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ManySplicer RoomGraphic
Pre-Launch Baby Jane in Welcome Center Atrium

A Spider Splicer in Rapture.

This little fish looks like he just had his cherry popped! Wonder if he's still got some ADAM on him.
― Splicers searching a semi-conscious Jack for ADAM on his body[src]

Splicers are the most common enemies in the first two installments of the BioShock series, and in the DLC of its third.


Louie intro

A man showing the early negative physical affects of splicing, preparing to throw a Hypnotize Plasmid.

Remnants of Rapture's human population, Splicers are the result of ADAM use, which skyrocketed during the violence of the Rapture Civil War. During the conflict, and the chaotic days that followed, most of the city's citizens fell victim to the Splicers or abused ADAM to the point of becoming Splicers themselves. Due to excessive ADAM consumption, their bodies and minds have been deformed beyond repair (though some of their physical deformities can be attributed to war scars or Dr. J.S. Steinman's plastic surgery). They have become dependent on ADAM, both mentally and physically. Many still wear Masquerade Ball masks, perhaps, as Atlas suggests in BioShock, out of shame at how ADAM has deformed their bodies.[1]

Although the term Splicer can be applied to anyone who has altered their genetic structure with ADAM, it has since become the term used only to describe those who have become addicted to the substance, and had their minds and bodies ruined.


Now, most who survive are like this: Splicers. They are drug addicts, vicious animals.
― Brigid Tenenbaum[src]

According to ADAM's discoverer Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum, the genetic wonder drug works by exchanging original cells within a subject with new and changing variations.[2] The effects of small, controlled, or otherwise brief uses of Plasmids or Gene Tonics seem minimal. However, it is possible there is no safe level of ADAM usage. In either case, ADAM, like other dangerous drugs, is addictive and prone to cause adverse side effects with extended use. The very nature of the drug leads users into substance dependence.

Adverse Effects[]

Ford Dundee graffiti

The effect of splicing on the mind.

ADAM operates at the genetic level. Due to the instability of its interaction with the subject, a whole host of deleterious reactions can manifest in the user. While some users broke out in horrible physical deformities, others like Sander Cohen suffered psychosis but few noticeable mutations. The key is that the side effects were different with each individual. Despite this, some common defects are observed within the larger Splicer population. Unintended consequences of long-term ADAM abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding from eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Blindness[3]
  • Crystal formations on skin
  • Cutis laxa
  • Death[3]
  • Hair loss
  • Hair patches
  • Hallucinations
  • Heterochromia iridum
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Insanity[3]
  • Insomnia
  • Jaundice
  • Lesions
  • Memory loss[4]
  • Paranoia[5]
  • Rashes
  • Shingles[6]
  • Spider veins
  • Swollen gums
  • Syndactyly
  • Tooth loss
  • Tumors
  • Varicose veins
  • Vitiligo
  • Irritability
  • Swelling


Main article: BioShock
Bshock dancingsplicers

"Ignore the lies of Atlas and his Parasites. Rapture is on the rise!"

Why do they wear those masks? Maybe there's a part of them that remembers how they used to be, how they used to look. And they're ashamed.
― Atlas on the sad nature of Splicers.

In BioShock, Splicers wander the corridors and tunnels of Rapture searching for ADAM, usually in the form of Little Sisters, which often puts them at odds with their Big Daddy protectors—something which Jack can easily exploit to help him survive. Splicers tend to wear very little armor (if any), but they have increased physical strength and durability and tend to be extremely aggressive in contrast to the calmer Big Daddies. They will sometimes work in groups, use Plasmids, and occasionally even play dead to get the advantage on the player.

Thuggish Splicer[]

The Thuggish Splicer rushes headlong into danger and attacks with melee weapons. They are fairly weak, but make up for it by running fast and attacking in groups whenever they can. Later on in the game this Splicer type is more often equipped with the Electric Flesh Gene Tonic, making them immune to all electrical damage such as Electro Bolt and the Static Discharge Gene Tonic.

Leadhead Splicer[]

The Leadhead Splicer is capable of wielding firearms and attacks with either a Pistol or a Machine Gun. They are more dangerous than the Thuggish Splicer since they can attack from a distance. Leadheads will always keep their distance from the player whenever possible but at very close range they will attempt to pistol-whip them. It is worth knowing that they have to reload their guns, just like Jack, and are defenseless when doing so. They also have more health than a Thuggish Splicer making them harder to take down especially if there are more than one.

Spider Splicer[]

The Spider Splicer is the first Splicer seen when arriving in Rapture, although the player doesn't start fighting them until Neptune's Bounty. These Splicers can crawl on the ceiling and throw hooks at the player from afar, which can be caught and tossed back with Telekinesis. When on the ground, the Spider Splicer will get near enough to physically attack the player, then immediately jump to the ceiling or backflip away and come at them from another angle. Their agility and ability to crawl on walls make them difficult to hit, and their modus operandi, which involves ambushing the player by crawling on the ceiling, can easily surprise anyone who is unprepared. One can easily hear their movement, thanks to the telltale sound of cracking plaster.

Houdini Splicer[]

The Houdini Splicer is first encountered when the player enters Arcadia. These Splicers have the ability to teleport in the middle of combat, disappearing from one location and reappearing at another. They can be tracked through a cloud of smoke that appears around them whenever they do so, which becomes much more visible upon researching this Splicer to the fourth research level. The Houdini Splicer will most often attack by shooting balls of fire (and in some cases ice), but like the Leadhead Splicer, will attack physically when at close range. In combat, the Houdini Splicer uses a hit-and-run strategy by appearing, firing an elemental attack, and then vanishing to repeat the cycle.

Nitro Splicer[]

Nitro Splicers are first encountered in the Medical Pavilion. They will attack by throwing Grenades and Molotov cocktails at the player from a distance. At melee range, they will either throw a smoke bomb to the ground, temporarily blinding the player, or they will attempt to flee, tossing an explosive over their shoulder or attempt to kick the player, doing moderate damage. Upon dying, they will drop a live Grenade, with the intent of damaging the player if they are at close range. A common way of killing this Splicer type is by using Telekinesis to catch its grenades and throw them back at it. Researching this Splicer type will increase the chance that their explosives turn out to be duds.

BioShock 2[]

Lambs splicers

A Splicer loyal to The Rapture Family.

Main article: BioShock 2

After eight years of splicing and surviving, Splicers are fewer, stronger, and more aggressive than those who were encountered in the original game. They are also far more deformed with their faces often having conformed to the shape of the masks that they used to wear. Their limbs have heavily mutated becoming lankier and, in some cases, the bone structure actually remodeling itself (such as the development of extra fingers, toes, or even talons). The remaining Splicers now show a twisted form of unity due to the influence of Sofia Lamb and the Rapture Family. Those loyal to the Family are no longer hostile to Little Sisters but they see Subject Delta as an enemy and attack him on sight.

Most Splicer types (with the exception of the Nitro Splicer) seen in the first game are still present in BioShock 2. Leadhead Splicers are also now able to wield Shotguns and throw explosives at Delta.

Brute Splicer[]

Main article: Brute Splicer

A new Splicer type which makes its first appearance in BioShock 2. First encountered in Pauper's Drop, Brute Splicers are bigger, stronger, and bulkier than any other Splicer, and are able to pick up an array of items or debris strewn around Rapture, such as large rocks and explosives, to throw at the player. Brute Splicers can also perform staggeringly high jumps that allow them onto balconies or walkways above the ground.

Minerva's Den[]

Main article: Minerva's Den

Minerva's Den introduces the Fiery Brute Splicers. In this DLC, Brutes have obtained new abilities. They are engulfed in a red/orange glow, and leave flaming footprints wherever they go. Also, when struck with a melee attack, Fiery Brutes expel a burst of fire from their bodies, as would the player if they equipped the Fire Storm Gene Tonic. To make matters worse, they are completely immune to all fire-based attacks. They can still be damaged from incendiary ammo like Thermal Cells though, but are immune to the ignition effect. To counter these new abilities, it is recommended to always attack the Brute from a distance. The new Gravity Well Plasmid comes in handy as a means of restraining the Brute, and is even capable of halting it mid-charge.

BioShock 2 Multiplayer[]

Bioshock Civil War 2

"Test our home-defense products in the field and tell us how you feel!"

Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer

As part of the narrative concept of the multiplayer game of BioShock 2, players take the role of citizens of Rapture who enlisted themselves to the Sinclair Solutions Home Consumer Rewards Program for their own reasons. They are testing weapons, Plasmids, and other genetic enhancements for the firm and conducting trials, which act as field testing on the account of Ryan Industries for their newest line of "home defense" products. However, all those enhancements turn them into Splicers, ruining their bodies and slowly driving them mad.

Burial at Sea[]


What remains of Fontaine's army.

Main article: Early Splicers

Before Rapture's Civil War caused Splicers to become mentally and physically unstable due to withdrawal, many Citizens were actually seen using Plasmids and Tonic enhancements with little visible signs of genetic or mental damage. Some can be seen in Market Street and High Street, such as the waiter assisting customers at Le Temps Perdu and a man attracting the opposite sex with his spliced aesthetics. This does not mean that dangerous Splicers were not present. Rogue Splicers, many of them the remains of Fontaine's army, were locked away in the sunken Fontaine's Department Store after Andrew Ryan and the City Council seized and shut down most of Fontaine's businesses. With their connection to Rapture's ADAM supply cut off, the splicers grew more and more deranged. 

Being either Leadheads or Thuggish, these Splicers are not as mutated as those met during and after the Civil War, but show the characteristic mental instability associated with ADAM abuse and various injuries from fighting Ryan's forces and each other. Being cut off from the rest of Rapture before the 1958 New Year's party, they lack the distinctive masquerade masks seen in earlier games. Most of these male Splicers can be seen wearing wooden crates or crudely cut-out poster images as masks of brands like Hop-Up SodaCircus of Values, and Meal-Time Frozen Dinners. Some female Splicers hide their faces with heavy makeup or masks that are either domino-like or a facial prosthetic patch.

Frosty Splicer[]

Main article: Frosty Splicer

Covered in protruding, icy growths, Frosty Splicers can fire multiple projectile blasts of ice at the player, not only causing them to be temporarily stunned but freezing any enemy in the way as well. Their transformation is a result of an overdose of the new drinkable Plasmid Old Man Winter. The first Frosty Splicer is encountered at Jack Frost's Village. They are immune to frost-based attacks.

Splicer Models[]

There are ten Splicer models in BioShock and eight in BioShock 2. Their names are not revealed in-game; instead, they are associated with the audio files used for their sound bites in the game data. The Pigskin, Plastered Splicer, Rosebud, and Waders only appear in the first game. The models that return in BioShock 2 have a more mutated appearance. Additionally, two new Splicer models are introduced; Brute and Crawler, who both have their own specific Splicer type. Splicers are given a pristine, normal-looking model when seen from a Little Sister's perspective. Additionally, the narrative downloadable content for BioShock 2, Minerva's Den, introduces two more unique Splicer models; Heady and Buttons. Each of these models feature their own preset appearance (with some variants in colors), personality, and social rank, making them characters in their own right.

Each of the ten playable characters in BioShock 2 Multiplayer also feature their own appearance, personality, and place in society. Their backstory, quotes, and their associated Audio Diaries contribute to telling a different story for each of them.

The narrative DLC for BioShock Infinite, Burial at Sea, returns to the city of Rapture on the eve of its war. Six new Early Splicer models are introduced. These male and female Splicers are what is left of Fontaine's army after his failed attempt at taking over the city. Unlike in previous games, these models feature a core torso while a head design and set of dialogue are mixed and matched at random to create the illusion of greater variety. A third model known as the Frosty Splicer also appears and is the first Splicer model to demonstrate the effects of drinkable Plasmids. In the second episode of the DLC, Burial at Sea - Episode 2, a spliced-up squad of Andrew Ryan's Security Forces are encountered by the player.

In Both Single Player Games[]

BioShock Only[]

BioShock 2 Only[]

Minerva's Den Only[]

BioShock 2: Fall of Rapture[]

Standard Characters
Zigo & Blanche Character Pack
Sinclair Solutions Tester Pack Characters

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea[]

Removed Models[]


Early Splicer Concepts[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Early in the design process of BioShock, Splicers were known only as "Aggressors".[7]
  • The term "Splicer" is a reference to gene splicing,[8] a natural process that occurs during RNA transcription in cells.
  • Several Splicer models are based on soldiers who sustained horrific facial injuries from the First World War and subsequently underwent pioneering surgery to reconstruct their faces with varying degrees of success.[9]
  • Ken Levine created the Splicers with the intention for the player to feel sympathy for them. Some of his influences included Willy Loman from the play Death of a Salesman and the film Requiem for a Dream.[10]
  • In BioShock 2, there is always one original model and three variations for each of the Splicers' models, plus some variations for specific levels or characters, such as Brute models dressed as orderlies and Toasty models dressed as inmates in Persephone Penal Colony, or Daniel and Simon Wales' Breadwinner and Crawler models. Most of these variations, which consist of different clothing, hair, and skin colors, are shown in BioShock 2's art book, Deco Devolution.
  • Each Splicer model (with the exception of Heady, Buttons, Crawler, Survivor, and the Splicers trapped in Fontaine's) has their own cartoon character, which can be seen on Plasmid instruction videos as well as various advertisements.
  • In the Clash in the Clouds downloadable content of BioShock Infinite, completing each of the four levels will unlock at the Columbian Archeological Society a Tear to a water puddle, which, when activated, will bring in a Thuggish Splicer bearing the Toasty model's body, a Waders' head, and a white rabbit mask. The Splicer automatically attacks Booker, sending the game back to the main menu; this cannot be avoided. This easter egg is advertising the next two DLC packs for BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 1 and Episode 2, which both take place in Rapture.
  • In Burial at Sea, the Frosty Splicer is based on the scrapped Vigor Junkie concept from BioShock Infinite.
  • The cartoon versions of "pre-fall" Splicers from BioShock and BioShock 2 can be seen in several Need to Know Theaters, training, and propaganda videos in Burial at Sea including: Breadwinner, Ducky, Baby Jane, Dr. Grossman, Waders, and Lady Smith.
  • In BioShock 2, there are harmless versions of Splicers (sometimes named prisoners) who cower in fear and will die in one hit from anything that can hurt them.


  1. Radio message by Atlas in the Farmer's Market: "Why do they wear those masks? Maybe there's a part of them that remembers how they used to be, how they used to look. And they're ashamed."
  2. ADAM Explained by Brigid Tenenbaum in the Farmer's Market: "ADAM acts like a benign cancer, destroying native cells and replacing them with unstable stem versions."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Market is Patient by Andrew Ryan in Arcadia: "There has been tremendous pressure to regulate this Plasmid business. There have been side effects: blindness, insanity, death."
  4. The Books are the Code by Reed Wahl in Operations: "ADAM makes it hard to sleep. Forgetting things lately."
  5. Radio Message by Charles Milton Porter in Minerva's Den: "Wahl. He was a brilliant engineer -- we saw eye-to-eye once, long ago. But the splicing made him paranoid, delusional. He'd murder us both to keep the Thinker here."
  6. Ray Lardner's Audio Diary: A Gift from Fontaine: "I mean, it's an honor but, man… I started getting these shingles all over."
  7. "Episode One: What Is BioShock?", podcast available: The Cult of Rapture
  8. RNA gene splicing, on Wikipedia
  9. BBC "How do you fix a face that's been blown off by shrapnel?" [2015 Web Archive] (WARNING: do not click the link if easily upset, as these are actual photos and videos of people with real deformities.)
  10. Why BioShock's Splicers Had to Seem Sympathetic – IGN Unfiltered on IGN