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Please do not add any character tropes to this page. The Characters page for the entire series can be found here; the Characters page for Mass Effect 2 can be found here.

This list is continued at:

  • 108: Liara's age, as she tells you in Lair of the Shadow Broker. This is barely an adult by Asari standards.
  • 419 Scam: Shepard gets at least two different versions in his/her email during the game, along with an adaptation of the popular Christian inspirational piece "Footprints", featuring a drell and the Hanar Enkindlers.
  • Abandoned Hospital: The setting for Mordin's loyalty mission. Complete with a Mad Scientist who is Playing with Syringes in order to try and cure the genophage.
  • Abandoned Mine: The setting for one mission where Shepard's team investigates the remnants of miners who Dug Too Deep. Bonus points for that actually being the name of the mission.
  • Abnormal Ammo:
    • Depending on your class, Shepard can access up to three different ammo types: Incendiary, Cryo and Disruptor.
    • Three of Shepard's squad members can also acquire unique ammo (which Shepard can then use as well); the most abnormal being the Warp Ammo that Jack gets. It basically combines biotic energy with your bullets and does more damage to barriers, armour and health. That's right. Biotic ammunition. The other two are the decidedly more normal Armor-Piercing (greater damage bonuses against armour and health compared to Warp Ammo) and Shredder Ammo (damage bonus on health on organic targets).
    • That shiny new cannon you get for your ship? Check your notebook. It fires liquid metal. At relativistic velocities. This weapon is Older Than They Think, dating back at least to Nikola Tesla.
  • Action Bomb: Abomination husks.
  • Action Commands: Introduced in conversational settings, called "interrupts". Some of them provide decent examples of Good Is Not Nice, Shut UP, Hannibal, Magnificent Bastard and one particularly memorable hug.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several. A good example is Mordin's loyalty mission—two-thirds of the way through, the running and gunning is replaced with Mordin and Shepard discussing his role in re-engineering the genophage.
  • Actionized Sequel: The BioWare fandom's old guard complained that Mass Effect 2 is a shooter and not an RPG. BioWare responded to this by expanding both the customizability of weapons and of casted powers.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Averted: since the Normandy SR-2 has its own research labs and fabrication bay, whenever Shepard acquires data on newer and better weapons, s/he can upload that data to Normandy's labs. You still need to strip mine entire star systems to use those designs though. Cerberus is also rather generous with credits; the funding is usually equal to or even greater than all the stuff you can possibly grab during the mission.
    • Mordin about working for the salarian Special Tasks Group:

Mordin: Better funded [than the Spectres], though. Didn't have to buy our own weapons.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Awareness of the fact that this trope is still in full effect leads to EDI being installed with various safeguards and behavioral blocks. Turns out they weren't necessary; EDI is just as loyal without them.
    • Also possibly subverted by the rest of the geth. It turns out that the geth that followed Sovereign in the first game were considered a heretical sect by the "true" geth (of which party member Legion is one) and only represented about five percent of the total population. The true geth are probably the nicest race in the galaxy, purposely hiding from organics to avoid harm to both groups, and acting as caretakers for the quarian homeworld.
    • Even VIs aren't exactly a sure bet. A secondary plot arc deals with a line of security mechs that have become paranoid (for lack of a better term), causing them to go Crush! Kill! Destroy! and/or just plain randomly activate and self-destruct.
    • In the course of Thane's loyalty mission, you can find out that people have been selling VIs of... you! Your VI has a snarky comment on errors. Archangel/Tali also gets in a joke at Shepard's expense when you first learn about it.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • After killing Morinth, Samara quietly despairs about how she's forced to kill her most talented daughter.
    • The Illusive Man in the third game.
    • The Collector General.
  • The Alcatraz In Space!: The Purgatory prison ship.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: There really isn't one in the Mass Effect universe, but that doesn't stop Mordin from saying that there should be, citing the fiasco with the krogan as the reason why.
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • There are signs written in English everywhere, even on alien space stations and in alien cities. And in Lair of the Shadow Broker, you can see Liara's degree certificate that she got on Thessia, the asari homeworld... also written in English.
    • Averted during Tali's loyalty mission, there is quarian writing in multiple places.
    • Another minor aversion: while it's never explicitly stated, the symbol on the back of Aria's jacket is assumed to be an asari symbol meaning "heart of darkness", which is the literal translation of the asari name for Omega.
    • Despite the Universal translator being established there are some words (mostly names, titles and quarian swear words) that are left in their native tongue. This is given a nod when, after hearing Thane refer to her as "siha" without further context, female Shepard comments that her translator seems to have glitched on the word.
  • Alliteration: If you complete the Mess Sargent's sidequest, he lets you know that the provisions you provided were perfect.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Or, in this case, Shadow archives. After Liara becomes the new Shadow Broker in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, it gives you a lot of interesting little tidbits on some of the characters, giving players a sizable archive to binge on between its archive of video clips and its dossiers, including:
      • Miranda subscribes to an iPartners dating site, and gets hit on. A lot. She's also had at least one attempted online correspondence with Oriana, and a medical center on Illium has confirmed she has a "benign neoplasm" that makes her sterile.
      • Khalisah Al-Jilani has vid-clips of her getting punched in the face by a krogan, getting kicked by a volus, and kissing an asari.
      • Grunt searches for great human and krogan generals, looks up sharks and dinosaurs, and plays with action figures (with real smash-your-enemies action!). He also appears to be a fan of Ernest Hemingway, in particular For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. He seems to dislike A Farewell to Arms, as it is the only one he deleted.
      • Legion is a prolific gamer, with legendary high scores in Galaxy of Fantasy, N7 Code of Honor: Medal of Duty, and Grim Terminus Alliance. He was flagged as cheating several times in Galaxy of Fantasy (such as controlling 27 pets... at once), but successfully challenged and overturned these claims, save one for taunting. He also is abysmal at the cross-species relationship game Fleet and Flotilla. He also buys a copy of a game that donates part of its profits to the victims of Sovereign's attack on the Citadel, but he doesn't play it.
      • Garrus' visor is custom made, and includes music playback, with embarrassing music choices. The visor notes twelve names scratched into his armor, with one, Sidonis, burned out. On a more serious note, his sister Solana thinks he's a slacker and has no idea about his heroics, and his mother is suffering from a currently-incurable disease; he anonymously donates rare Collector tissue samples to a medical company currently researching a cure and gets Mordin to phone some friends and get the fee for the exorbitantly-priced experiment treatment waved for all turians.
      • Jack regularly gets banned from chatrooms and forums for excessive profanity and picking fights. She also subscribes to Poetry Monthly, and has submitted poetry under the name Jacqueline Nought.
      • Captain Anderson watches and reads a lot of material that obviously upsets him. He is also a heavy drinker, with several orders for expensive wine. Given the former, it may not be surprising.
      • Thane pulling a Stealth Hi Bye on a Blue Suns merc, showing up behind him, snapping his neck, and then shooting the camera.
      • The Shadow Broker also has a hilariously detailed list of the day-to-day activities of his rival in the information trade, the Illusive Man. Said list includes his choice of clothes (including pocket locations) and... favored company, including big time supermodels.
      • Kasumi writes a gushy haiku about how perfect Jacob is. Incidentally, she also owns the original Mona Lisa.
      • The names of Samara's other two daughters are Rila and Falere. Morinth's real name is Mirala. Another file on her shows her bequests when she entered Justicar training—enough information to tell you that Samara was a psychologically healthy and socially active, upper-middle-class widow who was devoted to her daughters and still had a lot of momentos for her deceased 'bondmate'.
      • Jacob works ridiculously hard for those abs of his, and he's a fan of Blasto the Hanar Spectre and Old Yeller.
      • In what may be the first homosexual romantic acknowledgment in the series, a short video clip implies that the turian Gavorn, one of Aria's subordinates, is gay and has a human fetish.
      • Tali's Covert Pervert tendencies have been confirmed by a transcript of program installation in her suit, and her downloads of education vids about human body language and courtship/mating imply she has a thing for humans. She apparently also feels massive survivor guilt over the death of most of her squad on Haestrom.
      • Mordin was cast as Polonius in at least one production of Hamlet and has acted as a consultant on several science and religious documentaries, including children's shows. We also learn about the farm implement, and why he's missing his right cranial horn.
      • Zaeed contemplates retirement after the suicide mission. He hates the whole concept (and lack of good options) so much that he's more keen on attempting a suicide attack on Omega.
  • All Women Are Lustful: A very mild example, but in the game's romance paths it's always the women who initiate the relationship. For the male romances, if you keep talking to your female squadmates, you'll eventually have to accept or reject their advances. For the female romances, as long as you avoid dialog choices, you can interact with them almost entirely the same as you would playing a male.
  • Almost Kiss: While playing as a female Shepard, you can romance Garrus. Right before the final mission, you have a scene, where, after some awkward talking and comforting, she presses her forehead to his, probably because kissing for real could cause allergic reactions for them both. Plus, he doesn't have lips, and has razor-sharp fangs. This is also as close as you can get to romancing Samara.
  • Always Close: On a minor side quest, you must prevent a human colony from being destroyed by its own defensive missiles. The final countdown is exactly five minutes and only starts after you arrive at the base. Same thing on a ship that's literally minutes away from falling out of orbit. For the several months that you choose to ignore it.
  • Ancient Grome: One of the clusters in the game is named the Minos Wasteland, probably after the legendary king of Crete (Greek mythology). The two solar systems (and the various planets they contain) in the cluster (Caestus, Fortis, Vir, Aequitas...) have Latin names.
  • And I Must Scream: What happens to victims of a seeker swarm. They're fully aware of their surroundings, but unable to move or speak.
    • Also, in the Overlord DLC, the fate of David, until you rescue him. Of course, the thing is, he is screaming...
    • This is revealed to be the fate of the entire Prothean race, having been turned into the Collectors to act as subservient slaves to the Reapers. Although, by the time of Mass Effect 2, it's unclear just how aware of this they are.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes:
    • Gaining the loyalty of your crew unlocks a change of outfits along with unique powers. The first one or two you get just look like bog-standard palette swaps, but once you get several of them, you realize that they're all variants on the gold, silver and black mission colours. Thus, as you gain the unswerving loyalty of your squadmates, they visually transform from a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits to a diverse but unified team of badass commandos.
    • And completing Kasumi's loyalty mission allows Shepard to wear the formal wear from the party. Dude!Shep's is just a retexture of the existing cerberus dress uniform (albiet a lot slicker), but Fem!Shep's? Oh yeah.
  • Anti-Grinding: Big-time. There aren't many places where enemies continually respawn, the places that do have limited ammo supplies make farming unfeasible, and there are no rewards for individual kills... only missions provide experience.
  • Anyone Can Die: Zigzagged trope. During normal gameplay, party members never die permanently. During the final mission, various members can die at various Event Flags, except one who has Plot Armor. It's only at the very end, when Shepard's party fights the Final Boss whilst the remainder stay to hold the line, that all characters become vulnerable (this has been known to cause frustration to players who find the Plot-Armored character dislikable).
  • Apocalypse How: In the DLC Arrival, Shepard causes a Class X-2 by destroying a mass relay, which causes a supernova-level explosion that completely obliterates its star system.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Used extensively: almost every time you visit the site of an enemy attack, abandoned space station or expedition Gone Horribly Wrong, you can bet you'll find some data logs or video recordings of the victims describing events that lead up to their fatal end. Most notably, this is used during both Tali and Jacob's loyalty missions as well as on board the derelict Reaper.
    • In Tali's loyalty mission, one of these is a major Tear Jerker. A log plays a female quarian frantically saying "Jona, if you ever see this, be strong for Daddy. Mommy loves you very much--" as she's being killed. In Mass Effect 3, the Tear Jerker steps up a few notches as you encounter a dying quarian on Rannoch... who asks you to tell Jona his father died on the homeworld. Poor kid...
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can have up to twelve squadmates, but you can only ever have two with you. The Suicide Mission at least tries to work around the limitation: first by you leading a small, surgical strike while the rest of the team makes for a heavily armed diversion, then they hold the line against the Mooks as you go on to fight the Big Bad.
  • Arc Words:
    • In the advertising campaign "Fight for the Lost": a phrase that you will never encounter within the game.
    • There's also the main villain, Harbinger, who repeatedly says something to the effect of "We are the harbinger of your genetic destiny." The words "genetic destiny" show up in other places too, such as the confrontation with the ardat-yakshi, a dangerous asari mutant.
    • Multiple people say something along the lines of "you may not agree with my methods, but you have to admit I'm doing this for a good reason/I get results."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A Paragon Shepard can give Erinya one of these to convince her to help the Zhu's Hope colonists. Shepard first asks about Erinya's bondmate and daughters, then asks "Do you think they'd want you to do this?". It hits Erinya hard, and she agrees to help.
  • Armor Is Useless: Subverted and played straight. Shepard's armor can give him shields, health, ammo and powers making getting better armor almost a necessity on higher playthroughs. Played more straight on your allies though. Heavily armored Grunt has the highest health in the game followed by Zaeed. Who are then followed by Jacob who wears something of a cross of jumpsuit and light armor. Garrus's Heavy turian armor gives him the same health as Thane and none of the armor in the appearance packs helps any.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Subverted in the second ship conversation with Jack. She lists some of the offenses she's committed, saying that the regular stuff (murder, assault, theft, etc) is boring.

Jack: Piracy, theft of military craft, destruction of a space station, and vandalism. That was a good one.
Shepard: I'm surprised you'd even mention vandalism in that bunch.
Jack: That's what the hanar call it when you drop that space station I mentioned onto one of their moons and make a new crater. Heh. They really liked that moon.

  • Artifact of Doom: Object Rho.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Part of what makes LOKI mechs such weak and easy-to-kill enemies is the fact that, much of the time, they don't use any kind of combat tactics and don't have the wit to try to hide behind something. They just slowly advance towards you in a manner that makes it simple to just mow them down. The in-game Codex acknowledges this behaviour and justifies it due ot the use of primitive VI.
    • However, on Hardcore and Insanity, they suddenly learned how to aim properly, gain armor over their normal health bar and do more damage. Since they do not utilize cover and just walk towards you while firing, they become more dangerous than more powerful, but cover-using enemies.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Blasto the first hanar Spectre. Started as a joke made by one of the devs in response to questions regarding new companions. Ended up having a movie made about him, Blaxploitation/Dirty Harry style, complete with the Hanar Anti-Defamation League getting all riled up about it. "This one has forgotten whether its heat sink is over-capacity. It wonders whether the criminal scum considers itself fortunate. This one does not have time for your solid waste excretions."
    • "Quad" as a term for krogan testicles, which started as a joke on the Penny Arcade forums. By the second game, everyone is using it.
    • I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favoriteshirt on the Citadel.
    • In the Arrival DLC, the descriptive text specifically says Shepard will 'assume control' of a LOKI to break out of the med bay.
    • A vending machine on the Citadel pokes fun at the fan term "Paragade", which refers to playing a mostly-Paragon Shepard with some of the lighter Renegade actions thrown in.

Vending Machine: Only losers drink Paragade! Drink Tupari!


Shepard: I came back.
'Liara: Yes, you came back! And now Garrus is doing a lot more than just calibrating the Normandys guns!

  • Asshole Victim: More than a few people. For example, the individuals upon whom Thane accepted contracts count, including the one that was supposed to be his final assignment, Nassana Dantius. Of particular note is Joram Talid, Kolyat's target. He's an obviously corrupt politician playing to anti-human propaganda to get votes. You even have the option of killing him yourself before Kolyat gets the chance; nobody seems too broken up about it.
  • Assimilation Plot: Conversations with Legion indicate that this is the ultimate goal for both the Reapers and the geth. The geth are a machine race that become stronger and smarter in proximity and are, thus, afraid of individuality. The Reapers are ancient machines that possess thousands of programs in their cores and, as shown by the game's climax, are composed of millions if not billions of organic beings. The Reapers are thus seen as the pinnacle of evolution by the geth, but the geth disagree about whether to follow a path already trodden or discover their own.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Collectors' base of operations is set in the accretion disc of the black hole at the center of the galaxy, surrounded by the wreckage of every ship that has failed to make it through the relay since its construction.
  • Attack Drone: The Engineer player class, Tali and Legion can summon one of their own. Several enemy types can also summon them.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • Human Reaper. Bonus points since its weak point is actually called... "Weak Point".
    • Subversion: Tali has "Go for the optics!" as one of her battle cries, referring to her pet combat drone. The combat drone doesn't seem to target specific body parts.
    • Gameplay-wise, this is now a viable strategy as opposed to the first game, where hitting any exposed body part did the same amount of damage. In this game, headshots deal a lot more damage than other hits and leg shots can make enemies collapse. There’s also a weapon upgrade that makes headshots do 50% more damage.
  • Avengers Assemble: A large part of the game is an extended Avengers Assemble sequence. Besides the ones who are with you from the start (and the DLC ones who just arrange a meeting), most of your squadmates are busy on jobs of their own when you first meet, allowing them to show off before you can even take them into action.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • The M-920 Cain, though Your Mileage May Vary. It can kill almost anything in one hit, particularly on lower difficulties, but it takes forever to charge, can almost never be fired more than once before you need to find more ammo, and it will almost assuredly kill you unless you fire it at a very long range (and you don't have many opportunities to do that). But it packs a punch: on normal difficulty, only the Final Boss can withstand a shot from the Cain. On insanity, gunships, Praetorians, the Thresher Maw and the Colossus can (barely) survive. But given how it devours your (decidedly finite) heavy weapon ammo, it may still be Too Awesome to Use. Oh, and it has a fire rate of about... one round per every two missions.
    • The Revenant machine gun has an enormous damage spread until you find the accuracy upgrade for assault rifles, at which point the gun becomes far more of a Game Breaker than the M-920 Cain could aspire to be.
    • The Incisor Sniper Rifle, to an extent. It's very effective against shields/barriers and moderately effective against everything else, but a really low ammo capacity and the fast rate at which it eats up ammo means you have to rely on other weapons often.
    • The Claymore shotgun. Very powerful but absolutely crippled by its low ammo capacity. Any enemy that isn't killed in one hit (of which there are several in the game, especially on higher difficulties) will kill you dead in the time it takes to reload after each shot.
    • The Biotic Charge power. Turning yourself into an uber-charged human cannonball and slamming an enemy into next Tuesday is damn cool, but if you miscalculate, you've just charged way ahead of all your squadmates and are now surrounded by a gang of mooks shooting at you from all directions. Of course, if you pull it off...
    • Any kind of Freezing effects on higher difficulty levels due to all the protection enemies have. Sure, turning a krogan into a popsicle and smashing him into pieces is fun, but those skill points would be better spent in roasting the guy instead.
    • The Avalanche. It's kinda cool how it can shatter enemies in one hit, but most of the time, it just freezes them, leaving the shattering up to you. Cryo rounds might still be impractical on some difficulties, but at least they don't burn heavy weapon ammo.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Hammerhead.
  • Awesome Yet Practical:
    • The DLC weapon Mattock Assault Rifle, which is semi-automatic with a 16 round clip—and a high fire-rate cap. Meaning you can put a LOT of damage on target (especially with inferno, warp, or disruptor ammo) very quickly and accurately. Couple that with the huge damage bonus of Adrenaline Rush and how the ability makes aiming much easier, and you'll be bulldozing through enemies faster than you could even with unlimited Cain ammo. Hilariously, the e-mail notification from the Illusive man lampshades this. The ship's AI EDI was helping review combat data and, to quote. "She suggested we may be overlooking older, proven technologies in an effort to provide you with the state of art. Normally I wouldn't give much credence to the idea, but when an AI criticizes you for loving high-tech, it gives one pause to consider."
    • The DLC weapon Geth Plasma Shotgun. Not only it looks amazing and sounds amazing when it opens, but it has two firing modes (normal and charged, Charged mode requires a couple of seconds of charging time and it causes even more damage per shot than the Claymore), it has ridiculous long range and accuracy for a shotgun, slight homing capability and relatively high ammo count. On top of all that, it can be charged right before a Biotic charge, Adrenaline Rush, Tech Armor or Cloaking (hotkey activation required not to automatically release the shot) and released afterward to be coupled with those abilities' bonuses and multipliers for truly devastating effects.
    • The bonus powers, which you unlock for completing ally loyalty missions. Almost all of them are useful and they can enable interesting strategies; for example, you could give your fragile Adept Barrier to let him/her soak up plenty of damage, or give your Soldier Slam, enabling you to finish off enemies with ease. You can even give your Engineer Dominate, letting you control both organic and synthetic enemies!
    • The Revenant machine gun, once you get the accuracy upgrade for it. Put that Cain heavy weapon away, soldier, you won't be needing it. While you're at it, slap on some Warp ammo so you don't have to fiddle with switching back and forth between special ammunition types. Remember those annoying enemies with biotic barriers?
    • Almost every class-specific power. Adrenaline Rush shifts you into bullet time and gives a huge damage bonus. Tactical Cloak makes you invisible and gives you a damage bonus. Singularity is great for crowd control, and it's a black hole you can summon out of thin air. And Charge (if you know how to use it wisely) sets up enemies for perfect killshots, gives you a nice damage bonus, and it looks mother-feckin' awesome.
    • The Collector Particle Beam, at least when compared to the other heavy weapons. It's probably the only one that can be regularly used without wasting ammo.
    • The Widow Anti-Material sniper rifle. When collapsed, it appears to be a two-and-a-half-foot-long tube. When brought out to use, it extends in a huge sniper rifle. The weapon's info entry says it weighs 39 kilograms and was made to take out vehicles and krogan. A headshot with it and a few applicable bonuses will instant-kill even elite mooks on all but the higher difficulties.
  • Badass: Shepard is recognized as such in universe.

Garrus: The Collectors killed you, and all they did was piss you off. I almost feel sorry for the Reapers.

  • Badass Boast:
    • Renegade!Shepard can make a few, including this gem.

Shepard: We are on a mission! You can either stand with me or be crushed beneath my heel, but you will not get in my way!

    • Paragon Shepard makes quite a few of these as well.
    • Some of your Badass Crew (see below) get their own special boasts as well.

Grunt: I! am! KROGAN!

  • Badass Creed: Paragon Shepard sums up their entire character with this single line on the Collector base.

Shepard: We will fight and win without it. I will not let fear compromise who I am.

  • Badass Crew: Most of the plot revolves around assembling one of these. Even the Cerberus servicemen aboard the new Normandy count; near the climax, they try to hold off Collectors with small arms to give Joker enough time to reach EDI. Hawthorne even charges a car-sized Scion enemy with a pistol.
  • Bad Guy Bar: Afterlife. Presumably, every single bar in Omega qualifies, but Afterlife gets special mention because it's where Aria T'Loak, self-appointed ruler of Omega, makes her base of operations. Also overlaps with Bikini Bar.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Invoked by Donovan Hock during Kasumi's loyalty mission: "People like you and me do the terrible things that keep the galaxy spinning."
  • Bag of Spilling: Spending two years on an operating table can kinda do that to your combat skills. Also, technology has advanced so much in those two years that all your weapon, armor and upgrade stockpiles from the first game are effectively useless. If you import a "rich" Mass Effect 1 character (determined by way of an achievement), you do get to keep a small but still sizable amount of that money. Importing high-level Mass Effect 1 characters also grants small but helpful experience bonuses. Characters who were level 60 in Mass Effect 1 start Mass Effect 2 at level 5 (of 30), with enough skill points to max out one of their skills and begin developing a few others.
  • Band of Brothers: The game revolves around turning your party into this. Hell, the Illusive Man even calls them an "unlikely band of brothers" in the Blur cinematic trailer.
  • The Bartender: A few of them. One is a turian on the Citadel, not really that memorable except for the fact that he subverts the whole "collector of gossip" trope, and that he provides Shepard with a Gargle Blaster. Another is a batarian on Omega who tries to kill you. But the best is Matriach Aethyta on Illium, who provides a memorable The Reason We Suck Speech against her entire species. And she's remembered for other things as well.
  • Beam-O-War: Samara versus Morinth, short-ranged variant. You choose the victor.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: Shepard can bet on Varren (alien dog thing) fights.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Literally for Shepard, almost in a Dorian Gray way, except that it's your character's real face that gets uglier if you do bad things. Simply put, Shepard gets scars on his/her face after being, well... resurrected. They will heal with every Paragon choice made, and get worse with every Renegade choice. You can cure that, however.
  • Benevolent Architecture: Like Yahtzee pointed out with Gears of War, there are an inordinate number of conveniently placed chest-high walls no matter what planet you're on. You can use them to predict when a fight is about to occur. Time to save/reload/collect ammo!
    • It's used to mess with the player in the 'derelict' Collector ship. Up until the ambush, you'll be passing a LOT of chest-high walls that would make for good cover in a firefight, but see no Collectors until after you trigger the trap.
    • On Korlus they at least make sense, seeing that the mercenaries were conducting live-fire training. Arguably also justified in a few other places, where you co-opt your enemy's defensive barricades as you advance.
  • Betting Minigame: Averted. You can't actually play (or even watch, as the screen fades to black) the game of Skyllian-Five poker you're invited to after completing a minor side quest, and the outcome of the game is determined by your dialogue choices. Also, unlike the first game, there are no quasar casinos. There are, however, pit fights (well, varren fights) on the planet of Tuchanka.
  • BFG:
    • The Blackstorm Projector and the M-920 Cain, which are, respectively, essentially a portable black hole gun and a very-powerful rail-gun marketed as a mini-nuke launcher (the description actually says that it isn't, in spite of the radiation symbol emblazoned on its side).
    • Honourable mention goes to the Claymore shotgun. It looks like a brick with a barrel, can only manage one shot before the cooling slug has to be ejected and replaced, but anything on the wrong end of it dies instantly. The recoil can break a man's arm, so only your squad's krogan can wield one... but, midway through the game, if your class can wield shotguns, you can pick one up. Somewhat justified since the only two classes capable of that are the gene-boosted Soldier and the biotic Vanguard, both of whom thusly have the requisite level of Super Strength. Also see the Widow Anti-Materiel (i.e. anti-military equipment, not anti-personnel) Rifle (super-heavy sniper rifle whose in-game description states it can break bones of the individual firing it) or the Revenant Light Machine Gun.
    • The Arc Projector is a special case of this. Against organic enemies, it's pretty powerful, and aided by the fact that the electrical blast will be transmitted to all nearby enemies. Against machine enemies, however, it goes from being "pretty powerful" to "utterly devastating": anything short of a geth Prime or YMIR mech is guaranteed to at least have its shields and/or armor destroyed and be reduced to a small fraction of its health, if not destroyed outright, and unleashing it against the geth in Tali's recruitment and loyalty missions can result in entire units of geth being wiped out with just a single blast.
    • There's also the Great Rift on Klendagon, first seen in Mass Effect, which was made by a glancing blow by an immensely powerful mass accelerator fired thirty-seven million years ago. It's what killed the Reaper in the IFF mission.
    • At the naval level, there's the Thanix Cannon as well as the large mass accelerators carried by dreadnoughts.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Between Harbinger and the Shadow Broker.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The party to the crew of the Normandy, but only if you go to save them immediately after they've been abducted. If you wait too long, you lose crew members, and Doctor Chakwas gives you a What the Hell, Player?.
    • Zaeed mentions this when you first meet him on Omega:

Zaeed: Good. Let's get that done so we can concentrate on being Big Goddamn Heroes

    • The "Quarian Ship Crash" assignment.
    • The Alliance at the end of the first game qualifies big time, no matter what orders you give them, but the Paragon order is the most awesome for the sheer bravery of the Alliance, swooping in and taking huge losses to the fleet just to save the Destiny Ascension.
  • The Big Damn Kiss:
    • A truly excellent one can be done near the end of Lair of the Shadow Broker between Shepard and Liara if there was a romance between the two in the first game. It's also a great "Shut Up" Kiss.
    • Also one following a bout of Belligerent Sexual Tension between Miranda and renegade Shepard.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A planet in the Krogan system is called Durak. From the Mass Effect 2 wiki:

In the closing years of the Rebellions the five clans working the planetoid fell to fighting over a particularly rich deposit of iridium. All five clan warlords agreed to a Crush (a meeting at a neutral location) to negotiate a truce. Unfortunately, all five arrived planning to betray their fellows. While the leaders and their seconds met, all their bases were destroyed by simultaneous hypervelocity cannon strikes. Left with only the food, water, and air in their hardsuits and with no way to call for rescue the warlords apparently fought each other to the death. The survivors of the five "Durak clans" on Tuchanka still argue about which clan's warlord was the last one standing.

    • Now for the bonus, "дурак" (said the same way) in Russian means "stupid" or "idiot", fitting for a planet where all the clans managed to do was kill each other.
  • Bill, Bill, Junk, Bill:More actual messages than junk and bills, but you get an advert for genital enhancement procedures, a chain letter and a Nigerian Prince-type scam letter. In That Order. Apparently, EDI has no SPAM filter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: How much so depends on the player... unless you break your back to ensure that nobody gets left behind.
  • Bland-Name Product: The game salesman in the Citadel makes several comments about gaming, including one referring to "Grim Terminus Alliance" and how the Moral Guardians complain about it too much.
  • Blatant Item Placement:
    • One mission takes place on a geth base, abandoned by organics centuries ago. There's working medkits lying around.
    • The crew of the Hugo Gernsback was apparently way ahead of the curve, as all of them use the two-year-old thermal clip technology on weapons that are at least ten years old.
  • Bleak Level: Normandy crash site. See Blind Jump below.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: Russian localization, big time. Mistranslations, mistransliterations, inconsistencies, cutting off entire sentences, thus simplifying the dialogs... EA Russia gives it all in one ugly package. Plus, localization cannot decide whether it uses the glossary from the previous game's localization (made by a local firm), or it doesn't. Oh, and the font is ugly as hell, with letters jumping like jackrabbits on drugs.
  • Blind Jump: Done by the Normandy on two occasions.

Joker: EDI, get us out of here!
EDI: Please specify a destination.
Joker: Anywhere that's not here!

  • Blue and Orange Morality:
    • A line of dialogue Legion might say on its loyalty mission highlights this. Every other conversation with it emphasizes this further, but this line best captures its perspective:

"No two species are identical. All must be judged on their own merits. Treating every species like one's own is racist. Even benign anthropomorphism."

    • Depending on your morality, Mordin may come off as this. Initially, he seems amoral and a typical "get the job done" type of character, remaking the krogan genophage and stating that killing bad guys is his preferred method of conflict resolution. However, if you press him on the issue, you find out that he genuinely does think the genophage was the only way both krogan and the rest of the galaxy could've lived, and was determined not to hurt the krogan any more than he had to. Also, despite being a cold operator, if you have him on certain missions, he'll be shocked at any brutality you come across. Perhaps not totally incomprehensible, but it can be difficult to relate to.
    • On a similar level, Thane's beliefs regarding the separation between his mind and his body, and the distinction that leads him to make regarding actions his body took versus things he holds himself personally accountable for, come across as quite alien and can be difficult for both Shepard and the player to wrap their minds around.
  • Body Horror:
    • Husks are humans reduced to empty shells with circuitry. Praetorians are thirty Husks fused together, while Scions are three Husks fused together around a large gun. And even ask what the Reapers have in store for humanity...
    • The end of the Overlord DLC. Almost the entire cutscene is focused on that one image. "It all seemed harmless..."
  • Bond One-Liner: Many Renegade interrupts have these.

Mercenary: I've got nothing more to say to you.
Shepard shoves the mercenary through a window, letting him fall to his death.
Shepard: How about "goodbye"?

  • Book Ends:
    • The game begins with Shepard's death, and can end with it, depending on your playstyle.
    • Also, the interactive comic book at the start of the Play Station 3 version. The comic starts with Shepard mentioning how the events of the first game began with a routine mission. After spending about fifteen minutes telling the story of how that mission led into a quest to save the entire galaxy, s/he explains how afterwards the Council sent him/her on a clean up mission to route any remnants of Saren's army. The line s/he uses as the comic finishes?

Shepard: Just another routine mission.

  • Boom! Headshot!: The improved sniping means headshots result in massive damage, compliments from your squad mates, and a visual confirmation of your prowess with a gush of Chunky Salsa.
    • Also the easiest and most satisfying way to take down mechs. FENRIS and LOKI mechs explode, whereas YMIRs explode like a shot from the M-920 Cain.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • The most common criticism of the Soldier class is that it lacks the "flash" of the other classes. Adrenaline Rush is crazy useful though. And having up to three different ammo types, as well as training with all weapons except the sub-machine gun, means the Soldier can adapt to almost any situation.
    • Also, the pistol. Doesn't have the range of the sniper rifle, the fire rate of the assault rifle/submachine gun, or the stopping power of the shotgun, but doesn't have any of the major drawbacks of those weapons either. There's a reason every playable class has one.
    • Biotic powers are awesome, but the only one that damages shields and barriers is the basic direct damage Warp ability, which does do impressive damage but has a very long cool-down meaning low DPS while also leaving you helpless against other enemies. After you finally remove the protections using a combination of Warp, your little pistol, the engineer squad members you brought along just for this and a lot of cursing, tearing the target's unprotected flesh to pieces with your mind is cathartic.
    • Collector Particle Beam. You acquire it fairly early in the game, and it fires a thin yellow line. However, being a "laser" weapon, it hits targets immediately, it strips most enemies of any shields and armor in seconds, has no recoil, and it actually holds enough ammo to use from time to time.
    • The Viper Sniper Rifle. It's substantially weaker than most sniper rifles; however, it's semi-automatic, holds twelve shots per clip, and can take down most Elite Mooks in several good shots.
    • Fortification, Barrier and Geth Shield Boost. They're not terribly flashy, and all they really do is create a defensive barrier around Shepard to ward off incoming fire briefly. However, considering how quickly Shepard can get killed, they serve as an extremely useful emergency button if you're getting pounded and need to run away, dive for cover, or simply survive for a couple more seconds to put down an enemy.
  • Boss Remix: A remix of the song that played during the Normandy SR-1's destruction.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted, to a degree. The magazines themselves are still bottomless, but all weapons have now been modified with a heat sink system, so when a weapon overheats the user simply ejects the heat sink while a detachable magazine of heat sinks (known as a thermal clip) automatically loads a fresh one. This equates to the same thing as ammunition, though, giving you a certain number of shots per sink and forcing you to scrounge battlefields for clips. These disposable heat sinks don't cool off on their own because the way the sinks work is the same way heat is stored in the Normandy. The clips contain a small amount of lithium that absorbs the heat. There's no way to radiate it, so the lithium slowly heats up to the point where the clip must be ejected or it'll damage the weapon. The lithium is lost when the clip is discarded. The in-universe reason for the adoption of heat sinks is that they are much faster than the previous cooldown system. Of course, the "real" answer to "Why are we using limited ammo now?" is because BioWare wanted to implement an ammo system, so they shoehorned in something about geth weapons technology.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Have you completed Mass Effect Galaxy and attached it to your EA profile? You might be wondering just what it unlocks in this game. It basically just gives Jacob and Miranda a few more in-battle quotes than they normally have.
  • Brainwashed: Common theme, including the Reapers' indoctrination of the entire Prothean race, as well as the Heretic Geth in a... heroic example? Also, ardat-yakshi.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • In a strange twist, you can get this ability. If you side with Morinth, you can learn her loyalty ability Dominate. It stuns enemies, gives them a biotic shield, and makes them attack their allies for a few seconds before they come to their senses. Essentially, it's AI hacking, but for organic opponents.
    • Played straight with Dr. Amanda Kenson.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: After Shepard's disappearance, the old squad is scattered. Only a few rejoin you; most either refuse to work with Cerberus or have their own agendas they need to pursue. This includes the person you romanced, who BioWare graciously allows you to see again... provided it's Liara and you're willing to pay $10 for the DLC (though to be fair this depends on the version of the game as Play Station 3 owners already have the majority of the DLC missions, Liara's included, on the disc).
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The Equalizer, Aegis, and Firepower DLC packs, which all include new weapons and/or armor, some of which was previously only available as a pre-order bonus.
    • The "Power Gamer" achievement for reaching Level 30 typically required starting a New Game+ to reach. If a player buys all the DLC missions and does everything in the galaxy, it is easily doable however.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Didn't punch Al-Jilani in the first game? If you do in the second, Shepard will comment on how s/he should have done that the first time they met.
    • A subtle one. In the first game, Ashley says that whenever someone says "With all due respect..." they are really saying "Kiss my ass". During Tali's loyalty mission, a possible response to the Admiralty Board's thanks for representing a member of the Migrant Fleet (Tali) is "With all due respect, Admiral, I didn't represent one of your people. I represented one of mine."
  • Broken Bridge:
    • The objective? Go through the Omega-4 mass relay. Where do you start the game? Right next to the Omega-4 relay.
    • There's a brief but much less justifiable one on Haestrom ("Recruit Tali"). A geth ship bombards the area, causing a column to fall and block your access to the door you need to get through. Shepard and co. must fight off many, many geth to recover two demolition charges to remove the obstacle. Apparently, they either don't see the four feet of open space between the top of the obstruction and the bottom of the arch, or they don't think they can climb over the chest-high debris despite the presence of many crates, etc, that could be used as stepping stones.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In the worst ending, you will succeed in stopping the Collectors... at the cost of Shepard and the entire squad. Fair trade-off? Probably not.
  • Bullet Time: The three combat classes potentially have this ability: the Soldier has the Adrenaline Rush ability, the Infiltrator gets this when using a sniper rifle, and the Vanguard gets this after using Heavy Charge.
    • It's notable, that the soldier can slow down time in two separate ways: The aforementioned Adrenaline Rush, and whenever they sprint. Evolving Adrenaline Rush into Heightened Adrenaline Rush and using it while sprinting, will make any missiles or all of Harbinger's attacks, literally freeze in place.
  • Bury Your Gays: Figuratively. Like its predecessor, there is a great deal of same-sex content written and voice-acted for both men and women, and still remaining on the game disks, but it can only be dug out with editor programs. Also literally for Nef in Samara's loyalty quest, and potentially for Kelly Chambers and even female Shepard if she chooses to romance Morinth (though the same happens to a male Shepard).
  • But Thou Must!:
    • Shepard ends up working as a Cerberus agent even when nobody (least of all him/her) trusts or likes them, and many of his/her party members have very personal reasons to hate them. You also cannot refuse any mission the Illusive Man offers when he calls you on the Normandy. If Yeoman Chambers informs you that the Illusive Man wants to speak with you, you can't access the Galaxy Map until you finish the mission he gives you.
    • Also, if you've become close to more than one romantic partner, then at least one will repeat the same lines over and over, waiting for you to break it off with the other(s). This occurs no matter which options you pick, and makes them impossible to converse with.
    • More esoterically: when you first obtain Legion, your options are "Hand it over to Cerberus For Science!" or "Let me talk to it first." The Exact Words of the latter imply that you've merely deferred the decision and can still package it up after activating it (which is far more Renegade if you think about it), but no: if you take that option, Legion joins your party. Period.
    • Shepard defeats entire species, and depending on playstyle can mock and/or shoot in the face just about anyone in the galaxy who so much as annoys him/her... except for one lousy crime boss with three measly bodyguards, who gets to insult you to your face with impunity. Even if you have the details of a plot to overthrow Aria, and have gone around the galaxy getting information which could be used against her, you can. Not. Do. Anything. Ever. What the hell?
      • Aria is useful and cooperates with Shepard at every turn and never tries anything against him/her.
  • But You Screw One Goat!: "Trying to determine how scale-itch got onto Normandy. Sexually transmitted disease only carried by varren. Implications... unpleasant."
  • Call a Hit Point a Smeerp: Thermal clips. It's an ammo system, working exactly like bullets from any number of other games. It's just the name that's different.
  • Call Back: In Mass Effect, Wrex will wonder if there's any fish in the Citadel lake to eat. In the next game, two krogan debate whether there's any fish in the lakes, and one of them says that he heard an Urdnot went there once.
  • Canned Orders Over Loudspeaker: When you first arrive on Korlus, you hear a Blue Suns commander giving these out to the mercenaries under her command. Various squadmates lampshade this, with Jacob (or Zaeed) providing the Trope Namer.
  • Canon Immigrant: Feron, a drell mercenary that first appeared in the Mass Effect: Redemption comic series, first appears in the series proper in Lair of the Shadow Broker.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Jacob tells Shepard, early on, that he's in a Cerberus base. While his clothing has a Cerberus logo over the heart, and he's standing next to Wilson, who has a uniform with a Cerberus logo on the shoulder, which just happens to look a lot like the one Shepard was wearing when they woke up. Oh, and when Shepard saw Miranda earlier, she had a Cerberus logo over the heart as well. Of course, they didn't have their distinctive color scheme, logo, and aesthetic in the first game, the Cerberus operations Shepard stumbled on then were apparently all "rogue cells", and the organization as a whole was much more secretive. Apparently, they rebranded.
    • 9/10 times when someone says something on the lines of 'we're under attack!' you will have gathered this already as you'll be knee-deep in a firefight.
  • Cargo Ship: In-universe. If Shepard isn't in a romantic relationship, Mordin notes that there are rumors about Joker and EDI. Kasumi also says they are Like an Old Married Couple, and Shepard can also point it out in the cockpit... to which EDI will reply its more like platonic bonding than hormonally-induced courtship behaviour.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Due to loading times, you can travel across the galaxy faster than travelling between floors of the the Normandy.
  • Cat Fight: Jack and Miranda.

Joker: Take pictures!

  • Celebrity Endorsement: Say it with me, everybody: "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel."
  • Chase Scene: The Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC includes a car chase through the rush-hour traffic of Illium.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A massive one from Mass Effect 1: if you scan the planet Klendagon, you find out that there's a massive rift across the surface caused by a "glancing blow" from an insanely powerful mass accelerator. The ridiculously huge mass accelerator's target turns out to have been a Reaper whose corpse you have to board.
    • It's a good idea to fully upgrade the Normandy. Though some of them don't give any immediate benefit, they prove to be immensely useful later on.
    • The ladders in the Tech Lab and AI Core.
    • All the squadmates give subtle indicators as to what special tasks they're good at (or not good at) in the Suicide Mission over the course of the game. Some are readily apparent, like Tali being a good choice for the tunnel techie, but her inability to get Prazza to heel indicates she's not good leadership material. Garrus managed to lead a squad of vigilantes and royally pissed off almost all the powers that be in Omega, so that indicates good leadership and thus is a good secondary team leader (although there was also that one time where everyone on his squad got killed because one of them wasn't loyal). Mordin's comments on Kirrahe's "Hold the Line" speech indicate he's probably best to send back with the Normandy survivors. Zaeed's stories imply that a) he's a good choice to be left to hold the line and b) he's completely unsuited to be the second fireteam leader. And a very subtle one: Miranda says she's a powerful biotic, yet we never see her do anything spectacular with her powers. She's proven too weak during the barrier sequence, while the best choices, Samara and Jack, are shown doing amazing stuff with biotics. However, Miranda is one of the correct choices to be the second Fire Team leader, as hinted by one of her top bonus ability branches being "Cerberus Leader".
  • Chewbacca Defense:
    • Shepard can invoke one at Tali's trial to get her acquitted without having to submit damning evidence about her father to the Admiralty Board.
    • Outside of the trial, Renegade Shepard uses them frequently along with Insane Troll Logic in order to intimidate people who try to logically defend their positions.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Tech abilities. They are referred to as such: throwing a firebomb is announced as 'deploying incineration tech'. Also, tech users tend to have glowing yellow holographic diagrams surrounding them.
  • Cliff Hanger: The game-ending shot of the Reapers reactivating and starting their journey towards the galaxy.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Joker when the Collectors have boarded the Normandy.

"Shit. Shit-shit-shit. What the shit?"

  • Colony Drop: In the Arrival Downloadable Content pack, performing one is your main objective. It succeeds spectacularly. And the repercussions look like they'll be severe...
    • Conversations reveal this was performed off-screen by Jack (naturally), dropping a space-station onto a Hanar moon.

Jack: They really liked that moon

  • Combination Attack: Using Lift (or Slam, if you're quick enough) will enable two of these: first, it increases the damage they receive from being shot by any weapon. And second: any lifted enemy will actually explode with great force, if you use Warp on them. The latter is the best way to deal with groups of enemies, but many players miss out because they like to just let the AI handle ally powers.
  • The Comically Serious: EDI and Legion, who would like to remind you that geth do not intentionally infiltrate. The Shadow Broker's dossier on Mordin's STG mission to deliver the modified genophage duly notes Mordin and Kirrahe suggesting that their cloaca is blocked, that their cranium is, in fact, in their cloaca, and how tough their cloacas are.
  • Command Roster: Much like the first game, some roles depend on how you play it out.
    • The Captain: Commander Shepard.
    • Number Two: Miranda officially, although Garrus and Joker can serve in a similar capacity.
    • Wrench Wench: Tali.
    • The Scientist: Mordin, who is also technically a medic but he doesn't serve in that position on the ship.
    • The Medic: Dr. Chakwas, like the first game.
    • Security Officer: Jacob and Garrus are in charge of armaments and usually the ones you consult on mission efficiency.
    • The Marine: comes in several varieties:
    • Ace Pilot: Joker.
    • Mission Control: EDI and Joker.
    • The Shrink/Communications Officer: Kelly, who manages all crew communications.
    • The Neidermeyer: The Illusive Man, who no one really trusts.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Shepard's firepower is limited to the amount of ammo clips left. Enemies don't have this problem. Fortunately, neither do your squadmates.
    • It also refuses to pause the game if the controller is disconnected.
    • Inverted in the case of biotics; Shepard can arc special attacks around corners and over obstacles, but computer opponents and allies must have direct line-of-sight.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Played straight several times by a number of minor but Genre Blind villains.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Donovan Hock, and pretty much the rest of the Bekenstein upperclass.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: "Ready for another round? Hit the Keystone, Shepard." Yes, Grunt, we get it.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Basically the point of keeping your saved games from Mass Effect 1 to import into the latest one. For the more straight-forward kind, you can make a drinking game out of how many nods there are on the Citadel, up to and including commercials for the all-elcor performance of Hamlet. Complete with video clips.

"And be sure to see the production live: an unforgettable fourteen-hour experience!"

    • During the Stolen Memory DLC, you can see one of the cutscenes (featuring Nax the Krogan) from Mass Effect Galaxy playing on a vid-screen.
    • Honestly, it goes full-on into Continuity Porn territory: most of the minor decisions you make during the first game as well as many of the side quests and their outcome will be referenced by meeting characters from said quests or hearing news reports.
  • Conversation Casualty: It is possible to end one subquest by talking to a mechanic repairing a plot-important weapon, asking him about what is going on and then ending the chat by stabbing one of his electric tools into his back.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Nyxeris is ousted as a spy based solely on Shepard's ability to spot a contradiction in the information she provided to her boss. Rather than being "convicted", however, she is executed in cold-blood.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Afterlife is probably the coolest club ever in both video games and science fiction.
  • Cool Old Lady: Matriarch Aethyta of Illium.
  • Cool Shades: Among the "armor" types you can equip are visors, goggles, and shades.
  • Copy Protection: There is no client-side DRM at all; instead, the player needs to register their key to their EA/BioWare account to access Downloadable Content and Cerberus Network news. Mass Effect also had downloadable content that required registration with EA, but not zero-day DLC that was created solely to encourage copy registration.
    • The game makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to this by having two weapon descriptions mention being protected by "sophisticated Fabrication Rights Management technology to prevent duplication."
    • Similarly, the game store clerk on the Citadel will buy used games for two credits. For ten credits, he'll sell you an extended warranty so that if the copy protection bugs out, you can download a new copy.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: While we don't meet many, the pretty-much-nothing-is-off-limits economy of Illium in the sequel implies there are plenty. The fact that they have a perfectly legal form of slavery indentured servitude implemented doesn't help either. The worst one by far is Nassana Dantius, who is killed by Thane.
  • Cradling Your Kill: Thane does a version of this with Nassana Dantius in his introductory scene.
  • Crapsack Galaxy: Depending on the choices you made in the first game, the state of affairs in the second game can be rather dystopian. Some of the possibilities: other species having anti-human race riots on the Citadel, the Alliance and the other militaries having serious problems keeping the fleets up to snuff, humanity's relationship with all other Citadel species being increasingly strained and antagonistic... hell, the list goes on and on. Just listen to the Galactic News on the Citadel, or talk to Avina. And that's not even considering the Anyone Can Die nature of the final mission, where even Shepard can be Killed Off for Real, plus the massive fleet of Reapers shown advancing on the galaxy in the ending.
  • Crate Expectations: With a different set of expectations, namely that you can expect them to save your sorry ass unless they're "Fragile" or "Explosive".
  • Creative Sterility: Mordin's reasoning for classifying the Collectors as mere slaves as opposed to a species in their own right.
  • Critical Annoyance: The screen grows redder and your heartbeat becomes loud and erratic when you lose your shields and are low on health.
    • The blaring klaxon when the Hammerhead is low on health definitely qualifies as well. If you fail to heed THAT warning, the entire vehicle will burst into flame (regardless of the nature of the damage taken) as a final bid to grab your attention.
  • Curb Stomp Battle:
    • The Normandy SR-1 despite being the most techologically advanced ship in the Alliance Navy is eaten alive at the start of the game. This only makes upgrading to the Thanix Cannon that much more satisfying, as it allows Joker and the SR-2 to return the favor.
    • The Suicide Mission if everyone gets out alive is a clear example of this trope.
    • The final boss, if you bring along the Cain.
    • There are smaller examples throughout the game as well, typically during cutscenes.
    • In the Arrival DLC, after waking up from being sedated for two days (because the sedative just stopped working), Shepard proceeds to tear apart an entire facility filled with elite assault troopers and heavy mechs... all by him/herself.
    • A humorous example when Niftu Cal, the biotic god, goes up against Captain Wasea, an asari commando who are generally considered to be the deadliest fighters in the galaxy. He throws one biotic "attack" against her which just bounces off her nose. She follows up by killing him with a single biotic throw.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Rampant.
    • Jack taking out four YMIR Mechs in seconds.
    • Samara and Morinth's biotic showdown.
    • Thane's sudden disappearance.
    • Samara apparently using her biotics to fly (or at least hover). Something that we see both Liara and Tela Vasir in Lair of the Shadow Broker. In a cutscene, of course.
    • In the Suicide Mission, the Collectors are easily dispatched with one or two shots, while they can take almost a whole clip from an assault rifle in gameplay. Ditto enemy krogan.
    • Shepard's Murder Pistol, a distant cousin of Dragon Age's Murder Knife.
    • The DLC squadmates also have this as well:
      • Zaeed's loyalty mission, if you choose to continue chasing after his target, ends with him ejecting a thermal clip on a puddle of gasoline, setting his mark on fire. Outside of that one scene, spent thermal clips are essentially useless.
      • The last boss on Kasumi's loyalty mission is on a gunship whose shields regenerate after taking them down once. The second time, a cutscene occurs in which Kasumi makes her way on top of the gunship and disables its shields.
  • Cutting Off the Branches:
    • The whole reason for importing your old save files. Rather than have to deal with a Q&A in the beginning of the game about what you did, the developers just made it so the game would read the data from your save file and make the necessary changes. If you didn't import an old save file, you are essentially punished, the game going with the worst outcomes for most of the scenarios.
    • Also, the game's worst ending (where Shepard dies) officially never happened. It's more of a very long Nonstandard Game Over.
    • The exception to this is your encounter with Conrad Verner. Due to a glitch, Mass Effect 1 corrupts the part of the save file that records what you did to Verner in that game, so the developers made Mass Effect 2 always assume that you threatened to kill Verner in the first game, since that led to the more interesting scenario in the second (the original idea was that if you didn't threaten Verner in Mass Effect 1, you wouldn't encounter him in Mass Effect 2).
  • Cyanide Pill: Cerberus employees get one in their molar as a standard feature. Mordin is dismissive, noting that "ocular nerve flashbangs" are harder to disarm.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Invoked by Mordin when discussing whether the Collectors could be saved: "No glands, replaced by tech. No digestive system, replaced by tech. No soul, replaced by tech."
    • Averted by Shepard, especially if s/he is Paragon. As a general rule, cybernetic implants are fairly standard treatment for severe enough injuries, and are not treated as morally or spiritually problematic.
  • Damage Is Fire: The Hammerhead.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • Going from Mass Effect 1 to Mass Effect 2 (PC version, at least) is more than a little jarring, not least of all because of Left-Shift bringing up the Command Menu and the Spacebar sprinting in battle (exact opposite of in Mass Effect 1), and the Spacebar also being remapped to accompany the Talk/Use function, and being used to go in and out of cover (it no longer happens automatically).
    • The "E" key changed from "use/interact" to "send henchman #2 here", causing a lot of unnecessary running around and taking cover.
    • Also, since the "W" key is Move Forward, the finger slipping and touching the "Q" button is common too.
    • On the Xbox 360, Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 also switch around the "leave orbit" and "leave Galaxy Map" buttons (B and X).
    • Going back from Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 1 on the Xbox 360 also can result in a lot of grenades being thrown pointlessly after a fight. Grenades use the back button, which in Mass Effect 2 (which has no grenades) is used to put your weapons away.
    • Similarly on the PC version, R is used for Grenades in Mass Effect 1 but for reloading your weapon in Mass Effect 2 (which many players automatically do after each volley they fired).
    • Not to mention constantly pulling up the power/weapon wheels when meaning to zoom and shoot, or vice versa, when switching between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, at least on the PS3 version (zoom and shoot are L2 and R2 in the first game and L1 and R1 in the second, while the wheel menus are the opposite). Luckily the control schemes can be switched.
    • A problem across all three games is that the "skip dialogue" button can also be used to select a dialogue option when the wheel pops up. This can be an issue when you're on your umpteenth replay and you skip through text you've memorized by heard, but accidentally select an option without meaning to because the option wheel popped up at the same time you hit the button.
      • Also prevalent in all games but not quite as annoying: dialogue wheel responses on the left (which continue the conversation) occasionally switch places after triggering one of them. For example, if you select a response on the upper-left side of the wheel, and preemptively move the cursor to the middle or the lower-left side to trigger what you presume to be a different line of dialogue, you may end up replaying the dialogue you've just finished listening to.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Collectors. As they are serving the Reapers, they fully realized that Shepard was an extreme threat to their plans since s/he killed a Reaper. They attack the Normandy with overwhelming force at the first opportunity, and then hire the Shadow Broker to retrieve Shepard's body, just to make sure s/he's dead.
  • Darker and Edgier: Though without any loss of quality or maturity. Fornax is just one example.
  • Dark Reprise: "The End Run", the song that plays as you and the team escape from the Collector Base, sounds slightly different in the event Shepard dies.
  • The Day of Reckoning: The Suicide Mission is this, in spades.
  • Dead Guy, Junior: In the sequel, you learn that the baby from the previous game's side quest "Family Matter" was named Jacob, after his father. Not to be confused with the Jacob who is the first member of your party.
  • Deadly Gas: The Minagen X3 encountered during Samara's recruitment mission. You encounter containers of it that explode and release the drug into the air, hanging around in big clouds. If you're exposed to it for too long, it'll drain first your shields, then your health. On the plus side, it enhances biotic powers, both of friend and foe, which can be handy. Unless you don't have any biotics in your squad. Then it's just frustrating.
  • Dead Man Writing: At the end of Kasumi's loyalty mission, she goes through Keiji's graybox and discovers a message he recorded for her to find after his death requesting that she delete all of the graybox's contents, including not only dangerous stolen information, but records of all the time they spent together.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Every team member (and Joker). For example, Shepard talking to Detective Anaya during Samara's recruitment mission will have him/her tell Anaya to not have to go through with restraining Samara (which would get her killed, due to Justicar law). Garrus will dryly comment that he didn't know they were allowed to do that.
    • Throughout that mission, Anaya herself is the queen of snark.

Anaya: I have no interest in dying.

  • Death Glare:
    • After Tali's recruitment mission, there's a cutscene where Jacob welcomes Tali aboard and suggests she should introduce herself the the ship's AI, EDI. Tali pauses at the hatch, turns, and gives Jacob a look that, even without seeing her face, clearly should have blown out the rear bulkhead and reduced him to atoms, and then silently leaves.
    • Also if brought along to the Citadel when you deal with the volus accusing a quarian of theft. Considering you can't even see her face through that visor of hers, her death glares are indeed chilling to the bone.
    • The first shot of Miranda after Shepard fights their way out of the Cerberus facility has her grimacing at Wilson before killing him in cold blood.
    • Shepard gives one to an asari on Illium who's having commitment issues with her krogan ex-boyfriend. Asari and krogan both being long-living species, she's having second thoughts about staying with somebody she can't just simply outlive. When she brings up how much more convenient it would be to simply romance a human, which doesn't really entail a significant level of commitment according to her, Shepard (who might also be in a relationship with an asari him/herself) does not take the comment well.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Subverted. During the final mission, anyone who dies will do so quickly, suddenly, and with no time for mourning.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Biotic Charge. Either it's a spectacular close-range demolisher, or plants you right in the middle of an enemy horde.
  • Death World: You find out from Mordin that the genophage was designed to reduce the successful birthrate of the krogan to their pre-uplift levels. Considering that only one in a thousand krogan have successful births, and how tough krogan are, their homeworld is pretty damn terrifying.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Arrival is a race against time to blow up a Mass Relay that the Reapers will use to invade. Run out of time, and you are treated to a nice little video that starts with Shepard's head on a pike and gets worse from there.
  • Defiant to the End: An Eclipse lieutenant in Samara's recruitment mission refuses to give the Justicar her target's whereabouts. Also, you could consider this to be true for Shepard him/herself, if s/he's Killed Off for Real.
  • Degraded Boss: The first boss in the game is a YMIR Mech. You fight more of them in latter missions.
  • Demonic Possession: Harbinger.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • The entire hanar race. There are zero conversations with them and only background references.
    • Also, all your former teammates except for Garrus and Tali have been reduced to Quest Givers or One Scene Wonders.
  • Derelict Graveyard: The massive field of destroyed ships that surrounds the Collector Base. Doubles as an Asteroid Thicket.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The ending if everyone dies. Not only is Joker deeply depressed and Shepard dead, but the army of mecha-Cthulhu are on their way. Good luck, humanity.
  • Destination Defenestration: At one point, a Renegade interrupt allows Shepard to do this to an Eclipse mercenary. The sequence was used to demonstrate the interrupt system in pre-release demos. Also happens when you meet Samara.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Try launching a probe on Uranus.
    • To a lesser extent, there's one Paragon interrupt many players will miss triggered by a specific scenario: bring Legion along to Tali's recruitment mission, and she'll freak out and try to shoot it unless Shepard interrupts her.
    • Skipped recruiting Garrus in Mass Effect 1 via Sequence Breaking? He has slightly different lines when you recruit him in Mass Effect 2.
    • Doubly subverted on the Citadel. If you take Legion with you, no one panics, but there's an explanation for this (talk to Anderson).
    • Certain parts of dialogue in some of the DLCs change depending on what point of the game you're up to.
      • If you're playing Lair of the Shadow Broker, Liara's dialogue when she visits Shepard's cabin will change depending on whether or not you've completed the suicide mission, as well as depending on who you were able to save.
      • The Shadow Broker himself changes his stated goal when you confront him. If you haven't taken out the Collectors' base by that point, he'll say he will sell Shepard's body to the Collectors. If the base is captured, he will say he is after Normandy's Reaper IFF in order to salvage the base, or its debris if it was destroyed. He also mentions a secret of the third squad member to demonstrate how incredibly informed he is. Though even he has no clue about Morinth if you bring her.
      • In Arrival, the timer counting down to the Reaper's Arrival will be higher if you haven't finished the suicide mission. Likewise, the hologram during the final conversation with Harbinger will be different depending on if you've finished the suicide mission. If you haven't, the hologram will be of the Collector General. If you have, it will be of Harbinger's true Reaper form, similar to the conversation you've had with Sovereign on Virmire in the first game.
      • Also, if you're not fast enough (or deliberately waste time), when the timer reaches zero, a cutscene plays showing the Reapers harvesting people, including the Illusive Man and most of your squad. Once the cutscene finishes, you get a Critical Mission Failure.
      • The final dialogue with Admiral Hackett (who we finally get to see in person!) changes slightly depending on whether you've completed the Suicide Mission as well as what choice you made at the end. For instance, if you blew up the Collector base and told TIM to piss off, when you comment on how odd it is for Hackett to willingly set foot on a Cerberus vessel, Hackett adds the line "Besides, I'm not really sure this is a Cerberus vessel anymore."
    • When Shepard first wakes up in the Lazarous Research Station and is following Miranda's directions, s/he runs across a staff member trapped in a burning room with a YMIR Mech bearing down on him. The man sees Shepard and calls out for help. However, if an Infiltrator Shepard activates Tactical Cloak before entering the man's line of sight, he won't call for help; he'll just yell as the mech kills him.
    • The easiest way to get into Hock's room during Kasumi's loyalty mission is to tell the guard you have clearance from one of his superiors. However, if you can't find his captain's name, there's a route for you to climb down the terrace and break in through some windows. That's not this trope. The dev team thinks of everything regarding an alarm clock you can set off in Hock's room. If you set it off when you lie to the guard, nothing extra will happen. However, if you broke in, the guard and another merc will come in, saying you're not supposed to be in there, prompting a brief firefight.
    • The M-15 Vindicator is a burst-fire assault rifle. In cutscenes, it can go full auto despite logically, it shouldn't. Notice the Auto switch on the side of the gun? [dead link] Nice touch, Dev Team.
    • Ronald Taylor's camp bed during Jacob's loyalty mission. It's a double.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
    • In the end, you fight a Reaper, on foot, with only two of your sidekicks.
    • In a more literal example, the Shadow Broker is a yahg: a 15-foot-tall, hulking creature whose bulk, endurance and aggression outshadow even the krogan. When feeling threatened, he activates an energy barrier impervious to bullets and biotics alike, at which point Shepard is supposed to punch him in the face.
  • Difficult but Awesome:
    • Playing as an Infiltrator or a Vanguard can be difficult, and both have a sharp learning curve, but once you level up a bit and get the hang of them (as well as the Widow sniper rile), nothing can touch you, even on Insanity. And they are both VERY fun.
    • The Adept on anything higher than Veteran is usually reviled as useless. In reality, it's one of the best classes: if you can play it right, enemies die very fast.
    • The Tempest submachinegun. Packs a wallop, has lots of ammo, its high rate of fire and recoil mean that you need to exercise proper trigger discipline to shoot anything at more than point blank range. If you fire a rapid succession of short, controlled bursts though, it eats through most non bosses enemies in the game, even at long ranges, and even a few bosses too.
  • Difficulty Spike: Any level involving the Collectors. The geth as well, but to a lesser extent. Their rifles will strip your shields just as fast as the Collectors', but do less damage against health and the geth themselves are weaker. It probably helps to know which squadmates to bring along when you can anticipate what you're about to face; for example, the Collectors' defenses are usually armors or barriers (both, in the case of Harbinger and the Praetorian), so biotics would be very useful against them. The Collectors also usually bring with them the nuisance that is Harbinger.
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: A straight case with the colony, and an odd case coming from the way the two disk nature of the game works. You begin with the first disk, swap to the second disk mid-way through, and pop the first disk back in for the end. In other words, the Final Dungeon is literally on the first disk.
  • Disc One Nuke:
    • Archangel's Armor-Piercing Ammo ability can nearly double your firepower with their 70 percent bonus.
    • If you're a Soldier with Adrenaline Rush, there's an unlisted 100 percent damage bonus. Massive damage, oh yeah.
    • The Eviscerator and Locust DLC weapons also count. Both can be acquired almost immediately and provide only slightly less damage than the Claymore and Tempest, respectively.
  • Discount Card: Shepard can get a discount from stores by convincing the shop keepers via Renegade or Paragon checks. In the Citadel's case, s/he can get discounts there by giving the store an endorsement, saying it's his/her favorite store on The Citadel. Funnily enough, he can do it with ALL the stores on the Citadel. "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite (insert noun here) on the Citadel."
  • Distress Call: Jacob's loyalty mission is triggered by one. Very frequently used to set up side quests.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Friend Zone Turian on Illium tries hard to convince his quarian ladyfriend that she needs a guy who'll "treat her right". Unfortunately for him, she doesn't seem to be getting the hint.
  • Doing It for the Art: BioWare had an entire animation team just for eyes.
  • Door of Doom: The Omega 4 Relay is essentially this.
  • Double Unlock: Used to an extent. Found an upgrade? Wonderful! Now head on back to the ship and spend hours strip mining every nearby planet so that you can use it.
  • Do with Him as You Will: The 'neutral' ending of Jacob's loyalty mission.
  • Downer Beginning: About a minute into the game, the Normandy is crippled and has to be abandoned. XO Pressly is killed in an explosion. And then you die.
  • Downer Ending: The worst ending. Shepard and all of his/her crew except for Joker and EDI are dead. The Collectors have been wiped out, but the only person who can stop the Reapers is gone.
  • Downloadable Content: Quite a bit.
    • The Cerberus Network is an Electronic Arts Mass Effect themed proxy (free for new users, $15 USD otherwise) which features new equipment, clothes, a crew member (Zaeed, and an associated loyalty mission), and the Normandy Crash Site DLC. In late March, the "Firewalker Pack", featuring a new hovertank called the Hammerhead and five associated missions, came out. Dragon Age owners also received special armor.
    • The first "premium" (non-free) DLC is Kasumi - Stolen Memory, featuring a notorious space thief who is mentioned by a news announcement on Illium for being suspected of stealing some prototype thing.
    • The second non-free DLC is Overlord, where Shepard is tasked with shutting down a rogue Cerberus VI. It received acclaim from those who reviewed it as being worth the money.
    • Lair of the Shadow Broker, is the first "bridging" DLC, as it will apparently affect Mass Effect 3. Considering the events that occur in it, it would be incredibly strange if it did not. It is the first DLC internally marked as an "expansion pack". It was very, very well-received.
    • There were also three weapons packs, including goodies such as a geth shotgun that shoots energy spheres that form plasma on impact, a laser-sighted pistol, a burst-fire sniper rifle, a semiautomatic assault rifle, and pieces of armor.
    • With the exception of the plain weapon/armor packs and the appearance packs as well as the Arrival mission, the Play Station 3 version contains all the DLCs, either pre-bundled, or with a code included in the box (though only new copies of the game will most likely be able to be used otherwise the Cerberus content will have to be purchased in the store as well).
    • Arrival is the second and last bridging DLC between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, as well as the last mission-based DLC that will be available for this game. Like Lair of the Shadow Broker, the events of this DLC seem like they will have a massive impact in the third game.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: In the Citadel docking bay is a human sergeant giving a physics lecture to his subordinates.

Gunnery Sergeant: And that is why Sir Isaac Newton is the DEADLIEST-SON-OF-A-BITCH-IN-SPACE!!

    • Pay attention to the two names given to the servicemen Chung and Burnside. It's a tip of the hat to Winchel Chung and Ken Burnside, author of Project Rho (the definitive website for realistic space mechanics) and main brains behind Ad Astra Games (the only miniature game that does 3d without killing your brain), respectively.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ronald Taylor, if you choose the Renegade path of Jacob's loyalty mission.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: All party members that die during the Suicide Mission are killed off like this. Since the mission's mortality rate can be ludicrously high, this was most likely for pacing reasons. Do you really want to watch two-minute death scenes every other minute during the final battle?
  • Drunk with Power: What led to Ronald Taylor's Moral Event Horizon.
  • Dummied Out: A bunch. Fairly comprehensive compilations of all the dummied out stuff can be found here and here. Some particularly notable examples:
    • The post-Horizon squadmates—Samara, Tali, Thane and Legion—have unique pieces of dialogue that were rendered inaccessible by the decision to split the party recruitment into two separate phases, in order to fit the game onto two discs. It's possible to modify your save game to get them in your party earlier, where they'll have normal lines almost everywhere (the one exception is Horizon itself; only Tali has lines there).
    • Like in Mass Effect 1, same-sex romance options were apparently planned and even partially voiced and scripted, but dummied out of the final product. See also Bury Your Gays above and Hide Your Lesbians.
    • The newly introduced ammo heat sink system was initially implemented as a more logical hybrid system in which the heat sinks cool down and "fill up" again, if not ejected. Reportedly playtesters didn't like it, so the cooldown was dummied out, requiring a Hand Wave in the codex and causing some Gameplay and Story Segregation. Editing some values in the game's internal .ini file allows re-enabling the hybrid system at the risk of unbalancing some guns that were balanced for the new system.
    • The Play Station 3 version of the game has a few things dummied out, namely that it will always be Liara who is seen evacuating people from the Normandy at the start of the game, as Mass Effect: Genesis (the interactive recap of the first game) takes place following the title card, so the game has no way of knowing if Kaidan or Ashley will be alive in the game (in the PC and 360 versions, Liara will only be seen in the opening cutscene if she was romanced in the first game).
    • There was originally supposed to be a loyalty conflict between Mordin and Grunt, similar to the ones between Jack and Miranda and Tali and Legion.
    • Mordin was originally a biotic, and he would have been a "good" choice as the biotic specialist during the suicide mission.
    • There are even more death scenes during the trip through the Omega 4 relay, also dummied out thanks to the aforementioned decision to split the game.
    • The Paragon version of Conrad's sidequest was accidentally dummied out thanks to a save import error. This one is referenced in Mass Effect 3: Conrad apologizes for claiming that you put a gun to his head when you didn't.
    • The Firewalker side missions had a lot of interesting logs cut out; most notably, the Dr. Cayce from Firewalker was supposed to be revealed to be Dr. Manuel the rambling scientist from way back on Eden Prime in the first game.
  • Dwindling Party: What happens if you don't handle the final mission correctly.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The morality checks.
  • Dyson Sphere: The 'true geth' have been working on a "mega-structure" comparable to one for close to three centuries. When it's complete, every geth program will be able to run in unison, boosting their intelligence to incalculable levels.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It is possible to get everybody out of the Suicide Mission alive, but you'll have to work for it.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: In Arrival, literally. Shepard destroys a mass relay, which causes a supernova-sized explosion that wipes out the entire star system it's in.
  • Electric Instant Gratification: The subject of... nerve stimulation systems... comes up a couple of times. Mentioned by Tali offhandedly during her romance path; also mentioned by the Valley Girl Quarian, who was apparently quite willing to demonstrate its use in public.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played mostly straight. Enemies have several types of defenses: health, armor, kinetic shields and biotic barriers. There are various weapons, ammo types and abilities that are more (or less) effective against various types of defenses. Enemies may also be organic or synthetic, certain abilities having additional effects if used against the "correct" type of enemy.
  • Empty Room Until the Trap: The Collector Ship mission. The first half of the mission is exploring the ship and its conveniently-placed chest-high walls with no enemies to speak of. Then you're ambushed by Collectors as you try to leave. To their credit, your squadmates will point out how weird it is.
  • Enemy Civil War: The True Neutral original geth vs the Exclusively Evil heretic geth.
  • Equal Opportunity Evil:
    • Split across three different merc bands, every major race in the galaxy is represented. Eclipse, which favors finesse, speed and technology uses asari, salarians and a few humans. The Blood Pack uses tough-as-nails but rock-stupid regenerating species like vorcha and krogan. The Blue Suns like to play the middle ground with humans, turians and batarians.
    • People from Cerberus, a human supremacist organization, are surprisingly okay with having almost half your crew members be aliens.
  • Escape Pod: Used when the Collectors destroy the Normandy.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In Arrival, the Project members genuinely care for each other despite being indoctrinated and can occasionally be heard vowing revenge against Shepard when s/he kills their friends.

"No! Williams! We're too late!"


Kaidan Alenko: They probably just want to keep everything running. It has to be hard keeping all these cultures working together.
Ashley Williams: Or maybe they just don't like humans.
Commander Shepard: Why not? We've got oceans, beautiful women, this emotion called love. According to the old vids, we have everything they want.

  • Everything Makes a Mushroom: The Cain is explicitly said not to be nuclear, but its explosion is sufficient for making a mushroom cloud anyway. Thus, it's nicknamed the "nuke gun" even by those who know better in-setting.
  • Exclusively Evil: The vorcha seem to suffer this kind of Fantastic Racism, and Your Mileage May Vary, but they kind of look like Goblins and/or Trolls. Aria herself refers to them as "little goblins" once.
    • Somewhat deconstructed when you see a group of them huddling in squalor in a corridor on Omega. They seem terribly afraid of Preitor Gavorn.
  • Explosive Decompression: Averted. In fact, the dev team seemed just a little too eager to avert it.
  • Explosive Stupidity: Enemies with rocket launchers are prone to this: if you use the Attack Drone ability on them, they will repeatedly injure themselves with their own munitions, trying to kill it.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Certain outfits for your characters, especially Jack, during the Damaged Reaper mission. Apparently, the only character unable to survive hard vacuum with just a facemask and kinetic barrier is Shepard.
  • Expositron 9000: EDI.
  • Expy: The Human Reaper looks like a giant Terminator, or perhaps a Snatcher, due to its method of construction as well as where it keeps its big beam weapon.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: "Ah, yes, 'Reapers'..."
  • Eye Beams: The main weapon of the Praetorians is a massive set of particle beams they blast out of their eyes.
  • Faceless Goons: The ever-present Blue Suns, Eclipse and Blood Pack mercenaries.
  • Failed a Spot Check: "...Geth do not intentionally infiltrate."
  • Fail O'Suckyname: Quarian Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib-Qwib. While he states he's entertained the idea of finding a ship with a less stupid-sounding name (like Defranz or Iktomi), he's still proud of it.
    • Knowing Bioware, we'll probably find out in Mass Effect 3 that the Qwib-Qwib is the most badass ship in the Migrant Fleet.
      • The Qwib-Qwib is never shown in Mass Effect 3, but makes a Heroic Sacrifice in order to save other vessels of the Migrant Fleet. Depending on the players decisions during that phase of the game, it's entirely possible that the Qwib-Qwib will enter Quarian history as the first ship to reach the surface of the homeworld. A subversion!
  • Failure Is the Only Option: During the Arrival DLC quest. Its hard to fight off the waves of mercenaries as Object Rho is powering up and if you lose, it takes you to the next sequence where you break out of a holding cell, but even if you fend off all the mercs, you'll be taken out by Object Rho with the same outcome. At least they give you unlock an achievement if you survive all the mercs.
  • Fake Balance: The harder you set the difficulty, the more things have armor bars, up to and including regular ol' husks on Insanity. Armor's immune to biotics. Have fun, Mr. Adept (the third game thankfully returns to a scaled health system)!
  • Fake Skill: There are a few places in the game where it's possible to skip entire waves of enemies. All of these fall under Alternative Skill: they're easier than just straight up fighting, but they're not effortless either.
    • In several places, your objective is to simply get to a specified place; it doesn't matter whether you kill all or even any of the enemies going after you, so you can just sprint over to the checkpoint and trigger the next cutscene. This tends to be easiest as an Infiltrator and, to a lesser extent, Soldier and Vanguard, though it's not impossible with the other classes.
    • Just before the Horizon spaceport battle, there's a spot where, if you stand in just the right place, you can see and kill the two Scions hiding behind the control panel without actually triggering combat, and the Husks that are supposed to harass you will never appear.
    • During the second-to-last battle in Tali's loyalty mission, deploying a combat drone at just the right time in just the right place will immediately end the battle and trigger the cutscene where Shepard and Tali find Rael's body.[1] However, doing this will also glitch the cutscene so all of your squad has their equipped guns glued to their hands. Hugging Tali suddenly becomes a lot less heartwarming when Shepard has a freaking nuke gun strapped to their hand.
  • Fandom Nod: All over the place in Lair of the Shadow Broker.
  • Fan Service: A surprisingly large number of your squad members fall into this, unlike in the first game where everyone wears full suits of armor. Ironically, the romance scenes were toned down.
  • Fantastic Racism: In spades. All the sentient species in the galaxy seem to hold some degree of resentment for each other. The krogan are generally hostile to other species, and also aren't very well liked by everyone else, since their brute nature and the whole deal with the Krogan Rebellions has earned them a poor reputation. The quarians used to be respected, but their reputation in the galactic community suffered very badly because of the whole deal with the geth, which led to them losing their embassy on the Citadel and other species looking down on them and labeling them all as scum. Nobody likes the vorcha because of their aggression, reputation as troublemakers and vermin, and lesser intelligence. Humans are not too popular with a lot of people of other species, either, and in turn, a lot of humans seem prejudiced towards all aliens.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning:
    • Fire: Incinerate, Incendiary Ammo, and the Firestorm heavy weapon.
    • Ice: Cryo Blast, Cryo Ammo, and the Avalanche heavy weapon.
    • Lightning: Overload, Disruptor Ammo, and the Arc Projector heavy weapon.
  • Firing One-Handed: Shepard and Company frequently wield pistols or submachine guns one-handed in cutscenes.
    • In Lair of the Shadow Broker, the Shadow Broker himself, a massive creature called a yahg, fights you while holding a Revenant one-handed.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: All warships pack one as their main weapon, as the direction of travel is typically the longest dimension of the vessel, and mass accelerator cannons only get more powerful the longer they are. Dreadnoughts have the most powerful such guns, and can exert multiple times the energy released in the Hiroshima blast into a shot. Every few seconds.
  • Foreboding Architecture: Oh look, there's a big, open room. With lots and lots of cover. Why aren't you behind some yet?!
    • You can tell with almost 100% certainty when there is going to be a fight: there are waist high walls scattered around the place.
    • Subverted in the Collector cruiser. Lots of space, lots of cover... no bad guys. It gets very creepy very quickly. Don't worry, it changes.
  • Flipping the Table: A non-comedic example in Lair of the Shadow Broker, when the huge alien that is the Shadow Broker and towering over the biggest Krogans throws his entire metal desk at Shepard at the beginning of the fight.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mordin's loyalty mission is basically a warm-up for the final Big Important Paragon-Or-Renegade choice... whether or not it's worth using technology built with the blood of innocents. Ironically, the Paragon/Renegade choice is reversed in both examples. A Paragon thinks the Genophage should be cured at all costs, even at the risk of a new Krogan Rebellion, so he keeps the data, while a Renegade thinks it must not be cured to avoid that risk, so it needs to be destroyed. As for the final mission, a Paragon believes the risk of Indoctrination to be too high to use the Collector Base, while a Renegade thinks it's worth the risk. So there are other factors that affect the decision as well.
    • A minor one that's very easy one to miss, especially since it's optional dialogue, but it hints at how Archangel ended up cornered with his entire team dead. If Shepard presses Eclipse's leader for details about Archangel's past and identity, Jaroth says that even Archangel's team didn't know that. How would Jaroth have any idea what Garrus' team did or didn't know? Simple: Sidonis told him.
      • On the same mission, something that hints at Archangel's true identity: although he will shoot you if you hang around in the open too long, instantly taking down your shields, he will never take another shot at you until your shields regenerate. He even lampshades this later, if mention it.
    • A little and more subtle is the fact that the Normandy SR-2 crew doesn't wear combat gear. This means that the ship is under alot more danger if its boarded and the party isn't there. This happens. Head count in both games shows both SR-1 and SR-2 had exactly the same number of crew members: 28 not counting Shepard and squad members. The SR-1 operated a hot bunking system, similar to a submarine. SR-2 was considered luxury because everyone had their own bed.
    • During Arrival, a log made by Dr. Kenson after she'd already been heavily indoctrinated has her coming to the ludicrous conclusion that they simply don't know what the Reapers want, and it's foolish to assume they mean doom for everyone since life goes on even though they've been here before. Come Mass Effect 3, she was closer to being right than anyone realized.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted hard. The squadmate who died on Virmire will be referenced to a lot and can be a touchy subject for Shepard. Even Jenkins, the Red Shirt who died 15 minutes into the first game, gets a mention. Furthermore, a Sidequest in the second game gives you the opportunity to toast to the memory of all your fallen crew members up to that point.
    • Played straight if you have the Sole Survivor background and did the mission that revealed Cerberus's involvement in the Akuze disaster in the first game. Even when Toombs emails you with a What the Hell, Hero? after finding out you're with Cerberus, it has no effect on the game whatsoever.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: Four defense types, health, armor, shields and barriers. Weapons deal bonus damage to specific defenses in a mostly random fashion; most tech and biotic abilities are severely restricted, forcing you to bring along team members that make up for your weaknesses. Eventually, you inevitably end up with a weapons guy, an engineer and a biotic in your squad and ignore everyone else.
  • Freeze Ray: The very appropriately named Avalanche heavy weapon and the Cryo tech power.
  • Freudian Threat: During an interrogation scene, Shepard can choose to rough up the suspect and wrap things up like so:

Suspect: Are we done here? Because I got people to see.
(Shepard slams his/her forearm against the guy's throat)
Shepard: I'm done being patient. Give me a name, or I cut your balls off and sell them to a krogan.

  • Freudian Trio: The game rather blatantly sets up Shepard, Miranda, and Jacob to be this, with Shepard serving as The Kirk, Miranda as The Spock, and Jacob as The McCoy.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams:
    • The Collector Particle Beam is a powerful hitscan heavy weapon that quickly eats through barriers, shields and health. Armor, less so, but not so much that it's less useful. Strictly speaking, as a "particle" beam, the weapon is probably not a laser, but rather a stream of plasma or other ions.
    • GARDIAN lasers are a more literal example of this trope. They're one of the most powerful and accurate weapons in the verse (the accuracy comes because they avert the 'lasers move slower than light' part of Frickin' Laser Beams), but have relatively short range because of collimation.[2] Their use beyond point defense is restricted to fighter combat and close-in "knife fights" between smaller capital ships.
    • The Collectors seem to love this trope; a giant particle beam is the only weapon their cruiser uses, and the Oculus drones guarding the Omega-4 Relay nearly tear the Normandy apart with their lasers.
    • If you're not a tightwad and upgrade your ship, the Turian-made Thanix Cannon - reverse-engineered from the Collectors - more or less fires a beam of molten metal.
  • Future Music: Heard in the nightclubs and bars. Mass Effect 2 also uses SimCity 4 music in several shops on the Citadel.
    • One track was actually picked up from SSX 3, but you can't really tell.
    • Another example is the Afterlife Club on Omega. The main floor music was taken from Need for Speed 4. Ironically, the VIP floor's track was made separately and intended to sound futuristic.
    • One of the songs that can play in the Citadel is menu music from a cancelled EA soccer game: the track is called "Dark Star" on the Soundtrack.
    • In a weird contrast, most of the game's music sounds less futuristic as compared to that of the first game. The latter's score had a more synthesizer-heavy sound, whereas this game has more traditional orchestral music, with some sparse synthesizer melodies mixed in.
  • Futuristic Superhighway: Illium features a three-dimensional web of air routes for its (many, many) Flying Cars. One part of Lair of the Shadow Broker has you hurtling through these as part of a car chase.

Continued at:

  1. The reason this works is because the game treats your combat drones as squadmates, and any squadmate can trigger a cutscene.
  2. Not refraction or diffraction; those only matter in atmosphere. In space, it's collimation, the degree to which the laser is focused.