What the Showrunners Need to Get Right

Falloutthe extremely popular series of videogames produced by Bethesda, is about to get its own TV show. Amazon has been teasing the adaptation since 2020 but had to pause production due to our own tiny apocalypse that happened around the same time. Now it seems that plans for the show are finally starting to move forward. Two stars have been announced for the lead roles, and actual work on the show should begin this year. The Fallout games have a wide fanbase and rank with Elder Scrolls as one of Bethesda’s top-selling franchises.

Set in a world ravaged by nuclear war, Fallout distinguishes itself from the average post-apocalyptic genre – one of the defining bits being the cheerfully dark 1950s aesthetic that paints everything in the game. While pre-war technology seemed to have advanced quite quickly thanks to the splitting of the atom, human culture was mummified – thanks to the apocalypse – at the post-WWII age of diners, white picket fences, and 2.5 children from a heterosexual marriage. In Fallout, the robots are unfailingly polite while they blast super-mutants with flamethrowers, and corporations still maintain the literally crumbling facade that was the American dream. But for people to be happy with the series, those making it have to get some key things right.


The Vault

The Vault is where every Fallout game begins, and it’s the central figure of the game’s lore. These mysterious bomb shelters created by Vault-Tec to help humanity survive nuclear war are what set the mood for the whole in-game world. They are large facilities built with specific instructions for how the Overseers (leaders in the vault) are meant to maintain society. But, like everything else in the game, things aren’t always what they appear. Vault-Tec designed every Vault to be its own tiny social or scientific experiment, with different instructions for subverting whatever pretext it gave for establishing order.

This is an integral part of the Fallout universe that will hopefully be maintained in the series. Or at least here’s hoping they show us the interior of a vault. Whether they choose to explore the lies going on underground is up to them, but like other post-apocalyptic fictions, this is a place to start questioning your humanity. When society breaks down, and all you have left are the 50-some-odd people stuck underground with you, who will you really be then?

The Real World Locations

Recognizable locations are a big part of creating the fantasy in a post-apocalyptic series. We see buildings we know, monuments that once represented a powerful society, and we get to see them completely destroyed and in ruins. This can help make a series real for the viewer. And it can add a little bit of fear to the in-world characters that might remember the pre-war world as well. Ironically, in Fallout: New Vegasthe strip seemed oddly similar to the present-day Las Vegas, but that was probably just a coincidence.

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Along with real-world locations, it would be nice to see some Easter egg locations from the games as well. These might come in the form of a Vault number we might recognize or a silly location that might have been off the main storyline. A Nuka-Cola plant or a RobCo manufacturing facility would be amazing. And there’s always a crashed alien spaceship somewhere.

The Factions

Along with other big hallmarks of the game, it will be important to add franchise-spanning factions. While each Fallout game has factions unique to their own story, you can not have a proper game without Raiders, Super-Mutants, Ghouls, and of course, the Brotherhood of Steel. Despite their occasionally questionable morals, which could make series characters more interesting, the Brotherhood of Steel is a big source for that forever iconic Fallout image of that suit of ruined power armor. And they are a big player on the world stage of the Fallout universe. Super-Mutants provide great comic relief when fighting enemies, and raiders are, well, raiders. It would be nice to see a more secretive faction like the Enclave as well.

As for ghouls, the series has already hired Walton Goggins to play one in his leading role opposite Ella Purnell. Goggins is an excellent choice for the role and has done an excellent job of playing less-than-normal characters before. Ghouls are another good path into Fallout’s common theme of truth in humanity, along with serving as an allegory for racism in-game.

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There are many things the showrunners would need to get right if they wanted to please everyone, but there are only a few that are key. The little bits that add the I do not know what every fan is looking for might come in the form of those classic Nina Simone or Billie Holiday tunes or an eccentric radio DJ. Maybe there will be a Fallout bobblehead hidden on a shelf full of useless junk that might wink at the game’s way of making you search through tons of scrap in order to find something valuable. However they do it, fans will be happy to sit down with friends and crack a couple of icy Nuka-Colas to watch the first episode.

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