BioShock Infinite provides examples of the following tropes:
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- I Die Free: Captain Slate's unit of ex-military men, cornered in the Hall of Heroes, force Booker to kill them in battle rather than be captured by the Founders and tortured.
- Illegal Religion: The only legal religion in Columbia is that of the Founders with Zachary Comstock as its prophet, so the worship of other religions (such as Buddhism, which Chen Lin and his wife had practiced in one timeline) had to be done in secret. Booker DeWitt comments that Comstock isn't crazy about the idea of people worshipping idols that aren't him.
- Impaled Palm: Happens to Booker while at a ticket counter. Booker rests his hand on the counter top, impatient with the man on the other side talking on the phone instead of selling him a ticket. Unless you draw on him, the guy turns around and pins Booker's hand to the counter with a sharpened letter opener.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
- Elizabeth does this to Daisy Fitzroy to save a young boy's life.
- Important Haircut: Elizabeth cuts off most of her long hair after she commits her first direct killing.
- Imported Interdimensional Phlebotinum: Fink seems to have spent a lot of time exploring the Tears, which is implied to be the source of the technology behind the Vigors, Songbird, the advanced AI... and the anachronistic music.
- Improperly Placed Firearms: Many of the guns were created after 1912 or are pure science fiction, due to the citizens of Columbia stealing future weapon technology from tears in space time.
- Improvised Weapon: The Sky-Hook doubles as a brutal face-wrenching, bone-shredding claw. It sees a lot of use this way before actually getting near a Sky-Line.
- I'm Standing Right Here: The game begins with Booker in a tiny rowboat with a man and a woman, who discuss whether or not there's any point in asking Booker to help row the boat... instead of just asking him to help row the boat. They quickly decide there's no point.
- Indy Ploy: Booker DeWitt's standard procedure throughout the entire game. He's constantly jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, having to improvise in order to find Elizabeth, catch up to her again when she runs off and rescue her when she's captured.Booker: I don't know, but I'll think of something on the way.
- Infant Immortality: Generally, civilians and children in Columbia will mysteriously disappear the second a gunfight starts, though justifiable as they ran for cover away from the shooting as most civilians would in the real world. There is one time the game puts a child in mortal peril, but he gets rescued almost immediately, and then disappears just like the rest. Also, in those occasions the player can open fire on the civilians, adults can be killed but children are impervious to any amount of shooting and bombing. However, baby Anna does lose a finger between portals.
- In Medias Res: Aside from the numerous flashbacks peppered throughout the game, the immediate events of the game begin when the Luteces bring the Booker we play as into their reality; Booker doesn't immediately remember this despite this occurring mere minutes before the game's opening because his mind is struggling to construct new memories to comprehend a new reality. And this is to say nothing of the hints showing that this isn't the first time the twins have done this to a version of Booker.
- Innocence Lost: A turning point in Elizabeth's Character Development is when she stabs Daisy Fitzroy from behind with a pair of scissors, getting blood all over her outfit. From that point on, her wide-eyed idealism disappears almost completely.
- In Spite of a Nail:
- A major theme of the game. You never row the boat, the coin is always heads, you always get ticket number 77, a baptized Booker always becomes Comstock. Not to mention "there's always a man, a lighthouse, a city." The game uses this theme of "Constants and Variables" to provide a meta commentary on the nature of video game storytelling and how the player interacts with it. The vigors and weapons at your disposal, as well as environments that support multiple approaches, mean that the number of ways a given playable encounter can pan out are effectively infinite, just as the title suggests. But the major beats of the story, especially the ending, will always happen exactly the same way no matter what.
- It is strongly implied by the end (and at the beginning, via a couple of easy-to-miss details that gain significance later on) that the Luteces have been taking different instances of Booker through alternate versions of Columbia, and that the one you play as is the one that ultimately saves Elizabeth and ends the infinite cycle. To be specific, you're the 123rd Booker — at least, the 123rd one they've gotten to toss a coin and test their constants/variables theory.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Lockpicks in the real world don't tend to break after one use, and it would be unusual for a lock to require three or five of them. It wouldn't be much of a challenge if they worked like that in the game, though, so they're a resource you have to collect like everything else.
- Intercourse with You: Makin' Whoopee is one of the anachronistic songs in the game.
- Interdimensional Travel Device: The Lutece Contraption functions as this, via the creation of tears, or portals.
- Interface Spoiler: The segments of the game where you lose Elizabeth would be more tense if there were no collectible lockpicks in the interim.
- In the sections right before you get Elizabeth back often have a locked door preventing you from proceeding too far ahead of the story, thus making a dead giveaway that you're about to run into Elizabeth again.
- Invisible Wall: In many places. In Battleship Bay, you can't walk more than a few feet into the water. After the first little area, they aren't used to prevent you from plummeting to your doom, though falling generally just teleports you back to safety with a red flash and a small drop in health.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: According to the faux documentary:Songbird, Songbird, see him fly
Drop the children from the sky
When the young ones misbehave
Escorts children to their grave
Never back-talk, never lie
Or he'll drop you from the sky
- The founding fathers best-known for promoting the separation of Church and State and racial tolerance are, in Columbia, worshipped as religious figures promoting incredibly vicious and dogmatic state-enforced racism.
- At one point, you get a Voxophone made by Comstock that asks that if a man in baptized then it's a sinner before the baptism and a saint after it. He then goes on to say that perhaps the man in the process of the baptism is both sinner and saint. Comstock is the greater sinner even though HE'S the one that was baptized. Furthermore, Booker needs to be drowned during a "baptism" to stop the sinner from emerging.
- Preston E. Downs murdered white people for mating with Native Americans and scalped them. He has a HeelFace Turn after wounding a Native American kid. To add to the irony, he made the full turn after a white man with Native American heritage taught him the kid's language. Additional irony comes from the fact, that he was going to have the kid scalp the white man, who was an alternate reality version of Booker, the white man in question, who brought suffering to Native Americans, the very group of people he himself used to persecute.
- Due to a bug, it is possible to set fire to Fink's otherwise invulnerable assistant, Flambeau, with the gear Burning Halo equipped. By complete coincidence, Flambeau's name means "Torch".
- It Gets Easier: Brought up twice. In the Hall of Heroes, Elizabeth asks Booker if he ever gets used to killing, to which he replies, "faster than you can imagine." Later, after she kills Daisy Fitzroy with a pair of scissors, she asks him how he's able to forget all the horrible things he's done. He tells her: "You don't. You just learn to live with it."
- It Makes Sense in Context: At the beginning of the game, when Booker is in a rowboat with a quirky man and a quirky woman, the woman suggests the man to ask Booker to help row the boat. The man claims there's no point, because "He doesn't row." The woman asks "He doesn't row?", and the man says again "No, he doesn't row". The woman then says "Ah, I see what you mean", as if having the same sentence repeated three times clears up everything. She's actually realizing what he means; there is no alternate version of Booker who rows the boat. Booker "doesn't row." This is also a first hint as to the time travel the Luteces are involved in - Robert doesn't mean Booker can't row, simply that he does not, and it's one of many conversations they have this way.
- It Will Never Catch On:
- Booker, upon seeing Rapture:Booker: A city at the bottom of the ocean? Ridiculous.
- A lady at the fair scoffs at the excessive number of ice cream flavors — four of them!
- Booker, upon seeing Rapture:
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The primary means of the Columbian police forces extracting information from suspects or witnesses is inflicting a lot of pain upon them. In the game, you encounter at least one man they tortured to death and another effectively comatose from trauma in their cells.
- Jekyll & Hyde: In an intricate way. Booker and Zachary Comstock are the same person, only Booker comes from a reality where he made a significantly different choice decades ago. In the beginning, it isn't technically a Jekyll and Hyde situation. They do not share a body, as they have not actually "merged" like the unfortunate dead/living soldiers, or dead Chen Lin brought in from the first timeline we walk through, and living Chen Lin from the second timeline we enter. Metaphorically, though, Comstock is a manifestation of the evil within Booker — both are single-minded, cynical and have a high capacity for violence. Booker is willing to commit massive manslaughter and serve blatant lies to reach his goal (which in the beginning of the game is even quite morally corrupt). Later on, the metaphor becomes physical reality. Firstly, when Booker kills Comstock but is forced to take charge of the Hand of the Prophet and use the Songbird to destroy a Vox Populi attack. Temporarily, he is Comstock in both biology and social function. Secondly when he is transferred back in time to actually merge with the earlier version of himself that is set on the path of becoming Comstock. When this past Booker "remembers" his future actions as the Hyde, observed from outside, he chooses to let himself be killed. The hero has, indeed, "caught himself".
- Jesus Taboo: Despite the fact that the setting is drowning in the language, decor, and hymns of the Third Great Awakening, there is almost no mention of Jesus — largely because Comstock and the Founding Fathers have replaced Jesus and the Prophets in all but name. The only time Jesus actually receives a namedrop (other than Booker murmuring the name as a curse at one point) is from the preacher attempting to baptize Booker after Wounded Knee. A marked contrast to the baptism in Columbia, where Booker is baptized in the name of Comstock, the Founding Fathers, and God. In that order.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: "Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt" seems pretty straightforward as a premise, doesn't it? Well, you'd be surprised.
- Jump Scare:
- After finding the switch that opens the door to the Warden's office, you turn to find a Boy of Silence about an inch from your face. It promptly shrieks at you. It's just about the only jump scare in the game, making it all the more effective.
- In-story example: the Boxer Rebellion and Wounded Knee walk-through displays both contain a cheesy jump-scare figure pop-up that Elizabeth reacts to.
- Elizabeth also has the same reaction to a large Songbird toy, in the toy store in Soldier field, due to the noise it plays when she walks past it.
- Just as you make to open the tear in the depths of the Bank of the Prophet, a Zealot of the Lady leaps through it. Right at you. Small, but effective.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Daisy arguably does this when she decides that you have to die because you confuse her "narrative." She's definitely done it when she decides to shoot a young boy for being the child of a Founder.
- Justified Title: Let's just say when the end of game title card pops up it'll dawn on you why the game still carries the BioShock name and Infinite subtitle.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: While the Vox Populi are equally ruthless and brutal in their own way towards the Founders and their supporters once they launch their revolution, it's hard to feel too sorry for their victims, after having seen first hand just how vile the Founders are and can be. Even more so when you learn and see exactly what Comstock and his followers do to Elizabeth, as well as what Comstock has planned for the rest of America. After everything the Founders do, it's hard not to feel the Vox are justified to some extent when they execute Columbian troops.
- More specifically, when Daisy kills Jeremiah Fink with a headshot after hearing him beg, you'll probably have to resist smiling in that moment.
- Dr. Powell pleading with Booker to turn the device back on while Elizabeth summons a deadly tornado is maliciously satisfying - moments ago, Elizabeth was screaming at him to stop what he was doing, and he refused. Now the tables are turned.
- You don't have to murder the doctors maintaining the equipment to shut off the device, since all they do is cower in fear when you approach, but damn if it isn't incredibly satisfying to make them pay for what they're doing to Elizabeth. Besides, who's to say that they don't simply turn the machines back on in an alternate universe? It's not like the game gives you the option to force them out of their control rooms. And judging from Elizabeth's single-mindedness afterwards to deal with Comstock, you'd just be in her way if she knew you spared them.
- Kill It with Water: Motorized Patriots will short out if attacked with Undertow, stunning them and any other enemies nearby.
- Also, Comstock, Songbird and finally Booker.
- The Klan: The Fraternal Order of the Raven is a Klan-type group wearing blue or black robes and hoods as well as Masonic aprons and revere John Wilkes Booth as a hero and patron saint, and consider Abraham Lincoln a traitor ("The Great Apostate"), blaming him for the American Civil War and hating him for freeing the slaves.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: You can grab everything not nailed down, including eating people's lunches and searching their purses right in front of them. It does kind of enhance the impression of how off the citizens are, though. Later in the game, people will attack DeWitt if he steals from them, though these items are clearly marked. Of course, you are able to shoot anyone and everyone in an area (except children) so after slaughtering everyone in the area there is no-one left to complain about your theft.
- Konami Code: Unlocks the 1999 difficulty level early... though you probably need a run-through at a lower difficulty to not be completely frustrated.
- La Résistance: The Vox Populi started out as this, only to degenerate over time into a mindless mob bent on nothing but violence against anybody who might even be tangentially connected to the Founders (you can hear a Vox leader telling his underlings to kill anyone wearing glasses). Of course, they still believe themselves to be in the right.
- Incidentally, it becomes difficult to pinpoint how violent the Vox's revolution will be after each timeline change. They are most violent in the version where Booker aided them and became a martyr for their cause. While undoubtedly readying for a violent uprising even in the original timeline, Retroactive Continuity comes into effect and has certain effects on the Vox Populi.
- Large Ham: Steve Blum as the Motorized Patriots. And the man announcing about them to children.
- Cornelius Slate (voiced by Keith Szarabajka) is no slouch when it comes to hamming it up, either.
- Late to the Tragedy: Purposefully averted. Whereas in the original BioShock you arrived in the aftermath of the conflict, this time you arrive in the middle of it.
- Around halfway through the game, it's become clear that Booker has caused the conflict, and by the end of the game Columbia is in just as bad a state as Rapture was.
- On a second playthrough, knowing who the Luteces are, Robert's chalkboard tally of the coin-flip outcome takes on a different meaning: the player's Booker is the 123rd participant in the coin toss, implying that you're not the first Booker they've employed to try and stop Comstock.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
Elizabeth: There's always a lighthouse. There's always a man, there's always a city...
- Toward the end of the game, excessive tears in reality begin to get a little... meta. Specifically, when Elizabeth begins talking about (and demonstrating) the multiple Alternate Universes that are created from each set of constants with different variables. She is not only talking about what can be done in the context of the game's canon, but how it relates to other canon like the first BioShock, or What Could Have Been in this own story (demonstrated by the appearances of other Elizabeths which were changed or otherwise Dummied Out.) She is not talking about in-story possibilities, but also about the process of making a story for a game to begin with and all the different directions it could have gone.
- There is a bug in the game that allows you to reset all money and enemies in between Soldier's Field and The Hall of Heroes, and doing so results in Elizabeth saying at one stage "You've done this before, haven't you?"
- Liar Revealed: Booker is told to tell Elizabeth whatever she wants to hear in order to convince her to go with him. Booker tells Elizabeth that they are heading to Paris, as it is a city she has dreamed of visiting. Elizabeth's knowledge of navigation allows her to deduce that Booker is not taking her to Paris, but instead to New York. Elizabeth runs away from Booker; however, they ultimately decide to stick together.
- Lighter and Softer: While BioShock Infinite is still a very dark game dealing with mature thematics, the much more colourful (and initially in good shape) Columbia setting, as well as the interaction between The Comically Serious Booker and the naive Elizabeth, give to the beginning of the game a much more fresh tone (which several light-hearted funny sequences, compaired to the mostly Black Comedy humour of the previous games) than the older games of the series.
- Limited Loadout: Unlike Jack and Subject Delta, Booker can't carry every gun in the game at once. The player gets any two at a time plus the Sky-Hook Quick Melee, but every Vigor is available once found or bought with no slot system like the earlier games had for Plasmids.
- Lobotomy: The fate of Slate if his life is spared. Because of the variety of options, you can opt to put him out of his misery and Elizabeth will comment on it, saying, "I guess that's what he wanted."
- Lonely Piano Piece: Many instances in the game, but in particular when each alternate Elizabeth disappears with a single piano note. The last note is struck right as the screen pans upward and fades to black, but before the final Elizabeth — your Elizabeth — disappears... that is, if she did.
- Look! A Distraction!: As a policeman revs up his Sky-Hook, Booker throws the baseball he's holding to distract the cop's partner — and then positions his face in the path of destruction.
- The Lost Lenore: Lady Comstock, so, so much. And so, so played with.
- Lottery of Doom: In what is almost certainly a Shout-Out to The Lottery, when you arrive everyone is quietly excited about a mysterious drawing. Booker wins, and it turns out to be for the "honor" of stoning of an interracial couple (with baseballs, because it's just more American that way.) You have the option of trying to throw at the couple, the announcer, or letting the time on the decision run out and not throw at all. Though this does result in not being able to receive gear from either the couple or Fink's assistant.
Ken Levine noted with some amusement in a pre-release interview that, as of the time of the interview, none of the play testers or media members who were trying out the game had yet thrown the ball at the couple.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: The Vigors.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Comstock is two things: Elizabeth's father...
- Lyrical Dissonance: With a dash of Genius Bonus and Foreshadowing. The song "Goodnight, Irene" that the crowd sings at the fair. The chorus, which is the part you can most easily make out, makes it sound like a cheerful love song ("I'll see you in my dreams...") However, the other verses (which you have to listen carefully to understand, or already be aware of) clarify that it's actually about a troubled marriage, and a man either considering or already on his way to a much more permanent type of "sleep."
- In universe, there's also "The Readiness is All," a cheerful little marching ditty with profoundly disturbing lyrics about white supremacy and racial segregation... for kids. And with kids providing backup vocals:When the foreign hordes come marching into town,
will you be prepared to stand those buggers down?
They'll do their level best to take all that's rightly yours,
and it's your sole duty to keep them from our shores!
The readiness is all!
(When the greenhorn muscles in!)
Oh, the readiness is all!
(To face down an alien!)
If all you see around you are yellow, black, and brown,
And they've got their sights on all the pure sweet white girls in your town,
Lock your pistols, load the cannons, make sure bayonets are fixed,
Or else you'll rue the day that the races intermix!
The readiness is all!
(There are strangers in our land!)
Oh, the readiness is all!
(We must keep the upper hand!)
The readiness is all!
(When your back's against the wall!)
Oh, the readiness is all!
(When you should be standing tall!)
- In universe, there's also "The Readiness is All," a cheerful little marching ditty with profoundly disturbing lyrics about white supremacy and racial segregation... for kids. And with kids providing backup vocals:
- MacGuffin Super Person: Elizabeth is this for no less than three factions in the game at various points: the player character, Booker DeWitt, has been instructed to rescue her from Columbia under the orders of a client offering to pay off his gambling debts; the main villains of the game, Father Comstock and The Founders, want to keep her imprisoned (and later, recaptured) so that she can one day take up Comstock's mantle and bring the apocalypse to "the Sodom below"; and by the end of the game, the Vox Populi are out to kill her simply because she was such an integral part of the Founder's belief system. During the ending, Booker's goals are subverted all to hell when it turns out that his memories have been badly mangled by dimensional travel, and he's not out to pay off his debts at all; he's out to rescue his daughter.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Vox Populi zeppelin launches one of these at Booker and Elizabeth during the E3 trailer.
- Madden Into Misanthropy: In the reality (or realities... or even the future of that reality) where Elizabeth was dragged to Comstock House and Booker was unable to save her from it, Elizabeth gets tortured, driven into despair by Booker's promise of finding and rescuing her never being fulfilled, and slowly mind raped over the years until she's just like Comstock, and leads Columbia to lay waste to America. She has a change of heart far, far too late.
- Magic by Any Other Name: Vigors, replacing Plasmids. Bonus: no more jabbing yourself with huge painful-looking syringes. Downside: quaffing them causes very disturbing visions of their effects on your body, such as flesh flaking away into ash, skin cracking and peeling like dried mud, or sharp crystals growing into your palms like broken bones.
- Magikarp Power
- At first, the Charge Vigor might seem a little underwhelming. However, when fully upgraded and supplemented by the right gear, it can make melee one of the most effective play-styles in the game.
- This is downplayed with the Machine Gun. Although it is reasonably effective early on, it will quickly lose ground afterwards against tougher enemies. When fully upgraded and used in conjunction with the Bullet Boon or Ammo Advantage gear, the Machine Gun has a larger clip size than the Crank Gun, is about as deadly as the shotgun at close to medium range, and will almost never run out of ammunition as it is the single most common firearm in the game.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: Downplayed - Elizabeth does pick locks and open tears, something which Booker can not do. However, she apparently needs Booker to tell her when to do it. The only points where she opens tears of her own accord are either exposition or plot-points, serving the same purpose as cut-scenes.
- Major Injury Underreaction: After Preston Downs accidentally catches a Native American child in his bear trap, he is forced to cut the boy's leg off to get him out. The leg just sat in between the boy and Preston as he recorded a Voxophone which remarked that he wished the boy would "cry or something" instead of just eerily looking at him.
- Making a Splash: The Undertow Vigor uses the power of water to either knock enemies away or pull them forth for punishment.
- Malevolent Masked Men: So very many, but notably the Fraternal Order of the Raven.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage
- Booker DeWitt gets the dubious honor of being the first to throw a baseball at a Negro-Irish couple being paraded on stage through a backdrop set of monkeys while "Here Comes The Bride" plays in the background to mock the couple, basically to set an example about "proper marriages and race relations" within Columbia's society structure.
- Strangely averted with Chen Lin and his Alternate Universe wife Sarah Lin, a Caucasian woman who married Chen. Because of Sarah's connections to the Founders via her brother Scofield, their marriage is protected from Columbia's prejudice.
- Mana Meter: Your Salts meter, which shows you how many Salts are required to cast a specific Vigor. The meter can also be expandednote with the Infusion upgrades, and certain Vigor upgrades can also decrease the amount of Salts required to use said Vigors.
- Manifest Destiny: Something of a background theme in the game, Columbia itself being almost a monument to its success.
- Master of None: The Burstgun. Unlike its Carbine counterpart, the Burstgun has a thirty-round clip, fires in three shot bursts and has a low-magnification optical sight. However, the Burstgun's recoil is so bad that the second and third shots will almost always miss at medium and long range. To top it all off, weapon upgrades for the Burstgun (which change it from a terrible weapon to decent workhorse) are extremely expensive.
- Meaningful Background Event: Immediately after Elizabeth teleports to Rapture and drowns the Songbird, you can see through the window a Little Sister crying over a fallen Big Daddy. It's meant to symbolize the constant/variable theme that the following scene makes more explicit.
- Meaningful Name:
- Elizabeth's ability is the power to open "tears" in space-time into alternate realities, making the possibilities of what she can do truly "infinite". This really comes into play in the ending.
- The Vigor "Murder of Crows", both in its nature for summoning killer crows, and the fact the word "murder" is another way of saying "group of crows".
- "Vox Populi" is Latin for "Voice of the people". The expression is used to mean "the public opinion" or "the word on the street". There's a further connection here: the term is part of an old aphorism "Vox Populi - Vox Dei", The voice of the people is the voice of God. There is also the phrase "Vox Populi - Vox Diaboli" expressing the opposite sentiment: The voice of the people is the voice of the Devil. Indeed, one of the earliest written references to the phrase is in a 798 letter to Charlemagne, where the scholar Alcuin writes: "And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness." All of this is quite apt considering the plot of the game.
- Elizabeth's own name is a cognate of Biblical "Elisheva" — "God's promise". Seeing how Comstock, who groomed her as his tool, gave it to her, it's probably intentional.
- Booker DeWitt shares a name with a real-life historical person, Bryce DeWitt. Bryce is a renowned gravity and particle field theorist. Not exactly Booker's area of expertise, but remind me: How does Columbia stay afloat? The same Bryce DeWitt was also the creator of the theory of multiple universes.
- "Fink" started out as a slang term for a strike-breaker, which Jeremiah would probably approve of.
- Zachary Hale Comstock:
- He is named after Anthony Comstock, an extreme religious zealot who was the US Postal Inspector in the same timeline Columbia was built and launched, and was responsible for the Comstock Act, which forbade any "immoral" materials being sent via mail. He was racist, destroyed anything he found "immoral", and was a major hypocrite — just like Zachary. As an extra bonus, he boasted proudly of driving people to suicide.
- In a game so chock full of meaningful names, let's take a look at "Hale". According to the other Wiki that surname can have three meanings: "healthy", "hero" or "person who lives in a hollow, or valley". All those three meanings would be pretty ironic when applied to a deathly ill villain who lives in a city in the sky.
- Zachary means "God has remembered". This name also appears a bit ironic: it is Booker who remembers his past sins and dwells on them, while Comstock believes that becoming cleansed through baptism allows him to forget them and start everything anew. Unfortunately, forgetting your sins apparently means repeating them — and replacing them with an even worse zealotry.
- The Lutece twins
- "Lutece" is modern French for Lutetia, the name of Paris during Roman times. Paris is used as a symbol of the modern and the future in this story: Elizabeth, who represents possible futures, yearns to go to that city, which is in 1912 pretty much the antithesis to Comstock's Columbia. Her apartment is plastered with posters depicting Parisian life. The first time she opens a tear it is into precisely Paris in the future (the 1980s). The Lutece twins are literally called "the Paris twins", only with an anachronistic name for Paris. This hints at the nature of the plot, and particularly the role of the Lutece twins in it — as the creators of Tears through time and space. Their name is also used as an elaborate pun: Booker promises Elizabeth to take her to Paris, while he is in fact secretly attempting to bring her to his employer in New York. But it is revealed in the ending of the game, that if he had really brought her to his employer, he would in fact be bringing her to Robert Lutece — bringing her to Paris, indeed.
- Possibly also a reference to the Trojan War, where Paris steals away a girl which brings about the destruction of Troy. Here, Robert Lutece takes away a girl which sets off a series of events that destroys Columbia. At the very least, it's a use of Lutece/Paris as an ill-advised kidnapper of women.
- There are two audio diaries from an admirer of both Rosalind Lutece and Elizabeth, whose name is Constance Field. As in, Constants and Variables.
- Mecha-Mooks: The Motorized Patriots are robotic caricatures of George Washingtonnote and Abraham Lincoln that pack some serious heat. Besides that, there are also the Gun Automatons, the Rocket Automatons, and especially the Mosquitoes.
- Mechanical Horse: The Automated Stallions. They pull carts around the city, whether the driver is conscious or not.
- Mega-Corp: Jeremiah Fink's business ventures are pervasive throughout Columbia and even extends to ground-based connections. In the 1984 scenes, there's even mention of a "Fink Enterprises" being listed in New York.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted. There are female soldiers who will attack you from time to time. And in some areas with civilians where you have your weapon out, you can kill civilians, including women, though children are invulnerable and can't be killed.
- Menstrual Menace: A chart in the Columbia tower shows that Elizabeth's powers gained a massive spike after her first period.
- Mercy Kill
- Elizabeth tells you that if they ever get captured, she'd rather Booker kill her, even with his bare hands, than let her get sent back to the tower.
- Slate's entire goal centers around getting Booker to put him down before the Founders can capture him. Sparing him is the much crueler of your options.
- Mickey Mousing: Slaves at Fink Industries are forced to perform their jobs to a droning, discordant, thoroughly miserable waltz. (A heavily-distorted, lo-fi version of Frederick Chopin's Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2, to be precise), moving with a loud tick on every third beat.
- Mighty Whitey: This mural◊, featuring George Washington in an elegant and shining outfit holding the Liberty Bell in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other, rising up above dreary, poor and pathetic racist caricatures of all races. Evidently, Comstock and his followers aren't exactly into celebrating diversity.
- Mind Screw
- The various shots scattered around the Lamb of Columbia trailer, which shows: Elizabeth on display with various zoo-like factoids in a condemned Monument Island, an audibly enraged Comstock refusing to "give up his Lamb", hints of some terrible plot by the Founders, Elizabeth holding her head in pain, and ending with Booker and Elizabeth in a cornfield with a tornado coming towards them.
- Every plot induced death where Booker wakes up in his office is one.
- The ending is a 15-minute-long Mind Screw. In fact there are freaking charts for the ending now!
- Mind Rape: The Inmates of Comstock House of the Universe/Future where Booker couldn't/didn't save Elizabeth are Columbain citizens who didn't toe the line of Columbia's new leader and were force to see every possible reality of themselves at once. They were driven mad and trapped in between Tears. They can only be awakened by the Boys of Silence, young men indoctrinated into their role since they were children, tearing them back into reality to attack.
- Minus World: Shortly after you arrive at Columbia, near the location where the four barbershop quartet members are singing, it's possible to jump off Columbia. Normally when you do this you end up back where you jumped from, but if you follow the procedure in this video you can do it. You will fall a long distance, with Columbia shrinking in the distance above you, until you eventually hit the ground. You can't do anything when there except pause and re-boot the game.
- Mockumentary: The videos of Columbia: A Modern Day Icarus? (here you can watch: Part 1 and Part 2) Which is a documentary of Columbia, based on evidence left by a segment of Columbia which crashed on the Alps in the 1980s.
- Money for Nothing: The vending machines are pretty much the only place for spending those almighty Silver Eagles.
- Mood Whiplash
(Title Card 1) Battleship Falls - William R. Foreman 1909 No.99
- Being BioShock, the dark turn was expected, but still. When you arrive in Columbia, the place is beautiful and brimming with life in a cheerful fairground setting. While some things may feel a little off, there's no sense of particular danger just yet. Then you win the raffle, and what's your prize? First throw at the public stoning/execution of an interracial couple. Immediately after that, you proceed to smash a cop's face against his partner's Sky-Hook, with the expected gore ensuing.
- When exploring Comstock House in a Bad Future where Elizabeth was never rescued, and where all victims driven insane by the tears are kept in asylum, the tone is overall that of Surreal Horror and suspense... and then you come across a very darkly humorous film that ends the Running Gag of a cinematographer dating his films.
(Movie shows the scenery, then the camera drops into the waterfall)
(Title Card 2) William R. Foreman (Oct 13, 1867 - July 2, 1909)
- Mooks but No Bosses: Unlike the first two BioShock games, you never fight any of the major antagonists in a straight shootout, as each of them is either The Unfought or dispatched in a cutscene. The Handymen and The Siren are the closest the game has to proper boss fights, but the former are not unique (there are about 4 total spaced throughout the game) and the latter isn't really a major character.
- Morality Pet: Elizabeth serves as one to Booker; for all his obvious flaws, he tries to avoid hurting her and is noticeably upset when he inevitably does.
- More Dakka: The Gun Automatons and Mosquitoes rapidly fire upon you when you're in their lines of sight. They also never seem to run out of ammunition, either.
- Motive Decay
- Part of the political extremes angle. By the time Booker sets foot on Columbia, both Vox Populi and the Founders' beliefs had devolved into blind hatred.
- The motivations of Elizabeth's Bad Future self gradually devolve from fulfilling Comstock's apocalyptic dream to raze "the Sodom below" to just watching everything burn.
- The Mourning After: Booker's wife died almost twenty years earlier and there's no indication he's ever remarried. Not the mention he received a double blow with also losing his daughter.
- Mugging the Monster: Outside the Graveyard Shift bar in Shantytown, a crew of thugs literally attempt to mug Booker and Elizabeth. It does not go well for them.
- Multiple Endings: Subverted. Despite the previous BioShock games' multiple endings and the various choices you can make over the course of Infinite, there's only one ending in this game.
- The Multiverse: The source of Elizabeth's power; she can pluck anything from other multiverses through Tears in the fabric of reality that only she (and Booker) can see and bring them to our universe. This is also what causes the events of this game. The only way to stop it is to kill Booker/Comstock at the point of his baptism before any of it can happen.
- Mundane Utility
- Elizabeth can tear apart time and space, breaking open reality to reveal a different reality beneath. One of the first ways Booker sees her demonstrate this ability is when she's in an enclosed space with a bee and doesn't want to squish it in case it stings her. She opens a Tear the way a lot of us would open a window to gently shoo it away.
- Vigors are often put to more mundane purposes when they're not being used for attack and defense: Shock Jockey is often used as a power source — which forces Booker to go on a merry chase after the last bottle in the area when local machinery runs down. Devil's Kiss is advertised as being a handy torch, and in the Industrial Revolution game, it was originally marketed as a solution to the problem of lighting a cigarette at high altitudes. Bucking Bronco can apparently be used to lift or move things in a more mundane fashion, according to fairground barkers. The Possession vendor suggests using it to avoid getting ripped off by vending machines or to ensure that phone connections run smoothly; Booker goes one step further and uses it to actually steal extra cash from vending machines. And finally, throughout the fair, Vigors are used for entertainment by both the performers and the audience.
- Mysterious Benefactor: Rosalind and Robert Lutece, repentant scientists (well, one of them anyway), cross-timeline twins, deceased but still moving, and yes, the ones who hired you. You're their "hair-shirt," no less, because they remember paying you for your daughter. You don't, of course. Comstock also repeatedly claims to have one, although whether he's just delusional (like Dr. Steinman was) or if he's actually managed to make contact with something is never addressed.
- Mysterious Employer: At first, you don't know who you're working for. The two people in the rowboat to the lighthouse, maybe? But they talk about you in a bizarrely aloof manner, as if you aren't actually there to hear them, and respond to everything you ask in a roundabout fashion that doesn't answer any of your questions. You get a telegram from a "Lutece," which seems to want to help, but did that person hire you? Is that the same "Lutece" who built the city of Columbia anyway? And how did those two people from the rowboat show up in Columbia itself?
- Mythology Gag:
- One of the alternate realities? Rapture. In fact you're taken on the same bathysphere journey from the start of BioShock... in reverse — as 1946 standard Beyond the Sea plays.Booker: A city at the bottom of the ocean?! Ridiculous.
- The way the Boy of Silence ambushes you in Comstock Tower, with you unable to move until you turn around, is exactly like how a Doctor attacks you in BioShock.
- Songbird's eyes change color depending on his status (green=calm, yellow=alert, red=hostile), just like those of the Big Daddies. That's because Songbird was based off the design of Big Daddies.
- The searchlights on the Gun and Rocket Automatons act the same way. In this case, green indicates an automaton that is affected by Possession.
- The beginning of the game has you traveling toward a lighthouse, opening a box and cradling a gun, which mirrors Jack's arrival at Rapture in the original BioShock. Adding further to it, the way to get to Columbia is a one seated rocket ship which has a window which gives a nice view of the city once you arrive. Similar to the bathysphere which dove you down to Rapture in the first BioShock.
- A down-on-his-luck man being hired to infiltrate an insane religious cult secluded from the rest of the world, possessing advanced technology, was the pitch of the original BioShock.
- Being known as "The Lamb of Columbia" seems to be a Call-Back to Sophia Lamb from BioShock 2.
- Her role is extremely similar to Eleanor Lamb: both are held captive by terrible parents who wish to use them as a sacrifice/cult leader to lead the insane masses to destroy the surface, possess terrible power, have been locked up and isolated from the populace for years, are worshiped as Messiahs, both are referred to as "Lamb", serve in supporting combat roles (though Eleanor is much more direct in combat), are influenced by the player character's actions, are eventually part of a Hive Mind, can potentially turn evil, and are saved by their real fathers, who die after the fact. Bonus points for Eleanor potentially drowning her mother, while Elizabeth puts Booker to the drink. And as of Burial at Sea Part 2, both women have their father in their heads.
- Ironically, BioShock 2 was supposed to contain flashbacks of the player character in Rapture before its downfall that might be parallel universes. Infinite has flashbacks to Booker's life before Columbia. BioShock 2 was also was supposed to have the twist that you actually are Eleanor's father, but it's just heavily implied in the final product.
- You find an ex-employee of a deranged, evil boss murdered and impaled to a wall, with a sign that reads "SACKED". In BioShock 2, you'd find similar corpses, but the wording was "YOU'RE FIRED" or "FIRED". You also get shuffled into a deadly "demonstration" of their fine products to prove your worth, both of which include robotic enemies.
- An "amusement" park meant to inform that's really more to scare the kids and keep them in line, or indoctrinate them to the nation's cause. In BioShock 2, it was Ryan Amusements, here, it's the Hall of Heroes in Soldier's Field.
- The code for an elevator is 0451, which is a reference to the title of Fahrenheit 451 as well as door codes in all of the following games: both System Shock games, Deus Ex, the first BioShock, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Yeah, Ken Levine and Ion Storm really like that number.
- When you first arrive in Columbia, upon entering the circle, the first words from the priest who tries to baptize Booker are "Is it someone new?", echoing the first words you hear from a female Splicer once you enter Rapture.
- Comstock, like Andrew Ryan and Sophia Lamb, first contacts Booker through a video device which of course ends in threatening you.
- You find some pistol ammo sitting on a baby carriage, a callback to receiving your first weapon in the original BioShock.
- A broken vending machine looks much like the tonic vendors from BioShock, and laying on the ground nearby is the wrench. You can also "hack" the vending machines with your first Vigor, Possession. They dump out a number of coins.
- The Dollar Bill vending machines are all voiced by Ken Levine, in the same voice as the Circus of Values machines from the first game. They even have modified versions of the original vending machine scripts. "Come back when you've got some money, buddy!" becomes "Return when you have the currency, fella!" If you don't notice it right away, you will when you hear the Dollar Bill machine say "I appreciate a lady who appreciates value!" "A carnival of thrift at your disposal!" — "Carnival of Thrift" being a rough synonym for "Circus of Value".
- At one point, Elizabeth knocks Booker out with a very familiar wrench.
- At another point, Booker comes across a police illustration of what an eyewitness thinks he looks like... which very closely resembles Sander Cohen.
- Eating food or using a medical kit plays the familiar med hypo/med pack sound from System Shock 2 and BioShock, respectively.
- The sound played when a new objective displays is also the same as in BioShock.
- Towards the end of the game, there's a Jump Scare where an enemy spawns right behind you, just like in the previous games.
- Fink puts people into categories like Andrew Ryan did. Ryan divided people into Men, Slaves, and Parasites, while Fink divides people into Lions, Oxen, and Hyenas.
- An easy one to miss but when you die, Elizabeth brings you back with a syringe filled with a green liquid. Said syringe looks just like how the original idea for said syringe was designed to look for injecting ADAM. Also ADAM itself was originally green.
- When you first enter Columbia, you end up in a church used for baptisms. The entire church is waterlogged, and you are up to your ankles in the stuff... just like you were in BioShock.
- Both BioShock and BioShock Infinite feature a scene in which something significant catches the player's eye upon first entering the city. In BioShock, Jack sees a whale swimming by as he enters Rapture; in BioShock Infinite, Booker sees a zeppelin flying by as he enters Columbia.
- In the Gamescom 2010 Gameplay Trailer, early on a woman is spotted calmly sweeping her shop as it burns down around her, setting the scene that something is "off" about the city's residents right away. In the final game, none of the scenes from this gameplay trailer are present, but in Downtown Emporia, a single NPC townswoman can be found in the blurry "trapped between realities" trance state - endlessly sweeping a burning shop. The fact that she is the only such NPC on this level, and in fact the only non-enemy/non-main character NPC to be seen in this state in the entire game, strongly suggests this was an intentional throwback to the scene from the gameplay trailer.
- One of the alternate realities? Rapture. In fact you're taken on the same bathysphere journey from the start of BioShock... in reverse — as 1946 standard Beyond the Sea plays.
- Neck Lift/Neck Snap/Off with His Head!: Booker can do this to human opponents with the Sky-Hook device. The game sometimes has him do a Neck Snap with the Sky-Hook to kill them. Occasionally, he can even outright decapitate his poor victim!
- Necromancer: The Siren can raise the dead as zombies by essentially forcing an alternate universe version of them in a nearby universe into their dead body.
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- All those early gameplay trailers are extremely different from the real thing. A few lines and scenes are retained but in different contexts or settings. In fact the whole selling point, the civil war, is barely the focus. The whole game is more about DeWitt and Elizabeth than Columbia itself.
- Even the TV spot for the game counts. It revolves around Booker saving Elizabeth from being hanged by the townspeople and features Booker one hit killing a Handyman. This doesn't happen in-game, and if it did, the Colombian military/police would be very upset with the local populace.
- New Weapon Target Range: Immediately after Booker obtains the pistol and Sky-Hook, he has to fight a number of weak (easily killed) guards. This allows him to (a) practice firing the pistol in combat and (b) inflicting brutal beatings and finishing moves, respectively.
- Nice Hat:
- Jeremiah Fink has a very tall top hat.
- Preston Downs and Fink's head of security both have cowboy style hats.
- Nintendo Hard: The Clash in the Clouds DLC. Unlike the main game, there are limited weapons available, a supply of med kits and salts that diminishes with each level as they are used up, and several levels where one needs to take on one or more Handymen who are the toughest enemies in the game. Nearly becomes "Nintendo Impossible" in the case of some of the "Blue Ribbon Challenges" (i.e. defeating said Handyman using only a shotgun).
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Comstock bears more than a passing resemblance to Charles Darwin... or Brigham Young.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Booker delivers a pretty brutal and lethal one to Comstock near the end.
- No OSHA Compliance: The following could be considered Values Dissonance and Fridge Brilliance, as modern public safety regulations didn't exist back then, and anyone who falls off the city might well be viewed as having been judged by God for some private sin.
- One of the means of travelling around Columbia is via a magnetic rail system known as the Skyline traversed via hand-held hooks. It's very fast, there's no safety nets, and landings appear to be rough and you'll probably feel horrible pain, but this wouldn't make gameplay fun so it's an Acceptable Break for Your Shoulder... er, Reality as you use them (during the gameplay demo, Booker jumps from one rail to another and laughs with relief that he's not now plummeting to his death). The Sky-Lines weren't originally intended for people's use, according to Ken Levine in a video, their purpose is to move bulk cargo containers about Columbia (though one NPC comments that reckless youths sometimes joyride on them with crude wheels.) However, the Vox have apparently been using them to smuggle themselves around the city and establish hideouts and safehouses along them in areas unreachable on foot. The hand-held hook Booker uses was one of several that were recently issued to the Columbia police to help them hunt down Vox operatives and flush them out.
- Columbia is very inconsistent about having railings and barriers at its edges. Some areas are well bounded, others have plenty of unguarded sheer drops for, say, children playing tag to hurl themselves off of.
- Noodle Incident: We are never directly told what horrible thing Booker did at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Those familiar with the incident can probably guess by it now being called the Massacre at Wounded Knee.
- The Voxophone A Soldier's Death in the Hall of Heroes plainly states that Booker received the nickname "White Injun" because he took so many scalp trophies at the Massacre.
- There is a Voxophone where Comstock says he was (rightly) accused of having Indian blood, so he attempted to prove it wrong by burning tepees down. With squaws inside. And we learn at the end of the game that Comstock is Booker.
- Nostalgia Filter: Columbia pines for and embodies an America that never existed... and the city intends to impose that view by force on "the Sodom Below."
- Nostalgia Level: There isn't really any action there, but part of the ending has you literally in the entrance to Rapture.
- Not So Different: Both the Founders and Vox Populi are shown to be two sides of the same extreme, ideological coin in practice, Booker noting wryly that the only real difference between Comstock and Fitzroy is spelling their names. There's also the realization that Booker and Comstock, like the Luteces, are two versions of the same person.
- Nothing but Hits: Inverted. The game uses recognizable tunes from other eras to highlight the effects of the Tears.
- Notice This
- One of the switchable options makes items you can pick up, operate or otherwise interact with glow and flash. Helpful in the darker areas.
- Elizabeth even functions as a walking, talking Notice This. She will examine the area she and Booker are in, and will point it out if she spots an important object like a lockpick
- Not in This for Your Revolution: Booker feels this, especially given the two sides. This gets complicated in the third universe, where apparently Booker fought for the Vox Populi and died a martyr.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: You can jump from one Skyline rail to another, and as long as you actually grab on to a rail, you'll be fine. Even if you fell two hundred feet. Likewise, dismounting from a skyline doesn't hurt you even if falling that same height would. Booker's vocal reaction indicates it hurts, but no actual health is lost. Somewhat justified as the horizontal velocity causes him to fall forward and run a few steps when he lands from a skyline which decreases his speed over a longer period of time. It's the same reason why doing a tuck and roll after a fall is safer than stopping dead. It doesn't justify falling two hundred feet, grabbing a skyline, and NOT breaking your arm or the fact that everyone jumps down 20 feet and doesn't get hurt including Elizabeth who surely hasn't had much experience exercising or dealing with falls - and is also wearing heels.
- NPC Roadblock: There are a few situations in which NPC characters (the Luteces more so than others) will block a path to force you into either making sure Elizabeth comes along or completing in a task. At one point, the Luteces do this with a piano, which Booker then has to push out of his way.
- Number of the Beast: The second upgrade for the Devil's Kiss Vigor costs 666 Silver Eagles.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: When Booker and Elizabeth first reach the Soldiers Field, Elizabeth excitedly asks again if that Airship will take them to Paris. Booker mutters "just stay close to me", not willing to honestly answer "no".
- Of Corset Hurts: After Booker DeWitt frees Elizabeth from the electronic leash she was strapped to inside Comstock House, she winces in pain when Booker ties her corset while she looks at the card that her future self gave Booker that contains the coded song for controlling Songbird. The giant spike hole in her back probably contributed to the pain.
- Offscreen Teleportation:
- The Lutece "twins", Booker's employers, keep showing up ahead of Booker with no explanation, and disappear the second you stop watching them. Towards the end, it is revealed that thanks to an "accident" with their quantum technology when Comstock wanted them bumped off, they exist throughout all of space-time, allowing them to appear and vanish at will, but usually before DeWitt asks them something important.
- Elizabeth will also occasionally pop up in places you might not expect, especially if she gets lost a ways back and needs to be brought forward. Not that she can't really hustle (she runs as fast as DeWitt), but it's a part of the game code that keeps her non-intrusive.
- Civilians will also do this if you start a ruckus in a normally peaceful area.
- Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Sported by many visitors to beach at Battleship Bay. One of the female beach visitors will comment that she would like to see Booker in one, scandalizing her friends with how brazen she is.
- Older Than They Look
- Elizabeth's age is hard to pin down just from looking at her; she's actually about 20 years old, but can easily be mistaken for being in her mid teens due to her short height, petite build, and the Little House On The Prairie outfit she wears for the first half of the game.
- To a lesser extent, Booker DeWitt is in great shape for a man who's actually pushing 40, especially someone who's lived as hard a life as he has.
- The Luteces also seem remarkably young, looking more or less at their late 20's or early 30's at most. Which is a bit surprising given that their book on quantum physics was first published in 1889, more than 20 years before Booker came along.
- Ominous Fog: Happens sometimes in Columbia, sometimes obscuring visibility during a firefight, other times giving an ethereal quality to a location Booker is approaching. Of course, being a flying city, this is not ground fog, but clouds that Columbia is passing through. Some of it also comes from steam vents or is just plain smoke given off by the city.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Bad Future Elizabeth, after she went off the deep end due to Comstock's tortures.Elizabeth: There will be no salvation until the fire floods the cities and covers the plains! Once this world has been born again... a million others wait their turn.
- One Bullet Clips: Averted in the case of the Hand Cannon—whenever you reload it, the amount of shells that are replaced are equal to the amount missing.
- Other Me Annoys Me/Evil Me Scares Me: Well, Booker isn't too fond of Comstock, and the feeling is damn well mutual. Subverted with the Luteces: they seem to have a very close relationship. Perhaps a little too close in fact.
- Our Founder: Statues and posters of Comstock are almost everywhere in the more affluent areas of Columbia, and he has an entire museum dedicated to his accomplishments (mostly exaggerating them.)
- Our Ghosts Are Different: In this case, they're quantum superpositions of a deceased person in both their alive and dead states, at least somewhat aware of both states simultaneously, and deeply unhappy about it. They glitch and vibrate in a manner reminiscent of demons from Jacob's Ladder.
- Out of Focus: The first half or so of the game centers around the city of Columbia, its pristine shining display hiding the horrors rotting at the core, the extremism, the boiling political uncertainties, even the budding revolution hoping to make changes to the unfair way things are run. Then Elizabeth kills Fitzroy and the story stops treating Columbia as anything but a wacky floating city the characters zip around on in favor of becoming more of a Character Focus on Elizabeth.
- Pass the Popcorn: You can find a bag of popcorn in one of the viewing rooms in the tower on Monument Island.
- Path of Inspiration: Comstock and his cult are incredibly focused upon the notion of salvation and redemption, "washing away sins", nothing to worry about on paper. Unfortunately Comstock must have learned the wrong lesson about what redemption actually is because it seems he believes it's "proof you did nothing wrong and have no reason to change your behavior." Hence why he's already snuffed out a bunch of people who would have called him on his misdeeds and plans on eventually blowing up the entire United States, "the Sodom Below," because it's so choked with "sin". Which ultimately makes perfect sense, since Comstock is the version of Booker that accepted baptism believing that it completely absolved him, while Booker is the one that rejected baptism as a fantasy.
- Patrolling Mook: The Boys of Silence act as the "watchmen" of the Bad Future Comstock House, scanning the area for intruders.
- The Peeping Tom: Outside Elizabeth's chambers are a bunch of one-way windows through which her captors have been monitoring her, including in her bedroom and bathroom. There are also voyeuristic photos of her (including one of her changing) hanging up to dry. She is upset when she finds all of this during the escape.
- Persecuted Intellectuals: A Vox Populi rebel tells his comrades to kill anyone they see wearing glasses, probably in reference to the Khmer Rouge doing the same. The Vox are not specifically anti-science or anti-intellectual, but as the poorest and most oppressed citizens of Columbia they oppose anything that represents the upper classes.
- Pet the Dog: The only field the ultra bigoted and elitist Columbia doesn't excel in is in its treatment of women, which ironically would be rather progressive when compared to how some countries today treat women even today. Women serve on the frontlines as men and hold powerful positions in Columbia, with misogyny apparently being looked down on. However, it appears that the undoing of sexism in Columbia may have been for more pragmatic purposes for Comstock, as a highly intelligent woman was responsible for its creation and the female Elizabeth is its messiah.
- Platonic Life-Partners: What Booker and Elizabeth develop into as the game goes on. They even refer to each other as "partner" and there's not a drip of anything remotely romantic between them at any point throughout the entire story, ever. Then, of course, there's that ending, but it doesn't really factor into this trope as they were both ignorant of their relationship up until that moment.
- Playable Epilogue: All you can really do is wander around the office until you decide to open the door, though.
- Playing with Fire: The Devil's Kiss Vigor. It behaves more like a grenade than the original game's Incinerate! plasmid.
- Plotline Death: Throughout the game, if Booker is killed, he comes back, either by being saved by Elizabeth or, if she's not around, by walking through a door. The version of Booker who dies fighting for the Vox in the third universe you visit, however, doesn't come back either way.
- Point of No Return: The game has two varieties of this.
- After your character Booker DeWitt has a Cut Scene that ends with him being dumped in a new area, there's no way to go back to previous areas. You can only press forward. These include:
- Being launched up to Columbia in the Pilgrim Rocket inside the lighthouse and ending up in the Columbia Welcome Center.
- Entering Columbia proper by being baptized and waking up in a garden.
- After Comstock orders his men to "stand down" and lectures you, you go up in an elevator with no "down" button.
- After you fall through the floor in the Monument Island statue and meet Elizabeth.
- Falling into Battleship Bay after fleeing Elizabeth's tower.
- Being dropped out of The First Lady airship by Daisy Fitzroy and ending up in Finkton.
- After the Handyman throws you over a railing and Elizabeth rescues you by summoning an airship, you end up at the Finkton New Worker Induction Center.
- The First Lady airship crashing into Emporia after being attacked by Songbird.
- While going down in an elevator, the elevator is hit by enemy fire and you must escape it.
- After Elizabeth allows herself to be captured by Songbird to save you, her future self uses a tear to bring you forward to a time where "drown in flame the mountains of man" isn't just a prophecy.
- After you defeat the Asylum level, Future Elizabeth sends you back to 1912 so you can save her younger self.
- After traveling to Comstock's Hand of the Prophet airship.
- Each time you enter a new scene in the long ending sequence which starts when Elizabeth takes Booker to Rapture.
- When you pass through certain portals you are specifically warned by Elizabeth that you won't be able to go back. These are the two tears Elizabeth opens to alternate realities (one where Chen Lin isn't dead and a second where the Vox Populi received their guns) as well as the turnstiles that lead to Downtown Emporia.
- After your character Booker DeWitt has a Cut Scene that ends with him being dumped in a new area, there's no way to go back to previous areas. You can only press forward. These include:
- Poison Mushroom: Rotten fruit, which uses the same icon as its respective healing item and damages you if you eat it. Best check for mold before you eat things out of a trashcan.
- Police Brutality: There's a blood-spattered confession in one of the police stations, which raises unpleasant mental images.
- Politically Correct History
- In-universe. The massacre of Wounded Knee is upgraded by Comstock from an inglorious, panicked mistake (especially by the Seventh Cavalry) into a hard-fought victory against hordes of well-armed "savages". Featuring Comstock as the hero, naturally.
- Averted by the game itself though. The developers pulled no punches in depicting the racism and social discrimination of late 19th-early 20th century society. The only social aspect of Columbia that is incongruous for the time period is the equality experienced by women, who can be seen serving on the front-lines of Columbia's police force, military, and rebellion. This is justified though, since one of Columbia's architects was a brilliant, independent female scientist and it's implied that the leader of Columbia, Zachary Hale Comstock, has been making an active effort to rid Columbia of sexism since he was grooming his "daughter" Elizabeth to lead Columbia as a messiah-like figure.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Jingoism, racism extreme even for the early 20th century, religious zealotry, Yellow Peril and The Savage Indian. Not to mention the belief that Lincoln freeing the slaves was terrible thing to do, and the "prize" for winning a raffle was throwing the first of several dozen baseballs at a soon to be lynched couple whose crime was falling in love with someone of a different race.
- Portal Cut: Not an unexpected event when dealing with the opening and closing of interdimensional tears. This is revealed to be how Elizabeth lost most of her pinky finger. Incidentally, an earlier Voxophone of Rosalind Lutece implies that this might be exactly how Elizabeth got her powers.
- Power Incontinence: Elizabeth doesn't exactly have complete control over manipulating the tears, as shown when she has difficulty opening and closing some tears. It is later revealed this is due to the massive Siphon draining her powers. Once it is destroyed she has complete control and understanding over it.
- Pre-Order Bonus: The Industrial Revolution flash game, which gives you in-game currency and gear for completing it. Preordering over Steam got you copies of the original BioShock and XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
- Prequel: After a fashion for the Rapture games. As this takes place before the Burial At Sea Downloadable Content (as implied by the fact that Elizabeth begins with her The Omniscient abilities when taken as the Player Character), and that content shows the fall of what is stated by Word of God to be the prime Rapture of the main games, the events of the game proper are therefore taking place before those two.
- Propaganda Machine: The "Voice of the Prophet" Kinetoscopes, advertisements, parks, and museums are little more than glorified propaganda for Comstock and the Founders in general.
- Prophecy Twist: Comstock tries to engineer one: His visions of the future tell him he needs an heir of his own bloodline, but he's become sterile by all that glancing into alternate worlds and futures. So he gets the child of Booker, an alternate universe version of himself.
- Protection Mission: There's only one instance of this, and it's the final fight of the game, where you have to defend the Hand of the Prophet from the Vox trying to destroy the core.
- Arguably, it's Songbird's job to protect you during this segment — that is, if he were fighting off the Vox without you guiding him to his targets, which you have to do to make use of him.
- Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Organic enemies under the effects of Possession will kill themselves once the effects wear off — provided that they haven't been killed off already.
- Psychic Nosebleed: In the first gameplay trailer, Elizabeth gets one after doing several impressive psychic stunts in a row. This was removed along with her psychic powers in the final game. Instead, everyone gets them — Booker included! — when their minds and pasts are altered by Elizabeth's manipulation of the tears.
- Psychic Powers: Some of the vigors that Booker uses, such as Return to Sender, which sets up a psychic barrier that absorbs ammo and can be thrown back at enemies. Elizabeth has reality-warping powers to open tears in space-time and pull in objects from parallel universes.
- "Psycho" Strings: Played whenever Booker pulls off a Melee Finisher or a headshot kill. It can get a little wearing if you're pulling off a string of sniper rifle headshots...
- Public Domain Soundtrack
- The Mozart that is the background music in the Lady Comstock memorial in the Hall of Heroes. Specifically, it is sections of Mozart's famous Requiem.
- Fink's factory features Chopin's second Nocturne, where presumably he wants workers to work in time to this peaceful tune while he spews his drivel encouraging them to accept their awful lot in life.
- The boss fight in the Fraternal Order of the Raven features a phonograph playing J.S. Bach's Air on the G String for some major Soundtrack Dissonance.
- A truly disturbing example occurs in Comstock House, in the room with the surrealistic subliminal film punctuated by accusatory glaring eyes: Pachelbel's Canon in D, so heavily distorted that even people who are used to hearing it may not recognize it at first. Between the distorted classical music, the grainy black-and-white film, and the mental degradation of a major character, the whole sequence is horrifically reminiscent of Alex's undergoing the Ludovico Treatment in A Clockwork Orange.
- Pun: One of the Vigors is the ability to sic a group of crows on your enemies. It's named murder of crows, of course.
- Punch-Packing Pistol: If the Season Pass is downloaded, the Pistol instantly becomes this. It has two further damage upgrades, which make it more powerful as you go on, and a clip size increase. Along with that, it is very accurate, can be fired as fast as the trigger can be pulled, has an extremely high critical damage multiplier, a quick draw speed and the upgrades are cheap. Once fully upgraded, it becomes a straight upgrade to the Hand Cannon, provides solid performance at all ranges and you can even take down Handymen with it!
- Punk Punk: Infinite delves in Victorian/Edwardian steampunk, much like Space 1889, in addition to the Biopunk of the first two games.
- Putting on the Reich: For all the pretenses the Founders have of upholding "true" American values, their uniforms and gear all bear a whiff of authoritarianism mixed with influences from Imperial Germany. And given the Tears, it wouldn't be surprising if they've been copying Nazi Germany's aesthetics as well. Also, Comstock has a clearly Confederate uniform in his closet (and worn by the Comstock-Mechs) and appears to want to emulate the Confederacy as much as possible.