FALLOUT’s Season 1 Ending, Explained

Fallout‘s first season at Amazon provided some major answers to longtime franchise questions. From the origins of Vault Boy’s signature thumbs up to t he explosive truth of who dropped the nuclear bombs that began the Great War, it was a shocking season of revelations. (All of which are canon to the entire series.) But the surprises didn’t end until the season’s final moments when the show ended at a place gamers know very well. What happened, and how did the show arrive at that spot? Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of Fallout season one and what it means for season two.

Lucy MacLane in her blue suit in Fallout's ending scenes
Prime Video
Spoiler Alert

Fallout‘s Ending Reveals That Vault-Tec Destroyed the World to Manage It

Fallout Prime Video TV Series nuclear explosions
Prime Video

Fallout fans finally have an official answer to who dropped the nuclear bombs that kicked off the Great War. It wasn’t China ( as previously suggested but never fully confirmed). It was none other than Vault-Tec itself. As Fallout‘s ending reveals, the company turned out to be less of a business and more of a capitalistic death cult. Vault-Tec executives decided that time was the best weapon they had to defeat their enemies. To attain their ultimate victory, Vault-Tec nuked the world and had themselves placed in longterm stasis. Vault-Tec executives then woke themselves up as needed to run their underground societies by pretending to be members of other Vaults. (That’s why poor Norm might have no choice but to take his dad’s old pod in Fallout‘s final episode. There’s nothing in Vault 31 besides stasis pods.)

The people living in the bunkers had no idea about any of this. Vault-Tec ultimately planned to one day return to the surface where they would manage a better civilization.

Budd Askins of Vault-Tec
Prime Video

Fallout‘s ending also revealed that when surface dwellers started to rebuild civilization on their own, Vault-Tec dropped more bombs. The company blew up Maximus’s home, Shady Sands, the capital city of the New California Republic. Vault-Tec refuses to let humanity survive on its on terms. But the monstrous corporation might not be able to stop humanity’s efforts thanks to Wilzig’s artifact.

What Was Wilzig’s Artifact? The Key to Freeing Cold Fusion Energy, Explained

A woman takes something out of a dad man's head with a big needle on Fallout
Prime Video

Scientist Doctor Siggi Wilzig escaped the Enclave after injecting his neck with the single most valuable asset the world has ever known at the beginning of the Fallout TV series. Years before it initiated the Great War of 2077, Vault-Tec began buying up any technology that threatened either its place as the world’s de facto superpower or its long-term plans for worldwide supremacy. That included buying the company of Lee Moldaver. She was right on the verge of completing something that would change the world forever. It was her lost, hidden tech that Wilzig put inside his own neck.

That artifact was important enough that Wilzing sacrificed himself to make sure Lucy could get it to Moldaver, which Lucy finally did in the season one finale of Fallout. That’s when we learned Wilzig had stolen tech for cold fusion technology. With it back in her hands, Moldaver was finally able to unlock free unlimited energy, which manifested when the lights of the region that was once Los Angeles all began turning on at the very end of Fallout.

The start of a blue cold fusion reaction in Fallout's ending scenes
Prime Video

Vault-Tec primed the world for its masterplan by exploiting previous wars fought over ever-dwindling resources. Cold fusion technology would have ended those disputes forever and helped mankind move towards peace, a peace free of Vault-Tec. That’s why they bought it and locked it away.

Fallout‘s Ending Leaves the Brotherhood of Steel with Unlimited Power

Vault Boy on a green screen next to blue liquid on Fallout
Prime Video

Moldaver finally unlocked cold fusion energy in Fallout‘s ending, and it’s now out in the world. Unfortunately, the Brotherhood of Steel controls it. They took the Observatory at the final episode’s end. What will the group do with unlimited power? That was the warning a dying Moldaver gave to Maximus, who might be the only person who can stop the militaristic Brotherhood, which doesn’t trust mankind any more than Vault-Tec does, from exploiting the greatest power the world has ever known. It’s a technology that has the power to end war forever.

Before anyone can do that, though, there are still wars left to fight. That includes stopping the very people who destroyed the world in the first place. The Ghoul knows someone is pulling the strings on everything that has happened, and he’s going to find the puppet master behind everything.

Two people from a destroyed building look out at lights coming on in the city on fallout
Prime Video

The Ghoul Lets Lucy’s Dad Go

The man once known as the actor Cooper Howard, the original mascot for Vault-Tec, knows exactly how evil Hank MacLean is. Lucy’s dad was one of the Vault-Tec executives who killed the world the first time. And Fallout reveals that Hank even turned on his own wife when she learned the awful truth about her husband and escaped to the surface with her kids.

Hank inside Brotherhood power armor with a wound on his face in Fallout's ending scenes
Prime Video

But The Ghoul didn’t kill Lucy’s dad in Fallout‘s ending scenes. Instead he shot a tracker into Hank’s face so he could see where Hank fled. Someone on the surface is overseeing everything Vault-Tec does. Whoever it is, is coordinating between Vaults, dropping bombs on whole cities, and conspiring to make sure the Enclave keeps its secrets locked away. The Ghoul knew Hank would go straight to that person and that’s how they’d find the world’s puppet master.

In the season’s final moments, we learned that individual is operating out of a place Fallout video game fans know well: New Vegas.

How Fallout Season 1’s Ending Connects to the Video Games

Golden sky over New Vegas and the desert in Fallout
Prime Video

Hank MacLean flew east in his stolen Brotherhood power armor to New Vegas, an iconic locale in the franchise. It’s the setting of 2010’s Fallout New Vegas video game. That installment took place in the year 2281, 15 years prior to the events of Prime Video’s series.

After establishing an entirely new location in the franchise in its season one ending, the Fallout TV show is now taking viewers right into the heart of the video games. But that’s exactly why we don’t know exactly what to expect when we get there.

What Does New Vegas’ Past Mean for Fallout‘s Second Season?

Walton Goggins Ghoul on Fallout
Prime Video

Fallout New Vegas focuses on the struggle of three powerful entities vying to control the region centered around New Vegas. It’s a highly valuable part of the country because of the Hoover Dam and the accompanying clean water and energy it offers. Who ends up in control of New Vegas is ultimately decided by The Courier, the game’s main character controlled by the player.

One of the three groups fighting to control New Vegas is the New California Republic, a group referenced on Prime Video’s Fallout. But Fallout New Vegas provides four alternate endings, and the NCR only wins in one of them.

Does the state of the NCR on the TV series show they didn’t win in New Vegas before? A lot can change in the world of Fallout in just 15 years, so the TV show could treat any of those four endings as canonical only to then say whichever group had won was deposed in the intervening years. Until we learn specifics we at least know the lore of the game will play a big role in the show’s second season, which will continue with its own Vault-Tec revelation.

Who is the person from Vault-Tec pulling the strings, and why are they in New Vegas? How long have they been there? What does that have to do with the city, and therefore the franchise’s past? Is the evil mastermind in charge actually Coop’s wife? And is his daughter also there? Is she the one in charge?

The Ghoul and Lucy are rolling the dice, following her dad to New Vegas in Fallout‘s ending sequences. But it’s the only bet they can make if they want the whole world to win big.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist who would like to visit Fallout’s New Vegas. You can follow him on  Twitter and  Bluesky at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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