- “I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. These people will liberate themselves.”
- ― Atlas[src]
Atlas is the revolutionary who led many of the disillusioned of Rapture against Andrew Ryan and his supporters during the Civil War. A significant character in BioShock, he guides Jack through the failed utopia after his arrival. Atlas speaks with an Irish accent, specifically, a working-class Dublin accent.
When Ryan nationalized Fontaine Futuristics, Atlas protested against him in front of citizens. With Frank Fontaine declared dead by the Rapture Council, Atlas used the poor houses left behind (such as Fontaine's Home for the Poor) to recruit disillusioned citizens and build up supporters against Ryan. Making Hestia Chambers in Apollo Square their headquarters, Atlas' followers gathered weapons, Plasmids, and Gene Tonics to arm themselves. This did not go unnoticed by Ryan, who had Atlas and some of his close followers sent to Fontaine's Department Store, which had been converted into a prison to house the remainder of Fontaine's army. Ryan hoped that this would put an end to the tension that had been created, but Atlas escaped on New Year's Eve, bringing with him Splicers whom he had gained as allies while in the prison. The action which officially started the civil war was the 1958 New Year's Eve Riots, and the terrorist bombing of the party at the Kashmir Restaurant, where many of the important and wealthy people in Rapture were gathered for a masquerade ball.
As the conflict escalated through 1959, more people joined Atlas' cause, including Ryan's ex-lover Diane McClintock. Raiding parties attacked Big Daddies to kill Little Sisters for their ADAM, seized weapons, caused many casualties, and disrupted Rapture's economy. The rebels had the goal of taking power and gaining control over Rapture.
To contain the rebels, Ryan gave orders to isolate Atlas' supporters in Apollo Square, transforming the district into a prison enclosed by a large gate defended by his forces. The Rapture Council had agreed to introduce the death penalty in Rapture for smuggling, which caused some people in Ryan's ranks to reconsider their support in the conflict, including Security Chief Sullivan.
In the desperate arms race with the rebels' numerous Splicers, Ryan was forced to use more and more security measures, eventually restricting most public transportation in the city in an attempt to block movements of Atlas' followers. But even the increasingly oppressive policies Ryan resorted to were not enough to snuff out the rebellion and public order in the city continued to degenerate. In the end, Ryan used a plan left to him by the late Dr. Suchong: modifying Ryan Industries' Plasmid line to make Splicers vulnerable to mental suggestion through pheromones. With much of his Splicer army now neutralized, Atlas and his few remaining unspliced rebels went into hiding in the ruined city, unable to escape Rapture with the bathyspheres locked down since early in the war.
Known followers of Atlas
- Clara Raleigh
- Diane McClintock
- Elise Tobet
- Felix Molloy
- James Millard Oakes
- Johnny Demarco
- Michael Tobet
- Peach Wilkins
- Samantha Kemp
- Numerous anonymous Rapture citizens
- Main article: BioShock
- “I don't know how you survived that plane crash, but I've never been one to question Providence. I'm Atlas, and I aim to keep you alive.”
- ― Atlas[src]
At the beginning of BioShock, Atlas is allegedly trying to escape the city with his family. When a plane crash occurs near the Lighthouse above Rapture, one of Atlas' followers, Johnny, tries to reach a survivor of the accident, Jack, who had descended in a bathysphere. With Johnny killed by a female Splicer, and the bathysphere severely damaged, Atlas helps Jack via a shortwave radio and guides him through districts of Rapture. He wants Jack to help him rescue his wife Moira and infant son Patrick, who are trapped in the city. Atlas states that he had come to Rapture in search of a better life (like many among the working class), but now feels as if "God's punishing [him] for bringing her and Patrick to this place."
Atlas is Jack's guide, serving as his ally in the unknown and alien city of Rapture. He explains to Jack the fallen utopia, ADAM, and the events which occurred after the 1958 New Year's Eve Riots. He asks Jack to help him reach his family in a submarine hidden in the Smuggler's Hideout, a secret cave used by the smugglers before the Civil War and located below the foundation of Fontaine Fisheries in Neptune's Bounty. Atlas' plan is to escape the city once he is reunited with his family at the submarine.
Atlas takes Jack through the Medical Pavilion and then to Neptune's Bounty. Eventually, Jack reaches the secret submarine bay in the hidden base used by the smugglers. Waves of Splicers sent by Ryan begin to invade the area when Jack opens the door to let Atlas into the submarine chamber. As Atlas is forced to escape and Jack fights his way through the Splicers, the submarine explodes, killing Atlas' unseen wife and son. A now furious Atlas tells Jack to go to Arcadia, and his goal becomes revenge — the murder of Andrew Ryan. Atlas asks for Jack's help to end the tyrant's reign.
Atlas guides Jack through Arcadia, where Ryan releases a toxin into the air that kills all of the trees. With the oxygen levels decreasing, the area is automatically put on lockdown. Jack meets professor Julie Langford, inventor of the Lazarus Vector, a sort of fertilizer that will restore the trees to health. Jack must find the components for the Vector and goes to Farmer's Market. He manages to end the lockdown and continues on to Fort Frolic, a recreation district. There Atlas' radio frequency is jammed by the eccentric artist Sander Cohen who controls the area. Cohen requires Jack to murder three of his former disciples before he will allow Jack to proceed, which he accomplishes.
Jack then reaches Hephaestus, Rapture's source of power, and enters Rapture Central Control, Ryan's headquarters. With self-destruction of Rapture activated, Jack has a final confrontation with Ryan. Jack's true origin is revealed, as well as the fact that Atlas had been controlling Jack through mental conditioning ever since his arrival. Jack had been forced to obey every command Atlas gave, triggered by a single trivial phrase: "Would You Kindly". Ryan orders Jack to kill him to demonstrate Jack having no will of his own. With Ryan dead, Atlas orders Jack to use the city's genetic control key to stop Rapture's impending destruction and to transfer control to Atlas. Once this has been completed, Atlas drops his disguise.
With this long-awaited objective now accomplished, "Atlas" reveals his true identity as Frank Fontaine, the smuggler, mobster, and businessman who rose to power in Rapture's society and challenged Andrew Ryan's claim over the city, thus leading to its downfall. Fontaine admits that just about everything he said as Atlas was a lie. Atlas was a name Fontaine adopted when he staged his own death in a shootout at Fontaine Fisheries in 1958 when Security Chief Sullivan's city security forces were closing in on him for smuggling. Referring to playing Atlas as his "longest con", where Fontaine had created his new persona as a working-class hero who could rally people against Ryan, use them to seize power, and eventually bring ADAM to the surface to become rich.
Jack survives Fontaine's attempts to put an end to his life with the help of Brigid Tenenbaum and her saved Little Sisters and pursues the conman. Jack is freed from Fontaine's control by Lot 192, the antidote to his mental conditioning, found in Olympus Heights and Apollo Square. Fontaine retreats through the laboratories at Point Prometheus, past the Proving Grounds and to his final lair, where he injects himself with massive amounts of ADAM to defeat Jack. Jack fights Fontaine, who finally dies at the hands of a group of Little Sisters.
- Main article: BioShock 2
Even though Fontaine is long dead during the events of BioShock 2, several of his audio diaries mentioning his fake identity and activities can be found throughout the game.
One of them, "Falling Into Place", can be found at the Imago Fine Arts gallery within Dionysus Park. In this audio diary, he marvels at the fact that he has an entirely new face to fit his fully developed Atlas persona, and he mentions setting up the events which would occur in the first game, including that "the prodigal son is 'bookin' his flight."
Another one, "Goodbye to Fontaine", can be found in Fontaine's sacked office at Fontaine Futuristics. The audio diary depicts the man sliding into his Atlas persona for the first time while working on his fake Irish accent.
BioShock 2 Multiplayer
- Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer
In BioShock 2 Multiplayer, Team Atlas is one of the two factions fighting the civil war (the other being Team Ryan). Also, several of the loading screen quotes either reference Atlas or are spoken by him. Several "Who Is Atlas?" posters can be found throughout the multiplayer maps, including Fort Frolic and Arcadia.
- Quotes by Atlas:
- "I'm not a liberator… Liberators do not exist… These people will liberate themselves."
- Quotes mentioning Atlas:
- "Atlas is out there… he aims to destroy me, and to destroy my city. To question is to surrender. I will not question." - Andrew Ryan
- "I begged Mr. Ryan to hand Fontaine Futuristics over to Atlas's boys… instead, he's started splicing his mob up… There's an arms race on here in Rapture. It's about who can become less of a man and more of a monster." - Bill McDonagh
- This war ain't about Ryan and Atlas… it's about ADAM my friend… Those who gots it and those who don't… Everyone's just dying for a suckle at EVE's tasty tit." - Wadsworth
- "It's probably just a coincidence, but I'll be damned if anyone had ever heard of this Atlas guy before Fontaine went tits up." - Sullivan
- "Maybe Atlas isn't some brilliant revolutionary… Maybe people just don't like Andrew Ryan… Not that I can tell him that." - Sullivan
- "I asked Atlas if he thought this lockdown will ever end… He said it didn't matter… He said if Ryan won't open the station, we'll open it for him." - Michael Tobet
- How do you wage war against Ryan?… He is the Plasmid Industry… Atlas says Ryan's weapons only work if he's got ammo, but I'm afraid to ask what he means…" - Michael Tobet
- "Atlas says the Little Sisters aren't girls anymore--they're Ryan's monsters… Does that make Adelaide a monster?… Because they don't sound like monsters when we take them… They cry… Lord help me, they cry…" - Michael Tobet
- "No one seems to know what happened… Atlas says Elise just walked into the fire… She didn't say a word… didn't even scream… not until the very end." - Michael Tobet
- "We never did re-open the Bathysphere station, did we, Atlas?… And now Ryan's locked up the Square and thrown away the key… All I wanted was to work, goddamnit… to take care of my family… Why the fuck couldn't you just let me work?" - Michael Tobet
Burial at Sea - Episode 1
- Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 1
During BioShock Infinite's first story-driven downloadable content, Burial at Sea - Episode 1, several propaganda posters depicting Atlas can be spotted in The Bistro at Fontaine's kitchen and the employees' locker room behind the Appliances showroom at the Housewares building of Fontaine's.
Burial at Sea - Episode 2
- Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2
Atlas appears in Burial at Sea - Episode 2 as the main antagonist. Trapped by Andrew Ryan in Fontaine's Department Store sunk below the city with many of Fontaine's followers, he attempts to sneak back into Rapture with the aid of Elizabeth. Atlas makes a deal with Elizabeth after she claims to be Suchong's lab assistant, threatening her life if she does not keep her part of the bargain. He gives her a portable radio to stay in contact and departs with Sally as his hostage, judging the Little Sister far too valuable to be left with her.
Later on, after Elizabeth has retrieved a Lutece Particle from a Tear to Columbia and activated it, Atlas sends his henchmen to knock her out and take her in for questioning. While Elizabeth is unconscious, Atlas and his henchmen are able to escape from Fontaine's and carry out their planned attack against the Kashmir Restaurant. When Elizabeth returns to consciousness, one of Atlas' henchmen called Lonnie injects her with a "truth serum" to make her give them the information they need. She reawakens after two weeks, and Atlas threatens to give her a transorbital lobotomy if she doesn't give up the Ace in the Hole. After Elizabeth claims doing so would be doing her a favor, he wheels up Sally and threatens to perform the procedure on her until Elizabeth reveals the information about its location. Elizabeth ultimately surrenders, wanting no harm to come to Sally. Atlas then drops her off at Suchong's Free Clinic, where she obtains the Ace. After Elizabeth delivers the Ace in the Hole (revealed to be the trigger phrase to command Jack) to Atlas, he hits her upside the head with a wrench, not being in need of her services any longer. Before delivering a final, fatal blow, he realizes that he still needs Elizabeth alive so she can decode the paper. After Elizabeth does this, Atlas hits her with the wrench one last time, leaving her for dead, then departs with his minions to prepare Jack's return to Rapture to kill Ryan so they can take over the city. However, Elizabeth knows that he will perish by Jack's hand in the end.
Behind the Scenes
- The name "Atlas" is, like Andrew Ryan, inspired by the works of Ayn Rand, a Russian-American philosopher whose 'Objectivism' is similar to the philosophy on which Ryan founded Rapture. Rand's last novel was entitled Atlas Shrugged, a reference to the Greek myth of a Titan condemned to support the heavens on his shoulders for eternity.
- The posters inscribed "Who is Atlas?" are a reference to the line "Who is John Galt?" from Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged.
- The player can find a poster in Fort Frolic and Atlas' HQ in Apollo Square advertising the play "Patrick and Moira, a story of love after death". This was probably the source of Fontaine's inspiration for the names of his fictional family.
- Occasionally, throughout the game Fontaine breaks character and does not have his story straight. While posing as Atlas, Fontaine tells Jack that he brought his wife, Moira, and son, Patrick down from the surface to Rapture. However, when Jack enters The Fighting McDonagh's Tavern, he says that he took Moira there for their first date. He also uses distinctly American phrases, for instance when commenting that Nitro Splicers are "sounding off like it's the 4th of July," describing Cohen as being a "Section 8", and making an American football allusion: "Every time we get a yard ahead, Ryan goes and moves the goal line down to the other side of the field!"
- If one compares his photo to Fontaine's, it is easy to notice that Atlas's face is clearly Fontaine, only with hair, without a mustache, and a more noticeable cleft chin. It wasn't so hard for Fontaine to disguise himself as Atlas: only the basic change of appearance and a different way of speaking.
- The same facial similarities can be seen on the Audio Diary portraits of Fontaine and Atlas in Burial at Sea, with their noses being the most noticeable.
- Inside Fontaine's apartment in Olympus Heights, a phonograph can be heard playing "Danny Boy" by Mario Lanza, a famous Irish song.
- In the 1990 Coen Brothers film, Miller's Crossing, "Danny Boy" plays on a phonograph during a pivotal scene of an attempted assassination attempt. Creative director Ken Levine has frequently cited the film as his favorite movie and a source of inspiration for BioShock. 
- Ken Levine also stated that a lot of Atlas' character traits, like the Irish accent, was inspired by the character Tom Reagan from the film, played by Gabriel Byrne.
- Greg Baldwin, the voice actor of Frank Fontaine in BioShock, has stated in an interview that he was originally asked to speak the part of Atlas as well, and would have done them in an American southern accent. The developers then chose to switch to an Irish voice for Atlas, and hired a separate voice actor.
- Ken Levine originally liked this version of Atlas, but playtesters didn't trust him from the get-go. They then rewrote the character from scratch with a new actor, Karl Hanover, but the accent ended up sounding phony to some of the developers. At the last minute, they did a focus test on Ireland, from which Hanover was, and the test group loved this version of the character with an Irish accent.
- Hanover replaced Baldwin as the voice of Fontaine in BioShock 2 and Burial at Sea - Episode 2.
- Even though Atlas is a major character, he does not have a uniquely designed model (unlike Andrew Ryan, Sander Cohen, and late-game Frank Fontaine). Instead, his model is a re-skinned Waders Splicer. This is because until Burial at Sea - Episode 2 (where he is given a unique character model) Atlas is never encountered up close.
- His "I am not a Liberator" quote is taken from the famous Argentinian-born revolutionary, Che Guevara.
- Rapture Standard headline: "'FOR FONTAINE!' -- Atlas Lays Claim to Kashmir… 'Ryan doesn't own us', declares Rebel Leader."
- Need to Know Theater: Taking the Taint Out of Fontaine
- Based on the following exchange in the Housewares department in Burial at Sea - Episode 2:
Elizabeth: "What do you want?"
Andrew Ryan: "I granted Atlas and his thugs asylum [by sending them to the department store prison]. You serve those same men in a desire to escape from my generosity. If they shall not have asylum, then they shall have liquidation. Give a parasite an ounce of charity, he'll demand a pound."
- Sander Cohen's: Doing Well by Doing Good
- Burial at Sea
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diary: New Year's Eve Alone
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diary: Meeting Atlas
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diary: Today's Raid
- Grace Holloway's Audio Diary: Closing the Limbo Room
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diary: Stood Up Again
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diary: What's Happening Here?
- Diane McClintock's Audio Diary: Atlas Lives
- Sullivan's Audio Diary: Have My Badge
- Andrew Ryan's Audio Diary: Desperate Times
- Johnny Demarco's Audio Diary: C'est La Vie
- Ayn Rand on Wikipedia
- Atlas Shrugged on Wikipedia
- Atlas, Greek mythology on Wikipedia
- Atlas Shrugged, plot summary on Wikipedia
- Neptune's Bounty Radio Message: "My wife Moira"
- Neptune's Bounty Radio Message: "First date"
- Medical Pavilion Radio Message: "Catch Explosives"
- Fort Frolic Radio Messages: "Sander Cohen"
- Radio Messages: Arcadia - Farmer's Market#10. Atlas - A yard ahead
- From Atlas to Fontaine
- Danny Boy (Irish folksong), on Wikipedia
- Rapture’s Required Reading at Rock Paper Shotgun
- One and One: 2K Boston's Ken Levine at WIRED magazine
- BioShock: Going deep with the game's creator Electonic Gaming Monthly interview with Ken Levine
- TheBioshockHub Interviews Ken Levine! | Ken Talks Bioshock, His Inspirations & More (2020/2021) on YouTube
- The Fukerton’s Exclusive interview with the voice of Frank Fontaine: Greg Baldwin
- BioShock: The Collection - Director's Commentary - Community Theatre
- Che Guevara on Wikipedia