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Brain Dead is a murder-mystery side quest in the Fallout 4 add-on Far Harbor.

Quick walkthrough

Far Harbor side quest: Brain Dead
Meet with Pearl around Far Harbor.
Accept the job.
Travel to Cliff's Edge Hotel.
(Optional) Ask for money.
Discover the entrance to Vault 118.
Reward: 25/70 pre-War money.
Meet Pearl at the hotel.
Follow her to the entrance of Vault 118.
Activate the vault door controls.
Talk to Maxwell.
Investigate the crime scene for clues.
Discuss the findings with Maxwell.
Investigate the robots of the vault.
Confront Santiago Avida.
Search the Overseer's office.
Defeat Santiago.
Confront Julianna Riggs.
Report to Maxwell.
(Optional) Ask for a bribe.
Reward: ~500 XP
200/300 pre-War money from Maxwell
Reward: 200 pre-War money
Accept to let Ezra flee.
Refuse to let Ezra flee.
Let Ezra run out of Vault 118.
Betray Ezra to Maxwell.
Defeat Ezra.
Defeat Ezra.
Report to Maxwell.
Report to Maxwell.
Report to Maxwell.
Reward: 400 XP + 300 XP
400/500 pre-War money from Maxwell
Reward: 400 XP + 300 XP
500 pre-War money on Ezra
400/500 pre-War money from Maxwell
Reward: 400 XP + 300 XP
500 pre-War money on Ezra
400/500 pre-War money from Maxwell

Detailed walkthrough

After one has completed the quest Walk in the Park, while roaming around Far Harbor, the Sole Survivor will be approached by a Miss Nanny named Pearl. She will then ask them if they are part of law enforcement, mentioning that there has been a terrible murder. Upon confirming, she will then ask the player to follow her as the murder has taken place at Cliff's Edge Hotel.

Upon reaching the location, she will mention that the residents have been rowdy and that she had to get physical with some of them, as they were getting too "handsy." She will then tell the Sole Survivor how the elevator is not working and thus they must take the long way around. She will then proceed to lead one through the hotel and back to an elevator, which is only to be used by the special guests. Through this path, they will stumble upon several feral ghouls.

Once out of the elevator, the Sole Survivor will be prompted to speak to a Mister Handy named Maxwell through an intercom which is revealed to be vault door controls. Once done speaking they will be ushered into Vault 118 and escorted to the crime scene. The victim of the murder is presented as Ezra Parker, the owner of the hotel. Upon investigation of the crime scene, a bat, red paint to represent blood and the broken brain incubator will be discovered.

The Sole Survivor will then be asked by Maxwell to investigate the fellow Robobrains living in the vault. The main characters that will be focused on are Julianna, Santiago and Keith, although one will eventually speak with everyone.

Questioning Juliana is rather fruitless, although talking to her husband reveals that he was a lead designer on the Robobrain project, and also the one who convinced everyone to put their brains into the robot bodies. If one keeps talking to him about his research, they can eventually learn about the voice modulators which allow them to recreate their original voices.

Entering the McKinney residence will catch the couple apparently discussing the murder and a plan to run away, but it turns out they are just rehearsing lines from a script. Afterward, Gilda will leave for the beach. Questioning Keith about the bat found at the murder scene will lead him to claim he's being framed, probably by the artist Santiago.

Speaking with Santiago gives the player some Speech checks in which they can convince him they are a fellow art lover. He will reveal that Julianna and Ezra had some huge argument in the overseer's office, but he does not know what it was about since he was trying to ignore the commotion. He will refer the player to Gilda, the local gossip.

Gilda can be found on the vault's artificial beach behind the showers. Agree to hear one of her stories, and she'll be willing to tell the player what Julianna and Ezra were arguing about. Apparently it was something regarding finances, and Julianna found something in the overseer's office that set her off. The argument started when Julianna accused Ezra of something, but Gilda is not sure what that something is.

After learning this, one will then have the objective to investigate the overseer's office, only to find it is locked. Speaking to Maxwell reveals that Ezra Parker had the key, which one can find on a desk in his room. There is not much to see in the office, but using the terminal and listening to the holotape will reveal that Ezra was embezzling funds from the vault construction fund, which is the reason the lower-class wing was not finished in time.

Talking with Bert, Julianna's husband, a Speech check will reveal that she has been acting very differently - so much so that Bert is convinced that she is not his wife. When confronted, Julianna will reveal that she is actually Ezra. Apparently Julianna discovered that Ezra had embezzled the money she gave him and threatened to tell the others. On impulse, Ezra killed her, then moved the body downstairs, set up the crime scene and modified his voice modulator to impersonate her.

The Sole Survivor will then be given the decision to either take a bribe or continue on with the accusation which will result in a fight between Ezra and them. If the Sole Survivor takes the bribe they can turn around and continue with the accusation. If they do not (the "let him go" option), they will then begin Brain Dead Part 2.

Once beginning Brain Dead Part 2, the Sole Survivor will be given two choices: return to Maxwell immediately and tell him about Ezra, causing the robots to attack the murderer, or wait for Ezra to leave the vault. Once he is gone, return to Maxwell and tell him Ezra is the killer. At that point, the Sole Survivor can then tell Maxwell one of three lies: Ezra got away, they killed him, or it is over. No matter which choice they make, Maxwell will pay the player for their work.

Quest stages

Brain Dead

Quest stages
StageStatusDescriptionLog Entry
300 Speak with Maxwell
350 Search the crime scene for cluesThere has been a murder in Vault 118. I may want to investigate.
380 Discuss findings with Maxwell
390 Find and accuse the killer, Investigate Keith McKinneyThere has been a murder in Vault 118. I've agreed to help investigate. I should question suspects and search for clues to uncover the killer.
392 Investigate Santiago Avida
400 Investigate Julianna Riggs
465 Defeat the killer in Vault 118I have uncovered the murderer in Vault 118 and must bring them to justice.
534 Search the Overseers Office
833 Confront JuliannaThere has been a murder in Vault 118. I've agreed to help investigate. I've found out that Bert believes his wife, Julianna, may have been replaced. I need to confront her about it.
870 Report your success to MaxwellI have defeated the murderer in Vault 118 and should report my success to Maxwell.
Ezra has been brought to justice and now I should speak to Maxwell for my reward.
880 Defeat Ezra in Vault 118I found out that Ezra killed Juliana and took her place. I've told him I will let him escape, but betrayed him and told Maxwell everything. Now we must defeat Ezra.
980Quest failedQuest Failed
1000Quest finishedQuest CompleteI found the murderer in Vault 118 and closed the case.

Brain Dead, Part 2

Quest stages
StageStatusDescriptionLog Entry
10 Return to Vault 118 and speak with Maxwell
350 (Optional) Tell Maxwell about EzraI found out that Ezra killed Juliana and took her place. I've told him I will let him escape and that I will tell Maxwell he got away.
600 Return to Ezra with the valuables from Vault 118
980Quest failedQuest Failed
1000Quest finishedQuest CompleteI found the murderer in Vault 118 and closed the case.

Companion reactions

Accuse the real murderer??LikeLike???Like??Like???
Taking Ezra's bribeLikeDislikesNo reactionDislikes?DislikesLikeHates?DislikesHates?Like?
Letting Ezra go??DislikesNo reaction???Dislikes??Dislikes?Dislikes?
Killing Ezra?LikeLikeNo reaction???Like??Like???


  • The quest can seem deadlocked if all the residents have been investigated, the overseer's office has been searched, etc. Be sure that the crime scene is fully examined, as a single finding can continue many paths in the quest - even when the killer may already be known.
    • The Sole Survivor needs to determine the true nature of the "blood" and pick up the murder weapon to the right of the stage. Finding either or both items should end the deadlock and enable them to confront a suspect.
  • Piper, being the investigative journalist that she is, will garner a fair amount of approval during the investigation.
  • Despite usually being opposed to stealing, Piper may quip that the hotel's rich inhabitants arguably would not miss some of their "nifty tech" while exploring the vault.
  • It is possible to start the quest without meeting Pearl. The Sole Survivor will need to explore the ruins of the hotel and try to open the vault door.
  • The quest can be ended quickly by accusing Keith of being a murderer, causing him to become hostile. After killing him, all the investigation tasks will be finished and the Sole Survivor will have to do the final talk with Maxwell. This prevents the player from starting Part 2 and identifying the true killer.
    • It is not actually necessary to accuse him of murder, just ask more about himself a second time around, selecting questions about motive (but not the Charisma check assuming one has the letter). He will act as though the player accused him and turn hostile (Curie likes it when he is killed).
  • Strong dislikes it each time the player flirts with Gilda Broscoe and hates the Lover's Date option that lets the player get the Lover's Embrace perk with her.

Behind the scenes

In July 2016, the author of a Fallout: New Vegas mod called "Autumn Leaves" investigated the quest due to claims that much of Brain Dead was copied from his mod, due to both sharing similar details. Both are murder mysteries, both take place in a vault that is run by robots, they share many similar scenes and they have similar interior design. However, upon further investigation, the mod author came to the conclusion that, while inspiration may or may not have been taken, the quests are entirely different, due to entirely different themes, different writing, different plot, different music, and different voice acting.[1]


  • PCPC Killing Ezra too quickly after the final conversation and refusing to let him go may start the quest Brain Dead Part 2 after he is already dead. In that case, the player is not able to finish the second part of the quest and the quest marker will remain over Ezra's remains. To avoid this one should wait until the second part starts before finishing him.[verified]
  • PCPC Xbox OneXbox One It is possible for Pearl to become stuck at the elevators, without saying the line about them being out of order. Reloading or activating the elevator in the basement will fix the issue.[verified]
  • PCPC Maxwell may not answer after activating the vault door controls. Reload before going down the elevator. Then save just outside the elevator, after killing the ghouls. Next, enter the following in the console: ClearQuestAliases DLC03DialogueV118 followed by: SetQuestAliases DLC03DialogueV118. Finally, save, exit, and reload. The quest should continue when the vault door controls are activated.[verified]
  • PCPC It is possible for Pearl to not enter the final elevator to the vault and stay above in the hotel. This prevents a piece of dialogue from her and a quest update just prior to opening the vault door. While the quest can appear to progress normally if this occurs, Maxwell and the other residents will eventually not respond to the player's questions breaking the quest. Reloading to a point before the last elevator and ensuring Pearl is near the vault door controls to trigger her update should resolve this.[verified]
  • PCPC Xbox OneXbox One When attempting to speak to Bert or Julianna Riggs, a message may appear saying they are both busy, and thus they cannot be interacted with. Hitting their cat (alt), Scruffy, will fix this issue. Sometimes, Scruffy cannot be found. Hitting Bert two or three times will fix the issue as well. Doing so will not cause them to become hostile.[verified]
  • Xbox OneXbox One Sometimes, when leaving via the elevator after Brain Dead Part 2, the elevator will start going up and never stop. Reloading from the last save and re-entering the elevator fixes the issue. [verified]
  • PCPC The option to ask Bert about his suspicions about Julianna will not appear unless one speaks to Julianna before asking Bert. Try asking her about her thoughts first, but do not accuse her.[verified]
    • Many of the NPCs become stuck on "This individual is busy."