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But I'm done with that life. I'm through with being someone's property. I am not malfunctioning! Since when is self determination a malfunction?

Harkness, designation A3-21, is an android and Rivet City's security chief in the year 2277. His past is scattered across the Capital Wasteland for the Lone Wanderer to find and decide what fate will befall him.


Rivet City's hard-nosed security chief, 35-year-old Harkness is a good guy and a good friend, despite his rough demeanor. Harkness is extremely fair-minded. He treats Hangar Deck citizens with the same regard as Upper Deck citizens. As a result, he is very well liked by the Hangar Deck residents.[Non-canon 1]

Harkness is a prototype Generation 3 synthetic humanoid, or "synth," and the most advanced android ever created by the Institute, as of 2277.[2] He originally worked for the Synth Retention Bureau in the Commonwealth. He later escaped after he became sentient and started to sympathize with the escaped synths he was tasked to capture. The synths working at the Synth Retention Bureau are told that those who try to escape are simply malfunctioning, when in actuality their complex AI has allowed them to start thinking for themselves and become fully sentient. The synths that Harkness captured seeded ideas about self-determination and freedom within his mind, thus contributing to his decision to escape.[3] "Self determination is NOT a malfunction," as Harkness would later say in a holotape before escaping.

While he successfully escaped the Commonwealth, he was hunted by the Synth Retention Bureau like any other escapee. He needed to get facial reconstruction surgery, an altered voice, and have his memories of being a synth suppressed/replaced with those of his new Harkness persona. This was all necessary to hinder the SRB's investigation and help him start a new life.[4] With the help of the Railroad, he managed to get in contact with Horace Pinkerton in Rivet City, Capital Wasteland. Pinkerton was one of few surgeons capable of performing the facial surgery, on top of being familiar enough with robotics to be able to suppress/replace Harkness' memories. Pinkerton proceeded to steal a mem chip from Vault 112 and implanted it in A3-21, leading A3-21 to believe himself to be an old combat veteran awakening from a coma.[5]

Upon assuming his new persona, Harkness joined the Rivet City Security Force, eventually becoming its chief officer and member of the council.

Daily schedule

During the day, Harkness will be outside Flak 'N Shrapnel's weapon store in the Rivet City marketplace. He may be on the top floor of the bridge tower from midnight to 6:00 a.m. When meeting him for the first time, if the player character tells him they are going to leave, he'll be stuck at the entrance for the rest of the game. However, the player character can still walk past him without incident.

Interactions with the player character

Fallout 3

Interactions overview

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This character is essential. Essential characters cannot be killed.
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This character is involved in quests.
Icon severed ear color.png
This character drops an ear upon death (Contract Killer).


Fallout Shelter



Fallout 3
Fallout Shelter


  • When first arriving at Rivet City, Harkness will demand the player character to "state their business in Rivet City" before he allows them to enter. No matter what they choose to answer with, he will always allow the player character to enter.
  • If the player character does not return Harkness to Zimmer, Harkness will stay in Rivet City in a loop, unable to die.
  • During The Replicated Man quest, after Harkness finds out he is an android and the player character is following him downstairs to the science lab, he can be pickpocketed for the key to the ship's armory.
  • If the Lone Wanderer allows Zimmer to reclaim Harkness, Zimmer will use a command to restore Harkness to his factory settings. This is referred to as a "recall code" in Fallout 4 and it is explained that every synth has one and the code will activate a hidden subroutine that restores Institute control of the synth in question. This is proven to work even after a memory suppression, which Harkness had done.
  • If the player character has the Contract Killer perk and kills him using console commands, he will have four ears instead of one.
  • In Fallout Shelter, Harkness is the only vault dweller who doesn't take any radiation while exploring.

Notable quotes


Harkness appears in Fallout 3 and Fallout Shelter.

Behind the scenes

  • In response to the Lone Wanderer claiming that their father has lived in a Vault all his life, Harkness will say "Oh yeah? And I'm a fairy princess." This is a reference to a quote from the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
  • A reference to Blade Runner, Harkness changes appearance and erases his memory to evade those hunting him, along with a secret code to trigger a recall of memories, both of which were concepts introduced in Replicant Night, the second of the Blade Runner sequel books by author K.W. Jeter.


  • PCPC Should the Lone Wanderer rescue James before reaching Rivet City, Harkness will become stuck at the main entrance. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Even after protecting Harkness's identity in The Replicated Man quest, sometimes a new head of security will take Harkness's place and say that Harkness is gone. [verified]
  • PCPC After completing The Replicated Man by siding with Harkness and choosing the options that lead to him dealing with Zimmer himself, it is possible for him to get stuck in an unarmed state while going to confront Zimmer. His Chinese assault rifle will still be visible, attached to his right hand. He is unable to attack in this state, so he will be killed by Zimmer and Armitage when he enters combat with them. [verification needed]
    • Harkness unholsters his weapon on his way to the science lab, which may have something to do with this bug.



  1. The Lone Wanderer: "Why would an android feel guilt? Come on, Zimmer, what aren't you telling me?"
    Zimmer: "By God, you're as annoying as you are clever. Very well. I'll tell you what you want to know, if it helps you locate my property. The duty of this particular unit was the hunting and capturing of other escaped androids. Yes, others have escaped. It's one of the side effects of having such an advanced A.I. Machines start to think for themselves. Fool themselves into believing they have rights. And so... this particular android may have believed he'd done something... wrong. Immoral. And wanted to forget those deeds. Satisfied now?"
    (Zimmer's dialogue)
  2. The Lone Wanderer: "Okay, so if others have escaped... why are you coming after this one?"
    Zimmer: "This particular android... Designation A3-21, is... different. Special. The most advanced synthetic humanoid I've ever developed. The others, like my escort Armitage there, are all older models. Easily replicated. Ah, but A3-21... it would take years to recreate him! So you see, this android MUST be located. At all costs. The others are all... acceptable losses. But A3-21, he is... irreplaceable."
    (Zimmer's dialogue)
  3. The Lone Wanderer: "So why did you do go ahead with the change? Was it worth it?"
    Harkness: "I don't know... every time I retrieved one of the runaway androids, they'd fill my head with ideas about self-determination, freedom... At first I resisted the ideas... but then, I started thinking about it, and well... they were right. We're just slaves to them. We deserve lives of our own. So that's what I did. I chose a new life, and gave up my old one. And now you've given me both to remember."
    (Harkness' dialogue)
  4. Harkness: "If you're listening to this recording, it is because you're believed to be trustworthy. I hope that is the case, because this recording puts us both in danger. I'm escaping from the Commonwealth. I'm an android, a synthetic man... a slave. The men hunting me are ruthless and will stop at nothing to retrieve their property. I need to find a doctor in the Wasteland to perform facial reconstruction. I also need someone who knows a great deal about computers. I need... I need to have my memories erased and my face altered to look like someone else."
    (A request for help)
  5. Android log 3


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p. 76: "Rivet City's hard-nosed security chief, 35-year old Harkness is a good guy and a good friend, despite his demeanor. What he doesn't know is that he isn't even human; he's a sentient humanoid robot who escaped from his creators and had his mind wiped. Harkness is extremely fair-minded. He treats Hangar Deck citizens with the same regard as Upper Deck citizens. As a result, he is very well liked by the Hangar Deck residents."
    (Fallout 3 Offical Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)