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Sander CohenHQ.jpg

Cohen's an artist, says some. He's a Section Eight, says I. I've seen all kinds of cutthroats, freaks, and hard cases in my life, but Cohen, he's a real lunatic, a dyed-in-the-wool psychopath…
― Atlas[src]

Sander Cohen is a poet, composer, sculptor, and playwright ruling over Fort Frolic. Originally a renowned artist of many forms who practiced in New York City, Cohen became a leading figure in Rapture's art community. Following the descent of Rapture into chaos, he went mad and became sadistically impassive to the deaths and suffering of others. The Splicers within his dominion are subject entirely to his whims, whether in life or death. All around Fort Frolic examples of his "art" can be seen: plaster figures of people who are, in fact, horrifically murdered Splicers and other unfortunate ones coated in plaster.


Sander Cohen with his fellow elite.

Sander Cohen was a Jewish American[1] artist who lived in New York. Although information on his life pre-Rapture is limited, some of the scant information we have tells us that he eventually became colleagues with an Elgar Vankin and Mimi Tabor. It is implied that he converted them to the Ryanist philosophy since they began speaking of a coming utopia with an almost religious fervor. On the surface, Cohen was a celebrated artist, although he often had to stoop to pleasing the public rather than following his passions. It is suggested that the constraints that the public imposed on his work may have been a contributing factor towards his conversion to Ryanist ideals. During his time in New York, Cohen was good friends with Andrew Ryan, who admired his artistic ability and personally invited him to come to Rapture. However, it might be assumed that Cohen's talent as an artist was looked on by some as dubious at best, given his frequent run-ins with the "doubters" and Lee Wilson Seward's commentary that he was a "fraud."

Before Rapture descended into chaos, Cohen was a leading figure in the artistic community and social scene of the city. He ran Fort Frolic and owned both a night club and several galleries of art throughout the city. He also produced several record albums, the latest of which was the heavily advertised Why Even Ask?, as well as theatrical shows, one of which was named Patrick and Moira. As one of Andrew Ryan's most fervent supporters, Cohen was granted the honor of writing the Rapture anthem, "Rise, Rapture, Rise",[2] and he consulted on the building of Ryan Amusements.[3] Cohen was also interested in the art movement of Abstract Expressionism and participated in Sofia Lamb's celebration of "unconscious art" in Dionysus Park. After the nationalization of Fontaine Futuristics and the subsequent closure of the Little Sister's Orphanages, as well as the recently orphaned children caused by Fontaine's followers being sent to Fontaine's Department Store converted prison, leaving their children behind, Cohen took in the destitute children off the street.[4] He began trafficking the young girls to various individuals willing to pay the right price. The majority were bought by Ryan Industries to be turned into Little Sisters.

Poster The Heroes of Rapture.

As a result of his closeness to Ryan, Cohen became a notable enemy of another singer/actress, Anna Culpepper, who called him "Ryan's Songbird". Cohen allegedly used his contacts with Ryan, to "Put the bump" on her, as said by Security Chief Sullivan, who had to do the dirty work. With this competition gone, Cohen experienced a rare era of extravagance before the Rapture Civil War forced him to close Fort Frolic.[5]

Before Jack arrived in 1960, Cohen had five disciples, although only four were encountered and mentioned in the game. They were Silas Cobb, Martin Finnegan, Hector Rodriguez, and Kyle Fitzpatrick. Cohen's fifth known disciple was Elizabeth, who prior to the events of Burial at Sea spent two months undercover as his "Songbird" in order to gain information on his human trafficking schemes.

It is all but stated that Cohen's relationships with some of his disciples were sexual in nature (with the exclusion of Elizabeth, given her gender as well as the fact that she despised him). Silas refers to Cohen "paying his rent," Martin calls Cohen an "old fruit" (a pejorative term for a homosexual), and Hector utters the ambiguous phrase "the things that man had me do…" Cohen's comments are even more explicit on the subject. All of them either betrayed or displeased Cohen at some point. As with the Medical Pavilion's Dr. J.S. Steinman, Cohen went insane, driven so partly by ADAM and out of frustration for the lack of appreciation for his work after the Civil War. An audio diary reveals that he even regretted his decision to move to Rapture for this reason, and may even have planned to kill Ryan.

Known Works[]

Poster for Why Even Ask in Burial at Sea - Episode 1.



Main article: BioShock

When Jack arrives in Fort Frolic, Cohen cuts off his radio contact with Andrew Ryan and Atlas, stranding him on the level by causing the Bathysphere to Hephaestus to submerge. Cohen then toys with Jack, inviting him to Fleet Hall to see a performance. This turns out to be the final performance of Kyle Fitzpatrick, who is plastered to a piano rigged with explosives. After the piano explodes, killing Fitzpatrick, Cohen requires Jack to take his photo and place it in his "Quadtych", a masterpiece that he says people will remember him by when he is gone. Cohen then sends Jack to Poseidon Plaza, promising to let Jack take the Bathysphere to Ryan only after he has killed and photographed his remaining three disciples, placing each photo in his Quadtych.

Once the third photo is placed in the Quadtych, Cohen has a paranoid moment, accusing Jack of being a "doubter" and sends some Splicers to kill him (with the lights dimmed and a spotlight on Jack with "Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky[6] playing), but Jack fights them off long enough for Cohen to calm down.

Sander Cohen appreciating his masterpiece.

After the player completes the Quadtych, Cohen finally reveals himself among a host of spotlights and confetti, descending the staircase in the Atrium of Fort Frolic to congratulate Jack on his work. Cohen then rewards Jack by opening one of the glass cases near the stage. If the player chooses to attack Cohen or his Quadtych, the former fights like a Houdini Splicer, teleporting around the area and throwing fireballs at the player.

If the player chooses not to kill Cohen at Fort Frolic, then Jack will encounter him later in his apartment at Mercury Suites. There, Cohen welcomes him into his home saying "Come into the light, little moth, come in." Jack enters and sees two Houdini Splicers dancing to the music of a precariously balanced phonograph. If the player disrupts the dancers and kills them, Cohen will then descend from his room upstairs and attack Jack. However, if the player leaves the dancers alone then it is entirely possible for Cohen to survive the events of BioShock.

There is, however, an interesting glitch. If the player kills Cohen in his apartment, and then returns to Fort Frolic via Bathysphere, Cohen is still alive and able to be killed a second time. Set the Quadtych on fire once you enter the main hall and he will be waiting for you in the theater. This also allows the player to retrieve his key for Cohen's Muse Box in the Atrium.

Cohen's Gifts[]

Cohen's Gifts.

  • Victim 3: Silas Cobb, in Rapture Records. Reward: 5 Electric Buck, $20, 20 Electric Gel. After the player posts Cobb's picture, but before they get their reward, Sander orders around 20 Splicers to attack the player. They are comparatively easy to kill, and have a bit more loot than usual (First Aid Kits, Frag Grenades, Buck, etc.).

The player can kill Cohen in Fort Frolic at this point, but if they do, they won't get access to his Power to the People machine in Olympus Heights.

  • Victim 5: Sander Cohen, in the Mercury Suites of Olympus Heights. Loot: $87, 36 Antipersonnel Auto Rounds, Sander Cohen's Muse Key. There is also a Power to the People machine and a fair amount of ammo and two First-Aid Kits up in his room.
  • Victim 6: Sander Cohen - again - after burning his Quadtych in Fort Frolic. Loot: 5 Trap Bolts, 8 Film, Sander Cohen's Muse Key. (NOTE: See the Bugs/Glitches section below.)
    • Muse Box reward: $100, 8 Incendiary Bolts, and 3 Spider Splicer Organs in Cohen's Muse Box (back in Fort Frolic).

Achievements/Trophies Related to Cohen[]

Irony trophy.

Irony achievement.

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and BioShock Remastered Specific[]
  • Where the player chooses to kill Cohen affects which achievements/trophies one can obtain. If the player lets Cohen live in Fort Frolic, they will be able to gain access to a secret area in his living quarters in Olympus Heights later in the game. Entering the second floor of his apartment will give the player an achievement/trophy and an otherwise unattainable Power to the People vending machine.
  • To gain access, simply disrupt the two dancing Houdini Splicers in his apartment either by attacking them, knocking over their record player, or playing the piano. Cohen will then come down to kill the player. Obtain the second achievement/trophy by taking a photo of his corpse.
  • An easy way to kill Cohen is to place a number of Proximity Mines at the doorway to the upstairs level of Cohen's apartment. Then, kill the dancers from a distance and wait for Cohen to come down. If done correctly, he will walk right into the Mines and kill himself instantly. A less expensive method is one steel bolt to the head. If you are unable to aim quickly enough, stun him with Electro Bolt 2.
  • Unlike most other enemies, Cohen does not shatter if killed while frozen. Freezing him with liquid nitrogen or Winter Blast to immobilize him can make killing him an easy affair without the usual downside of missing out on loot.
  • If the player wants to kill Cohen right away, one may attack him in Fort Frolic. He is relatively strong and uses a similar attack pattern to a Houdini Splicer except with more health, and a much larger teleportation range. When he is dead, search his body to find some EVE Hypos and a key, which will grant one access to the second glass case containing the muse box, for some money and items.
  • To receive both achievements/trophies quickly, simply save in Fort Frolic after Cohen has revealed himself, but before one attacks him. The player may then initiate a fight. Once he is dead, take his photo to unlock the achievement/trophy and then reload one's save to before having attacked him. Then allow him to live, and leave the level without attacking him. Or, simply wait till you get to him at Olympus Heights, kill him there, take the picture of him dead, and then go to the Power to the People Machine.
Original PC version Specific[]

Killing Cohen in Fort Frolic is pointless, because there are no special achievements in the original PC version and the treasure inside the muse box is nothing noteworthy. However, if the player does not attack Cohen in Fort Frolic, they will be able to gain access to a secret area in his living quarters later on in the game in Olympus Heights which in turn will give them access to an otherwise unattainable Power to the People vending machine. To gain entry to the second floor of Cohen's apartment, simply disrupt the two dancing Houdini Splicers in his apartment, Cohen will then come down to kill the player.

If one waits to kill Sander in his apartment in Olympus Heights, the player may still salvage the key to his Muse Box at Fort Frolic. Simply return to Fort Frolic via bathysphere to claim the treasure.


The following are phrases that Sander Cohen says in BioShock. The name of the source audio file is listed when known.

When The Quadtych Is Finished[]


  • "It…is…Ac-ACCOMPLISHED!!!


  • Let me see it.…


  • My God…My God…My God…My God…My God.…My God…It's…it's BEAUTIFUL…


  • You'll find your path to Ryan is now clear. Tell him Sander said, "Hello". Oh yes…you may avail yourself upon one of my lesser works as a token of our time together. If you had become my one and true Disciple, you might have been worthy of seeing inside the box of my most private Muse…but who knows if THAT man is yet even born…Now……GO!!!!!!!!"

When the Quadtych Is Damaged[]


  • (While gesticulating erratically, as if Enraged) "Watch yourself you clumsy sow! That's my work!"



  • "This isn't right!"

Attacking in General[]


  • "Don't look at me!"
  • "I'm Sander Fucking Cohen!"
  • "No, no, no!"
  • "Look at me, boy!"
  • "Smile! Smile!"

If the Player Runs[]


  • "Come back! Please come back!"
  • "Fly little moth! Fly!"
  • "It turns its tail! Turns its tail!"

Challenge Rooms[]

A Sander Cohen's Chamber of Thrills! cover.

Main article: Challenge Rooms

The BioShock downloadable content Challenge Rooms uses the "Sander Cohen's Chamber of Thrills!" pulp-style comic book series as a framing device for the different challenges and fighting areas the player encounters. Each comic book features Cohen on the cover and is drawn in the style of classic EC Comics from the 1950s.[7]

BioShock 2[]

Main article: BioShock 2

While Sander Cohen doesn't appear in BioShock 2, he is still a well known person in Rapture and is mentioned by many Splicers, especially the Brutes. His presence is felt in Dionysus Park where his exhibit of art, "Cohen's Collection", is damaged but still present. If the player chooses to gather ADAM from corpses in his art gallery Cohen's Scherzo will play throughout. At two locations the player may hear echoing laughter at the beginning or end of this song. Cohen's portrait is seen in various places around the city, and he is also pictured in the "Rapture Best and Brightest - 1952" poster, alongside Rapture's other key figures.

BioShock 2 Multiplayer[]

Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer

Cohen is mentioned in several loading screen quotes in BioShock 2 Multiplayer, mostly relating to him having to close Fort Frolic. His apartment can be found in the Multiplayer version of Mercury Suites and Cohen's Collection can be found in the Multiplayer version of Dionysus Park.

Burial at Sea[]

Main article: Burial at Sea

While in Rapture, Elizabeth spent two months as Cohen's disciple so she could learn more about his trafficking ring and his connection to Sally. While with him, he called her his 'New Songbird' and together they released a record called "You Belong to Me".

Episode 1[]

Cohen, before going fully mad.

Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 1

Sander Cohen makes a full appearance as an important figure in Rapture's still active art scene. Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth infiltrate his private club in order to find information regarding Sally. In order to enter the club, the duo are required to locate the iconic white rabbit mask for Booker, which can be found in one of three businesses sponsoring the private event. Once inside, Booker and Elizabeth witness the artist orchestrating a show and confront him. Cohen admits to knowing the whereabouts of Sally, but in exchange for the information, he asks them to dance for him. The duo agrees, but after a short time, a displeased Cohen electrocutes the dance floor, rendering them unconscious. Booker regains consciousness for a brief moment to see Cohen taunting him, claiming that "a moth will become a butterfly".

Sometime later, Booker is woken by Elizabeth in a Bathysphere, on their way to the prison-converted Department Store, where Cohen sent them to find Sally. Two of his short films, "The Black Dream" and "The March Hare", can be found at Fontaine's Station. In between traveling to Housewares via tram from the Pavilion Station, Elizabeth asks Booker of Cohen's reasoning as to why he sent Sally to the sunken Department Store, to which Booker replies that Sander must have thought of it as "high art". Although, as the two first descend towards the Department Store, Cohen mentions that he provided services for those who could pay, implying Atlas had paid for a Little Sister to be sent to the department store.

Episode 2[]

Cohen Elizabeth Poster.png
Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2

A short film by Sander Cohen is found in the Manta Ray Lounge, called "Regardèrent et Furent Observés". When played, a distorted voice asks the viewer, "Why do you stand there? When someone is right… BEHIND YOU." Upon turning around, Elizabeth is startled by a masked mannequin that had appeared out of nowhere. Cohen is also seen standing next to Elizabeth on a poster for the album "You Belong to Me". Another poster of him is found in the cafeteria of Ryan the Lion Preparatory Academy under the title of "Artist" on the "Heroes of Rapture" wall, between Brigid Tenenbaum and Yi Suchong.

Audio Diaries[]


Burial at Sea - Episode 1[]


Sander Cohen's outburst during construction of the Quadtych.
Cohen's appartment.
Quotes from Sander Cohen.


Concept Art and Promotional Images[]

In-Game Images[]


  •  Icon xbox.png Sometimes, when killing Cohen in his apartment, he may randomly fall through the small stairs by the entrance to his apartment, making him impossible to reach.
  •  Icon mac.png Icon pc.png Icon xbox.png Icon ps3.png If one chooses to wait to kill Sander Cohen in Olympus Heights, the player may return to Fort Frolic after killing him, attack the Quadtych (the photos), and he will reappear in a rage. This glitch remains in BioShock: The Collection.
  •  Icon mac.png Icon pc.png Icon xbox.png Icon ps3.png If the player uses Telekinesis to take Cohen's mask off while he is walking down the stairs, he will take another one off when he reaches the second set of steps.

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Sander Cohen's art style is heavily based on the Contemporary art movement, which started in the 1910s but did not become popular until the late 1940s to the 1970s.
  • Sander Cohen, Andrew Ryan, and Frank Fontaine in his final boss form are the only characters in BioShock with their own unique and specific character models rather than a reused and slightly tweaked Splicer model.
  • Cohen is the only Splicer to sport a gold/bronze rabbit mask rather than the common white/gray ones (prior to Burial at Sea - Episode 1).
  • Sander Cohen's character was inspired by "the man who owned Broadway" George M. Cohan, an American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and producer in the 1900-1920s.
  • Although Cohen's multiple talent inspiration was that of George M. Cohan, the character was hybrid with notable attributes of flamboyant artist Salvador Dalí, who although had his most well-known work in 1931 through the 50's, would obsessively continue to create and experiment into other mediums until his death. Like the character, Dalí was also as eccentric about his own work, especially his distaste against his critics and other popular artists. Despite the latter of his pride, Dalí did collaborate with other artists that praised him. Most notably in comparison, Dalí even styled an elaborately waxed mustache. Cohen's pancaked make-up was inspired by Bette Davis's character (erroneously credited to Joan Crawford by Robb Waters) in the film "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"[8]
  • Atlas refers to Cohen as a "Section Eight", referencing a category of discharge from the U.S. military used for those who are judged to be mentally unfit for service, which was also often granted to homosexuals.
  • As seen in the Development Walkthrough video of BioShock, Hunting The Big Daddy,[9] Sander Cohen's appearance in the Why Even Ask poster was drawn with more darker shading and detail, making him appear much older and more like Salvador Dalí. This was altered later to a yellow-tinted version of his Audio Diary portrait.
  • In Eve's Garden, as Jack walks to the bedroom, the door is closed and Jasmine Jolene's ghost can be heard inside. Through the crack at the bottom of the door, an eerie shadow is cast in the red light. That shadow is made by two Sander Cohens using the ghost pole dancer animation. The animation plays twice, followed by the disappearance of the Cohens. This can only be seen by using Console Commands to disable clipping (on the PC or Mac).
  • If the player somehow manages to get a Splicer to attack Cohen's "masterpiece" (such as using the Target Dummy Plasmid), Cohen will attack the player, rather than the Splicer that disturbed his work.
  • If the player puts a Target Dummy on or near Sander Cohen, and manages to get a Splicer to attack him, Cohen will ignore all damage and continue to admire his art.
  • Cohen is the only enemy that will attack the player if hit with Security Bullseye.
  • It has been officially confirmed by the developers that Sander Cohen is homosexual.[10] This has been hinted at on numerous occasions in BioShock and even BioShock 2, where the closeted Brute Splicers revere him as a role model (although, ironically, they are unaware of his orientation). The Audio Diaries left by his disciples also suggest that he was romantically linked with each one before they turned against him.
  • If one looks up at the theater seats shortly after Sander Cohen kills Kyle Fitzpatrick, the player will see the Gene Tonic Alarm Expert. If the player goes to the seats and jumps over, Sander will comment "What an outstanding display of athleticism." This action will also spawn a few Houdini Splicers. Cohen will comment under any occasion, even if the player has already killed him.
  • If the player shoots Kyle Fitzpatrick before Cohen has the chance, the piano will explode as usual, but Cohen will say "Oh, that was quicker than I hoped…"
  • Sander Cohen was planned at one point to return in BioShock 2 as a "20-foot-tall Freudian monster bunny".[11]
    • T. Ryder Smith recorded the voice for the rabbit, but the recordings were left unused. T. Ryder Smith asked what the robotic rabbit looked like and was give the answer: "A rabbit crossed with the Trojan Horse".[12]
    • Concept art by Eric Sterner was made for a three-act dream sequence level entitled "The Queen & The Rabbit".[13] It would have featured a chess match between The Queen and The Rabbit, held by Cohen.
  • According to Ken Levine, Bill Gardner composed the Kinetoscope videos for The Black Dream and The March Hare for Burial at Sea - Episode 1.[14]
  • If the player attacks Sander Cohen in Fort Frolic, and then is killed, they will re-spawn in the Vita-Chamber, and if they then return to the masterpiece, Cohen will be standing there admiring it, unaware of the player unless they get too close.
  • By the time the players enters Fort Frolic in BioShock, Cohen has killed at least thirty-four people and plastered their bodies; there are two more plastered bodies in Cohen's bedroom in Mercury Suites. He also murders one of his disciples and orders the deaths of three more. He later sends seventeen Splicers on what is essentially a suicide attack on the player. It is implied he has killed many more.
  • Cohen's voice actor, T. Ryder Smith, also voiced the First Zealot and the other Zealots of the Lady, as well as the Vigor Barker, in BioShock Infinite.


  1. Faith In Rapture – Ken Levine Shares Thoughts On Creating Authentic Diversity on Game Informer
  2. Hector Rodriguez' Audio Diary: It's All Grift
  3. Carlson Fiddle's Removed Audio Diary: Journey to the Surface
  4. Sander Cohen's Audio Diary: Doing Well by Doing Good
  5. BioShock 2 Multiplayer Loading Screen Quotes, "CURTAINS FOR COHEN?… Fort Frolic Closed to Citizens—Forlorn Visionary Promises Final Frolic…"
  6. The Nutcracker, by Tchaikovsky, on Wikipedia
  7. "BioShock PS3'S Add-on Content Comic Covers" article at the Cult of Rapture
  8. Interview: Robb Waters on
  9. BioShock Developer Walkthrough,
  10. Ken Levine on Twitter
  11. TidBits, Game Informer, #204, April 2010, p. 29
  12. T. Ryder Smith's Website
  13. Eric Sterner's Portfolio
  14. Ken Levine on Twitter