The 10 best quotes from Fallout

HBO Max Failure is a heartbreaking look at the trauma suffered by teenagers after witnessing a school shooting. The star-studded cast does an impressive job of capturing the audience’s attention and terrifying them with the characters’ highly realistic trauma reactions.

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While some of the film’s best moments remain silent, some quotes hit the mark. These lines either perfectly sum up the moment, how the characters are feeling, or the message of the film as a whole. In any case, this atmospheric film ensures that viewers will remember it long after the credits have rolled.


The first texts

“How are you?” “Just Kinda Deaf Tbh”

Vada in The Fallout

The film revolves around the growing friendship between Vada and Mia, which begins the night after filming with a series of lyrics. The two grow closer as they try to come to terms with what happened to them, discovering different coping mechanisms in the process.

This quote is especially important because deafness is so central to Vada’s arc in the film. She keeps ignoring the people trying to make her feel her feelings, using music and videos to avoid having to think about and feel what happened. Because of this, she remains in a self-inflicted numbness for most of the film.

Addressing through advocacy

“So last night I was like, okay, why did I survive? As of all, why me?”

Nick in Fallout

Vada’s best friend Nick processes the school shooting and his survivor’s guilt through intercession and decides that he must have survived the shooting so he can do something to prevent it from happening again. Following this moment, viewers will see clips of Nick giving speeches and interviews discussing the need for gun control and better protection in schools.

This is in sharp contrast to Vada and Mia trying to avoid their fear and anger at the shooting. Although their lives are practically determined by the shooting, they use alcohol, drugs and sex to avoid having to think about the problem. While Nick does everything in his power to intercede to prevent another shooting, the girls try to ignore the possibility of a repeat, which is what makes the film’s ending so heartbreaking.

Quentin’s brother

“A lot of people don’t ask me about him. They think I’m going to cry or something… Thanks.”

Vada and Quintin in The Fallot.

Although most of the film revolves around the survivors, Quentin is a character who shows grief at the shooting after seeing his brother being shot dead before his eyes. The loss helps bring Vada and Quentin together, but is not mentioned in the vast majority of the film.

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When Vada finally asks Quentin about his brother, he shares his favorite parts of his brother before telling Vada he can still feel him there. He’s then grateful that she asked, mentioning that most people avoid the subject, either for him or for her, which doesn’t let him talk about someone he loved dearly. Makes this scene Failure one of the best depictions of mourning on screen.

The danger of casual comments

“Wow. Where would we be without you?”

Vada and her mother in The Fallout

About halfway through the film, Vada and her mother are having a casual conversation about her sister’s internet use when her mother makes this weighty comment. It’s just a casual, rhetorical question at the moment, but the heavy pause that follows shows just how relevant the question is.

In another world, Vada could easily have been killed in the shootout, making this a film about the loss of her family. This is one of many instances where a casual commentary gets a little too close to home, leaving characters and audience tense.

trauma bonding

“It might sound weird because I haven’t known you that long, but I feel so comfortable with you like we’re connected or something.”

Vada and Mia in bed in The Fallout

One of the central parts of the film is Vada and Mia’s growing relationship, which helps both girls deal with the trauma of what happened to them together. This baffles Vada’s best friend Nick, who expects them to heal together, but Vada and Mia (and Quentin, to an extent) are the only ones who know their specific shooting experiences.

This quote makes their bond clear and openly discusses how the two girls found solace in each other after everything they’ve been through.

A lesson in therapy

“It doesn’t necessarily mean someone is dramatic just because they’re emotional … It’s actually really healthy to show your feelings.”

Vada's therapist Anna in The Fallout

An important part of this film shows how different characters cope with their trauma and the guilt of the survivors. This quote from Vada’s therapist shows resistance to Vada’s idea that getting emotional is “dramatic” and “unproductive”.

Her therapist suggests the importance of showing and dealing with Vada’s feelings, which helps lead Vada to the cathartic scene with her father a little later in the film.

A different way of coping

“I think to myself, you know, when it hurts too much I think about it, this can’t be for nothing. We won’t let it be in vain.”

Quentin is covered in his brother's blood in The Fallout

Quentin has a very specific kind of survivor guilt because he saw the shooting and was there when his brother was dying. He expresses the same philosophical need to declare his survival as Nick, and similarly claims that he won’t let this shootout go by in vain.

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The difference between Quentin and Nick is that Nick doesn’t feel the need to throw himself into advocacy. Instead, he reaches out and connects with those around him and tries to live life to the fullest in the moment. Quentin tries to live a life his brother would have been proud of to deal with his grief and guilt.


“Life is damn hard.”

Vada and her father from The Fallout

Vada and her father have a heart to heart conversation where she finally starts to really question her feelings by telling him the quote above. This leads to her father welcoming her and sharing how she is feeling, swearing notwithstanding, and yelling the things that upset her.

These things include not feeling anything, being afraid to fall asleep, and being afraid to go to school, showing that Vada needed the freedom to speak uncomfortable truths in order to openly acknowledge how she feels.

feel your feelings

“I feel… crazy. I feel angry because I had no idea a guy with a gun could ruin my life so hard in six minutes. Ruining so many lives.”

Vada hears the gunshots from The Fallout

When Vada returns to therapy for the second time, she is pushed to acknowledge her current feelings, giving her a chance to embrace her anger. This is a quote that captures the pain and sorrow that Vada feels best, given the anger she and everyone around her feels that one person with a gun can cause so much damage.

There is anger at the shooter, but also anger at herself for not realizing how important a person with a gun can be. Vada seems to have guilt, not just for surviving but for the incident as a whole, and feels that she should be able to somehow predict or stop the shooting. This is related to her guilt for comparing herself to Nick’s intercession and seeing herself as bad for not using the experience to save the world.

The moral of the story

“But then you realize, no. There is no reason. None of us should have died.”

Vada from The Fallout

Throughout the film, characters try to explain why they survived when others didn’t, and how they should live based on those rationalizations. In her final therapy session, Vada explains that she tried to figure out why she deserved to live when others didn’t, before coming to what appears to be the moral of the film.

There is no good reason why one person survived and another didn’t. Nothing inherent in a person allowed her to survive, which is why she felt so useless after the shooting. Where others took purpose from the incident, she simply feels overwhelming pain. Without a reason for one person to survive and another to die, the incident is all the worse and all the more horrific.

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