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The Fallout TV show might have answered a decades-old question in the video games

Who shot first?

Walton Goggins as The Ghoul in Amazon's Fallout TV show
Image credit: Amazon

With the arrival of Amazon’s Fallout TV series last week came the dropping of another bombshell: the possible truth behind a mystery that’s gone unanswered in the video games for over 25 years. Before you read on, please bear in mind that spoilers for the Fallout TV show’s season one finale follow!

Since the first Fallout released in 1997, it’s never been quite clear who was responsible for turning North America (and the rest of the world) into a dusty irradiated wasteland full of super mutants, rusted robots and supersized cockroaches. Both developers on the series and fans couldn’t quite agree, either - with original Fallout developer Tim Cain stating that China was the first to launch nukes, while others have interpreted the games as indicating that the United States was the first with the itchy nuclear button-trigger finger.

Some of the conflicting lore has come from the series’ own evolution over the years - with Cain himself having not been involved with Fallout 3 onwards, allowing for some wiggle room when it comes to applying that hypothesis to the more recent first-person instalments.

Now, though, it seems that a definitive answer may be at hand. The pretty darn great Fallout TV series is officially considered by Bethesda as canon within the video games’ continuity - yes, even New Vegas, despite what you’ve heard - taking place more than 200 years after the bombs first fell and just shy of a decade after Fallout 4, albeit in a different part of the US.

Post-apocalyptic poses in the Fallout show.
Image credit: Amazon

As such, the Fallout TV adaptation drops a fairly major bit of series-wide lore in its finale (thanks, Eurogamer) during a flashback to the pre-wasteland times. As a yet un-Ghouled Cooper Howard listens in on his Vault-Tec exec wife Barb’s meeting with the ubiquitous corporation’s top brass, he hears Barb propose that “dropping the bomb ourselves” is the ideal way to guarantee a return on their thriving vault business.

“A nuclear event would be a tragedy, but also an opportunity,” Barb explains with a delightfully sinister bit of corpo-speak. “Perhaps the greatest opportunity in history, because when we are the only ones left, there will be no-one to fight. A true monopoly.” (She goes on to drop the series’ iconic “War never changes” line shortly afterwards, which could be a further knowing nod to the implications for the entire franchise.)

So, it turns out that Vault-Tec are at least in the close running for the answer to “Who dropped the bombs?” - and, given the strong implication and dramatic framing of the scene, may well have decided to speed along the end of the world to bump their stock prices (or at least decided to join the fray once the missiles were falling).

With a second season of Fallout seemingly (if not officially) already in the works and due to pack in even more elements from the games, perhaps we’ll get an even more definitive answer and look at Vault-Tec’s plans soon - but, for now, it definitely seems like Vault-Tec itself may be to blame for setting the irradiated stage for the entire Fallout series.

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