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Cannibal Johnson From 'Fallout: New Vegas' Is Based On A Real American Folklore Figure

Cannibal Johnson From 'Fallout: New Vegas' Is Based On A Real American Folklore Figure

The story of Liver-Eating Johnson is gnarly.

Imogen Donovan

Imogen Donovan

Cannibal Johnson, a character from Fallout: New Vegas who is revered by fans, is actually inspired by a real person from history and the true story is very surprising.

Reddit user iguanaparrots did the digging to uncover this connection, which I'll summarise and add to here. John Jeremiah Garrison Johnston was a mountain man of the American Old West who deserted the army in the Mexican-American War because he injured an officer. Wandering the territory of Montana, he found himself much more at home in the wilderness than anywhere else, and he had the build for it: Johnson was said to be a big burly guy at six feet two inches. He apparently fell in love and married a Salish woman at one point, and he also worked as a "woodhawk," supplying cord wood to steamboats. However, this was a volatile time in the history of the United States, and even in the tranquil forests in this corner of the country, tragedy struck.

His wife was killed by a group of young Apsáalooke hunters, and the loss drove Johnson to the extremes. He "killed and scalped more than 300 Crow Indians and then devoured their livers to avenge the death of his wife," and stories and legends surrounding Johnson's violence swirled among Native Americans and American people. He was then known as Liver-Eating Johnson, and there's even a statue over his grave at Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming. Why the liver? Well, without the liver, the Apsáalooke cannot enter the afterlife, and this choice to cut out and eat the liver of his enemies is a really rather nasty one.

If you're a Fallout swot, you'll notice the similarities here. Cannibal Johnson was a soldier in the Enclave, but often conflicted with his superiors, and eventually left following the Sacking of Navarro. Cannibal Johnson settled down with a woman, described as a "tribal girl, really pretty eyes - but she's been gone a long time now." Cannibal Johnson lives in a cave and scavenges food and water from the environment to survive, waiting for his time to come. Cannibal Johnson got his nickname when he was surrounded by raiders and he sunk his teeth into the heart of a body he'd killed, frightening the rest of the attackers. And, funnily enough, both men sought to cleanse their sins by seeking redemption from those they'd harmed.

If you ask Will Nelson, he reckons Fallout: New Vegas is the bee's knees. "It's the redheaded stepchild of the family, and so different to the first-person Fallout we know," says Will. "But that's also why it's unparalleled in its excellence. For lack of a better term, the team at Obsidian caught lightning in a bottle, and the stars really need to align for us to get another game on the same level. You cannot predict what we'd end up with, just like last time." Read more on his thoughts here.

Featured Image Credit:, Obsidian Entertainment

Topics: News, Fallout