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Lyons! I know you're in there! I know you can hear me! You open this goddamn door right now!— Madison at the Citadel's door

Doctor Madison Li (Institute username Li.M)[1] is a scientist working on portable fusion power and hydroponics experiments in Rivet City in 2277. As of 2287, she is in the Commonwealth working for the Institute as the head of their advanced systems division.


Early Life and Project Purity

Madison was a young, idealistic scientist when she met James and fully bought into the notion of Project Purity. Madison hid her growing romantic feelings for James, respecting his marriage to Catherine.[Non-canon 1]

The project was going smoothly and even had the support and help of the Brotherhood of Steel, but soon it all went downhill. Super mutant attacks were more frequent and purifying water on a large scale was much harder than first thought. After James and Catherine had a child, things couldn't get any worse for Project Purity when Catherine died and James decided to abandon the project to keep his child safe. The Brotherhood and the other scientists also left, and Project Purity was put on hold.

Dr. Li is the first distinct face that the player character sees, during the birthing scene, as she carries the newborn Lone Wanderer away while Catherine is going into cardiac arrest.

Rivet City

Although Madison Li was filled with sadness upon Catherine's death, her grief was replaced with a powerful sense of betrayal after James abandoned Project Purity. She headed to Rivet City, hearing about its thriving scientific community set up by Horace Pinkerton. Soon after she arrived, she began to argue with Pinkerton, as they often had different views on the matters at hand, to the degree he considered her a "snooty bitch" who ruined his life. One day, having enough of it all, Pinkerton left Rivet City and began to live in the bow of the ship. Dr. Li soon became the head scientist of the group and began to grow healthy, radiation-free produce like fresh apples and pears.

It was here in Rivet City that Madison first heard tales of the Institute, a legendary organization that was formed from the ashes of the Commonwealth Institute of Technology from a man named Zimmer, the Institutes's director of the Synth Retention Bureau.

Return to Project Purity

Nineteen years after abandoning Project Purity, Madison is older, wiser and much more cynical. Her life was going smoothly, but things drastically changed when she got an unexpected visit from James, who had escaped from Vault 101 and returned to Rivet City. He tried to recruit Dr. Li in his efforts to revive Project Purity, but she refused, thinking too much time had passed. Soon after her talk with James, she meets the now-adult Lone Wanderer. With Dr. Li's directions, the Lone Wanderer locates James, who returns to Rivet City and is finally able to recruit Madison to help him. Along with several other scientists, they head for the Jefferson Memorial, the location of Project Purity.

Madison once again finds herself working on Project Purity and begins to help her fellow scientists repair the facility to the operational level once more. All is going smoothly, but suddenly the Enclave arrives and quickly overruns Project Purity. A squad of troopers led by Colonel Autumn occupies the project control room, demanding that the project be handed over to them at once.

James, not trusting the Enclave, refuses to hand over the project. When Autumn, losing his patience, kills Janice Kaplinski, a fellow scientist working on the project; James sabotages the project, resulting in his death. Madison hesitates for a moment, in shock over the death of James and Janice, but then tells the Lone Wanderer that they can escape through the Taft Tunnel. Madison, the Lone Wanderer, and some other personnel escape and eventually make it to the Citadel. She speaks to Elder Lyons personally and demands that the Brotherhood of Steel take back the purifier. After joining the Citadel, Madison is forced to work on the Liberty Prime project despite not wanting to work on weapon technology.[2]

After the Brotherhood defeats the Enclave at Project Purity, she tells the Lone Wanderer and Sarah Lyons that the equipment has been damaged, whether unintentionally or by sabotage. She further tells the two that the project control room is lethally irradiated, but it still needs to be activated quickly or the facility would explode.

The Commonwealth

After the purifier was activated, Madison left the Capital Wasteland and traveled to the Commonwealth to pursue other scientific endeavors. The Brotherhood stayed in the Capital Wasteland with a large military presence, something Li disagreed with, believing that with Project Purity activated and the Enclave destroyed, the Brotherhood no longer needed to remain.[3] However, the real reason Madison fled to the Commonwealth was that she feared for her very life. While Lyons had allowed her to leave unscathed, there were others who believed her to be a security risk. Knowing this information, she fled to find the Institute, the only safe haven she could think of.

After a long journey, Madison eventually found herself in the Commonwealth and quickly managed to find the scientific haven that Zimmer spoke about back in the Capital Wasteland. By joining the Institute, Madison embarked on scientific endeavors she had only dreamed of and even managed to become the director of the organization's advanced systems division.

Despite this, the lack of transparency irks her, not getting the full story on everything that occurs within the Institute due to the organization's constant burying of facts it finds inconvenient. However, the key problem is that she feels the Institute is selfish. The technology that could improve countless lives is hidden inside the Institute, buried deep beneath the ground, yet the Institute continues to hide and isolate itself from everyone. Li was friends with Brian Virgil. When he escaped from the Institute several months ago, he was declared dead and his lab sealed off against Madison's insistence on a thorough investigation.

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 a temporary companion.
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This character starts quests.
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This character is involved in quests.
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This character drops an ear upon death (Contract Killer).


  • Scientific Pursuits: Dr. Li points the Lone Wanderer in the direction of the Jefferson Memorial to further the search for James.
  • The Waters of Life: Shaken by the events in the purifier room, Dr. Li enlists the Lone Wanderer to escort the remaining scientists to the Citadel.

Effects of player's actions

  • If the Lone Wanderer has killed Three Dog before completing the Galaxy News Radio quest, the player character will need to talk to Dr. Li to resume the plot.

Other interactions

  • If the Lone Wanderer passes a Speech check before going to Project Purity, Dr. Li rewards them with five stimpaks.
  • After escaping to the Citadel, Dr. Li will be unavailable for conversation as she asks the Lone Wanderer to leave her alone. Entering Vault 87 and starting Finding the Garden of Eden will make her available for conversation again.

Fallout 4

Interactions overview

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This character is involved in quests.


  • Institutionalized: Father sends the Sole Survivor to speak to the Division Heads, including Doctor Li. She then installs a courser chip in the Sole Survivor's Pip-Boy, allowing them to use Institute teleportation. This completes the quest.
  • From Within: Elder Maxson knows Dr. Li is working for the Institute and wants her to work alongside the Brotherhood once again. One can give her "Brian Virgil personal log 0176" in order to convince her to leave the Institute.
  • Liberty Reprimed: The Sole Survivor will assist Dr. Li and Proctor Ingram in their mission to reconstruct Liberty Prime, by gathering the materials necessary for the robot's reactivation.


Fallout 3
Apparel Weapon Other items
Doctor Li's outfit Knife Doctor Li's key
misc items
Fallout 4
Fallout Shelter
FoS Madison Li.pngOutfit
Expert lab coat


  • Dr. Li has a unique hairstyle that is unused by any other NPC, as does Cherry.
    • Unlike Cherry, however, her hairstyle, "The Sophisticate," can be selected for the player character if they are female.
  • The door to her quarters is always locked and must be picked to gain entry.
  • Unlike most beds in the personal quarters of Rivet City residents, Dr. Li's bed is classified as unowned. This sometimes results in NPCs appearing at her door fruitlessly attempting to gain access to the open bed, or spawning in her room during their assigned sleeping hours (trapping them inside).
  • It is possible to kill Li in Fallout 4. However, killing her will turn Brotherhood hostile towards the player character even if they sided with the Brotherhood at the end.
  • In Fallout 4, Dr. Li will not become hostile when Institute personnel are attacked, as long as she is not attacked herself.
  • After finishing the main questline for the Brotherhood, which results in the destruction of the Institute, Dr. Li will seem displeased. Speaking with her reveals she believes Elder Maxson has delusions of grandeur, and that all the Sole Survivor did was kill innocent people. Regardless of how they respond, she will not desire to engage the Sole Survivor in conversation after this point and believes that the Brotherhood has betrayed her for a second time, initially believing Liberty Prime was going to be used to scare the Institute into backing down, not destroying it.
  • Madison Li is one of few characters that appears in multiple games. Other examples include Harold, Arthur Maxson, or MacCready.

Notable quotes

Fallout 3

Fallout 4

  • "You know, I never understood why the Institute was so damn selfish. All those innocent people up there...dying. And here I am surrounded by technology that could make their lives better. Yet we hide down here and insulate ourselves from everything and everyone. It's not right."
  • "I knew it was just a matter of time before your people would track me down. I've been looking over my shoulder for almost a decade, waiting for them to send someone like you to kill me."
  • "You'd think being surrounded by cutting edge laboratory equipment and some of the greatest minds the world's ever known would be enough. Only problem is the lack of transparency. I don't think we get the full story on everything that occurs down here."


Madison Li appears in Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and Fallout Shelter. Li is also mentioned in the Fallout 3 add-on Broken Steel.


PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 If the player convinces Li to join the Brotherhood but then destroys both the Institute and the Brotherhood, along with the Prydwen and the airport, Li can be found standing in the Prydwen's burnt-out carcass, wearing her BoS attire and acting like she never left the Institute and the Sole Survivor was made its director.[verified]



  1. Institute terminal entries - Dr. Li
  2. Madison Li: "I originally left the Brotherhood because I was tired of being stepped on and used. First there was the water purification project, designed to freely benefit the entire Capital Wasteland. Even though the Brotherhood allowed it to be activated, they wanted to control it. But that wasn't enough. They forced me to help design Liberty Prime. Turned my work into a weapon of war. I had enough, so I left. It's as simple as that."
    (Madison Li's dialogue)
  3. Bigsley's dialogue: Lines 8-9


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.69-70: "Doctor Madison Li
    Doctor Madison Li, 48, was a young, idealistic scientist who fully bought into the notion of Project Purity. She worked tirelessly with your father, and hid her growing romantic feelings while respecting his marriage to another scientist. When your mother was killed, Doctor Li was filled with remorse, but when the player's father decided to abandon Project Purity to keep his child safe, her sadness was replaced with a powerful sense of betrayal. Eighteen years later, she is older, wiser, and much more cynical."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)
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