Fallout Wiki
Fallout Wiki

This time I'm ready because I know war.... War never changes...— The voices of both Sole Survivors

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. They were both raised around the Boston area,[1] and according to pre-War records of the Lookout at the USS Constitution, Nate served in the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment,[2] while Nora was a lawyer (specifically a graduate of the Suffolk County School of Law).[3] If one of these characters is the protagonist, the player chooses their name, but their spouse's name will be either Nate or Nora, respectively.

FO4 Sanctuary Hills home Sole Survivor

The Sole Survivor's home in Sanctuary Hills

At some point during the Sino-American War, the Sole Survivor married, had a son named Shaun whom they conceived in a park, and bought a robotic butler named Codsworth. They also had a pet dog, but it disappeared, making the Sole Survivor give up hopes of finding them.[4] They lived in a blue house in Sanctuary Hills, located northwest of Boston.

On October 23, 2077, the day of the Great War, the Sole Survivor was preparing for an event at the Veteran's Hall[5] in Concord,[6] 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 three unknown individuals (one offscreen), 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 of the 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 Sole Survivor that over two hundred and ten years have passed since they were frozen in the Vault,[7] 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 gone 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 Sole 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 gives 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 Sole Survivor must seek assistance from one of the three factions: the Minutemen, the 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 and synths[]

From now on, the Sole 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 had 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 whether 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.

FO4 ending scene3 01

The Sole Survivor closes their eyes and remembers the peaceful Sanctuary Hills from their past

The Sole Survivor takes a moment to contemplate the events that transpired. They close their eyes and remember their old neighborhood and home. They reflect on how the Great War changed their life and how the Commonwealth they explored is not the one they wished for, but it is still their home in the process of being rebuilt. The Sole Survivor mentions they have come to accept that it is impossible to go back to a time before the bombs fell, but they now feel ready to face the challenges that lie 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, including Assface, Bacon, Badass, Bastard, Boobies, Cherrybomb, Erectus, Fragile and Fuckface. A list of names recognized by Codsworth can be found here.
  • 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.
  • Dialogue between the Sole Survivor and their spouse reveals that Shaun was conceived at a nearby park.[8]
  • The Sole Survivor can jokingly tell Evan Watson that they hated their fifth-grade math teacher for being strict.[9]
  • 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", "blah blah blah" 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, but not as old as certain unnaturally preserved people, or any ghoulified people who were born before them.
  • The Sole Survivor's title is technically incorrect, as Shaun also left the Vault alive; however, the Sole Survivor's status is figuratively correct since Shaun is missing and presumed dead for much of the narrative. Having spent his entire life with the Institute, he shares no memories either of his parents or his pre-War life and is indifferent to his parent's death in the Vault, sympathizing instead with the Institute.
    • The Sole Survivor's title becomes technically correct after Shaun dies, which occurs by default at the end of the main questline (provided one does not purposefully kill him at any point prior).
  • 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...").
  • In Vault 111, the Sole Survivor can use V.A.T.S. before finding their Pip-Boy.
  • During conversation with DiMA in the add-on Far Harbor, the Sole Survivor can choose to express the belief that they themselves may be a synth.[10] DiMA posits that the Sole Survivor could be a synth, especially since the Sole Survivor can express that they have no memories before the day of the Great War. Similar to Kasumi Nakano, whether or not the Sole Survivor actually is a synth remains unresolved by the end of Far Harbor.
  • In Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, the "Sole Survivor tech" unit is incorrectly labeled twice on the set it is available in. The set title refers to it as "X-01 Survivor" and it is simply "X-01 Power Armor Suit" in the set description.

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, all of its add-ons, and Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. Nate appears in Fallout Shelter Online.

Behind the scenes[]

  • The player character is not called the Sole Survivor in the game or its primary materials.
    • The term "The Vault Dweller" is used several times.
      • Travis refers to the player character as "the Vault Dweller" in a radio broadcast. The existence of the open community of Vault 81 very near to Diamond City makes this seem imprecise and unprompted, in-context.
      • The term "the Vault Dweller" as a singular proper noun already refers to the player character of the original Fallout, one of the most prominent figures in the mythology of the setting.
        • The player characters of Fallout 76 are only officially called the Vault Dwellers. The informal noun "residents" is sometimes used as a proper noun by fans for similar reasons.
    • The character refers to themself as "the only survivor" in some conversations.[citation needed]
    • "[...] the sole survivor [...]" was a term used in the E3 preview of Fallout 4, and entered fan usage before the game was released.
      • Prior to the release of the game, the name "Mr. Howard" saw use, after Bethesda Softworks director Todd Howard used this name during the E3 presentation.
      • Despite its implicit official status, English-speaking Fallout communities have never commonly referred to this character as "the Vault Dweller."
    • This character is called Nate in Fallout Shelter Online.
    • A weapon called the Sole Survivor can be obtained in Fallout 76, the only instance of the term in a main series Fallout game.
    • Fallout: Wasteland Warfare refers to this character as the Sole Survivor.
  • In April 2024, designer Emil Pagliarulo stated on Twitter that the leftmost American soldier depicted in the annexation of Canada during the intro of the first Fallout (not the shooter, but one who joins in the laughter at the execution) was Nate.[Non-game 1] Following polarized responses, Pagliarulo posted a follow-up thread clarifying that the connection was made as part of a discussion in early development about the framing of Nate's experiences as a pre-War soldier and not intended to be a part of the final story, with the details of Nate's military service instead left to the player's imagination. Pagliarulo added that "not every bit of Fallout info I share is automatically canon" and that "Nate is NOT a war criminal!"[Non-game 2]
    • The conjectural notion that Nate is the soldier in question would not conflict with any information in any Fallout media.
  • In localized versions of the game, the Sole Survivor's voice is dubbed by:
    • Spanish: Héctor Garay (male) and Margot Lago (female)
    • Japanese: Kazuhiro Sunseki (male) and Yukiko Aruga (female)
    • Italian: Stefania de Peppe (female) and Massimo Triggiani (male)


Concept art[]

Fallout 4[]

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare[]

Fallout Shelter Online[]

Magic: The Gathering[]


  1. The Sole Survivor: "No. I grew up around here, but it feels like a lifetime ago."
    Roger Warwick: "In that case, welcome back. Now I know what you're thinking. Why set up a farm at a place like this?"
    (Roger Warwick's dialogue)
  2. 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)
  3. Diploma in Sanctuary Hills pre-War
  4. Interact with the dog bowl in the beginning.
  5. 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)
  6. Fraternal Post 115 terminal entries; executive terminal, Speech Memo
  7. 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)
  8. 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)
  9. The Sole Survivor: "You sound like my fifth-grade math teacher. I hated that woman."
    Evan Watson: "I doubt her rules were a matter of life and death. Fail to follow protocols in one of our labs, and you could end up with a serious injury... or worse. I had some handbooks made up, but that was years ago. I'll see about getting one to you."
    (Evan Watson's dialogue)
  10. DiMA: "Tell me: Are you a synth?"
    The Sole Survivor: "In the back of my mind, I've always suspected..."
    (DiMA's dialogue)


  1. Emil Paglirulo on Twitter (archived): "Given the great vibes recently, and the millions of amazing Fallout fans (that's you!) I feel like the time is right to finally share an unknown link between Fallout 1 and Fallout 4. Remember the Fallout 1 opening movie? Annexation of Canada? SAME. GUY. (No, NOT the shooter!)"
  2. Emil Pagliarulo on Twitter (archived): "🧵(1/3) Oof. I wanted to share what I thought was a cool Fallout tidbit without realizing how divisive it might be. I should have. I get dumb when I get excited… and I get excited a lot. 😬 Not every bit of Fallout info I share is automatically canon. Nate is NOT a war criminal!
    (2/3) When you're world and character building, you have a LOT of head canon. You're always sorting ideas. Early on, we talked about that being Nate, in that video. He had been through hell as a soldier. Every day was another unknown horror. This was one of them.
    (3/3) So, internally, it was a cool nod to OG Fallout and a way to fictionally frame the character. It wasn't shared with the player because it was never meant to be who YOU think Nate is. For a player, Nate's soldier past is whatever you think it is. THAT is canon."