For on that fateful day, when fire rained from the sky, the giant steel door of Vault 101 slid closed... and never reopened. It was here you were born. It is here you will die. Because in Vault 101: no one ever enters, and no one... ever leaves...Narrator, Fallout 3 intro

Vault 101 is one of the vault series of fallout shelters developed by Vault-Tec in the northwest area of Washington, D.C., near the real-world suburb Tysons Corner. This vault is located northwest of Megaton, and west of Springvale. It was home to the Lone Wanderer until they left to search for their father.


Construction and purposeEdit

It is not known exactly when the construction of Vault 101 began, but it was constructed sometime in the 2060s along with the other vaults in Washington, D.C. The Vault 76 overseer was originally selected to be its first overseer, but she refused the position in order to stay in Appalachia.[1]

Vault 101 has been opened numerous times, violating its original mandate, and became infested by radroaches during these events, making the vault susceptible to additional large infestations as time went by. One of the main objectives of Vault 101 security has been the containment of these pests.

The original and underlying purpose of the Vault 101 vault experiment, was to stay closed indefinitely, in order to study the role of the overseer when a vault never opened. The limited genetic material would eventually result in inbreeding, had no "new blood" ever entered. Vault 101 was supplied with most of the equipment it would need to function indefinitely, such as seen with spare parts for the water processor, but the vault did not receive a G.E.C.K., a device that would only be useful for surface dwellers.


In their free time, the inhabitants of Vault 101 engage in various activities:

Cake bake-offEdit

The "cake bake-off" is a competitive event, and in this event, contestants bake various types of cakes which are judged according to selection criteria, with the winner or winners being given a worthy prize.

On July 13, 2268, a notice on the bulletin board within the cafeteria announces the annual cake bake-off. This year, the judges will only accept bundt cakes.

Founder's DayEdit

"Founder's Day" is a holiday recognized on the Vault 101 calendar, and is celebrated on the 23rd of October. This holiday commemorates the overseer, who governed the vault in the late 21st century. Two centuries later, Beatrice Armstrong, a vault resident, continually honors the original overseer by dedicating one of her older poems to him. Beatrice cannot write a new poem during the latest Founder's Day, as she had trouble finding a rhyming word for "overseer."

Hunt the mutantEdit

"Hunt the mutant" is a game played in Vault 101 by children. It is a post-apocalyptic variation of hide-and-seek. A player is selected as the mutant, in which they hide while other players hunt for them. When the player is found, the game restarts and another player is picked to be the mutant.

At one of Wally Mack's birthday parties in the 2260s, this game is played in the atrium. Wally later mentions this game at the Lone Wanderer's tenth birthday party on July 13, 2268. By mentioning this game, Wally is unfavorably comparing his party to the Lone Wanderer's party.


Early yearsEdit

Just after the Great War in 2077, the first Vault 101 overseer, in order to prevent anyone from leaving the vault, created the illusion that the outside world was an uninhabitable nuclear-ravaged wasteland with absolutely no hope of existence outside of the vault. This was accomplished through regular fake radio transmissions (recorded before the Great War), increasing the idea amongst Vault 101 dwellers that the only hope of survival was within the vault. The first Vault 101 overseer died of natural causes in 2127, having prepared a subordinate to continue the vault experiment.

The second Vault 101 overseer led Vault 101 dwellers by the same isolationist doctrine, but also attempted to convince senior vault dwellers to become complicit in the vault experiments. Hypocritically enough, the second Vault 101 overseer was the first able to communicate with, and even visit, the outside world by using the secret tunnel in the overseer's office. However, for all other intents and purposes, the vault dwellers were sealed within according to the Vault 101 mantra, "we are born in the vault, we live in the vault, and we die in the vault."

Sometime before 2241, an Unnamed Vault 101 overseer strongly favored of outside contact and assembled a survey team led by Anne Palmer. Together they began planning for their journey and theorizing types of mutations they might encounter. They finally went to the outside world around Vault 101, going up to Megaton sometime before February 10, 2241. The survey team returned to Vault 101 on February 10 and analyzed their samples to see if the outside world was still dangerously irradiated or able to sustain life. They studied the giant ant they killed and decided to revise their survey plans in light of what they have learned. Lewis and Agnes Taylor, two members of the survey team remained in Megaton to serve as contacts between the two settlements and to further survey the surrounding environments. Agnes Taylor returned to Vault 101 around 2258. The overseer who preceded Alphonse Almodovar vanished after another expedition to the Capital Wasteland failed.


His successor, Alphonse Almodovar, became the new overseer of Vault 101 sometime before 2258. Under his rule, the vault changed into a police state with a strict policy of isolationism. Early in Alphonse's tenure as overseer around 2258-2259, James and his child, later known as the Lone Wanderer, came to the vault seeking shelter and arrived in front of Vault 101. James proposed to become Vault 101's new physician in return for entry into Vault 101, and Alphonse granted his request.

After James and his child entered into the vault, he kept his child ignorant of their origins because of his agreement with Alphonse, convincing the Lone Wanderer that they were born in the vault. In the late 2260s, Jonas Palmer was appointed to be James' assistant by Alphonse Almodovar, who hoped he would be a voice of reason. Between 2265-2267, a girl escaped Vault 101 and made her way to Megaton. She entered in the Craterside Supply and asked Moira Brown to reinforce her vault jumpsuit, but the girl never returned to pick it up, leaving her armored Vault 101 jumpsuit in the Craterside Supply in Megaton. On 12 July 2268, the water purifier began to malfunction but it was repaired by Stanley Armstrong. On 13 July 2268, Butch DeLoria, Wally Mack and Paul Hannon Jr. began looking for a name for their future gang, which later became known as the Tunnel Snakes. In 2272, another Vault 101 dweller escaped from Vault 101 and also made his way to Megaton. He made his way to Moriarty's Saloon, telling Colin Moriarty that members of Vault 101 were brainwashed into believing the overseer was the only voice of reason.

Gradually, Alphonse Almodovar came to having an entire generation of Vault 101 dwellers who were playing along with the vault experiments, keeping the secrets from their children. He and his followers continued to receive periodic information from the outside world, while those not in the know being told that things had gotten so bad that whoever was sending transmissions was no longer able to do so, reinforcing the thought that leaving the vault was sheer suicide.

James' departureEdit

On August 17, 2277, a radroach infestation had started, and James took this moment to his advantage, quickly escaping the vault once and for all. In the ensuing conflict between radroaches and the security team, Agnes Taylor dies of a heart attack, Floyd Lewis and Vikki Hannon are both killed and Paul Hannon Jr. is critically wounded by radroaches. Jonas Palmer is immediately questioned about why James has left, but in the procedure is brutally killed by Stevie Mack. Every member of the Vault 101 security force is then ordered to both contain the radroach infestation and capture the Lone Wanderer for questioning about James' departure. A few moments later, Amata Almodovar, daughter of Overseer Alphonse, awakens the Lone Wanderer, her best friend, and explains the situation.

During the Lone Wanderer's escape in seeking the outside world for answers, Tom Holden and Mary Holden or officers O'Brian and Richards die or the Lone Wanderer distracted the guards so the Holdens could escape and flee before more blood was spilled. Amata is interrogated by her father and Officer Mack, before the Lone Wanderer either rescues her, kills her father, or sneaks by. In front of the vault door, Amata bids farewell to the Lone Wanderer just before Officers Park and Wolfe come and try to halt the escape but are dodged by the Lone Wanderer. The vault door opens and the Lone Wanderer leaves Vault 101 for the Capital Wasteland.

Sometime after James' departure, Paul Hannon Jr. dies from a radroach bite after refusing treatment, and the Vault 101 overseer becomes more oppressive with the Vault 101 dwellers than before. But all the vault dwellers living in blissful ignorance finally discover that the world outside could be accessed, life above ground is possible, some expedition was already done in the past and they have been living a lie. This discovery created a new crisis in Vault 101 and the vault became divided into two groups.

Vault experiments crisisEdit

The group of rebels was led by Amata Almodovar and included all of the young vault dwellers, who were holed up in the vault clinic. They wanted to open Vault 101, interact with the outside world, open up limited trade with nearby settlements and make excursions into the wasteland when necessary. The other group was led by the Vault 101 overseer and he wanted to keep the vault closed permanently, in accordance with the vault experiments. Butch DeLoria himself wished to abandon the vault entirely and live on the surface.

Sometime later, the vault received radio contact from the Enclave seeking to gain entry into Vault 101 because their passwords to the vault door no longer matched their records (it was changed to "Amata" by Amata Almodovar to bring the Lone Wanderer later into Vault 101), but after a brief negotiation, the Vault 101 overseer refused to let them in. He worried about exposing the vault and its dwellers to unknown factors, much less one that would so gallantly suggest abandoning the vault experiments. He also considered the importance of preventing the rebels from opening Vault 101 to the likes of them. After that, Amata Almodovar began to send out the Vault 101 emergency frequency around Vault 101 in the Capital Wasteland, hoping that the Lone Wanderer would come to aid them in their current crisis.

Vault 101's fate afterward is not confirmed in canon. If Amata Almodovar became the new overseer or dies, if Alphonse Almodovar was still the overseer or Allen Mack became the new one, if the group of rebels was deterred or if Vault 101 was open, kept closed, destroyed or thrown into chaos, and if the Lone Wanderer helped them for one of its possibilities. But at this time, the number of Vault 101 dwellers has fallen significantly in the two centuries since it was sealed (despite messages encouraging procreation), and that without external input, the Vault 101's population will not remain genetically viable for more than a generation or so, and collapse inevitably due to genetic stagnation and inbreeding in some years if Vault 101 remains closed.


Vault 101's residents remain protected from the outside world, with the exception of the occasional Radroach attack.Fallout 3 loading screen

Vault 101 is divided into four sections by the game. These sections are the main entrance, overseer's tunnel, atrium/upper level, and the lower level. The sections are separated by doors, and stairways connect floors and levels within two of the sections. Levels and rooms are identified by signs. There are two paths to the Capital Wasteland, including a direct path from the atrium and a hidden tunnel named the overseer's tunnel.

It is important to note that the sections are not directly stacked upon each other. They are staggered with each section moving progressively more westward as the vault burrows deeper into the earth.

Main entranceEdit

Vault 101 entrance loc map

This section connects the Capital Wasteland to the vault.

Overseer's tunnelEdit

This section connects the overseer's office (in atrium/upper level) with the main entrance.

Atrium/upper levelEdit

Vault 101 atrium loc map

This atrium connects the main entrance to the lower level. This section is divided into two sub-sections, the admin and the atrium. The atrium is located in the upper level of Vault 101. Access to this room is by a stairway connecting the cafeteria to the atrium. The atrium is the main room of the vault and is used by vault residents for large social gatherings and ball sports.

When returning to Vault 101 in the Trouble on the Homefront quest, someone has vandalized the "Thank You Overseer!" Sign in the middle of the room by replacing "Thank" with "Fuck", the sign now reading "Fuck You Overseer!"

In the early 2260s, at Wally's birthday party, the child's game Hunt the Mutant is played on the atrium.

Several years later, on July 13, 2268, a notice in the cafeteria announces an upcoming baseball game on Saturday.

If the player character studies the local map carefully, they will note that the rooms with closed doors, ex. cafeteria, don't exist. It is not evident how the Mack family apartment is connected to the rest of the complex as the apartment door leads to a non-existent hallway. Regardless, the location of the apartment itself suggests how far up the ladder Allen Mack is in the command structure of the vault as his family has one of the best apartments.

Rooms in admin are the overseer's office, reception room (Jonas Palmer is found dead here during Escape!), operations, security (Amata interrogation) and systems (Floyd Lewis dies here during "Escape!").

Systems connects admin to the atrium. Rooms in the atrium are located on two floors - an upper and a lower floor. Rooms on the upper floor (dining/Mack living room) are inaccessible.

Lower levelEdit

Vault 101 (lower level) loc map

This is the final section of the vault. Though named the lower level, this section actually covers two levels: the lower level and the reactor.

Rooms in the lower level are the clinic, classroom, diner, DeLoria apartment, restrooms and the Lone Wanderer's apartment
(Note: map for the DeLoria and Lone Wanderer's apartments in the official game guide have two beds in the bedroom; whereas, in the game, there is only one bed).)

Blackboard Mr Brotch

Blackboard in Mr. Brotch's classroom

Rooms in the reactor level are the generator and storage room (BB gun shooting range), filter room (water purifier) and reactor room.
(Note: The Official Game Guide identifies the Reactor level as the Vault 101 Atrium.)

Maintenance departmentEdit

This department is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the vault. Jobs within this department include garbage burners, Pip-Boy programmers, waste management specialists, and jukebox technicians.

The accouterments of maintenance technicians are a utility jumpsuit and work boots. Technicians sometimes carry a wrench or other tool with them and a utility key.

This department, and the technicians who work for the department, are viewed and treated with contempt by other vault residents. This department is the destination of individuals who displease the overseer as the troublemakers will be overwhelmed with work and they will have little time for any other activities.


Notable lootEdit

Related questsEdit


  • Brotherhood Outcasts can spawn very commonly when fast traveling to the vault. This can be of major help to the player character, as several of them will be dead from a deathclaw or other threats.
  • Vault 101 is one of two fully functional vaults (the other being Vault 112) in the Capital Wasteland. All the other vaults have failed as results of the experiments within and have been left derelict.
  • It is suggested in the poem that the Lone Wanderer receives upon their tenth birthday that the dead of Vault 101 are incinerated in some sort of area built for this, but it's never demonstrated in-game.
  • At the Vault-Tec headquarters in the D.C. ruins, a replica of the Vault 101 door is hanging over the lobby area with spotlights illuminating it.
  • In the opening cinematic, two security cameras are shown on each side of the vault door, and when leaving the vault in Escape!, only one security camera can be seen above the vault door. In Trouble on the Homefront, the camera is gone.
  • It should be noted that the Vault 101 location doesn't add to the "Locations Discovered" stat in the Pip-Boy 3000 when exiting the vault at the beginning of the game, even though the marker is active on the map, this is because the Lone Wanderer has lived their childhood inside the vault.
  • Just outside the inner door of Vault 101, there are some skeletons and several small, handwritten picket signs begging the original vault dwellers to let their authors in, possibly just after the Great War occurred.
  • Radscorpions and deathclaws can sometimes spawn when fast-traveling to the vault, even at low levels, the latter can kill inexperienced player characters almost instantly.
  • A holotape, Springvale raider mining log near the vault inside Springvale School, suggests that the raiders have been trying to get into this vault for years.
  • Looking at the door to the Capital Wasteland always makes it appear to be daytime outside, even if it is actually nighttime outside.
  • Andy says he had to amputate Beatrice's left leg due to a sprained big toe. By looking at her corpse Andy removed the right leg, certainly Beatrice's cause of death.
  • It is possible to enter the vault after completing Trouble on the Homefront. Just finish the quest, and then kill one of the residents, this will keep the door open for the rest of the game.
  • Outside the vault entrance on the road is a 'Type B' random encounter location site. It can be activated by following the road south slightly past the elevated highway.
  • The overlook outside the entrance above the road is the home location for the animal companion Dogmeat after being recruited.
  • The overlook outside the entrance is also the final destination of any slaves freed from the slave pen located at train tunnel to the Pitt. Assuming of course that they survive the journey across the wasteland.
  • The Lone Wanderer's apartment only has one bed despite having two residents inside it.
  • Vaults 0, 8 (known as Vault City) Vault 13, 76, 81, 111, 112, 118 are the only known remaining vaults that are in working order.
  • There are four versions of Vault 101: the first is a hallway with a living room and a bedroom, where the second step of the tutorial begins. The second version is from the birthday party when the Lone Wanderer turns ten. The third is the last version of the vault, which the Wanderer sees during Escape, and the final version is a slightly altered version seen during Trouble on the Homefront.


Vault 101 appears only in Fallout 3. It is also marked on a map in HELIOS One in Fallout: New Vegas, and one can access the jumpsuit from the game files in Fallout 4. It is also mentioned in a poster in Fallout 4, on a wall in the Compound. It is also mentioned by the Vault 76 overseer in Fallout 76.

Behind the scenesEdit

  • In the cafeteria, there is a reference to the first Fallout game. On the bulletin board above the jukebox, it advertises a bingo night in the diner, with the ball chosen being 13 and "First prize being a week's supply of water rations!" Another reference to Fallout is in here, where Butch asks his friend why anyone would want to be called a "Vault Dweller" when asked about names for his gang.
50 Vault-Tec C.E.O.The following is based on unverified behind the scenes information and has not been confirmed by canon sources.
  • Several elements of Vault 101 may be inspired by George Orwell's novel 1984, including the Vault number (Room 101), the devotion to the overseer (Big Brother) and the vault's generally authoritarian society.
50 Vault-Tec C.E.O.End of information based on unverified behind the scenes information.


  • PCIcon pc Playstation 3Icon ps3 Closing the vault door manually using the outer console will work normally during Escape. Approaching the tunnel exit will result in the vault door reopening behind you exactly when it is supposed to close if you don't tamper with the console. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Xbox 360Icon xbox360 On the rocky overlook outside the entrance to the vault where Dogmeat is sent if disbanded as your companion, there is a chance that he will fall through the map and can no longer accompany you. This happens only when he is fired, not when traveling to the vault with him.[verified]



Vault 101
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