%%Character tropes do not go on this page. Tropes which apply only to a specific character should be placed under that character's section in the Mass Effect series character page (Characters/MassEffect) or the Mass Effect 1 character page (Characters/MassEffect1). This keeps the various Mass Effect pages organized and helps prevent them from devolving into Department Of Redundancy Department territory. Thanks.
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[[quoteright:270:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mass_effect_cover_3878.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:270:The hero(ine) with a thousand faces. Literally.]]
->''[[RousingSpeech "Not just for our own sake but for the sake of every other species in Citadel Space, Saren must be stopped. And I promise you all: we WILL stop him."]]''
-->--'''Commander Shepard'''

The first game in the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' series.

The year is 2183, thirty-five years after humanity has discovered a cache of technology on Mars from a long extinct alien race. This technology enables them to travel great distances throughout the Milky Way and join a community of alien races based at an ancient complex called the Citadel.

The plot revolves around one Commander Shepard, a human military officer who becomes the first human Spectre, a member of [[SpacePolice an elite interplanetary peacekeeping force]]. S/he is tasked with tracking down a rogue Spectre, Saren, who has apparently allied himself with the geth, a race of [[MechaMooks murderous robots]]. As the storyline progresses, Shepard explores a variety of worlds, encounters a wide range of sapient species, and uncovers an ancient plot involving the [[DoomyDoomsOfDoom coming doom]] of every sapient organic being in the entire galaxy.

There is a selection of plot-relevant missions and, if you focus exclusively on those, the game would be in the realm of 9-10 hours, but being an RPG, there is an entire galaxy for you to explore as you engage in side missions, expanding the game to upwards of 25 hours or more. The game lacks a traditional good/evil KarmaMeter, and instead gives you options on how to proceed with each encounter based on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism; you are a hero either way, but your heroism can range from KnightInShiningArmor to AntiHero. You can choose whether to recruit all of the characters optioned to be part of your crew or ignore them and do it all yourself. You even have the option of different characters to [[RomanceSidequest pursue a romantic relationship with if you so desire]] (including a possible LoveTriangle).

The weapons within the game do not have ammunition, instead replacing it with an "overheat" meter that limits how long you can fire your weapon before you need to pause for a cooldown, but there are modifications available within the game that [[MoreDakka allow for non-stop firing]]. You are also able to customize the equipment of yourself and your squad, including which specific weapons you take into battle, the armor you wear and various perks and enhancements.

The game was widely praised for its story, WorldBuilding and interactivity, but received a cooler reception for its gameplay. Main criticism points were a menu system that over-complicates the RPG elements, unrefined Third-Person-Shooter gameplay, and overuse of CopyAndPasteEnvironments in non-plot-related missions. Choices made during the course of this game [[OldSaveBonus transfer over]] to [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 its sequel]], and from there into [[VideoGame/MassEffect3 the third game]].

The game received a lot of media attention and criticism for a sex scene between Shepard and a romantic option late in the game, which was drummed up as meaning this was a [[MurderSimulator sex emulator]] [[labelnote:DETAILS]] Fox News talked to an author of a book on media influence, Cooper Lawrence, who proceeded to pick apart the moral values of the game [[CowboyBebopAtHisComputer despite admitting she had never played it and did not understand the game at all.]] In contrast, a game reviewer was also interviewed and explained in detail what the game was about and that it was just a cutscene and did not actually "emulate" a sexual encounter (i.e., giving the player options on what to do ''during'' the act). When Lawrence later watched approximately two hours of gameplay, she recanted her criticism and stated that "Iíve seen episodes of ''Series/{{Lost}}'' that are more sexually explicit." Jack Thompson, of all people, believed that the media storm was overblown and unnecessary.[[/labelnote]]

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!!''Mass Effect'' contains the following tropes:

''Please do not add any character tropes to this page. The Characters page for the entire series can be found [[Characters/MassEffect here]].''

* AbandonedMine: Many, many side missions take place in these from recovering missing Alliance intelligence to killing [[OurZombiesAreDifferent husks]] of a mining team that DugTooDeep.
* AbnormalAmmo: The player can modify what kind of bullets their weapon can fire. These range from the fairly mundane anti-organic and anti-synthetic rounds, to the bizarre (and more awesome) bullets that cause enemies to burst into flame, get poisoned (by radiation, no less), or freeze. A full list can be found [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Ammunition_Upgrades here]].
* ActionBomb: [[spoiler:Rachni Workers]], very small bugs that throw themselves at you and explode, [[GoddamnBats doing poison damage that completely ignores your shields]].
* ActionFilmQuietDramaScene: Several. One example is when Shepard has to decide whether or not [[spoiler:to let the Rachni Queen live.]]
* AdmiringTheAbomination: Both Liara and Shiala express regret over the destruction of the [[spoiler: Thorian]] as it was a unique and ancient life form.
* AlasPoorVillain: [[spoiler:Benezia and Saren]] are under "indoctrination", a subtle form of mind control, and depending on your choices may kill themselves if you make them see it.
* AlignmentBasedEndings: Depending on whether you were a [[LawfulGood Paragon]] or [[AntiHero Renegade]] and whether or not you [[spoiler: saved the Council]], the ending speech [[FourStarBadass Captain Anderson]] or [[AssInAmbassador Ambassador Udina]] gives will differ. The Paragon ending has a RousingSpeech basically along the lines of "We will rebuild, and we will fight side-by-side." As a Renegade, the speech consists of how humanity will protect the galaxy at any cost.
* AllThereIsToKnowAboutTheCryingGame: If you're wondering why [[spoiler:the Reapers, Protheans, and so on]] haven't been mentioned yet, it's because they are only really appearing near the end (at the end of the second-to-last mission for [[spoiler:the Reapers]], and then you get an InfoDump on the plotlines in the middle of the last mission) of ''this'' game. They also take a much lesser role (for example, only [[spoiler:Sovereign, a single Reaper]] is present at all and even he is not featured much, compared to, say, Saren).
* AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs: [[spoiler:The Battle of the Citadel]]. Makes for a pretty awesome and [[TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon very definitely final dungeon]].
* AlmostKiss: Between Shepard and the LoveInterest, just before the PointOfNoReturn.
* AncientKeeper: [[spoiler:[[MeaningfulName Vigil]], a [[{{Precursors}} Prothean]] virtual intelligence which maintained the facility on Ilos in the hopes that an organic race would reach the planet before the next Reaper invasion. It survives long enough to point Shepard towards the Conduit and give him/her a means of preventing the return of the Reapers]].
* ApocalypticLog
** The message in the Prothean Beacons. [[spoiler:Vigil]], however, takes this to a LogicalExtreme.
** In ''Bring Down the Sky'', there are three missing miners you have to find as part of a sidequest, one of which leaves an ApocalypticLog that is ''definitely'' a TearJerker.
-->'''Hymes:''' If I don't make it, tell my family I love-- '''*[[KilledMidSentence BOOM]]* '''
* AppliedPhlebotinum: The eponymous mass effect, which is the effect on matter that causes it to gain or lose mass, enabling anti-gravity, artificial gravity, and [[FasterThanLightTravel faster-than-light travel]], among other things.
* ArbitraryHeadcountLimit: You can recruit up to six squadmates, but can only take two with you at a time.
* ArmorAndMagicDontMix: The greater the character's focus on tech or biotics, the less heavy the armor they can equip. Tali, Kaidan, Liara, and Adept, Sentinel, and Engineer Shepard can only wear light armor, and Liara and Sentinels don't even have any options for improving their competence with it. Garrus and Infiltrator or Vanguard Shepard start out with only light armor available but can invest skill points to unlock medium armor. Wrex, Ashley and Soldier Shepard, the most combat-focused characters, have access to medium armor from the start and can unlock heavy armor. The later games in the series remove armor classes.
* ArmorOfInvincibility: Several.
** The Colossus Armor sold by acquiring the Kassa Fabrication license has the highest damage reduction in the game and is available in light, medium, and heavy sets for your human, asari, quarian, turian, and krogan squadmates to wear.
** The Predator Light/Medium/Heavy armors sold after getting the Armax Arsenal license has lower damage reduction than the Colossus but makes up for it by having much higher shields, making them better alternatives for any squadmate that has the "Electronics" skill.
** Wrex has the Krogan Rage/Berserker/Battlesmaster Heavy Armors sold with the Geth Armory License and Garrus can wear the Light Phantom Armor sold from the Serrice Council License (the same armor worn by Nihlus Kryik in the beginning of the game).
* ArtificialLimbs: Though it is never commented upon in the game, Saren's left arm is actually a geth arm.
* AStormIsComing:
** When you land on Virmire, it is sunny, but ahead of you are dark clouds with flashes of lightning.
** If you ask Wrex why he wants to join you, he says: "There's a storm coming, and you and Saren are right in the middle of it."
* AttackItsWeakPoint: The Thorian can only be killed by attacking the neural clusters that are scattered around its mammoth body.
* AutobotsRockOut: As befitting a game that pays homage to early 1980s sci-fi flicks, the end credits feature an '80s style rock ballad [[SoundtrackDissonance that has almost nothing to do with the events of the story.]]
* AwakeningTheSleepingGiant:
** The turians were a newly discovered neutral race during the Krogan Rebellions, until the krogan attacked some of their orbital habitats in an attempt to intimidate them. This brought the turians, with more military might than the other Citadel races ''combined'', into the war against the krogan.
** The Codex entry on the human military points out that the rest of the galaxy sees the Systems Alliance as a sleeping giant. The Systems Alliance has only 3% of the total human population in uniform, a far smaller number than any of the established (and more numerous) Council races. The entry uses the actual "sleeping giant" term, and explains why the rest of the galaxy tends to treat humans with kid gloves: they're terrified of what the Systems Alliance might be capable of if sufficiently motivated by fear, anger, or desperation.
* AwesomeButImpractical: On Ilos, you can hack some computer terminals to activate four Geth Colossi fighting on your side, making mincemeat out of any other geth trying to oppose you in this area, even the toughest ones. The problem is: you first have to get past said enemies to reach the terminals. Good luck trying that with a Geth Prime around.
* AwesomePersonnelCarrier: The Mako is a three-person all terrain vehicle that can be dropped from orbit, achieve sub-orbit itself through the use of thrusters and a mass effect field, and possesses a cannon and a 50mm autocannon.
* BadassBoast: Happens a fair amount throughout the series, a great example from [[spoiler:Sovereign]].
-->[[spoiler:'''Sovereign:''']] Your words are as empty as your future.
* BattleInTheRain: Virmire, although the PC hardware requirements for weather effects were pretty high for its time and it did not show at all on the Xbox 360 version.
* {{Beat}}: Punch out reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani and you may hear (5:08) [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiITTLJ2dw8 this]] in a Citadel elevator:
-->"Reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani recently attempted to land an interview with Commander Shepard, the first human Spectre. When pressed on the issues however, Commander Shepard reportedly lost control and assaulted the reporter.
-->'''''{{Beat}}'''''
-->"We'll have exclusive footage later today."
* BettingMiniGame: The Quasar slot machines. Nowhere near as fun as [[KnightsOfTheOldRepublic pazaak]], though.
* BigBad: [[spoiler:Sovereign]].
* BigBadassBattleSequence: The Battle of the Citadel.
* BilingualBonus: It's not like binary is an official language, but those who know it will be able to read the Luna VI's final message. [[spoiler:HELP!]]
** You learn in the third game that [[spoiler:Cerberus answered that distress call.]]
* BlackAndGreyMorality: The Renegade playthrough takes this light.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: Should you be playing Paragon, the central conflict between Shepard and Saren seems to take this light, but there is a large amount of [[GreyAndGrayMorality grey]] in between.
* BlatantItemPlacement: The lootable Soviet Luna 23 on the Moon.
* BleakLevel: Post-Virmire ''Normandy'', complete with sad music (which, incidentally, happens to be the game's LoveTheme).
* BlindIdiotTranslation: The Russian localization changed phrases' meaning to their complete opposite. The most notable one is making Khalisah Al-Jilani sound like a patriot who praises Shepard for his/her actions. They made the conversion wheel options completely unrelated to the actual responses, failing to understand the meaning of both and they even went as far as making things up, especially in the Codex. Like calling quarians complete atheists whose science proved that ReligionIsWrong. The translators also failed to accentuate the Paragon/Renegade choices in many ButThouMust situations, making these even more apparent than in the original. A notable example is when the player is [[{{Railroading}} railroaded]] into accepting Ashley Williams into the team on Eden Prime. All of Shepard's responses to Kaidan's suggestion on having a useful "extra gun" in the team are nearly identical ("Good idea"/"Good"/"Good, let's go"). This caused the phrase "extra gun" to [[MemeticMutation mutate]] into a somewhat derisive [[FanNickname nickname]] for the game.
* BlueAndOrangeMorality:
** When Shepard asks Vigil why the enemy do what they do, Vigil replies that being a race of machines, their reasons might be beyond our comprehension.
** Taken literally in-game. The Paragon morality meter is blue, while the Renegade meter is orange.
* BodyHorror:
** Husks, who were once people, and [[spoiler:Saren]], who gets put through a similar process.
** Garrus's optional quest has you chasing a criminal doctor who grew extra organs within his test subjects, without their knowledge. When they were ready, he would recover them and patch up the victims, ''badly''. Garrus mentions multiple cases of subjects bleeding to death from stitches reopening.[[spoiler: When you face the mad doctor in his own ship, you end up facing a bunch of mutant zombies that resemble what an ''ancient EldritchAbomination created'']].
* BorderPatrol: If you venture too far outside the box on any side world, the ''Normandy'' will pick you up and drop you back off at the starting point. Normally unnoticeable, but for some reason there's a few resource points in the red zone on a couple of worlds.
* BoringButPractical:
** The other cool ammunition to load into your gun have nifty effects against your enemies, but basic armor-piercing and anti-personnel ammo for synthetics and organic enemies provide more benefit from their simplistic yet significant damage increase to your weapon.
** Heat sinks. Sure they have no flashy effects or cool damage animations, but being able to fire longer without pause sure gets the job done a lot easier!
*** Heck yes, heat sinks. If you load your pistol with the best heat sinks possible (such as Frictionless Materials) and use Marksmanship[[labelnote:info]], which temporarily ''dramatically'' increases your rate of fire to near assault rifle levels while slowing down how quickly your gun overheats to compensate[[/labelnote]], you can actually fire continuously without overheating until ''after'' Marksmanship runs out. By the end of the game, when you have probably maxed out how long Marksmanship lasts, you'll end up able to kill multiple enemies with your little handgun ''in one go.''
* BossRemix: A combination of Sovereign and Saren's themes.
* BrokenFaceplate: In ''Bring Down the Sky'', a survivor of the attack mentions that the batarian terrorists killed engineers working vacuum by smashing their faceplates.
* BrokenRecord: Makes MostAnnoyingSound ''THAT MUCH WORSE''.
** '''Mira:''' User alert! Main reactor shut down in accordance with emergency containment procedures. Manual restart required.
** "ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!" "GO, GO, GO!" "ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!" "I WILL DESTROY YOU!!!"
** Shepard: "I've lost shields!"
* BrokeYourArmPunchingOutCthulhu: Sure, killing Sovereign was awesome, but [[spoiler: no matter which option you chose there are still thousands of deaths, and the damage to the Citadel itself will take seven years to fix]]. In a literal example, after the fight, Shepard shows up cradling his/her arm to his/her body, indicating that s/he actually broke it in the final battle and its aftermath.
* ButThouMust:
** Sometimes Shepard says the same thing regardless of what option you pick.
** Midway through Eden Prime, you meet a trio of colonists; at one point, one of them accidentally mentions that they have weapons. You have to take the pistol, there is no option to let them keep it for self-defense, which would be very reasonable given that the area is a combat zone, and no one at the time knows if more geth are on the way. (They aren't, but that isn't known at the time.)
*** Later, though we learn that [[spoiler: Legion]] will arrive on Eden Prime, looking for [[spoiler: Shepard]]. This isn't seen in Mass Effect 1, though.
** On Virmire, there's no option to agree with Wrex about [[spoiler: not destroying the cure for the genophage, the disease that's killing his people.]] There are just different ways to make him agree with you [[spoiler: or kill him.]]
** At the end of the Pinnacle Station DLC, when Shepard insists that the safeties are turned off for the final simulation, just so (s)he can look cool.
* CallASmeerpARabbit: The "space monkeys" on Eletania, which were named "pyjaks" in the sequel.
* [[CarFu Mako Fu]]: Ramming infantry enemies can result in one hit kills, but the larger enemies do not suffer any damage. It ''does'', however, temporarily stun them. Makes it much easier taking out armatures, colossi, juggernauts, and primes, because they fall over and take a while to get back up. Killing things with the Mako, however, reduces the experience you get by a significant factor.
** Driving over a monkey on Eletania earns you Renegade points and results in companions' wisecracks. This only works once, though.
* CatFight: Played with, then averted. If the player chooses the "Catfight!" option when Ashley and Liara confront Shepard, he will say "I love it when women fight over me." Ashley then tells him that isn't going to happen.
* TheCavalry: Joker, Admiral Hackett, and the entirety of the Alliance Fifth Fleet [[spoiler:when Sovereign attacks the Citadel]]. Crosses over into BigDamnHeroes territory [[spoiler:if you choose to save the ''Destiny Ascension'']].
* ChekhovsGun: The Mass Relay Monument on the Presidium.
* CirclingMonologue: Both Shepard and Saren try to convince each other at the end of the Virmire mission to join the other side.
* CollapsibleHelmet: The helmets function this way, being actually parts of the armor that pull over the wearer's head, convertible-style.
* CollectionSidequest: Several, including many in space and one on the Citadel. Most of them have to do mainly with space exploration, though a couple involve Shepard investigating lost remnants of battles and explorers who came before him or her - which given the general theme of the game is very appropriate, if somewhat sidetracking.
* ColonyDrop: You stop one of these from happening in the "Bring Down the Sky" DLC.
* CommandRoster: Some roles change depending on how you play the game.
** TheCaptain: Commander Shepard.
** NumberTwo: Technically Pressly, but Kaidan or Ashley can also fill this role.
** WrenchWench: Tali.
** The Scientist: Liara.
** TheMedic: Dr. Chakwas.
** The Marine: Ashley and/or Wrex.
** The Security Officer: Garrus and/or Kaidan.
** AcePilot, CommunicationsOfficer, and sometimes MissionControl: Joker.
** ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Captain Anderson, Admiral Hackett.
** ObstructiveBureaucrat: Ambassador Udina.
** RedShirt: Richard [[LeeroyJenkins L. Jenkins]].
** DrillSergeantNasty: Admiral Mikhailovich
* TheComputerIsACheatingBastard: Snipers can kill you in one shot. Sure, you can do this as well, but they aim ''much'' faster than you (once their laser sights are visible, you have about a second to get out of its way). Oh, and did we mention how they have infinite ammo?
* ConvectionSchmonvection: Drive (or walk) as close to the lava on Therum as you like, you'll be fine. [[NonStandardGameOver Just don't actually touch it]].
* ContraltoOfDanger: The female Commander Shepard, voiced by Creator/JenniferHale, speaks in a rough, smoky contralto and, since the games lean on PurelyAestheticGender, she's just as terrifying a combatant as the male version.
* ConversationCasualty: This is how the conversation between Nihlus and Saren goes.
* CopKiller: {{Discussed|Trope}}. One of the missions on Noveria has you fight through the facility's security force to retrieve incriminating evidence on the corrupt boss of the place. On the way out, you run into the irate sergeant, herself going [[DirtyCop behind her captain's back]], who says, "You know what they do to cop killers on my world?" If Wrex is present, he retorts, "You know what they do to corrupt cops on mine?"
* CopyProtection: The original standalone (i.e. non-{{Steam}}, and non-Trilogy edition) PC version of ''Mass Effect'' only allows you to install it three times on different machines/hardware configurations. The previous version of the copy protection involved regular "calling in" periods to a remote server, resulting in a non-functional game if the program was unable to connect to the authentication server. This got a TakeThatUs in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' courtesy of a salarian video game salesman on the Citadel.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: A recurring plot point.
** Noveria is a entire ''planet'' devoted to this: it exists outside of Council Space and therefore is not subject to its jurisdiction - corporations use it to conduct R&D that is normally illegal. In fact, you come across an executive that is being investigated not because he is on the take, but because it has reached the point where he is turning investors away.
** Binary Helix, a human genetics MegaCorp, [[spoiler:brought the rachni back from the dead to mass-produce an army (some of which found their way to Cerberus). They were also working on a biological weapon, adapted from a plant pesticide. Oh, and they work for Saren]].
** [=ExoGeni=] Corp [[spoiler:purposely infected colonists with alien spores to see what effect it would have. When knowledge of this got out, they decided to [[KillEmAll repurpose the colony]]. They also shipped a number of Husks and Thorian Creepers off to Cerberus]].
* CorruptedData: How the game justifies letting the player select Shepard's family and psychological background.
* CourtroomAntic: During the first Council hearing regarding Saren's involvement with the Eden Prime attack, Anderson tries to ''submit a dream into evidence'' (granted, it was a prophetic dream, but he had no way of proving that and even if he could, it didn't directly implicate Saren). The trope is quickly subverted, as it goes about as well as you would expect, and Anderson is KickedUpstairs shortly afterwards. In Anderson's defense, he was kind of desperate.
* CrutchCharacter: The Mako. There is no option to upgrade it while your weapons keep improving, so eventually you will be best off leaving the vehicle and fighting on foot (avoiding the hefty experience penalty associated with using the Mako in combat). Subverted in the sense that Mako shielding and, most importantly, speed remain unmatched and can always topple Geth Colossus and Armatures.
** And then brought back to being played straight, in that while the Mako's shields scale with level, shield ''regeneration'' does not. You might as well get a good book if you plan on using the Mako in firefights ([[NotTheIntendedUse or as cover during firefights]]) because it can take up to five full minutes for the shields to regenerate fully at the highest levels.
* CryonicsFailure: [[spoiler:The fate of most of the Protheans on Ilos who went into stasis to escape the Reapers' purge of the galaxy]].
* TheCuckoolanderWasRight: [[spoiler:Manuel on Eden Prime]] sounded like he got a little unhinged by the attack. Later on in the series, however, you slowly realize that his manic babbling was more than just hallucinations. In fact, he's so spot on some theorize that he managed to [[spoiler:access the Prothean beacon, but couldn't handle the alien information inside]].
* CurbStompBattle: The squad vs. Dr. Saleon. If you convince Garrus not to kill him, or if you leave Garrus behind, Saleon will try to kill you, but goes down in ''one shot''.
** Played With, in a non-combat example, with the first Citadel trial against Saren. Saren proceeds to utterly dismiss and annihilate every piece of evidence Anderson and Udina try to raise. However, the second trial doesn't go as well for him.
* CultColony: One sidequest deals with a cracked military officer and his colony of devoted followers.
* CutAndPasteEnvironments: Almost every sidequest in the game takes place in (1) a mine that's a big room with two smaller ones branching off the back, (2) a building with an exterior overhang that's just one big room and a balcony, (3) a boxy bunker with a "T" junction in back leading to two small rooms. Or, (4) a freighter (or sometimes space station) that has a short entryway, a large main hold and a crew/cockpit area with three small rooms. About the only variation is the crates/computers/boxes/whatever placed inside and how they're positioned. If the designers were feeling particularly [[SarcasmMode creative]], you might get some combination of the three. It doesn't help that on quite a few of these missions you're fighting geth and husks, i.e. the same enemies you fight for most of the main storyline.
** Types 2, 3, and 4 are justified if they are considered mass-produced prefabricated structures. As for the mine layout, it's quite a stretch to assume that miners cut the exact same passages on a dozen different planets at different times.
* CuttingTheKnot: Oh no, this AI is threatening to blow you up! [[CutTheJuice You have to override its programs in the short amount of time given to me!]] Or, you could blow up this power conduit with your shotgun. Of course, if you just do that, you cannot salvage the huge pile of credits the AI had amassed.
* CutsceneIncompetence:
** The Mako is flipped over and rendered inoperable from impacting the ground [[spoiler:after traveling through the Conduit]], to ensure players don't falsely assume, by TheLawOfConservationOfDetail, that they're supposed to ''drive'' to [[spoiler:the Citadel Tower]]. In gameplay, you can jump off a sheer cliff without repercussions. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]], since in the previous section the Mako's HP automatically falls all the way to zero when you approach the Conduit. [=IFVs=], no matter how [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier badass]], aren't really built for faster-than-light travel.
** Upon arrival at the entrance to the Prothean ruins on Therum, Shepard and squad are met by a geth dropship that delivers an armature and several snipers and hoppers. Do they run, head for cover, or open fire? Hell, no! They stare in slack-jawed amazement until the geth start shooting.
** After the other colonists are down on Feros, [[spoiler: Fai Dan appears in a cut-scene, gun in hand, and defies the Thorian by taking his own life instead of attacking Shepard. Shepard makes no attempt to stun him with a gas grenade -- particularly aggravating if s/he's already done that to everyone else]].
* CutTheJuice: Happens on Feros to Lizbeth Baynham. The geth cut the power once they invade, inadvertently preventing her from sending a message to Colonial Affairs about [[spoiler:the Thorian]].
* CutLexLuthorACheck: A pettier example than usual. In Flux, a salarian needs your help testing out a device he built to cheat at Quasar. If you foil his plans, he'll be crestfallen that the years of work he put into making the device have gone to waste, wondering what he will do now. Your squad members suggest that he could use his skills to get a real job.
* DaChief: Executor Pallin, providing a {{foil}} for the appearance of CowboyCop Garrus.
* DamageIsFire: The Mako.
* DamnYouMuscleMemory: An odd chronological example. Most people who have played the {{PlayStation 3}} version probably played ''Mass Effect 2'' first, and so were used to using R1 to shoot, R2 to bring up the power wheel, L1 to zoom in and L2 to bring up the weapon wheel. The PS3 version of the first game has those buttons reversed.
** Similarly, in the Xbox 360 version of ''Mass Effect 2'', the Select button puts away your guns. In the original game, it throws a grenade. Muscle memory sees Shepard hurling grenades in celebration for winning battles.
** Additionally, when exploring by ship in the PS3 version, you press Square to go to places and leave orbit. In the PS3 version of ''Mass Effect 2'', you press Circle to leave orbit and Square to go back to controlling Shepard.
** In most shooter games, the "Reload" function is default to the "R" key. Mass Effect 1 has no reload button, and the "R" key instead is default for "Throw grenade". Imagine the look on a first time player's face as he, out of habit, tries reload after a fight and gets a grenade blowing up in his face (luckily it does no damage). Fortunately all controls are easily reconfigured.
** On PC, '''F''' is "First Aid", which draws from your limited supply of medi-gel. Bites players coming back from the sequels, which use '''F''' for "melee attack".
* DecontaminationChamber: Apparently standard procedure is for all personnel entering the ''Normandy'' to be decontaminated before being allowed to board, no matter where they are returning from. It's actually a carefully-disguised loading screen, just like the elevators.
* DeployableCover: The {{beehive barrier}}s the geth are so very fond of plonking down everywhere.
* DeusExNukina: A converted ship drive core. [[spoiler:Used on Virmire to destroy Saren's base]].
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: See [[TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything/MassEffect here]].
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu:
** [[spoiler:The Thorian, a planet-wide sentient plant]] that you defeat by shooting its weak points ForMassiveDamage.
** The conclusion, [[spoiler: where Sovereign, the millions-of-years-old Reaper, is destroyed by (depending on your interpretation of the game) either you personally destroying its Saren-avatar, or by the combined might of the Council and the Systems Alliance]].
* DifficultyLevels: Fully customizable throughout the game, running from Casual to Insanity. Be warned, however, that if you want to get the achievements for completing Hardcore and Insanity, you'll need to change it before approaching the beacon on Eden Prime and leave it there for the rest of the game.
* DiscOneFinalDungeon: [[spoiler:It is established that you have to go to Ilos to stop Saren before he finds the Conduit, but then during the mission on Ilos, it is revealed that the Conduit is a mini mass relay that leads to the Citadel, which ends up being the VeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon]].
* DiscountLesbians: The asari are a mono-gendered race, technically neither male or female, but their appearance is uniformly feminine and they use feminine pronouns. All relationships between two asari are DiscountLesbians and your party member Liara provides a GayOption RomanceSidequest.
* DistressCall: A large number of sidequests are triggered by picking up one of these as you're flying by a planet/derelict ship.
* DistressedDamsel: Though they are all competent and helpful companions once past [[CutsceneIncompetence their introduction]], every female member of your team is recruited while rescuing them from attack.
** Ashley is recruited on Eden Prime after you and Kaidan save her from geth pursuit.
** Tali is recruited on the Citadel when you protect her from assassins sent by Saren.
** Liara is recruited on Therum after you free her from a Prothean force field that she accidentally activated while being hunted by geth and a krogan battlemaster.
* DoorToBefore: Most places just have one door and aren't that complex. But there is a force field in the [=ExoGeni=] building on Feros you have to deactivate before using the door, and on the other hand on Ilos you have an elevator which will not work before you plugged it in again, after a long walk around it of course.
* DoubleTap: If [[spoiler: Wrex]] dies, his killer puts three more bullets in him when he's on the ground. Shepard will also tell the squad to do this to [[spoiler: Saren]] in the endgame.
* DonutMessWithACop: If you talk to the ERCS Guards on Noveria after the [[spoiler: fight in the Synthetic Insights Offices]]. One of the replies they can say is "You know what I could go for? A doughnut". Hilariously, even ''turian'' guards will say this, despite being physically unable to eat human food.
* DownloadableContent: "Bring Down the Sky" and "Pinnacle Station".
* TheDragon:
** Benezia to Saren, [[spoiler:and Saren to [[BigBad Sovereign]].]]
** In "Bring Down The Sky", Charn is TheDragon to Balak.
* DrivenToSuicide: Several characters, including [[spoiler:Fai Dan]] and potentially [[spoiler:Saren himself]].
* DummiedOut: Kaidan and Ashley were going to be [[GayOption same-sex romance options]] in the first game and were close to being implemented; modding your gender flag in the save file to make the romance possible will result in near-complete voice acting for the dialog when it is played through, although Shepard's gender will magically change during the love scene.
** There's an audio file alluding to the possibility of [[spoiler:saving ''both'' Ashley and Kaidan on Virmire -- see NoodleIncident below]].
* DyingAsYourself:
** [[spoiler: Matriarch Benezia can break free of Sovereign's indoctrination only after you have mortally wounded her, where she can give you just a little bit of information before succumbing to her wounds]], on Noveria.
** [[spoiler:If you have enough Charm or Intimidate points, Saren can be forced to realize that he is indoctrinated and playing into the Reaper's hands, turning his gun on himself in a last-second redemption]], at the end of the game.
** [[spoiler:Fai Dan breaks free of the Thorian's control after the party returns from Exo Geni headquarters]], on Feros.
* DynamicEntry: [[spoiler:Driving through the Citadel's relay in the Mako at full speed. Those two geth never knew what hit them]].
* DynamicLoading: Elevators. Though the team managed to soften the blow in some cases, giving your squad members unique dialogue and adding some amusing news reports in a lot of them, they swiftly become mind-crushingly tedious. Gone, and even [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]], in ''Mass Effect 2''. And given ''another'' one in the ''Citadel'' DLC for ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' -- both [[RunningGag by Garrus]]. Also in ''2'', it turns out Tali hates it just as much as most players:
--> '''Garrus''': You ever miss those talks we had on the elevators?\\
'''Tali:''' ''No.''\\
'''Garrus:''' Come on, remember how we'd all ask you about life on the flotilla? It was an opportunity to share.\\
'''Tali:''' This conversation is over.\\
'''Garrus:''' Tell me again about your immune system!\\
'''Tali:''' I have a shotgun.\\
'''Garrus:''' (''hesitant'') Maybe we'll talk later.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: The sequels adhered to a strict [[TakeCover cover-based-shooter]] model where this one allowed a more freewheeling run-and-gun style. They also streamlined the weapon and character upgrades, and ditched the mandatory driving segments and infinite ammo with cooldown. The second game also introduced headshots dealing significantly more damage than other hits.
* EarthIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse: Averted; the seat of the galactic government is the Citadel. Earth only really matters because it's humanity's homeworld, and even then they've been colonizing other systems at a rapid pace. In fact, the capital of the Systems Alliance isn't even Earth but Arcturus Station.
* EasterEgg: In "Bring Down the Sky", if you go to the highest peak, Shepard will find a radio shack built by engineers housing a music station called Radio X57. Turning on the broadcast plays all of the elevator music.
* EasyExp: Like most BioWare games, most of your early exp will come from talking to various people.
* EldritchAbomination: [[spoiler: The Reapers warp and degrade the minds of their followers simply by ''existing''; just being within their body will eventually indoctrinate you]].
* TheElevatorFromIpanema: The Citadel's elevators play muzak arrangements of several of the game's more dramatic songs.
* EliteTweak:
** Some of the ammo types when equipped to the right gun; for example, a sniper rifle equipped with high explosive rounds is capable of one-shoting just about anything in the game and anything standing next to it; or a shotgun with sledgehammer rounds can knock any enemy over.
** The "Toxic" ammo type with any shotgun: It causes enough health damage that for any infantry enemy, if your first shot doesn't kill them then they will take enough damage that your second shot will.
* TheEndOfTheBeginning: The game ends this way, with [[spoiler:Shepard and whoever you elected to lead the Council (human or otherwise) promising to take the fight to the Reapers, and Shepard striding off]].
* EquipmentSpoiler: You can get armor for turians, quarians and krogan before Garrus, Tali or Wrex join your party, including finding armor on Eden Prime before you even know of the existence of that species.
* EvilMatriarch: [[CaptainObvious Benezia?]]
* ExpositionBeam: The Prothean beacon. Subverted, though, due to the fact that since they were designed for use by a different ''species'', not to mention the fact that they've been lying around for fifty thousand years, renders the message incomprehensible to any human or turian that happen to stumble across them. Shepard eventually finds a way to understand the beacon's message on one of the main quest worlds.
* FakeLongevity: In order to get every achievement, you have to play through the first game a grand total of three times without skipping too many of the sidequests.
* {{Fanservice}}: The game essentially had a strip club in it; while none of the [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe asari dancers]] actually showed anything, you can be assured there is plenty of dancing around poles. And there is an empty spot for you to sit and watch one of the dancers on the sidelines of the club. It even allows you to choose between your character relaxing back in their chair or leaning forward.
* FantasticRacism: Due to the multilateral setting, this is present throughout the setting, with even your crew members not being exempt from this. Pressly and Ashley will often come across as a NobleBigot due to their distrust of aliens. Garrus mentions that turians are taught that the krogan are all thugs and that Wrex is a [[YouAreACreditToYourRace credit to his race]], and most people's opinions of quarians like Tali is that they're all beggars and thieves. However, depending on your actions, Shepard can change their opinions [[CharacterDevelopment for the better]]. Even Shepard him/herself will be on the receiving end of this if they have the Spacer background, as Administrator Anoleis on Noveria dismisses spacers like him/her as nothing more than a collection of vagabonds and tax-dodgers.
* FictionalPoliticalParty: The game introduces the Terra Firma party, a human political party that mainly seeks [[AbsoluteXenophobe to oppose humanity's involvement and integration with the rest of the galactic community, believing that humanity needs to stand on its own if they're to remain strong.]] Commander Shepard (as well as his/her squadmates) can comment and give his/her opinion on what he/she thinks of such a platform, and the player can choose whether Shepard endorses the Terra Firma party or not.
* FinalBossPreview: The first battle with Saren is on Virmire, and then you fight him as the FinalBoss on [[spoiler:the Citadel. With enough Charm/Intimidate points, however, you can skip the part of the boss fight similar to Virmire and jump straight to fighting the Sovereign-possessed Saren husk]].
* FixingTheGame: Schells the scientist. After he gets thrown out of Flux, he complains that he wasn't cheating, he was just gathering data so that he ''could'' cheat. If he wanted. Which he doesn't. He's just going to sell his system to people who ''might''. If they want.
* FlavorText: Plenty of it, which is to be expected for a BioWare game.
* [[spoiler: FlingALightIntoTheFuture]]: The [[spoiler: Prothean scientists]] who understood who and what the [[spoiler: Reapers]] were realized that there was ''nothing'' they could do to [[spoiler: stop their own extinction.]] Their solution was to [[spoiler: leave beacons directing future species to Ilos to get them to speak to the virtual intelligence "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7bE3hUwylQ Vigil]]"]]. Most of the [[spoiler: remaining Protheans put themselves in stasis, hoping someone would come, but they knew their lives were not as important as maintaining Vigil's power, and eventually all of them were shut off. A dozen Protheans snuck onto the barren Citadel to reprogram the Keepers to ''not'' respond to the Reaper signal to activate the mass relay to allow them to catch the resident species in time]].
* FlunkyBoss:
** Fist. You face him and two auto-turrets; either shoot him or destroy the turrets, either way ends the fight.
** Matriarch Benezia, who sends out waves of commandos and geth which need to be killed before you can damage her.
** The Thorian, too. As you {{attack its weak points}}, more and more of its Thorian Creepers awaken and attack you. Plus, it will at regular intervals spawn an Asari Clone to aid the Creepers. Though killing these flunkies is not necessary to end the fight, it will make it a lot easier if you don't have acid-vomiting plant-men swarming you while you're trying to take out the Thorian itself.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** When exploring the ''Normandy'', before setting down on Eden Prime, you can participate in introductory conversations with many of the background characters of the game as [[InfoDump they explain the fictional universe.]] During the conversation with Dr. Chakwas and Corporal Jenkins, they outline the upcoming plot of the game in a theoretical discussion about the Spectres, including pointing out that Shepard would make a good Spectre, questioning how a Spectre could get his official status revoked and also how the Council would retaliate.
** When first visiting the Council Chambers in the Citadel Tower, your party members may comment on the layout of the room and how it looks like it was designed to defend against invaders. [[spoiler:Sure enough, the Council Chambers are the scene of the final battle in the game, but ''the player'' is the invader]].
** On the Citadel, you can learn about the [[BugWar Rachni Wars]], which were ended by xenocide, and the Krogan Rebellions, which were stopped by the use of [[DepopulationBomb the genophage]]. Later, [[spoiler:you encounter and fight the rachni, and an entire mission is based off preventing the curing of the genophage by the BigBad to make an army of krogan]].
** On the Citadel's Presidium level, there is a statue of a mass relay. Talking to Kaidan near it reveals that something about the statue is causing interference with his biotic systems. [[spoiler:It's the receiving end of the Conduit from Ilos, with which you make a DynamicEntry in the Mako in the finale]].
** Garrus comments on how he never sees the Keepers going anywhere near the statue of the Mass Relay on the Presidium, which always struck him as odd. [[spoiler:The mission to Ilos reveals that the Mass Relay monument is not a part of the Citadel itself, but is a functional Mass Relay that the Protheans had constructed.]]
** Checking your map in the Citadel Tower. Only in retrospect will players realize that the Council Chamber is [[spoiler: shaped like a ''Reaper'']].
* FormFittingWardrobe: Every piece of armor you pick up fits whomever you give it to ''perfectly''. The form-fitting factor ties in with the "Early '80s Sci Fi Styling" theme of ''Mass Effect''.
* FreeSamplePlotCoupon: The Prothean beacon in the end of the first mission proves to be the first in line of {{Mac Guffin}}s you have to collect before you can beat the BigBad, namely, [[spoiler:the Prothean Cipher that can decode the beacon's message, the MacGuffinGirl Liara who does the actual decoding, and the coordinates of the PointOfNoReturn kept by the Rachni Queen]].
* TheFutureIsNoir: Most of the places you go have either been abandoned for a long time or have recently been attacked. The lighting on the ''Normandy'' sucks, too.
* GameplayAllyImmortality: It is impossible to damage your squadmates or [=NPCs=] that are not pointing a gun at you. Friendly fire versus squadmates can be enabled in the PC version, though.
* GameplayAndStorySegregation: Later in the game, you go against the Council, getting yourself and your accomplices ([[spoiler:Anderson]]) in trouble with the law. Despite this, Admiral Hackett still sends missions your way (the EventFlag is you entering the system to take place in).
* GayOption:
** [[DiscountLesbians Sort of]], if you are a female Shepard and pursue a romance with Liara, who is an asari. The asari are of a single gender, so technically are neither male or female; however, they look and sound feminine and are referred to in the Codex as an all-female race. They even use female pronouns.
** There was [[DummiedOut originally]] a same-sex romance between Shepard and Kaidan/Ashley. The conversation for Male Shep/Kaidan [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPMOlEfhWGE is still buried]] in the code, but not the sex scene. Ditto for [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mwiqq-Y5r4 female Shepard and Ashley]].
* GenreShift: Peak 15 more closely resembles SurvivalHorror than SpaceOpera - difficult-to-kill enemies with few places to restore medi-gel.
* GiantMook: The geth Destroyers, Juggernauts, and Primes are twelve-foot tall geth with VerticalMechaFins, each increasing in strength and height in that order. Destroyers are simply huge and tough and carry an assault rifle/shotgun combo. Juggernauts are resilient to your combat abilities and carry an assault rifle/short-range rocket launcher combo. Primes are even tougher, bigger, carry a pulse rifle/rocket launcher, and provide all geth in the area with increased accuracy, damage, and firing rate. All have a tendency of [[PersonalSpaceInvader charging you]] to bring their powerful melee attacks to bear.
* GodwinsLaw: If you tell Charles Saracino that you believe humans should negotiate with aliens, he's quick to invoke comparisons to [[NevilleChamberlain "peace for our time."]]
* GoryDiscretionShot: Every suicide scene in the first game cuts away at the actual moment of death. [[spoiler:[[RedemptionEqualsDeath Except Saren.]]]]
* GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe: The asari appear hardly any different from humans, and they are all female. Naturally, ''some'' of them have to be sexy.
* GrowBeyondTheirProgramming: The geth.
* GuideDangIt: There are some quests that, if done in the wrong order, can screw up a 100% Completion run (although they do not make the game unwinnable):
** Visiting Barla Von and hiring Wrex skips a few scenes (discussion with Harkin, and Wrex introduction scene). Also, Garrus becomes missable.
** Reporting the death of Admiral Kahoku's men to him has him leaving the Citadel, thus preventing you to ask him about Banes in Dr. Michel's sidequest.
** Ending the sidequest of the Consort before speaking with the elcor about his leaked secrets prevents you from receiving an item that, in turns, unlocks an event in the Attican Beta system.
** On Noveria, directly going back in the fortified labs to blow the neutron bomb, as the mission log advises you, makes you miss a few sidequests, a merchant, and an [=NPC=] that will prove necessary for another sidequest... in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''.
* GunsInChurch: Justified, somewhat; you are a Spectre, and numerous events prove that you are not safe from attack ''anywhere'' you go, so it makes sense for your party to walk around fully armed and armored at all times. It does get a little weird when you can draw and fire your guns (though not at people) and set off grenades all over the place and nobody bats an eye.
* {{Hammerspace}}:
** You can carry up to 150 items, whether this be weapons, armor, biotic implants or omni-tools, as well as upgrades for the first two.
** Averted for the four weapons you have equipped, which are attached to the exterior of your suit.
* HarderThanHard: Most agree that the Insanity difficulty setting [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin is just that]]. You can't even play on it until you've already gone through the game at least twice.
* HealThyself: Necessary to survive once your shields go down. You use up medi-gel to do so, which, in complete defiance of video game standards, [[BenevolentArchitecture is exactly where you would expect it to be -- everywhere]].
* HehHehYouSaidX: An Elanus officer down the Rift Station, standing alert to repel the [[BigCreepyCrawlies rachni]] forces.
-->"Science pukes. Should just bug out and leave 'em to die. All their fault anyway. Heh. 'Bug out.' Heh heh heh heh heh."
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Whoever you leave behind on Virmire]].
* HeWasRightThereAllAlong: One of the things which make [[DemonicSpiders thresher maws]] so freaking hard.
* HiroshimaAsAUnitOfMeasure:
** The gravity, volume, rotation times etc. of planets are measured in comparisons to Earth instead of using specific units of measure.
** One of the side quests has Admiral Hackett asking you to diffuse a nuclear weapon that he explains has the same power as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Averted when discussing the improvised nuclear weapon on Virmire, which dialogue indicates also has the same explosive power as the Hiroshima bomb -- approximately 20 kilotons -- although this is probably due to Kirrahe being a salarian, and therefore unlikely to make this reference.
* HitchhikerHeroes: Apart from Kaidan, who is actually part of your squad at the beginning of the game, and Liara, who you are specifically sent out to pick up, every squadmate joins of their own free will, or because Anderson thought they might be useful.
* HolyGround: Wrex tells Shepard of how his father, Jarrod, called him to a Crush, a meeting between rival krogan clans, at the Hollows, as close to sacred ground as krogan get. Weapons and fighting are not allowed. Of course, it's a trap, and a fight breaks out, ending with Wrex killing Jarrod.
* AHomeownerIsYou: Complete Admiral Ahern's custom mission on Pinnacle Station and you're rewarded with his pre-fabricated home on Intai'sei. Sadly, it never shows up again in later games (although it can be argued that by the third game's [[spoiler:''Citadel'' DLC, you probably won't miss that apartment anyway]]).
* HundredPercentCompletion: The main storyline will probably only take about 10 hours to complete, but there are dozens of sidequests as well, and there is an achievement for players who complete 75% of the game. And one each for completing said 75% with each squadmate in your squad.
** There's a unique mission only available to each of three background options, plus a mission unlocked for filling up each of the Renegade/Paragon bars, meaning it's impossible to reach more than 99% completion in a single playthrough.
* IdleAnimation: Each squadmate has a unique idle animation. For example, Ashley puts her hands on her hips and poses her hips;[[BadassAdorable Tali has coffee jitters.]]
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: The geth do this to their victims when transforming them into husks. This is also the fate of [[spoiler:Saren]] if you don't meet the Paragon/Renegade check.
* ImpossibleItemDrop: Can seem like this when you recover assault rifles from apparently naked and weaponless cyber-zombies, and advanced ultra-tech materials from lost, 1960s-era Soviet lunar probes, but ultimately subverted by reading the Codex carefully. It reveals your omni-tool is a mini-factory which assembles the loot you find from the raw materials you scavenge from various satellites, dead enemies and containers.
* IncrediblyLameFun: Quasar (basically [[RecycledInSpace space]] blackjack) is an incredibly dull adding game with two buttons, yet it has entire casinos dedicated to it.
* [[InfinityMinusOneSword Infinity Minus One Gun]]: The Geth Pulse Rifle. Eventually found as a random drop from killed geth troops, this gun lacks the ability to be modded in any way. It does, however, have the second highest damage of any assault rifle in the game, only beaten by its Spectre Master weapon variant. It also has the highest accuracy of all assault rifles.
* [[InfinityPlusOneSword Infinity Plus One Guns]]: Spectre Master Gear. Comes in all four weapon flavors, expensive as hell, and [[GameBreaker utterly devastating]].
* InsurmountableWaistHeightFence: Occurs in several places, most prominently in a "one-way" drop on Feros. It's only about the height of Shepard.
* InterfaceSpoiler: Dialogue subtitles will often give the name of a character long before they actually say it. Ashley is the first case of this, in the video feed Joker picks up before the ''Normandy'' touches down on Eden Prime.
** When you first encounter the [[spoiler:rachni]] on Noveria, the label above them calls them such, even though Shepard doesn't find this out for another 20 minutes.
** Likewise, when doing the Cerberus side quest (which can be easily done ''before'' Noveria and Feros) you run into [[spoiler: rachni]] and [[spoiler: Thorian Creepers]] who are labeled as such.
** During the Cerberus side quest an update will tell you that you haven't found [[spoiler: Admiral Kahoku]] even though you never had any reason to think that he was on the planet until that moment.
** Just getting the game menu to select teammates every time you visit a world spoils exactly how many teammates you'll have in the game, their genders and what species they are.
* ItsASmallWorldAfterAll: Anything worth visiting on a planet - pirate bases, Prothean artifacts, crashed space probes, mineral deposits - can be found within about two minutes' drive from where you land.
* UsefulNotes/JapaneseHonorifics: One security officer on Noveria, Captain Matsuo, uses these. The encounter drives home the fact that you're using TranslatorMicrobes and everyone isn't really speaking English. The event also leads fans to suspect that there is a hardcore otaku on the BioWare dev team.
* JoinOrDie: Saren's response to Shepard's resistance is this. Join the Reapers - 'cause if you don't, you're guaranteed to die.
-->'''Saren:''' Is submission not preferable to extinction? [...] Everyone you know and love, you will all die.
* JoinTheArmyTheySaid: If you speak to the surviving marines on Nepmos after helping them HoldTheLine, they'll say, "'Join the marines, see the galaxy.' Hell."
* JustThinkOfThePotential: A sidequest involving a dead soldier's body and whether or not it's right to keep it from her husband for study.
* KarmaHoudini:
** In "Bring Down the Sky", [[spoiler:the Paragon ending has you let Balak go to save the hostages. If you go into ''Mass Effect 2'' without importing a save where the DLC was completed, [[TheBadGuyWins he kills the hostages]] ''and'' gets away.]] He may get his in ''Mass Effect 3'', or you may choose to let him go ''again'' (if severely humbled) [[spoiler: in order to gain the batarians as a War Asset.]]
** [[CorruptCorporateExecutive ExoGeni]] gets no comeuppance for turning a human colony into a control group while testing the effects of Thorian's MindControl. While Shepard can kill an [=ExoGeni=] YesMan who was trying to pursue their interests, this doesn't hurt the company at all. One NPC even lampshades it if you convince said YesMan to help the colonists.
* KarmaMeter: The scale does not reflect "good" or "evil" choices, but instead grades based upon what the game terms "Paragon" and "Renegade" depending on ''how'' you achieve victory. The options on each decision tree fall on opposite sides of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, and Paragon and Renegade points stack up on separate meters; gaining in one area will not reduce the points in the other.
* KillEmAll: An alarming amount of the sidequests where you're sent to find someone end up with them dead by the time you get there.
* KilledMidSentence: If you leave [[spoiler:Ashley or Kaidan]] to die on the AA tower on Virmire, then just before Saren shows up at the bomb site you hear a brief transmission of whoever was left at the tower shouting some orders to the salarians, then you hear the start of what sounds like either a gunshot or an explosion before the transmission cuts off. That's the last you see or hear of that person in the game.
* [[KlingonScientistsGetNoRespect Krogan Scientists Get No Respect]]: The krogan are {{Proud Warrior Race Guy}}s after all.
* {{Knighting}}: Spectre induction, complete with swelling orchestral music.
* LaserSight: Played straight with the Assassination skill, but only with enemies, making their shots somewhat easy to dodge. It would return in the later games even though the skill itself was removed.
* LateArrivalSpoiler: Many people are aware that [[spoiler:the real villains of the series are the Reapers]]. To a lesser degree, the [[spoiler:[[SadisticChoice choice between Kaidan and Ashley]]]] was widely spoiled after the game's release.
* LawEnforcementInc: The Elanus Risk Control company acts as security on the planet of [[IceWorld Noveria]], which is pretty much CorruptCorporateExecutive Land. Naturally, corruption is rampant.
* LeeroyJenkins: Richard [[MeaningfulName L. Jenkins]]. He dies two minutes after the opening cutscene, on his first ever mission, without firing a shot. To be fair, he was ambushed, on point, per Shepard's orders, and those drones tear through Shepard's shields as well. The developers have mentioned more than once that the naming and manner of death were deliberate.
* LensFlare: All over the place.
* LethalLavaLand: Therum, where you rescue Liara.
* LivingGasbag: Some of the native wildlife on Eden Prime consists of these. The tutorial has you use one for target practice.
* LostForever:
** You cannot complete Feros sidequests that take place in the [=ExoGeni=] facility if you have already "finished" that mission and headed back to the colony. You also cannot complete certain Feros sidequests if you [[spoiler:kill the colonist that gave it to you when they are under the Thorian's control]].
** After a certain point, you cannot return to [[spoiler:the Citadel]], and thus you cannot complete any sidequests involving it.
* LoveTheme: Heard during the love scene. It also plays earlier after escaping Virmire. For bonus points, the trope name itself is the actual title of the song on the game's soundtrack.
* LoveTriangle: It is possible to flirt with both Kaidan/Ashley ''and'' Liara at the same time. Eventually the two will approach you simultaneously and demand some sort of conclusion; you have the option of rejecting one or inviting them [[OneTrueThreesome be in a relationship together]]. [[spoiler: Liara is willing to have an inclusive relationship, but the human will refuse. The game will interpret this as you choosing Liara, and she will become your main love interest]].
* LuckBasedMission: Trying to kill a [[SandWorm Thresher Maw]] by HitAndRun attacks. Aside from being a really tough opponent to begin with, if you get too far away, it will burrow and pop out, resulting in an insta-kill. One tip: the Thresher Maw usually prefers to pop up on low ground; standing on small hills will protect you from it popping out and killing you.
* MadDoctor: Dr. Saleon, who used living people to grow illegal organs, and kidnapped them to use as hostages when he was discovered. He made some... [[BodyHorror other changes]]... to them before Shepard finally caught up with him.
* MadOracle: Dr. Manuel, the raving, medicated scientist at the Eden Prime research camp, somehow knows exactly who Saren is ''and'' [[spoiler:who he works for]].
* MadeOfIron: Anything using the Immunity power. Awesome for yourself, [[DemonicSpiders annoying when your enemies have it]] (use Warp to mostly counter it).
* MakeSureHesDead: Shepard re: [[spoiler: Saren]], word for word. [[spoiler:Played with; Saren is indeed dead, or close enough as to make no difference, but that doesn't stop Sovereign from [[{{Foreshadowing}} assuming direct control]] of his corpse.]]
-->'''Shepard:''' [[GenreSavvy Make sure he's dead.]]
-->'''Squadmate:''' ''(administers DoubleTap)''
-->'''Other squadmate:''' ''(over comms)'' He's dead.
* MaleGaze:
** The first shot of Matriarch Benezia is her ample chest, before she coughs and the camera moves up to her face, possibly LeaningOnTheFourthWall to say MyEyesAreUpHere.
** No matter what gender Shepard is, the romantic scene contains a lovingly rendered female rear end. If you are a female romancing Kaidan, you get to see yours as well.
** Also, when you go into meet the asari Consort, you get a completely gratuitous close-up of her secretary's shapely rear end.
* MalignedMixedMarriage: Inverted. The asari have a strong cultural preference for InterspeciesRomance, and Liara is unusual in having two asari parents.
--> '''Liara''': No one calls me "Pureblood" to my face, but ...
* MayflyDecemberRomance: The asari seek out InterspeciesRomance, but have a much longer lifespan than most other races - salarians, for example, live for about 40 years, and humans rarely make it past 150. Asari, on the other hand, can make it to 1000.
* MeaningfulName:
** With a name like [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism Nihlus]], you can't expect him to live long.
** Vigil, whose job was to keep a vigil for as long as possible for someone, ''anyone'' who had a chance at breaking the [[spoiler:extinction cycle]].
** [[LeeroyJenkins Private Richard L. Jenkins]]. Like no one knew what was going to happen to him.
** Saren seems to share a name with [[https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Sarin Sarin]], a chemical warfare agent that [[spoiler:destroys the ability for the victim's nervous system to control their body]].
** Captain Kirrahe: named for the mountain, Currahee, on which U.S. paratroopers trained in Georgia for WWII.
** Commander Shepard him/herself, named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space. Shepard's default first name is John/Jane, a reference of John/Jane Doe (the names used for an unidentified male/female body).
** Quasar is the name of a game played on gambling machines with flashy colors that money disappears into. Quasars are luminous envelopes around supermassive black holes.
* MechaMooks: The geth. The achievement for killing synthetic enemies is named "Geth Hunter", in fact, although turrets count towards this number.
* MembershipToken: The salarian League of One and their medallions, which [[GottaCatchEmAll you can collect]] in pursuit of OneHundredPercentCompletion.
* [[Memes/VideoGames Memetic Mutation]]: See Memes/BioWare.
* MenuTimeLockout: When you go to your equipment inventory, you can pause time and change your weapons, armor, clothing, all other equipment on yourself ''and'' your two companions who are currently on the other side of the room in the middle of a heated battle.
* MercyKill:
** The protagonists constantly proclaim that killing any of [[spoiler:the Reapers' indoctrinated slaves]] is doing them a ''favor''. At least one ''victim'' agrees.
** The Rachni Queen asks you to do this to some of her own children, who were driven mad when the scientists separated them from her before they could handle the 'silence'.
* MilitaryMoonshiner: No one is directly implicated, but Ashley [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] that a still is one of the first things soldiers set up on any ship.
* MinorCrimeRevealsMajorPlot: The story very, very quickly escalates out of control. It starts with a standard shakedown run of a prototype warship, then you learn it's actually a covert pickup of a {{Precursor}} communications beacon. Which is then complicated by an invasion of robotic aliens trying to get the beacon. Which then turns into hunting down a rogue government agent, who intends to use the robotic aliens and the knowledge in the beacon to attack humanity. Which then turns into a desperate, clandestine battle to stop [[spoiler:a race of [[EldritchAbomination mechanical gods]] from wiping out every organic sentient in the galaxy.]]
* TheModestOrgasm: The Consort is apparently very... controlled.
* MomentKiller: Joker interrupts what's about to be the first kiss between Shepard and his/her love interest.
* MoneyForNothing: It is possible to equip all characters with top-tier equipment by the end of the game, rendering all vendor stock useless.
* MonsterCloset: This trope it's been almost entirely replaced by "Ah, they're coming out of the air vents!" in video games. For instance, this game does this with some of the [[spoiler:rachni on Noveria]]. Though the exact same problems apply to those as do to the monster closets.
* MoodWhiplash: The debriefing after the WhamEpisode may be immediately followed by a ''relationship argument''.
* MoreDakka:
** It's possible to mod an assault rifle to the point where it ''never stops firing''. But it's just not enuff dakka. It's never enuff dakka.
** The Marksman talent for pistols temporarily buffs their rate of fire, accuracy, and cooling. With the right armor mods, it can be maintained indefinitely, giving a mere pistol the ability to spray a never-ending river of lead with a fire rate comparable to an assault rifle. More dakka indeed.
* MundaneUtility: Towards the end of the game, we see a minor character using one of the high-tech holographic omni-tools as a flashlight.
* MultipleEndings: Several of them, and each one has variations based on whether the player has made predominantly Paragon or Renegade choices. The end result is relatively similar though: [[spoiler:you win.]] Also, humanity [[spoiler: gets at least one spot on the Citadel Council]]. The variables are: [[spoiler:the choice between saving the Council or leaving them to die, and the choice between Anderson and Udina for the human Council seat]].
* NeckLift: In the confrontation with Saren on Virmire, Saren pulls this on Shepard, who answers by punching him in the face.
* NeutralFemale: Liara crouches down in the middle of the floor in the final fight on Therum and does not attack the krogan battlemaster in any way; [[JustifiedTrope but she is faint with hunger and lack of sleep]].
* NeverMessWithGranny. Helena Blake.
* NeverMyFault: Balak tries to pull this in ''Bring Down The Sky'', claiming that he does what he does because the batarians are ostracized by the rest of the galaxy. Shepard can point out that the batarians' mess is entirely of their own making, since they cut off all galactic contact outside of their territory after the Council and humanity wouldn't take them attacking one of their colonies lying down.
* NewGamePlus: The game's NG+ lets you restart the game with your Shepard's (and the rest of the party's) levels, skills, and inventory intact; the only thing that doesn't carry over is your reputation (Paragon/Renegade). This is required to get to [[AbsurdlyHighLevelCap level 60]], for two reasons: one the first time you play through the game there is a first game level cap of 50, and two since there just aren't enough experience points to get from level 1 to level 60 in one playthrough.
* NoodleIncident: An odd meta-example occurs in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMSJDxM8YT4 this]] unused dialogue from some non-existent scenario where you [[spoiler:save both Kaidan and Ashley on Virmire]]. Both characters are glowing in their admiration for... that thing you did.
* NotAGame: Uttered by Shepard during one sidequest; as always when this trope is mentioned in a video game, [[HypocriticalHumor it is amusing]].
* NotSoDifferent: Balak from the ''Bring Down the Sky'' DLC tries this on you if [[spoiler:you sacrifice the hostages in order to apprehend him and prevent him from crashing and asteroid into a colony.]] This becomes HarsherInHindsight in the ''Arrival'' DLC of the next game where [[spoiler:you use a repurposed asteroid to destroy a Mass Relay, destroying the star system in a supernova-sized blast, its 305,000 batarian inhabitants included.]]
* NotSoHarmlessVillain: Remember the pod crabs on Virmire? Those huge but gentle things you thought were completely harmless? [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Cerberus_Daily_News_-_March_2010#03.2F25.2F2010 Apparently not.]]
* NotThatKindOfDoctor: Used in Peak 15 on Noveria. The doctors there are [=Ph.Ds=], not [=MDs=]. One of them even lampshades it.
* NotTheIntendedUse: Since the Mako's usefulness in combat drops off as players climb the level ladder, higher difficulties see Shepard and crew getting ''out'' of the heavily-armed tank during firefights and using it as [[TakeCover cover]] instead.
* NothingIsScarier: A few side missions send you into familiar spaces (yet another mine, yet another freighter) with a main room that normally throws a crowd of mooks at you... only there are no mooks. Until you explore a bit more and suddenly ''they're behind you''. Or they come pouring out of the normally empty rooms at the back. Or... nothing. Until you get outside.
* TheObiWan: Nihlus Kryik, [[MentorOccupationalHazard if he had managed to survive the mission on Eden Prime]].
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: One of the main perks of being a Spectre is that they aren't subject to the rules and red tape that normally apply to police and military forces. Adminstrator Anoleis on Noveria, the Citadel Council, and Ambassdor Udina, however, do their best to prevent that. Anoleis refuses to let you leave Port Hanshan and continue with your mission, likely because he was on the take; Udina convinces the Council to [[spoiler:ground the ''Normandy'' to prevent you from chasing Saren to Ilos]].
* OfCorsetsSexy: Ashley mentions one of her sisters wearing corsets in addition to her sword training. It apparently does wonders for her figure, although she never appears in the game.
* OffModel: Elanos Haliat (the criminal leader responsible for the Skyllian Blitz) was ''supposed'' to be a turian, but was accidentally given a human model instead, resulting in him having [[http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20091226060320/masseffect/images/5/57/ElanosHaliat.jpg a baffingly bizarre face]][[note]] it also gives some truly baffling dialogue where he rants about 'the humans' even though his model is one[[/note]].
* OffscreenInertia: You can visit Noveria, Feros, and Therum, in any order. It's generally presumed that you will visit Therum first, since that is where you recruit Liara, the last member to join your squad. However, if you visit the other two planets first, her dialog suggests that she's been in the exact same situation [[spoiler: held in place by a stasis field]] that whole time, and is now a bit delirious.
* OneRiotOneRanger: The Council appoints Shepard as a Spectre specifically to hunt down Saren, as an alternative to sending an entire fleet after him. The Codex comments that the assignment of a Spectre to a developing situation is a last resort before all-out war. One of the few times the Council really shines; [[ManipulativeBastard you have to actually ask to do it alone]].
* OneSizeFitsAll: Played straight with human armor: it is unisex (and magically changes shape for each sex) and your asari squad member can also use human armor. Averted with quarian, turian and krogan armor; they are ''not'' interchangeable, but you only have one of each on your squad.
* OneWomanWail: Used within the game. When you defeat the vanguard of a geth invasion, they inform their comrades of their defeat with "a lone quarian singing a single, haunting wail over a hushed mass".
* OptionalSexualEncounter: The asari Consort at the start of the game. This is one of the places where the conversion wheel fails. If you're dissatisfied with her gift of words, she has sex with you. Also occurs at the end of all three romantic subplots, but you can turn them down.
* OrganTheft: Garrus tells you about an ''elcor'' who was killing and hacking up people for their organs on the Citadel.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: Most Renegade options for dealing with various bad people. Especially [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Noveria]].
* PiecemealFundsTransfer: Encountered during the Citadel AI sidequest; when it threatens to self-destruct, the countdown timer is the progress of its account. The quicker you shut it down, the more money you get as a reward.
* PlanetOfHats: Done mildly and often played with, but in general the trope is there. The hats are:
** Salarian: science.
** Krogan: honor and warrior prowess.
** Asari: wisdom and reserve.
** Turian: competence and rigid hierarchy.
** Batarian: hatred of humans.
** Volus: financial prowess.
** Elcor: reserve and conservativeness.
** Hanar: politeness.
** And of course, humans: [[HumansAreBastards decisiveness, aggression, independence.]]
* PlotlineDeath: On the planet Virmire, you're forced [[spoiler:to choose between saving Ashley or Kaidan. Prepare to feel extremely guilty no matter what you choose. The game even piles it on if you were romancing one of them -- either you sacrifice them, or you save them and they demand to know if your feelings for them had anything to do with it. Wrex may also die earlier in the mission]].
* PointOfNoReturn: Going to Ilos.
* PoisonedWeapons: Some of the ammo upgrades add chemical or even radioactive poisons to the bullets you fire.
* PretenderDiss: The geth worship Sovereign as a god. [[spoiler:Sovereign is not flattered]].
* PrettyLittleHeadshots:
** Headshot animations were not included in this game, so during gameplay there was no differentiation damage-wise between shooting somebody in the foot and shooting them in the head.
** The mechanics of [[spoiler:Saren's suicide shot are a little odd. When Sovereign animates his corpse, you can see the hole where one of your companions shot him a second time, but not the actual killing wound]].
* ProductionThrowback: At the end of the game, Shepard comes out of [[spoiler: the wreckage holding his/her chest and limping]], exactly as the [[spoiler: PC character]] did in ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' when they [[spoiler: were injured]].
* PsychicNosebleed: In a conversation with Kaidan, he'll mention that one of his colleagues at Jump Zero "reached for a glass of water instead of pulling it biotically. She just wanted a drink without getting a nosebleed, you know?"
* PurposefullyOverpowered: Master Spectre weapons and Colossus armor. They are for Insanity.
* RainbowPimpGear: Ever wanted to [[RealMenWearPink get in touch with your feminine side?]] Equip Phoenix armor and you too can slay demons while looking like Combat Action Barbie/Ken. Devlon armor in any variant tends to be very brightly colored, owing to its anti-environmental-hazard status, and Colossus, particularly on a female Shepard, is just... amusing. The "hidden" armors in the PC version take it UpToEleven, complete with {{Power Crystal}}s and even more outrageous color schemes.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: In the final battle, [[spoiler: a turian commander places his ship directly between Sovereign and the closing arms of the Citadel [[GoThroughMe to stop the attack]]. Sovereign simply plows through him without even slowing down]].
* ReadTheFreakingManual: A possible quip made by Ashley or Kaidan when Liara expresses confusion at the function of various computers in the Noveria labs.
* RenegadeSplinterFaction: Cerberus to the Human Systems Alliance.
* RescueIntroduction: Ashley, Liara, Tali.
* RescueRomance: Every romantic option is introduced by a rescue. The game goes so far as to switch up which characters are put in jeopardy by the beacon activating depending on the gender of the player character to make sure that they include a start-of-story rescue.
** ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' reveals that Tali's crush on a Male Shepard started when he rescued her, making this trope span two games instead of just one, as she is not a romantic option until the second game.
* {{Retronym}}: Though not an official one, the game is often referred to (as in the title of this page) as ''Mass Effect 1'' to distinguish it from [[Franchise/MassEffect the franchise as a whole]].
* TheReveal: Two of them.
** Reveal the first: [[spoiler:Saren is not the true villain; his CoolShip Sovereign is actually TheManBehindTheMan, an EldritchAbomination]].
** Reveal the second: [[spoiler:the Conduit is actually a miniature Mass Relay that connects to the Relay Statue on the Citadel. The Citadel is actually an enormous Mass Relay that connects to Reaper Central: Saren will invade the station and give the order for it to open. The Reapers purposely designed the Citadel so that galactic civilisations would establish their capital there. When the Reapers invade, they simultaneously kill the leadership of the galaxy, seize control of vital documents, destroy the majority of their fleet and take control of the Relay network.]]
* RibcageRidge: Not a ribcage, but still, a skull that is fully a quarter the size of ''the Mako'' makes for an interesting landmark.
* RoarBeforeBeating: Thresher Maws.
* RobotReligion: See PretenderDiss above.
* RousingSpeech:
** Shepard's speech after taking command of the ''Normandy''. The Paragon conclusion of the speech is the quote on top of this page.
** Captain Kirrahe's epic "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXLVFnl3WcE hold the line]]" speech.
** Anderson's/Udina's speech at the end of the game.
* RomanceSidequest: Three of them: xenophobic but principled [[ActionGirl Ashley Williams]], soft-spoken and thoughtful [[strike:Carth Onasi]] [[MrFanservice Kaidan Alenko]], and awkward but caring [[HotScientist Liara T'Soni]]. The first two are strictly attracted to opposite gender Shepards only, while Liara can [[BiTheWay go either way]].
* SacrificialLamb: Jenkins is killed off before you fire your first shot and Nihlus gets it in the back of the head a few minutes later.
* SacrificialLion: [[spoiler: Kaidan/Ashley. One of them [[PlotlineDeath has to die]] on Virmire which serves to highlight the danger of the final conflict with Saren]].
* SadisticChoice:
** On one story mission, [[spoiler:two separated party members come under heavy fire and you only have time to save one of them]]. You cannot TakeAThirdOption. There is no DeusExMachina. The one you don't help ''will'' [[PlotlineDeath die]]. And no one else will make the decision for you. [[TheChainsOfCommanding Leadership sucks like that]]. [[spoiler:Especially if you're romancing one of them, and left questioning whether you made the choice for the right reasons]].
** The most sadistic choice in ''Bring Down the Sky'' is not forced upon Shepard him/herself, but upon the mild-mannered scientist Kate Bowman. Either she allows a fellow hostage to be shot in front of her, or she gives away Shepard's position and, with it, any hope of saving Terra Nova. She takes the first option. [[spoiler:Turns out it was her brother who was executed]].
** Near the end of ''Bring Down the Sky'', Shepard's decision to either [[spoiler: save the hostages]] or [[spoiler:let the hostages die to capture/kill terrorist leader Balak]] ripped a page out of the [[Series/TwentyFour Jack Bauer]] playbook.
* SandWorm: Thresher Maws.
* SavedForTheSequel: The Terminus Systems (and the tense political relationship between them and Citadel Space) are given a few brief mentions. A lot of ''Mass Effect 2'' takes place there.
** Cerberus is introduced in this game through the various experiments they conduct with the [[spoiler:rachni and Thorian Creepers]]. Except for these sidequests, however, they're practically irrelevant in the context of the main story. To say that the group plays a significant part in the second and third games' stories is a huge understatement. Lampshaded in that game when Shepard only vaguely remembers them.
* SchrodingersGun:
** You can pick any background and profile for Shepard you want, from a distinguished war hero to a ruthless jerkass. No matter what kind of history you have, it will be the reason why Captain Anderson selects you personally in the opening cutscene to be his second in command.
** No matter whether you kill the [[spoiler:rachni queen]] or let her live, the Turian Councillor will blast you for it in terms appropriate to a hypothetical offspring of Sauron and Hitler.
* SchrodingersQuestion: In a few places, pieces of Shepard's past (religion, for example) are only decided when they come up in conversation and the player is given a choice.
* SelfFulfillingProphecy: One AI, when you trace it, announces that it knows you are going to kill it, refuses to listen to explanations, and activates a self-destruct countdown. If it had not done this, a Paragon Shepard might have let it live.
* SenselessSacrifice: [[spoiler:Fai Dan]]. He chooses to kill himself rather than be forced to fight Shepard, apparently unaware that at least a Paragon Shepard can use nonlethal methods.
* ShellShockedSenior: General Septimus.
* ShipperOnDeck: Ashley's sisters will ship her and Shepard in a voice mail or - if Shepard tells Liara that he and Ashley are "just friends" beforehand - her and Kaidan. The latter she laughs about. The former depends on how you treat her. [[note]]A tip for those romancing Ashley: don't chew her out for second-guessing you having aliens on board the ''Normandy''.[[/note]]
* ShoutOut: See ShoutOut.MassEffect.
* ShutUpHannibal:
** From ''Bring Down the Sky'' DLC: The terrorist just blew up the hostages and declares that it's Shepard's fault they died. What's one of Shepard's potential responses? ''Fire warning shots each time the terrorist opens his mouth until he finally gets the message after taking a few bullets.''
** "Who's the real terrorist here?" "You. But you're dead." *BANG*
** If your Charm/Intimidate scores aren't high enough and/or you just plain don't feel like it, Shepard can interrupt Saren's [[JustBetweenYouAndMe villainous monologue]] right before the final showdown at any point by shout "I've done arguing with you! Let's end this!" and jumping immediately to the fight.
** "She's pointing a gun at us and she's surrounded by geth! SHOOT HER!"
** "We don't have time to deal with this idiot. CHARGE!"
*** [[WorthyOpponent "I like your style."]]
* ShutUpKirk: Shepard gets handed one by Executor Pallin while discussing humans on the Citadel:
-->'''Shepard:''' The Council treats us like second class citizens. We have to fight for everything we get.\\
'''Pallin:''' Good. Then fight for it. But don't expect the rest of us to just sit back and let you take it.
* SidequestSidestory: The Cerberus quest line from Admiral Kahoku.
* SlippySlideyIceWorld: Noveria (and any other planet with a similar environment). You don't slide around so much, but you do take damage from the cold.
* SimonSaysMiniGame: Nearly every puzzle or action requires this on the 360, from hacking to mining to breaking and entering. Fortunately, the PC and second game made things a bit more sophisticated.[[note]]There are still a few Simon Says games, but most tasks are achieved with what amounts to Radial Frogger.[[/note]]
* SniperPistol: At lower levels, not so much, but if you put points into the Pistol skill and get better pistols, they wind up doing just as much damage as assault rifles, and their firing rate becomes almost ridiculous. Slap on some upgrades to improve accuracy, and bingo. About the only thing sniper rifles have on them at that point is higher base damage and the ability to zoom.
* SniperScopeSway: The game features ridiculous amounts of Scope Swaying for any player who has not invested significant points into the Sniper Rifle skill. However, when the skill is maxed out (or when you activate Assassination), the rifle is steady as a rock. Crouching also helps minimize the swaying.
* SocketedEquipment: Upgrades are available for armor, grenades, ammunition and your weapons. There are ten tiers for each upgrade, but the unclear comparison between upgrades was a criticism of the game that left players unaware of which upgrades were better for a particular mission.
* SomeoneHasToDie: At the climax of [[spoiler:the Virmire mission]].
* SomeoneToRememberHimBy: One sidequest revolves around a scared soon-to-be mother, worried about the safety of her child after the father died of a heart defect.
* SophisticatedAsHell: Here and there.
-->'''Administrator Anoleis:''' "You! Shepard! I demand that you place this bitch under arrest!"\\
\\
'''Shepard:''' "[[MemeticMutation I've had enough of your snide insinuations!]]" *punch to the face*\\
\\
'''Turian Councillor:''' I believe you humans have a saying: "Even a broken clock is right twice a day."\\
'''Shepard:''' Here's another saying: Go to hell!
* SortingAlgorithmOfWeaponEffectiveness: Ten tiers. Four weapon types. More than a dozen manufacturers, each of which with multiple models of the same type of weapon. It rapidly gets confusing.
* SoundOnlyDeath:
** [[spoiler:Nihlus's]] death. The cutscene ends with Saren pointing his gun at the back of his head, then as you regain control of Shepard you hear the distant shot.
** One DLC has you find a mangled corpse, along with a recording of the explosion which killed her. A few other cases show up, though they are only described in the mission log, not heard.
* SpaceBattle: The Codex gives a [[InfoDump lot of information]] on the history, tactics and technology of battles in space. [[spoiler: The climax of the game comes during a conflict between Sovereign and the geth forces and the Council Fleet guarding the Citadel. The Systems Alliance comes in at the end to help finish off Sovereign.]]
* SpaceIsAir: There are no fighters encountered in the game, but ships in space maneuver as if they were flying through an atmosphere. The Codex entries show that the writers were aware of the realities of space combat, so this can probably be attributed to a desire for [[RuleOfCool cooler looking space battles]].
* SpaceMarine: Human Systems Alliance Marines: Gene therapy strengthened, light exoskeleton, shield generators and portable railgun ordinance. Everything a 22nd century warrior needs.
* SpaceNomads: The quarians.
* SpacePolice:
** Citadel Security (C-Sec) is the law enforcement agency for the Citadel itself and the surrounding space. Their authority extends to the Mass Relay and they cover the criminal investigations, customs and military protection of the area. As of 2183 they are beginning to accept human applicants in sufficient numbers to no longer merit special treatment or protection, but none have yet reached the rank of 'Captain.'
** The Spectres (Special Tactics and Reconnaissance) are an enforcement arm of the Citadel Council [[CowboyCop without direct supervision]]. They are granted extraterritoriality rights in all Council territory, including several systems which are technically outside the Citadel's authority, which essentially puts them "above the law." A Spectre's status can be revoked if it is determined that they are no longer acting in the best interest of the Council, but until then their actions (regardless of damage to property or loss of life) are officially beyond reproach or recrimination.
* SquadControls: The RingMenu allows you to order your teammates to hold back, follow on you, or press forward.
* SquishyWizard:
** Adept (full biotic) characters get limited-to-no weapon training, forcing them to rely on Soldiers and Engineers to kill the enemies once their biotics have disabled them.
** It's noted that the asari are physically much weaker than humans but have naturally powerful biotic powers.
* StarfishLanguage: The hanar communicate via bioluminescence.
* {{Stock Puzzle}}s[=/=]{{Stock Video Game Puzzle}}s: TowersOfHanoi on Noveria, ThreePlusFiveMakeFour on Feros.
* TakeThat: In "Bring Down the Sky", you can find a radio station where one of the logs states that people who have not listened to it are complaining about its subversive messages.
* TakeAThirdOption: On Noveria, in order to get a garage pass to go to the labs, you have to go through a long series of conversations and sidequests in order to find [[spoiler:evidence of Administrator Anoleis' corruption]] and then choose whether to give it to [[spoiler:Anoleis, Parasini, or Qi'in]]. Or you can just [[spoiler:give Opold's smuggled package to Anoleis]] and he'll give you a pass pretty much as soon as you get there.
* TalkingTheMonsterToDeath: Up to and including [[spoiler:''Saren'']].
* TechPoints: You can spend skill points on Persuade/Intimidate levels, but you have to unlock them with the Paragon and Renegade meters first.
* TeleportingKeycardSquad: Three separate occasions where you could just ''swear'' you killed everything in the room, and then on your way back out, it's full again. The first is in Fist's bar near the beginning of the game, when you have to rescue Tali. The second and third occur with lots and lots of rachni immediately after you have set a rather large number of explosives.
** Of course, at Fist's bar, the thugs were all in the room with the main entrance, so they could have been called in as reinforcements. The rachni of course love hiding in [[AirventEscape air vents and other tight places]] to launch ambushes from, so it's consistent that they'd pop up in a previously empty room, even if it doesn't make sense that they'd wait until you were done setting the timer.
* ThanatosGambit: [[spoiler:The plan of the Protheans who sabotaged the Keepers and built the Citadel relay]].
* ThemeTuneCameo: The a muzak version of the main theme is one of the songs that can play in the elevators.
* ThirdPersonPerson:
** Talitha, the girl in the "I Remember Me" sidequest (which is available only to a Colonist Shepard), speaks like this [[spoiler:as a coping mechanism to handle her traumatic experiences.]]
** The hanar wear it as their hat to only refer to them in the third person when talking to strangers.
* TheThreeTrials: Sure, you can explore the galaxy, but the plot is prepared to wait as long as it takes for you to visit Therum, Noveria and Feros. [[spoiler: Oh, and check out that mysterious transmission from Virmire, would you?]]
* TooDumbToLive: Many, ''many'' characters:
** All enemies seem convinced that ''their'' group of badly armed, badly trained thugs will somehow prove more apt at killing you than the other ''dozen'' groups that have tried the exact same thing on a dozen different planets. Wrex puts it best:
--->'''Wrex:''' Anyone who fights us is either stupid or on Saren's payroll. Killing the latter is business. Killing the former is a favor to the universe.
** Anyone who doubts Shepard's Spectre status counts as well. Special mention must go to the [=ExoGeni=] research team that has been overrun by Thorian Creepers. They themselves note that they were unable to defeat the Creepers, and that your ability to drive them off saved their lives, but with the right dialogue choices they still attack you. Though it is justified in the dialogue - they do not really think they could win, they just do not want to go into prison after what they have done.
** Subverted when Shepard encounters a pair of thugs while fighting through the club of a local crime boss. The Renegade dialogue choice "I just killed fifteen guards to get in here. What do you think I'll do to you?" convinces them to leave.
** The Council trusts C-Sec to investigate Saren's activities when he is accused of the attack on Eden Prime, then give them such a low security clearance that the officers involved can access literally nothing relevant to his actions.
* TownWithADarkSecret: Zhu's Hope is essentially the sci-fi version of this.
* TranslatorMicrobes: The DLC mission "Bring Down The Sky" provides a Codex entry explaining that different races (and different nationalities within races) communicate via ubiquitous machine translation.
* {{Troperiffic}}: The ''Mass Effect'' article had to be split into four main pages and over a dozen sub pages; one for the [[Franchise/MassEffect main series]], this page, ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' and ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''. There are also relevant character pages, Crowning Moment pages, additional sub pages for tropes that became too numerous to include on a single page, and additional pages for [[ExpandedUniverse the books]].
* UnderratedAndOverleveled: This can occur if you wait to rescue Liara as long as possible. Liara's strength is not that unreasonable if she is rescued near the beginning of the game when she expected to be saved (being a mage in a world where her people are presented as the strongest biotic users). However, if the player waits to rescue her until near the end of the game she can come out of suspended animation as powerful as now-legendary characters, but the plot will still play her as the weak and inexperienced character she was supposed to be in the beginning of the game.
* UnexpectedGameplayChange: The Pinnacle Station DLC has Shepard participating in simulations that are similar to FPS multiplayer modes.
* [[UselessUsefulSpell Useless Useful Ammo]]: There's ammo that does extra damage to [[{{Mooks}} organics]], and ammo that does extra damage to [[MechaMooks synthetics]]. However, there's also an ammo type that not only affects both organics and synthetics, but does more damage than either of the "specialized" ammo types ''and'' prevents regeneration - meaning, among other things, that when [[DemonicSpiders krogan]] go down, they ''stay'' down.
* VendorTrash: In the form of high-rank versions of the guns and armor you got at the start of the game. They're likely to be so horribly outclassed by new models that their only purpose is a cheap source of credits. For example, the Avenger I Assault Rifle, the weapon you start off with, is incapable of hitting anything less than five feet away from you.
* VideoGameCaringPotential: Your party members. You don't actually get Renegade or Paragon points for how you act towards them, but their reactions to you tend to be so heart-wrenching when you're a giant JerkAss that it's hard to play as one. [[spoiler:Thus making the problem of sacrificing one of them at Virmire all the more painful]].
* TheVoice: Admiral Hackett, Hannah Shepard (only if Shepard has the Spacer background).
* TheWarOnTerror: An endgame side-plot has a pro-human protest group who shout "No blood for aliens!". This is of course a take of the "No blood for oil!" [[CatchPhrase rallying cry]] for anti-war American protesters.
* WakeUpCallBoss: Assuming you play the game in the developers' intended order, the Geth Armature on Therum. After several minutes of blasting geth to shreds in the Mako followed by the still relatively easy task of killing them on foot, you come face-to-face with a gigantic machine that has '''tons''' of health and can easily kill you with a single hit. In fact, it's not uncommon for the Armature to kill Shepard ''as soon as the battle begins'', which is a surefire sign that stronger shields and/or armor might be called for.
* TheWarHasJustBegun: Shepard's endgame speech. Anderson or Udina also make one, depending on your decisions.
* WhamEpisode: Virmire is basically Planet Wham. [[spoiler:Not only is the true identity of Saren's ship Sovereign revealed (specifically, as an EldritchAbomination ManBehindTheMan), but you find yourself forced to leave one of your crew members to their death, and possibly [[PlayerPunch kill another yourself]]]].
* WhamLine:
--> [[spoiler:There is a realm of existence so far beyond your your own you cannot even imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. '''I...am Sovereign.''']]
** Also, this line from the conversation with [[spoiler: Vigil on Ilos]]:
--> [[spoiler: '''Vigil:''' The Citadel is the heart of your civilization and the seat of government. As it was with us, and as it has been with every civilization that came before us. But the Citadel is a trap. The station is actually an enormous mass relay - one that links to dark space, the empty void beyond the galaxy's horizon. When the Citadel relay is activated, the Reapers will pour through. And all you know...will be destroyed.]]
* WhatMeasureIsAMook: Multiple missions can have the final confrontation resolved peacefully if you have enough Charm or Intimidate points to get the enemy to surrender voluntarily. However, to ''get'' to this point you often need to shoot your way through the initial guards, and afterwards you will still be congratulated on resolving the issue peacefully, despite the guard body count.
* WhereItAllBegan: [[spoiler:The final confrontation occurs in the Citadel Tower, also one of the first places the characters visited after the introductory mission]].
* WholePlotReference: Major Kyle. ''Film/ApocalypseNow'' (and, thus, ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness'').
* WithAllDueRespect: Kaiden to Ashley on which one gets to put their life on the line for the Salarian STG. [[DeadpanSnarker Ashley's]] reply provides the page quote.
--> '''Ashley:''' Why is it that when someone says "With all due respect", they really mean "Kiss my ass"?
* WorldBuilding: Dialogue with other characters and the Codex (An EncyclopediaExposita) can reveal information about the history, culture, society, religion, sexual mores, biology, government, family groupings, combat styles and economy of all the alien races of the universe, including some which are never even encountered in the game.
* WorthyOpponent: Saren eventually comes to see Shepard as this. This speaks volumes for [[{{Badass}} Shepard]] given [[FantasticRacism how much Saren hates humans]].
* WhyDontYaJustShootHim: In "Bring Down The Sky", you can actually take out TheDragon with a sniper rifle instead of talking to him, since the game expects you to walk up and have a cutscene with him first.
* UncannyValley: {{Invoked}}, when you're talking to a corpse that's being used as a PeoplePuppet.
* {{Unobtainium}}: Element Zero, which explains everything considered "supernatural" by contemporary science.
* YouShallNotPass: In the final battle, [[spoiler: a turian general places his cruiser between Sovereign and the closing arms of the Citadel in order to stop the attack. [[SubvertedTrope Sovereign simply goes]] [[RammingAlwaysWorks through]] [[SubvertedTrope his ship]].]]
* YouWatchTooMuchX:
** Dr. Chakwas admonishes Corporal Jenkins for confusing the Spectres with their fictional representations, specifically telling him that he has seen too much spy fiction.
*** Could also be a ShoutOut to the James Bond films, as SPECTRE was an organization that served as the character's nemesis.
** Lorik Qui'in remarks that whoever started the rumors about an "ancient evil" and a "plague from distant suns" at Peak 15 has been watching too many horror vids.
** One of the scientists trapped at Peak 15 will mention that he used to have nightmares like this when watching too many cheap horror vids before lights out.
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