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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...
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.


BioShock is a 2007 first person shooter with Survival Horror 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.

It is the year 1960. Beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, there lies an underwater city, Rapture, founded in 1946 by industrialist Andrew Ryan. Built by individuals tired of the oppressive hands of church and state, it is populated by the greatest minds of the world. It was to be a Utopia, but the discovery of ADAM, a powerful but addictive mutagen that can give the user incredible powers, coupled with Ryan's own draconian policies and basic refusal to place any restrictions on ADAM's sale and use, turned it into a nightmare. Now Rapture is infested with homicidal mutants, fighting each other for the scraps of civilization left standing after a disastrous civil war.

BioShock features a retro-futuristic hellhole for players to escape. They take the role of Jack, a seemingly nondescript man who stumbles across Rapture after the commercial flight he's on crashes near the surface entrance to the undersea city.

Jack soon finds his only way out is to fight through hordes of "splicers", the deranged and hideously mutated citizens of Rapture, using anything he can get his hands on to survive. His arsenal includes both traditional and not-so-traditional firearms (a revolver, a shotgun, etc.) and "Plasmids", special gene-modifying injections that give the user incredible powers such as telekinesis and pyrokinesis. Jack can also hijack Rapture's own security cameras, robotic drones and turrets and use them against the splicers.

Aside from its complex story and jaw-dropping setting, part of the draw of the game is the ability to use the environment, weapons, and plasmids in interesting ways: one can light a splicer on fire, then electrocute the poor soul after he or she leaps into the nearest body of water. Or the player can use the grenade launcher to stick proximity mines onto an explosive barrel, then throw it at a group of enemies with Telekinesis for a huge explosive attack.

A Prequel novel for BioShock and BioShock 2 was released in 2011, called BioShock: Rapture. It elaborates on events hinted at in the games.

Tropes used in BioShock include:
  • Accent Relapse: Fontaine goes from an Irish accent to a Bronx one when he reveals himself. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Rosebud Splicers can sometimes be heard singing this as they are idly walking around.
  • Anachronism Stew: Despite Rapture's advanced biotechnology, its architecture and ads hark back to an earlier era. As its for its conventional weapons:
    • 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.
    • The Shotgun is a Spencer 1882, introduced in 1882.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Poor Pigskin insists that he's only attacking you because his bosses are making him, and he'd rather go to bed.
  • Arc Words:
    • "A man chooses. A slave obeys."
    • "Would you kindly..."
  • The Atoner: Dr. Tenenbaum.
  • Badass Boast:

Andrew Ryan: Here's the news: Rapture isn't some sunken ship for you to plunder. And Andrew Ryan isn't some giddy socialite who can be slapped around by government muscle.

  • Badass Preacher: The Waders splicer model, who spouts religious rantings as he attacks you with an electrified pipe or a set of meat hooks, and who also doubles as a Badass Spaniard due to his accent.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Fontaine in his final, end boss form. Apparently, hulking yourself up with ADAM causes your privates to wither away.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the end of the original 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 stabs him to death..
  • Boss Banter:

Steinman: Look at you! HIDEOUS!

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Ending.
    • The present during the opening.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: When you hack machines in the later levels, and haven't been upgrading your gene tonics like the game tells you to, sometimes the puzzles will have blocked-off squares before the point you have to connect to, making them unsolvable. Of course, you can just buy your way out of the hacking minigame, but still...
    • And if you're lucky enough to not get that, sometimes, the water will start pouring in before you can react. If you don't have the hacking tonics that slow down the water/start progress, you're doomed.
    • There are several Splicers pretending to be bodies. You can shoot them all you like, but they won't take damage until you trigger the getting up animation.
      • You can, however, use Insect Swarm on them to make them scream and die without getting up.
  • 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.
    • Steinman starts bitching about beauty while 'operating' on a dead body. It's not technically a cutscene - you can run in and attack him straight away and cut him off but he's got a lot to say before he's ready to attack you, so you listen.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The main hall outside Ryan's office is lined with corpses impaled onto pillars, all unsuccessful saboteurs or assassins.
  • Deadly Doctor: The Dr. Grossman enemy types. "I don't want to hurt you, but sometimes, I have to." Reigning over them all, however, is Dr. Steinman, psycho plastic surgeon. "I want to make them beautiful, but they always turn out wrong! That one, too fat! This one, too tall! This one, too symmetrical! What's that, goddess? An intruder?! He's UGLY! UGLY!! UGLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!"
  • Death by Irony: If the player kills Sander Cohen and takes a photograph of the body, Xbox360 or Playstation3 owners will earn the "Irony" trophy/achievement.
  • Deconstruction: Mainly of But Thou Must! and Mission Control, though the setting turns the game into a deconstruction of "Galt's Gulch" from Atlas Shrugged. The sequel deconstructs collectivism in the form of Sofia Lamb and her "Family."
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: Rapture Control/Andrew Ryan's office.
  • 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.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Ryan and Fontaine.
  • Evil Laugh: Atlas rips a good one when he reveals himself as Frank Fontaine.
  • Evil Versus Evil: It wouldn't be inaccurate to say that pretty much everyone in Rapture, bar the Little Sisters, is evil in some way or another. This does not exclude the player.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "A man chooses, a slave obeys. Kill! A man... chooses! A slave... obeys! Obey!"
    • "I had you built! I sent you topside, I called you back, showed you what you was, what you was capable of! Even that life you thought you had, that was something I dreamed up and had tattooed inside your head! Now if that's not family, I don't know what is!"
  • Fauxreigner: Since Rapture is full of people of multiple nationalities with various accents, it's easy to get fooled by Atlas, actually a persona cooked up by Frank Fontaine, a New York mobster. You get little hints every now and then when the Irish accent slips on certain words (in particular, the description of the research camera), or when he uses distinctly American phrases like how Nitro Splicers are "sounding off like it's the 4th of July," Cohen being "Section 8" kind of crazy, and an American football allusion. After The Reveal, Fontaine himself even taunts Jack's gullibility by putting on the voice again with even more exaggeration than before.
  • Fission Mailed
  • Fisticuffs Boss: Peach Wilkins, sort of.
  • Gambit Roulette: Though Fontaine's plan was ultimately successful (at least up to the point his creation killed him), it does seem a bit needlessly complicated and dangerously susceptible to bad luck.
  • 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.
  • Genre Savvy: You as a player get smart pretty quickly to how no matter how scared or happy somebody sounds, they're going to attack you even if they're cowering on the floor. But you go along with it because if you didn't, it would be like spoiling your own surprise birthday party.
  • 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 God Am I: Fontaine, after The Reveal.
    • Andrew Ryan could also be seen as this to some extent. He practically is Rapture's God.
  • Gosh Hornet: 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.
  • 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.
  • Hiss Before Fleeing: The first Spider Slicer you meet once hit by a security spotlight.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Jack, the Laser Guided Tykebomb made in order to kill Fontaine's rival, and the Little Sisters whose creations Fontaine was primarily responsible for, destroy Fontaine in the end.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You:

Ghost 1: Fuck Fontaine!
Ghost 2: You don't fuck Fontaine... Fontaine fucks you!

  • 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: The name of an achievement/trophy that you can get in the first game by taking a picture of Sander Cohen's body.
  • 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 bass tubing into heat-seeking rockets... that's some machine.
  • 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. Fontaine constantly taunts Jack about his lack of family. He gets one. Who stabs Fontaine. Many times.
  • Kick the Dog More like break the adorable puppy's neck under the influence of mind control while sobbing and begging to be stopped
  • 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.
  • 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. Done properly, it's possible to stand back and watch the two of them go at it, complete with a Little Sister shouting "Hit him, Mr. B!" and such in the background, then finish off the survivor with a single hit from your wrench.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Those Big Daddies might look big and slow, but so much as look at a Little Sister wrong and they'll swoop in and nail you to the freaking wall.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Jack is the illegitimate, growth-accelerated son of Andrew Ryan and his stripper mistress. Furthermore, he was raised/conditioned by Suchong and Tenenbaum to be a slave for Fontaine/Atlas.
  • 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, 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!!!
    • You can sometimes hear these from Little Sisters, as well. "Chocolate is better than pain, chocolate is better than pain..."
    • "Three too many, three too many, three too many, three too many!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Office Golf: Andrew Ryan does this while Rapture collapses around his ears.
  • Playing Possum: "We tricked you, monster." 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 scythe wielding splicers. Of course this too loses effectiveness once you take to loading your pistol with anti-personnel rounds and headshooting every statue you come across.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Well, then, they didn't trick you if you head-shotted every statue, huh?
    • 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 inside them and probably are still alive because of it).
  • Playing Tennis With the Boss: Peach Wilkins, since you're down to your plasmids and Telekinesis is quite effective. For more generic foes, both Nitro Splicers and Houdini Splicers can have their bombs/fireballs tossed back at them with Telekinesis.
  • Playing the Player: The first game does this ruthlessly as part of the Deconstruction of choice in video games.
  • Playing with Puppets: Ryan does this to you when you confront him.
  • 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!" While Fontaine is not laughing at Ducky exactly, he is still alive.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "She WON'T. STAY. STILL!!!!!!"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Both Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine give you one, and in fact, the entire last third of BioShock (series) is one prolonged sequence where the voice on the radio taunts you with just how much you suck.
  • The Reveal: "I chose the impossible... I chose...RAPTURE." The projector screen moves away and you see the city in all its glory.
    • The moment you realise why Atlas and Ryan keep asking you "Would you kindly...?"
  • 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." Naturally, all the writing is done in blood.
    • Played straight with an actual room in Hephaestus, 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: A number of them, in particular to Atlas Shrugged:
    • Firstly, and most obviously, there is a character named Atlas.
    • Secondly, in one audiolog, Andrew Ryan refers to himself as And Ryan, the letters of which can be rearranged to form Ayn Rand.
    • Thirdly, there are a number of posters throughout the game saying "Who is Atlas?", referencing the Driving Question of Atlas Shrugged, "Who is John Galt?"
  • String Theory: Ryan has a conspiracy board in his office.
  • Stylistic Suck: A quick glance at the lyrics to "Rise, Rapture, Rise," Cohen's paean to Ryan, shows that the song is absolutely execrable. Adds a new wrinkle to his contemporaries' accusations that Cohen only rose so high because he was in Ryan's good graces.
  • Suicide by Cop: Andrew Ryan, the "cop" being Jack, who was destined to kill him either way.
  • Taken for Granite: Mad Artist Sander Cohen doesn't actually petrify people, but he does the next best thing by covering their bodies in plaster and posing them. Almost everyone in his domain is either a dead statue, or a person pretending to be a statue. One of his "students" took to using his ice powers, rather than plaster, to freeze people in poses.
  • Taking You with Me: Ryan rigs Rapture to self-destruct when he realizes he can't prevent you from reaching him. Also, after dropping a bomb-throwing Nitro Splicer, wait a moment before moving in to loot the corpse.
    • "A man... CHOOSES. A slave... OBEYS. OBEY!"
    • "Ain't that Just. Like. RYAN?!"
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Triple-whammy: not only are you a test-tube baby conditioned to be the perfect obedient assassin, but you're also Ryan's bastard child, and you've been under mind control for the entire game.
    • Referenced in BioShock (series) 2: After Lamb realizes that Delta is free from his mental conditioning:

Lamb: I had thought you some golem of Sinclair, brought here to hold Rapture's arms as he rifles through her pockets. But no... you are aware of your plight. Who, I wonder, would be so cruel? To force a mirror on a man with no face...

  • Trigger Phrase: Factors into The Reveal, as well as a lot of the story's third act.
  • Twenty 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.
  • Twist Ending: The first one has a triple twist; the first two happen simultaneously ( Atlas is Fontaine, who's manipulating you with a prompting phrase) and the third happens soon after that ( you are Andrew Ryan's son).
  • Usual Suspects Ending: A rare case of a Usual Suspects...four-fifths of the way through...sorta thing.
  • Unwitting Pawn: You are helping the bad guy, though you never actually had a choice in the matter. "Nice work, boyo!"
  • Vendor Trash: The stuff you use for Item Crafting is sometimes literally found in garbage cans.
  • Video Game 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 usage upgrade, it can even kill a Big Daddy with no effort.
    • It also has quite a realistic range, especially after the pressure hose upgrade.
  • 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.
  • 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 Do the Impossible: Deconstructed with Jack.
  • Wham! Line: "A man chooses... A slave obeys... OBEY!!"
    • And the more memetically popular: "Would you kindly... powerful phrase. Familiar phrase?"
    • Also:

It's time to end this little masquerade. There ain't no Atlas, kid. Never was. Fella in my line of work takes on a variety of aliases. Hell, once I was even a Chinaman for six months. But, you've been a sport, so I guess I owe you a little honesty. The name's Frank Fontaine.

  • Why Won't You Die?: Ryan's question to Jack about a third of the way into the game.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The automated public address system throughout Rapture reminds citizens to use ADAM in moderation. "Remember, a careful splicer is a happy splicer!" Obviously, they didn't listen.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Fontaine plays a mean game of Speed Chess. When his initial plan (get the entire city spliced up to the point where he is effectively in charge) breaks down with Ryan blowing up part of his smuggling operation and seizing his legitimate assets, he fakes his death, reinvents himself as "Atlas", and triggers a city-wide civil war by pointing out that Ryan became everything he (and by extension, the hardcore Objectivists who followed him into the ocean) hated in the process of fighting Fontaine. During the fighting, everyone got spliced to the gills, resulting in crippling Adam addiction, and the conditions for peace included handing Fontaine's seized assets over to Atlas.
  • 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. Fontaine would just splice your ass to next Sunday, or worse.