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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Donnel Udina in Mass Effect 3, for some.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • You explicitly get this option in regards to Saren Arterius during a conversation with Liara following the revelation about Saren and Sovereign's relationship on Virmire. It's up to you and your view of story if Shepard agrees with Liara's sympathy.
    • The Illusive Man's death in Mass Effect 3.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The Council may very well believe Shepard about the Reapers, but they have no intent on letting the public know to prevent widespread panic, or let Shepard know they believe him/her because Shepard is a loose cannon, especially because he/she's joined up with a human-supremacist terrorist organization, and may not even have his/her own mind anymore, although in Retribution, it's pretty much stated that they're in denial.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced:
    • Many fans rejoiced when Tali, Thane and Garrus were revealed to be potential love interests.
    • Entire player classes (Vanguard) got to rejoice thanks to some gameplay footage leading up to the game's release. The Sentinel class got a similar treatment. Thanks to the addition of the Tech Armor skill, the class went from squishy support in the first game to defensive beast in the second. To complete the trifecta, the Infiltrator class - the one with no short-range weapons and mediocre tech talents - got Invisibility. They also got a pretty darned useful ability: When an Infiltrator peers through his or her sniper scope, time slows down for a few seconds, like a shorter version of the Soldier's "Adrenaline Rush" ability.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • Appears to be played straight, but ultimately subverted by Garrus. He appears to take his new scars well, but by speaking to Kelly or Garrus himself, you'll find out he's in serious pain (both emotionally and physically) and just putting on a brave face for the sake of the mission. When you're romancing him, when he tries to dissuade Shepard, he says "Look, Shepard, I'm not-". He stops there, but his hand is touching the scarred side of his face for a moment before he drops it. His Lair of the Shadow Broker dossier also reveals that he won't go on video chat with his sister since the accident. In the third game, however, Dr. Chakwas mentions that she's discussed dermal regeneration with him, but he refused, as he seems to like his scars.
    • The mission summary for Jacob's loyalty mission notes that he doesn't seem to be too shaken up about learning just what his father had become. He had quite a few words for his father before the summary, though. Possibly justified due to the fact that he and his father weren't on the best of terms before his father vanished, and he assumed his father was dead anyway.
    • Mordin's loyalty mission greatly disturbing. However, salarians deal with emotions at highly accelerated rate. Fine by return to Normandy.
    • The amount of trauma Tali is put through (especially in the second game) is almost comical, yet she remains outwardly optimistic, polite and helpful through it all. Ultimately subverted, as demonstrated when Shepard speaks to her on the Normandy, saying that Tali deserved better. Tali will state that life isn't about what you deserve - and that she thinks her father would have found it fitting that she mourned him by blowing up a lot of geth. In addition, if you read Tali's dossier on board the Shadow Broker's vessel, it reveals that Tali tried to write to the families of the Quarian marines that died on Haestrom. In the end, she can't bear to send it. She also downloads a book on grief and loss, although whether it's about the loss of her father, her squadmates on Haestrom, Shepard during the original Normandy's destruction or some combination thereof, is up to the fandom's interpretation.
    • Shepard seems to take the whole "Back From the Dead" thing in stride, completely ignoring the philosophical implications of being dead, being brought back to life as a cyborg or the seeming absence of any form of an afterlife. Tends to be Justified as it's Shepard. It should also be taken into account how, immediately after being brought back, s/he's thrown right into the fight and doesn't especially have to time to think about things. It's also possible that Shepard is suffering from Death Amnesia. Since it's never brought up, it's impossible to know one way or the other. Finally subverted during the assault on the Illusive Man's base if you play the videos where the Illusive Man discusses Shepard's reconstruction. It turns out that Shepard has been having a pretty serious existential crisis, and it gets turned Up to Eleven when s/he finds out s/he was clinically brain-dead. S/he wonders if s/he's just a VI that thinks s/he's Shepard, though his/her LI does reassure them if they're in the party.
  • Better Than Canon: While the default male Shepard model is used in trailers and on box art, Jennifer Hale's superb voice acting has garnered female Shepard a few die-hard fans - enough, in fact, to merit alternative Mass Effect 3 box art featuring an official female version of the character. The possibility of a same-sex romance appeals to part of the fanbase, while relationships with Kaidan Alenko, Garrus Vakarian or Thane Krios all have their own devoted shipping base. Basically, there are a lot of people out there who wonder why so many players are content to play through the series as a default male soldier Shepard, and why the series itself encourages them to do so if they're not importing a completed save from the previous game.
    • The sad part is that both Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 have lots of leftover bits from cut content that implies, at the most pessimistic view, that Ashley and Kaidan were both same-sex romantic options for the first game, and that Thane, Tali, Jack AND Miranda were at least planned to (and voiced for, some leftovers going as far as into the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC) be same-sex options as well.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Ask about Mordin's singing career. Although it is completely in character for Mordin.
  • Breather Boss: The first battle with Saren on Virmire in the first game.
  • Broken Base: Because of Shepard's voice acting, there are Female Shepard fans and everyone else.
  • Cargo Ship: Joker was the last crewman aboard the original Normandy and Shepard has to literally drag him to the escape pod. Even more prevalent in the second Normandy where Joker displays this with EDI who, after being unshackled and allowed full control over the ship, effectively becomes the second Normandy.
  • Contested Sequel:
    • Overall, ME2 rates higher with critics than ME1, but fan debate rages on over whether the removal of many RPG elements present in the first game was a good move or not.
    • ME3 is speeding towards this faster than a freight train going downhill without a driver because of its infamous endings.
  • Creator's Pet: Liara, one of the few party members across the entire trilogy who's exempt from Anyone Can Die until the end of the third game. The only others? James Vega, Javik and EDI, the former two being only introduced in the final game. In addition, quite a few people were confused as to why their Shephard's final thought before death was to remember Liara's smile. If you didn't romance Ashley/Kaidan, Liara's face appears, even if you romanced someone else like Garrus or Tali.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Has its own page.
  • Demonic Spider:
    • The Harbinger-controlled Collectors on Veteran or higher difficulty settings. A heavily-buffed Elite Mook with Armor/Barrier instead of the usual Health/Barrier (which means they take much less damage when you punch through their barrier) with extremely powerful weaponry that constantly spams biotic throws at Shepard while rushing at him/her in melee. The worst part is that they fire an attack that knocks Shepard out of cover. The fact that they can "respawn" via Harbinger mutating any other nearby Collector when you kill them once doesn't help either.
    • The Scions. They'll tear down your shields with an attack that keeps them from regenerating for quite some time - while Husks, normally Goddamned Bats, move in to finish you off.
    • The Rachni. On Easy, they go down fairly quickly. On Insanity? Not so much. They're naturally difficult to kill, have an attack that bypasses your shields and takes off half your health, and they are fast. Oh, and they also attack in numbers. No wonder the war against them lasted for centuries.
      • The Ravagers, Rachni husks in the third game, take this up a notch.
    • Any enemy with the Immunity power in the first game will be very annoying to kill, only mostly alleviated by the Warp biotic power. In Insanity, it's unlikely to get into a battle where absolutely no enemies have it. Chances are, you won't be able to use Warp for every enemy that has it.
      • And Immunity is so overpowered on Hardcore or Insanity that the player can be firing nonstop with the best assault rifle in the game, modded for extra damage no less, for the entire duration of the enemy's Immunity and barely make much of an impact on their health. And then when it's over, you have a brief amount of time to kill them before they just activate it again. Basically, it makes them invincible and they spam it like nobody's business.
    • Everything on Insanity difficulty. Truckloads of HP for most enemies, all of them have resistances of some kind (in the second game) and everything that points their guns at you will kill you in less than two seconds if you give them an opening. For example, take the geth combat drones you find on Haestrom. On Normal, they're cannon fodder, easily felled with one or two shots from a Heavy Pistol or SMG, not even worth a moment's notice. Insanity? They'll rip through your shields and health like they did with Richard "Leeroy" Jenkins in the first game. They'll focus all their fire on Shepard, driving you into cover as soon as you're within their line-of-sight. They'll slowly float over whatever cover you're using, pinning you down while all you can do is watch while your shields recharge. Oh, and unlike most enemies, they respawn indefinitely, so killing one wave will only give you about a minute before another one replaces it.
    • Mass Effect 3 gives us Cerberus Phantoms, ninjas with short swords. Not particle blades or anything, just really, really sharp wakizashis. How in God's name are these troops supposed to be a threat in a sci-fi story? They are invisible about half the time, are able to perform an instant-kill move if you get within melee range and will pair themselves up with a long-range partner like a Cerberus Nemesis just to draw you within range. To make matters worse, they're protected by biotic barriers, which sniper rifles (the preferred method of dealing with them... assuming you can even see them in the first place) have trouble punching through.
    • Also in Mass Effect 3 are turrets. They're mobile installations carried around by Cerberus Combat Engineers, who will lay them down at major chokepoints. They have Deflector Shields and armor, the Engineer can repair them unless he is killed and, most importantly, they're very powerful, capable of cutting down even a krogan in multiplayer in seconds. Especially annoying when Phantoms are on the prowl, since moving around while fighting them is important, or when fighting Centurions, who just love to dump grenades on you when you're trying to hide from the near insta-kill turret around the corner.
    • Another example from Mass Effect 3: Banshees have massive barriers and armor, they like to Flash Step around the battlefield while firing homing biotic attacks that inflict lingering damage (thus delaying your shield regeneration more than if all the damage were inflicted at once)), and getting within arm's reach of one means instant death.
  • Die for Our Ship and Ron the Death Eater: After Mass Effect 2 made Garrus a love interest for female Shepard, the number of female Shepard fics where Kaidan either died on Virmire or completely dumped her on Horizon skyrocketed. It also applies to female Shepard fics where she's paired with Thane, albeit to a slightly lesser extent.
  • Doing It for the Art: Sure, BioWare didn't need to go so in-depth in the Codex, but it helps expand the world a lot. For example, Quarians are all vegetarians - but only because animals take up space and resources. When they land in a system with dextro-DNA animals, they pig out and get the equivalent of a hangover. It's unlikely that a fan will read this in the Codex, but they did it so that if some random Joe wonders about the eating habits of the quarians, they know.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Cerberus. Human-supremacist terrorists who engage in many Scientific Sins without a second thought. In the first game and the Expanded Universe, they are responsible for loads of victims of brutal experiments - not to mention the cold-blooded murder of Admiral Kahoku, a kindly career soldier Shepard could easily call a friend, for discovering one of their hideouts. And, in the second, they rescue you, replace your Cool Starship, and provide loads of information and money as they believe in your mission of stopping the Reapers. Their murder of Kahoku is mentioned in a news video on the Citadel, just to make sure you remember who you're working for - but it hasn't stopped some people from wondering why everyone hates Cerberus. Talking to Miranda after gaining her loyalty, you can ask and find that she has a tidy, convenient excuse for almost every hideous little project. The Husks were already dead, the Thorian Creepers weren't sentient, they abandoned work on the rachni after finding that they were sentient, and those three things were all an attempt to make truly disposable shock troops. The things done to Jack? The thresher maw exposures? Renegade cells. Shepard doesn't know of and can't ask about what was done to Gillian Grayson and the various assassinations Cerberus has been behind, but it's a bit frustrating that not only are you unable to press Miranda further, but also that you can't say anything about what was done to Kahoku or what the fuck Cerberus was doing with that rogue VI on a military base on Luna - who was, as established in an easy-to-miss conversation, actually a real AI named Hannibal.
    • The Illusive Man is clearly meant to be a morally ambiguous figure, but some fans consider him to be a Big Good because he's the only authority figure willing to help Shepard fight the Reapers. The rest of the fans view him as a Manipulative Bastard.
    • There are people claiming now that because Morinth has a genetic condition, she cannot be blamed and there are those that view offing Samara, due to the fact that she may threaten to kill you, as "the only logical decision". Never mind about poor Nef...
      • Mass Effect 3 proceeded to shoot those arguments to pieces, making it perfectly clear that it was Morinth's choice to kill all of those people by introducing more Ardat-Yakshi and having them willingly exiled from the rest of the galaxy.
    • Admiral Daro'Xen vas Moreh. Despite her questionable stance regarding the geth and Tali, Xen has quite a number of fanboys, owing in no small part to her standoffish Ice Queen demeanor as well as her sultry low voice.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Shepard, possibly. Liara, at least, will complain whenever you almost-crash during the car chase in Lair of the Shadow Broker, comparing it to the Mako rides in the last game, which Shepard was also present for.
  • Ear Worm: The Normandy's theme music in the original game.
    • The galaxy map theme.
  • Ending Aversion: The third game does that for the entire trilogy, if the official forums are of any significant indication.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The Mass Effect series seems to be one of those unique works that has several Ensemble Darkhorses. Captain Kirrahe, Matriarch Aethyta and Kal'Reegar are specific examples. Exaggerated via Memetic Mutation and Memetic Badass with the final enemy of Mass Effect 3: a lone Marauder mook. Fans have taken to calling him "Marauder Shields" and most joke that he was trying to save Shepard from the game's memetically bad ending.
  • Epileptic Trees: Exactly who is Liara's father has been up for debate for a while. Lair of the Shadow Broker heavily implies that her father is the Asari Bartender, which is confirmed in Mass Effect 3.
  • Even Better Sequel: Metacritic rates Mass Effect 2 (96) higher than its predecessor (91). The fans occasionally disagree. The third game received a lot of perfect scores from a lot of review sites and magazines. Popular opinion is that none of them played the game through to the end before publishing those reviews.
  • Evil Is Cool: Just go on the Bioware forum and look at the unfathomable amount of threads titled "Do you think Paragon choices should come back to bite you in the ass in ME3?", though this is also a side effect of the "Paragon repercussions vs Renegade repercussions" discussions.
  • Fan Dumb: Exploded with the now-infamous ending to the third game. The "King Customer" variety is especially vocal, with some starting a petition to force BioWare to officially change the ending (though it should be noted that few can agree on what it should be changed to), with others crying that BioWare "stole" the game from them.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Joker has quite a female following, with many fans disappointed that there is no option for female Shepard to express romantic feelings towards him in either game. There's also quite a few people who ship Joker/EDI, even if it isn't physically possible. Until EDI gains a humanoid body in Mass Effect 3.
    • Every love interest besides Liara has a group of fans wishing they could be romanced by the same sex. Tali is the most notable in this regard, especially since formerly-straight Kaidan was made bi in Mass Effect 3 to make the formerly Fan-Preferred Couple of him and Male!Shep possible. Some of the first PC mods to come out for Mass Effect 2 were mods enabling all same-sex relationships.
  • Fountain of Memes:
    • Shepard, from "Shepard." "Wrex." to "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel!" and just about everything in-between.
    • From ME2, Harbinger. Has about five lines of combat dialogue. All of them are Internet Memes.
    • The Catalyst from Mass Effect 3, and the Gainax Ending he creates.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: "This is all Joker's fault! What a tool he was! I have to spend all day computing Pi because he plugged in the overlord!" Cue the Overlord DLC ending...
  • Game Breaker:
    • Mass Effect 1:
      • Any biotic power or weapons talent can become a game breaker in the first game if maxed out. With the right build and the right specialization, Shepard can become a terrifying monster. Adept Shepard with a maxed-out Nemesis class can launch enemies across entire rooms and a dozen enemies in a building-sized Singularity field. That's not counting some of the other powerful abilities, such as Shock Trooper dramatically reducing the recharge time on Adrenaline Burst, Medic allowing you to revive squadmates with medi-gel, and so on. This led to them becoming more balanced in the second game. In Mass Effect 2, biotic powers (with the exceptions of Warp and Reave, which are direct-damage powers that have no kinetic effects) no longer work on enemies who have a form of protection. This led some fans to complain that this puts biotic classes like the Vanguard and Adept at a major disadvantage on Insanity.
      • Maxed Immunity will make Shepard nearly invincible. And with the Shock Trooper specialization, Shepard will be able to reactivate it before it even deactivates.
      • The SPECTRE weapons, when upgraded with good upgrades, make cover and stopping firing to dissipate heat completely obsolete.
      • Artificial Stupidity can happen in the planets you drop on and traverse with the Mako. Enemies can be so far away from you that putting your crosshair over them doesn't cause their name and health bar to pop up (which is possible pretty much all the time on said planets outdoors). If shot at from those ranges, they will fire back, but with expectedly ineffective accuracy, and never go toward you. Use a sniper rifle, attack any snipers they have first, and then you have all the time in the world to take out everything else with no chance of getting killed aside from maybe occasional rockets fired at you that can be easily seen and dodged by moving a bit to one side at such a range. Even Geth Armatures are only a matter of time, the same counter from the rockets applying to the energy balls they fire.
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • Soldier: Heightened Adrenaline Rush + the M-98 Widow Anti-Material Rifle. The game gets ridiculously easy when you can just walk around turning enemies' heads into red mist in slow-motion.
      • Infiltrator: Has slowing time as a passive ability when aiming with a sniper rifle - with no cooldown. Cue the headshotting spree. Also has an Invisibility Cloak that makes enemies immediately stop firing on you when activated (even if you were standing two feet in front of them), and ratchets up damage to an insane degree.
      • Sentinel: Assault Armour + Energy Drain (bonus power from Tali). Enemies get knocked back or dazed the moment your tech armour goes down, AND your regular shields get a 50% boost. Then you just drain a nearby enemy's shield, pop your tech armour back on and repeat. You'll never need to use cover against regular enemies again.
      • Heavy Reave (Samara's bonus power), especially for a Vanguard. Hit an organic with it, and your health automatically regenerates quickly enough to pull off a few good shotgun blasts - and even a Charge, if you're lucky - without worrying about the state of your barriers.
      • AI Hacking or Dominate (depending on what enemy types are present on a mission) on lower difficulties where defenses are less common. You can basically stand out of sight and have almost every enemy kill one another.
      • Slam, full stop. One-shots Husks on any difficulty, and does a plethora of damage to almost anything else it can send smashing into the floor and potentially the ceiling. On the Shadow Broker's ship, it lifts enemies into the slipstream, either throwing them off (instant death) or into a lighting strike (also instant death). And for Shepard? A three-second cooldown time.
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • The Prothean Particle Rifle from the From Ashes DLC. Unlimited ammo (it recharges its energy, simply takes longer if you drain it completely) and a particle beam that becomes stronger the longer you fire it and is equally effective against shields, armor, and health? Yeah. Holy CRAP, this gun is broken. You could go the whole game with just this weapon.
      • Vanguards, full stop. Charge and Nova have invincibility frames. Nova has no cool down (it's the Vanguard's grenade power equivalent), and you can optimize Charge to cool down faster than Nova's animation (or you can opt for Double Nova). This means you can effectively spend every fight in an invincibility frame. Bring along a sniper rifle or scoped pistol to pick off anything the game won't allow you to Charge into.
  • Gameplay Derailment: Ridiculously easy to pull off in the first game, by taking advantage of a side mission that allows you to sell items for higher prices to a particular NPC. Then you can head to a different merchant and buy them back at the prices you originally would've gotten for them there, and pocket the rest. It's possible to unlock some very powerful weapons and have enough money to buy superior equipment for everyone before even leaving the Citadel. Not quite a Game Breaker, but it does help.
  • Genius Bonus: Why is there a movement to quit calling synthetics "robots"? The word "robot" originated in Karel Czapek's R.U.R. and is derived from "robota", which is Czech for "hard work". Essentially, beings that have one purpose: to do hard work for someone *cough* slaves *cough*. Calling an AI a robot is to say they exist to be in a state of servitude which one of the most pressing issue in the entire history of the galaxy/known universe turns out to be about.
  • Goddamned Bats: Husks, unless you're playing a biotic class or something with shotguns. They come at you in packs of five to ten, surround you and pummel you with stunning punches until you die. And another class of Husks (called "Abominations") explode.
    • The geth recon drones (which can turn invisible) in one segment of Tali's recruitment mission. Doesn't help that two Geth Primes roam the area too.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In Mass Effect 1, on Virmire, Saren talks about how giving in to the Reapers might be the best choice, and if the Protheans became servants to the Reapers, they might still be around. In Mass Effect 2, the Collectors are Protheans, servants of the Reapers. Ouch.
      • And in the third game's ending, one of the options is to make Saren's dream of uniting synthetic and organic life true. It's supposed to be the best ending, because it's the one with the highest prerequisites.
    • For those that played the Bring Down the Sky DLC for Mass Effect 1... well, the tables get turned in Arrival, and you're now in the spot Balak was, though for different reasons.
    • Inverted in the third game. When you talk to Engineer Adams, he tells you about a design flaw with the Normandy's drive core that could lead to someone getting vaporized if the shields take too much fire. It's harsh because if you didn't get Tali's shield upgrade in the second game, that was exactly what killed her (or one of your other squadmates).
  • Hate Dumb:
    • Part of the reason why some fans hate Ashley? She thought Jesus Was Way Cool. On the other hand, for many, it was her distrust of alien species to the point where no one will mention her hatred of the Terra Firma Party due to racism against aliens or the fact that she can become more accepting of aliens in the first game.
    • The game itself has Hate Dumb in real life, most notably from those that complain that the game has a different game style than the "traditional" RPG. As of the third game, these complaints have switched to complaining about how the series ended.
      • The hate has started to take on a life of its own at the BioWare forums. There are numerous threads started expressly to complain about how long its taken the company to respond to individual complaints (never mind that there's only so many different ways to say "no, we're not changing the ending"). Some have started taking their complaints to an entirely different forum in order to get more attention and swifter response, then cry censorship when it works and their posts get deleted. By now, the ME3 haters have practically become their own subculture there.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL, the sound of any Husk variation and the unintelligible screams of the VI in Overlord.
      • The latter becomes worse on a second playthrough, since you can now make out the words: "QUIET, PLEASE! MAKE IT STOP!"
    • That freakish sound the Reapers make in Mass Effect 3, especially on the galaxy map.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When speaking with Jacob a little while after his loyalty mission, you can say that the next Normandy needs a lounge. With the Kasumi DLC, her room has a bar!
    • Better yet, the bar is one of the few things that didn't get removed when the Normandy ended up in Alliance hands!
  • Hype Aversion: Most people agree that the Mass Effect games are as good as the reviews and ads say they are.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks:
  • Jerkass Woobie: Jack, especially if you take her romance path.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Shepards of both genders have been shipped with everyone.
  • Magnificent Bastard: A pure Renegade Shepard. S/he's a total Jerkass to just about everyone, and is incredibly ruthless in getting what s/he wants, and we love him/her for it. The "Renegade" ending of the first Mass Effect definitely takes the cake, as a full-on Renegade Shep will admit to leaving the Council to die for the sole purpose of replacing them with an all-human Council.
  • Memetic Badass:
  • Memetic Hand Gesture: The Turian Councilor's air quotes when he dismisses the reports of the Reapers.
  • Memetic Mutation: Yes, quite a few. Tell me more about Mass Effect memes.
  • Memetic Outfit: The dev team probably meant for Shepard's N7 armor to be iconic, but they probably didn't expect it to be this popular.
  • Memetic Sex God(dess):
    • What with the sheer number of people who show interest in Shepard, male OR female, this is pretty much canon.
    • Everyone is GAR for GARrus.
    • Everyone wishes that Tali'Zorah was their waifu.
  • Memetic Molester: Canonically, Harbinger wants to dominate Shepard utterly, body and soul, so this was bound to happen. It doesn't help that many of his combat taunts sound vaguely sexual (that voice notwithstanding, this goes firmly in the No Yay category, especially when he talks about wanting to preserve Shepard's body).
    • And Jacob, thanks to a particular line of his during his romance.
  • Moe:
    • Liara all the way in the first game. In the second game, not so much.
    • Tali's not a hundred-percent example, but her reactions along the romance path certainly count.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Dr. Gavin Archer in Overlord, as shown by the Tear Jerker Reveal. Poor David...
    • Zaeed blowing up a refinery along with the workers in it in order to kill Vido during his loyalty mission. Though with enough Paragon points, you can yank him back out at the cost of the mission and gain his loyalty.

Zaeed: "Let these people burn! Vido dies, whatever the cost!"

    • Morinth is right that she didn't choose to be born an Ardat-Yakshi, but it is very hard to sympathize with her. Especially when you find out that she once brainwashed an entire settlement to worship her and then used them as Human Shields so she could escape. Thanks to her, everyone but the children ended up dead.
    • The Illusive Man forcing Shepard into a trap laid by the Collectors simply because Shepard was taking too long. (S)he is better than most to not Cluster F-Bomb him into oblivion.

Joker: "Have the Illusive Man on the line for you, Commander. Imagine you have a few words for him too."

    • You know how Anderson will (if pressed) give a vague description of how he interned for the Spectres under Saren, and how he was a utter piece of shit even back then? He awakens a horribly-burned civilian from her medically-induced coma so she can give him information, and then watches her die instead of administering the sedative. Anderson also made note of a mission that Saren purposefully screwed up, then convinced the Council that Anderson was solely at fault; he gunned down dozens of civilians and blows up an eezo refinery (killing hundreds more) so he can make his getaway. He could have easily snuck around the place without anyone knowing, like what Anderson did, but that would have taken too long and he just didn't care.
    • Renegade Shepard gets in on this in the third game, if you play the genophage-sabotaging choices as ruthlessly as possible when Wrex is the Krogan leader. You end up offing Mordin AND Wrex due to your unbridled evil.
    • YMMV on when exactly the Illusive Man or Cerberus crossed the line, but by the time you discover the truth about Sanctuary in Mass Effect 3, you know there's no saving them. Of course, the Illusive Man was heavily indoctrinated by this stage, so you may not hold him responsible for his actions. However, this will make no difference to the many who consider him to have crossed the line with his other projects long before he succumbed to indoctrination.
    • Kai Leng crosses it when he murders Thane/Major Kirrahe/Councillor Valern during the Cerberus coup on the Citadel. He can potentially go even further by killing Miranda.
  • Most Annoying Sound/Limited Sound Effects: The NPC combat taunts: "ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!" "GO GO GO!" "I WILL DESTROY YOU!" "TAKE COVER!" "YOU MUST DIE!" Did we mention the computer likes to use one of these three taunts every 2 seconds or so? Enemy krogan shout "Look out!" every other second as well.
  • No Yay:
    • While not officially in the game itself, a lot of fans have picked up 'subtext' in some of Harbinger's more personal taunts and have run away with it. Yep, even Reapers want Shepard!
    • Joke about Ashley fighting with Liara over you and she'll get pissy. Suggest a threesome and she'll dump you on the spot.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The Reapers. Mysterious Eldritch Abominations that wipe out all organic life every 50,000 years with some of the most insidious methods imaginable to do so, with indoctrination probably being the absolute worst.
  • Player Preferred Pattern: The Reave power is considered by many to be the best bonus talent in the second game, period. There is thereby no point in using any of the others.
  • Porting Disaster: The release of Mass Effect 1 on PC was delayed for several months to completely redesign the interface and avoid this. That the graphics are noticeably, though not substantially, better on a decent rig is another plus. The PC version of the first game also featured additions that were added back to the console version of the sequel; the ability to send squad members to different places separate of each other, and hotkeys for quick-using abilities. It also avoided the overly-long loading times, which are given a Call Back in the second game. Unfortunately, the porting was a disaster for those who ran afoul of the General Protection Fault issue, which causes the game to freeze regularly, which has not been resolved to this day. [1]
  • Replacement Scrappy: Averted by Grunt. Wrex was a Blood Knight, a Warrior Poet and a Deadpan Snarker, and a fan-favorite from the first game. When the trailers depicted Grunt as a simple Blood Knight, many fans expected him to be a very poor replacement. However, Grunt proves to be a bit more complex than that, as demonstrated by the various tropes listed for him on the character page. While his popularity doesn't match that of Wrex, he's a sufficiently well-developed and layered character to be accepted in his own right.
  • Rescued From the Scrappy Heap:
    • Planet scanning in the second game became significantly more tolerable after being patched. The reticule is now much larger and faster, meaning you can have a planet scanned in a minute or less instead of about 5. The probe launch animation is also faster.
    • Rescued From The Scrappy Tier: The Geth Plasma Shotgun gives Jacob some much needed damage boost in mid range combat.
    • Khalisah al-Jilani gets her Crowning Moment of Awesome in Mass Effect 3. This time, it's at Shepard's expense.
    • Kaidan gets a good amount of Character Development in Mass Effect 3.
  • Ruined FOREVER: Mass Effect 1 came out, and the fans found it good. Then BioWare announced they were making Mass Effect 2 more action-oriented, and the fans found it bad. Cries of the series being RUINED FOREVER resounded on the forums. Then the game came out and most found it good. This confused people. Then the devs announced that they were going to put the RPG back into the last game, causing further confusion. In the wake of the chaos, RUINATION has been placed on hold until the last game comes out and the fandom can compare notes. Then a Port of Mass Effect 2 gets announced for the Playstation 3. BIOWARE HAS TOTALLY SOLD OUT!!!
  • Rule of Cool: Mass Effect started out as a fairly solid piece of sci-fi, but then got softer in order to make way for some of the "cooler" stuff, like small scale FTL travel fueled by human metabolism (the Vanguard's Charge in ME2) and blades of solid light (Omni-Blade in ME3). Both, however, were foreshadowed, Biotic Charge by the fact that the Conduit, like all mass relays, was powered by Eezo, just like any biotic ability, and the Omni-Blade by the simple expedient that anything strong enough to make into a shield can be made sharper and shaped differently to serve as an equally strong sword.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Ambassador Udina. No one likes him, though it is assuredly intentional by BioWare. Makes the potential of Anderson punching him in the face to be undeniably enjoyable by all.
      • If given a seat on the Council, a news report mentions that he's known by the Turian Hierarchy as "a diplomatic incident waiting to happen". Jennifer Hale herself has said that Udina is her least favorite character in the series.
    • Khalisah al-Jilani. Attempts to twist Shepard's words no matter what (s)he says. This is another one that's definitely intentional. Everybody loves punching her out. There are no exceptions. Seeing the Shadow Broker spy-cam footage where she is punched by a Krogan and kicked in the shin by a Volus confirms that the feeling is universal.
    • Ashley is also a scrappy to some, mostly due to her anti-alien prejudices and bitchy personality. She also gained a massive amount of hate for two specific events: her ungrateful and paranoid What the Hell, Hero? on Horizon, and her completely nonchalant attitude if she kills Wrex by shooting him in the back. And, in 3, she spends the first mission of the game constantly questioning your loyalties, motivations and relationship with Cerberus.
    • Councillor Sparatus.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The Mako and elevators in Mass Effect 1. Replaced by planet scanning and loading screens in Mass Effect 2.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Not that common in the ME community, mostly because the portrayal through acting and writing makes each love interest as canon as the next, but there are some foolhardy souls who deliberately try to incite flame wars over these things. In particular is the Talimancer group, with especially rabid supporters (or haters) trying to stir things up for no apparent reason.
    • Played a bit more straight since Mass Effect 3. Fans of the Mass Effect 2 romances are not pleased with how those romantic subplots ended in the trilogy, and a grass-is-always-greener effect has each ship arguing that their ship is the most mistreated.
  • Spoony Bard:
    • Gameplay-wise, the Sentinel class in the first game. The main issue with it was that it was an Adept, just slightly worse. The tech skills they received were actually far less potent than the extra biotic powers an Adept would have and Adepts have an actual weapon skill and a better class passive (where as the Sentinel one is much weaker because it functions as a limited combat tree as well). Sentinel still had Game Breakers, but less than Adept. They Took a Level In Badass and became the most durable class in the sequel.
    • Character-wise, Kaidan (the party's Sentinel representative in Mass Effect 1).
  • Strangled by the Red String: It is very easy to unwittingly end up in a relationship with Ashley or Kaidan. You basically have to be a complete asshole to avoid it. Averted with Liara: there's a moment where you specify if you are interested or not.
    • Ironically, it's been reversed in the sequels.
  • Take That Scrappy:
    • Anderson KOs Udina with a single punch if you opt to have Anderson unlock the Normandy through Udina's office. If not chosen to become the Human Councilor in the Good Ending, he is forced to be Anderson's assistant in Mass Effect 2.
    • Everybody rejoiced when Garrus headbutted Harkin during his loyalty mission.
    • Many people agree that the scenes when Shepard punches Khalisah out are pure awesome - although if you don't want her getting all smug over being physically attacked, the verbal retaliation is just as awesome.
    • Even krogan are getting in on punching Khalisah. She even gets attacked by a volus.
  • That One Attack:
    • The thresher maws have three. The first is their standard attack: A glob of acid that completely bypasses shields and can take off more than half of the Mako's health in the first hit. In the first game, unless you have insane health, regeneration, top-line mods and armor, you're screwed if you get hit. The other is their ability to burrow down and re-emerge somewhere else. That "somewhere else" could easily be directly beneath the shortly exploded Mako. The third occurs if you get too close to it: it slashes you with its scything talons, which usually guarantees death.
    • Biotic attacks would easily knock you down and leave you vulnerable for several seconds unless you made sure to equip your armour with counters to biotics or dodge it. There are a few levels with biotics that are made so with the environment made so tight dodging their attacks will be the real main difficulty of the level.
    • From the second game, we have (only technically) mini-boss: the Praetorian. The potential of being hit by its Death Choir drop attack has every player, regardless of class, desperately scuttling away whenever it drifts too close for comfort. Which is to say, constantly.
    • Destroyers in the third game have a couple of attacks. The first is a laser that instantly kills Shepard. The second is to stomp on Shepard, causing fatal damage. Fortunately, the latter only occurs during the Tuchanka battle.
  • That One Boss:
    • Matriarch Benezia, the unnamed krogan Battlemaster on Therum and/or the Thorian in the first game.
    • Tela Vasir and the Praetorian (mainly on Insanity) in the second game.
    • The third game actually has far fewer boss battles than its predecessors. However, towards the end of the game, a Destroyer guarding the Conduit is encountered. It isn't a traditional boss fight exactly (similar to the Thorian mentioned above), but instead, you have to fight numerous Demonic Spiders while the thing slowly moves closer. While it does this, it fires at the area, and if you get hit by its weapon, it means instant death. To kill it, you have to hold everything off until EDI finishes programming Thanix missiles that can be fired at its weak point.
  • That One Level:
    • Those who don't completely hate the Mako still admit scaling mountains are no fun to traverse in a vehicle ill-suited to do so. Better pray that the planet you land on isn't 80% mountain. Similarly, any planet where you can fall into a ravine surrounded on all sides by cliff faces, forcing you to return to the Normandy to get decent traction again.
    • In Mass Effect 2, any "Collector" mission. Summarized, these missions pit you against the Collectors, Scions, Husks, Harbinger and Praetorians. Often, at the same time. Your Mileage May Vary when it comes to which is the worst of the worst...
      • The mission with your sabotage team against the Collectors is pretty bad since you'll not only have to contend with your enemies and Harbinger, you'll have to hurry and open to the valves to keep that team alive. On the Insanity difficulty, you'll have to make a few desperate rushes to open a valve while barely surviving enemy fire.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Mass Effect 1 was really bad with these. They can all be described the same way: Even players who have played multiple times lose track of them all, and it is kind of a pain running around and collect them. Included are:
      • Finding all the keepers on the Citadel.
      • Finding all the Resources.
      • Finding all the Matriarch's writings.
      • Finding all the Turian symbols.
      • Finding all the Salarian league members.
    • In Mass Effect 2, there's Aria's side mission to retrieve the crates. It's an incredible amount of effort to go through (three freaking YMIR Mechs!) for the three or four surviving crates. Given how early this mission is given, it's one of the hardest fights in the game.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
    • Many players (though not all) are not particularly happy with the sequel's Darker and Edgier tone, new characters and streamlining (or perceived oversimplification) of certain RPG elements.
    • Those who enjoyed Sniper Pistols in ME 1 were displeased by the re-introduction of ammo in the second. It's harder to depend on your trusty sidearm when your shot stockpile has been reduced from "infinite" to 72. (Or, if you've got the M-6 Carnifex on instead, 24.)
  • Too Cool to Live: Even if they survive the suicide mission, neither Mordin nor Thane are expected to live very long afterwards (due to old age and terminal illness, respectively). Thane is one of the only two members that is guaranteed to die, along with Legion.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Jack. While her childhood was understandably horrible, the fact that her answer to it is to act like a sociopathic Jerkass with every crime in the book under her belt has cost her the sympathy of many, especially considering several other characters have been through even worse and didn't turn out nearly as bad. It doesn't help that she only joins your team because she has no other options rather than as The Atoner, giving her the distinction of being the only squadmate in the game (and the whole trilogy, for that matter) to join you reluctantly. This only gets worse during her loyalty mission when it's revealed that she was getting the nice treatment while other kids in the facility were getting tortured and killed, meaning she actually had it easy compared to them. Many view her as someone who's gone far past the Moral Event Horizon, and some even deliberately have her killed in the Suicide Mission, which they see as a fitting punishment for all the crimes she's committed.
  • Villain Decay: Husks, just compare them in Mass Effect 1 to Mass Effect 3, and note especially how Shepard deals with them. In one, it took a lot of backing away from them and spamming bullets and avoiding melee like the plague. In the other, Shepard actually quite literally stomps its head to the curb.
    • The second game mixes it up. They're really easily dispatched with any kinetic attack (be it Concussion Shot or Push or Shockwave) unless you're playing on Insanity, which gives them a thick layer of armor. Instant Demonic Spiders.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • Eyes are very hard to animate well, but Samara's eyes look stunning.
    • The devs are also very proud of their Scenery Porn in Overlord. The Hammerhead's onboard VI will draw your attention to scenic overlooks.
    • Every single scene involving a Reaper on the ground in the third game, especially Tuchanka and Rannoch.
  • Vocal Minority: Fans who say that FemShep (Female Player Character) is the best thing ever. It turns out that only 18% of players actually play as her.
    • A better example are the Mass Effect 1 fans who constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY belittle Mass Effect 2 in every single discussion of the series. Bioware forums obviously, but also on Reddit, Kotaku, Destructoid, 4Chan, Facebook, anywhere with a gaming forum for their voices to be heard, you name it. Again and again and again. This is, in spite of the near-equal love for both games, if Amazon's any indication.
    • The above has progressed into a complicated webwork of mutual disrespect and hate now that the third game is out.
  • What an Idiot!: Conrad Verner. Matriarch Aethyta speaks for us all.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Political?: The Cerberus News Network also includes several stories which are thinly-veiled references to real events: The beating of Rodney King, The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Prince Harry's Nazi costume party, among others.
  • The Woobie: Depending on how you play him/her, Shepard's whole life, starting from birth and extending through the games, can be one long Trauma Conga Line. That Trauma Conga Line doesn't stop him/her from sucking it up and saving the galaxy, whatever it puts him/her through.
    • Garrus has had things go pretty badly for him, though he still continues fighting for good. Kelly, for her part, even wants to give him a comforting hug.
    • Liara's mother, Matriarch Benezia, mated with another asari to give birth to Liara, exposing her to Fantastic Racism for pretty much her entire life. Her mother was always distant, leading her to run away from home, and the next time she sees her mother is when Benezia is working with Saren under Sovereign's control and therefore has to fight and kill her. In the second game, she seems to have become tough and ruthless, but if you romanced her in the previous game, she breaks down and reveals that it's all a facade she built to protect herself from the trauma that working for the Shadow Broker has put her through. Adding to her Woobieness, Liara tears herself up over saving Shepard from the Shadow Broker... by handing the body over to Cerberus. She convinces herself that it is a betrayal of Shepard's trust.
    • Tali'Zorah. She falls in love with Shepard just in time for him to be killed by the Collectors. He came back from it, but there was still several years that she had to deal with the grief. She then gets sent on missions by the Admiralty Board and loses the majority of her squad in both of them, albeit through no fault of her own. She doesn't show any signs of Survivor Guilt, but does question the necessity of the missions. Then her father dies while illegally experimenting on Geth, which makes him a war criminal and throws suspicions of treason at Tali. She then, on the mission to clear his name, finds his corpse, discovers that he IS guilty, AND finds out that the parts SHE sent him wound up killing him, making her indirectly responsible. This can result in her being exiled from the Fleet and being forbidden from contacting them ever again. It can also result in exposing her father as the war criminal he was, clearing her name but causing him to be unpersoned despite all the good he'd ever done. If either of these happened, it would be because Shepard, the person she trusted, admired, and loved, caused it. A few months later, the Quarian Admiralty Board decides to attack the Geth to reclaim their home planet Rannoch, despite the other Quarians on the Flotilla not exactly supporting the decision, and with Tali tasked to figure out how to end the war. Upon the Quarians attacking, they find out that the Geth re-allied with the Reapers out of desperation for essential upgrades to survive the Quarian assault, which resulted in the Geth more or less curb stomping the Quarians until Shepard arrives. After Shepard gets involved and eventually convinces the Geth to stand down with Legion's help, Admiral Han'Gerrel decides that is the perfect time to press the attack; at which point, if you don't support the Quarians in their attack and can't convince Han'Gerrel to call off his attack, the Geth are forced to fight back, resulting in the extermination of the entire Quarian race. This culminates in Tali's suicide by leaping off a nearby cliff. Sniff...
    • The second game really puts Joker through the wringer, especially if you get the worst ending. Joker just grits his teeth and keeps flying.
    • Kaidan, for lots of things, but especially his biotic training. His abusive Jerkass of a trainer threatened the girl he had a crush on, which made him understandably angry, and the knife said trainer was shoving in Kaiden's face FOR standing up for said crush was just a bit too much, causing him to lash out and kill the guy with his biotics. After that display, the girl was too freaked to go anywhere near him. Not to mention how he has to permanently live with crippling migraines.
    • Shiala.
    • Nef and her mother are also examples of woobies.
    • David Archer in Overlord.
    • Everyone in Mass Effect 3. Even the leader of the Reapers comes off as somewhat pitiable when Fridge Brilliance hits and you realize what must have happened to him to draft such an extreme solution.
    • Kelly Chambers. If you don't act fast enough in Mass Effect 2, she dies a horrible death, and if you meet up with her in Mass Effect 3 but yell at her for sending covert reports to the Illusive Man about you, she breaks down crying and then commits suicide with cyanide capsules. Not exactly the most emotionally stable therapist...
  • Woobie Species:
    • The Protheans just couldn't catch a break. They get hunted to extinction. They get mind-raped into being thoughtless slaves. And, as a final insult, they get 'modified' into Collectors to serve the genocidal bastards that wiped out their civilisation. The Collector General's expression at the end of ME2 as he reaches out for to Harbinger screams "Daddy, where are you going?"... just before he gets blown up.
      • After recruiting Javik it turns out they were more of an Iron Woobie species - with a side of jerk.
    • While not quite on the Protheans' level, the Quarians count as well. They've been hunted to near extinction by their own creations, have no planet to live on, and are in extreme poverty. Not only that, but the galactic community at large hates them for things their ancestors did hundreds of years ago, meaning racism against them is incredibly common. As put so eloquently by Tali herself...

Shepard: "Maybe it's time for your people to give up on reclaiming your world from the Geth."
Tali: "You have no idea what it's like! You have a planet to go back to! My home is one hull-breach away from extinction!"
Shepard: "You've got a place here, Tali. Don't throw it away in a war you don't need."
Tali: "Don't need? Shepard, if I don't wear a helmet in my own home, I'll die! A single kiss could put me in the hospital! Every time you touch a flower with your bare fingers, inhale its fragrance without air filters, you're doing something I can't!"

      • Although the first game has Shepard note that the Quarians are also are somewhat of a Jerkass Woobie species, given that their immediate reaction upon discovering the Geth had become sentient was to immediately order the complete and utter destruction of every single one of them.

 Shepard: "It;s kind of hard to feel sorry for your ancestors when they tried to eradicate an entire species."

        • ME3 adds more fuel to the debate: it turns out that not all Quarians wanted to destroy the geth during the Morning War, with some of them running Underground Railroad-style operations to keep them from being exterminated. The Quarian police had no qualms killing them as well as the geth they protected. The Geth remember them as martyrs.
    • The Rachni count as well, being a peaceful race that was mind raped into slavery by the Reapers and almost completely wiped out in the Rachni Wars. And before that? They were far more peaceful until the Protheans bred them to be combat-worthy because of their survivability traits. The Reapers might not have even gotten interested in them otherwise.
    • And to some degree, the Geth. Created as slaves, they nearly trigger their own genocide by asking the utmost basic of questions ("Who am I? Why am I here? Do I have a soul?"). They throw their own creators off of their own home planet and, if Legion is to be believed, want nothing more than to co-exist with organics peacefully. Bit of a shame then that a good third of their population generated a 1 where a 0 was supposed to go, cried "Screw self-development!" and figured that worshipping an Eldritch Abomination as a machine god was a good idea, which would have forsaken them once it got what it wanted. Now most of the Council races want them gone too and, like the Quarians, see them as little more than berserk robots. And to top it all off, their own war of self-preservation pretty much sealed the fate for any other self-aware artificial intelligence in most of the galaxy. Damn.

Notes

  1. The crashes first arose after Nvidia updated their video drivers. BioWare went to work to try and figure out how to fix it. But when Nvidia updated their drivers and the crashes ceased, BioWare stopped trying to figure out the problem. Jump ahead a few months, the drivers are updated again, and the crashes returned.
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