Walton Goggins as The Ghoul in Fallout

‘Fallout’ 101: Your Guide to Ghouls

Are you a newcomer to the world of Fallout? Are you intrigued by Walton Goggins’ noseless, skeleton-looking character in the trailers for the highly anticipated Amazon Prime show? Well, let’s give you a rundown of precisely who and what he is.

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Goggins’ character is a Ghoul. In fact, in the show he’s the Ghoul—that’s his character’s name, simply The Ghoul. But before he took on that name he was an actor named Cooper Howard, and an ambassador for Vault-Tec Vaults. Shocker: the Vaults weren’t even a little bit what they seemed. And poor Howard’s life took somewhat of a downturn after that.

Ghouls are irradiated humans


Wait, if Howard was an ambassador for Vault-Tec, and Vault-Tec was operating before the bombs dropped, and it’s been 200 years since then … wouldn’t that make him waaaay older than a regular human? Yep! Howard/the Ghoul is over 200 years old by the time we catch up with him. And man oh man has he seen a lot of bad things.

Howard’s long lifespan was granted to him by the radiation that exploded all over the world during the Great War. He’s largely immune to chemical-based attacks, and radiation can even heal him. But in return his face looks like he’s rotting, he’s infertile, and his kind are subjected to discrimination in almost every place they go.

What are Feral Ghouls?

Feral Ghouls are a different matter. If you’ve picked up a Fallout game before and played it even for a little bit, you’ve probably encountered a Feral Ghoul. This is a Ghoul who’s completely succumbed to the radiation and is little more than a zombie. (Don’t worry though—a bite from a Feral Ghoul won’t turn a human into one.) Since regular Ghouls can easily turn into Feral Ghouls, this is the reason why they’re so discriminated against and feared. And to be fair, Feral Ghouls are pretty scary. In the games, they come in many forms, including the Glowing Ones (which glow green and heal other Feral Ghouls with bioluminescence) and Charred Feral Ghouls (much more powerful than a regular one.)

There’s a big divide between Ghouls and regular people—some Ghouls use the mildly insulting nickname “smoothskin” for humans. And humans are, predictably, horrible to innocent Ghouls. For example, in Fallout 4 you’ll hear of an incident where Ghouls were forcefully thrown out of Diamond City and their belongings stolen by the remaining humans. And yet, generally, most Ghouls you encounter in the game will be civil to you. They’re a better bunch of highly irradiated people than you’d expect to spring from the merciless Wasteland. Not for nothing did Geneva Robertson-Dworet call them “the most empathetic” of the groups you’ll meet in Fallout.

(featured image: Prime Video)


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Author
Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.