Characters of Mass Effect

Characters of Mass Effect

This article describes the "characters of Mass Effect", an Xbox 360 and PC action role-playing game developed by BioWare. The game was released on November 20, 2007.

Commander Shepard

Commander Shepard is the main player character in "Mass Effect". Shepard's gender, appearance, history and first name are determined by the player before the game begins. Shepard is 29 years old.

Shepard is a veteran soldier who begins the game as a candidate to become an elite "Spectre" agent. As the game progresses Shepard undertakes a series of important missions and is authorized to do whatever it takes to get the missions done. Sacrifices have to be made, and many peoples lives hang in the balance. It is up to the player to make those decisions - and to live with the consequences, which alter the events of the story.

Compassionate decisions are rewarded with Paragon points, ruthless decisions with Renegade points. Players with a high Paragon score will experience different dialogue, missions and cutscenes from those players with a high Renegade score.

The female version of Shepard is voiced by Jennifer Hale, while Mark Meer lends his voice to the male version.

Party members

Ashley Williams

A human female Alliance Marine who enlisted straight out of high school and is a competent non-commissioned officer; specifically, a Gunnery Chief. She joins the party during the first mission, replacing Corporal Richard L. Jenkins (who was killed in action). Ashley is a pure soldier, skilled with weapons but unable to use advanced tech abilities or biotics. She is a possible romance interest for a male Commander Shepard. Williams is highly religious, though her precise faith and denomination are never elaborated upon. She also occasionally expresses "human-centric" views, as a result of her grandfather having been disgraced in the First Contact War against the turians. ["Mass Effect" game dialogue]

Late in the game, on the planet Virmire, Ashley is one of two characters who can opt to assist a salarian commando unit in their assault on Saren's lab complex. During the assault, the player is confronted with a choice that may result in Ashley being killed when a nuclear warhead is detonated.

Williams is voiced by Kimberly Brooks.

Liara T'Soni

An asari companion that has a passion for studying and working with Prothean technology. Her field of expertise specializes in the Prothean's demise. She is, in fact, found in a Prothean ruin, trapped in a kinetic bubble prison. Liara is a possible romance interest for both male and female Shepards. [cite website| title = "Bisexual extraterrestrials steaming up "Mass Effect"| url =;title;5| publisher = Gamespot ] In the game world created by Bioware for "Mass Effect", the Asari have only one gender, and have the ability to reproduce with any gender or species. [cite website| title="Mass Effect" Community-Female Romance Options"| url =| publisher = BioWare] Liara's class is unique to her as an Asari Scientist, skilled mainly in biotics, but unable to build skills in weapons.

Liara is the daughter of Matriarch Benezia and it is unknown precisely who Liara's other parent is, except that she was another asari. There is a certain social stigma attached to this, as the asari believe that for them to improve themselves, they should mate with other species to gain new genetic properties. If two asari mate as Liara's parents did, then it is believed that nothing is gained from the relationship. The term "Pureblood" is used as a cruel insult for children born of two asari. When asked about her second parent, Liara is only able to speculate that her parents were possibly embarrassed by the union, but she does not know for certain.

Her face and body is modelled on actress Jillian Murray. She is voiced by Ali Hillis.

Kaidan Alenko

A 32 year old human male party member that accompanies Shepard from the very beginning of the game, and a possible romance interest of a female Commander Shepard. Alliance Navy Lt. Kaidan Alenko is what is known as a Sentinel, highly skilled in both tech and biotics. Alenko has had a troubled relationship with his biotic abilities - this is due to the implant type (referred to as an L2) he and others were fitted with to control their abilities, as it is known to have been responsible for a long list of side-effects on many users. Alenko is regarded as "one of the lucky ones" as he only suffers migraines as a side effect. If questioned by Shepard, it is revealed that during his training, Alenko killed his instructor, a brutal turian mercenary, by breaking his neck with a full-force biotic kick while defending himself. Late in the game, on the planet Virmire, Kaidan is one of two characters who can opt to assist a salarian commando unit in their assault on Saren's lab complex. During the assault, the player is confronted with a choice that may result in Kaidan being left behind when a nuclear warhead is detonated. ["Mass Effect" game dialogue]

Voiced by Raphael Sbarge.

Garrus Vakarian

A male turian, Garrus is a member of the Citadel Security force (C-Sec). He has never liked or trusted Saren and was investigating his activities, but wasn't able to prove any blatant acts of treason. He chafes under the red tape, rules and regulations of Citadel Security and had become unsatisfied with his role there. He believes in using any means necessary to either prevent or solve crimes, almost seemingly regardless of the consequences; this is a direct result of a case he was involved with that came to an unsatisfactory conclusion. During his investigations, Garrus came across a case in which a salarian named Doctor Saleon had sold many organs through the black market. When his employees were questioned they were found to also be Dr. Saleon's test subjects as they were growing the cloned organs inside their own bodies, in many cases resulting in traumatic physical and psychological injuries. Unfortunately, the doctor escaped C-Sec custody and fled the Citadel, and Garrus felt that it was the hesitation and regulations governing C-Sec that allowed Dr. Saleon to escape.

Garrus was at one point targeted as a Spectre candidate, but was dissuaded against it by his father, a C-Sec officer who was strictly "by the book" out of personal fear that Garrus would end up like Saren. When given the opportunity to pursue Saren alongside Shepard - who is not bound by rules and operates outside the law - he is happy to accept. He is a Turian Agent, skilled at both weapons and engineering, similar to an Infiltrator class. Depending on Shepard's advice and actions, Garrus may at one point apply for the Spectre program, with or without re-applying for C-Sec in the process.

Voiced by Brandon Keener.

Urdnot Wrex

Wrex is among the last of the krogan Battle Masters. They are rare individuals who can combine biotic abilities with advanced weaponry. Wrex quickly gained fame for his battle prowess and became a leader of one of the smaller Urdnot tribes at a very young age. To date, Wrex is the youngest krogan to be granted the honor in 1,000 years.

Following the krogan genophage (a Salarian bioweapon which causes a genetic mutation that causes stillbirth in 99.9% of the krogan population), Wrex realized that his people had degenerated from the honor-bound people they once were and had become senselessly violent, preferring death in battle rather than saving their culture through peaceful means. Wrex turned his back on his people when his father, a krogan warlord who wanted to resume the war, betrayed and attempted to kill him. Wrex escaped, though not before taking his father's life in retaliation. During the past three centuries, Wrex has worked as a bodyguard, mercenary, soldier and a bounty hunter. One operation as a mercenary was with Saren Arterius as his employer, though Wrex had a bad feeling about Saren at that point, and left the contract the moment he met the turian — he did not even wait to get paid. His instincts were right: every other mercenary on the ship they were on turned up dead within a week.

Despite his menacing appearance, Wrex rarely loses his temper. Likewise, Wrex doesn't voice his thoughts very often. But when he does, people are more than willing to listen. The mere threat of his anger is enough to ensure that. [cite website| title = "Galactic Codex - Krogan Series Part 3: Wrex, Krogan Battle Master" | url = | publisher = BioWare]

Late in the game, at the planet Virmire, Wrex learns that Saren is developing a cure for the krogan genophage to create an army of krogan soldiers. Uncertain as to who he should listen to now, Wrex has an angry confrontation with Shepard over whether or not the facility should be destroyed. Depending on the player's choices, Wrex may survive, or he can be killed by either Shepard or Ashley.

Wrex is a Krogan Battle Master, he has abilities very similar to the Vanguard character class (a mix of combat and biotic skills), and shares his class with many enemies throughout the game.

Voiced by Steve Barr.

Tali'Zorah nar Rayya

A female quarian party member. Tali'Zorah is introduced as a person who possesses information that can implicate Saren in the destruction of the human colony of Eden Prime. Saren himself sends assassins after her, and once Shepard rescues her, she joins the player's party. "Tali," as she likes to be called, is on a "Pilgrimage," which is a quarian coming-of-age rite in which a young quarian leaves the home fleet and finds something valuable, which is brought back to the fleet to prove their willingness to contribute to the community. She has some trouble adjusting to the quiet atmosphere of the "Normandy" because the ships she lived on at her home were all rather loud and clunky, and silence usually meant an air filter or other important component had broken. Later on in the game, it is revealed that her father serves on the fleet Admiralty board making him a prominent figure amongst the quarians. This puts Tali under more pressure than most to ensure that she finds something important during her pilgrimage. Later in the game, either on Feros or in the main Geth base in the Armstrong Nebula (in an optional side quest), Shepard can find information on the Geth that can be given to Tali so she can complete her Pilgrimage.

Tali is a quarian machinist, an expert with mechanical and electronic equipment.

Voiced by Liz Sroka.

Other characters

Captain David Anderson

Created by writer Drew Karpyshyn, David Anderson is the protagonist of the novel "" and supervisor of the player character Commander Shepard in "Mass Effect".

In the novel, David Anderson is depicted as a young lieutenant who discovered the massacre at the research station on Sidon and lead the ensuing investigation into those responsible for it. Lt. Anderson is considered one of the Alliance's 'elites', having been trained in the N7 Marine program, graduating from the Arcturus Academy, as well as serving with honor in the First Contact War between the turians and the Alliance. Before he began his investigation of the massacre at Sidon, Anderson served as the Executive Officer of the SSV "Hastings".

It is confirmed that Anderson was capable and had been considered a suitable candidate to represent humanity in the Office of Special Tactics and Reconnaissance (Spectre) of the Citadel. However, Saren, a turian and the antagonist of the game, spoke poorly of him in front of the Council causing Anderson to be overlooked. [cite book| title = "Mass Effect: Revelation" | publisher = Del Rey]

During the investigation, Anderson fell in love with key witness/prime suspect Kahlee Sanders. However, they mutually agreed not to continue a romance after the investigation, in part because she was assigned to a classified scientific project, and also that their careers made marriage impossible.

In the video game, David Anderson is the commanding officer of Commander Shepard, the central character. [cite web| title = "Mass Effect" - Heroes and Villains" | url = | publisher =] At first he commands the "Normandy", but is quickly put into early retirement to give Shepard command of the "Normandy". After that, he can be found on Citadel Station, beside the human Ambassador. When the "Normandy" is locked down by the Council, he unlocks it by either going to the Ambassador's office and overriding it, or sneaking into C-Sec and changing it there. After the Geth invasion of the Citadel, the player can choose him (regardless if the player decided to allow the Council to die or not) to become the human representative of the Council. He is voiced by Keith David. [cite web| title = "IMDB - Keith David" | url = | publisher =]

Jeff "Joker" Moreau

The pilot of the "Normandy". He suffers from a hereditary disease that caused the bones in his legs to become brittle to the point where his legs were already breaking in the womb. Born and raised at the Alliance colony on Arcturus, he was constantly surrounded by Alliance ships and personnel, and soon joined the military. Due to his disease, he opted to go through flight school, where he received his nickname from an instructor, who joked about his apparent seriousness. He excelled at flight school and came out at the top of his class, and is now the best in the Alliance fleet. Voiced by Seth Green.

Corporal Richard L. Jenkins

A member of Shepard's team who is killed by geth during the first mission on Eden Prime. Jenkins is a native to Eden Prime and was eager to enter combat. Early on in the mission, he is killed by geth scout drones while attempting to move to another cover position. According to Bioware's Community Manager Jay Watamaniuk, his name is a reference to the Leeroy Jenkins meme. [cite web| title = "Mass Effect PAX 2007 Stage Demo" | url = | publisher = Gamespot] Jenkins is a redshirt character, whose early death serves to demonstrate the dangerous nature of the geth.

Nihlus Kryik

A decorated turian Spectre agent, Nihlus is first encountered aboard the "Normandy" at the beginning of the game. Nihlus chooses to not accompany Shepard's group, and scouts ahead alone instead, eventually being killed by Saren.

He was born in a small colony outside of Hierarchy space. After the death of his father, his mother forced him to join the turian military. Despite his exceptional marks in class, he was never truly accepted by his peers due to his outsider status. While Nihlus was undeniably an excellent soldier, his reckless behavior in battle earned him nothing but criticism from his superiors.

It was during his third reassignment that he met Saren Arterius, a fellow turian and renowned Spectre. Impressed with the young soldier's abilities, Saren befriended Nihlus, and offered to mentor him. Within a year of meeting Saren, Nihlus was asked to join the Spectres.

Nihlus soon stepped out of Saren's shadow and quickly established himself as one of the Council's most able bodied agents. He maintains a cool composure when under dire circumstances and has an uncanny ability to root out an enemy's weaknesses and exploit them. While his methods are not as brutal as Saren's, he will take any steps necessary to get the job done--and eradicate anyone or anything that stands in his way. [cite website| title = "Spectre Agent Nihlus Kryik" | url =| publisher = BioWare] He is betrayed and killed by Saren on Eden Prime.

Donnel Udina

Udina is the Alliance ambassador to Citadel Station. A career politician, Udina appears officious and self-important, although he does take his responsibilities and the best interests of humanity very seriously. He and Captain Anderson have a mutually antagonistic relationship; it is Udina who relieves Anderson of command of the "Normandy", and at one point Anderson may get the opportunity to knock Udina unconscious depending upon the choices of the player. By the end of the game either Udina or Anderson will become the human representative on the Citadel Council.


Sha'ira is an asari "consort" on Citadel Station; a role which seems to fluctuate between a professional counselor and a courtesan. She serves the game's plot as an "Oracle" of sorts - hinting at the future course of events and Shepard's role in them. It is also possible for Shepard to have sex with the Consort, though he or she must be dissatisfied with Sha'ira's gift of words. Sha'ira is served by a team of acolytes, which consist mostly of asari, but include at least one human woman. The roles of both the Consort and the acolytes are highly regarded by the denizens of Citadel Station.

Admiral Steven Hackett

Admiral Hackett (voiced by Lance Henriksen) commands the Systems Alliance Navy's Fifth Fleet from Arcturus. He is not seen during the game; however, he contacts the main character occasionally when situations arise that need to be dealt with outside of official channels or are particularly time-sensitive. He, along with Ambassador Udina and Captain Anderson, is one of the people principally responsible for Shepard's induction into the Spectres and thus knows that as such, Shepard is the only member of the Alliance military who is permitted complete freedom of discretion and movement and can therefore handle any situations that the Alliance military either does not have the time, manpower, or mandate to handle. When the Citadel is caught off guard by an attack from "Sovereign" and the geth, Hackett commands the reinforcements which arrive to assist in the defense. During the course of the final battle, he follows Shepard's advice on how to deal with the situation and either orders the fleet to press the attack and save the Council (under attack on the asari flagship,) or hold back until "Sovereign" becomes vulnerable (thus allowing the Council to be annihilated by the geth fleet.)

Captain Kirrahe

Captain Kirrahe is the captain of the 501st recon and infiltration regiment sent to Virmire, investigating Saren's activities there. At the cost of nearly half of his forces, he discovers that Saren is creating a cure for the krogan Genophage, and immediately requests the council to send a fleet. The garbled message is misinterpreted, and as a result only Commander Shepard and the crew of the "Normandy" arrive on the planet as backup. Kirrahe comes up with a plan to assault and destroy Saren's base, using parts of his ship to make a nuclear bomb. Depending on the decisions of the player, Kirrahe is either killed in battle, or can be saved when rescuing the unit pinned down on the AA tower. If the player rescues Kirrahe, they will appear in the cargo bay of the "Normandy" and depart the ship next time it docks.

Rear Admiral Kahoku

Rear Admiral Kahoku is an Alliance Admiral who asks Shepard to investigate the mysterious disappearance of marines in uncharted space, who are later found dead. Kahoku learns that a terrorist organization called Cerberus is responsible for the death of his men, and after doing some investigation on his own, discovers one one of their bases. After forwarding this information to Shepard, Kahoku 'disappears' and is later found dead in one of the Cerberus facilities, likely to have been killed by Cerberus during one of their experiments (there is a visible syringe mark in his arm).

=Navigator/XO Pressly=

Navigator of the "Normandy", Pressly is tasked with ensuring that the crew of the "Normandy" reaches their intended destination safely with geographical data. He was involved in the defense of Elysium and got his officer's commission shortly before being assigned to the "Normandy". Pressly has had issues with working with other aliens due to "old school thinking" as a habit picked up by his grandfather in the First Contact War. Pressly serves as Executive Officer of the "Normandy" when Commander Shepard assumes command of the ship. Pressly's exact rank is never stated.

Engineer Adams

Chief Engineer of the "Normandy", Adams is tasked with ensuring the "Normandy" functions correctly and also carrying out various maintenance work. Prior to his assignment to the "Normandy", he has serviced at least one type of each ship classification (frigates, dreadnoughts, etc.). Unlike some other human members of the crew, he appears to have no issues with the alien races aboard and is highly impressed with the skill Tali displays.

Dr. Chakwas

Chief Medical Officer of the "Normandy", she served with Captain Anderson previously and enjoys life out in deep space. Chakwas finds the idea of working on and amongst soldiers in a galaxy teeming with life as more exciting than being on a colony and thus she stays with the Alliance fleet, though she has sometimes considered an assignment elsewhere. Like Adams, she does not appear to be bothered by the alien crew members.


Found on Ilos, Vigil is of Prothean construction, a highly advanced computer intelligence, but it is not made clear if it is a true AI or not. It mentions that it was programmed with responses corresponding to the personality of one of the long dead Prothean researchers. Vigil was left behind to monitor some Prothean citizens placed in stasis in the hope that the Reapers would overlook them, but it did not all go to plan and he was forced to terminate the life support systems of many to save key scientists. Vigil serves as the character that reveals how the Protheans died out and provides key information to assist the current races' attempts to break the cycle of destruction.


aren Arterius

According to the [ character biography posted by BioWare] , Saren Arterius is a former turian Spectre known for 'getting results' by any means necessary. More often than not, this meant he killed everyone and everything in range—the target, any witnesses, and innocent bystanders as well. In the novel "", he is seen torturing and killing his victims mercilessly, rarely having any regards for sentient life or the lives of anyone in his way from getting the job done, even deliberately killing innocent bystanders and witnesses (after he had extracted key information from them.) This seething hatred for humans is speculated by other characters in the novel to stem from the loss of his brother in the First Contact War.

After the events described in the novel, and before the start of the first "Mass Effect" video game, Saren takes command of an army of geth through the use of a mysterious artifact known as "Sovereign", an ancient ship that supposedly predates the Protheans. With a machine army at his command, he uses them to both do his bidding and oppose the efforts and actions of the player across the story of the "Mass Effect" video game. One of his main goals at first appears to be to unleash the genocidal Reapers upon the galaxy once again to take revenge on humanity. In reality, he is merely assisting "Sovereign" in bringing the rest of the Reapers into the galaxy to prove that organics are worth enslaving, rather than exterminating.

Of note is that Saren does not consider his methods harsh. In the novel, he brutally tortures a batarian until, having exhausted the information resources he provided, Saren snaps his neck while he is unconscious, considering himself to be merciful and that he isn't "a monster".

In the game it is revealed that Saren had known about the Reaper threat and had independently tried to discover a means to stop it. It is unknown how Saren found "Sovereign", however, "Sovereign" slowly began to manipulate Saren through subtle subliminal messages into helping him into bringing back the Reaper threat. During the Geth invasion of the Citadel, Saren uses the Prothean Conduit to gain access to the Citadel to allow "Sovereign" to activate the Citadel Mass Relay. The player can then either attempt to kill Saren before he can activate the relay or appeal to Saren to fight his indoctrination, prompting him commit suicide. Either way, Shepard later has one of his crew members shoot Saren a final time in the head to make sure he's dead, but he is still revived and controlled by "Sovereign", transforming him into a powerful enemy who engages Shepard and his crew in one final battle. Upon defeating the "Sovereign"-manipulated Saren, "Sovereign" itself loses its defenses, allowing the Citadel Fleet and the Alliance Navy to destroy it. Saren is voiced by Fred Tatasciore.

Matriarch Benezia

An asari matriarch who is in league with Saren. She is also the mother of Liara T'Soni; the "Father" is unknown. During the course of conversation, Liara speculates that Benezia was ashamed of mating with another Asari, but is not entirely certain if that was the case. She is enslaved by "Sovereign" into finding the location of the Mu Mass Relay. She is killed by the player after revealing this fact and (if Liara present in the shore party) making peace with her daughter. She is a master of Biotics. She is voiced by Marina Sirtis.


A single ship of the Reapers that uses an ability known as "indoctrination" to take control of the minds of organic beings. When Shepard's team speaks with Sovereign in Saren's lab on Virmire, they realize that the ship itself is actually a Reaper. "Sovereign" was left alone in the galaxy as a vanguard to activate the Citadel Mass Relay when organic civilizations had advanced to the point that the Reapers would choose to begin their extermination cycle, which was last done 50,000 years ago. It is unclear if "Sovereign" was the vanguard between every cycle or if it has been tasked to other Reapers as well. After the player either kills Saren or convinces him to take his own life, "Sovereign" possesses Saren's corpse through bionic implants. The ship itself is destroyed at the end of the game by the Alliance Fleet.


External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ The Complete "Mass Effect" Wiki: Characters]

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