A chalkboard has ignited a fierce Fallout TV show debate about whether the new series has retconned game canon

Fallout TV show
(Image credit: Prime Video)

The Fallout TV show already has a canon controversy but, don’t worry, the ‘retcon’ to the game series really isn’t as important as it seems at first glance. Some spoilers for Fallout follow.

So, what’s the issue? Well, it all stems from a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it chalkboard during Lucy and Max’s impromptu trip to Vault 4.

On it, it says the ‘Fall of Shady Sands’ happens in 2277. If you know your Fallout timeline, you’ll be aware that it’s essentially an impossibility. 

If the Fallout TV show is following canon (and the powers that be have said multiple times that it is), then, Fallout: New Vegas’ many references to the New California Republic (NCR) and Shady Sands in 2281 don’t quite add up.

While many (honestly, too many to mention here) are up in arms about the reference, suggesting that New Vegas has been banished to non-canon status by Todd Howard and Bethesda, it’s worth pointing out that the retcon isn’t really a retcon at all.

Sure, maybe someone in New Vegas could have mentioned the ‘fall’ of Shady Sands during the events of the Obsidian-developed game, but the arrow alone – signifying a future event – is enough to suggest that the outright nuking of Shady Sands comes post-2281 and the events of New Vegas. 

Not to go into too much outright spoilers, but a later detail in the Fallout ending about Shady Sands’ fate also suggests it could easily have taken place a little later than 2277.

Bethesda’s Emil Pagliarulo also tweeted that the studio has "never suggested" that New Vegas is anything other than canon. On top of that, there’s the small matter of whether we should take Vault-Tec propaganda at face value. Never a good idea, if you ask us.

So, a whole load of something over nothing? Possibly. Fallout season 2 – if it happens – should reveal more in that regard. For now, maybe let’s chalk this one up to a slight overreaction.

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Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.