This page covers the franchise as a whole. If you're looking for the original BioShock game, see: YMMV.Bio Shock 1.
- Anvilicious: The series isn't subtle in its imagery, which unfortunately means that the messages that are subtle are easily overwhelmed. The message of extremism in any human endeavour is bad, represented with all of the major villains and settings. Critics argue that such tendencies to paint in extremes, or see the main focus on extremism itself, ultimately makes the concept cheap and not a true exploration of any idea. For instance, if the message of the first game is that Objectivism taken to the extreme is bad, does that mean that "moderate" Objectivism is good? Likewise, if Zachary Comstock an extreme of white nationalism and manifest destiny, does that mean moderate versions of that are good or tolerable? As noted by critics and historians the point about these ideas, or any other contentious ideas, is not about the most extreme version, but about the fact that ordinary people can buy into it, nor is it any real critique or exploration of concept (many critics for instance argue that any Objectivism is bad and academically it is not considered a valid idea at all).
- Complete Monster: Frank Fontaine, Dr. Yi Suchong, Dr. J. S. Steinman; Stanley Poole; Father Zachary Hale Comstock; Pat Cavendish. See those pages for details.
- Contested Sequel: Infinite is either the best or the worst game in the series. Although many fans consider Infinite to be a worthy, if still gameplay-wise inferior, sequel to BioShock that is still superior to BioShock 2, you can expect opinions to range broadly on this subject.
- BioShock 2 is near universally agreed to be a cash grab that is not as good as the original, but fans can't agree on whether it's a good game in its own right that had a story that did its own thing, or if it's a lazy piece of garbage that had a story that used too many retcons and diminished the original's story.
- Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: Many critics had this reaction to every entry in the franchise, praising their respective stories and settings but criticizing for their relatively simple gameplay, particularly in comparison to their spiritual predecessor System Shock 2.
- Love to Hate: There are many despicable characters in the franchise, from Andrew Ryan to Sofia Lamb to Sander Cohen to Zachary Comstock to Jeremiah Fink — and that's not even mentioning the undisputed heavyweight champion of evil BioShock villains, Frank Fontaine. But damn if they don't tend to be great orators.
- Nightmare Fuel: Lots. Between claustrophobia, hydrophobia, Body Horror, deadly doctors, mad artists, deadly doctors who ''think'' they're artists, fear of surgical implements, fear of needles, fear of the dark, Mind Control, child cruelty, creepy children, Soundtrack Dissonance, animal cruelty, fear of being hunted through a decaying city by gene-spliced psychopaths, and seafood allergies, there's something in the series to terrify everybody. All three games have their own pages.
- Ugly Cute: The Big Daddies in a way. They are Gentle Giants, and their relationship with their Little Sisters (as protective guardians whom the Sisters call "Mr. Bubbles" and play with) can be endearing... unless you dare trigger them by harming a Little Sister.