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The Ending of Fallout, Explained

The Ending of Fallout, Explained


  • Fallout season 1 offers a unique original story within the game’s world, filled with shocking revelations about Vault-Tec and the end of the world.
  • Dark family secrets, cryogenically frozen employees, and a new energy source all play a role in the intriguing storyline of Fallout season 1.
  • The ending sets up an exciting future with the Ghoul and Lucy teaming up, Brotherhood of Steel in control of powerful technology, and hints at connections to the game series.

Warning: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Fallout season 1.After years of anticipation, Fallout was finally released on Prime Video and has earned positive reviews from fans of the game and critics alike. It is now ranked alongside The Last of Us and Arcane as a great television show based on video games. Instead of adapting a specific game, Fallout offered a unique original story set within the world of the games. The result was a narrative that felt true to the spirit of the games while adding its own unique touches.

While Fallout Season 1 featured plenty of hallmarks of the franchise, it also turned much of what fans know on its head. From giving an origin for the franchise’s signature Vault Guy mascot, the series also explored many dark secrets of the franchise that change how fans will look at the game. The ending of the season featured major revelations that teased an exciting season two. Here is the ending of Fallout explained.

Fallout Reveals Who Dropped The Bombs




Release Date
April 10, 2024

Geneva Robertson-Dworet


Amazon Studios, Kilter Films, Bethesda Game Studios

Read our reviewThe Fallout franchise is predicated on the aftermath of a nuclear fallout, hence the name. Every game in the franchise has alluded to the bombs dropping, with players getting to see the horror at the beginning of Fallout 4, but context beyond that has not been provided. The franchise established a war going on, but it was unclear who fired the first shot that led to the end of the world.

One of the major elements of Fallout that the games never did was showcasing life before the war. Flashbacks to the character of Cooper Howard (Walton Goggins), a Hollywood actor who begins acting as Vault-Tec’s spokesperson since his wife, Barb Howard (Frances Turner), works for the company. Howard becomes more uncomfortable with Vault-Tec and is eventually convinced by scientist Lee Moldaver (Sarita Choudhury) to wear a listening device to an important Vault-Tec meeting. This is where the most shocking revelation comes: Vault-Tec dropped the bombs and triggered the nuclear fallout.

Vault-Tec did this as they faced an energy-saving material and peace talks between nations that would render their biggest product, the Vault, obsolete. Peace was bad for Valut-Tec’s business. The true motivator for the end of the world was not a difference in political ideology but capitalism. This certainly keeps with the games that often critique and satirize capitalism, specifically the advertising of the 1950s.

The idea that even in a tragedy, someone profits is highlighted when Barb says, “A nuclear event would be a tragedy, but also an opportunity. Perhaps the greatest opportunity in history because when we are the only ones left, there will be no one to fight; a true monopoly.” War never changes, and it appears the human desire for greed never does, either.

The Secret of Vault 31

Fallout was developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who are also the minds behind HBO’s critically acclaimed Westworld. Much like Westworld, Fallout centers on many mystery threads hanging over the series, the biggest being about the secrets of the three connected Vaults of Vault 31, 32, and 33. Despite the lead character of Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell) leaving Vault 33 to go out to find her father, the series occasionally checks in on what is happening back in Vault 33.

Lucy’s brother Norm (Moisés Arias) begins investigating what happened in Vault 32 before it was overrun by raiders and eventually discovers that every leader that Vault 33 has ever had came from Vault 31, including Norm and Lucy’s dad, Hank (Kyle MacLachlan). Yet nobody knows anything about Vault 31.

The big twist is that Vault 31 was actually used as a storage facility to house the cryogenically frozen Vault-Tec employees from before the start of the War, and they were to be awoken when the radiation levels on the surface were clear. Vault 32 and Vault 33 are breeding grounds, so when the subjects of Vault 31 are unfrozen, they can breed and make a perfect species to restart the world. This also includes Hank MacLean, whom Lucy has spent the entire season looking for. He was a former Vault-Tec employee before the bombs dropped.

Dark Family Secrets

Lucy discovers that her father, Hank, was not only a member of Vault-Tec but also responsible for nuking the settlement of Sandy Shores. Not only did her father wipe out an entire settlement with hundreds of lives, but he did so knowing that his wife (Lucy’s mother) was there and turning her into a ghoul. This breaks Lucy’s heart as the man she has been trying to save this entire series is not the person he thought he was.


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Lacy isn’t the only character Hank has connections to. In fact, he knew the Ghoul back before the war when he was the human actor Cooper Howard. Hank was actually the assistant to Barb Howard, Cooper’s wife. Cooper points a gun at Hank demanding to know where his wife and child are, as Hank, being a former Vault-Tec employee, would be one of the few people who knew of their location.

Barb was a Vault-Tech employee and was clearly saved at another facility, but it is unclear if it was Vault 31, like Hank, or a different vault. Barb also mentioned how, because she was a Vault-Tec employee, she had garnered spots for both Cooper and their daughter in a secure vault, as opposed to one of the other Vaults for the general public that was not “one of the good ones,” as she put it.

New Energy Source, New Powerhouse

When audiences first meet the character of Moldaver, she and a group of Raiders are posing as Vault 32 residents to attack the inhabitants of Vault 33, so she can get Hank MacLean. While neither of them recognize each other from before the war, since they never encountered one another face to face, they know each other’s names. Moldaver kidnaps Lucy’s father, inspiring Lucy to go out into the Wasteland to save him.

Yet by the end of the series, the dynamics have been flipped. Not only is Hank MacLean revealed to be one of the primary villains of the series, but Moldaver is actually revealed to be a scientist before the start of the war who developed a cold fusion technology in 2077, but the technology was bought up by Vault-Tec and stored away so it does not pose a threat to their business plans.

The technology was later perfected in the present-day storyline by Dr. Siggi Wilzig (Michael Emerson), who implanted it in his skull. The technology could be used to restore Moldaver’s New California Republic, a functioning society that stood in opposition to everything the Vault-Tec company thought was possible without their technology or influence. Hank MacLean destroyed Shady Sands as it was deemed a threat to Vault-Tec’s power.

Yet Maximus (Aaron Moten), one of the main characters of the series who has been traveling with Lucy and a member of the Brotherhood of Steel faction, swarms the Observatory-based Moldaver is at. The Brotherhood of Steel is an organization that collects, preserves, and uses pre-war technology by taking it from everyone else. This motivated them to retrieve the cold fusion reactor technology all season, and by the end of it, Maximus led the Brotherhood of Steel in the raid, which ended up killing Moldaver in the process.

Just before she dies, Moldaver activates her cold fusion technology, and Maximus sees how powerful it is, as all of Los Angeles lights up. The Brotherhood of Steel successfully takes control of the cold fusion technology, giving them one of the greatest powers in the wasteland.

What Comes Next

Fallout‘s ending sets up an exciting future season for the series. Both the Ghoul and Lucy have decided to team up to travel the wasteland to track down Lacy’s father, Hank. While the Ghoul is looking for the location of his wife, Lucy, on the other hand, wants to meet the faces of the people who set the world’s destruction in motion. Their journey will eventually lead them to an iconic location from the game series as the final moments of the show reveal Hank, wearing Brotherhood of Steel power armor that he stole, looking out over at New Vegas, which was the setting of the video game Fallout: New Vegas.

Earlier in the episode, in the flashbacks to before the war, one of the faces meeting with the head of Vault-Tec was a younger, still-alive human version of the character, Mr. House, one of the primary characters in Fallout: New Vegas who controls the strip. While Fallout largely avoided any major connections to storylines or characters from other games, season two appears to be laying the groundwork for greater connections.



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Meanwhile, with the Brotherhood of Steel not in charge of fusion technology, they have one of the most powerful resources in the franchise, one that could give them a major military advancement in enforcing their rule across the Wasteland. While Maximus was still with the Brotherhood by the end of the season and is now a well-respected member of the faction, his journey with Lucy seems to have changed his outlook on life and could be a major factor in the upcoming season. He thinks Lucy is gone, and before they depart, she tells him that she will be waiting at Vault 33.

That could lead Maximus to go to Vault 33, possibly allowing him to uncover the secrets Vault-Tech is hiding. This would certainly be good for Lucy’s brother Norm, who has been locked inside Vault 31 for learning too much. When audiences last see him, he is given a choice to go into his father’s cryo pod and wait until everyone wakes up at an unspecified amount of time, or he will wait, hoping for someone to come find him. His fate is left unknown by the end of the season, so fans are eagerly anticipating season two to pick it up.

Fallout season 2 has yet to be confirmed, but it is clear a lot of seeds have been planted to continue the series in the future. The world of Fallout is vast and with it, Prime Video has a series that could feasibly run for many years and become one of the biggest hit television shows.

Want to learn more about Fallout? Check out our interview with series executive producer, Jonathan Nolan.

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