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The Fallout Mystery That Remains Unsolved Today

If you've ever played a Fallout game, you may have been assisted by the Mysterious Stranger. He appears without warning, wearing a fedora hat and a trench coat and sporting a pistol (although he dons different threads in the early games). He deals some critical damage to your enemies, and then he disappears again. Though he comes off as a bit of a deus ex machina, the Mysterious Stranger has intrigued fans for years.

The Mysterious Stranger has evolved throughout Fallout's story, but, more than two decades after his debut in the first Fallout, players still have plenty of questions about the Mysterious Stranger's true identity and motivations. Who is this dude who's announced by his own personal guitar riff, anyway? He seems like a natural subject for a future Fallout game, but will fans ever unravel the truth about this entity? 

The Mysterious Stranger remains an unsolved mystery who could be just a throwaway character — or something much bigger.

The evolution of the Mysterious Stranger

Typically, the Mysterious Stranger appears when you take the corresponding Mysterious Stranger perk. In Fallout 1 and 2, the stranger showed up wearing a black leather jacket during combat, helping players dispatch their enemies. According to YouTuber Oxhorn, the stranger changes gender depending on the player's own gender choice.

Starting in Fallout 3, the Mysterious Stranger donned his Humphrey Bogart-style threads and became exclusively male. In Fallout Shelter, you have a limited amount of time to spot him when his theme music plays. If you tap on him quickly enough, he'll reward you with some loot. In later games, he changes appearances more than once, his revolver is altered, and his guitar riff is different, too.

In Fallout 4, players receive some hints about who this mystery man is — but the information actually brings up more questions than it answers. Nick Valentine has a file on the Mysterious Stranger that acknowledges sightings across the U.S. for years, as well as his different outfits. Valentine wonders if the man is human, a group of humans, or a ghoul with minimal scarring and advanced cloaking technology.

"Best case, the man's an amoral lunatic," Valentine's note reads. "Worst case, a prolific serial killer."

Did players meet the Mysterious Stranger's son?

Fallout: New Vegas revealed more information with the introduction of the Lonesome Drifter. The drifter plays guitar, and during your conversation with him you find out his dad was a "real mysterious feller ... Like he was a stranger sometimes." If that doesn't activate your Spidey-sense (Fallout edition), maybe the fact that he passes on to you a weapon called the "Mysterious Magnum" will. The weapon even has certain distinctive guitar riffs that play when you take it out and place it in its holster.

The Mysterious Stranger has continued to appear in all the Fallout games, including Fallout 76. However, he's slightly different each time. His appearance may vary, as well as his inventory. He might take out your enemies in one shot or stand there doing nothing except serving as a distraction. He might die and never return or he might come only when you have certain stats or are in a certain mode. But whether he's a bad guy or a good one in Nick Valentine's eye, he makes a pretty useful perk.

Theories about the Mysterious Stranger

Due to the lack of documented backstory, it's natural that fans have spent time speculating about who the Mysterious Strange really is. Some think he's one of many secret agents sent to watch the protagonist and not interfere unless they're in danger. Others think he's the protagonist's father, or a delusion/multiple personality. Or maybe he's an Android (and so is the protagonist), although this doesn't explain how the Drifter could be his son. Further, the strange may have received his powers and anti-aging properties from an alien artifact.

Another theory links the Mysterious Stranger to an episode of The Twilight Zone. Some point to the Fallout 3 Official Game Guide, which allegedly pegs the Mysterious Stranger as an eldritch entity named "Farmer." Others believe he might have been frozen at some point, which explains the lack of aging. Or, the truth is some combination of the above.

Whichever theory you think is the most plausible, there's one thing that's clear: the Mysterious Stranger looms large in Fallout's legend. So much so, in fact, that he has his very own Funko. Now that's a perk.