• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


Farm-Fresh balance.pngYMMVTransmit blue.pngRadarWikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotes • (Emoticon happy.pngFunnyHeart.pngHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3.pngAwesome) • Refridgerator.pngFridgeGroup.pngCharactersScript edit.pngFanfic RecsSkull0.pngNightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out icon.pngShout OutMagnifier.pngPlotGota icono.pngTear JerkerBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersHelp.pngTriviaWMGFilmRoll-small.pngRecapRainbow.pngHo YayPhoto link.pngImage LinksNyan-Cat-Original.pngMemesHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconicLibrary science symbol .svg SourceSetting

"If Shepard doesn't bring help soon, there won't be an Earth left to save."


WARNING: This page assumes you have played Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 (DLC included). Spoilers for those two games will be UNMARKED.

The third in the Mass Effect series from BioWare, the esteemed creators of the Dragon Age and Knights of the Old Republic series, and the final game starring Commander Shepard.

Several months after the second game, the Systems Alliance has had Shepard brought to Earth and relieved from duty for his/her actions.[1] Soon after, though, the Reaper fleet finally arrives in the Milky Way and attacks Earth, leaving millions dead and humanity vulnerable to extinction. After escaping the devastation, Shepard is reinstated and embarks on one last mission: unite the other races of the galaxy, build a fleet capable of rescuing the human race from the Reapers, and launch a final battle for the fate of all sentient life.

Like the second game, Mass Effect 3 allows players to import their save files from the other two installments, altering the storyline to match the choices your Shepard made in 1 and 2. But ME3's plot varies drastically depending on the save file; over one thousand variables are recorded in each save, and every decision made can have an impact on the story - even choices made in the original game that were never addressed in the second. In fact, this means there are far more widespread possibilities of what is going to happen in the end and thus some MAJOR story tropes may never come into play for a given playthrough.

In terms of gameplay, combat is still based on the Mass Effect 2 system, but with some new additions, most prominently the ability to roll even when out of cover. Shepard also has a new heavy melee attack (this varies depending on class, but most of them use a device known as an omniblade). Combat will be more difficult than the other games, as enemies will now adopt roles like "cover buster" or "suppressor" to force players to occasionally lose health. All types of weapons can now be carried by any player, regardless of class, but a "weapon weight" system has been instituted to preserve the balance between weapons and powers - the number and size of the weapons you carry will affect your power cooldowns, with certain classes getting improved weight for certain guns.

Two elements from the original Mass Effect 1 - grenades and weapon modifications - return to the series with a slight redesign. Grenades are now a class-specific power, and they're thrown like traditional grenades instead of Frisbees. As for mods, Mass Effect 3 returns to a Gun Accessories setup (instead of the second game's universal upgrade system); mods you buy or find need to be added at "weapon benches" after you acquire them. Weapons' appearances also change depending on the selected mods.

The power tree from the second game has also been modified: now, instead of evolving a power only once at the end of its life, there are more chances to evolve and more types of evolutions, and certain aspects of powers can now be upgraded directly.

With this game, BioWare has added an entirely new element known as Galaxy at War. Players can unlock alternate ways to increase Shepard's "galactic readiness level" - the amount of troops, ships and resources the commander can use against the Reapers - by playing different gameplay modes outside the main single-player campaign. The main addition is 4-player co-op; in this mode, none of the protagonists of the series appear, so players will create their own original characters and fight to liberate key positions from Reaper control. However, while using Galaxy at War can increase the chances of saving the galaxy in the single-player story, participation in it is entirely optional and all but the most golden endings are available so long as the right choices were made in the campaign.

The game was released on March 6, 2012 in North America and on March 9, 2012 in Europe. Any qualms purists had over the addition of multiplayer were soon forgotten: first when people started playing the game and then when people started reaching the end of the game. Reactions to the endings indicate that Mass Effect 3 is well on its way to creating one of the biggest Broken Bases in gaming history. After an unprecedented fan outcry, BioWare announced the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut, a free DLC pack to be released in the summer that will add some scenes further explaining each ending.

The Xbox 360 version includes an exclusive voice command feature; players with Kinect can issue verbal orders to squadmates during combat and read an option from the Dialogue Tree aloud to select it during conversations.

Mass Effect 3 contains the following tropes

Tropes A - F

  • Abnormal Ammo: In an age of mass accelerators, anything can be used as ammo for a gun. Notable examples include a geth sniper rifle that shoots a jet of ferrofluid at relativistic speeds (a la the Thanix cannon from Mass Effect 2), a krogan shotgun that shoots spikes, and (if you played the Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning demo) an assault rifle that shoots explosive chakrams. The Resurgence Pack adds the Kishock Harpoon Gun, which lets you impale enemies on glowing red spears. Jokes are also made within the game about a gun that fires Thresher Maws, although sadly it never makes an appearance.
  • Aborted Arc:
  • Air Vent Passageway:
    • A little boy uses this during the Reaper invasion. The vent is big enough for him to crawl through (though Shepard cannot fit), and the vent is not soundproof, allowing Shepard to detect the kid rather easily. This does not stop the kid from disappearing behind a corner in the few seconds when Shepard looks away a minute later.
    • During Liara's introduction, she escapes a pair of Cerberus troops through an air vent. They follow her in and she then leaves the vent, and uses their vulnerability to unleash biotic hell on them.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • When Shepard enters the geth consensus, Legion turns the Reaper code removal device into a gun since, as Legion puts it, "we wish to provide familiarity." Shepard takes it as a left-handed compliment.
    • The Catalyst appears as the boy from Shepard's dreams.
  • Alien Invasion: By The Reapers
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • In-universe, Udina's exact motive for siding with Cerberus is debated. The codex makes it fairly clear that he was simply a desperate man willing to take extreme measures to protect his homeworld—however futile the effort may have inevitably been.
    • Also in-universe, Joker reveals that he subscribed to the common fan theory that the Council believed in the Reapers and were preparing for them, but weren't letting Shepard in on it because "you know, Cerberus." He ends up being disappointed.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Reapers invade the Earth and the other species' various home worlds.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Thessia mission reveals that the goddess Athame, one of the oldest asari religions and the goddess that asari characters so frequently swear by, was actually a Prothean. She and her assistants protected the asari from an alien invasion, taught them agriculture and basic mathematics, and used genetic manipulation to grant them biotic abilities. She also left a Prothean beacon on the planet for the asari to find; though they could never fully activate or understand it without the Prothean cipher, their isolated breakthroughs were what allowed the asari to become the most advanced race in the galaxy.
  • And This Is For: "That was for Thane/Miranda/Kirrahe, you son of a bitch!"
  • And Zoidberg: During the mission to rescue "Eve", Wrex tells Shepard and Liara there is no one else he'd rather be on a party with - cue a cough from Garrus (provided both of them are in your squad).
  • Another Side Another Story: Multiplayer mode highlights how the entire galaxy is fighting for survival. Players will create new characters who fight back against the Reapers and performing well will help boost the war effort in the single player campaign.
  • Anyone Can Die: There is a memorial set up on the Normandy, which lists every crew member (SR-1 and SR-2 both) that dies over the course of the series. As characters die in this game, their names are added to the wall. Characters that will die (Provided they survived to this game) include Thane, Legion, Udina and David Anderson, and characters which may die (Depending on player choices in both this and past games) include Wrex, Jack, Mordin, Tali, Miranda, Captain Kirrahe, the Salarian Councilor, Steve Cortez and many others.
  • Apocalypse How: Earth will suffer at least a Class 0: The Codex states that around 1.86 million people are "processed" every day, aside from those killed in fighting the Reapers. It is not the fastest of extinctions (it could take a decade at that rate), but it is an inevitable one.
  • Are These Wires Important?: Ask James to take out one of the geth cannons on the quarian homeworld, and he'll "start [pulling] wires out, see what happens." He then begins to kick the control panel. Repeatedly. Other characters take a more delicate approach to deactivating it.
  • Arm Cannon:
    • The Cannibals sport these. They are made of whole human corpses.
    • Kai Leng and the Cerberus Phantoms have a Power Palms version of this, thanks to their cybernetic implants.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Armor-Piercing ammo, rather than merely giving a bonus against a certain type of protection like in the last game, actually allow you to shoot through cover. There is also a mod for each category of weapon that allows you to shoot through armor and cover, and the Anti-Material Rifles do not need special ammo. Their effects stack. Combine all three... and enemy cover means nothing to you.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When you make the decision of whether to let to quarians destroy the geth, Legion asks you the question which your decision should be based around:

 Does this unit have a soul?

  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • The tactical AI system is meant to punish players who try to go it alone and encourage cooperation between all the classes and specialties.
    • Centurions will never shoot their smoke grenades willy-nilly. They fire them at choke points, small enclosed spaces the player's in, or in positions that obscure the entire enemy party.
    • Nemeses, the Cerberus snipers, have no melee or short range attacks. Phantoms, the ninjas, have extremely powerful melee attacks, but mediocre ranged offense. Individually, these two get around those shortcomings by running around the battlefield, maintaining the most effective range for their fighting style. When paired together, however, the Nemesis will stand in one spot, and lure in melee and shotgun fighters to the Phantom's attack range.
    • Assault Troopers throw grenades behind your cover to force you to change locations, and goad you into a shootout so that their melee and shotgun-preferring comrades can walk up behind you undisturbed.
    • Unlike in Mass Effect 2, if you cloak as an Infiltrator at close range expect the general area where you are standing to get riddled with bullets as nearby enemies attempt to scare you away. They also now have better awareness of you, as they will notice you if you bump them or start a heavy melee with your glowy omnitool.
    • Rocket soldiers, in particular, will time their shots to hit just as you duck out from cover. If you are particularly entrenched and Grenade Spam doesn't work the enemy will gang up and rush you.
  • Ascended Glitch: The game acknowledges that the paragon resolution to Conrad Verner's meeting in Mass Effect glitches out in the second with Conrad acting as if you had picked the renegade option instead. Upon meeting him on Citadel, he apologizes for claiming you stuck a gun in his face when you had not. He explains that he was "under a lot of stress" at the time.
  • Ascended Meme: Before Javik's name became officially known, he was commonly referred to on forums as "Prothy the Prothean". This gets a hearty lampshade from him.

 Javik: Your "Joker" pilot insists I call myself Prothy the Prothean. I insisted he allow me to throw him out the airlock.

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Two of the three big choices at the ending lead to this for Shepard. In the Control ending, Shepard effectively merges with the Reaper collective consciousness and takes control of every single one of them. In Synthesis ending, Shepard's essence is absorbed and transmitted across the entire galaxy, making all organics partly synthetic and vice versa.
  • Aside Glance: After making his "Russian National Anthem" joke during the geth dreadnought boarding cutscene, Joker glances deliberately into the camera.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • Cerberus' Atlas Mechs have a large cockpit that can be shattered with enough hits, but shooting their rear eezo drives will kill them even quicker. Also, while the logical tactic for defeating Cerberus' Guardians is to flank them, it is most expedient to just take aim and shoot them in the head, right through their shields viewport with a Hand Cannon or Sniper Rifle. If you can't get that shot, their feet are also unprotected. There is even an achievement for doing this 10 times: "Mail Slot."
    • How Shepard racks up his/her first on-foot Reaper kill.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Cryo powers, in a welcome shift from the second game. Several other powers can now be spec'ed to work better on frozen stuff, and enemies will slow down when hit even if they're shielded or armored.
  • Back for the Dead: Assuming he survived the Suicide Mission, Thane's only possible role in the plot is to die protecting the Salarian Councilor.
  • Badass Army: Building an army of the greatest Badasses of the entire galaxy.
  • Badass Bystander:
    • If you spared him in Mass Effect 2, Aresh (the Arc Villain of the Pragia side-mission) turns into one of these. Living as a lowly worker since that time, a group of evacuating civilians are shocked to witness him unleash his biotic power to protect them as they make their escape. He performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save everyone.
    • Jenna - the C-Sec informant from a sidequest in the first game - intervenes with her omni-tool to save Conrad Verner from a Cerberus operative if you did her quest in Me1. Then she and Conrad hook up.
  • Badass Teacher: Jack, post-Mass Effect 2.
  • BFG: The Cain makes a reappearance in the mission to take back Earth. You use it to drop a Reaper-Destroyer sized AA battery. It only takes one shot, and it homes in.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Played straight; all of your DLC armor from the second game will carry over, but you must purchase all of it once again from vendors on the Citadel. Other pieces of armor must be found during missions throughout the game.
    • Averted with the collectibles from the previous game, which are hidden in crates throughout the ship, the Space Hamster can be found in Jack's room at the bottom of engineering scurrying around and, provided she was taking care of them and survived the Collector base, Kelly Chambers can give you your fish back.
    • The upgrades you bought for the Normandy (Thanix Cannon, Heavy Ship Armor, Multicore Shielding) transfer as a War Asset bonus.
  • Bayonet Ya: Shotguns can now accept bayonet modifications to increase their damage as a melee weapon. This is awesome.
  • Batter Up: The batarian classes in multiplayer have unique melee animations. If using a two-handed weapon, they involve clubbing the enemy with the gun as if it were a baseball bat.
  • Beam Spam: Harbinger attacks the invasion force in the run to the Conduit
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: There are three large-scale battles between opposing forces throughout the game:
    • The Reaper invasion of Palaven, the turian homeworld, is preceded by the fight between the Reaper fleets and the turian navy, the most powerful military force in Citadel space.
    • The Quarian attempt to re-take their homeworld involves full-scale war with the geth, including the geth's command-and-control dreadnought, along with the three endings stemming from this.
    • The attempt to retake Earth is the largest single battle sequence in the game series, and includes space, air and ground scenes involving thousands of individual ship and character models.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Between the Reapers and the Illusive Man; Cerberus constantly interferes with Shepard's attempts to defeat the Reapers out of a belief that they can control the Reapers. Unfortunately for the Illusive Man, the Reapers are ultimately better at the game, and the Illusive Man is indoctrinated and simply playing into their hands. According to Javik they pulled the same trick last cycle as well.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • In the first level, the Normandy, with Kaidan/Ashley and James Vega aboard, shows up to rescue Shepard and Anderson from Reaper forces right as they are about to be overrun.
    • The final battle to retake Earth with every allied fleet and war asset you can muster, including yourself. Cannot get bigger than that.
  • Bigger Bad: The Catalyst, an ancient AI that created the Reapers and started the repeating cycle in the first place. It does not appear until the final scene of the game, where it acknowledges that its plans have been defeated and it needs to develop a new "solution" with Shepard's help.
  • Big Good: Admiral Hackett.
  • Big No: Flat out parodied in the Blasto audio drama.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As the game outright tells you in the first 5 minutes, you cannot save everyone. It is possible to lose allies and entire species before you even reach the final battle, and regardless of which choices or endings you get, you will have to sacrifice quite a lot to win, including the entire mass relay network and in most cases Shepard and the Citadel as well.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: The best way to deal with Cerberus Phantoms, who can One Hit KO you with their sword, is to remove it from them like this. Since you cannot dilate time in multiplayer and you won't get a gun that can kick up a storm of lead that can properly knock it off, though, this is much, much harder than it sounds.
  • Blood From the Mouth: Mordin if you shoot him, Kai Leng after you kick his ass, Shepard in the ending.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Mass Effect is more violent than ever.
    • Heads will now explode into a spray of gore if you get a head shot with various weapons including sniper rifles, shotguns, and heavy pistols. This can also be caused by a head shot to an enemy with low health.
    • There are several methods of making your enemy's whole body explode, entirely reducing them to bloody chunks. To name a few (all used on enemies with a low enough health to cause this), Carnage, Warp, a shot from a Widow, Black Widow, or Javelin, landing a sticky grenade on the targeted enemy, shrapnel grenades, any "nukes" (a player nickname for the heavy weapons).
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Catalyst views "preserving" advanced organic life in Reaper form as preferable to allowing what it sees as an inevitable organic/synthetic war to take place that will just as inevitably end in synthetic life taking control of the galaxy. Therefore it harvests organic life at the apex of its civilization before such a war can happen, allowing the next generation of organic life to develop.
  • Body Count Competition:
    • After rescuing defecting Cerberus scientists, who you only located because of Specialist Traynor's analysis of Cerberus data, Traynor jokes that she is going to begin putting little decals on her terminal to keep score every tme she "analyzes the crap out of some data."
    • If you have romanced either Tali or Garrus, before the final mission you will find the two of them talking in the Main Battery where they are making bets on the upcoming fight and who will perform better.
  • Body Horror:
    • If you choose the "Control Reapers" ending, as he/she is holding the crucible controls Shepard's face will start to burn and peel apart, spreading to the rest of his/her body.
    • The "Synthesis" ending has Shepard slowly dissolve in the Catalyst's beam.
    • Everything about Reaper-made enemies. Cannibals are mutated batarians using whole human bodies for Arm Cannons, Brutes are krogan/turian fusions with the head ripped out and replaced with a turian skull.
    • The art book originally had the Rachni as fused with rotting human corpses. Bioware deemed this too disgusting. They kept it with the Cannibals though.
    • It's confirmed in this game that being impaled on the Dragon's Teeth is actually the preferable way of being turned into a Husk. Being infected with Reaper nano-tech will also have the same end result, only it's much slower and the victim remains conscious throughout the whole process, as those who went to Sanctuary found out the hard way.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Krogan characters in multiplayer will often laugh joyfully after killing an enemy.
  • Bond One-Liner: Shepard has the option of pulling this off after killing a Reaper, if you take the renegade option. See Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner.
  • Book Ends:
    • When Thane is first encountered is Mass Effect 2, he prays for "the wicked," but reveals that the prayer is for himself, not the target he just killed. When he dies in this game, his final words are again a prayer, but this time they are not for him, but for Shepard.
    • Just before you take control of Shepard for the first and last time he/she is thrown off his/her feet by a Reaper attack, gets a handgun and is told to move forward by Anderson.
    • One of the last conversations with Joker aboard the Normandy is him reminiscing about Eden Prime. The camera angles used when Joker and Shepard speak are identical to those used the first time you ever speak to Joker in Mass Effect 1.
    • Both this game and the original Mass Effect end with Shepard facing off against an indoctrinated Well-Intentioned Extremist, who can be talked into realizing his indoctrination and committing suicide, before Shepard comes face to face with the mastermind behind it all as he/she is forced to decide what fate to chose for the galaxy. Just as in the first game, the very last enemy that Shepard engages in combat is a Reaper-controlled turian; Saren in ME1, a Marauder here.
  • Boring but Practical: You have got sniper rifles, flashy grenades, energy blades, missile launchers, and magical science powers, yet the most surefire way to deal with enemies in multiplayer is to just flank them. You will realize this when they do it to you, too.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Banshees. Huge barrier and armour amounts cause them to take a ton of damage before going down. Their attacks are also very dangerous, with the strongest being a one hit kill.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The Carnifex that Shepard picks up after being fried by Harbinger never needs a reload.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory:
    • Many War Assets are either reduced or completely unavailale if you have not purchased and completed the DL Cs of the first two games.
    • Unlike in the pre-launch demo, multiplayer equipment packs can be bought for real money if you do not want to grind for them with in-game currency.
  • Bring Help Back: Shepard has to do this; s/he leaves Earth during the Reaper attack in order to gather reinforcements and return in force.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: No matter what you do, the total death toll will be in the millions or more by the end, the Mass Relays are going kaboom, and Shepard will probably be dead. Worst case scenario? The Reapers are defeated, but Earth is destroyed and all life in the galaxy is completely wiped out.
  • Bullet Time: In addition to being an activated ability that the Soldier class retains from the second game, this now accompanies the sound of glass breaking when Shepard's Deflector Shields get taken down. Other classes had similar abilities streamlined or removed; the Vanguard's charge slows time automatically now, and the Sniper Concentration mod means that anyone (not just an Infiltrator) can slow things down when scoping in; Infiltrators can just make it last longer and free up a mod port.
  • Bullfight Boss:
    • Brutes fit this trope. They love to charge at you and do large amounts of damage if you do not leap out of the way. You even get an achievement if you manage to kill a brute while it is charging.
    • The Reaper on Rannoch. Though it does not physically charge you, the mechanics of dodging its main attack (which moves in a straight line), then attacking it while it is vulnerable for a moment are the same.
  • The Bus Came Back: Liara and the Virmire Survivor were two of the first four party members to be confirmed for the game, after being Demoted to Extra during ME2.
  • Bus Crash: A few secondary characters, assuming they survived the previous installments.
    • If quarian marine Kal'Reegar survived Haestrom, he ends up dying covering a turian squad's escape.
    • If you spared the asari scientist from Virmire Rana Thanoptis in Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, she kills a number of high ranking asari officials, and then when incarcerated shoots herself in the head.
    • If you spared him in Mass Effect 2, Aresh from the Pragia side-mission dies saving a bunch of evacuating civilians from a Reaper attack.
    • The reporter Emily Wong is never referred to in the actual game, but the promotional Twitter event before release has her relaying news of the Reaper attack before being mortally wounded and crashing her flying news van into a Reaper.
  • Buxom Is Better:
  • Call Back:
    • Returning squadmates frequently make references to missions from the previous two games, remarking how things have changed (or remained the same) over the past two years. These occur even if these squadmates were not present for the original mission.
    • In one of Shepard's conversations with EDI, she questions Shepard about the behavior of some prisoners of the Reapers, and Shepard asks her if "submission is preferable to extinction." Saren had asked Shepard this same question in the first game.
    • During your first conversation with him, Joker lampshades the fact that Shepard was not entirely respectful towards the Council in ME1. This line also occurs if you never hung up on the Council during the first game, losing the effect.

 Joker: Let me know if you want to patch a comm to the Council so you can hang up on them again. You know, for old times' sake.

    • The music that plays over the Game Over screen, both for single and multiplayer, is still Saren's theme.
  • The Cameo: After the credits, Buzz Aldrin (the second man to set foot on the moon) voices a character known only as Stargazer, who, in the distant future, relates Shepard's exploits to a child.
  • Canned Orders Over Loudspeaker: At Grissom Academy, a Cerberus shill tries appealing to students' want to help Earth in order to pacify them. All while cerbies are dragging students away screaming. You can put a stop to it if you find one of the generators powering a cyberwarfare computer and shoot it, allowing Kahlee to interject and reassure the students that Shepard's on the scene.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: M!Shepard pulls this off on the geth dreadnought towards a romanced Tali after she saves him from falling to his death due to a damaged elevator. A stark contrast to a very worried Tali.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Throughout the game, Shepard has several nightmares about those lost in the war, typically waking up in this fashion.
  • Catch Phrase: EDI's "That was a joke" is back with a vengeance.
  • Central Theme: Casey Hudson describes Mass Effect 3's theme as "victory through sacrifice". Several characters can or will sacrifice themselves for their loved ones or to complete the mission. And depending on your choices over the series, Thane, Anderson, Lt. Victus, Captain Kirrahe, Mordin, Wrex, Legion, Miranda, Grunt and even Shepard are possible examples.
  • Chain of Deals: What the plot boils down to. The constant Continuity Cavalcades, Character Development and, well, massive galaxy-saving stakes help it feel glamorous (and hellish when it needs to).
  • Chain Lightning: The Overload ability can be upgraded to do this.
  • The Chains of Commanding: One of the primary themes of the game. During a late-game conversation, Shepard can chew out Joker for making a particularly ill-timed joke. Joker then explains that Anderson asked him to look out for the Commander, and that Shepard is under more stress than any other person he knows (to the point of referencing the character's chosen war history from the first game). Shepard can then choose to either forgive Joker or blow him off for attempting to make light of the situation s/he's in.
  • Character Blog / Day in The Limelight:
    • Prior to release, the devs released a blog post by Commander Shepard detailing his/her off-duty hours. Naturally, the writing is vague so that it can fit most playthrough styles.
    • A Twitter account was made for the Alliance News Network, which was used by Emily Wong to chronicle the Reaper invasion of Earth.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: By the time the finale rolls around, Shepard can assemble a truly massive team. Not only can the player character convince almost all the races in the galaxy to help, but you can amass a sizable group of squadmates (including a newly-minted Spectre, an N7 candidate, the feared "Archangel of Omega", a newly-honored Quarian admiral, a living Prothean and an advanced AI capable of giving ground support), but you can have delegates from races come aboard, have past squadmates show up and hang out on your ship, and even bring back two of the engineers from the previous game if you pardon them.
  • Charged Attack: A few weapons, such as the Arc Pistol, the Graal Spike Thrower, and the Kishock Harpoon Gun, can be charged up for a more powerful attack.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Played for laughs during Conrad's appearance. If you completed three separate, completely unrelated sidequests in the first game, they will be referenced and used as part of Conrad's dissertation on dark energy. After which Conrad gets into a scuffle, and his survival is dependent on the outcome of yet another unrelated sidequest.
  • Cherry Tapping: It is possible to kill even high level enemies by punching them repeatedly. In fact, at normal difficulty, Soldier!Shep can punch an enemy's shields out completely with a few hits, if s/he is willing to take the gunfire.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Tali'Zorah vas Normandy and Garrus Vakarian, should you have romanced neither of them.
  • Clock Tower: Coats spent three days sniping husks from inside a broken Big Ben; this was the content of one of the first trailers.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Semi-averted. You can take cover behind some seemingly ridiculous objects, such as glass panes (though the glass is implied to be bulletproof). However, cover in this game is split into thick and thin. With high level Armor-Piercing Ammo or penetration weapons mods, a gun can shoot through thin cover. A few extremely powerful rifles can do this without mods. Stick the ammo or the mods on one of these guns, and you can shoot enemies through foot-thick metal walls.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: A Reaper Destroyer vs the Colossal Thresher Maw.
  • Collectors Edition: The "N7 Collector's Edition". It comes with most of a set (sans assault rifle) of N7 weapons, alternative outfits for squadmates, a robotic dog for the Normandy, and the "From Ashes" DLC (which otherwise has to be bought separately). Outside the game, it also has a 70-page artwork book, an iron-on/Velcro N7 patch, the game's soundtrack, and a limited edition Dark Horse comic—the first issue of Mass Effect: Invasion.
  • Command Roster: Just like in the other two games, Mass Effect 3 has this.
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • If you have imported a save from the previous games, nearly every mission will have you meeting old friends, fighting old enemies, visiting major locations you have spent the last two games only reading about in the codex, and seeing a Continuity Nod everywhere you look. If you are new to the series, the game will adjust itself accordingly, making such continuity knowledge largely unnecessary.
    • Conrad's sidequest specifically brings up three incredibly minor and unrelated sidequests from the first game in such rapid succession and the ending changes based on another, also fairly minor, also unrelated quest.
  • Crapsack Galaxy: Reaper invasions will ruin anyone's day, and it is only gonna get worse. Though it can be A Galaxy Half Full if you play your cards right.
  • Critical Status Buff: In the main campaign, losing your shields will give you a few seconds of Adrenaline Time.
  • Crossover: Of the promotional kind, with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - Downloading the Amalur demo will unlock the Reckoner Knight armour for Shepard; completing it will unlock the Chakram Launcher weapon. Downloading the ME3 demo will unlock N7 Armour & completing it will unlock Omniblade daggers. It is all in good taste however - the crossover armor and weapons only resemble the originals superficially and do not break immersion, as they do appear appropriately high-tech in Mass Effect and medieval/magical in Kingdoms of Amalur.
  • Curb Stomp Battle:
    • The Reapers vs. Earth. According to the Codex entry "The Fall of Earth", the Reapers conquer the planet in a matter of hours. While escaping Earth, players will see that the previously enormous fleet that was gathered in orbit around Earth has been completely devastated, and we later learn that Arcturus Station (the Systems Alliances' capital) was destroyed, along with the entire Second Fleet. Many of the battles that directly involve Reapers turn into this. The turians are suffering massive casualties despite having the most powerful military in the galaxy. Thessia, home of the asari, falls.
    • In the final level Harbinger personally appears to kill the entire ground force heading to the conduit to the Citadel, wiping the entire area clean in seconds. Only Shepard and Anderson survived, and Shepard cannot even walk properly afterwards.
  • Curse Cut Short: Jack repeatedly does this to herself in order to maintain a professional appearance in front of her students. One notable exchange between her and Joker ends with a Hard Cut to Black.
  • Cyberspace: You enter the geth consensus. Legion helps by filtering the experience into something Shepard's mind can comprehend, though. As the disembodied Legion voice converses with you, you may notice that the walkway tiles appearing for your convenience flash in unison with Legion's voice: You are actually walking on Legion.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • Paragon and Renegade interrupts were rebound from R2 and L2 to R1 and L1 in the PlayStation 3. Might cause you to miss one or two.
    • In multiplayer, different characters have their powers mapped to different hotkeys.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • "An End, Once And For All" is a Lonely Piano Piece version of "The End Run" from Mass Effect 2.
    • Mordin sings "Model Of A Scientist Salarian" during a scene onboard the Normandy after the Sur'Kesh mission. He later repeats the same song to keep himself calm as the Shroud implodes on Tuchanka during the genophage cure dispersal. Immediately following that, a reprise of the original Mass Effect's menu theme "Vigil" plays.
    • During the end credits, a slower (and slightly more unnerving) version of "Leaving Earth" plays as the final track.
  • Darker and Edgier: The number of dead is in the millions already. Trillions more lives are at stake. The developers have said they want to make this game edgier, but still with more humor, as well. Liara is literally darker, as well as personality-wise. Word of God says it's intentional.
  • Darkest Hour: Right after the Thessia mission: Thessia falls to the Reapers, Shepard fails on his/her mission to recover the crucial data to finish The Crucible and the Reapers are curbstomping everywhere, with even the turian fleet now in full retreat from Palaven.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: With Thane or potentially Miranda if you cheated on your ME1 love interest with them, in Miranda's case if you break up with her she will die regardless of the help you provide her.
  • Defcon Five: Averted in an email, stating about the traffic emergency and the Alliance declaring SABER One (presumably the equivalent of DEFCON in ME) when the Reapers invaded Earth.
  • Defector From Decadence: It seems that not all of Cerberus is in lockstep with The Illusive Man's apparent vault off of the slippery slope. Your War Assets have a whole folder dedicated to "Ex-Cerberus". Jacob and a bunch of security and science personnel have officially severed ties with the Illusive Man and have holed up on Arrae. Rescuing them adds to your War Assets - the science team helps the Crucible Project, while Jacob becomes an anti-Cerberus consultant for the Alliance.
  • Defiant to the End:
    • Emily Wong, dying of wounds inflicted while reporting on the Reapers, rams her skyvan into one at high speeds.
    • Rila, one of Samara's Ardat-Yakshi daughters, realises she is indoctrinated and manages to hold onto her own senses long enough to stare down a Banshee and blow them all to hell.

  Rila: We are not your slaves!

  • Defictionalization: Oddly Inverted. In Mass Effect, Shepard wore the iconic N7 armor, which was merchandized as a hoodie. But now, Mass Effect 3's Collector's Edition will let Shepard, in the game itself, wear that very same hoodie.
  • The Dead Have Names: The Normandy gets a memorial wall, which lists the names of every single crew member that died over the course of the trilogy.
  • Death From Above: Shepard kills one of the smaller Reapers by calling down orbital strikes from the entire quarian fleet.
  • Death or Glory Attack: The new Vanguard ability, Nova, takes down your barriers to deliver a powerful Shockwave Stomp. Fortification (available for certain Soldiers) also buffs your melee damage when deactivated now.
  • Degraded Boss: The Atlas mech is encountered as a boss during Priority: Sur'Kesh. They are encountered on later missions as normal enemies. This can be oddly reversed if the From Ashes DLC is downloaded (See Sequence Breaking).
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Most of the Mass Effect 2 squad members fall here. Garrus and Tali are the only ones to return as full squad members and most only appear in optional, albeit somewhat long and involved, side missions, although a few (Mordin and Legion; Miranda and Thane to some extent) play more significant roles.
    • Harbinger. Remember how much of a Large Ham he was in the last game? Because he does not even have lines in this one.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The plot accounts for the consequences of nearly everything Shepard has and has not done over the course of both prequels, including DLC content, and brings characters in and out of narrative based on whether you recruited them, helped them, left them to their own devices, or got them killed during the Suicide Mission. For vital plot quests, stand-ins will take the place of important characters that are missing. Even acknowledged bugs from the previous game have a place in the game's narrative: Conrad Verner may apologise for claiming that you pulled a gun on him even though you did not, as he was just under a lot of stress at the time.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: Literally. Harbinger's unexpectedly accurate beam attack puts an end to the tentatively optimistic tone of the final battle.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: If Miranda succumbs to her wounds from Kai Leng she dies in Shepard's arms; if you were in a romance with her, they admit their love and kiss one last time just before she dies.
  • Dies Wide Shut: If Thane dies, he passes away like this, and Shepard mournfully closes his eyes. However, due to a bug, they stay open in the next shot.
  • Disney Death:
    • Provided you earned Grunt's loyalty in the previous game, he can survive his charge into the enemy.
    • Provided you had enough War Assets, during the climax your squadmates vanish after Harbinger's attack during the run towards the Conduit. During the ending scene, they are inexplicably on the Normandy and unharmed. A scene in which they get hit by the beam before Shepard was cut in development.
  • Disney Villain Death: How Tali commits suicide, should you allow the geth to upgrade but fail to make peace between them and the quarians
  • Distant Finale: The post-credits cutscene takes place far enough in the future after the Final Battle that humanity regards the player character as The Shepard, implying that the events of the game have passed into legend.
  • Do I Really Sound Like That?: The Shepard VI mentioned in the second game makes an appearance. Its dialogue options depend on whether the player character is primarily Paragon or Renegade. After going through all available sequences, the real Shepard questions if s/he really does sound like that.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Shepard's, and presumably most of the galaxy's, intention.
  • Doomed Homeworld/town:
    • The game opens with Shepard escaping from the destruction of Vancouver, Kaidan Alenko's hometown, and learning about the initial Reaper landings in London, where Anderson was born.
    • On the mission on Palaven's moon, Garrus points out the largest of the orange splotches covering his home planet and mentions that his hometown was there.
    • The Normandy never visits Armali, Liara's home on Thessia, but the Thessia mission ends with the fall of the entire planet.
  • Downer Beginning: With human outposts on Mars and Luna going dark, Reapers landing on Earth in the hundreds if not thousands and Shepard leaving Anderson behind and forced to flee from a now Reaper-occupied planet, it is hard to say this is anything but.
  • Downer Ending: One of the endings. If you do really poorly, then the Crucible misfires and wipes out all life in the galaxy.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • By repeatedly returning to the hospital and passing by a certain pair of asari, you can hear the story of a spec-ops soldier whose mission failed spectacularly, all because she took a shower and left her gun in her room. She repeatedly asks for a gun through the whole conversation, which you can grant her on Spectre authority. She uses it to kill herself.
    • Tali, if you side with the geth over the quarians, resulting in the genocide of the latter. Or if you fail to Take a Third Option.
    • Samara tries to kill herself so as not to be forced to kill her last daughter, but can be prevented by a Paragon interrupt.
    • Rana Thanoptis, the asari scientist you spared on Virmire in Mass Effect 1. It turns out that she did not get out in time to avoid being indoctrinated after all.
    • Gavin Archer, should you choose not to tell him the fate of his brother at Grissom Academy. Overcome with guilt over his actions back in the Overlord DLC, he will pull out a pistol and end his own life.
    • If Kelly Chambers survived Mass Effect 2, she will later confess to you that she sent communiques to the Illusive Man behind your back concerning all the things she had learned about you and your crew. If you snap at her for doing so, she will break down into ashamed tears, and you will hear about her killing herself by cyanide capsule.
    • The Illusive Man, if you Paragon sweet-talk him into figuring out he is indoctrinated. A nice callback to how you could get Saren to do the same in the first game.
  • Dual-Wielding: Turians and human Sentinels can Dual Wield omni-blades!
  • Dude, Not Funny: In-universe example: after the fall of Thessia, Joker says that he bets the asari wish they had more commandos and fewer dancers. Shepard is not amused.
    • On Sur'Kesh, a yahg prisoner escapes the salarian confinements and runs off. If Garrus and Liara are in your party, Garrus will crack a joke about the yahg hunting Liara down. She doesn't find it funny.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: Earth is one of the first targets of the Reapers, and they concentrate their efforts there, mostly because Humans Are Special and Shepard, a human, really pissed off the Reapers. However, the fighting is primarily done by resistance forces led by Admiral Anderson; Shepard spends very little time there.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: If you don't accrue enough War Assets, this can happen.
  • Easter Egg: Bioware has said that there are secret Kinect voice commands that they leave for players to discover. For example, saying "boomstick" switches to the shotgun.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Should you continue a relationship with Kaidan before the Cerberus Coup mission, Fem!Shep will grab an eye-full of Kaidan's butt as they both board the Normandy after you re-recruit him.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: After Kai Leng and some Phantoms board an elevator, Shepard's team opens the opposite shaft and rides up after him. You have to disable Leng's elevator (and the one he takes after that) while fending off Cerberus troops. On the upside, take the power conduits out fast enough and you can send the opposition plummeting.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The Nemesis and Phantom are both examples of this. They work together, with the former, a fast-moving sniper with no melee attacks to speak of, working to pin you down so the latter, a biotic ninja armed with a cloaking device, a fancy sword, a seriously powerful handgun, and fancy acrobatics can sneak up to you to deliver the killing blow.
    • The geth have rocket troopers and pyros. They have the same combat and even teamwork dynamic as the Cerberus Phantoms and Nemeses, down to the melee specialists being tougher than the ranged attackers. The only real difference is that the pyros only have short-ranged attacks.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous:
    • As in the previous games, the main character is a member of an elite government organization granted nearly unlimited authority and a background in human special forces projects.
    • The multiplayer centers around a team of player-controlled special forces operatives.
  • Emergency Weapon: The omniblade function of the omnitool is explicitly stated in the Codex to be such for Alliance marines. The program was a firmware update that was pushed out as standard issue to Alliance omnitools to deal with the threat of multiple husks at close range. It uses the omnitool's minifacturing feature to quickly "forge" a single-use, Absurdly Sharp, diamond blade, suspended in a mass effect field to compensate for the material's brittleness, and highlighted with holograms so the wielder can see the otherwise nearly transparent blade. The codex also states that more technically minded soldiers are known to make alterations to the default program, customizing the blade to their own ergonomics and fighting practices, or adding effects such as a sheath of explosive, poison, or super-cooled gas to the blade. This is reflected in game play by different classes having different visual effects for their omniblade.
  • Empty Room Psych: Just because you are allowed to explore every room of the Normandy now (compared to 2 granting you access to areas as you recruited squadmates) does not mean they will all be filled. Life Support, notably, remains empty through the end of the game.
  • Empty Shell: One of the conversations you can listen in on is an argument over whether a man who is essentially brain dead, but is being kept alive by a VI implanted in his head, is truly alive or not. In the final assault on Cerberus, the same conversation can be had for you; Shepard discovers a video archive of his/her reconstruction by Cerberus, and can wonder if he/she is not really Commander Shepard, but is just Shepard's body being driven around by a VI that Cerberus cooked up. Whichever party member is with you will vehemently disagree.
  • End of an Age: The mass relays are wiped out in all endings, breaking the Reaper cycle but also ending any realistic notion of interstellar travel.
  • Enemy Chatter: The Cerberus troops give constant updates of their situation to each other. The Marauders (turians husks) also chatter in some kind of mechanical language that sometimes seems to contain barely understandable words like "destruction."
  • Enemy Mine: Basically many of the other alien species from the series who have had major issues with each other as well as humans attempt to put aside their differences to take down a common enemy. How well they manage get along however, depends on the choices made.

 I never thought I would say this to the human navy, but we need you. -Batarian Commander.

    • You can go so far as to convince Balak, one of the most ardently anti-human batarians in the galaxy, to join Shepard's cause.
    • Other significant points are when you get the krogans, turians, and salarians to work together to cure the genophage, the krogans joining up with the turians to take back Palaven, and the geth and quarians making peace. Again, however, this all depends on how you play the game. It is entirely possible to miss all of this.
  • Escort Mission: Shepard and company have to pull this toward Eve and Mordin.
  • Eternal Recurrence: Said by the Catalyst regarding why the Reapers continually destroy organic life.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Getting full salarian support requires betraying the krogan and sabotaging the genophage cure. This may also require killing your old buddies Wrex and Mordin. Mind you, Mordin can be persuaded to assist you, but only if Wrex and Eve are dead: without their moderating influence, he is not confident that the Krogan Rebellions will not happen again. Shepard also has the option to kill Mordin, Legion and the Virmire Survivor for different reasons.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: If you spared Morinth in the previous game, a terminal at the Ardat-Yakshi Monastery reveals that despite her hatred of Samara, Morinth still has a soft spot for her sisters Rila and Falere. Unfortunately, by the time you get there Morinth is probably well on her way to becoming an indoctrinated slave of the Reapers.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: After the attempted Cerberus coup on the Citadel, two smugglers forced off of Omega can be heard talking in Purgatory. Both of them are disgusted at how clean and nice the club is, but when the turian smuggler suggests they steal military medical supplies while they are stuck on the Citadel, the Human smuggler threatens to turn them both in if he does anything of the sort. She points out that Earth is dying and she is not going to try to make money off the Alliance now, while they are fighting to save the human race.
  • Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: While raiding a Cerberus base for Reaper tech that they are studying, you can find two journals from "C. Talavi" as he records his experiences as he joins Cerberus; the first is full of excitement at finally being there, the second is sapped of all emotion after he has been integrated. Later, aboard the Citadel you can encounter a Private Talavi, serving in the Alliance, who is unhappy at being assigned to fight Cerberus instead of the Reapers because her younger brother has joined the organization.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: One sidequest involves finding an alien dinosaur fossil. To give to the salarians. Which the salarians then clone. And the krogan then ride. Of course, you never get to see this.
  • The Extremist Was Right:
    • The moment the first Reaper descends, the Committee collectively realise just why Shepard claims that causing the destruction of an entire star-system did nothing more than slow them down.
    • If you get enough war assets, you find out that the Illusive Man was right, and it is possible to control the reaper, altough it was not possible for him to do it.
  • The Faceless: All human player characters in multiplayer wear helmets that completely conceal their face.
  • Faceless Goons: All the Cerberus troops conceal not only their face, but their entire body from head to toes in armour. This hides that the experiments done on them have given them a husk-like appearance.
  • Fan Disservice: Banshees. Never has a naked asari been less appealing.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • EDI observes that the majority of batarian refugees fleeing into Citadel space are a lot less intolerant of humans than they were before. She speculates that with the collapse of their government and its totalitarian rule they no longer feel as compelled to tow the party line set out by their ruling caste that they should hate humans.
    • Javik, though he can come around a bit. In the days of the Prothean Empire most of the races now ruling the galaxy were in the most nascent stages of sentience and were thus "primitive" when compared to the technologically and biologically advanced Protheans.
    • A subtle one on the Citadel. After Menae, you can overhear the asari minding the Citadel Gift Shop on the Presidium Commons telling a customer that all sales proceeds go to helping the turian war effort. The customer asks her if her husband is turian, but the asari (Ereba) says the her husband is actually krogan. The customer then says, lightheartedly, that she hopes he knows who is the enemy, to which Ereba is shocked almost speechless.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • The Hero/The Leader:Shepard, as usual.
    • The Lancers: Garrus and the Virmire Survivor (if re-recruited after the Cerberus ambush on the Citadel)
    • The Big Guy: James, as the largest and strongest of the group.
    • The Smart Girls: EDI, as the ship's onboard AI and later android lady squadmate, and Liara, as the Shadow Broker and Shepard's new Number Two.
    • The Chick: Tali, being the most emotional and providing comfort to Shepard when things get really extreme (regardless of whether you romance her or not), though as the Chief Engineer, she doubles as a third Smart Girl.
    • The Sixth Ranger: Javik, the only squadmate who is not returning from a previous game or with you from the start of 3.
  • Flaming Sword: The engineer's version of the omniblade is on fire.
  • Flanderization: In-Universe example, the Shephard VI that Mouse made in the previous game is now available for interactions. However, since the VI is so simplistic it takes the basic personality of Paragon!Shep or Renegade!Shep and blows them way out of proportion. The VI "brags" that it can predict what the actual Shepard would say with 7% accuracy. Shepard even lampshades it him/herself by complaining about how "I don't really sound like I?"
  • Flash Step:
    • What asari characters do, instead of rolling in Multiplayer, at the cost of draining some energy from their barriers.
    • A favorite trick of the Banshees, which is particularly problematic given their ability to insta-kill you at close range.
    • The Vanguard's Biotic Charge basically is a combination of this and Foe-Tossing Charge.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: The "Fleets Arrive" sequence includes all of the amassed fleets you've acquired jumping into the Sol System in succession, along with Joker and several galactic representatives reporting their fleets as ready.
  • Fling a Light Into the Future:
    • Designs for the Crucible, an incomplete and impossibly advanced anti-Reaper superweapon, are left by the Protheans for the species of the next cycle to use. We later learn that the Crucible is only partly of Prothean design. It originated many, many cycles in the distant past, and was passed down through time from one cycle to next, each adding their own improvements, with the hope that someone in a future cycle would be able to iron out all the details and build it.
    • In a direct Call Back to the first game, Liara made plans for very detailed instructions on who the Reapers are and how to fight them them so various time capsules can be put in place in the event they do not win and any future species are able to recover the vital information.
    • Javik, the Prothean Avatar of Vengeance, was to wait out the extinction of the Prothean Empire with one million other Protheans in stasis pods hidden on Eden Prime, intending to awake once the Reapers had returned to dark space, then uplifting and conscripting the primitive races (Humanity and contemporaries) to re-arm for the next cycle's end. Unfortunately, Reaper assaults on the bunker damaged their sensor equipment and the VI managing the stasis pods felt that it was too dangerous to wake the pods without being sure that the Reapers had left, so it decided to keep all pods active until a new species discovered them. As time progressed and power began to run out, the VI deactivated the pods one by one until only Javik was left alive to be woken by Shepard.
  • Flunky Boss: Kai Leng. In the first fight, he is backed up by a single gunship, and in the second he is helped by Assault Troopers.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge / Punched Across the Room: Krogans in multiplayer can do this as their 'heavy' attack and will cue Oh Crap reactions from foes who see them coming.
  • Foreshadowing: In Shepard's dreams, the dream always ends with the boy burning, but the final dream ends with Shepard seeing him/herself burning alongside with the boy. The Catalyst takes the form of that boy during the ending, all of which feature Shepard burning along with it.
  • For Science!: Dr. Brynn Cole, a defecting Cerberus scientist, explains that "science must never bow to tyranny." One of the reasons she and other Cerberus scientists left the organization, apart from the Illusive Man's aggresive contract terminations, was because they wanted to pursue their research as they saw fit.
  • Fossil Revival: One mission has requires searching for fossils to resurrect a once dead dinosaur species called the Kakliosaur. Shepard even says he found the fossil encased in amber.
  • Fragile Speedster: Asari, drell. The drell have the fastest movement speed and the asari have the best dodge move, but they both have below average defenses to compensate.
  • Fusion Dance: So, ever want to find out what a krogan + a turian would look like, or a batarian + human? As husks? Well, you're going to find out.
  • Futile Hand Reach: Shepard to Tali if Shepard allows Legion's upload to the geth fleet and fails to convince the Quarians to break off their attack, resulting in the Migrant Fleet's complete annihilation. A paragon interrupt comes close to making it not futile, but even it can't stop Tali from being Driven to Suicide.

Tropes G - M

  • Gainax Ending: There are three endings: You control the Reapers, possibly by uploading yourself into the Citadel, and force them to leave. You destroy the Reapers and all other synthetic life, and all organic life if you did particularly poorly. Or, you make all organic and synthetic life a techno-organic synthesis. The entire Mass Relay network is then destroyed spreading your control / destruction / synthesis energy wave across the galaxy, and in most endings the Citadel is destroyed and/or Shepard is killed in the process. The Normandy, which was last seen on Earth, is then seen travelling faster than light through space[2] and, after being caught in the wave, ends up crashing on an unknown planet. An after-credit epilogue then shows an old man telling the legend of "The Shepard" to a child and then being asked by the child for another tale of Shepard's exploits, implying Shepard may have actually survived. Finally, in the "best" destruction ending a scene will play showing an N7 soldier who appears to be Shepard waking up in a pile of rubble, though how or even where the scene takes place is left unclear.
  • Game Breaking Bug:
    • If you're not the host in a multiplayer game, your Vanguard can charge immediately after you're downed; the game's attempt to resolve the lag makes you start bouncing off the floor, eventually glitching out of the map and locking up the game.
    • The Black Hole Bug on the Xbox 360 version, which can cause the game to lock up on a blank screen before even reaching the title. So far, the only known solution involves editing the Mass Effect 3 files in your gamer profile.
  • Gatling Good: The Geth Spitfire, which is a laser Gatling gun
  • Gay Option: Male Shepards have Kaidan or Steve Cortez, while female Shepards have Diana Allers or Samantha Traynor. Liara remains a romantic option, but is not technically female.
  • Genetic Engineering: It is revealed towards the climax of the game that asari were the subject of this by the Protheans in order to cultivate their Biotic potential.
  • Genius Ditz: The Reveal that Conrad Verner is actually Doctor Conrad Verner.

 Shepard: Conrad, I'm building an Ancient Prothean Dark Energy device to stop the Reapers. Can you help with that?

Conrad: Well I did write my doctoral dissertation on Xenotechnology and Dark Energy Intergration.

Shepard: *Beat* Really?

  • Genocide Dilemma:
    • You have to choose between the total extermination of either the geth or the quarians at the hands of the other over the skies of their homeworld, However, it is possible to Take a Third Option, but it will be very difficult to get the correct condition that allows you to do so.
    • If you choose the ending in which Shepard (possibly) survives, you'll be sacrificing EDI and the geth.
  • Giant Mook: The Brute, Atlas and Geth Primes.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: When Ken asks Gabby if she has seen attractive new crewmember Samantha Traynor, Gabby tells him not to bother, since he is not Traynor's type. When he then suggests that she make a move on Traynor, Gabby says she just might since nobody else is expressing any interest, and Ken then tells her to make sure she takes pictures. Later, when Ken asks Gabby if she helped repair some damage to EDI's architecture, he asked if there was any lubricants involved, and maybe some moaning, and that he wishes his imagination was good enough to picture it.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • (Human) Vanguards are this now more than ever thanks to the addition of the "Nova" ability, which completely discharges your barriers into an Area of Effect biotic explosion.
    • Joker explicitly names this trope when expressing his dismay over the Quarians arming their Liveships (the principal food suppliers of the fleet) with dreadnought-sized guns, as they are not equipped with strong shields.
    • Geth characters become this with the Hunter Mode ability, a sort of anti-Tech Armor that halves your max shields for a set of offensive buffs.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Hackett admits that not even the people building the Crucible really know what it will do if fired, comparing it to the fears that the first use of the atomic bomb would ignite Earth's atmosphere. They just do not have any other options.
    • Primarch Victus of the Turian Hierarchy remark that it is entirely possible that the krogans and turians will wind up at war again after the Reaper's are defeated if the genophage is cured, but if the genophage is not cured then there will not be any turians or krogans left.
    • The Codex entry "Desperate Measures" discusses just when the point is reached that makes horrendous destruction and sacrifice an acceptable result of stopping the Reapers. The two proposed strategies, destroying the mass relays to strand the Reapers where they are and using starships as suicide weapons, are both dismissed not because of the massive losses in life they would entail, but because they would simply not be effective at stopping the Reapers.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: After Ashley discovers what Cerberus was doing at Sanctuary, once she is back aboard the Normandy she explains to Shepard that she simply cannot understand the kind of thinking that went into something like that. She also says that she is glad that she cannot follow that line of thinking, since it makes her feel human.
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: One of the bits of info you can read on Liara's Shadow Broker Terminal details two Alliance intel operatives interrogating a Cerberus Phantom. They start the good cop/bad cop routine... and then her face explodes. Looks like the Illusive Man was listening in when Mordin said that ocular nerve flashbangs work better than suicide pills hidden in teeth.
  • Good Guy Bar: The Purgatory Bar on the Citadel, judging by the amount of Alliance and turian military soldiers hanging out there. However, with the capture of Omega by Cerberus, Purgatory is now serving Aria T'Loak and other criminals. Despite its size and popularity, Avina doesn't recognize that it exists.
  • Good Running Evil: Potentially how the series can end, if Shepard takes control of the Reapers in the finale.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Basically the premise of the entire game, deconstructed in showing just how difficult it is to acquire allies when resources are stretched thin and every race having bad blood with at least one other species (turians/salarians vs. krogan, quarians vs. geth, humans vs. batarians, and more). Almost all plot-relevant missions are about you negotiating away years of hostilities and bartering for support in just about every theater of the war.
  • Grand Finale: The end of Shepard's story.
  • Gravity Screw: The mission aboard the geth dreadnought has you walking through the destroyed remnants of a docking extension tube on the ship, and sometimes the only footholds to move forward are on the ceiling.
  • Grenade Spam:
    • The gold challenges on multiplayer have had quite a few recognize this in effect; it in fact led to the creation of the trope page.
    • As well as normal grenades, Centurions have smoke grenade spam, using two or three at a time to block your vision, in between throwing normal grenades. Rinse and repeat when the smoke clears as many times as they take to die, it could be three or four cycles. That's at least twenty four grenades they're carrying, a single soldier.
  • Grey and Grey Morality:
    • The geth vs. quarian war. The geth just wanted to evolve on their own, while the quarians feared that the geth would rebel and kill them all off. Talking to Legion and Tali sheds a lot of light on this in Mass Effect 2, and your decisions will affect the final outcome.
    • Cure the genophage? You will need to do that to get the krogans to support the turians, who will then in turn help Earth. But the salarians are against it because of the Krogan Rebellions 1500 years ago, and how they proved to be a great menace to the galaxy. However, Eve and Wrex promise to sort out the differences and learn from their ancestor's mistakes should you choose the Paragon route to cure it.
    • There is no clear-cut Paragon or Renegade ending choice, and the game goes out of its way to ensure that. Destroying the Reapers is done by Anderson in the preceding cutscene, but that area and that cutscene are colored red, and choosing that results in the death of EDI, the geth, and every AI and VI in the galaxy. Commanding the Reapers is done by the Illusive Man in that cutscene, but the highlights there are blue, no races get sacrificed, and apparently Shepard just sends the Reaper fleet back out of the galaxy without causing any further destruction. Synthesis does not result in any genocide or Reaper manipulation, but involves forcibly rewriting the entire fabric of life's existence without any input or opinion from...well, anybody. (Green) ALL of them involve destroying the mass relay network, so even if you have figured out which ending seems most appropriate, you are still causing something almost everyone can agree is problematic.
  • Guide Dang It: The exact conditions needed to unlock the Golden Ending in the quarian/geth storyline. No-one is sure of what the full list entails, and the conditions listed in the official strategy guide have been proven inaccurate.
  • Guilt Based Gaming: More so than either of the previous games. Besides the ability to kill off several close allies if you so choose, missing the Grissom Academy side-quest leads to Jack being kidnapped and experimented on by Cerberus AGAIN after she had finally managed to build a life for herself. You get to hear records of her being tortured when you hit the Cerberus base... shortly before having to kill the Phantom they turned her into.
  • Gun Accessories: Gun modifications return, and each one visibly attaches to the weapon (if external, like a scope) or causes changes in the weapon coloration (if internal, like a heat sink expansion).
  • Gundamjack: During gameplay, Shepard is able to hijack Atlas mechs by shooting out the cockpit's glass and killing the driver.
  • Gunship Rescue: So many. The retrofitted Normandy makes it first appearance in this manner, but the biggest example is Shepard being given a laser targeting device for the Normandy to take out a Reaper construct and when the "construct" turned out to be a Reaper itself, Shepard called in the whole damn Quarian Migrant Fleet for an orbital strike.
  • Hacker Cave: Liara sets up one on the Normandy to continue her work as the Shadow Broker while traveling with Shepard.
  • Hammerspace: No matter what weapons you have equipped, you and your team still have the ability to pull an M-8 Avenger and Predator pistol out of their butts at a moments notice during certain cutscenes, even if you have a better pistol/assault rifle.
  • Hand Cannon: The Carnifex and Phalanx return from the second game, but they are far outshone by two new additions. The first is the Paladin, a weapon so hard to come by it has to be requisitioned using Spectre authority. It only holds twenty shots, but makes up for it by dealing more damage than most sniper rifles. The second is the Talon, sidearm of choice for Cerberus operatives. It's a revolver. That fires shotgun shells.
  • Hand Wave: The Widow and Claymore shotgun can now be used by fragile quarians and salarians in multiplayer, despite being explicity stated to have bone-shattering recoil. Good thing "trial-and-error testing" "eventually produced less hazardous versions of these weapons."
  • Harder Than Hard: Hardcore and Insanity difficulties return to this game with the recent major upgrades to the combat AI.
  • Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee: The game starts with Shepard trying to help the Alliance Defense Committee make sense of the Reapers.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Fighting Kai Leng on Thessia. He has gunship support that will target you every time you take down his shields, and eventually it switches to a cutscene.
  • Hero-Killer: Kai Leng. Ignoring his novel exploits and looking only at the game, his potential victims list can include two former squadmates, namely "designed to be perfect" Miranda and super-assassin Thane. If Thane is not around, then his spot may be taken by Major Kirrahe, certified STG badass of "hold the line" fame.
  • Hero of Another Story: The way multiplayer is justified; players take on the roles of an elite team assisting Shepard in tackling hotspots.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Quite a few. Thane performs one if he survived "ME2", otherwise Major Kirrahe may replace him; if Shepard is Paragon, Mordin performs one. Legion also pulls one if Shepard sides with the geth or uses the Paragon/Renegade choice to take a third option. And then, of course, there are the game's endings.
    • Subverted in at least one case: If Aralakh Squad is left behind to buy the Rachni queen time to escape and fully loyal Grunt joins Shepard's team to lead them out, he will turn and tell them to go back to the shuttle without him while he holds off the Reaper-converted rachni. As Shepard and company are arriving at the shuttle, Grunt emerges from the cave, covered in blood, and asks if anyone has something to eat.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners:
    • As of this installment Male Shep and Garrus have reached this point.
    • Shepards of either gender will call a non-romanced Kaidan "my brother" during their lunch at the Citadel.
  • Hide Your Children:
    • Averted in the game's CGI trailer, which shows a little girl playing with a toy spaceship in a sunflower field as a Reaper looms ominously overhead. In the next scene the sunflower field has been transformed into a blackened wasteland, and Shepard picks up the girl's toy spaceship from the ashes, implying that she did not survive - or worse, got turned into a husk.
    • Averted Trope in the first ten minutes of the game. Shepard comes across a young boy hiding in an air duct who refuses to let Shepard help him (and then disappears when Shepard briefly looks away). Later, when Shepard leaves Earth, (s)he sees the boy get onto an escape shuttle—which is promptly destroyed by a Reaper.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted. There are multiple places that are pitch black, forcing Shepard and the squad to turn on the flashlights on their guns. Outside of the beam, you cannot see anything.
  • Honor Before Reason: Samara tries to kill herself to avoid being forced by the Justicar code to kill her last surviving daughter. Shepard can stop her with a Paragon interrupt.
  • Hope Spot: All over the place. To name a few: The kid getting onto the shuttle (it is blown up); finding Rila intact in the monastery (she has started to transform into a Banshee); trying to save Tali if you allow the geth destroy the quarians (Not even the Paragon interupt can stop her from committing suicide); finding the key to completing the Crucible on Thessia (Kai Leng steals the information, Thessia falls); launching missiles at a Reaper after a grueling ground battle (they miss).
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Regardless of which ending occurs, unless all life in the galaxy is destroyed, the Stargazer retells the story to his grandson, revealing that life managed to survive, and speaks of traveling to the stars, so humanity has found some way back to space even without the Mass Relays.
  • Hot Blade: Shepard can now wield an Omni Blade, using the tech from the Omni Tool. The Omni Blade is forged by the omni tools onboard fabricator. A hot carbon based blade held in place by a mass effect field that is diamond hard. The blade is often tinkered with by the user to produce electrified and twin blade versions. The Engineer takes this trope to its logical extreme by having blade coated in burning hot plasma literally setting it ablaze.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The game's launch trailer features a blurb from IGN that says Mass Effect 3 is the sexiest game in the series, and a minute later we get glimpses of a sex scene featuring Ashley and Shepard. Also, one of the casual outfits that FemShep can wear around the Normandy is a sleeveless, low-cut, form-fitting cocktail dress.
  • Humongous Mecha: Multiple battles take place on foot against Destroyer-class Reapers, which are 200-600 meter tall ships that are built out of the "lesser" species of each cycle.
  • Hypocrite:
    • The salarian dalatrass accuses Shepard of being a bully when the Commander, Victus & Wrex/Wreav tell her that unless she gives them the location of the krogan female immune to the Genophage, they'll leave the salarians to the Reapers all because she refuses to give into the one demand the krogan have in exchange for their assistance. Before the mission to cure the Genophage, the dalatrass contacts Shepard & threatens to withold salarian support unless Shepard sabotages the cure.
    • The asari government. They claim that the asari are the most advanced race in the galaxy due to inherent virtues, but they actually have the only intact Prothean Beacon in the galaxy.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Cannibals, husks created by fusing humans and batarians, regain health by eating fallen enemies (or allies).
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Banshees pick you up and impale you on their arm if you let them get close. One of them will do this to Rila, Samara's eldest Ardat-Yakshi daughter.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: When Joker comments on EDI's new body, and says that he'd like to take a picture of her, EDI (who is sitting right beside Jeff, and can hear his entire conversation with Shepard) comments in a slightly hurt tone, "...I'm right here, Jeff."
  • Incompatible Orientation: Samantha Traynor, a romance option for FemShep, is forced to let MaleShep down if he tries to make a move on her. Later, when Ken and Gabby are talking, Gabby has to tell Ken not to bother flirting with Traynor, since he is not her type.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted Trope with the boy Shepard encounters during the escape from Earth. His escape shuttle gets blown up by a Mini-Reaper as it was lifting off.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Martin Sheen (The Illusive Man), Keith David (Admiral Anderson), Yvonne Strahovski (Miranda Lawson), Seth Green (Joker), and Jessica Chobot (Diana Allers) all look exactly like their characters. James Vega is a subversion - He looks like Freddie Prinze Jr. but only after bulking up at the gym.
  • Insane Troll Logic: An indoctrinated (or possibly just crazy) hanar on the Citadel believes that, since the hanar worship the Protheans and the Protheans were turned into Collectors, that means that the Protheans served the Reapers. Therefore the hanar must serve the Reapers. Shepard even lampshades this when s/he hears this.



 Shepard: How are you getting drunk?

Tali: Very carefully. Turian brandy, triple-filtered, then introduced into the suit via an emergency induction port.

Shepard: ...That's a straw, Tali.

Tali: Emergency... induction... port.

  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Cerberus Phantoms are described by the official site as "Goddamn ninjas on speed!"
  • Interrupted Suicide:
    • Subverted in the case of Tali, if you let the geth destroy the entire Migrant Fleet on Rannoch. Despite the Paragon interrupt appearing right before the suicide, pressing the button does nothing.
    • A Paragon interrupt allows Shepard to stop Samara from killing herself in order to protect her surviving daughter and uphold the Justicar Code.
  • Interspecies Romance: With the entire galaxy falling apart because of the war, this becomes more apparent then ever among Shepard, the crew, and background characters.
  • It Got Worse: The Reapers are no longer a looming future threat, they are here.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Before you set out on the final battle you get a chance to talk and interact with all the crewmembers possible. At least half of the conversations end up using some variation of the phrase.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: In-universe, Joker kids about this concerning Cerberus after the botched coup, saying how he was all for them when they were vigilantes helping the helpless, but now they're a "bit too mainstream...and evil."
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In this case, the center of the geth hive mind.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Just to make it one hundred percent clear who the bad guys are, a Mini-Reaper is shown shooting down unarmed civilian transports, one of which had a little boy on it.
    • The Illusive Man presents himself as Necessarily Evil but still has a few moments of utterly needless cruelty. During the Mars mission, he orders Eva to "finish" / "dispose of" the Virmire Survivor. During the endgame, he shows off his new power by forcing Shepard to shoot Anderson.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Fallen allies in multiplayer can be revived, unless the enemy stomps and executes them. On higher difficulty, especially if the whole team is down, they won't do this and end the match early, forcing players to sit and wait until the revive meter runs out or Rage Quit and lose any experience for that mission.
  • Kill All Humans: ...or enslave them, or Mind Rape them, or turn them into piles of gray goo, if the Reapers have their way.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: On Mars, an e-mail that was being typed right before the sender was killed, she types along complaining about someone then immediately switches to allcaps raising the alarm about the mess hall being vented... but doesn't finish in time.
  • Killed Off for Real: Anyone Can Die means anyone. Unavoidable deaths (Provided they survive to, and appear, in this game) include Legion, Morinth, Thane Krios, Donnel Udina, the Illusive Man and David Anderson. If War Asset levels are not high enough everybody dies in the ending. Shepard dies in most endings, with one potential survival if certain conditions are met.
  • Lag Cancel:
    • Adrenaline Rush does not take you into Bullet Time for the multiplayer, but it still instantly reloads your weapon.
    • The cool-down for the infiltrator's Cloak can be reduced. Attacking in any way brings you out of cloak, but attacking with a weapon will trigger cloak's cool-down while attacking with a power will trigger that power's cool-down, which is usually much shorter.
  • Lampshade Hanging:

 [after Shepard chooses a Paragon dialogue option]

Cortez: When you put it that way, how can I say no?

Shepard: You can't.

    • Among other things, Conrad Verner seems to call out BioWare itself on the switch to thermal clips in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.
    • Conrad is also very sorry he accused Shepard of pointing a pistol at him, he was under a lot of stress.
    • Vega and Cortez argue the merits of the Mako vs the Hammerhead - Vega thinks the Mako can at least take a hit compared to the "made of paper" Hammerhead, while Cortez prefers agility to something that "handles like a drunk rhino". Cortez even provides some Techno Babble to explain how the Mako drove up all those sheer rock faces!
    • Cortez mocks the logic behind setting up the armory on the command deck and not the shuttle bay.
    • After saving Primarch Victus, he mentions Garrus retired to the battery, "Something about...'calibrations'..." to which shepard replies "That Sounds like Garrus."
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • If Shepard and Dr. Chakwas decide to share another bottle of brandy, they note that neither of them has ever called the other by their first name. Chakwas feels using Shepard's first name would be a disservice to everyone she is fighting for... and if that makes no sense, it is just a lady's prerogative. Shepard can call her Karin, though.
    • Jacob mentions that his girlfriend wants to name their baby after Shepard... as in, naming the kid Shepard. He intends to talk her out of it, though.
  • Last of His Kind: Javik, the Prothean squad member from the "From Ashes" DLC pack.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Both for the player character and supporting cast.
    • Shepard will have the opportunity to bed his/her love interest (even if it's a new romance) right before the attack to retake Earth.
    • Provided they survived ME2, and you pardoned them in the Citadel Spectre office, Ken and Gabby finally admit their love for each other if you go visit them at the very bottom of Engineering prior to the final mission.
    • If you didn't romance either of them, Garrus and Tali are seen embracing when you walk in on them at the forward batteries. Tali says in the conversation afterwards (likely half-joking) that "This is just a fling, Vakarian. I'm only using you for your body."
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Jack. Repeatedly.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: None less than the Xbox Live frontend is already spoiling the fact that From Ashes gives you a Prothean squad member.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • The kid in the beginning that says "You can't help me." and dies shortly thereafter regardless of what you do seems to be talking to the player that you cannot save everyone.
    • A scene that follows continues this, with Shepard having the option to express just that.

  Shepard: It's hard enough fighting a war, but it's worse knowing no matter how hard you try, you can't save them all.

    • Conrad references the save import bug from the second game, apologising for claiming that Shepard held a gun to his face when they never did so, he thinks he was under a bit of stress at the time.
  • Left Hanging: The ending does not reveal the fate of the allied armies, the state of the galaxy, where the Normandy landed, or even the true fate of Shepard. According to the writers, it was to leave speculation open.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: In a manner with the squads in multiplayer. They are ostensibly Systems Alliance units and operate under Alliance command, with most of their members being human soldiers and other military specialists, but they also include volunteers and mercenaries from a variety of other races, such as turians, asari, krogan, drell, and quarians. Now with the Resurgence Pack, geth and batarians join the party.
  • Like a Son to Me: Anderson will refer to Shepard as either "son" (Male) or "child" (Female) after saying how proud he is of what you have accomplished.
  • Limit Break: What krogan characters get in multi-player after killing three enemies in close succession with melee attacks. What exact bonuses are given depends on your progression.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: If an advanced Cryo skill is used on an enemy, they can be shattered into little ice chunks by shooting or punching them.
  • Living Relic: Javik, the Prothean party member made available in the From Ashes DLC who slept from the previous cycle in a stasis pod. To him, the most advanced races in the galaxy are but primitive barbarians and, in the case of the salarians, a food source (Their liver is preferably served raw as a delicacy). He is ignorant of our culture, society and history, and views our philosophy and religions with near contempt, but also sees in us the potential for ending the Reaper cycle and vengeance for the slaughtered Prothean empire.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Multiplayer has so many loadscreens, you'll wish they brought back elevators. It's possible to invite a friend to a game, have him accept, switch the game to public and have it fill up before he can join.
  • London Town: London (and UK Alliance Headquarters) is hit several moments before the attack on the Vancouver-Seattle Megapolis, with the first trailer showing no less than eight Reapers walking all over it. It is where Shepard and Anderson make their final push on Earth.
  • Lost Forever:
    • Completing Priority: Tuchanka will make many side quests on the Citadel impossible to complete. There is little to no indication of this in the game. See Point of No Return.
    • While most upgrades, weapons or sidequest objectives will become available for purchase at the Spectre Office store if you missed them during gameplay, the Shuriken SMG and Saber assault rifle do not.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Crucible, an ancient anti-Reaper superweapon discovered in the Mars Prothean Archives at the beginning of the game. The kicker is that the cast initially assume it is of Prothean origin, only to learn it has been designed bit-by-bit over multiple extinction cycles, and the ending even implies it was actually the Reapers (or whoever created them) who originally planned it...
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Cerberus Guardians carry riot shields into battle. They are quite effective at soaking up damage; however, the shields can be got around with good tactics, good aim, or good use of powers. Or, if you have a big enough gun, they can be flat out ignored.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • The remains of Cerberus' Troopers killed by Infiltrator Shepard's Sticky Bomb would fit better into a bucket than a body bag. Also applies to enemies killed with the 'Carnage' ability, naturally.
    • Large enough guns such as the Black Widow sniper rifle gib pretty much anything that lacks shields or armoring.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Having been heavily implied in Mass Effect 2, this game confirms that Matriarch Atheyta is Liara's "father."
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Hydra missile launcher, which is occasionally encountered in single player. Instead of firing one big missile, it fires a whole bunch of self-guided ones with three-stage explosives, making it equally useful for taking out bosses or swarms of standard Mooks.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Jack if she survived the suicide mission is very protective of her students and has even cut back on cursing in front of them to provide them with a good mentor.

 Jack: Didn't think I'd ever care this much. But I won't let anyone hurt 'em. They're my kids. MINE.

  • Match Maker Quest: Shepard can encourage EDI and Joker to become a couple and can do the same for Ken and Gabby.
  • McNinja: Cerberus Phantoms. Also, drell characters from multi-player 'roll' like ninjas and get a speed bonus.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • If Miranda survived the previous game, she will return and be searching for her missing sister. Shepard will caution her to be careful, to which she will respond "No promises." If you contact her before the final charge on Earth, they flip it around.
    • Mordin gives us two of these. In the previous game he told Shepard he sometimes fantasized that it wasn't his responsibility to work on the genophage that keeps Krogan population in check. He follows this up by calling it a fool's wish because "It had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." Later, as Mordin prepares ascends to the top of a collapsing tower to make certain the cure for the genophage is effective, he repeats this line, though this time without any regrets as to his course of action.
    • Shephard and Legion have a flip where Shephard wishes Legion "Good Luck" and he responds "Acknowledged". They repeat it with the roles reversed near the end of the mission.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Dr. Eva Coré. In Mass Effect: Evolution, it was the name of one of Jack Harper's companions. Who is Jack Harper? The Illusive Man.
    • The second-in-command of the Eclipse mercenary organization, who is a more subdued mercenary than the violently psychotic leader Jona Sederis, is named Sayn.
  • Mechanical Evolution: Discussed by Shepard regarding the evolution of the geth species. Legion and the geth can evolve to achieve sentience far beyond their original programming parameters.
  • Medium Blending: When reports start coming in about the Reaper invasion, it is shown with live-action footage from one of the trailers.
  • Mega City: The story starts in a city that is described as Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon merged. Later references make it clear that you were in the "Vancouver" part.
  • Messianic Archetype: This game really ups the ante on how much of The Messiah Shepard can be, particularly in the good endings.
  • Meta Casting: Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, voices a space-focused grandfather in the post-credits scene.
  • Mighty Glacier: Krogan multi-player characters, who have much less agility than the other races but have far higher HP, Shields, and resistance to damage.
  • Mildly Military: Discussed if you have Ken and Gabby rejoin the crew. Engineer Adams, who unlike Ken and Gabby did not leave the Alliance to enlist with Cerberus, will praise both of their skills, but he will comment that Ken needs to learn to keep his mouth shut, and that he needs to remind Ken about proper military procedure and the chain of command.
  • Mini-Mecha: Cerberus has ten-foot tall mecha at their disposal. You can actually kill the pilot before destroying the mech, letting Shepard run rampant in one.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: You can encounter (and recruit) numerous ex-Cerberus scientists and soldiers who left the organization once the realized that the Illusive Man was having their co-workers killed once they finished their assignments.
  • Mobile Factory: The Volus Fabrication Units (discovered by scanning a planet in the Aethon Cluster) can be used to replicate custom plastic parts for the Crucible using mobile production platforms.
  • More Dakka:
    • The Revenant Machine-Gun can pump out the dakka with seven 60 round clips officially giving it the largest thermal clip capacity in the game. That's before you apply the Thermal Clip Extension V mod giving it an 80% increase bringing it up to 108 rounds per clip.
    • The Marksman ability (Ashley in singleplayer, the Turian Soldier in multiplayer) turns ANY automatic weapon you are holding into this by cranking your rate-of-fire Up to Eleven.
  • The Mole:
    • How Cerberus must have found out about the krogan female on Sur'Kesh.

 Garrus: Cerberus must have been tipped off. They got here too fast.

Liara: Every war has its traitors.

    • Mordin was Wrex's mole - he leaked info about the fertile females and encouraged political pressure to release them. He is not Wrex's *only* source, however, as you will learn the hard way if you betray him.
  • Monumental Damage: In the trailer we can see a pretty busted up Big Ben Clocktower, and a Reaper just about to land on the London Eye. The tower does, however, manage to remain standing through the end of the game.
  • Motivational Lie: After the fall of Thessia, if you use the Paragon interrupt during the Liara/Javik confrontation, Javik explains that the Protheans believed that the asari were the best hope for this cycle, and that the Protheans protected and nurtured them because they saw their potential. After Liara leaves, Shepard asks whether Javik meant what he said; he asks "does it matter?" and you get as an addendum either "I will tell you what you want to hear: I meant what I said", "She believes it. So she will keep fighting."
  • Multiple Endings: Three basic flavors, with quite a lot of levels of success/failure, and at least as many end-game nonstandard game overs. All of them have their merits, but also have rather nasty consequences. Not only because Shepard has life-threatening injuries due to getting shot by Harbinger's main gun en route to the Catalyst, but because the Crucible does its job through Explosive Overclocking - using it will destroy the entire Mass Relay network... if it was constructed properly and deployed without being damaged en route to the Citadel. If it wasn't, it could destroy all advanced technology, all life in the galaxy or itself without doing anything.
  • Mundane Luxury: In the monastery for secluded Ardat-Yakshi, you can find a message from one of the inhabitants mentioning that somebody managed to smuggle in a copy of the vid Vaenia. She is arranging a group watching and is practically bursting with anticipation. Dialogue in Mass Effect 2 revealed that Vaenia is a love-story featuring two asari: These young Ardat-Yakshi are so desperate for connection to the outside world and emotional stimulus that they are planning to sneak out at night, risking possible forced isolation, so that they can watch a romance film.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: If Shepard shoots Mordin before he rides up the elevator to the Shroud, Shepard stands in shock for a moment before turning away with a grimace and throwing the gun away as he walks off. Especially significant if it's a Carnifex, the model of pistol he gave you as a good faith gesture the first time you met.

Tropes N - Z

  • Nail'Em: The Kishock Harpoon Gun, which will pin enemies to walls if its projectiles are charged enough.
  • Neck Lift: Legion will do this to Shepard if you let the quarians wipe out the geth.
  • Nerf:
    • The Phalanx Pistol went from a Hand Cannon that outdid the previous Hand Cannon with 1.5x more damage to being only slightly more damaging than the basic pistol. The previous Hand Cannon is now practically a Sniper Pistol.
    • The Mattock still retains its power, but now has a max fire rate cap. Fortunately, the Raptor sniper rifle effectively fills its former niche.
    • The Viper Sniper now only holds half the shots and limits the rate of fire, the tradeoff being a significant damage increase. The niche of "rapid-fire sniper" is once again filled by the Raptor.
    • When it was introduced, the Locust SMG had surprising range, rate of fire, and damage, traded off by a small ammo capacity. Now, it retains only its range while inflicting some of the least-damaing shots, and its heavy weight means that even the starting Assault Rifle will supercede it.
    • The Revanant's damage per hit was reduced, probably to make it less of a Game Breaker if Marksman is used.
    • Shockwave got hit with the biggest nerf. As opposed to a huge chain of biotic explosions, it's now a projectile that releases shockwaves as it travels.
  • New Game+: You'll restart the game at your current level with all your weapons and attachments, the max upgrades for weapons will rise from 5 to 10, and you will get an achievement. However, you will lack credits, Intel Terminal upgrades and War Assets.
  • NGO Superpower: Cerberus has been upgraded to a fully-realized military force in this game, with its own fleets of cruisers and fighters, and enough military force to challenge the Systems Alliance throughout its colonies. It also manages to launch a full-scale assault on the Citadel and come close to assasinating the Council, but Shepard afterwards remarks that that was probably the bulk of their total forces, and they would not be able to do anything of the like again.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Some of your choices throughout the trilogy and this game will catch up to you, and not always in a good way. Some specific examples:
    • One sidequest gives you a chance to recruit the rachni, regardless of how you handled them in the first game. However, if you recruit them in a save where the Rachni Queen was killed, then her Suspiciously Similar Substitute is revealed to be indoctrinated, and goes on an offscreen rampage through Crucible R&D, causing significant damage to your war assets before she is put down.
    • If you encourage Javik to embrace the memories of the Echo Shard, the reminder of his lost comrades pushes him into full Death Seeker territory. Otherwise, he will at least be willing to find out what peace looks like if he survives.
    • On the Citadel, Shepard can overhear two conversations; one between an asari commando with PTSD and an asari psychiatrist in the Huerta Memorial Hospital, one between an Alliance engineer and her sergeant in the D24 docking bay. By listening to the conversations in their entirety, Shepard gets the choice to authorise giving the asari commando a gun and to authorise transferring the Alliance engineer to anti-Reaper missions instead of the anti-Cerberus missions she is supposed to be going on. If you authorise the asari getting a weapon, she blows her brains out, reducing the Citadel Defense Force war asset due to traumatizing the doctors and nurses. If you authorize the transfer, then the Alliance war asset is reduced due to "lack of engineers impairing anti-Cerberus missions".
  • Nightmare Sequence: Occurs several times throughout the game as a way for Shepard to actualize his/her guilt over leaving so many people behind on Earth during the evacuation.
  • Ninja:
    • The Infiltrators, if built right, are quite capable of dishing out headshots, launching grenades or performing stealth assassinations with the omniblade while remaining invisible for nearly the entire time. Coupled with a short cooldown for the tactical cloak, they can become virtually unstoppable on the battlefield.
    • The Cerberus Phantom or as the fans lovingly call it, "Ninja Bitch".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Happens to the Virmire survivor early in the first act (causing them to be out of commission for the rest of the first act), then later to Shepard in the climax.
  • No Indoor Voice: Batarians in MP.
  • No Points for Neutrality: Averted for the first time in the series; paragon and renegade choices, as well as other neutral actions, all stack into a single reputation meter. So, instead of determining if you can persuade someone by how high your paragon and renegade scores are, they merely determine how you do it.
  • No Sell: Humanoid enemies can roll to negate a power's effects.
  • Nonstandard Game Over:
    • Early in the assault on Cerberus Headquarters, the bad guys will try to vent the fighter launch bay into space. If you don't find a console to override the venting command in time, Critical Mission Failure.
    • In the endgame, if you do not drive the Illusive Man to suicide and you do not take either of the two Renegade Interrupt prompts, he shoots you and you die.
    • If you take too long to choose an ending, "The crucible has been destroyed," appears on screen, offering you the usual game over options.
  • Nostalgia Level: Almost every planet you have visited in the previous two games, you either re-visit or can procure Assets from. Yes, that includes ALL the UNC missions in the Mako from the first game except for Luna (for obvious reasons).
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: During the "From Ashes" mission, if you have both James and Liara as squadmates, James will ask Liara if she has ever dug up any dinosaur bones during her time as an Adventurer Archaeologist. Liara relies with a mini lecture on the difference between archeology and paleontology, and James sheepishly quips, "I just like dinosaurs..."
    • Garrus asks the same thing, but with him, he knows full well what Liara's doctorate is in and the whole conversation becomes a Mythology Gag about Liara's wide-eyed naive alien-girl role in ME1.

 Liara: Oh. You were joking, weren't you?

Garrus: A little, but, at least you're catching on these days.

    • Or with EDI

 Liara: Oh. That was a joke, wasn't it?

EDI: No. A joke has a specific structure. This was "messing with you".

  • Nuke'Em: Glyph, Liara's drone assistant from the Shadow Broker base, reveals that one colony detonated its nuclear arms on itself in an attempt to take the invading reapers down with them. On Earth however, the Reapers were Genre Savvy enough to attack the nuke silos and take the option off the table early into the invasion.
  • Oblivious to Love: If they are both assigned to the geth dreadnought mission, Garrus and Tali can discuss the turian chocolates that Dr. Michel gave to Garrus. Tali reads into it, but Garrus does not seem to realize that Dr. Michel might have been trying to send a signal.
  • Odd Friendship: Tali and Legion actually refer to each other fondly, Tali in particular talks about her whole perspective being shifted because they kept in contact with eachother between ME 2 and ME 3 (until Legion's disappearance).
  • Oh Crap:
    • The Defense Committee has an excellent one as they see the first Reaper descend from the clouds. Made even better by the fact that they have finally realized that Shepard was right.
    • The Cerberus Mooks on Mars have one when they finally realize that Shepard is with the Alliance reinforcements.
    • Wrex has a lesser one on Sur'Kesh; after losing his temper and attacking some salarian guards, he finds the laser sights of two salarian snipers on his face. Shepard intervenes before things get messy.
    • Garrus says those exact words on Sur'Kesh when an elevator's doors open to reveal a bomb.
  • Old Save Bonus: Taken Up to Eleven. The game tracks over a thousand variables from a save file that went through the previous two games, including:
    • How many of your Mass Effect 2 squadmates survived, and whether they were loyal. It can make certain character-centric missions in 3 much easier.
    • An imported Shepard (and, by association, his/her squadmates) all start at the level you ended Mass Effect 2 with. A Level 30 character imported in gets 31 points to spend right off the bat.
    • The game tracks whether or not you completed the previous game's downloadable content. If you completed "Bring Down The Sky" from Mass Effect 1, and saved the hostages, Balak can show up again; he also shows up if you didn't save the hostages and then left him for dead. If you completed "Lair of the Shadow Broker", you can get bonus intel. Completing "Arrival" nets extra dialogue during a couple of conversations and prevents a reduction to a war asset (who had to do Arrival since you did not).
    • If you managed to save Kelly Chambers and followed a specific set of circumstances, you can get a bonus War Asset and bonus intel from a tropical fish bought in the previous game.
    • Importing a completed save of the OS game Mass Effect: Infiltrator into a new ME3 save file nets an exclusive War Asset.
    • Taken to the point of self-parody in the Conrad Verner sidequest, which can bring up three seemingly-meaningless quests from the first game - Gavin Hossle, the ancient asari writings and the Elkoss Combine license - in rapid succession. Conrad is amazed. Oh, and the ending changes based on a fourth flag.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship:
    • The Reapers.
    • The Crucible in the final showdown - and amazingly enough, the Citadel itself.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Liara's office on the Normandy has these. They actually *follow you*.
  • One Hit KO:
    • What Cerberus Phantoms can do, if you let them get close and they have not been disarmed.
    • Atlas Mechs can pick up and squeeze the life out of a player who gets trapped into melee range.
    • Brutes can crush the player if they get too close.
    • Banshees grab you and kill you instantly, and they love flying about the battlefield spamming their biotic charge ability constantly. If they warp to right beside you, or block you from the only exit in running out, it does not matter how many shields you have, you die, period. Thankfully, the game auto-saves before each fight.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Harbinger shows up at the very end to stop Shepard's charge into the beam up to the Citadel. It almost works.
  • Our Founder: There is a large statue of Jon Grissom in Grissom Academy.
  • Outrun The Blast Wave: At the end of the game, the Normandy is seen attempting to outrun the blast wave caused by the overload of the Mass Relays. It fails and is forced to make a crash landing on an unidentified planet.
  • Pair the Spares:
    • If they both survive to the end of the game and were not romanced by Shepard, the player can walk in on Garrus and Tali hooking up.
    • If they return to the Normandy and Shepard encourages them to enjoy life while they can, Ken and Gabby can be found making out in the sub-deck. Both try to cover what they were doing and are aghast that they were caught.
  • People Puppets: After getting Reaper implants, the Illusive Man gains this power. He uses it to keep Shepard and Anderson still during his final monologue, then forces Shepard to shoot his/her mentor.
  • Pin Pulling Teeth: A turian is seen biting off the pin of a grenade in the ending battle of the game.
  • Pistol-Whipping: One of the available melee attacks. It is faster than using the Omni-Blade, but for obvious reasons, does less damage. The melee damage can be upgraded with the combat tazer attachment.
  • Planetville: Some planets have multiple accessible locations, averting this for the first time in the series.
  • Platonic Life Partners:
    • FemShep and a non-romanced Garrus.
    • This may happen with Kaidan and a Female Shepard - though he desperately wants it to be more.
  • Point of No Return: There are two points in the game where, once you complete that part, previous parts of the game become inaccessible.
    • Tough: Once you complete Priority: Tuchanka, many Citadel sidequests can no longer be completed, as the next time you visit the Citadel it is attacked by Cerberus and the people to whom you report your success can no longer be accessed. Completing the Citadel mission in turn makes any as-yet-uncompleted missions on Tuchanka also unavailable.
    • Merciful: Once you make the assault on Cereberus HQ, the endgame begins. When you first try to move in, Hackett explicitly points this out, saying that the Reapers will take notice and the assault on Earth will have to begin.
  • Porn Stash: Joker apparently has seven zettabytes[3] of explicit material stored somewhere in the Normandy's computers. According to a Cerberus information terminal you find in their HQ, this collection was weaponized by EDI and used to spam Cerberus electronic warfare division computers trying to gain control over the Normandy... unless she was joking.
  • Power Fist: Of the holographic variety, used by batarian characters to punch enemies across the room.
  • Power Palms:
    • Cerberus Phantoms have a gun integrated into their hand. The awkward stance they use to fire it makes their other weapon vulnerable to a certain other trope.
    • Kai Leng has it as well, since he is basically a Phantom on steroids.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Shepard to the heavily damaged Reaper on Rannoch if you take the renegade option:

 Shepard: Tell your friends we're coming for them!

Shepard uses the targeting laser to call in a final strike from the fleet. Cue the Reaper exploding.

Shepard: Never mind, I'll tell them myself.

  • Preorder Bonus:
    • Gamestop pre-orders include "Defender Armor" and an N7 Valkyrie Assault Rifle (the only weapon not covered by the Collector's Edition weapon pack).
    • EA's Origin network offers the AT12 Raider Shotgun.
    • Others get the Argus assault rifle, which is also a midrange weapon.
  • Press X to Not Die: If you cannot talk the Illusive Man down in the finale, failure to hit the correct prompt results in this after he kills Anderson. And yes, he kills you too if you do not take the second prompt. Hope you like going through the dialogue again!
  • "Previously On...": If you did not play either of the previous two games, there will be two video prologues explaining the story so far and the races of the galaxy.
  • Punched Across the Room: Adepts and Vanguards have biotic heavy melee attacks; the former gets an open-palm strike that focuses on distance, the latter gets a super-punch (that can be used right after Charge). Batarian characters can also do this to enemies with their enforcement gauntlets, which generate a giant holographic fist for a huge punch.
  • Put on a Bus: Early in the game, the Virmire Survivor is critically injured and has to spend most of the first act recovering on the Citadel. Later, the player is given the option of bringing them back into the party or keeping him/her on the bus, in which case, they go join Admiral Hackett and become a war asset. Of course, this assumes that they are still alive by that point...
  • Put the Laughter In Slaughter: Krogan multi-player characters, when they enter close combat. Also, Grunt has a disturbing tendency to sort of giggle as he kills things.

 Krogan PC: Hah! They're dead!

  • Putting the Band Back Together: Of the five surviving members of Shepard's ME1 six squadmates, four of them - the Virmire Survivor, Garrus, Tali, and Liara - have been confirmed as playable squadmates if they survived the previous games. Non-squadmate characters, including Engineer Adams, Doctor Chakwas, and Ken & Gabby can be recruited to take their old posts on the Normandy.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Even the best possible ending is this as no matter what you do, the mass relay network is destroyed. However, if you take your time to do the side quests, the losses will still be somewhat less severe.

 Casey Hudson: If you just rip straight down the critical path and try and finish the game as soon as you can, and do very little optional or side stuff, then you can finish the game. You can have some kind of ending and victory, but it’ll be a lot more brutal and minimal relative to if you do a lot of stuff.

  • The Quisling: Udina decides to team up with Cerberus, and is responsible for the Cerberus raid on the Citadel, and can kill off most of the Council if you don't stop him.
  • Rage Quit: Multiplayer has experience and money earned for kills, completing objectives, and surviving waves. The player forfeits this if they quit, discouraging this trope.
  • The Red Planet: Mars is visited very early in the game.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The part where Shepard has to convince the various races to work together instead of looking out for themselves can easily be chalked up to Rule of Drama, but it's actually a big Take That to the idea that the appearance of an all-powerful enemy that threatens all life will magically cause everyone to unite together as one to defeat said enemy- people don't forget about their interpersonal problems that easily.
    • Kelly Chambers is not a badass soldier like Jacob, or a biotic genetically engineered goddess like Miranda. She is a psychologist clerk. When Cerberus come for her, there is no fight. There is no battle. She is not able to get Shepard to help. She is asked if she is Kelly Chambers, and when she says yes, she is shot between the eyes from point blank range.
    • After seeing him/her shooting down 160 meter tall Space Cthulhus like they were nothing, the game has Commander Shepard finally take on one of those Sovereign-class Reaper ships you have heard so much about. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Restart At Level One: Averted if you have an Old Save Bonus - you can waltz into the game as the Level 30 Badass who wiped out the Collectors. Just remember two things; the level cap is now sixty, and given that the Collectors were just Reaper minions, you will most likely need to reach it to defeat the Reapers themselves.
  • Regenerating Shield Static Health: The new health system encourages players to be more careful in combat as Medi-Gel is now needed to fill up the health bar after near-death, as well as extra Experience Points being given for picking up Medi-Gel past your carrying capacity.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Mordin sacrifices himself to cure the Genophage.
  • Relationship Values: Hidden, but present, most noticeably for Ashley and Kaidan: at the Mexican Standoff at the Citadel, a perfect relationship with them results in them automatically trusting Shepard, while worse relationships require higher and higher persuade checks until finally the player has no choice but to kill them. A bug also causes Ken and Gabby's ambient dialogue to only trigger if you have a good relationship with Ashley.
  • Required Party Member: Liara is required for Thessia and Eden Prime (assuming you downloaded "From Ashes"), Tali is required for the first and last Rannoch missions, and EDI is required for the assault on Cerberus HQ. In addition, party members are chosen for you until you finish the mission on Palaven.
  • Reveal:
    • The Leviathan of Dis, the corpse of a genetically engineered organic starship which was mentioned in ME1, is revealed in this game to have been the corpse of a Reaper. This was one of the key reasons for the complete destruction of the Batarian Hegemony, as its corpse had indoctrinated many members of the batarian military and government who sabotaged their home systems defenses.
    • The final scene of the game reveals that the Citadel is home to an AI, referred to as "the Catalyst," that either created or controls the Reapers. It uses them to wipe out advanced organic life out of a belief that a synthetic rebellion is inevitable, and that if it did not interfere then eventually the synthetics would wipe out all life, whereas with the Reapers at least the primitive races can continue to exist.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • Cerberus, for several reasons, as per the Illusive Man's orders. The Illusive Man's belief is that the Reapers don't want to destroy all sentient life--because if they did, there'd be no reason to have left humanity alone last time or to go through this trouble to "harvest" races. He believes that since the Reapers see something valuable in humanity, it would be wiser to gain control of the Reapers and guide their plans with humanity's interests. Okay--all of that is absolutely true, but it doesn't change the fact that the Reapers plan to wipe out all galactic civilization as it exists and that humanity would effectively cease to exist being essentially "human", which would make preserving the species moot. Furthermore, the Illusive Man is indoctrinated, and it's made clear that the indoctrination would have prevented him from actually gaining control at all and was probably making him more sympathetic to the Reapers' goals than humanity's. Despite all of that, however, Shepard can choose to go through with TIM's plan and s/he can take Control of the Reapers in his stead.
    • On the Citadel, you can hear Rupe Elkoss (the billionaire owner of Elkoss Combine) lambast the Sanctuary colony on Horizon, advising his conversational partner not to run to that "scam of a place" since he assumes that they are making money off people's desperation. He is right that it is a bad idea to go there, but instead because Sanctuary is a secret Cerberus abduction and testing facility.
  • Robot Dog: The Collector's edition will give Shepard one - it is basically a FENRIS mech with blue 'eyes' instead of red.
  • Robot Girl: EDI becomes this after the team captures a robotic Cerberus infiltration unit.
  • Romance Sidequest: Up to Eleven in Mass Effect 3, which will resolve all of the romantic conflicts generated in the first two games - that is, if you were not faithful to your romance from Mass Effect 1, there could be sparks flying. The game will also reward you for being faithful to your Mass Effect 1 romance (or Mass Effect 2 romance if you did not romance anyone in the first game). And if you do not romance anyone, the game will notice that, too.
  • Running Gag:
    • Just as in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, it is possible to punch out the snarky and duplicitous tabloid reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani, provided you make the interrupt.
    • A minor event on the Citadel has Shepard seeing a disgruntled customer trying to get a refund from a shop. He has been trying since Mass Effect 1! In a Pet the Dog moment, you can support him, finally getting him... his fifteen credit refund... for a toaster oven.
    • In the Blasto radio drama, Bubin of C-Sec prefaces everything he says with "Badassfully:".
  • Sadistic Choice: Over the course of the game you have to choose between rival factions; only if you have done the legwork in your Old Save Bonus will you be able to Take a Third Option.
  • Scenery Gorn: Everywhere at all times where there are Reapers.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • "From Ashes" reveals that Eden Prime is beautiful when it's not being devastated by a geth attack.
    • The mission to Menae, the moon of the turian homeworld Palaven, is essentially an excuse for a nice, long scenery porn run, as you wander down canyons that end at magnificent vistas of the burning planet, Reapers walking across the surface, and lovingly-detailed shots of crashed turian ships. The amount of destruction also overlaps with Scenery Gorn.
  • Schrodinger's Butterfly: After leaving the Geth Consensus, Joker will posit the theory that you never left, and that everything you are seeing is just a part of the simulation.
  • Science Is Bad: Apparently, this is the Aesop the Reapers embraced. Their goal is to protect organic life from being destroyed by their own creations, by allowing primitive civilizations to advance for millions of years until they reach the capacity to create AI. When that happens, the Reapers move in and wipe them out and (if they deem said species worthy) preserve them forever as Reapers themselves.
  • Scoring Points: In the multiplayer mode. Unlike most cases of this trope, the points have a purpose; at the end of a match, each player's individual score is added up, and the total is converted into Experience Points and given to each character.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Vega and Cortez bicker over the merits/flaws of the Mako and Hammerhead. Vega says the Hammerhead practically has armor made of paper, while Cortez complains that the Mako "handles like a drunk rhino."
    • Conrad gets a full minute plus discussion with Shepard about thermal clips.

 Conrad: I dunno, seems like a backwards step to me. You can still let the guns cool down themselves though, right?

Shepard: Ehh, no. They had to remove the self-cooling systems to make room for where the clips go.

Conrad: You may as well just go back to limited ammunition!

  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: According to BioWare, this game would be harder than the first two, with "Normal as the new Veteran." True to that statement, there is no longer a Veteran difficulty level; it progresses straight from "Normal" to "Hardcore."
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The Stinger reveals that the entire trilogy was being recounted to a child by his/her grandfather. He promises to tell them "one more story about the Shepard" before the screen fades. A message follows about Shepard "becoming legendary".
    • Provided your War Assets were high enough, Shepard wakes up at the end of the "Destroy" ending.
  • Sequence Breaking: The Atlas Mech is supposed to be first encountered at the conclusion of the mission on Sur'Kesh, where it receives an introductory cinematic and serves as the boss of the mission. However, the Grissom Academy becomes available after the previous mission to Palaven, and the Atlas appears as a much more mundane mid-level boss. The DLC mission "From Ashes" can likewise make the Atlas an enemy before its intended introduction, as it is available as soon as you regain free control of the Normandy.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: According to party banter, the Phantoms are carrying monomolecular swords.
  • Shockwave Stomp: The Vanguard's new unique power, Nova.
  • Shooting Gallery: In the Spectre's office on the Citadel.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: Blasto the Hanar Spectre eventually seems to have had a full blown radio drama made about him. Inspired by Lethal Weapon, no less.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: In the game's launch trailer, the Illusive Man warns Shepard not to interfere with his plans. Shepard's response? "Go to Hell!"
  • Sigil Spam: Cerberus, who badly abused this trope in Mass Effect 2, now take it to the next level. The inside of their 'secret' bases, their weapons, their armour, and their vehicles are stamped with their logo, and all their soldiers sport the distinctive black, white and yellow paint job. Justified since Cerberus is done with secrecy, unleashing the full might of their forces on the galaxy to fulfill the Illusive Man's final plan.
  • Slap Slap Kiss: If you romanced Jack in ME2, she will punch Shepard in the face before giving him a passionate kiss.
  • Slave Mooks: Though the Reapers have always had the husks, it is eventually revealed that most Cerberus troopers are this too, as Cerberus managed to raise such a large army in the six month gap between the second and third games by kidnapping civilians and using Reaper implants to indoctrinate them.
  • Smash to Black: The last shot in the game ends like this before fading into the credits.
  • Smug Snake: Kai Leng. Emphasis on "smug".
  • Sniper Pistol: Gun customization means you can, well, add a sniper sight to your heavy pistol.
  • Sniper Rifle: Standard equipment, coming in models that offer armor-piercing capability and with attachments that let you see through smoke.
  • Socialization Bonus: Your War Assets, which build up via both plot and sidequest, are assigned point values, the way they might be in Tabletop Games; Miranda Lawson, as an example, is worth 25 points all on her own. To win the final battle, you need an army worth (say) 1,000 points. However, each asset's value is modified by their "efficiency" rating, measured in a percentage that goes up with multiplayer victories: base War Asset value times the Efficiency percentage equals "Effective Military Strength," which is the number that really counts. A 1,000-point army at 100% efficiency has the same EMS as a 2,000-point army at 50%.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Used on Sur'Kesh, during the extraction of 'Eve'. Shepard and co. call an elevator to head for the surface... only to find that Cerberus left a present. Naturally, everyone survives, except an STG Red Shirt standing too close when the doors opened.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Ereba, the asari whom you possibly convinced to rekindle her relationship with her krogan boyfriend, is pregnant by the time of this game. Unfortunately, Charr dies fighting Ravagers and Swarmers during the war.
  • Something Completely Different: The mission where you enter the geth consensus which does not include any fighting, but instead involves solving some (admittedly fairly simple) puzzles, wrapped up in a new visual style.
  • So Proud of You:
    • If Shepard has the Spacer background, Hackett informs Shepard that his/her mother is still alive, promoted to Rear Admiral, working on the Crucible, and that "she's damn proud of what [s/he's] doing out there."
    • Said to Shepard in the ending sequence by the dying Admiral Anderson.

 You did good, son/child. You did good. I'm proud of you.

  • Space Battle: Quite a few happen over the course of the story, most referenced in passing or seen from a distance, but several put you right in the midst of it.
  • Space Is Noisy: Handwaved; Steve Cortez twice refers to "auditory emulators" to explain why there is noise in space; he mentions that he sometimes turns them off so that he can watch ships go by in complete silence.
  • Spider Tank: Reaper Destroyers, the go-to heavy ground-based combat unit for their forces. It's roughly 1/4 the size of the actual Reaper ships, which still puts it far into Humongous Mecha territory.
  • Spiteful AI: Comes in two flavors. The first is when the enemy refuses to end a multiplayer match early by killing off downed players, forcing them to either wait or Rage Quit and lose any experience points gained. The second is how most objectives are to eliminate specific powerful targets in a tight time limit, with the mission failing if you do not somehow survive the waves of Goddamn Bats, Demonic Spiders and Elite Mooks brimming with Artificial Brilliance that you do not have time to take care of. The specific enemies typically hide on the other side of the map and you only have a minute to kill it.
  • Squee: Joker kids about this pertaining to Liara and first discovering Javik.

 Joker: So, a real live Prothean, huh? Has Liara stopped bouncing? I'm guessing there was bouncing.

  • Squishy Wizard:
    • The Adept. Even with all of the fitness tree upgraded this class is by far the least durable of them all in terms of hit points and resistances. It makes up for this with having incredibly useful abilities like Stasis or Singularity that is exclusive to the class. This is also helped by an extremely fast recharge rate from using light weaponry.
    • Liara, essentially being a character-specific "adept" class, is somewhat lacking barrier points and greatly lacking hitpoints.
  • Stealth Based Mission: Of a sort. When traveling on the Galaxy Map, you have to be careful while exploring a system under Reaper control. If you draw too much attention to yourself (by doing an excessive amount of scanning), then a number of Reapers appear to attack your ship, forcing you to flee.
  • Stealth Hi Bye: A little boy vanishes around a corner silently while Shepard looks away momentarily, and s/he does not notice.
  • Sticky Bomb:
    • The appropriately-named Sticky Grenade, the Infiltrator-specific grenade power. It can be upgraded to blast through armor more effectively, as well as to arm itself on a timer and serve as a proximity mine should it fail to land on a target.
    • The Scorpion (Kirrahe's pistol during the Sur'Kesh mission) shoots lower-powered versions of these.

 Garrus: How do I not have one of those?


 Please don't touch that.

As I said, Commander. Don't touch that.

Again, I would ask you to refrain from touching that.

Perhaps "don't touch that" means something different in your language?

I would rather not refer this matter to the human embassy.

Touch it all you want. You'll never find out what it does.

Are humans really so deprived of stimulus that they must insist on touching everything?

I'm afraid if you keep touching that, you risk a diplomatic incident.

Further manipulation of this object is grounds for further admonishment.

Really! You must stop touching that!

Once more, the Salarian Union formally requests that you not touch that.

Fine! If you're so enamored of that object, then I suggest you get your own feces analyzer.

We've already been down that road. No more.

  • Storming the Castle: The attack on Cerberus HQ.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Dr. Eva is impossible to kill during the sequence where you're chasing her due to her instantly regenerating shields.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Inverted Trope. Remember how Harbinger boasted and taunted at Shepard repeatedly in Mass Effect 2? Despite being mentioned a few times and even appearing once, he has no lines whatsoever in Mass Effect 3.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Several instances occur throughout the game, based on who lived and died in any one person's particular playthrough throughout the series. If certain squadmates from ME2 died in the suicide mission, other characters fill in for some of them where they are supposed to appear.
    • If Mordin Solus died in the Suicide Mission in ME2, Padok Wiks (the Special Tasks Group commander on Sur'Kesh) assumes his role in the narrative, and can fulfill exactly the same role as Mordin. The game even calls attention to it - Joker takes to calling Wiks "Not-Mordin."
    • If you did not spare the Rachni Queen in the first game, a heretofore-unmentioned Queen appears in the Rachni Hive and can also be recruited if the player chooses. However, this has a nasty consequence; this Queen has been indoctrinated, and it and its children run rampant on the Crucible and cause several deaths before they are put down, giving a reduction to your War Assets.
    • If Grunt did not survive the Suicide Mission, his role is replaced by Urdnot Dagg, another krogan picked (by either Wrex or Wreav) to lead Aralakh Company. Unlike Grunt, however, Dagg always dies at the end of the mission.
    • If Legion did not survive the Suicide Mission or he was sold to Cerberus, his role in the Geth-Quarian War will be assumed by a nondescript "Geth VI" constructed in Legion's likeness. Shepard will even note that the VI looks very similar to the geth they retrieved in the previous game if Legion was never turned on. This does not count Legion's appearance as a "Geth Assassin" at the Cerberus Base if you sold him previously.
  • Sword and Gun:
  • Stylistic Suck: In-Universe with Blasto 6.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: When the heavy artillery does not make it to the fight with the Reaper on Tuchanka, you go to an ancient krogan temple and start the device that calls the Mother of all Thresher Maws!
  • Supporting Leader: Several, including Urdnot Wrex (or Wreav), the members of the Quarian Admiralty Board, and Primarch Victus as you try to get entire alien races to unite and assist Earth. Holding down the fort until these allies can show up are Admiral Anderson, who stays behind on Earth, and Admiral Hackett, who seems to be the de facto leader of the joint species fleet in the end.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • The conflict with helping out the krogan or sabotaging the genophage cure in order to garner salarian support for the war effort. Depending on your actions in previous games, as well as the choices you make in this one, you can still get support from both (albeit a little later with the salarians) once Cerberus attacks the Citadel and you end up saving the salarian councilor, they largely back you up.
    • During the geth/quarian conflict, you are constantly forced to choose one side over the other, with both sides promising various things. Depending on what you did in previous games, Shepard can choose to save both races instead of letting one side or the other get wiped out. Which is pretty good for both races, not to mention for Shepard's war effort and struggle to find allies.
    • The lead-up to the Catalyst sees Shepard, Anderson and the Illusive Man arguing over whether or not to destroy the Reapers or take control of them. A potential third option is to make the entire galaxy a synthesis of organic and synthetic life....which is actually what Saren believed was the future of organic life in the first game.
  • Take My Hand:
    • Shepard pulls a variation of this towards a traumatized little boy. In this case, the boy is not in any immediate danger beyond being on Earth as the Reapers invade, Shepard is simply trying to get the boy to trust him enough to let him take the boy to safety. The boy declines.

 "You can't help me."

    • A more conventional example can be found while on the geth dreadnought, where Tali saves Shepard from falling to his/her death when the elevator is damaged by a rocket.
  • Take Up My Sword: The task of developing and building the Crucible has been passed on through countless galacitc civilizations, each one contributing new discoveries about the reapers and new technological inventions to make it into a working weapon against the Reapers.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • At the conclusion of the Poisoned Medigel mission on the Citadel, Conrad will do this for Shepard, complete with a dramatic slow-motion dive. If you completed Jenna's sidequest in the first game then he is not shot after all.
    • If he survived the Virmire mission in the first game, and Thane did not survive the suicide mission in the second game, Major Kirrahe will take the bullet for the Salarian councilor during the Cerberus invasion of the Citadel.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: If your Reputation is high enough (and you didn't miss any conversation options) you can convince the Illusive Man to commit suicide instead of continuing to oppose you.
  • Team Pet: KEI-9 in the Collector's Edition, who is a robotic dog that was left behind by an Alliance engineer during the Normandy's retrofit, and exists to walk around in the ship's shuttle bay and be referred to by Shepard as a "good dog".
  • Technicolor Eyes: In addition to the regular eye colors Shepard can have more exotic iris colors like white or red.
  • Theme Naming: Prothean VIs. In addition to Vigil, we now have Vendetta (part of the Crucible project) and Victory (in the flashback to Javik's time).
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch:
    • Tabloid reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani has learned from her previous encounters with Shepard: "Not this time, bitch!"
    • After the final fight with Kai Leng: "This is for Thane/Kirrahe/Miranda, you son of a bitch!"
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Major Coats's expressions after killing the husk and looking up at the Reapers screams this.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Yes, it's in all caps in the game subtitles, too:


  • Those Two Girls:
    • Westmoreland and Campbell, two guards on the Normandy who banter about whatever just went down on your mission.
    • Should they survive ME2, Gabby and Ken can come back on board to join Adams in engineering after you give a Spectre stamp of approval on pardoning them for their previous Cerberus association.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock:
    • Javik threatens to do this to Joker after being continually referred to as "Prothy The Prothean". He's also in favor of spacing Legion due to his views on synthetics.
    • If you sabotaged the genophage cure in a gameplay where Wrex survived Virmine, you will need to kill Wrex on the Citadel when he discovers your betrayal. Bailey will tell Shepard that they will have to do this to Wrex's body, as they simply do not have time or resources for a funeral or even a coffin large enough to fit him.
  • Time Abyss: The Reapers have been active for billions of years. The Catalyst is older than the Reapers themselves and has watched countless cycles of life evolving and being destroyed.
  • Tired of Running: Shepard accidently woke up a Reaper tank and their first response is to just get away, but Shepard realized that by running all they would do is delay a massive battle and more lives will be lost because the Reaper was controlling/influencing the geth forces. So s/he decides to stand his/her ground and calls in the Migrant Fleet for a dedicated orbital strike.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:....Maybe. Near the end of the game, Shepard watches some videos in the Illusive Man's base that confirm that, yes, s/he really was brain dead. "Maybe I'm just a high-tech VI that thinks it's Commander Shepard." Whichever squadmate is with you at the time will vehemently disagree with the notion.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Tabloid reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani has learned from her previous encounters with Shepard.
  • Trash the Set: That fancy field-of-stars office the Illusive Man communicates from? You get to WRECK it during your final fight with Kai Leng.
  • Tripod Terror: The Reapers may have more tentacles than that, but the apocalyptic sight of several of them slowly walking around London of all places and vaporizing everything with death rays leaves no doubt as to what are they supposed to be referencing. And in case you still doubt it, the deafening WHOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNGGGGH sound they give off will reiterate it.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "The Fleets Arrive" is one of the Mass Effect 1 Main Theme - the music which plays as the Normandy SR1 heads out through the Charon Relay on the way to Eden Prime.
  • True Companions: If you have done things right over the past two games and DLCs, you will be marching against the so far undefeated Reaper threat with those who have gone through hell with you and will give their all to make the final push.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Some portions of the game have Shepard manning a turret to blast away at massive enemies, or acting as door gunner on a drop shuttle. Once even both at the same time.
  • Unexpected Successor: If he survived the events of "Bring Down The Sky" in the first game, Balak goes from being the leader of a small batarian terrorist group to the highest-ranking member of the Hegemony, due to the Reapers wiping out the entirety of the upper leadership on Khar'shan.
  • The Unfought: Since Mass Effect 2, Harbinger was built up as the Big Bad of the series, and is stated to be personally leading the Reaper attack on Earth. However, the closest you get to fighting him is him blasting you with a laser as you rush towards the relay to the Citadel.
  • Unique Enemy: The Legion Assassin enemy, which is encountered during Priority: Cerberus Headquarters if Legion was given to Cerberus in Mass Effect 2. Also, to an extent, the Jack and Morinth enemies encountered during Priority: Cerberus Headquarters and Priority: Earth, respectively. These two enemies are just named Phantom and Banshee enemies with no difference beside name though.
  • Use Your Head: Krogan player characters in multiplayer use head-butting as their "weak" melee attack, in place of the Pistol Whip or gun butt of non-krogan characters.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Cerberus. The Reapers are the main threat, and their Husks are the primary mooks you have to fight, but Cerberus hounds Shepard and the Normandy crew every Goddamn step of the way.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The end game essentially starts with the assault on the Cerberus HQ, but the final battle takes place on Earth, with the final confrontation being on the Citadel.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: If you saved David Archer from Project Overlord & then saved the students at Grissom Academy, when you come across Gavin Archer in a later mission, he will ask if Shepard has heard anything about David - The player has the option of telling him that David was saved with the other students, or letting him suffer. Not telling Gavin will result in him pulling out a pistol and killing himself.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • If you chose to betray Samara for Morinth in Mass Effect 2, you have to fight her as a Banshee in London, and miss out on a war asset.
    • Sending Legion to Cerberus instead of activating him makes him come back as a Geth Assassin in a Cerberus base raid. This also makes you unable to end the geth/quarian conflict without genocide.
    • If you chose not to support the salarian teams on Virmire back in the first game and thus did not save Captain Kirrahe, his replacement in this game lacks his willingness to trust or support Shepard, meaning that the salarian STG will not defy the dalatrass in order to help against the Reapers if the genophage is cured.
    • Not responding to the distress call at Grissom Academy allows Cerberus to capture Jack and convert her into a Phantom with indoctrination.
    • Sabotage the genophage cure? No need to worry if Wreav leads Clan Urdnot. If Wrex survives, though, he will find out and pull krogan support from the war with the Reapers before dying.
  • Viral Marketing: The Cerberus Daily News and Alliance News Networks post little bits of information, such as comm buoys going out, along with the comments being filled with the various races commenting on it, such as a quarian disproving theories that the Migrant Fleet is attacking the batarian homeworld, or an Alliance soldier commenting on a sudden, massive influx of batarian refugees through the Exodus Cluster relay and how the human colony of Elysium is ready for anything that may happen.
  • War Is Hell: The game has near endless examples of the trauma the Reaper war has already inflicted going on in the background.
    • A senile old woman on the Citadel who keeps trying to get in touch with her son, a soldier who "hasn't called in a while" because he is in an active war zone. The asari clerk she is talking to tries to remind her that they have already had this conversation many times, but the woman's senility not only makes her forget that she has already been told there is no news, but she also begins to incorporate the asari into the memories that she does have.
    • An asari commando who killed a crying girl to prevent her from giving away their position, and keeps begging for a gun so she can put a bullet in her own head.
    • A human soldier who was injured and whose wounds became infected, so despite receiving proper on-site medical care, still had to have his legs amputated afterwards.
    • A human colony that decides to detonate nuclear bombs inside every last one of their cities rather than let the Reapers take them, killing the planet's entire population instantaneously.
    • One girl in the refugee camp stands patiently near a converted information kiosk, because her parents said they would meet her there, even though they were on different escape shuttles. The turian on duty knows full well that her parents are not going to make it, but cannot bring himself to tell her. She slowly works it out herself anyway, and resolves to wait for them all the same.
    • It is shown through the interaction with squad members as many of them get reports of their families being killed or worrying about news of that, homeworlds destroyed, etc. And the strain that it puts on Shepard is very noticeable.
  • The War Room: The Normandy comes with a very in-depth one that allows players to keep track of their war assets.
  • Weak Turret Gun:
    • The Engineer gets one of these they can throw into position, and see through walls.
    • The Cerberus Engineers can deploy them as well; in a subversion they are quite powerful and tough to destroy.
  • We ARE Struggling Together!: Despite the Reaper invasion, some of Shepard's potential allies are trying to kill each other. Shepard will need to resolve their issues to get their support.
  • Wham! Episode: The Thessia mission. Not only does the homeworld of the galaxy's most prosperous species fall, it turns out that the asari owe their prosperity to Prothean technology that they have been hoarding to themselves, in blatant violation of their own laws against withholding such technology. For the first time in the whole series, Shepard flat-out fails thanks to Kai Leng's dirty tricks. It is very quiet on the Normandy afterwards.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • During the mission to Sur'Kesh, Cerberus attacks the STG facility and both Mordin and Shepard's squad mention that Cerberus must have been helped by a mole in STG to get there that quick, but this is never brought up again later and whoever it was remains unrevealed.
    • On the mission to Benning, Admiral Hackett explains that Cerberus is officially denying their involvement and saying that the personnel involved are rogue operatives. Hackett states that this time he is actually inclined to believe Cerberus, since wanton destruction is not their usual style (They normally have some goal, no matter how obtuse or abhorrent it might be). After this mission, the idea of rogue Cerberus agents, or what they might have been planning, is never brought up again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: No matter how you resolve the genophage situation, someone is going to chew you out for it:
    • If you cure the genophage, the salarian dalatrass emails you and explains that she will withhold Salarian Union suport from the Crucible since you have just doomed the galaxy to another Krogan Rebellion after the Reapers have been dealt with. However, depending on your actions in prior games, the rest of the salarians decide to support you, especially for saving the salarian councilor.
    • If you decide to sabotage the cure, Mordin catches on to what you are up to and expresses indignation that Shepard will throw all that work away for a backroom deal with the dalatrass. He can, however, be persuaded to come around to your viewpoint depending on who is in charge of the krogan clans and who survived the mission so far.
    • If you sabotage the cure and you completed his family armor quest in the first game, Wrex rails at you for being two-faced when he confronts you on the Citadel.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The Salarian Dalatrass offers the full aide of the Salarian Union in building the Crucible, provided you sabotage the Genophage cure. She specifically points out that nobody will know what you did, as the countermeasures they have in place will initially make it look like the cure was successful, and when the continued presence of the Genophage is discovered it will look like a good-faith error. Depending on which characters have survived this and past games, and which decisions you make here, your complicity can be discovered, leading to a severe criticism of Shepard.
  • Where It All Began:
    • The "From Ashes" DLC pack adds a mission about a Prothean artifact on Eden Prime, the location of the first mission in the original game. Liara flat-out says this is "where it all began" for them.
    • The finale takes place on the Citadel, on the underside of where the first game ended, once again trying to open the arms.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Garrus when he sees Kirrahe's sticky grenade launcher.
  • Working with the Ex:
    • Shepard and Liara / the Virmire Survivor, if you pursued a romance with them and then a different crewmember in the second game.
    • Potentially applies to Tali or Garrus, if you pursued one of them in the second game and choose to dump them in 3.
  • X-Ray Vision: Enemies are visible through walls with the geth's Hunter Mode.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Some of the hair colour choices have become downright neon.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Cerberus began to really dig in to the technology left from the Collector base, the Illusive Man began having his scientists killed after they had finished their assignments. "Contract terminated" was the euphemism in use.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • If you romanced the Virmire Survivor or Liara in the first game and someone else in Mass Effect 2, the infidelity will be addressed. This will also apply to any Mass Effect 2 love interests, except Jacob, if you did not romance anybody in the first game.
    • If you romanced Jacob in ME2, he is the one that cheated on you, as you will find out soon after you meet him.
  • Your Head Asplode: Headshots have become cathartically more interesting. Krogan characters can sometimes get the same result by headbutting people. Batarians can do so reliably with their Power Fists.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • The final space battle is basically this. You need strength in sheer numbers to stand a chance against the technologically superior Reaper forces.
    • Hammer Force attempts a mad rush to the beam to the Citadel. Unfortunately, in this case quantity did not top superior Reaper firepower.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: When not Indoctrinating the people, the Reapers will mutate existing species into their footsoldiers. The previous games showed us the Husks (human) and the Collectors (the Protheans), but this game introduces Cannibals (batarians with an Arm Cannon made of a human), Marauders (turians), Ravagers (rachni), Banshees (asari) and Brutes (krogan/turian hybrids). Learning and controlling the process (in turn giving them control of Reaper forces, or so they hope) turns out to be Cerberus' primary goal.
  1. either for destroying a batarian relay to delay the Reapers or just for working with Cerberus, depending on whether the player completed the "Arrival" DLC in ME2
  2. apparently from picking up your party members in the final dungeon, but many players find this extremely unclear.
  3. For the non-computer geeks out there, that's roughly enough data to fill fourteen Internets