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

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Walton Goggins, Ghoul, Fallout

With how intense Walton Goggins' Ghoul can be, some fans still wonder if the character is a villain in Fallout's story.

Out of all the colorful characters on Amazon Prime Video's Fallout, based on the popular Bethesda video game franchise, the Ghoul may have the most extensive backstory. To fully understand him, audiences need to know where he began.

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Before the War, the Ghoul Was Cooper Howard

The Ghoul in Fallout tv series
Prime Video

Warning - This article contains spoilers for Fallout.

While it's unknown when exactly Walton Goggins' Cooper Howard was born, he was once a hero who served under the United States Marine Corps before the Great War dropped nukes over what remains of America.

Notably, he fought in a battle to defend Alaska from the People's Republic of China, which gave him some experience with the T-45 power armor, the armor of choice for the Brotherhood of Steel.

After being dishonorably discharged, he started a career in Hollywood as an actor. This journey turned out to be incredibly successful, leading him to a far more questionable career choice: filming advertisements for Vault-Tec.

Cooper's face became synonymous with the Vaults and the iconic imagery of him giving his thumbs up.

While working those advertisements as a favor for his wife, with whom he has a child, he started to question the nature of Vault-Teh itself, the company she worked for—which is not something one might expect a villain ever to do.

However, things got more questionable when his doubts led him to spy on his wife. One thing led to another, and he learned that his wife was directly involved in possible plans to nuke America itself, with the intent of restarting all of humanity under the guidance of Vault-Tec.

Needless to say, this didn't turn out too well. His marriage was fractured, leading to a divorce. However, the world had bigger problems as the bombs soon fell.

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The Vicious Ghoul of the Wasteland

The present-day timeline of the Fallout TV show catches up with 219 years later in 2296, where Howard is now a Ghoul. He's essentially a zombie, one that retains its former humanity and resists becoming feral.

After over 200 years in the wasteland, Cooper Howard is no more. Instead, in his place is an expert bounty hunter with no patience for bullshit and no qualms about doing whatever needs to be done to get what he needs.

It's not surprising that not long after Lucy leaves Vault 33, she crosses paths with the Ghoul, very existence is the stark opposite of her bright, naive optimism.

As the two fight for a bounty they're both after for different reasons, the Ghoul does not treat Lucy well. In fact, he even tries to sell her organs to a black market.

This is where the character could easily be mistaken as a villain. Though, with all of his experiences in the wasteland, he's understandably lost his way since the days of being Cooper Howard.

As the show continues, his true motivations become clearer: He's still searching for his family. Given his wife's involvement with Vault-Tec and the "good" vaults, he believes they are alive.

It's information he feels confident Hank MacLean has, Lucy's father and the man revealed to be the true big bad of the series. After wounding Hank and letting him retreat, the stage becomes set for the next chapter in Fallout's story.

Now, Lucy's entire sense of the world is shattered after she learns about the atrocities her father committed. She starts to understand the Ghoul's cold view of life. That bright optimism is no longer; the former vault dweller is on a cynical page like the Ghoul.

By the end of the series, the Ghoul is not truly the villain of Lucy's story but will instead become one of her most valuable allies.

Fallout is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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- In This Article: Fallout
Release Date
April 10, 2024
Ella Purnell
Walton Goggins
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.