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"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the waters of life, freely."
James, quoting Revelation 21:6
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Fallout 3, released in 2008, is the third numbered and fifth released game in the popular Fallout series.note  It was developed by Bethesda Studios, who purchased the rights to the franchise after Interplay Entertainment's bankruptcy. It marked a major shift for the franchise, going from a traditional turn-based Western RPG to a first-person Action RPG, and left the West Coast setting of previous games for a fresh start in the D.C. area.

It's 2277, and Vault 101 is an okay place to live. It's an underground paradise that 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 the head doctor and an all-around Nice Guy, and your mother... well, she was probably nice too. You grew up more or less normally, despite the antics of resident bully Butch DeLoria, leader of The Tunnel Snakes and an all-around Jerkass. Your best friend Amata is a nice girl, 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. Nobody knows for sure, 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.

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Then, sometime after you turn 19, you find a panicked Amata shaking you awake, hurriedly telling you that your father has escaped the Vault, the Overseer has locked everything down, and Vault Security is out to kill you or worse. She offers you a stolen gun and runs for safety, and before you know it, your peaceful little life is turning upside down - there's a horde of giant mutant cockroaches swarming in through the busted sewage system, Butch is crying on his knees begging you for help, and the Overseer has turned into a tyrannical maniac who will stop at nothing to keep the Vault closed forever. Soon, it becomes clear that you have no choice but to follow in your father's footsteps and escape into the unknown.

As you climb out of the dingy tunnel, security guards peppering the closing Vault door with bullets, 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, amid the strange creatures, murderous lunatics, and killer robots is your dad. You must now learn why he left, how the Wasteland works, and discover the impact you're having on it just by being there. Will you reconcile with him, or turn him away? Help people out, or take advantage of them? Save DC... or become its doom?

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The game has five DLC add-ons:

  • Operation: Anchorage: Relive the Chinese invasion of Alaska through a VR simulation, with big rewards if you survive it.
  • The Pitt: The Lone Wanderer visits the run-down (even by wasteland standards) city of Pittsburgh, where a struggle between slaves and their cruel masters take place amid a plague.
  • Broken Steel: This DLC acts as an extension of the game's main quest. It allows you to play past the (controversial) ending, helping to finish the fight against the Enclave with the Brotherhood of Steel's help while dealing with the Brotherhood "Outcasts".
  • Point Lookout: As the name implies, this DLC takes place in the swampy lands of Point Lookout, Maryland, where the player gets to join a tribe, see the sights, and end a centuries old feud.
  • Mothership Zeta: A rather "out-there" adventure focused on a crashed flying saucer. After getting abducted by the eponymous Mothership, the Lone Wanderer must assemble a crew of cryogenically frozen abductees from across history to escape back to Earth.

The following Game Mods have their own pages:

See also Fallout: Van Buren, Black Isle's original, very different Fallout 3 that was cancelled due to financial difficulties, but is still used as reference material by Bethesda.


Fallout 3 contains the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes #-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 into that very bunker - specifically, a well-armed and well-fortified secret base. 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 use unusual ammunition, to note:
    • The Rock-It Launcher carries this trope to strange new heights, 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.
    • The Railway Rifle uses steam pressure to shoot railway spikes at people. And yes, it toots a whistle every time you fire it.
    • The Dart Gun is makeshift miniature crossbow assembled out of a paint gun, surgical tubing, and a toy car, that fires standard dartboard darts...which happened to be coated in Radscorpion poison and instantly cripple the legs of any organic opponent you hit.
  • 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 there if you don't watch your Pip-Boy map or mind the routing signs and subway maps at the stations, 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 the robots themselves who are ticking along nicely despite 200 years without maintenance. What makes it acceptable is that otherwise, robotic enemies and working computers would be very rare, while the interiors of numerous areas would be very dark.
    • Apparently all monsters, even the ones that lack the digits, height, and/or higher intelligence to operate doors, can do so. Acceptable because otherwise the player could escape from a troublesome fight against non-human enemies just by running into a room and shutting the door.
    • When reloading guns that load from magazines, any bullets left in the current magazine remain in the normal ammo count, as the various alternatives to preserve realism would be a pain for players to cope with.
    • Bringing up your Pip-Boy stops time. Of course, having the world keep going in real time while you look at your Pip-Boy would make the game much harder.
  • 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. See Awesome, but Impractical on its many problems.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: During the prologue, Wally Mack will leave the classroom without even waiting to hear the results of his G.O.A.T exam because he claims to have figured out how to "cheat" the test to ensure he gets exactly the job he wants. The teacher, Mr. Brotch, quietly mutters "Well I'll be damned, that little so and so...wish I'd thought of that when I was sixteen."
  • 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.
    • Allistair Tenpenny, who is one of the nicest and 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 (though he prefers that the settlement be evacuated first,) and is so evil that killing him actually grants you good karma.
  • A.K.A.-47: While not as pronounced as in other games in the series, several guns in the game are clearly based on real-life firearms. To note:
  • Always Accurate Attack:
    • At 100 Energy Weapons skill, the Alien atomizers and their variant the Atomic Pulverizer will always hit dead on the crosshair. The only way the gun can miss is by the user messing up their shot.
    • Similarly, the unique hunting rifle Ol' Painless is one of the few weapons with zero "sway". With a 100 Small Guns skill, it will hit exactly where the crosshair is aimed with every shot.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Whether it's bald-faced murder or stealing a bottle of Nuka-Cola, any crime you commit is punished with a barrage of bullets from every eyewitness. 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.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • To the surprise of many gamers, Lincoln's Repeater is not fictional - it's based on an actual, custom-made Henry repeating rifle given to Abraham Lincoln as a gift in the hopes that he would adopt the design as standard-issue for the US Army.
    • Point Lookout is a real place. Calvert is a fictional member of a real family who own a manor in the area. Also, there really was a Civil War POW camp there, and the lighthouse is another actual point of interest.
    • Griffon and his Aqua Cura look at first like a classic example of a Snake Oil Salesman with a Fallout flavour (selling radioactive water as a miracle cure), but selling radioactive items as medicine was a real-life practice from the first half of 20th century.
    • The Soil Stradivarius from the "Agatha's Song" sidequest is a real artifact, and finding it in the Eastern USA in the future is plausible, since the actual violin belongs to Itzhak Perlman, a musician living in New York.
    • While finding documents from US history (like the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independance) in Washington DC's National Archives makes sense, discovering a copy of the Magna Carta (a document from medieval English history, bearing King John of England's signature) may seem strange. However, in real life the National Archives really have a copy of the document (a copy made in 1297, permanently loaned since 2007).
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • The super mutants, with the exception of the companion Fawkes and Uncle Leo are all deranged, cannibalistic monsters.
    • There not a single half decent alien in the Mothership Zeta expansion. You also find they like to do cruel experiments on abductees and even shock them with their batons just for fun at times.
  • Always Over the Shoulder: When in third person. Averted in the PC version, which offers a Free Rotating Camera.
  • Amazon Brigade: Off-camera, but according to notes found there, the National Guard unit stationed at the Germantown PD was an all-female unit.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Flak and Shrapnel share a bed and run a store together in Rivet City, and one of the slavers at Paradise Falls describes Flak as an "old queen". If you enslave Flak, Shrapnel will start wandering the wastes to look for him due to a scripting error that requires them to stay close to each other, though some like the 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. Both Carol and Gob mention in conversation that Carol adopted him and there is nothing romantic involved.
  • Ambiguously Human: Dr. Zimmer from 'The Replicated Man' quest in Rivet City is looking for an escaped property of his. If you kill him, you'll find an Android Component on his person. It's left ambiguous whether that item is actually his or someone else's that he collected, but if it's the former, it makes him a Hunter of His Own Kind.
  • Amusing Injuries: It is possible to get blown across town with damaged limbs 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 chose to forgo their mission (collecting pre-war technology) to focus on eradicating the East Coast variant of Super Mutants. They also began accepting worthy wastelanders into their ranks to replace their losses, which is against the primary Brotherhood tenets. Brotherhood leadership on the West Coast allowed this, but subsequently refused them supplies, back-up, or other tech. Soon, contact with the West Coast leadership was lost entirely. After this, a group of Brotherhood members left to form the Outcasts, which stay true to the original BoS beliefs and mission. It's not a matter of good versus evil, just different priorities, though most of the Outcasts tend to be significantly less friendly if you talk to them.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Subverted at the beginning of the game inside Vault 101, as attempting to kill (most) of the residents will simply result in them being knocked unconscious. This ends once the vault alarms start going off, as after this point there are very few people that are marked as "essential", unlike in the Bethesda sister-game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
    • Averted with children, who cannot be harmed period, save for Maggie and Harden Simms who can be killed (along with everyone else save Moira Brown) if the Megaton bomb blows. (This, of course, happens off-screen.)
  • Apocalyptic Log: Widely scattered audio-recordings and written logs provide a lot of information about various horrible deaths.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1 and class 2, depending on the area. Events in the story lead to the possibility of a class 5.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Robobrains are unfailingly polite, even while threatening or trying to kill you.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: One exists which is fairly short even by video game standards. It is most notable if playing as a sniper-type character, where shots you could easily make in other games fail to reach the target due to the range.
  • 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 Guess what the three digit Project Purity activation code is?
  • Armor of Invincibility:
    • In a throw-back to the original Fallout, the T-51b power armor has the highest DR of all armor in the game, but is found at the end of a sidequest that drags you across all corners of the Wasteland.
    • Operation Anchorage adds the Winterized T-51b armor, which is truly invincible due to a glitch that gives the player the simulation-exclusive version of the armor instead of the intended one, meaning it has almost a million HP and will never degrade. Broken Steel and The Pitt add their own power armor variants that are more useful in their own ways over the T-51b due to innate stat boosts at the cost of lower DR.
    • For players not into power armor, there's Lag-Bolt's Combat Armor and the Ranger Battle Armor. They're combat armor variants, so there's no sneak penalty like with power armor, and they can be repaired more easily (Talon Company's mercenaries provide plenty of spare combat armor for repairs). Their DR is 38 and 39, respectively, only a few points lower than most power armor variants, and they each have useful stat bonuses. The catch for Lag-Bolt's armor is that you need to almost complete Broken Steel to get it, but the Ranger armor can be found as soon as you're up to fighting Super Mutants.
  • 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 the origin story told in Fallout would indicate. The plotline eventually justifies their presence: turns out Mariposa Miliary Base was not the only place where FEV was tested on humans.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The "Head of State" NPCs' route between the Temple of the Union and the Lincoln Memorial is long, full of double-backs, and treks through dangerous 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, and will not hesitate to utilize explosives regardless of how close they are to you, leading to Friendly Fire deaths. Fortunately this works in your favor as well; enemies will kill one another in the exact same way.
  • Ascended Meme: The "Adventures of Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood" radio play has Argyle defeat a bunch of super mutants though a popular player tactic: reverse-pickpocketing live explosives into their inventories (referred to as the "Shady Sands Shuffle".)
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Big weapons in general are difficult to put to practical use. To note:
      • The Fat Man launcher fires miniature nuclear warheads. Its unique variant, the Experimental MIRV, is a weapon that can fire eight mini-nukes at once. Problems: There's a limited number of mini-nukes (seventy-two in the entire vanilla game, with a handful more added by the expansions), and the toughest bosses in the game take two to three hits at most to kill with a regular Fat Man. Further, firing this weapon will very likely blow up the wielder along with the target. Overkill much? Fire it once for the "cool value," then sell it or stick it in a locker and never use it again.
      • The Minigun is useless in VATS, goes through ammo like a sieve, is too bulky to carry as a backup, does rather weak damage for what it is, and cannot score critical hits. It also has a long windup sequence to get the barrel spinning, during which your target is free to attack you. It is only really useful at close range, and is outclassed by the Flamer which has equally high damage potential and fires instantly when you pull the trigger.
      • The Missile Launcher has a clip size of one and takes too long to reload between shots to use as a primary weapon, and doesn't do enough damage per shot against high hitpoint targets to warrant carrying as a backup. It is also useless in VATS at long range as it will often miss.
      • The only Big Gun that seems practical enough for regular use is the Vengeance Gatling Laser. However, spare Gatling Lasers to use for repairs are rare, it deteriorates extremely quickly, rarely ever scores critical hits, and it can go through ammo quickly if you aren't careful. Also, the only place where it's obtainable is a sanctuary filled to the brim with Deathclaws.
      • The Rock-It Launcher, an improvised device that uses the Vendor Trash you pick up as ammo. Generally useless junk like bent tin cans and coffee mugs become lethal weapons with it. It's quite a bit of fun to watch a super mutant killed by a teddy bear. But in terms of utility, it's not all that strong as the ammo still has weight and weighs you down, and thus it can't even be as useful as a simple assault or hunting rifle with weightless ammo. Fun to play with just for the novelty, but little more.
    • Many small guns and energy weapons also have this problem:
      • The Scoped .44 Magnum and Sniper Rifle both break down too quickly, ammo is relatively rare, spares for repairs are difficult to find, and are almost always in poor condition when found or purchased. This means you need to find several so you can repair them into a single pristine gun which starts deteriorating rapidly with every shot.
      • The Alien Blaster will vaporize any standard enemy with one shot, due to its 100% critical hit chance and high base damage. But it breaks down very quickly (and can only be repaired by certain NPCs for cash) and has such a limited ammo supply that it's almost not worth using. Its best value is for headshots at Elite Mooks in VATS where more conventional weaponry won't take them down fast enough. With the Mothership Zeta expansion, it becomes more practical and downplays the trope, as you can keep it repaired with items found aboard the ship and can acquire significantly more ammo.
    • Melee weapons as well:
      • In general, melee are almost always suboptimal for anything other than sneak attacks. Why? Because most enemies will be shooting at you from a distance, and the ones that don't (like Deathclaws) have even stronger melee attacks of their own and should be dealt with at range anyway. While Min-Maxing your stats and perks to do insane damage with the Shishkebab while investing in the best-quality armor, defensive perks, and combat drugs to help you survive until you reach your target is a viable (and fun) option, it's never going to work as well as plain old Boring, but Practical small guns.
      • Jack the Ripper takes the cake. It's a Chain Sword with strong base damage that hits (read: gives Critical Hits a chance to proc) over 30 times a second and has a great crit rate, chewing through high-level enemies like nobody's business. In fact, with 10 Luck, a Melee Weapons skill of 100, and the perks Finesse, Superior Defender, Ghoul Ecology, Better Criticals, and Bloody Mess it can tear through Deathclaws in 2 hits and Super Mutant Overlords (Super Mutants that are one [big] step away from Behemoths) in 4. It also degrades in quality incredibly quickly and can only be repaired by cannibalizing the already-rare standard Ripper for parts or spending lots of caps at merchants. Expect to switch back to the equally-awesome but far more practical Shishkebab after it craps out in the middle of a long quest one too many times.
    • The "Nuclear Anomaly" Perk in Broken Steel. The in-universe explanation?  At 20 hit points or less, the Lone Wanderer blows up like a mini-nuke every 10 seconds until their hit points go above 20. So aside from only working at extremely low health and having the range of a hawked loogie, the damage is determined not by your Radiation level but by your Damage Resistance, it can (and most likely will) cripple your limbs as well as damaging your armor, if it doesn't do that it will kill you at any difficulty higher than easy, and there are few enemies that attack at close range running the gamut of Feral Ghouls and Raiders to Super Mutant Behemoths, Albino Radscoprions,Feral Ghoul Reavers, and Deathclaws (all of whom can kill you faster than you can heal). The final nail in the coffin is that it's a end-game perk and its only competition raises all your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats to 9.
    • In-universe, Liberty Prime. It was intended to be used against the Chinese in Alaska, but had so much heavy weaponry that they couldn't make its power supply sufficient.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname:
    • Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood, star of a series of radio dramas who can be met at Tenpenny Tower.
    • A very minor character in the Outcasts, Rococo Rockfowl. His dad named him from words in the Encyclopedia Atomica.
  • An Axe to Grind: Two are added in the expansions:
  • 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 defend 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.
  • Bag of Spilling: Operation Anchorage, The Pitt, and Mothership Zeta begin with the player temporarily losing everything in their inventory. This is because the first takes place in a computer simulation while in the other two your things are confiscated by raiders (The Pitt) or aliens (Mothership Zeta).
  • Ball Cannon: One of the types of traps is a pitching machine which fires baseballs at you if you set off a tripwire.
  • Base on Wheels: The Enclave's massive Mobile Base in the climax of the Broken Steel expansion.
  • Beam Spam: The Gatling Laser, naturally. It is a favorite of high-level Brotherhood and Enclave soldiers, as well as Fawkes.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Yao Guai are giant, mutated black bears which pack a punch and move as fast as Deathclaws.
  • The Beastmaster: The Animal Friend perk makes you this. At its first level, animals simply won't attack you. At the second level, animals will come to your aid in combat. Even the local Yao Guai will help you against those pesky mutants and raiders.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Following the Good Karma path tends to pay off. To note:
    • 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 as a companion-type benefits.
  • Behind the Black: Despite the fast travel effectively being a "skip journey" option rather than a true teleport, half the time you'll appear at your destination immediately surrounded by a group of mercenaries out for your blood.
  • Being Good Sucks: Typically averted throughout the game. The "good" path in the vast majority of quests results in better material rewards, more experience, and minimal downsides. In particular, the companions who can only be acquired by having "Good" karma (Fawkes and Star Paladin Cross) are significantly stronger than their "Evil" karma counterparts. The only downside is that they're available much later (one can acquire Jericho and Clover with enough "Evil" karma shortly after leaving Vault 101, while Fawkes and Cross require completing a good portion of the main quest) but you can easily make do with the karma-agnostic Dogmeat and Charon until you reach that point.
  • 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!"
    • Three Dog is remarkably well-informed for a man who so rarely leaves his broadcast area.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Plenty, including Radroaches, Bloatflies, Radscorpions, Giant Ants, 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.
    • The Mysterious Stranger can be this for the player under the right circumstances. Say you're low on health and a Yao Guai's about to rip your throat out, and your attempts to blow it's head off in VATS end in failure, only for the Mysterious Stranger to pop up and finish the job.
  • 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.
    • Yao Guai is Cantonese for hungry ghosts. It also means 'monster' or 'devil' in Mandarin.
  • Bishōnen 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 as they still look very fishy.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Some of the sidequests, although the Karma Meter may not always agree. To note:
    • 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 Jerkass 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.
    • The Tenpenny Tower questline is essentially a case of Bigot vs. Bigot, with the human-hating Ghoul Roy Phillips trying to get a better home for his people in the eponymous tower while its Ghoul-hating residents resist him tooth and nail. The only way the quest can end is with one side or the other being completely massacred; even if you get the humans and Phillips to agree to share the tower, the next time you come back Phillips will have slaughtered all of the humans anyway. Helping the Ghouls kill all the humans is considered a Neutral ending for some reason, while killing the Ghouls is considered an Evil outcome and results in Three Dog calling you a scumbag. Needless to say, a lot of players avoid doing the quest entirely because there's basically no satisfactory endingnote .
  • 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 Always Chaotic Evil. Whatever your Karma is, you still have to fight for/with the Brotherhood against the Enclave and Super Mutants to complete the main quest and Broken Steel. Though you can backstab the Brotherhood, by inserting the modified FEV virus from President Eden in Project Purity and/or targeting the Citadel with the Enclave's killsat.
  • Black Dude Dies First:
    • Catherine, the Lone Wanderer's mother, is the first character to die in the game. While the game never shows you what she looks like (other than her legs, which are unusually dark for the lighting effects used in the scene), use of PC console commands and an Easter Egg in Fallout: New Vegas show that she's black.
    • Jonas, killed out of spite for helping James leave Vault 101.
  • Black Widow: The name of a perk which enables a female Lone Wanderer to deal more damage to men and opens additional dialogue options while talking to them. It also has a Spear Counterpart for a male Lone Wanderer called "Lady Killer" that has the same effect on 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. Alternately you can shoot the arm being used to hold the weapon, and the enemy may drop it.
  • Blatant Item Placement:
    • You'll find stashes of useful items all over the place, despite the fact that most of them should have been looted long ago. It's possible that some of them haven't been there for very long in-universe, such as Survivalist Stashes, but other examples are harder to justify.
    • In a cross between this and Negative Continuity, items that could not (or would logically not) have existed before the Great War will sometimes turn up while you're plundering explicitly undisturbed pre-War sites - dirty (irradiated) water, leather armor, Jet (a drug that wasn't invented until 120 years after the Great War, on the other side of the United States) and Tales of a Junktown Jerky Vendor, a book that references a post-War settlement (also located on the other side of the continent) by name. Dirty water and Jet may be justified, with dirty water being just water in plastic bottles who stayed 200 years near Ground Zero of a nuclear detonation and Jet is basically Jenkem made from Brahmin dung.
    • Averted by the Nuka-Cola plant. While the place where Nuka-Cola was manufactured before the war may seem like the most obvious place to look for more bottles, it turns out that two centuries' worth of looters have, realistically enough, had the exact same idea already.
    • The Operation: Anchorage simulation takes this to the extreme, having ammo and health recharge stations every 50 feet. Further, they flash and glow red to make them obvious, along with new weapons to pick up and Chinese intel briefcases to collect.
  • Blinding Camera Flash:
    • Your character being blinded by one at a childhood birthday party is used to transition to the next point of your character's childhood/the tutorial.
    • In Point Lookout, one of the traps set by Kenny in the Herzog Mine is a camera that blinds you with its flash while a baseball pitching machine launches a pair of frag grenades at you.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • In-Universe, 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.
    • The Talon Company (an organization of ruthless mercenaries who get paid to ensure the Wastelands remain a chaotic, lawless, and disorganized place and take great joy in their work) became the "Compagnie Talon" in the French version of the game. Thing is, in French, the word "talon" refers to the foot's heel; the talons of an eagle would be called "serres" or, at the very least, "griffes". Given their nature, the translation of a "Heel" Company is also rather fitting.
    • Speaking of the French translation, the Mirelurk hunter has been translated as "Chasseur de Fangeux". Technically it's a correct translation, but it misses the context. "Chasseur de Fangeux" is "one who hunts Mirelurks", not a "Mirelurk who hunts".
  • Boats into Buildings: Rivet City is a beached aircraft carrier that, following the Great War, was converted into one of the largest and most scientifically advanced settlements in the Capital Wasteland. Among the features that the Lone Wanderer can find onboard are a market, a clinic, a science lab, a bar called the Muddy Rudder, and even a hotel.
  • 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 Forced Evolutionary Virus or Troglodyte Degeneration Contagion, 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. Combined with Sneak Attack Critical Hits, most enemies can be taken down with a single head shot.
  • 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.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Small Guns may not have the spectacular effects of Big Guns or Energy Weapons, but they are more plentiful, more reliable, and easier to keep supplied with ammo. To note some specific examples:
      • Assault Rifles hit a nice sweet spot between range, rate of fire, and stopping power, are easy to repair, and use some of the most common ammo in the game.
      • The humble Hunting Rifle lacks the scope and additional critical hit chance of a Sniper Rifle, but does nearly as much base damage, uses more plentiful ammo, and is easier to keep repaired.
      • While a shotgun might not be considered the sneakiest weapon in a game, combat shotguns become somewhat ridiculous when taking into account how the game handles critical hits (per projectile rather than per shot,) and shotguns fire nine projectiles. With relevant perks and the proper-name version, shotguns can do more damage from a sneak attack than the Fat Man.
    • Despite all the flashy Power Armors and gimmicky clothes littered around the wastes, the Combat Armor is what you'll end up wearing for the vast majority of the game. You can buy it from Craterside Supply, the first shop in the game, after a short, randomly generated time period. So short, in fact, you might not even use the Leather Armor at all, of which the Combat Armor's damage resistance is higher than, not to mention near equal with the much heavier Metal Armor and Power Armors which take up inventory space, slow your movement, and, in the case of Power Armor, penalizes your ability to Sneak. The unique Reilly's Rangers combat armor has the best DR in the game excluding power armor, doesn't slow you down or impede your Agility/Sneak, and can be repaired with normal combat armor found on Talon mercs all over DC. It also gives some nice stat boosts.
    • Several skills qualify:
      • Repair is one of the most practical. It allows you to combine items of the same type, adding their durability together so that your weapons and armor keep functioning. Necessary, but not particularly impressive as far as combat goes. Or is it? In fact, it is a serious force-multiplier. As an item's durability value increases, so too does its related function (well-repaired weapons do more damage, good condition armor offers more protection, etc.) This means that a player with good Repair skill can outmatch their opponents even when the opponents use ostensibly the same equipment, since the player has them in better quality. Furthermore, better condition pieces of equipment sell for more money, meaning that the player can transform several low-value items (which would be too heavy to carry all of) into fewer high-value items which are easier to carry back to a merchant.
      • The Barter skill gets you better prices at merchants, which doesn't sound like much, but can make the difference between scrounging in the trash for loot to sell, obsessing over maxing out your price to weight ratio just to keep your weapons repaired, and enough healing items to not die versus rolling in enough caps to buy everything you need as well as pimp out a penthouse apartment.
    • Several perks qualify:
      • The Strong Back perk lets you carry an extra 50 lbs in your inventory. Stop yawning! That's enough to slap on a suit of Power Armor and strap a missile launcher or two to the back while still having room for the rest of your loot.
      • The Educated perk gives +3 skill points per level, an extra 78 by the time you hit the level cap if you take it as early as possible.
      • The Comprehension perk gives you one measly extra skill point (skills max out at 100) when reading a skill book, which doesn't sound like much. Then you realize that there are 324 skill books to be found in the wasteland, and suddenly spending that same perk slot on any of the "+5 each to two different skills" perks sounds like a ripoff. You don't have to go too far out of your way before it pays for itself.
      • Intense Training provides a single point in one of the player's seven primary stats. This means +2 to 1-3 skills (or +1/2 a point, rounded up, to all of them, in the case of Luck), as well as any derived stats that are governed (more hit points for Endurance, more carrying capacity/melee damage for Strength, etc.). However, despite all the passive bonuses, it doesn't actually do anything noticeable.
      • For female player characters, the Black Widow perk gives a handful of dialogue options that generally aren't nearly as fun as you'd think. It also gives 10% bonus damage against male enemies, which encompasses the majority of Raiders and those pesky Talon Company mercs that are always giving you a hard time.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: There is a Super Mutant Behemoth in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building. Behemoths only have melee attacks, but this one is notable because it is encountered in an arena which can only be accessed through doors which are smaller than the behemoth (the four other Behemoths are found in exterior maps). The safest way to kill it is to pepper it with bullets while remaining in a safe spot outside of the room.
  • Brain in a Jar:
    • Robobrains are human brains in a dome full of liquid atop a robot chassis.
    • Professor Calvert in Point Lookout is pre-war human brain in such a state hooked into a computer system.
    • The end of the Point Lookout main questline presents a literal example of this trope, since you are able to obtain a piece of your own brain closed in a jar which had been removed by the Tribals during ritual lobotomy.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Inside Vault-Tec headquarters is a computer terminal that describes rule violations regarding the vending machines. They ask that if the machines do not dispense what you purchased, to please refrain from kicking, punching, shoving, hitting the machines, or filling the coin slots with fecal matter.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Lincoln's Repeater is a unique Civil War era lever-action rifle. It is also found in a museum, naturally.
  • 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.
  • Brown Note: Vault 92 lured in musicians from all over the world for the purpose of preserving musical art and culture, but their experiment involved secretly broadcasting white noise through the speakers to test out a form of mind control. While there was some initial success with the testing, inhabitants eventually went crazy and killed each other. Using a computer terminal to flush each level of the vault with white noise will instantly kill all the mirelurks walking around.
  • Bucket Helmet: The Mechanist, a would-be superhero who leads an army of robots, wears one. By completing the related quest, you can acquire it.
  • Bullet Time: Using VATS has this effect. Time freezes, allowing you to line up percentage-based shots on enemies depending on your Action Points, then fires those shots in slow motion.
  • Bully Hunter: During the tutorial, you can take down resident Vault 101 bully Butch DeLoria, who is harassing Amata with his fellow Tunnel Snakes, a gang of Greaser Delinquents. Choosing this option nets you a decent amount of good Karma early on. You can also get him on your side by saving his mother from the Radroaches during the Lockdown, earning you further Karma.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • The original ending. It has to be either you or Sarah that fixes Project Purity by sacrificing yourself. This is despite the fact that you can have one of three radiation-immune companions with you, who wouldn't have to die while performing the task. If you try and convince them, they all come up with excuses: Fawkes rattling off something about "destiny", RL-3 calling you a coward, and Charon just flat-out refusing despite being brainwashed into complete obedience into whoever holds his contract. Fixed with the Broken Steel DLC, where the Lone Wanderer can make an Unexplained Recovery between the ending and the DLC, and with Fawkes, RL-3, and Charon now able to fix Project Purity if they're present for the final decision. Sarah, however, remains dead if chosen to make the sacrifice.
    • The Pitt makes damn sure you enter it with nothing but a slave outfit and maybe a concealed weapon. If you wear the slave outfit, the slavers simply confiscate everything in your inventory, and if you try to brute force your way through the front gate, you get knocked out and looted by raiders (see the Cutscene Incompetence entry below).
  • 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: In the Show Within a Show - the radio-drama The Adventures of Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood. Justified because it's radio and the audience can't see what he's doing.
    • When Herbert and Argyle need to get past a guard.
      Argyle: Hey, buddy, got a light?
      Guard: What?
      Argyle: Lotus Kick!
      Guard: Aieee!
    • He uses the Eagle Claw! on the Black Widow, ripping her heart right out of her chest when she reveals her identity in Rockopolis.
  • Cannibal Clan: The Wilsons and Smiths of Andale. It should be noted that they (as a family line) have been living in Andale for over 200 years.
  • 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.
  • 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 are are one-handed, militarized chainsaw.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Since bringing up your Pip Boy menu freezes the game world, you are free to change your entire outfit during a fight. This is especially notable as many articles of clothing offer useful state or skill bonuses, but very little in the way of protection. You may be wearing the Naughty Nightwear in order to improve your dialogue skills for a conversation, then can instantly switch to your armor if a fight breaks out.
  • 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.
    • In Point Lookout, after you help Desmond defending Calvert Mansion against an attack of tribals, he mentions it could have been harder and he didn't even have to hide in his saferoom. The last part of the DLC's main quest starts with Calvert Mansion being destroyed, and you find Desmond hiding in said saferoom.
    • When you flee from Vault 101 in the beginning of the main quest, you'll find files about the G.E.C.K. in the Overseer's computer, several quests before it becomes relevant in the story.
  • 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 crippling their wings won't stop them flying altogether).
  • Closest Thing We Got: Margaret is a technician who takes Three Dog's place if he should die. She protests this fact and makes it very clear that she's not the right fit for the job.
  • Clueless Aesop: In the original release, the good-karma ending requires you to sacrifice yourself in a radiation filled chamber to ensure purified water. This radiation bypasses protection from radiation suits, Rad-X, or Rad Away. Even with Broken Steel adding the option to ask the radiation immune Charon or Fawkes to activate Project Purity instead, the game calls the player a child for not doing it themselves. Apparently, it's better to throw your life away for the sake of following a father's example than to find a way to complete the objective and live, because sacrifice is the "greatest of virtues".
  • 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:
    • Plentiful in both NPC dialogue 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: Many examples. 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", finding 10 briefcases of Chinese intel in Operation: Anchorage, etc.
  • Color Wash:
    • The entire game is overlaid with a very noticeable green color filter, which can be disabled via modding.
    • The areas added by The Pitt and Operation Anchorage have rust-red and blue filters, in keeping with their respective themes (industrial and wintery). Point Lookout takes the base game's filter, cranks it Up to Eleven, and adds a thick green haze, likely to hide the lack of detail beyond the playable parts of the map.
  • 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. This is taken to the extreme with the Double-Barrel Shotgun in Point Lookout, which has an additional 35 points of damage for each one of every 9 pellets, adding up to a crippling 315 points of damage added to its base 85 points of damage.
    • NPCs can effectively shoot at you even when they're not actually facing you. In most cases, this is hard to notice, but a melee or unarmed oriented character will see it frequently as NPCs nail you with ranged weapons while facing away from you.
    • NPCs can, after running up against something long enough, simply clip through it. 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, for example, a Raider clip through a fence to get to you.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Certain NPCs will occasionally pester you about sidequests you've taken but haven't finished yet when you pass by them, like Lucas Simms asking if you're really going to disarm the town's nuke. Tranquility Lane also has your mission objectives constantly flashing on-screen if you take too long to finish them, though that's more of an Anti-Frustration Feature since you can't access your Pip-Boy to review your objectives manually while in the simulation.
  • 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.
    • In Grayditch are a series of terminal entries belonging to a dead man named William Brandice, a deserter from Navarro who managed to make it all the way to the Capital Wasteland. One who grew paranoid upon finding out that the Enclave had also arrived, and might track him down for deserting his post all those years ago. This also foreshadows the Enclave Remnants in Fallout: New Vegas.
  • Cool, Clear Water: Averted; providing fresh water is, in fact, the driving purpose of the game. All water "in the wild" is radioactive, with the only clean water coming out of purifiers. Particularly jarring in Oasis, an Arcadia which otherwise looks like it was pulled straight out of Oblivion, but still has pools of radioactive water.
  • 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 perk was thus heavily Nerfed in Fallout: New Vegas to a flat amount instead of a full refresh.
  • Cool Plane: The Enclave's Vertibirds.
  • Cool Shades: Many variants of sunglasses and other eyewear exist in the game. The Lucky Shades in particular give a +1 bonus to your Luck Stat.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: In 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, is modeled after 1950's Suburbia with cheerful background music, neat and clean houses, perfectly manicured lawns, and white picket fences: a complete contrast to the wrecked and rotten neighborhoods of the surface world. However, it's also controlled by a sadistic German scientist named Dr. Braun in the guise of a little girl, who uses his powers over the simulation to torment, torture, and murder the other residents over and over again. Even without Braun's cruelty, it wouldn't be a nice place to live anyway, as it consists entirely of a Cut-and-Paste Suburb nestled within a small cul-de-sac with no apparent outside world.
  • 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 the settings of the previous games and sequels which have full blown functional towns and rebuilding nations, 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 New California Republic out west, 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.
    • Pittsburgh, as seen in The Pitt, crosses straight into Death World territory. The sky is choked with pollution, and the water is not only irradiated even more than in DC (taking a swim in one of the rivers will kill you within seconds) but is also full of unknown mutagens, leading to horrific mutations within some of the residents. Many of the original residents have either gone insane and become Wildmen or mutated into Trogs. It got to the point that when the Brotherhood of Steel arrived, their solution was to just slaughter everything except the few unmutated residents left, and attempts to bring about order afterwards only led to the Pitt turning into a brutal slave den.
  • Creepy Child: Betty is the queen here, although quite a few children exhibit Troubling Unchildlike Behavior. It helps that Betty is not actually a little girl.
  • Creepy Cleanliness: Vault 112. There's a good reason for that.
  • Christianity Is 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.
    • Your Mr. Handy robot butler Wadsworth/Godfrey can also tell this joke: "Photons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic."
  • Critical Hit Class: 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: Many, many examples around the wasteland, some of which you can inflict yourself. See Gorn and Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Take It Back! quest sees you join up with a Brotherhood of Steel squad and Liberty Prime to deal one of these to the Enclave on the way to reclaiming Project Purity. You can simply follow Liberty Prime while looting the bloody chunks of what used to be Enclave soldiers left in his wake.
  • Cursed With Awesome: Having a very high Karma Meter has two major effects: a citizen of Megaton will occasionally present you with a gift from the town, and you'll occasionally be attacked by Talon Company mercenaries intent on stopping your do-gooding. The gifts are at best nice but inconsequential (a Stimpak or some ammo) and at worst useless (an iguana on a stick) and many players find them annoying, but the Talon Company encounters can be very lucrative, yielding plenty of Combat Armor that can be sold or used to repair one of the best unique armor sets in the game, high-level weapons like plasma rifles, and lots of ammo on top of a decent bit of experience.
  • 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 for example, 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.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: In The Pitt, if you try and brute-force your way through the city's main gate, you get treated to a cutscene where a trio of raiders beats you unconscious, in order to force you into becoming a slave. It's likely that many players attempting the DLC's main quest are at a high enough level, and have good enough weaponry, to make short work of raiders by the time they arrive.

    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. 2 was set in a barely-grazed California where civilization is on the road to recovery and silly comedy is the order of the day. 3 is set in a Washington D.C which was one of the most heavily hit cities in the US during the war, civilization is an impossibility, and every day is a struggle for survival even if you're lucky enough to have a place in a rare stable settlement.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead and Dark-Skinned Blond: You can set your race to Hispanic or Afro-American, then choose crimson-red or platinum-blonde hair.
  • 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 is an Easter Egg version.
    • The Bradley-Hercules Kill Sat the Enclave use to destroy Liberty Prime in the Broken Steel expansion in the quest, fittingly named, "Death From Above". What's more scary is the fact that Bradley-Hercules has 8 salvos of warhead missiles and the remaining 4 could have been able to target Megaton, Rivet City, and Project Purity if the propulsion system wasn't busted.
  • Death World:
    • The Capital Wasteland, when compared to the settings of the other games in the series. Radiation and FEV-created hostile mutated fauna everywhere, undrinkable water full of radiation, and crazed Raiders and Super Mutants armed with deadly weapons exist to pick off anything unfortunate enough to have survived the initial carpet-bombing of the D.C.
    • Pittsburgh in The Pitt takes this Up to Eleven. When the Pittsburgh area was bombed, the smog from all the factories combined with the radiation from the fallout to create mutagens that force Ashur to capture slaves from outside as children born in the Pitt usually have a 100% chance of becoming horrible, cannibalistic, crawling trogs similar in behavior to Feral Ghouls.
  • Deceased and Diseased: Ghouls are crawling with radiation, and higher-level ones can use radiation attacks to infect the player.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: In-Universe, the existence of Liberty Prime. Intended to be deployed during the Anchorage campaign, it was delayed due to its absurd energy and resource consumption. (It was actually less resource heavy to send in a veritable army of Powered Armor soldiers instead). It never saw action before the Great War...then the Brotherhood of Steel discovered it and resolved its energy issues in time to use it against the Enclave, with utterly devastating effectiveness.
  • Defector from Decadence: Old Man Harris used to be one of the lunatics in Andale until he had a Heel Realization. If you kill them all he not only thanks you for what you did, but promises to raise the two child survivors to believe that cannibalism and incest are wrong.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Tranquility Lane is entirely in black and white, giving it the feel of a 1950s era TV show which it emulates.
  • Developers' Foresight: See here.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The diplomacy path of the "Tenpenny Tower" quest. Sure, Roy Philips is clearly no angel from the moment you meet up, but there's no advance hint that he's bad enough to repay your getting him into the Tower by murdering every single human in the Tower for little to no reason.
  • Diegetic Interface: Zigzagged with the Pip-Boy 3000 for all of your in-game menu screens, but not the HP/AP gauges, compass, or ammo counters that form the in-game HUD.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Killing a super mutant behemoth with a single head shot from The Terrible Shotgun. Doing it is amazing to see, doing it is extremely difficult as it requires you to have Better Criticals, 100 in your Small Guns skill, the gun in pristine condition, be sneaking, and hit all nine pellets in it's face outside of V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec's Assisted Targeting System) so each of the pellets get the critical damage bonus. Whiff that one shot and you'll have a pissed off giant trying to find you/finding you to beat your face in with a fire hydrant.
  • Dirt Force Field: Averted, everyone from raiders to the Tenpenny residents are covered in grime. See Real Is Brown.
  • 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 share this attitude. It seems that it was quite popular to program into robots during pre-war America.
    • There are also ghoulified Chinese forces left behind after the Great War held up in a Mama Dolce's food processing plant. The Chinese play the bad guys in Operation: Anchorage and the mercy option in Tranquility Lane, where they are programmed to attack on sight.
  • Disadvantageous Disintegration: Downplayed. Laser weapons can reduce corpses to piles of ash while Plasma weapons leave a pile of "green goo". In both cases, you can still loot everything the body had on it. However, the piles are much smaller than corpses, can be harder to see in a dark environment (for the ash piles), and are much more likely to clip through the environment than a true corpse, meaning it can be lost beneath the game world with no way to loot it.
  • 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: If following the main quest, the first Behemoth you come across, just outside of Galaxy News Radio.
  • Disc-One Nuke: See the series' page here.
  • Disney Death: With the Broken Steel DLC, choosing to sacrifice yourself only results in a two-week coma.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Death is the only punishment for almost any crime in the wasteland. Everyone in the vicinity will open fire, no matter how petty the crime. 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 for instantly 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. Specifically, activating any security robot you find in a Metro station will cause it to use lethal force on anybody in the station without a ticket.
    • 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, unless you take steps to ensure otherwise... or destroy the water chip and force an evacuation.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: A quest in Rivet City has you retrieve mutant ant pheromones for Angela Staley so she can use them to drug and seduce an acolyte named Diego, who likes her but considers his vow of celibacy and duty to the church more important. She succeeds, leading him to abandon his lifelong dream of priesthood and marry her out of a sense of obligation. Despite the circumstances constituting Date Rape, doing this gives you good karma and the rest of the town applauds it because they're "perfect for eachother".
  • Downloadable Content: There are five DLC Expansion Packs: Operation Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta. The "Game Of The Year Edition" comes with all the expansions bundled in but inactive by default, giving you the option to pick and choose the ones you wish to play with.
  • The Dreaded: The Puppet Man, to the slavers in Paradise Falls, at least. When you find his Vault 77 jumpsuit, it is found with a holotape which is titled in all caps as "BURN THIS GODDAMN JUMPSUIT", in which a slaver advises another to burn the jumpsuit in fear of attracting the Puppet Man.
  • Dreamville: A visit to Vault 112 reveals that the inhabitants have been incorporated into a highly sophisticated virtual reality simulation; though they've played other scenarios over the decades, their current home in the digital realm is a black and white sitcom suburb called Tranquillity Lane. Though unimaginably luxurious by post-apocalyptic standards, the fact that the roads don't go anywhere, there's no colour and all the buildings look the same make it a little bit unnerving. Not that the residents notice: they've been brainwashed into forgetting everything prior to their arrival two hundred years ago, all so they can serve as the playthings to Vault 112's sadistic Overseer, Dr Stanislaus Braun. He routinely tortures and kills all of them, then brings them back to life, erasing their memories so they never acclimatize to the trauma. In his diary, Braun specifically states that the domestic environment makes them feel calm and secure, making it that much more satisfying for him when he brings the illusion of safety crashing down. Worse still, entering the neighbourhood instantly regresses you to about ten years of age, removes all your hard-earned skills and equipment, and leaves you trapped in virtual reality until you play along with Braun's sadistic desires — or find a way of sabotaging the simulation...
  • 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 high-tech Super-Sledge.
  • 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.
  • Egopolis: The Republic of Dave, which changes its name based on its leadership. It has been the Republic of Stevie-Ray and the Kingdom of Tom; your actions may cause it to transform again, into Bobland, Bobtopia, or 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. If by some chance you help him survive as he makes the place his new home, he'll eventually attack you for bothering him too much.
  • Easily Forgiven: You can do the most evil of things - blow up Megaton, murder citizens, steal from everyone - but give a beggar a bunch of purified waters and your karma will be back to "Very Good" in no time.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Ug-Qualtoth, an ancient creature of unknown origins and form that is worshiped by the Swampfolk of Point Lookout and the people of the Dunwich Company. Its altar, the only thing we see of its power, burns those of "unclean blood" when the Krivbeknih is pressed against the obelisk in the Virulent Underchambers.
  • 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.Considering the name, it's rather appropriate. Further, it's also involved in disposing of a "holy" book with decidedly Lovecraftian elements.
  • Elite Mooks: The Broken Steel DLC adds several for various groups. The Enclave gets Hellfire Troopers in high quality power armor wielding suped-up flamethrowers. Super Mutants get the mighty Overlords, feral ghouls get the damage sponge Reavers, and for critters, there are the Albino Radscorpions.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Biwwy in Wittle Wampwight. Wanna buy his Wazer Wifle?
  • 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.
  • Enemy Civil War: Can occur if you convince President Eden to destroy himself, in which case the defense systems in Raven Rock will turn against the Enclave. In conversation with President Eden, and in the games supplemental materials, we see that something akin to this has been brewing for a while, as Colonel Augustus Autumn disagrees with the genocidal aims of President Eden and has a different direction for the Enclave. Hence why Eden asks the Lone Wanderer to use the FEV, as he knows Colonel Autumn wouldn't.
  • Energy Weapons: Par for the series, including Laser Rifles/Pistols, the Gatling Laser, and Plasma Rifles/Pistols. They are generally more powerful than their "Small Guns" equivalents, but are more rare (meaning upkeep is something of an issue), use harder to find/more expensive ammo, and do not pair well with stealth.
  • Erotic Dream: Implied at the end of the intro/tutorial. Amata wakes you up to tell you her father has lost it, and one of your responses can be "I was just dreaming about you", to which she will say "eww, gross".
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer: In full effect for firearms.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: With mushroom clouds, thanks to their atomic 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" karma character is likely to have this result. 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 wants Megaton destroyed because it blocks his scenic view. Granted, he wants the people evacuated before it is destroyed, 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 vs. Evil:
    • Crowley and Tenpenny during the "You Have To Shoot Them in the Head" quest. After being left for dead by Tenpenny and his fellow mercs, Crowley harbors a grudge and wants to see them all killed. If you go through with it, Tenpenny is very much an Asshole Victim and you lose no karma for killing him.
    • Tenpenny (again) and Roy Phillips. Though it just seems like Black-and-Gray Morality at first glance, Roy's actions upon resolving their quest in his favor make in into this trope.
    • 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 as DLCs, including Broken Steel that changes a much-reviled element of the original ending.
  • Explosive Leash:
    • The Paradise Falls slave collars, which is designed to keep the slaves in line.
    • The Surgeon in the Red Racer building uses these on the ghouls and super mutants they capture. You can cause all their heads to pop at a computer terminal.
  • Exposition of Immortality:
    • Many of the now Ageless ghouls you can encounter in Underworld lived through the Great War and can tell you what they can remember of the time before. Carol was born in 2051, twenty-six years prior to the Great War.
    • Agelessness is a trait of Super Mutans as well. Some of Fawkes' dialogue implies that he was alive during the initial FEV experiments conducted in Vault 87.
  • Face–Heel Turn: At the end of Operation Anchorage, Defender Sibley is understandably upset that an outsider is being given all the super powerful weapons and armor sealed inside the armory that only just opened for the first time after you came out of the simulation.
  • Fallout Shelter Fail: Vault 112 is a virtual reality playground under the control of Dr Stanislaus Braun, with every resident brainwashed into serving his sadistic whims. Only a case of this trope gives the player an opportunity to stop him: one of the memory chips used to brainwash the residents is offline, allowing Mrs Dithers to help you out when you enter the simulation.
  • Fantastic Drug: Can't be a Fallout game without them. You have Jet and its upgrade Ultrajet, Psycho, Mentats, Rad-X, and Rad-Away. There is also the psychoactive drugs that are still pumped in Vault 106's air filtration system that drives anyone brave/greedy/dumb enough to enter insane.
  • Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables: Mutfruit and Crunchy Mutfruit. Additionally, there's the Punga Fruit from Point Lookout, which has the distinct ability to remove radiation when consumed.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • According to the Enclave, their ultimate goal is to ensure humanity's survival... too bad their definition of 'humanity' requires a background free of any risk of mutation (through mutagens or radiation). 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.
    • 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 at 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 neither delicious, nor candidates for FEV mutation.
    • The majority of people towards the necrotized Ghouls: 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 about the skin color of its soldiers.
  • 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.
  • Fast-Forward Mechanic: There is a "Wait" action that lets you pass by hourly intervals. You can also "Rest" in a bed for the same effect, which heals you. Doing so in a bed you "own" grants you the temporary Well Rested perk, which increases the experience you gain.
  • 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 worse.
    • 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, leaving him to an eternity in the simulation with no way out or the ability to die.)
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: In Operation: Anchorage, with a high enough Speech skill, you can get the Quartermaster to sneak you a Gauss Rifle under the table, telling you to give this excuse if anyone asks.
  • Faux Fluency: The Chinese remnants, the Chinese Commandos failsafe of Tranquility Lane, and General Jingwei of Operation: Anchorage speak Mandarin Chinese... very stilted Mandarin with every syllable stressed. The only excuse is that most of them are made from and for US Army virtual reality programs. The ghouls, however, have no excuse.
  • Fauxrrari: The Chryslus and Lockreed companies sponsoring the transportation and aviation exhibits, respectively, at the Museum of Technology.
  • First Time in the Sun: You have lived out your entire life in Vault 101, so when you first emerge from the vault, the sunlight outside is blinding. When the Lone Wanderer's eyes adjust... they see the blasted desert of America.
  • Fish People: Mirelurks Kings are actually mutated snapping turtles and in the concept art more closely resemble the idea. Mirelurks are also pictured to be crab people and shrimp people. The art even includes a mirelurk that was a mutant catfish. All but the catlurk used simple clubs and fishing nets with human skulls as weights.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • Your Ragtag Band of Misfits in Mothership Zeta.
      • The Leader: You, as the one who leads the group through the ship.
      • 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, she helps you free the others and guides the group around the ship.
    • Reilly's Rangers also qualify, given a little time warping.
      • The Leader: Reilly herself, naturally.
      • The Lancer: Butcher, Reilly's lover, tactician, and the team medic.
      • The Big Guy: Aptly named Brick, a minigun toting butch powerhouse and the only one that claims the Rangers survived by sheer skill.
      • The Smart Guy: Donovan, the Ranger's repairman and electronics specialist.
      • The Chick: Theo, the recently hired and recently deceased quartermaster who had yet to qualify for proper armor.
  • Flaming Sword:
    • The Shishkebab is a flaming lawn mower blade custom weapon.
    • Jingwei's Shocksword from Operation: Anchorage 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. You go from toddler to kid to teen for about thirty minutes of doing nothing that can't be done quicker such as gauging your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats and Tagged skills, learning about the Karma Meter, getting your Pip-Boy, or even learning a bit about Vault life. The action only really starts when all is said and done at age 19.
  • 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.
  • 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."
    • Related to the above: right before passing the GOAT, you can ask James if said catchphrase is true. He answers with a couple of very carefully phrased sentences which actually neither answer "yes" nor "no".
    • 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.
    • Your birthday is full of foreshadowing. 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. Old Lady Palmer also mentions it was ten years ago that "[your] daddy came," and says the Vault has so few children these days compared to when she was ten. Your father also gives you a BB gun for your birthday and sets up a makeshift firing range for you to practice on...because the two of you are actually from the wasteland, where having skill with a gun is paramount to survival.
    • During each "fast forward" transitions while you're growing up - starting with your birth/character creation, and moving on until your father leaves the vault, you are treated to a collection of out of context, often overlapping spoken lines from various characters, designed to portray the passage of time. While these will obviously make more sense during subsequent playthroughs, one of the voices is the very memorable, and very Irish accented voice of Moriarty - which plays during the transition from birth to "One year later". This alone will likely make the observant player realize that, when you finally meet Moriarty in Megaton, that he's telling the truth when he tells you that he saw you as a baby. Despite this, the only dialogue options you have, is to disagree, call him a liar, or completely ignore it and ask where your father went.
    • Tobar, the shady merchant and feryman who carries people to Point Lookout, carries a bonesaw, tweezers, and forceps in his inventory. Turns out he lobotomizes people who try to join Point Lookout's tribe.
    • Despite Vault 101 being a completely closed community, the female doctor who assists James during the childbirth custcene at the start of the game is nowhere to be seen during the Lone Wanderer's childhood. Its's a clue about James, Catherine, and the Lone Wanderer not being from Vault 101. The scene actually happened in the Jefferson Memorial, and the woman is Madison Li, who works in Rivet City, next to said place.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Mr. Burke, the man wanting to pay you to detonate the bomb in Megaton. As you can later learn, his boss at least wanted the town to be evacuated first, a fact Burke fails to mention to you.
  • 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 have the option of adopting their lifestyle, which doesn't seem to carry the Karma stigma that full-fledged cannibalism does, and lets you regenerate health by using bloodpacks.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: By actively accumulating Bad Karma, you can become one of the most hated and feared inhabitants of the Wasteland.
  • Funny Robot: One of the amenities in the player's house in Megaton or Tenpenny Tower is a robot butler. In addition to various functions useful to the player, he tells jokes when requested.
  • 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 NPCs, 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.
  • Game Mod: Countless, as is standard for a Bethesda game. They range from unofficial bug patches, to gameplay enhancements, to the obligatory NSFW mods, to complete overhauls, to absurd things like a Mininuke Minigun.
  • 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.
    • A female character wants to use ant queen pheromones to seduce a man. Whether she uses them on him to drug him, or on herself to appear more attractive is left ambiguous. The latter is supported by a +3 charisma boost.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • While the timeframe of your Dad's travels is left vague, he can't have gotten more than a few hours of head start on you leaving the Vault. You can still make a beeline to the appropriate quest locations and find out he's been there before you, including going to Vault 112 and finding him there. Despite how small of a lead he has on you, you can never catch up to him, even if you put of all distractions to pursue the main quest, and it's sometimes treated as though at least a few days have passed that you missed him.
    • 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). Fawkes gets to lampshade this a bit in one of his remarks, noting how even as a Supermutant he doesn't get attacked on sight simply by virtue of people trusting you.
    • 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. Just don't think too hard about the possible consequences...
    • 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.
    • In the Blood Ties quest, you can inspect a corpse with bitemarks on the neck and get a popup noting that it's strange how little blood there is. The corpse is sitting in a giant puddle of blood.
    • The end of the last quest (minus Broken Steel). You must go into a radioactive area to activate the water purifier; according to dialogs, the area is so heavily irradiated that doing so would be a Heroic Sacrifice. Without Broken Steel, it indeed is and you die; with Broken Steel, you're severely sick and fall in a coma for two weeks. Ingame, proper preparation beforehand (wearing one of the protection suits and taking a few Rad-X and RadAway before and during the procedure) actually allows to perform the deed without suffering from more than a reversible, perfectly curable radiation poisoning.
    • One part of the "Wasteland Survival Guide" involves planting an observer unit in the mirelurk colony living inside the Anchorage Memorial; said part has an optional objective which requires you to do it without killing any mirelurk, to not affect the results of the experience. You are, however, perfectly free to clear out the nest before starting this part of the quest which will not fail the optional objective.
    • The Mushroom Samba sequence of Point Lookout plays exactly the same regardless how far you progressed in the main quest, which means the Lone Wanderer will have a hallucination of Elder Lyons' corpse even they never heard of him before.
  • Gang of Bullies: Butch and the Tunnel Snakes of Vault 101, based on the "greasers" of the 1950s.
  • Gang Initiation Fight: A possible random encounter is an "initiation" by raiders. And by "fight" we mean "brutal one-sided beating". Four raiders will beat on a naked fifth with bats and tire irons to see if he/she is tough enough to be a raider. If they detect you while watching, the raiders will attack.
  • Gathering Steam: Miniguns need a second or two of spinning up before they start firing.
  • Gatling Good: Miniguns and Gatling Lasers are "big guns" options. Each also has even more powerful unique versions.
  • Genius Bruiser: Fawkes, a Super Mutant who managed to retain his rational intelligence. Still, he swings from Warrior Poet to Blood Knight pretty quickly.
  • 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. Come the sequels, her book has made it throughout the continent.
    Moira: Huh, did you know the human body can survive without a stomach or a spleen? Oh, hey, what's up?
  • Genre Shift: Operation Anchorage changes the game into a fairly linear (about the most choice you get is which of two objectives you want to complete first) sci-fi Call of Duty-esque shooter with mild squad management elements and far more blatant video game-y elements to fit the questline being a VR simulation (such as dead bodies blinking out of existence and health and ammo recharge stations.)
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Mirelurks, person-sized mutated crabs.
  • Giant Mook: Super Mutant Behemoths. Standard Super Mutants are already twice the size of an average person, but Behemoths double that yet again. They are the toughest foes in the vanilla game, being able to absorb multiple Fat Man strikes before going down.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Enclave Sigma Squad. They don't appear until the final quest of the Broken Steel expansion, where they spontaneously appear to attack the Lone Wanderer inside the Enclave Mobile Platform. They not hinted at until the moment where they appear, but there is no objective associated with fighting/killing them, and none of them even have any lines of dialogue of their own.
  • 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, incorporates one of these into the expansion's main questline.
  • Good Pays Better:
    • There is a mission to help a strange woman make a handy survival guide. If you risk life and limb to make a very informative book and tell her honestly about your results, you will make a better book and get a bunch of extra rewards, the least of which being people giving you free stuff in gratitude for helping save their lives.
    • In the Oasis quest, accelerating Harold's (or rather Bob the Tree's growth), slowing it, or peacefully putting him out of his misery will earn you various rewards. Mercy killing him with fire, however, will turn the Treeminders hostile and fail the quest, thus no rewards for you.
    • A player with Good Karma can eventually get the the Lawbringer Perk and work with the Regulators. If you bring them the finger of an Evil aligned person, you get a small fee of 5 to 10 caps and a small Karma boost. Given that you will constantly run into "evil" Talon Merc squads and raiders while exploring, this pays much better than it’s Evil counterpart. IT also you get a Badass Longcoat for your troubles.
    • The two most powerful companions in the game, Star Paladin Cross and Fawkes, can only be recruited if you have "Good" or higher karma. Their only downside compared to their "Evil" karma counterparts is that they cannot be recruited until you've progressed through a good portion of the main quest (about 2/3 of it for Cross and nearly all for Fawkes), but you can make do with karma agnostic companions quite easily until then.
  • 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. To note:
    • 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 Chinese writing on the Brass Lantern in Megaton is left unexplained.)
    • In Mandarin, yāo guài translates as "monster" or "demon." In Chinese mythology, "yao guai" are usually physical manifestations of the spirits of mistreated animals, or fallen divine animals.
  • Greaser Delinquents: The Tunnel Snakes, Vault 101's resident Gang of Bullies, have this as a theme.
  • Grenade Tag: Reverse pickpocketing grenades. There's even an achievement for it, aptly titled "Psychotic Prankster".
  • 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. However, without the raider army they'll be short on supplies, largely defenseless, and they lack 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. Drinking it will restore small amounts of health at the cost of increasing your radiation.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Clover, the slave you can acquire as a companion with Evil karma, doesn't take being dismissed very well. She (almost) starts to cry and asks, "But...but what did I do?"
  • Gunship Rescue:
    • The Enclave Vertibirds are a villainous example. After completing the first attempt at activating Project Purity, the Vertibirds will randomly appear in certain scripted locations wherever you travel in the Capital Wasteland, either dropping off Enclave troopers or performing strafing runs by unloading their ordnance at whatever is on the ground.
    • At the end of Broken Steel, you get transported via a Vertibird captured by the Brotherhood of Steel from the Mobile Base Crawler just in time to land at a helipad near the control tower minutes before the Kill Sat missiles rain down on the Crawler and wipe it out for good. Then you return to the Citadel with great fanfare (or discover it burning in ruins if you chose to target the Citadel with the missiles instead).

    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, it will play for you as well.
  • Happily Adopted: In Megaton, Maggie is perfectly happy being under the care of Billy Creel who took her in after her family was killed by raiders.
  • 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. This line exists purely to 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.
  • Heal It with Water: The main plot concerns the activation of a water purification system (which serves as a metaphor for healing the post-nuclear wasteland). It becomes an important factor in the Broken Steel DLC (set after the events of the main plot, where the system has been activated). In the game, purified water (hard to come by) is a healing item, and one of the few that don't cause the PC to accumulate rads (although any water does some healing, at the cost of radiation poisoning).
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • One of two options in the original ending of the game is to sacrifice yourself to lethal radiation in order to activate Project Purity. You can also have Sentinel Lyons sacrifice herself, leading to an ending where the narrator (Ron Perlman) suggests that you wimped out on your destiny. With Broken Steel, you can now have one of your radiation immune companions (Fawkes or Charon) do it for you, though you still get the "wimpy" ending narration.
    • Broken Steel also changes the original ending, allowing you to survive activating it yourself, albeit suffering a 2 week coma afterward.
  • Herr Doktor: A Morally Ambiguous one named Braun, no less, who is responsible for many of the twisted experiments in the Vaults.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The Point Lookout DLC. You're fighting a tribe of brain-dead crazies and homicidal, inbred, backwoods yokels who are linked to the Pre-War cult of Ug-Qualtoth. 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 Operation: Anchorage simulation is 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.
  • Hit Points: Displayed in the Pip-Boy, but not outside it.
  • 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, a 40 foot tall pre-war robot with tesla cannon eye beams and "backpack" full of nukes. It is also a bit of a Deconstruction, in that it high energy inefficient and was never deployed before the Great War as a result. Reconstructed at the end, after the Brotherhood fixes its energy issues. It deals a Curb-Stomp Battle to the Enclave, the most technologically advanced force in the wasteland. And then he's promptly destroyed near the beginning of the Broken Steel DLC. Senior Scribe Rothchild, while disappointed at what happened, immediately starts the project to repair and upgrade the big lug. Ten years later, Prime is back.
  • 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 unique weapon names, such as Man Opener, Jack (a unique Ripper), Rock-it Launcher, Board of Education, etc.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Surely the Overseer of Vault 101 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 Don't Like the Sound of That Place: "Murder Pass" and "Deathclaw Sanctuary". The Dunwich Building as well to those versed in Lovecraftian lore.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!:
    • The Black Widow perk allows the player to bypass certain quest requirements by seducing men into doing her bidding.
    • The Naughty Nightwear, which on a female character is a mildly risque leopard-print nightie, gives a bonus to Speech.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The Railway Rifle, a steam-powered custom weapon, can literally nail people to walls.
  • Improbable Power Discrepancy:
    • The Tribals and Swampfolk in Point Lookout 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). They take a beating and give as good as they get and more as their weapons deal additional damage to the Lone Wanderer, only to them.
    • Clover, a brainwashed and beaten slave girl in a pink dress and an explosive collar that was trained to be a Sex Slave... and bodyguard. Having her Melee and Small Guns skills tagged, she can learn how to be a pretty decent shot and is handy with a lead pipe. When first recruited (read: sold), she carries a Sawed-Off Shotgun and a Chinese officer sword, not too shabby at low levels.
    • The Lone Wanderer, a nineteen-year-old more or less fresh out of a Vault, will be murdering literally hundreds of heavily-armed soldiers and mutants in short order. Compare what happens if you leave Butch DeLoria (a fellow Vault 101 dweller of roughly the same age) to fend for himself in the wasteland.
  • Improvised Armor:
    • 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 Lockpick: Locks are opened using a screwdriver as a torque wrench and bobby pins as the picks.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • You can come across schematics for some fairly powerful weapons built from 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 filled with bottlecaps 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, at least initially. Examples include lead pipes, sledgehammers, pool cues, etc.
  • Incomprehensible Entrance Exam: At age 16, residents of Vault 101 take the G.O.A.T.note , an exam to determine the entrant's career within the vault. In practice, the questions are quite bizarre, often end up with entrants in jobs that seem quite contrary to the specialties they've selected, and the final "question" is a flat-out statement of devotion to the Vault's Overseer. In gameplay terms, it is used to determine the player character's starting and tagged Skills, but even then the answers to the questions don't always match up to the most logical skills. Finally, it can be skipped outright by talking to the teacher and the handpicking your skills.
  • 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, though the preservatives should have turned toxic long ago.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Until the player can get their hands on the best guns, they can make do with these:
    • The basic combat shotgun, hunting rifle, Chinese assault rifle, and 10mm SMG, can carry you through most of the game with little fuss. Their unique variants are another step up though still not "Infinity Plus One" weapons.
      • The Terrible Shotgun has one of the highest DPS scores of all small guns, but it struggles at long-range due to its very high spread. It also suffers from low item HP, but combat shotguns to keep it repaired aren't a problem to find.
      • Ol' Painless, the unique hunting rifle. Higher damage, better rate of fire, a spread of 0 giving it perfect accuracy at 100 Small Guns skill, and it can be repaired by the standard hunting rifles found just about everywhere. Certainly worth the long, dangerous trek to the Republic of Dave early in the game to get it.
      • The Xuanlong assault rifle, the unique Chiense assault rifle, is easily found, you'll probably complete the unmarked side quest to spawn it during the early-game Galaxy News Radio quest, and it's easily repaired with plentiful basic Chinese assault rifles. It deals more damage than its standard counterpart and has a larger magazine size.
      • Sydney's 10mm SMG is acquired in the Mall, where the GNR quest takes you, and offers higher DPS and a larger clip over the basic 10mm SMG.
    • A3-21's Plasma Rifle. Found at the end of a comparatively short questline if you know how to complete it, can be acquired as soon as you can reach Rivet City (read: as soon as you head to downtown DC), and deals plenty good damage. It hurts that plasma rifles to repair it are very rare until the Enclave arrives, but its innately high HP and repairing merchants can help with that.
    • Lincoln's Repeater. Good damage, low spread, great against unarmored targets, and found easily in the Museum of History which you can find early in the game. Uses rare ammo, but that's what merchants are for.
    • The humble double-barreled shotgun from Point Lookout. It has to be reloaded between every squeeze of the trigger, but anything within ten feet of it will be blown to bits.
    • For melee characters, a fully-upgraded and perked-out Shishkebab is only out-damaged by one other melee weapon (and even that mostly only on paper), and the initial, still-very-powerful-for-the-early-game model can be assembled using easy-to-find materials and a schematic from a traveling caravan or early sidequest. You can build it at Level 1 and still be using it regularly by Level 30.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: A lot of weapons are found late into the game or need a lot of work to track down, but they're worth it:
    • The Metal Blaster, found in The Pitt DLC, which is essentially a laser shotgun. It's one of the best energy wepaons in the game for close-range engagements, though at long range that ridiculous spread is going to suck.
    • The unique gatling lasers, Vengeance and the precision gatling laser. Vengeance offers higher damage a shot, the precision variant offers higher critical hit chance. Both slice enemies up real good.
    • The Alien Blaster. 100 damage a shot, fires rapidly, and always scores a critical hit. It has very rare and limited ammo, though, only a few hundred in the base game, with the add-ons adding a few hundred more, so you'll have to be picky about using it. The unique variant, the Firelance, is only found through a random encounter, but with the Pyromaniac perk is essentially the Alien Blaster with higher damage and an effect to set enemies on fire for even more damage over time.
    • MPLX Novasurge, found in Mothership Zeta. 80 damage a shot, low spread, decent critical multiplier, and uses plentiful energy cells as ammo. Its low HP and clipsize (8 shots at a time) hurt, but it hurts enemies a lot more.
    • Most any of the alien weapons in Mothership Zeta, owing to high damage, low AP cost, no spread, and plentiful ammo after completing the add-on. The unique variants of the weapons, the Atomic Pulverizer and the Destabilizer, are naturally just better versions of the already great basic weapons.
    • The Gauss Rifle, found at the end of the Operation: Anchorage add-on. Only gets off one shot before you need to reload, but that's usually all you need - it has great damage, a scope, no spread, and on a critical hit knocks enemies down.
    • The Tesla Cannon, handed to you at the end of Broken Steel. One of the most powerful weapons in the game, able to kill just about anything in two shots, with no spread so at 100 skill (which you certainly have by this point) it has perfect accuracy.
  • 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.
  • Informed Attribute: The Rockwells in Tranquility Lane. Despite their being happily married, it does not take much effort to get Mrs. Rockwell to suspect her husband is cheating on her. Justified as they exist as pawns in a virtual reality created by an overseer who enjoys sadistically tampering with their lives.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: We never do learn the motivation of the Mothership Zeta aliens... except that they're colossal bastards.
  • In-Series Nickname: The Lone Wanderer and "Kid 101" for the Player Character. A lot of kids in Little Lamplight and Big Town go by nicknames, such as Princess, Sticky Fingers, and Bumble but also go by their actual names.
  • 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.
  • 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. Used to frustrating effect in downtown DC, which is a maze of invisible walls covered in piles of rubble that the player often should be able to scale over with ease. This forces the player to use the labyrinthine sewers and subway tunnels to get around.
    • Operation Anchorage's invisible walls are anything but invisible (looking like blue forcefields) but serve the same purpose of keeping the player from wandering out of bounds, and are made visible to make the simulation look more like a simulation.
  • 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, built to protect America from the Communist Chinese threat, destroys the last (albeit heavily corrupted) remnants of the pre-war 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? Even more ironic when compared to the fate of the west coast Brotherhood in New Vegas. They've stuck steadfastly to their codex and have been reduced to a small remnant in one bunker as a result.
    • The "Civilization" that plays frequently on Galaxy News Radio is particularly ironic given the game's setting and premise. The song is sung from a Noble Savage's perspective decrying the dangers and absurdities of a capitalist "civilized" industrialized atomic age society, while preferring to stay in his "much more civil" pre-industrial pre-agricultural hunter gatherer society. This game shows you what the pitfalls of living in a hunter gatherer society are, and the radio station playing this song while advocating for a player to facilitate agriculture and industry seems counterintuitive.
  • I Shall Taunt You : The Raiders are really fond of this. To the point of threatening you with a bloody death even when your assault shotgun has already sent their head flying off their bodies.
  • Item Amplifier:
    • There is a perk that doubles the effects of books, which normally increase skills by 1 point.
    • An item called the Food Sanitizer increases the amount of health recovered by food items by 20%.
  • Item Crafting: The custom weapons. With a workbench, some schematics, and delightfully random junk, you can create some of the most powerful (and coolest) weapons in the game with little 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 guns, pool cues, and rolling pins which are so bad, you are better off using your fists. The toy knife found next to a hockey mask in Point Lookout is the weakest and most fragile weapon in the game.
  • Jump Scare:
    • Maze-like caves, sewers, subways, 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. Even out in the Wastelands, you're not safe from this as Yao Guai and Deathclaws are notorious for taking their prey by surprise.
    • 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!
  • Karma Meter: Per series tradition. One thing to note is the Karma Meter is your (and others) general reputation in the Capital Wasteland. It's partially the reason why you can give a bum water to make everyone forget that you just blew up a town. It's also the reason why killing Anna Holt or Roy Philips is seen as "bad/wrong"; since they have "Neutral/Good" karma (read: not "evil" like a Talon Company merc), killing them is seen as unjustified. This is also why you get "good Karma" for wasting Talon Mercs, the slavers of Paradise Falls, and other unpleasant people and gain "bad Karma" for enslaving them as you're only furthering the system.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Downplayed. The katana in the game is well above average melee weapon, but it's outclassed by the Shishkebob and the Ripper. It's only advantage over them is its relative ease of upkeep in terms of repairs.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Normally, townicide is a huge Kick the Dog moment for the player, but if the town is question happens to be the slaver den of Paradise Falls...
  • Kiddie Kid: Sticky Handsnote  or "Jack" as he calls himself. Despite being 16 (or his claimed 18), he acts like a selfish 10 year old due to his upbringing in Little Lamplight. If you didn't find Big Town before Little Lamplight, "enjoy" having Sticky telling stupid stories and asking "Are We There Yet?" the whole trip there. He also claims that Big Town's doctor Red is his girlfriend which she most likely disagrees with. Big Town is going to kick his ass.
  • Kill Sat:
    • The Enclave use one called Bradley-Hercules 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 with Lyon's Brotherhood. From then on out, they try and kill you on sight (including Cross, whom you have probably gotten up to the level ceiling to this point since she's a companion).
    • The main game features one code-named Highwater-Trousers, which is controlled from a radar station in the north-central area of the wasteland. It's mainly an Easter Egg.
  • Knife Nut: The player can optimize themselves to use only knives and be very effective at it, especially focusing on stealth to sneak in close for a critical strike. The Pre-War serial killer "The Pint-Sized Slasher" used a large kitchen knife to brutally murder their victims and you get to be them yourself in Vault 112.
  • Knockout Ambush: After retrieving the G.E.C.K. in Vault 87, as soon as you make your escape, you get knocked out by a stun grenade planted by Colonel Autumn's troopers and they apprehend your unconscious body to Raven Rock for questioning of the purifier in the Jefferson Memorial.

    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:
    • Robots in particular seem programmed to over-act with whatever personality they've been programmed with.
      Mr. Buckingham: You have insulted my honor and for...that you must die! *flamethrower*
    • Liberty Prime isecstatic to finally be in action and wants everyone within a one mile radius to know it. Fortunately "Take it Back!" is not a stealth mission.
      "Obstruction detected! Probability of mission hindrance: ZERO PERCENT!"
  • 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 even while he's off air.
  • Laser-Guided Broadcast: The radio DJ Three Dog often broadcasts the latest news, which often feature the protagonist and his/her exploits. Every second time you do something outstanding (or horrible), Three Dog talks to you on the radio and says congrats or what the hell respectively.
  • 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.
  • Last Lousy Point: Reilly's Rangers will reward you with caps if you explore the wasteland and visit every location on the map. Having the Explorer perk reveals all the locations on the map, but doesn't make them "discovered". For players who really want to do everything in the game, there is one location that is nearly impossible to actually discover: Vault 87. Even though you go to Vault 87 as part of the storyline, you don't actually discover it on the map because you enter it through Little Lamplight. The entire area around Vault 87's door is fiercely irradiated. Even if you have 10 endurance, the best radiation suit in the game, Rad-X in effect, and all the perks that raise radiation resistance to as high as it can possibly be, you can receive a lethal dose of radiation within 5 seconds well before you even get close to the spot. This means that you need to stockpile on Rad Aways, as you'll be consuming 3 or 4 of them to drop from down to zero Rads literally every 3 or 4 feet while attempting to get closer. Also, don't even think about using fast travel to escape from the area after you discover it. You WILL receive a lethal dose of radiation that will kill you the moment you appear at wherever you traveled to.
  • 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.
    • That said, it is possible to encounter enemies that you normally wouldn't see until a much higher level. 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 level independent "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.
  • Life Meter: At the bottom left of the screen, with a default green, decreasing from right to left, in blocks. Also the Sub System Damage for each part of your body, is displayed in their own bars, in the Pip-Boy.
  • 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.
    • 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 (unless you manually guard her on the trip). 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:
    • It is possible to blow off limbs and heads with powerful enough weapons.
    • With the Bloody Mess perk, you can reduce foes to a shower of blood and bits.
  • Made of Plasticine: Even moreso than the original games. You can easily sever limbs and heads with little more than a 10mm pistol or a knife (especially in VATS, and especially on a critical hit,) and shotguns and up can cause limbs to explode (even if you aren't aiming for them) or just reduce the target to chunky salsa. As usual, Bloody Mess makes this happen far more often (though contrary to the description, it isn't guaranteed as it was in previous games.)
  • Master Computer: President John Henry Eden, a.k.a. a ZAX supercomputer that has become sentient.
  • May–December Romance: A 19-year-old female Lone Wanderer can use the Black Widow perk on Mr. Burke, who is 56. He'll send a series of love letters to her.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Dunwich Building. Something is wrong with that place beyond the usual "post apocalyptic wasteland" issues. Objects move on their own, doors open and close without interaction, and you receive glimpses of the building from its pre-war days.
  • 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.
    • The long-deceased Dr. Malleus, who was in charge of an experiment in sonic brainwashing, has the same name as one of the tiny bones that make hearing possible.
    • Everybody in the Temple of the Union is named after a figure in Abraham Lincoln's government: Hannibal Hamlin (Vice President during the first term), Simon(e) Cameron (Secretary of War), Caleb Smith (Secretary of the Interior), Bill Seward (Secretary of State), and the dog, Four Score.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Per series tradition, many pre-war robots are still functioning and often quite dangerous. These include Protectrons, Mr. Handys, Mr. Gutsys, Robobrains, all the way up to the tank-like, missile-launching 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. It's Nuka-Cola. The glowing blue stuff on the floor is their newest soft drink which has the radioactive Strontium-20 as an additive to give it's stylish glow and the testing for it lead to the death of everyone trying out the first batch.
  • 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.
    • This is Harold's preferred option for ending the Oasis quest. He prefers that you destroy his heart in the tunnels beneath the mountain. You can also kill him with fire, which is far less merciful.
  • 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.
    • The Dunwich Building has something supernatural going on. In addition to classic haunting elements (objects moving on their own, doors opening and closing without interaction, strange voices), it contains a heavily radioactive obelisk and offers glimpses into the building's pre-war state.
  • 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 (and in DLC, whether you chose an ally who is immune or not immune to radiation), whether you were good, neutral, or evil on the Karma Meter, and whether you infected the Wasteland's water supply.
  • Money for Nothing: Zig-Zagged. With a decent barter skill and Luck stat, fairly quickly you'll find yourself swimming in caps with nothing to spend them on. If you eschew Barter and Repair in favor of flashier skills, on the other hand, you might find that paying merchants to keep your gear in good repair leaves you pretty broke.
  • Monster Clown: The Pint-sized Slasher's theme shown as a grinning paper-mache clown mask that hides their identity as they viciously murder anyone they want. Two of these mask are hidden in Point Lookout, Maryland waiting for the Lone Wanderer to find them.
  • 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" in the wasteland than peaceful settlers.
  • Motor Mouth: Zip, the Nuka-Cola addict in Little Lamplight along with Sticky Hands, the 16 year old who has to go to Big Town.
  • Mouthy Kid: Most 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 do 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.)
    • Part of the way into Point Lookout, you visit an elder Punga Fruit tree on a quest to collect some seeds. The tree sprays you with hallucinogenic gas upon picking them, sending you on a bad trip on the way back to the entrance of the grove. Along the way, you see bizarre imagery and pick up a collection of fake bobbleheads, whose flavor text mocks the player.
  • 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 by Enclave Eyebots which 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. He's so mysterious that he'll pop up in places like a fortified Enclave bunker, a computer simulation, or even outer space.
  • 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", per series tradition. They're hulking reptilians larger than a man with claws that really justify the name.
  • Negate Your Own Sacrifice:
    • Averted in the original game, to the anger of the fans — none of your radiation-immune teammates will enter the radiation-flooded problem area, not even the one who did a similar action just a few quests earlier, instead coming up with excuses about it being your destiny. 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, a Brotherhood of Steel paladin, to make the sacrifice, she snaps "What happened to chivalry?" (Oddly, if you are a woman, she still says this.) Err, chivalry, as in the idea that a Knight in Shining Armor 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.
  • Never Land: Little Lamplight has been populated entirely by children for nearly two hundred years. It's not clear how they replenish their population, but citizens are banished to Big Town on their sixteenth birthdays.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: At one point, Col. Autumn has captured (a) the missing component for Project Purity and (b) somebody who he thinks knows the secret password to access Purity's computer (you). He could just fly you to the Purity site and interrogate you there. However, President Eden orders him to take you (the Enclave's most dangerous adversary) directly into the heart of their incredibly-secret, you'd-never-have-gotten-in base for questioning. Eden has his reasons. If not for this detour, you'd have been entirely in Autumn's power, dooming your character and likely the Capital Wasteland as well.
  • Nice Hat: Eulogy Jones' hat, a bright red hat with a feather in it. Matches his zoot suit, too. The Pre-War hat is a snazzy fedora that goes nicely with the pre-war businesswear. The pre-war bonnet goes nicely with the pre-war clothes, a pretty sundress for women.
  • Nightmare of Normality: The game springs this on the players during the mission to Vault 112: upon discovering James imprisoned within one of the Tranquility Loungers, you take a seat in one yourself in an attempt to rescue him... only to end up in the virtual-reality neighborhood of Tranquility Lane, a suburban cul-de-sac modeled on 1950s-era sitcoms. Here, you're not only stripped of all your equipment but regressed to the age of ten - meaning that those hard-earned skills and powers earned out in the Capital Wastelands are now effectively useless. For good measure, it eventually becomes apparent that the Loungers are equipped with mechanisms that can erase your memory and alter your personality, ensuring that the illusion of normality is utterly unbreakable for most of the residents; fortunately, you're spared the extra mile of mental manipulation for as long as you remain amusing to Vault 112's overseer, Stanislaus Braun.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: You can't side with the Enclave in the main quest even if you have Evil karma, and are forced to side with the goody-two shoes Brotherhood of Steel. This is because you are a Wastelander and not a genetically pure human like the Enclave, so their genocidal plan will be harmful and potentially lethal for you. However, you can carry out President Eden's Modified FEV genocide plan for the Wasteland, and call an orbital strike on the Brotherhood of Steel's base after having them help you capture the Enclave base.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
  • Non Standard Game Over:
    • Attacking Betty in the Tranquility Lane simulation results in death via a pulse blast.
      "You can't do that here. And now you have to pay." [zap]
    • If you tell Colonel Autumn the activation code for the water purifier, he thanks you, then shoots you.
    • If you fail to activate the purifier in time, it explodes, terminating your game regardless of whether Broken Steel is installed, since without the purifier, the events of the epilogue can't take place, and the main characters are probably killed in the explosion anyways.
  • 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 Place for Me There: Should you accept and follow through with Eden's idea of purifying the entire Wasteland from mutated lifeforms. Remember, you're one of them.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Cure in The Pitt expansion. Justified - the cure involves tissue samples from a baby.
  • Notice This: Interactable items in Operation: Anchorage flash red and hum intermittently.
  • 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.
  • Obviously Evil :
    • The Raiders. Psychopathic, Ax-Crazy, and chem-addicted bandits looking like they were taken straight from a Mad Max movie. Their constant taunting about how they're going to slaughter you and enjoy it, as well as their exquisite taste in crib decoration (hanging decaying corpses all over the place) are just icing on the cake.
    • The Talon Company, who will come for your head as soon as you reach "Good" karma. They are basically more organized Raiders with better gear, but an organization whose insignia is a skeletal vulture preying on a crying baby rarely turns out to be all about kisses and hugs.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In Broken Steel, you wake up from a coma two weeks since the end of the main mission. Apparently, while you were under, the Brotherhood was systematically tracking down the Enclave remnants with help from Liberty Prime.
  • Off with His Head!: Getting a headshot on an enemy will frequently result in their heads popping off their shoulders. With enough damage, it will instead explode into a mass of brains and eyeballs.
  • Once per Episode: Despite the numerous difference, numerous elements from previous Fallout games still return in the third entry:
  • One-Time Dungeon:
    • Raven Rock, headquarters of the Enclave, is only visited once near the end of the main mission. Completionists would be advised to grab the collectible Energy Weapons bobblehead during that time, as you will not be able to re-enter to get it later.
    • Vault 101 where you begin the game. After escaping at the end of the tutorial, you can only return once during the mission "Trouble on the Homefront". Like Raven Rock, it is advised that you grab the Medicine bobblehead during one of these opportunities.
    • 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 Known by Their Nickname: Most, but not all, of the kids in Little Lamplight are referred to by their nicknames, whether they be good or bad, like Bumble or Sticky Hands.
  • Only One Female Mold: Even elderly, 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 formerly cannibal 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 if asked. However, 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 Problem:
    • 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.
    • No one thought the Enclave would still be active 35 years after the destruction of their primary HQ in Fallout 2. It makes it all the more shocking when their power armored troops fly in on vertibirds and seize control of Project Purity.

    Tropes P-S 
  • Padded Sumo Gameplay:
    • Sure, stealth and diplomacy are perfectly viable playstyles, 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 massive pools of hit points. At later levels they won't be individual threats, but they still take forever to kill. Just for you though, as most DLC foes can deal extra points of damage that isn't reduced by your Damage Resistancenote  and many travel in groups with others of their type (such as Point Lookout's Tribals and Swampfolk) or weaker variants (such as Super Mutant Overlords and Feral Ghoul Reavers). Hope you brought a lot of Stimpaks and Med-X.
  • 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 nonexistent. It really helps against Feral Ghoul Reavers due to their freakishly high amount of hit points and powerful attacks that make fighting against them a massive pain with very little reward.
  • Parental Abandonment: Your father leaves around your 19th birthday, which leads to the Vault falling into mayhem from the Radroach infestation and the Overseer going nuts. He had a very good reason for it however, despite the severe consequences for his child. "Latchkey" Kenny in Point Lookout was also abandoned by his parents, the Swampfolk, because he "don't got the marks" of a Swampfolk and was left to fend for himself.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil:
    • You do not get karma penalties if you do 'evil' things to evil people (including stealing from them or killing them 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. 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, borderline-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).
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • You can only enter in Raven Rock in a late part of the main quest, and can't go back once you leave. The area contains the Energy Weapons Bobblehead, which actually lies in an area (Colonel Autumn's room) that can't be returned to once you leave its Raven Rock's sublevel.
    • The Medicine Bobblehead is found in Vault 101, that (beside the prologue) can only be revisited for a single, easily missable, quest, before and after which it's inaccessible. This one is a bit more lenient than the Energy Weapons Bobblehead mentioned above, as you have three opportunities to grab it (right before passing the G.O.A.T., during the run from the Vault, and eventually when you return to the Vault during the "Trouble on the Homefront" sidequest).
    • It goes without saying that choosing to nuke Megaton will cause you to lose nearly all associated quests, followers, and equipment you might have wanted (with the exception of Moira's Wasteland Survival quest) — but that just serves you right. This includes the Strength Bobblehead.
    • At the end of Broken Steel, you must choose between wiping out the Enclave Mobile Base Crawler or the Brotherhood Citadel, which renders any loot inside the place unavailable; of course, blowing up the Citadel royally pisses the Brotherhood off, and makes companion Star Paladin Cross impossible to recruit again. note 
    • Points of No Return are all over the place in the alien ship of Mothership Zeta.
    • Not only is the whole simulation of Operation: Anchorage visitable once, but it consists in very linear levels with several Points of No Return, making its own collection sidequest and its unique reward (10 intel suitcases, getting all of them grants a free perk which increases Science, Small Guns, and Lockpick skills by 3) easy to fail.
    • If you complete the "Stealing Independance" sidequest by teaming up with Sydney, she'll then relocate to Underworld's bar and become a merchant if she survived the quest. Failing to do either results in the loss of a merchant whose stock contains tons of ammos, and who carries a high amount of caps. She also carries a unique SMG, which is lost forever if she dies and the gun isn't looted from her corpse.
    • Recruiting Charon causes him to murder Ahzrukhal, resulting in the disappearance of a merchant in Underworld's The Ninth Circle, though Ahzrukhal only sells alcohol and don't carry a very high amount of caps.
    • Sapling Yew from the Oasis settlement has a dialogue option during the "Oasis" siequest which results in a Speech check. Passing the check results in a permanent increase (+10) of the Speech skill. Failing the Speech check (unless you also have the Child at Heart perk) or not speaking with her at all while the quest is active makes this reward unobtainable.
    • In the Broken Steel sidequest "Protecting the Water Way", passing a Speech check allows to persuade Split Jack to give up their extortion plan of selling water seized from raided caravans. However, taking this specific option will result in the raiders blowing off steam by attacking Grandma Sparkle, a weak NPC owning the restaurant where the encounters happens, and most likely kill her, removing a food merchant from the game.
    • Point Lookout is full of these:
      • In the last part of the DLC, Calvert Mansion is blown up by Calvert, making all its content (truckloads of weapons, ammo, food, stimpaks, and various Vendor Trash) unavailable (though the building doesn't contain anything unique).
      • One of the objectives of Point Lookout sidequest "The Velvet Curtains" requires to trigger the self-destruction of a Chinese submarine abandoned not far to Point Lookout's shore. It doesn't contain much of interest beside a stealthboy, though.
      • Point Lookout's area contains three merchants, two of which will likely be killed over the DLC's main quest. Once you find Nadine, she goes back to the ferry and locks Tobar inside the ferry's engine room, where he'll remain until you visit him and turns hostile, which of course removes him from the game as a merchant (Nadine replaces him as the ferry's driver, but isn't a merchant). The other merchant, Panada, isn't supposed to die, but her shops lies in the middle of Pilgrim's Landing and the Tribals may attack her when turning hostile if the player sides with Desmont.
  • Persona Non Grata: You, and by extension your father, in Vault 101 after you leave at the end of the tutorial. Amata only lets you back when she begs for help as the civil war between those who support and those who oppose the Overseer and his oppressive reign. Once the quest is over you're back to being banned because you staying there would lead to the collapse of the Vault. If you choose to do so, you can sabotage the water chip and force everyone else out as well.
  • Phlebotinum Battery: You can get a perk called "Solar Powered" which gives you massive stat bonuses in the daylight. While this sounds great, the perk only works outdoors during the day (obviously) and you can gain the same bonuses (+2 Strength and 1 hit point every 10 seconds) using alcohol and the game's plentiful stimpaks.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: "Raiders" seem to do very little actual "raiding", in the sense of attacking inhabited settlements. Instead, 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 occasionally raiders will spawn as a random encounter close enough to a settlement that they and the sentries will spontaneously start fighting.
  • The Plot Reaper: Liberty Prime takes an orbital strike 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: One in your Pip Boy, per series tradition. It includes both a "Local" map and a "World" Map, from which Fast Travel is available from the latter.
  • 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.)
  • Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam: A section of highway in the Capital Wasteland features bumper to bumper cars, all of which still retain the working nuclear reactors that power each of them, and will explode if they take enough damage. There's also a horde of bandits that roam the highway and will attack you on sight. A fun way to deal with them is to shoot a car on one end and let the chain-reaction of explosions quickly blow up the entire highway with everyone standing on it.
  • Powered Armor: Per series tradition. However, it requires specialized training that limits it to the Brotherhood (both factions) and the Enclave. Advancing far enough in the main questline will get you training from the Brotherhood, as will the Operation: Anchorage DLC which can be accessed from day one if you choose.
  • 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!
  • Press X to Die:
    • When you find the G.E.C.K., you can ignore Fawkes' warning and run to the (lethally-irradiated) storage room yourself. It's doable with a lot of Rad Resistance. When you get it, you can pick it up or activate it; choose the latter and it'll first warn you that everything in a several mile radius will be annihilated to use for materials. You can then do it anyway.
    • Attacking Betty, the psychotic and omnipotent little girl in charge of the Tranquility Lane simulation, will see you killed very quickly.
    • During Mothership Zeta, you enter a decompression chamber both before and after the Space Walk. There's nothing stopping you from pushing the button before putting on the suit, or from taking the suit off afterwards. In both cases, Your Head Asplode. Likewise, you can walk off the edge of the saucer. Doing so plays a short cutscene of your character drifting off into space.
    • During the Broken Steel main quest, the Brotherhood of Steel asks to go to Old Olney in order to bring them a Tesla coil. The game allows to interact with the coil before turning it off, which kills you by electrocution on the spot.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: You can perform an equivalent of this on President Eden with a high enough speech check or once you've gotten his override code. His tone as you perform this is a mixture of surprise and desperation as he has no choice but to comply
    Eden: I... Oh. Oh my...
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • Nearly all Vault-Tec Overseers. Braun is an exception, as 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 penalized 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. Ten years later, she's one of the villains in the Institute, which is actually foreshadowed in this game when we see them try to recruit her.
  • 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.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Enclave Squad Sigma from the Broken Steel expansion, albeit heavily downplayed when compared to most examples. Although they are supposedly the most elite among the Enclave's soldiers, they don't really have much to offer as antagonists apart from their names.
  • The Quisling: Anna Holt. And according to the game's karma system, it's still wrong to kill her. However, she likely dies if the base self destructs. She only goes with the Enclave because she foolishly believes that they want to help wastelanders and save the Wasteland with their advanced technology.
  • Radiation-Immune Mutants: Ghouls and Super Mutants, per series tradition. Taking it a step further, they are even healed by radiation. Glowing Ones, a rare variant 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. Most notably, this happens with Colonel Autumn if you shoot him where he stands during the final mission.
  • Railroading:
  • Rare Candy:
    • The Vault-Tec Bobbleheads. Each gives one point to their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat or ten their skill. Some Bobbleheads can be Permanently Missable, such as the one in Vault 101 or Raven Rock.
    • Skillbooks. which give one point to each skill or two with the Comprehension perk.
    • Here and Now is a perk available at level 10 (or higher) which sends you to he next level automatically.
  • Ray Gun: Energy weapons ranging from Plasma Cannons to Frickin' Laser Beams to a bigass Lightning Gun to Mothership Zeta's on-board Death Ray, all but the last of which can turn any poor sod hit by them to turn into a smoldering pile of ash or a steaming pile of green goo. The only non-lethal ray gun is the Mesmertron, a Hypno Ray, that confuses the target temporary, when it doesn't make them go nuts or their heads to pop. Even then it has a lethal variant called the Microwave Emitter that cooks anything the beam hits and pops them.
  • Raygun Gothic: Mothership Zeta and a special encounter has the Alien weapons. The Alien blaster and variants look like a cheesy raygun, the Alien disintegrator and Destablizer variant look like a blunderbuss from a 50's sci-fi comic, and the alien atomizer and the Atomic pulverizer variant look like a Covenant plasma pistol that was designed by pulp fiction writers. That being said these weapons are very powerful, but very pricey and hard to keep energized.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The Enclave's improved FEV targets anyone who was born outside of the Enclave or a Vault...including you. If you plug the FEV into Project Purity and try drinking Aqua Pura in Broken Steel, you will suffer debilitating status afflictions. If you drink three bottles, you will die instantly.
    • If you have Broken Steel installed and activated Project Purity, you find in the Playable Epilogue that bringing clean drinking water to the Wastes wasn't as simple as flicking on a switch. The Brotherhood of Steel have to set up a complex water distribution network practically overnight, and they are not too thrilled about you putting such a bureaucratic nightmare on them.
    • The Tenpenny Tower sidequest with Roy Phillips. Tenpenny Tower has an exclusionary "no ghouls" residence policy, but being around Roy (a ghoul) for five minutes will clearly show you that he is every bit as a racist Jerkass as the tower residents. Even if you work out a peaceful solution that will allow Roy and his ghouls in, Roy will eventually turn on the human residents and have them all killed. Sometimes you will meet people who cannot be swayed in their mindset or personal beliefs. But unfortunately, unlike every other evil character in the game, killing Roy will net you negative karma and the local DJ will admonish you over the radio for it because he is convinced that Roy is the real victim in this situation and you are guilty of a cold-blooded racist "murder". Journalists might be ethical and committed to reporting the truth, but they can still get the facts wrong.
    • In "The Superhuman Gambit" sidequest, the mayor of Canterbury Commons hires the Lone Wanderer to get rid of either The Mechanist (a superhero who claims to be Canterbury Commons' protector) or The AntAgonizer (a supervillain who was somewhat harassing them before The Machanist's arrival) who are regularly fighting in the town. Aside from a young boy living there, the inhabitants aren't exactly pleased by the situation and feel those fights (The Mechanist has robots armed with machine guns and missiles, while The AntAgonizer controls giant ants) are much more dangerous for them than The AntAgonizer was initially. In other words, that how the muggles would probably feel in any setting where superheroic vigilantes are active.
  • 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. Justified as they spent most of it frozen with the oldest of them being a Edo-period Samurai.
  • 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' 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 affect 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.
    • 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.
  • Resurrection/Death Loop: During the mission "Tranquility Lane," it's discovered that the inhabitants of Vault 112 have been imprisoned in a virtual reality simulation run by sadistic Overseer Stanislaus Braun. For the last two hundred years, Braun has been regularly torturing his playthings to death, then resetting the scenario to bring them back to life - and also erasing their memories for good measure. The one exception to this is one Mrs Dithers: thanks to a malfunctioning tranquility lounger, she can no longer be mind-wiped, effectively leaving her trapped in a hellish lucid dream with no hope of rescue. The only way to spare the residents from any further torment is to use an incompatible "Chinese Invasion" program to override the safeties and put them down permanently, leaving Braun trapped in his virtual dominion with no more playthings. On the other hand, if you're playing on bad karma, you can play along with Braun's sick games and put them through a round of torture that ends with them being killed and resurrected all over again.
  • 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.
  • Reverse Escort Mission: In the quest "Following in His Footsteps", the Lyon's Pride faction of the Brotherhood of Steel may escort you through the DC Ruins. As it occurs early on, you aren't likely to survive numerous Super Mutants and a Behemoth. Should you Sequence Break, you'll have to fend for yourself when you decide to visit GNR later.
  • 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 offset by its terrible item health; every shot visibly degrades it. 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. The 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 who, 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 (perhaps unaware that you even set it off) it's possible to get killed.
  • Rule of Cool: Per series tradition, where the Fallout universe works according to 1950s era SCIENCE! and theire vision of the future. For example, instead of simply causing a miserable death, radiation can create mutants while nearly everything runs on atomic energy.
  • 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 all the companions will simply refuse to help — even Clover and Charon, who are both slaves forced to obey your every whim (the former via the threat of an explosive collar around her neck, the latter through brainwashing that renders him incapable of refusing an order) — 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 number 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.
      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...
    • Various places such as downtown Washington, D.C. and Arlington Cemetery. Sometimes, 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...
  • 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 an 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, just minutes into the tutorial.
  • 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 - and sure enough, this plot thread turned out to be Production Foreshadowing for the main plot of Fallout 4.
  • Sequence Breaking: Many opportunities, particularly early in the main quest. Like its predecessor, you can cut out huge chunks of the game if you're strictly going for a Speed Run.
  • Serious Business: The "Grady's Package" sidequest is all about this, starting with the player finding a dead body holding onto a holotape, documenting how the man (the titular Grady) is about to kill himself to protect a secret package, with instructions on how to reach it and who it's supposed to go to. Likely expecting something very important, the player can follow the instructions to a locked storeroom and a safe containing the package that Grady killed himself to protect: the Naughty Nightwear; either a pair of leopard-print pajamas or a leopard-print negligee depending on which gender is wearing it. Soon after picking it up, a raider will run up and actually try to mug the player for this package.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Doctor Lesko lapses into this when he talks about his ant research.
  • Set the World on Fire: You don't want to, but it happens anyway.
  • Sexual Euphemism:
    • The game has no issues with saying "Fuck", but there's a character in Megaton who's job is to "comfort" her customers." She doesn't call herself a hooker, callgirl, or any other term.. She doesn't say that her job is having sex with the bar's customers, but that's exactly what she does.
    • In Rivet City, if the player tells Father Clifford that Diego and Angela had sex, Angela says:
      Someone told Father Clifford that Diego and I were...you know.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Moira Brown + reverse-pickpocketed Raider Bombshell Armor = instant Fanservice. Inverted if she's been ghoulified by blowing up Megaton.
  • Shooting Lessons From Your Parents: The Lone Wanderer is taught how to shoot by their dad, practicing on Radroaches in a deserted section of Vault 101.
  • 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 are quite possible in 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 (assuming that it is indeed within the maximum range). 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: See the series' page here.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": When you take fall damage.
  • Sidequest: Unlike Bethesda's previous title, Oblivion, which has 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 have some ties to the central NCR-vs-Legion conflict or are 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 crawling with either mutants or raiders. 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...
  • Skippable Boss: General Jing-Wei and Colonel Augustus Autumn can both be talked out of fighting.
  • Slain in Their Sleep: The "Mister Sandman" perk lets the Lone Wanderer murder NPCs in their sleep for a flat gain of 50 Experience Points.
  • Slave Market: Paradise Falls used to be a famous super market before the bombs fell. In the Capital Wasteland, it has been repurposed into the headquarters of a local band of slavers. While the player cannot buy slaves, they can choose to help free the ones inside and kill the slavers if they choose, or work as a slaver to earn some extra caps.
  • Slave Mooks: Crimson and Clover to the slavers of Paradise Falls.
  • 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 as good karma.
    • Enslaving people with the Mesmetron is always an evil act. Always. Even enslaving the Villain by Default raiders. Pay Evil unto Evil is not in effect here as you're only furthering the system.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Some of the raiders you fight will psychotically grin while attacking you, most noticeable with the ones that have melee weapons.
    • The Pint-Sized Slasher's mask is paper-mache mask of a grinning clown. The Slasher loved using a kitchen knife to stab and slash at their victims.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Dave, president of the tiny micronation of the Republic of Dave (with a population of about 10 or so, mostly children,) who believes that it's his destiny to conquer and repopulate the wasteland, and threatens to have the player shot for such heinous acts as not referring to him as Mister President. Though he stresses that the Republic of Dave is a republic, and thus still holds presidential elections, he's the only one who ever runs, and if the player manages to pull some trickery to get either his first wife or eldest son elected, Dave throws a fit and storms out to form a new Republic of Dave in Old Olney (which, seeing as Old Olney is infested with Deathclaws, he more than likely won't survive.)
  • Sniper Pistol: The Scoped .44 Magnum, one of the most damaging 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 Pip-Boy 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: In addition to the Fallout series' origins as a successor to Wasteland (although this applies more to the first two games in the series than to the post-Black Isle titles), Fallout 3 is often considered a "spiritual sibling" to Bethesda's previous game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, on the basis of their shared focus on sandbox-based exploration and role-playing, as well as both games using the same basic engine. It's not uncommon for people who dislike Fallout 3 to refer to it dismissively as "Oblivion with guns", although many people enjoy it for that exact same reason.
  • Spock Speak: Mr. Handy and Mr. Gutsy robots, which have English butler and Drill Sergeant Nasty voice respectively. The Prototype Medic Armor also uses this in the style of a Mr. Gutsy.
  • 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".
    • The small-scale nuclear charges Liberty Prime throws? Nuclear Footballs!
  • Stealth-Based Mission: In the first leg of the Operation: Anchorage DLC, you must sneak up the cliffs and take the Chinese guards out with a rather weak silenced pistol.
  • Stealthy Mook: Operation: Anchorage has Chinese soldiers equipped with stealth suits that work like a permanent Stealth Boy while in use. Completing the simulation gets you one as a reward as well.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Wilsons and the Smiths in Andale are way too cheerful to be real. They also talk as if they're in the middle of a picturesque suburban small town, not a cluster of scorched houses in a post-atomic wasteland.
  • 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. The Pitt's "Bombshell" armor is a full blown Chainmail Bikini on a female.
  • Stronger with Age: The East Coast super mutants function this way, going all the way up to the Super Mutant Behemoth.
  • 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 Sacrifice
    • James sacrifices himself by flooding the Purifier's control room with radiation to keep the Enclave from controlling it. However, his act only keeps the Enclave from accessing the Purifier's control room afterward, it does nothing to keep them from occupying the Purifier and using it as a base of operations. The Enclave didn't have the means to activate the Purifier anyway, it isn't operational and they don't have the activation code if it was. But then, even if those problems were solved, they'd definitely figure out a way to access the control room safely sooner or later.
    • The player is presented with this option in the original ending, either sending Sarah Lyons in to activate the purifier or doing it yourself, even though the lethal radiation levels in the control room will kill whoever enters it. However, of the possible companions you have with you, three of them — Charon, Sergeant RL-3, and Fawkes — are immune to radiation, and Fawkes was even the one who retrieved the G.E.C.K. for you earlier by going into a room that was radiated to lethal levels. If the player tries to get any of them to activate the purifier for them, they refuse. With Broken Steel installed this trope is negated, any of the three will obey the direction to activate it, and if the player chooses to do it themselves they survive now.
  • 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:
  • 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, and/or outright crazy people wandering the Wasteland, your dialogue options often have at least one which enables you to politely humor 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 
  • Tacky Tuxedo: Eulogy Jones' suit, a bright red zoot suit that comes with a Nice Hat as well. The problem is that its so tacky that only merchants car repair it, meaning if it gets busted you can't get it back to 100%.
  • Taking a Third Option:
    • "Trouble on the Homefront" has you returning to Vault 101 to settle a conflict between the current Overseer and a group of rebels who want to see Vault 101's government changed, having been inspired by your previous escape. You can take either side, or you can (for a small karma hit) sabotage the vault's Water Chip, forcing everyone to evacuate into the wastelands. Regardless of your choice, you're not going to be allowed back in again, so why not make them see the world as you have?
    • In general, there's quite a few quests that let you do this and get both rewards by playing both sides against one another:
      • The Replicated Man: Normally, you either tell Harkness the truth and take the Plasma Rifle he gives you, or you tell Zimmer the truth and use the reset code on Harkness, getting the Wired Reflexes Perk. You can also tell Harkness the truth first for his Plasma Rifle and offer to kill Zimmer, then tell Zimmer about Harkness for the Wired Reflexes perk, then kill Zimmer and his bodyguard before they leave the room to tie up the loose ends.
      • You Gotta Shoot Em In The Head: You either have to kill Tenpenny by shooting him in the head with the Sniper Rifle Crowley gives you, or if you pass a speech check, he'll offer you 300 caps (100 up front) to kill Crowleynote . However, there's nothing to stop you from accepting his offer, then turning around and headshotting Tenpenny with the Sniper Rifle and looting the 200 caps he had waiting for you from his body, and then collecting the 100 caps Crowley gives you.
    • After the release of Broken Steel, the final quest of the main storyline can also end like this if you have the right companion - normally, you could only either activate the purifier yourself or have Sarah activate it. However, if you have Charon, RL-3, or Fawkes as a follower, you can instead have them activate the purifier. As they are naturally immune to radiation, neither you or Sarah have to die.
  • 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 and only allows children. Anyone who turns 16 is forced to trek over to Big Town, such as Sticky (the youngest person you can personally kill in the game).
  • There Are No Adults: Little Lamplight. The eldest kids have to look after the younger ones and do certain jobs like teaching, taking care of injuries, and guarding the gate to Vault 87, the birthplace of the DC super mutants.
  • 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 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 RobCo Facility, a broken Protectron is sitting on a restroom toilet. There is scrap metal in the same toilet bowl.
  • Too Awesome to Use:
    • Weapons that have rare ammo and/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 in the vanilla game. (Mothership Zeta gives you some options for dealing with both issues, but they are still finite.)
    • Nuka Grenades. Nuka-Cola Quantum is rare to come by, so unless you're being attacked by a Yao Guai or a Deathclaw, you'll want to save as many of them as you can. Subverted in Broken Steel with the new Quantum Chemist perk; whenever you have ten Nuka-Cola bottles in your inventory, they automatically disappear in order to convert to one Nuka-Cola Quantum. Suddenly, it becomes more viable to make Nuka Grenades as regular throwable weapons.
    • 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 bug-induced 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?
    • 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.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Krivbeknih, a leather-bound book that is used by the Swampfolk, wanted by Obadiah Blackhall, and tied to an ancient evil called "Ug-Qualtoth". The only way to destroy it is pressing it against the Dunwich obelisk.
  • Top Wife: Within the Republic of Dave, the player finds that President Dave has two wives—his original one, and another he picked up from wandering the wasteland. While Dave never indicates that he has a favorite, it's clear that the original wife isn't happy with the arrangement and that the second wife not only thinks she's the favorite, but that she should be Dave's only spouse.
  • Tortured Monster: Harold. Bob the tree has grown over the years and now has rooted itself deep into the Capitol Wasteland's dry earth, spreading its children in an Oasis... but Harold is now completely stuck and worshiped along with Bob despite all of his organs being pushed down with Bob's roots.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Andale. Subverted in Meresti Station, where they're pretty open about their disturbing habits.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Vault 112 is blatantly a trap. But it's a part of the story so hop in the pod, kid!
  • Trapped in Another World: Both Vault 112 and the Operation Anchorage DLC has the Lone Wanderer transported to a digital simulation.
  • Trauma Inn: Any bed will heal you, but owned or rented ones give you a "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.
  • Undressing the Unconscious:
    • Happens to the Lone Wanderer when he/she is captured by the Enclave. They are knocked out and wake up in a stasis field wearing only their Pip-Boy and their unmentionables and about to be interrogated by Colonel Autumn.
    • The Mothership Zeta DLC also starts like this, and leaves you that way until you can find your gear and clothes in a conveniently close storage container.
  • 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.) According to the lead designer, Tenpenny is supposed to have come over from England.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • The Operation: Anchorage DLC ends with Defender Sibley mutinying against Protector Mc Graw because he doesn't want some filthy outsider walking off with any of the tech from the Outcast's armory (never mind that it's because of said outsider that they can even get into said armory in the first place.)
    • Roy Phillips, pre-War cop turned post-War ghoul, needs your help to get into Tenpenny Tower. Do it peacefully and he'll murder everyone inside with his pack of feral ghouls because he was going to anyway. Kill him afterwards and you'll get a karma hit (unless its a sneak attack) because Three-Dog portrays him as a "victim" of a group cruel racists.
  • Unique Items: The game has at least one unique variant of each weapon which have better stats and/or a unique ability over their generic counterparts.
  • Universal Ammunition:
    • Downplayed. 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 a trifle more realistic than 'one size fits all' bullets.
    • 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.
    • The Alien blaster along with the Firelince variant use "alien power cells". Come Mothership Zeta the Captain's Sidearm, a pristine Alien Blaster, uses "alien power modules" along with the other weapons found aboard. So both use universal ammo but not the same universal ammo...
  • 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 when you bring Charon, a ghoul, into Tenpenny Tower, or on Star Paladin Cross walking into an Outcast base. Taken to the extreme with Fawkes, an eight-foot-tall super mutant. No one cares when you walk into a town or even the Brotherhood of Steel's Citadel with him behind you. Lampshaded and handwaved: Fawkes will often marvel at this while you're traveling.
    Fawkes: I'm amazed 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 comes with all of the game's DLC.
  • 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. Skill books are found all the time (there's 25 of each in the whole game, for a total of 25 free skill points, 50 with Comprehension) and +5 to a skill isn't worth the waste of a perk when you can just wait for another level up.
    • Swift Learner: +10% experience for each level, but there's an infinite amount of experience available. Even worse is "Deep Sleep", which lets you get the "Well Rested" bonus for +10% exp from any bed you sleep in, meaning it's like Swift Learner, but you need to sleep in order to get the benefits, and those benefits only last a limited time.
    • Any perk that affects how you handle radiation. Rad-Away to remove radiation and Rad-X to increase rad resistance are plentiful and nothing any anti-Rad perk does is worth the lost perk slot to save a few hundred caps.
    • 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.
    • Chem Resistant lowers the chance to become addicted to chems. Just go visit a doctor when you're done what you're doing and spring 50 caps for him to cure you. Additionally, due to the way the game handles addiction chance, it's not foolproof anyway.
    • 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.
    • Mister Sandman and Cannibal. The former lets you stealth kill sleeping people and the latter lets you eat corpses for healing, but they can glitch and cause entire settlements to turn hostile.
    • 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. Besides, his chances of appearing are totally random and don't take the threat level in consideration. Which means he's just as likely to appear and One-Hit Kill that full-health Super Mutant Behemoth you just engaged in VATS, as he is to casually waltz in and blow to shreds a half-dead Mole Rat you were too lazy to manually snipe yourself.
    • Night Person and Solar Power give you stat boosts depending on the time of day. The only worthwhile benefits of either perk can be replicated at any time by popping some chems.
    • 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.
    • Master Trader: 25% discount buying anything, but most items aren't that expensive anyway and there's an infinite supply of Vendor Trash to loot from enemies.
    • Computer Whiz and Infiltrator: Can try to hack a terminal you get locked out of / pick a lock you broke. Save scumming fixes both problems, and specifically, Computer Whiz can be nullified by just logging out and back in to refresh your hack attempts, while locks never break unless you force the lock, which you never need to do.
    • Nerd Rage!: 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 because you usually only get two-four attacks, maybe five or six with AP increasing chems.
    • Explorer: All map markers are revealed, but not counted as "discovered" so you can't fast travel to them, you just know they're there. The Pip-Boy has a compass that directs you to all nearby map markers as soon as you exit the Forced Tutorial, and any time you need to go to a location, it's usually marked on your map for you anyway. Besides, it's the internet era — just go to Nukapedia if you're having trouble finding a place.
    • 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 have ridiculously high HP so he'll likely never die anyway. 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.
    • 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.
    • Warmonger: Instantly get all weapon schematics to level three. Just find the schematics. Besides, only the Nuka Grenade and Bottlecap Mine really benefit from being level three by boosting the amount of items crafted, everything else just comes made with better condition, in which case just craft two and use one to repair the other.
    • Nerves of Steel: This is simply glitched. It's supposed to increase AP regeneration, but only by a rate of one per minute, while AP can usually regenerate from empty to full in half that. Even if it did work, useless since by the time you can get it, you probably have Grim Reaper's Sprint which fully restores AP when you kill something in V.A.T.S.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • In The Pitt DLC, the leader of the slave-driving Raiders in the ruins of Pittsburgh is trying to resurrect Pittsburgh as a functioning, producing city, with the intention of ending the use of slaves... eventually.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Averted, as none of the obvious targets 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.
    • In Rivet City, you can talk a suicidal old man into jumping off the flight deck. Feel proud.
    • The unmarked quest "The Kid-Kidnapper." You know Bumble? The littlest of the named Lamplighters? You can tell her you're taking her on an adventure and then SELL HER TO FREAKING PARADISE FALLS.
    • In Rivet City, you can screw over both Harkness and the Institute using Mind Rape and first-degree murder. Step one: Get permission from Harkness to execute Dr. Zimmer and his bodyguard. Step two: Convince Harkness to go back to the Institute. Step three: Wait until Zimmer says mind-wipe phrase to Harkness. Step four: Shoot Zimmer dead before he can give Harkness a single command. Congrats, you have left the Institute short of a well-respected genius and left his robot slave in a permanent vegetable state, doing nothing but standing there requesting a dead man to give him commands that will never come. And the rest of Rivet City will completely forgive you for this. Legally.
  • Video-Game Flamethrowers Suck: Played straight with the Flamer, subverted with the Burnmaster and the Slo-Burn Flamer, and utterly averted with the Heavy Incinerator.
  • Vigilante Man: The Regulators is a whole organization of these guys.
  • Villain by Default: All raiders are homicidally insane, drug-crazed lunatics 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.
  • 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 villainous and the game knows it, killing him and his followers still nets you negative karma as they are set at "Good" karma.
  • Villainous Incest: The Andale residents. You're pretty far gone when generations of inbreeding that's been going on for about 200 years straight 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 US President keeps the launch codes for America's nuclear arsenal in.
  • Vitriolic Best Friends: Harold and Bob are a downplayed duo as Harold is a mutant and Bob is a tree. Harold likes to call Bob "Herbert", which apparently gets under Bob's bark but being a plant, Bob can only communicate to Harold in kind.
  • Vow of Celibacy: Diego, an acolyte who intends to join the priesthood, has taken one. You can give Angela, a local woman with a crush on him, a powerful aphrodisiac to drug him into breaking it. This gives you good karma in a particularly blatant example of 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. 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.
  • The War Sequence:
    • The march to The Purifier during the mission "Take It Back". You and the Lyon's Pride "escort" Liberty Prime while it makes mincemeat out of the defending Enclave forces.
    • 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 have survived since the Great War 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 Antagonizer's mutated ants.
    • The Enclave. They're essentially Nazi's, though their goal to restore America and humanity is respectable. Their methods certainly are not.
    • The adults of Andale. They're just trying to make a stable food supply and home for themselves. Unfortunately, that involves relying on murdering people for food and mass incest.
  • 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 if he finds out you destroyed Megaton.
    • 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, or if you kill him in the sidequest "Trouble On The Homefront." If you kill the original Overseer and also the second one, Amata will accept the latter as self-defense, but you'll still get a lot of "what have you done?" from everyone else.
    • In the ending, Sarah Lyons will give you a lot of sass if you insist that she make a Heroic Sacrifice rather than doing so yourself. The narrator will also do so in the ending voice-over, even if you send in one of two possible radiation-immune followers (which is easily the most logical choice).
    • 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.
    • A more subtle one happens if you kill Three Dog, as his DJ segments on GNR are replaced by a very unenthusiastic and bitter technician who talks about how "some asshole killed our DJ."
  • 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.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The main character has a Karma meter to track this, and it doesn't care whether there were any witnesses. The trope is also applied to a lot of the evidence you find of peoples' last moments in the Great War - evidence of selfishness, or tragedy, or heroism.
  • 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. It helps that Dukov is a Retired Badass whose reputation as a mercenary was known to even Alistair Tenpenny.
  • 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. Their doctor, their merchant, their defenders...all are children no older than 15.
    • 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 an unarmed 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." Granted, when your Mr. Gutsy has all the know-how to do surgery but not the way to do surgery (along with some poor bedside manners) you'd have a bad doctor too.
  • 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, Megaton's resident tinkerer and merchant.
    • A female Lone Wanderer with a high Repair skill qualifies.
  • 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 comic... you 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.

    Tropes X-Z 
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Following the tutorial, you are forced to leave Vault 101 and go into the wasteland after your father escapes while the paranoid Overseer plans on killing you as a scapegoat. Later, 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.
    • A pair from 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.
      • 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. Feral ghouls (and Swampfolk in Point Lookout) will occasionally carry around steak-shaped slabs of human, however. 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:
    • A frequent result of Boom, Headshot!, which even works on some robots.
    • Moira develops a molerat repellent made of Jet and Psycho that repels their heads from their bodies.
      Moira: Oh no! Poor little mole ratties!
    • Under normal conditions, the Mesmetron that the Paradise Falls slavers give you temporarily confuses targets long enough to allow you to slip a slave collar onto 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.

"'Associate with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation, for it is better to be alone, than in bad company."

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