BioShock (series)

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Would you kindly describe BioShock here?

BioShock is a Video Game series developed by Irrational Games (also known as 2K Boston for a short while before reverting back to the old name). The entire series is a Spiritual Successor to the System Shock series, and as such are technically First Person Shooters, but deviate in many ways.

Settings take place in alternative histories with a heavy dose of Zeerust. The backstories of the setting are elaborated upon in Apocalyptic Logs scattered about. There are usually heavy ethical or philosophical themes in the game as well.

In addition to finding the Apocalyptic Logs, the player needs to hunt down ammo and health; each is in limited supply, but can be stored for later and bought.

Fighting is done primarily with guns, but also with various powerups. The player is going to need them, because the enemy has access to those same powers, and is insane because of it. And even if the player can take down the regular Mooks, there are still the giant armored monstrosities hunting the main character.

There are three games in the series so far:

  • BioShock - Released in 2007. After his plane crashes over the Atlantic Ocean in 1960, Jack discovers the underwater city of Rapture, an Objectivist utopia built by Andrew Ryan that has descended into chaos after the residents got their hands on the superpower giving substance ADAM. With the help of Rebel Leader Atlas and former Mad Scientist Brigid Tenenbaum, Jack has to stop Ryan and his army of Splicers to escape Rapture. But it won't be easy, Jack with have to harness the power of ADAM himself, which can only be harvested from the "LittleSisters" running around Rapture, and they are protected by huge armored bodyguards called Big Daddies. A Prequel novel titled BioShock: Rapture was released in 2011.
  • BioShock 2 - Released in 2010, but developed by 2K Marin instead of directly by Irrational. Eight years after the events of BioShock (series), in 1968, Rapture has been taken over Sofia Lamb, a staunch Collectivist who hates the The Evils of Free Will and has set up a cult centered around her daughter Eleanor. The player controls a Super Prototype Big Daddy, Subject Delta, who is woken up by the Little Sisters and asked by Eleanor to rescue her from her mother.
  • BioShock Infinite - To be released in 2013, and set in a different continuity than the first two games. A Pinkterton agent named Booker DeWitt is sent to the lost floating city of Columbia to rescue a girl named Elizabeth. Unfortunately the city has erupted in a massive civil war between the Ultranationalist Founders and the rebellious Vox Populi, and Elizabeth is guarded by the giant clockwork robot Songbird.

Has a Wiki here.

Tropes used in BioShock (series) include:
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Justified, since Rapture's regulation-free economy means that shopkeepers can charge people for weaponry to defend themselves during a civil war. Subverted, since you can hack most of the game's vending machines to get yourself greatly reduced prices. In an audio diary, Andrew Ryan even complains that hacking of the vending machines undermines Rapture's capitalist values. It also shows up in places where businesses will rip-off their customers, like a fancy theater or lounge - a snack bar, even when hacked, sells for the "low, low" price of $80.
    • Also justified in that there are no shopkeepers in the desolate Rapture, so there is no economy to begin with. Player character can buy anything only by using vending machines that have predetermined prices.
  • Affectionate Parody: Bioshlock
  • Alcohol Hic: When you grab two beverages in quick succession and, as a result, get momentarily drunk.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. The bolts from the crossbow are one of the game's most effective weapons.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Scattered throughout Rapture are audio journals by the city's inhabitants. The information revealed within ranges from the useful (lock combinations) to the informative (who the main characters are and how Rapture got this way) to the disturbing (the reason why there are two corpses embracing on a bed next to a bottle of pills.)
  • Arc Words: Would you kindly?
    • "A man chooses. A slave obeys."
  • Arrows on Fire: One of the alt-fires for the crossbow shoots flaming bolts
  • The Artifact: In its original phase of development, the first BioShock (series) had insectoid beings rather than altered human beings, called Gatherers, Protectors and Aggressors. These eventually became the Little Sisters, Big Daddies and Splicers, respectively. Leftovers of this naming scheme can be found, however: The Little Sister's vending machine is called "The Gatherer's Garden," and you can find a few logs or plasmid descriptions referring to "aggressors."
    • And there are the "Protector Trials" DLC in 2.
    • According to several logs, Big Daddies were officially called 'Protectors' and were nicknamed by scientists only after Gilbert Alexander developed 'bond conditioning' to maximize the Protectors' efficiency.
  • Auto Doc: Automatic medical machines. They charge you cash, but will heal you completely; however enemies can also use them. You can also hack them so they'll give you a discount and kill any enemies who try to heal with it. Destroying them causes them to drop first aid kits.
  • Ax Crazy: Almost everyone in Rapture.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Insect Swarm. Leaves the enemy vulnerable, standing, and distracted, attacks multiple enemies at once, keeps Big Daddies at a standstill, and to top it off, you shoot live bees from your hands.
  • Badass Normal: Mark Meltzer. In a Papa Bear state he managed to figure out that girls were being kidnapped, deduce that Rapture exists, get down there, make his way through the same places as Delta completely unspliced and carrying a pistol. the only reason he gets captured at the end is because he was distracted BY HIS DAUGHTER
  • Bandito: "El Ammo Bandito!" vending machines.
  • Bee-Bee Gun: The Insect Swarm plasmid, a particularly gruesome example. "Bees! I hate bees! I'm allergic!" In the sequel, the fully-upgraded plasmid turns slain enemies into proximity-activated beehive bombs.
  • Berserk Button: Don't touch a Little Sister while a Big Daddy's around, unless you want to end up on the business end of a huge drill -such as what happened to Dr. Suchong-or nailed to the wall with a rivet through your brain.
  • Big Bad: In the first BioShock (series), Andrew Ryan, followed by Frank Fontaine; in the second, Sofia Lamb. Despite player suspicions and audio recordings of him basically stating he's about as ruthless as Frank Fontaine and an unscrupulous company, Sinclair isn't this.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Rapture is dotted with security cameras, and if one gets a long enough glimpse of you it dispatches combat drones to put you down. On the upside you can hack said cameras so that enemies trigger the drone attacks. The sequel BioShock 2 features this trope even more directly as it sometimes has voices warning you over the loudspeaker that "Big Sister is Watching You!", along with graffiti warning that "LAMB IS WATCHING".
  • Big Eater: Disposable food items are used instantly and there are no consumption limits. This is okay for, for example, a Pep Bar, but reaches the point of "grotesque superpower" when Delta or Jack manages to bolt down an entire potted steak or drink a whole bottle of moonshine, three Arcadia Merlot bottles and a shelf of vodka roughly one second per bottle, or chew their way through an entire storeroom full of supplies just because they can - especially Delta, who's wearing a sealed diving helmet.
    • Mitigated somewhat by any sort of alcoholic drink, if you drink two or more in quick succession you'll experience some serious beer goggle effects.
  • Bio Augmentation: Plasmids and gene tonics.
  • Biopunk: But of course! The turrets and cameras also have a Dieselpunk vibe.
  • Bland-Name Product: The "Belowtree" teletype in Ryan's office, a parody of the Underwood typewriter brand.
  • Blatant Item Placement: Averted. Much of the weapons and ammo you pick up are either scattered around as a result of a civil war, or found in stashes in offices or weapons lockers. Other things like your improvised weapons are constructed out of mundane materials.
  • Bloody Handprint
  • Body Horror: Abundant. Splicers are marred by bloated tumors or lesions or twisted limbs, and looking at some of the Big Daddy suits it's impossible to imagine a normal person fitting in them. This is because the person in question has had their flesh removed and organs welded into the inside of the suit. Spider Splicers have decayed even further in BioShock 2 and barely look human anymore, while the new Brute Splicers are so beefed up on gene tonics that skin and muscle grew over their clothing.
  • Brass Balls: Both games uses this as a name for an achievement in some way. The first game has 'Brass Balls' which requires you to finish the game on Hard difficulty without using any Vita-Chambers. The second game has 'Big Brass Balls' which only requires you to complete the game without using any Vita-Chambers.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Hardcore Objectivist Andrew Ryan, desperate to win Rapture's civil war, resorted to pheromones to control his population, with the justification that if Atlas won they'd be no better off than slaves anyway.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: a bizarre in universe example. Thanks to the hyper capitalist nature of Rapture, you can literally buy the security systems that are supposed to be keeping you out and use them on enemies instead.
  • Canned Orders Over Loudspeaker: From the corny "Rapture Reminders" and other Public Service Announcements in the first game to Sofia Lamb's unnerving "inspirational" speeches in the second game.
  • Charm Person: The Hypnotize Big Daddy plasmid. The Hypnotize plasmid in general, really.
  • Children Are a Waste: In one loading screen, a scientist, Dr. Suchong, is quoted saying that children are a waste, because they mature slowly, and consume resources while contributing nothing. He then remarks that "There must be something to be done to speed the process".
  • Circus of Fear: Ryan Amusements, mostly designed as a propaganda device to scare children into never going to the surface.
  • Clingy Costume: The Big Daddies are grafted into their diving suits, though fortunately for two characters who voluntarily don similar outfits it doesn't appear to be necessary to wear them.
    • It's implied that after the Big Daddies die (well, under normal circumstances, anyway. Not so sure about now), the suits are reclaimed so they can be reused, even though the process that puts them in the suit to begin with makes this dangerously unsanitary at best.
  • Closed Circle: Rapture is under the sea, so it’s pretty inescapable except for the one bathysphere.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Little Sisters skip around Rapture in a dream world, oblivious to all the death and destruction around them, singing happy songs as they stab corpses with syringes and suck out the fluid afterward. Of course, all that psychological conditioning and ADAM that got them that way.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: Hacking machines turns the lights on them from red to green. The lights in the portholes of the Big Daddy suits also change between green (hypnotized), yellow (neutral), and red (hostile).
  • Companion Cube: There are lots of gene tonics that upgrade your security bot allies in various ways. One lets you repair your bot for a bit of EVE. It also randomly assigns each one a name.
  • The Conscience:
    • Bill McDonagh, Rapture's General Contractor, has been described as Ryan's conscience, though unfortunately for everyone Ryan ignores him, leading McDonagh to unsuccessfully try to solve Rapture's problems at their root.
    • In BioShock 2, Subject Delta serves as Eleanor's conscience, for better or for worse. Sometimes Sinclaire becomes this to Delta.
  • Convenient Color Change: When you successfully hack a turret.
    • Also when you use the Hypnotize plasmid and when you piss off the Big Daddies.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Some of the people Rapture attracted were this trope, fed up of government intervention.
  • Crapsack World
  • Creepy Child: The Little Sisters. In terms of appearance they're less creepy in the sequel (done intentionally, according to Word of God to make them easier for players to grow attached to), but you finally get a glimpse of what Rapture looks like through their eyes, which more than makes up for it.
    • A popular bit of Fridge Brilliance is that Little Sisters look just as creepy in the sequel as they do in the original, but Subject Delta's Big Daddy conditioning makes them seem cuter to him (and presumably other Big Daddies).
    • The Little Sisters in the original are creepier when they're first introduced, singing Ironic Nursery Tunes and muttering about how they "know [you]'ll be an angel soon". Once you start encountering them in the game proper, with their quirky random lines and cute voices, they become a lot more tolerable and even fun to encounter.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Getting shot to pieces by a machine gun or taking a wrench to the frontal lobe are probably the least painful ways to die in Rapture. At least they beat being burned, drilled, electrocuted, drowned, telekinetically hurled, and/or beaten to death.
  • Cue the Sun: The better endings take place as dawn breaks.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: A light slap at that thanks to the Vita-Chambers scattered throughout the levels. The sequel acknowledges this when the villain admits that the best she can do is slow you down and attempts to get rid of you permanently by destroying all the Vita-Chambers in the area via crush depth. Unless, of course, you turn them off for an achievement run.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The player can create improvised Molotov cocktails by using the Incinerate! plasmid on alcoholic beverage' bottles, and then trowing them with Telekinesie.
  • Downloadable Content: A small pack of additional plasmids and tonics was released shortly after release along with one of the patches, while the Play Station 3 version had DLC containing three challenge rooms and a New Game+ mode. The sequel has just had some additional content for the multiplayer released. Reception has been mixed, mainly as many of the additions were already on the disc and just needed to be unlocked.
    • BioShock 2 also features two single-player DLC packs: the Protector Trials, in which you play as a nondescript Alpha Series in different scenarios protecting a Little Sister gathering ADAM, and Minerva's Den, a self-contained story featuring new weapons, enemies, and a new protagonist.
  • Downer Ending: The Bad Ending of BioShock (series), and dear God the two Bad Endings of BioShock 2.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lots of little vignettes suggest this - two corpses embracing on a mattress next to a pile of pills, a body slumped against a bloodstained wall with a shotgun at its feet, a family gathered around the television with an empty bottle of cyanide tablets on the table, residents and prison inmates who escaped from the madness with the help of a rope...
    • In the opening of BioShock 2, Lamb uses a mind control plasmid to force Delta to commit suicide. Fortunately, he gets better.
  • Drunk with Power: Every splicer, up through and including Fontaine. Ryan and Lamb had noble ideas, too, but became controlling despite their insistence they were doing it for the greater good. A very old story.
  • Dynamic Entry: Big Daddies like to do this with their drill charges, walls or no walls. And in the opening scene of BioShock 2, Delta arrives to save his Little Sister from threatening Splicers by landing on one.
  • Dystopia
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • The good ending of the first game. Rapture is a nightmare teeming with splicers, automated defenses, and more than one would-be tyrant, all of whom are out for Jack's blood. But, even after discovering that he was never anything more than a con-man's Laser Guided Tykebomb, Jack is still able to overcome the two men who brought the city to ruin, transcend his original purpose (with a little help from The Atoner), and lead the few remaining innocent people out of that hellhole to the surface and a normal, real life. And he is rewarded for all this with a family, the one thing a little Tyke Bomb like him would never otherwise have. He, and they, got to die happy.
    • The sequel follows a similar tone with the happy ending, with Eleanor absorbing your essence so that you'll always be with her as the Little Sisters gather around to watch the sunrise.
    • C.M. Porter in the Minerva's Den DLC. With a little help from The Thinker.
      • There's also a very large one for Rapture. The Thinker had the ability to bring back Big Daddies, and Tenenbaum had the ability to bring back Little Sisters. At the end of Minerva's Den, Tenenbaum mentions that there is much work to be done, implying that they might be going back to save those left behind. But it required three games and hundreds of deaths for that to become possible.
  • Electrified Bathtub: Hitting a Splicer standing in water with Electro Bolt kills everybody standing in the water and nets you the "Toaster In The Tub" achievement.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: In the first game the Little Sister syringe. In the second game Eleanor Lamb in a Big Sister suit that you can direct with a plasmid.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • You'll eventually see Elite variants of the standard Big Daddies in the first game, while in the second you'll meet the Alpha Series, the same prototype model as your character. Though not quite as tough as regular Big Daddies, they'll attack you on sight, often in pairs or alongside other Splicers.
    • As well as the Brute Splicers, the Splicer equivalent of Big Daddies.
  • Enclosed Space: Mostly of the Underwater Base variety.
  • Enemy Scan: Using a special research camera to photograph enemies (somehow) grants you a damage bonus against them, as well as unique abilities or Plasmids. The sequel awards points for creative use of weapons and Plasmids.
  • Escort Mission: The last level in the first game before the final boss is one of these. Wearing a Big Daddy suit, you have to escort a Little Sister through a level full of Splicers trying to kill her. It's easier than it sounds; it may not actually be possible to "fail." And in the sequel, it pretty much becomes a reverse-escort mission when Eleanor Lamb puts on the Big Sister suit.
    • BioShock 2 had a number of optional missions that required you to protect a Little Sister while she harvested ADAM. They weren't strictly necessary, but granted you lots of bonus ADAM.
  • Evil Laugh: The Circus of Values kiosks. Made all the more creepy by being a flat monotone.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Averted. Though the catchphrase of the plasmid jingles is "Evolve Today!" and ADAM is based on genetics Gone Horribly Wrong, nobody really seems concerned with becoming a superior human through them. Plasmids are just another market commodity or weapon, and little more.
    • Played straight with Sofia Lamb, however, who wants to harness ADAM's ability to turn humans into mindless machines who work for the "common good".
  • Evil Versus Evil: Andrew Ryan versus Frank Fontaine.
  • Evolving Attack: The original let you upgrade your elemental plasmids to deal more damage, but the sequel really expands on it - your Electro Bolt, for example, becomes a chargeable Chain Lightning attack at level 2, and at level 3 the charge becomes its normal function while the new charge lets you spray a torrent of electricity from your fingertips.
  • Exploding Barrels: Oxygen canisters from when people had to pay for air. If you have the Telekinesis or Incinerate plasmids, you'll surely figure out a use for them.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Both protagonists will apparently eat pretty much anything that vaguely resembles food. Chips you've fished out of a trashcan? Sure thing! Coffee you found in a toilet? Down the hatch. Bonus points to Delta, who manages to eat everything in his path without once taking off his sealed diving helmet. Then there are Spider Splicer Organs, which (with enough "research, see Enemy Scan above) can be used as first aid kits. One can only imagine what you do with them.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Andrew Ryan in the first game and Grace Holloway in the sequel do so (if you choose to kill her). Stanley Poole, on the other hand...
  • Fate Worse Than Death: You see many examples of this around Rapture, but the biggest of all is probably becoming a Big Daddy, a mindless being whose only purpose is to slavishly protect their Little Sister. It's a very one-way process too.
  • Finger-Snap Lighter: The Incinerate! Plasmids.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Incinerate, Winter Blast, and Electrobolt, the game's three elemental plasmids. The final boss even cycles through these 3 elemental forms throughout the fight, although it has little to no changes to weaknesses between forms.
    • The Chemical Thrower also squirts Napalm, Liquid Nitrogen, and Electric Gel in that order as its normal, advanced, and inventable ammo.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: Yes, you're really going to dodge a Spider Splicer's meat hooks to try to get a good portrait of it - see Enemy Scan below. Sander Cohen takes notice of your abilities, unfortunately, and has a little project for you to help on in Fort Frolic...
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The Big Daddies, referred to collectively as "Mr. Bubbles" by the Little Sisters.
  • Foreshadowing: The games are loaded with foreshadowing.
    • In the first game:
      • The opening cutscene provides a subtle hint as to what happens to the plane: altitude loss warnings, which would only be heard in the plane's cockpit, are clearly audible. What was Jack doing there of all places?
      • Peach Wilkins guesses - correctly- that Jack works for Frank Fontaine. At the time it doesn't seem as important because Peach seems to just be insane and paranoid like all the other splicers.
      • Jack's tattoos on both of his wrists, a link of chain, implies he was imprisoned at some time. To a certain extent, he was, since he was a guinea pig for Doctor Suchong and pawn for Fontaine. However, it also has another symbolism: it symbolizes the Great Chain Andrew Ryan constantly mentions, foreshadowing the revelation that Ryan is Jack's father.
      • Both Jasmine Jolene and Andrew Ryan trigger memories of Jack's parents, a flash of the family picture being shown suddenly. Obviously, this is Jack subconsciously remembering that Jolene and Ryan are his parents.
      • In Arcadia, you see posters that allude to the Little Sister orphanage being Fontaine's idea and not Ryan's.
    • * On the upper level of Fort Frolic, you see the posters for a theatrical performance named Patrick and Moira. Foreshadowing that Atlas might not have been entirely on the level about the wife and son by the same name who were supposedly blown up by Andrew Ryan.
      • One of Sullivan's audio diaries talks about how any blood relatives of Ryan's would still be able to use the bathysphere because of the genetic keys. One of Suchong's diaries mentions that Ryan had the Vita Chambers set to his genetic frequency for testing.
      • "[Peach] seems a decent enough sort. No doubt he'll wait until after you've done his errands to stick a shiv in your belly."
      • The first audio diary you find from Frank Fontaine comes just before the submarine in Port Neptune goes kablooie - your first, very subtle hint about Atlas's true identity. On a related note, of all the audio diaries you find throughout the entire game, not one of them is from Atlas - presumably because he has no need to keep up the act when talking to himself.
    • In the second game you learn that the Alpha series of Big Daddies were so strongly bonded to their Little Sisters that if the sister died or was separated, the Big Daddy would die as well.
  • Formally-Named Pet: Little Sisters call their pet Big Daddy "Mr. Bubbles".
  • Freeze Ray: The Winter Blast plasmid, natch.
    • Also, the Chemical Thrower when loaded up on Liquid Nitrogen. Perhaps moreso, since it fires a continuous stream of freezing, rather than the Plasmid's 'blasts'.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Averted with ADAM and EVE, which, despite being always written out in all caps, are never revealed to stand for anything.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the story, ADAM is used to activate and maintain one's ability to splice; in the game it's treated more like a form of currency for plasmids and upgrades that are otherwise available free of charge.
    • In the Audio Diary "Today's Raid," Diane McClintock mentions having "snagged 31 rounds of buckshot, 4 frag grenades, a shotgun, and 34 ADAM." It may have implied 34 units of ADAM, and this (even the low number is noteworthy), combined with its market value, indicates that ADAM was a very high commodity for barter in the story as well as in gameplay. Andrew Ryan offers 1000 Adam to the splicer who kills Jack.
    • In fact, the original plan (which even made it to an early gameplay demo) was to have ADAM be the main currency of the game, before they decided to replace it with Rapture Dollars for everything but plasmids.
    • The Splicers ignore vials of Adam just lying around, the player doesn't. this might be fridge brilliance, given what Andrew Ryan does to looters. The Big Daddies never respond to other splicers with the hostility they do to you. Even when it's scripted the lights do not change from Yellow to Red. Even when attacked by accident they simply posture and scream, if you attack them by accident.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Gene Tonics let you turn invisible, teleport, recharge health by hacking machinery, or take better pictures, while Plasmids allow you to hurl energy, toss objects with your mind, or turn your hand into a hornet nest.
  • Genetic Memory: Yet another of ADAM's miraculous properties. Splicers, including Jack in the original game, were affected by visions of ghosts, explained as other people's memories being passed along by the recycled ADAM. Fontaine figured out that you could use a similar process to implant false memories in a subject, while in the sequel Sofia Lamb jumps on the idea of combining multiple people's memories into a single person. She tried this with Gil Alexander as well, with...unexpected results...
  • Genius Bruiser: All three protagonists have good hacking and puzzle-solving abilities, in addition to being good with firearms.
  • Gentle Giant: The Big Daddies are quite gentle when escorting their Little Sisters, and will carefully help them into and out of their tunnel hatches, or carefully scoot them out of harm's way if there are obstacles. But if you get too close, they'll nail you to the wall.
  • Giant Mook: Big Daddies fall somewhere between this and full-blown boss encounters in their own right. Also, the burly new Brute Splicer in BioShock 2.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The corpses of enemies are extremely effective weapons via telekinesis.
  • Grande Dame: The "Lady Smith" splicers. "You call that tenderloin? If you serve that in any respectable hotel in New York, they'd laugh you out of town. We've got to have standards, even in troubled times."
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Due to the multicultural society, various characters from non-English speaking backgrounds sometimes let their foreign language show.
  • Gratuitous Greek: Subject Delta, the Alpha Series, half the locations...
  • Green Rocks: The sea slugs gained the ability to generate ADAM from a large, glowing biomass. It can be seen under Persephone.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: And how. While you may find it hard to justify the actions of Lamb, Ryan and Fontaine (as well as many other characters), you can make a case that most characters have a Freudian Excuse or are just deluded into achieving their philosophy with any means possible). The 2K Forums in particular are filled with many debates on the morality of characters.
  • Hacking Minigame / Pipe Mania: The vending machines (among other things) can be hacked.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Some splicers wear bloodied bunny masks, while Sander Cohen is fixated on rabbits, using rabbit masks in his tableaux and rabbits in his... poetry. See the page for his work.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • A form of Non-Gory Discretion Shot in the form of all-concealing green mist is used the moment you actually harvest a Little Sister.
    • Interestingly, in BioShock 2, you have an opportunity to see what happens when somebody else attacks and harvests a Little Sister, and they too are surrounded by an evil-looking pea-green fog.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Play Station 3 port, in addition to the Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulties, has Survivor, which is described on the difficulty selection screen as "every bullet counts." They mean it. In this mode, enemies can do some serious damage to you and nearly all of your plasmids consume a lot more EVE. And to add to the fun, two of the trophies forces you to play the game on this difficulty. The first trophy requires you to simply finish the game. The second trophy requires you to finish the game without using Vita-Chambers. Said trophies are respectively called "A Man Chooses" and "I Chose The Impossible" Though not the same difficulty, the Xbox 360 version similarly has Achievements for just finishing the game on Hard ("Seriously Good At This") and without using any Vita-Chambers ("Brass Balls").
  • Hate Plague: The Enrage plasmid lets you throw a squishy, organic Conflict Ball at foes, turning them into berserk team-killers.
  • Healing Factor: The Little Sisters, justified due to the ADAM in their system. Deconstructed in the second game: overly fast healing of broken bones often means they don't set properly, so they have to be re-broken several times to be put back into place.
  • Heroic Mime: Jack, the protagonist of the first game, has exactly two lines in total, both in the opening cutscene. Lampshaded in BioShock 2, with one of Father Wales' audio diaries describing Jack as a silent and mysterious Messiah figure; "Then, though he spake not a word..." The second game's protagonist, being a Big Daddy, straddles the line between this and The Unintelligible; distorted but vaguely-human grunts and roars, and not much else.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Deconstructed. If Andrew Ryan's fear of discovery by the surface nations hadn't made Rapture into one of these, there would have been no black market for Frank Fontaine to control. For a captain of industry, Ryan was blind to basic economics - demands will be supplied, laws only make them more expensive.
  • Hide Your Children: Pointedly averted; whether to kill the Little Sisters is the primary moral decision the player is given. There are no other children around though, meaning no boys at all.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Suchong found a way to accelerate human growth by five. A child can have the physical attributes of a nineteen year old in four years. Most children will only appear to be children for about three years: not much of a window considering there's not much time for procreation when your city's falling apart.
  • Hooks and Crooks: Spider Splicers use them, even throwing them.
  • Hollywood CB: Sort of. Your radio, which everybody can tap into (or jam) at the proper time.
  • Horror Hunger: Little Sisters are psycho-conditioned to drain ADAM out of corpses with their syringes, then drink the extract from a handy nipple.
  • Human Popsicle: Courtesy of the Ice plasmids.
  • Human Resources: ADAM, when harvested from dead bodies.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: There are a number of comestibles that will restore your health and EVE meters, but only by a very small amount. Eating snacks such as potato chips and cream-filled cakes gives you health, while drinking coffee gives you EVE, and eating a "pep bar" gives you a smidgen each of health and EVE. Meanwhile, smoking cigarettes will give you a bit of EVE at the cost of some health, while drinking alcohol will give you a bit of health at the cost of some EVE. The gene tonic Extra Nutrition will give you more health from consumables, and the gene tonic Booze Hound causes you to gain EVE instead of losing it when drinking booze.
    • There is, however, a mild disincentive to drinking alcohol for health—drink too much in too short a time and the corners of the screen will become fuzzy and your movements will become drunken wobbles for a minute or two.
    • BioShock 2 superficially expanded the set of consumable items, adding not only more mundane food items like canned goods and cola but vitamins, aspirin, fresh water, and something called "Doc Hollcroft's Cure-All", which restores both health and EVE despite being, as an audio diary on the website reveals, a placebo.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Maybe there's a gene tonic that gives people personal pocket dimensions.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Andrew Ryan. Nominally an Objectivist, but he ends up nationalizing industries, restricting free speech, killing ideological opponents and ultimately (according to Diane McClintock) believing more in power over others than his nominal philosophy.
    • In BioShock 2, Sofia Lamb practices her philosophy in a brutally consistent fashion until the end of the game, where she's quite happy to doom The Family to a watery grave while she makes her escape on a submersible. This is actually justified as she had no intention of actually saving the people of Rapture, she only wanted a stable rapture so she could extract the Adam without a war raging.
    • As you start getting closer to Fontaine, he starts complaining about your "betrayal", insisting that "nobody told you nothing but lies" and referring to himself as "family".
  • Hypocritical Humor / Irony - many of the splicers really don't know what they have become

Brute splicer: You ain't natural!
female splicer: Freak!
Another female splicer: YOU'RE INSANE!

  • An Ice Person: Martin Finnegan, and the ice-element Houdini Splicers found later in the game. You can turn an enemy into a Human Popsicle in either game with Winter Blast and other attacks.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: If you find a kitchen, odds are good that there's a human body on the table or counter. Probably necessary due to Rapture's food production breaking down, plus it's a way to recycle that sweet, sweet ADAM. Spider-splicer hearts can also be used as medpacks.
  • Infant Immortality: Justified: The slugs inside the Little Sisters give them a Nigh Invulnerable Healing Factor, unless someone can grab them and physically remove the ADAM slug from their bodies.
  • Interface Screw: Walk under a leak or down too much booze and your screen will go funny for a moment. A more gameplay-related variety occurs late in the game when you drink the first dose of the antidote to Fontaine's mind control.
  • Interface Spoiler: Your suspiciously empty weapon wheel and equally empty level menu can give away that Your Princess Is in Another Castle.
  • Item Crafting: The first game lets you do this with "U-Invent" machines.
  • It Got Worse: The running theme of the series.
  • It's All About Me: Andrew Ryan. Frank Fontaine. Pretty much everyone in Rapture, really. That's kinda the point, though.

Andrew Ryan: In the end, the only thing that matters to me, is me. And the only thing that matters to you, is you.

    • As regards Ryan in particular, it's hinted by the audio diary "Fontaine Must Go" and the fact that his name is plastered all over the city's signage that his motives in building Rapture were less to do with creating a haven for the world's elite, and more to do with creating a haven for himself where he could milk the inhabitants for all they're worth... one way or another.
  • Karma Meter: The first one attempted it with the Rescue/Harvest choice for dealing with Little Sisters, and even the game's director admitted the black or white choice was a poor implementation. It was also incredibly harsh: harvest just two out of 21 Little Sisters and you get the evil ending. The sequel seems to go through the motions by giving you the same choices again, just twice, but there are also three characters whom you can choose to kill or spare, which also affects the ending, giving a total of four; Mother Theresa, baby-eater, Judge Dredd, and I Did What I Had to Do.
  • Kill'Em All: More or less the Bad ending for both BioShock (series) and BioShock 2; it's actually quite a karmic ending since in both games, the ending reflects your actions during the game.
  • Large Ham: Some audio diaries come to mind. For example, Pierre Gobbi is practically chewing on the scenery when expressing his unhappiness about the watered-down wine.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: On Easy or Normal, any attack that should kill you (i.e. taking a rocket to the face with only about 10 health left) only bumps you down to 1 health, and you have to take an additional hit to die. BioShock 2 takes it even further by making you invincible for about 1 second after being brought down to 1 health. This is disabled on the highest difficulty, however, which makes things a lot harder.
  • Lego Genetics: There's simply no way that all those superpowers Jack gains could interface with his DNA so easily. The same with all the splicers, but they certainly went crazy enough.
  • Lighthouse Point: Where Jack starts out and where the second game ends.
  • Lightning Bruiser: It's quite a shock to discover just how fast a Big Daddy can charge across a room and flatten you. On the bright side, you get to play as one in the sequel and are just as swift and brutal when you lower your drill and charge.
  • Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair: Rapture, what was to be an Objectivist utopia, and now is decidedly not.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Suchong et al. Tenenbaum skirts the line mainly by realizing what she's doing and becoming The Atoner.
    • Played with in the case of Gil Alexander who was sure that his next experiment will render him insane. He's right.
    • Sofia Lamb is a rare example of a Mad Social Scientist.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: There's a plasmid equivalent of just about every standard RPG magic power, as long as you have the EVE.
  • Magic Genetics: There probably isn't a real "shoot lighting from your hand" gene, and BioShock (series) shows why we should be thankful for that.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Splicers often wear Mardi Gras-ish masks. Possibly justified, as it's stated in Audio-Logs that everything really went to hell in Rapture on New Year's Day. And considering some of their appearances otherwise...
  • Mama Bear: The Rosebud Splicer's main reason for the descent into madness and the violence that follows appears to be her search for her missing daughter.
  • Mana Meter: EVE, which is used to power plasmids.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Frank Fontaine.
  • Master of Unlocking: All three protagonists, having mastered respectively the specific arts of plumbing and stopping a needle in the right place.
  • May Contain Evil: ADAM.
  • Meaningful Name: "Andrew Ryan" may not be an anagram of "Ayn Rand", but it's as close as it needs to be, and "Atlas" is a reference to the novel Atlas Shrugged. However, Word of God claims that "Fontaine" being a reference to The Fountainhead is just a coincidence.
    • Rapture gets bonus points for a double triple meaning. It means a state of elevated bliss, but it's also synonymous with the apocalypse and 'rapture of the deep' is a common name for nitrogen narcosis, a psychological condition experienced by divers on the greater depths.
    • Additionally Andrew means manly (as in "A man chooses,") and Ryan means king.
    • Atlas after taking a massive dose of ADAM physically resembles his namesake.
    • Lamb is a rather fitting name for someone starting a seemingly benevolent, pacifistic religious movement.
  • Mind Over Matter: The Telekinesis plasmid. "Pick up big stuff with your mind. Throw them at your enemies. What else do you need to know?"
  • Mix and Match: Zeerust Science Fiction + Survival Horror + Art Deco + Anarcho-Capitalistic Dystopia = BioShock (series)
  • Monster Clown: "Fill your Cravings at the Circus of Values! Hahahahahaaaa!!
  • The Movie: Expected eventually (still in pre-production as of Fall 2010), directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later), written by John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), and filmed using greenscreen techniques from Three Hundred. Whether or not it will suck remains to be seen.
  • MST3K Mantra: According to the Making of BioShock (series) DVD, one of the early difficulties in designing Rapture was that, being on the sea floor, the city would have to be designed in a certain way in order to cope with the natural spreading and movement of the sea floor. Eventually, the artistic developers simply ignored the issue and designed it as any normal city would be. They do say, however, that the final design is apt because like the idea of a Objectivist-run city, a city built on the seafloor just isn't feasible.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • In the original, if you rescue all the Little Sisters you find rather than harvest them, you bring them up to the surface with you, where they live normal lives before all returning to comfort you on your deathbed. If you instead harvest them all, after beating the last boss you gorge yourself on ADAM, lead an army of Splicers to the surface, and seize a submarine armed with nuclear weapons. As a nod to the choice, the Splicers in the sequel argue over which path Jack took.
    • There's a lot more permutations in the sequel's endings (six, to be precise), depending on whether you again chose to harvest or save the Little Sisters, but also if you chose to kill or spare NPCs]. Variables include the presence or absence of Little Sisters as well as whether or not Eleanor saves her mother, watches her drown, or actively kills her. After morally-ambiguous paths, Delta intentionally dies rather than have Eleanor follow his example, leaving her to wonder if anyone can be redeemed or who will guide her now. In the worst ending, Eleanor follows your example and harvests you for ADAM, and declares that her desires are all that matter and the world is going to change.
  • 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.
  • Mutants: The splicers were originally ordinary people who deliberately purchased injectible upgrades for their DNA, buying anything from good looks to superpowers... only to find just how debilitating ADAM can be if used carelessly.
  • My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad:
    • The chatter from the Gatherer's Garden kiosks. More specifically, "My daddy's smarter than Einstein! Stronger than Hercules! And he can make fire with a snap of his fingers! Are you as good as my daddy, mister? Not if you don't come to Gatherer's Garden!"
    • The Little Sisters you adopt "I got the best Big Daddy" from BioShock 2:
  • Neural Implanting: Wouldn't you know it, ADAM does that too!
  • Never Gets Drunk: While it's possible to get "drunk," (a) the effect lasts about twenty seconds and (b) it typically takes multiple entire bottles of hard liquor to produce even this.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: The cells that Little Sisters grow up in, covered in drawings of dead people and morbid-looking stick figures of Big Daddies. Saved children draw happier, sunnier drawings.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Justified, in that Andrew Ryan built Rapture specifically to get away from pesky things like workplace safety laws. In his city something like OSHA would be thought of as a statist effort to destroy capitalism. You can even find "X days since last accident" signs in various places, but the number is never very high.
    • Also, there's little point since the whole city is literally falling apart anyways.
  • Not So Different:
    • There's no real difference between Fontaine and Ryan by the time BioShock (series) takes place as both of them have gone far off the deep end to achieve their goals.
    • In the sequel, Lamb's version of "the greater good" is ultimately as monstrous and terrible as Ryan's philosophy, and she's just as willing to cast those ideals aside (and screw the rest) when it comes to saving herself.
  • Not Wearing Tights: A lot of Stock Super Powers are thrown about, but the closest anyone gets to a superhero costume are armoured diving suits or masks, and they're not of the "cool" variety.
  • Offhand Backhand: Big Daddies will sometimes slap an obstructing Splicer (or you) across the room without looking.
  • Oh Crap: Many examples whether from the player, splicers or the current antagonist. One occasion of particular note is early in the sequel where, after several brief encounters with a Big Sister you enter a large room with a massive window just in time to see her running along its wall, cutting the glass with her extra-long ADAM needle as she goes. With the cracks spreading you have just enough time to think "oh crap" before the glass caves in and you're hit by several thousand gallons of high pressure seawater.
    • That Big Sister goes Up to Eleven - Delta can't smash the windows with any amount of drilling, gunfire, explosives, or Plasmids.
    • Or how about when Delta and Eleanor are running down a corridor to make their escape. Eleanor goes to take the corner ahead of you. Then everything slows down, and you see her starting to skid to a stop. You see a cloud gather around her to signal that she's trying to teleport out as you come around the corner only to find crates and crates of explosives.
    • The plaster splicer mannequins. At one point in Fort Frolic, you'll pass through a corridor lined with 5 on each side. After exploring the rooms beyond you come back the same way, and now they're all gone....
  • One-Way Visor: Rosies and Alpha Sieries.
  • One-Winged Angel: Fontaine, who until this point has apparently only used the Super Strength gene tonic, is spooked by the player's progress and uses all the ADAM he's stockpiled at once, transforming into a ten-foot-tall grotesquely-muscled brute - which incidentally looks like a giant statue of Atlas.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Intentional - see Fauxreigner. Amusingly, the guy who voiced Atlas is actually Irish, doing an exaggerated version of an Irish accent. So, you end up with An Irish guy voicing an American guy pretending to be an Irish guy.
  • Opening Narration: Jack, the player character, looking at a picture of his parents. It's his only line in the game.

"They told me, 'Son, you're special. You were born to do great things.' And you know what? They were right."

  • Organ Drops: Spider Splicer Organs can be used as med-kits, if one has researched them enough. Whether or not it's cannibalism depends on how human you think the Splicers are.
  • Papa Wolf: The Big Daddies, of course.
    • Fighting off all the splicers while gathering ADAM can become a bit chaotic, especially in wide open areas and when dealing with teleporting Houdini splicers you have to move around a lot. But when the Little Sister screams and calls for help, you will turn around and charge back instantly to beat whatever poor splicer is attacking her into a dark smear on the ground.
  • Personal Space Invader: Just try to run from a spider splicer. You'd be astounded at how quickly they'll close the distance once your back is turned.
    • Big Sisters aren't afraid to get up close and personal either.
    • Bouncers' only attacks are this. Subject Delta can replicate it, too.
  • Phlebotinum Dependence: One of ADAM's properties that got Fontaine excited was how addictive it was; it got Ryan hot and bothered as well, prompting him to take over Fontaine's business and pump ADAM onto the market with no restrictions whatsoever. Too bad one of the side-effects of combined overuse and withdrawal is, you know, turning into a flame-throwing psychopath.
  • Please Wake Up: The Little Sisters sob this sometimes after you kill their Big Daddy.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: ADAM, and the Little Sisters who produce it.
  • Posthumous Character: You learn a lot about some characters from all the plentiful audio diaries you recover, hearing about their life in pre-crapsack Rapture, their hopes and dreams, their role during the civil war... and then you find their corpse. In the sequel, certain characters from the first game manage to cast their shadow over everything despite being dead for 10 years or more.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Little Sisters (originally children of about 5-8 years old) were set up as mobile factory-reservoirs for ADAM by implanting ADAM-producing sea slugs in their stomachs, and brainwashing them into gathering additional ADAM from corpses. Now, the scientists who set up this whole grisly situation harvested non-lethally by making the Little Sisters regurgitate the ADAM and sending them back into the streets to continue gathering, but apparently, that's not enough for the Splicers, because their perferred method (and yours, if you take the evil path) is to rip it from their forsaken bodies and kill them just to earn a little extra juice.
  • Power Perversion Potential: The world of BioShock (series) incorporates body-altering tonics that can do anything from beef up your fighting ability to allowing you to shoot fire out of your fingers, and can all bought and sold on the open market. Imagine what other kinds of tonics must have been feasible. And given Andrew Ryan's insistence that the market be completely free and unregulated, some of them most certainly did become avaliable to the public.
    • Not just imagine- one of the ghosts in Arcadia is 'spliced up in ways you can't imagine."
    • medpacks heal anything from skinned knees to STD's.
  • Psycho Serum: Once again, ADAM. The only ones not affected are the Little Sisters, who are instead hallucinating a luxurious dream world instead of the corpse-strewn, decaying madhouse they're wandering through.
    • And it is revealed in BioShock 2 that even they are being affected, but at a slower rate. Hence, Big Sisters.
  • Psycho Strings: Most of the score consists of stringed instruments, which can flip from melancholy to maddening in an instant.
    • Bacground music in 2's Pink Pearl consists entirely of this.
  • Public Service Announcement: Some deliciously cheesy dialogues occasionally kick in on Rapture's P.A. system, usually excusing security measures.

Mary: Capital punishment! In Rapture! This isn't what I signed up for!
Jim: Now hold on there, pretty lady! The only people who face capital punishment in Rapture are smugglers. And that's because they put everything we've worked for at risk. Imagine if the Soviets found out about our wonderful city, or even the U.S. government! Our secrecy is our shield.
Mary: A little capital punishment is a small price to pay to protect all of our freedoms.
Jim: Now you're talking, Mary!

  • Punk Punk: Has shades of Dieselpunk (In Era), Biopunk (In Technology), Steampunk (In Asthetics), and Ocean Punk (In Location and city function)
  • Punch Clock Villains: In BioShock (series) (1) the splicers are only after you because of the bounty Ryan put on your head; they aren't real villains and care very little about you. They are just consumed and driven by a drug addiction.
    • And in ‘’2’’, they are only after you because they think you're trying to kill or corrupt their messiah.
  • Ragdoll Physics: Telekinesis lets you use debris, furniture, even dead bodies as weapons. You can even use the plasmid to yank a Splicer's mask off and beat them to death with it. In BioShock 2, the speargun's reusable ammo can be TK'ed out of an attacker and thrown right back in.
  • Rich Bitch: One sort of female splicer has a snooty upper-class accent, complains about the quality of the tenderloin (which doesn't exist), and threatens to "send the boy out to give you a good thrashing". It's creepier (and at times funnier) than it sounds.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: Several of Rapture's citizens have tried to assassinate Andrew Ryan, two of which were Anya Andersdotter and the engineer Kyburz. When Anya turned up in Kyburz's office in an attempt to pry information from him, Kyburz believed she was a spy trying to trick him into revealing his own plot and turned her in to Ryan's men. In an audio diary he admits that he isn't sure about her, but can't take the risk this far into his own plans.
  • Recycled in Space: ‘’BioShock (series)’’ is ‘’System Shock’’ not IN SPACE!
  • Red Light District: Eve's Garden in Fort Frolic. "Come bite the apple!"
    • The sequel has Siren Alley, which bears a strong resemblance to New Orleans' French Quarter. The area is a battlefield between the Wales brothers, one of which manages a hotel-turned-whorehouse, while the other has found religion and put up some religious murals depicting events from BioShock (series) 1.
  • La Résistance: How Atlas' followers view themselves.
  • Respawning Enemies: Each level is slowly repopulated with Splicers over time, but the respawn rate is low enough that it's not too annoying. On the other hand, the Big Daddies respawn almost immediately, which would be more annoying if they weren't totally harmless when left alone, not to mention useful with the right plasmids.
    • In the sequel, the enemies respawn more quickly, and enemies can spawn in locations that would be impossible to reach without Offscreen Teleportation.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The attack-you-on-sight, mutated, insane Splicers that follow Fontaine are indistinguishable from the attack-you-on-sight, mutated, insane Splicers that are loyal to Ryan, or the attack-you on sight, mutated, insane Splicers that belong to the Family. Though at least the latter are well-behaved regarding the Little Sisters.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Lots of religious symbols show up in the game; the most obvious example is the name of the city, Rapture, supposedly a reference to the "Rapture of the Deep".
    • There's also a few crucified corpses to be found, either in Ryan's foyer for his "spy collection," in medical facilities pinned to operating tables, or near the docks with a smuggler strung up just right. The last case was probably intentional, since he was smuggling religious contraband.
    • Also the substances you need to use the plasmids are called Adam and Eve. Adam is used to buy them and Eve is used to repower then.
  • Scare Chord: The soundtrack has random ones thrown in to mess with you (bordering on (playing with Musical Spoiler). Also, your plasmids have specific noises they make when you switch to them, and Electrobolt's is a scare chord.
  • Scenery Gorn: Rapture. All of it.
  • Scenery Porn: The bathysphere ride into Rapture in the first game, and the underwater strolls in the second.
  • Schizo-Tech: Rapture has genetic engineering without the computers that would make genetic information intelligible... which would explain a lot, actually.
    • As of the Minerva's Den, they may have had those too. And an AI. And an Ion Laser. Also, the automatic doors, the miniguns, the audio tapes, (Which were invented on the surface five years later) the security bots, the Hack Tool for aforementioned computers, (which has no real life equivalent but appears to be a projectile USB drive launcher that works on something that I assume to involve radio waves) and a lot more. And this is the sixties.
  • Second-Hour Superpower: The plasmids from both games.
  • Shout-Out: The helpful automated voice in Fontaine Futuristics stutters and sounds like a very familiar AI.

Baby Jane: I used to be beautiful, what happened to me?

    • It was probably unintentional, but Dr. Suchong sounded a little like a villain from Jonny Quest in not just his ethnic origin, but in that he inadvertently causes his own demise...
    • The Little Sisters' glowing eyes.
    • The "Would you kindly" conspiracy board you see just before meeting Andrew Ryan is a reference to the movie The Usual Suspects.
    • "Bring Your Daughter To Work Day". Oh, she gets tested, alright.
    • Certain splicers can be heard shouting "...and you shall know thy name is the LORD..." when idle.
    • From the ride down to the city in the bathysphere, the film starts with an ad: "Fire at your fingertips!", for the incinerate plasmid. That was how Dagny Taggart described cigarettes. And the ad shows a man lighting a cigarette.
    • The credits for BioShock 2 include the message "Go Team Sea Slug!"
    • When you use Incinerate while carrying a Little Sister, she will sometimes misquote the Wicked Witch of the West.
    • There is a keycode opened by a code 0047. You learn of this from the recording made by certain Tobias Riefer.
    • Along the same vein is a keycode 0451- the first lock and keycode you encounter, actually. This is a reference to a long-running number that dates back to the System Shock days, used in both the original and the Irrational-developed sequel as the first door codes you find, as well as Deus Ex (both the original and the sequel- again, the first door codes you find.) The number itself is a reference to Looking Glass Software's old office door code, which in turn was a reference to Fahrenheit 451. BioShock 2 inverts the number, but it's still the first lock you encounter.
    • Danny Wilkins, one of the playable characters from Bioshock 2's multiplayer, is a football player. He wears a purple jersey bearing the number 4, like Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking during the game's development.
    • One of the books lying around in BioShock 2 is titled Applied headology.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: The sound Splicers makes when they drag their weapons. And the sound the Spider Splicers make whenever they move.
  • Smoke Out: Nitro Splicers carry smokebombs to do this, whenever the player gets too close to them.
  • The Sociopath: Quite a few denizens of Rapture fit the criteria, including Sander Cohen, Sophia Lamb, and Andrew Ryan himself.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
  • Spanner in the Works: No matter how clever your plots are, no matter how totally you control everyone in Rapture, and no matter how magnificent you are, never underestimate a swarm of Little Sisters' ability to screw you and your plans up.
    • Early in the sequel, a Thuggish Splicer literally sticks his lead pipe (no pun intended) into a set of gears to jam a door, and you have to pull it out with Telekinesis to proceed.
  • Spiritual Successor: To System Shock and System Shock 2. Almost all of the game mechanics are identical to the latter. In fact, in interviews with Gamasutra developers have stated their starting plan was "System Shock 2 did pretty well, let's make System Shock 2 again."
  • Superior Species: While not a distinct species, the citizens of Rapture fit, due to plasmids and gene tonics. Or at least they did, until they started overdoing it.

Gatherer's Garden machine: My daddy's smarter than Einstein, stronger than Hercules, and can light a fire with a snap of his fingers. Are you as good as my daddy, mister?

  • Take That: There is a lot of debate over whether the game is a giant Take That to Objectivism. The developers have said that it was a Take That to extremism, using Rand as an example.
    • The Waders model Splicer is a parody of Evangelical Christians that criticizes their questionably excessive worshipping.
  • Talkative Loon: It can be worth sneaking up on a Splicer just to hear what they're saying to themselves. Or not.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: A Teleport plasmid was planned, but due to Sequence Breaking concerns was never implemented. The Houdini Splicers however, can pop out of thin air to hurl fireballs at you before disappearing again, only to reappear in some other location. The BioShock 2 multiplayer states that it's actually an Invisibility Plasmid, but it doesn't explain how Houdinis can move to otherwise inaccessible areas or move in and out of a room without opening a door.
    • It's played with in the sequel, where you can find an Unstable Teleport plasmid in a sealed room. Attempting to pick it up causes it to move from place to place out of the room to the business lobby. At that point, it telports the player to various strange spots around the map, while humnorusly chasing a Splicer out of the room it originated from, before dropping you off in a darkroom with a Gene Tonic and some EVE Hypos; once you pick up the Tonic, you warp back to the lobby.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: If you crawl through an air duct or unlock a door to a supply cache, chances are there's a Splicer or two waiting for you when you return.
  • Theme Naming: ADAM, EVE, Rapture - all especially ironic given Ryan's style of militantly anti-religious Objectivism. Most of the city's locations are also named after an appropriate Greco-Roman deity. And, of course, the references to Ayn Rand.
  • This Is a Drill: The "Bouncer" type Big Daddy. 2 gives the player one as a melee weapon, and it doesn't take long to learn a devastating (and highly-satisfying) drill charge.
    • With proper tonics and tactics it quickly becomes the most effective weapon around. In conjunction with Winter Blast it is almost a Game Breaker.
      • To clarify - while the drill isn't that great for defending against multiple enemies, and it uses limited fuel for the drilling attack, with all upgrades, skill and freeze tonics, the drill can go right through the Big Daddies without causing you to lose any health.
  • Tragic Monster: The splicers. It's surprisingly gut-wrenching (no pun intended) to beat to death someone who sobs "I'm sorry... It was just an accident... c'mon, get up, I was just fooling around!" when they best you. They'll even beg for their lives if you freeze them (though they'll get back to trying to kill you if they thaw, so...).
    • Exemplified in the Big Daddies, who live only to protect the Little Sisters. They will never start a fight. They're happy to finish one, though.
      • Though they will freak out and try to kill you if you get too close to their Little Sister. Or cause them even a slight amount of damage by accident. It's possible to get a Big Daddy to start a fight, though it's by no means hard to avoid doing it.
    • Thanks to Sofia Lamb's propensity for brainwashing and genetic manipulation, this pops up a lot in the sequel. Mark Meltzer and Sinclair both get turned into Lamb-controlled Big Daddies, and Gil Alexander ends up as an insane, megalomaniacal Brain In a Jar.
  • Trick Arrow: The crossbow's second alt-fire are bolts attached to electrified wires called "trap bolts".
  • Uncanny Valley: Intentionally invoked in the original, where everything from the Splicers to the Little Sisters just looked wrong even if they weren't horribly mutated. The sequel discards it, making the Little Sisters more adorable (since, after all, you're conditioned to protect them) and the Splicers less inhuman - which only makes them more horrifying by accentuating their mutations and deformities.
    • There's an in-universe example in the sequel's Journey to the Surface ride at Ryan Amusements; in an audio diary, Andrew Ryan himself notes the uncanny valley quality of the animatronics used to dissuade children from wanting to leave Rapture.

Andrew Ryan: I know this facility is vital to the preservation of secrecy in Rapture. But seeing myself transformed into that... lurching, waxen nightmare... Do children truly respond to this? Still, I spoke to a young man exiting the park after the grand opening, asking him what, if anything, he had learned here. He said his chores didn't seem so bad anymore - as long as mother wouldn't send him to the surface.

  • Under the Sea: The first game somehow avoided a water level. The sequel lets you tromp around in your big old diving suit, but mostly to see some scenery and as a breather between action sequences.
  • Underwater City: Rapture, though by the sequel the ocean is making a comeback.
  • The Unintelligible: Big Daddies, having vocal modulators surgically implanted directly into the larynx, can't really talk all that well, nor do they have the brainpower for speech. As such, they primarily communicate in very deep (and very creepy) moans, grunts, and roars evocative of whalesong. Not that they have problems making their feelings clear about, say, your proximity to their Little Sister.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The ways the Little Sisters refer to their Big Daddies' violence against enemies:
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Towards the end of BioShock (series) 1, the player has to dress up like a Big Daddy. Jack has to walk around the level collecting scattered parts of their outfit. He cannot take more than one intact part of the suit from the dead Big Daddy he starts the level near, and for good reason: Big Daddy parts are permanently fused to the body.
    • In the sequel, Alpha Series' use upgraded weapons. You can only loot them for ammo, not trade your vanilla grenade launcher for one with the shield or a two-shot shotgun for a six-shot one.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never actually see what Big Daddies look like under their helmets; as if taunting us with this trope, BioShock 2 begins from the POV of a Big Daddy prototype who is commanded at one point to remove his helmet, and he complies, right before shooting himself in the head.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Ironically, Ryan turns Rapture into a police state in order to protect his Objectivist Libertarian dream city. Meanwhile Sofia Lamb of the sequel is an even greater believer in this trope, being an collectivist taken Up to Eleven, desiring to do "good" for a people she views mainly as tools.
  • Video Game Caring Potential / Video Game Cruelty Potential: Set Splicers on fire! Watch as they run toward a pool of water, then electrify them! Bash their faces repeatedly with a wrench! Freeze them, ignore their pleas for help, and shatter them into chunks of icy flesh! Toss them like ragdolls! Rig medical stations to poison them! Lure them into waiting turrets! Impale them to scenery through their faces! This is encouraged with the sequel, where you progress faster with enemy research by killing foes with new and inventive applications of your weapons and plasmids.
    • The Little Sisters are the only completely harmless enemies in the game. You can rescue them and turn them back into little girls... or kill them for ADAM. The potential for both is ramped up in the sequel while you play as a Big Daddy - you can "adopt" another Daddy's partner, run around the level with her riding on your back, protect her while she harvests some ADAM for you, and finally rescue her from her living nightmare, or viciously betray her trust.
      • The game presents the Little Sisters as a moral choice, but the way it reacts to those choices makes it less moral and more practical - if you harvest one, you get more ADAM right now. If you rescue one, you get less ADAM immediately - but for every three Little Sisters you rescue, you get a gift at the nearest plasmid vendor containing only a little less ADAM than you would have gained by harvesting, plus a couple plasmids or gene tonics, including a few you can't get any other way. So the only real reason to harvest Little Sisters is just because you're a bastard.
      • In the last level of BioShock 2, there are many splicers that are so far gone they just rock side to side. You can still kill them.
  • Wall Crawl: Spider Splicers just skip the walls and go straight to crab-walking on the ceiling, which is just as freaky as it sounds.
  • Watering Down: This is Pierre Gobbi's main complaint with Rapture; watered down wine to rip off customers (who obviously have no other choice to get wine). Judging by the nature of ADAM and the fact homemade Plasmids became increasingly common, it would not be surprising if more illicit sources of ADAM were cut with other stuff or watered down.
  • Wham! Episode: Rapture Central Control in the original, or the sequel's Persephone Penal Colony.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The bad ending of the original has Tenenbaum chew you out for being such an amoral monster, which shouldn't bother you if you made the decisions to earn it.
    • Sofia Lamb attempts to invoke this tirelessly throughout the course of the sequel, but for the most part her accusations are ineffectual. Although, if Delta's been a particularly abusive father, it can hit pretty hard.
  • White Mask of Doom: One of Sander Cohen's motifs. Additionally, the New Year's Eve 1959 party was a masquerade, and some Splicers still wear creepy animal masks.

Atlas: Why do they wear those masks? Maybe there's a part of them that remembers how they used to be, how they used to look. And they're ashamed.

  • Why Isn't It Attacking?: You, potentially.
  • With Us or Against Us: Ryan's take on the civil war. "Innocents? If they haven't chosen to defend Rapture, they've chosen to side with Atlas and his bandits. So there are no innocents. There are heroes, and there are criminals."
  • World of Ham: But justified in-universe because: 1) almost anyone who would want to live in Rapture would already be something of Magnificent Bastard even before going down there; and 2) by the time the player gets there, everyone has pretty much gone insane.
  • Wreaking Havok: No obnoxious stacking puzzles are present, though this may be the only reason moderately-useful plasmids like Cyclone Trap or Sonic Boom were included. On the other hand, it's a nice touch to allow you to use Telekinesis to break a shop's windows and steal some stuff, even if it summons the security bots.
  • Wrench Whack: The first weapon you acquire is a wrench. With the right gene tonics, it's a viable weapon against any enemy at any point in the game.
  • You All Look Familiar: Only two characters in the original had unique character models, and even some major cast members had to make do with un-deformed versions of Splicer models. Happily averted in the sequel, where even minor named characters with only a few seconds of screentime have unique and detailed models.
    • They avoid making it too obvious in the first game by making sure you see every named NPC from behind (Johnny, Julie), from very far away (Atlas at Smuggler's Hideout, Tenenbaum in the Medical Pavillion), or obscured by a mask or scenery (Steinman, Wilkins, Tenenbaum at Mercury Suites), saving the unique character models for the two characters you actually converse with up close.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: An audio diary titled as such in BioShock 2 explains that not only did the rest of the Alpha series meet this fate, but Gil Alexander himself has also been abandoned by Sofia.
    • Ryan to Professor Langford after she decides to help Jack restore Arcadia with the Lazarus Vector. The specific reason is that her contract made all her intellectual discoveries Ryan's property. Considering Ryan's Author Tract about "owning the sweat of one's brow", and how she's one of the few sane, helpful and (if a bit amoral) nice people in Rapture, her death is a big Player Punch moment.
    • After Jack has killed Ryan and shut down the auto-destruct, ending Ryan's control of Rapture, Atlas/Fontaine sends security bots after him, and when that doesn't work, activates Code Yellow.
  • Zeerust: Invoked intentionally with Rapture's art design.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Replace "walking undead" with "insane psycho psychic pseudo-zombies" and you get the idea.
    • They're a lot less decayed and mutated in the sequel, however, but still deformed.

A man chooses. A slave obeys.