It's been close to a decade since the release of the last BioShock game. Despite the time that has passed, BioShock remains one of the most iconic game franchises. The mesmerizing settings, intimidating villains, and thrilling sci-fi powers made each BioShock title beloved by the gaming community. However, of all the factors that went into the creation of BioShock, the most recognizable part of the series is the Big Daddies.
The Big Daddy enemies were a core part of BioShock's world. They managed to evoke both fear and sympathy at the same time, which made them the perfect enemies for the series. The origin of these terrifying creatures is filled with sorrow and pain. Let's explore how these genetically enhanced humans were developed, what purpose they were meant to serve and how they changed throughout the three games.
Why Were BioShock's Big Daddies Created?
The original idea for the Big Daddies came from simple maintenance workers. Trained divers would make repairs around Rapture and did construction work for the underwater city's expansion. Doctor Yi Suchong, who also helped to develop the Little Sisters, was inspired by these divers. When Dr. Suchong realized that the demand for ADAM in Rapture was growing, he decided to create the Big Daddies.
Instead of maintenance work, they would act as protectors for the Little Sisters while they collected ADAM from corpses. If any Splicers or attackers came after the Little Sisters, they would be met with the hulking bodies of the Big Daddies. To ensure that the monstrosities would protect the Little Sisters, Dr. Suchong created an emotional bond between them that would mimic a father-daughter relationship. If a Big Daddy were to be separated from their Little Sister, they would fall into a coma and begin to die. Pheromones were used to attract the Little Sisters to the Big Daddies and not fear their protectors.
The Big Daddies were effective protectors while Rapture was active. They guarded their charges with fanatical aggression. These defenders would even attack well-meaning citizens if they came too close. As Rapture eventually fell into civil war and collapsed, many of the Big Daddies were killed. The remaining few are the ones the players encounter in BioShock.
How Were BioShock's Big Daddies Created?
Dr. Suchong needed suitable test subjects for his Big Daddy experiments. The process of turning a human into a Big Daddy is irreversible, so it wasn't something for which people would volunteer. As such, the doctor got his test subjects from Andrew Ryan. Ryan sent criminals, the mentally ill, and political opponents to Suchong for his experiments. The protagonist of BioShock 2, a diver that had stumbled upon Rapture, was one of these test subjects.
The process of becoming a Big Daddy is particularly gruesome. The subject's skin and organs are grafted to the diving suit inside which they are permanently sealed. They are genetically altered with ADAM, giving them enhanced strength and durability. Their voice boxes are modified, and they receive pheromone applications to attract Little Sisters. Test subjects that become Big Daddies seem to lose their humanity and become mindless servants.
The Different Types of Big Daddies in BioShock
Several types of Big Daddies were created. Some of them were designed to handle different types of enemies or because previous versions had failed. The first of the Big Daddies were called the "Alpha Series." The protagonist of BioShock 2, Subject Delta, was a part of the Alpha Series. These Big Daddies could only bond with a single Little Sister, which made them less effective than future versions. When these Big Daddies lost their Little Sister, they went into a mindless rage and attacked anything in sight with their weaponry and plasmids.
The next series of Big Daddies made were the standard ones seen in BioShock. There are four different types of these: Rumblers, Bouncers, Lancers, and Rosies. They got these names from their weaponry or style of fighting. These Big Daddies lacked the ability to use Plasmids, but they were able to partner with multiple Little Sisters. The Bouncers, in particular, use the iconic arm drill attachment that is often associated with the Big Daddies.
There are other types of enemies in the BioShock franchise that aren't Big Daddies but are related to them. In BioShock 2, players encounter the Big Sisters. These creatures are the Little Sisters that grew up and were equipped with the same diving suits as the Big Daddies. Sofia Lamb used these Big Sisters to kidnap young girls from the surface to be transformed into new Little Sisters. In the Burial at Sea DLC for BioShock Infinite, it's revealed that Dr. Suchong and Jeremiah Fink exchanged research, allowing them to bond the Big Daddies to the Little Sisters and the Songbird to Elizabeth. This is why the Songbird shares a lot of similarities to the Big Daddies.