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  • Accidental Aesop: By using the G.E.C.K. to reactivate Project Purity instead of using it to terraform the region as in Fallout 2, "It's better to use hard work to change things over time than to change them entirely at once."
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The appearance of Mr. Burke in the Lone Wanderer's drug-induced hallucination can be taken to mean a variety of things depending on the Wanderer's actions, specifically whether you destroyed Megaton or not.
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    • Is Ashur really a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to try and use the Pitt to make a better future for its people, or is he just as evil as his Raider minions and trying to rationalize his actions by claiming that they're Necessarily Evil? Script notes in the G.E.C.K. imply he really does feel bad about what he's doing, but also that he's proud of what he's doing in the name of progress.
    • Vance: an altruistic man who uses old legends to motivate cannibals to reform and gives them new lives free from persecution, or a delusional nutcase who brainwashes people to forcibly conscript them into his "Family"?
    • The Lyons Chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel gets this from a lot of fans given the traditionalist fans support of the Outcasts.
    • We don't learn much about Desmond Lockheart's goals, beside he is chasing his old nemesis Calvert and is looking for data in Calvert's lab. While he is technically the good guy in Point Lookout storyline (he doesn't turn against you if you side with him during the quest, while Calvert does if you betray Desmond), it's never clear whereas he is merely an incredibly rude Good Is Not Nice character, or a Villain of Another Story: if he is still alive after you kill Calvert, he states he'll then go after other rivals of him, with no other details. Are those "rivals" as bad as Calvert, or are they actual good people?
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    • Does Charon's contract actually allow him to rebel against the Lone Wanderer if he’s attacked and refuse to activate Project Purity (if Broken Steel is not installed) or is he actually able to somewhat resist his brainwashing when he’s pushed past his limits?
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • You can convince President Eden to kill himself with just two mid-level Speech checks. The argument you make isn't even particularly impressive and basically amounts to pointing out that since he was built by humans, his decisions can't be trusted and he should destroy himself and the Enclave. And if your Science skill is high enough, you don't even have to attempt those. Furthermore, Eden's self-destruction code is in Autumn's office, not exactly well hidden either.
    • Colonel Autumn, despite being the Final Boss, can be killed with one clean critical to the head, and the two bodyguards nearby are just the same Enclave troopers you've been gunning down all game. You can even talk your way to victory if your Speech skill is high enough. No bloodshed needed.note 
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    • Ashur, in The Pitt has excellent armor, but isn't that much tougher than a normal Mook. Ironically he can't survive as much damage as his unarmored rival Wernher, due to the later having Companion-level health.
    • Sibley in Operation: Anchorage, has only slightly more health than a normal Power Armor wearing minigun wielding mook. The only real problem in fighting him is that he's supported by a squad of elite mooks, and those don't exactly pose a problem either if your level is high enough.
    • In the simulation itself, General Jingwei. Instead of an intense boss battle, you can pass a difficult Speech check to make him stand down, at which point he commits Seppuku.
    • Enclave Squad Sigma from Broken Steel are hit with this trope very hard. They don't even have any unique armor, weapons, or even stats. Sure, they're still an imposing squad of elite soldiers, but a high-level, well-equipped player could wipe them all out without breaking a sweat.
    • Button Gwinnett from the sidequest Stealing Independence, who is really a laughably weak Protectron that can be taken down by any weapon above 10mm pistol level, or, with a special perk, resetting his parameters back into an unprogrammed state and commanded to shutdown.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
  • Awesome Music: The music playing in the main menu and while it loads. Works even better when doubled with The Ink Spots' I Don't Wanna Set The World On Fire in the opening sequence.
    • So cool that the London Philharmonic Orchestra included it in their album of The Greatest Video Game Music.
    • It seems Obsidian agreed, as they used a western arrangement for Fallout: New Vegas.
    • And 8 years later, it's still considered cool enough to serve as Fallout 4's menu music.
    • Even ignoring the obnoxiously catchy golden oldies on GNR, the game still has some amazing ambiance for when you don't feel like listening to the radio while wandering around. Explore 7 in particular is one of the best tunes in the game.
    • To make things even more awesome, the aforementioned Ink Spots' song, was the song Black Isle wanted to use for the intro cinematic for the first Fallout game - but they were unable to secure the rights. Instead, they settled for the Ink Spots' Maybe.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Some of the random encounters might fall under this, but they are, by nature, a bit out-of-the-blue.
    • Special nod goes to The Roach King. Literally in the middle of no where, he sits on a throne made of random junk while wielding a mini-gun, surrounded by his "army" of Rad Roaches. Since he and by extension his roaches attack you on sight note , there is no way of figuring out anything about him.
    • The last DLC added, Mothership Zeta, has your character abducted by aliens and roaming around on a flying saucer up in orbit, blasting The Greys and rescuing a bunch of earlier abductees from various historical periods (kept in cryo-stasis). Broken Steel extended the original story, and the other three built onto the history and geography of the Fallout universe. This one, depending on your outlook, was either pointless goofy fun, or a Fanon Discontinuity.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Italian version of the game. Here are a few examples...
    • When the player asks Roy Philips why he killed all the human residents of Tenpenny Tower, he responds with a simple "They had it coming!". In Italian they took the line's meaning way too literally, with Roy Philips answering the player's aforementioned question with the line: "L'hanno fatto venire!" which translates to... "They made him come here!", as if someone actually arrived there... It does take a special kind of stupidity to make this mistake.
    • Also, in Arefu, while talking to Ken Ewers, he will tell you the following line: "Do you understand English?", which is obviously translated in Italian with "Do you even speak Italian?". Yeah, pal, I sure do speak Italian! After all I come from a multicultural vault! In all seriousness, this error comes from the fact that the character is indeed speaking Italian, since we are playing the Italian version of the game, but it doesn't make a lick of sense for a character born in a postapocalyptic Washington D.C. to speak Italian, and while the fact is excusable for the dub (since one could still pretend that he is speaking English, despite hearing it translated), it cannot be excused that the line is horribly translated. And this mistake could have been easily avoided too, the line could have been translated in the equivalent of: "Do you speak my language?" (which, by the way, it is how is translated in Italian the line "English, motherfucker, do you speak it?" that Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction, they literally replaced the word "English" with "My language". But those were smart translators, not like the ones that translated this game...), but instead we got this terrible line.
  • Broken Base: A few examples:
    • Fallout 3 was produced by a separate company to the original games, and, unlike the earlier pure-RPG titles, was an action RPG. A subset of veteran Fallout fans felt that the "sequel" wasn't a sequel in the sense of "being the same sort of game", and called it out for a number of continuity errors and "dumbed-down" mechanical elements (see the entry for Only the Creator Does It Right below). Some supporters of the game countered by claiming that their criticisms were a case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks!.
    • Fans were divided for a long time over Fawkes' gender, due to the Vault 87 super mutants' lack of secondary sexual characteristics, and the fact that the cell the player finds him in was, according to the computer terminal outside, originally occupied by a female test subject. Word of God eventually put the debate to rest, confirming him as male.
    • Some players are fond of the game's green Color Wash, considering it to be one of its most memorable features, and a fitting reference to the Technicolor Science idea that nuclear power and radiation equals green. Others find it ugly, blame it for contributing to the repetitive feel of the game world, or even claim that looking at it for too long gives them headaches and nausea.
    • The "Power of the Atom" quest. To one group it's the game's signature scene, where the player makes their first real moral choice to either save the city from the fallen, sleeping bomb in the middle of it or use it to destroy the entire town. To others the choice is seriously imbalanced, as the evil option goes all the way into Joker-esque cartoonish supervillainy that's evil for the sake of being evil. The fact that James only gives you a small talk afterwards also means there's very little consequence for the player committing mass murder.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Ashur and Wernher from The Pitt. Due to the Grey-and-Gray Morality of the DLC, the fandom is noticeably split between which one should be considered the real hero and villain of the story, while some consider both men to be bad people and differ on who is the least evil option.
  • Character Tiers: Hire-able followers definitely come in tiers.
    • With Broken Steel, Dogmeat, Fawkes, and RL-3 are subject to a glitch that turns them into bullet sponges.note  Charon and Cross are fairly tough compared to other followers.note  Butch, Clover, and Jericho are fairly frail but remain usable as pack mules.
    • Without Broken Steel, Dogmeat is the weakest follower, Fawkes remains high-tier (albeit with much less health), and RL-3 is mediocre.
  • Cliché Storm: The Aliens in Mothership Zeta. They are little green men who ride around in a death ray using flying saucer and abduct humans for anal probing and other such things. Note that this is entirely intentional.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Dr. Stanislaus Braun is the Overseer of Vault 112 who controls the virtual reality simulation where he and the other vault members reside. A sadist with a god complex, for the past 200 years he's been entertaining himself by torturing and killing every person inside the simulation, only to bring them back to life to torment and kill them over and over again. He specifically mentions that doing so is only fun because they are real people, and not computer simulations. Before Braun allows the Lone Wanderer to leave the simulation, he forces the player to do increasingly horrible things to the other Vault residents, culminating in the deaths of all inhabitants by the player's hands. Braun was also the Director of the "Societal Preservation Program", better known as the Vault experiments. Advertised as providing civilians shelter from the expected nuclear war, in actuality the purpose of the Vaults was to gather unknowing, human guinea pigs to conduct horrific experiments on For Science! These experiments include forcibly turning Vault citizens into Super Mutants, tricking people into ritualistically sacrificing their fellow citizens, pumping hallucinogenic drugs into their ventilation system, and driving people insane by implanting posthypnotic combat suggestions into their minds through white-noise. Most of the Vault experiments resulted in the deaths, or worse, of everyone involved with them.
    • Eulogy Jones is the crime boss in charge of the human trafficking occurring in the Capital Wasteland. Killing his predecessor to take his place and establish his own empire at Paradise Falls, Jones oversees everything with an iron fist and rules over the "livestock", keeping them in check by installing explosive collars on their necks; Jones also assigns a homicidal maniac named Forty who enjoys killing slaves with the job of watching them for him. Always in the company of two personal slaves whom he sees as his bodyguards and prostitutes, Jones verbally abuses them on a daily basis and has succeeded in brainwashing one of them, reducing the woman into a subservient sex object suffering from Stockholm Syndrome who would do anything to make him happy; even if she is fanatically loyal to him, Jones is fine with selling her for a thousand caps. Owning a house for captured children, Jones tasks the Lone Wanderer with bringing some "VIP" targets and eventually even more children to Paradise Falls for him to enslave, rewarding you for being complicit in his business.
    • Roy Phillips is a rabid anti-human bigot trying to get into Tenpenny Tower through any means possible. When first approached, Phillips's initial plan is to use his feral ghouls to overrun Tenpenny Tower and slaughter everyone inside. Despite this, Roy feels no empathy for his feral brethren, believing them to be mindless freaks only good as guard dogs and cannon fodder. However, if the Lone Wanderer is able to come to a solution where the ghouls are peacefully allowed to move into Tenpenny Tower, Roy will seemingly relent hostilities, at least until a few days later where it's revealed he slaughtered everyone in the Tower anyway, regardless of whether they were anti-ghoul or not, for no reason. When confronted about this, Roy shows no guilt and tells the Wanderer to piss off before he murders the Wanderer too. Furthermore, if Burke is still alive and still plans on nuking Megaton, Roy will fully support Burke's plan so he can see that "smoothskin shithole" wiped off the Earth.
  • Contested Sequel: Although the game was generally well-liked by both critics and gamers some fans of the old games were put off by some of the changes made by Bethesda. Points of debate include the shift in gameplay from turn-based to real-time (among numerous other changes), the quality and/or sparseness of the writing, both in the main quest and in secondary quests and locations, some recycling of key plot elements from previous games, and several things that were carried over from previous games, including the two major factions, being shoehorned into a setting that arguably didn't call for them, or for being used in ways that contradicted previous canon.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Radscorpions in general due to their lack of a weak point. At least the Mirelurks have a head to snipe for a potential One-Hit KO. The Albino Radscorpions turn this Up to Eleven, being almost on par with Super Mutant Behemoths for sheer toughness and lethalitytheir stats . They also seem to follow the Cliff Racer school of being able to see and attack you before you see them, they must have a Perception of eleven (Well, it's really 4, 6, and 8 but still)!
    • Then there are Mirelurk Hunters, Super Mutant Overlords, Sentry Bots, Yao Guai, Deathclaws, Feral Ghoul Reavers, etc.
    • Super Mutant Overlords have enough health to rival a Behemoth, and often come packing Tri-Beam Lasers that are specifically programmed: They do a bonus +40 damage per beam, with it's tightspread guaranteeing at least 120 damage per hit. And when we say "guaranteeing", we mean it, because this damage ignores ALL damage resistance, meaning even if you're wearing the toughest armor, it's still doing a ton of damage to you, because it's normal damage is applied too. Oh, and this unresistable bonus damage is only applied to the player exclusively, other enemies facing the Overlord's wrath are not affected by this bonus. It's sole purpose is to screw over the player, and the player alone. They also come in groups of weaker mutants or worse more Overlords.
    • Enemies with missile launchers (at long distance) and flamers (at short distance). Missile launchers because they do large, area-of-effect damage and tend to cripple your limbs easily, flamers because they do large amounts of damage and block your view with a large gout of flame.
    • The Enclave Hellfire Troopers, who have more health than any other human enemies in the game, carry either a hard hitting, very accurate plasma rifle or an extremely high damage Heavy Incinerator, and wear the best armor in the game. Thankfully, they are a pretty rare encounter, and when you encounter a large number of them, you get the Tesla Cannon, which can make short work of them.
    • The Point Lookout tribals. Despite being half-clothed and using relatively 'crude' implements like axes and hunting rifles, they're tougher than Super Mutants - tougher even than the Enclave's trained soldiers and their 23rd-century combat tech. It's jarring. The Swampfolk are just as bad. What's worse is that the Point Lookout exclusive weapons (Lever-Action Rifle, Axe, Double-barrel Shotguns) wielded by these two groups have the same type of programmed unresistable bonus damage as the above Super Mutant Overlord, but the stand out is the Double-barrel Shotguns, because it applies that +35 damage for each of the 9 pellets. Meaning the shotgun can do an absurd maximum of 315 damage, and that's not counting the normal damage this bonus is applied on top of; more than enough outright One-Hit Kill the player if they're unlucky enough to have all 9 pellets hit them, and aren't wearing power armor and have high health.
    • Shielded aliens in Mothership Zeta are among the tankiest enemies in the game, and if they come packing an Alien Disintegrator they can really mess you up. To wit, at level 25 they have 250 hit points and 80% damage resistance from the aforementioned shield, meaning 80% of all damage is negated. What this means in practice is that you have to deal 1,250+ points of damage to actually kill them. This makes them the third most durable mobs in the game, after Albino Radscorpions and Super Mutant Behemoths; but unlike those two, they're rather small targets, carry guns (very powerful ones), and work in squads.
  • Designated Villain:
    • The Enclave has shades of this. Oh, they're evil; they experiment on Wastelanders, incinerate anyone who fails to pass genetics screening at their outposts, and have a "shoot on sight" policy with most outsiders. However, all except the last point is left to flavor text. Their main goal in story seems to just be to turn on the purifier. Eden's goal is to add FEV to it, but none of the other Enclave members mention wanting to do that. The story itself never really gives any reason for why you have to fight the Enclave, Dr. Li just saying "it's not right" when telling the Brotherhood the Enclave can't be allowed to control the purifier. Diplomacy and negotiation probably left the table when Autumn shot a lab assistant before Li's eyes, but when the story is presented this way, it makes the Enclave-Brotherhood war come off more as a matter of personal pride than stopping an evil army.
    • The Brotherhood Outcasts aren't the nicest folks around, but you can work with them to help them out now and then and their patrols are neutral to you and fight against enemies like Raiders, Slavers, Mutants, etc. Yet their rank and file troopers are designated as "evil", meaning they leave fingers for you to collect if you have the Lawbringer perk.
  • Disappointing Last Level: The last story missions is designed for low-level players as the devs assumed that players would just breeze through the entire game, playing only the story missions and leveling up accordingly. As such the player character has absolutely no part in the final battle. Sarah Lyons and her Lyon's Pride mop up anyone Liberty Prime didn't already kill, Colonel Autumn can be talked out of fighting and if you don't want to keep Save Scumming he and his two goons aren't all that tough as Autumn doesn't have any armor nor heavy firepower and his guards are just rank and file soldiers. And then the ending: either kill yourself and get the "Good" ending or send Lyons and get the "Bad" ending and if you want to send Fawkes, your radiation immune Super Mutant buddy who's life you saved, to do it he gives some hokey "it's your destiny" crap to push it onto you or Sarah. Broken Steel makes the Purifier ending less annoying but not by much.
    • Broken Steel's ending isn't much better as the Enclave Squad Sigma aren't as "elite" as they are hyped up to be and the ending boils down to being pointlessly evil or pointlessly good by selecting who gets blown up.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The Player Character can play themself this way: a bloodthirsty killer with no morals what-so-ever, but who has maxed out their Charisma and Intelligence to the point where no one would dare argue. Except Three Dog, of course.
    • Alistair Tenpenny seems to have a bit of this treatment going on as well; while he's perhaps not quite the Sociopathic freak his minion Mr. Burke is, he still shoots people from the top of a skyscraper for fun, he's still a complete bigot, and the fact that killing him nets good Karma (one of the few occasions where this happens) suggests that even if he's now just a slightly senile old man (which is how he's generally viewed in this treatment), he's been responsible for some pretty nasty stuff in his life.
    • Many people who played the game thought Colonel Autumn was a super nice guy, even though he's an asshole who only betrayed Eden because he wanted absolute control over the water supply, and Eden was going to poison it. Some even wanted him as a companion.
    • Ashur and Wernher, depending on which side of the Broken Base you fall on. Both sides point out equally valid points why the other one could be considered the real villain of the story, yet the other side will counter that's precisely why they are the hero!
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • LIBERTY PRIME will save America! (Better late than never.)
    • Fawkes is the most popular Fallout 3 companion. His being an honorable super mutant may have something to do with it. (Or possibly the fact that he's an eight-foot-tall bright yellow walking tank.)
    • Charon comes close second as Fallout 3's most popular companion. Despite being a ghoul, he has quite a lot of fans, especially fangirls.
    • The Tunnel Snakes are an extremely minor group of a few teenage greaser vault-dwellers that get wiped out before the tutorial ends. But their lameness and bravado caught on, as did their livening up of one of the more boring parts of the game. Requests or mods to make the Tunnel Snakes a major faction crop up with some frequency. Also, they rule.
      • Which might also explain why Butch, despite being your childhood bully and arguably one of the weakest companions in the game, has managed to garner a small but strong fanbase. The fact that the game gives him a more developed story arc than some of the other potential companions (thanks to being a part of your own character's origin story) certainly helps a lot too.
  • Fanfic Fuel: The sequel to 3 takes place almost ten years after the events of the game, and we only get a precious few details about what exactly happened immediately after the events of the game, the fate and current whereabouts of many characters (most importantly, that of the Lone Wanderer) or what's going on in the Capital Wasteland right now, beyond the strong implication that the Eastern Brotherhood of Steel now control the region as a sort of technocratic/neo-feudal Ordensstaat. Naturally, fan-fiction writers have found the murky circumstances an absolute goldmine for stories and speculation.
  • Game-Breaker: Several.
    • For starters, every single add-on gives you at least one weapon that would be considered an 11th-Hour Superpower before the eleventh hour.
      • The Pitt has the Infiltrator, a silenced machine gun with a scope, and it's not a unique weapon. It has an even more powerful version of itself called the Perforator. With this and the stealth suit, you can breeze through the game without ever being seen. It also has the Metal Blaster, a laser rifle with a shotgun spread; due to the game giving each beam a separate critical hit chance, with the right build the weapon will deal absurd damage at close-to-medium range.
      • Operation: Anchorage gives you an indestructible suit of winterized power armor (although the indestructible bit is a mistake in the code) and the Chinese Stealth Armor that will basically give you the effect of a Stealth Boy permanently, thus giving you the ability to have perfect invisibility and be undetectable to all enemies in the game, as long as you're using a silenced or non-firearm weapon.
      • Broken Steel gives you the Tesla Cannon, which can kill most enemies with one hit and all but the strongest enemies with two, and it runs on one of the most common ammunition in the game.
      • Almost every item you can find in Mothership Zeta is a Game-Breaker. Of particular note is the Captain's Sidearm, a better version of the Infinity Plus One Gun of the base game. The other items are almost as powerful. Even the non-combat items are extremely useful: Alien Epoxy, which functions as a more exotic precursor to Fallout: New Vegas' Weapon Repair Kits, and Adapted Biogel, the best healing item in the game, in exchange for some annoying temporary side effects on occasion.
      • Point Lookout gives us the Microwave Emitter, which ignores armor. All armor. The Hellfire troopers are in for a nasty surprise.
    • The Dart Gun has a very high chance of crippling the legs of whatever it hits, turning melee enemies into a joke, including Deathclaws.
    • Fawkes, who can take on any enemy with almost complete impunity. Good once you hit level 20/30, since you won't have to use your own weapons any more. Unless you go to one of the DLC zones. Your Wasteland companions can't follow you there.
    • With Broken Steel, RL-3 levels up with the player at ten times the rate he should, giving him absolutely ridiculous health. That, combined with the fact that he can be obtained very early provided the player knows where to look (and where to get 500-1,000 caps) makes pretty much every other companion useless (except Fawkes, but that is pretty late in the game).
    • The same can be said for Dogmeat, who receives the same Broken Steel benefits as Fawkes and RL-3. Go right to the Scrapyard at the beginning of the game and you have a nigh-invincible (Dog)meat shield right off the bat! Oh, and unlike RL-3 and Fawkes, Dogmeat can be recruited regardless of your Karma.
    • The Grim Reaper's Sprint perk, restoring your action points once you leave V.A.T.S. if you killed someone in it. And you will kill someone, unless that someone is an Albino Radscorpion, Super Mutant Overlord or Behemoth.
  • Goddamn Bats: Talon Company mercs or Regulators, depending on whether the player has good or evil karma. Both constantly hound you throughout the game and have an obnoxious habit of ambushing you as you're stepping outside from somewhere or fast travelling around. One plus side of getting constantly ambushed by Talon mercs, though, is they provide a steady supply of Combat Armor and spare sets of good weapons (the Assault Rifle, Laser Rifle and Combat Shotgun) to perform repairs with.
    • Wild dogs. They can give low-level players one hell of a hard time thanks to being everywhere, hunting in packs, and if your Agility is low, are much faster than you. A pack of them can easily chew through players in seconds, which is compounded by the fact that they'll likely see you long before you see them unless you pay close attention to the compass or abuse VATS to look over long distances.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Again, several.
    • The repair shop merchant in Point Lookout has continually increasing repair skill. He is eventually the merchant capable of repairing everything to pristine condition.
    • The developers mistakenly placed the simulation version of the winterized T-51b power armor as the reward after completing Operation: Anchorage, which results in it becoming almost totally indestructible since it has nearly ten million item HP (i.e., it doesn't ever have to be repaired).
    • In vanilla Fallout 3, Dogmeat, Fawkes, and Sergeant RL-3 are fixed-level characters, due to being creatures rather than human NPCs. The Broken Steel DLC upgrades them to allow them to level up with the player, in order to stay competitive against the super-powerful new enemies introduced in the expansion. The Good Bad Bug is that their health and damage increase ten times more than what the designers intended... making them pretty much indestructible killing machines (For example, Dogmeat has 2,500 health at player level one and 15,000 health at player level thirty! For comparison, a Super Mutant Behemoth, by far the toughest monster in the game, has 2,000 health). Note that this only occurs if Broken Steel is installed before you actually meet and recruit those characters... otherwise they receive no upgrade, and get curbstomped by the new Demonic Spiders.
    • The inventory system has a small bug where, if there are two or more of the same equip with different conditions and the more damaged equip is below the less damaged equip, moving the more damaged equip will instead move the less damaged equip. The same bug applies to equipment shops, only now you can buy the item that is less damaged for the price of the more heavily damaged one, then sell it back for it's real price. Repeat the process as many times as you want and you will have quite literally robbed the shop blind of all it's stock and money.
    • A Black Comedy version, Mister Lopez in Rivet City is contemplating suicide. If the player agrees to help him, he's flung backwards off the flight deck with the implication you push him. However, he's flung directly away from the player, not off the deck, so if you talk to him from the side, this results in him getting thrown backwards on the balcony, somehow dead from nothing.note 
    • The game applies perk-based skill bonuses upon selecting them, rather than after confirmation. During the level up screen, you can select a perk that gives skill bonuses, then go back to the skill distribution and see the game has added them already. But if you go select another perk and return to the skill screen, the added points remain. Repeat for more points.
    • If you equip the Chinese stealth armor, you can wear many hats at once, and the effects stack.
    • The otherwise Demonic Spider-level Super Mutant Behemoths are easily confounded by terrain they can't pass through, so all the player has to do is hide in some kind of tight space and slowly chip away at one as it runs around in circles.
    • After entering the vault in the National Guard Armory, there is a second vault which houses the Experimental MIRV Launcher. There are two ways to open the door: EITHER an unmarked quest to find five items scattered across the Wasteland, OR exploit a glitch and get straight in.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • James (voiced by and modeled on Liam Neeson) is depicted as broken by the death of his wife even 20 years later, to the point that asking him about her gets you the line "I... Of course I miss her. I miss her... so much. Each day more than the last." A few months after the release of the game, Liam Neeson's wife of 15 years, Natasha Richardson, died when she suffered a severe head injury in a skiing accident.
    • Some of the results of your actions have not turned out quite as perfectly as you may have thought, as revealed in Fallout 4:
      • The Children of Atom are quite friendly, right? In 4, they attack you on sight and you can't reason with them. The group related to the main conflicts in Far Harbor can potentially be as unfortunate as, more often than not, Tektus has to be either chased out of Far Harbor or be subject to a Kill and Replace courtesy of Acadia, leaving the Church's governance moot regardless, if the Sole Survivor wants a peaceful resolution between the factions.
      • By the time of Fallout 4, the chivalric white knight image of the D.C. Brotherhood of Steel begins to falter as the moral complexities of protecting and assimilating human settlements that don't always want protection begin to chip at the organization's image.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The cry button, which proves amusing to those who have watched Inside Out.
    • A pro-Chinese radio broadcast in the Washington D.C. area isn't as unrealistic as people would think.
    • Given that the Children of Atom cult becomes a maniacal murderous presence in the Commonwealth wasteland, killing the preacher is suddenly more justifiable.
    • The Mothership Zeta DLC takes place in an alien spaceship where you must form a crew to fight off the aliens who abducted you as well as fending off a rival alien spaceship that tries to destroy your ship after taking control of it in the climax. One of your companions is a cowboy from the Old Wild West era of American colonial history who seemingly got abducted by the aliens and ended up in this very ship that you and other folks are in. Two years after the release of the DLC, a similar movie was released in theaters that details an otherworldly conflict between cowboys and aliens.
    • The Japanese version of the game censored the name of the Fat Man, renaming it the "Nuka Launcher"; Nuka-World would eventually introduce an actual Nuka-Cola branded version of the Fat Man, complete with the modified nukes to match.
    • A bully named "Butch," eh?
    • According to Moira Brown's research notes, molerat could be tamed and turned into pets... if they were defanged, declawed, and lobotomized. Fallout: New Vegas includes the small mining town of Sloan, which inhabitants keep a (unharmed) molerat as a pet.
    • Speaking of Fallout: New Vegas, there's a protectron Sex Bot that shares the same name as the unique variant of the pneumatic Power Fist named "Fisto!".
  • Iron Woobie: Gob. He seems to keep a stiff upper lip, (well, if he had lips) but the fact that his normal way of saying goodbye is crying "Don't hit me!" shows that Moriarty's done a number on him.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Scribe Bigsley in Broken Steel is a smug, snarky, arrogant jerk who yells at his subordinates and shows you nothing but disdain until you offer to help make his workload easier. However, he's stuck working around the clock in a dimly-lit room with no windows, has little support from the Brotherhood because their resources are still focused on the Enclave war, and has to oversee the distribution of water to the wasteland with limited manpower and limited money to hire more, and he's on the receiving end of the water requests from said cities because by the time you wake up, they've reportedly begun to get greedy about it. His terminal entries and some dialogue paths have him explain he isn't ungrateful or ignorant of all the good you've done and the value of the purifier to the civilian populace, but he's just so tired and overworked that manners are failing him. And unlike many NPCs who move around, Bigsley never leaves his office, and you'll find him asleep at his desk at times.
    • The adults of Andale are murderous cannibals, but that's only because their town has been completely isolated for centuries, with the nearby land being infertile due to radiation, forcing them to rely on passerbys and generations of inbreeding in order to stay alive.
  • Memetic Badass: Liberty Prime in general.
  • Memetic Mutation: Tunnel Snakes Rule!
  • Moral Event Horizon: As the player, you can if you want: Nuke Megaton, follow Eden's orders and poison the Wasteland with the virus, and aim the Enclave's Kill Sat at the Citadel in Broken Steel.
    • Charon in particular has a personal moral code despite coming off as True Neutral, and certain acts (such as murdering innocent Ghouls, robbing Underworld blind, or killing female slaves) get an audibly horrified reaction from him, and he'll try to blow you away if you dismiss him immediately afterward. The same can happen with Fawkes, though you have to be much more of a bastard to get on his bad side, and if you do then you'll be facing off against someone with a Gatling Laser and skin tougher than two Vault doors welded together.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Anytime you gain Good Karma, it has a very delightful tone.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: The game is hated by some of the fans of the first two games because it was created by Bethesda Softworks and not Black Isle Studios. The spinoff Fallout: New Vegas, developed by Black Isle successor Obsidian Entertainment, had a more positive reception.
  • The Scrappy: Unlocking Butch DeLoria as a companion is a fairly difficult task, which consists in completing a missable quest ("Troubles on the Homefront", received if you happen to wander around Vault 101 in a later part of the main quest), then visiting the Muddy Runner in Rivet City, a bar involved in exactly two sidequests ("Wasteland Survival Guide" and "The Replicated Man", both times for an entirely optional and skippable step of those quests) that you may already have completed by the time he becomes available, and also requires to keep a neutral karma in a game where completing most quests and killing many generic enemies grants good karma (balancing karma would then require to act Stupid Evil or plunder every friendly inhabited settlement)note . The reward for all those efforts is the weakest companion of the game.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The game was hugely influential for the seventh generation of consoles, for many reasons- it's incredibly large and detailed open world, its adaption of traditional RPG mechanics into a first-person perspective with VATS and dialogue trees as well as it being the first introduction to the world of Fallout for many gamers that missed it on PC. Nowadays, while it's still beloved, its sequels New Vegas and Fallout 4 are more appreciated for being major improvements to the standard that 3 set. Quest design is improved in New Vegas as well as having a more dynamic story, and 4 is a massive improvement in the gameplay department with updated shooting and looting mechanics. This leaves 3 as the weakest of the three of the games, though many feel 3 is still superior to 4. It's still appreciated for it's own merits as being a fun game and for the popularization of Wide Open Sandbox and its subsequent evolution with games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Far Cry 3, and Assassin's Creed during the latter half of the seventh generation of consoles.
  • Squick: You can drink from toilets. Aside from that disgust factor, many of the toilets, and for that matter the drinking fountains and sinks you can also drink from, haven't been used in two hundred years. For drinking water that's been sitting stagnant in the pipes for two centuries, you're fortunate that a few rads is all you catch from it. Just to drive it home, drinking from a toilet heals very little while giving a fairly large amount of radiation. Not to mention all of that could have been avoided by just lifting the float in the rear tank and drinking the endless supply of tap water.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: The Mothership Zeta expansion manages to be a more faithful remake of Prey (2006) than the reboot that Bethesda themselves published in 2017.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Bethesda's run on the Terminator games from the 1980s to 1990s. Ironically, the Broken Steel add-on for this game would be released within the same month as Terminator Salvation and its video game tie-in.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: The game freely allows the player to perform this. Many a player ends Sticky's quest by exploding his skull with a power fist then nuking his corpse. Also it's all but explicitly said that the kids from Little Lamplight are unknowingly cannibals and the player can make some nasty cracks towards them to make feel like crap.
  • That One Boss: General Jingwei in Operation: Anchorage. He has a massive amount of health and an oversight in programming causes the American Powered Armor troops to turn hostile to the player without provocation. It's generally recommended to attempt the fairly hard Speech check to convince him that he's lost, making him kill himself. On the other hand, a quick VATS shot can knock his sword out of his hands so you can pick it up, leaving him with nothing to attack you with but his fists.
  • That One Sidequest: Finding all of the Vault Boy Bobbleheads. Hoo boy, where to begin? There are 20 in all and the game gives absolutely no clue or hint where to find most. Some are located in the far corners of the map in well hidden bunkers or isolated rooms, some are tucked away in places swarming with deadly enemies and some are found behind locked doors in HOUSES OWNED BY NPCS (which counts as trespassing, something unlikely to be done by good characters). Even worse, the Energy Weapons and Medicine bobbleheads are located in Raven Rock and Vault 101 respectively, making them Permanently Missable without so much as a notification if the player doesn't grab them as soon as they are given the chance (though Trouble On The Homefront gives the player a second shot at the Medicine bobblehead,) meaning the player can still get screwed after many hours of hard work. Getting the achievement for finding half of these damn things isn't so hard, but anyone shooting for all 20 is gonna need either a guide or a hell of a lot of luck and patience on their side. At least the reward (massive stat boosts per Bobblehead found) is well worth the trouble.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The fact that there's no option to directly side with the Enclave can be something of a let down to pro-Enclave players or evil characters. You can follow Eden's orders to poison the water supply in the main game, and the Broken Steel DLC gives you the opportunity to wipe out the Brotherhood of Steel, but those are arguably less pro-Enclave and more Omnicidal Neutral.
  • Ugly Cute: Take Animal Friend, and the normally vicious mole rats will trundle harmlessly along the Wasteland. Sometimes they sit up to sniff the air, then drop back down to yawn and shake themselves.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The Enclave. In contrast to their depiction in Fallout 2, where they were genocidal racists, here they're toned back to Eagleland facists. President Eden want to wipe out the wasteland inhabitants due to their mutations, but his Dragon-in-Chief Colonel Autumn wants to take control of the Purifier and activate it to use a source of fresh water to win the loyalty of the wasteland inhabitants. True, the Enclave including Autumn are a bunch of Jerkasses who kill anyone who defies them, terminals at their outposts imply they're experimenting on the local populace, and they want to wipe out the Brotherhood of Steel. On the other hand, Talon Company, super mutants, raiders, slavers, and all sorts of mutated animals, are out there making sure that just surviving the day is a challenge for many people, so against them the Enclave's goals and misdeeds can make them seem like the lesser evil. For some, a totalitarian government engaging in human experimentation may be a worthwhile price to pay if the upside is peace, order, and clean water.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • You're apparently supposed to feel some pity for the dire state Vault 101 is in during Trouble on the Homefront... too bad the people in the vault make it really hard for you to feel bad for them. Most of them treat you with unfair hostility and scorn, acting as if everything is your fault when it was your father leaving the Vault and Overseer Alphonse overreacting to it that caused everything. Only a handful of the populace treat you decently (the fact that Butch is one of the decent people speaks volumes) and even if you save all their asses without shedding a single drop of blood they still kick you out and continue to blame you for what had happened.
    • Most of the slaves in the Pitt are seriously rude towards the Lone Wanderer, especially Midea, who always seems to be insulting your intelligence with every scolding sentence she utters over everything. And you're supposed to be saving them, too!
  • Vindicated by History: When Fallout 4 became a Contested Sequel to both this game and New Vegas, some began to take a second look at Fallout 3. The game has now gotten recongition for the story and gameplay decisions it did right, and being a good way to revitalize the series. While New Vegas still enjoys better fan reception on the whole, Fallout 3 isn't as looked down upon as it once was.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Broken Base aside, this game revitalized the Fallout franchise after the closure of Black Isle and the poor commercial and critical reception of Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, and turned what was a Cult Classic franchise into Triple-A material.

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