Fallout canon refers to elements considered an official part of the Fallout universe.
As the Fallout series was developed by multiple development studios (the Fallout development team first, then Black Isle, Microforte, Bethesda Game Studios, and Obsidian Entertainment), the general lack of overlap between development teams has caused numerous inconsistencies to emerge. Compounded by different opinions on certain elements of the setting among the developers (such as Tim Cain and Chris Taylor disagreeing on the origins of ghouls), this necessitates certain assumption on part of anyone covering the game.
Since the acquisition of the Fallout franchise by Bethesda Softworks and their development of Fallout 3, Bethesda defines the canon of the Fallout series. However, Bethesda has refrained from issuing an official statement on what is canon and what is not. The following list is considered to be the most representative of the company's stance on the subject, according to available information).
Primary sources are officially released works that form the core of the Fallout franchise and setting. Primary sources include:
- Fallout and supplementary materials,
- Fallout 2 and supplementary materials,
- Fallout 3, its add-ons and supplementary materials,
- Fallout: New Vegas, its add-ons and supplementary materials, including All Roads,
- Fallout 4, its add-ons and supplementary materials.
Secondary sources are works, publications and other material (such as developer interviews, responses on social media sites, forum posts, et cetera) that build upon the Fallout setting, but do not belong to the "core" of the franchise. In case of contradicting information, primary sources take precedence.
- The Fallout Bible by Chris Avellone. Todd Howard has mentioned it as being part of the source material Bethesda reviewed as part of the Fallout 3 creation process. Emil Pagliarulo has also stated that he used it during development. Finally, several setting elements introduced exclusively in the Bible have been further developed in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.
- Note: Chris Avellone is of the opinion that the Bible shouldn't be used as canon and that Bethesda is not limited by its contents. However, the current owner of the franchise and thus, only authority on Fallout canon has not clarified the Bible's status, apart from statements by Emil Pagliarulo and Todd Howard mentioned above as well as elements incorporated in released games.
- Fallout Tactics, when referenced by existing titles, can be considered a secondary source. This limits it to high level events (as explained by Emil Pagliarulo to our founder). Currently, the only events referenced in the game is the presence of a small, rogue detachment of the Brotherhood in Chicago that has been battling super mutants, and got there by airship.
- Note: The reference to super mutants in Chicago is an explicit retcon, as the super mutants in Fallout: Tactics were fought first at St. Louis, more than 250 miles south of Chicago.
- Some elements of Van Buren (the canceled Fallout 3 by Black Isle Studios) were incorporated into Fallout 3 and its add-ons, as well as into Fallout: New Vegas, making them part of the current Fallout canon.
- Fallout Tactics and its tabletop component, Fallout: Warfare, were disregarded by Bethesda Softworks during the development of Fallout 3.
- Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel is treated as non-canon by Bethesda Softworks.
- Canceled games, such as Van Buren, Project V13, Fallout Extreme, Fallout Tactics 2 and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2 are non-canon, unless aspects of these games are confirmed by other canon sources.
- Welcome Back to Fallout blog (defunct, local copy is available here): "Obviously we had the old games to look at, and Fallout 1 became our main model and inspiration. I always preferred the tone of it, and it's the one we focused our time on dissecting. We also went through all the original source material, as well as the "Fallout Bible," put together by Chris Avellone, whose work is always fantastic. But one of my favorite sources, when we received everything (yes, everything) from Interplay, is the original "Fallout Vision Statement", back when it was called "Fallout: A GURPS Post Nuclear Adventure." This is the document detailing what Fallout was to be, and is a 14-point bulleted list. Here they are, in order, with direct quotes (enjoy – I know I did):"
- Emil Pagliarulo on DAC: "Don't worry, guys. I sleep with a copy of the Fallout Bible under my pillow. icon_eyebrow "
- Vault 106 in Fallout 3.
- Vault 34 in Fallout: New Vegas.
- Marcus' appearance in Fallout: New Vegas.
- Information acquired from Emil Pagliarulo by Paweł "Ausir" Dembowski
- The Lone Wanderer: "Then where's the rest of the Brotherhood?"
Reginald Rothchild: "The West Coast, unless something has changed. There's been no contact with them for the last several years. There's also a small detachment in Chicago, but they're off the radar. Gone rogue. Long story."
(Reginald Rothchild's dialogue)
- The Lone Wanderer: "Care to share anything about the Super Mutants?"
Elizabeth Jameson: "The Brotherhood has been battling Super Mutants for decades. First out West, then in Chicago. Now here. But this group of Super Mutants is different, somehow. Physically, yes, but mentally as well. If we knew where they came from, we'd know why."
(Elizabeth Jameson's dialogue)"
- The Sole Survivor: "Did the Brotherhood ever build other airships?"
Kells: "There were less advanced versions of this ship built on the West Coast a long time ago. Historical records about their current status are in dispute, but we're fairly certain that they were destroyed. In any event, I hope your tour of the Prydwen helped acclimate you to our way of life up here. I think you'll find that the more familiar you become with both her capabilities and her crew, the longer you'll survive as a member of the Brotherhood. You're dismissed, Knight/Paladin/Sentinel."
- Chinese stealth suits in Hoover Dam.
- New Canaan from Van Buren served as basis for the Canaanites in Honest Hearts and several characters from it are mentioned by name.
- The Tibbets Prison was altered into Big MT.
- The Courier: "What happened next?"
Elijah: "After that... I wandered, alone. Saw the storms of the Divide, walked among the Ciphers of the West. Traveled to the Big Empty. I heard the signal. The woman's voice, the Sierra Madre, promising a chance to begin again, reverse my fortunes. All... nonsense. I tracked the signal. Came here, scouted the city... using other hands. Kept dying on me, killing each other. You - you got the farthest of all."
- Todd Howard: "For our purposes, neither Fallout Tactics nor Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel happened."
- Fallout 3 Preview