Prime Video's Fallout show is a delightful, irreverent love letter to the video game series

Prime Video's Fallout is a fantastically fun companion to the long-running sci-fi video game series, while still being compelling television in its own right.
Ella Purnell (Lucy) in Fallout. Credit: JoJo Whilden/Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC
Ella Purnell (Lucy) in Fallout. Credit: JoJo Whilden/Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /

Tonight, Prime Video drops all eight episodes of Fallout, a new sci-fi show based on the beloved video game series from Bethesda Softworks. For more than two-and-a-half decades, the Fallout games have been carving out a weird little space for themselves in the hearts of gamers with their quirky sense of humor, absurd violence and 1940s America nostalgia-driven take on the apocalypse. With shows like The Last of Us proving that big-budget adult video game TV shows can work and work well, is Fallout destined to be one of the next great ones? And how accessible is it to viewers who aren't familiar with the source material?

I've seen all eight episodes of Fallout, and have returned from the Wasteland to give you my SPOILER-FREE IMPRESSIONS. Read on without fear! Of spoilers at least. Keep a healthy dose of fear for anything you might find in the Wasteland, because that's the only way to survive in this irradiated hellscape!

Brotherhood of Steel in Fallout. Credit: JoJo Whilden/Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /

Do you need to play the Fallout games to understand the show?

Because it's a little easier to address, let's start with the question posed above: can you still enjoy Fallout if you don't know the video games? I can't speak to this from a wholly unbiased position, because I've been playing Fallout since the first one came out all the way back in 1997. Don't make me get out my CD-ROM case and start shouting at clouds.

But the nice thing about Fallout as a whole is that the games all stand completely on their own; each is a reinvention, a brand new adventure with different geography and characters which just so happens to be set in the same world. They are very purposefully designed to allow people to dive into any installment without any previous knowledge of the franchise. That's true for the Fallout television show as well, which isn't a direct adaptation of any of the games, but rather a brand new story set around 10 years after the latest mainline game.

Don't know your Vaults Dwellers from your Brotherhood of Steel or Children of Atom? That is totally, completely fine. One of the main characters of Fallout is Lucy (Ella Purnell), a young woman who grew up in a privileged underground vault community who is forced to go to the surface on a dangerous mission. It's been more than 200 years since the bombs fell, turning the world into a nuclear Wasteland. She knows as much about the surface as you do, which sets up a very convenient way for the show to explain things as it goes. Anything you need to know to understand what's going on, Fallout will explain.

So yes, you can absolutely watch and enjoy Fallout whether you've played the games or not. That said...

Kyle MacLachlan (Overseer Hank) in Fallout. Credit: JoJo Whilden/Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /

Fallout is a delightful treat that completely nails the tone of the games

If you are familiar with the Fallout games, the chances are very high that you are going to have a hell of a good time with this show. Showrunner Jonathan Nolan (Westworld) has said that this was a passion project for him because of his love for the video games. The producers of the show worked closely with Bethesda Softworks. That care is obvious and pervasive; it is so clear that the people who made the Fallout show not only intimately know the game franchise, but love it with the same deranged passion as the rest of its gamer fanbase.

Sometimes with an adaptation, you can just feel that the production gets it; there's an intrinsic understanding of the source material. That is 100% the case with Fallout, from story details, to its tone, to its musical choices, to including an insane amount of easter eggs. Hell, it even works some game mechanics into the story, like a character eating everything in sight as they loot a bunch of bodies after a shootout, an oft-ridiculed but beloved staple of many Bethesda games, since eating food restores teeny tiny bits of health to your character.

Unlike, say, The Last of Us, which had a very character-focused, linear story to tell, the Fallout games are all about living in the world of the Wasteland. It's arguable that nailing the tone of the story is just as important, if not moreso, than any specific plot point. Fallout does this very well, and it includes many references and easter eggs. It even explores a few parts of the Fallout lore that the games never touched on, but which fit so well you can't help but feel like they belonged in the franchise's story all along. I was giddy for most of my watch, and it's extremely hard for me to imagine anyone who genuinely loves the games not feeling similarly.

Walton Goggins (The Ghoul) in Fallout. Credit: Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /

Fallout is a genre show that proves practical effects are still king

Now, let's talk a little about the show itself, not in relation to the games. Fallout is fun — yes, people are murdered in absurdly grisly ways, but the show balances all that with humor. What's a massacre without a poppy 1940s soundtrack? Without a ridiculous punchline? Fallout does a fantastic job of identifying moments where the show could get too serious and aggressively lightening the mood. Half the time, you may not even realize it's happening until after the jokes have landed. I had the distinct feeling that Fallout was trolling both viewers and itself at times, which...yeah, that's Fallout.

While I've talked a lot about the all-important tone of the show, I was also impressed with Fallout's story. It centers three characters: the Vault Dweller Lucy, a Brotherhood of Steel squire named Maximus (Aaron Moten), and a centuries-old mutant named The Ghoul (Walton Goggins). The show does an admirable job of telling a compelling story that weaves the paths of all three characters — as well as others — together in interesting ways. And while this is a completely new Fallout story, it captures enough key elements from the games that it feels like a Fallout game story. It fits right in, while also being grounded and entertaining enough to make for good television.

Those three lead actors all do excellent jobs, though for my money, Walton Goggins steals the show. Purnell and Moten deliver good performances as well, but their characters are both coming into their own this season whereas Goggins' Ghoul is a seasoned Wasteland survivor; there's a feeling that there's more growth to come for the younger characters while the Ghoul is more fully formed out of the gate. There are also some absolutely top notch guest star appearances, some of which had me howling with laughter.

In terms of production values, Fallout is stunning. It utilizes tons of practical sets and effects, which adds so much to the aesthetic of the series. Things like Power Armor feel that much more real because the production actually built them, rather than falling back on copious green screen effects. I can't understate what a difference this makes. For as out there as Fallout is, it feels more real than a lot of genre shows because there is simply more real stuff on the screen than average. It's great to look at, and it's clear that a lot of artistry went into making the series look as good as it does.

Power Armor in Fallout. Credit: Prime Video © 2024 Amazon Content Services LLC /


Fallout is an entertaining, delightful ride from start to finish. It's a campy, fun, weird take on the apocalypse, with a team of seasoned television producers behind it who know how to make a show sing. Any qualms I had with season 1 are so far overshadowed by the show's virtues that they hardly bear mentioning. This isn't a series that's likely to start sweeping awards, but for lovers of quirky sci-fi or fans of the video games, it's absolutely a series to check out. If you were nervous Fallout would be another botched video game adaptation, you can set aside that fear. It's a perfect companion to the games that I'll be watching through more than once in the future.

Series grade: A-

George R.R. Martin signs off on Dunk and Egg actors: "You're going to love him". dark. Next. grrm dunk and egg

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