It Came from the Wasteland! - Looking at Ghouls in the Fallout Video Game franchise

Credit: Image was taken from: 4 Mod Requests - The Nexus Forums ( Retrieved January 8, 2021.


It has been a few weeks since I posted an original article on my own blog, but I've made a few posts on #Medium during that time period. In January of 2019, I played a video game in the Fallout franchise for the first time, and quickly fell in love with the folklore and story motifs I came across through the game's main narrative. Although a major reason for my investment in Fallout 4 was because I was absent from work with a leg injury, I will not dismiss the fact I've become a Fallout fan for the rest of my life. Since 1997, the Fallout series has been popular in the world of gaming. Originally published on PC, Fallout has also worked its way over to consoles around 2007/2008 when Bethesda acquired the rights to the franchise. Keeping that in mind, video games in the aforementioned franchise were available on the PlayStation 2 around 2004, but not owned by Bethesda themselves.

"In 2007, the Fallout franchise was acquired by Bethesda Softworks from Interplay Entertainment and the development of Fallout 3 was handed over to Bethesda Game Studios." (taken from Retrieved January 8, 2021.

Ghoul Classification:

Gamers who have enjoyed the Fallout series will instantly recognize a "feral ghoul" on their television screen or PC monitor. However, there are various forms of ghouls which exist in the Fallout universe. In today's blog entry, I will discuss two forms of ghouls. For instance, some individuals living in Fallout 4's Commonwealth during the year 2287 were actually born a ghoul. A primary example of a "civil" ghoul is the mayor of Good Neighbor, Mr. John Hancock.

Credit: "John Hancock" from 2015's Fallout 4. Published by Bethesda Softworks. Hancock - The Vault Fallout Wiki - Everything you need to know about Fallout 76, Fallout 4, New Vegas and more! ( Retrieved January 8, 2021.

The Commonwealth's settlement "Good Neighbor" exists as a sanctuary for ghouls, whom have been excommunicated from Diamond City. Furthermore, most of these individuals were born as ghouls and have life expectancy's of at least 250 years, and even longer. Considering that Hancock has become a ghoul without the complete destruction of his body and mind, he is considered a "civil ghoul". However, never refer to a ghoul as such. It could end in the player's death.

"Commonly referred to as ghouls, these men and women are no different from regular humans when it comes to intellect or personality. They are as stupid and as intelligent as regular humans – and share their capacity for compassion and cruelty as well. Intelligent ghouls have suffered little to no mental degradation from their condition and retain their full faculties from before their transformation. These ghouls possess the ability to talk, and they normally wear clothing, as well as carrying and using weapons. Some may have hair on their head, but not a lot." (Ghoul | Fallout Wiki | Fandom)

With respect to the statement above, not all civil ghouls were actually born this way. Instead, some men and women have fallen victim to experiments conducted by the Institute- if we are specifically referring to the Commonwealth in 2287. John Hancock is a ghoul, however, he did not become a ghoul until about 2280. Following experimental actions involving radioactive drugs (he thought his brother was killed by the Institute), Hancock was ultimately transformed into a ghoul due to his body being severely damaged by drug use. Interestingly, not a lot is actually known about the process of being born a ghoul, since it is believed "civil" ghouls are sterile. Needless to say, this is what makes Fallout's lore so mysterious for players.

Here's the most common form, Feral Ghouls:

As a player, have you ever been randomly attacked by a zombie-like creature? Chances are it was a feral ghoul.

Credit: Bethesda's Fallout 3, published in 2008. This image depicts "feral ghouls", and was taken from Lone.Wonderer.111 at

Retrieved January 8, 2021.

Within the open-world's of Fallout video games, there are feral ghouls running around- literally everywhere. For instance, the player could be idly standing at any location of the in-game map, and is then randomly attacked by a feral ghoul- and sometimes they appear in large groups. Being one of the most common enemies in Fallout, feral ghouls are also easily disposed of by the player. However, we should not dismiss the danger of being surrounded by a pack of "feral's." But how did these individuals who were once men and women, actually end up this way?

"Feral ghouls (also known as mindless zombies, ghoul crazies,feral necrotic post-humans, zombies or simply ferals) are ghouls that have lost their ability to reason and have become aggressive. Much prejudice from ordinary humans against ghouls who retain their mental faculties is due to the widespread assumption that this feral state is the inevitable condition of every ghoul." (Feral ghoul | Fallout Wiki | Fandom) Retrieved January 8, 2021.

Not surprisingly, those who are born-ghouls or have become this way through experiments face severe discrimination. The issue of stigmatization draws from the assumption that all ghouls will ultimately face the same experiences as feral's, running around the Commonwealth. However, this is not necessarily the case. With respect to born-ghouls, most of them retain their intellectual capacity and cognitive abilities. In terms of feral ghouls, these men and women have fallen victim to large amounts of radiation. Although it is commonly believed the flesh and internal organs of a feral ghoul are rotten, this is simply not the case. Instead, the damages players see on feral ghouls are from mass radiation, which has altered every aspect of their lives. Although there is no way of knowing this for certain, some residents of the Commonwealth believe a "scared human being" still exists, somewhere deep within the husk of a feral ghoul.

Thank you,


Further Reading:

Bethesda Softworks - Wikipedia

Feral ghoul | Fallout Wiki | Fandom

Fallout 4, Fallout 3 Feral Ghoul Replacer (Or just something that doesn't look like a pink sausage with legs - Fallout 4 Mod Requests - The Nexus Forums (

Ghoul | Fallout Wiki | Fandom

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(c) The Modernist Son, 2020-2021

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