Mass Effect/Characters/Commander Shepard

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This page is for listing the tropes related to Commander Shepard, protagonist of the Mass Effect series.

For the pages listing tropes related to Party Members, NPCs and Antagonists in the trilogy, see the Mass Effect Character Index.

Commander Shepard

"You can fight like a krogan, run like a leopard, but you'll never be better than Commander Shepard!"

"We have to give everything.... even if that means our lives. We will stop at nothing. We will fight for the lost!"


Voiced by: Mark Meer (male), Jennifer Hale (female)


The Player Character, a human Systems Alliance Marine and graduate of the N7 special forces program whose gender, appearance, and outlook are determined by the player. In the first game, Shepard is selected to be the first human Spectre, an elite agent of the Council. After stumbling upon a Prothean Beacon and Saren's plans, Shepard sets out on a quest to stop Saren and save the galaxy from his attempts to bring back the Reapers.

In the second game, Shepard is killed in a surprise attack by the Collectors. But since s/he's too valuable to let stay dead, Shepard is resurrected by Cerberus. After forming an uneasy alliance with the extremist group, Shepard begins building a team for a suicide mission to stop the Collectors and their mass-human abductions.

In the final game, the Reapers began their final assault on the galaxy, and it's up to Shepard to rally the disparate peoples of the galaxy together in their darkest hour to repel the threat of extinction.

The following tropes appear in-game (note: the majority of these tropes apply no matter which version of Shepard is played, though there are a few that are exclusive to the female version):

  • 100% Heroism Rating: Or Hundred Percent Jerkass Recognition. You know, either way.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: No love interest from the original game sticks around very long in the sequel... and 2/3 of them chew you out for working with Cerberus. In the meantime, there are lots of fresh catches on the boat, especially two previously unavailable fan favorites from the previous game.
    • Liara fans are being offered reconciliation with the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC.
    • And, with the announcement that whoever survived Virmire is included in Mass Effect 3, Shepard's romance of a squad-mate in Mass Effect 2 will be addressed.
    • This is also Jacob's justification for leaving femShep for another woman (without telling her first). And romancing someone else after the death of Thane perhaps also counts, considering how the romance isn't referenced again.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: A side-effect of the cybernetic implants installed during their resurrection in Mass Effect 2, rendered Shepard immune to most drugs and toxins that would easily kill a normal human, while possessing a high tolerance for others.
    • This first is noticed in the introduction when Shepard briefly awakens prematurely, requiring Miranda and Wilson to adminster over twice the dosage of sedative in order to knock Shepard out again. On Omega, a Batarian bartender likewise gives Shepard a poisoned drink that is lethal to the average human that only effect is to knock them out for a few minutes.
    • Failure to realise that without constant supervision, a sedated Shepard won't stay that way for long, ends up foiling the Indoctrinated Alliance agents in Arrival.
    • One medical report in Arrival mentions their frustration that it was necessary to increase every round of sedatives administered because Shepard's system simply grew immune to the previous dose.
  • Action Girl/Dark Action Girl: Paragon/Renegade Female Shepard.
  • Action Survivor: The Sole Survivor background.
  • Always Save the Girl/Always Save the Guy: Can be subverted, inverted, or played straight based on your Shepard's gender, your chosen Love Interest, and who you choose to save on Virmire. You will be called out on this if you play it straight, however.
    • Hell, you'll be called on it if you don't. There is no easy way out of that situation.
      • It also constitutes a very interesting and well done situation. It is one of the few game choices that players don't base on gameplay mechanics, but instead on their emotional connections to the story.
  • An Adventurer Is You: A Commander Is You is not related to Shepard at all. For the first game:
    • The Soldier is The Tank of the game, being later capable to wear the heaviest armour along with having talents that can make the Soldier the toughest class to kill. Being able to use all guns also makes them a DPSer. Dips into The Healer, having the First Aid talent.
      • In Mass Effect 2, Soldiers get Adrenaline Rush, which causes Bullet Time. They also become something of a Jack, due to them retaining the ability to use all kinds of weapons and having access to the highest number of the game's new ammo powers.
      • Soldiers were tweaked a little in the third game... Concussive Shot sucks against barriers now, but both it and grenades can be upgraded to affect more kinds of enemies instead.
    • The Engineer, a definite Combat Engineer with the trope The Engineer, acts as The Debuffer with tech abilities that don't do much damage but are useful due to hindering your enemies; along with The Healer, since they share the First Aid and Medicine talents, and the Medic specialization with the Sentinel class. Is something of a Squishy Wizard, only having access to light armour, Basic Armour talent, and pistol talents. Due to always having to fight and also having the best healing abilities out of all the classes, is a Combat Medic.
      • In Mass Effect 2, Engineers get the Combat Drone, a Weak Turret Gun of sorts. It should be noted, however, that the Engineer is an incredibly effective combat class when dealing with synthetics.
      • In Mass Effect 3, the class's propensity for equipment is increased even further with the addition of the Defense Turret ability, which makes it so you can have a fixed Weak Turret Gun next to you while your drone roams the battlefield.
    • The Adept is The Mezzer, having a bunch of abilities to force your enemies to be temporarily helpless. Is also something of a Squishy Wizard, as it may only use light armour, Basic Armour talent, and the Barrier talent to stay alive; and can only get pistol talents. Can be a Game Breaker at higher levels with very powerful biotic abilities with low cooldowns.
      • In Mass Effect 2, the Adept's special ability is Singularity, which is a kind of Gravity Screw for enemies.
      • The third game levels makes things a bit more fair to the Adept; the increased emphasis on combos makes hitting enemies with multiple abilities a breeze and very deadly, and the Fake Balance from the second game (where everything gained armor on higher difficulties, making it impossible to move with biotics) has been replaced with actual health scaling.
    • The Infiltrator acts as a DPSer Ranger/Debuffer, having access to sniper rifles and the debuffs of the Engineer, while lacking their Medicine talent and Medic specialization (but still having First Aid, so is still kind of The Healer). Is something of a Magic Knight, being later capable of using medium armour with their Tactical Armour talent and have the survival talent Fitness.
      • Infiltrators get an Invisibility Cloak and short-lived Bullet Time when scoping with sniper rifles in Mass Effect 2.
      • Mass Effect 3 added the ability to revive squadmates without medigel by touching them; the Infiltrator's cloak makes them the class that's now best suited to be the Medic.
    • The Vanguard is The DPSer Scrapper/Mezzer with their shotgun and biotic abilities to ensure they get in close unimpeded. Is also a Magic Knight, being later able to use medium armour with their Tactical Armour talent and the Barrier talent to defend themselves along with their shotguns.
      • In Mass Effect 2, the Vanguard becomes even more of a Magic Knight, as he gets the only melee ability in the whole game: the special ability Biotic Charge.
        • Taken even further in Mass Effect 3 where the Vanguard has another melee power no one else gets and is given special bonuses to shields when charging to make close range fighting even easier.
    • The Sentinel is The Mezzer/Debuffer, having both biotic and tech abilities to disable their opponent; The Healer, having access to the Medicine and First Aid talent; and a Squishy Wizard that only has the Barrier talent to keep themself alive, lacking an armour talent (but still able to use light armour) and only being able to improve their pistols through their class talent (which is less then all the other classes are able to do).
      • In Mass Effect 2, the Sentinel instead becomes The Jack, having access to a decent range of offensive powers as well as Tech Armor, which makes them into a potential variant of The Tank.
      • Mass Effect 3 extends the Tank role by refining Tech Armor; it reduces damage instead of adding to your shields, and you only lose it when you turn it off. This is offset a bit by a nerf to your power cooldowns when it's on.
    • And every class can take a talent from other classes, if you get the achievements for it and make a character with it later in the first game. In the sequel, you can give Shepard one ability from one of his/her squadmates, so a Soldier can use a biotic slam attack, an Engineer can create a biotic shield, or a Vanguard can drain enemy shields among other things.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Technically you're still Shepard, but one sequence has you briefly assume control of a LOKI mech. You know, those small, slow, weak bots with the least powerful guns in the game you cut down by the truckload? Don't worry, it isn't for long.
  • And This Is For: How Shepard kills Kai Leng, with variations depending on the story.

That was for Kirrahe/Thane/Miranda/Thane and Miranda, you son of a bitch.

  • An Ice Person: In Mass Effect 2 and beyond, Shepard is the only character with access to the Cryo Ammo power as an Infiltrator, Soldier or Vanguard. In fact, only an Adept Shepard is without any form of freezing power, as Engineers and Sentinels get Cryo Blast.
    • An Adept Shepard can still fit this trope by equipping the M-622 Avalanche, which freezes its targets. Shepard, regardless of class, is the only one who can use Heavy Weapons.
    • Potentially symbolic of the fact that Shepard has spent two years, both literally and figuratively, on ice.
  • Anti-Hero: While Paragon actions lead more towards the heroic end and the renegade actions lead more towards the antiheroic end, it is very easy to play as an overall anti-hero due to the fact that you don't have to play to the extremes on either side.
    • Placing Shepard on the scale precisely is a tricky problem since the player determines all his/her motives and actions, so Shepard can do plenty of good, seemingly noble thing with a purely selfish motivation depending on how you roleplay. Plus you can be a shining beacon of purity and reason otherwise but still perform actions that would usually lock a character into at least a Type IV. In the sequel, Shepard can even show signs of Type I, if you fail as many loyalty missions as possible and get most of your squad killed in the endgame.
    • And in Mass Effect 3, he/she can fall even farther. Killing even their squadmates.
  • Anything That Moves: Shepard can be played this way.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: ...maybe?
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: A large part of the reason s/he ended up a Spectre in the first place; in all three possible reputations, the baseline message is that Shepard is a Badass.
  • The Atoner: Implied, if you pick the Ruthless reputation (particularly with the Colonist background, which turns Torfan into Shepard's Roaring Rampage of Revenge) and then play Shepard as a Paragon.
    • Or if you played as Renegade in the first game, and Paragon in the second.
    • Or if you had both the Earthborn reputation and the War Hero reputation.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Mass Effect 2 really stresses this.
  • Back from the Dead: S/he's killed at the start of Mass Effect 2, but is revived over the course of the next two years by Cerberus' Lazarus Project.
  • Badass: No matter which path you choose, Shepard will tread over the bodies of thousands of the galaxy's worst criminals and monsters before the end. The tooltips even describe Renegade!Shepard as the ultimate badass (Paragon!Shepard is the ultimate hero though no less badass). Capable of immense asskicking, attractive to practically everyone s/he meets, not even death can stop him/her, inspires loyalty among all in the general vicinity, flips off Cthulhu before delivering a KO-ing SHEPARD PAWNCH and flipping off his corpse... and could very easily change his/her name to Commander Awesome. Even the Reapers, ancient nigh invulnerable machines that have committed systematic galactic genocide for millions of years (possibly longer) have acknowledged him/her as a true threat. Each class also results in a new form of badass for Shepard;
    • Ambadassador: By Mass Effect 3 where s/he's tasked with making peace and creating alliances through species with centuries or millennia old conflicts. S/he never stops kicking ass along the way.
    • Badass Arm-Fold: Shepard is fond of doing this; when s/he does, you know things are going to go badly, somehow, for someone.
    • Badass Boast: Whether s/he's Paragon or Renegade, s/he will make many of these and all of them justified.

Paragon Shepard: We'll fight and win without it. I won't let fear compromise who I am.

  • Bad Dreams: In the first game, Shepard has unsettling dreams about the visions from the Prothean beacon. Understandable, considering that it A) was information delivered in a format not meant to be understood by human minds, and B) concerned the extermination of entire species. In the third game, Shepard starts having flat-out nightmares about the people s/he couldn't save.
  • Bald of Awesome/Bald of Evil: The default male options, depending on how you play. Okay, well, maybe not completely bald, but it sounds better than Closely Shaved Stubble Of Awesome/Closely Shaved Stubble Of Evil.
  • Bald Woman: If the player chooses so when customizing female Shepard's looks.
  • Bash Brothers: Shepard and Garrus in the second game, highlighted in the third when Shepard admits that when times get tough, no matter what, s/he know that Garrus will always have his/her back.

Shepard: There's no Shepard without Vakarian.

  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Uses this to convince a worker to go away when caught in a restricted area in the second game. One has him/her posing as a health inspector; the other involves telling the guy there's a bomb in the area. Either way, it works.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Default Male Shepard's Perma-Stubble has evolved into this by Mass Effect 3.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight in the second game. If you go Paragon, the glowing scars fade away. If you play Renegade, they go into overdrive.
  • Berserk Button: Do not threaten Shepard's crew, you will end up dead.
    • Kai Leng found out the hard way.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Paragon Shepard is entirely capable of gaining your undying loyalty and friendship by punching you in the face or putting a gun to your head.
    • While technically a Renegade interrupt, the number of people who don't choose to finish Kai Leng with it is remarkably low.
    • Paragon Shepard even invokes this in the fight preceeding it, noting that they've constantly been trying to give him a way out and that everytime they fought each other, Kai-Leng has ended up having to run. This time, Shepard has had enough.
    • Even playing as a Paragon, an Infiltrator Shepard can routinely perform headshots on various mooks while using the Widow Sniper Rifle. Which, it should be mentioned, was originally designed to pierce tanks.
      • In Mass Effect 3, it's been reverse engineered into the Black Widow, which can cause enemies to violently explode. By this point, its clear that anyone who tangles with a Paragon Infiltrator Shepard is literally Too Dumb to Live.
  • Big Brother/Big Sister Mentor: To Garrus; with the potential to launch a Mentor Ship in Mass Effect 2 if Shepard is female.
    • Not quite as much as with Garrus but it also seems to apply to Tali.
    • Not as much as either of the above, but s/he comes to be this for James Vega.
    • Also with Grunt. Shepard is their battlemaster, their honour is without question. In the third game, even if you tell him not to, Grunt will not even hesitate to single-handedly hold off Rachni husks in order to give time for the Rachni Queen to escape, simply because Shepard wants peace with the Rachni, and it is what Shepard would do. Grunt surviving if loyal becomes even more awesome.
  • Big Good: Paragon Shepard. In the first game, you mostly fufill the role among your crew. In the second, you took this Up to Eleven while dealing with problems of your squad and are the only one who is willing to deal with the Collector Threat. Taken Beyond the Impossible in three, where you literally can unite the entire Galaxy to stop the Reapers.
    • Mass Effect 3 is an interesting variation. The rest of the galaxy generally seems to view Shepard as the Big Good whereas Shepard views Hackett as the Big Good.
  • Bio Augmentation: No matter what class you choose for Shepard, s/he is an Alliance Marine with special forces training, so s/he is heavily modded. Even more so in the sequel, when more upgrades are added during the Lazarus Project.
  • Bi the Way: You can make Shepard this.
  • Black Bra and Panties: Female Shepard wears them during and after the romance scenes in Mass Effect 3.
  • Blackmail: If you have the Earthborn origin, an old gang mate of yours will attempt to use your sordid past as leverage for getting a buddy out of jail. You can go along, but you can also just shoot him.
  • Blatant Lies: If you choose to sabotage the Genophage cure and Wrex confronts you about it, the intimidate option lets Shepard do this in what is probably one of the most chilling and heartless bits of dialogue s/he has in the whole series.

Shepard: Why would I betray you, Wrex? I've known you a long time. It's you and me, taking on the galaxy together.

  • Blood Knight: A Renegade Shepard shows these tendencies from time to time, especially in the sequel.
  • Boldly Coming: The alien love interests in Mass Effect 2 express some concern over interspecies relations, ranging from being unsure what to do (Thane) to seriously believing it would never work (Tali and Garrus). Shepard seems to have absolutely no problem with any of this. It's both heartwarming and a little strange.

Garrus: Are we crazy to even be thinking about this? I... Look, Shepard, I know you can find something closer to home.
Shepard: (smiling) I don't want something closer to home. I want you. I want someone I can trust.
Liara: And after all this is over, what about us?
Shepard: Marriage, old age, lots of little blue children.

Liara: You just say these things!


Mercenary: I've got nothing more to say to you.
(Shepard pushes the merc out the skyscraper window)

Shepard: How about goodbye?

Jack: Damn, I should take notes from you!

  • Broken Bird: Female Shepard and hell, even Male Shepard can be played like this.
    • Especially in Mass Effect 3. In Mass Effect 1, this persona comes out a lot more with Colonist and/or Sole Survivor background choices.
    • After seeing the rebuilt Eden Prime in Mass Effect 3, Colonist Shepard's voice literally becomes distant and far away.

Colonist Shepard: They rebuilt Mindoir. It wasn't the same.

  • Broken Pedestal: Is seen as this by quite a few people in Mass Effect 2, particularly Ashley/Kaidan, since s/he's forced to work with Cerberus.
    • Particularly in Ash's example, when you consider that just seconds earlier she had berated an ungrateful colonist that Shepard had rescued and told him that he was "standing in the presence of a GOD", then immediately chews you out for working with Cerberus.

James Vega: You know the Commander?
Ashley/Kaidan: I used to.

    • This is even noted in one of the background news reports as being one of the public's reactions to sightings of Shepard.

Announcer: Emotions at Shepard's alleged survival are mixed. While some are overjoyed to see her/him return, others believe her/his false death was a betrayal.


Shepard: Hell yeah. Put more of the stuff in the... the thing more stuff goes in.

  • Bullying a Dragon: For the Reapers and those who work with them, this is acceptable. But then you have the slave traders who try to take Shepard hostage to sell on the black market, and those mercenaries who think that just because their men have been lining up shots, that means that s/he's done for.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Renegade Shepard is somewhat of an example. An (almost) omnicidal maniac with free reign of a state of the art ship and just about do whatever the hell they want. They mouth off the three single most powerful people in the entire Goddamn universe several times, and gets away with it many, many, many times. Why? Shepard does a good job.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: In Mass Effect 2, Shepard can meet with Fist, who gets real snippy at the fact that you ruined his life. The Renegade option basically has you say "I forgot about you five minutes after I told you to run".
  • Came Back Strong: Due to the Lazarus Project, Shepard now posesses a reinforced skeletal structure, cybernetic implants, immunity to poisons and toxins that would kill a regular human and potentially gained biotic abilities.
  • Came Back Wrong: A possibility in the sequel if the player chooses to alter his or her imported character during the Lazarus Project.
  • Canada, Eh?: Listen to Male Shepard say "about". Unmistakable.
    • Mind you both voice actors for Shepard are Canadian, Jennifer Hale just hides it better.
    • Lampshaded in Mass Effect 3 if FemShep romances Samantha Traynor. When talking about having a dinner date post-War, she balks at Shepard's suggestion it be in Vancouver instead of somewhere romantic like Paris or Tokyo.

Shepard: What's wrong with Vancouver?

  • Canon Name: John for men, Jane for women. You can change that to whatever you want; Shepard stays.
  • The Cape (trope)/The Cowl: Paragon and Renegade Shepard respectively.
  • The Captain: Even if Shepard admits they never officially reached that rank.
    • Although as commander of a ship, Quarian law recognises them as "Captain Shepard vas Normandy".
  • Cartwright Curse: Only if Shepard's love interest in the first game died on Virmire and his/her second love in the next game dies during the suicide mission.
  • The Casanova: Shep can be played this way, but it usually blows up in his/her face.

Shepard: Who said anything about love? I'm just trying to get you into bed.
Miranda: [giggle] You arse.

    • While the subtitles say ass, since Miranda's accent is Australian, she says arse.
    • Ash (if romanced) also comments on this in the first game. She claims that Shepard's flirting is so terrible, it should be used for greeting cards.
  • The Cassandra: When it comes to the Council. Every single thing that Shepard tells them in the first game is proven to be true, and yet they still refuse to believe in the existence of the Reapers. And even if you play as a Renegade and let the old Council die, it's insinuated that their replacements don't believe you either.

Turian Councilor: Ahh yes, "Reapers".

  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Occasionally present in the first game. Taken into overdrive in the second and third.
    • In Lair of the Shadow Broker, Shepard narrowly misses several overturning cars and an exploding truck, all the while sounding as calm as though s/he's drive down a quiet country lane.

Shepard: There we go!
Liara: You're enjoying this?

    • Then several moments later:

Liara: TRUCK!
Shepard: Again?!

  • Catch Phrase: Renegade Shepard really hates being "jerked around", and Shepard in general often opens dialogue with "What can you tell me about [thing]", then finishing with "I should go".
    • Renegade Shepard also doesn't like to be "kept in the dark".
    • Jennifer Hale raises a valid point in one behind-the-scenes clip: "I should go."
    • "We'll talk later" is another one. Garrus actually seems to play with this if you bring him and Tali to a certain staircase on the Citadel:

Garrus: You ever miss those talks we had on the elevators?
Tali: No.
Garrus: Come on, remember how we'd all ask you about life on the flotilla? It was an opportunity to share!
Tali: This conversation is over.
Garrus: Tell me again about your immune system!
Tali: I have a shotgun.
Garrus: Maybe we'll talk later.

  • Celebrity Endorsement: "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel." Repeat for every single store on the Citadel.
    • Lampshaded by Mark Meer, the male Shepard, in a launch event for Mass Effect 3 after saying GameStop was his favorite store on the Citadel: "Although I have to admit, I've given that endorsement to anyone who's asked for it, so I'm not sure what it's worth. I have a lot of favorite things on the Citadel at this point."
  • The Chains of Commanding: Shepard's job is not a very fun one (in-universe at least). This becomes one of the most dominant themes in Mass Effect 3, with Shepard slowly getting ground down by the stress of having an entire galaxy resting on his/her shoulders.
  • Character Development: If you play the first game as mostly X (Paragon or Renegade) nothing stops you from being the opposite in the sequel. In fact, you could conceivably go from all of one in Mass Effect 1, to 50/50 in Mass Effect 2, to the other in Mass Effect 3, or several variations thereof.
    • Even without intentional action, Shepard quite clearly becomes a much more well defined character with a distinct personality over the course of the games. If Shepard is a 'blank slate' in the first game, he/she is certainly far less so by the time of three.
  • Chick Magnet/Hello, Nurse!: People with very diverse backgrounds are attracted to Shepard, disregarding his/her actions... and that's just comparing the official love interests: be you soldier, Cerberus operative, notorious criminal, Badass alien of any kind, or a robot consisting of over 1000 individual programs, chances are you want to bang Shepard.

EDI: We've gotten several breeding requests for Grunt. And one for Shepard.
Grunt: HAH!

  • The Chosen One: Shepard in the third game, where Hackett notes that the sole reason Shepard was chosen to speak as a envoy on behalf of humanity was because, while you can teach a soldier to follow orders and pay people to point a gun, you can't teach a soldier to believe. Shepard has proved numerous times by willing to defy orders because they honestly believe in the mission that much, repeatedly earning the loyalty of people who would gladly follow Shepard into hell simply because they believe in him/her.
    • Several characters lampshade this fact in the third game. Reunite the Krogan and Turians, as well as cure the genophage? Ridiculous. Finding peace between the Geth and the Quarians? Impossible. Shepard can do both simply because that's who they are and what they do.

Garrus: Go out there and give them hell, you were born to do this.

  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: While Shepard can get an early start in Mass Effect 2 by betraying Samara and Tali, the third game offers the Commander the chance to embrace this trope wholeheartedly by continuing to backstab squadmates and betraying entire species.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Paragon Shepard (depending on playstyle) will not allow any problems they come across to remain unresolved.
    • Renegade Shepard too, but that's mainly due to there inevitably being another idiot in the galaxy needing to be insulted/punched/shot in the face after having dealt with the last one.
    • Lampshaded in the sequel by a couple you helped in the first game. While discussing what, if any, gene implants to get their baby (the issue you helped resolve in Mass Effect 1), one of them says, "Maybe we should ask random people off the street what they think."
    • If he survives, Wrex notes this when you visit him while the player goes around solving his team's problems:

Wrex: How many times have you stepped in a mess for your crew, hmm?

    • By the third game, when Paragon Shepard saves various people, the conversation essentially has Shepard tell them not to worry and that they've come to help them. The reply is variations on the fact that they know this, because that's what Shepard does.
    • When Cerberus attacks the STG facility on Sur'kesh, Eve asks why Paragon Shepard continues to try to free her instead of escaping.

Eve: Go Commander! You don't know me!
Shepard: No. But I'd like to!

  • Cipher Scything: DOES NOT appear in anyway in the novels or comics.
    • But WILL appear in the movie and anime.
  • Cloning Blues: An interesting variation. The "Lazarus" project was tasked with taking Shepard's body's biomass and recreating his/her memory as close as possible. Anything in original Shepard's physical brain was gone. The body was reconstructed, but whether a personality template made from scratch based on all data available on Sheperd's personality is the original Shepard's soul is not an answerable question.
  • Cold Sniper/Friendly Sniper: Renegade and Paragon Shepard who chooses to use a sniper rifle, respectively.
  • Colonel Badass: What s/he was before being promoted to The Captain.
  • Commanding Coolness
  • Common Mary Sue Traits: Given the game design, it's almost unavoidable. But it's ever so satisfying.
    • Some of the options/consequences in Mass Effect 3 seem to brutally deconstruct Shep's Sueishness though.
  • Consummate Professional: Shepard can be played as one.
  • Cool Big Sis: A Paragon female Shepard plays this kind of role for Tali.

Shepard: Tali, about what your father said, about what he did, you deserve better.
Tali: I've got better, Shepard. I've got you.

    • A Female Paragon Shepard can become one to Grunt. After earning his loyalty, he doesn't see her as as a squishy female, only as their Battlemaster.
  • Cosmic Plaything: The Colonist/Sole Survivor combo. Shepard's life just sucks.
    • Hell, the entirety of Mass Effect 2 has Shepard acting as the Cosmic Plaything. From dying, to being treated like dirt by his/her closest friends and superiors because s/he was forced to work with an organization that s/he hates. S/he goes through a pretty tough time in Mass Effect 2, yet keeps on going. Obviously enhanced by having one or both of those two background choices.
    • Mass Effect 3 starts with Shepard going to their trial. Then the Reapers invade. Then they fight husks to escape Earth. Then they get sent to Mars. Then fight Cerberus forces through an entire facility. Then watch as the Virmire survivor (and possible ex-lover) gets critically injured by a robot assassin. And this all happens consecutively after one another. Shepard never gets a chance to even sit down. And it only goes downhill from there.

Shepard: *Sigh* What... what do you need me to do?

  • Covert Pervert: Or not-so-covert, depending on how you play.
  • Crazy Awesome: In-universe, Shepard is considered this.
  • Cruel Mercy: Renegade Shepard merely wants you dead. Paragon Shepard prefers to let people suffer in penance.
  • Cultured Warrior: Can be played as this. Shepard can recognize poetry quoted by Ashley, knows a thing or two about Hobbes and can even quote ideas from Beccaria's "Crimes and Punishments" in the right situation.

Shepard: It's not the severity of punishment that deters crime, it's the certainty.

    • Also notes Machiavelli by name, referencing the idea "It's better to be feared than respected."
  • Cyborg: Was kind of necessary to bring him/her Back from the Dead. And it's almost certain that Shepard, as an Alliance soldier (and, if you so choose, a biotic), had some electronic enhancements long before then. And most people in the setting opt to have implants in their hands to let them interface with Holograms, because using gloves would be so cumbersome. In Mass Effect 2, Shepard get's illegal trans-human enhancements, including strengthened bones with medi-gel conduits, hardened skin, increased strength, and most important to the plot: resistance to drugs and toxins.
  • Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: If your Shepard has the Colonist background, s/he was sixteen when batarian slavers attacked and destroyed his/her home of Mindoir, signaling the end of his/her normal life.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Shepard uses this to motivate an injured krogan in the second game:

Shepard: I said a badass, not some scout whining like a quarian with a tummyache!
Tali: I'm standing right here!

    • Shepard can also pull another one of these on Ashley or Kaidan in Mass Effect 3 when they are standing between you and the traitorous Councilor Udina, who is framing you for the Cerberus coup. It gets them to put their guns down and side with you.

Shepard: You've always stood true to what you believed. I admire that most about you. Listen to your gut.


Turian Councillor: How many generations until the rachni overrun us again?
Shepard: Uh... three? No, wait! Four!

    • Sometimes Shepard will be this on his/her own, or no matter what you pick.

Joker: It'll be better than the old days.
Shepard: I hope so. I died.
Joker: Gawd, you're such a downer.

    • ALL of the in-game dialogue between Liara and Shepard in Lair of the Shadow Broker.
    • Ashley is hungover on the floor of the Normandy.

Ashley: "No one likes sarcasm, Commander."
Shepard: "I do!"
Ashley: "I hate you."
Shepard: "I hate you...?"
Ashley: "Sir."
Shepard "As you were, Lieutenant."

    • As well as this hilarious exchange with Dr. Conrad Verner.

Shepard: Conrad, I'm building an ancient Prothean dark energy device to stop the Reapers. Do you think you could help with that?

Conrad: Well, I did write my dissertation on xenotechnology and dark energy integration.

Shepard: *Beat* Really!?

  • The Dead Rise to Advertise: Potentially in the second game, if Shepard gets discounts by recording recommendations for all the stores on the Citadel.
  • Death Seeker: Begins to have subtle vibes of this during the third game, having recurring nightmares of the boy in the vent and fallen friends. While Shepard still continues to fight as they've always done and claims to be fine, the mask of veneer calm is beginning to crack and various characters start to notice how emotionally burnt out they are.
    • On the whole, s/he gives the impression that while s/he's not actively looking for death, s/he would consider it a relief.
    • "Goodbye Thane. You won't be alone long."
  • Defiant to the End: Picks up this attitude more and more with each game.
  • Determinator: All three of Shepard's possible backgrounds (War Hero, Sole Survivor, and Ruthless) have shades of this.
    • And of course Shepard is this in both of the games to a ridiculous extreme, no matter how bad things get.
    • In Mass Effect 3, s/he gets shot by Harbinger. No, not a possessed Collector, Harbinger, the actual Reaper, coming down from space to personally kill Shepard with its main gun. And this doesn't stop Shepard.
    • Lampshaded by Admiral Hackett in the third game, who notes that Shepard had no reason to think that going against Sovereign would even work, but they ignored orders and risked everything to do it anyway. Then against all odds, Shepard went on a suicide mission to destroy the Collectors and managed to make it out alive. Now Shepard is going to unite the galaxy to take on the Reapers, simply because its what Shepard does.
  • Disney Death: Played with in the first game, subverted with the second.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: As of now, Shepard has personally killed three Reapers. Two on foot. Granted, one was half-dead already and the other was pretty much an embryo, but still impressive.
    • There's still one game left, and an entire Reaper fleet for him/her to bring up that count.
    • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In the third game, in every ending; at the very least, all the mass relays are destroyed.
    • Shepard actually did break their arm in the first game when they defeated Sovereign.
      • And again in the third game, leading the charge across No Man's Land in London to the portal leading to the Citadel. Literally and in the sense that his/her entire sizable task force is wiped out in the attempt.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: S/he pissed off the Reapers so much that the entire fleet is after them personally. When controlling a Collector, Harbinger at times orders them to focus entirely on Shepard, but not damage Shepard's body, if possible. Only Bioware knows what horrors he wants to inflict upon the Commander.
    • "Shepard, you have become an annoyance."
      • You can also take the piss out of Sovereign when you first meet him.
  • Diving Save: Action Commands allow Shepard to pull a few of these in the second game, as well as during the regular cutscenes. One of the more notable occurences is during the final assault on the Collector base, where you have to jump to save one of your party from sliding into an abyss. Depending on your party composition, it's possible for Grunt - a krogan easily two or three times Shepard's size - to be the one rescued in this fashion.
    • Cruely subverted if the geth are allowed to wipe out the quarians at the end of the final Rannoch mission. Even if you take the paragon interrupt, Shepard will fail to catch Tali's hand.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Paragon Shepard frequently invokes this when dealing with adversaries, hoping to win them to their side or convince them to not fight, otherwise they will be forced to act.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Depending on dialogue, s/he can take this attitude.
  • Doomed Hometown: Mindoir, if Shepard has the Colonist Background.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: The death scene at the beginning of the second game.
  • The Dreaded: Even though in game-play all Mooks display Suicidal Overconfidence, the Commander is referred to like this on two occasions: First, on the MSV Strontium Mule assignment, Merc datapads contain Oh Crap messages on the fact that you're attacking. Second, on the Arrival Downloadable Content, there is a Optional Boss fight were you Hold the Line against waves of scarily intelligent enemies and a Mini Boss all by yourself. If you can win the fight, you'll hear increasingly desperate cries about how unstoppable you are.
    • And once Shepard wakes up from the sedatives, the scientist there gets terrified and soon security is just as terrified.
    • Ruthless Shepard is actually called "the Butcher of Torfan" by the Batarians.
    • The Reapers seemingly consider Shepard this, with their twitter feed referring to him/her as "Hostile target Shepard". Keep in mind that the rest of that feed has them repeatedly appear unconcerned with any resistance whatsoever, but the fact they don't know the location of Shepard has them nervous.
      • Their choice of the word "hostile" also implies that they consider Shepard to an active danger to themselves and their plans.
    • And this exchange on Rannoch;

Dying Reaper: Shepard?!
Shepard: You know who I am?
Dying Reaper: Harbinger speaks of you.

    • On Mars, when you first encounter the Cerberus Troopers, they freak out. Keep in mind that Cerberus troopers are implanted with Reaper tech and indoctrinated to the point of being incapable of thinking for themselves.

Assault Trooper: HOLY SHIT! IT'S SHEPARD!

  • Drink Order: Shepard apparently can and will drink anything placed in front of him/her, even if s/he has no idea what it is, including beverages intended for batarians and radioactive krogan specialties, and have nothing worse than a headache after a few minutes of drunken stupor. Not to say s/he can't enjoy a more sophisticated drink with Chakwas. Still gets blazing drunk though.
    • There's one bartender on Omega who serves Shepard a poisoned drink, intending to kill him/her. All that happens is that Shepard immediately passes out then wakes up in a nearby alley a little while later with no lasting effects, probably thanks to the Lazarus upgrades that also mean s/he needs a higher dose of drugs to keep him/her knocked out. S/he then has the opportunity to humiliate and possibly kill said bartender.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Liara seems to think so during the car chase in Lair of the Shadow Broker, complaining every time you almost-crash. It would also explain all those shenanigans with the Mako in the first game.

Liara: Truck!
Shepard: I know.
Liara: Truck!
Shepard: I know!
Liara: Aah!

  • Dual-Wielding/Guns Akimbo: Depending on how you interpret omnitools. If you look closely, it turns out that Shepard is actually using two omnitools. The one on his/her left hand lights up when administering medigel, doing utility tasks, or using an offensive tech attack. When activating a defensive ability like Fortification or Geth Shield Boost, however, an omnitool on his/her right hand will activate.
    • If a Sentinel, Shepard's melee attack in Mass Effect 3 comprises of dual-wielding a pair of Omni-Blades.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Both used and subverted. Most people are aware of how impressive Shepard is, but that doesn't stop them from asking the Commander to do whatever legal or illegal errands they need run. Nor does it make the Council any more likely to listen to their claims.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: What happens when Shepard chooses the paragon choice during Zaeed's loyalty mission.
    • Also comes up during many of the N7 missions, especially the Endangered Research Station, Imminent Ship Crash, and Quarian Crash Site assignments.
    • Some of the side quests in the third game can come off as... questionable in importance when Earth is burning, and a good chunk of them come from conversations that Shepard overhears; s/he's not even asked to go. Overhear a conversation in a club and then decide to head over to a remote part of the galaxy and barely evade a Reaper assault in order to find a decrepit banner that will boost some turians' morale? Sure, why not!
  • Enemy Mine: Especially for a Paragon Shepard, working with the Illusive Man and Cerberus is definitely an example and s/he makes it clear that s/he's only working with them because no one else is willing to help him/her.
    • A Paragon Shepard makes its perfectly clear that the only reason they are going to work with Balak, the Batarian terrorist from Bringing Down The Sky, is because Shepard needs the Batarian fleet to aid in the War, something as the de-facto leader of the remnants of the Batarian Hegemony, Balak can provide. Afterwards, Shepard even admits to wanting nothing more than to put a bullet between all four of his eyes, but they don't get to have what they want... today.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Female Shepard. Even Tali gets stuttery and embarrassed around her. Played straight with Yeoman Kelly Chambers in the second and Traynor in the third. [invoked]
    • Even the Guys Want Him: Mordin states that if he was actually interested in Romance, Shepard would be his first choice. This includes the Male Shepard. Also, after killing the Tresher Maw in Grunt's loyalty mission, Shepard gets breeding requests from Krogan of both genders. Played straight with Kaidan and Cortez in the third.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Both the Colonist and Sole Survivor backgrounds.
  • Everyone Can See It: Depending on Shepard's gender, there will be repeated commentary on his/her rapport with either Tali or Garrus.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Can be used in the second game to shut up an incredibly annoying krogan.
    • Shepard can intentionally miss the shot in Mass Effect 3 while shooting bottles with Garrus, who triumphantly declares themself the better shot and the bigger badass.
  • The Extremist Was Right: After the events of Arrival, where Shepard was forced to kill 300,000 people, s/he was branded as a terrorist and murderer, discharged and awaiting trial from the Alliance and condemned by the Council for his/her actions. Only when the Reapers finally show up, do people realize exactly what s/he was trying to stop and warn them about.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Shepard gets a few opportunities to do this in the second game. Can be really creepy if you have heavy Renegade scarring.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In Mass Effect 3, in a conversation with Liara, Shepard briefly wonders if the Asari have schools for biotics like Grissom Academy. Liara then points out that the Asari are all biotics, so every school has to have biotic education.
    • Also when asking Liara in Lair of the Shadow Broker what kind of weapons a taxi has.
  • Fainting Seer: After getting sucked into the Prothean beacon and having information uploaded into his/her mind, Shepard passes out for a good few hours and has a splitting headache upon awakening. Any subsequent visitation of the vision is hard on him/her, and s/he mentions having disturbing dreams continuously. Subverted when Shepard comes across a second beacon; s/he's able to handle it better that time.
    • In the second game, Shepard also can encounter a Prothean Pyramid that gives them a longer version of the Eden Prime vision, showing that the screaming creatures shown being turned into machines were the Protheans being converted into the Collectors. This, however, causes Shepard simply a moments discomfort.
    • By the third game, when Shepard comes across a third beacon on Thessia, s/he simply tunes out for a moment, before returning to normal.
    • In the From Ashes DLC, Shepard comes across Prothean recordings, causing them to zone out for a few moments while they experience a vision of the last moments of the Protheans who once lived on Eden Prime.
  • Fallen Hero: How s/he's viewed by many in the galaxy during Mass Effect 2 due to his/her relationship with Cerberus and will almost definitely be viewed as this in Mass Effect 3 due to the events of Arrival.
  • Famed in Story: Oh God yes. No matter how you play Shepard, news of his/her exploits spreads quickly. Perhaps subverted though because hardly anyone knows the truth about his/her greatest exploits.
  • Fantastic Racism: From Paragon Shepard of all people, after an insane Hanar tries to deliver their homeworld to the Reapers.

Shepard: You... big... stupid... jellyfish!


Tali: It's fun watching you shout.

    • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard also gives Admiral Xen a massive verbal slap when she wants to take Legion apart to study him for Geth weaknesses.

Shepard: I don't think you want to continue this line of thought, Admiral. Legion is my friend, not to mention he's our best source of information about the Geth.
Xen: But the scientific benefits-
Shepard: Are off the table.

    • Same with Admiral Gerrel just a few minutes before, when he tried to blow up the enemy ship while Shepard and his/her squad were onboard.

Gerrel: Shepard, the perimeters of the mission changed. You're military, you understand.
Shepard: I understand that you wasted your chance to withdraw safely.
Gerrel: The dreadnought was a perfect targe-

  • Shepard punches Gerrel*

Shepard: *with intense hatred* Admiral, you jeopardized your mission and your people. Get the hell off my ship!

  • Faustian Rebellion: If you decide to give TIM the finger in the second game, although it's unimportant to the third game, as TIM is gunning for you no matter what.
  • Fetish: Shepard seems to be this, considering how Tali downloads a file on human courtship and repeatedly upgrades a "nerve stim program". She does this for both genders.
  • The Fettered/Unfettered: Paragon/Renegade Shepard.
  • Fiery Redhead: Female Shepard, due to popular vote, is thus depicted this way on Mass Effect 3 promotional art.
  • Filk Song: By Miracle of Sound. Link to be found beneath the portrait.
  • First Law of Resurrection: Employed by Cerberus in the Lazarus project.
  • Fluffy Tamer: In Mass Effect 2, Shepard can pet and feed Urz on Tuchanka, causing the Varren to follow you around like a puppy.
    • If Shepard interacts with Mouses's Shepard VI in Mass Effect 3, it claims you they like a Varren person.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Only Shepard can use the Vanguard's biotic Charge, from Mass Effect 2. The impact will knock the foe off their feet, making them an easy target for your shotgun. Unfortunately, if the enemy has armor or shields, they'll only stumble backwards instead of being thrown head over heels. The charge also lets you phase through objects, allowing you to get up next to enemies in cover, blast them down, then find cover yourself before their buddies retaliate.
    • How the Charge attacks work may induce a moment of Fridge Logic, especially the 'passing through obstacles' bit, but becomes Fridge Brilliance if you recall the Conduit. The Conduit's destination terminus is certainly with an enclosed space, the Presidium, but the mass relay still successfully delivers the Prothean survivors, and later Saren and then the Mako, through successfully. So basically, Shepard is using his/her biotics to turn him/herself into a self-projecting, sub-lightspeed mass relay.
  • Futile Hand Reach: In the third game, during his/her recurring nightmare about the little boy, s/he watched the Reapers kill.
  • Genius Bruiser: Its heavily implied that Shepard is extremely intelligent due to his/her genre savviness, political tact (as much as s/he hates it), and ability to come up with creative solutions to many seemingly unsolvable problems.
    • In Mass Effect 2, Shepard seemingly has no problem with figuring out the consoles of a 37 million-year-old dead Reaper, those of the Geth heretic station and how to rig the Collector base to explode, among other examples. While this is likely due to the technology all being based along lines the Reapers intended, meaning they aren't too dissimilar, it still shows Shepard is capable of encountering an entirely new alien operating systems, with different console configurations and yet can master them in a matter of seconds.
  • Genre Savvy: "Make sure he's dead."
    • At the end of the first Overlord mission, Shepard is surprised the satellite dish s\he's standing on is going to fall into a canyon, after blowing up the control panels. S\he gets better, just knowing messing with a geth ship is bad news, knows in advance an elevator on Atlas Station will be full of mooks, and before going down to David tells his\her squad not to be surprised even if a Reaper appears.
  • Glowing Eyes: The third game depicts Shepard eyes turning a vivid green whenever in proximity to Prothean technology.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Thanks to his/her cybernetics, Renegade Shepard gets glowing red eyes in the second and third games.
  • Gone Horribly Right: For the Illusive Man. Bringing back Shepard to be exactly like s/he was before... Then he rages when Paragon Shepard doesn't help him get things like Collector/Reaper technology.
    • Even more so if Miranda is in the party at the final battle and is loyal, which causes her to tell the Illusive Man to shove it, resign and hang up on him when he begins to tirade. Keep in mind, before she met Shepard, Miranda was one of his most loyal agents.
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: During Thane's loyalty mission, though the game not-so-subtly edges you towards being the "bad cop".
  • Good Counterpart: This to no less than three characters: Saren Arterius, Tela Vasir, and Kai Leng.
    • Also noticable with Javik who is the Prothean version of a Shepard who failed to stop the Reapers.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: It's truly astonishing how many villains think that they can take on the soldier who's killed mecha-gods and wiped out entire armies just because s/he's trying to be reasonable.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Paragon interrupts in Mass Effect 2 are frequently just as Badass as Renegade ones, and several involve punching someone in the face. That said, Paragon Shepard generally is uncommonly compassionate, patient and caring (especially when it comes to her/his crew), but don't think for a moment that s/he won't come down on you like a ton of bricks if you cross the Moral Event Horizon or Jump Off the Slippery Slope. "Nice" doesn't mean "soft", after all.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Paragon Shepard is one of the most notable examples of this trope imaginable. S/he is unquestionably selfless and compassionate, but if pushed, will not hesitate to gun down anyone stupid enough to get in his/her way.
    • The ending to the download mission Overlord defines this. Even a pure renegade Shepard is sickened by what is done to David. The paragon option is to take David away; with a bonus interrupt to Pistol Whip his brother, and threaten him at gunpoint. As that's the Paragon option. Good Is Not Soft indeed.
  • Good Morning, Crono: The beginning of the second game. Only instead of waking up to go to work, Shepard wakes up from being, you know, dead.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Shepard's way of dealing with the Shadow Broker.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: In the sequel, s/he gains some glowing scars after dying and being resurrected by Cerberus. If you play a Paragon, they slowly disappear almost completely. If you play a Renegade...
    • The first game's character creation screen features a variety of scars suitable for every alignment.
  • Go Through Me: Invoked in Arrival that when the Reapers come, Shepard will be there.

Shepard: Maybe you're right, maybe we can't win this. But we'll fight you regardless. Just like we did with Soveriegn. Just like I am doing now.

  • Guile Hero: Paragon Shepard will always be some combination of Action Hero and this, but it becomes more prevalent the more the Paragon meter fills up.
    • A good example occurs in Garrus' recruitment mission in the second game.

Garrus: Heavy Mech on the bridge!

  • The mech turns around and starts blasting mercs instead*

Shepard: Good thing I reprogrammed it then!

  • Hangover Sensitivity: In the first game, Shepard described the aftereffects of being exposed to a Prothean beacon as being like "the morning after shore leave", though s/he never actually drinks anything. S/he more than makes up for this in the second game, but doesn't really seem to get hangovers. Just drunk.
  • Hannibal Lecture: In the final level of the first Mass Effect, Shepard can counter Saren's with his/her own, and eventually can convince Saren that he's indoctrinated, causing him to commit suicide.
    • You can do this again in Mass Effect 3 with the Illusive Man who is likewise indoctrinated.
  • The Heart: Paragon Shepard.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Averted. Everyone refers to him/her purely as Shepard, even love interests; the player-chosen first name is purely cosmetic.
  • The Hero Dies: It looks that way at first glance, but Word of God has promised "This is not the last you’ll hear of Commander Shepard."
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Of course you can customize Shepard's hair color and style, but going by the default flaming red hair for Fem!Shepard this trope applies for her love interests.
  • Heroic BSOD: Not quite, but in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, Liara and Shepard can have a touching moment in his/her cabin. During the conversation, Shepard can express anger and sorrow about the people that have died alongside them, wondering "How many more before it's enough?".

Shepard: [takes a steadying breath] Yes, sir? What do you need me to do?

  • Heroic Fatigue: Gets hit hard with this in Mass Effect 3, especially after The Fall of Thessia.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: No matter if Shepard's Paragon or Renegade, s/he sacrifices his/her life to get Joker to safety. In the bad ending, s/he does it again, for the same reason. Most of the endings to the third game also count.
  • Heroic Willpower: Particularly if playing with the Sole Survivor or War Hero background.
    • Lampshaded in the third game. After Thessia, Joker comments that EDI noticed Shepard's armour apparently reads them as under more stress than they suffered during the Blitz/the siege of Torfan/the thresher maw attack. It's heavily implied this isn't during battle either, but by this point, is Shepard's current resting state.
    • Battered, bruised, and likely dying from blood loss, Shepard's simple response near the end of the third game when Admiral Hackett calls them.

Shepard: [takes a steadying breath] Yes, sir? What do you need me to do?

  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Cerberus's funding of Shepard is the reason nobody in power trusts him/her in the second game, no matter what else s/he does in the course of defeating the Collectors.
    • Completely dissipated by the time Mass Effect 3 turns around. It was portrated before launch that Shepard would be Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee, but instead, he/she is dragged before a panel of panicking Alliance Navy admirals who are desperately asking him/her what to do when ominous signs point to Shepard being right all along about the Reapers.
    • Of course, its heavily implied both Anderson and Hackett used every trick in the book to delay the proceedings long enough, by which time, the writing was very much on the wall that the Reapers were both real and they were coming.
  • S/He Who Fights Monsters: By Mass Effect 3, Renegade Shepard becomes so ruthlessly driven to defeat the Reapers, that even s/he seems shocked by the measures s/he takes.
  • Holding Hands: Thane and FemShep will do this naturally while pursuing their romance; a male Shepard will do this with Tali to try to convince her of his feelings.
  • Honey Trap: How s/he maneuvers Morinth into being ambushed by Samara.
  • Hope Bringer: Paragon Shepard seems to instill the will to fight in everyone they meet. Even Renegade Shepard can pull people up.
    • Shepard is specifically referred to as the last ray of hope in the galaxy in Mass Effect 3, and with good reason.
    • Paragon Shepard is apparently considered one by the Geth. Legion notes in the third game that most organics would not hold onto the hope of peace for so long and that they admire Shepard's inherent "faith" that the Geth are sentient beings worthy of the same respect as any organic. Shepard literally is the only organic to never give up on them.
  • Hot-Blooded: Both Renegade AND Paragon Shepard, particularly when you mess with his/her crew. Best shown in Tali's loyalty mission if you take either of the Charm or Intimidate option where s/he will verbally tear apart the Admiralty Board for even considering doing what they're trying to do to Tali, who lampshades it after thanking Shepard.

Tali: It's fun watching you shout.

  • Hot Amazon: Female Shepard's love interests each appreciate her badassitude.
  • Hot for Student: One interpretation of the relationship between Garrus and Shepard is that of student (Garrus) and teacher (Shepard). This makes a female Shepard and Garrus getting into a relationship this trope.
  • Hurting Hero: Definitely there with a Colonist background and mixed with a War Hero or Sole Survivor background. Also depends on dialogue choices.
    • Can also be shown at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC as shown in the Knight in Sour Armor entry below.
    • Very much so in Mass Effect 3. To the point where Admiral Anderson - stuck on Earth in the middle of a Reaper invasion - asks Joker to take care of Shepard.
  • Hypocrite: Tela Vasir says that Paragon Shepard is one when s/he judges her for working with the Shadow Broker when s/he's essentially working with the terrorist organization Cerberus.
    • The turian Councellor will criticize Shepard no matter what decisions s/he makes; playing multiple games will show you that he will accuse Shepard of possibly dooming the galaxy via the Rachni Queen if sh/e lets her live and accuse him/her of genocide if s/he kills it.
    • Paragon Shepard often berates criminals, smugglers, looters, mercenaries or vigilantes for breaking the law, seemingly forgetting that most of their squad are comprised of these individuals and Shepard herself/himself frequently falls into one or more of these categories.
  • I Am Your Opponent: Highlighted in Mass Effect 3, where on more than one occasion Shepard literally charges at a Reaper, on foot, while the Reaper is intentionally aiming at them. Then Shepard kills them.
  • I Can't Dance: Shepard can kill, negotiate, bribe or charm her/his way out any situation, and has long since been proven the ultimate problem-solving machine in the galaxy. Despite his/her long list of impressive skills and athletic ability, in no situation seen thus far can s/he avoid looking like a complete jackass when attempting to "dance".
    • This is lampshaded by Jack in the Purgatory club in Mass Effect 3 should she survive to Act 2. Shepard pries her away from doing work on her supposed shore leave to go dance, and she calls Shepard out for his/her lack of dancing skills.
      • Garrus will also mention it while challenging Shepard to a shooting competition.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Whether Paragon or Renegade s/he will defend many of his/her actions in this way. One of the biggest ones came at the end of the Arrival DLC where s/he destroyed an entire solar system and killed over 300,000 people.
    • EDI invokes this as the reason she doesn't blame Shepard for destroying the "Hannibal" Luna AI in the first game, when its revealed that EDI herself (or an early incarnation) was once that system. She states that she understands Shepard had no other choice and she kept it to herself so as not to upset them.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard can admit that they do feel guilt over destroying the Alpha Relay in Arrival, telling a dying Batarian who lost his entire family;

Shepard: You think I didn't feel guilty? I destroyed an entire colony! I've thought about the people who've died. About how I couldn't warn them in time. In the end, I didn't have a choice. But I'm sorry... if that means anything.

  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: If a female Shepard starts to romance Garrus, this is what she'll say if she breaks it off.
  • Immortal Hero: Both played straight and subverted. The Illusive Man brings him/her back from the dead because he knows Shepard is indispensable to the defense of the galaxy, but that doesn't stop Shepard from dying if you were careless at the end of the second game.
  • Implacable (Wo)Man: Especially so in the second game. No matter what Shepard's enemies do, up to and including outright killing him/her, Shepard will not stop coming for them. Some of the missions in Mass Effect 2 really highlight this.
    • Near the end of Mass Effect 3, Shepard gets blasted by a full-sized Reaper. And keeps going. Commander Shepard will. Not. Be. Stopped.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Renegade Shepard seems to take perverse pleasure in finding flimsy excuses for his/her rampages.
    • "Hey! Everyone! This store discriminates against the poor!"
    • Renegade Shepard is even repeatedly called out on it, particularly in the first game. There are no less than three examples on Noveria - Parasini, Lorik Qu'in and Opold will all invoke some variation of the trope if you screw them over.

Lorik Qu'in: What insane breed of logic is that?'

  • Ironic Echo: Potentially one in a conversation with EDI in Mass Effect 3.

Shepard: Are you saying submission is preferable to extinction?

  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Renegade Shepard is fond of these. Paragon Shepard might not actually use these, but s/he isn't shy about threatening someone with one.
  • Jerkass: If played as a Renegade.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Renegade Shepard can also be this—so long as one avoids certain actions and conversation options.
      • Paragon Shepard can also fit this, with the right choices.
    • Jerkass Has a Point: In-Universe example, as well as out-of-universe. This is pretty much the entire point of at least half of the 'intimidate'/lower-left red dialogue options.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Has this authority as a Spectre.
  • Karma Houdini: A Renegade Shepard never faces any consequences for his/her actions. Everyone else around him/her though...
    • Averted due to the events of the Arrival DLC. Shepard (Paragon and Renegade) will be going to trial for wiping out an entire solar system and killing 300,000+ people in the process.
      • Also averted in Mass Effect 3, as numerous Renegade decisions you've made over the games, including killing Wrex, killing the rachni queen, refusing to save the colonists at Zhu's Hope, killing Shiala, destroying the initial genophage cure data on Mordin's loyalty quest, refusing to save the Council, etc, can come back to bite you in the ass.
  • Kavorka Man/Woman: Via face customization during character creation, you can make Commander Shepard look like s/he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, and everyone still wants to get in their pants. Guess the badassness/heroicness shines through no matter how Shep looks.
    • And don't forget that on top of all of this, Shepard also has some pretty ugly scarring for much of the game (which gets worse if too many Renegade choices are made), although there is a Normandy upgrade that will make scars disappear permanently.
  • Keep the Reward: This is the 'nice' option for many sidequests, but a full Paragon Shepard actually subverts this and gets even larger rewards through selflessness.
  • Kill It with Fire: Depending on his/her class, Shepard can use incendiary ammo rounds, and/or the Incinerate power. Zaeed's loyalty mission gives you a flamethrower.
  • The Kirk: Paragon and Renegade actions tend to slide in The McCoy and The Spock territory as well.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Enough to make their stance on looters more than a bit hypocritical.
  • Knight Errant: Paragon Shepard, who travels the Galaxy, righting wrongs and asking for no reward.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Paragon Shepard is an incorruptible idealist who always behaves chivalrously towards the people s/he loves and will always save the day. Shepard particularly becomes a shining example of this trope with the Spacer + War Hero background.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Yes, the play styles are infinite, but if you have the Colonist origin, the asari Consort pretty much describes you this way. Basically if Paragon Shepard isn't a Wide-Eyed Idealist or The Pollyanna, s/he's likely a Knight in Sour Armor.

"I see the sadness behind your eyes, it tells a story that makes me want to weep. Pain and loss. But it drives you, makes you strong. It is that strength that people are drawn to. It is why you lead and others follow without question. You will need that leadership in the battles to come."

    • At the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, Liara will ask Shepard how s/he's doing. If you choose the right dialogue option, Shepard will vent to Liara about how tired s/he is of dealing with Cerberus and the Council treating him/her like s/he's nuts. But in the end, s/he keeps going because it's the right thing to do. It really drives home how much crap Shepard is going through. See Patrick Stewart Speech below for part of the exchange.
    • BIG TIME in Mass Effect 3. Throughout the entire game, Shepard feels that nothing s/he does is really going to make a difference. S/he just keeps on going anyway.
  • Knuckle-Cracking: Shepard's way of preparing for a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique. Once, s/he only has to do this to make a volus give up a keycard.
  • The Ladette: Fem!Shep doesn't seem all that feminine: career marine, rarely wears dresses, sits like a man, speaks with a deep voice, and downs shots just as readily as Dude!Shep (even ryncol). You can even do a Renegade interrupt in one mission when a merc "mistakes" you for a stripper. (If you don't make the interrupt, the Merc is still impressed. "Wow, not even a smile. That hardass, huh?")
  • Lampshade Hanging: On this typical RPG mechanic.
    • "Just once I'd like to ask someone for help and hear them say 'Sure. Let's go. Right now. No strings attached.'"
    • Only to be shocked when Seryna offers to help him find Thane with no strings attached.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone, from superior officers to lovers to random people you just met on the street will call you Shepard.
    • Lampshaded by Dr Chakwas in Mass Effect 3.

Chakwas: You know, I just realised you never have called me by my first name.
Shepard: Well neither have you?
Chakwas: And I never will!

  • Last Of Their Kind: Depending on background, Spacer is the only one to have a surviving family throught the series, with Earthborn and Colonist Shepard being orphans who are the last of their family.
    • Played with in Mass Effect 3. Spacer Shepard initially hears no word from their mother, leading them to believe that she perished in the intial attack on Earth. Turns out that Captain Hannah Shepard not only is still alive, but has been promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and is working directly under Admiral Hackett in leading the Fleet.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Soldier Class has the fastest storm speed of all the classes.
    • Storm speed schmorm speed. Vanguard thinks Soldier is quaint for having to run to shotgun his/her foe in the face.
    • All classes move much faster in Mass Effect 3. Expect Soldiers and Vanguards to take it Up to Eleven.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Shepard's interaction with Liara has this vibe in Lair of the Shadow Broker, even if she wasn't romanced.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: A feminine-looking female Shepard romancing Liara or Kelly comes off as this.
    • Can be noticeably averted with a butch Fem Shep.
  • Little Black Dress: Kasumi gets Shepard a nice black leather outfit, that squeaks. A few shots make it seem she doesn't have anything underneath. It's like a black hole down there.
    • FemShep also gets one as a casual outfit in Mass Effect 3.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: With crews like these, Shepard playing this role was inevitable. Whether this is better or worse for the crew members depends on your playstyle.
  • Living Legend: S/he's sort of this at the beginning of the first game. S/he's definitely this in Mass Effect 2.
  • Made of Iron: Due to Cerberus upgrades during the ressurection process, Shepard's skeletal structure has been reinforced to the point where they can literally headbutt a Krogan.
    • Upped in Mass Effect 3, where s/he survives being blasted by Harbinger's main gun. The kind that cuts capital ships in half.
  • Magic Skirt: The DLC add-on involving Kasumi (which is also the Play Station 3 version released in 2011) adds a Little Black Dress to the female Shepard's Normandy wardrobe. The trope (particularly the "gaping black void under the skirt" aspect) is taken to hilarious extremes if you engage any crewmembers in conversation that require Shepard to sit down in a chair.
  • Magnetic Hero: And how. So much so that if you destroy the Collector base instead of turning it over to Cerberus, Miranda - who was hand-picked by the Illusive Man and is pretty much his top lieutenant - tells you that she thinks you did the right thing. In fact, if a Paragon takes her along for the final battle, TIM tells her to stop Shepard from destroying the base. She tells him where to shove it.
    • There is an even more impressive example with Morinth. By sheer charisma, Shepard can earn the loyalty of a selfish monster only focused on her pleasure, and make her accept to work in a team, and even to sacrifice herself for the team... during the "seeker swarms" part of the suicide mission, for instance. Yep, Shepard is that fascinating.
    • Legion. No-one questions the presence of a Geth walking around simply because it's with Shepard.
      • And in Mass Effect 3, Admiral Hackett will actually admit that this is the reason he has Shepard in charge of assembling forces to fight the Reapers.

Hackett: Shepard, let me tell you something that I've learned the hard way. You can pay a soldier to fire a gun. You can pay him to charge the enemy and take a hill. But you can't pay him to believe.
Shepard: ...I don't follow, sir.
Hackett: When you went up against Sovereign, there was no good reason to believe you'd win. But your crew didn't seem to care -- they went along anyway. Your trip through the Omega 4 relay? That was a suicide mission if there ever was one. Yet there your crew was, standing beside you, proud to serve. With all you're facing out there, one thing impresses me most: you inspire confidence. I know everything hasn't gone as well as you'd hoped. Every war has its disagreements, so to speak. But... Your crew has done things no one else would even try -- simply because you asked them to. Why? Because they believed in you. Their leader. That's what I need now.

  • Married to the Job: When they discuss settling down in Mass Effect 3, Jacob admits he feels the Normandy is Shepard's real love and can't picture him/her giving it up. Interestingly, he treats a Shepard who romanced him differently: he tells her that happiness is out there for her when she wants it.
  • Martial Pacifist: Paragon Shepard often emphasises (particularly juxtaposed to Garrus' Cowboy Cop tendencies) that just because you can use force to solve a problem, doesn't mean should use force.
  • Meaningful Name: Shepard/Shepherd. The Commander has the ability to gather people to his/her cause and guide to become better people... if you want to.
    • Not to mention a Paragon Shepard fufills this role entirely, protecting both the innocent and their flock from encroaching wolves... or Reapers.
    • Also, Shepard. Nerd Yay!
    • A post-credits scene has a kid ask for another story about "The Shepard".
    • Inverted in Mass Effect 3. If Shepard cures the Genophage, Wrex declares their name will come to mean "Hero" in the Krogan language.
  • Megaton Punch: Adept and Vanguard Shepards apparently prefer biotic palm strikes/punches to this newfangled omni-blade thing.
  • The Messiah/Dark Messiah: Paragon and Renegade moldings respectively.
  • Messiah Creep: The death and return of Shepard in the sequel doesn't refer to anything. Really.
  • Messianic Archetype: Character traits and story fulfillment.
  • Mildly Military: While the Aliance and even Cerberus-trained crews are fairly spit-and-polish, the majority of Commander Shepard's squad is anything but traditional.
    • Although its mentioned a few times that the level of military discipline enforced onboard lies solely at the discretion of the Captain of the vessel. Paragon Shepard is repeatedly shown in both games to be perfectly fine with waving rank aside and letting the crew speak freely as friends and equals, even stating at one point that they always keep an open door policy.
    • It's worth noting that the only people in authority that Shepard is shown to have any respect for, always refers to as "Sir" and actively remembers to stand to attention while speaking to, are Admirals Hackett and Anderson.
  • Military Maverick: So very, very much. Even if you don't play a Renegade, you still end up conspiring to defy the Council and get your ship back to fight Saren, and that's just one occurrence. And in the second game, you can have a second authority group you can defy. Fairly, you can get called on this.
  • Moment of Weakness: A potential (depending on dialogue) and very brief one at the end of Lair of the Shadow Broker. Shepard, no matter how bad things have gotten, has always nearly always kept his/her suffering secret from the crew. Liara, showing the strength of the relationship between her and Shepard (romance or otherwise), can convince Shepard to lower his/her defenses where Shepard will, for the first time, express real worry about the task ahead or vent as to how s/he has to make the tough decisions and be shunned for them.
    • Several in Mass Effect 3. All of Shepard's friends worry about him/her. Shepard goes from giving everyone pep talks, to being the one receiving pep talks.
  • Morality Chain: Paragon Shepard plays this role for Garrus, keeping from becoming the kind of people he fights against. Especially notable if FemShep romances Garrus.
    • Paragon Shepard also is one for Liara, the Paragon interrupts in Lair of the Shadow Broker pointing out the sheer collateral damage of her actions and attempting to pull her back from her descent into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory.
    • Paragon Shepard also becomes one for Miranda and Jack (or at least as Jack starts getting better).
  • Mr. Fanservice: Male Shepard's face was based on a model.
  • Multiple Choice Past: You choose an origin and a highlight in Shepard's service record at the beginning of your game. The different decisions you can make as you play expand on this.
    • Military Brat: The basis for the Spacer origin. Both parents were Alliance Navy, and is the only origin story where at least one parent is still alive.
    • Doomed Hometown: The basis for Colonist origin. At the age of Sixteen, Batarian slave raiders paid Shepard's home colony of Mindoir a visit. S/he was the only survivor of his/her family.
    • Street Urchin: Basis for the Earthborn origin. Born an orphan, street urchin, later gang member. Enrolled in the Alliance Navy to get away from that life.
    • Busman's Holiday: The War Hero service record. Try and get some R&R, and wouldn't you know it, you wind up killing space pirates...
    • Sole Survivor: Explicit name for the second service record. Deployed to a planet called Akuze, and your entire unit, except apparently you, is slaughtered by a Thresher Maw. There is one other survivor, whom you can encounter on a sidequest, but he's unhinged from spending years as a lab experiment for Cerberus.
    • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Ruthless service record. In the Alliance's retaliation for the attack that the War Hero background helped defend against, Shepard sends more than a few good men to die to make sure no slavers get out alive, earning Shepard notoriety as The Butcher of Torfan.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Female Shepard, in particular, is a stick figure. Instead of Krogan crushing her, however, she crushes them. She does have robotic implants in the second game which could explain it for that entry in the series.
    • Not only that she's able to hold her own against the Shadow Broker who is ENORMOUS!
    • Hold her own? If he didn't have that impenetrable shield Shep would totally wipe the floor with him.
    • Actually justified in Mass Effect 2: not only does she have robotic implants, if you get all the upgrades, she also has a heavy bone weave[1] and heavy skin weaves.[2] On top of those, she can also have a heavy muscle weave.[3] So her bones won't shatter, her skin is hard to pierce, and her muscles have been modified with micro-fibers to increase strength and make damage from overexertion extremely unlikely. Even with that shield, the Shadow Broker was lucky to last as long as he did.
    • A good example of this in play? If playing Female Shepard as a Vanguard, she can use the Claymore Shotgun, while as an Infiltrator, she can use the Widow Sniper Rifle, while Soldiers can use both. The Claymore and the Widow were originally designed by the Krogan and the Geth respectively, with both weapons capable of generating enough recoil that if a normal human being were to fire one round, they would immediately shatter every single bone in their arm.
  • My Greatest Failure: The Fall of Earth is this to Shepard, until the Fall of Thessia, where not only did Shepard watch as an entire world was sacked by the Reapers, but s/he also failed to get the intel needed to complete the Crucible and end the war for good.
    • Shepard's failure to save the boy in the vents comes back to haunt them in recurring nightmares, which are joined by everyone Shepard has failed to save during the series.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Mass Effect: Genesis has Shepard recalling the events of the first game as s/he's dying after the destruction of the Normandy SR-1.
    • Also happens at the end of Mass Effect 3.
  • Names to Run Away From Very Fast: Shepard with the Ruthless personality is known by the Batarians as "The Butcher of Torfan".
    • 'Commander Shepard' itself[4] becomes this to her/his enemies in the second game and the third; on the very first mission in Mass Effect 3, a Mook yells, "They've got Shepard!".
  • Names to Trust Immediately: Shepard. Played straight with a Paragon Shepard, who will never stab a good person in the back; if s/he turns on someone, it's usually up front and because they brought it on themselves. Subverted with Renegade Shepard, who is quite willing to stab anyone in the back.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Shepard can get quite tired of being greeted with "But you're dead!" everywhere s/he goes in the second game.

"I've been getting that everywhere. It's a pain in the ass."

  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Bonus powers in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 can include biotic abilities, something Engineers, Infiltrators and Soldiers originally lacked.
    • Possibly justified as perhaps being an unintentional side effect of the Lazarus Project causing Shepard to manifest as a latent biotic. This would concievably fit within the lore as Biotic!Shepard according to Word of God did not manifest until they were around 17, hence why they never entered the BAaT program (it had already shutdown) and why Shepard was outfitted with the L3 next generation implants unlike Kaidan who was given the L2.
  • Nice Guy: Paragon Shepard. Of course, it goes without saying that you should Beware the Nice Ones.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or more specifically Psychic Cyborg Zombie Space Marine.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: A Renegade Shepard can make many racist assumptions about other species, and is quick to make remarks regarding his/her desire to avoid cooperation with them.
  • Noble Demon: A possible playthrough of Renegade Shepard: a ruthless Anti-Hero who will do anything to complete his/her mission, and actively embraces the image of a One-Man Army bestowed upon him/her... but at the same time can help any person who may need it, and would gladly place him/herself in harm's way for or speak on the behalf of any member of his/her crew.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Shepard in the second game and the third, likely cause they've already done that.
  • Not So Different: Renegade Shepard can be just as ruthless, racist and violent as Saren, and the similarity is made explicit during several conversations.
    • One notable example occurs in Zaeed's loyalty mission in the second game where Zaeed causes a fire at an oil refinery and Shepard decides to simply let the innocent workers inside burn to the death. This is exactly what Saren once did and framed Anderson for, ironically, also taking place at an oil refinery.
    • Shepard, Paragon or Renegade, to Tela Vasir.
      • Or so she claims. Depending on the choices made during the game, as well as whether Lair of the Shadow Broker is completed after going through the Omega 4 Relay, if the Collector Base was destroyed, Shepard may be quite different after all.
    • Legion lampshades this, musing on the fact that Paragon Shepard's decision to destroy the Collector Base and not use the technology it provided, even to protect themselves, was exactly the reason why the Geth refused Sovereign's offer.

Legion: You are more like us than we thought.

    • There is an undercurrent that Paragon Shepard took on Wrex's mantra from the second game about bringing their people back to glory, whether they like it or not. By the third game, Paragon Shepard effectively goes from saying to "you should help me" to firmly saying "you will help me!"
      • Particularly noticable in resolving the Geth-Quarian conflict and convincing Balak to give you the Batarian Fleet, wherein Shepard basically brow-beats them into complying, while the latter has a gun pointed at their back.
    • Shepard and Javik, who essentially is a Prothean version of Shepard who failed to stop the Reapers.
    • Taking this to its logical extreme, Shepard can actually become a Reaper at the end of Mass Effect 3.
  • Not So Stoic: Even as the ultimate hero\badass, Shepard begins to crack under the pressure, to the point in the third game where s\he lashes out at comrades, breaks down around friends, and becomes a borderline Death Seeker.
  • Number Two: At the beginning of the first game, Shepard serves as the second of commander under Captain Anderson. After becoming a Spectre, Shepard becomes Admiral Hackett's go-to-guy/gal when it comes to under the table Alliance Affairs. Garrus eventually takes up this role for Shepard.
  • Oblivious to Love: A male Shepard towards Tali in the first game. Given how quickly he jumps at the chance to be with a female Shepard, this might apply to Garrus as well. Dialogue in their romance scene also implies that a male Shepard was this toward Kaidan too.
  • One (Wo)Man Army: S/he can take a squad of three against three hundred and come out on top, as well as bring his/her entire squad through a guaranteed suicide mission alive.
  • One of the Boys: Fem!Shep, usually.
  • Only Mostly Dead: S/he even uses Exact Words.

Shepard: I was only mostly dead. Try finding that option on government paperwork.

  • Only Sane Man: Paragon Shepard in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 often has to keep their various allies from trying to kill each other.
  • The Paragon: Paragon Shepard.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both played straight and averted. Selecting Earthborn or Colonist backgrounds results in your character being an orphan. However, Spacers not only have still-living parents, but even get to call their mom during a sidequest.
    • Disappeared Dad: Just the same, a Spacer/Shepard's father is never present and is only ever mentioned in past tense.
  • Parental Substitute: Paragon Shepard can become one towards Grunt in the second game.
  • Parrot Exposition: Shepard is annoyingly fond of these in the first game.

(Note, paraphrased)
Engineer Adams: [The Normandy] runs on an experimental Tantalus drive core.
Shepard: What's so special about the Tantalus drive core?
Udina: [Liara] was last seen in the Artemis Tau cluster.
Shepard: Guess we'll start in the Artemis Tau cluster.

  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Shepard has the option of delivering a heroic subversion, saying that humans can't do everything on their own and that every race in the galaxy needs to stick together if they're going to survive. Change 'human' to 'organic species' and it's played pretty straight whenever a Reaper comes onto the scene.
    • Also appears during some dialogue options in Lair of the Shadow Broker if the player didn't romance Liara:

Liara: So tell me what you want. What are you fighting for?
Shepard: I guess I'm fighting for us: all of us.
Liara: That's a lot of responsibility.
Shepard: People are messy, awkward, sometimes selfish and cruel. But they're trying, and I'm going to make sure they have a chance.

  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: Many of the renegade options can have Shepard being a completely ruthless bastard towards other bastards.

Shepard: You chose your side, Elnora, and you lost.

  • Perma-Stubble: The default Male Shepard model has this and it can't be changed. Apparently, being able to defeat whatever the galaxy throws at you is incompatible with knowing your way around a razor blade.
  • Pet the Dog: Playing as a Renegade does not automatically lock Shepard out of Paragon dialogue and actions, so there are numerous opportunities to do this.
  • Phrase Catcher: Shepard is repeatedly told words along the lines of: "You may not agree with my methods, but our goals are the same."
  • The Pollyanna: A full Paragon Shepard comes off as this, especially in the first game. (S)he never fully gives up hope that the Council will do the right thing in the end, (S)he will try to end a conflict by negotiating no matter how big of a bastard the bad guy is, and (S)he has almost infinite patience for the character flaws of others (Udina's attitude is dismissed as him "having a lot on his mind" or "just doing his job"; the encounter with Al-jilani is described as "We had differences of opinion, sir. I hope she at least believed my sincerity"). Doesn't make him/her any less of a Badass though.
  • Precision F-Strike: Occurs twice during the main game:
    • Once, during Tali's loyalty mission (if you're a Renegade.):

Shepard: Do whatever you want with your toy ships. But leave my crew out of your political BULLSHIT!

    • And, when you choose the Renegade option while speaking with the Illusive Man after after you blow up the Collector base:

Shepard: I'm sorry, having trouble hearing you. Lotta bullshit on this line.

    • Not even swearing, but Shepard's honest irritation, even as a Paragon, at the Hanar who attempts to aid the Reapers in the third game because their Insane Troll Logic that since the Protheans became the Collectors, who serve the Reapers, their Gods clearly demand they do the same.

Shepard: You... big... stupid... jellyfish!

  • Precursor Killers: Unless there's another brainwashed collective hiding somewhere, Shepard has officially offed what's left of the Protheans. S/he's also killed two Reapers personally, and fought a third to a standstill.
    • As it turns out, there is one Prothean left. Shepard did a number on the other remnants though.
  • Prophetic Dreams
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: How every one of Shepard's squads starts out. They're abnormally skilled misfits, but would still probably kill each other in a heartbeat without Shepard guiding them.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure/Benevolent Boss: Paragon Shepard to his/her crew.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Renegade Shepard enjoys giving these, though Paragon can get in on the action as well, notably giving a memorable one to Al-Jilani in the second game.
    • Also Paragon Shepard's verbal smackdown to the Quarian Admirals in the second game, which literally involves yelling at them for falsely charging Tali with committing treason.
    • Paragon Shepard's speech to end the Geth-Quarian war in Mass Effect 3.

Shepard: Your entire history is you trying to kill the Geth. You forced them to rebel. You forced them to ally with the Reapers. The Geth don't want to fight you. If you can believe that for just one minute, this War will be over. You have a choice. Please. Keelah Se'lai.

  • Recurring Dreams: Of the unpleasant variety in the third game. They're just about a little boy who s/he watched the Reapers kill at first, but then expand to include every one of Shepard's companions who died in the fight against the Reapers. The last one has Shepard watching him/herself dying as well.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In Mass Effect 2, Shepard's eyes will glow red the more Renegade s/he becomes, til they're glowing in the dark.
  • Red Headed Heroine: The default fem!Shep.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Potentially with Tali or Garrus in the second game, depending on Shepard's gender. Any of the love interests from the first game can be subject to this in the third if not romanced previously, though Ashley is only available for male Shepard.
  • Religious Bruiser: If the player chooses.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Paragon Shepard, who always tries to talk enemies down first, but nonetheless is prepared to knock seven bells out of them if they have to.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: The second game has everybody fully aware of just how many ridiculously impossible missions Shepard has completed and will mention them if they feel like it.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Shepard drops this line a few times in the second game, even though they really weren't.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Colonist Shepard with the Ruthless personality became known to the Batarians as "The Butcher of Torfan" in gaining retribution for the loss of their family and friends to a slaver raid on Mindoir.
    • Not forgetting how Shepard deals with Kai-Leng:

Shepard: This is Kirrahe/Miranda/Thane, you son-of-a-bitch!

  • Sad Clown: Of course Shepard can be played any number of ways, but it seems canon that s/he uses snark to cover up his/her sadness.
    • Particularly if you chose the Colonist background, being one of the few survivors of a Batarian slave-run in which your parents were killed. Even more so if you're playing as a Sole Survivor, which meant your first mission ended with your entire squad either slaughtered right in front of you or picked off one by one by a nest of angry Thresher Maws.
  • The Sadistic Choice: Is forced to make a few.
  • Save the Villain: Paragon Shepard attempts to do this to Saren in Mass Effect 1 and The Illusive Man in Mass Effect 3 despite the fact that they have repeatedly tried to kill him/her and are heavily indoctrinated.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Not the character itself, but the stories behind them. No matter what origin and backstory you chose for Shepard, all of those events happened. S/he was just only present for one or two of them.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, unless s/he's going for...
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Also Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, though moreso in Mass Effect 2. With a loose enough definition of "what's right", Renegade Shep also counts, sometimes.
  • Second Love: If your first love interest dies on Virmire, and you romance someone else in the sequel.
  • Semper Fi: Shepard starts out as a Marine. An extremely talented Marine who went through specialized training to become a Special Forces officer, but still a Marine.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Female Commander Shepard during Hock's party in Kasumi's loyalty quest. It's the only time in the series to date that Female Shepard has worn anything feminine, a dress and heels. Sadly, the usual male jaw-drop that typically happens during one of these scenes is absent. Kasumi makes an offhand comment, but that's about it.
    • Male Shepard gets a suit too, but his is just a re-skinned version of the same suit every male character wears. Female Shepard's is actually unique.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: If played right despite being only the age of 29 in the first game and 31 in the second, s/he can come off as being already nearly emotionally crippled by what s/he's seen and experienced.
    • Played straight in Mass Effect 3. Shepard has recurring nightmares of the boy in the vent they failed to save and everyone they've lost. And by the end, it's quite clear that s/he pretty much emotionally burned out.
  • Shipper on Deck: Shepard may hint a little in regards to EDI and Joker.
    • Taken into overdrive in Mass Effect 3, Shepard literally gives EDI advice on how to date Joker.
  • Ship Tease: With James Vega in the third game. For all the flirting they can do, it will never go anywhere.
  • Shock and Awe: Shepard can use Disruptor Ammo and Overload, which deals more damage towards synthetics.
    • And in the third game, an Infiltrator Shepard's omni-blade is enhanced with an electrical charge.
  • Shoot the Dog: The player is presented with this option multiple times throughout the series: exterminating the Rachni, killing Wrex, abandoning the Council, leaving Zaeed to die, etc. In addition, Shepard will do this in the Arrival DLC by destroying a Mass Relay to slow the Reaper advance into the Milky Way. The resulting energy burst destroys the entire star system and kills the 300,000+ people living in it.
    • By Mass Effect 3, Shepard can become so obsessed with defeating the Reapers or simply psychotic that s/he will deliberately gun down anyone in his\her way, even allies and squad members.
  • Shrouded in Myth: One of the endings has Shepard's many deeds being remembered far into the future, although some of the details have been lost to time.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Does this a lot. Moreso in Mass Effect 2 with the Renegade "interrupt" options.
    • Paragon gets his/her piece in too, though more with regular conversation.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Shepard often invokes Dare to Be Badass in their friends and allies in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.
    • Could be seen as one to Ashley/Kaidan in the third game when they become a Spectre. If you hold off the renegade interrupt, Shepard's hesitation to shoot Udina could be interpreted as a way of letting Ashley/Kaidan know the responsibility that comes with being a Spectre and of owning ones mistakes, meaning they should be the one to shoot Udina.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Paragon/Renegade, natch.
  • Sobriquet: "The Butcher of Torfan" if given the Ruthless background.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: If romancing Liara, a female Shepard can use this response to shun Kaidan's attempts at romance.
  • The Southpaw: Shepard is occasionally depicted in promotional materials as being left-handed, even though s/he isn't in-game.
  • Space Marine: Naturally, since Shepard is an officer in the Alliance Navy.
  • Space Police: After becoming a Spectre.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": It's "Shepard". No second 'h', no second 'p', and spelled with an 'a'. This one always seems to be a problem...
    • Lampshaded in Mass Effect 2: Upon finishing Jack's recruitment mission, Shepard receives an email from one of the ex-prisoners in Purgatory, calling him/her "Shepherd".
  • Spell My Name with a "The": One of the endings of Mass Effect 3 has Shepard actually remembered far into the future as "The Shepard".
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: In-universe, FemShep appears to incite this in Tali, for maximum awkwardness.
  • Super Soldier: Becomes one in Mass Effect 2.
  • Super Speed: Soldier Shepard's Adrenaline Rush actually allows him/her to move at normal speed while time is dilated. With Heightened Adrenaline Rush, Shepard is essentially the Point Man minus the flying kicks.
  • Survivor Guilt: S/he suffers from this BIG TIME in Mass Effect 3. The Sole Survivor background also has Shepard have this right out of the gate, depending on how you play it.
  • Take a Third Option: Almost as fond of it as Batman.
  • Take My Hand: Paragon Shepard is fond of this.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Shepard can convince Saren to realize he's been brainwashed, leading Saren to summon to will to shoot himself in the head.
    • And again in Mass Effect 3, with the Illusive Man!
  • Talking Your Way Out: Paragon Shepard will take this option at every opportunity. Renegade Shepard can do this too, although s/he is usually far more fond of...
  • Talk to the Fist: ...interrupting enemies/annoying reporters mid-flow with bullets or punches to the face.
  • Team Dad: Shepard can play the part of disciplinarian and use blunt authority to keep his team in line. This sort of approach is generally a Renegade option, but Paragon Shep knows how to lay down the hammer, too. A good example is the argument between Tali and Legion in the second game, where Shepard can tell them both to stop being idiots or get the hell off his/her ship.
    • Team Mom: ...At the same time, Shepard can be nurturing and act as the mediator and heart of the team. In the same debate above, Shepard can persuade both of them to cooperate and realize that they have more in common than they realize.
  • Team Killer: In the third game, Renegade Shepard seems to go through allies even faster than the Reapers: you can personally kill Mordin, Wrex (if he survived the first game), Legion, and Ashley/Kaidan. If you count preventable suicides, you can add Tali and Samara to that list, as well (and you can render Samara's suicide entirely pointless by killing the last of her daughters immediately after). Deaths by omission/neglect include Miranda, Jack, and Kelly Chambers. And so on.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: A Paragon Shepard will get pissed after learning the truth behind Project Overlord.
  • Tired of Running: Shepard invokes this throughout the third game.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In the third game, during the Alliance raid on Cerberus HQ, Shepard finds evidence that s/he may be a Frankenstein cyborg powered by a VI that thinks it is Shepard. Shepard's friends quickly assure them that this couldn't be the case, but it isn't until the apperance of a recording from the Illusive Man stating that he wants Shepard to remain unaltered in any way that this trope is defied.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Videos of renegade action in the first game were titled Shepard is a jerk. For the second game, even if they were darker, the videos were called Shepard is still a jerk. In the third game, however, the humor is gone, and the renegade interrupts are met with Commander Shepard is... oh my god Shepard has become evil.
  • Touched By Protheans: As a result of exposure to the Prothean Beacon and the Cipher in the first game, Shepard is recognised by their technology as though they are a Prothean and gained an subconscious understanding of their language.
    • The third game expands on this. Shepard also see Prothean data as they would, allowing them to intrepret things others would see as mere static and also are able to sense proximity to a beacon on Thessia.
    • Its also possible this allows them to share Javik's memories.
  • Training from Hell: Even becoming an N1 qualifies as trope. Shepard is an N7.
  • Transhuman: All six of the base classes are at least a lesser version of this, since all Alliance soldiers have basic Bio Augmentation and implants to deal with space travel, interface with holograms, use psychic powers, etc.
    • Taken much, much further in Mass Effect 2, where Shepard is brought back from the dead through synthetic body parts and experimental technology. The new upgrade system allows even further expansion of Shepard's transhumanism, by using illegal terminus-systems technology to increase muscle strength, invulnerability of skin, speed of medicine circulation and so on. Becomes especially uncomfortable in the Project Overlord DLC, where Shepard turns out to be non-organic enough to be hacked by an AI.
    • Commented on in the third game where EDI comments that Shepard may be one and that the legal issues about transhumanism are rather complicated. When Shepard gets worried, she claims to have been joking and clarifies that Shepard isn't as their cybernetics don't control their mind, merely enhance their body. However, its worth remembering that EDI has by now learnt how to lie to spare others feelings, so Shepard really could be.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Practically canon in games but can also extend further into his/her backstory. S/he goes through a lot of crap.
  • True Companions: What Shepard's crews eventually become.
  • Turn in Your Badge: By the beginning of Mass Effect 3, Shepard has apparently been unceremoniously stripped of his/her Spectre status, and with the Alliance has been relieved of duty and stripped of his/her rank.
    • Although the Spectre status actually appears to be complicated. If you chose to become reinstated in the second game, it appears that due to working with Cerberus, being restricted to the Teminus systems was a form of probation. In the third game, you are returned to full Spectre status.
  • The Unchosen One: Through a combination of ability and circumstance, s/he went from random (if notably badass) soldier to the protector of the galaxy in the span of a week at most.
  • Undying Loyalty: Shepard's survival in the sequel depends on the Commander inspiring this in as many squad members as possible. It's up to the player whether or not the Commander returns this devotion to their troops.
    • Shepard can reciprocate. Paragon Shepard will reciprocate. Taken Up to Eleven when s/he finds out the asari Matriarchs have considered ordering a hit on Liara:

Shepard: Nobody messes with my girl.

  • Unequal Pairing: Just about every romance in the game, even if by simple virtue of Shepard being captain of the Normandy and the squad being his/her crew.
    • In the first game, notable examples include Ash and Kaidan, whom Shepard outranks. In fact, Ashley at one point even admits that romancing Liara would be the most logical thing, since she's a civilian.
    • Averted in Mass Effect 2, since Shepard is "no longer technically in the Alliance" and Cerberus is not a military organization. However, Tali is a quarian, a culture that emphasizes strict loyalty to their ship's captain, and Shepard plays with it, basically telling Tali to hurry and find a way to subvert Can't Have Sex Ever under "Captain's orders". It's safe to say she's pleased by the idea.
    • The Mass Effect 1 relationships mentioned above change significantly with Ashley or Kaiden being promoted to ranks equal to or even above Shepard's own, and given Spectre status to boot. However, they still treat Shepard as a direct superior and two of the three new Love Interests in said game are even lower pay-grade Alliance subordinates. Also, while Tali is given the rank of Admiral in the Quarian flotilla, making her proportionally higher-ranked than Shepard, it's still a rank which means bupkis on an Alliance vessel.
  • Verbal Judo: Paragon and Renegade actions all the time!... well, if the latter doesn't use violence instead.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: FemShep can show shades of this when she talks to Matriarch Aethyta about Liara.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Shepard tends to cause massive destruction wherever s/he goes, regardless of intentions.

Moklik: Things explode around you, Shepard. You can't blame Aria for being careful.

Rana Thanoptis: Now, if you don't mind, I'm gonna run like hell before you blow the place or something. I know how you work.

Thane: The measure of an individual can be difficult to discern by actions alone. Take you for instance. All this destruction... chaos.

Mordin: Excellent. Glad to see affinity for destruction still intact, Shepard.

    • Taken to an enormous new level with the Arrival DLC, where you are forced to blow up a mass effect relay, and an entire star system with it.

Admiral Hackett: All I know is I sent you out there to break Amanda Kenson out of prison, and now an entire system is destroyed. I hope you can fill in the leap of logic between those two events.

    • On the Citadel, Captain Bailey says that one of the reasons he's helping you is so that he'll know where you're headed so he can clear the civilians out first.
  • Wall Slump: Of the non-fatal variety, after Udina and the Council ground Shepard to prevent him/her from going after Saren after The Reveal concerning Sovereign.
  • Warrior Therapist: Paragon Shepard, especially in Mass Effect 2. Good thing too, with a squad like this...
  • We Can Rebuild Him: And they did.
    • At Level One.
      • Or Level 3/5 if importing a Level 50/60 Shepard from Mass Effect 1.
      • Actually subverted by the fact that EVERYTHING is now more expensive, and you have access to top-of-the-line weapons and armour through Cerberus. It is arguable that you are just as powerful at the beginning of Mass Effect 2 as you were at the end of Mass Effect 1, and you're now facing tougher enemies. Imagine taking on the legions of vorcha/krogan on Omega as a newb!Shepard in Mass Effect 1.
      • More so if you download the Aegis and Firepower DLC armor and weapon packs.
  • We Do the Impossible: Shepard's effectiveness in completing suicidal missions has attracted the attention of more than one group.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Anderson notes that entire armies have fallen trying to kill a single Reaper. Shepard has managed to kill about four. With the last two being done on foot.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Many of Renegade Shepard's dialogue options and actions veer into this direction.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Renegade Shepard often blows off and demeans many people that aren't combat personnel. This can even extend to starship crew.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: While Shepard can be called out on his/her actions depending on them, s/he is given the opportunity to call out other people himself several times, including Udina, the Council, and Zaeed in the Paragon ending of his loyalty mission.
    • The Virmire Survivor calls Shepard out in Mass Effect 2 for working with Cerberus. At the beginning of Mass Effect 3, s/he's also being called out in a major way for blowing up a star system and killing over 300,000 batarians.
    • Kill Mordin and sabotage the Genophage Cure, and Wrex will call you out on it. By pointing a shotgun at your face.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Due to Shepard's cybernetic implants rendering them partially synthetic, as well as their continuously evolving Acquired Poison Immunity, its concievable that Shepard's potential lifespan now far exceeds that the average human.
    • It is a matter of some debate amongst the fandom whether or not Shepard could even potentially be Biologically Immortal if their organic body parts are supplimented and maintained by their synthetic ones. Its worth noting that dialogue with Dr Chakwas and Miranda heavily imply that they do play some part in regulating, enhancing and maintaining Shepard's vital body functions.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Paragon Shepard. One of the responses to Ashley Williams' asking if they joined the Alliance to uphold some family tradition:

Shepard: No. Humanity's future is out here. There is so much we haven't seen yet...

  • With This Herring: Spectres are expected to self-sufficient. As such, the Council will not give Shepard any resources beyond occasional information. The Alliance and Cerberus are much more generous.
    • In the third game, the Alliance does this to a degree, ordering Shepard to be the one tasked with rallying a force to retake Earth, however they can. This is somewhat justified, however, after all the impossible things Shepard has done over the years, Admiral Hackett admits the reason they were chosen is because they know the Shepard can deliver results.
  • Worthy Opponent: Becomes this in the eyes of Saren, which is quite impressive on his/her part given Saren's enormous racism towards humans. Also, Harbinger labeling Shepard as "an annoyance" could be seen as it acknowledging that s/he is this for the Reapers, also an impressive feat.

Dying Reaper: Harbinger spoke of you.

    • The Illusive Man constantly warns Kai Leng to treat Shepard as a worthy opponent and to respect his/her skills and how dangerous s/he is. Kai Leng arrogantly refuses and gets killed for that mistake.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Normally, s/he's quite Genre Savvy, but there's a rare lapse in Lair of the Shadow Broker, when Shepard wonders what kind of weapons a taxi has.
    • Of course given the chaotic nature of Shepard's life, expecting a taxi to have guns is something that honestly isn't considered too far-fetched.
  • You Did the Right Thing: Paragon Shepard is often on the receiving end of this, after letting terrorists, mass-murderers, etc go in order to protect the innocent.
  • You Shall Not Pass: War Hero Shepard pulled this off, single-handedly fending off an entire platoon of Batarians who breached the garrison's defences during the Skyllian Blitz. Becomes even more awesome if Shepard has the Colonist background, because they effectively took on a larger number of troops than those that attacked Mindoir and actually won.
  • Youthful Freckles: FemShep has them, to go with the red hair and green eyes.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: After s/he causes a supernova that kills over 300,000 batarians, Admiral Hackett tells him/her that s/he'll have to fulfill this trope in order to avert a war between the humans and batarians.
  1. Which decreases damage taken from melee attacks by 50%, and is described as making the bones nearly unbreakable.
  2. Which, when fully upgraded, increase Shepard's health by a whopping 70%.
  3. Which increases the power of melee attacks by 25%.
  4. By virtue of Shepard being a known name across the entire galaxy.