Vault Boy and Cooper Howard in Fallout Season 1

Fallout Season 1: Vault-Tec and Vault Boy, Explained

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Fallout Season 1.

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Vault-Tec plays a major role in Fallout Season 1 – so what’s the sinister corporation’s deal? And how did it come up with its mascot, Vault Boy?

Related: Fallout Season 1: What a Ghoul Is, Explained

What Is Vault-Tec in Fallout Canon?

Vault-Tec Corporation was a defense company that rose to prominence in the decades leading up to Fallout‘s Great War. As its name suggests, Vault-Tec produced Vaults: sprawling underground shelters capable of protecting those within from a nuclear war. The US government contracted Vault-Tec to build the Vaults as part of Project Safehouse in the 2050s. Vault-Tec manufactured 122 Vaults, although only 17 of them functioned as advertised. The remainder secretly functioned as the site of unethical social and scientific experiments. This wasn’t part of the government’s brief, and reflects Vault-Tec’s links to the deep state cabal that would eventually become the Enclave, instead.

Technically, Vault-Tec ceased to exist – along with pretty much every other pre-war business – once the nukes started falling in 2077. That said, Vault-Tec’s legacy is still keenly felt in post-war society, as spotlighted throughout the Fallout games and show. Aside from the continued existence of both the Vaults and the Enclave, several Vault-Tec employees are still at large as late as 2296. This is revealed towards the tail-end of Fallout Season 1, which reveals that Vault 31 houses the disembodied brain of Vault-Tec lackey Bud Askins, as well as dozens of cryogenically frozen junior executives.

Bud’s brain has already thawed out several of Vault-Tec’s one-time rising stars, including Season 1 protagonist Lucy MacLean’s dad, Hank. Through Hank, Vault-Tec has dramatically reshaped the post-war Wasteland in at least one major way. When Lucy’s mom fled to Shady Sands in the 2270s, Hank retaliated by wiping the New California Republic capital off the map with a warhead. This ties in with Fallout Season 1’s revelation that Vault-Tec may have kicked off the Great War with their own stockpile of nukes. As explained by Barb Howard in Episode 8, “The Beginning,” triggering a large-scale nuclear conflict would be the only way to ensure the Vault project’s success.

Even so, Vault-Tec’s exact level of culpability in starting the Great War remains unclear.

Related: Is Prime Video’s Fallout Getting a Season 2?

What Is the Origin of Vault-Tec’s Mascot, Vault Boy?

Clearly, Vault-Tec is a not-so-savory corporation. So, how did it end up with an adorable mascot like Vault Boy? You can blame Fallout Season 1’s Cooper Howard. Coop inspired Vault Boy’s signature thumbs-up pose during a promotional photoshoot for Vault-Tec’s Vault program. The Hollywood star later distanced himself from Vault-Tec after discovering its true nature, resulting in the creation of Vault Boy to replace him.

Related: Fallout Season 1’s Ending, Explained

Coop similarly refrained from using the thumbs-up gesture when making public appearances after parting ways with Vault-Tec. Indeed, his disdain for both Vault-Tec and its mascot is so great that it endures over 200 years later. Notably, Coop – now transformed into mutant bounty hunter the Ghoul – takes a moment to fire a bullet at a Vault Boy billboard midway through Fallout Season 1.

Fallout Season 1 is now streaming on Prime Video.


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Leon Miller
Leon is a freelance contributor at The Escapist, covering movies, TV, video games, and comics. Active in the industry since 2016, Leon's previous by-lines include articles for Polygon, Popverse, Screen Rant, CBR, Dexerto, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more.