Upon first glance, the Fallout series would appear to be your typical grimdark post-apocalyptic experience, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a goofy, deeply nerdy heart beating just below the gritty surface. Right from the start, the Fallout games have been packed with inside jokes, tongue-in-cheek humor, and a staggering number of geeky pop culture references. From The Simpsons to Star Trek to Monty Python, if you like something, there’s a very good chance the makers of Fallout like it, too.
Easter egg hunters are still ferreting out all of Fallout 4‘s secrets, but while they work, here are some of the most clever, mind-blowing pop-culture references you may have missed in past Fallout games…
Doctor Who (Fallout)
From the very first game, this is the Easter egg that really made Fallout pop-culture references a thing. Yes, while wandering around the desert, you may stumble across an out-of-place British police box in the middle of nowhere. Of course it’s actually a TARDIS from Doctor Who, which unfortunately disappears before you can get in and transport yourself to a less terrifying time period.
The Simpsons (throughout)
There are a handful of Simpsons quotes sprinkled throughout the Fallout series, because Simpsons quotes make everything better, but the series’ best reference to The Simpsons are the “Radiation King” products you’ll find in all the games. TVs, radios, jukeboxes, you name it. A large portion of the electronics in the Fallout universe were lovingly made by the Radiation King brand. This is a reference to the classic Simpsons episode Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy, in which we see a young Homer watching the good ol’ Radiation King in a flashback. Of course, it isn’t just a funny callback, the Radiation King ties into Fallout‘s nuclear theme and retro ’50s/’60s vibe perfectly – it works on so many levels.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Fallout 2)
One of the stranger special encounters you might stumble across in Fallout 2 is the gruesome smashed carcass of a large whale laying alongside an equally gruesome smashed pot of flowers. This is a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which a pair of nuclear missiles are turned into a sperm whale and a pot of petunias by the Infinite Probability Drive. It makes more sense if you read the book. Well, sort of.
Gremlins (Fallout: New Vegas)
The hulking Deathclaws are some of the most intimidating enemies in the Fallout series, but if you shrink them down enough, they kind of end up looking like the titular monsters from the Gremlins movies. Still scary, but not quite as threatening. The folks behind Fallout must have seen the resemblance, because in Fallout: New Vegas, you can find a doghouse in Higgs Village that contains a very small, gremlin-like Deathclaw. That Deathclaw’s name? Stripe, which happens to be the name of the main “bad” gremlin in Gremlins.
Star Trek: The Original Series (Fallout 2)
The environment in the Fallout games often resembles an alien planet, so I suppose it’s only fitting that one of Star Trek‘s hapless red shirt-wearing away teams met their end there. In Fallout 2, you may happen along a crashed Federation shuttlecraft, surrounded by red-clad corpses. Sadly, there’s nothing you can do for them – if only you were a doctor, not a survivor.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Fallout 2)
Fallout loves its Star Trek references, so we’re going to hit a couple of them on this list. This one in particular is so deeply nerdy, it’s kind of amazing. If your mutant companion, Marcus, is shot at or hurt in Fallout 2, he’ll occasionally drop the line “I’m not a merry mutant!” This is significant because Marcus is voiced by Michael Dorn, who also played Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation and once exclaimed, “I am not a merry man!” in a particularly wacky episode of TNG in which Q made everybody play Robin Hood. Yup, of all the Worf lines they could have had Marcus use, the makers of Fallout 2 chose that one.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Fallout: New Vegas)
Oh, I bet you know where this one is going. If you happen to be playing with the Wild Wasteland trait in Fallout: New Vegas, you’ll encounter an old fridge lying in the desert slightly outside the town of Goodsprings, and yes, it contains a fedora and a skeleton, because nobody actually survives a nuclear blast in a goddamn refrigerator.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Fallout 2)
Given all the shootouts and manly sauntering around dusty locales you see in the Fallout games, it’s only fitting that they contain a reference to Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western. In Fallout 2, the mercenaries’ cave north of Broken Hills contains three dog tags, labeled Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco, the titular good, bad and ugly dudes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
WWF (Fallout: New Vegas)
Okay, here’s an incredibly obscure one for you wrestling fans out there. During the G.I Blues sidequest, you’ll come across a tent containing three men named Roy, Wayne and Farris. Why’s that significant? Because “Roy Wayne Farris” happens to be the real name of ’80s wrestling staple, and longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of all-time, The Honky Tonk Man. To quote another wrassler, what in the blue hell? By the time Fallout: New Vegas came out, Honky Tonk Man had been out of the spotlight for nearly 20 years. I suppose both Fallout and The Honky Tonk Man make reference to ’50s culture, but that doesn’t explain how a Honky Tonk Man reference got into Fallout: New Vegas. I don’t think anything could properly explain it. I’m just amazed somebody actually picked up on this one.
Pinky and the Brain (Fallout 2)
Hey, what would a pop-culture obsessed game from the ’90s be without a reference to Animaniacs? In the access tunnels below Gecko, you’ll find a strange cult that worships a giant, intelligent naked mole rat named Brain. Obviously this rodent harbors a desire to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Unfortunately, Pinky is nowhere to be seen. Presumably Brain killed him long ago (come on, we all saw it coming).
Kate Beaton (Fallout: New Vegas)
For those who somehow don’t know, Kate Beaton is a cartoonist who draws comics about history, literature and all manner of obscure Canadian subjects. She’s hilarious, generally a lovely person and you should read her stuff. So, how the hell did a Kate Beaton reference end up in the grimy, bleak world of Fallout? Well, one of Kate Beaton’s first comics to go viral was this one about Nikola Tesla, and Fallout: New Vegas includes a Tesla-inspired lighting-blasting cannon, so naturally the developers put a special version of the gun in the game called the Tesla-Beaton Prototype. So yes, Fallout lets you blast mutants to a bloody pulp with a gun named after the creator of Fat Pony. That is the weirdest and best thing ever.
Star Wars (Fallout: New Vegas)
There surprisingly aren’t that many Star Wars references in the Fallout games (as mentioned, the folks behind Fallout seem to be more into Star Trek) but the series’ one big reference to Star Wars is pretty great. If you have the Wild Wasteland trait, head to the pillaged town of Nipton and you’ll find two charred bodies named Owen and Beru laying in front of a burned-out house. Yup, the developers of Fallout threw the corpses of Luke Skywalker’s uncle and aunt in the game as a gag. I told you they liked Star Trek better.
Monty Python (Fallout 2)
From Holy Hand Grenades to its obsession with people eating various vermin on sticks, the Fallout series is packed wall-to-wall with Monty Python references. The most iconic of the lot is the Bridgekeeper from from Fallout 2, a direct reference to the Bridgekeeper in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Just like in the movie, you’re asked five questions, er, I mean three questions, and if you get one wrong, your magically hurled into the Gorge of Eternal Peril. Of course, if you have high enough intelligence, you can ask the Bridgekeeper a question of your own, sending him into the gorge. So, brush up on your knowledge about swallows.
Futurama (Fallout: New Vegas)
Warning: You’re about to feel some feels. In Fallout: New Vegas, venture deep into Cave of the Abaddon, and you’ll find a small fossilized dog. That dog’s name? Seymour. This is, of course, a reference to the Futurama episode Jurassic Bark, in which Fry tries to revive his fossilized dog, one of the most heart-wrenching half-hours in TV history. I know the Fallout games can be dark, but the developers went too far with this one.
Mad Max (Fallout 2)
It’s impossible to pick out a single reference to the Mad Max movies, because pretty much the entire Fallout series is an homage to Mad Max. The main character and his trusty doggy sidekick in Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 is directly inspired by Mel Gibson and his dog in The Road Warrior. There are plenty of other, more direct references, too. The best is probably in Fallout 2 – if you attack Dogmeat in that game, a mysterious character named Mel will show up to kick your ass. Not the most sly of references, but Fallout isn’t about subtlety.
Finally, as I said, fans are still in the process of rooting out Fallout 4‘s Easter eggs, but a pretty good one has already been found, so here’s a bonus entry (Warning! If you want to find all of Fallout 4‘s Easter eggs on your own, the next paragraph is a spoiler!)
Cheers (Fallout 4)
Fallout 4 takes place in a post-apocalyptic Boston, so naturally the game contains a reference to the most famous Boston-set show of all-time, Cheers. The game actually contains a full (and fully depressing) recreation of the bar from the show, including skeletons dressed like Cliff and Norm. The bar is called Prost, which is the German word for cheers, so don’t worry, it seems the latest Fallout is as dorky/clever as the rest. You can check out some screens of the Easter egg in question here.
So there you are, some of the nerdiest, most obscure and just downright best pop-culture references that have been packed into Fallout games over the years. I really just scratched the surface here, so what are some of your favorites? What kind of references are you hoping for in Fallout 4? Hit the comments and let’s explore some dialogue options.