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The Illusive Man
The Illusive Man, AKA Jack Harper
"Salvation comes with a cost. Judge us not by our methods, but what we seek to accomplish."The enigmatic leader of Cerberus. He seeks to protect humanity, regardless of the cost. He gets Shepard to investigate the disappearance of human colonies. He is the protagonist of the tie-in comic Mass Effect: Evolution.In Mass Effect 3, he makes his most ambitious move yet — attempting to gain control of the Reapers and their technology rather than defeating them conventionally.
Voiced by: Martin Sheen
- The Adjectival Man: Obviously. And his real name is never revealed in the actual games.
- Affably Evil: To Paragon players. According to Retribution, this is a facade he uses to make it difficult to tell when he's lying.
- If Shepard dies he seems genuinely remorseful in private, regardless of what s\he did to the Collector base.
- Alas, Poor Villain: No matter how he dies, his death is given a great deal of emotional weight. If Shepard convinces him of his indoctrination, he becomes horrified at what he's done and shoots himself to end it. If Shepard is the one to shoot him, he takes one last look at his beloved homeworld and comments how beautiful and perfect Earth is in his eyes.
- Ambition Is Evil: He, and Cerberus as a whole.
- Appropriated Appellation: His anti-alien manifesto was derided by Alliance command after first contact as "survivalist rhetoric written by an illusive man". He kinda rolled with it.
- Batman Gambit: He pulls of quite an impressive one in order to eliminate his rivals in between the second and third games. He plays Liara and the Shadow Broker against each other, resulting in the latter's death. After that, his Cerberus forces sweep in and force Liara to destroy the resources she gained as the Shadow Broker (the original plan was to obtain them but Liara made sure this didn't happen, its still a win in their favor, just not as much), and are only unable to kill Liara herself because of Shepard's intervention. In addition to that, he pulls a ploy to divide Omega (depicted in the tie-in comic Mass Effect: Invasion) by luring Aria and her best forces away by unleashing an army of Adjutants on the station and feigning friendship, knowing that she was the only thing keeping the various mercenary groups on Omega from tearing the station apart. After that, Cerberus once again swept in and eliminated any remaining resistance.
- His plan to revive Shepard as-is through the Lazarus project is one of these, and it is even lampshaded at the beginning of the game by Miranda. His gambit pays off big in the Renegade ending, but he winds up hoisted by his own petard in the Paragon ending and undergoes a Villainous Breakdown.
- Attempts an enormous one against the Reapers in 3, in order to take control of them to subdue other species and put humanity on top. However, his plan fails because he doesn't fully anticipate just how out of his league his own (very strong, but only human) mind is in the face of an Eldritch Abomination and ends up being indoctrinated. Worse, it's even implied that he wasn't the first one with that brilliant idea; other extinction cycles had their own Cerberus/Illusive Man equivalents.
- Benevolent Boss: He will do everything in his power to help out his subordinates... so long as they remain loyal and useful.
- Bad Boss: Just don't betray him. Just ask Paul Grayson, who gets Reaper technology implanted into him. In the third game, he uses Reaper technology to create an army of slaves, among other atrocities.
- Big Bad Ensemble: He's the second most recurrent antagonist throughout the Mass Effect series, including the comics.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Subverted, despite what the characters believe. While Harbinger and Cerberus largely ignore a direct confrontation throughout most of Mass Effect 3, the Illusive Man took great steps to control the Reapers in the meantime — he ordered Henry Lawson to study indoctrination, buffed Cerberus to N.G.O. Superpower status and modified himself with Reaper tech so he could use the Crucible. Once Harbinger finds out, the Reapers storm Sanctuary in a brief moment of Evil Versus Evil. However, that research ultimately led to the Illusive Man himself becoming indoctrinated (or strengthening it, since his eyes are Reaper tech). By the final confrontation, it's made clear that TIM was little more than The Starscream.
- Non-Action Big Bad: In every appearance with him as an antagonist.
- Big Bad Wannabe: In the end, the Reapers are just the greater threat than him, and he ends up being their Unwitting Pawn.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In 3 it is revealed that he had the ship crew of the second team put together with the explicit goal to allay Shepard's suspiciousness, putting only Naïve Newcomer's and Token Good Teammate's into it, as well as assembling part's of Shepard's old team to make him feel more comfortable.
- Body Horror: His cybernetic implants during the final confrontation.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: In the third game, he gets just a little too close to Reaper tech and gets indoctrinated. Luckily, Shepard can snap him out of it and get him to kill himself.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: His creepy glowing eyes are even commented on in-universe.
- Call Back: TIM's suicide is Saren redux. Not as gory, though.
- The Casanova: His dossier in the Shadow Broker DLC reveals this.Sexual liaisons (past week):
Sani Shelani, Illium Entertainment's Sexiest Human Alive
Brooke Karrigar, Skyball Champion
Vela Vicious, Fornax Dream Girl 2185
Staci and Stephi Strong, the "Terra Firma Twins"
Matriarch Trellani (twice)
- This does lead to some Fridge Logic. It's unlikely that the secretive head of a covert terrorist organisation would risk drawing attention to himself by having sexual liaisons with so many high-profile celebrities. To demonstrate how secretive (to the point of paranoid) he is, it's mentioned in the novel Retribution that he lives in a space station crewed by only his most loyal zealots. Furthermore, every time someone else visits, and then they're only top-level operatives like Kai Leng, he has the space station moved to a different system when they leave.
- Although this is mentioned during the events of 2, when Cerberus is "only" a terrorist organization, which may give him some latitude. It's in 3 that they start directly attacking the Alliance - at which point, we do not know if he keeps his tendencies.
- Granted, yet it's not about whether he keeps his tendencies, it's about how he has sex with several high profile celebrities in one week; something that would draw attention to himself when he is someone who would not want attention drawn to himself as the head of a covert terrorist organization (since Paparazzi would likely be following these famous women). It would be like if Osama Bin Laden occasionally came out of hiding to sleep with A-list Hollywood Celebrities.
- This does lead to some Fridge Logic. It's unlikely that the secretive head of a covert terrorist organisation would risk drawing attention to himself by having sexual liaisons with so many high-profile celebrities. To demonstrate how secretive (to the point of paranoid) he is, it's mentioned in the novel Retribution that he lives in a space station crewed by only his most loyal zealots. Furthermore, every time someone else visits, and then they're only top-level operatives like Kai Leng, he has the space station moved to a different system when they leave.
- The Chessmaster: He pretty much is Cerberus, ensuring to be personally involved in all of their operations. Considering how intricate and far reaching their influence is, that's a lot of pawns.
- He also successfully manipulates the galaxy's most skilled soldier into working with him by making it so s/he really didn't have much of a choice in the matter, completely boxing him/her in. Add on the fact that for all of Mass Effect 2, he was responsible for pretty much everything that happened and even out-thought the Collectors a few times.
- Strategically leaking Shepard's return and association with Cerberus, perhaps while Shepard was still unconscious, ensured that the Alliance and the Council would deny any effort on Shepard's part to get them to help, leaving Shepard only with Cerberus and anyone else the Illusive Man allows to have access. It helps that the Council are in denial about the whole Reaper business anyway, and that the Collectors are focused on the Terminus systems whose inhabitants have a fraught relationship with the Council.
- He strategically leaks information to both the Alliance and the Collectors to get a human colony assaulted by the Collectors, and then directs Shepard to the location of the attack. This actually serves multiple purposes:
- Directly studying the Collectors' tactics and behavior, as they attacked a colony of his choosing, and thus he had the ability to intercept them.
- Confirming his theory that the Collectors had taken a new-found interest in humanity as a result of Shepard's actions by selecting a colony that Kaidan/Ashley just happened to be stationed in.
- Removing any chance of Kaidan/Ashley's interference by either getting them abducted by the Collectors, or forcing Shepard to confront them regarding Shepard's newfound allegiance to Cerberus, which very likely looked worse than it actually was. Either Kaidan/Ashley will cut all ties with Shepard, or begrudgingly accept the decision as a necessary one. All three outcomes works out for the Illusive Man.
- The Illusive Man is visibly conflicted over whether he should allow Shepard near any of the original squad. In addition to what he did to Kaidan/Ashley:
- He claimed that Liara couldn't be trusted because she was working for the Shadow Broker, when the truth was the exact opposite. However, he later goes back on this and actually provides Shepard with intel that results in the Shadow Broker's downfall, giving him the opening to try to take Liara down once she was no longer useful.
- Garrus was only allowed to join because the Illusive Man didn't know that Garrus was Archangel. Once that was discovered, it was impossible to remove Garrus without jeopardizing Shepard's loyalty to Cerberus. He even says in the mission report that he hopes Garrus will keep Shepard invested in the fight against the Collectors.
- Tali was only allowed to join because the chance encounter with her on Freedom's Progress was enough to convince the Illusive Man that she was a factor that could be controlled.
- Consummate Liar: It's nearly impossible to tell when he's being truthful or lying. Aria T'Loak notes that his very body language is cultivated to be just as inscrutable as his words. One of the few people capable of successfully lying to Aria's face.
- Contemplative Boss: He spends an awful lot of time staring at that star.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: And they glow. What's especially noteworthy is that they look similar to Saren's eyes from the first game, possibly to hint that both have been touched by Reapers.
- Cunning Linguist: Apparently can speak the asari and turian dialects unaided by universal translator, although this is apparently because of the Reaper tech he was implanted with.
- Cutscene Boss: At the end of the third game, you will either be able to convince him to kill himself, like with Saren in the first game, or you'll have to take him out using one of two Renegade interrupts. Not taking either of them results in a Nonstandard Game Over.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Doesn't matter whether Shepard is Paragon or Renegade; you always get dialogue options about whether or not the Illusive Man is trustworthy, and whether he knows more than he lets on at the end of several missions (in both cases, often to his face). Granted, a lot of this is to do with Cerberus's reputation and the player's experience of them in the previous game, but even so, its clear that Shepard and other characters are wary of him and his organization, especially as the game goes on and it becomes more and more obvious that they are still up to no good.
- Diabolical Mastermind: Manipulates everyone to get humanity above.
- Dirty Old Man: See Really Gets Around.
- Drink Order: Bourbon, as revealed by Ken Donnelly in 3.
- Driven to Suicide: If Shepard can make him realize that he's being indoctrinated during their last conversation, he will choose to shoot himself.
- Dying as Yourself: If Shepard shoots TIM, his final words are: "There... Earth. I wish you could see it like I do, Shepard. It's so... perfect."
- If Shepard helps him realize he has been indoctrinated, he says "I....tried." in regards to controlling the Reapers. He then kills himself to prevent them from using him any more.
- Electronic Eyes: A sign that he's already undergoing indoctrination.
- Empathic Environment: His office, after the Suicide Mission. If Shepard made the Paragon decision at the end of the mission, the star will turn blue. Otherwise (i.e., the Renegade decision) it will turn red.
- Averted if Shepard doesn't survive. Regardless of what became of Collector Base, the star will remain it's normal color (orange with hues of blue).
- Enemy Mine: Mass Effect 2 revolves around an uneasy alliance between him and Shepard. Previously, he had one with Liara to secure Shepard's body from the Shadow Broker.
- He seems to consider cooperating with non-humans as this kind of arrangement. Which is ironic considering that he helped save the entire turian race from indoctrination back when he was still a mercenary.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Cerberus facility that created Jack was actually a rogue facility outside his approval, and he ordered all of the surviving scientists from the project executed once he learned precisely what they were doing. Furthermore, his e-mail responses to both the Paragon and Renegade endings of the Project Overlord incident give further credence to the idea that he still tries to maintain some ethical standards in his research projects.
- However, his response to "Overlord"'s Renegade ending claims while he thought the experiments went too far, he's happy that Shepard decided to keep the research subject within Cerberus. For the Paragon ending, he complains that "Though your decision is understandable, it has set our efforts to understand the geth back several years." (This makes even less sense if Shepard already has Legion as a squadmate, though this could be an oversight on the author's part.) It's possible that while the Illusive Man would happily reap the fruits of even the most unethical projects, he values Shepard's loyalty enough to go along with what s/he chooses to do.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He believes that Shepard will always understand what he hopes to accomplish, even when it means using a base where hundreds of thousands of humans were liquefied as fuel for a human Reaper prototype. He also fails to see Miranda ever betraying him because he thought she was completely loyal to him.
- Though given the aggressiveness with which he tries to convince Shepard to preserve the Collector base, it seems likely that he was afraid that Shepard wouldn't listen to him, and was trying to appeal to their drive to stop the Reapers, as well as drawing parallels between the Collector Base and the Lazarus Project in order to exploit any possible gratitude Shepard may have had for being saved by Cerberus.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: As magnificent as he was, he was still way out of his league attempting to take control of the Reapers.
- Evil Mentor: Tries to be one to Shepard in Mass Effect 2, though it's entirely up to the player whether or not Shepard actually follows him.
- Expy: The Illusive Man's development in 3 is rather parallel to Saren's from the first game: they both are Well Intentioned Extremists who cross the Moral Event Horizon to deal with the Reaper threat. While Saren feels that he can work with the Reapers to save all organic life, TIM decides to try to find a way to control them and uplift humanity. They both even justify their actions with the exact same argument; "the Reapers never truly wiped out all of organics". Both of their paths leads to them getting Reaper implants, making them easier to be indoctrinated. In the end, they both can also die in the same exact way, committing suicide if Shepard manages to convince them that the Reapers are controlling them.
- Outside of the series, the Illusive Man is widely believed to have been inspired by the Cigarette-Smoking Man from The X-Files, since both characters are menacing, nameless cigarette-smoking characters who alternatively aid and work against the protagonists, and have an agenda that involves protecting humanity no matter the cost.
- The Extremist Was Right: His conviction that the Crucible can be used to control the Reapers is taken as simply further evidence of his rapidly-advancing insanity by Shepard and his/her allies, but not only does he turn out to be right, but there's an argument to be made for it being the most moral (or, at least, least immoral) resolution to the war.
- Also the reason why the decision regarding the Collector Base in 2 is so controversial. Some fans believe that utilizing technology built upon the horrific mass-murder of countless innocent people is an abhorrent idea, especially since it would also mean continued cooperation with Cerberus. Others agree with the Illusive Man's argument that since the Reapers haven't been defeated by a long shot, they need to use all the resources and help they can find, and that studying the proto-Reaper and how it was built could provide a critical advantage in the fight against the Reapers. Though the third game kinda renders the argument moot since he and a good portion of Cerberus wound up indoctrinated because of their "unrestrained" methods in studying Reaper tech, and this will end up happening regardless of the decision Shepard made.
- Another argument among players about the decision about the Collector station was based on the theme of earning your advancement. Some may see preserving the collector base similar as uplifting themselves with tech they don't "deserve" like the Krogan did thanks to the Salarians, with disastrous consequences. Others tend to argue that the galaxy is on the brink of annihilation and humanity needs to take risks. In some ways the game favor the first argument, after all the Mass Relays are specifically an impossibly clever trap that begins with giving Species the Mass Effect technology, and TIM himself becomes indoctrinated and by and large plays into the Reapers' hands. However, TIM's breakthrough in Horizon does seems to take the Reapers by surprise, and ultimately Mass Effect 3 leaves it up to you to decide whether or not his plan to control and harness the Reapers is a good idea.
- Face Framed in Shadow: Although his facial features can occasionally be seen.
- Fantastic Racism: Sort of; at the same time he does express respect for the achievements of others, and he did save the turians from being enslaved by Desolas (Saren's brother) back before he founded Cerberus.
- Fatal Flaw: His Pride. He's so convinced that the ends justify the means, it leads to himself and the entirety of Cerberus getting indoctrinated by the Reapers.
- Felony Misdemeanor: In the third game, his reaction to seeing Shepard after s/he storms his base:Shepard, you're in my chair.
- Fiction 500: He was able to get a multi-billion credit project to bring a person back from the dead together on fairly short notice. And build an improved version of the most advanced experimental starship in the galaxy while he was at it. And this didn't really impede any of his other operations.
- Although it is mentioned that the huge price of bringing Shepard back was offset by the valuable medical data obtained through the process.
- Un-shackled EDI explains that Cerberus owns the companies that built the first Normandy. They likely still have the resources and technology involved. Not that it makes the rebuilding of the Normandy any less significant an achievement.
- Fighting from the Inside: A Paragon Shepard can help The Illusive Man realize he is indoctrinated. He starts to noticeably struggle more and more to justify his actions almost as if he is in physical pain. Continue this path can finally help him break their control long enough for him to kill himself.
- Foreshadowing. In 2, TIM mentions his eyes are enhanced by Reaper technology. You don't say.note
- From Nobody to Nightmare: It's mentioned that he was once an average man with a family.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Even if you've finished the game depriving him of Reaper tech, he'll still go out of his way to get Kasumi in your team even though they've already finished their mission. The same goes for the Overlord mission, begging the question of why he'd request your aid in stopping his project after you blew up the Collector Base. In addition, you still get Cerberus funding when completing missions.
- Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Bizarrely, almost nobody comments on them.Joker: The Illusive Man has some crazy eyes for a guy trying to lay low.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: We never see him without a cigarette. Made fun of in the Shadow Broker DLC: He smokes at least four a day and has seven drinks a day.
- He Who Fights Monsters: How did he raise such a huge army in Mass Effect 3? Indoctrination. Unfortunately, indoctrination based on Reaper tech. He wasn't just playing with fire, he was playing with randomly spontaneously combusting thermite. And naturally, he succumbed himself.
- The Heavy: His actions guide a significant chunk of the plot of the second and third games.
- Heel Realization: Like Saren before him, can be talked into having one, both into realizing that he's indoctrinated and how much his actions have hurt humanity, causing him to commit suicide."I'm sorry, Shephard...I tried." (BANG)
- Hidden Agenda Villain: He's trying to make humanity dominant in the galaxy. Beyond that, not even Miranda, his most loyal agent, has any idea what he wants. The third game reveals that he's looking for a way to control the Reapers.
- Hypocrite: Despite being the leader of a pro-human organisation, according to his Shadow Broker dossier, he has numerous sexual liaisons with aliens.
- I Am the Trope: CERBERUS IS HUMANITY!
- Ink-Suit Actor: He resembles Martin Sheen. It's also fairly obvious that the photo of him in the Codex◊ is a photoshopped picture of a younger Sheen.
- It's All About Me: "Cerberus is humanity!"
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Whatever his research ethics were like before, it becomes clear in the third game that he's thrown off any remaining restraints, to the point of attempting to institute a second Project Overlord, which disgusts even the head of the original project. And this is before the big reveal of the atrocity factory known as Sanctuary.
- Knight Templar: He believes that everything he does will be justified later on.
- The Man: Shades of this: always shown in dim light, smoking a cigarette, a very rich and powerful fellow manipulating events from the shadows.
- Large Ham: Normally, he's not like this. But in 3, during his Villainous Breakdown, he starts channeling Palpatine when Shepard points out the fact he's Indoctrinated and his plan to control the Reapers will not work.
- Last-Second Chance: Paragon Shepard will keep offering this. The only reason TIM doesn't accept is that he's indoctrinated.The Illusive Man: Your idealism is... admirable, Shepard.
- Manipulative Bastard: Although he is not as manipulative as he wants to think, what with trying (and failing) to persuade Paragon Shepard to save the Collector base.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Martin Sheen has gone on record saying that he finds the Illusive Man "horrible" and untrustworthy.
- Meaningful Name: Everything, everything related to this man is covered in layers upon layers of meticulously planned deception.
- Motive Decay: Indoctrination can do that. If every Paragon response is chosen, you can see him visibly struggling against indoctrination during the Thessia mission, where he falters for a moment when Shepard asks him how he can possibly justify betraying humanity by fighting them, instead of the Reapers?!
- My God, What Have I Done?: If you convince him that he's been indoctrinated and that his actions have brought humanity to the brink of destruction, he shows great regret before committing suicide.
- Mysterious Employer: None of his subordinates know anything about him and the smart ones know better than to attempt to rectify that. In fact, many who work under his agents have no idea they're following his orders.
- Doubles as a Mysterious Backer in general.
- Necessarily Evil: His stance on some of his actions in 2 and just about everything he does in 3."You think because I'm willing to use the enemy's tactics, that they're no longer my enemy?"
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: He vetoed Miranda when she suggested implanting Shepard with a control chip, when it would've undoubtedly made his job much easier in the long run. Shepard even comments on this when told by Miranda in 3, saying that s/he figured it would've saved the Illusive Man a lot of trouble.
- Not So Different: 3 starts to show that he and Saren are frighteningly similar.
- Not So Stoic: For most of the two games he's in he maintains a calm demeanor. However during the final confrontation, if you use the persuasion options he starts to sound increasingly angry and desperate, culminating in him trying to shoot Shepard or taking his own life.
- People Puppets: He gains this power after getting Reaper implants. He uses it to hold Shepard and Anderson in place as he monologues, and also forces Shepard to shoot his/her mentor.
- Personality Powers: He's a skilled manipulator and chessmaster who gains the ability to control people's bodies. Ironically, he only gains these powers because he himself is being manipulated.
- Pragmatic Villainy: He complies with his employees' requests and is willing to work with aliens so long as it suits his goals.
- Psychotic Smirk: Give him the Collector base at the end of the game, and he'll have a rather creepy one of these.
- Punny Name: Some call him TIM.
- Really Gets Around: According to his Shadow Broker dossier, he's something of a pornomancer, though there could be one two reasons for that.
- Red Right Hand: Creepy, synthetic, glowing eyeballs.
- Shadow Archetype: Arguably serves as the dark reflection of Admiral Hackett.
- Particularly noticeable in 3, where they both are described as leaders of humanity (Cerberus and Alliance respectively), both are gathering resources and intel to defeat the Reapers and both have sent Shepard on Black-Ops missions in previous games.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!:
- What Paragon Shepard does to him after destroying the Collector base. Bonus points for Miranda doing it too, when asked to convince him/her not to do it. Extra bonus points for "Shut up" being the actual dialogue option that shows up on screen.Shepard: Sorry, I'm having trouble hearing you. I'm getting a lot of bullshit on this line.
- The whole of the final confrontation with him in the third game consists of this combined with a healthy dose of Kirk Summation and "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- What Paragon Shepard does to him after destroying the Collector base. Bonus points for Miranda doing it too, when asked to convince him/her not to do it. Extra bonus points for "Shut up" being the actual dialogue option that shows up on screen.
- Slouch of Villainy: He sits rather casually in his lounge chair most of the time.
- Smug Snake: Not as bad as Leng (being voiced by Martin Sheen helps), but prevalent in 3. Constantly giving arrogant lectures to Shepard whenever they meet, never truly explaining his motives beyond human supremacy, and never willing to admit there could be a better option. As with most smug snakes, many of his arguments are full of holes. A number of his remarks are also often accompanied by an annoyingly smug grin. Of course, indoctrination has the effect of making even the best Magnificent Bastard into a Smug Snake. A telltale sign he's indoctrinated is when he politely tells Shepard not to interfere anymore, as if that's supposed to deter them. Both Saren and Kenson before him had done the same, and all three ultimately devolved into child-like whining when the indoctrination became most severe and when their plans started to fall apart.
- The Social Darwinist: Develops shades of this in 3 (an attitude Kai Leng embraces wholeheartedly). In this case, "evolution" = becoming Reaper-tech transhumans.
- Spanner in the Works: Part of how Cerberus operates in 3. Attacking Sur'Kesh to kill the fertile females, and attempting to set off a turian bomb on Tuchanka in order to prevent races from uniting. And if Shepard is diligent, Shepard spanners them right back every time.
- Start of Darkness: Mass Effect: Evolution.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Saren in Mass Effect 3. Both seek to use the Reapers as a means to secure the dominance of their race, and end up indoctrinated and implanted with Reaper tech for their efforts. Shepard can even talk the Illusive Man into suicide in an almost exact replication of Saren. According to a Prothean VI, every cycle has groups like these that emerge.
- Talking the Monster to Death: You can convince him to kill himself at the end of Mass Effect 3. However, unlike with the encounter with Saren in the first game, which just requires a bunch of points in the Charm or Intimidate skills, the dialogue option to do this with the Illusive Man is very difficult to unlock; you have to have a completely full Reputation bar, and have to have taken all of the Persuade options in every conversation you have with him during the game.
- Touched by Vorlons: Before becoming the Illusive Man, he was exposed to a Reaper artefact that had an effect on him and is strongly implied to be the reason behind some of his personal abilities.
- The Unfought: In Mass Effect 3. This is slightly justified since he is a Non-Action Big Bad. A battle with him was originally intended, but they decided that going One-Winged Angel and turning into an unrecognizable monster didn't fit someone whose weapon had always been his mind/ideals. Or because it was "too videogamey".
- Tom the Dark Lord: His Fan Nickname is essentially TIM, while his real name is Jack. Go figure.
- Totalitarian Utilitarian: It's quite telling how he tends to refer to his employees as "resources".
- Tragic Hero/Tragic Villain: He needs quite a bit of whitewashing to be considered a "hero", but the fact remains that he had the power, intelligence, knowledge (his information network nearly rivals the Shadow Broker's), and charisma to stand a significant chance of defeating the Reapers. Too bad his pride led to him getting too close to Reaper tech and becoming one of their biggest assets against Shepard. It's hard to dispute that had the Illusive Man sided with Shepard when they encountered one another on Mars, the fight could have been won much sooner and more easily.
- The Unfettered: Is willing to allow any manner of horrible experiments happen to people in order to secure human dominance, even if those experiments are on other humans.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Cerberus will oppose Shepard in Mass Effect 3 regardless of whether s/he decided to destroy the Collector base or not, though it later becomes clear that this is largely due to indoctrination.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: See the above quote. In this case, utopia = human dominance.
- Villainous Breakdown: If you destroy the Collector base. He doesn't rant and rave, but he's clearly not pleased that Shepard basically gave him the middle finger and told him they're doing things Shepard's way from now on, or he can sod off.
- In Mass Effect 3, he has a pretty epic one when confronting Shepard and Anderson at the endgame, especially if Shepard keeps pointing out that his plan to control the Reapers is failing because he himself is indoctrinated and playing into their hands. It ends with him either ranting violently at Shepard and trying to shoot him/her and Anderson, or fighting off his indoctrination and committing suicide.
- Villain with Good Publicity: While he's painted as a terrorist by the Alliance, he does get an ambiguous portrayal in the second game that makes it possible for Shepard to ally with him. In the third game, it turns out he's worked very hard on that facade by carefully selecting the Cerberus operatives that Shepard comes into contact with while never letting them get close to his more traditionally villainous schemes or henchmen. This is why the Normandy SR-2 is staffed by "Cerberus is not anti-alien, it's pro-humanity" Kelly Chambers rather than "Only a dead alien is a good alien" Kai Leng and why Shepard's technological assets are an uprated version of his/her old ship and a fairly benign AI rather than whatever husk-related crimes against sapience Cerberus cooked up in its atrocity factories.
- Villain Respect: The Illusive Man has a great deal of respect and admiration for Shepard, even after they become clear enemies. He is always attempting to make him/her see his point of view and bring him/her to his side, and even when s/he doesn't, he still admires his/her will and idealism. He tries to get Kai Leng to show this respect, but it doesn't work.
- Visionary Villain: Designed to be the best and worst of humanity all at once. Deified.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: All he wants is the advancement and preservation of humanity. And he's willing to subjugate the alien races, as well as cross all sorts of ethical and moral boundaries for it.
- Wicked Cultured: Has pretty high class tastes and is a Necessary Evil at best.
- Worthy Opponent: In 3, he views Shepard as one, respecting them as an adversary despite their ideological differences.Illusive Man: Your idealism is... admirable, Shepard.
- Also shown when he chastises Kai Leng for clearly underestimating Shepard.
Captain Armando-Owen Bailey
Captain (later Commander) Armando-Owen Bailey
"I'm with them [formalities] up until they keep people from doing their jobs."A human Captain of C-Sec, he unofficially acts as a liaison during Shepard's time on the Citadel. He's not big on formalities, but nevertheless gets promoted to Commander by the start of Mass Effect 3.
Voiced by: Michael Hogan
- Anti-Hero: He is mostly a good guy, but he is more than willing to bend the law and work with criminals if it helps keep the peace.
- A Day in the Limelight: Mass Effect: Inquisition, where it's revealed that Bailey ended up killing Pallin while investigating him under Udina's orders. Of course, he believes that Pallin's innocent of whatever he was accused of despite evidence to the contrary.
- Canada, Eh?: Michael Hogan's northern Ontario accent comes through pretty strongly.
- Commanding Coolness: Gets promoted to this by the time you meet him in 3. He hates it.Shepard: ...Congratulations?
- Da Chief: For Zakera Ward in 2, then moves up into even higher echelons in 3.
- Desk Jockey: He complains about being one of these after being Kicked Upstairs in the third game.
- Dirty Cop: A Zig-Zagging Trope. Bailey is obviously crooked, as he's willing to torture suspects and makes under-the-table deals with thugs, but at the same time he's more of a Pragmatic Hero; he's actually a good person since he's doing these things because adhering the inflexible rules wouldn't get the job of keeping the peace done in the gritty life of the Wards. He's also not obstructive in any way to Shepard, Paragon or Renegade.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Will bargain with crooks if it ultimately means it'll keep peace on the Citadel.
- Foil: Towards Executive Pallin. Unlike Pallin, who was a by-the-book cop and deeply distrusted Spectres because of their disregard for rules, Bailey is willing and able to bend the rules if he feels it gets the job done, and is perfectly willing to request and use a Spectre's authority granted to him to move things along.
- Friend on the Force: Acts as one to Shepard.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Willing to engage in dirty business to keep the peace, but he's anything but a thug — see below.
- Knight in Sour Armor: His divorce, estrangement from his children, and the things he's seen on the job have made him pretty sour. Still does his best on the job though.
- Made of Iron: During the Citadel coup in 3, he takes a shot to the gut and just shrugs it off.
- Old-Fashioned Copper: On your first trip to the Citadel, you overhear him encouraging a younger officer to "make [the suspect] scream a little" to extract a confession, and then offers to do it himself if she can't handle it.
- Odd Friendship: With Paragon Shepard. Shepard might disapprove of his style and methods of policing, but nonetheless it's clear the two have nothing but an honest respect for each other.
- Noble Bigot: Subverted. Although this trope often goes hand in hand with Old-Fashioned Copper, Bailey is one of the few NPCs in the series to avoid this. During Thane's quest he shows empathy towards the alien population's fear of humans, observing that many of them have lived on the station since before humanity discovered space travel. All the more impressive given that many of the C-Sec officers throughout the game are very openly speciesist, including (at first) Garrus.
- Parental Abandonment: He considers this the root of many of the Citadel's social problems, which is why he jumps at the chance to help Thane and Kolyat. He'll eventually admit, albeit implicitly, that he's been in Thane's shoes himself — "You think he's the only man who ever screwed up raising a son?"
- Pragmatic Hero: He does whatever he needs to for the job to get done, but he is unfailingly just.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Perfectly willing to help Shepard out, even when it involves breaking the law.
- Retcon: An accidental one regarding his name. A background news report in the second game refers to him as Owen Bailey, but the Lair of the Shadow Broker archives refer to him as Armando Bailey. A later Cerberus Daily News report patched up the mistake by giving him the rather unwieldy first name "Armando-Owen."
- Retirony: Defied. He tells you he wants to retire to a nice place in the foothills on Earth, but then quickly adds that he won't be doing so any time soon.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: His excuse for being a dirty cop.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: Basically how he got his job, though unintentionally.
"You're free to go, justicar. It's been an honor having you in my station... and it's nice you didn't kill me, too."Anaya is a cop on Illium that Shepard meets when looking for Samara. She is quite helpful, as Shepard's cause might draw Samara away from Illium — and therefore keep Anaya from having to arrest and be subsequently killed by the justicar.
Voiced by: Cindy Robinson
- Bullying a Dragon: Though not by choice, only by proxy: her superiors ordered her to detain Samara, even though Samara's code would force her to kill Anaya to avoid it. Fortunately, both of them are willing to be reasonable about it.
- By-the-Book Cop: She only accepts your evidence against Pitne For because Samara vouches for you.
- Da Chief: To the cops in her district.
- Deadpan Snarker: Very much so.Shepard: You're not going to lock her up?
Samara: Any attempt to put me in a passive restraint system will be regarded as a hostile action, and I will be forced to attack.
Anaya: Yeah, that.
- Friend on the Force: Will follow up on some of Shepard's leads if you go to her.
- Hero-Worshipper: Like most asari, is in total awe of a justicar like Samara, even if that justicar will probably end up eventually killing her."It's a great honor to have her here, but I could do without the honor of having her kill me."
- Honor Before Reason: She'll follow orders even if it's guaranteed to get her killed by a Justicar.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: She makes it very clear that she will follow her orders to detain Samara if Samara does not leave Illium, even knowing that her odds of survival are close to zero.Anaya: I'm a cop and I know my duty.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: At the end of Samara's recruitment mission, Anaya admits that she didn't expect so much from a human.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She's willing to work with Shepard and Samara to make sure they can do what they need to.
- Shout-Out: After the mission, she sends you an e-mail titled Still Alive
"I am a biotic god! I think things...and they happen!"Yeah. This guy. A member of Pitne For's trade group, he ran afoul of the Eclipse sisters after Pitne neglected to tell them the red sand he sold them was potentially lethal. Niftu wound up pumped full of his own product and left to wander Nos Astra, stoned out of his gourd, while Pitne scrambled to get off-world.Has a higher "meme-per-character" count than anyone short of Harbinger.
Voiced by: Mark Meer
- A God Am I: A biotic god, to be exact.
- Ascended Meme: So popular that he spawned a number of in-jokes in the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. The biotic challenge group rewards you with the banner "Biotic God" with a picture of a biotic volus. There's also a volus adept character called, you guessed it, a biotic god.
- Battle Aura: Unfortunately, it's the most impressive trick he has.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The victim of one if he faces Wasea.
- Intoxication Ensues: The reason for his odd behavior. If he is spoken to afterwards, he is rather embarrassed.
- Large Ham: His "biotic god" speech is quite over-the-top.
- No, YouShepard: You need help.
Niftu: You need help! You stand before the mightiest biotic ever!
- Shaped Like Itself: "I am a great wind that will sweep all before me like... a great wind! A great biotic wind!"
- Suicidal Overconfidence: Tanked-up merchant with no combat experience versus the leader of a murderous Amazon Brigade. "I shall toss Wasea about like a rag doll!" He does not. You can knock him out to prevent this or...Shepard: Charge...
Jack: That was mean. But damn funny
- Talking to Himself: If you're playing Male Shepard.
- Wizard Duel: He fires a tiny Warp field that 'pops' an inch from Wasea's nose, then turns and walks away. She unceremoniously one-shots him, knocking him into the air and behind a few barrels just as Shepard and co. walk in.
"What can I get ya, babe? Sorry, no sex. I just cleaned the bar."An asari Matriarch working in the Eternity bar on Illium because she had the blue laughed off her ass when suggesting her people get their maiden stages doing more productive things, and make the effort to study and build more mass relays. Bothered, but not too worried, about being confronted by Conrad Verner, and implies she would have dealt with him a lot more violently than Shepard.
Voiced by: Claudia Black
- Art Evolution: She gets a slight redesign in the third game, with more purple skin and older facial features.
- The Bartender: She only takes bartending jobs to keep an eye on Liara without arousing suspicion.
- Bouncer: Implied to be Aethyta's other job at Eternity.
- Brain Bleach: Talks about her mother putting on her old commando leathers for 'special nights with Dad' with embarrassment, and later evokes a similar response from one of her kids while reminiscing about the other parent's breasts.
- Cassandra Truth: Whether or not she believes in the Reapers before 3, the events of the first game led her to advise her people on Thessia that "art and philosophy and political prowess wasn't gonna cut it", but they didn't want to hear it.Aethyta: We can't go one asari lifetime without some big war breaking out! We need to get our daughters working earlier, not spending their wild maiden years stripping or in merc bands.
- Cool Old Lady: Thanks to being a Deadpan Snarker and Dirty Old Woman.
- Deadpan Snarker: Nearly everything she says includes a sarcastic quip.
- Dirty Old Woman: Says she goes for asses in 2. And in 3 she waxes poetic about Nezzy's rack.
- Disappeared Dad: Well... technically.
- Easter Egg: If you order a "mystery drink" at the kiosk, then talk to her again, her character model is of a much younger and more attractive asari.
- Face Palm/Funny Background Event: Her reaction to Conrad's wife paying for his ticket out.
- Flat "What.": Her reaction when Conrad says that he heard the bar is a front for dealing red sand.note
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Has had sex with at least one elcor.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: She gives Shepard a barely-veiled threat along these lines if s/he's been romancing Liara in the third game. Shepard can throw it right back at her once s/he finds out exactly why Aethyta has been spying on her.
- Insistent Terminology: She insists that she's Liara's father, not her other mother, because she "didn't pop her out. Anthropocentric bag of dicks."
- Ironic Echo: If you're romancing Liara, a Renegade interrupt lets you throw "Nobody messes with my girl" back in her face by saying you won't allow any assassination attempts on Liara. She is impressed.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Asks Shepard to rein in Konrad Verner before she decides to beat him to death with his own spine.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: She's faced a lot of crap.
- The Lad-ette: To be expected. Her dad was a krogan, after all.
- Lamarck Was Right: "Scientists say that stuff about us getting genetic material from our fathers is crap. Seems like I got a bit of his mouth, though."
- Nature vs. Nurture: She was raised by a krogan father, so it would have rubbed off, genetics or no.
- Made of Iron: In one of the Shadow Broker archive videos, Matriarch Aethyta headbutts a krogan... and the krogan falls to the ground.
- Mrs. Robinson: She flirts with Shepard quite a bit. The fact that she's Liara's dad plays it even closer.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Her view towards asari's hat. She believes that they should be doing more constructive things with their Maiden years, and warns that there's a big war every asari lifetime, so they ought to focus less on culture, more on preparing.
- Never Mess with Granny: As Aethyta herself puts it, she's no commando but she's had a thousand years to learn how to fight dirty and is implied to be a powerful biotic even for an asari. When she worked at Eternity it was implied that she doubled as the bouncer and a video in Lair of the Shadow Broker shows her taking down a krogan with a headbutt.Aethyta: Thanks for taking care of that crazy guy. Saves me having to beat him to death with his own spine. That makes the other customers nervous.
- The Nicknamer:
- Well, she only gives one example rather than tendency, but it's memorable enough to stick to mind: she calls Matriarch Benezia "Nezzy". And refers to Shepard as 'babe' in 2.
- Also inspired Benezia's pet name for Liara, "Little Wing".
- Noodle Incident: She uses one from her late-maiden/early-matron years to stress the importance of not eating food from the wrong chirality. Namely, what happened the time she witnessed a krogan drink a liquefied turian on a dare.Aethyta: Nobody came out of that one looking pretty.
- Only Sane Man: Was laughed off Thessia for suggesting that they make a serious effort to study and duplicate the Mass Relays. After the third game becomes even more so after the relays blow or are damaged in any ending in which the asari species survives. In 3 it does seem like she has a lot more authority; keeping watch on the Shadow Broker aside, two random sidequests have her namedropped. A commando has her approval to get writings on being a warrior made into required reading, and another asari looking into improved biotic amp interfaces mentions her.
- Papa Wolf: Technically falls under this rather than Mama Bear since she's the father in the situation. Either way, she has been making sure nobody messes with Liara. The jobs at both Eternity and Apollo's Café were to keep the other matriarchs satisfied that Liara was under control so they wouldn't order a hit.
- Parental Abandonment: In a hilarious, if a bit twisted, way. Her father fought in the Rachni Wars, while her mother fought in the Krogan Rebellions. Aethyta's mother figured it out very early, but stayed quiet while her husband boasted. When he found out when he was pushing a thousand and she was a matriarch, they told Aethyta, who was barely over a hundred, that they would fight each other to the death, and that she should "love whichever one survived. Turned out to be damned easy! Since neither one did."
- Really Gets Around: "You find peace in whatever arms will hold you." Apart from Benezia, the lovers she sees fit to mention are a turian, an elcor, and a hanar, the latter one whom she even had a child with.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Benezia's Blue. Aethyta is a Deadpan Snarker with a rebellious streak and who's not afraid to solve arguments with a headbutt, whereas Benezia was reserved, traditional and diplomatic.
- Which is possibly why she has concerns about Shepard's friendship (or relationship) with Liara, as they are likewise the Red to her Blue. This is also likely the reason why she approves more if Shepard takes the Renegade Interrupt and stands up to her, defending their relationship by using her own words against her.
- The Reveal: She has been confirmed to be Liara's father. Not that Liara didn't already figure it out. (seen here.)
- Sophisticated as Hell: Uses the terms "anthropocentric" and "bag of dicks" in the same breath.
- Too Much Information: Liara's reaction to what she says about Benezia's magnificent rack.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Shep can ask her about what it's like to live for a thousand years. Rather than talk about comparative lifespans, Aethyta says it's violent, good news is the exception, and you take comfort where you can."Then one day you wake up, your figure's gotten matriarchal, and everyone else is too young to remember how the quarians looked inside those suits."
- Wolf Whistle: When fondly recalling Benezia's rack.
Shepard: Why are the mercs after you?A volus merchant in the Nos Astra spaceport on Ilium. After his business partner is killed by Eclipse mercenaries, he finds himself involved in Samara's investigation. It's later revealed that Eclipse is after him for selling them a biotic-enhancing drug and mysteriously neglecting to mention its potentially lethal side-effects.
Pitne: I have no idea! We're innocent merchants!
Pitne: I have no idea! We're innocent merchants!
Voiced by: Chris Postle
- Blatant Lies: It's immediately obvious that he's not being straight with Shepard when the latter asks him about his involvement.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Well, more like Card Carrying Dirtbag Salesman.Shepard: It sounds like you're a swindler and your actions have finally caught up with you.
Pitne: True and true.
- Cracking Up: Shep does this to procure Pitne's passcard into the Eclipse base, prompting Pitne to hand it right over.
- Dirty Coward: He's caught trying to escape all the trouble he caused with Eclipse.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: It's hard to feel sorry that the mercs are hunting him when he conveniently withheld information about the drugs he sold them. His partner is also likely one of these.
- With Friends Like These...: Shepard and co. encounter Niftu Cal, a fellow volus who was part of Pitne's trade group, while hunting the mercs. In retaliation for Pitne selling them biotic-enhancing chemicals without telling them how dangerous they were to the user, they pumped Cal so full of drugs that by the time Shepard finds him, he's as high as a kite. Also applies to Pitne's murdered partner, for whom Pitne sheds no tears, insisting that he knew the risks when he took to spacing. Referenced when your squadmates make comments about how Pitne cares more about money than friends.
- "I wake up every night, sick and sweating. Each of their faces staring at me, accusing me. I'm already a dead man. I don't sleep. Food has no taste. Some days...I just want it to be over."Voiced by: Jason Singer
- Anti-Villain: Everything he did was only out of fear for his safety.
- Bond One-Liner: Garrus delivers one of these if he succeeds in killing Sidonis.Garrus: Betrayal repayed, Sidonis.
- Boom, Headshot: What Garrus does to him if you don't stop him.
- Cruel Mercy: When Shepard points out that Sidonis is badly suffering.Garrus: He still has his life!
Shepard: Look at him, Garrus. He's not alive. There's nothing left to kill.
- Despair Event Horizon: So much so that Sidonis invites death by walking out into view of Garrus, whom he knows is attempting to kill him.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: It's more, "If You Kill Him, You Will Completely Lose Yourself", but Paragon Shepard spends the mission trying to convince Garrus that it's not like him to be so intent on killing his former friend. What truly separates the Paragon approaches for Garrus's loyalty mission and Zaeed's mission are a difference of 20 years. Wheras Zaeed had only recently met Shepard and before that had spent 20 years hunting down the man whom he thought was his friend, Garrus was friends with Shepard before, and had only recently turned to vigilantism. As a result, it's unnecessary to charm Garrus into realizing that he was only out for revenge like it takes with Zaeed, as Garrus knows and trusts Shepard enough that he can let it go on his own.
- Mercy Kill: With how empty Sidonis' life is, his death can be seen this way.Sidonis: No more sleepless nights...
Garrus: For either of us, Sidonis.
- My God, What Have I Done?: He deeply regrets selling out Garrus' team.
- Precision F-StrikeShepard: I'm the only thing standing between you and a hole in the head.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: What Garrus thinks he's doing.
- Survivor Guilt: See Tragic Villain below.
- That Man Is Dead: When Shepard calls him by his real name, Sidonis angrily retorts with "Don't ever say that name aloud!"
- Tragic Villain: Talking to him shows just how guilty he feels over betraying Garrus, and he can't even eat or sleep because of what he's done.
- "Taking back our ward is only the first step! We must remove the cowards and appeasers on the Council!"Voiced by: William Salyers
- Asshole Victim: It's hard to feel sorry for this guy if Shepard puts a slug in his head. Shepard even states how badly Talid deserved it, and Bailey doesn't even bother to arrest anyone over it, though this likely also has to do with Shepard being a Spectre.
- Arc Villain: While he's technically the target whom Shepard and Thane are trying to prevent Kolyat from killing, it's immediately clear that Talid isn't a morally clean individual.
- Catch Phrase: "It's been wonderful talking to you all! I hope you'll come out on election day!"
- Corrupt Politician: He hires Blood Pack mercenaries to shake down business owners on the Citadel.
- Dirty Coward: Even though one of his talking points is the number of humans in c-sec, he doesn't resist calling them to save his own skin.
- Fantastic Racism: The entire point of his campaign.
- Hypocrite: Naturally. His entire campaign is based around cleaning up organized crime on Zakera Ward, which he preaches to voters before going to extort human businesses. But his hypocrisy is especially noteworthy in that while he complains about the human presence in C-Sec, his first reaction upon being sighted by Kolyat is to call for C-Sec.
- Karma Houdini: The Paragon ending, though what happens with his campaign once it comes to light that he's working with the Blood Pack to extort human businesses is unclear.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: See Asshole Victim.
- No True Scotsman: Like Saren and Warden Kuril, Talid lacks the clan markings that most turians have on their face. This serves a dual meaning, as Talid is both untrustworthy and a politician, with the term "barefaced" being turian slang for politicians.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: The Renegade solution to dealing with him.
- Shoot the Hostage: Shepard puts it best.Shepard: Hostages only work when your enemy cares that they live.
- Shout-Out: When asking what the humans have done for any of the other races, a salarian replies that he likes their food in a reference to Monty Python's Life of Brian.
"What, so you came to get my forgiveness? So you can die in peace or something?"Thane's son. After Irikah's death and Thane's disappearance, Kolyat sets out in his father's footsteps, on his way to becoming a professional assassin. He ends up accepting a contract to kill Joram Talid, a turian anti-human politician on the Citadel. Kolyat becomes the subject of Thane's loyalty mission, where Shepard helps them reconnect and tries to stop the assassination before it happens.
Voiced by: Quinton Flynn
- Antagonistic Offspring: Subverted. Kolyat isn't evil, just misguided, nor is he directly after Thane. Shepard can even suggest he's trying to follow in Thane's footsteps on some level. Thane doesn't care for the idea.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: It turns out that Thane had set out to avenge Irikah by hunting down her killers. He left Kolyat for too long, however, causing the rift between them to develop.
- Flat "What.": Says one when Thane explains that it was his fault Irikah died, that her killers went after her to get to Thane.
- Guttural Growler: Seems to be part of being a drell.
- Heel–Faith Turn: If convinced to turn away from his destructive path, in the third game he mentions spending the last year studying the Drell Religion, with the implication that he's decided to honour his father by becoming a priest, rather than an assassin.
- Professional Killer: Or at least, he's on his way to becoming one.
- Say Your Prayers: Finishes Thane's prayer as he lays dying in 3.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Bears a strong resemblance to his father, albeit with a more bluish skin tone and a recolored set of clothes.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: He reminds Thane that he was barely around while Irikah was alive, much less when she died.Thane: You're angry because I wasn't there when your mother died.Kolyat: You weren't there when she was alive! Why would you be there when she died?!
Doctor Gavin Archer
"If my work can spare a million mothers from having to mourn a million sons, my conscience will rest easy."A Cerberus researcher that was in charge of Project Overlord, a Cerberus project designed to find a way to communicate with and fully control the geth in an attempt to prevent a possible second war with them by linking a human mind to the geth Hive Mind via a VI. His younger brother, David, volunteered for the project, but the VI went rogue, leading to disaster.
Voiced by: Simon Templeman
- The Atoner: He quit Cerberus after the events of Overlord and is more than willing to help Shepard to defeat the Reapers in Mass Effect 3.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: If Shepard never did the Overlord DLC, Gavin will sadly say of having to kill his brother with a nuclear strike, "It all seemed so harmless."
- Crocodile Tears: A variation. He makes a seemingly heartfelt plea for Shepard to let him become The Atoner and take care of David. If Shepard says no, it slips very quickly and he shouts "No! He's too valuable!" and tries to shoot Shepard.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Reveals in 3 that he refused the Illusive Man's demands to restart Overlord by finding a replacement for David and handed in his resignation by telling his employer that if "his intention was to deal with the Devil, he only had to look in the mirror". The Illusive Man's response was to put a price on Archer's head.
- Driven to Suicide: If you fail to save David, just keep quiet about it to make him squirm, or resolve the geth issue without ever doing the DLC, meaning what he did was completely pointless, he pulls out a pistol and walks away to "escape from this nightmare." You hear a gunshot a second later.Archer: God be with you, Commander. He was never with me.
- Heel–Face Turn: In 3. Shepard's still not happy with him.Shepard: I have to go, and I'm not gonna pretend it was nice to see you again.
- I Did What I Had to Do: What he claims, but it doesn't come anywhere near justifying what he did.
- Heel Realization: He eventually realizes the horror of what he did; when the Illusive Man asks him to do a second Project Overlord, Gavin tells him that "if he wanted to find the devil, he need only look in the mirror." Subsequently, he quits Cerberus, destroys his research notes and hardware, and is among the ex-Cerberus scientists that Jacob is protecting. If you go so far as to screw with him or let David die or resolve the geth issue without saving David, he commits suicide.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Him getting his face smashed by Paragon Shepard was well-deserved.
- My God, What Have I Done?: A delayed one, but he eventually has this reaction to what he did with Project Overlord.
- Pistol-Whipping: Delivered to him by Paragon Shepard.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He callously experiments on and exploits his autistic brother David (one flashback scene shows him using him as a dictation device), which brings to mind all-too-real issues of the discrimination and abuse people with mental illnesses and neurodivergent outlooks suffer.
- Reformed, but Rejected: While he does attempt to become The Atoner in 3, he's well aware that nothing can make up for his horrific actions against his brother.Archer: [talking to Shepard] I know you think I'm a monster, and you're right.
- If Shepard never did the Project Overlord DLC, enough prodding on what happened will make Shepard a little suspicious that Archer did something far worse than he's letting on.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: His project turns into this. Almost everyone associated with the project gets killed. Legion reveals the majority of the geth have no interest in another war, and Legion himself is perfectly happy to communicate voluntarily with humans. So in the end, everything that Gavin put David through was pointless. This is especially evident if you play the mission after recruiting Legion.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Averted. Gavin fully understands why Paragon Shepard views him as a monster and admits that even he knows that nothing he does can make up for what he did to his brother.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Shepard's stance on his actions by 3, Archer doesn't think any better of himself.Archer: Not a day goes by where my dreams aren't haunted by what I did to David. All I can do is hope that one day he forgives me.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: In this case, it doesn't.
- Walking Spoiler: Aside from the fact that he's a scientist working for Cerberus, nearly everything else about him would constitute a spoiler for Overlord.
- Villainous Breakdown: Has a brief one in Overlord's Paragon ending.
"This one does not share top billing!"The fictional star of ''Blasto the Jellyfish Stings'", a popular hanar Exploitation Film. By the third game, his series has expanded to six movies, and in the Citadel DLC, in production of a seventh and pre-production of an eighth.
Voiced by: Mark Meer
- Anti-Hero: In his movies.
- Ascended Meme: Started out as a joke on Bioware forums, and then was incorporated into the games as a fictional character.
- Big "NO!": Gets a completely flat one after his elcor partner Bubin is shot.
- Beware the Silly Ones: He's a hanar who also happens to be a Spectre.
- The Casanova: "He's got a lover in every port...""Did someone mention an Enkindler? This one is familiar with enkindling. It has enkindled multiple females across the galaxy."
- Casting Gag: Blasto is voiced by Mark Meer (Male Shepard), while his Love Interest in Blasto 6 is voiced by Jennifer Hale (FemShep).
- Cowboy Cop: Plays one.
- Day in the Limelight: He got an official tie-in comic called "Blasto: Eternity is Forever".
- Dull Surprise: He's a hanar, so this comes naturally.
- Expospeak Gag: "This one has grown tired of your solid waste excretions."
- Guns Akimbo: "...and a gun in every tentacle." Exemplified in the Citadel DLC where he brandishes his Carnifex Pistols to Shepard.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Blasto may be a Cowboy Cop, but he genuinely cares about Bubin and Bubin's sister, honey.
- Jerkass: His actor, on the other hand, just comes across as this.
- Memetic Badass: In-Universe.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Invoked by Bubin, who's naturally furious when he find Blasto in bed with his sister.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Both his character and his actor.
- The Council thought that Blasto, the first hanar SPECTRE would play by the rules. They were wrong.
- The hanar are well known for being ceaselessly polite, but Blasto's actor is smugly dismissive to Commander Shepard, the Hero of the Citadel, and Javik, an individual whom the hanar revere as gods. The only other hanar that's a jackass is the one who's indoctrinated, and he's not even as big a jackass (though he is evil and needs to be stopped).
- Narm Charm/So Bad, It's Good: Blasto 6 and the cheap production values of Blasto 7 imply that this is the large reason it's so popular in-universe.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In-universe, he takes a lot of Shepard's traits. He's a badass Spectre who doesn't play by the rules, tried to warn the Council about the Reapers and killed Sovereign in the Battle for the Citadel. His next movie involves him curing the genophage. Shepard does not find this amusing.
- The Prima Donna: His actor appears to be one in the Citadel DLC, immediately insulting Shepard and Javik by refusing to share top billing for Blasto 7 with them. Even Paragon Shepard, who seemed willing to go along with it at first, eventually finds it too hard to put with him. To emphasize this, it's the Paragon interrupts that cause you to intercede and tell him to stuff it.
- Primal Scene: In Blasto 6, between Blasto and Bubin's sister. As they are a hanar and elcor, it consists of ridiculously polite, monotonous "dirty talk", that is as hilarious as it sounds. The fact that they are voiced by Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale only makes it even more hilarious.
- Show Within a Show: One of the most popular film series in the Mass Effect universe.
- [Verb] This!: "Enkindle this."