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War never changes...— Male Sole Survivor

The Sole Survivor is the player character and main protagonist in Fallout 4. Depending on the player character's gender, the Sole Survivor is either the husband or wife (name determinant) in a pre-War family and has a son, Shaun.


The Sole Survivor is either a male retired U.S. Army veteran or a female lawyer. According to pre-War records of the Lookout at the USS Constitution, Nate served in the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment,[1] while Nora was a lawyer (specifically a graduate of the Suffolk County School of Law).[2] If one of these characters is the protagonist, the player chooses the name, but the spouse names are either (Nate) or (Nora) respectively.

At some point during the Resource Wars, the Sole Survivor married, had a son named Shaun and bought a robotic butler named Codsworth. On October 23, 2077, the Sole Survivor was preparing for an event at the Veteran's Hall[3] in Concord,[4] when a Vault-Tec representative approached the family with pre-approved papers for access into Vault 111. Moments later, a newsreader announced that nuclear detonations were being reported, forcing the Sole Survivor and their family to rush to Vault 111. They were then sealed in cryogenic stasis under the pretense of being "decontaminated" by Vault-Tec scientists. The Sole Survivor is kept almost undisturbed in this state from 2077 to 2287.

In 2227, the Sole Survivor and their spouse are reawakened by two seen unknown individuals and one off-screen, who open the spouse's cryogenic tube with the intent of kidnapping Shaun. Though conscious, the Sole Survivor is trapped in their cryogenic pod and is powerless to do anything but watch their spouse being shot and their child abducted by two mysterious figures. The Sole Survivor is refrozen, awakening on October 10, 2287 and escaping the cryogenic tube. Learning that they are the sole survivor of Vault 111, the Sole Survivor emerges from the vault and vows to avenge their spouse's death and locate Shaun.

Returning home

The Sole Survivor heads home to Sanctuary Hills, now ruined from the bomb blast, where they meet a distraught Codsworth, revealing to the Survivor that over two hundred and ten years have passed since they were frozen in the vault,[5] also telling the player character to go to Concord for help. The Sole Survivor then meets Preston Garvey - one of the last of the Commonwealth Minutemen - and can assist him in protecting settlers from a group of raiders and a deathclaw. The Sole Survivor can choose to help them to travel to and settle into the remains of Sanctuary Hills.

The search for answers

After helping Garvey and his group, the player character is instructed to go to Diamond City, a settlement based in Fenway Park where they meet Piper Wright, the city's reporter, who tells the player character to seek out the city's detective Nick Valentine who is revealed to have been missing two weeks prior to the Sole Survivor's arrival in Diamond City.

After finding Valentine, they learn the identity and location of their spouse's killer, a man named Conrad Kellogg. Tracking him down, Kellogg reveals that Shaun is in The Institute, a secretive organization feared by the people of the Commonwealth, that is based below the ruins of the Commonwealth Institute of Technology. The player character then kills Kellogg and retrieves a cybernetic implant from his brain.

After some consultation with Nick and Piper, they head to Goodneighbor where they first encounter John Hancock, the self-appointed ghoul mayor of the town, and get help from Doctor Amari, a scientist skilled in neuroscience. The doctor assists the Sole Survivor in viewing the dead mercenary's memories and discovering that the Institute uses teleportation as the means of travel between their facility and the surface. During their hunt for Kellogg, the Survivor also witnesses the arrival of the Brotherhood of Steel in an airship called the Prydwen, their mobile airship HQ.

The threat within

After viewing Kellogg's memories, the player character is then tasked to go to the Glowing Sea - the ground zero of the nuclear blast during the intro sequence - to find Brian Virgil, an ex-Institute scientist who specialized in researching the Forced Evolutionary Virus, who has escaped and gone into hiding, to get help in infiltrating the shadowy organization. Virgil, now mutated into a super mutant by prolonged FEV exposure, mentions that the player must kill an Institute Courser - one of the most advanced creations of the Institute, designed to be stronger, faster and smarter than average human beings - to get a special chip from it in order to access the Institute. Once the chip is retrieved, the player character is directed to find the Railroad, a secret organization that works to free synths from the Institute's control and give them normal lives in the Commonwealth, since only one of its members, Tinker Tom, can decode the chip and get the frequency code used by the Institute to teleport.

A meeting long overdue

The player character then heads back to Virgil, who gives them a blueprint of a device that hijacks the frequency of the Institute's molecular relay. After retrieving the blueprints, the Survivor must seek assistance from one of the three factions: the Minutemen, Railroad or the Brotherhood. Once the device is built, the player character infiltrates the Institute to find their son. After finding a synth based on a young Shaun, it is revealed that the real Shaun was kidnapped in 2227, sixty years prior to the Sole Survivor's release from cryogenic sleep, and is now an old man who goes by "Father," as well as the current director of the Institute.

The fate of humanity

From now on the Survivor faces a choice that will significantly affect the Commonwealth and its people. They can work against Shaun by assisting one of the factions; the Railroad in destroying the Institute and liberating synths, the Brotherhood of Steel to exterminate all synths along with the Institute; the Minutemen in destroying the Institute (and the Brotherhood of Steel if made hostile to the player character) to protect the Commonwealth. Alternatively, they can side with Shaun and help the Institute in securing the Commonwealth by destroying the Railroad and the Brotherhood of Steel (the Minutemen can be persuaded to ally with the Institute after passing a few difficult speech checks). Any of the four choices results in Shaun's death, this being due to either the cancer he'd developed by then, or by the Sole Survivor's hand.

At the very end, the synth child Shaun will refer to the Sole Survivor as its parent and asks them if he can go live with them anywhere in the Commonwealth to be a family. If the Sole Survivor agrees, the synth child then gives the player character a holotape from the real Shaun with a message that differs depending on if the player character sides with the Institute or not. In the holotape, the real Shaun tells his parent that he wishes they would give the synth child a chance to live as a family since Shaun himself never had the chance to live with the Sole Survivor. The Sole Survivor then contemplates the events that transpired and says that "This isn't the world I wanted, but it's the one I found myself in" and that they are now ready for anything that comes ahead because they know that "War, war never changes."


  • Like the Lone Wanderer from Fallout 3, the Sole Survivor is seen being accompanied by a dog in promotional material for the game.
  • The Sole Survivor is the first fully-voiced protagonist in the Fallout series.
  • The Sole Survivor can correct Moe Cronin about what the sport of baseball entails.
  • In a departure from previous games, character customization is done without slider options. During the opening portion of the game, the character stands in front of a mirror which allows the player to alter their facial features using a cursor. While making changes, the spouse stands behind the Sole Survivor and makes comments about the alterations. It is here where gender can be changed, having the default male character step aside allowing the female to be altered and become the protagonist, and vice versa.
  • Once the Sole Survivor's gender is chosen, the other will become a non-playable character. The changes made to the spouse of the Sole Survivor in the customization screen will carry on in the game.
  • In the character creator, one can choose facial hair called "Lone Wanderer," which is a reference to the Lone Wanderer referred to with the same name from Fallout 3.
  • The Sole Survivor's appearance affects the appearance of their son Shaun, who will share the same eye color as the player character. Shaun's skin will be an amalgam of the player character's and their spouse's skin colors.
  • Codsworth can refer to the player character by name, as Bethesda has recorded over a thousand popular names for use in-game. This includes both real names and joke names.[6]
  • The Sole Survivor has the option to romance many of their human companions (except Deacon and Old Longfellow), as well as the ghoul Hancock.
  • The Sole Survivor is the first player character to have lived in the pre-War era.
  • Prior to the release of the game, the universal default name for the male Sole Survivor was “Mr. Howard.” This was due to Bethesda Softworks director Todd Howard using this name during Bethesda's first E3 presentation.
  • The title of Sole Survivor is never actually used in-game. In-game radio refers to the protagonist as the “Vault Dweller.” However, they do sometimes call themselves the "only survivor," such as while in Vault 81.
  • When interacting with the dog bowl in the intro to the game, the Sole Survivor will say "never gonna find that dog," implying that the Sole Survivor owned a dog before the Great War.
  • Dialogue between the Sole Survivor and their spouse reveals that Shaun was conceived at a nearby park.[7]
  • If one skips dialogue during conversations, they may hear the Sole Survivor mumble sarcastic comments about the NPC they are talking to instead of just "mmmh" and "alright"-for example, they might say "Nice hat" when talking to Nick Valentine, "Minutemen, Jesus" when talking to Preston Garvey or "Ugh, old people" when talking to Mama Murphy.
  • After consuming alcohol, the Sole Survivor will attempt to initiate dialogue with NPCs in a slurred and stereotypically drunk fashion.
  • Depending on the character's gender, certain dialogues will change accordingly. For example, when Preston tells the Sole Survivor they are one of the "good guys," a female character has a choice to say, "I don't know how to break this to you, but I'm not a guy."
  • The Sole Survivor is chronologically the oldest playable character in the Fallout franchise.
  • The Sole Survivor's title is technically incorrect, as Shaun also left the vault alive.
  • The Sole Survivor refers only once to their spouse by name, during The Memory Den ("Oh my god. Nate/Nora... I can't watch this again...").
  • During dialogue with Roger Warwick, the Sole Survivor can reveal that they grew up in the Boston area.
  • In Vault 111, the Sole Survivor can use V.A.T.S. before finding their Pip-Boy.

Notable quotes

  • "Everything can change in an instant, whether or not you're ready. This wasn't the world I wanted, but it was the one I found myself in. This time I'm ready. Because I know... War. War never changes."
  • "I'll find who did this. And I'll get Shaun back. I promise." – To their spouse's corpse
  • "I'm calling it right here. This world can officially bite my ass." – To Wolfgang during Order Up
  • "In 100 years, when I finally die, I only hope I go to hell just so I can kill you all over again you piece of shit." – Right before the fight with Kellogg
  • "It was just me and a thousand guinea pigs. They turned... Carnivorous." – To Piper
  • "Behold! I am immortal!" – To Piper
  • "I'm here to pick up an order. Two large pepperoni and a calzone, name is "Fuck you."" – To Z2-47
  • "Let's go, pal."
  • "Ready to fuck some shit up?"
  • "It's good to be back." – To Dogmeat
  • "Look dumbass, that's not how baseball was played." – To Moe Cronin
  • "It was America's pasttime. A sport that united families on warm summer days. And it wasn't violent. Mostly."
  • "There were balls, strikes, three bases and home runs. You kept score by how many runners made it to home plate."
  • "The players would also beat the spectators to death. That's how the term "spectator sport" got started."
  • "Goddamn it you mercenary motherfucker. Where. Is. My. Son?" – To Kellogg
  • "I'm going to make you SUFFER." – To Kellogg
  • "Commie bastard! You destroyed my country! Die!" – To Captain Zao
  • "Eddie! It's me, your old pal, Shamus/Marie McFuckYourself!" – To Eddie Winter
  • "I eat danger for breakfast. Tastes like chicken." – To H2-22
  • "Vault-Tec calling! But I, ah... guess you guys are all set." – To Edward Deegan
  • "Me? Playing a game. First idiot who grabs my ass gets his arm broken. Ten bonus points if he's drunk." – Female only, to Magnolia
  • "I woke up here. Just me, my pants, and a lot of regrets." – Male, to Magnolia
  • "Unless it's "keep-dumb-assholes-away-from-me" insurance, I'm not interested." – to Finn
  • "Could you say that like Doctor Frankenstein? "Igor, fetch me the brain!"...Sorry." – To Doctor Amari
  • "I don't have time for a dick-measuring contest. What do you actually want?" – to Ronnie Shaw
  • "Well, I was going to connect your head to Liberty Prime's body, but I decided to do a little arts and crafts instead. Disappointed?" – To Jezebel, after completing Liberty Reprimed
  • "We should try plugging you into a toaster next... Mmmm, fresh toast." – To Nick Valentine before entering Kellogg's memories during Dangerous Minds
  • "A magic boat ride! Will there be sea monsters?" – To Kenji Nakano
  • "I love work. I could sit and watch it all day." – To Sturges
  • "Oh, god....let me guess, You were raised by apes." – To Cito
  • "Well, damn, I was sure the letters spelled "fresh ginger." That stuff is great in hot tea with honey, lemon, a little brandy...a lot of brandy... " – To Sierra Petrovita


The Sole Survivor appears in Fallout 4 and all of its add-ons.


Concept art

Fallout 4

Wasteland Warfare


  1. Lookout: "Scanning. Scanning. Accessing pre-war records. Record found. 108th Infantry Regiment. Second Battalion. Ahoy there. 'Tis Providence a member of the Congressional Army is delivered to us in our hour of need."
    (Lookout's dialogue)
  2. Diploma in Sanctuary Hills pre-War
  3. Nate: "War never changes..."
    Nora: "You're gonna knock 'em dead at the Veteran's Hall tonight, hon."
    Nate: "You think?"
    Nora: "Absolutely. Now get ready and stop hogging the mirror..."
    (Nate and Nora's dialogue)
  4. Fraternal Post 115 terminal entries; executive terminal, Speech Memo
  5. The Sole Survivor: "Doesn't matter how long it's been. I feel fine."
    Codsworth: "A bit over 210 actually, sir/mum. Give or take a little for the Earth's rotation and some minor dings to the ole' chronometer. That means you're two centuries late for dinner! Ha ha ha. Perhaps I can whip you up a snack? You must be famished."
    (Codsworth's dialogue)
  6. A list of names recognized by Codsworth can be found here.
  7. Nate: "Is it gonna be like the last time we went to the park?"
    Nora: "Right. The park. With you. Because I want to get pregnant again."
    (Nate and Nora's dialogue)