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Fallout's timeline: From the games to the TV and back again (including the Great War)

Ahead of the Fallout show's release, here's your guide to the history of Fallout's nuclear post-apocalypse

Image credit: Amazon Prime Video

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Amazon Prime Video's Fallout show takes place in the same continuity as the games.

That's an exciting concept for hardcore fans of the games, but for newcomers to the series or just casual players, that idea means very little. For it to have the same impact it has on true Pip-Boys, you'd have to understand Fallout continuity. And to do that, what you'd need is a historical timeline of the Fallout universe, which is exactly what you're going to get in this article.

Since the history of the games isn't broken down into eras (like, say, the Star Wars universe), I've gone ahead and used each of the four games as a way to deliniate time periods. So just remember: these are eras I've created for this article - don't take them as official Bethesda designations.

Let's begin with the time before the first game, in an era we'll call...

Between the Great War and Fallout: 2077 - 2161

Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

you can't have a post-apocalyptic story wiithout, well, an apocalypse. For the Fallout universe, that world ending event was the Great War, a thermonuclear catastrophe that was part of a larger war between the United States and China. This event took place in 2077, roughly a century before the first official Fallout game.

For much of the game series' history, this era was just a distant prologue. However, in 2018, Fallout publihser Bethesda Game Studios released Fallout 76, a game that served as a prequel to the first game and thus fit into our first era.

Between Fallout and Fallout 2: 2161 - 2241

Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

Our second era is the longest between games - a total of 80 in-universe years pass between the first Fallout and its sequel. It makes sense, then, that not one but two games would take place in this interim period, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.

As you can probably tell by those (admittedly confusing) names, this period was a dynamic one for the sect known as the Brotherhood of Steel. The era came to a close when the town of Arroyo suffered a calamitous draught, prompting the main character known as the Chosen One to go looking foro a device that wold restore greenery to the desolate landscape.

Between Fallout 2 and Fallout 3: 2241 - 2277

Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

Not a ton is known abot the 30 years that pass in between the second and third Fallout games. We get a little bit of history via the childhood of or next main character (starting in around 2258), but that history is only personal until 2277, when the main character leaves Vault 101 (which was meant to never be opened) and sets in motion the events of Fallout 3.

Between Fallout 3 and Fallout 4: 2277 - 2287

Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

In contrast to its predecessor, this era is packed with known history. Counting the third and forth core games, this era consists of four games - Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout Shelter Online, and Fallout 4.

Marked by major events in areas that used to be Boston, Washington DC, and Las Vegas, this era sees some of the biggest developments for Vault communities - enclaves of people who survived the apocalypse in large, protected underground chambers - and ends with a great number of the Brotherhood of Steel being wiped out.

Between Fallout 4 and Amazon Prime Video's Fallout: 2287 - 2296

Image credit: Amazon Prime Video

All this brings us to the "present" of Fallout's history, an era that will begin, in our world, wiith the release of Prime's Fallout streaming series. We know very little about this era so far, save that one Vault Dweller, one member of the Brotherhood of Steel, and one radiated Ghoul will be at the heart of it. For more info about what will mark this particular period in post-apocalyptic history, you'll just have to watch the show.

Still, since this I'm trying to make this as comprehensive a timeline as possible, there's one more qestion I can answer.

Will there be a Fallout 5?

Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

Great news, Nuka-Cola drinkers: a Fallout 5 is officially on the way, as Bethesda's Todd Howard confirmed all the way back in 2022. The bad news, though, is that it's going to be a long time before we get it.

"[The games] do take a while," Howard said, "I wish they came out faster, I really do, we’re trying as hard as we can, but we want them to be as best as they can be for everybody."

Two years later, there's still no word on when we'll see the fifth core Fallout game, but that doesn't mean we haven't seen progress. Starfield, which was on Bethesda's plate when Howard made this statement, is available now, with the sixth Elder Scrolls game next in the pipeline. Perhaps Fallout will be the next big project on Bethesda's plate after that, especially with Amazon's show gearing up to be a hit. And if that's the case, we may be returning to everyone's favorite post-apocalyptic open world sooner than we expect.

Hopefully, at least, before it becomes a reality.

Get ready to get out of your Vault and into the Fallout world - with our help, of course. Here is a guide to the Fallout timeline, how to play and watch all of Fallout, details on the Fallout cast, how the Fallout cast & crew really get the harsh humor we're looking for, as well as a Q&A with Fallout showrunners Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner.

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Fallout 2


Fallout 3

PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Fallout 3: Broken Steel

PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Fallout 3: The Pitt

PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Fallout 4

PS4, Xbox One, PC

Fallout 76

PS4, Xbox One, PC

Fallout: New Vegas

iOS, PS3, Xbox 360, PC

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About the Author
Grant DeArmitt avatar

Grant DeArmitt

Contributing writer

Grant DeArmitt (he/him) likes horror, comics, and the unholy pairing of the two. He has written for Nightmare on Film Street and Newsarama, despite their better judgement. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Kelsey, and corgi, Legs.