Is the vault dweller male?

In the popular Fallout video game series, the main playable character is referred to as the “Vault Dweller.” This character emerges from one of the fallout shelters known as Vaults to explore the post-apocalyptic wasteland. But is the canonical Vault Dweller actually male or could they potentially be female?

Quick Answers

The Vault Dweller is depicted as male in some Fallout games and marketing material. However, the player can choose either a male or female protagonist in the more recent Fallout games that feature character customization.

So while the original Vault Dweller character is intended to be male, the newer games allow for more player choice in determining the Vault Dweller’s gender.

The Original Fallout Games

In the first two Fallout games – Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 – the Vault Dweller character is unambiguously depicted and referred to as male:

  • The box art for both games features a male Vault Dweller.
  • In-game art and animations depict the Vault Dweller as male.
  • NPCs refer to the Vault Dweller with male pronouns such as “he” and “him.”
  • The Vault Dweller can only romance female NPCs, not male ones.

This evidence clearly establishes the Vault Dweller as canonically male in the original Fallout continuity. The developers designed him as a male character and did not include any options for choosing a female gender.

Limited Customization in Fallout Tactics

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel was the next Fallout game released after the first two. It allowed the player to customize their protagonist’s gender, race, stats, skills, and appearance.

However, the customizable protagonist in Fallout Tactics was intended to be a new member of the Brotherhood of Steel, not the original Vault Dweller. So they are considered a separate character.

The Modern Fallout Games

The more recent 3D Fallout games – Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76 – feature much more robust character customization systems that let the player choose the Vault Dweller’s gender.

These games use vague references like “the Lone Wanderer” or “the Sole Survivor” that avoid definitively identifying the protagonist as male or female.

Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas

In Fallout 3, the protagonist emerges from Vault 101 into the Capital Wasteland. The player can customize their gender along with other attributes.

Fallout: New Vegas likewise allows the player to fully customize the protagonist. Their background is as a Courier who suffers a near-fatal gunshot to the head.

Neither of these protagonists are identified canonically as the original Vault Dweller. However, they provide the first opportunities for the player to experience a Fallout game with a female protagonist if they so choose.

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 was the first game to feature voice acting for the protagonist. The player can choose between a male voice (Brian T. Delaney) or female voice (Courtenay Taylor).

Gender Voice Actor
Male Brian T. Delaney
Female Courtenay Taylor

All marketing material and references to the protagonist use generic labels like “the Sole Survivor” and “the Vault Dweller.” This keeps their gender flexible based on player choice.

Fallout 76

The online multiplayer game Fallout 76 also allows players to fully customize their character. Unlike previous games, there is no predefined protagonist background. Players simply emerge from one of the Vaults and can create any character they want.

Is the Lore Specific?

While the original Vault Dweller is canonically male, the newer games do not tie their customizable protagonist back to that character. Instead they provide new histories disconnected from gender assumptions:

  • Fallout 3 – Grows up in Vault 101 before escaping
  • New Vegas – Survives a shooting and delivery job gone wrong
  • Fallout 4 – Emerges from cryogenic stasis after nuclear war
  • Fallout 76 – Vault resident on “Reclamation Day”

So in the lore of the modern Fallout universe, the Vault Dweller’s gender is flexible based on player choice. The only definitive male Vault Dweller is the protagonist from the first two games.

The Developers’ Intent

In interviews over the years, Fallout developers have shared some insights into how they approach the protagonist’s gender:

  • The original 1990s games had technical limitations that made it harder to implement gender choice.
  • Allowing gender choice opened the games up to a wider audience.
  • They avoided making the modern protagonists canonically male or female so players could decide.
  • Letting players project their own personality and story is part of what makes open world games appealing.

So the increased gender flexibility in recent games aligns with the developers’ priorities of customization and player freedom.


The Vault Dweller is depicted as male in the first two Fallout games, establishing that particular character as canonically male. However, the modern games intentionally avoid defining a gender so players can choose.

While some fans argue a definitive gender helps adhere to a consistent lore, the flexibility allows more players to enjoy the open-world experiences the developers want to create.

So the intentions of the original 1990s developers versus the priorities of modern designers appear to be the driving factors. The Vault Dweller’s gender depends on the goals of the game and perspective of the player.

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