Fallout showrunners talk about the show's take on New Vegas: 'The idea that the wasteland stays as it is decade-to-decade is preposterous to us'

 Still image from Fallout series on Prime - Maximus out of his power armor.
Still image from Fallout series on Prime - Maximus out of his power armor.

I will begin by stating the obvious: There are going to be spoilers about the Fallout television show on Amazon. Much like being in the neighborhood when a nuclear blast goes off, you can either avert your eyes or suffer the consequences.

The Fallout series on Amazon is a hit, but not everyone is entirely happy with it. I am of course talking about lore nerds who take issue with the game's handling of New Vegas. Todd Howard himself shot down fan theories that Bethesda was attempting to use the show to retcon Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas from official existence, but as Chris Livingston noted in his own deep-dive debunkification of those theories, there were still questions left unanswered.

And seriously, this is where the spoilers begin.

The Fallout series ends with a shot of the city of New Vegas in a dire state: No neon lights or flashing signs, debris in the streets, and broken gates at the walls. It's a startling contrast to the bright, lively city that appeared in Fallout: New Vegas. So if New Vegas isn't being retconned, then what happened?

Chris' theory, simply put, is that shit happened, and apparently that's pretty much the case.

"All we really want the audience to know is that things have happened, so that there isn't an expectation that we pick the show up in season two, following one of the myriad canon endings that depend on your choices when you play [Fallout: New Vegas]," showrunner Graham Wagner said in an interview with GQ (via Eurogamer).

"We really wanted to imply, guys, the world has progressed, and the idea that the wasteland stays as it is decade-to-decade is preposterous to us. It’s just a place [of] constant tragedy, events, horrors—here's a constant churn of trauma. We're definitely implying more has occurred."

That's an interesting perspective, because while I would never think to contradict the people actually making the Fallout show, I feel like to a large extent the opposite is true. More than 100 years separate the events of Fallout and Fallout 4 (Fallout 76 is set even earlier than the first Fallout game) and yet nothing meaningful has changed: The world remains a shattered, irradiated mess, with "civilization" reduced to small pockets of survivors struggling to eke out an existence amidst the twin horrors of mutants and fascism. I'm not a committed follower of the lore so that's an admittedly casual perspective, but really, what has changed? A century after the first time we stepped outside the vault, everything still sucks and shows no sign of changing.

But that may be an overly broad perspective. Ron Perlman said "war never changes" and perhaps that's applicable here too. The world remains a hot mess because we choose to make it so, but it's the actions we take within those choices that matter on a day-to-day basis. Which is not the most optimistic attitude to have, but one seemingly held, or at least recognized, by Wagner and fellow showrunner Geneva Robertson-Dworet.

"I think it would have been a mistake to go from the retro-futuristic America to another America that has been fully civilised and the NCR is doing everything great," Wagner said in response to a question about the controversial decision to nuke Shady Sands. "We love Deadwood. I think if there was a fourth season of Deadwood, there'd be insurance companies, there'd be traffic, and it wouldn't be a Western anymore. We wanted to live in that first season of Deadwood space, of like, 'What's going to happen? Where is everything?'

"It really was our belief, also, that though there are the events of the games, it's not frozen after that. History is not static. It keeps going, and entropy is a constant. Which is a less flashy way of saying 'war never changes'."

"It seems inevitably the message of the Fallout games is that we will veer towards destruction of some kind, and our best efforts to restart civilization may be doomed," Robertson-Dworet said.

Ruined or not, it sure sounds like the second season of Fallout will focus at least some of its attention on New Vegas. "The idea that more stuff has happened, and that we're not leaving worlds as we left them, was sort of the philosophy of approaching the first season being set in Los Angeles," Wagner said.

"We do hope to continue that, and create story on top of story... That's been the entire exercise from the jump, right? 25 years of games, how do you do something on top of it, like a teetering Jenga tower. But that was always the goal. So we are hoping to do that again in another area that is strongly implied by the finale of the first season."

In case that wasn't quite pointed enough, referring to the closing shot of New Vegas at the end of the final episode, he added, "It sure would be strange if we went off to New York City after that."

Amazon confirmed last week that a second season of Fallout is on the way. Hopefully then we'll finally discover what "things" really happened to the jewel of the post-nuclear desert.