‘Silo’: Is the Outside World Really Poisoned? Explained

Silo Is the Outside World Really Poisoned

One of the most morbid aspects of living in a Silo are it’s “windows.” Throughout the series, we’ve seen special screens that project what the outside looks like to the resident of Silo 18. The image projected is grey, devoid of life, the surroundings look desolate, and it seems like nothing can thrive out there. To make matters worse, there are plenty of corpses littering the surrounding hills, a former “cleaners” that went outside and never returned. Despite all of this evidence that the outside is clearly a toxic wasteland, a small portion of people inside the Silo are convinced that someone is lying to them and that the world is not actually poisoned. Due to that, we’ve decided to analyze the source of material and bring you the answer to the question, is the outside world in Silo really poisoned? 

Editor’s Note: Please beware that the following paragraphs contain heavy spoilers for the events that took place in the Silo Series of books that the show was based on. If you want to avoid spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading!

The world outside Silo is truly poisoned and toxic, but the answer is more complicated than that. Only the immediate area outside of Silos is toxic because it has been designed that way. There are plenty of areas on Earth where there is no longer any danger to the world, the air is breathable, and nature thrives. Consequently, at the end of the Silo series, Juliette finds a way to leave the Silo, and both she and the group of survivors make it to the surface, free to create a new thriving civilization. 

Now that we’ve covered that the question of Earth’s toxicity in Silo is complicated, it’s time to analyze why. If you’re interested in more, stay with us and keep reading! 

What happened to Earth is Silo? 

The Silo series presented us with an interesting premise, people are living in massive Silos to survive the harsh environment outside, and harsh might even be an understatement. The air is utterly toxic; breathing it in only for a few seconds leads to shock and death. We’ve seen this two times already in the series.

First when Allison ventured outside and then when Holston asked to go and clean. One more piece of evidence of the toxicity is the fact that the grounds are littered with the bodies of dead cleaners who never made it far from the Silo. They drop dead. So what is the cause of this toxicity?

Silo cleaning

The Earth in Silo Series is poisoned with nanobots that have a detrimental effect on the human body. At first, the nanobots were meant to maintain and repair things. They were given the function to repair themselves as well and even reproduce. This was by design, as the nanobots were supposed to be self-sufficient. 

However, it wasn’t long before different countries utilized nanotechnology for biological warfare, and soon the machines could be found inside humans, poisoning them inside slowly and over time as the effect worsened. And this is why Silos were built; the humans had to escape the nanotechnology; even though there was a cure that could relieve the harmful effects of nanobots, it was too unfeasible to administer doses to every single human out there. Also, it would create mass panic, and the world would have ended much more quickly.


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So instead of combating the effects of nanobots, the designers of the Silos instead decided to outlast the nanobots. It was impossible to escape and preserve the whole of humanity, but it was possible to hide and wait for the bad effect of nanobots to wear out. 

Is it possible to survive outside of Silo? 

 As we’ve mentioned, the effect of the nanobots can’t last forever, and their danger is destined to subside, and humanity has been in the Silos for centuries up to this point.

Even though the danger that the nanobots presented should have subsided by now, we’ve clearly seen both Allison and Holston dying. So why is that? The answer once again lies in the source material. The immediate area outside of Silo is still toxic because nanobots are being pumped into the air to maintain the illusion of toxicity. Plenty of other areas on Earth are clear of danger, and it’s possible to survive without any protective gear whatsoever.

Humans did truly outlast the nanobots, but order and control have to be maintained, but we’re going to discuss this in more detail later.

In the series, it’s presented as if the air outside is so toxic not even the protective suits will shield you from mortal danger. This isn’t true as well. The protective suits are sabotaged on purpose, so they have a leak. 

Remember when Bernard commented that Juliette stole some heat tape for the Mechanical, and Bernard commented that heat tape wasn’t hers to take, as in, the tape should never have ended up in Mechanical? There is a good reason why Bernard got all riled up for a few pieces of heat tape because it’s faulty. 

The heat tape Juliette stole was intentionally manufactured to fail because it would be used to create seals for the protective gear that the cleaners wear outside. Juliette even noticed that the heat tape disintegrated as soon as it was used, only she didn’t realize the conspiracy behind it at the time, but she will connect the dots ultimately. 

When Juliette was sent to clean, Walker from the mechanical ensured that her protective suit wouldn’t be tampered with and the heat tape used for the suit would be legitimate. Her suit, therefore, didn’t have the leak, and she managed to survive long enough to reach Silo 17, and this was kind of the beginning of the end for the whole Silo project in general. 


‘Silo’: What Happened to Juliette’s Brother & Mother? 

To summarize, the Earth did truly get destroyed, but it eventually recovered. What never recovered were the areas around the Silo that were still intentionally poisoned by various gasses and nanobots to keep them toxic and uninhabitable to keep the illusion of danger going as long as possible. 

It’s possible to survive outside, but you need to be as far away from the Silos as possible, and your suit has to be legit, not tampered with. This is the only way to reach areas free of danger. 

If the Earth recovered, why are people still kept in Silos? 

Before we answer the question, we need to make one thing clear: the Silo project was never about survival; it was a chance to restart the human race and civilization, but this time, we had a chance to artificially modify society in whatever way we wanted.

50 Silos were built, and since each Silo can house up to 10 000 people, we can assume that 500,000 people are ready to “restart” the civilization. Only out of those 500,000 people, the majority is “scheduled” to die. 

It was never the plan to let all 50 Silos survive. Only one Silo that performed the best in terms of intelligence, health, obedience, and other aspects was supposed to “survive.” All other Silos would eventually be destroyed, leaving only “the perfect specimens” to restart the civilization. 

This was the role of the I.T. department all this time. They are keeping tabs on all Silos and collecting population data. The Silo that performs the best gets to live. All other Silos were supposed to be annihilated. And this is why the illusion of danger and toxicity needs to be maintained at all times since not everyone is supposed to survive the apocalypse.