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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.

It is the year 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.

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 haven for Earth's best and brightest — can either be viewed as a logical conclusion of that book, or what happens when you deviate from the Objectivist vision, just a tiny bit, from the beginning. Levine refrains from taking a side in either debate; the Aesop of Rapture, if it can be said to have one, is that achieving a utopian society may be unwinnable by design.


Aside from its layered story and eye-popping visuals, the player's ability to use the environment, weapons, and plasmids together made BioShock the most inventive shooter since Half-Life 2: you can light a splicer on fire, then electrocute the poor soul after they leap into the nearest body of water, or use the grenade launcher to glue proximity mines onto an Exploding Barrel, then lob it at a group of enemies. Verily, if torturing mooks is an art, BioShock is a virtuoso.

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 PlayStation 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.

BioShock contains examples of these tropes:

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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.
  • Adult Fear:
    • 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.
    • You can also 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.
  • 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: This can be explained by Rapture's isolation from the rest of the world causing stagnation in the culture.
    • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Splicers are programmed to always miss their first shot. This lets them ambush you without getting cheap shots in.
  • 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: "A man chooses. A slave obeys."
    • "Would you kindly..."
  • 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-ie, 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 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.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • No reference is made to Rapture residents having to acclimatize to living at the bottom of the oceans. Jack, for his part, is able to instantly adapt to the air pressure after being brought down from the surface. The closest the game comes is the occasional reference (also in the second game) that once someone comes to Rapture, they stay in Rapture, suggesting one's body might acclimatize to the point where returning to the surface might be difficult.
    • Fontaine's "Code Yellow" is meant to command Jack's brain to stop his heart. The heart is technically a muscle that act independently from the brain not an organ. Because of this, the command completely backfires.
  • 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. (It's useful against machines, though, as it slows the flow of the gel during hacking.)
  • 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.
  • Bee Afraid:
    • 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.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Not only is Atlas secretly using you to get control of Rapture, but Atlas is Frank Fontaine, an apparently Posthumous Character that you would only know about if you listen closely to Peach Wilkins' pre-boss rant and the audio diaries scattered throughout the levels that some players completely pass up.
    • In the Director's Commentary, Ken Levine mentions that he had to rewrite the pre-reveal script for the character mentioned above, and recast the voice actor for that part, because test players were getting suspicious of the character way too early.
  • Big Bad: Ultimately, the Big Bad of the game turns out to be Frank Fontaine, as you find roughly halfway through.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: For the first half of the game, until the death of Andrew Ryan brings Rapture's population of murderous, scheming tyrants down to just the one. Interestingly, a player who doesn't pay attention to the audiologs may get halfway through the game without even realising Rapture ever had a feuding villains problem.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Several Little Sisters do this to save you at the end of the game, repeatedly stabbing the Big Bad and killing him (after you've fought him first of course).
  • Bilingual Bonus: Obey is the Russian imperative for "kill". Also this is the last word Ryan (a Russian) is screaming to 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.
  • 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:
    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: Game developer Clint Hocking argued that the game is thematically inconsistent because its story seems to advocate selflessness (help Atlas, don't harvest Little Sisters, etc.) while its gameplay seems to encourage selfishness (gather as much ADAM/money as possible, kill anything that moves that isn't a Little Sister, loot your enemies' corpses). He coined the term "ludonarrative dissonance" to general cases of disconnect between gameplay and story (a term which is loosely equivalent to Gameplay and Story Segregation).
    • Some have countered Clint Hocking in that he was missing the point. While the game's theme was encouraging selflessness as good, it never outright states that all selfish actions are evil (unless it involves killing little girls, of course). The overwhelming majority of actions the player takes which Hocking criticizes are mainly done in the interest of simple survival—and it's very hard to be selfless to others if you're dead.
    • Others would point out that real life also advocates selflessness, but acquiring wealth and power is almost always a lot easier if you only care about your own interests.
    • Arguably, this is the entire point of the game, in a way, as 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 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: The final boss of the original. You can try it against the Bouncer class Big Daddies in either game, but it's pretty risky.
  • But Thou Must!: Deconstructed. You've actually been under mind control the whole time.
    • 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 conspiracy theorist-style bulletin-board that has "Would you kindly..." written on it in big red letters. Bonus points for being part of the twist.
    • Even before that, in the package Jack is holding on the plane in the intro sequence has a small note attached. Play at a high enough graphic quality, and you can make out "Would you kindly not open until—" words.
  • 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 Furutistics 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Andrew Ryan is leaving this world on his own terms, not Fontaine's. Less reviled than most usages of this trope, for some reason.
  • 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:
  • Dehumanization: Citizens of Rapture are taught to think of communists, government, religious institutions, and the poor as "parasites".
  • Developers' 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.
  • Diesel Punk: The advanced technology, 1940's Art Deco City Noir, and twist-filled mystery 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: Rapture Control and Andrew Ryan's office in Hephaestus.
  • 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.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: All the Little Sisters are barefoot.
  • 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.
  • Dummied Out: There are some plasmids and tonics within the game's programing that were removed in the final product. However, the PC and Mac versions of the game can access some of the plasmids and tonics through mods or using a pseudo-developer command console. These includes Organic Pockets, a physical tonic doubles your capacity for holding recovery items and ammo, and Shutdown Expert, an engineering tonic that hints the security systems in Rapture were originally planned to work like the ones found in the System Shock series. Upgraded versions of Telekinesis and Clever Inventor can also be found this way.
  • Eat the Rich: Rapture's Kill the Poor attitude finally gives rise to a massive rebellion not just by the opressed 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.
  • 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: Well, that escalated quickly.
    • 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 Big Daddies have the Curb-Stomp Battle mentioned above.
    • 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: Dr. Steinman when you confront him. 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 as well. 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!"
  • Evil vs. 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 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.
  • Famous Last Words: "A man chooses! A slave obeys! OBEY!"
  • 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. The chemical thrower can use 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.
  • 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. In particular, there is one log that 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.
      • Speaking of which, when Ryan blows up the Bathysphere that supposedly contains Moira and Patrick, he doesn't seem to be aware that there was anyone inside, apparently being under the impression that Jack was trying to use it to escape.
    • 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.
  • From Bad to Worse: Bill McDonagh's diaries summarize it nicely. Adding insult to injury, the city has started springing leaks, which McDonagh had predicted would be uncontrollable.
  • 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 with no visible genitalia... Ken Levine later apologized for this on Twitter.
  • 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: McDonagh compared it to 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."
  • Genre Deconstruction: The first game is a deconstruction of Shooter/RPG hybrids like Deus Ex and the System Shock series, both of which prided themselves on the freedom they gave to the player.
  • "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: The gist of it. Fontaine tells you to say hello to the dead Ryan for him as he sends security bots over you.
    • 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.
  • Golf Clubbing: How Andrew Ryan goes out, at the hands of the brainwashed player character.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • 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 reign 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 tries to make the Big Daddies protect the Little Sisters. He succeeds.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors:
    • Red lights are hostile, Yellow lights are neutral, Green lights are friendly.
    • Cameras searchlights are red if under 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Homemade Inventions: Some of the weapons—specifically the Grenade Launcher and the Chemical Thrower—look like they were cobbled together from various parts.
  • Hypocrite: Andrew Ryan especially, but most of the characters at one point or another fail to notice the cognitive dissonance guiding their actions.
  • If I Can't Have It: 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 goverment 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.
  • 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 Hephaestus, Neptune's Bounty, and Prometheus Point.
  • Item Crafting: The U-Invent machines.
  • 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: There are two endings, both narrated by Dr. Tenenbaum, depending on how you interact with the Little Sisters. See Multiple Endings below.
  • Karmic Death: Dr. Suchong, in what has to be the most satisfyingly appropriate recording ''ever''. He really ought to have known better.
    • Killing Fontaine in the good ending. His very own Little Sisters turn their ADAM-draining needles on him. Many times.
  • 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 is not revealed until the end of this game. Similarly, players will have already been made well aware of Sander Cohen's insanity.
  • 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!".
    • 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. Just another reason to want to play as them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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+: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: Not so much Atlas/Fontaine as Ryan, f.k.a. 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: Even this would-be utopia has laws. 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.
    • 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 So Different from the collectivist surface he despised.
    • First, Ryan's Secret Police came for the smugglers. Then, they came for the political activists. Then, lounge singers who wrote a mildly derisive song about Ryan. Then...
    • As the 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.
      • There are protest signs, demanding to be allowed to leave the city, that "Rapture is Dead" and "Ryan doesn't own us". Then, a single official sign: "ALL BATHYSPHERE TRAVEL IS DENIED". Ryan won't let anybody leave, and won't acknowledge that he rules over a failed sociopolitical system. Now recall that this game takes place in 1960. Meanwhile, in Germany...
  • Playing Possum: "We tricked you, monster." Oh, Crap!.
    • Also, 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).
  • Playing the Player: Does this ruthlessly as part of the deconstruction of choice in video games.
  • 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 women in rapture (although most turned into splicers) have a fur-trimmed shoulder cape as an accessory.
  • 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!: "She WON'T. STAY. STILL!!!!!!"
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Ryan's philosophy of how to defeat monopolies and big business is... to offer a better product. Not so easy when they got far more resources than you do, especially when they control the supply.
    • Fill your society with the "Best and the Brightest" and not the low class "parasites"... unfortunately someone has to scrub the toilets and clean the streets in order to keep society running.
      • Look down upon said "Parasites" who do all the menial jobs that keep society running? They're going to start revolting and aligning with people who want to overthrow you.
    • No regulations telling people what they can and can't do. Sure enough, this produces an absolute haven for scam artists and people who don't even need to be ADAM-addled splicers to be certifiably insane and depraved. And they're going to prey on the defenseless, like little girls.
    • Keep people Under the Sea with little to no way to contact the outside world (and later on eventually banning it), then don't be shocked when they start going bonkers.
      • And with no way to (legally) provide such things that are banned from the outside world? Someone (notably Frank Fontaine) is going to make a killing smuggling contraband.
    • The phrase code Yellow is meant to make Jack's brain command the heart to start slowing. Except the heart is a muscle that works independently from the brain.
  • "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 two happen simultaneously (Atlas is Fontaine, who's manipulating you with the prompting phrase "Would you kindly?") and the third happens soon after that (you are Andrew Ryan's son).
  • 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.
  • Scenery Gorn: Rapture, even in its wrecked state, is rendered in great detail...
  • Scenery Porn: ...and even in its decline, the Rapture you can see through the windows is beautiful. (The inside, not so much)
  • 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...
  • 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).
    • The reason the Teleportation Plasmid was removed was due to this.
    • 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".
  • 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.
  • Shoutout: "Oh Rise, Rapture, Rise..." sounds a lot like the "Oceania Anthem".
  • Skyscraper City: Rapture appears to consist entirely of tall buildings from the outside. Which makes sense when there's nothing but open ocean between then; having more places accessible by elevator beats having to commute to a building on the other side of town.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Atlas Shrugged.
  • 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"
  • 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.
  • 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).
    • Given that most of the splicers rather overdid things and went off the deep end it isn't totally surprising they just charge at you in a berserk rage.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Ryan's intro to Rapture shows his anger at the trope.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trigger Phrase: Factors into The Reveal, as well as a lot of the story's third act.
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: The game never breaks from Jack's perspective, except for the closing cutscenes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: It's entirely possible to get hacking sections that have the end surrounded by alarms or damage boxes.
  • 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.
  • Vice City: Rapture is basically a deconstruction of the Objectivist Gulch, 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 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: As part of the game's deconstruction of linearity in video game narrative. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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"
  • 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 Have to Have Jews: Like Ken Levine, many of the prominent citizens of Rapture are of Jewish descent but presumably non-practicing, including Andrew Ryan, Sander Cohen, Dr. Steinman, and Holocaust survivor Brigid Tenenbaum.

A man chooses. A slave obeys.

Video Example(s):


Andrew Ryan

For two thirds of the game, you're hunting down Andrew Ryan, The Leader of the underwater city in which you're trapped and perpetrator of many crimes against you and your Mission Control. When you finally meet him, he uses your Trigger Phrase on you in order to demonstrate how you've been brainwashed, demonstrates its chilling effect on you in a Breaking Speech, and effectively commits Suicide By Manchurian Agent while screaming his mantra in your face, all in a non-interactive cutscene to show how hopeless and out of your own control you really are, while also affirming his Objectivist philosophy- if he's going to die, he'll die on his own terms, not Fontaine's.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (7 votes)

Example of:

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Media sources:

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