“Zed's Dead, baby, Zed's dead. From Pulp Fiction. That's part of the reference. Ed was twofold: to immediately show the player that the outside world was dangerous, and to tell the player that he wasn't the first choice of someone to send out. Ed was sent out before the waterchip malfunction, however, since he's just bones.”— Chris Taylor, Fallout Bible 6
This references a line from the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction, spoken by Bruce Willis' character, Butch, differing by a single letter ("Zed's dead").