Fallout Show: Who Dropped the Bombs?

By Lauren Rouse Updated:
Fallout TV bomb explosion, Ella Purnell as Lucy

The Fallout show, just like the Bethesda games it is based on, is set in an apocalypse caused by the dropping of nuclear bombs. 

The resulting post-apocalyptic world of Fallout is full of misfit creatures and characters, including Walton Goggins' Ghoul - an irradiated mutant human and an example of what happens to those exposed to the nuclear wasteland. 

The series also introduces Ella Purnell as Lucy, a resident of Vault-Tec's Vault 33, just one of many nuclear blast shelters created to preserve humanity in the wake of nuclear war. 

But how did this nuclear war begin? Amazon Prime Video's Fallout TV show does eventually reveal who was responsible for dropping the bombs.

Why Did the Bombs Drop in Fallout?

Fallout Vault-Tec bombs drop
Prime Video

Warning - The rest of this article contains spoilers for Fallout.

The nuclear bombs in Fallout are a core part of the series' lore, but the mystery of who started the nuclear apocalypse is even more of a twist.

As Fallout explained in its eighth episode, Vault-Tec, the company that created 122 vaults to shelter paying customers in the case of nuclear war, is responsible for starting that war in the first place. 

The reason is that if Vault-Tec wanted to guarantee itself and its partners a return on investment in expensive vault technology, it needed people to buy up space in its vaults. 

The best way to guarantee that was to heighten the threat of nuclear war and encourage people to secure their future, which they could ensure by dropping nuclear bombs on the world themselves. 

Did Vault-Tec Drop the Bombs?

Fallout Vault-Tec bombs drop
Prime Video

A board room scene in Fallout's finale features many of the world's most powerful companies in a meeting with executives of Vault-Tec, where they attempt to sell them on their vaults.

This scene reveals that government peace negotiations are lessening the ongoing threat of nuclear war, which means interest in buying up vault space is lessening. 

At this point, Barbara Howard (Frances Turner), Cooper Howard's Vault-Tec executive wife, suggests that they guarantee results by dropping the bombs themselves, forming a complete monopoly in the nuclear fallout that follows.

However, Vault-Tec didn't just drop nuclear bombs once. Throughout Fallout, it's revealed that a city known as Shady Sands was steadily re-establishing civilization above ground in post-apocalypse Los Angeles until another bomb destroyed it. 

Fallout Shady Sands
Prime Video

Fallout's eighth episode revealed that this bomb was dropped by Vault-Tec executive and Vault 33 overseer Hank MacLean (Kyle MacLachlan). MacLean decided to destroy Shady Sands because its population boom threatened to lure people out of vaults, thus impacting Vault-Tec's monopoly over the wasteland. 

MacLean also had a personal vendetta against Shady Sands as his wife, Rose, had fled there with his children, Lucy and Norm. Therefore he decided to drop another nuclear bomb and laid waste to Shady Sands. 

When Did the Bombs Drop in Fallout?

Fallout Bombs Drop in Episode 1
Prime Video

The nuclear bombs can be seen dropping in theopening of Fallout Episode 1. 

The series opens before the apocalypse, in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, where movie star Cooper Howard is entertaining a children's birthday party. While at the party, Cooper and his daughter, Janie, watch as mushroom clouds appear over the city, signaling the arrival of nuclear war. 

These events take place in the year 2077, nearly 200 years before the present-day timeline explored in most of the Fallout series and video games.

Fallout is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

Read more about Fallout on The Direct:

What's In Vault 31 In Fallout TV Show? Secret Experiment Revealed

Who Is Cameron Cowperthwaite? 5 Things to Know About Fallout Actor

Michael Rapaport's Controversial Fallout Role Explained - Who Is Knight Titus?

Fallout Show: Is The Ghoul a Villain? The Dark Character Explained

- In This Article: Fallout
Release Date
April 10, 2024
Ella Purnell
Walton Goggins
- About The Author: Lauren Rouse
Lauren Rouse has been a writer at The Direct since the site launched in 2020. She has a huge passion for everything pop culture and currently writes news articles for the Marvel, Star Wars, DC and video game branches.