It used to be so simple: use the D-pad to move forward. A button to jump. Rescue the princess and save the day. Video games were simple, fun, and created with mass appeal in mind.
Flash forward to present day and games have improved leaps and bounds. They are now capable of telling complex and thought provoking stories, often on par with modern literature or cinema. Perhaps no game franchise exemplifies this more than Irrational Games' BioShock series. The BioShock games have repeatedly challenged norms and pushed the boundaries of where video games can go. But while BioShock's genre expanding gameplay and haunting level design alone are enough to set it apart, it is really the terrifying and uniquely dystopian worlds of Rapture and Columbia continue haunting gamers. BioShock thrives on delving into the unknown, from stomach-churning gross-outs to jaw-dropping revelations. BioShock is a franchise that isn't afraid to take gamers places others wouldn't, and that often means crossing into realms many would deem inappropriate. There's always a man, there's always a lighthouse, and there's always a whole lot of parts you'd probably rather play with the lights on. Here are 15 moments from the BioShock games that had gamers saying "they did not just go there!"
Do you have a favorite inappropriate BioShock moment we missed? Let us know!
Also be warned: SPOILERS AHEAD!
15 BioShock Infinite's Racist Raffle
Booker's introduction to Columbia is rapt with constant disorientation. After a bumpy ride through the heavens and a forced baptism by a heavy-handed preacher, Booker emerges in the floating city in the clouds and tries to get his bearings. With its perfect blue skies, Norman Rockwell-esque citizens, and welcoming fairgrounds (a brilliant tutorial for learning the game's controls), Columbia at first glance appears to be a nice enough place. That is, until Booker wins the annual raffle and is given first baseball throw at an interracial couple bound to racist imagery and begging for their lives. Immediately, the player's entire view of Columbia changes from a paradise to a monstrosity, and the game adapts in kind by giving you a weapon and introducing combat for the first time. The image of the couple squirming for their freedom and the people of Columbia taunting them with a nasal rendition of Here Comes the Bride is a stomach-turning moment, and a harbinger of what's to come during Booker's stay in Columbia.
14 The Death Of Andrew Ryan
Without question, the biggest surprise in the first BioShock game is the reveal that the player has been in Atlas's pocket since his arrival in Rapture, and that the simple phrase "would you kindly" has been used to control his mind and actions. BioShock goes to an extreme level to show the player just how powerful this phrase is, as Andrew Ryan hands Jack a golf club and demands he murder him. Ryan repeats his ideology over and over, "a man chooses, a slave obeys," as he is gruesomely beaten to death, preferring to choose his own fate than to allow a slave to kill him via another's commands. While the image of Ryan with a golf club sticking out of his broken skull is inappropriate enough in and of itself, it's the bizarre, sadistic circumstances that have brought him to this point that really make the moment unforgettable.
13 Sander Cohen Humiliates And Murders His Pianist
This guy is one sick bunny. Sander Cohen, Rapture's resident artist, makes Van Gogh slicing off his own ear seem like child's play. Cohen has only drifted further into insanity the longer he has been in Rapture, as the player learns firsthand during one of their early interactions. As his pianist, Fitzpatrick, sobbingly struggles to play a piece that will meet his master's liking, Cohen becomes frustrated and blows the poor soul to smithereens. Tons of artists suffer for their art, but most of them don't make other people do it too.
12 Little Sisters And Big Daddies
Where do I even start with this one? The relationship between the genetically modified Little Sisters and their part man, mostly machine protectors, the Big Daddies, is one of the most starkly disturbing and memorable aspects of both Rapture-based BioShock titles. The two parties are stripped of their free will and unwaveringly bonded together, not unlike a father and a daughter. You know, if the daughter was a child with an enormous syringe searching for corpses and the father had a drill for a hand. And if you're unsure just how strong the bond is between a Little Sister and her Big Daddy, go ahead and try to separate them —fighting a Big Daddy is among the most challenging and unique boss fights in video game history. And if that's not inappropriate enough for you, just hearing a Little Sister call her metal clad, murderous companion "Mr. Bubbles" should do the trick.
11 Sofia Lamb Stops Eleanor's Heart
BioShock 2 is probably the least heralded of the BioShock games, likely due to the fact that creative mastermind Ken Levine wasn't actually included in the game's development. Still, as we've come to expect, BioShock 2 boasts some pretty disturbing and unquestionably inappropriate scenes. Take for example this scene, in which Eleanor's mother, Sofia Lamb, smothers her own daughter with a pillow to stop her heart while her Big Daddy watches, completely powerless to stop her. The disturbing nature of this scene works on multiple levels, not the least of which is the idea that a genetically mutated human in a metal suit exhibits more humanity than Eleanor's actual birth mother, who is going full Cuckoo's Nest on her. One of the many reasons Rapture is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
10 The Boys Of Silence
Man, these guys are weird. What makes the Boys of Silence enemies in BioShock Infinite so inappropriate is subtle. They don't get their own cutscene or deep storyline. They're just young boys with alarms firmly fastened via oversized locks to their heads. How did this happen to them? Why can't they speak? That scream they emit when they see you, is that their actual voices or some kind of machine? It's incredibly disturbing, and it's a prime example of how sometimes presenting an image with no context whatsoever can be even more unsettling than going into more detail. The Boys of Silence are some of the most memorable enemies in the entire franchise.
9 Your Super Hot Seventeen Year Old...Daughter?
Oh dear. When first we meet BioShock Infinite's Elizabeth, she is presented as youthful and innocent, having been locked in a tower her entire life with little idea of the outside world. Elizabeth is BioShock's spin on a Disney princess, and one could argue she even bears a likeness to some of Disney's past heroines. However, as the game goes on, Elizabeth learns Columbia isn't all dancing and beaches, culminating in her murdering Daisy Fitzroy. After committing her first murder, Elizabeth goes through a puberty of sorts. "I guess it runs in the family," she tells Booker, having no idea how right she is. For the rest of the game, Elizabeth seems much more adult, which is physically evident by her choice to cut her hair and wear more adult clothing. There's no denying Elizabeth is beautiful, and when players found out they were actually her father throughout the entire game, there were certainly a number of...confusing emotions. At least they didn't go all Luke and Leia at any point during the game.
8 First Taste Of A Plasmid Or Vigor
Look, there's no denying it: plasmids, vigors, whatever you want to call them, they're awesome. They're what allow you to knock enemies off their feet, shoot electricity from your fingertips, or, if you feel like it, maul your enemies with a murder of crows. But every time you try a new vigor or plasmid, it's accompanied by a cutscene that seems to scream out, "THIS IS NOT A NATURAL OR GOOD THING TO PUT IN YOUR BODY." BioShock was particularly gruesome, as the player has to actual inject the power into their veins with a syringe. But what Infinite lost in ingestion, it made up for in physical reaction. For example, Booker's flesh literally melting off his hands when he first tries Devil's Kiss. It's a reminder that with great power comes a really gross cutscene. Then comes more great power, though.
7 Duke And Dimwit
Duke and Dimwit are the characters featured in BioShock Infinite's Battleship Bay arcade area. Two propaganda tools of Comstock's bigoted, militaristic government, they teach kids fun lessons like "always keep your rifle clean" and "report any suspicious looking characters to the authorities." Elizabeth even mentions she used to read about the characters as a kid, and didn't realize until now the content of their adventures is a little questionable. Comstock likes to indoctrinate his people from a young age. As Elizabeth quotes from the bible in Soldier's Field, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I'll take Turtles in Time over Columbia's arcade games any day.
6 Sofia Lamb Forces Delta To Shoot Himself In The Head In Front Of Eleanor
Do I really need to say more? BioShock 2 is a game that at its most basic level questions what it means to be human, and even more specifically, a parent. This is a child's mother telling her protector to take his own life, slowly and violently in front of her. And this is just how the game starts. Inappropriate is probably too kind a word to describe how messed up this is. After all, a bastion of ideology is sure to be ripe with conflict. BioShock 2 ratchets things up in violent and surprising ways. Imagine trying to raise a child (equipped with a moral compass) in a city as twisted as Rapture. The rent must be really, really cheap in under the ocean.
5 Boss Fight With Big, Green, Naked Frank Fontaine
There's a lot about this fight that's inappropriate. First of all, it feels like it deviates quite a bit from the world the game has set up. While BioShock's world is fantastical and logistically impossible, its characters are disturbingly real and believable. This is a game where boss fights are passed over in favor of watching a guy get beat up with a golf club to prove his point. So when you're suddenly faced with a big, naked, green guy who looks like Dr. Manhattan swallowed a Christmas tree, to say it feels out of place might be an understatement. The fact that the fight ends with Fontaine being stabbed to death by the Little Sisters feels a little more true to form, but for the most part, it feels inappropriate because it belongs in a different game.
So when you're suddenly faced with a big, naked, green guy who looks like Dr. Manhattan swallowed a Christmas tree, to say it feels out of place might be an understatement. The fact that the fight ends with Fontaine being stabbed to death by the Little Sisters feels a little more true to form, but for the most part, it feels inappropriate because it belongs in a different game.
4 A Beautiful, Floating City Of Racists
At first glance, Columbia looks like paradise. Although, wait a second, is everyone here white? Yes, yes they are. Columbia is a racist's Garden of Eden, and any and all minorities are forced into poverty and doing grunt work for the wealthy. The slums are filled with Vox Populi, those deemed unworthy by Comstock reaping Columbia's blessings. It's a city where the deeper you go, the more horrors you can find. Perhaps the most jarring place in Columbia is the headquarters of the Fraternal Order of the Raven, a KKK-like group dedicated to maintaining racial purity in Columbia. One of the game's most satisfying moments comes when the player is able to sneak up on a group of Raven members, and has the option to drop a fireball directly on them (I will never get tired of this, no matter how many times I play the game). Racism is prevalent throughout Columbia, be it in it's "colored only" bathrooms, or its automated tailor machine featuring a Jewish stereotype. It's jarring, disturbing, and repulsive, and certainly, gives you all the motivation you need to take the city down.
3 Harvesting A Little Sister
Okay, we're really getting into it now. When you meet your first Little Sister in BioShock, you are presented with a choice (one of the few in the game that actually has an impact on the game world): you can either destroy the girls and harvest them, or rescue them and set them free, which will result in far less ADAM. While rescuing a Little Sister restores their humanity and sets them free, "harvesting" a Little Sister is a truly horrific act, as the child struggles in your arms until she eventually vanishes and is turned into a hideous slug. It's the sort of choice you make in a video game you think about long after you've put down the controller. But hey, on the plus side, you can finally upgrade your plasmids. That's worth it...right?
2 Many Elizabeths Drown Booker
This is so many different levels of weird and inappropriate, it's hard to know where to begin. Okay: so Booker drowns Comstock in one of the many timelines you explore with Elizabeth at the end of the game, but it doesn't do anything, because Elizabeth shows Booker that he is fact is Comstock from a different timeline. So the only way to actually destroy Comstock is to "smother him in his crib," or kill Booker in the timeline before he receives his baptism and emerges as Comstock. So Booker and Elizabeth travel back to that exact point, and Elizabeths from numerous timelines gather together to forcefully drown Booker, her father, so he can never become Comstock.
Makes sense, right?
This is the exact opposite of the ending in the first BioShock: Booker (the Big Daddy) is drowned by all the Little Sisters has tried but was unable to save in spite of himself. This is literally a father being drowned by his children. After he is killed, the player watches as the various Elizabeths slowly disappear, as each of their timelines is erased. The game goes to black before we can tell if the Elizabeth we knew in our timeline survives. Regardless of what happens, this is going to be a weird Father's Day for Elizabeth this year.
1 Elizabeth's Trans-Orbital Lobotomy
The Burial at Sea, BioShock Infinite's DLC, was met with mixed reviews. While it added to the storylines of both BioShock and BioShock Infinite, it also added plot and explanation to a story whose ending felt purposely left open to question. Regardless, it brought with it what has to be the most disturbing and inappropriate moment in BioShock history. Having captured Elizabeth and needing information on the "ace in the hole," Atlas attempts to perform a trans-orbital lobotomy on her by placing a pick in her brain through her eye socket. With each tap of the pick, the screen blurs and shows spots, as if the player themselves is actually going through the torture. I can honestly say I have never replayed the DLC because this scene was so massively disturbing. How's that for inappropriate?