Follow TV Tropes


Bio Shock Infinite / Tropes Q to Z

Go To

Main Page | Tropes A to H | Tropes I to P | Tropes Q-Z | Burial at Sea

BioShock Infinite provides examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 


  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: All the superpowers, Schizo Tech, Mind Screw, and even the floating buildings in the game? It's all done with quantum mechanics... though the way the Lutece twins mention how it's done, it almost sounds like they don't believe it either - most of the technology, as well as most of pop culture is actually the result of using quantum mechanics to spy on other realities. It's still a well-researched and presented example, though, particularly the part about particle levitation, as well as this exchange:
    Robert: Dead is dead. [holds a coin between him and Rosalind]
    Rosalind: I see heads.
    Robert: And I see tails.
    Rosalind: It's all a matter of perspective.
  • Quick Melee: The skyhook can be immediately brought out by pressing "V" on the PC, "Y" on the Xbox 360, and the triangle button on the PS3.


  • Rage Against the Heavens: A metaphorical take on it, especially once the Vox takes center stage. Columbia is set up as being Heaven and Comstock as God of that Heaven. The members of the Vox start wearing devil costumes and covering their faces with blood or red paint when they start their revolution to bring Columbia to its knees. Even more appropriate, Booker is considered to be Satan/the Anti-Christ (the "False Shepherd") by Comstock.
  • Random Drop: Several of the Gear pickups Booker finds will be different on each playthrough, and even in different loads of the same file, although others are always the same.
  • Random Transportation: Elizabeth and Booker travel to alternate realities during the course of the story due to Elizabeth's ability to open tears. It's implied, however, that she has no control over which reality the pair enters until near the end of the game.
  • Reality Warper: Elizabeth's powers. And, through power siphoning, Comstock's visions and the Vigors and Infusions themselves.
  • Recursive Ammo: The Murder of Crows Vigor can be upgraded so that its victims' corpses become Vigor Traps. It's probably one of the most efficient ways to kill off a bunch of enemies with the least amount of Salts.
  • Recycled In Space: BioShock Infinite is BioShock IN THE SKY. Or, going further back, System Shock NOT QUITE IN SPACE. In the ending Elizabeth points out a number of elements remain constant in each of the alternate universes. There's always a man, a lighthouse and a city.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Songbird. It has three settings, shown via its eyes: green for at ease, orange for on guard, and red for hostile. Guess what color its eyes are for most of its screentime.
  • Red Herring: Elizabeth's powers. While they're a big deal, the game initially leads you to believe that they're the reason she's important and why everyone wants her. In fact, they're the result of a totally unrelated accident — Rosalind Lutece was able to use the devices you see in her lab to open tears even without her (that was how she got her brother and Elizabeth in the first place), while Comstock wants her solely because he believes that he needs a daughter of his bloodline to rule Columbia after his death.
  • Red Right Hand: Inverted. Our heroes have identifying marks that give them away to anyone looking for them. Booker has the letters AD branded on the back of his right hand, and Elizabeth has lost most of her right pinky finger very early in her life.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: Rats can be seen on the dinner plates of Columbia's poor in Shantytown.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Vigors are implied to be used for their Mundane Utility and are commonplace (Vigors can be found sitting in the street), however, other than two of the Heavy Hitters, no enemy mooks choose to use Vigors against Booker (despite the Vox explicitly capturing a facility that manufactures them).
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Played straight, though Booker does not begin with the shield part until a little way into the game. The shield in question is handwaved as some kind of Vigor which generates a bullet-deflecting magnetic field.
  • Renegade Flying City: Columbia "seceded" from the US after what happened in Beijing, China, although there are hints suggesting that relations between the government and Comstock's Founders were growing strained until that point. Despite splintering off, Columbia follows an extreme, idealized version of American Exceptionalism.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: One interpretation of the ending.
  • Resurrection Sickness: If someone dies in one universe and then you use a Tear to travel to another universe where the dead person is still alive, their minds get merged. This unfortunately, causes the person to remember their deaths, which breaks their minds and leaves them catatonic.
  • Ret-Gone: In the end, Comstock, Columbia and Elizabeth as we know her due to Booker's Heroic Sacrifice destroying Comstock, who would go on to build the city in the first place. As this would also prevent Booker from ever selling his daughter, that would mean the entire plot doesn't happen either, which may be a plausible explanation for the after-credit scene. The implication is that the only Booker DeWitts left to possibly exist are ones that never saw the point of baptism or didn't have the inclination to go through with it.
  • Retraux: To fit the theme, GameInformer drew two covers in the style of The Saturday Evening Post, popular in 1912.
    • Two of the trailers went for the feel of a 1970's conspiracy television show in the style of In Search of..., with grainy visuals, crackling audio, and a Vanity Plate at the beginning.
    • In-game Kinetoscopes continue this trend, being short silent propaganda films with only piano music.
    • The Vigor Kinetoscopes are done in the style of period film shorts and commercials.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Vox Populi winds up no better than the Founders.
    • One Vox soldier is heard instructing his fellows to shoot anyone who "looks like they might be trouble. Anyone with a gun, anyone with glasses..." Pol Pot reference!
    • This quote from a Vox Motorized Patriot, considering what it alludes to.
    Motorized Patriot: The farm is now run by the pigs!
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: While you do get a Mauser C96 as your first sidearm, this trope pops up with the Paddywhacker revolver — a gun so powerful, it's actually referred to in-game as the Paddywhacker Hand Cannon.
  • Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: Dimwit and Duke. These children's characters are meant to teach Columbia's youth about the Columbian ways of life, with Duke representing the "correct" way.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Booker busting Elizabeth out of Comstock House.
    • This part of the game even becomes one for the player, as the game's writing and character development attempts to invoke such an emotional response.
    • The whole game turns out to have been one once you reach The Reveal.
  • Rule of Cool/Rule of Fun: Why don't Booker or Elizabeth or anyone dislocate their shoulders when leaping from rail to rail? Who cares!
  • Rule of Symbolism: It's not a Ken Levine game if it wasn't! Plenty is made of Christian symbolism (and perversions thereof), motifs of red representing the Vox, the "lamb", et cetera.
  • Rule of Three: Booker is drowned three times. Once at the beginning when he's baptized, after getting Elizabeth when they splash in Battleship Bay, and at the end when he's drowned by Elizabeth.
    • Booker is baptized three times - on entry to Columbia, after Wounded Knee (the first chronologically, the second in-game), and when Elizabeth drowns him.
    • There are many other instances of this in the game. For example, you must find three truths to bring Lady Comstock to peace, you visit three distinct versions of Columbia, three interconnected characters get drowned to death in the story, and so on.
    • There is also a recurring visual motif of three heads side by side, seen with Comstock House's Mount Rushmore-like entrance, and at the end of the game, when Booker is drowned by three alternate reality Elizabeths.
    • Songbird has three modes, peaceful (green), guarding (orange) and attacking (red).
    • The Founding Fathers of Columbia are three, Washington, Jefferson and Franklin, and are associated with the Sword, Key and Scroll, respectively.


  • The Savage Indian: The Wounded Knee exhibit at Hall of Heroes portrays Native Americans as savages with glowing eyes.
    Motorized Patriot: With hue and cry, with hatchet red, they danced among our noble dead. But when our soldiers took the field, the Savage horde can only yield.
  • Scare Chord: Since combat always has music, chords are used as both a dramatic effect and audio cue to let you know you made a kill, or your shield is lost. Even the sound that confirms that all enemies are dead is one.
  • Scenery Porn: When you first enter Columbia, it resembles Heaven, almost literally.
    Booker: Where am I?
    Parishioner: You're in Heaven, friend, or at least as close as we'll get 'til Judgement Day.
  • Scenery Gorn: Columbia is in an utterly deplorable state in the game’s final act due to the Vox Populi’s uprising. Emporia has you place through the devastated city while the final battle on board The Hand of the Prophet is set against a backdrop of Columbia as a smoldering ruin.
  • Scenic-Tour Level: Hoo boy. The game starts off with one of the longest in recent history, with not just the entrance into Columbia from a lighthouse overlooking a stormy sea, but also you spending a good deal of time walking round trying to get your bearings. Even if you're rushing it'll take about 20 minutes to get to the first combat. And in later levels this pops up again.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Certain enemies do this when you use a Sky-Line Strike on them.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Related to Out of Focus. Eventually, pretty much all Booker and Elizabeth care about is escaping Columbia and letting it implode before it can take them with it. Though not without trying to take out Comstock once and for all.
  • Science Is Bad: Don't let the Founders' religious zealotry fool you, they fully embrace science. The worst kind of science out there. Just look the cruel experiments Elizabeth was forced to endure both as a child and an adult.
  • Secret Test: When Booker is about to enter the Good Time Club, the villain Fink tells him over the PA system that "The best kind of interview is one where the applicant doesn't know he's being evaluated." When Booker enters the audience area he attacked by a series of opponents. After the end of the fight he learns that Fink was testing him for the job of Head of Security for Fink Enterprises.
  • See the Invisible: The city of Columbia has a number of telescopes scattered around it that Booker can look through. If Booker looks through the telescope in the Town Center he can see the spectral Luteces, though he can't see them when he isn't using it.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Elizabeth comments on the newest Duke and Dimwit cabinet.
      Elizabeth: Look! Flawless Flintlock. It's the newest one in the series. I heard it was delayed three times.
    • In the ending when Elizabeth teleports the two to Rapture and they head topside.
      Booker: City at the bottom of the ocean? Ridiculous.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: What all of Comstock's prophecies boil down to. He's using the Luteces' machine to see into alternate realities. He sees that his daughter will eventually lead Columbia, but using the machine has made him sterile, so he decides to buy his daughter from an alternate self who never became Comstock. It's a little confusing to wrap your head around at first since it also qualifies as You Already Changed the Past and You Can't Fight Fate.
    • There's a hint that this is entirely intentional on his part; one of Rosalind Lutece's Voxophones notes that Comstock doesn't realize that Tears only reveal possibilities and not absolute certainties.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The rare official variety, which was added to combat Complacent Gaming Syndrome. Veteran gamers who didn't like the instaspawn of BioShock can play 1999 Mode. Gotta pick specializations, and stick with them, for better or worse. If you don't have the resources when you're killed, it's Game Over (which is a homage to System Shock 2, where same thing happened if you didn't have enough nanites).
    • That's not all. You can get an achievement for completing 1999 Mode without buying anything from Dollar Bill machines. Given that they sell health packs, salts, and ammunition (and are the only machines that do), it's fitting that the achievement's called "Scavenger Hunt." Because you'll be hard-pressed to get through without scrounging for every bag of chips, soda pop, and bullet you can find.
  • Senseless Violins: In the ticket booth ambush, some Founder soldiers hide shotguns in violin cases in order to look like normal civilians.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Definitely harder than the previous two games. Death is no longer a slap on the wrist since you lose money and enemies regenerate their health when you die, upgrades are much more expensive, game breakers are fewer and farther in between as well as less breaky, enemies are more aggressive and take longer to kill, and that's not getting into 1999 Mode.
  • Sequel Hook: Possibly. The Stinger after the credits has Booker waking up in his office and running to check Anna's crib, but cuts off before we see her. However, as noted elsewhere on this page, there are several other ways to interpret this scene.
  • Sequence Breaking: The second half of the Scenic-Tour Levelnote  can be easily skipped by using the Possession billboard as a platform to jump out of bounds, which drops you later in the game (where you'd normally fight the Elite Mook who drops Devil's Kiss) with no enemies. Of course, this also means that the already frustrating Early Game Hell becomes even more so; since you don't have a pistol or Vigors, you have to do the Blue Ribbon level armed only with a low-ammo machine gun from the first Mook you Skyline Strike. Thankfully, the game gives you the Sky-Hook during its tutorial, and the Possession and Devil's Kiss vigors can be purchased from Veni Vidi Vigor.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Downplayed, though traces of it are present in texts and even dialogue. Justified in that the game (largely) takes place in 1912, when such Victorian-esque tendencies were still fairly common.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Once you acquire the Possession Aid upgrade, you can turn people into allies. Once possessed, they will attack all the enemies they can until they are either slain during combat or the effects wear off (and kill themselves).
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The reason the Luteces brought Booker to the Columbia timeline in the first place, which he doesn't remember: to save his daughter from Comstock after having sold her away for his debts. The only way to do this is to break the Stable Time Loop leading to Comstock's existence.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The entire game is a desperate attempt to avert this, with the implication that it has gone this way in an infinite number of other universes, and that the best outcome is for the story to never have happened in the first place.
  • Shoplift and Die: This happens if you try to steal from the Graveyard Shift bar, or if you even go near an infusion in Shantytown.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted. The shotgun is still pretty good at medium range.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: You are gonna get quite attached to the China Broom. There's also the Vox Heater, a blunderbuss that blasts napalm all over everything in a wide cone in front of you — difficult to use with proper timing, but a real street-sweeper when you do.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The 2011 VGA trailer used a rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" by the lead voice actors, which drew ire from religious groups for removing a lyric with the word "lord." That's an error; the lyric was added in the Carter Family rendition "Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By)", recorded in 1935. The devs merely used the original hymn unaltered... and it's also possible that they knew exactly what they were doing.
    • The absence of the added lyric also becomes obvious when one discovers that it's being used by the Founders' religion, who worship "Father" Comstock and the Founding Fathers of America instead of Jesus Christ.
    • Ken Levine actually visited the Occupy Wall Street protests in Boston in order to make the atmosphere of the protests depicted in the game more authentic.
    • The throwaway barbershop cover of "God Only Knows" is much more than that: it was written by Clay Hine, a world-champion barbershopper, and performed by his quartet Category 4, using stylisms and musical vernacular accurate to the 1910s. (They have also recorded it for modern audiences, and the differences in pacing are quite obvious even if the notes are the same.)
  • Show Within a Show: The Dimwit and Duke series of arcade machines and advertising posters, which are meant to teach kids to be good patriots and how to and how not to do things.
  • Signature Style: Ken Levine's writing for BioShock Infinite echoes some of the things shown in his previous works. For example, the idea of taking a setting in a particular era and finding a way to tie it into something contemporary (stem-cell research in the original BioShock and political extremism in Infinite) so as to better connect the audience with the story. His penchant for deconstruction shows up here to, deconstructing Mission Control in System Shock and BioShock, utopianism in BioShock, and American Exceptionalism in Infinite.
  • Significant Monogram: The initials 'AD' on Booker's right hand stand for the name of Booker's daughter, Anna DeWitt, whom he sold to pay off his debts.
  • Sky Cell: The citizens of Columbia have done this to themselves out of extreme xenophobia. Booker is infiltrating it to get what may be the only sane person left out.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Firmly on the cynical side as shown under You Can't Fight Fate. The Multiverse is a brutal and heartless place, and it's only by sticking to the ultimate sacrifice can you even hope to atone for your past sins.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The "Minor Victory" brand of cigarettes use this. The citizens of Columbia still don't smoke as much as the citizens of Rapture did.
  • Sniper Scope Glint: Enemy snipers' rifles will produce glints that help the player to target them.
  • Sniper Rifle/Sniper Duel: The first time you encounter a sniper, Elizabeth grabs a sniper rifle so you can Counter-snipe, but you don't need to accept it.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: Columbia. City of progress, of beauty, of... unbridled and unapologetic racism.
  • Solo Sequence: You play as just Booker, without Elizabeth, at two occasions: before you find her (obviously) and late in the game, when she is finally recaptured by the Songbird and taken back to Comstock's labs. The latter section also doubles as a Stealth-Based Mission, since you are strapped for ammo without Elizabeth resupplying you and the enemies are numerous, yet easy to bypass with the right timing.
  • Spy Speak: Only obvious in hindsight, but you'll see a few instances of this just before you walk into a trap, as some characters making small talk are trying to be inconspicuous about the fact they're watching you. One guy trying to order a hot dog casually but stumbling through it, for example.
  • Squick: In-universe example, every time you brutally murder someone with the Sky-Hook melee weapon, Elizabeth says things like, "Oh my God!". Kind of appropriate given you're typically tearing people's heads off.
  • Stable Time Loop: Despite dimension-hopping shenanigans, the major events and set pieces of the game do not change all that much, and Elizabeth says outright there's "always a man, always a lighthouse, always a city." In the end, it's revealed the entirety of the events are caused by Booker attending the baptism — which spawns countless iterations of the game's events. The only way to stop it is drown Booker at his baptism.
  • The Stations of the Canon: An official example. Practically the Laconic of this game as a whole. They even count as Arc Words.
  • Status Quo Is God: After Elizabeth is tortured by Comstock and kills multiple surgeons with a tornado, it's easy to think she Took a Level in Badass. But once the fighting starts again, she returns to being the girl who throws health kits and Salts. Arguably justified in that Elizabeth clearly doesn't seem to have the stomach for murder like he does.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Luteces have a tendency to do this.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • One of the ambient NPC conversations at the fair says that before the Lamb was born, Monument Island had been the waystation for immigrants to the city. It's an island... in the shape of an angel.note 
    • There's a voxophone by Robert Cunningham that was made after the Luteces informed him they were killed by Fink. What is the voxophone titled? "The Customer is Late"
  • Stealth Sequel: Takes place before BioShock, doesn't take place in Rapture, no ADAM, no Big Daddies or Little Sisters, it's not apparent that it's anything more than a Spiritual Successor to BioShock until Elizabeth teleports you to Rapture. However, the Downloadable Content shows it's more of a Stealth Prequel.
  • Steampunk: Columbia was made as flying monument of American Exceptionalism, and a secret superweapon. The inhabitants live in a Edwardian Era steam punk society, mixed with some bits from the modern era, which are taken from Tears, that lead to the future.
  • The Stinger: Reviewers advise players to stick around after the credits. We get a short scene set in Booker's office in 1893, in which he gets up and checks Anna's room; however, the scene ends right as the crib (but not Anna) comes into view. It's extremely open-ended, hence the numerous theories about it scattered across this page.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: This was to have been Elizabeth's feelings toward Songbird, which, during development, was described as being in love with a domestic abuser. It's mostly cut out of the final game.
    • Near the end of the game, despite the fact that her feelings towards Comstock are best described as "murderous rage", she seems visibly upset and conflicted as you drown the old man in his baptismal font. She even goes as far as to make a feeble attempt to stop you while you just keep laying into Comstock, out of your mind with fury.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: In the lighthouse, when the chair with the very obvious automatic manacles on its arms appears, Booker plops down and perfectly places his wrists to be trapped, despite probably every player yelling at the screen to keep his arms to himself. Granted, they're actually just safety restraints - if his hands weren't strapped in, he would have fallen into the engine - and the rocket may well be wired not to fly without wrists inside them, but you can't even attempt to avoid getting restrained.
  • Stylistic Suck: While it doesn't "suck" by any means, a behind-the-scenes clip shown during the game's credits of Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper practicing "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" ends with Levine asking them to sound less professional, more like the amateurs their characters would be. In the final version, Baker is casually strumming (and no longer singing backup), Draper's voice cracks a couple times, and their rhythms don't always sync up.
    • There's an amusing exchange in the clip where Levine tells them not to sound so much like "Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow," and Draper makes a big show of being offended that Baker gets to be Eric Clapton while she's just Sheryl Crow.
  • Super-Empowering: The Boys of Silence are revealed to have Tear-inducing abilities similar to Elizabeth's in the Bad Future. These were likely introduced to them at a young age through the intervention of that reality's Elizabeth, for the purpose of controlling the inmates of Comstock House.
  • Superpowered Mooks: The Firemen use the Devil's Kiss Vigor, the Zealots use the Murder of Crows Vigor, and the Handymen are powered by Shock Jockey.
  • Surplus Damage Bonus: The aptly named Overkill gear allows Booker to shock several enemies when making a kill with more damage than necessary, thus making it even easier to score an Overkill on them.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Wide open spaces filled with tears are a surefire indication that something is going to try to kill you, and will probably have significant backup.
    • If you find a Sniper Rifle lying around, chances are you'll need it very soon.
    • If you see a Tear for a Gun Turret or a Patriot, not only will you need it, but activating it will cause it to start the fight, which is good for early-jumping ambushes.
    • Whenever you pick a new Vigor, chances are that you'll need to use them very soon.
  • Symbolic Baptism: Zachary Comstock's baptism after partaking in the Wounded Knee Massacre marks his Start of Darkness as he reforms into a radical with murderous zeal. After The Reveal that protagonist Booker DeWitt is Comstock from an alternate universe who wasn't baptized, Elizabeth decides to prevent Comstock from being "born" and drown all possible versions of him at his baptism.

  • Take Me Instead: After Booker wins Columbia's "raffle", it turns out his "prize" is the "honor" of being the first person to throw a baseball at a mixed-race couple who have been tied up. This trope ensues when the "groom" of the couple keeps asking everyone to let the bride go, he's the one they want. He's rather vague as to why he would be more "guilty" in their eyes than the bride, but it can be inferred that he may have been the first one to confess his love and thus have "made the first move" to begin the relationship.
  • Tap on the Head: At one point Elizabeth hits Booker in the head with a wrench and knocks him out cold for a while. When he wakes up he's been captured by Daisy Fitzroy's Vox Populi troops.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: After learning what Booker wants with her, Elizabeth wants nothing to do with him. But they still have to cooperate to escape Columbia.
  • Temporal Sickness: "Reconciliation sickness", a condition that results from trying to reconcile memories of two different timelines. Symptoms can be as minimal as a simple nosebleed to more extreme cases of being torn being two existences while bleeding from every orifice.
  • Temporal Suicide: It's revealed that Booker Dewitt and Father Comstock are the same man, the only thing separating them is a decision. After the battle of Wounded Knee Booker refused his baptism while Comstock went through with it. Near the end of the game Booker drowns Comstock on his airship before allowing himself to be drowned moments later to kill Comstock in other timelines where he exists.
  • "Test Your Strength" Game: One of the attractions at the Raffle fair is a High Striker. Booker can pick up a large mallet and hit a board, which will send the weight up and hit the bell.
  • That Sounds Familiar: The four notes Booker plays on the Whistler to summon the Songbird to destroy the siphon tower are similar to the starting notes of the Christian hymn "The Holly And The Ivy".
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Good God. The ending of the game is the most talked about feature of the game and it comes as no surprise when the ending reveals that: Comstock was Booker in an alternate reality where he didn’t decline the baptism. Comstock took, either by force or through buying, Booker’s daughter, Anna (also Elizabeth). Booker went on a cycle of trying to get her back that never ended and always ended up the same. In the end, he let himself be killed at the point where he turned into Comstock, and thus everything “Comstock related” died. He became himself in his last pure, Comstock-less memory, which was him with baby Anna.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Naturally part of Elizabeth's first murder, though the words aren't spoken aloud. The "wiping the blood off" aspect of the trope is symbolized by her changing out of her blood-covered clothes afterwards.
  • This Is a Drill: The Sky-Hook is a spinning three-hooked deal that attaches to your left arm; not a standard drill-arm but a conceptual cousin to it. It's seen being used as a melee weapon long before its intended actual use, riding around on the sky-rails. It can grind its way through people's faces or snap their necks with relative ease. The first kill even has the same animation used by Big Daddies, and the sound effect of the slooooow whirring is very close to a drill.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: The Mosquitoes. These are flying turrets suspended by balloons. They will repeatedly fire upon you as soon as they spot you.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Given how low the spare ammo count on weapons is and the aversion of Hyperspace Arsenal, this will likely be done by the player frequently, discarding spent weapons to pick up another fallen weapon. This can be somewhat mitigated by Elizabeth scavenging ammo for Booker or the use of vending machines, but these are not always an available option.
  • Throw the Book at Them: Elizabeth's first reaction when Booker comes crashing into her library? Pelt him with books! Well, they were her most immediately available weapon.
  • Tiger by the Tail: While Booker is infiltrating Monument Island to rescue Elizabeth, he learns that the rulers of Columbia have expended a great deal of money and effort to imprison her. She has tremendous power they want to control, but are also scared of. He finds a voxophone left by a janitor who works there. Its message explains the dilemma the Columbian leaders are in.
    Ty Bradley: But I can tell they scared out of their wits by that thing they got locked upstairs. Yes, sir. They got a tiger by the tail, and they don't know whether to hang on...or run.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble:
    • Robert and Rosalind Lutece have this argument once you realize they're pretty much Unstuck in Time. At one point they even say that they need a grammar professor as this is the kind of thing they would love explaining.
      Robert: I told you they'd come.
      Rosalind: No, you didn't.
      Robert: Right. I was going to tell you they'd come.
      Rosalind: But you didn't.
      Robert: But I don't.
      Rosalind: You sure that's right?
      Robert: I was going to have told you they'd come?
      Rosalind: No.
      Robert: The subjunctive?
      Rosalind: That's not the subjunctive.
      Robert: I don't think the syntax has been invented yet.
      Rosalind: It would have had to have had been.
      Robert: "Have had to have..?" That can't be right.
    • Then they say this:
      Robert: If we could perceive time as it really was—
      Rosalind: Then what reason would grammar professors have to get out of bed?
    • And in the very beginning of the game they get into a confusion about whether Booker rows the boat or whether Booker rows the boat, in the form that Rosalind thinks that Booker will be doing something, but not rowing, while Robert says that Booker won't do anything, and that includes the rowing.
  • Tiny-Headed Behemoth: Although the procedure that turns people into Handymen seems to bloat their heads to an unnatural size, they still appear small atop their massive, ape-proportioned bodies.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: the revelation that Booker and Comstock are alternate universe versions of each other.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Columbia gives off this vibe no sooner than you set foot in it. It's at first seems quaint and wholesome as you walk around and enjoy the scenery, as long as you take nothing from the odd religious imagery. Then you reach the fair and notice the games have an odd fixation with devil motifs. Then you finally reach the "raffle" and win it where the prizes turns out to be a public stoning of a interracial couple with you throwing the first stone (or baseball in this case). After this all pretense of Columbia being a nice place is dropped quickly and it goes downhill from there. As it is a BioShock game, it doesn't really come as a surprise.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: The Lutece Fields (eventually Tears) allow its users to peek or to travel into other timelines. Prolonged exposure to them causes cancer, sterility and rapid aging.
  • Tragic Dream: Paris. Elizabeth constantly mentions it throughout the game, not knowing that Booker wants to take her to New York instead. Eventually, Booker warms up to Paris but by then the narrative has made clear that the two are in too deep to simply escape. Also in a Hourglass Plot, Elizabeth eventually abandons the dream of Paris about the same time Booker starts clinging to it.
  • Tragic Monster
    • The Handymen, who are described this way in both the "Heavy Hitters" video focusing on them and the official artbooks. It turns out that they were physically crippled or disabled people whose heads/brains and hearts were involuntarily removed from their original bodies and implanted in massive, ape-like clockwork bodies, to create cyborg slaves. According to what they say while you're fighting them, it's also extremely painfulnote ...
    • You can pick up a Voxophone which belonged to a woman who was forced to turn her husband into one of these to save him from stomach cancer. She is very... conflicted on the matter. Later in a different timeline you can see her husband killed in Shantytown by the Vox with two Vox members posing beside while another takes a picture and with him a Voxophone from his wife telling him uplifting words and encouraging him to play it whenever he feels down.
    • Vox-aligned Handymen may sometimes say that they weren't sick, and that Comstock had them abducted and turned into Handymen against their will. At least the ones who were sick seemed to have some choice in the matter.
    • The Firemen may also qualify as well. Some of their non-combat lines include "Let me out, it burns, it burns!" and "There's no forgiveness without sacrifice!" Sometimes they sound pained and exhausted even if uninjured. So... what kind of effect has constantly being steeped in Vigors had upon them?
  • Transformation Discretion Shot: Trying the Bucking Bronco vigor for the first time results in Booker's hands suddenly cracking open with bloody fissures, shown in full detail; however, rather than actually showing these deformities healing as is the case with the other vigors, there's a flash of light, and when it fades, Booker's hands appear to be back to normal.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Several of these can be found in the Shantytown area.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: So much you'll be forgiven for believing it's a Gainax Ending... After the Siphon is destroyed and Elizabeth gets full control and understanding of her powers, she and Booker spend the final minutes jumping through time and space from an area with infinite lighthouses that lead to infinite universes. Of course, it's probably only trippy if you've been ignoring all the other weird stuff that's been hinted at throughout the game...
  • Truth in Television:
    • Sadly, several American towns and regions really were as racist and self-righteous as Columbia, and while most lynchings were done secretly and at night, some were very public affairs like what you see at the raffle, a-la Jesse Washington and Henry Smith. That said, most victims of lynching were those suspected (but never tried) for murder or rape, as opposed to interracial couples who were minding their own business. (On the other hand, the Supreme Court didn't strike down all miscegenation laws until 1967.)
    • Think the marble statues of the Founders in togas are ridiculous? This sculptor in 1841 didn't. When the United States gained independence, neoclassicism was in full swing in the European art scene. There were actually lengthy discussions about whether the commissioned art from Europe should depict the Founding Fathers wearing ancient Greek robes or contemporary clothing.
    • Finkton, a city where workers can never leave, bid on who can do jobs the fastest, have very long work days and low salaries, have their free time closely regulated, pay a percentage of their income instead of a given price, and are paid in scrip that can only be spent at stores owned by their employer - an obvious and egregious exploitation of workers that, in the real world, would be stamped out immediately, right? It's actually a fairly run-of-the-mill company town, which were endemic throughout the early 20th century and took a long time to eliminate due to the political influence that the moguls who ran them maintained.
  • Turn to Religion: The plot is kickstarted when Big Bad Comstock finds God, seeking atonement after taking part in the Battle of Wounded Knee, and preventing this conversion is the key to making sure that none of the atrocities he's responsible for never happened. Unfortunately, because of Alternate Universes, Player Character Booker Dewitt is Comstock with Comstock's Baptism the point of divergence between the two. Drowning Booker at his Baptism is the only way to kill Comstock once and for all.
  • Turned On Their Masters: The Vox Populi, which is leading a violent insurrection in one of the tears Elizabeth has opened, is comprised of numerous ethnic minorities who were either duped into going to Columbia, or were transferred from prisons on the ground, to perform all the menial tasks the non-Irish white class of Columbia believed themselves to be above of.
  • The 20th Century: The game takes place in the The Edwardian Era of 1912.
  • Twist Ending: After the Final Battle it is revealed: Rapture from BioShock is part of the same multiverse as Infinite. Elizabeth is actually Booker's daughter Anna, who Booker forgot he sold to Comstock 20 years ago due to getting his memories jumbled traveling through a rift to save her. "Comstock" is actually an alternate reality Booker who accepted a baptism in his youth that Booker rejected.
    There's always a lighthouse. There's always a man, there's always a city...


  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: The game never breaks from Booker's perspective, until Booker's death.
  • Uncle Sam Wants You: Jeremiah Fink wants you to attend the July 6th raffle, as seen on signs everywhere in the streets.
  • The Unfought: Several named antagonists are never actually fought by the player. Specifically, all but Slate and Lady Comstock; Daisy Fitzroy kills Jeremiah Fink, Elizabeth kills Fitzroy, Comstock is taken out by DeWitt in a non-interactive scene and Songbird ends up assisting the player in the final battle before Elizabeth sends it to die at the bottom of the ocean. Also, Slate is a pre-scripted Zero-Effort Boss who summons a few mooks, then runs away and collapses from exhaustion offscreen. Lady Comstock is the only named character in the game who's fought in a proper battle.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • There's exactly one Vox Populi-aligned Handyman in the main game. All others belong to the Founders.
    • There's also exactly one Sniper fighting for Slate's heroes, and one Sniper fighting for the Founders. Most others seem to fight for the Vox Populi.
    • Fink's head of security has his own custom model with a nice hat, but one way or another he's little more than a mook, and most players don't notice any difference until Elizabeth points it out.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: In order to play in the much harder 1999 mode, you must either beat the game in regular mode or enter the Konami Code.
  • Unreliable Narrator: An extremely rare First-Person Shooter example, and this time not caused by Laser-Guided Amnesia. Booker's mind is explained to have altered its memories in response to the dimension-hopping. Thus, the game is justified in dancing around the fact that Anna was his daughter (players would tend to assume she was his wife, and the game just goes "Sure, Let's Go with That") and in not making the connection between her Red Right Hand and Elizabeth's.
  • Urban Segregation: Present in Columbia, which thanks to its scattered nature necessitating rails and airships to get around, is easily enforced. Comstock assures the population that "there are no menials in Columbia", which is why all the underclasses are forced to live in the industrial ghetto of Finkton. Most of the residents there are black or Irish, fitting with the Deliberate Values Dissonance of Columbia's Founders.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Comstock goes farther than either Andrew Ryan or Sophia Lamb in trying to make his vision of Eden a reality, ultimately plotting to have his utopia destroy "the Sodom Below."


  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Comstock House fits the description; it's huge, ominous (it looks like it's been built on top of a thundercloud), it houses some of the creepiest, most resilient Mooks in the game... In a way, it both fits and doesn't fit the 'Final Dungeon' bit, since Booker's initial trek through it is during a Bad Future timeline. When Future Elizabeth sends him back to the present, the true last leg and final battle of the game take place on another VDFD contender; Comstock's enormous flagship, the Hand of the Prophet.
  • Victor Gains Loser's Powers: Subverted mostly as a majority of available Vigors in Columbia can be either purchased from a Veni Vidi Vigor machine or simply found throughout the rest the city, but played straight with at least three that Booker can acquire and utilize; he first defeats a Fireman for Devil's Kiss, then a Zealot of The Lady for Murder of Crows and he must get past Slate and all of his followers in The Hall of Heroes to claim Shock Jockey.
    • This is justified in the case of Shock Jockey, as, upon further investigation, Elizabeth and Booker come across a backroom where countless Shock Jockey bottles have already been consumed (presumably by Slate himself) which ultimately forces the duo to go up against Slate's followers to acquire the only full bottle in the area.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Elizabeth is considered to be a highly endearing character to a lot of players.
    • A lot of players have said that once they noticed that Elizabeth didn't like seeing the melee executions (she would occasionally scream or whimper if she sees it), they stopped doing them altogether just because it apparently upsets Elizabeth; even though there are no actual consequences for continuing to do them.
    • You can loot the bags of the people waiting to get into Finkton, but you'll feel so bad for them, you won't want to. On a similar note, you can have Elizabeth open up a tear full of food in a street full of starving people.
    • Early on in the game, there's a shop that goes by the honor system — you can take what you want but the owner expects you to leave the money behind to pay for it. Booker scoffs, but there's a button prompt that allows you to do just that if you should eat one of the items there. On subsequent replays, however, looting the place blind seems like a rather principled approach.
    • After Booker wins the raffle presided by Fink at the start of the game, we see that the prize for it is being allowed to throw the baseball with the winning number on it at an interracial couple before the rest of the crowd stones them to death, all while they're tied to posts and the groom tries to plead for mercy. Booker can go ahead and try to throw the ball at them, but you'll more than likely want to try throwing it at Fink, though Booker will be stopped before he can throw the ball regardless of his choice. Thankfully, the couple will be alive and well if Booker tried to target Fink.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Whenever you enter a populated area, it's possible to murder pretty much every civilian around, with the exception of children (who are invincible). Elizabeth or the game never even calls you out on it.
  • Video Game Vista: Booker is introduced to Columbia in a manner deliberately very similar to Jack's introduction to Rapture in the first game, with an airship flying past Booker's capsule in the exact same way a whale did back in BioShock.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Certain notices about things like vending machines, gear, and so on show up every time you boot up the game.
  • Villainous Demotivator: Fink frequently quotes the slogan "Simplicity is Beauty." In this case, "simplicity" means being content with your lot and NOT complaining about the 16-hour work days or poor pay.
  • Violence Is Disturbing: The game intentionally juxtaposes harsh, bloody, and grotesque combat against the bright and colorful Americana aesthetic of Columbia, highlighting just how unwelcome Booker is in trying to complete his mission to rescue Elizabeth. Elizabeth ends up undergoing a particularly brutal arc as her wide-eyed innocence clashes with the intense violence and death happening around her, some by the people trying to recapture and imprison her, some by the person trying to protect and rescue her. You, the player, may likely stop doing brutal melee takedowns, if not for the messy up-close results, but probably because of Elizabeth screaming and whimpering in fear at what you're doing.
  • Virtuous Bees: Jeremiah Fink has a great fondness for the tireless and hardworking bees, or so he claims in the propaganda he broadcasts to motivate his workers:
    Jeremiah Fink: What is the most admirable creature on God's green Earth? Why, it's the bee! Have you ever seen a bee on vacation? Have you ever seen a bee take a sick day? Well, my friends, the answer is no! So I say, be... the bee! Be the bee!
  • Visual Pun: After defeating Lady Comstock, the Luteces suddenly appear. Depending on where you are when they appear, they may appear standing in two graves while they dig them. The gravestones both read "Lutece". They're literally digging their own graves.
  • Voice of the Legion: Comstock often speaks to Booker through a microphone that creates a slowed-down, delayed echo of his voice, presumably for dramatic effect. The First Zealot, leader of the Fraternal Order of the Raven, also speaks (without any kind of mic!) in a bizarrely resonant, buzzing sort of voice that seems to have some kind of static-like noise behind it.


  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Technically Elizabeth goes through the last half of the game without a shirt on, though she still has underwear, and the era's underwear was more modest than it is these days.
  • Walking Spoiler: Reading anything online about Booker, Elizabeth, Father Comstock, or the Twins is a good way to spoil a huge chunk of The Reveal and the ending, as the spoilers are a core part of each characters' background. In fact, merely starting to type "Booker DeWitt" into Google will unfortunately reveal a major storyline spoiler via Google's auto-complete search functionality.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: In the basement beneath the Good Time Club there are three wanted posters on a wall: Labor Agitator ($1,000 reward, Dead or Alive), Vox Anarchist ($5,000 reward, Dead or Alive), and Daisy Fitzroy (Leader of the Vox Populi, $30,000).
  • Weird Historical War: Columbia flew to China and defeated the Boxer Rebellion.
  • Weirdness Censor:
    • Unlike the first BioShock game, Columbia's population is still mostly alive, at least, before the civil war. Which makes it weird that Booker can walk around holding machine guns and rocket launchers with no one batting an eye. Given the population's highly jingoistic nature, this may simply be the (il)logical extension of the Second Amendment. None of the civilians seem to actually carry firearms, however.
    • Similarly, the Vigor effects (Booker's left hand turning to flames, for example) go completely unnoticed.
  • Wham Episode: It starts when the player ends up in Rapture.
    • To a lesser extent, the point where Songbird kidnaps Elizabeth away from Booker and he chases after them into the Bedlam House marks when the story officially decides to go off the rails. And even before that when Booker and Elizabeth attempt to track down a gunsmith and the dimensional hopping/alternate universe kerfuffle aspects of the plot get introduced.
    • The raffle, when our initial perception of Columbia is violently turned on its head, followed by Booker being exposed as the False Shepherd and the game's transformation into a bloodbath. All in the space of about a minute.
  • Wham Line: "He's Zachary Comstock." "He's Booker DeWitt." "No... I'm both."
    • "Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt." Said throughout the game? Yeah, but only at the end do you hear the rest: "The debt's paid. Mr. Comstock washes you of all your sins."
    • "Cage! C-A-G-E! It's not a word, Booker, " it's a song!"
  • Wham Shot: Several. When you see Elizabeth in the Bad Future. When you see Anna DeWitt lose her pinky finger. After which you get another glimpse of Booker's hand with "AD" etched on them.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Elizabeth, as a key aspect of her character design.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Fink's son runs away and disappears after Elizabeth kills Daisy Fitzroy and we never see him again. Given that the area is crawling with Vox soldiers, the implications aren't pretty.
    • Aboard the Hand of the Prophet, to clear the sky-lines and give him access to the upper decks, Booker has to drop the Motorized Patriots holding up the lines. One wonders what happens once they land.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: At one point, if you can decrypt a coded message you are given a clue that mentions "midnight". If you turn a nearby clock's hands to 12:00, it opens a hidden compartment filled with goodies.
  • White Man's Burden:
    Zachary Comstock: No animal is born free, except the white man. And it is our burden to care for the rest of creation.
    • The audio diary that you can find in the Fraternal Order of the Raven's headquarters also has him denounce Lincoln for freeing the slaves from "their daily bread, honest work, and the patronage of a wealthy white person that will sponsor them from cradle to grave."
  • With This Herring: All Booker is given at the start of the game is a box containing a pistol (which he loses minutes later), a key, a postcard of where he'll find Elizabeth, a single picture of her, coordinates to take her back to, and a picture showing how to summon the rocket. Apparently, he wasn't even given an awful lot of instructions, apart from "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt."
    Booker: (stranded on an island lighthouse) "Hey! Is somebody meeting me here?"
    Gentleman: (rowing away) "I certainly hope so." (There isn't)
  • A Wizard Did It: The "Forbidden Template" applies here.
    Rosalind: Critics call it "quantum levitation", but it is nothing of the sort. Magicians levitate; my atoms simply fail to fall.
  • The Wonka: The Lutece twins, who like speaking in nonsensical riddles and like randomly hopping in and out to... play baseball, paint, listen to waltzes and dance in the middle of Columbia getting torn apart.
  • Word Association Test: In the e-book Mind in Revolt, Dr. Pinchot perfoms this test on Daisy Fitzroy, and becomes disturbed by the "blasphemous" answers she gives, like associating the word "prophet" with "liar" and "faith" with "flatulence".
  • Wretched Hive: Finkton, compared to the rest of Columbia, is very close to this: a grimy, run-down shell of industrial misery under Fink's watchful eye, overrun with the sick, the starving, and the bandits trying to hoard whatever they can.
  • Written by the Winners: The entire point of the confrontation with Slate through the Hall Of Heroes is to highlight this. Whoever has the power controls the narrative. Is it any surprise, considering that section of the game, that The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized?
    Fitzroy: You? You just confuse the narrative.


  • Xenafication: Averted with Elizabeth - although she does kill Daisy Fitzroy when push comes to shove, she does not take violent action in the game.
  • X-Ray Sparks
    • In the animation used to demonstrate how to use the Shock Jockey vigor, when the imp is electrocuted his skull is visible through his head.
    • When the Shock Jockey vigor is used against opponents, their bones show through their bodies.


  • Yandere/Murder the Hypotenuse: Word of God is that Songbird is programmed to be one, which is why he jealously seeks to murder anyone who tries to help Elizabeth escape her captivity. He's explicitly likened to an abusive partner by the devs.
  • Yellow Peril: The Boxer Rebellion exhibit at the Hall of Heroes.
    Motorized Patriot: 'Twas yellow skin and slanted eyes, That did betray us with their lies, Until they crossed the righteous path, Of our Prophet's holy wrath!
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Columbia seems to be populated mainly by clones. This is especially obvious in the calm scenes where you can take your time and examine all the civilians strolling about.
  • You Bastard!: A pretty benign example for BioShock, but an example nonetheless: performing melee takedowns on opponents — usually resulting in brutal and messy executions with the Sky-Hook — tends to freak Elizabeth out and causes her to scream or whimper at the sight of them. This has no mechanical bearing, and the executions are useful for finishing off enemies (and a few pieces of Gear actively reward you for doing them), but you might be inclined to stop them just because Elizabeth's reactions will be convincing you that you're doing something wrong.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: In the end, Booker realizes that Elizabeth is always going to be taken from him and he will always become Comstock.
  • You Have Failed Me: Jeremiah Fink does not tolerate failure from his head of security, or someone better waltzing into his property. You get to find his former head of security murdered and nailed to the top of the local club with a sign reading "SACKED".
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Using the Possession Vigor on a human enemy causes them to commit suicide when it starts to wear off.
    • My God, What Have I Done?/Driven to Suicide: The description of the Vigor actually describes it as this, saying the subject commits suicide out of grief for what they did under your control. Even if they didn't kill any of their allies, the whole idea of being forced to side with the False Shepherd is probably enough to inspire such conclusions from the psychotically devout citizens of Columbia.
    • Also, reversing the sounds emitted by the Possession Vigor ghosts reveal they're whispering Shakespeare... specifically, Romeo and Juliet. How does that end for those characters, again?
    • In another note, this trope is also why Comstock eventually had the Luteces killed in a staged "accident," in part to cover up the truth about Elizabeth. It didn't exactly work as planned.
  • You Monster!: Elizabeth calls you a monster after the first time she sees you kill people.
  • Younger Than They Look: Comstock is actually only 38 years old, even though he looks almost twice that age. His prolonged exposure to the tears has really done a number on his body.
  • Your Head Asplode:
    • Killing shocked Mooks makes their heads burst like fireworks before their bodies disintegrate.
    • It also happens when you headshot an enemy with a sufficiently powerful weapon, like the shotgun or sniper rifle.


  • Zeerust: Columbia manages to feature even more strange Zeerust than Rapture while it also wallows in Victorian steampunk. What makes it especially bizarre is the patchworkiness of the Zeerust... one location combines somewhat accurate-to-period aesthetics with, of all things, a Fifties ice cream shop. Selling soft-serve. Justified in Comstock's use of the Siphon to control the Tears, seeing into multiple futures and gleaning technology, music, and information from them.