The starry-eyed protagonist of Amazon's Fallout TV show is brave, not naive, says her actress: 'She's tough, she can handle herself'

Lucy sat next to a fire at dusk
(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

When I first saw Lucy MacLean, one of the protagonists of the new Fallout TV series and the ex-vault dweller turned Wasteland adventurer, I wondered how she'd fare in the unforgiving world of Fallout and questioned whether she'd even be able to make it to the end of the first season. But as her actress, Ella Purnell, pointed out to me during an interview, this character actually isn't as naive and fragile as I first thought. 

"She's tough, she can handle herself, and she's smart," Purnell explains. We don't know who we'll be until we get put in a horrific, impossible situation. And then you'll see what you're really made of. And I think that's very much the case with Lucy." 

In an intro sequence where we first see what life is like in Vault 33, Lucy is shown excelling at multiple activities, like engineering, martial arts, and good old American pre-war history. But after she exits the vault it's pretty easy to forget about Lucy's strengths and capabilities because of her unwavering optimism and sunny disposition in the face of post-apocalyptic America. 

Lucy walking into a derelict room

(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

Even after encountering a deadly ghoul who shoots someone's leg off at first sight, a grumpy local who tells her that vault dwellers are entitled and aren't welcome here, and multiple people who try to kill her, Lucy still chooses to believe the best in people. 

"What I'll say is that choosing to believe in the golden rule, choosing to believe that humans are capable of goodness, that they are inherently good [after] you've witnessed what's in the Wasteland, is a choice. And that's not bred from naivety—that's bred from bravery," Purnell tells me. "It takes courage to continue to believe that in the face of less goodness."

But this courage can be hard to watch sometimes. The first night she spent out in the Wasteland was so stressful as she fell asleep outside next to a burning fire, broadcasting her whereabouts to everything waiting in the undergrowth. I was so sure a Mole Rat or, god forbid, a Deathclaw was going to emerge out of the darkness and tear her to pieces. 

No murderous creatures found her, but she did encounter a mysterious stranger who warns her that lighting a fire after nightfall isn't a smart idea and begs her to return to her vault. But even that doesn't shake her—Lucy has a job to do and won't leave the Wasteland until it's done, and that's something to admire. 

I really hope Lucy stays as optimistic about people and life in general even after venturing through the Wasteland. I've only watched the first couple of episodes so far, but she's already proved that she's more than capable of holding her own in the face of danger despite the stress this may cause me, and that's not despite her optimism—it's because of it. She's the personification of if there's a will, there's a way and that's exactly what Fallout's America needs. 

News Writer

Elie is a news writer with an unhealthy love of horror games—even though their greatest fear is being chased. When they're not screaming or hiding, there's a good chance you'll find them testing their metal in metroidvanias or just admiring their Pokemon TCG collection. Elie has previously worked at TechRadar Gaming as a staff writer and studied at JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs about Smash Bros. or any indie game that crossed their path.