Vault dweller standing next to dogmeat in Fallout 4
Image via Sway4829

Fallout 4’s Most Famous Theory Ruins the Story

Fallout 4's Sole Survivor is the topic of a major theory, but is it true?

When it comes to the Fallout franchise, everyone has a first game. For those of you who have been there since Day 1, Fallout (1997) was probably your first. But for newcomers, Fallout 3 or Fallout 4 was likely the one that kickstarted it all. This was also the era of amazing fan theories that include Fallout 4‘s Sole Survivor being a synth.

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Fallout Theory: The Sole Survivor Is a Synth

A synth in the Institute in Fallout 4
Screenshot by Gameskinny

In Fallout 4, you play as the Sole Survivor, a war veteran looking to live their life in peace with their spouse and infant son, Shaun. However, when the bombs start dropping, you’re immediately scuttled to Vault 111, which, like so many others, had a secret plan to test the cryogenic effects on humans. Sadly, this resulted in you watching raiders steal your son and kill your spouse. When you finally get out, you’re forced to enter the Wasteland to find your child.

In the Far Harbor DLC, you encounter DiMa, the synth sibling of Nick Valentine, and must answer questions. According to one Redditor, the question of the Sole Survivor’s first memory raises some red flags. According to the narrative, you can only remember when the bombs drop, even though cryogenic storage shouldn’t affect memory. Therefore, it’s believed that the Sole Survivor may have been replaced by a synth after being killed, possibly for an experiment the older Shaun wanted to conduct.

Many Points Explain How the Sole Survivor Can’t Be a Synth

Sole Survivor sitting with Dogmeat in Fallout 4
Screenshot by Gameskinny

At a glance, the theory that the Sole Survivor is a synth makes perfect sense. Why would their first memory be of the bombs dropping when it’s clear the character is in their thirties? When Shaun, now the Father, heads an institute that focuses on the development of synths, it would make sense that he would want at least one parent with him, especially since he never got the chance to know them. However, for every argument that the Sole Survive could be a synth, there are many more that showcase why this age-old theory has no legs to stand on.

Regarding the Sole Survivor’s conversation with DiMa, the idea that their first memory is of the bombs could easily be chalked up to pre-made answers by Bethesda that serve to push the narrative forward. The reason for this is becuase the Sole Survivor’s, Nate specifically’s, earliest memories that we know of are explored in the opening cutscene. The “war never changes” speech explored their memories of being with their spouse and of the war itself before flashing forward to the bathroom on the day the bombs start dropping. It’s a pretty obvious exploration of earlier memories, but for those of you who aren’t convinced yet, there are other reasons.

According to another Reddit user, there are many reasons that prove why the Sole Survivor isn’t a synth, all culminating in one conclusion: it would ruin the story. For starters, there are logistical issues regarding replacing one of the parents with a synth, including the most obvious; the intruders would have to bring in a synth, kill the parent, download their memories, and replace the body without security noticing. Even after that, there’s the hope that said synth wouldn’t join an enemy faction on their journey back to Shaun. But all that aside, there’s also the final and most obvious factor: Shaun wouldn’t want to create a synth to take his place, as he’s more comfortable with mortality and doesn’t even trust synths completely.

The Sole Survivor is Better as a Human

Nate and Nora in Fallout 4
Screenshot by Gameskinny

In the end, it’s hard to maintain the argument that the Sole Survivor is a synth because it’s clear in many ways that this character works best as a human. From a narrative perspective, not only does this make the journey exciting and dangerous, but a twist that you’ve been a synth the whole time makes the journey almost meaningless. Plus, in a game where you’re supposed to forge your own path, it’s a bit deflating to learn that everything was more or less predetermined and you were far more capable than you assumed (because you’re a robot.)

Emotionally, the Sole Survivor’s being human also drives home themes of perseverance and love as these parents, who barely knew their infant son, would travel an irradiated wasteland to find them without even knowing what direction to go in. There’s an endearing and likable quality to this that would make a twist like them being a synth nothing more than a sad cop-out.

Want to know more about Fallout? Check out GameSkinny’s Fallout guide hub.

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Nicholas Brooks
Nick is a Freelance Writer at Gameskinny and brings with him over a decade of writing and editing experience from sites like CBR and Gameskinny. He also runs a small podcast called Popsubclub, where he interviews individuals in the entertainment industry as well as talks with peers. Nick's love of video games is only a small part of his passions as he's also an avid fan of movies, comics, music and theme parks. Make sure to follow his Instagram (@Comicsubclub) for more.