- “We all make choices, but in the end... our choices make us.”
- ― Andrew Ryan[src]
Andrew Ryan (born ) is the founder of Rapture and the owner of Ryan Industries. He is the main antagonist throughout most of BioShock. He is the Chairman of the Rapture City Council, owner and operator of Hephaestus, and one of the most important men in the city. He only appears in person in the Rapture Central Control level.
Early Life in the Russian Empire (Belarus)
- “My journey to Rapture was my second exodus. In 1919, I fled a country that had traded in despotism for insanity.”
- ― Andrew Ryan[src]
Andrew Ryan, born in a village near Minsk in the Russian Empire (modern-day Belarus), grew up in a Jewish-Belarusian family during the reign of the Tsar. Minsk was on the front lines in the First World War. In 1917 he witnessed the Russian Revolution, which eventually brought the Bolsheviks into power and also destroyed Ryan's family business. Ryan also watched as the Bolshevik Red Guard killed his aunt and uncle during a purge for associating with Ryan's father and others who opposed the Communist regime before fleeing with his father to Constantinople.? Ryan's experiences under Bolshevik rule led him to his personal philosophy: the modern world was created by great men who strove to make their own way. Any time "Parasites" gained control of such a world, they destroyed it. As a boy in 1919, he fled to America, believing it to be a place where a great man could prosper. He later anglicized his name to Andrew Ryan.
Life in America
For a time, Ryan was devoted to his adopted country, grateful for the wealth and fame it awarded his intellect and determination after he managed to get rich by fortunately striking oil on his property and investing wisely afterwards.? Soon he was among the wealthiest men in America, owning Ryan Oil, a large chunk of America's coal, and her second largest railroad. However, the state-run social programs created in the 1930s increasingly tested that devotion. His experiences in the "worker's paradise" made Ryan despise the ideals of Socialism and Collectivism, as he believed that those who benefited undeservedly from others were "Parasites" (e.g. he considered Roosevelt and his "New Dealers" to be "spoon-feeding" Americans on the "Bolshevik Poison"). In Ryan's philosophy, one could only own what one earned—Ryan himself once owned a large forest as a personal retreat, one that many groups envied (one group told him that it "belonged to God," demanding that he establish a public park there). When the government attempted to nationalize it as parkland, Ryan's response was to burn it to the ground to deny it to the "Parasites".
The final straw for Ryan was the destruction of Hiroshima with the atomic bomb. In his eyes, the bomb was the ultimate corruption of his ideals—science and determination harnessed for destruction, creating a weapon that gave the "parasites" the ability to destroy anything that they could not seize.
Creation of Rapture
- Main article: Rapture
- “In what country is there a place for people like me?”
- ― Andrew Ryan[src]
Ryan's response was to use his entire fortune to build Rapture; a community 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," in the only place he felt the "Parasites" could not touch—the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Ryan personally chose the location of Rapture from his ship, "The Olympian." He created shield companies on the surface like Warden Yarn (an anagram of his name), and through it conducted business with suppliers, such as Orrin Lutwidge's Scarlet Sovereign Import and Export, to purchase materials necessary to build his city. When Rapture was completed, Ryan filled it with thousands of the world's best and brightest individuals.
For a time, Rapture was everything Ryan dreamed it would be: a paradise of freedom and prosperity. From 1946 to 1958, Rapture experienced tremendous economic progress, and solid political stability. As Ryan predicted, citizens in Rapture created a culture of entrepreneurship that was unrivaled, with numerous businesses established and unprecedented scientific advancements, including the discovery of ADAM by Brigid Tenenbaum. The full ramifications of the Plasmid technology were not immediately appreciated by the people of Rapture or Ryan who dismissed the concerns of men like Rosenberg and Bill McDonagh. Ryan's failure to understand the effects of the burgeoning ADAM-based culture allowed the destructive rise of the fishery owner, smuggler, and black market operative Frank Fontaine.
With Rapture at its apogee, Ryan's greatest supporters maintained control of many sectors of the city, such as Sander Cohen in Fort Frolic and J.S. Steinman in the Medical Pavilion. Ryan had hired a man named Carlson Fiddle to build Ryan Amusements: a theme park that doubled as a propaganda tool for the children of Rapture, with Ryan himself providing narration for many of the rides and animatronic set pieces. Its primary purpose was to warn of the evils of the Surface. The theme park eventually embraced the city's new ADAM-culture, exalting Plasmids like Incinerate! in a Hall of the Future section of the park.
- Main article: Rapture Storyline
By populating a city with ambitious experts, opportunists, geniuses, and breakthrough artists, Ryan set up a top-heavy class system. The social conditions resulting from the economic readjustments allowed Frank Fontaine to establish the influential but philosophically undermining Fontaine's Home for the Poor. Later, these poorhouses were used by Atlas to rise to political power and to openly challenge Andrew Ryan's leadership.
Ryan faced challenges in other sectors as well. A seemingly benign psychologist named Sofia Lamb (whom Ryan had invited to Rapture to help citizens cope with psychological issues stemming from the isolated and sunless environment) began to speak out openly against Rapture's philosophy. Lamb espoused a collectivist, altruist philosophy that directly opposed Rapture's ideological founding. Ryan engaged Lamb in debates on various topics to win back public support, but the people present were usually in Lamb's favor. Lamb's followers represented a threat to his city, and Ryan eventually sought to neutralize them by having Lamb incarcerated at Persephone Penal Colony for sedition.
Earlier, to keep Rapture safely hidden from the "Parasites," Ryan forbade unauthorized contact with the Surface. Intending for this to be his only law, Ryan inadvertently accelerated the black market for smuggled goods, which assisted the rise of Frank Fontaine's criminal enterprises. This atmosphere set the stage for a divisive civil war and Rapture's decline.
Fontaine's illegal profits enabled his businesses to expand, placing him in a good position to fund and exploit the new ADAM industry. At first Ryan had no issue with the rapid growth of Fontaine Futuristics, even as his own associates tried to convince him to get involved in the genetic market and others complained about Fontaine's business practices. Sensing that "the Great Chain was pulling away from [him]," Ryan finally realized Fontaine was behind some form of illegal activity, which soon revealed itself to be the huge smuggling operation, and began to take steps to curb his influence. To get legal proof of Fontaine's smuggling, Ryan ordered investigations into Fontaine and his men. These efforts eventually were successful in destroying the smuggling operation, but Fontaine for a long time remained elusive, always managing to be "where the evidence isn't." The frustration of this situation affected Ryan deeply, causing him to use questionable methods to catch the criminals. Despite considerable uproar, Ryan implemented a highly unpopular law, with smuggling being the equivalent of treason and made the crime punishable by death.
Sometime in 1956, Ryan unknowingly impregnated an Eve's Garden exotic dancer named Jasmine Jolene. Aware that Ryan had much of Rapture's security and infrastructure control coded to his genetic frequency, Frank Fontaine made arrangements to purchase the embryo from Jolene, who claimed to "need the money." Fontaine realized that Jack, as the child was named, could be a powerful tool able to access secure areas where only Ryan was permitted. When Ryan learned of this betrayal, he personally killed her in a fit of rage.
With his operatives closing in on the smuggling operation, Ryan sought a decisive conclusion to the Fontaine question. An unrepentant Fontaine chose to, as Bill McDonagh put it, go down like "John Bloody Wayne" in one last stand. A famous Rapture Standard headline proclaimed, "Ryan takes down smuggling operation … Fontaine and thugs killed in fiery shootout!" on September 12, 1958.
Unbeknownst to Ryan, his archrival concocted and succeeded in a scheme to fake his own death. As Fontaine was later to relate in one of his Audio Diaries, "Ryan wanted Frank Fontaine dead, I just gave him what he wanted. As Atlas, I got a new face, a clean record, and a fresh start." Atlas proved much more dangerous than Fontaine, due to his cultivating an elevated reputation as a man being one with the poor: Fontaine was looked upon as a thug by much of Rapture's citizenry, while Atlas was beloved by the 'have nots', by telling them what they wanted to hear and supplying some 'handouts', and to many he represented an alternative to Ryan's philosophy.
In the aftermath of Fontaine's perceived death, Ryan took a step that many took to be a betrayal of his philosophy: the nationalization of Fontaine Futuristics. Although he built Rapture to escape the sort of "big government" that could take over private industry, Ryan was forced to engage in precisely the same behavior. This move shook Rapture to its core and proved to be significant in its decline. Even Ryan's long-time friend Bill McDonagh resigned from the Central Council in protest. Two months later, all who had been identified as involved in Fontaine's crimes had been arrested and put into Fontaine's Department Store, which Ryan had turned into a prison to house them. This further unsettled the citizens of Rapture, as a hundred or more people were imprisoned so quickly, with one citizen even describing it to be like a trick by Houdini.
When Atlas became a considerable threat to Rapture's stability, Ryan was smart enough not to execute him straight away. With an already tense populace watching his every move, committing such a public act of force would be disastrous. Instead, Ryan had Atlas and his closest followers moved to the prison where the rabble-rousers and the other parasites could live in their own hell. When his own undercover agent in the prison revealed that Atlas was not only surviving in the prison but rallying the prisoners into a new force, Ryan had enough. Ryan Security was sent in to wipe out Atlas and anyone who stood in their way, which failed when the revolutionary and several of his men managed to escape.
Civil War and Collapse
- Main article: Rapture Civil War
Rapture's high-water mark can be traced to New Year's Eve, 1958. In a televised broadcast that night, Ryan acknowledged "trials" in the previous year but offered a toast to the city that 1959 may be Rapture's finest year. However, just moments after his broadcast, the citizens of Rapture were alerted to an "incident" at the Kashmir Restaurant, where a masquerade ball thrown for Rapture's elite was taking place. Ryan was supposed to attend the party with his mistress; Diane McClintock, but was stuck at work in Hephaestus. During the festivities, a group of Atlas' revolutionaries launched a terrorist attack on the restaurant; this came to be known as the first act of the Rapture Civil War.
Ryan and Atlas then engaged in a destructive guerrilla war that brought ruin to the city and claimed the lives of an untold number of its citizens. Some hoped that a peaceful resolution to the conflict could be achieved and that Ryan would be forced to address many of the Atlas supporters' grievances. However, Ryan refused to compromise with "parasites" and killers, and was intent on fighting to the end, believing that giving in to Atlas would bring down the entire city. Plasmid technologies played a central role in the conflict, with the "genetic arms race" as McDonagh coined it, leading to the development of more combat Plasmids and Gene Tonics, as well as more and more destructive weapons to counter them. Ryan's unpopular war measures alienated many of his supporters, turning them against him, as did Ryan's lover, Diane McClintock, who later sided with Atlas. Ryan survived at least three assassination attempts (one of which McDonagh participated in, with another spearheaded by Anya Andersdotter), and kept the corpses of these betrayers mounted on the wall outside his office as a warning to his enemies.
As the civil war deepened, Yi Suchong proposed an unconventional means of breaking the stalemate that divided the city: to alter the structure of commercial Plasmids to make citizens susceptible to mental suggestion by pheromones. To many, this represented the ultimate betrayal of Ryan's philosophy, to deny citizens their free will. Ryan, facing destruction of his city, agreed to Suchong's suggestion, claiming that if Atlas and his supporters were to win, they would turn their opponents into slaves, and free will would vanish regardless. These pheromones proved decisive in turning the tide of the civil war in Ryan's favor. Atlas, with his situation now desperate, and with few unspliced followers who were not susceptible to Ryan's pheromones, was forced to use his "ace in the hole."
- Main article: BioShock
- “Now you've met Andrew Ryan, the bloody king of Rapture.”
- ― Atlas[src]
Ryan is an ever-present voice while Jack travels through Rapture. Frank Fontaine, as Atlas, sends Jack on his journey to kill Ryan using the "Would You Kindly" trigger phrase, though Ryan is not aware of it at first; when Jack first arrives in Rapture, Ryan assumes he is someone from the Russian K.G.B. or the American C.I.A., come to make an already disintegrating situation worse. As he watches the ruckus taking place in Rapture, Ryan taunts Jack and revels in delusions of his city returning to its former glory. After Jack makes it safely out of Arcadia, Ryan begins to piece together the puzzle, realizing that it is Atlas who is directing Jack's movements.
As Jack heads to Rapture Central Control, Ryan begins to hint at this knowledge in his final radio messages. The "Would You Kindly" board outside Ryan's office shows how he put together the clues connecting himself to Jasmine Jolene, with Jack as their illegitimate son. Infuriated by this knowledge, Ryan decides to activate Rapture's self-destruct mechanism in a final attempt to put a stop to Atlas' plan. Whether Ryan suspected Atlas was, in fact, Fontaine remains a mystery.
Jack then confronts Ryan, who is casually playing golf in his office. Ryan educates Jack about his true self, telling him of his birth, his conditioning, his experiences in Rapture, and the phrase "Would You Kindly", which controls his actions. Ryan tells his son that the fundamental difference between a man and a slave is that "a man chooses, a slave obeys." Ryan then hands Jack the golf club and orders Jack to kill him. Jack obeys, beating his father to death. The Vita-Chamber in Ryan's office was deactivated, so Ryan is dead and cannot be resurrected. With Ryan eliminated, Jack takes the genetic key to Rapture's systems from his corpse and unwittingly hands control of the city to Fontaine.
- Main article: BioShock 2
Andrew Ryan is featured in BioShock 2, which takes place eight years after the events of the first game. Although dead, his presence remains through Audio Diaries scattered across the levels. His ideals are also promoted in Ryan Amusements through the presented scenes and animatronic puppets of himself and others depicting his vision of the "parasites' world." Subject Delta is able to listen to Ryan's voice booming over the presentations there. The relationship between Ryan and his political opponent, Sofia Lamb, is also detailed throughout the game.
During the prologue cutscene at the start of the single player campaign (set on December 31, 1958) Ryan can briefly be seen on television screens, offering a toast to the new year while Subject Delta takes Eleanor Lamb out to gather ADAM. This same video is also seen at the beginning of BioShock 2 Multiplayer.
- Main article: Minerva's Den
In BioShock 2's DLC story, it is revealed that Ryan employed Charles Milton Porter and Reed Wahl to create Rapture Central Computing and build the Thinker. In Audio Diaries, he initially congratulates Porter on his success, but as time passed, Ryan grew suspicious of him. While Frank Fontaine rose to power, Ryan's concern grew; since Fontaine had also shown an interest in the computing business. This inspired Wahl to use The Thinker to produce a false recording, in which Porter claimed to support Fontaine to convince Ryan that he had defected to his rival. Ryan had Porter arrested and incarcerated in Persephone for his "crime," leaving Wahl in control of Minerva's Den, and so Rapture Central Computing and the Thinker.
BioShock 2 Multiplayer
- Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer
When the player first starts the game from their apartment, a prologue will start featuring Ryan broadcast live on a television, stating his disappointment in the past year, and ringing in New Year 1959. Moments later, the events within the Kashmir Restaurant occur. The final cutscene ties in with the beginning of BioShock, with Ryan setting the remaining citizens against whoever survived from the plane crash and made it into Rapture.
- Main article: BioShock Infinite
Andrew Ryan's name is seen on picket signs when Elizabeth opens a portal to Rapture and she is transported along with Booker DeWitt and Songbird to the Bathysphere Station at the Welcome Center. These signs were already present in the original iteration of this place in the first BioShock.
Burial at Sea - Episode 1
- Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 1
While this first episode depicts Rapture in its full glory, Andrew Ryan doesn't appear. His actions regarding Frank Fontaine and the imprisonment of his followers in Fontaine's are the subject of debate and discussion among the populace, as they prepare to celebrate the coming of the 1959 new year. His speech, originally heard in snippets during BioShock, can be heard over the public address system in its entirety.
Burial at Sea - Episode 2
- Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2
In Burial at Sea - Episode 2, Andrew Ryan is heard narrating the "Free Men & Free Markets" Need To Know Theater film, and an Audio Diary of him can be found in the game. He also appears through security monitors, revealing himself to Elizabeth after she sends her hair sample to Yi Suchong in the Silver Fin Restaurant. Inexplicably, Ryan knows of Elizabeth's presence in the city of Rapture, the fact that she's been working to help Atlas escape Fontaine's Department Store, and the deal she made with Suchong, whom he interrupted for making a deal without consulting him first. He's also learned that Atlas' army will be trouble, and sends Ryan Security to Fontaine's in order to eliminate the threat. Ryan attempts to persuade Elizabeth to work alongside Ryan Industries or die with the rebels. When Elizabeth refuses his ultimatum, Ryan calls her a rube and sends his oncoming forces on her as well.
Later, as Elizabeth takes the elevator in the Manta Ray Lounge to place the Lutece Particle in Fontaine's office, Ryan makes one final attempt to convince her to stop. He states that Atlas cannot be trusted, and remarks on Elizabeth's otherworldly origin, unique abilities and intelligence and how they'll be wasted when Atlas turns on her. Elizabeth, however, is well aware Atlas will betray her, and argues that Ryan hardly makes for a better ally.
If Elizabeth examines a golf club in the Service Bay of Housewares, a vision of the future will flash before her eyes, showing her Ryan being confronted by Jack in his office at Rapture Central Control during the events of BioShock. She sees this same vision in her dying moments towards the episode's ending.
Andrew Ryan is a complex man whose most defining trait is his egomania, as well as his objectivist ideals, which he spreads to all of Rapture. He is self assured to the point of arrogance, which is also what made him an inspirational figure to others. A workaholic with a strong desire to be precise and controlling of everything and everyone around him, Ryan is driven to win, and looks down on those who don't share his philosophy and work ethic. When Rapture's society began to collapse under its own weight due to the growing problems of civil discomfort, smuggling and contraband, splicing, and eventually all out war, Ryan slowly changed from an honorable, earnest leader into an oppressive tyrant. As the conflict with Atlas escalated, Ryan's methods to keep control over the populace became more extreme and ruthless, culminating in using mind-controlling pheromones through Rapture's air system to subjugate the city's spliced inhabitants to his will.
By the time Jack meets Ryan during the events of the first game, he has devolved into nothing more than a brutal and paranoid madman running a failed utopia. He taunts and threatens Jack through his journey, and his hostility towards him only increases as he gets closer to his lair in Hephaestus. Despite this, when finally confronted face-to-face in his private office, Ryan takes no action to defend himself, instead setting Rapture to self-destruct and forcing Jack to kill him using the trigger phrase "Would you kindly" after revealing to him his true origin and purpose as an assassin. Despite being defeated and murdered by his own son and shortly afterwards having his city taken over by his sworn enemy, Ryan ultimately dies on his own terms, believing he got the last laugh over Jack and Atlas.
- For radio messages, see Radio Messages.
Burial at Sea - Episode 2
- For appearances of Andrew Ryan outside the BioShock series, see BioShock in Other Media.
Andrew Ryan Introduction
New Year's Speech
Concept and Promotional Art
Behind the Scenes
- Andrew Ryan's name forms the anagram "We R Ayn Rand." Additionally, his political philosophies and personal history are inspired by hers: they were both born in Russia and emigrated to America at a young age, after suffering under the Bolshevik Revolution, both were atheists, both were self-made, and both believed in the philosophy of Objectivism.
- Andrew Ryan's actions are heavily based on those of the character John Galt from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, though their end results are drastically different.
- Ryan's actions (burning an entire forest down when the government nationalized it and then isolating himself from the rest of the world) closely mirrors that of another character in the novel, Ellis Wyatt, who burnt down his oil fields and retreated to Galt's Gulch.
- Project X in the same novel is similar to the atom bomb, as both were applications of science for destructive purpose: Project X was created to "preserve peace" and "squash rebellion," QED oppress and punish those who disagreed with the government.
- The term "looters" was used often in the novel in the same sense as "parasites" was used by Andrew Ryan in BioShock, both describing either those who take the unearned by force or receive the unearned as alms from big government.
- Armin Shimerman, the voice actor for Andrew Ryan, stated that while the developers loved his performance, his voice was a bit too high for the role, and so it was lowered by boosting the bass value. When Shimerman auditioned, the developers originally wanted a "Russian take" on the character, but they changed it on the first day of recording as it didn't work for them.
- Ryan is one of the only three characters in the first game with unique models, the other two being Sander Cohen and late-game Frank Fontaine.
- Unlike other NPCs, Andrew Ryan's corpse cannot be interacted with whatsoever; it cannot be looted, burnt, frozen, beaten, or lifted with telekinesis, and hornets will completely ignore it.
- Andrew Ryan was listed under The 30 Characters Who Defined a Decade in Game Informer issue 12, 2010. In a group portrait of all 30 characters, he can be seen skulking in the shadows with the phrase "Would you Kindly?" written in blood on the wall next to him.
- The BioShock 2 achievement/trophy "9 Irony" involves the player destroying the head of an Andrew Ryan mannequin model in Ryan Amusements with a golf club using Telekinesis; this action is an obvious reference to Ryan's death in the first game, and maybe a nod to the "Irony" secret achievement received for taking a picture of Sander Cohen's corpse in the original BioShock.
- Andrew Ryan has been given an updated character model in BioShock: The Collection. The animation for his death scene was also improved.
- The monitor screen image Andrew Ryan uses to communicate with Elizabeth in Burial at Sea - Episode 2 is the same one he uses to communicate with Jack in BioShock.
- Augustus Sinclair's Audio Diary: Wooden Nickels
- Lutwidge Recordings Audio Tape: "Terra Incognito" - Day 128
- Lutwidge Writings THE UTOPIAN METROPOLIS - Ch. 1 - by 'Quain' pg 5
- We Are Free's lyrics
- Andrew Ryan's Audio Diary: Working Late Again
- Lutwidge properties, Declarations of fictitious business name: "in partnership with A. Rianofski"
- BioShock: Rapture, Chapter 1
- Faith In Rapture – Ken Levine Shares Thoughts On Creating Authentic Diversity on Game Informer
- Russian Revolution on Wikipedia
- Faith In Rapture – Ken Levine Shares Thoughts On Creating Authentic Diversity Page 2 on Game Informer
- Andrew Ryan's Speech, Public Address Announcement
- Radio Messages, "Planting Arcadia"
- Q&A: Diving deeper into BioShock's story interview with Ken Levine on GameSpot
- "Dreaming of Rapture" exhibit in the Rapture Memorial Museum of Ryan Amusements: "Andrew Ryan wakes one night, while cruising the Atlantic in his steamliner "The Olympian." His sleep interrupted with a singular purpose: "Here!" he shouts to his crewmen, as he wipes sleep from his eyes. "Full stop! We begin building here!""
- Andrew Ryan's Audio Diary: Offer a Better Product
- Bill McDonagh Audio Diary: Guns Blazing
- Bill McDonagh's Audio Diary: Ryan Takes F Futuristics
- BioShock 2 Multiplayer Lobby Preview: Yes, The Lobby on Kotaku
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diary: New Year's Eve Alone
- Fontaine's Army Already existing before Civil War started
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diaries: Today's Raid & Meeting Atlas
- Radio Message, "Proper Poison"
- Objectivism on Wikipedia
- Ken Levine on Twitter
- Ken Levine on Twitter
- Exclusive: Ken Levine on the making of BioShock on Rock Paper Shotgun
- Atlas Shrugged on Wikipedia
- Armin Shimerman Q&A on YouTube
- December Cover Revealed on Game Informer
- Game Informer’s “Top 30 Characters Who Defined A Decade” on Nintendo Everything
- Imagining BioShock: Episode Two Trailer on YouTube