one is willing to sell him a Chinese Assault Rifle until he gains a few levels.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the ending narration, as the Lone Wanderer walks off into the distance with Dogmeat and Ron Perlman speaks about the war for human survival, you're likely to start feeling pretty inspired. Cut to Arlington National Cemetery, and a brutal reminder of the consequences of war.
    • "And war...war never changes."
  • More Criminals Than Targets: There seem to be more "Raiders" than peaceful settlers.
  • Motor Mouth: Zip, the Nuka-Cola addict in Little Lamplight.
  • Mouthy Kid: Some of the children in Little Lamplight.
  • Mundane Utility: After completing Mothership Zeta, you've got an entire alien spacecraft at your disposal with unimaginable technology inside, and are probably carrying on your person alien firearms, chemicals and other gizmos that could offer huge technological breakthroughs in the hands of someone who could study their workings, like say, the Brotherhood of Steel or Rivet City. Nope; the best you can do with these marvels is use them to shoot raiders and cheat at repairing. (In a similar way, all you can with Recon Craft Theta is take the Alien Blaster from its dead pilot. The Brotherhood or the Outcasts would be delighted with the coordinates of a crashed alien spacecraft.)
  • Murder, Inc.: Talon Company will kill anyone for the right price.
  • Mushroom Samba: It's revealed early on in Vault 106 that the air conditioning systems are not functioning properly. You'll end up entering pockets of hallucinogenic gas that makes everything you see turn a purple tint first. While under the hallucinations, you will see normal vault residents running around, interact with computers that have multiple memos to yourself from yourself saying how it's not a bad place to live and that you should just settle down and accept it, and even encounter the Tunnel Snakes again (who can actually kill you.)
  • Musical Theme Naming: Interestingly, even many of the original songs on the soundtrack are named after hit tunes by The Ink Spots, such as "Whispering Grass" and "When the Swallows Return" ("When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano").
  • Music for Courage: Subverted Enclave Eyebots play traditional USA songs on the fife and drums, as well as inspirational speeches from president Jon Henry Eden. However, the Enclave is a totalitarian government, totally dedicated to eradicating anyone not vault-born.
  • Mysterious Protector: The Mysterious Stranger, a trenchcoat-and-fedora-clad man who shows up in VATS occasionally to kill a target for you.
  • Mystery Meat: You might come across "Strange Meat". You might not, however, want to eat that. It's human flesh.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the random passwords that occurs in the hacking minigame is Cochise, the name of the Master Computer Big Bad from Wasteland, the spiritual precursor of Fallout. Also, in Wasteland one of your dialogue options while speaking with Cochise was to ask it how you could kill it. You can ask the exact same question of this game's Master Computer Big Bad, President Eden. Both of them respond by telling you that they're far beyond your ability to inflict physical damage.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Deathclaw"? Hey, that sounds cuddly...
  • Negate Your Own Sacrifice:
    • Averted in the original game, to the anger of the fans — none of your radiation-immune teammates can be asked to enter the radiation-flooded problem area. That was fixed in the expansion pack, but the voice-over still implies you're a coward for not choosing to die. Pragmatism is dead in the wasteland.
    • If you ask Sarah to make the sacrifice, she snaps "What happened to chivalry?" (Oddly, if you are a woman, she still says this.) Er, chivalry, as in the idea that a Knight In Shining Armour is meant to protect others? Her snappy attitude probably comes from the dialogue option asking her to make the sacrifice instead of yourself being incredibly rude, and to her credit she does ultimately do it.
  • Nerfed:
    • Colonel Autumn's unique laser pistol was originally full-auto, allowing it to fire as fast as a Gatling Laser and making it almost as powerful.
    • Enclave soldiers in general, compared to their Fallout 2 counterparts, mostly as a result of how vastly different the combat engines in Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 are.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Ghouls refer to humans as "Smoothskins." However, it's not clear whether this is necessarily a slur, as even friendly, sympathetic Ghouls refer to humans as this, sometimes even to their faces. On the other hand, when humans refer to Ghouls as "Zombies," it's definitely intended to be derogatory.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: One of the main complaints about this game is not being able to side with the Enclave in the main quest even if you have Evil karma, and being forced to side with the goody-two shoes Brotherhood of Steel.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
  • No One Could Survive That: Colonel Autumn in one scene: Sentinel Lyons and yourself in a later one. Autumn clearly injects himself with some sort of Applied Phlebotinum before the radiation brings him down: Lyons was outside the control room and therefore took a less powerful blast. You, on the other hand, have no such explanation for your survival. However, you do ultimately survive even if you go into the room, which kills Lyons, so maybe the Lone Wanderer is just that much more durable to this situation.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Cure in the Pitt expansion. Justified - the cure involves tissue samples from a baby.
  • Not So Different: The Enclave radio station is frequently criticized by the Brotherhood for spreading deceitful propaganda across the waste. This may be true, but these criticisms are made somewhat ironic by the fact that the BOS have their very own propaganda puppet in the form of Three-Dog. Admittedly, his is 'white' propaganda - true boasts of actual accomplishments - but it's still basically a grab for good publicity.
  • Obvious Beta: Getting stuck in the scenery in the Wasteland, constant crashing, missing textures, an innumerable number of bugs that cause the game to hang (including the giant Bad Ass anti-communist robot refusing to move, which always seems to happen once every playthrough), Radscorpions and Brahmin spawning stuck in the ground half the time, the PS3 version locking up if one of your friends signed into PSN (patched, thankfully), framerate and control lag that randomly appears to the point where you have to reset on the console versions, all the Operation: Anchorage equipment being glitched somehow, The Pitt being completely unplayable at launch, Broken Steel making your companions invincible and have Three Dog spoil the entire game even if you just left the Vault...Seriously, it can get really bad at times. Thankfully, there are plenty of unofficial patches that clean things up a bit...unless of course you have the console version, in which case, you're completely screwed, because the official patches barely fixed a thing. At least this one has a higher ratio of Good Bad Bugs compared to New Vegas, although it's really no less buggy overall.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In Broken Steel when you wake up two weeks have passed since the end of the game. Apparently while you were under the Brotherhood was systematically tracking down the Enclave remnants with help from Liberty Prime.
  • Off with His Head!: Half the time, getting a headshot on an enemy will frequently result in their heads popping off their shoulders.
  • One Time Dungeon: Completionists would be advised to grab the collectible Energy Weapons bobblehead during the brief Raven Rock sequence...Since once the door shuts behind you, you're never getting back in there. Likewise with the Medicine bobblehead in Vault 101, though you will have two chances to earn that one.
    • Several areas in Mothership Zeta can only be explored once, particularly frustrating since there's an achievement for finding alien captive logs in those areas, and they're quite easy to miss.
  • Only One Female Mold: Even the old wrinkle faced women have young shaped bodies.
  • Optional Stealth: People specializing in Stealth can play in this way, sneaking about and using a silenced pistol, but breaking out a BFG and Power Armor whenever things get hairy.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Family, a small gang that harasses the small town of Arefu; They drink blood in place of eating flesh, avoid sunlight, and (despite their dislike of the term) will identify themselves as vampires. But they lack any of the traditional powers and other nuances. Their leader even lampshades this in certain dialog options. The player can also choose to be schooled in their ways (and thus get a better health boost from Blood Packs).
  • Outlaw Town: Paradise Falls is a town of slavers. Likewise, Evergreen Mills is a town run by raiders. Good karma players tend to enjoy "scourging" these towns, in the parlance of the Brotherhood.
  • Outside-Context Villain: It's implied that The Lone Wanderer is seen as this by many people, as someone who spent most of their life in a Vault without any knowledge of the outside world, yet somehow manages to flatten all opposition as they venture across the Capital Wasteland.
    • It's implied that due to the Lone Wanderer's actions, the Enclave are particularly interested in finding and getting into Vault 101, if not to acquire the pure human stock inside, then to make sure that no-one else from that Vault could pose a threat to them.

    Tropes P-S 
  • Padded Sumo Gameplay: Especially in the DLC. It is possible to use stealth or cover, but the game's economy makes stimpak spamming a much easier tactic.
    • New DLC enemies such as Albino Radscorpions, Feral Ghoul Reavers, and Super Mutant Overlords have pools of hit points and while at latter levels they won't be individual threats, they'll take forever to kill.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Wearing the Ghoul Mask is all it takes for feral ghouls to ignore you.
    • Somewhat justified since they're so far gone, their higher reasoning abilities are nil.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: You do not get karma penalties if you do 'evil' things to evil people (including stealing from them or chopping their heads off in broad daylight).
    • "The Power Of The Atom" is a prime example, if you seduced Burke with a female character who has Black Widow perk. Remember kids; If a man is evil, it's completely okay to seduce him, then break his heart and drive him into depression and suicide by not responding to his adoring, border-obsessive love.
    • Averted when it comes to enslaving enemies. Even putting a slave collar on the most evil village burning raider or cruel Talon mercenary gets you a lot of bad karma point, while blowing up their heads leaves your karma meter unblemished. Apparently Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Peek-A-Boo Corpse: Stepping on a skeleton causes the same rumble feedback as a bear trap or tripwire. It doesn't do any damage, it's just there to make you jump.
  • Perky Goth: Bittercup, much to the annoyance of the other denizens of Big Town (mostly because she would rather look for makeup components than keep an eye out for Super Mutants and slavers).
  • Phlebotinum Battery: You can get a perk called "Solar Powered" which gives you massive stat bonuses in the daylight.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: "Raiders" seem to do very little actual raiding, in the sense of attacking inhabited settlements; they tend to act as highwaymen and territorial scavengers, staking out spots of the Wasteland and attacking anyone who crosses their path. However, several towns have checkpoints and security measures that suggest raiding is a constant threat, and very occasionally raiders will spawn close enough to a settlement that they and the sentries will spontaneously start fighting.
  • The Plot Reaper: Liberty Prime takes a nuke to the face in the first mission of the Broken Steel expansion to the main quest. Otherwise, you'd be wondering why he couldn't just curb-stomp the entire Wasteland for you.
  • Point-and-Click Map
  • Point of No Return: The final mission (without Broken Steel). Once you enter the inner confines of the Jefferson Memorial, the doors lock behind you, making it impossible to go back and do anything else but finish the game.
  • Pokémon Speak: The inhabitants of Vault 108: "Gary!"
    • Bingo in the Pitt.
  • The Pollyanna: Moira Brown, who takes everything from her bleak surroundings to her catastrophically failed experiments to her own ghoulification with the same sunny enthusiasm. Breaking her spirit by persuading her to give up her Guide project is treated as a special kind of evil (that rewards you with a special perk.)
  • Powered Armor: As is usual for Fallout games. However, it requires specialized training that limits it to the Brotherhood (both factions) and the Enclave.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Done by many NPCs and followers.
    Talon Company Merc: I want this one's head on a fucking platter!
    Super Mutant: I'll wear your bones around my NECK, human!
    Sergeant RL-3: Do that again and I'll put my boot so far up your ass you'll cough up boot polish!
  • Punch Clock Villain: Every Vault-Tec Overseer. Well, except Braun. There is no "Punch Clock" involved with him.
    • The Vault 101 Security guards you have to gun down during "Escape!" (unless you let them be killed by Radroaches). Even the game considers them this during this quest, changing their karma level to Evil so you won't be penalised for killing them in self-defense.
  • Puny Earthlings:
    • Subverted with Mothership Zeta, while the aliens possess powerful guns, without energy shields, they are just as frail (if not moreso) as any given human. A sextet of humans (The Player, a Samurai wearing vintage armor and a katana, a Cowboy wearing ordinary clothing and carrying a revolver, an Anchorage Combat Medic, another Wastelander, and a little girl) are capable of completely wrecking an entire shipful of spacemen.
    • Abominations play this somewhat straight, as they are definitely a threat if they close in, but their lack of shielding puts them at a disadvantage if you spot them beforehand and open fire.
    • Super Mutants will sometimes say things in this vein while attacking you.
  • Put on a Bus: Doctor Li in Broken Steel. Characters state that she was tired of the conflict in the Capital Wasteland and decided to take a trip to the Commonwealth. Some of the pre-Broken Steel dialogue implies that she was in love with your dad, and his death and your near-death pretty much destroyed her emotionally.
  • Putting on the Reich: The Enclave Officers.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: The Mr Handy robots. When confronted with an enemy, they will oftentimes shout "For Queen and Country!" before firing their flamethrower.
  • The Quisling: Anna Holt. And it's still wrong to kill her.
  • Radiation Immune Mutants: The ghouls. Glowing Ones, a rare kind of ghoul, can even emit bursts of radiation that heal nearby ghouls and harm the player.
  • Railing Kill: Happens quite often if your target is on catwalk or the like. But most notably Colonel Autumn if you shoot him where he stands.
  • Railroading
  • Rare Candy: The Vault-Tec Bobbleheads, and to a lesser extent, skillbooks. Also the Here and Now perk.
  • Real Is Brown: Or gray, if you're in D.C. Justified since the region was nuked to within an inch of its life.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Most of your allies in Mothership Zeta.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: John Malleus, the head researcher of Vault 92. Logs found throughout the vault explain that white noise was used to plant subliminal messages in the minds of the residents with the intent of creating super-soldiers, turning many of them insane to the point they physically tore each other apart. However, Malleus's audio logs reveal he had no idea what was really going on, he thought only a percentage of the populace was being subjected in a controlled environment he was observing and the suggestions were for harmless things like making them fix their hair or scratch their ears, gradually working up to implanting complex commands. It was the Overseer who had the noise filtered through the vault loudspeakers to effect everyone and drove them to violence, and Malleus was trying to get things under control and was horrified when he found out the truth. It's implied that he either killed or was killed by the Overseer, but there's not enough evidence left to say which.
  • The Remnant: The East Coast Enclave is all that's left of the Enclave, which was destroyed by the Fallout 2 player character. Then in "Broken Steel", you fight the remnant of that remnant.
    • Also the Chinese Remnants, ghoulified pre-War espionage agents hiding out in a factory in D.C.
  • Restraining Bolt: Every robot has one of these on its back that doubles as a Morality Chip; it's the only thing stopping that jovial Mr. Handy (or any other robot) from going on a blood-soaked rampage.
  • Retired Badass:
    • Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood, old adventurer and one of the nicest guys in the capital wasteland.
    • James, the Lone Wanderer's father. This is a man who 19 years previously, left the safety of Rivet City and set off across the Capital Wasteland to Vault 101, with his newborn child in tow.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted with the .32 pistol, a revolver that is actually one of the weakest guns in the game. The Scoped .44 Magnum on the other hand is among the best of the available pistols. Then there's the PC cheat-only .44 Magnum, which will destroy anything in one shot. Raiders, mutants, robots, buses, vertibirds...
  • Roar Before Beating: Feral ghouls and Zeta's alien abominations. This is not a free action—they tend to get shot up doing it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: All of Mothership Zeta. Nobody abducts and anal-probes the Lone Wanderer and gets away with it.
  • Robo Speak: Most robots, smarter ones use Spock Speak instead.
  • Robot Hair: There is a side-quest to retrieve the Declaration of Independence. In it, you will eventually encounter a Protectron whom, due to a malfunction, believes himself to be the real Button Gwinnett and wears a powdered wig.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: There's one hidden in the Gold Ribbon Grocer's. After stepping on a pressure plate. the chain reaction leads to useful tools and ammo falls from the ceiling. It will also set off a buttload of traps located very closely to the door you entered in from. You'll be safe at the pressure plate that activates it, but if you happen to wander around the shop while the contraption is going it's possible to get killed.
  • Rule of Cool: The entire game basically runs on Rule of Cool.
  • Rule of Drama: The original ending forces the player to make a heroic sacrifice. Even though logically speaking, several of your potential companions could easily perform the action for you and be unharmed. But the companions will refuse to help, with their reasoning being essentially "It's simply more dramatic if you do it."
  • Scary Scorpions: Radscorpions, who have no weak point. The Giant and Albino versions even more so.
  • Scavenger World: With a fair amount of Survivalist Stashes.
  • Scenery Gorn: Almost any high vantage point (most notably the top of the Washington Monument) gives you a panoramic view of the terrible devastation.
  • Scenery Porn: Oasis. Also, various places such as downtown Washington, D.C., Arlington Cemetery. Sometime, the post-apocalyptic wasteland is very pretty. When you first emerge from Vault 101, you'll walk up to a cliff for your first view of the Wasteland spread out in front of you. There's a battered pre-war sign reading "Scenic Overlook".
    • This really makes an impact if you happen to leave the Vault during the day. You've just fought your way out of the only place you've ever known, and when you emerge into the daylight for the first time, you're momentarily blinded by the sunlight (a recurring theme throughout the first part of the game). And then your eyes adjust and the desolate landscape comes into view...
    Three Dog: Have any of you kiddies ever seen... a tree? [...] Somewhere out in the Wasteland is a place with lots of trees, a veritable oasis of green in a depressing sea of brown...
  • Scenic Tour Level: The game tours various areas of Vault 101 during the Justified Tutorial, some of which are otherwise inaccessable.
  • Schmuck Bait: In-Universe, there is a bat-shit insane man in downtown DC with a megaphone who keeps spouting off completely crazy nonsensical ramblings from the safety of the second floor of his building. In the playground in the back alley of the building is a minefield. If he spots you, he will detonate the minefield and you WILL die. Over by the street is a wastelander who just wants the guy to shut up. You can convince the poor sap to walk up and try to talk to him... Just make sure you're standing well beyond the sidewalk so you don't get caught up in the explosion. note 
  • Second Hour Superpower: The Pip Boy 3000 and the V.A.T.S targeting system is given to you during your 10th Birthday Party.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Picking up on a mention from Tactics, both this game and New Vegas imply there's another faction of the Brotherhood of Steel operating in Chicago, and it's also hinted that super mutants have been sighted and the Enclave is suspected to have another base nearby.
    • A few characters in the game mention "The Commonwealth" and "The Institute", which exist far to the north of the Capital Wasteland. Among other things, it's where the escaped android came from and where Dr. Li heads to between the end of the main quest and Broken Steel, and is said to be a place of scientific and technological research. In 2012, Bethesda employees were rumored to be visiting Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in preparation for a new Fallout game to be set nearby.
  • Sequence Breaking: Many opportunities. Like its predecessor, you can cut out huge chunks of the game if you're strictly going for a 'speed run'.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Doc Lesko when he talks about his ant research.
  • Set The World On Fire: You don't want to, but it happens anyway.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Moira Brown + reverse-pickpocketed Raider Bombshell Armor = instant Fanservice.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: All the guns in the game have an Arbitrary Maximum Range, but it can be especially noticeable with the sniper rifle. Sniper-type players are known to fail to make long-distance shots that would have been possible in some other games, never mind Real Life. The bullet simply disappears before it reaches its target. However, just because you see the bullet disappear doesn't mean it won't hit it's target. It doesn't matter how far away you are from the target. The game WILL notify you if you score a critical hit.
  • Shout-Out: Way too many to list here, but the Mad Max films are referenced most prominently. A full list can be found here.
    • In the Georgetown townhouse there is a robot who will go to the (long dead) children's room and read them the poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" (in which nature rolls on after mankind has killed itself in nuclear war). Indeed, the whole house is a reference to Ray Bradbury's story based on the poem (You can read it on this website or this PDF document.)
    • The Mysterious Stranger carries a .44 Magnum. The Mark Twain story The Mysterious Stranger has an alt title: No. 44.
    • The Dunwich building is named after The Dunwich Horror by HP Lovecraft and has a suitably Lovecraftian atmosphere. The good karma ending to a quest given on Point Lookout involves taking a Necronomicon Expy there to be destroyed.
    • Tenpenny Tower is possibly a shoutout to Land of the Dead, where a corrupt leader has an elitist refuge against the outside world under threat by zombies.
    • In the game's opening, one of the images shown is the head of a statue, lying amongst a pile of rubble. This could be reminiscent of the poem "Ozymandias", as is the general theme of the entire game.
    • You find a highly-intelligent Super Mutant named Fawkes in Isolation Cell 5 of a vault that was a secret government installation testing the use of gene and germ therapy on unwilling subjects. Sound familiar?
      • Intentional. Fawkes tells you himself that he took the name after a famous revolutionary who died fighting his government for a cause he believed in. Possibly referring to the original Guy Fawkes, but still...
    • Mayor RJ Macready of Little Lamplight probably takes his name from a character in The Thing (1982).
    • The end of the sidequest Trouble on the Homefront contains one to the original Fallout if you resolve the quest in favor of the rebels. Amata, the leader of the rebels and new Overseer, will exile the Lone Wanderer from Vault 101 echoing the ending of the first game. She even uses the same final line as Vault 13's Overseer: "I'm sorry. You're a hero... and you have to leave."
    • The houses in Minefield are one big reference to Hideo Kojima's Snatcher. You find a dead body labelled "Gibson", said body is missing his head, which is placed near the body, and searching said body yields a note reading "Search the house!" Searching said house yields items. This is referencing Snatcher's Jean-Jack Gibson who also ended up decapitated and had the exact same note on him.
    • There's a restaurant chain called Dot's Diners.
  • Sickening Crunch: When you take fall damage.
  • Sidequest: Unlike Bethesda's previous title, Oblivion, which had story arcs out the yin-yang, the majority of the sidequests and characters you encounter have no bearing on either the central questline of the game or on each other. This is in contrast to Fallout: New Vegas, where most of the sidequests and characters had some ties to the central NCR-vs-Legion conflict or were otherwise interconnected with other events and characters elsewhere in the game. As a result, Fallout 3 is more of an episodic TV show, while New Vegas is more of a Myth Arc mini-series.
  • Simple Yet Awesome: The desktop computers and holotapes. Laughably primitive by real world standards and yet capable of sustaining two hundred years fully powered and fully functional in the most inhospitable locations imaginable. Consider for a moment that you can destroy a modern computer with half a glass of water whereas these will happily survive centuries of living completely submerged and you can to see just how important these attributes would be in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
  • Sinister Subway: Every wrecked metro system in the Capital Wasteland is either crawling with mutants or raiders. And given that they're dark and dank with at least a few systems flooded with radiation in either form as well as the occasional trap...
  • Slave Mooks: Crimson and Clover.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: The slavers of Paradise Falls are so evil that waltzing into their home and slaughtering the lot of them counts towards good karma.
  • Sniper Pistol: The Scoped .44 Magnum, one of the best standard pistols in the game. Even if you don't use pistols, you can use one as a telescope - very handy.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Tranquility Lane has a hidden computer interface that allows you to shut it down; accessing it requires a musical code based on the leitmotif you can hear on the soundtrack and which Betty occasionally whistles to herself.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Desmond from the Point Lookout add-on is quite eloquent. He's also a walking Cluster F-Bomb.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The radio on your Pipboy is Soundtrack Dissonance on demand. With it, you have the choice of listening to either uplifting golden oldies music from the 50s, patriotic American army music, or even violin sonatas while going around and killing random mutants and animals.
    • Tranquility Lane takes it Up to Eleven with it's constant usage of an uplifting theme while you're busy committing murder. For bonus points, that happy little jingle is the musical key to triggering the simulation's failsafe.
  • Speech Impediment: Biwwy of Widdle Wampwi- er, Little Lamplight. If you feel like being a jerk to a little kid, you can tell him to stop talking like that, but he will say he doesn't know what you are talking about. He'll trade you his Wazer Wifle (the item is actually named this in the game interface) for caps, or give it to you for free if you have the Child At Heart perk.
  • Standard Snippet: The Enclave radio station uses plenty of theme songs pertaining to military marches or American patriotism.
  • Stealth Pun: James is shown to have an affinity for scotch throughout the game. Scotch is a type of whisky, which in turn gets its name from the Gaelic uisge beatha, which translates into modern English as...wait for it..."water of life".
  • Stopped Clock: Every single clock you see is stopped at the exact time the Chinese attack occurred (9:48). None are the purely mechanical, wind-up types that might have continued.
  • Stripperiffic: Several outfits (although generally more for females than males). The Sexy Sleepwear and its unique variants are obvious ones, but some of the Raider gear and slave outfits from the Pitt are even more suggestive/revealing.
  • Stronger with Age: The East Coast super mutants function this way, going all the way up to the Super Mutant Behemoth.
  • Spock Speak: Mr Handy and Mr Gutsy robots, each have English butler and Drill Sergeant Nasty voice respectively. Also, the Prototype Medic Armor.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Wilsons and the Smiths in Andale are way too cheerful to be for real. They also talk as if they're in the middle of a picturesque suburban small town that hasn't been destroyed centuries earlier.
  • Stupid Evil: You, if you poison the purifier with modified FEV at the end of the main quest. This results in dooming all the non-vault people in the Wasteland. Like, well, you. You get Evil karma for that, but you really should get some Stupid karma instead.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Tunnel Snakes Rule!!
  • Subliminal Seduction: The true purpose of Vault 92 was to brainwash its residents — all musicians — through white noise seeded through the speaker system and recording equipment, with the purpose to make them ultra-loyal super-soldiers upon receiving a simple command phrase. Naturally, things went horribly horribly wrong.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Wearing huge powered armor and toting a gun bigger than you won't stop leather-armored raiders from taunting you and firing their peashooters at you.
    • Sadly, Dogmeat. He's pretty much your only strictly melee-based companion, which means you'll often have to rescue him from his attempts to bite Deathclaws or Sentry Bots. (Flips into Dangerously Genre Savvy on higher levels, where he's exactly as indestructible as he thinks he is.)
  • Sunglasses at Night: There is no penalty in doing so: You get a Perception bonus, even at night.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Since you meet a lot of brain-fried, deluded, misguided or outright crazy people wandering the Wasteland, your dialogue options often have at least one which enables you to politely humour them in order to progress to the next part of the conversation. Naturally, you also have the option to bluntly and rudely tell them that they're nuts.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Pinkerton is a myth. He is certainly NOT in the broken bow of Rivet City. He left a long time ago, dammit!

    Tropes T-W 
  • Tastes Like Feet: Moira's opinion of radroach meat.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Big Town which is made up of people who grew too old to live in Little Lamplight.
    • Little Lamplight itself is a child version of this.
  • There Are No Adults: Little Lamplight.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs:
    • Usually a bad sign; if their Names to Run Away From Really Fast didn't give you a clue, their lack of a first name should make you immediately suspicious of Mister Burke and Mister Crowley.
    • The hovering robots are called Mister Handy if they have service roles and Mister Gutsy if they're used for combat.
  • This and That: For a game that has no problem droping a Cluster F-Bomb rather frequently, it goes out of it's way to avoid saying "Sex" or anything of the like. All the women in the game who's profession is to "comfort" others never actually describe the act of having sex or otherwise say it. This was probably deliberate, to add to the Fifties feel.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: During The Wasteland Survival Guide, your dialogue option for the chapter on 'Crippling Injuries' is thus: "I'm going to hate myself for this, but what do you mean about handling injury?" Justified, given it involves either waiting around to get shot, throwing oneself off non-lethal heights or walking over a land mine or two. For Science!
  • This Is No Time for Knitting: In The Adventures of Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood, the following exchange occurs:
    Penelope Chase: Why is your Ghoul friend picking their pockets? This is no time for sticky fingers, Daring!
    Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood: It's not what he's taking out, my dear, but rather what he's putting in! DUCK AND COVER!
  • Throwaway Country: In Mothership Zeta, you can use the Death Ray to zap part of Canada.
  • Time-Delayed Death: In Mothership Zeta, you can thaw out and revive a few soldiers who were abducted during the Anchorage invasion. The soldier accompanying you is their commanding officer, and the soldiers are informed that the revival process is only temporary. There is no telling when they will die, and sure enough, they eventually start dropping randomly.
  • Toilet Humor: In the Rob Co Facility, a broken Protectron is sitting on a restroom toilet. There is scrap metal in the same toilet bowl.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Some may have difficulty using weapons that have rare ammo or cannot be repaired except by merchants. In the case of weapons like the Alien Blaster, it has both a finite ammo limit AND it is unique and cannot be repaired by the player.
    • The T-51b armor in Fort Constantine. Best armor in the game, looks awesome, and has high radiation resistance. Too bad it's unique and the game's merchants can only repair it to around 50% or so, meaning that after it wears down enough it won't be any better than regular power armor.
    • Subverted by the Winterized T-51b (which has a Good Bad Bugs advantage) and by Broken Steel's Enclave Hellfire Armor, which is in the same league protection-wise and - as a non-unique - can be kept in shape by taking parts from the suits of defeated Enclave troopers.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The Vault 101 Overseer, who decides that after repeatedly attempting to murder the Lone Wanderer, something that has obviously failed, the best way to deal with them is to taunt and be sarcastic. Particularly egregious when the Lone Wanderer returns to Vault 101, now most likely clad in power armour and having taken several levels in badass, and the Overseer still doesn't understand that this may not bode well for his continued plans on having his head remain connected to his body.
    • Ditto for Officer Wilkins, the only security officer most supportive of the Overseer. Attempting to stop a power armor-clad, minigun-toting Lone Wanderer by brandishing a pea-shooting 10mm pistol and clad in mall-security body armor is going to make you a hero, eh? Well, it's been nice knowing you, Wilkins.
    • The Ninth Circle's proprietor, Ahzrukhal. He knows that Charon really hates his guts and is only held in check by a contract. Ahzrukhal will still let the Lone Wanderer buy the contract off him.
    • To a lesser extent, feral ghouls, since they always announce they've detected the player with a distinctive screech that lasts about three seconds, giving an attentive marksman plenty of time to line up a shot.
  • Tortured Monster: Harold.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Andale. Subverted in Meristi Station, where they're pretty open about their disturbing habits.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Vault 112: blatantly a trap.
  • Trauma Inn: Any bed will heal you, but owned or rented ones give you an "Well Rested" XP-generation bonus for a short time afterwards.
  • Try Not to Die: One of Moira Brown's cheerful ways of saying goodbye whenever you end a conversation with her. Also, Doc Church, and Everett in The Pitt.
  • Unexplained Accent: Moriarty and Tenpenny speak with Irish and British accents respectively. (There is no indication of transatlantic travel in this or any other Fallout.)
  • Unique Items: The game has at least one unique variant of each weapon which have better stats or a unique ability.
  • Universal Ammunition: Semi-realistically averted. If a weapon is the same caliber as a given round, it can fire it, (e.g. .32 rounds work in both the .32 revolver and the hunting rifle). This is not quite how it works in Real Life, but it's better than many games do at it.
    • One serious screw-up is Lincoln's Repeater, a unique Henry lever-action rifle chambered for .44 Magnum ammunition (same as the aforementioned Sniper Pistol uses). One little problem: a Henry repeater of that era would be blown apart by modern .44 bullets.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Narrator says that Vault 101's door never opened, "This is where you were born. This is where you will die. For in Vault 101, no-one ever enters, and no-one ever leaves.". Obviously, you and Dad are about to make a lie of that. And not even for the first time.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In full force. Nobody comments that you're decked out in power armor or that you have an eight-foot-tall, bright yellow walking tank with you. But for once, the tank (Fawkes) has the decency to lampshade it:
    Fawkes: I'm amazed that people trust you enough not to attack me.
  • Unwanted False Faith: Harold from the Oasis is constantly being put on a pedestal that he refuses to acknowledge. An entire religion has quite literally been made around him to add insult to injury.
  • Updated Re-release: The Game of the Year edition, which has downloadable content from the original version in the package.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Tenpenny Tower is a haven full of these who look down on poor, scruffy wastelanders and mutants (with the exception of Herbert "Daring" Dashwood, who himself is a Retired Badass and the only one most tolerant of wastelanders and mutants). They become Asshole Victims during the takeover by Roy Phillips and his ghoul gang, whether or not you assist them.
  • Useless Useful Spell: No spells in this genre, but plenty of examples among the 'perks' gained as you acquire levels...
    • Any perk that only boosts a skill.
    • Swift Learner: +10% experience for each level, but there's an infinite amount of experience available.
    • Lead Belly: -50% radiation from drinking water, but radiation-free healing is easy to come by and rad-reduction drugs are plentiful anyway.
    • Fortune Finder: More caps found in random containers, there is an infinite amount of caps available.
    • Rad Resistance: +25% radiation resistance, clothing and RadX make it moot.
    • Impartial Mediation: +30 to Speech skill at neutral karma, but remaining at neutral is tedious. Speech challenges can be exploited for a 100% chance of success, either through save scumming or maxing out the speech stat.
    • Animal Friend: Normally-hostile mammals become non-hostile. You can go for a second rank to get them to help you in combat, but they aren't usually that tough or annoying enough to be worth getting the perk (except if you encounter yao guai.)
    • Mister Sandman: Adds prompt to instantly and stealthily kill sleeping people for maximum experience, but it often glitches up and causes entire settlements to go hostile on you.
    • Mysterious Stranger: He'll occasionally show up in VATS to provide a One-Hit Kill to any enemy, but he can glitch up, anything he kills doesn't provide you perk or quest-related benefits, and he has a low chance of appearing at all.
    • Night Person: +2 Intelligence and Perception between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM, which can be done with drugs or clothing.
    • Here and Now: Level up again instantly. Wasted perk slot due to the fact that infinite experience is available, the perk only functions at level up when you take it.
    • Cannibal: Can devour human corpses for +25 HP / +8 rads / -1 Karma, but the animation is lengthy and getting caught turns settlements hostile.
    • Master Trader: 25% discount buying anything, moot with infinite caps available.
    • Computer Whiz: Can try to hack a terminal you get locked out of. Only use three attempts when hacking and the problem will never show itself.
    • Infiltrator: Can try to pick a lock you broke once more. Save and reload instead. Even worse than Computer Whiz, as locks don't break unless you try to force them (as opposed to picking them. By contrast, locking a terminal happens by botching a hack).
    • Nerd Rage!: Descended from an equally terrible Perk (Adrenaline Rush) in the previous Fallout games, you gain a bonus to strength and damage resistance, but only when you're on death's door (Health < 20%), making it far too tedious and fragile for actual use.
    • Concentrated Fire: +5% accuracy for each action in V.A.T.S. targeting the same part of the same enemy. Only useful for guns with low AP costs.
      • It's worth noting that Concentrated Fire can actually be a Gamebreaker used properly, giving multiple headshots at maximum range for a pistol.
    • Solar Powered: +2 Strength, +1 HP every twenty seconds while outside between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Moot with drugs, health is easily replenished, and the HP recovery is incredibly slow.
    • Explorer: All map markers are revealed, but not counted as "discovered." The Pip-Boy has a compass that directs you to all nearby map markers as soon as you exit the Forced Tutorial.
    • Deep Sleep: Sleeping anywhere gives you the +10% "Well Rested" experience bonus, normally available only at your house or from a hotel. Swift Learner is terrible at level two with it's constant 10% that stacks with Well Rested; if Deep Sleep weren't bad enough, it becomes available at level twenty-two... out of a maximum of thirty!
    • Puppies!: If Dogmeat(or Dogmeat's Puppy) dies, Dogmeat's Puppy appears outside Vault 101 after a few days. Only available in Broken Steel, which causes Dogmeat('s Puppy) to become a bullet sponge. Useful only for the follower exploits.
    • Devil's Highway / Escalator to Heaven / Karmic Rebalance: Instantly sets your Karma to very evil, very good, or neutral. Karma is easily adjusted by theft, murdering respawning NPCs, and donating to churches.
      • This is useful for Trophy/Achievement seekers, looking to get the Level 30 Karma trophies, but they usually just save before taking it and reload, so while it's useful to get the Trophies/Achievements, it's never kept.
    • No Weaknesses: All SPECIAL stats below five increase to five: not bad in the unlikely case that you haven't used bobbleheads or Intensive Training to make it irrelevant, but made moot with the Almost Perfect perk (available just a few levels later) which raises all SPECIAL to at least nine.
    • Rad Tolerance: Nullifies the debuff of minor radiation poisoning. RadAway is easy to get and minor rad poisoning is... minor.
    • Warmonger: Instantly get all weapon schematics to level three. Most are pretty easy to get to level three anyways and only Nuka Grenade and Bottlecap mine really gain much from being level three.
    • Nerves of Steel: Effectively boosts your AP recovery... by one point every ten seconds (for comparison, firing a pistol costs seventeen). Someone programmed it wrong.
    • Rad Absorption: -1 rad every twenty seconds. Radiation is easy to get rid of and the rate of reduction is incredibly slow.
    • Nuclear Anomaly: At twenty HP or less, you lose all your radiation, your health rises to twenty HP exactly, and you create a small nuclear blasts where you're standing. Although it's an amusing gimmick, anything that could drive you to under twenty HP at level thirty is probably going to be dealing more than twenty damage per hit, the blast re-irradiates you, damages your clothing, often cripples your limbs, damages any friendly NPC in its radius, and occasionally it glitches up and fails to provide the healing; causing you to kill yourself.
    • Punga Power!: Boosts healing and radiation removing effects of normal and refined punga fruit considerably. Stimpaks and RadAway are weightless and much more effective at their respective purposes than punga fruit. At least it's a perk given to you for free.
    • It should be noted that some of these perks will give the player various "Instant success" speech options in dialog, but that can also be considered moot with a maxed Speech skill, anyway.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: John Henry Eden wants to kill off every mutated human (read: 95% of the population) in the Capital Wasteland as he believes it is the only way to save it. Also, in The Pitt DLC, the leader of the slave-driving Raiders in the ruins of Pittsburgh was trying to resurrect Pittsburgh as a functioning, producing city, with the intention of ending the use of slaves... eventually.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Well, you can kill them anyway, but none of the obvious action girls die plotline deaths. Not even the most blatant Vasquez, Brick from Reilly's Rangers. It's the new recruit that gets killed instead.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can play tag and hide-and-seek with a lonely little kid who lives in a mine in Point Lookout.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Stealth Armor. Flaming Sword. Bloody Mess perk. Town full of innocent people. You know what to do. And nuke the evidence.
    • From setting Harold on fire, to mezzing Wastelanders into slavery, to backstabbing the Brotherhood of Steel with a Kill Sat, almost every single quest has at least one "unspeakable bastard" option.
    • Dr. Braun gives us an in-universe example - his only source of amusement is cruelly tormenting the other inhabitants of Tranquility Lane.
  • Vigilante Man: The Regulators is a whole organization of these guys.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Roy Philips. To put it simply, he has a homicidal hatred for unmutated humans. However, the Galaxy News Radio thinks he's an oppressed minority woobie, and bashes you if you put a bullet between the bastard's eyes. This is even reflected in the gameplay itself: even though Philips is evil and the game knows it, killing him and his followers still nets you negative karma, in contradiction to the game's regular rules.
  • Villainous Incest: The Andale residents. You're pretty far gone when generations of inbreeding isn't your dark secret.
  • Visual Pun: How does Liberty Prime deploy nuclear weapons during "Take It Back"? He throws them like footballs. As in the Nuclear Football, the briefcase that the President keeps the launch codes for America's nuclear arsenal in.
  • Vow of Celibacy: A sidequest in Rivet City has Angela hire you to find a certain powerful aphrodisiac—she intends to "convince" her crush to abandon his plans to enter the priesthood, since that would prevent them from ever hooking up. Because this somehow grants you good karma, it comes off as Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male.
    Diego: Angela, I'm not sure you should spend so much time around me. I am to be married to God soon.
    Angela: Wouldn't you rather be with a real girl? Maybe you should try it, before you decide.
    Diego: Lord, give me strength.
  • Warp Whistle: Fast-travelling. No explanation is given of how you can effectively teleport, so it's best seen as a "skip to the end of the journey" option — time skips ahead each time you travel, and does so in proportion to the distance you've gone. While you get to avoid all the Random Encounters you might otherwise face, there's a fairly high chance that something will spawn right on top of you the second you arrive at your location.
  • War Memorial: The Anchorage Memorial, a tribute to all the soldiers who pushed Communist Chinese forces out of Anchorage Alaska. One part of the Wasteland Survival Guide quest line requires you to visit the memorial to study the Mirelurk population living inside it.
    • There are no signs of the Korean or Vietnam War Memorials, but then, due to the alternate history, there may or may not have been wars in those countries to memorialize.
  • The War Sequence: The march to The Purifier.
    • The finale of Broken Steel pits the Lone Wanderer versus dozens upon dozens of Enclave soldiers. At one part of the mission, you get some appreciated help from a squad of Brotherhood Paladins, but they die quickly and for the most part you're on your own.
  • Wasteland Elder: There are multiple examples. Such as Manya, the oldest person alive in Megaton, who can tell you the history of its foundation, as well as the elderly leaders of the children of the atom. There are also ghouls that still survived since the original bomb drops, one of which says that her interesting story is somewhat boring.
  • Weapon Jr.: The tutorial has the player learn to shoot with a BB gun on their 10th birthday.
  • We Can Rule Together: Affably Evil President Eden suggests that there may be a place in the Enclave for the Lone Wanderer, perhaps even replacing Colonel Autumn as his dragon, if they agree to help Eden implement his Final Solution. Nothing ever comes of it, though, for two important reasons; 1) even if you don't destroy Eden yourself, in Broken Steel Liberty Prime will level Raven Rock, either destroying Eden or burying him under a few thousand tons of rubble. 2) Despite being raised in a Vault, the Lone Wanderer is descended from Wastelanders, so Eden's FEV turns out to be fatal to him / her as well.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Vault 101 Overseer. He seems sour and unfriendly most of the time, but if you read his entry in his terminal, he really wished to have the vault residents lead a peaceful life and didn't proceed with Vault experiments.
    • Just about everyone in Canterbury Commons believes The Mechanist is doing more harm than good. While he's sincere about protecting the town, it's agreed that his heavily-armed robots are doing a lot more damage than the mutated ants.
  • Wham Mission: The Waters of Life. Specifically, the point when its revealed that not only are the Enclave still active despite the events of 2, but they also intend to forcefully take control of Project Purity for their own sinister ends.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Depending on your actions, you can get quite a few of these.
    • Dad gives you one when he finds out you destroyed Megaton, while Three Dog calls you a "scumbag" if you kill the mutants wanting to get into Tenpenny Tower — and calls out the mutants when they kill every human in Tenpenny Tower.
      • Three Dog will call you out almost any time you take the "evil option" in a given mission.
    • In The Pitt, you can also choose to deliver words along these lines to Wernher when you learn of his complete plan.
    • You get called on this if you kill the Overseer during your escape. And again if you kill the new Overseer in the sidequest "Trouble On The Homefront" (or the same one, if you didn't kill him before). And, no, they won't accept "but he was shooting me" as a good reason.
    • In Broken Steel, if you choose to target the Citadel after reaching the Satellite room in the Mobile Base Crawler, upon landing back at the [now destroyed] Citadel, the Brotherhood of Steel will immediately find out that it was your doing. They will then declare you a traitor in their eyes, and will shoot you on sight.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A recurring theme. There are multiple quests that ask you to decide whether ghouls/androids/slaves/mutants/people trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine Are People Too (with the Karma Meter almost always falling on the side of "yes they are"); the two most powerful factions on either side of the coin are distinctly human-chauvinist, although the Enclave have an AI for a leader and the Brotherhood employ a high-ranking cyborg. The Enclave plan to use the modified FEV to kill all "meta-humans" with even the slightest degree of mutation.
    • Three Dog often says "Ghouls are people too", which can either be ignored by the player or not, but even he admits that Feral Ghouls are dangerous to everybody, going so far as to say "So kill as many as you damn well please".
    • The Replicated Man quest is about an android, and both his pursuer and "helper" give reasons on why or why not he's human.
    • Subverted at least once, though; Moira is convinced that Mirelurks must have a complex underwater society. They don't.
  • While Rome Burns: Dukov and his two party girls spend every day huddled inside a building doing nothing but drinking, partying, getting high, and having sex. The fact that they are almost completely defenseless and surrounded by super mutants and other monsters is something they choose to simply ignore.
    • Informed Ability: The girls only stay with Dukov because he's apparently a pretty good shot, hence why they can do all that partying.
      • Well he is a retired mercenary who Tenpenny hired to go fetch a suit of T-51b Power Armor from a bunker infested with Sentry Bots, Mister Gutsy robots, and Protectrons. Ya gotta give him that.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The player is free to explore anywhere after leaving Vault 101.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Most, if not all, of the residents of Little Lamplight.
    • The Lone Wanderer him/herself. The character is nineteen during the Vault 101 escape, and some of the technical things expected of the character (such as disarming a nuclear bomb) would ordinarily not be entrusted to a nineteen-year-old.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Colonel Autumn makes his character clear when he murders a female scientist in cold blood the first time you see him.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: Three Dog of Galaxy News Radio talks about the player character and only about the player character. There are precisely two news stories in the entire game that aren't directly related to you or your father. This makes sense most of the time, as the player tends to do things that are noticeable enough to be considered newsworthy, but some of the things he reports on are less than noteworthy - he even does a story about you finishing a fetch quest involving collecting soda bottles for a strange woman out in the middle of nowhere. This is lampshaded with "Christ, talk about a slow news day..."
  • Worst Whatever Ever: An unmarked quest relating to the Citadel's malfunctioning medical robot is called "Worst. Doctor. Ever."
  • Wreaking Havok: The game's physics, when manipulated right, can be very amusing. Such as when you use a couple hundred mines to send a Behemoth Flying into the sky. The game tends to exaggerate the ragdoll physics more in VATS, so critting a Super Mutant with the Victory Rifle can cause them to go tumbling into the air because the weight of their own limbs pulled them into it while still in VATS.
  • Wrench Wench: Moira Brown. The Lone Wanderer can also qualify depending on your character choices.
  • Written by the Winners: A terminal in the Operation: Anchorage DLC mentions that General Chase was constantly changing the Anchorage simulation until it was largely divorced from the reality of what actually happened out there.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Both the AntAgonist and The Mechanist believe they are in a superhero can complete a quest by convincing them that they're not. In the AntAgonist's case, she's so far out of touch with reality that she believes she's living the Grognak the Barbarian comic of which she is based off of.
    • Three Dog, and potentially also the player if you're the type to lean toward diplomacy, seems to believe that the people of Tenpenny Tower are irredeemable bigots who need to be taken down a peg and that Roy Phillips is an oppressed minority woobie who just needs to be given a chance. Not quite, Three Dog.

    Tropes X-Z 
  • X Meets Y: The game has been described as Oblivion with guns. Depending on who you talk to, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: You are forced to leave Vault 101 and go into the wasteland after your dad escapes. The pissed off Overseer planned on killing you as a scapegoat. The mission "Trouble On The Homefront" allows you to return to the Vault, which has fallen into chaos, and help sort things out. Of course right afterwards you are told to leave and this time you can't ever return (Although you can soften that blow, as you do have the option of forcing everyone out of the vault with you by sabotaging the environmental controls.)
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: If you tell Colonel Autumn the correct code for the purifier, he will thank you and kill you, resulting in a Non Standard Game Over.
    • Also, in Point Lookout, if you choose to side with Professor Calvert to kill Desmond, he will reward you with "The greatest thing any human could ever hope for", which is to say... DEATH! At least he tries to by activating hostile protectrons in his room, and not all of them are working.
    • Another one in Point Lookout: the quest 'The Velvet Curtain' in which you follow the intended footsteps of a Chinese spy. After you accomplish the mission and look at the extraction information, it's revealed that Chinese intelligence felt silencing the spy would be far easier than recovering him, so they arranged a booby-trap involving an irradiated room.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You can get meat from anything from a dog to a giant bug, but you need the Cannibal perk if you want fresh human meat. However, feral ghouls (and Swampfolk in Point Lookout) will occasionally carry around steak-shaped slabs of human. Justified in that taking a more active role in cannibalism is a major life choice.
  • You Make Me Sic: The terminals in the LOB building reveal that the company is carrying out illicit weapons research for the Chinese, and the management fear the place inevitably being stormed by the government. A final email reading "MAN THE DOORS! THE FEDS ARE HERE!" is met with a snippy response about the company policy against using all-caps in emails.
  • Your Head Asplode:
    Moira: Oh no! Poor little mole ratties!

    • The mesmerizing gun that the slavers give you normally just give them amnesia so you can slip a slave collar on them. However, if you score a critical hit to their head, it will explode a few moments later. They don't even see it coming. The instruction manual the slaver gives you even says that it hasn't been fully tested yet, and a random side effect was that occasionally pressure builds up in the subject's head and it explodes.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Tranquility Lane and the Anchorage Reclamation Simulation both use a biofeedback network that will lead to real death from virtual shock. The hallucinations encountered in Vault 106 are a less justified version of this.
  • You Should Know This Already: After installing Broken Steel, there's a glitch where at any time, even if you haven't completed the original questline yet, Three Dog will give his broadcast about the Brotherhood of Steel defeating the Enclave to take control of Project Purity and starting it up. As a result you could walk out the Vault door, tune your radio to Galaxy News, and hear how the game ends.
  • Zip Mode: Fast travel to major areas.

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