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Nightmare Fuel / Fallout

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Not pictured: Creepy voices, Vault Dweller's brown underwear.
Burned out ruins of proud cities from a long gone age?
Bloodthirsty, giant, deformed creatures that once were ordinary humans and animals?
Old empty vaults with fading signs of the madness that once tore them up from the inside?
Oh yes, the Wasteland is indeed a scary place. While there may be much more content, and therefore, much more exploration and possibility for scares in Fallout 3 and beyond, the first few were legitimately terrifying in their own respects.

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In General

  • In Fallout 1 and 2, the talking heads for certain characters tend to be unnerving due to their rigid animations, and are often shocker material if you first play the game. Hell, even the first cutscene can be startling at first.
  • Many of the death animations in the original games are absolutely horrific:
    • The Lieutenant seems to melt from the inside out as he twitches around. This is because he has cybernetics that keep him from succumbing to FEV overdosage. When you kill him, his cybernetics fail, and his body literally comes apart at the seams.
    • Frank Horrigan, who manages to rattle out his last words despite his legs and torso being explosively separated not half a minute earlier before his head explodes off his body.
    • Critical hit-kills with plasma weapons causes the victim's flesh to melt off the bones, as they're screaming.
    • Shot from laser rifle can cleave you in half, revealing the protruding stump of your spine.
    • Alien blaster and pulse weapons will turn your target into pile of ash or outright disintegrate it.
    • Bursts from automatic weapons will dismember a person in seconds, leaving little more than just a pair of legs.
    • Critical hits from certain rifles or even punching can put a very large hole clean through someone.
    • Finishing someone off with the Flamer can cause them to catch fire and flail around helplessly until they finally die.
    • The Overseer gets his entire left half blown apart, his intestines dragging behind him as he tries to crawl away before twitching violently and dying.
    • Although a later patch replaces the 500 day limit (to a maximum of 13 in-game years for limit reasons), so you can take about as much time as you want. Eventually, the mutants will however take over areas of the map.
  • The newer games have done away with it, but the first two let you target children. You could blow them up, disintegrate them, put out both their eyes, set them on fire, and leave them a limping, bleeding mess with a single remaining hit point. Or you could just shoot them with a gun. And were you feeling like a big man and started a shootout in a populated area? There's some chance of accidentally hitting those kids if you miss. Take some time to think about it while their detailed death animation plays out.
  • The soundtrack of Fallout, reused for Fallout 2 and Fallout New Vegas in certain areas and cutscenes, is bound to keep players awake at night.
    • The Vault of the Future. A track that features steam hissing and metal clanking, while an eerie metallic tone plays. Then deep, mumbling voices and hissed whispers become audible. It's also possible for a keen ear to hear computer keys clacking. It isn't just an ambient track, it's an echo of what the Vaults used to be like: methodical, garbled talk of the past Vault scientists running amoral tests that would spell doom for their inhabitants. At the very end of the track, there's an odd creaking noise, like something swinging from a rafter.
    • Vats of Goo. Perfect for setting up the bleak and horrifying tone of the opening narration, of how everything went wrong and ended in nuclear war. Subdued strings and intermittent piano notes mixed with nuclear raid sirens and a background Drone of Dread giving way to military drums to perfectly encapsulate the setting. It wouldn't sound out of place in a documentary about the Cold War or the Holocaust or something of that nature.
    • Desert Wind, the theme for wasteland maps, sounds like lost souls screeching in the wind. Perfectly suits the feeling of a vast, deserted landscape in a hellish post-apocalyptic world.
    • City of the Dead, the theme of the Necropolis. You can hear ghastly wails interspersed with the music along with a loud, droning noise dominating the song, simulating the sound of an emergency siren. Add some metallic screeching sounds to top it off and and it's one disturbing track. It doesn't help matters at all that in New Vegas, it's used in the areas around Camp Searchlight and Nipton, and will be playing during what will likely be the Courier's first encounter with Caesar's Legion and Vulpes Inculta.
    • City of Lost Angels. As if steady beat of tribal drums paired with ghostly whispers and an ethereal choir didn't already make the song menacing enough on its own, it's almost always played in locations associated with extreme, even by the standards of the Wasteland, suffering, death, or cruelty, such as The Boneyard, Golgotha, The Fort and other Legion-controlled locations, and The Divide. It's basically the official Bleak Level theme of the west coast titles. And for bonus points in its sheer creep factor, it's also a Suspiciously Similar Song to "Grass" by Aphex Twin.
    • Acolytes of a New God is terrifying. No "Psycho" Strings, Ominous Latin Chanting, or Drone of Dread, just a lone church bell accompanied by the sounds of ghastly wails of pain, crying, and incoherent whispers. It's almost like you're hearing the souls of those who died in the Great War's last moments on earth and their twisted funeral dirge. Fittingly, it's used in areas such as The Cathedral in Fallout, and in Zion during Honest Hearts as the theme of the Burned Man himself.
    • Radiation Storm plays in The Glow, the horrifyingly irradiated research facility. The ambient, minimalistic music make it feel even more isolated. Like several of the other tracks, it returns in New Vegas. There, it plays inside the Lucky 38 casino, making the already creepy and foreboding area feel like you're traversing a pharaoh's tomb.
  • The series whole timeline. Oh God, it's horrible how it all makes sense, and the not-entirely unlikely idea it could actually happen. With oil supplies running low in the mid to late 2000s and no reliable sources of alternative fuels available, Europe is forced to invade the Middle East because they can't afford to import oil anymore, and China and the US go to war over the last remaining oil well found in the Pacific Ocean. International tensions flare, countries grow increasingly militant and paranoid over dwindling resources. As a result, the United Nations disbands, the European Commonwealth falls apart, and the United States invades Mexico and annexes Canada. And through it all the world governments pursue ever more amoral technology in the pursuit of better weapons or alternative fuels. All because of the butterfly effect of the transistor never being invented, leading to an Atomic Era instead of an Electronic Era.
  • This chilling description of the Great War's aftermath, from Nukapedia, paraphrased from the Fallout Bible:
    Around a week after the initial nuclear explosions, rain started to fall; however, none of it was drinkable. The rain was black; tainted with soot, ash, radioactive elements produced by the nuclear explosions, and various other contaminants produced by nuclear weapons. This rain marked the start of the terrible fallout that marked the true, permanent destruction caused by the Great War. The rain lasted four long days, killing thousands of species that had survived the initial destruction of the bombs, be they animals, plants, or microorganisms. Those few living things – human, animal, or plant – that survived after the rain ended were left to live in the now-barren wasteland that had spread across Earth, where nearly all pre-War plant life had died either in the initial explosions or from the intense radiation produced by the fallout.
  • Vault-Tec as a whole. On the surface, it looked like it was the perfect way to survive the nuclear fallout that came after the Great War. Thousands of people would be able to survive and perhaps even return to the surface once the radiation levels dropped to a safe level. However, underneath the promise of salvation, was a dark secret. Vault-Tec's vaults weren't designed to be fallout shelters, but to be the sites of cruel and hideous experiments performed on the Vault Dwellers and conducted by the government. Every single Fallout game reveals more Vaults with horrible and dark secrets in each one. One notable example is Vault 12. Unlike most vaults, this one didn't have its door closed all the way, resulting in everyone inside either transforming into Ghouls or dying from radiation poisoning. The purpose was to test how the high levels of radiation that resulted from the Great War would effect on people.
    • Vault 69 and it's counterpart, Vault 68. While clearly intended as a bad joke by some perverted Vault-Tec scientist, 69 was designed to house 999 women and only one man, which even under the best circumstances would result in some pretty disturbing results down the line, considering every child born in that Vault would be half-siblings. Still, it pales in comparison to 68, which had 999 men and only one woman! Neither Vault have appeared outside the Fallout Bible, but you don't need much imagination to realize what almost certainly happened in Vault 68, especially considering just how fast most of the other Vaults went bad.
    • Vault 11, which was designed to function around an annual human sacrifice, similar to The Lottery, under the threat that the Vault Computer would exterminate the residents if they didn't offer anyone up. This was actually a Secret Test of Character by whoever came up with the concept, as the whole thing was a bluff and the designers estimated it would take one or two years tops before the residents refused to comply. It went on for at least a century, the Vault shaping it's entire society around it, complete with a kind of reverse democracy where the "candidates" ran campaigns around how they didn't deserve to die, and a voting block using their numbers to get rid of their political enemies. It finally collapsed into civil war, leaving only five survivors who were driven to suicide once they found out it was All for Nothing.
  • The sheer cruelty and depravity of the Pre-War United States. Without exaggeration, very new bit of lore paints a picture of a country that sounds truly hellish. It invaded Canada, and horrible experiments performed on its own citizens at the behest of idiotic, sadistic corporate executives and politicians were the norm. Probably the worst tidbit we can offer is that according to Fallout 76, a Robobrain could somehow be purchased by a college student.
  • The game overs of Fallout 1 and 2 are, frankly (and with no pun intended), bone-chilling. If the sight of your character's skeletal corpse wasn't already bad enough, the eerily subdued narration will certainly give you the creeps. The narration doesn't muck around - it often outright tells you just how badly you screwed up, and how your failure has sealed the fate of everyone else (especially if you die on the Enclave's oil rig, where the narration goes from "Everyone in your village is dead" to "Everyone in the world is dead.")
    • The first Fallout's game overs jack the creepy factor up to eleven by including the sound of the blowing wind of the desert you die alone in beneath the narration telling you that Vault 13 will soon meet the same fate. Brr...
    "No price is too high for the survival of the human race. If you were human, you'd feel the same way."