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For on that fateful day, when fire rained from the sky, the giant steel door of Vault 101 slid closed and never reopened. It was here you were born. It is here you will die. Because in Vault 101: no one ever enters, and no one ever leaves.Narrator, Fallout 3 intro

Vault 101 is a location near Washington, D.C., northwest of Megaton and west of Springvale. It is the home of the Lone Wanderer until they leave to search for their father.


The Overseer was originally selected to be its first overseer, but she refused the position to stay in Appalachia.[1] Vault 101 was supplied with most of the equipment it would need to function indefinitely, but the vault did not receive a G.E.C.K.[2] Vault 101's inhabitants remain protected from the outside world, except occasionally having to deal with radroaches.[3]

Several recreational activities take place in the vault. Birthday parties are thrown, such as the Lone Wanderer's in the cafeteria and Wally Mack's including playing "Hunt the mutant" in the atrium. A notice on the bulletin board within the cafeteria announces an annual cake bake-off. The upcoming year was advertised as only accepting bundt cakes.

"Founder's Day" is a holiday celebrated in the vault. Beatrice dedicated one of her poems to the event, although she mentions having trouble finding a word that rhymes with "overseer." Students including Butch DeLoria, Wally Mack and Paul Hannon Jr. created a vault gang called the "Tunnel Snakes."

Survey teams

A previous overseer assembled a survey team led by Anne Palmer, visiting Megaton in February 2241.[4] Before leaving, the team planned for their journey and theorized types of mutations they might encounter.

The survey team returned and analyzed their samples to see if the outside world was still dangerously irradiated or able to sustain life. They studied the giant ant they killed and decided to revise their survey plans in light of what they learned. Lewis and Agnes Taylor, two members of the survey team, remained in Megaton for a period of time to serve as liaisons and to continue surveys of the surrounding environments.

Overseer Almodovar

Alphonse Almodovar is the overseer when the Lone Wanderer is a child, and his daughter Amata was the Lone Wanderer's friend. The overseer presented the Lone Wanderer with a Pip-Boy at their 10th birthday party. He states that at this age, vault inhabitants become contributing members of the workforce. The overseer admits that the vault's genetic diversity is only able to sustain their numbers for a few more generations.[5]


The overseer appointed Jonas Palmer to be James' assistant, and relied on Stanley Armstrong to maintain the water purifier.[6] Children were educated by Edwin Brotch, who reported their G.O.A.T. exam results to the overseer. Several possible jobs are assigned based on the results of this test, including Vault Chaplain, Laundry Cannon Operator, Pedicurist, Waste Management Specialist, Vault Loyalty Inspector, Clinical Test Subject, Fry Cook, Jukebox Technician, Pip-Boy Programmer, Tattoo Artist, Shift Supervisor, Marriage Counselor, Little League Coach, Hairdresser, Garbage Burner, and Masseuse. Other roles in the vault include Physician, Security Guard, Engineer,


After James decided to leave the vault, radroaches attacked and violence erupted between the security force and the Lone Wanderer who was tasked with escaping. After the Lone Wanderer's departure, conflict continued in the vault between those who wish to leave and those who insist the inhabitants stay, culminating in Amata sending the Vault 101 emergency frequency in hopes of bringing the Lone Wanderer back to assist in the situation.[7] The Enclave contacted the vault, requesting access, claiming they previously had access via a password that no longer worked.[8] The overseer denied the request.[8]


Vault 101 was actually part of an unscrupulous social experiment. All of the other Vaults were intended to be opened at one point or another when the “all clear” signal was sent from Vault-Tec or the appropriate regulatory agency, and this indeed, did transpire, with almost universally horrific results. But Vault 101’s secret plans were different: The doors were never scheduled to open. Ever. In fact, the Vault was supplied with just the type of equipment it would need to keep functioning indefinitely—like spare

parts for the water processor. But this was just the beginning

The true experiment was even more devious and cunning. Although Vault 101 was about testing the human condition when a Vault never opened, this was only the first part of the plan. The “actual” experiment went far beyond that, and a select few knew the true nature; that this was to test the role of the Overseer. While the Overseer was able to interact (and even visit) the outside world via radio transmissions, and a secret tunnel from his sealed office, the rest of the inhabitants faced a much more dismal future: As far as they knew, Vault 101 was never sent an “all clear” signal, and faked radio transmissions described a nuclear-ravaged world gone mad, with absolutely no hope of existence outside of a Vault. The radio transmissions were actually recorded before the bombs even fell, and in many cases described a world even more horrible than the reality of the nuclear wasteland. The Vault 101 Overseer, like his counterparts in the other Vaults, was actually a planted Vault-Tec operative whose job it was to control the experiment from the inside.

Aside from keeping up this ruse, the Overseer’s other important role was to reinforce to the dwellers of Vault 101 that the outside world would never be habitable again, and that their only salvation was in the Vault. The Overseer prevented anyone from leaving the Vault, and made sure the Vault dwellers received their regular “transmission” from the outside world. People entered Vault 101 in 2077, just before the bombs fell.

The Overseer died of natural causes 50 years later (in 2127), at the age of 84, after grooming a subordinate to continue the clandestine plan. The new Overseer led his people according to the same isolationist doctrine preached by his predecessor, but also attempted to garner as many senior Vault Dwellers to become complicit in this plan as possible. By 2277, the descendants of the Overseer had an entire generation of Vault Dwellers who were playing along with this plan, keeping the secrets from their children.

The Overseer and his cronies continued to receive periodic information from the outside world, while those not in the know were told that things had gotten so bad that whoever was sending transmissions was no longer able to do so; reinforcing the thought that leaving the Vault was sheer suicide. The final piece of this grand experiment only truly began when the Vault Dwellers living in blissful ignorance finally realized the world outside could be accessed, and there was a possibility of life above ground. The experiment only really commenced when the Vault 101 door first opened, and a young dweller fled into the light.
Fallout 3 Official Game Guide/Faction profiles


Vault 101 is divided into four sections, including the main entrance, overseer's tunnel, atrium/upper level, and the lower level. The sections are separated by doors, and stairways connect floors and levels within two of the sections. Levels and rooms are identified by signs.

There are two paths to the Capital Wasteland, including a direct path from the atrium and a hidden tunnel named the overseer's tunnel. The sections are not directly stacked upon each other. They are staggered with each section moving progressively more westward as the vault burrows deeper into the earth.

Main entrance

Vault 101 entrance loc map.jpg

This section connects the Capital Wasteland to the vault.

Overseer's tunnel

This section connects the overseer's office (in atrium/upper level) with the main entrance.

Atrium/upper level

Vault 101 atrium loc map.jpg

This atrium connects the main entrance to the lower level. It is divided into two sub-sections, the admin and the atrium. The atrium is located on the upper level of the Vault. Access to this room is by a stairway connecting the cafeteria to the atrium. Systems connect admin to the atrium. Rooms in the atrium are located on two floors - an upper and a lower floor. Rooms on the upper floor (dining/Mack living room) are inaccessible.

The atrium is the main room of the Vault and is used by Vault residents for large social gatherings and sports, such as one of Wally's birthday parties, where he and the other children played Hunt the Mutant. A notice in the cafeteria announces upcoming baseball games.

Rooms in admin are the overseer's office, reception room (Jonas Palmer is found dead here during Escape!), operations, security, and systems (Floyd Lewis dies here during "Escape!")

Lower level

Vault 101 (lower level) loc map.jpg

This is the final section of the Vault. Though named the lower level, this section actually covers two levels: the lower level and the reactor. Rooms in the lower level are the clinic, classroom, diner, DeLoria apartment, classroom, restrooms, and the Lone Wanderer's apartment. Rooms on the reactor level are the generator and storage room (BB gun shooting range), filter room (water purifier), and the reactor room.

Maintenance department

This department is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the Vault. Jobs within this department include garbage burners, Pip-Boy programmers, waste management specialists, and jukebox technicians. Maintenance technicians wear utility jumpsuit and work boots. Technicians sometimes carry a wrench or another tool with them and a utility key.



Related quests


  • A dweller from Vault 101 visited Craterside Supply and asked Moira Brown to reinforce her armored jumpsuit, but never returned to pick it up, leaving her jumpsuit behind.
  • Another former Vault 101 inhabitant visited Moriarty's Saloon, telling Colin Moriarty that members of Vault 101 were brainwashed into believing the overseer was the only voice of reason.
  • At the Vault-Tec headquarters in the D.C. ruins, a replica of the Vault 101 door is hanging over the lobby area with spotlights illuminating it.
  • In the opening cinematic, two security cameras are shown on each side of the Vault door. However, when leaving the vault in Escape, only one security camera can be seen above the vault door. In Trouble on the Homefront, the camera is gone.
  • The Vault 101 map marker does not add to the "Locations Discovered" stat in the Pip-Boy 3000 when exiting the Vault at the beginning of the game, even though the marker is active on the map.
  • There are four versions of Vault 101. The first consists of just a hallway with a living room and a bedroom, used during Baby Steps. The second version is from the birthday party when the Lone Wanderer turns ten in Growing Up Fast. The third is the version of the Vault seen during Escape, and the final version is a slightly altered version seen during Trouble on the Homefront.
  • Outside the vault entrance on the road is a "Type B" random encounter location site. It can be activated by following the road south slightly past the elevated highway. The overlook outside the vault's entrance is the location for the animal companion Dogmeat after being recruited. They will go to this spot if dismissed as a companion. The overlook outside the entrance is also the destination of any slaves freed from the slave pen located in the Train Tunnel to the Pitt if they survive the journey.


Vault 101 appears only in Fallout 3 and is mentioned in Fallout 4 and in Fallout 76.


  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Closing the vault door manually using the exterior console will work normally during Escape. Approaching the tunnel exit will result in the Vault door reopening behind you exactly when it is supposed to close if you don't tamper with the console.
  • PCPC Xbox 360Xbox 360 On the rocky overlook outside the entrance to the vault where Dogmeat is sent if disbanded as your companion, there is a chance that he will fall through the map and can no longer accompany you. This happens only when he is dismissed, not when traveling to the vault with him.



  1. Overseer's journal, entry 5
  2. Vault 101 terminal entries; Overseer's terminal, Attachment A
  3. Fallout 3 loading screen
  4. Vault 101 terminal entries; Overseer's terminal, Report 2241-02-10
  5. Lone Wanderer: "You simply don't have enough people to stay isolated down here forever."
    Alphonse Almodovar: "I admit, in the 200 years since the war, our numbers have dwindled a little. But we have enough genetic diversity for... a few more generations. My God, you're right. We won't last another hundred years, whether or not we get supplies from the outside. We're the last bastion of pure humanity, and we're doomed."
    (Alphonse Almodovar's dialogue)
  6. Vault 101 terminal entries; overseer's terminal, Jonas
  7. Vault 101 emergency frequency
  8. 8.0 8.1 Vault 101 terminal entries; Overseer's terminal, View External Contact Report