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No Gods or Kings. Only Man.

"I am Andrew Ryan, and I'm here to ask you a question: Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone!' I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... RAPTURE. A city where the artist would not fear the censor. Where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality. Where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well."
Andrew Ryan

BioShock is a 2007 First-Person Shooter/immersive sim with survival horror and RPG Elements produced by Irrational Games, then known as "2K Boston" and "2K Australia". It is a spiritual successor to the System Shock games produced by the same company, and the first game in the BioShock series, followed by BioShock 2 and later by BioShock Infinite.

The year is 1960. You play as Jack, a Featureless Protagonist whose commercial flight crash-lands in the Atlantic Ocean. With nowhere else to go, he enters a mysterious lighthouse. Beneath the surface, there lies an underwater city, Rapture, founded in The '40s by eccentric billionaire Andrew Ryan. However, Jack immediately discovers that Rapture is overwhelmed by hordes of "splicers", i.e. the last surviving citizens of Rapture, who were driven mad from a powerful but addictive mutagen. This, coupled with Ryan's own draconian policies and laissez-faire attitude toward the product's sale and use, has reduced Rapture to an art deco asylum with seemingly no possible avenue of escape.

Jack's arsenal includes both traditional (and not-so-traditional) firearms and "plasmids", special gene-modifying injections that give the user incredible powers such as telekinesis and pyrokinesis. Jack can also hack Rapture's own security cameras, robotic drones and turrets and turn them against the splicers.

invoked Irrational's creative lead, Ken Levine, based the story on the aesthetics and Objectivist writings of Ayn Rand, most notably Atlas Shrugged. The fate which befalls Rapture — intended as a haven for Earth's best and brightest — can be viewed as either a logical conclusion of that book, or what happens if any "false" objectivist refuses to follow their philosophy to the letter. However, Levine wrote the game so that it itself refrains from taking a side in the Objectivist debate; the Aesop of Rapture, if it can be said to have one, is that achieving a utopian society is unwinnable by design.

BioShock: Rapture is a prequel novel which expands on the psychology of the residents of Rapture, specifically those with audio diaries, revealing things like how Fontaine isn't even Fontaine's real name - he was a conman who killed the original Captain Fontaine to smuggle himself in and used Rapture's lack of regulation to his advantage in his parasitism.

BioShock and its sequels, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinitenote , received an Updated Re-release in BioShock: The Collection for Play Station 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows in September, 2016, and later on the Nintendo Switch in May 2020. It includes the all of the singleplayer content in exclusives and Downloadable Content, the Museum of Orphaned Concepts, a developer commentary called Imagining BioShock, and an upgrade to 1080p resolution and 60 fps on all platforms.

"There's nothin' like a fistful o' tropes, now is there?"

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  • 20 Bear Asses: Some of your goals in the game will ask you to get X amount of a certain item. This is especially used in Arcadia and Hephaestus.
  • Abominable Auditorium: During the visit to Fort Frolic, it's found that Sander Cohen has taken over the Fleet Hall theater and is using it as a base of operations in his various artistic efforts playing out across the district. Cohen has decorated the abandoned playhouse with plastered-over corpses posed to resemble audience members while he tortures one of his former proteges live on stage - even blowing him up when the poor bastard can't get that piano composition just right.
  • Advertised Extra: The face of the game and the series as a whole, the Bouncer Big Daddy, is only encountered in 5 areas out of 14 in the game. Only in 4 (Medical Pavilion, Fort Frolic, Hephaestus and Proving Grounds) are they actually fought, and one of them is a mandatory battle. Only 2 'normal' Bouncers are ever battled (being the first and last Big Daddies you fight in the game), with the majority of those encountered being the "elite" variant with white armor and a spear for a hand instead of a drill.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: You get different endings depending on how many Little Sisters you killed, if any.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: A couple of Splicers planning to kill an injured Jack at the start of the game leave him because they notice an approaching Big Daddy, which fortunately for Jack, doesn't take him for a threat.
  • Anachronism Stew
    • Despite Rapture's advanced biotechnology, its architecture (technically period-correct since the city was built back in The '40s) and advertising harken back to an earlier era. Justified by Rapture's isolation from the rest of the world causing cultural and technological stagnation in certain areas.
    • The Pistol and Machine Gun are subversions: The Pistol is a Webley Mk VI, introduced in 1915 during World War I. The Machine Gun is a Thompson M1921, designed during World War I and introduced in 1921. Both this and the revolver are not that anachronistic-likely, Fontaine sold them en masse to Rapture as World War II surplus, as both were used in the Second World War and afterwards.
    • The Shotgun made in 1882 however, is a straight example. Given the time, and Fontaine's business practices, a Winchester 1897 Trench Gun or Model 1912 might make more sense.
    • "Paparazzi" didn't come into use in the English speaking world until The '70s. It's also plural, not singular as the gossip-rag cameraman uses it. note 
    • The term "XXX" to denote depictions of sexual contact (as used in the Eve's Garden signage) was inspired by the MPAA movie rating system that was first devised and employed in 1968. It also would never refer to a mere strip show at any rate (or even one that doubled as a brothel, as the bed in Jasmine's dressing room implies). Indeed, at this point in history the most likely inference taken from a "XXX" sign would be for potent moonshine.
  • Anaphora: Andrew Ryan's welcoming speech recorded for the entrance bathysphere to Rapture:
    Andrew Ryan: I am Andrew Ryan, and I am here to ask you a question: Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?
    "No," says the man in Washington, "It belongs to the poor."
    "No," says the man in the Vatican, "It belongs to God."
    "No," says the man in Moscow, "It belongs to everyone."
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Splicers are programmed to always miss their first shot. This lets them ambush you while also not getting cheap damage in, since it wouldn't be fair if you could be killed from an enemy that you didn't even know was there.
    • Big Daddies don't hold a grudge. If you take one on and die, it won't care about you anymore unless you attack it again.
    • If you lose track of your Little Sister during the escort mission, the guiding arrow will direct you to her.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Pheromones are the Hand Wave for how Ryan and Fontaine can control splicers, as well as how Little Sisters are attracted to Big Daddies.
  • Arc Words:
  • Armored Villains, Unarmored Heroes: The Big Daddies' armored diving suits make them so unrecognizable that there are people in the BioShock universe and people in reality who don't immediately realise they're at least partly human. Then there's Jack, whose has no armor other than his sweater. His defenses rely solely on damage prevention/resistance tonics and getting out of the way.
  • Art Deco: Everything in Rapture is Art Deco: the architecture, the furniture, the advertisements, etc. This works well with the games setting as Art Deco was still a prominent and popular style in Mid-Century America and the game designers found that the sharp lines and geometric patterns of Deco were easy to replicate for the game's engine.
  • The Artifact: The pipe-based hacking system is a holdover to when the machines had some manner of human operator on a drip-feed of ADAM, and he'd do you a favor - i.e., spot you some goodies or Mook–Face Turn - for increasing the flow to him. However, considering the various machines are now purely mechanical, this makes no sense.
  • Artifact Alias: Atlas, the character who's been guiding you through most of the game, is still referred to by his alias in the subtitles even after he reveals himself to be the supposedly dead Frank Fontaine.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Splicers, Security Bots, and Big Daddies are all insanely intelligent in combat and excellent at adapting to their environment. Just a few examples include how any injured Splicer will run to the nearest First Aid station to heal themselves at (just like the player can), Security Bots will constantly weave back and forth to make it harder for you to get a good hit on them, and Big Daddies will try to dodge your attacks and even run into areas filled with Splicers to arrange a Mêlée à Trois that will likely leave the stronger Big Daddies alive and the weaker Jack dead. However, a clever player can take advantage of this trope to make fighting their enemies either easier or more entertaining. For instance, setting enemies on fire and waiting for them to run into pools of water to douse themselves can let the player shock the water with Electro Bolt, killing a whole group of enemies in one full swoop.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Invoked on the part of the developers for the sake of Anti-Frustration Features. Even when they have a clear shot at you, splicers are programmed to miss their first shot at you.
  • Atlas Pose: The Kashmir Restaurant features a giant Art Deco Atlas statue, and one of the main characters is named Atlas.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Winter Blast is very useful for fighting splicers and a mutated Fontaine in his fire and electrical form, as the player can freeze them into place and get into a better offensive position or kill them while they are frozen but when the enemy is killed while they are frozen then the loot will be destroyed and the player will not be able to collect it, making Winter Blast only being used as a last resort or when they are testing the plasmid. That being said, it's still legitimately useful against machines, though, as it slows the flow of the gel during hacking, so this trope is more zig-zagged here than anything else.
  • Ax-Crazy: Having gone mad from taking too much ADAM, the remaining inhabitants of Rapture can be found talking to themselves, crawling across the ceiling and going berserk at anything that doesn't belong there.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Not only is Atlas secretly using you to get control of Rapture, but Atlas is Frank Fontaine, an apparently Posthumous Character.
  • Big Bad: Ultimately, the true antagonist of the game turns out to actually be Frank Fontaine/Atlas, as you find out roughly halfway through. Andrew Ryan may have been the slimy, murderous creator of Rapture, but ultimately it was Fontaine/Atlas who began the cataclysmic civil war just to take over Rapture himself.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The audiologs tell the player of how Rapture fell into civil war due to Andrew Ryan's and Frank Fontaine's power struggle. Andrew Ryan aimed to keep Rapture as the objective "utopia" he had in mind, killing anyone who spoke out against him—including a singer just for making a song criticizing him. Meanwhile, Frank Fontaine ruled over his smuggling operation with an iron fist, and created the monstrous Little Sisters for ADAM. The player kills Andrew Ryan a third through the game, leaving only Fontaine, who is revealed to be the true identity behind Atlas. Other villains include Steinman and Cohen, but rather than power-hungry tyrants, the two of them are psycopaths using the fallen Rapture to carry out their wildest dreams.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Although the player does 'win' the final boss of the game, Fontaine is so spliced with ADAM that he still overpowers Jack at the end. He goes to make the final blow, only for the Little Sisters to come out and attack him all at once, saving Jack's life.
  • Big Good
    • Atlas was the beloved Rebel Leader fighting against Andrew Ryan's tyranny. After Rapture's fall, he now just wants a safe path out of Rapture before the whole rotten city sinks away forever and is working together with you to achieve that. With the city not only overrun with splicers and psycopaths, but still controlled by Ryan, Atlas seems to be the only true friend the player has. Until it's revealed that Atlas is actually Frank Fontaine, who's just as power-hungry as Ryan. Atlas was never real, as Fontaine made him up to orchestrate the civil war.
    • Brigid Tenenbaum. She was the brilliant Mad Scientist who first discovered ADAM and how to create the Little Sisters, but who since has performed a Heel–Face Turn and is trying to atone for her crimes with your aid. She does not betray the player, and it is her help that allows Jack to defeat Fontaine and escape Rapture at the end.
  • Bigot with a Badge: The Ducky splicers, who dress as policemen, express disdain towards "papists" and "race mixers."
  • Bilingual Bonus: Obey is the Russian imperative for "kill". Also, this is the last word that the Russian Andrew Ryan is screaming at Jack.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Seemingly unintentional, but the bathysphere station in Apollo Heights has a glass ceiling with an unobstructed view of the city above despite being located below the concrete tram lines.
  • Blow You Away: The Sonic Boom Plasmid. Cyclone Trap uses wind to spring enemies up in the air.
  • Body Horror:
    • When Jack has plasmids active, his left arm warps and changes depending on which plasmid is currently armed. In order from least to most horrifying:
      • The force-based plasmids (Cyclone Trap, Sonic Boom and Telekinesis) and Target Dummy avert this - Jack's arm appears normal, or with only some whirling force around his fingers.
      • The Electro Shock variants produce veins in the arm that glow with electricity.
      • The Winter Blast variants show the left arm getting progressively icy, and Winter Blast 3 even has icicles protruding.
      • Incinerate's variants show the arm gradually becoming more and more fiery and riddled with charred flesh.
      • The mind/tech control plasmids (Enrage, Hypnotize Big Daddy 1 and 2, and Security Bullseye) has your arm growing pustules filled with various fluids, that you throw at your targets.
      • Finally, the winner is Insect Swarm, where Jack's arm sprouts honeycombs from which the weaponized bees emerge.
    • This is the ultimate fate of anyone who uses too many plasmids. Since plasmids are basically raw stem cells injected into the body, using too many of them will result in a person getting large tumors, leading to disfiguring boils and tumors on the face and body.
    • The creation of Big Daddies involves directly grafting the skin and organs of the candidate into a giant diving suit.
    • Dr. Steinman is a psycopathic doctor obsessed with the belief that being beautiful is a moral obligation—but his idea of "beauty" is bizarre and horrific. By the time Jack arrives, he's become murderous, taking random Splicers and forcing surgery onto them. Looking at the corpses up close will show how their faces have been utterly butchered by his "help."
  • Booby Trap:
    • Hack the health stations and they'll damage or even kill any enemies that use them. It's a useful ammo saver.
    • There are also webs of crossbow trap bolts, and you can lay some of them yourself.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Headshots inflict four times normal damage with the pistol, and ten times normal damage with the crossbow.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • There are very few things that the Electro Bolt/Wrench combo (and sometimes just the wrench by itself) will not kill eventually, especially after you get tonics and plasmids that make them stronger.
    • Hacking can be kind of tedious, but it's also a very good way to get rid of enemies without having to waste your ammo and plasmids. Alternatively, simply creating/buying Automatic Hack Tools is an effective way to circumvent the laborious hacking process. Machines can also just be "bought out" with money if they're cheap enough to be worthwhile.
    • In terms of efficiency, though, Telekinesis is king, as it has the lowest resource cost of any attack in the game save the Wrench — no ammo, and the smallest EVE cost of any plasmid, and can act as a shield and protect you from grenades to boot. And it still does good damage, of course.
    • In terms of play-speed, the Revolver/Pistol (with damage upgrade and anti-personnel rounds later on) can kill all splicers in 1 headshot. While other weapons have better overall damage (Crossbow) or better rate of fire (Machine Gun/Tommy Gun), the Revolver has just the right balance so you don't have to stop moving to fight every single enemy you meet.
    • Killing a Big Daddy requires careful planning and execution...until you have a full load of electric gel for the chemical dispenser, in which case the whole fight takes about 15 seconds and you never have to remove your finger from the trigger. Or set up a crap-ton of traps (the Trap Bolt is extremely easy to craft given that its components are easy to find) and then lure that Big Daddy to his death.
    • One can simply wait out triggered alarms with Natural Camouflage by standing still. Doesn't cost a dime, though it does cost time.
  • Boss Banter
    • During the boss battle with Steinman, the psychopathic doctor will continue raving about "beauty" and "ugliness."
    Steinman: "Look at you! HIDEOUS!"
    • Fontaine shouts that Jack owes him everything — his memories, his identity, his very existence — right before the Little Sisters tackle him and drain his ADAM, causing his over-spliced body to die of malnourishment.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Some of the machine gun-wielding Splicers in Apollo Square have even more health than the game's major bosses, but are otherwise completely indistinguishable from the regular, significantly less durable machine gun-wielding Splicers.
  • Boss-Only Level: The final level is a single large room at the top of Point Prometheus and the highest point in Rapture, simply named "Fontaine", in which you fight the titular Big Bad's ADAM-powered One-Winged Angel form.
  • Broken Aesop: In-Universe, much of the story is spent exploring how Andrew Ryan's Objectivist beliefs have eventually descended into selfishness, arrogance, and hypocrisy of the kind that he so despises in the outside world. Nothing says this better than banning religion in your city but still naming it after the Biblical Rapture.
  • Broken Record: Various jukeboxes and phonographs blare period music. Meanwhile, a Drone of Dread hovers over the proceedings.
    Papa loves mambo ♫ / Mama loves-Mama loves-Mama loves—
  • Bullfight Boss:
    • In the final boss fight of the game, Fontaine's main attack is to charge into you with all his ADAM-powered strength.
    • The main move of the Bouncer-class Big Daddies is blasting you yards away in seconds flat. Over and over and over.
  • But Thou Must!
    • Deconstructed. About three-fourths through the story, it's revealed that the player was created by Fontaine to be his slave mind-controlled by the phrase "would you kindly"—which he used many times under the identity of Atlas. So everything the player has done thus far was technically not of their free will.
    • This is played straight in one particular instance. Early on, Ryan traps you in a small room with Splicers trying to break the windows to reach you. Atlas unlocks it and urges you to run, which takes you to the next level. This is pointless. Wait long enough and the game just shunts you to the next level anyway. The Splicers aren't actually a threat.
  • Cat Scare: Common in the first few levels (of course, sometimes the third one is real). Additionally, each level contains a dead cat. Which you can then kill people with.
  • The Cavalry: At the end of the final boss fight, the spliced-up musclehead slams you across the room, stalks over, and is about to pound you into mush, when a Little Sister jumps on Fontaine from behind and stabs him with her ADAM-collecting syringe. After he throws her off, a small horde of Little Sisters jumps him and stab him to death.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The package Jack is holding on the plane in the intro sequence has a small note attached. Play the game at a high enough graphic quality, and you can make out "Would you kindly not open until—" These seemingly innocent words are actually part of the phrase that mind-controls Jack.
    • The Little Sisters use the "hidey holes" to safely travel when not in the company of a Big Daddy. These hidey holes were another invention by Fontaine, alongside the Little Sisters themselves. In the final boss, a Little Sister uses one to sneak up on Fontaine.
  • Company Town: Rapture was founded in the spirit of allowing everyone to make their own way in the world.... but in practice slowly transformed into this. The rampant, cutthroat capitalism led to everything being owned in some part by Ryan (especially after he took control of all of Fontaine's businesses), who was allowed to pay his workers as high or as low as he desired. The downtrodden had nowhere else to go and no way out of their miserable lot... which is why Atlas's uprising sounded so appealing.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Hacking practically requires having high-end gene tonics to reduce their difficulty, depending on the level. In the later stages, overload and alarm tiles can make them downright unwinnable without skill reduction/tile changing tonics, and heaven help you if you don't have a slow tonic to keep the water at bay. Their buyout prices also tend to be much higher.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Near the end, horror was a fact of life in Rapture, what with the gene-modified Little Sisters and their monstrous protectors wandering around, corpses left where they fell so the Sisters could harvest their ADAM, increasingly deranged and desperate ADAM addicts, etc.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Fontaine Futuristics was a cover for Frank Fontaine's and later Atlas's smuggling ring and plans to take over Rapture.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Interesting variation occurs with two bodies tied to chairs, encased in a block of ice in the freezers near Peach Wilkins, with the wall behind them full of bullet holes and empty shell casings scattered around. Apparently, one of them didn't die immediately, and managed to write in the frost on the floor "IT WAS F" before he died.
  • Crapsack World: Even before the Civil War and resulting fall, Rapture was a miserable and hellish Wretched Hive ruled by heartless Corrupt Corporate Executives enforcing their control through Bio Punk Super Soldiers, where Innocent Bystanders were often literally torn to shreds by either Atlas' ruthless revolutionaries or Andrew Ryan's sociopathic security forces. Naturally, it's gotten even worse by the time that Jack arrives, as the city is almost a ghost town beset by leaks and infrastructure disrepair, occupied only by insane Splicers, cheerfully oblivious Little Sisters and their soulless Big Daddy protectors, and an exceptionally small number of Crazy Survivalists like Ryan, Atlas, and Tenenbaum.
  • Creator Cameo: Ken Levine voices the Circus of Values clown and Cohen's disciple Martin Finnegan, while concept artist Mauricio Tejerina voices the El Ammo Bandito machine.
  • Creepy Child: Little Sisters are young girls with eerie glowing eyes and some seriously Dissonant Serenity who rummage through the corpses of dead Splicers while going on about angels. However, they are completely harmless (you're more of a threat to them than vice-versa), although the same cannot be said for their Big Daddy protectors.
  • Creepy Jazz Music: Much of this trope plays throughout the abandoned wreckage of Rapture, and gets pretty unsettling and threatening when you know murderous Splicers and Big Daddies are lurking around the corner.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Early in the game your first encounter with a Big Daddy is when a Leadhead Splicer hits a Little Sister with his Pistol, enraging the Bouncer above him on the ledge. Said Bouncer then proceeds to leap down and smack the splicer and bore into his gut with its drill before promptly smashing him head-first repeatedly into a bulletproof glass window until he smashes through it, leaving the corpse hanging over the wall. This is to illustrate exactly why you don't screw with a Little Sister before taking care of the big daddy.
  • Cutscene Boss: Deconstructed, like many other But Thou Musts. After all the buildup to meeting Rapture's tyrannical creator face-to-face, the player kills Andrew Ryan in an uninteractive cut scene. The deconstruction comes with The Reveal that Jack is being mind-controlled by Atlas/Fontaine, so he was going to kill Ryan whether the player controlled it or not. Ryan chooses to die on his own terms by taking advantage of this and commanding Jack to kill him.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: For those who want to play the Nintendo Switch version, Bioshock has this in two different ways. For those who played other console versions of Bioshock, the bottom-most face button is normally used for looting. For those who are more used to other games on the Switch, that button is usually the jump button. For the Switch version, that button is instead used to use health packs (with the looting button on the right and the jump button on the top), which will result in the player healing at unwanted times.
  • Dark Action Girl: The female splicers are just as strong, fast, and psychopathic as the male splicers.
  • Dartboard of Hate: There's one of Andrew Ryan in Atlas' HQ in Hestia Chambers. Bonus, the darts are actually crossbow bolts and can be looted.
  • Dead Guy on Display
    • The main hall outside Ryan's office is lined with corpses impaled onto pillars, all unsuccessful saboteurs or assassins. There are also a number of strung-up criminals around Rapture, in particular Neptune's Bounty.
    • Fort Frolic is full of statues in bizarre poses and situations, dancing, playing musical instruments, watching tv, laying in bathtubs. Some sitting in chairs with their arms tied behind their backs... it isn't until you find a few with red lines dripping from their slit throats and wrists that you realize they aren't statues. They are people Cohen has encased in concrete, some still alive.
  • Death by Irony: If the player kills Sander Cohen and takes a photograph of the body in the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version, they will earn the "Irony" Achievement/Trophy.
    • An audio diary made by Dr. Suchong has him complaining that he can't get the Big Daddies' protection bond with Little Sisters to work, while a Little Sister keeps trying to get his attention. He smacks her out of annoyance, which triggers the protection bond of the Big Daddy he's currently working on. You find this diary on his corpse, pinned to a table by a drill.
  • Deconstruction:
    • As is common for a plot-heavy game with RPG Elements, the player (and plot) will only advance by following the goals given—in this case, by the player's only companion, Atlas. The Reveal shows that this is more than just a video game staple: Jack is being mind-controlled by Atlas. You may have been controlling Jack as he followed Atlas' instructions, but in-universe, Jack was complying with Atlas' commands whenever he said, "Would you kindly...?"
    • Mission Control is also heavily deconstructed, again shown by The Reveal. Having communication with an omnipresent companion to guide you to your next goal is so commonplace in video games that it appears that Atlas' messages are nothing more than fulfillments of that trope. Then the player finds out that Atlas is actually Fontaine, who created the player to be his mind-controlled slave. "Atlas" wasn't just your helpful guide, he was your master giving commands.
    • The setting is one of "Galt's Gulch" from Atlas Shrugged and generally of Objectivism. Without proper regulation, the laissez-faire capitalist utopia becomes overrun by Corrupt Corporate Executives and Social Darwinists and turns into a Wretched Hive where even breathable air is commodified and fitted with a price tag. And the big libertarian visionary who forms the Gulch? Somebody with more acumen and ruthlessness outcompetes him in the market, so he turns to state power to get rid.
  • Dehumanization: Citizens of Rapture are taught to think of communists, government, religious institutions, and the poor as "parasites".
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • When you're told to throw the switch to open the submarine bay to Atlas, you can walk right on by and go all the way to the far end of the map, where the submarine awaits. If you approach it, Atlas asks if you can hear his family inside.
    • If you try to use your weapons or plasmids on the clamps locking the door to Rapture Central Control, this will trigger some optional dialogue where Andrew Ryan mocks you for being dumb enough to think that would work.
  • Diesel Punk: The advanced technology, 1940's Art Deco City Noir, and twist-filled mystery of the game's story make it more on the lines of Diesel Noir.
  • Difficulty Levels: Easy, Normal, and Hard, each affecting enemies' health, strength, accuracy, your plasmids' EVE cost, and how much loot you can fetch.
    • Harder Than Hard: Survivor mode added in v1.1 for consoles, which makes enemies much more agile and accurate, they will have 240% health, your plasmids uses up more EVE, loot will be more scarce, and you get less EVE back from being revived from a Vita-Chamber.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: The game builds up to your eventual confrontation to the Big Bad Andrew Ryan throughout, and it seems it will happen in Rapture Control and Ryan's office. After one "last" mission to overload Rapture's cores, the player heads up to the office—and an immediate look at the map shows it to be much smaller than other locations, certainly giving the impression that the final fight boss is about to happen. But not only is Ryan killed in a cutscene, the true Big Bad is revealed to be Frank Fontaine. The last part of the game details the player's mission to confront him instead, with help from Tenenbaum.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Telekinesis, which you get for free quite early, kills most enemies with just 1 to 2 hits from a large enough object (trash cans and corpses, which are plentiful in Rapture, work quite well) and costs a very tiny amount of EVE to use, making it incredibly powerful and resource-efficient. It was heavily Nerfed in Bioshock 2 by significantly increasing the EVE cost of casting it.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In one area of the Little Sister daycare, you find a corpse pinned to the wall by needles. It's left unsaid if it's an unlucky splicer or one of the scientists exploiting them. Then again, it might be a grisly dummy used to test the Little Sisters.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mariska and Samuel Lutz swallow pills after learning that their daughter has become a Little Sister. There are also corpses around with a weapon next to their bodies or alcohol in the corpse, giving strong implications of suicide.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Fort Frolic is the only level in the game without Leadhead Splicers, and ammunition in general is scarce. The vending machines are difficult to hack and charge high for their products. Thankfully you can still use the Bathysphere to go back to places like Neptune's Bounty to refill on ammo, or use the U-Invent machines to create custom ammo.
  • Eat the Rich: Rapture's Kill the Poor attitude finally gives rise to a massive rebellion not just by the oppressed working class but also by the ADAM-addicted Splicers. The majority of the city's upper class are killed in the ensuing riots, though so is almost everyone else.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Surprisingly, yes. In the Good Ending, Jack proves himself to be everything Andrew Ryan wasn't as a father, rescuing five Little Sisters and raising them as his own children. Each of them live full, happy lives, love Jack deeply, and on his deathbed, Jack dies with all five of them clutching his hand. It's the page image for A Good Way to Die for a reason.
  • Early-Bird Cameo
    • An audio diary from Suchong in the first game makes a passing reference to coworkers named "Sinclair and Alexander", who became fully fleshed-out characters in the sequel. (Although ironically, said sequel would also retcon Sinclair's role.)
    • When Fitzpatrick is playing the piano, you can hear a noise that sounds suspiciously like Songbird from BioShock Infinite. Unintentional, as the original game was finished before work began on Infinite, but neat, nonetheless.
  • Early Game Hell: On Hard and Survivor difficulties the Medical Pavilion is one of the hardest levels in the entire series. Trying to kill the Big Daddy is practically suicide, but fortunately, you can backtrack to fight it after getting the camera and grenade launcher.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first game is the only game where Plasmids cannot be fired simultaneously with regular weapons. It's also one of the only stories where the hero doesn't die outside of natural causes.
    • Atlas doesn't have his own character model in this game, with his physical appearance consisting of a reused Splicer model before his transformation into the final boss at the end of the game. Burial at Sea would finally give a proper character model for Atlas.
    • Fontaine is also voiced by Greg Baldwin in this game, a sharp contrast to how Karl Hanover would voice both Fontaine and Atlas in future installments.
  • Enemy Scan: The Research Camera allows you to take pictures of enemies, which unlock various rewards once you gain a certain number of research points (extra damage to that enemy, tonics, etc.). You get more points for action shots (enemy is attacking or being attacked) and multiple enemies in one shot, but penalties for photographing the dead or multiple shots of the same individual subject.
  • Enemy Civil War: By the time Jack arrives, Ryan and Fontaine's power struggle has led to a civil war that has turned Rapture to ruin. There was really no room for neutral parties in the uprising, as both sides were happy to recycle the dead to replenish their ADAM reserves. Ryan went the extra mile and forced the few remaining sane people to splice up and help defend Rapture.
  • Equipment Upgrade: "Power to the People" stations. Each station allows one upgrade to be applied to an existing weapon (e.g. larger magazine, more damage) with a corresponding change to its model.
  • Escort Mission: A rather bizarre one, insofar as losing the person you're escorting carries no ramifications- she just gets replaced by a new version. Having dressed up as a Big Daddy, you have to follow and protect a Little Sister so she can let you into the boss room.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Several.
    • Tenenbaum's first appearance is when a Splicer has killed a Big Daddy and is about to harvest the Little sister... but is promptly headshotted by her, before she threatens to kill you should you attempt the same.
    • Fontaine's first appearance is in an audio diary, where he speaks at length about his plans to use Tenenbaum to undermine Ryan's control of Rapture.
    • Andrew Ryan's first appearance is during the bathysphere trip down to Rapture's first level. It is quick to establish how he feels about government. Then later, his first dialogue is him asking Jack which one of the "bitches" sent him, either the KGB or the CIA, outlining his paranoia as his splicers bang at the glass, showing how far he's willing to go to keep Rapture safe from the "Parasites."
    • Steinman's first appearance is a Video Screen with a static image, with him ranting at length about the "Moral Obligation" to be beautiful. If you don't count the Audio Diary that outlines his admiration of Picasso and his connection to his own surgical expertise.
    • Peach's ECM is his insistence that if he smells Fontaine on you, he'll kill you outright, despite Atlas's assurance that Fontaine has been dead for a long time. This cement's Peaches paranoia. At least until you discover he was right.
    • Langford's ECM is when she Grows angry at Jack from thinking he is responsible, and then proceeds to insult Jack's intelligence when she tries to explain the Lazarus Vector to him. She also is heard in an early audio diary in the chapter growing irritated at Ryan for making people pay to visit Arcadia... then promptly shutting her mouth because he signs her paychecks.
    • Diane McClintock is introduced to us in the very first audio diary we encounter, lamenting to herself about how bitter she is towards Ryan jilting her. This later amplifies into her joining Atlas's army because she is sick of what he's turned Rapture into.
    • The player's first encounter with a Big Daddy is watching one slaughter a Splicer for attacking a Little Sister...before gently taking her away.
    • Cohen introduces himself by disabling the Bathysphere leading to Hephaestus and going on random monologues, showing off his carefree, but dangerous attitude.
  • Establishing Series Moment: If you let the opening video play, it tells you everything you need to know about Rapture without a single line of dialogue. The camera tracks underwater, through the underwater city of Rapture, until we're seeing from the perspective of a Splicer, who drags a Little Sister out of the escape vent with the intention of killing her for her ADAM. He's interrupted from this by a very angry Big Daddy, and an extremely violent battle ensues (with the Splicer getting his hand drilled through), which ends when the Splicer turns his arm into a hornet's nest and uses this to kill the Big Daddy. The Splicer then approaches the defenseless, crying Little Sister, only to be interrupted by another Big Daddy's drill through the midsection. After finishing off the Splicer, the other Big Daddy walks over to the Little Sister... and gently offers her its hand.
  • Evil Is Hammy
    • By the time Jack confronts Dr. Steinman face-to-face, he's devolved into a lunatic raving about beauty and ugliness. Bring ear plugs.
    "I want to make them beautiful, but they always turn out wrong! That one, too fat! This one, too tall! This one, too symmetrical! And now—What's that, goddess? An intruder! He is ugly! UGLY!! UGLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!"
    • Martin Finnegan, formerly a follower of Cohen, now an insane Houdini Splicer. When he confronts you, he quips, "Guess the old grape finally sent someone, huh?" Then his tone shifts to something raspier and more ominous while saying, "Sonofabitch...left me to freeeeeeeeeeeeeeze".
    • Plenty random Splicer battle cries count as well. "GET OUT OF MY FUCKIN' OFFICE!"
    • Cohen's hamminess is not of the screaming-mad variety, but more flamboyant and theatrical, bragging to no end how much of a genius artist he is. When he finally makes his appearance, it's by gliding down the stairs, kissing to an invisible audience while a triumphant chorus plays his way to his "masterpiece."
  • Evil Versus Evil: It wouldn't be inaccurate to say that pretty much everyone in Rapture, bar the Little Sisters and the Big Daddies., is evil in some way or another (Tenenbaum is only on the good side due to being The Atoner). Turns out that populating a city with amoral businessmen and scientists, and then showering the place with guns and basically magical Applied Phlebotinum wasn't such a hot idea.
  • Expository Gameplay Limitation: Certain sequences take virtually all control away from the player but still allow them to look around. Another sequence near the beginning of the game prevents the player from doing anything other than moving in order to introduce them to Little Sisters and Big Daddies.
  • Family of Choice
    • Choosing to rescue the Little Sisters at every opportunity will cause Tenenbaum to point out that they are starting to see Jack as a Parental Substitute. This is cemented in the Good Ending when Jack dies at a ripe old age after seeing the Sisters live out normal lives.
    • The Big Bad also attempts to get Jack to see him this way. Fontaine tries to dissuade Jack from taking vengeance upon him by saying that he considered Jack to be the son he never had. He goes on by citing his contributions to Jack's creation and his plan to bring Jack back to Rapture being the only way Jack could've discovered the truth. Despite all that, Jack ignores him.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The BioShock series as a whole is full of them, everywhere you look, and the greatest examples might be the series mascots, the Big Daddy and Little Sister.
    • Becoming a Big Daddy involves grafting the subject's skin and organs permanently into the diving suit, in addition to generally being spliced into a state unrecognizable as human. It's unclear how much of the subject's former self remains, but likely not much, as no Big Daddy in the game ever displays (nor is suggested in the audio logs) any behavior more complex than their animalistic "protector bond" with the Little Sisters.
    • As bad as that is, the Little Sisters might have it even worse—having a huge, disgusting sea slug implanted into their stomachs, giving them the appearance of a zombie, and then brainwashed to wander the hellscape that is Rapture gathering ADAM from corpses. In particular, what makes it a fate worse than death is that the Little Sisters literally cannot even die unless someone rips the sea slug out of their bodies, as explained by one of the audio logs. Their bodies just instantly regenerate any damage otherwise and they can still feel pain, as made clear later in the series.
    • Sander Cohen is fond of encasing people in plaster to turn them into living statues. While many of them later died, it's unclear how many were actually dead when this was done to them. Given that the player also encounters splicers encased in this same plaster, and Cohen's insane sadism in general, it seems almost certain that some of them were alive for the process and then who knows how long after. There's also no telling how long poor Kyle Fitzpatrick was tortured by Cohen's mad demands before finally being blown up when Jack arrives.
    • Another Cohen-related example is Martin Finnegan, who Cohen locked in an ice-entombed tunnel to freeze to death. Although Finnegan managed to survive until the player arrives, the implications of what he had to do in order to live that long aren't pretty.
    • Another major example is arguably Jack himself, and in something of an inversion of the trope, he starts the game in this state then eventually escapes it. He is brainwashed and forced to fight through hordes of monstrous and savage enemies in a nightmarish environment, revived infinitely by the Vita-Chambers, unable to die permanently and unable to stop or turn away. Although he isn't aware of what's been done to him until later in the game, it's still a pretty horrific state to be in, when considered from outside of the player's perspective. Fontaine's attempt to simply kill him once he's completed his mission could legitimately be viewed as mercy, considering that he could have just as easily kept Jack alive and obedient to keep toying with.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Thanks to ADAM and the inventions in Rapture, you and your enemies can harness these elemental powers.
    • For Jack, the Incinerate!, Winter Blast, and Electro Bolt Plasmids respectively. In the arsenal department Jack can also get the Chemical Thrower which uses napalm, liquid nitrogen, and electric gel ammo in place of these plasmids. The shotgun and crossbow also have their own fire and electric-based ammunition; the wrench can freeze enemies as well if Jack splices the Frozen Field tonic.
    • Houdini Splicers normally fight by shooting fireballs at you although there are rare ice-elemental variants as well; there's also an electrical variant of Thuggish Splicers in the later levels of the game.
  • Fission Mailed: After injecting the Electro Bolt plasmid, Jack falls off a balcony and is knocked out. A Splicer goes up to him, comments that his "cherry's just been popped" (i.e., he's just injected his first plasmid) and wonders if Jack has any ADAM on him before being chased away by a passing Big Daddy. After this point, Splicers still have unique dialogue whenever the player dies.
  • Fisticuffs Boss: Peach Wilkins, sort of. You can legally cheat to use weapons here by looking for guns and ammo lying around the level, using Telekinesis to carry them to the Pneumo Tube, and picking them up after you drop off your current weapons. This actually can backfire in the remastered version, as the weapon order will become screwed up when Jack gets his guns back.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The player enters Ryan's office to the sound of more radio-played arguing between Atlas and Ryan, and Ryan seems more incensed than ever. At the end, he beckons Jack inside, calling him "my child". This pretentious and holier-than-thou language seems pretty par for the course for Ryan, but he's being very literal: Jack is his child.
  • Flashback-Montage Realization: When Jack reaches Rapture Central Control, Andrew Ryan explains The Reveal that Jack is actually an unwitting Manchurian Agent. The player is then treated to a sepia-tinted montage of Atlas using the phrase "Would you kindly?" in conversation, now revealed to be Jack's Trigger Phrase.
  • Foreshadowing: The audio logs, aside from giving background information, hint at some of the bigger plot twists.
    • One log explains how Ryan had the bathyspheres locked with DNA scanners so that they'd only work for himself and his inner circle, but the scanners were so imprecise that anyone related to them could fool the scanner and use the bathyspheres too. Similarly, another audio diary says that Ryan locked the Vita-Chambers to just his DNA, presumably with the same kind of scanner. Your Player Character is able to use both of these devices.
    • A perceptive player looking around Fort Frolic might notice posters advertising a musical called Patrick and Moira, which are the names of Atlas's son and wife respectively.
    • Atlas guides Jack to the submarine containing his wife and son, Moira and Patrick, in hopes of the four of them escaping from Rapture together. Only for Ryan to destroy it. Yet he says nothing implying he actually knew Moira and Patrick were "inside." He seems to think Jack was just using it to escape.
    • Atlas initially presents himself as an everyman survivor just trying to escape. Only as the game goes on, an unusual amount of characters seem to be familiar with him, including Ryan himself. Atlas explains that he used to be involved in the politics of Rapture, only to grow jaded and become a man "who just wants to feel the sun on his face." However, this explanation is pretty big motivation slip up on Fontaine's part. "Atlas" just watched his family explode, yet delivers this line in a totally calm manner. Not only does he go from wanting to throttle Ryan personally back to just wanting to escape in heartbeat, but the family he just lost isn't mentioned when it probably should have if they actually existed.
    • Another audio log has Ryan ruminating upon the ethical ramifications of Dr. Suchong's proposal for a plasmid that would allow someone to control another person's mind.
    • Occasionally, Atlas, an Irishman, would use American terms such as "elevator" instead of "lift". He also gets his own backstory mixed up: At one point he says that he and his wife had their first date at The Fighting McDonagh's Tavern, which would mean that they first met in Rapture, but at another point he mentions bringing his wife and son to Rapture.
    • A loading screen blurb from Suchong has him lamenting how annoying children are and pondering if there is a way to speed up their development. They're not empty words: rapid growth was an integral part of creating Jack.
    • Despite Atlas being your constant companion throughout most of the game and apparently having lived in Rapture long enough to know its ins and outs, you never find a single Audio Log from him specifically. This is especially noteworthy since Tenenbaum and Ryan, two characters you hear from regularly, have several Audio Logs each. This is a hint that Atlas never actually existed. The few times you hear him on Audio Log, it's always under Fontaine's name since he and Atlas are the same person.
  • From Bad to Worse: The audiologs the player finds throughout the story detail Rapture's descent from an apparent utopia to flooded ruins. Once ADAM was introduced to Rapture, it was a straight downhill slide to psychopathic addicts, child kidnapping, and a civil war. To illustrate how hellish Rapture became, the leaks that threaten the city's infrastructure are the least of the problems.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The final boss battle has you fight Frank Fontaine, who is now spliced to the gills, transformed into a hulking brute, and completely naked, but with no visible genitalia...
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • ADAM is almost constantly referred to as the big evil of the city and the primary reason for Rapture's downfall. Most enemies you fight are absolutely crazy for the stuff, it's highly praised as the most valuable resource you can find, and it's infinitely scarce. In-game, it's used as a secondary income in order to buy plasmids and serves no other purpose, and after a certain point in the game the player will probably have all the plasmids they're ever going to need and won't require any further ADAM, however much the game might urge them to. That, and the very first plasmid you get in the game is just found sitting there for free, raising the question of why Rapture's inhabitants don't just bludgeon every Gatherer's Garden machine they see if that's what they're really after.
    • ADAM is supposed to be such a prized commodity that Splicers are desperate to harvest Little Sisters for it, and the Big Daddies and Little Sisters are in fact introduced in a near-cutscene in which a Splicer approaches a Little Sister with the intention of doing just that before being murdered by a Big Daddy. In gameplay, Splicers will never approach Little Sisters even if the player has already dispatched their Big Daddy. (This probably falls under Anti-Frustration Features, as it would be rather irritating if the player sunk hundreds of rounds and countless EVE hypos into killing a Big Daddy only for a Splicer to make off with all their hard-earned ADAM.)
    • Big Daddies can be damaged by any weapon, they just take a lot of damage before dying. The second time you see one, a Leadhead Splicer shoots at it with a revolver and the shots harmlessly bounce off its suit, making them out to be bulletproof. The Bouncers also don't use the drill to bore through targets in gameplay like that scene, likely to justify why Jack can survive their melee attacks in the first place.
    • Hacking vending machines is said to be illegal in Rapture. Despite this, gene tonics which can facilitate such hacking can be readily found in Gatherer's Gardens.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The downfall of Rapture—one single city—began with the discovery of ADAM, a chemical that can let its users peform unimagineable feats, such as telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and more. With how addictive it is, it took a very short time for it to become the backbone of what McDonagh calls a genetic arms race. If ADAM somehow spreads to the surface, we're all boned.
    Julie Langford: "ADAM, ADAM, ADAM... It's bathtub gin, times the atom bomb, times Eve with the serpent."
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: One of the mini-bosses in Fort Frolic sends you on a nice merry chase to kill him... all the while, he's lobbing fiery explosives behind him to hurt you.
  • Give My Regards in the Next World:
    • A ghost can be overheard telling his electrician to "say hello to Fontaine" right before flipping a switch. Seems one of Atlas' spies was posing as a repairman. His overseer found out, and sent him downstairs to fix a circuit breaker.
    • The gist of it. Fontaine tells you to say hello to the dead Ryan for him as he sends security bots over you.
  • Golf Clubbing: How Andrew Ryan goes out, at the hands of the brainwashed player character. Noteworthy in that not only does he command it, he gives the weapon just to take it into his own hands.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Andrew Ryan's opening rant talks about a world where "the scientist is no longer constrained by petty morality" and "the artist no longer fears the censor". Plus he wanted to keep it a secret from the outside world. Then you meet Sander Cohen and Dr. Suchong, and you realize what happens when people are given free rein to do whatever they want, coupled with the fact that Ryan forbade religion and never allowed anybody to leave. The city first degenerated into decadence, and scientists who were brilliant but completely amoral in their methods went without the slightest regulation even as they began merciless human experimentation, and the city turned into a prison.
    • Dr. Suchong championed the creation of the Little Sisters to harvest ADAM from corpses throughout Rapture. However, realizing they would need protection from other ADAM-hungry inhabitants, he then created Big Daddies—giant, lumbering powerhouses who will kill in seconds flat. During experimentation, he struggled to get the Big Daddies to actually form the bond that would make them protect Little Sisters. As he's complaining about this in an audiolog, he slaps a Little Sister trying to get his attention. In front of a Big Daddy...
    • Fontaine engineered Jack's leaving, plane crash, and return, all to get back at Andrew Ryan and get control of the city of Rapture for himself. He also causes his own downfall through Jack's association with Tenenbaum and the search for Lot 192, which frees him of Fontaine's control and allows him to go after and kill the man personally.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors:
    • Red lights are hostile, Yellow lights are neutral, Green lights are friendly.
    • Cameras searchlights are red if under Ryan's control, and green if they are hacked and tracking splicers.
    • Turrets have a red indicator light if hostile, or green if hacked to attack enemies.
    • Flying security bots glow red if they've been summoned to an alarm you set off, or if a splicer is controlling it. They glow green if they're under your control. Yellow-lit bots appear whenever an enemy sets off an alarm from a hacked camera.
    • Big Daddies have glowing yellow lights when first encountered, meaning they're not hostile towards you. Provoke them, and they quickly turn red. If you use the Hypnotize Big Daddy plasmid, they will turn green to indicate they are following and protecting you.
  • Good Pays Better: Rescuing Little Sisters gets you less ADAM than harvesting them, but you'll get extra rewards that cannot be obtained otherwise (like the almighty Hypnotize Big Daddy Plasmid), including additional ADAM, making the difference in ADAM negligible, but much poorer in terms of exclusive Tonics and Plasmids. The same is true in BioShock 2.
  • Hand Sliding Down the Glass: Julie Langford ends up getting gassed by Andrew Ryan for aiding Jack, and in her final moments, writes the combination to her safe on the fogged-up window. She only just finishes writing it before succumbing, dragging her hands down the window as she does so
  • Happy Ending: The good ending of the first game is a textbook example, with characters in the sequel even calling it a "happily ever after" moment. Actually, though, both endings are totally happy... for Jack.
  • Harmful Healing: One audio diary mentions that when experimenting with Little Sisters, often a broken bone had to be broken and reset as many as dozens of times before the doctors got it right. The Blessed with Suck part is that Little Sisters can still feel pain.
  • Harmful to Minors: Mariska Lutz's first audio diary is a note pleading for her daughter to come to her parent's room in the Fighting McDonaghs. Her daughter was taken by Ryan's men, and for the longest time she and her husband don’t know where she is. You find the diary near one of the Little Sister portholes in Fontaine Fisheries. The second diary notes that later she finds her little Masha. Masha has been transformed into a little sister, harvesting the plasmid-strewn blood of a corpse. She neither recognizes nor acknowledges her parents. You find the second diary in the hotel room, by the bodies of the adult Lutzes. They committed suicide out of grief, their daughter’s picture is found near their bodies.
  • Helpless Window Death: Less than ten seconds after you arrive in Rapture, you witness a Spider Splicer corner Johnny, one of the few non-splicers in the city; because you're still waiting for the bathysphere to open, you can only watch through the window as the Splicer brutally eviscerates Johnny and flings him into the water below.
  • Hiss Before Fleeing: The first Spider Slicer you meet once hit by a security spotlight.
  • Hollywood Atheist: In fitting with Ayn Rand's personal opinions on the subject (i.e. religion is a crutch used by the weak-willed), Andrew Ryan is a strident atheist, banning any sort of religion in Rapture, because it would enforce "false morality" and offer an alternative source of authority, threatening his own. Religion also encourages ideals like charity, which Ryan was firmly against, believing every man should be a self-made man.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard
    • You can invoke this by hacking healing stations. Doing so causes them to hurt enemies who try to heal themselves. Even bosses will fall for this trick.
    • Jack was grown in a laboratory in order to kill Fontaine's rival. However, the Little Sisters (whose creation Fontaine was also primarily responsible for), destroy Fontaine in the end.
    • As a corollary to this, Fontaine developed Lot 192 because he wanted a countermeasure to the mental control plasmid he had developed to control Jack. Jack retrieves the serum to cure himself.
    • Averted with Andrew Ryan, who knew that Jack was his son and was sent to kill him. However, knowing he will die, he forced Jack to kill him, dying on his own terms.
    • Dr. Suchong created the Big Daddies, and was killed by one. For added irony, he felt they weren't imprinting on the Little Sisters and smacked one that was annoying him while a Big Daddy was present.
  • Home Made Flamethrower: The "Chemical Thrower". A strange weapon seemingly constructed from household and industrial items: such as wrenches, different kinds of hoses: from fire hoses to normal hoses and more. While you usually get napalm, you could also get liquid nitrogen and electric gel as alternate ammo. There's also upgrades that affect the consumption rate and range of the Chemical Thrower.
  • Homemade Inventions: Some of the weapons—specifically the Grenade Launcher and the Chemical Thrower—look like they were cobbled together from various parts. With the former looking like it was built out of a bunch of cans while the latter was made from a firehose.
  • Hypocrite: Andrew Ryan created Rapture to be a city where all creators were free of censorship, and encouraged everyone to be a self-made man. Only to then censor religion and criticism against him, and build up an ADAM empire with the help of Tenenbaum and Suchong.

  • If I Can't Have You…: When the government threatened to nationalize a forest he owned, Andrew Ryan burned it down. This marked the beginnings of his plan to secede from the world. Even worse, since the US Constitution doesn't allow the government to simply take private property; they would've paid him fair market value for it, and he could've bought another forest if he wanted to. That didn't matter to Ryan, he wouldn't accept any sort of government control over his property no matter what, and would rather destroy it so no one could have it instead.
  • Improvised Weapon: Your first weapon is a monkey-wrench, while Thuggish Splicers carry pipes and garden tools. Some later weapons are also improvised: the grenade launcher has some sort of food can as its breech and fires tin cans packed with high-explosives, and the bowspring part of the Crossbow is a metal ruler. Look closely at the turrets, and you'll see that they're all basically diesel motors bolted to swivel chairs.
  • Industrialized Evil: Researchers tried various attempts at mass production of ADAM; trouble is, the sea slugs did not produce ADAM in large enough quantities. Dr. Tenenbaum figured out how to harvest more by implanting a sea slug in someone's stomach. Underage girls, euphemistically called "Little Sisters", were found to be the only viable hosts. Frank Fontaine used his Little Sister's Orphanage in Apollo Square as a front for Tenenbaum; when the supply of orphans ran dry, Andrew Ryan's men began snatching little girls from their parents (omitting the details about what would happen to them). There was even talk of gathering more subjects from the surface... ADAM is renewable, meaning that Ryan and Fontaine aren't about to let such a valuable product just sit in the mortuary. Instead, the bodies of their casualties are left rotting in the streets so that the Little Sisters can harvest their blood. And the more corpses there are, the more money Ryan and Fontaine make. Not exactly an incentive for making peace.
  • Intercom Villainy: After a certain point, the tyrannical Andrew Ryan will start communicating with you via the portable radio you picked up at the start of the game, even as you hunt him down.
  • Interface Spoiler: A major one happens if you play the Remastered version of this game. In the final bossfight against Fontaine, a cutscene happens where Jack is thrown to the ground and helplessly watches Fontaine approaching him to finish the job - but then a popup tells you that you've earned the Atlas Defeated achievement! This popup appears before the Little Sisters save the day and end Fontaine for good.
  • Intoxication Mechanic: Drinking multiple alcoholic beverages in quick succession will cause the screen to become blurry, in addition to slightly boosting the player character's health and slightly depleting his reserves of EVE. Certain gene tonics will change the effects of alcohol consumption.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Some splicers sing "Jesus Loves Me", a popular children's hymn, over and over. Not exactly a nursery rhyme, but it fits. The first Little Sister you see sings a song to the tune of "Frère Jacques".
  • Irony: Strange that for a city run by a militant atheist, the source of their wondrous genetic alteration is called ADAM, and the plasmids are recharged by EVE. And the city is named for the Biblical Rapture. And that various districts of said city are named for classical deities, like the Hephaestus Power Facility, Neptune's Bounty, and Prometheus Point.
  • Item Crafting: The U-Invent machines allow the player to use supplies they've gathered to create items like tonics and ammunition.
  • Just Add Water: Potentially justified, in that since you're putting components into a machine, which then dispenses a finished item, it presumably adds the stuff you didn't. But when you're turning distilled water and brass tubing into heat-seeking rockets... that's some machine.
  • Karma Meter: Throughout the game, you'll have to choose between saving or harvesting Little Sisters. Saving them all or only killing one will get you the Good Ending, while two or more killed will get the Bad Ending. Note that while the Bad Ending is the same whether you killed two-plus or all the Little Sisters, Tenenbaum's narration will change between disappointed and furious accordingly.
  • Karmic Death
    • Dr. Suchong was the Mad Scientist who helped Tenenbaum create the Little Sisters, utterly apathetic to the torture he was inflicting upon innocent little girls and seeing them as nothing more than creatures. He slaps one in anger in front of her Big Daddy, earning him a quick and brutal death.
    • Killing Fontaine in the good ending. His very own Little Sisters turn their ADAM-draining needles on him. Many times.
  • Karmic Transformation: In the game's finale, Frank Fontaine becomes the epitome of Ryan's philosophy, a golden, Ken Doll übermensch, looking like he just stepped right off the cover of Atlas Shrugged.
  • King Mook: Other than the final boss and the Big Daddies, all of the game's bosses are simply normal Splicers with much more health and better resistance to elemental Plasmids.
  • Kill the Poor: There is a flaw in Fontaine's and Ryan's harvesting of the less fortunate, like vagrants, prisoners, and orphans: eventually, you run out of hobos and need to broaden your scope. This ended up radicalizing the likes of Anya Andersdotter, a ladies' shoe designer. (Her daughter was abducted and turned into a Little Sister.)
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Only on Easy and Normal mode, the fatal injury that would normally kill you leave you with 1 health instead until you take damage again.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • If by chance you've played the third game in the series, Bioshock Infinite first — in particular its DLC, Burial at Sea, which is possible for those wishing to play the franchise in chronological order — the revelation about Atlas' true nature comes as no surprise and the phrase, "Would you kindly?" is already known to have significance, however what that is not revealed until the end of this game. Similarly, players will have already been made well aware of Sander Cohen's insanity.
    • One of the steam trading cards for the remastered edition of the game is the Final Boss Atlas in his One-Winged Angel form.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: It's possible to engineer a one-on-one Big Daddy battle to the death by taking advantage of three facts: 1: Enemies are not immune to damage from other enemies. 2: A Big Daddy that has been attacked will not stop pursuing the unfortunate soul that attacked it until one of them is dead. 3: Hypnotize Big Daddy applies the same logic to anything that attacks you, no matter who started it. And it's surprisingly easy too. Just hypnotize a Big Daddy, and find another Big Daddy and aggravate him. Stand back and watch the two of them go at it, with your camera in hand and a Little Sister in the background shouting "Hit him, Mr. B!". And indeed, Big Daddies are perfectly happy to kill Splicers - not just the one in their introductory scene, or when under a Hypnotise plasmid, but ANY Splicer that goes for a Little Sister.
  • Limited Loadout: Jack has a Hyperspace Arsenal as far as guns go, but his plasmids are restricted to slots that have to be unlocked by spending precious ADAM. Gene Tonics are also limited to a set number of slots and by type.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: The names of Atlas' family. Their names come from posters of a play by Sander Cohen and the posters can be found in Atlas' abandoned headquarters, proving he isn't what he appears to be.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: After freezing an enemy, you can shatter than by depleting the "freeze" meter with your attacks. Killing enemies this way, however, will not drop any loot.
  • MacGyvering: Thanks to the U-Invent machines, you can turn three bottles of distilled water, two cans of kerosene, and a single brass tube into a pair of heat-seeking rocket-propelled grenades.
  • Mad Artist: Sander Cohen and Dr. Steinman. The former was so effective that just seeing his name on a billboard in the sequel was enough to spook some players.
  • Madness Mantra: Splicers tend to mutter to themselves as they wander the halls of Rapture.
    "They make me hate everything I see, they make me hate everything I see, they make me hate everything I see..."
    "We thought we could hide from the light down here... we were wrong... we thought we could hide from the light down here..."
    "We serve His commandments. W-we serve His commandments. (sobbing) We serve all His commandments!"
    "Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so; little ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is strong."
    "I'm just lonely, an-and I'm just lonely..."
    "I traded you, O Lord, for Mammon, and what did it bring me?"
    "Mr. Ryan's gonna notice me, and I'm gonna be a star! It's not too late, not too late!"
    "Ugly... ugly... UGLY!"
    "Mom? Dad? Could you come and get me? (notices Jack) I AM GOOD ENOUGH!!!"
    "I hear 'em when I'm asleep, when I'm awake, when I'm asleep, when I'm awake, when I'm asleep, when I'm awake, when I'm asleep, when I'm awake, when I'm asleep, when I'm awake, when I'm asleep, when I'm awake! AHHH!"
    "YOU'RE FIRED!!!"
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Many of the splicers, especially the Spider Splicers, still wear the party masks from the disastrous New Years Eve party two years before the events of the game.
  • Masquerade Ball: Many splicers still wear Masquerade Ball masks from the New Year's Eve party; perhaps, as Atlas suggested, out of shame at how ADAM has deformed their bodies. In BioShock 2, their faces are contorted to fit their clothes, including the masks they used to wear.
  • Menacing Museum: The Proving Grounds of Point Prometheus used to be a museum showcasing various natural wonders; after the Big Daddies became a necessity for protecting Little Sisters around Rapture, the museum was closed and converted into a training ground for Big Daddies. In the finale, you have to escort a Little Sister through the area while being continuously assaulted by Splicers, all just so you can reach the Big Bad.
  • Missing Secret: The money counter has four digits — but no, there's no upgrade that lets you use that thousands place.
  • Mission Control: Deconstructed. The guy on the other end of the radio telling you what to do? He isn't helping you, he's controlling your actions and your choices are illusory. After The Reveal, Tenenbaum serves as this.
  • Molotov Cocktail: You can set a bottle of booze ablaze with Incinerate! or a Chemical Thrower and then toss it with Telekinesis for a small fireball. Not as effective as just setting an enemy on fire directly, but it's a nice bit of Developer's Foresight.
  • Multiple Endings: There are two endings, based on how you interact with the Little Sisters.
    1. If you save all the Little Sisters (or kill only one), it shows them returning to the surface with Jack, living full lives under his care, and ends with a heartwarming scene of all five of them with him at his deathbed.
    2. If you harvested more than one Little Sister for ADAM, Jack will turn on the remaining Sisters and attack and take over a submarine with Splicers (which is revealed to be carrying nuclear missiles), planning on using them to take over the surface. If only some Sisters were harvested, Tenenbaum's voice-over sounds disappointed; but if they were all harvested, she sounds pissed.
  • Murderous Mannequin: In the Fort Frolic level you see what appear to be mannequins all around the place, though it becomes pretty obvious that they're actually Splicers who have been killed, coated in plaster and posed around the place by Sander Cohen. Even worse, some of them aren't dead.
  • New Game Plus: This feature gets added through the Challenge Rooms DLC. Originally the DLC was exclusive only to PlayStation 3, but as of the BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition re-release of the game and its sequel, it became available for the Xbox 360 version specifically through the Ultimate Rapture Edition. It would later be available for PC when the remastered version was made available.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea establishes the good ending as the canon one. Good thing, too, because otherwise that game would have been horribly depressing.
  • Non-Combatant Immunity: Just after exiting the bathysphere, you have to act as bait to the splicer who just disembowelled an unfortunate victim a few moments earlier. The setup works without a hitch and she's scared off by a security turret before she can attack you. You're then instructed to "Find a crowbar or something" and grab a wrench a few moments later, at which point splicers can actually damage and kill you.
  • Non-Damaging Status Infliction Attack: Certain plasmids:
    • "Enrage", toss a chunk of red goo at an enemy to get them hunting for something to kill, instead of just pacing about.
    • "Hypnotize Big Daddy": Gets Big Daddies to defend the user, instead of not caring when the user's hurt.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Surprisingly, there are moments like this in the game, particularly near the beginning. After surviving the plane crash and swimming up to the dark and gloomy lighthouse, new players might find it a bit daunting to move forward.
  • Notice This: Flashing pick-ups kinda take the challenge out of a scavenger hunt. Of course, it becomes part of the big Deconstructed Trope after The Reveal.
  • Obscured Special Effects: Due to time and budget limitations, the only characters who have unique models are Ryan and Cohen (not counting Fontaine's One-Winged Angel form); other characters like Atlas and Tenenbaum simply use re-skinned splicer models, hidden by either being kept in the dark or being kept at a distance.
  • Obvious Villain, Secret Villain: As Jack makes his way through Rapture, which was destroyed in a civil war that was started when the city's ruler, Andrew Ryan, fought against his now deceased rival, Frank Fontaine, he's led by Atlas, an inhabitant of the city who wants to escape with his family. After Atlas' family is killed, he asks Jack to help him get revenge on Ryan before leaving, and after fighting an army of splicers sent against them, Jack confronts Ryan, who reveals that he's Jack's biological father, and the embryo that was to become Jack was bought by Fontaine to be his "Ace in the Hole". Once Jack kills Ryan, Atlas reveals that he was Fontaine all along, and now that he's taken over Rapture and its advanced technology, he sics his newly gained splicer army against Jack.

  • Offscreen Teleportation: A few Splicers somehow manage to do this in scripted events. One is revealed to have actual teleportation powers; the others... well, it wouldn't be a surprise if you expected them to be able to do it, would it?
  • One-Hit Kill: Early in the game, the One-Two Punch will kill most Splicers in a single hit... that is, of course, until the Thuggish Splicers begin to electrify themselves, making them immune to Electrobolt. Later still, any headshot with the Crossbow is guaranteed to kill all but the Big Daddies in a single bolt.
  • One-Man Army: Jack essentially is one, mowing down legions of Splicers and even taking out lots of Big Daddies.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Atlas loses his Irish accent for a brief moment when he is angry at you. This is a foreshadowing for when he is revealed to be Frank Fontaine, and the Irish accent was just a disguise.
    • Andrew Ryan, formerly known as Andrei Rianofski, especially in the later stages when he starts yelling at you.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Shortly after injecting himself for the first time, Jack starts seeing shades of Rapture's citizens speaking as if they're in the past. By this point, ADAM has been filtered through so many cadavers, it's "sampling" the memories of its old hosts and passing them on.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: In Rapture's hyper-capitalistic society, everything within the city was privately owned and came with a price — including its oxygen supply. All religious beliefs and contact with the outside world are banned, lest the U.S. or USSR attempt to lay claim to Rapture and its radical technology. This final point is referred to as "that one law", as it allowed Fontaine's mob to make a fortune selling contraband from above. Ryan's Secret Police went from targeting smugglers to political activists to singers who wrote a mildly derisive song about Ryan. The final straw was Ryan nationalizing Fontaine Futuristics, scuttling his entire philosophy in the process. Ryan Industries was the only beneficiary of this move, as Ryan could not compete with Fontaine's business on even terms. McDonagh knew (though Ryan did not) that people would interpret this to mean the City Council could seize any business deemed too profitable. In the end, Ryan established a One Nation Under Copyright not that different from the collectivist surface he despised. And when the ensuing Civil War picked up speed, Ryan shut down submarine service out of the city. Citizens protested at the bathysphere station and demanded to be let out. Obviously, their demands were not met.
  • Playing Possum:
    • Upon entrance to Fort Frolic, the player discovers a number of "statues" that when hit, start bleeding. As creepy as this is, the player gets used to it rather quickly. When Sander Cohen sends you out on your sidequests you start to see more... and then you might notice that some of them are in different places each time, and wasn't that hallway empty just a minu—OH SHIT! Cue meat hook-wielding splicers. Of course this too loses effectiveness once you take to loading your pistol with anti-personnel rounds and head-shooting every statue you come across. Special mention goes to the statues that look like little girls and don't bleed, just like the Little Sisters (which are de facto invulnerable because the ADAM slug inside them and probably are still alive because of it).
    • In the latter half of the game, Splicers will take to playing dead and then springing on you when you draw too near. Best be careful when you beeline to a corpse to loot.
  • Please Wake Up: When you kill a Big Daddy to get the Little Sister, her reaction is to rush over to him and start crying, asking him to get up. You Bastard!, indeed.
  • Politically Correct History: Rapture is racially integrated and openly accepts homosexuality, transexualism, and pornography in 1958 (although that's not to say certain period appropriate prejudices don't exist). Justified in that Rapture is an individualist utopia that was created in part to escape from the social mores of the mid-20th century.
  • Poison Mushroom: The damned vending machine in Hephaestus. It's rigged with explosives.
  • Pretty in Mink: Many of the upper-class women in Rapture (although most turned into splicers) have fur-trimmed shoulder capes as accessories.
  • Propaganda Piece: In-universe; Andrew Ryan's bathysphere introductory movie to Rapture bemoans social democracy, communism, and religious institutions, and praises his city.
  • Properly Paranoid: Peach Wilkins, though you don't find out that he was right until much later. Also, Ryan correctly accuses you of being an assassin at the end of Smuggler's Hideout and asks who "sent you". A lesser example from the first game: while the Splicer model Ducky is mostly just a paranoid, unhinged maniac, he does get one thing right: "Fontaine's dead? No, he's not, he's living it up and he's laughing at me!"
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!

  • Random Loot Exchanger: There is a gene tonic upgrade called 'Scrounger' which, when equipped, allows the protagonist to reject a set of looted items and get another randomized set.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Both Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine give you one, and in fact, the entire last third is one prolonged sequence where the voice on the radio taunts you with just how much you suck.
  • Record Needle Scratch: When you hit a record player while it's playing music.
  • Respawning Enemies:
    • Like in the System Shock games, enemies will reappear in previously cleared areas. This is a mixed blessing, as although you need resources to beat them, you can also get resources from them, as well as research them. Since this game is part RPG, this would be the equivalent of Level Grinding. It's also far less annoying than other games, since there are far fewer enemies in these areas when you revisit them.
    • There is one particular area in Fort Frolic where Spider Splicers keep respawning right after you kill one. They climb out of a dark hole in the ceiling that's inaccessible to the player.
    • In an odd glitch, Sander Cohen will respawn and try to do you in if you mess with his quadtych after you've killed him at his apartment.
  • The Reveal: A triple whammy. The first one is that (you are Andrew Ryan's son), initially coming out of nowhere, and the latter two happen simultaneously (Atlas is Fontaine, who's manipulating you with the prompting phrase "Would you kindly?").
  • Roboteching: The heat-seeking RPGs can arch and curve their trajectory whenever someone or something is set on fire since they're heat-seeking RPGs.
  • Room Full of Crazy
    • The Medical Pavilion, the walls of which are covered with patchwork plastic surgery plans, graffiti like "beauty is a moral imperative" and "above all else do no harm," or warnings such as "Steinman kills" and "stay away." Steinman himself appears on the infomercials that play as you enter; presumably, these were intended as a genial welcome, but Steinman recorded over them with his crazed ramblings about the morality of beauty and how plainfolk are infecting the übermenschen. Naturally, all the writing is done in blood. (Calligraphic, no less!)
    • Played straight with an actual room in Rapture Central Control, the room that reveals the details of your mental restraints. There's the typical conspiracy layout pinned to the wall with clippings, scribblings, the dealings of the ones involved layed out as photos, linked to each other by colored yarn — with its main feature the code phrase to your mental leash, "Would You Kindly" scrawled across the whole of it.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Play the game again and count how many times you hear the words "Would you kindly...". In the opening animation, which is pretty short, you may also notice that the note on Jack's package reads, ''Would you kindly not open until...?'
  • Scary Stinging Swarm:
    • In the Farmer's Market you have to collect some bee enzymes from a hive, provoking an angry swarm of stinging insects whenever you search one. Thankfully, they can be put to sleep with the smokers.
    • The Insect Swarm Plasmid does a number on your foes... and your hand.
  • Scenery Gorn: Rapture, even in its wrecked state, is rendered in great detail. Each area you enter is another scene of rot and ruin, spattered with blood and slowly flooding with seawater.
  • Scenery Porn: Even in its decline, the Rapture you can see through the windows is beautiful. This is best shown by your first descent to the city, gifting the player a slow, loving ride through the neon towers and drifting sealife.
  • Scenic-Tour Level: Seeing Rapture for the first time as you travel down to it in the bathysphere.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • The shotgun lying on the floor under a spotlight, in an otherwise dark room, just waiting for some idiot (i.e., you) to pick it up.
    • Oh look, there are some med-kits behind that shop window. I'll just use my wrench and... fight security bots.
    • A number of Gene Tonics are placed next to an ambush. Some of them can be circumvented.
    • In Cohen's house, there are two splicers dancing while some music is played on a phonograph. If you didn't kill Cohen in Fort Frolic, he'll tell you that you can stay unless you disturb the dancers. The phonograph is lying on an unstable pile of items including a shotgun shells ammo box... Of course, picking it up makes the phonograph fall on the ground and is one of the way to piss the dancers (and Cohen) offnote .
  • Science Is Bad: Rapture is decades ahead of the rest of the world in machinery. On the other hand, ADAM would never have been discovered without Rapture's vast resources, and the game ultimately shows that proper government regulation would've likely stopped ADAM from accelerating Rapture's downfall.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • If you're very fast and lucky, it is possible to hit a flaming trashcan downstairs and use it to melt the ice in the basement of the Medical Pavilion, thus letting you play through the entire game without the Incinerate! plasmid. (The ice in Fountain Fisheries can be solved by telekinesising along a corpse with exploding buck, and then looting it after your weapons are confiscated).
    • Extra Little Sisters can be spawned in certain levels through abuse of scripted sequences and Big Daddy behavior. Specifically, in certain instances a Little Sister must be spawned for a scripted sequence. However, if there's a Big Daddy before this point, it will keep respawning when killed (if you move far enough away) and keep summoning Little Sisters until you reach the cap. The scripted Little Sister will spawn anyway, giving you an extra.
  • Shiny New Australia: Ryan can't comprehend why Jack is assisting Atlas, and assumes you were promised "a piece of [his] plundered city".
  • Shipwreck Start: Jack becomes controllable by the player when he makes it to the surface of the water, right after a plane crash, and his first action is to swim to the only place of shelter, a lighthouse on an island.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The shotgun, for a long time, is arguably the game's best weapon apart from your trusty wrench. Four-round magazine tube, high damage, and specialized rounds that can tear through Big Baddies in the earlier levels. It can also be upgraded to be semi-automatic rather than pump action. Until you get the chemical thrower or the crossbow, it is your very best friend.
  • Shout-Out: Several.
    • From the ride down to the city in the bathysphere, the film starts with an ad: "Fire at your fingertips!", for the incinerate plasmid. That was how Dagny Taggart described cigarettes. And the ad shows a man lighting a cigarette for a woman who looks very much like a young Ayn Rand.
    • "Now, would you kindly grab a crowbar or somethin'?!" Furthermore, the wrench looks suspiciously similar to the one used by Adrian Shepard in Half-Life: Opposing Force, and is also obviously a Homage to the wrench previously used as a melee weapon in System Shock 2.
    • The first lock and keycode you encounter is "0451". This is a reference to a long-running number that dates back to the System Shock days, used in both the original and the Irrational-developed sequel as the first door codes you find, as well as Deus Ex (both the original and sequels - again, the first door codes you find). The number itself is a reference to Looking Glass Software's old office door code, which in turn was a reference to Fahrenheit 451.
    • This isn't the first retro-futuristic science fiction video game set After the End (though it's only a localized apocalypse here) to prominently feature a song by The Ink Spots. Furthermore, one of the reasons behind Rapture's construction was to serve as a haven for humanity in case of nuclear war... just like the Vaults from the Fallout franchise. And in both cases, both the Vaults and Rapture were ultimately never meant to really save anyone.
    • The Little Sisters' Glowing Eyes of Doom and tattered dresses are evocative of the Enfant Terribles featured in Village of the Damned (1960).
    • Speaking of the Little Sisters, they're in a so-called symbiotic, but in practice mostly parasitic, relationship with a worm-like creature living inside their body that enhances their regeneration, causes their eyes to glow, and deludes them into doing things that they wouldn't otherwise do. Sound familiar?
    • One type of Big Daddy roaming around Rapture is called "Rosie" and uses a rivet gun.
    • The demented cultists found in Fort Frolic and Arcadia are one to The Great God Pan, the Trope Codifier for the modern Cosmic Horror genre. Since it's never explained how the teleportation and invisibility plasmids they use work, the fact that they're even crazier than the average splicer could just be Teleportation Sickness from repeatedly disassembling and reassembling themselves mostly right or too much screwing with local space and time... but it could also be a hint that the cultists encountered the same Mad God during their frequent Extradimensional Shortcuts.
    • The "Baby Jane" Splicers are almost certainly a reference to Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, which involved an aging, psychopathic ex-child star trying to get back into show business. The Splicer even quotes one of the most famous lines from the film:
      Baby Jane: I used to be beautiful, what happened to me?
    • Martin Finnegan's audio diary in Fort Frolic is called "The Iceman Cometh," in a reference to the 1939 play of the same name.
    • "Oh Rise, Rapture, Rise..." sounds a lot like the anthem of Oceania from the film adaptation of 1984.
    • In Worley Winery, a cut cheese stands next to three bullet holes, making it resemble Pac-Man.
    • invoked The "Would you kindly" conspiracy board you see just before meeting Andrew Ryan is a reference to The Usual Suspects. Furthermore, according to Word of God, the primary inspiration for Frank Fontaine was Keyser Soze from the aforementioned film.
    • It was probably unintentional, but Dr. Suchong sounds a little like the Yellow Peril villains from Jonny Quest, especially in that he inadvertently causes his own demise.
  • Skyscraper City: Rapture appears to consist entirely of tall buildings from the outside. Which makes sense when there's nothing but open ocean between them; having more places accessible by elevator beats having to commute to a building on the other side of town.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: While you're given the ability to revisit previous areas at any time, there's absolutely no reason to do so assuming you already cleared them of items the first time around. The game also sends you through the areas in a very specific order.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Some of Rapture's jukeboxes or public speakers still function, allowing you to fight for your life to the tune of old-timey big band hits like "Beyond the Sea".
    • Sander Cohen is, above all else, an artist, so when he releases a pack of Splicers on you in a fit of pique, he sets it to Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers."
    • The award for the most ironic song in the game would have to go to The Best Things In Life (Are Free). This is ironic for a number of reasons. There's the obvious - it's Rapture, nothing is free - but then when you listen to the words of the song you realise that none of the things mentioned are actually present in Rapture! (The flowers in Spring/the robins that sing/the sunbeams that shine) But hang on, what about Arcadia, that has flowers and trees and the like. Well, yes, but Ryan charges for entry to the once-public park. Nothing in Rapture is free!
    • Some points also have to go for Danny Boy. It's a very solemn song that's about as Irish as Atlas' accent. Which makes hearing it in Fontaine's residence akin to rubbing salt on an open wound especially after the revelation that Atlas is Fontaine. And that he may very well be openly mocking the player with that song.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: invoked To Atlas Shrugged, in that it shows what would likely happen as a result of the novel's "Galt's Gulch."
  • Start My Own: Rapture is essentially Andrew Ryan's attempt to start his own city and his own government after getting fed up with things like "laws" and "ethics."
  • Status Infliction Attack: Every attack plasmid other than Telekinesis, which deals physical damage by hitting enemies with objects, and there's some Gene Tonics that affect other attacks as well:
    • "Electro-Bolt" can stun enemies.
    • "Incinerate" can set enemies on fire, dealing Damage Over Time.
    • "Winter Blast" can freeze enemies in place.
    • The "Frozen Field" series of Gene Tonics imbues the Wrench with cold damage and a chance to freeze enemies with its attacks.
  • Stopped Clock: New Year's Eve coincided with a series of bombings in the heart of town, with the Kashmir Restaurant being hit hardest. Atlas led a large segment of lower-class citizens in a series of attacks on Rapture's upper-crust establishments. The riots basically never stopped; the party decorations are still up, and many Splicers are wearing their costumes from the ball.
  • String Theory: Ryan has a conspiracy board in his office that he has apparently been working on in-between his messages to you. It's a wall-covering mess of papers and photographs...and the phrase, "Would you kindly...?"
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Jack has an arsenal of weapons and plasmids, bio-augmentations that give you powers such as electrokinesis, telekinesis and pyrokinesis. He does end up relying more on his weaponry than his plasmids, but using both in tandem makes for a devastating combination.
  • Superpowered Mooks: Oddly enough, this is both used and averted in-game. While the background fluff describes Splicers using the same Plasmid abilities that the player can use (e.g., Incinerate! to set people on fire), in the actual game many Splicers are mostly limited to normal weapons, such as clubs, guns, and makeshift grenades. Early exceptions include the Spider Splicers, who seem to have some form of enhanced speed and agility, then Houdini Splicers, who can throw fireballs and teleport. Later chapters include Thuggish (melee) splicers acquiring a passive version of your electric attack, Houdini splicers occasionally employing a version of your Winter Blast plasmid, and the final boss (who throws various elemental projectiles).
  • Take That!:
    • The Circus of Values machine in Fleet Hall theater sells nothing but snack items at absurdly high cost, a tongue-in-cheek jab at the extreme price gouging that happens in any given entertainment venue.
    • The entire game could be considered this to the works of Ayn Rand, showing the horrific consequences of what would happen as a result of a society based around objectivism.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Ryan rigs Rapture to self-destruct when he realizes he can't prevent you from reaching him.
    • Nitro Splicers may also light their grenade case and blow themselves up if you damage them enough. They also drop a grenade on death out of spite.
  • Talkative Loon: The one trait that all Splicers share regardless of type; once they spot you, they will not shut up. Gets even worse when you are in a room full of them.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Ryan's intro to Rapture shows his anger at the trope. He despised the notion of tearing anyone's accomplishment down just for a level playing field, and created Rapture as a haven for geniuses to thrive without censorship. But the trope is played straight later when he took over Fontaine Futuristics once it became too profitable.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: You never know when picking up that item or searching that safe might spawn a splicer (or two, or four) right behind you.
  • Tempting Fate: Peach Wilkins has an Audio Diary where he decides to meet with Fontaine due to the poor lifestyle of him and his comrades. Near the end of it, Peach states that things can't get any worse. The other two of Peach's Audio Diaries make it clear how terrified of Fontaine he and everyone else is.
  • Tennis Boss: Peach Wilkins, since you're down to your plasmids and Telekinesis is quite effective (unless you smuggled some guns in). For more generic foes, Nitro Splicers, Houdini Splicers and RPG turrets can have their bombs/fireballs/missiles tossed back at them with Telekinesis. This can be done with the Final Boss, too, but it's fairly pointless.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Establishing Character Moment for a Big Daddy has one smack a Splicer against a wall, impale him with its drill, and then pick up him the head and repeatedly slam him on the floor.
  • Together in Death: You can find a family in Mercury Suites. A mother, father, and three little girls. All sitting on their couches, with cups in front of each body. And a jug of poison on the table.
  • Trigger Phrase: Factors into The Reveal, as well as a lot of the story's third act. As you travel through the fallen Rapture, you constantly hear the words "Would you kindly...?" courtesy of your companion, Atlas. A seemingly innocuous saying is revealed to be the phrase that Atlas—true identity Frank Fontaine—uses to mind-control you to do his bidding. Once you break the mind control, an irritated Fontaine reveals he had another trigger phrase installed in you: "Code Yellow", which when activated causes you to begin suffering heart failure, though it takes long enough for it to actually kill you ("The heart's a stubborn muscle") that you have time to locate a cure.
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: The game never breaks from Jack's perspective, except for the closing cutscenes.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: It's entirely possible to get hacking sections that have the end surrounded by alarms or damage boxes.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: The Leadhead variation of splicer has a tendency to roll to either side during combat. Unfortunately, you cannot do the same yourself.
  • Unobtainium: Plasmids are a refined form of ADAM, stem cells harvested from sea slugs on the ocean floor. Tenenbaum stumbled on the discovery after witnessing a fisherman who was bitten by a slug, healing his crippled hand. This scientific breakthrough was mitigated by the slow quantities said slugs produced, leading to Tenenbaum and Suchong to find ways of producing more and faster: Little Sisters.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Played straight and justified in one part where you have to augment yourself as a Big Daddy, which requires trekking all over the level to find the necessary parts. An audiolog reveals that Big Daddies have their suits grafted to their skin and bound to their bodily systems, so you can't just kill one for its suit.
  • Useless Item: There are some crafting materials that are only used for a few gene tonics, and can't be used again. By far the most infamous is the empty Hypo, where there's beyond plenty of them hanging around Rapture, but only three of them are required for crafting those three tonics.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Subverted with Hephaestus. Everything about the level screams "this is where you confront that bastard Ryan and the game ends. Well, you confront that bastard Ryan, and then Act Three begins.
  • Vice City: Rapture is basically a deconstruction of the Objectivist "Galt's Gulch" from Atlas Shrugged, which without regulation would be populated by Corrupt Corporate Executives resulting in the Gulch's descent into a Wretched Hive. ADAM has long since replaced all other goods as the prime economic force in Rapture, and is now (in Atlas' words), "the wheel which keeps Rapture turning." Big wheel keep on turning, sinking city keep on burning.
  • Video Games and Fate: Does this ruthlessly as part of the deconstruction of choice in video games. After a certain point in the story, it is revealed that Jack is a Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb who has been mentally conditioned into following any order that involves the phrase "Would You Kindly...", and Atlas has been using the phrase since the beginning to force you to help him. The point is driven home by Andrew Ryan deciding to commit Suicide by Cop and using the phrase to force Jack to beat him to death with a golf club, while repeating the phrase "A man chooses, a slave obeys".
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: The chemical thrower is a mixed case; while it is quick on the ammo and long on the reload, it is very, very damaging. With full electric gel and the reduced ammo consumption upgrade, it can even kill a Big Daddy with no effort. It also has quite a realistic range, especially after the pressure hose upgrade. However, with Plasmids, its elemental attacks become less valuable — tellingly, in the sequel, the closest direct counterpart to the Chemical Thrower is the elemental Plasmids.
  • Video Game Vista: After Andrew Ryan concludes his "I chose Rapture" speech in the bathysphere, the player is treated to the first sight of the underwater city of Rapture, as a whale swims by and a giant squid shoots past.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • The closer you get to penetrating Ryan's defenses, the more foaming-at-the-mouth delusional his rants become. Once you actually make it into his office, he seems to settle into a sort of Tranquil Fury, however.
    • It also happens with Fontaine. He is fairly calm at first, though he does start gloating after The Reveal. However, once he realizes that Jack is out of his control, he begins raving on about how he sees Jack as family and starts Splicing. A lot.
  • Visible Invisibility: The "Natural Camouflage" Gene Tonic: While you're standing still with the Natural Camouflage tonic equipped, your hands and guns are transparent, leading to the various nasties that roam the ruins to never find Jack. Houdini Splicers have a variant of this as they can be found by their glimmering bodies (among other tricks) when they disappear to run from place to place.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The entire Fort Frolic/Sander Cohen section of the game, which has the player forced into acting as a hitman of sorts for a loony artist, is a positive example. Sure, it could be neatly excised from the plot without changing anything, but it's one of the most memorable and disturbing parts of the game.
  • Walking Spoiler: The true meaning of the words "Would you kindly..", as well as the connection between Andrew Ryan, Atlas, and Fontaine, can't be easily discussed without spoiling.
  • Waving Signs Around: The first area of Rapture you visit, the Bathysphere Station, has piles of abandoned luggage, and picket signs that say "Rapture is dead!" "Ryan doesn't own us!" "We're not your property!" and "Let it end! Let Us Ascend!" scattered all over. Finally, you come to an official looking notice pinned to the wall that reads "Attention! All Bathysphere travel is now denied."
  • Wax Museum Morgue: A variant. Sander Cohen has decorated Fort Frolic with incredibly lifelike plaster sculptures, all posed and lit for maximum effect. Plaster sculptures with terrified expressions on their crumbling faces and bright arcs of blood around their wrists or throats. Or plaster sculptures who aren't there when you turn around...
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: The abandoned television screens scattered throughout Rapture's homes and businesses: "PLEASE STAND BY"
  • We Do the Impossible: Deconstructed with Jack. The plot only starts when he is the only survivor of a plane crash that miraculously occured just near the tower leading down to Rapture. After that he takes on hordes of Splicers, Big Daddies, and psycopaths, all while apparently just being a regular Joe. Turns out that not only was the plane crash orchestrated, it was done by Jack, as he's the result of a mind-controlled-slave experiment by Fontaine. Even if Jack wasn't designed to be able to pull of all his feats, he'd be compelled to do his damndest via the Trigger Phrase "Would you kindly...?"
  • Wham Episode: Rapture Central Control is possibly the most famous example in Video Game history. Jack learns that he was bio-engineered to come to Rapture and assassinate Andrew Ryan, and that the past he believed in was fabricated. Before Andrew Ryan dies on his own terms, he tells Jack that he was a Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb that Atlas was controlling. Once Jack stops Rapture from self-destructing, Atlas reveals himself to be Frank Fontaine in disguise and that he isn't needed anymore.
  • Wham Line: Particularly memorable ones that occur around the same time in the game.
    • "'Would you kindly?' Powerful phrase. Familiar phrase?"
    • "It's time to end this little masquerade. There ain't no Atlas, kid. Never was." Followed by The Reveal: "The name's Frank Fontaine."
  • What Have I Become?: One of the Madness Mantra's of a Splicer is them sobbing, and wailing softly, "I don't want it. I don't want it."
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: It seems like the creators could not decide on a nationality for Tenenbaum. Tenenbaum's accent transitions throughout the course of the game. At first, she sounds typically Russian, especially since she drops all articles when she speaks — the only indication at the start of the game that she was a German-born Jew comes from one instance of "bitte" in the first Big Daddy sequence and the audio logs describing her Holocaust childhood. Sometimes, she's even a little French. About mid-way through the game, the same time when her involvement in the plot shoots way up, her speech becomes cringingly German — every other word seems to be "sehr gut" or the like. At this point, a certain character begins to refer to her as "Kraut," as if to confirm to the player "yes, we've actually decided to make her German now." In the German version, her accent stays Russian throughout the game, even after the reveal of her origin. This is because you can hardly give someone a German accent when everyone is speaking German and her losing her accent entirely would have even less sense.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The consequence of splicing, because ADAM replaces existing cells with new, unstable ones. It's also why the Splicers are so ugly.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Fontaine hid his Little Sisters under the veneer of an orphanage. Andrew Ryan said, heck, let's make them into official spokemodels!
  • You Have Failed Me: Judging from the surplus of corpses and ghost sequences, it seems that during the final phases of Rapture's descent into madness both feuding factions took a heavy-handed approach to discipline. Andrew Ryan even has a collection of cadavers impaled on columns in his office foyer, all of whom were suspected (rightly or not) of being traitors or assassins. One of whom was his best friend and head of plumbing. Meanwhile Fontaine would splice your ass to next Sunday, or worse.
  • You Just Hadto Say It: Peach Wilkins comments on his change in management from Ryan to Fontaine and remarks that "it's not like things could get a lot worse."

A man chooses. A slave obeys.


Video Example(s):


A Fistful O' Loitnin'

As Atlas advises, if you hit a Splicer with the Electro Bolt Plasmid while they're standing in water, it'll cook them crispy on the spot.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / HydroElectroCombo

Media sources: