Inspired by 1950s futurism, the Fallout games include many subtle nods to iconic sci-fi movies and television shows. While I haven’t yet finished playing through Fallout 4, I thought it would be fun to share all the classic science fiction references—some being more obvious than others—that I uncovered in my two favorite installments of the series: Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Below are ten films that inspired various design/story aspects of both games.
10) Soylent Green
Processed from green plant material at the Big MT biological research station, Salient Green provides nourishment for think tanks while serving as a valuable commodity for the player. The item can also be consumed for a +2 hit point bonus and -25 starvation effect in hardcore mode.
Of course, sci-fi buffs will recognize the name as a reference to Soylent Green—a 1973 dystopian science fiction film starring Charlton Heston. At the end of the movie, Heston’s character discovers that the eponymous substance—originally a benign food source—now consists of protein gathered from human remains.
9) Plan 9 from Outer Space
A think tank located in the Forbidden Zone dome, Doctor Mobius (not to be confused with Doctor Morbius of Forbidden Planet) indicates that several “Plan Cs” are in place. With the Wild Wasteland trait active in Old World Blues, however, Mobius will instead make mention of his “Plan 9s” when conversing with the Courier.
Obviously, this particular Easter egg references the Z-grade sci-fi/horror cult classic Plan 9 from Outer Space—written and directed by Edward D. Wood Jr., arguably the worst filmmaker of all time. Offering a morbid twist on The Day the Earth Stood Still, Wood’s infamous movie tells the tale of alien grave robbers who, ostensibly driven by benevolent motives, begin resurrecting the dead as a warning to mankind.
8) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
While exploring the Nuka-Cola plant in Fallout 3, the player may use a terminal entry code to recover the facility shipping manifest. Once retrieved, said manifest will reveal three locations where the player may obtain large quantities of Nuka-Cola Quantum.
Though quite subtle, the passphrase NC-C1864 may ring a bell with fans of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In that film, the Federation starship USS Reliant—registry code NCC-1864—is commandeered by Khan Noonien Singh in the 23rd century.
7) Creature from the Black Lagoon
Mutated snapping turtles in Fallout: New Vegas, lakelurks (reminiscent of mirelurk kings from Fallout 3) typically reside near large aquatic areas. If approached, lakelurks will use a sonic pulse wave to stun the player character before attacking with razor-sharp claws.
As Universal Monster fans will undoubtedly observe, the anatomy of a lakelurk bears a strong resemblance to that of the Gill-Man—the main antagonist of Creature from the Black Lagoon and its two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. Similar to the lakelurks, the Gill-Man is shown to possess superhuman strength, wear a scaly coat for protection, and walk on two legs despite evolving from marine lifeforms.
6) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Upon traveling to the ruined Nipton house in Fallout: New Vegas, the Lone Wanderer will encounter the charred remains of a man named Owen and a woman called Beru. Like several items on this list, the corpses will only appear after the player acquires the Wild Wasteland trait.
Before leaving Tatooine in the original Star Wars, Luke Skywalker returns home after a Stormtrooper raid on the family farm. In that scene, the bodies of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru appear burned beyond recognition.
After encountering Bryan Wilks near Grayditch, the player may accept a side quest named Those! and rid the town of giant fire ants. At the end of the quest, the Lone Wanderer will locate a mad scientist known as Doctor Lesko, assist him in reversing the effects of his experiments, and do so without killing the fire ant queen.
This Fallout 3 quest pays homage to the sci-fi monster movie Them! (also named after a pronoun and stylized with an exclamation point). Set in New Mexico during the 1950s, this inaugural “big bug” feature centers on a colony of hostile, irradiated ants who terrorize a local town after growing substantially.
4) Planet of the Apes
Upon completing the Lonesome Road add-on, the player may choose to nuke one or both major factions of the Mojave Wasteland. After obliterating both the NCR and Legion headquarters, the player will observe an ending slide with a solider kneeling before two giant, half-sunken statues on the beach.
A nod to Planet of the Apes, this ironic ending will remind sci-fi buffs of Taylor’s encounter with the Statue of Liberty ruins. After realizing his fate, Taylor curses humanity for destroying civilization and allowing the apes to take over; similarly, the narrator of Fallout: New Vegas condemns the Courier for unleashing nuclear hellfire on the Mojave wastes.
3) Beneath the Planet of the Apes
In Fallout 3, the Church of the Children of Atom followers are seen worshiping a large, undetonated nuclear bomb in the settlement of Megaton. Upon initiating the Power of the Atom quest, the player may either disarm or detonate the bomb for a positive/negative karma reward.
While searching for Taylor in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, astronaut Brent encounters a cult of mutated, underground humans who deify the Alpha-Omega Bomb—later responsible for the destruction of Earth. Though fairly innocuous, the Atom followers in the Fallout series have several characteristics in common with the creepy, futuristic humans depicted in the first Planet of the Apes sequel.
2) The Day the Earth Stood Still
While approaching the Jefferson Memorial at the end of Fallout 3, the player character is accompanied by Liberty Prime—a towering, formidable combat robot aligned with the Brotherhood of Steel. When attacking the Enclave, Liberty Prime delivers a barrage of tactical nuclear bombs, laser assault beams, and patriotic clichés about the evils of China and communism.
In the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, the humanoid Klaatu arrives on Earth with a protective robot named Gort. Similar to Gort, Liberty Prime employs a powerful laser beam through a horizontal eye slit when vaporizing humans.
1) Forbidden Planet
A standard utility robot manufactured by RobCo, the protectron units are equipped with laser-emitters for guarding office-type buildings from intruders. In spite of their core programming, protectron robots often come with synthetic personalities and can serve as greeters, bartenders, prostitutes, ticket collectors, and celebrity/historical figure impersonators.
Inspired by Robby the Robot of Forbidden Planet, protectrons—along with robobrains, securitrons, and sentry bots—enhance the retro-futuristic theme of the Fallout series. After leaving the eponymous planet in the 1956 sci-fi classic, Robby would make a number of guest appearances on Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, The Addams Family, and other popular shows of the 1960s.
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