Whether or not you believe in the verity of any given conspiracy theory, there’s no denying that they’ve got one hell of a pull. This piece from the BBC explains their popularity by reference to a human fondness for patterns, and the appeal these ultra-juicy stories make to community and safety. The Observer’s Nicola Davis goes on to say that theories of this nature prey on a secret belief that people are ultimately self-interested, leading to situations where the truth must necessarily be obscured. In other words, evolution did this. Evolution is why we can’t have nice things. At least, why we can’t have nice things without thinking they’re probably bad things.
Away from real life and it’s Hobbesian temptations, video game conspiracy theories are largely concerned with divining what exactly those tricksy devs are up to, or what still lies up their sleeves for future iterations of a series.
And what a long series it’s been for Fallout. Twenty years to be exact, with the original Fallout hitting an unsuspecting audience all the way back in 1997. That kind of legacy leaves a massive potential for some stellar conspiracy theories. No character and no story plot have been spared a suspicious gaze. From Elder Scrolls tie-ins and Vault Boy’s signature thumbs up, we’ve got fifteen conspiracy theories every true fan of Fallout needs to know.
15 Vault Boy Isn’t Winking At You, He’s Testing To See If He’s About To Die.
We all like Vault Boy. He’s a likable kind of guy. One that could probably teach Matthew McConaughey a thing or two about being chill. There you are in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, fending off raiders and mutants alike, but he’s always at the ready with a charming smile, a thumbs-up, and a wink. Except maybe he’s not.
We can’t find evidence of this outside of video game circles, but there are those that say Vault Boy’s famous stance is actually a survival technique taught to everyone who made it through the fallout. If the mushroom cloud from a bomb is bigger than your thumb while your arm is stretched out, you’re in big trouble. We assume that if it’s smaller, you’re only in medium- to small-sized trouble. We’re not altogether sure, but let’s hope we never have to be.
14 You Are A Synth, And The Institute’s Finest Work.
In Fallout 4 (2015) players took on the role of the Sole Survivor, with a face and body that was as disturbing as some people could manage. And the Sole Survivor’s a human, right? WRONG! A fan theory suggests that Sole Survivor is actually a synth, and the ultimate Institute experiment. We think Youtuber, Graenolf, makes a convincing case for this.
He claims that advanced synths were being created around the time you’re awoken in your pod to watch your son, Shaun, being taken. The Institute sees fit to port your being into a synth — it being a win-win for them.
Either you find Shaun and replace him as a Father all on your own, or you join the Brotherhood and become what the Institute have longed to recreate - a truly autonomous being.
13 Dogmeat May Be One, Too.
Let’s take Dogmeat’s smarts. No one in the Commonwealth has time to train a dog that well. No one. Yet Dogmeat is smart. It’s synthery, we tell you! We’re also suspect about how Dogmeat’s managed to look so clean in a world where water is a scarce resource. Hmm.
12 While We’re At It, The Mysterious Stranger Also Has Some Synth-ness To Him...
Look, we’re not trying to say that everyone you meet is a synth. We’re not the Oprah of Fallout, as much as we’d love to shout ‘You’re a synth! You’re a synth! You’re all synths’ while pointing at random in-game characters.
But it’s not that much of a stretch. It would help explain how the Mysterious Strangers can appear and disappear as suddenly as they do. Either they’re a synth, or the fallout left them with speed that rivals Usain Bolt’s. Trumps it, really, because Bolt never had to set a world record after a close brush with death.
11 Then Again, Maybe The Mysterious Stranger Is Actually A Role Passed Down From Person To Person.
This would explain how the Mysterious Stranger has managed to aid you in every game since 1997. Twenty years! Even when you’ve factored in radiation, that seems like an awfully long time to be alive and chipper enough to help out a spritely protagonist that you should definitely be invoicing for danger pay.
It does sound like a job you’d inherit rather than apply for, right? Cue thoughts of a hilarious scenario where an aged Mysterious Stranger is grooming his son to take over, but all his son wants is to be is a pop star on the New Vegas strip.
10 Fallout And The Elder Scrolls Series Might Be Set In The Same Universe.
If you’ve ever been an intrepid explorer in Tamriel, you’ll know the siren’s call of a little herb helper called ‘Nirnroot.’. Well, it seems this healing plant was also discovered in a research centre found in Fallout 4 .
On the left, you’ll see the specimen found in most parts of Skyrim, in the middle is a variety only found in Blackreach, and on the right the ‘experimental plant’ you’ll spot in Fallout 4 (2015). We’re pretty sold already, but there’s more. The log information that accompanies the plant’s entry in Fallout has each entry diarised under the label ‘NRT.’ UM, NIRNROOT MUCH? Some say it’s just an easter egg, but we’re calling it proof that one day we’ll find a Khajiit civilian sporting a vault suit.
9 Fallout 3 Might Have Predicted A Major IRL Event.
Radio signals are a big feature of the Fallout series, but only those in Fallout 3 (2008) seem to predict the future. Galaxy News Radio was sometimes interrupted by an unnerving signal - a mixture of numbers and Morse code that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the mission(s) at hand.
Eerie already, but some believe that these numbers are supposed to be dates, and the Morse code is a description of historical events occurring on those dates. One entry is a line that’s been translated as ‘nine-four-five, four-two-zero, two-zero-one-zero. Accident in the gulf, several dead. Oil spill apparently averted’.
Some of you might remember the Deepwater Horizon explosion that happened in the Gulf of Mexico on 20th April (‘four-two-zero’), 2010 (‘two-zero-one-zero’) - a little under two years after Fallout 3 (2008) was released. What’s more, the first of the explosions was thought to have occurred at 9:56 pm.
8 Vault-Tec Started The Great War.
Vault-Tec may not be the friendly fallout-shelter provider that it seems. One fan theory that’s gained a lot of attention purports that Vault-Tec were the ones that detonated the nuclear weapons that caused the Great War. You see, they’d built all these fancy shelters, and had all these nice weapons - thanks to their alliance as a military contractor. Off the bat, that seems like a WHOLE lot of motive to us.
Then there’s the small issue of staff. How come all the vaults were extremely well equipped and managed, considering the planet was in a state of peace? Human error just doesn’t allow for that kind of efficiency. Just ask the attendants of Jurassic Park.
In all likelihood, this is the least surprising entry on the list. In any video game, a government-run company that's also conducting secret weapons testing is never going to escape villainy.
7 This One's Going To Hurt Your Brain. In Fallout 4, Are You Playing Your Own Grandpa/Grandma?
It’s a bit of a stretch, but let's think about this. Shaun is the Lone Wanderer’s father, making the Sole Survivor the Lone Wanderer’s grandparent. How? According to the Fallout 3 (2008) wiki, your in-game father (‘James’) is 51 years old. Fallout 4 (2015) occurs exactly a decade after Fallout 3 (2008) so that makes him 61 years old. Shaun sure looks 61.
You might be rightly thinking that Shaun and James clearly have different names. But it is possible that after James was abducted, he was given a new one. You’re not going to kidnap someone and call them by the exact same name.
The timeline checks out, too. Let’s just try and forget the fact that James dies at the end of Fallout 3 (2008). It’s entirely feasible that he tossed back a few RadAways and slept it off...
6 Everything That Happens In Fallout 4 Could Be In Your Imagination.
It’s not easy to find a bevy of reputable sources in an article about video game conspiracies, but this one we got from Forbes, no less. The source argues that everything that happens in the Commonwealth is in the Sole Survivor’s imagination. The claim says the actuality of everything that happened after your character was placed in cryo-stasis is up for debate.
There’s a good amount of proof in favour of this conjecture, but we only have space to mention our interpretations of one. So, the Sole Survivor’s is placed in that frozen state while hooked up to a system that can fail in such a way as to cause issues with consciousness, true? What happens in a half-conscious state? Nightmares, that’s what. What’s a parent’s worst nightmare? A kidnapped child. Boom!
5 The Mannequins Are Watching You.
Whenever you’re more creeped-out by a mannequin than you would be other harmless furniture items, it’s because of something called ‘Uncanny Valley’. This a term first used in the 70s to refer to the weirdness of human-robot interaction, which involves our distrust of something that’s almost like us.
Mannequins kind of look like naked humans, so we’re not as down with having them littered around the Commonwealth as we are plastic or ceramic. One fan theory makes them even less inviting, claiming that the mannequins are actually fitted with cameras and used by the Institute to spy on you. Not cool, Institute.
It's a good theory, considering it does explain why they’re everywhere. Unless someone unearths a faded ‘Frightening Mannequin Factory Est. 2076’ sign somewhere, we’re sticking to our guns on this one.
4 Fallout Shelter Is An Authoritarian Experiment In Communism’s Efficacy In A Post-Apocalyptic Society.
In a singularly McCarthyist view of communism, this conspiracy is mostly interesting because it’s the only one we’ve found that concerns itself with Bethesda’s first-ever mobile game, Fallout Shelter (2015). The game has since gone on to be available on Xbox One, and PC.
So, our theory. The supposition is that the cute shelters that are the hallmark of the game are not, in fact, humanity’s best attempts at making things work after a nuclear fallout, but an intricate experiment conducted by the Institute (who else?) to test a dodgy method of arranging society. That’s why you assign workers according to their SPECIAL traits and not because the med bay is actually where poor Beth wants to live out the rest of her miserable days. Poor Beth.
3 The Vaults Are Themed Around Excerpts From The Bible.
There are many guesses that try to explain why the vaults have a particular numbering system, but possibly the most gripping is that they’re named after a corresponding Psalm. Yes, that’s from Psalms from the Bible. You’re skeptical, sure. The first vault they bring up is Vault 101. We know that it was first ruled by a ruthless Overseer. Now we read Psalm 101:
‘No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence’
It doesn’t stop there. Vault 92 was packed with musicians and on the surface, appeared to exist to cultivate musical talent. But as we know, Vault 92’s true purpose was an attempt to create super-soldiers through subliminal messaging. Psalm 92 alternates between praising the Christian Lord with song and preparing for battle.
2 Forget About Vault-Tec. What If Aliens Started The Great War?
We've only had Ancient Aliens since 2010, but the alien fervor has been alive and well for decades, with our Zetan friends even appearing in the Fallout universe since in day one.
But some players believe that they didn’t come in peace after all. We might have known as such after Fallout 3 (2008) DLC revealed them to be hostile body-snatchers, and at that pleasant business since at least the 1600s (no word yet on who they took, but we have our suspicions about Descartes). So, what if Vault-Tec wasn’t Satan incarnate, at least in this instance, but just the fall guy for these little Zetans?
They've proven themselves to be of superior technology, and they're obviously not that concerned about compromising our comfort. We want to believe, but we’ll let you decide.
1 Deacon Is The Lone Wanderer.
We’re ending on a big one, here. Right, so, the Lone Wanderer from Fallout 3 (2008)? The legendary-type known to walk off into the sunset with a gun slung over one shoulder and a brilliant dog by his side? That one. What if that was Deacon, everyone’s favourite Ray-Ban influencer?