Banner promotional image for the 'Fallout' show on Amazon Prime. The show logo is on the left, and on the right we see the character Lucy, a young woman with dark hair in a pony tail wearing a blue vault suit with a 33 on the back, walking out of a Fallout vault.

Vault 31 in ‘Fallout,’ Explained

So many Vaults! Too many to keep track of! I swear they switch the numbers up every game! Maybe the Fallout TV series will help make sense of things? Or pour more gasoline on the fire of confusion? Vault 31 won’t elude us anymore; I’m here to get to the bottom of things.

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What exactly is a Vault anyway?

A Vault is one of many fallout shelters created by the company Vault Tech in response to a series of global crises that threatened U.S. national security in the world of Fallout. Shaken by the Euro-Middle Eastern War, the deadly New Plague disease, and the collapse of the United Nations, the U.S. government commissioned super secure underground bunkers that would protect the population from nuclear war and plague. The problem? The government was too broke to save everyone.

Despite the advancements in technology that allowed for the rapid construction of vaults, the cost to build even one individual vault was exorbitant. The budget for Vault 13 was $400 billion. It ended up costing $650 billion. Oops. As a result, only 122 vaults were constructed across the nation, allowing for the survival of less than 0.1% of the population. Despite the project’s economic failures, Vault Tec was indeed successful at constructing vaults that really worked. When the nuclear bombs started dropping during the Great War, the people inside of the vaults were safe.

And then Vault Tec’s real plan could go into effect.

What is Vault 31?

Vault 31 is a Vault Tec vault located in Los Angeles, Calfornia (or what’s left of it). Officially, Vault 31 and other Vault Tec vaults like it were built as shelters to house the survivors of the nuclear apocalypse. Unofficially, the Vaults were built by Vault Tec in order to do experiments on the people cryogenically frozen inside. These people weren’t just random citizens, though; they were all Vault Tec employees—and not just regular Vault Tec employees, but the best and brightest that the companty had to offer!

Vault 31 was meant to serve as a failsafe for Vault Tec, with its brightest minds able to emerge from the wreckage of the Great War and use their vast intellectual powers to take control of the wasteland. A majority of Vault Tec’s higher ups went on to form a shadowy paramilitary organization known as the Enclave. What is the Enclave? The Enclave is what remains of the deep state, a collection of high ranking politicians, military personnel, and corporate types. The Enclave devolved into a racist and xenophobic organization that views all non-Enclave members as subhumans that need to be exterminated. The Vaults were meant to protect Enclave interests, and protect them they did.

Vault 31 didn’t exist in a vacuum. The people at Vault Tec also created two sister vaults for Vault 31 – Vault 32 and Vault 33. These two vaults were meant to serve as “breeding pools” of human beings with the most favorable genetics. The denizens of Vault 32 and 33 were supposed to be used as “mates” for the members of Vault 31 in order to create genetically superior offspring. Yes, it’s super creepy. To make things even creepier, the trio of vaults was designed to create a “perfect meritocracy” which would allow for the best and brightest to remain in control (by virtue of their genetics) for the decades to come. The outcome was rigged in Vault 31’s favor, with its employees primed to serve as the overseers of the other two vaults.

It didn’t go as planned.

The overseer of Vault 33 was a man named Hank MacLean, a true blue Vault Tec employee who bought into the company’s penchant for eugenics. He was secretly from Vault 31, and knew about the company’s plan to have Vault 31 employees use employees from Vault 32 and 33 as breeding stock. Hank’s wife eventually found out about her husband’s plan and escaped Vault 33 to take shelter in the New California Republic’s town of Shady Sands, along with their two children. Hank didn’t take too kindly to this, and ordered the town to be nuked after taking his children back the the Vault, turning his wife in a ghoul in the process. Hank was later kidnapped from Vault 33 by a raider named Moldaver, who later spilled the beans about Hank’s plans for the trio of vaults.

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.