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None could stand in my way. I had a mission. I had a goal. I had a really large gun.Fallout 2 manual; Vault Dweller's memoirs[Non-game 3]

The Vault Dweller is the player character in Fallout. In a general sense, "Vault dweller" can also refer to any person who lives in one of the Vault-Tec Vaults.

The player may also choose one of three pre-made characters with their own backstories to be the Vault Dweller: Albert Cole, Max Stone or Natalia Dubrovhsky. Despite this, the Vault Dweller in the series canon is a 20 year-old man during the first game's events.[Non-game 1]

The player can customize the character's gender and age (between 16 and 35). The article is written in a gender-neutral manner to reflect this.


Water chip

The Vault Dweller was one of hundreds of inhabitants of Vault 13. Born in 2141,[Non-game 3] they were raised by the community and robotic caretakers, leading an unremarkable life in the Vault. Their journey began when the water-purification chip the Vault relied on to create fresh water broke down. Without spare parts or the possibility of a workaround system, the overseer had to send an individual outside the Vault to seek a new one out. With no alternative, the Vault 13 overseer gathered everyone between certain ages, healthy enough to venture out, and made them draw straws. The Vault Dweller pulled out the short one and was sent out to find a replacement chip.[Non-game 3] They left the Vault the next day, on December 5, 2161.[Non-game 4]

The Vault Dweller struggled for the first few days, fighting off rats and the elements. With only the location of Vault 15 to guide them, they started out eastwards. On their way, they happened upon the small settlement of Shady Sands. The Vault Dweller aided them and earned their trust. Tandi and Aradesh in turned helped them, sharing their knowledge. After hiring Ian, the Vault Dweller continued on to the buried Vault. Exploring the ruins, they realized that it would not help as the control room and the water chip were buried under tons of rock, so they moved on.[Non-game 3]

After fighting and saving Tandi from the Khans (inadvertently paving the way for the New California Republic's rise),[9] their travels took them to Junktown, where they met Dogmeat, the loyal mutt who would be their most trusted friend for the time they were together.[Non-game 3]

The Vault Dweller continued on to the Hub, the largest city in post-War California. Bigger than both Junktown and Shady Sands combined, it was the most prosperous place they had seen outside the Vault, yet they felt that the citizens of the metropolis had no life, leading a desolate existence under the shadow of the powerful merchant companies. These same companies would help the Vault Dweller, however, providing water to the Vault and extending the deadline for finding the water chip.

A clue they acquired in the city led them to Necropolis, the city of ghouls. There, they fought the super mutants and the Vault Dweller was devastated to lose Ian, killed by a mutant's flamethrower, burning him to death. The memory of his burning flesh would forever be etched into their mind. However, Ian's sacrifice was not in vain, as the Vault Dweller found the water chip and returned with it to Vault 13.[Non-game 3]

Mutant threat

The happiness of their return was marred by the report they logged with the archives. The overseer ran calculations and determined that the mutations witnessed by the Vault Dweller at Necropolis were too regular to be the product of random chance. He also berated them for sending the water caravans to the Vault, in doing so, revealing the location of the shelter to the wasteland. Combined with their knowledge of the mutants, the overseer sent the Vault Dweller out again.[Non-game 3]

This time, they were tasked with wiping out the super mutant threat. In hindsight, the situation was revealed to be exploitative of the Vault Dweller, but at the time they soldiered on, loyal to the Vault.[Non-game 3] They picked up the trail, heading to the Hub. In the process of unearthing clues, they met Decker and discovered the shady Underground he led. Though they tried to manipulate the Vault Dweller, the hero of the Vault managed to turn the tables and use the criminals instead. In the process, the Vault Dweller also saved Brother Jonathan from Decker's goons in the city's old town.[Non-game 3]

After leaving the town, they journeyed to the Brotherhood of Steel. Figuring they would have the knowledge needed, the Vault Dweller tried to join them, only to be sent on a fool's errand to the Glow. Faced with the horror of the atomic devastation, they refused to break and recovered the ancient Brotherhood disk sought by the reclusive order. Shocked to see them returning alive, the Brotherhood shared their knowledge and technology with them, and the Vault Dweller met General General John Maxson, high elder of the Brotherhood at the time.[10]

It was 2162.[10] They proceeded with the information from the Brotherhood, onward to the Boneyard, making a short stop at Necropolis to visit old friends. As soon as they entered the city, they realized that something went wrong. The super mutants had attacked the city shortly after they left. A single ghoul survivor revealed that they were looking for the Vault Dweller, right before he died.[Non-game 3]

The ruins of Los Angeles stretched forever, skeletons of buildings baking in the hot desert sun. Within the city, they found many enemies and a few friends, learning more about the nature of the super mutants and the true foes. On March 3, 2162, they entered the Cathedral.[Non-game 5] Stealing the robes of one of the Master's servants, they penetrated the depth beneath the monumental building. In the old Vault, walking among the misshapen ones, they confronted the most terrifying sight yet: The Master. All evidence of the Master and his plan was incinerated shortly afterward in nuclear fire.[Non-game 3]

Only one target remained, the vats. On April 20, 2162,[Non-game 6] The Vault Dweller invaded the Mariposa Military Base with support from the Brotherhood and Dogmeat, fighting their way to the heart of the facility. Though one of the forcefields claimed the life of Dogmeat, the Vault Dweller managed to trigger the self-destruct sequence, destroying the vats along with the facility. With their destruction and the fall of the Lieutenant, the Unity was no more and they could return to Vault 13 a hero.

Return to the Vault

On May 10, they returned, and the overseer met them outside the Vault door, thanking them for their service, but then exiling them indefinitely. The overseer claimed it was all in the name of protecting the Vault. Bitter and angry, the Vault Dweller turned their back on the Vault and never looked back. A group of Vault Dwellers, disgusted with the overseer's decision, also left, led by Theresa and Lyle. They were never heard from again, leading the remaining dwellers to remove the Vault 13 overseer from power and abolish the position of overseer.[Non-game 3][Non-game 7]

Exile and Arroyo


The exile

Stricken with grief, the Vault Dweller wandered the desert surrounding the Vault. They lashed out for a time, but slowly came to terms with the exile, admitting the overseer may have made the right choice, but never forgave him for his betrayal. They cut all ties to the Vault, removing their jumpsuit on May 12 and never wearing it again.[Non-game 8] Soon after, they came upon the group of dwellers that left Vault 13. The Vault Dweller helped them survive in the harsh wasteland, saving their lives in the process.[Non-game 3]

On July 10, the Vault Dweller and their group, which was now comprised of regular wastelanders that had joined along the way, headed north. In the inaccessible canyons of southwest Oregon, they founded a village. The Vault Dweller deliberately chose a location beyond a dry valley, surrounded by barren lands that would deter visitors.[Non-game 3] Scouts were sent at first towards the old Vault, but gradually, that stopped in favor of strengthening the village.[Non-game 9][Non-game 10]

On August 18, 2167, the village was completed and named Arroyo.[Non-game 11] The Vault Dweller, now the elder of a tribe, taught their followers the basics of hunting, farming, and other skills.[Non-game 10] They also taught them the basics of engineering and science, so that they could maintain their homes and craft more to survive. And in addition, they found love: Pat.[Non-game 3] On October 2, 2188, they were blessed with a daughter, the future Arroyo elder.[Non-game 12] Twenty years later, on January 16, 2208, the Vault Dweller left Arroyo, leaving behind their Vault suit, folded on the bed, and their memoirs,[Non-game 13] signed simply The Wanderer.[Non-game 3]


The Vault Dweller was 67 years old by the time they left the village. The villagers presumed their leader had perished, but others say they were "taken by the sky spirits," while others say that the Vault Dweller knew it was time to allow the new elders to come into their own.[Non-game 14]

Their legacy would live on in Arroyo and in the form of the New California Republic: Wiping out the Khans ensured that Shady Sands would survive, and a statue in their honor was erected in front of the Hall of Congress in the NCR capital, to honor their legacy and inspiring example.[9]

By 2281, the Vault Dweller's influence and legacy lasts as one of the heroes of the post-War days, with exploits such as defeating the Master and wiping out the Khans. The precise role the Vault Dweller played has faded from memory to a degree, with the person responsible for destroying the raider tribe considered to be just one of the many itinerant heroes commonly found across the wastes, and some versions of the story claiming that the New Khans were wiped out by the same hero, despite the date discrepancies.[11]

Family tree

Vault Dweller
Arroyo elder
Unnamed man
Unnamed man
Chosen One
Leslie Anne Bishop OR Angela Bishop
Chosen One's sibling
Unnamed spouse
Mr. Bishop
Unnamed woman
Mr. Bishop's daughter


Cowboy Colored
This is the player character.


The Vault Dweller appears as the player character in Fallout, and is mentioned in Fallout 2, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas.

Behind the scenes

  • Tim Cain described the situation where the Vault dwellers drew straws to determine who had to search for the water chip as the overseer's idea. He explained that the overseer would demand everyone draw a straw in order to be truly fair. However, the overseer himself would be exempt from the process.[Non-game 15]
  • In the early stages of the development of Fallout 2, it was planned that the main character would again be the Vault Dweller. However, this idea was abandoned due to being difficult for developers to explain the loss of equipment and skills of the hero of the original game. The developers decided to create a new character, a descendant of the Vault Dweller.[Non-game 16]
  • In an interview, Leonard Boyarsky mentioned seeing promotional artwork of the Vault Dweller which was outsourced by Interplay's marketing team that dev team never approved of.[Non-game 17]
  • In Fallout the Vault Dweller could be either male or female. They are referred to with male pronouns in Fallout 2.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Chris Avellone stated that the Vault Dweller's gender was intended to be ambiguous,[Non-game 2] but the rule was not enforced and the person responsible for the NCR map design and the statue in front of the Hall of Congress created an unambiguously male design, which was retained through to release.[6][7]

In other games

Wasteland stranger

The elderly Vault Dweller in the non-canon game Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel



Fallout 2

Magic the Gathering


  1. The Dipping
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Chosen One: "{141}{}{Where is Vault 13?}"
    Arroyo elder: "{149}{aeld12}{The holy Thirteen? I can not help you. Only the Vault Dweller knew. His tales have the sound of a perilous journey. }"
    (Arroyo elder's dialogue)
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Chosen One: "{240}{}{I didn’t realize that.}"
    Harold: "{242}{hld43}{Well. Now ya do. And what happened next? For a thank you, the damn high-and-mighty Vaulties booted the Vault Dweller out. I always wondered what happened after that.}"
    The Chosen One: "{243}{}{I can tell you what happened.}"
    Harold: "{245}{hld44}{Well, I’d sure like to hear that.}"
    Chosen One: "{246}{}{The legend of the Vault Dweller starts with the Vault casting him out into the dry Wastes.... [You tell Harold the story of your ancestor]…and so that’s why I’m looking for Vault 13 now.}"
    (Harold's dialogue)
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Chosen One: "{271}{}{Running?}"
    Lenny: "{280}{}{Yes, running. You see, we ghouls c’can’t run too much anymore. So, I knew it was an outsider when I saw them. They ran by so close I could have touched them. I wish that I had joined the Vault Dweller.…}"
    Chosen One: "{281}{}{You wanted to join my grandsire?}"
    (Lenny's dialogue)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Renesco: "{545}{}{(Renesco continues to glare at you as if he could somehow make you disappear just by imagining it hard enough.)}"
    The Chosen One: "{546}{}{Did I mention Arroyo was founded by my ancestor, the holy Vault Dweller? He made a legendary journey from the south after defeating a great evil. (Puff up chest and stare proudly into the distance.) Now, *I* am the deliverer of my tribe, chosen to search for the holy GECK!}"
    (Renesco's dialogue)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Vault Dweller statue placard: "{100}{}{There'a a plaque at the base. It reads, "To the Stranger and Vault 13: What doesn't exist, we must sometimes dream and let our dreams inspierIn-game spelling, punctuation and/or grammar us to greater heights. So it was with the Stranger and his belief in the legend of Vault 13.}"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Chosen One: "{180}{}{This suit has been in our village since the beginning. It belonged to the Vaultdweller, our founder.}"
    Tandi: "{181}{tand13}{You're serious aren't you? If we're talking about the same person, he saved my life. (snorts) Then vanished. When I start thinking it was only a dream, I go look at the statue out front.}"
    (Tandi's dialogue)
  8. Fallout 2 intro, narration slide 11
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Chosen One: "{182}{}{Statue?}"
    Tandi: "{183}{tand14a}{That's right. For scaring off raiders. They kept clear of Shady Sands afterwards we got time to get ourselves set up. We made him a hero... even if we didn't believe a word about him coming from Vault 13.}"
    (Tandi's dialogue)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Citadel terminal entries; Citadel A ring terminals, Maxson archive terminal, Maxson Family Dossiers, John Maxson
  11. The Courier: "Julie Farkas said you might know something about the Great Khans."
    Ezekiel: "Oh my, yes! They're a fascinating tribe with a long and, unfortunately, tragic history. Their original incarnation, much farther out west, was almost completely wiped out by one of those itinerant heroes so common in the post-War years. Then of course the "New Khans" suffered a similar fate, some say at the hands of the same hero, though of course the dates are all wrong for that."
    (Ezekiel's dialogue)
  12. Paul Hannon Jr.: "Hey, how about the Vault Dwellers? Get it?"
    Butch DeLoria: "Who wants to go around all day being called a "Vault Dweller"? Sometimes I think you really are as dumb as you look."
    (Paul Hannon Jr. and Butch DeLoria's dialogue) Note: [clarification needed] CG02TunnelSnakeTalkGeneral


  1. 1.0 1.1 Timothy Cain interview (1:08)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Chris Avellone via Twitter @Chris Avellone 13 Sep 2021
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 Fallout 2 manual; Vault Dweller's memoirs
  4. Fallout Bible 0, page 22: "2161 Dec 5 Fallout 1 Begins: Vault Dweller is kicked out of Vault 13 to find a replacement water chip."
  5. Fallout Bible 0, page 23: "2162 March 3 Vault Dweller kicks the Master's ass."
  6. Fallout Bible 0: "2162 April 20 Vault Dweller destroys the Military Base. Dogmeat dies defending his master."
  7. Fallout Bible 0, page 23: "2162 May 10 Fallout 1 Ends: Vault Dweller returns to Vault 13, only to be told 'you're a hero, and you have to leave.' Some members of the Vault (led by Lydia, the head of the 'return to the surface' faction, and including her supporters, Theresa and Lyle) follow soon afterwards."
  8. Fallout Bible 0, page 23: "2165 May 12 Vault Dweller removes the Vault suit and from this day forward, never wears it again."
  9. Fallout Bible 0, page 23: "2165 July 10 Vault Dweller heads North with a small group of Vault-dwellers and wastelanders and founds the small village of Arroyo."
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fallout 2 manual: "Together, our little group moved north, away from the Vault, and away from that old life. Slowly, I taught them what experience had taught me. And together we learned to thrive. The Tribe Over time, our ragtag group turned into a tribe. I fell in love with one of them, and we raised a family, like all of our tribes people. We founded the Village, beyond the great cliff. It is a secure home thanks to our hard work. We would send scouts back towards the Vault, to help others who thought like ourselves, but that slowly came to an end. We no longer head in that direction. I often wonder what became of Vault 13, and the other Vaults, but I never had the time to go exploring again."
  11. Fallout Bible 0, page 23: "2167 August 18 Construction of Arroyo completed."
  12. Fallout Bible 0, page 23: "2188 October 2 Vault Dweller has a daughter (who becomes the Elder in Fallout 2)."
  13. Fallout Bible 0, page 23: "2208 January 16 After writing the F2 manual memoirs, Vault Dweller vanishes from Arroyo and is presumed dead. The Vault Dweller leaves the Vault Suit behind, folded on the bed. Some say the Vault Dweller was taken by the sky spirits, others say that the Vault Dweller felt it was time to move on and leave the Elders to guide Arroyo to its destiny."
  14. Fallout Bible 0: "2208 January 16 After writing the F2 manual memoirs, Vault Dweller vanishes from Arroyo and is presumed dead. The Vault Dweller leaves the Vault Suit behind, folded on the bed. Some say the Vault Dweller was taken by the sky spirits, others say that the Vault Dweller felt it was time to move on and leave the Elders to guide Arroyo to its destiny."
  15. Tim Cain: "I always thought of Fallout's story of drawing straws was something the Overseer thought of. 'Look, someone has to go outside, and they may die out there, so let's draw straws'. Someone, probably not the Overseer since he wouldn't have gone outside no matter what, demanded that EVERYONE draw a straw in order to be truly fair. But to be honest, the vault dwellers were simply terrified of going outside, and terrified people do not always make the wisest decisions. Anyway, when big dumb Larry drew the straw, maybe the Overseer saw a way to rid their limited gene pool of some really bad alleles."
    (Duck and Cover: Lionheart chat log)
  16. Game.Exe:"Здорово! А будут ли игры связаны друг с другом?" ("Great! Will the games be related to each other?")
    Feargus Urquhart: "Во второй части игры вы оказываетесь в том же самом мире. На этот раз вы будете потомком 'тот самый'."("In the second part of the game, you find yourself in the same world. This time you will be a descendant of the 'same one.'")
    (Interview to Russian gaming magazine Game.Exe)
  17. Leonard Boyarsky interview at RPG Codex


  1. Wasteland stranger: "What's that you've got there, kid? Is that a... a vault 13 flask? Heh. Call me a sentimental old fool, but I'll give you a few caps for it."
    (Wasteland stranger's dialogue)
  2. Cut content Journal of Sir Latham; Entry 10.1.4. Cut content