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Protagonist

    The Sole Survivor 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sole_survivor.png
"It's good to be back."
Voiced by: Brian T. Delaney (male), Courtenay Taylor (female)

"This isn't the world I wanted, but it's the one I found myself in."

The Sole Survivor of Vault 111. You entered the Vault on the day of the Great War in 2077, only to wake up about 210 years later to an Apocalyptic future. Unlike most games with a selectable gender, both protagonists exist in the same universe as a couple - though only one rises from Vault 111. And unlike the previous games in the series, where the player character had the same background regardless of their gender, the male and female player characters actually have separate backgrounds: the male PC is a military veteran who fought in the Sino-American conflicts, during the Anchorage Reclamation specifically, while the female PC is a law school graduate.


  • Acrofatic: Nothing is stopping you from cranking their build to the max in the "obese" direction and subsequently giving them a starting Agility of 10.
  • Action Dad: Or mom depending on your chosen gender. You both had an infant son and can fight your way through legions of raiders, mutants and robots in the Commonwealth Wasteland.
  • Action Girl: Any female Sole Survivor worth her salt is either going to be this or develop into this. A female Sole Survivor even literally has a perk you can access called "Action Girl", which increases the rate at which your Action Points regenerate.
  • Action Survivor: You were just a typical member of the Pre-War Suburban America community and now you are the Sole Survivor of Vault 111 and one of the few people left (besides Ghouls) that was born before the Great War. Needless to say, your actions after leaving Vault 111 are going to leave a lasting impact on Boston and the surrounding areas. This is more apparent with the female character since the male character is at least established as having combat training and experience.
  • Adorkable: The Sole Survivor can come off as this, given his/her reactions to the Silver Shroud role and general snarkiness, just to name a few examples.
  • A Degree in Useless: The female players law degree becomes quite useless in the post apocalyptic wasteland.
  • All-Loving Hero: A potential way of playing the hero with regard to the Factions as they try to befriend all of the various organizations. Sadly, there's no way to make any of the organizations have peace with one another save the Minutemen.
  • Amazonian Beauty: A good-looking Female Sole Survivor with a build scaled to muscular can be this, especially on 100%.
  • Angrish: Whenever the Nerd Rage perk kicks in, the Survivor grumbles, then abruptly bellows a barely-coherent Cluster F-Bomb. It really does sound like a normally calm/wimpy person flipping their lid, and all the hilarity that brings.
  • Ascended Fanboy: You can opt to really get into being the Silver Shroud. "Death has come for you, evildoer! And I . . . am its SHROUD!"
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: You're the leader of the Minutemen if you accept Garvey's offer, the second in command of the Brotherhood of Steel as a Sentinel if you side with them, and the single most dangerous person in the Commonwealth. You can also become the leader of the Institute if you side with them. Also doubles as Asskicking Equals Authority because Garvey selects you, in large part, because you wiped out a large group of raiders (and a Deathclaw) by yourself and Maxson promoted you in light of your impressive service. You can actually be General and Sentinel at the same time.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: You can have Codsworth call you Mr/Ms. Badass, among others.
  • Badass Baritone: The male Sole Survivor has a notably deep voice, courtesy of Brian T. Delaney.
  • Badass Bookworm: The Sole Survivor gains special perks from reading books. Also, the female Sole Survivor was a lawyer before the War.
  • Berserk Button: Kellogg. The encounter midway through the main quest is one of the only ones that is absolutely impossible to talk out of, and all dialogue options range from thinly-veiled disgust to a Cluster F-Bomb.
  • Bi the Way: Should the player choose. At the game's start the character is in a loving hetero relationship. After that ends in tragedy, 8 of the 16 companions can be romanced, regardless of gender.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Towards the Minutemen at Concord, as well as the Brotherhood of Steel at the police station. Both would've been overrun by raiders and Feral Ghouls, respectively, if not for the Survivor's timely intervention.
  • Breaking Speech: As the Silver Shroud, s/he pulls off a good one to demoralize Sinjin's mooks.
    Sole Survivor: After I kill all three of you, I'm coming to get you NEXT.
  • Broken Pedestal: YOU could be this to any accompanied ally, depending on your actions and whoever you're accompanied with.
  • Canine Companion: Has a lovely dog with him/her.
  • Canon Name: As the spouse, the male and female Sole Survivors' names default to Nate and Nora respectively.
  • Call-Back: The male Sole Survivor is mentioned as having been in the 108th Infantry during his service, the same unit as Elliot Tercorien from Mothership Zeta.
  • Chick Magnet: And Dude Magnet at the same time. They're already married at the start in a hetero relationship, but depending on player choice they can get one or more of the following to fall for them: Piper, Cait, Curie, Magnolia, Preston, Danse, Hancock, MacCready, Gilda Broscoe and Porter Gage.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Actually encouraged by the Main Quest as it goes out of its way to make sure you start friendly to all four factions even if you are committed to one path or another. The game wants you to be able to develop friendships and relationships to their people as well as have sympathy for their views. It also requires you to betray at least one of these factions and more often two (the Minutemen are always loyal to you and are not on any other faction's chopping block, unless you become enemies of the Institute, but the other three hate each other).
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: If you decide the Sole Survivor should help Sanctuary before continuing the search for Shaun, this is a good explanation for that behavior. Comes up several times throughout the game, but this is the player's earliest opportunity.
  • Cool House: Potentially. The Red Rocket Station has been stated to be designed to serve as one of these for the Sole Survivor. Many fans have remodeled the area (and spots in other settlements) to become a fortress or palace in equal measure. Others have made use of the Settlement mechanics to do the same elsewhere.
    • The Red Rocket Station, at the very least is a Cool Garage, being a mostly-intact tinkering facility in the otherwise barren Commonwealth.
  • Crusading Widower: Or Crusading Widow. The PC's husband/wife is killed and their infant son kidnapped while they can only watch helplessly. Once free, they swear to find whoever is responsible and rescue their son.
  • Deadpan Snarker: With shades of Stepford Snarker. You can choose "SARCASM" options in dialogue, which are even more noticeable since the characters are voiced.
  • Death from Above:
    • After completing the Old Guns quest in Fort Independence, you gain the ability to build artillery cannons that you can install in any of your settlements. Once that's done, you can toss out a smoke grenade, and if there are any artillery teams close enough they'll flatten whatever you've smoked with a barrage of heavy coastal mortar fire.
    • This can also be done literally with Power Armor.
  • Disappointed in You: The Sole Survivor can say this to Shaun at the top of the CIT Ruins after the Battle of Bunker Hill if you choose to go against the Institute. It has little to no effect on him, although he will outright call you an idiot for daring to think for yourself.
  • The Ditz: You can act like this during the Railroad questline. When asked the code phrase "Do you have a geiger counter?", you can say you've got one on your wrist, instead of the proper response. When speaking to Old Man Stockton, you can say you work for the Railroad out loud, all while a whole bunch of people are standing around.
  • Doomed Hometown: Sanctuary Hills, the housing development you start the game in, is nice to look at, isn't it? It doesn't last. Unlike most examples of the trope, you do get the chance to rebuild it into a potentially thriving settlement, although the green grass and hot rods will never come back.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: The game more-or-less expects you to join and work for multiple opposing factions at the same time. In most Wide Open Sandbox games, this would qualify as simply being a mercenary, but here, you're able to infiltrate the Institute for the Minutemen, the Railroad and the Brotherhood; the latter two are also bitter rivals. And in Nuka-World, you can infiltrate the raider gangs in the amusement park for the Minutemen, or vise versa.
  • Dull Surprise: Their general demeanor after emerging from the Vault. Entirely justified given everything they've gone through. A popular theory is that they're in shock most of the time.
  • Emperor Scientist: Subverted in the Institute ending as the Sole Survivor is not a scientist even if they're a relatively good engineer (with houses, armor, gun, or laser mods) as well as computer programmer. They do, however, potentially have the chance to take over the Commonwealth with a Synth army.
  • Evil Overlord: In the Nuka-World DLC, the player becomes the Overboss of the raider gangs of Nuka-World, and should you decided to bring the raiders to Commonwealth, you will become the enemy of the Minutemen. Unless the player doesn't find Preston Garvey until after helping those raiders set up their first outpost, in which case Preston will demand Nuka-World be removed of its raiders the minute he ends his monologue at the statue.
  • Eviler Than Thou: In "Silver Shroud" you can kill Kent in front of Sinjin. Doing so will leave Sinjin at a loss for words and make his soldiers panic by saying "He's/She's crazier than Sinjin!". Some of the companions will also be horrified or shocked by this, with the exception of Cait and X6-88.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: They are a citizen of Pre-War America who got knocked out in 2077 and then woke up around 210 years later to the Boston Wasteland.
  • Foil:
    • To the Lone Wanderer from Fallout 3. The Lone Wanderer was a teenager who left a life of comfort and safety in Vault 101 to search for their father. By comparison, the Sole Survivor is a family man/woman who left the cold and decrepit remains of Vault 111 to find their son.
    • Also to the Courier from Fallout: New Vegas, to an extent. The Courier was an experienced wastelander who set out on a quest for revenge against the guy who shot them in the head, and ended up dragged into a three-way battle between the NCR, the Legion, and New Vegas for control of the Mojave Wasteland. Conversely, the Sole Survivor is a Fish out of Temporal Water who finds themselves in a post-apocalyptic future, with no experience of surviving a post-apocalypse America, and must enlist the help of one of the squabbling factions to just to find their son.
  • Forced to Watch: No sooner does the Survivor wake up from their cryogenic sleep the first time (150 years after they were first frozen) then they witness their spouse being shot to death and their son kidnapped. Trapped behind the stasis chamber, there's nothing they can do other than bang their fists helplessly as the horrible sight unfolds. After that, they can do nothing to prevent Kellogg putting them back to sleep for another 60 years.
    • Gets subjected to it again by accident if you go to the Memory Den before finding Nick Valentine. If you agree to use their services, Dr. Amari slots in the most recent memory the Sole Survivor has of their family...which is the aforementioned scene of their spouse being shot to death and their son being kidnapped. Amari and Irma are both mortified by what they'd done and apologize for putting the Survivor through that again before recommending them to Nick.
  • Four-Star Badass: Ascends into one should they accept Preston's "election" to be the Minutemen's General. Doubly fitting for the male Survivor, given his military background.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Protagonist can build and modify weapons, clothing, Powered Armor and even entire settlements from scratch using junk that is lying around. Given that the male Survivor was a soldier in an incredibly brutal war, his familiarity with setting up this kind of stuff is well justified overall.
    • Justified as well (if humorously) for the female protagonist, who was a lawyer before the War. After all, make-do repairs using whatever is available is known as "jury rigging".
  • Gamer Chick: With the presence of playable Pip-Boy video games, a female Sole Survivor can become this.
  • Genius Bruiser: Possible with a build that favors Strength and Intelligence.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: If the scripted background for each version of the PC counts. The female PC (who has a law degree) can be played as a violent idiot with abysmal Intelligence and a bloodthirsty streak, for example.
  • A Girl in Every Port: Possible to achieve, if the player romances all romanceable characters, then sends them back to their normal base of operations or permanently settles them at different towns across the Commonwealth.
  • Gunship Rescue: By tossing a smoke flare, the player can call in a vertibird and climb aboard. While flying, they man the minigun mounted in the side.
    • Extra points if you use one to get to one of your settlements that is under attack.
  • Happily Married: Back before the War, the player is living a happy life with their spouse and newborn son. Tragically, both of them are gone by the end of the main story.
  • Healing Factor: With certain perks at their higher levels (such as Life Giver or Solar Powered) and an issue of Astoundingly Awesome Tales, the Sole Survivor can slowly regenerate health and even lose rads.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Played with. While you can name them anything you want, there are 924 names in particular that are voiced. Although the only person to refer to you by name in voiced dialogue is Codsworth, your Mister Handy.
  • Heroic BSoD: Justified, and it takes time for you to just process what happened from the moment the Great War began.
  • Human Popsicle: Vault 111 placed all its denizens in cryogenic stasis. You were the only one who survived: the Vault-Tec staff all died in a mutiny because the Overseer was an overly-paranoid asshole, your spouse was shot, your son was kidnapped, and the life support systems for the rest of the cryogenic stasis pods ended up failing.
  • Idiot Savant: Taking the perk of the same name turns them into a high-functioning one. It grants 3-5 times EXP gains at random (higher chance the lower your Intelligence stat), and plays a cheerfully offensive dumb giggle whenever it procs.
  • I Have No Son!: The Sole Survivor can express shock, anger and dismay towards elderly Shaun's role as Institute Director, saying he's not the Shaun they wanted to raise, and the man before them is not really their son.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of the perks under the Endurance stat is "Cannibalism", which lets you eat the flesh of dead humans to regain health. Of course, most of your companions don't like it. Except Strong, he loves it.
  • Informed Attractiveness: No matter how unrelentingly freakish you manage to make your character look, your spouse will always comment on how gorgeous you are at the start of the game.
  • Jerkass: The game prevents you from being genuinely evil unless you go out of your way to kill non-hostile characters, steal, and become a cannibal. Even then, people will mostly treat you as alright. Instead, the darkest you can roleplay is always choose the sarcastic option which makes you a Deadpan Snarker even in inappropriate situations. However, in Nuka-World, you can become flat out evil by becoming a raider boss and bully the settlers in Commonwealth.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Nevertheless, the majority of players who choose sarcastic options and play a more forgiving style will end up being this.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: All junk (and even many useful items like weapons or apparel) yields various raw resources that you will need to do any manner of crafting; be it weapons crafting or settlement building or power armor upgrading and maintenance. In the territory of a Settlement, not even the things bolted down are safe from the Player's kleptomania, as even many objects of decorative ambiance will yield raw materials. Companions will often comment on the acquisition of junk, wondering just what you were planning to do with it.
  • Large Ham: Choosing the "Speak as Shroud" speech option during the Silver Shroud quest will have you unleash your inner hog by imitating a 50's pulp radio star. The miscreants you're speaking to are understandably perplexed. Briefly.
    Sole Survivor: I am the hand of Justice, and I cannot fail. Death has come for you, evildoer! AND I! AM ITS SHROOOUUUD!
    • Using Psycho or taking the Nerd Rage perk will result in the Survivor swearing at the top of their lungs in sheer rage/bloodlust. In the case of Psycho, they might just roar instead, though.
    • Doing the vault 81 quest will inevitably have them adopt an overly melodramatic manner of speaking for the duration of the quest.
  • Living Relic: Piper outright calls the protagonist 'My own pre-war relic.'
  • Manipulative Bastard: The gameplay seems designed to have the Sole Survivor join all the various factions and see their point of view before deciding which one he/she sides with, unlike in Fallout: New Vegas where you could only do this for a limited time. It's entirely possible for the Survivor to play all the factions against one another until they strike.
  • Meaningful Name: The default female name, Nora, comes from Mr. Freeze's cryogenically frozen (maybe) wife.
  • The Mole: The main character is likely to take this role in some capacity, either infiltrating the Institute for the benefit of whatever organization that helped them go there, infiltrating the BoS / Railroad for the benefit of the Institute, infiltrating the Nuka-World raider gangs for the Minutemen, or vise versa.
  • Nice Guy: The lower right option invariably has the Survivor act almost superhumanly friendly.
  • New Era Speech: Can give one to the entire Commonwealth as a member of the Institute, though you can change the wording and tone to something less sinister or outright admit a desire for conquest and control.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "Sole Survivor" is not the only one to remain alive from their Vault nor the pre-war era itself. Not counting the several ghouls in this very game who date from before the war (including one who is seen in his pre-ghoul form during the prologue), there are prominent standouts: the Think Tank of the Big MT, Mr. House, the abductees of Mothership Zeta, and countless other survivors of the Great War. The list gets longer if one includes sentient robots and the ZAX super computers.
    • Also, if it's meant to refer to Vault 111, Shaun is still alive for the majority of the game.
    • That said, by the end of the main story, no matter the choices made, s/he is, indeed, the 'sole survivor' of his/her family and the Vault.
    • Lampshaded by the game which has characters refer to them by their status as the Vault Dweller like the original hero of Fallout.
  • Not So Different: 'The Devil's Due' gives the Sole Survivor a parallel WITH A DEATHCLAW.
    • The Deathclaw has its egg stolen by hired guns, had its partner killed while trying to defend the egg by the Survivor in the Museum of Witchcraft, and is a non-stop killing machine. The Sole Survivor had Shawn stolen by hire guns, had their partner killed by Kellogg when they tried to protect shawn, and is also the biggest badass in the Commonwealth with a high body count.
    • To hammer it home, if the Sole Survivor returns the egg to the nest, the Deathclaw will not attack the Survivor, but instead will let them take a melee weapon made of its own claws, allowing the Survivor to fight and kill just like a Deathclaw.
  • One-Man Army: Defeats hordes of mutated wildlife, raiders, Super Mutants, robots, etc throughout the course of the game. As a literal example, it's possible for them to take down the entire Gunner army responsible for the Quincy Massacre by themselves. The game actually tracks your character's kills by enemy type in the Pip-Boy's stats screen: it will easily be in the thousands by the end of the game.
  • One-Man Party: Invoked with the Lone Wanderer Perk, which makes them stronger in attacking power and Carry Weight if they have no companion (or Dogmeat) with them.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Guaranteed one way or another since, by the time you two are reunited, Shaun's already a frail old man, dying of cancer while you (having just exited cryostasis) still retain both youth and vigor. The only difference you can make is whether your last parting words with each other end on good... or bitter terms.
  • Papa Wolf: Or Mama Bear — one who bravely travels a vast, dangerous wasteland for the sake of their missing child.
  • Polyamory: The Sole Survivor can engage in a relationship with multiple partners.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: There are a couple of moments the Survivor can be this. In "The Silver Shroud", they can talk to Kent about how they listened to every episode of the titular superhero on Pre-War Radio (and their Large Ham gusto during said quest is likely them doing their absolute BEST to imitate him). They've also apparently watched Frankenstein, as they may ask Dr. Amari to say something like "Igor, fetch me the BRAIN!" when giving her Kellogg's brain to examine his memories, Funetik Aksent and all.
  • Precision F-Strike: While dosing themselves up with the combat drug Psycho, the Sole Survivor either bellows incoherently or screams "FUCKING KILL!" at the top of their lungs.
  • The Quiet One: Ironic given they're Suddenly Voiced. The Sole Survivor actually speaks less than any prior Fallout protagonist and asks fewer questions.
  • Really 700 Years Old: By the time they leave Vault 111, they're over 210 years old. At least, in terms of time passed.
  • Retired Badass: At the time the bombs fell, neither Sole Survivor was working. The male Sole Survivor has been discharged from the army (and mentions rejoining the civilian workforce) and the female Sole Survivor had taken an unknown amount of time off work in order to give birth to Shaun. They had both mentioning finding work, though.
  • Robot Buddy: You have one in Codsworth, your Mr. Handy, who waited over two centuries in your house for your return. That's not even counting the number of Synth companions you can getnote .
  • Robo Sexual:
    • As a borderline example, the Sole Survivor can potentially romance Curie, a Ms. Nanny medi-droid after she undergoes Brain Uploading into a Synth body, or Magnolia, a synth singer living in Goodneighbor. They can also choose to romance Paladin Danse, who turns out to have been a Synth all along but unaware of it.
    • For a much more unambiguous example, in one Far Harbor sidequest, the player can have a one night stand with Gilda Broscoe, who just happens to be a robobrain, essentially a Brain in a Jar on tank treads.
  • Sad Clown: A sarcasm-prone Survivor is this in a nutshell. Their snarks very often stem from how pissed off, disappointed, or done with the world they've become.
    Sole Survivor: My favorite ballpark's become a shanty town. Today's been great.
  • Second Love: If the Sole Survivor romances any of their companions, they can become this.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Getting thrown over two centuries into the post-apocalyptic future, your family long gone, and having all that on top of surviving harrowing battles against the Chinese before the Great War (if you're the male PC) aren't exactly bound to do wonders to your psyche.
  • Sole Survivor: It's their title! When you wake up after the prologue, all of the Vault-Tec scientists and security personnel are long dead and all of the cryo pods aside from the ones you and your spouse were in have malfunctioned and everyone is dead from life support failure.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: Unlike the gender options of previous Fallout games, the male and female main characters of the game are both canonical, but whoever ends up as the greatest warrior of the Commonwealth and whoever as their posthumous spouse is your choice.
  • Stout Strength: Similar to Acrofatic above, nothing is stopping you from setting the Sole Survivor's build to "obese" and their starting Strength and Endurance to 10.
  • Suddenly Voiced: In a first for the Fallout series, the Player Character now talks in conversations and will provide occasional commentary on the surrounding world.
  • Terror Hero:
    • When the Sole Survivor plays the role of the Silver Shroud, eventually s/he can use his persona to intimidate a room full of mooks into running away.
    • Kessler, the mayor of Bunker Hill, also comes to see the Survivor this way after witnessing him/her fight in a three-way battle over the settlement as part of the Brotherhood of Steel, the Institute, or the Railroad. Rather than earning Kessler's gratitude for protecting her town, she tells the Survivor that his/her powerful friends scare the living crap out of her and that s/he now owns the settlement if s/he pleases. She says the same thing when going through the Minutemen questline after destroying the Institute.
    • With the Intimidation, Wasteland Whisperer, and Animal Friend perks, it's possible to intimidate and pacify foes of lower level than you, from Raiders and Gunners, to freaking Super Mutants and Deathclaws!
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: In the endings that don't support the Institute, there's a last-minute encounter as you leave the base: a synth child claiming to "know" he's your son. You have the option of rejecting and abandoning him in the soon-to-be-destroyed Institute base.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Discussed. In Far Harbor, DiMA suggests the Survivor might be a synth, due to the fact that your earliest memory is the day the bombs fell (i.e. the beginning of the game). It is up to the player to deny it or not, but DiMA admits that this could just as easily be associated with trauma. This is never explored or brought up again.
    • Of course, that conversation ignores all the times the Survivor can bring up details from their past that don't have to do with the day the bombs fell in conversation with other NPCs. Still, this is a universe where memories can be transferred, such as with Nick and Curie. The Institute doesn't seem to treat you like one, though, and it is in a good position to know one way or the other.
    • That being said, there are perks that can give you synth traits like extra energy resistance (Refractor), rad resistance (Rad Resistant), and even eliminate needing to breathe (Aqua Boy/Girl), so it is entirely possible to roleplay as one if you want. All in all, the game leaves the answer just ambiguous enough that it can be left up to the players to decide for themselves.
  • Trauma Conga Line: As if experiencing the nuclear destruction of your world wasn't traumatic enough, you also have to witness the murder of your spouse and the abduction of your son without being able to do anything to stop it — and when you finally get out of cryosleep, you discover that you're the only one who made it — everyone else asphyxiated to death due to cryogenics failure.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The surviving spouse keeps their fallen beloved's wedding ring in addition to their own, promising to avenge his/her death and find their lost son.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Becomes one to Bobbi No-Nose in "The Big Dig", by helping her dig to a location that's supposedly Mayor McDonough's strongroom, only for it to actually be Hancock's. Which is what Bobbi planned all along and kept the Survivor in the dark about.
  • Warrior Therapist: As your companions grow to like you more, most of them will turn to you for help with any emotional baggage or personal problems they have. The Sole Survivor can even lampshade this trope in one of their sarcastic responses.
    Sole Survivor: (to Gage) I feel like you should be laying on a couch while I take notes and then charge you a couple thousand caps for the session.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Piper asks this question to a male Sole Survivor in response to his fighting in the Sino-American War. He has many different answers.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: All companions, except for Dogmeat and Ada, have dialogue where they call you out on your behavior if you get them at low enough affinity. You do have to try pretty hard to get them to their lowest affinity though, since their affinity grows, gradually, when you have them as a companion, even if you don't get any "likes" or "loves" from them.
  • Wild Card: Like in New Vegas, you are an unpredictable element inserted into the setting and are the fulcrum determining who wins and who loses. You have the ability to just ignore following the instructions of the Railroad, Brotherhood or Institute and go for a Minuteman ending.
    • PAM, the Railroad's future-predicting robot, even outright calls you the "Rogue Variable." The smaller the group and the shorter the timeframe, the more inaccurate her predictions become, and as an individual you're capable of doing pretty much whatever you want.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Unfortunately, unavoidable for the Sole Survivor regardless of the player's input. The Institute and Brotherhood of Steel both have children amongst their number and all endings result in one side or both being destroyed thanks to the Survivor's efforts. However, the Minutemen ending doesn't require that you defeat the Brotherhood, and has Preston allowing anyone left in the Institute to evacuate.
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The Protagonist's Family

    Nate / Nora 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/art_of_fo4_prewarfoto_nora_and_nate.png
Nate and Nora's default appearancesnote 
Voiced by: Brian T. Delaney (Nate), Courtenay Taylor (Nora)

The player character's spouse. As mentioned above, they are the canonical name, nature and back story for whichever PC gender the player doesn't select. Nate is a retired soldier, a veteran of the Sino-American conflicts, while Nora is a lawyer.


  • Dad the Veteran: Nate's backstory.
  • Decoy Protagonist: If the Sole Survivor is female, then Nate becomes this, as it's he who provides the opening narration.
  • Doomed Hometown: Sanctuary Hill, the hometown of the player character, their spouse, and their child, is wrecked by the War.
  • Happily Married: The spouse is happily married to the player character and is the father/mother of their infant son.
  • The Lost Lenore: Dies within the first few minutes of the game, leaving their spouse to mourn.
  • Mama Bear: Or Papa Wolf if your character is female. They're seen carrying their baby out as the family escapes to Vault 111 when the War starts. This protectiveness is what ultimately causes their death by refusing to give Shaun up to the people taking him away.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Whichever player character you don't select becomes your spouse and is murdered within the first half hour of gameplay.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: They are the character you didn't select to be your player avatar.
  • Too Happy to Live: And then the bombs fell.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Unfortunately, your spouse doesn't survive very long while in the Vault, suffering from a bullet related death after Shaun is forcibly taken away from them.

    Shaun/Father 
Voiced by: Tony Amendola

The protagonist's infant son during the prologue, taken away from them in a tragic turn of events. It's later revealed that he was kidnapped by The Institute for his near pristine Pre-War DNA and ultimately became the head of the Institute. He meets up with the Sole Survivor as a man in his 60's, and is now named "Father," with him hoping to convince the Sole Survivor to join him and help rule the Commonwealth.


  • Adult Fear: Shaun is taken away by The Institute and you are unable to stop them. Depending on how you feel about them, learning that he's become their leader, mind and soul, may be an even worse one.
  • Affably Evil: He's very polite and always cordial to the Sole Survivor, even when he's likely facing down the literal barrel of a gun in their first meeting.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: His death is genuinely heartbreaking, and is practically guaranteed to make the Sole Survivor feel uncomfortable in any ending.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He displays some mild sociopathic tendencies during his reign as the Institute's Director.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Easily one of the most morally ambiguous members the Institute has to offer.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: If you side against the Institute, since he's its leader and all. He tries very hard to avert this, however, and if you're on his side, well...
  • Batman Gambit: He pulls one on you if you side against him. See Shaun II.
  • Big Bad: As the leader of the Institute, he's largely the one responsible for the sorry state of the Commonwealth via countless atrocities, such as the massacre of University Point, the kill-and-replacement program with the infiltrator synths, and the creation of the Super Mutants. Like Caesar from New Vegas, the main character can side with him, but he's still clearly the most villainous faction leader and the central figure in the game's conflict. Notably, his Institute must be destroyed in all other faction endings.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • He unfreezes his father/mother after 60 years in order to name them his successor. Why he did this rather than take them to the Institute directly off the bat is never made clear, but there are hints that, deep down, Shaun knew his own sheltered upbringing prevented him from ever understanding or empathizing with the surface people. Therefore, he lets his would-be "heir" experience the harshness of the wasteland firsthand, giving them a different mindset. He then has Kellogg babysit Shaun II to serve simply as bait for his parent, and then sends Kellogg out on what's essentially a suicide mission just to set him up for his parent to kill, knowing full well that Kellogg's cybernetic parts will eventually lead them directly to the Institute.
    • However, it also doubles as Complexity Addiction. Even if he felt the need to prove the Survivor to his colleagues, nothing really prevented him from bringing them to the Institute first, explaining things, and then sending them on their way with the Institute's perspective coloring any future interactions.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Shaun can be called out on this by his surviving parent when they speak of his mother/father's death. Shaun replies that he's had sixty years to come to terms with it, and never knew how much his parents loved him.
  • Doomed Hometown: Shaun's hometown does not survive the war.
  • Emperor Scientist: Subverted. Shaun points out that the Institute is stuck in a rut because they're a bunch of academics and it needs a leader like the Sole Survivor to really influence the world. He's also fully aware that he's not the best man for making the sorts of decisions the Commonwealth needs. Furthermore, the game quickly shows that the Institute's supposed unity is actually an illusion, and the organization is fraught with lots of politicking and backstabbing behind the scenes.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In a twisted sense, as he still genuinely loves and cares for the Sole Survivor, his only surviving parent. Most poignantly, his final words with the Sole Survivor in the Institute ending are him thanking them for all of their help and imparting some advice on leading the Institute before he dies.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He personally finds Kellogg to be an abhorrent person and sees his killing of his parent an unnecessary collateral damage. However, unlike you Shaun's had 60 years to deal with the loss of a parent he's never known, and at least considers Kellogg useful enough to be kept on a short leash. Though this is arguably subverted, as while Kellogg is a brutal, amoral thug who has lost all reason to live but caps, he doesn't normally engage in the kind of senseless brutality like the destruction of University Point or FEV experiments Shaun has approved. In some ways, Kellogg's a far-far better person than Shaun ever was.
  • Fantastic Racism: Adamantly refuses to believe Synths are anything more than high-functioning machines. There's an Alternate Character Interpretation that he's just spouting the party line because the Institute is built on Synth labor. He also loathes cyborgs and bans any research into them.
  • Fatal Flaw: His fear of the surface world.
  • Foil:
    • To Caesar/Edward Sallow. Both are elderly men with cults of personality formed around them, and who have near-dictatorial control over the most villainous faction in each game. Both Father and Caesar are also geniuses slowly dying of cancer who see their factions' terrible actions as Necessary Evils for building a better world out of the hellish Wasteland. However, Caesar is not only much more dangerous as a combatant and commander than Father is, but is also generally pettier and more prone to fits of rage. Father, in contrast, comes across as far more professional and articulate, being more of a refined scholar than a barbaric warlord. Father also seems to want to close off the Institute from the surface for the time being so they can rebuild society as a utopia underground, while Caesar is obsessed with aggressively expanding the Legion's influence over all of the known Wasteland.
    • Also to James, your father from Fallout 3. Like James, you find out Shaun has been an influence in the Wasteland in greater scope than is first apparant, and they are involved in large-scale scientific research projects that will benefit humanity. However, the difference is that James' efforts were truly altruistic and would improve the Wasteland for all, while Shaun has been almost fully indoctrinated to the Institute's philosophies and has only a marginal interest in helping the Commonwealth. The narratives of Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 in regards to James and Shaun also heavily parallel each other: James fled to a Vault after the death of his wife to raise the Lone Wanderer in safety; Shaun was taken from a Vault to the Institute in a raid that involved the death of the Sole Survivor's spouse, and he was raised in the safety of the Institute. The storyline heavily concerns around the player trying to find and locate them, thematically flipping the narrative from being a child searching for their father to a parent searching for their son.
  • Freudian Excuse: His hatred of Kellogg would go a long way to explaining why he hates both Synths and Cyborgs. Also, the fact that he was recruited for his pure human DNA might be why he's against cybernetic transhumanism.
  • Generation Xerox: As literally as possible with Synth Shaun.
  • Happily Adopted: Abducted, actually, but he's perfectly content with how the Institute taught and raised him.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Three of the game's four endings revolve around blowing the Institute to kingdom come, and the portion of players that sympathize with them is not particularly large, so when Shaun thaws out the Sole Survivor to have them succeed him as Director, his life's work is more than likely to be destroyed by the very person he put in charge of leading it. Justified in part due to his nostalgia for a life he never head as he gets older & closer to death with his cancer.
  • Hypocrite: Shaun doesn't consider Synths to be people, yet in the end, sends his 10-year old Synth duplicate to be adopted by his parent, with a tape from him requesting that the boy be raised as the Survivor's actual son and treated as family (though that can be Hand Waved as a possible Heel Realization on Shaun's part and his attempt to make up in part to the Sole Survivor). He also bans any research into cybernetics, but still secretly conducted experiments with FEV to see if it could be controlled.
    • He also defends the Institute's more reprehensible actions by basically saying morality no longer has any meaning After the End, but will gladly call out the Minutemen, the Brotherhood, and the Railroad for the atrocities they've committed.
  • Ironic Name: As the leader of the Institute, his name is "Father", which is ironic, because he's actually your son.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Silver rather than gold, but it still counts. For all his flaws, he still means well, is dedicated to making the world a better place, and genuinely loves the Sole Survivor.
  • Kick the Dog: The Institute's FEV experiments, despite not having produced any worthwhile data for almost an entire century, were continued at his orders.
    • And while Kellogg was the one who actually carried it out, the University Point Massacre was heavily implied to have been ordered by him.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Fallout 4 wasn't exactly sunshine and rainbows even before Father showed up, but the huge Reveal around his identity is shockingly dark and has the story plunge into some truly uncomfortable places.
  • Last Request: Shaun wishes you to take care of Synth Shaun as your own son. Even before that, he actually frees you because he's dying and wants to both make you Director of the Institute and have you kill Kellogg.
  • Mad Scientist: Like the rest of the Institute, even meeting his biological parent is no reason to stop running experiments, such as creating a Synth version of himself to see how closely it would react compared to his real younger self.
  • Meaningful Name: "Shaun" is a Hebrew name meaning "God is gracious." He was certainly a gracious and vital gift for the Institute, as his DNA was necessary for the creation of all modern Synths.
  • Monster Progenitor: Kinda. He's perfectly human, that's why the Institute needed him; his cells are the basis for human Synth organic parts. Hence his nickname of "Father."
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: He's the one who freed the Sole Survivor from their cryogenic status and discreetly gave them the means to get into the Institute, and the player can choose to make those decisions bite him in the ass hard and lead to the Institute's downfall. Though in his defense, he was expecting (or at least hoping) his parent would side with him and the Institute.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: As a sickly old man, he is not a physical threat; he carries an Institute pistol at most and can be easily killed. In the final mission, he's already on his deathbed.
  • Offing the Offspring: Potentially the recipient of it. Shaun, himself, does this every time he orders a Generation 3 Synth destroyed since they're all cloned from his DNA.
  • Once per Episode: In Fallout 3, the way you designed your character had a visible effect on the appearance of your father. In Fallout 4, Shaun's appearance (including his older self) is now based on how you've designed either one or both the Protagonist and their spouse.
  • Passing the Torch: In the Institute storyline, he eventually declares his parent his successor as Director of the Institute.
  • Pet the Dog: Sure, he opposes the Railroad and doesn't see the Synths as people... but he programs his younger Synth duplicate to think he's the real Shaun and the Sole Survivor's son, leaving a tape begging you, his parent, to take him in as such and raise him to become a part of the Commonwealth. He does this even if you and him became enemies. Though whether this counts as Pet the Dog or Kick the Dog is debatable, considering how extremely fucked up the whole idea is, not to mention the emotional manipulation involved.
    • In the final non-Institute story mission, you can convince Shaun to hand over the personal password to his terminal in order to shut down some Synths on your way by promising him to show mercy to the rest of the Institute.
    • While the primary reason for the "Synth Retention" side-quest is to get the Institute's property (in the form of Synths) back "home," Father also starts the quest because he's concerned about the many innocent Settlers in the area getting killed to the Libertalia Raiders under Gabriel/B5-92.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Shaun's first time on the surface caused him to decide the Commonwealth isn't worth saving and that the Institute should just isolate itself and keep doing its thing — with no regard for the lives of those above ground.
  • The Slow Path: It's revealed that Shaun is the current leader of the Institute, taken from the Vault after 150 years in cryogenic stasis. He ends up waiting an additional 60 years for his surviving parent to eventually arrive at the Institute's base of operations.
  • The Sociopath: Shows off a noticeable Lack of Empathy, does experiments for the sake of satisfying his own curiosity more than anything, lies to you if you fail Charisma checks, and justifies atrocities by saying it's for the good of humanity. He even admits to the Sole Survivor that he's never known love in the sixty years he was raised by the Institute, and that his desire to be with his only surviving parent is something akin to "biological nostalgia."
  • Villain Has a Point: His near-pathological fear of the surface world is rather cruel and short-sighted... but isn't exactly unmerited, especially given just how much of a Crapsack World the Wasteland generally is.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's hard to talk about him without revealing he's Father, head of the Institute.
  • We Can Rule Together: Subverted. Shaun knows the Sole Survivor will outlive him since he's both old and terminally ill. That's why he wants you to take up the throne for him and lead the Institute into a better world.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He's become a true believer in the Institute's mission of manipulating society above ground into a form they feel is safe to share their technology with and rebuild society into a form that won't repeat the mistakes of the old one. That includes allowing Synths to forever remain slaves and the annihilation of both the Railroad and East Coast Brotherhood of Steel.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Shaun is curious if the Sole Survivor can feel love for his Synth duplicate, pointing out that, due to Kellogg's memories, the boy was the person the Survivor was expecting to find. He's completely unaware of how traumatizing this could be to his parent.
  • Younger Than They Look: Heavily downplayed. On the one hand, he still looks and acts like an elderly man regardless of his actual age. However, his cancer has prematurely aged him, to the point where looks more like a man in their late seventies rather than a sixty-year-old.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: He's dying of cancer by the time you meet him. While the Institute can extend his lifespan, they cannot fully cure him and he would rather pass on naturally.

    Shaun II 

A Synth duplicate of Shaun at age 10, originally created to lure the player towards Kellogg, and to test what young Shaun's reaction from meeting his father/mother would be like. The Sole Survivor can adopt him (or not) after Father reprograms him to think he's the real Shaun and their biological son.


  • Cheerful Child: He's quite optimistic, excitable, and generally just hopeful for the future.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: He's the young Shaun that stayed with Kellogg in Diamond City. His appearance there ends up skewing the Sole Survivor's perception of time passing, making them think it was only ten years instead of sixty.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: If adopted, he can build things for the player out of stuff they bring back to him from the wasteland.
  • Give Him a Normal Life: Real!Shaun sends him to you in order to give the both of you a chance at becoming a real family.
  • Good Counterpart: Unlike the real Shaun, who instantly gave up upon catching his first glimpse of the outside world, he's hopeful for the future, believing in the Commonwealth's ability to rebuild.
    Shaun II: I don't know why the Institute said the Commonwealth was so bad. Look at all the stuff people are building!
  • Infant Immortality: Subverted. If you reject him and refuse to take him with you in the non-Institute paths, "Shaun" gets nuked with everyone else inside the Institute facility.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: After he's reprogrammed by Father a.k.a. the real Shaun.
  • The Philosopher: He sometimes makes philosophical musings, some of which in fact deal with his true nature (though he's unaware of it), such as wondering if a Synth copy of a dead individual counts as being the same person. Or if being made a Synth after death is a form of reincarnation.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Of the real Shaun.
  • Never Grew Up: As a Synth child, he will never physically age. However, it's unknown if this will actually last, considering basic entropy and how most Synths are primarily organic creations anyway.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: The Survivor's potential reaction to him.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: He's programmed to be unaware that he's a Synth or that Father is the real Shaun.
    Shaun II: If humans make Synths, who makes humans like you and me?
  • Walking Spoiler: On account of being a big part of the bait and switch on Father's identity.
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