Todd Howard confirms the Fallout show didn't retcon non-Bethesda Fallout games: 'Everything that happened in the previous games, including New Vegas, happened'

Todd Howard in front of a sign saying Fallout
(Image credit: Chris Frawley/Prime Video)

The reaction to the Fallout show has been almost universally positive, and even those of us who have a few complaints about it still really enjoyed it. But Prime TV's Fallout adaptation has raised a few questions among fans and Fallout lore enthusiasts, particularly when it comes to one important historic location: Shady Sands.

Spoilers for the Fallout show follow.

In the Fallout games, Shady Sands is one of the largest cities in California and the first capital of the New California Republic, but when we see it in the Fallout show it's just a big crater. The city and its population of 30,000 residents is simply gone, which is quite a blow to the NCR—and Fallout fans.

A bit more troubling is that the nuking of Shady Sands happened roughly 20 years earlier than the present timeline of the show, and a blackboard in a Vault classroom shows the year 2277 under the words "The Fall of Shady Sands"—right next to a drawing of a mushroom cloud. If that's the nuke's date, that predates the events of Fallout: New Vegas, which led some fans to presume the show's creators had retconned New Vegas from Fallout history.

This theory has already been debunked a couple of times, first, at great length, by me, and then by someone in a much more convincing capacity: the lead designer and writer of Fallout 3 and 4. Emil Pagliarulo said "of course" New Vegas is still canon, and that Bethesda has "never suggested otherwise."

That really oughta be enough, but if you need to hear it from an even higher power, your wish is granted. In an interview with IGN, Todd Howard himself not only confirmed New Vegas' place in Fallout history is secure but that that big bomb didn't even fall in 2277.

"So [show creators] Graham [Wagner] and Geneva [Robertson-Dworet] wanted to blow up Shady Sands. The first time they bring that up, you're like, 'what do you want to do?' I had actually an emotional reaction to it given the history of that location in the franchise from Fallout 1," Howard told IGN.

"And just so people hear it, we're careful about the timeline. There might be a little bit of confusion at some places, but everything that happened in the previous games, including New Vegas, happened," Howard said. 

Howard went on to clarify even further, saying "the bomb falls just after the events of New Vegas. That's when Shady Sands blows." He also confirmed that "The Fall of Shady Sands" could be referring to an event other than a nuke being dropped on it.

Whew. Fallout: New Vegas is safe, and if Fallout season 2 happens, we'll actually be visiting it—along with some deathclaws who except for one skull were entirely absent from season 1. You can read the entire interview with Todd Howard and Jonathan Nolan on IGN

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.