Fallout Wiki
Fallout Wiki
Gameplay articles
Fallout 3Alien
Guardian drone
Support drone
Fallout: New VegasAlien
Fallout 4Alien
Fallout 76Alien
Alien drone
Alien invader
Flatwoods monster

Zetans[1][2] are an extraterrestrial alien civilization.


Zetans abduct humans and creatures and collect world objects for study, cryogenic preservation and experimentation. Zetans arrived near Earth on two motherships to study the Earth, one known as "Zeta" and another unnamed one.

They have continuously abducted humans and other creatures from Earth, and also collected their technology. Their existence dates back as early as the Japanese Edo period, as evident by their abduction of a samurai. During the Wild West era, they abducted a cowboy as well. It was not until the abduction of Colonel Hartigan and the Clarabella 7 capsule, that their influence became felt by modern society, with groups such as Quaere Verum formed to reveal the truth about them, though Quaere Verum was widely regarded to be a crackpot conspiracy group by the public. Quaere Verum attempted to use the MPLX Novasurge, a prototype plasma pistol somehow recovered by the group from the government, as proof that the U.S. government had been using alien technology, though the weapon was later recovered by the Zetans themselves, while the group itself was dismantled by the federal government for their role in stealing the weapon. At this point, it was believed by many that the Enclave had based much of their technology on alien technology.[Non-game 1][Non-game 2] Everyday citizens also had some awareness of the Zetans, given that some comics featured images of the Zetans on their covers, and mentioned them by name.

In late pre-War Appalachia, the Zetans operated through a network of Zetan agents who captured individuals in the wilderness around the town of Flatwoods for experimentation. One such person was the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Vault-Tec, who was inspecting the construction of Vault 76 sometime between 2064 and 2069. These alien agents were often spotted and reported by Flatwoods locals, some of which claimed to have been abducted, though local law enforcement did not take the sightings seriously. The Zetan agents were dubbed the "Flatwoods Monster" by the locals and the media.

76 IFB basic Zetan narrow

After the War, the Enclave maintained a research facility in Appalachia where they studied Zetan remains. They intended to destroy the specimens, but the lab collapsed before they got around to it. Flatwoods Monsters were encountered by the Dwellers of Vault 76 when they left the Vault on Reclamation Day, 25 years after the Great War, and continued to be seen in the region thereafter. Zetans began invading Appalachia periodically beginning in 2104.

In other places across the pre-War United States, up until shortly before the Great War, the Zetans continued to abduct humans. In 2041, they abducted the Professor of Anthropological Archaeology at Banfield College, Humboldt, Oregon. Other known abductees included a U.S.S.A. linguistics specialist, a U.S. senator and someone within the White House who had the codes needed to launch the entirety of the U.S.'s then-currently-armed ICBM nuclear weapons. During the Reclamation of Anchorage, Alaska (as part of the Resource Wars), somewhere between 2066 and 2077, numerous U.S. Army personnel were abducted from Alaska by the Zetans, including a U.S. Army combat medic and his entire unit.

After the Great War, the Zetans began abducting, studying, and experimenting on the new creatures from the Capital Wasteland, including super mutants, feral ghouls, brahmin and many others. They also abducted members of the new groups of people formed after the war, including raiders and slavers. The "Flatwoods Monsters" also continued to operate in Appalachia for at least 25 years. Other groups across the wastelands seem to have had some awareness of the Zetans, as both the Brotherhood of Steel, Brotherhood Outcasts, and the Enclave had alien power cells in their respective armories.

Sometime around 2277, the Lone Wanderer encountered an alien signal that led them to a downed Zetan recon craft known as Theta. On approach, they were abducted via a tractor beam onto Zeta. From there, they were experimented on and then placed in a containment cell, where they joined with several other abductees, including the aforementioned slaver, combat medic, samurai and cowboy, as well as a young pre-War girl, in order to take over the ship and find a way back to Earth. The crew fought their way through Zeta, destroying its generators and fighting all the way to the Zetan captain's cabin. After slaying the captain, the crew took control of the ship and engaged in a final showdown with the other unnamed mothership. After destroying the other mothership, the crew went their separate ways, with the combat medic and young girl staying aboard the ship and the rest leaving back to Earth. In 2287, a Zetan was spotted crash landing a UFO in the Commonwealth by the Sole Survivor. They breathe a similar atmosphere to humans, and subsist mainly on a diet of alien worms and squid.


Fallout 3[]

Fallout 76[]


Zetan society seems to be strictly focused on work and progress, with no apparent concern for hobbies and personal pursuits. Their architecture is spartan and purely functional, and their living spaces are not individualized in any way. They sleep in sterile metal capsules called stasis chambers. No discernible means of entertainment can be found aboard Zeta. However, alien workers display obvious fear when attacked, suggesting some level of individuality and emotion.

The aliens share a collective fascination with Giddyup Buttercup toys. Sally notes that the aliens became very excited when she turned her attention to one, though she has no idea why they act this way. The Lone Wanderer can also encounter what appears to be a sacrificial shrine to Giddyup Buttercup, where there is a large circular chamber, with the animatronic horse in the center surrounded by several human corpses.

A contingency of Zetans live in Earth's outer orbit, abducting human specimens for storage, harvest, or experimentation. They have been known to abduct other fauna, as well.

They speak in their own language of high-pitched screeches and wails. As such, verbal communication between humans and aliens is impossible. It appears that the aliens are simply not interested in discussion, typically taking a single recording from their captives before freezing, harvesting, or releasing them.

They are capable of interstellar travel. They wield technologies such as long-term cryostasis, energy forcefields, powerful rayguns, genetic engineering, teleportation, power armor, bio-weaponry, and holograms.

Due to their dependence on technology, they are physically frail.


Due to their frail bodies, the Zetans aboard Zeta generally rely on guardian drones, support drones and automated turrets to do most of their fighting. However, certain zetans appear to be combat ready soldiers, utilizing personal forcefields and force field generators for defense, atomizers and disintegrators for ranged combat, and shock batons for melee combat; all of their weapons are energy based. They also rely on support technology such as healing gels, advanced healing archways and teleportation matrices. They maintain their weaponry with alien epoxy, an adhesive which seems to intelligently repair hardware. As of 2277 they are genetically engineering zetan-human hybrids.

The bulk of their military capacity comes from the deathrays mounted on their motherships, which have payloads comparable to nuclear weapons. These motherships have energy shielding and are spaceflight capable. Motherships also maintain a hangar with a fleet of Zetan-piloted recon craft.

Zetans have different color jumpsuits that appear to indicate rank, and they all seem to answer to the captain of their respective mothership. They also have civilian noncombatant support personnel, known as "workers," who perform maintenance, custodial, and research duties.

Their infantry tactics involve placing automated defenses in strategic locations, and relying on swarm tactics and advanced personal weaponry and defense systems to gain the upper hand on opponents. They also make use of the teleportation matrices across the mothership to instantaneously transport soldiers from one side of the ship to another.



Teleportation Matrix
Main article: Teleportation matrix

Similar to the Institute's Molecular Relay, Zeta possess a series of teleporters known as a teleportation matrix. They allow access between areas of the ship, as well as to and from beacons that can be deployed to the surfaces of planets.


Alien thaw
Main article: Cryonics

Zetans possess an advanced understanding of cryostasis, to the point they maintain a specialized cryo lab aboard Zeta dedicated to keeping their various abducted subjects stored between experimentation and interviews. This storage was seemingly capable of keeping its subjects alive healthily for centuries, though it was not without risk. Under certain conditions, it can lead to the subject expiring upon being thawed. Colonel Hartigan became a victim of such conditions upon being thawed by the Lone Wanderer.


Fo3MZ holography
Main article: Holography

Zetans utilize holographic projections.

Robots and computers[]


  • Flying saucer - small ship with a saucer-shaped body used for fast operations that house two pilots. The only known flying saucer is the one that crashed in California.
  • Mothership - large ship dedicated to long-term space travel and study species, generally located in space. It houses an entire crew of aliens and is commanded by a captain. The overall shape of the ship resembles a colossal saucer with another small disc-shaped section attached to the bottom. Known motherships are Zeta and the unnamed mothership comes right after the Zeta bridge is captured by the Lone Wanderer.
  • Recon craft - small ship with a disc-shaped rear body used for stealth operations that house only one pilot. Known recon craft are Theta, another unnamed craft that exploded in mid-air in the Firelance event, and another unnamed craft hovering in the Mojave Wasteland if Wild Wasteland is taken.
  • UFO - small, single pilot ship is found at the UFO crash site within The Commonwealth between Beantown Brewery and Vault 81. The pilot survives the crash and relocates to a nearby cave.

Power armor[]

76 IFTS Zetan joystick armor

Zetans deploy humanoid mechs during coordinated invasions. Unlike human power armor, these Zetan mechs are not operated directly through movement from the standing position, but piloted with tank-style controls by an operator curled up within in the torso. These operators may be augmented to better interface with their instruments of war.


Other devices[]


Main article: Abomination
  • Abominations - biological weapons created from humans with Zetan DNA.
  • Alien biogel - ingestible curative gelatin-like liquid and accelerate organic tissue's regeneration processes gel.
  • Healing archway - care generator restoring health, removing all radiation, clearing any drug addiction and restoring crippled limbs.




  • A crashed UFO could be encountered in the original Fallout, with abnormal skeletons nearby. The remains are plausibly Zetan, but appear to have much larger heads and smaller bodies. Another one of these skeletons could be found behind a computer at the Glow.
  • Cynnoc, Scribe of Avalon, is a fictional character in the pre-War franchise The Atomic Chronicles of K.D. Inkwell who appears to be a Zetan in a robe.


Zetans appear in Fallout 3, its add-on Mothership Zeta, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, Fallout 76, and Fallout Shelter Online.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Zetans were designed by Adam Adamowicz for Fallout 3, inspired by the UFO lore from previous Fallout media. Like protectrons, the design of Zetans strongly evokes "Martian"-adjacent pulp science fiction films of the 20th century.
    • BTS Ramey and Dubose with debris
      This is likely why their suits in Fallout 3 resemble tinfoil. The sci-fi trend of greys in shiny suits may have been inspired by a story related to the legend of Roswell, wherein the government allegedly confiscated a sheet-like alien metal from a farmer. In supposed photographs of the material, it resembles tinfoil.
    • The Fallout 4 revision of the Zetan design gives them a bulky harness with a large, rigid metal base for their helmets, and an apparent respiratory apparatus on the neck. The design closely resembles the uniforms worn by martian soldiers in the 1996 film Mars Attacks!, which is itself a retro pastiche of pulpy alien B-movies.
  • The name Zetans is based on Zeta Reticulans, a designation commonly used by sincere extraterrestrial theorists for "short greys," the stereotypical stock aliens typically invoked in pop culture depictions. Most people who report being abducted by aliens identify or describe their tormentors as short greys.
    • The modern conception of flying saucers primarily emerged in America in the wake of World War II. Early sightings were strongly correlated with sites of nuclear experimentation or nuclear power. These reports were celebrated among science fiction enthusiasts, who began forming "flying saucer clubs" as early as the 1930s.
    • The topic of aliens saw an explosion of popular interest after the 1947 Roswell Incident, when nationwide media published sensational reports of a flying saucer having supposedly crashed in New Mexico. The legend of the "Men in Black" may stem from unconfirmed reports of government agents intimidating civilians in the wake of the Roswell Incident.
      • The conception of Men in Black as disguised aliens was codified and popularized by the 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies. In Fallout 76, the Emissary is a character who fits the description of a Man in Black. The Emissary holds a key to one of the domes at Black Mountain Ordnance Works, which is based on the "TNT Area" north of Point Pleasant where the Mothman was first seen. There were many reported sightings of Mothman and UFOs at that site throughout 1967. Conspiratorial Mothman-UFO folklore often asserts the dome-vaults of the TNT Area to contain government secrets, which is thoroughly reflected in the game.
    • The popularization of the short grey abduction scenario is often attributed to the story of Betty and Barney Hill, who reported being abducted in 1961, and provided vivid, evocative testimonies under hypnotic regression. They also drew star maps which were likened to Zeta Reticuli, hence the name Zeta Reticulans. Skeptics criticize hypnotic regression as a technique and hold that the supposed star maps do not meaningfully depict Zeta Reticuli.
    • Theorists (conspiratorial, Fortean, and skeptical alike) often connect the modern alien abduction scenario to historic reports of supernatural encounters, especially European fairies, and other similarly-psychedelic "trickster" beings throughout the history of folklore.
  • Cut contentEnemies called the alien lieutenant, alien captain, and alien star admiral were datamined from the files of Fallout 76. Their ids were later overwritten with the enemies encountered during Invaders from Beyond.


Fallout 3[]

Fallout 76[]

Art and misc[]


  1. Fallout 4 loading screens: "If the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, Earth has been visited by an alien species on several occasions. These "Zetans" are said to be armed with powerful energy beam weapons that can completely disintegrate enemies."
  2. Amplified Alien Blaster description: "This much power is usually reserved for a Zetan cruiser."


  1. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition: "Once thought to be covered up by a government conspiracy and believed only by “crackpot” groups such as the Quaere Verum, evidence of extraterrestrial life can be traced back throughout human history, but became nationally recognized after the mysterious disappearance of the Clarabella 7 space pod during the 1960s Space Race. It is said that Alien technology was the basis of many of the Enclave's more exotic and impressive weaponry and robotics, and even toy manufacturers such as Wilson Automatoys weren't immune to these accusations. Recently, after the discovery of an Alien body in Fort Bannister, the shocking truth was revealed. The Aliens are not only real and alive, but they’re back. And they’re pissed."
  2. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.110 "A secretive prototype to the Enclave’s Plasma Pistol, the Novasurge functions in a very similar manner, and proves a conspiracy theory you long suspected. There are other bonuses too; the MPLX Novasurge inflicts more than three times the damage of a Plasma Pistol, with a bigger Crit % Mult too. Unfortunately, it is heavier and uses ammunition twice as quickly. Repair it using Plasma Pistols. It is found in a safe in the Debris Pile after you unlock it by hacking Reid Underwood’s Terminal inside the Mothership Zeta Cargo Hold [MZ2.11]."