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Mass Effect 3: Tropes E to K
Tropes A to D | Tropes E-K | Tropes L to R | Tropes S to Z

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    E 
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: Earth is one of the first targets of the Reapers, and they concentrate their efforts there, mostly because Humans Are Special and Shepard, a human, really pissed off the Reapers. However, the fighting is primarily done by resistance forces led by Admiral Anderson; Shepard spends very little time there.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: If you don't accrue enough War Assets, this can happen.
  • Easier Than Easy: Narrative difficulty, created for players who prefer to focus on the game's story, reduces all damage inflicted by enemies to Scratch Damage, while providing a massive boost to damage inflicted upon them by Shepard.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Bioware has said that there are secret Kinect voice commands that they leave for players to discover. For example, saying "boomstick" switches to the shotgun.
    • The entire "Blasto 6" movie can be heard in audio clips, located in a certain location on the Presidium.
    • In Citadel, the Council Archives imply the asari have pilfered the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Should you continue a relationship with Kaidan before the Cerberus Coup mission, Fem!Shep will grab an eyeful of Kaidan's butt as they both board the Normandy after you re-recruit him.
    • Your love interest, or Liara if you don't have one/they aren't a full squad member, will take a moment to stare at your butt and comment on your outfit when saving you early in the Citadel DLC.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: After Kai Leng and some Phantoms board an elevator, Shepard's team opens the opposite shaft and rides up after him. You have to disable Leng's elevator (and the one he takes after that) while fending off Cerberus troops. On the upside, take the power conduits out fast enough and you can send the opposition plummeting.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The Nemesis and Phantom are both examples of this. They work together, with the former, a fast-moving sniper with no melee attacks to speak of, working to pin you down so the latter, a biotic ninja armed with a cloaking device, a fancy sword, a seriously powerful handgun, and fancy acrobatics can sneak up to you to deliver the killing blow. If that doesn't work, the Phantom will cloak and hide and wait for you to get near the Nemesis so they can ambush you.
    • The geth have rocket troopers and pyros. They have the same combat and even teamwork dynamic as the Cerberus Phantoms and Nemeses, down to the melee specialists being tougher than the ranged attackers. The only real difference is that the pyros only have short-ranged attacks and can't cloak.
    • Reapers have Brutes and Ravagers; Brutes are towering melee warriors with heavy armour plating who get charge attacks and the occasional sync-kill, and Ravagers are basically armoured living artillery pieces that spawn kamikaze spider-robots when their weak points are punctured. They have a slightly different teamwork dynamic: the Brute forces you to move so you don't get your intestines pulled out and shown to you, and the Ravager pummels you with heavy long-range fire while you're trying to run away from the Brute.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous:
    • As in the previous games, the main character is a member of an elite government organization granted nearly unlimited authority and a background in human special forces projects.
    • The multiplayer centers around a team of player-controlled special forces operatives. It is taken Up to Eleven by Krogan Warlords or Geth Juggernauts, who are the elite of the elite.
  • Elite Tweak: Cryo powers, in a welcome shift from the second game. Several other powers can now be spec'ed to work better on frozen stuff, and enemies will slow down when hit even if they're shielded or armored.
    • Overload. It fires a powerful blast of electricity that momentarily stops opponents in their tracks, allowing headshots. It can be upgraded to hit up to three nearby targets, and can even be set to stun lock organics (of which 3 of the enemy races in multiplayer are); with a power amplifier weapon from the Citadel DLC, on Normal difficulty, it can deal enough damage to a Cerberus Nemesis sniper that it vaporises them in one shot. And while it can't target enemies with armour, it can still arc to them, which is especially useful against CAT6 Heavies in the Citadel DLC, since the jolt will shut down their tower shields.
    • Energy Drain, especially when fighting against geth. Very effective at removing shields and barriers while recharging your own, and against synthetics it even works well against health and armor. A well-built Sentinel on Rannoch can stand in front of virtually anything but a Geth Rocket Trooper, hit one with an Energy Drain, and then near-totally ignore the oncoming fire; even Primes will often find it hard to hurt you.
    • Power Combos, which cause area damage when certain power effects are combined on the same enemy. They are especially vital for Adepts, since many of their powers don't deal direct damage, but they can be useful for pretty much any class. Best of all, some biotic abilities can even be inflicted on shielded or armored units.
    • The Viper sniper rifle, which you get on Menae. When fully upgraded, which isn't too expensive, it's light enough that power-based classes can wield it without suffering too much slowdown, but still does enough damage with a concentration mod that a headshot will insta-kill virtually any unshielded Cerberus unit.
  • Emergency Weapon: The omniblade function of the omnitool is explicitly stated in the Codex to be such for Alliance marines. The program was a firmware update that was pushed out as standard issue to Alliance omnitools to deal with the threat of multiple husks at close range. It uses the omnitool's minifacturing feature to quickly "forge" a single-use, Absurdly Sharp, diamond blade, suspended in a mass effect field to compensate for the material's brittleness, and highlighted with holograms so the wielder can see the otherwise nearly transparent blade. The codex also states that more technically minded soldiers are known to make alterations to the default program, customizing the blade to their own ergonomics and fighting practices, or adding effects such as a sheath of explosive, poison, or super-cooled gas to the blade. This is reflected in game play by different classes having different visual effects for their omniblade.
  • Empty Room Psych: Just because you are allowed to explore every room of the Normandy now (compared to 2 granting you access to areas as you recruited squadmates) does not mean they will all be filled. Life Support, notably, remains empty throughout the entire game and we dare you to try and go in there right after giving Thane his last rites and not get teary-eyed when you look at the table where he used to sit and pray.
  • Empty Shell: One of the conversations you can listen in on is an argument over whether a man who is essentially brain dead, but is being kept alive by a VI implanted in his head, is truly alive or not. In the final assault on Cerberus, the same conversation can be had for you; Shepard discovers a video archive of their reconstruction by Cerberus, and can wonder if they're not really Commander Shepard, but is just Shepard's body being driven around by a VI that Cerberus cooked up. Whichever party member is with you will vehemently disagree, doubly so if said character is your love interest.
  • Enemy Chatter: The Cerberus troops give constant updates of their situation to each other. The Marauders (turian husks) also chatter in some kind of mechanical language that sometimes seems to contain barely understandable words like "destruction."
    • Taken to hilarious levels in the Citadel DLC where the mercs begin exchanging comments on how terrifying your squad is.
    CAT6 Merc: They've got a krogan. Why don't we have a krogan?
  • Enemy Mine: Many of the other alien species from the series who have had major issues with each other as well as humans attempt to put aside their differences to take down a common enemy. How well they manage get along however, depends on the choices made.
    • You can go so far as to convince Balak, one of the most ardently anti-human batarians in the galaxy, to join Shepard's cause.
    I never thought I would say this to the human navy, but we need you. -Batarian Commander.
    • Other significant points are when you get the krogan, turians, and salarians to work together to cure the genophage, the krogan joining up with the turians to take back Palaven, and the geth and quarians making peace. Again, however, this all depends on how you play the game. It is entirely possible to miss all of this.
    • In the Leviathan DLC the Leviathans make it very clear that they care nothing for the other races in the Galaxy and the only reason they are agreeing to help in the Reaper War is because they can no longer hide. The "tribute" they demand from the Reapers will be paid in blood.
  • Enemy Scan: The "Tactical Scan" ability available to the male quarian characters in multiplayer. In addition to providing information, it also causes the scanned target to take additional damage from any weapons used by the team.
    • The Recon Mine power in multiplayer detects enemies within a radius of its location. It can be upgraded with an "Invasive Scan" evolution that slows down enemies and increases the damage they take while they are in the scan radius.
  • Escort Mission:
    • Shepard and company have to pull this toward "Eve" and Mordin.
    • The Leviathan DLC has a brief one where Shepard has to escort a repair drone.
    • Many multiplayer waves will involve a small one in which the team must escort drones. While the drone is invincible, it needs at least one team member nearby to make it move, and more team mates in range make it move faster, completing the objective sooner and thus getting more bonus points for everyone. Additionally, with three or more people around the drone, it activates support abilities, restoring the team's shields or zapping enemies which get too close, making the escort less painful than it might be otherwise and encouraging cooperation.
    • The Grissom Academy mission has you escorting a group of students out of the base.
  • Eternal Recurrence: Said by the Catalyst regarding why the Reapers continually destroy organic life.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Getting full salarian support requires betraying the krogan and sabotaging the genophage cure. This may also require killing your old buddies Wrex and Mordin. Mind you, Mordin can be persuaded to assist you, but only if Wrex and Eve are dead: without their moderating influence, he is not confident that the Krogan Rebellions will not happen again. Shepard also has the option to kill Mordin, Legion and the Virmire Survivor for different reasons.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: If you spared Morinth in the previous game, a terminal at the Ardat-Yakshi Monastery reveals that despite her hatred of Samara, Morinth still has a soft spot for her sisters Rila and Falere. Unfortunately, by the time you get there Morinth is probably well on her way to becoming an indoctrinated slave of the Reapers.
    • During the Citadel DLC, when retaking the Normandy, you can find an e-mail mailed to all the mercenaries, asking them all to sign a retirement card for one of their snipers, who accidentally blew her foot off with high-explosive ammo. Well, more like a "you shot your foot off with high-explosive ammo" card (which the e-mail says will put a smile on the sniper's face).
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • After the attempted Cerberus coup on the Citadel, two smugglers forced off of Omega can be heard talking in Purgatory. Both of them are disgusted at how clean and nice the club is, but when the turian smuggler suggests they steal military medical supplies while they are stuck on the Citadel, the human smuggler threatens to turn them both in if he does anything of the sort. She points out that Earth is dying and she is not going to try to make money off the Alliance now, while they are fighting to save the human race.
    • During the Cerberus Scientists mission, the player will bump into Gavin Archer from the previous game's Overlord DLC, which saw Shepard responding to the result of Gavin forcibly plugging his younger brother into the geth collective For Science!. Regardless of if the DLC was played or not, Gavin will tell Shepard how the Illusive Man ordered he find a replacement test subject following Shepard taking David to Grissom Acadamy/the stress of the experiment killing David, and how he was so horrified that the Illusive Man would willingly put someone through that trauma again that he quit Cerberus.
    • Admiral Petrovsky, for all his under-handed manhandling, ego, racism, and bits of cowardice, spared anyone surrendering to his forces.
  • Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: While raiding a Cerberus base for Reaper tech that they are studying, you can find two journals from "C. Talavi" as he records his experiences as he joins Cerberus; the first is full of excitement at finally being there, the second is sapped of all emotion after he has been integrated. Later, aboard the Citadel you can encounter a Private Talavi, serving in the Alliance, who is unhappy at being assigned to fight Cerberus instead of the Reapers because her younger brother has joined the organization.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: One sidequest involves finding an alien dinosaur fossil. To give to the salarians. Which the salarians then clone. And the krogan then ride. Unfortunately, you never get to see the results.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: The Omega DLC reveals that one of these happened offscreen in between games. After Shepard's adventures on Omega in the previous game, the Omega chapters of the Blue Suns, Blood Pack and Eclipse were left unstable. This allowed a mercenary gang called the Talons to take control. By the time Shepard meets them, Nyreen's influence has caused them to make a Heel-Face Turn.
  • Evil Twin: Clone!Shep, the Big Bad of the Citadel DLC.
  • Evil Brit: Alliance Staff Analyst/Cerberus Wannabe-Chessmaster Maya Brooks from the Citadel DLC.
  • Expository Gameplay Limitation: The endgame is a longer version of this than most. Shepard's movements are reduced to a slow stagger and all abilities are disabled, courtesy of a near miss from Harbinger's main gun. Shepard's armor is burned to a crisp and they're severely injured.
  • The Extremist Was Right:
    • The moment the first Reaper descends, the Committee collectively realise just why Shepard claims that causing the destruction of an entire star-system did nothing more than slow them down.
    • Depending on your specific choices in this and past games, Mordin can come to the conclusion that it was a mistake to modify the genophage and retain the krogan low fertility rates. He still believes that Maelon's experiments were monstrous and unnecessary, but a properly developed cure for the genophage becomes his goal.
    • If you get enough War Assets and/or kept the Collector Base at the end of Mass Effect 2, you find out that the Illusive Man was right, and it is possible to control the Reapers, although it was not possible for him to do it.

    F 
  • The Faceless: All human player characters in multiplayer wear helmets that completely conceal their face.
  • Faceless Goons: All the Cerberus troops conceal not only their face, but their entire body from head to toes in armour. This hides that the experiments done on them have given them a husk-like appearance.
  • Fan Disservice: Banshees. Never has a naked asari been less appealing.
    • It has been discovered that the banshee texture is... er... fully anatomically correct. Just for that extra degree of this trope.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • EDI observes that the majority of batarian refugees fleeing into Citadel space are a lot less intolerant of humans than they were before. She speculates that with the collapse of their Hegemony and its totalitarian rule they no longer feel as compelled to toe the party line set out by their ruling caste that they should hate humans.
    • Javik, though he can come around a bit. In the days of the Prothean Empire most of the races now ruling the galaxy were in the most nascent stages of sentience and were thus "primitive" when compared to the technologically and biologically advanced Protheans.
    • A subtle one on the Citadel. After Menae, you can overhear the asari minding the Citadel Gift Shop on the Presidium Commons telling a customer that all sales proceeds go to helping the turian war effort. The customer asks her if her husband is turian, but the asari (Ereba) says the her husband is actually krogan. The customer then says, lightheartedly but with disdain, that she hopes he knows who is the enemy, to which Ereba is shocked almost speechless.
    • Raiding a Cerberus lab Shepard can find medical advances, which leads to this gem.
    "Would only produce medi-gel improvements on hanar." Only Cerberus would consider that a failure.
    • A human woman who married an asari was disowned by her parents and tells another asari that her family would be happier to see Cerberus than her.
  • Fetch Quest: Some of the Search and Rescue missions. To trigger them, you can either overhear certain conversations on the Citadel at various points in the game and/or scan certain planets for assets. After going out and recovering these assets, you can return to the Citadel and turn them in to various people in exchange for War Asset points.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Played straight with the tech powers, as they rely primarily on electricity, freezing, or fire to function. Also done with the 3 primary ammo powers:
  • Flaming Sword: The Engineer's heavy melee is striking the target with a fire-wreathed omni-tool. The N7 Shadow has an actual sword that can be upgraded to be on fire.
  • Flanderization: In-Universe example, the Shepard VI that Mouse made in the previous game is now available for interactions. However, since the VI is so simplistic it takes the basic personality of Paragon!Shep or Renegade!Shep and blows them way out of proportion. The VI "brags" that it can predict what the actual Shepard would say with 7% accuracy. Shepard even lampshades it by complaining about how "I don't really sound like that... do I?"
  • Flash Step:
    • What asari characters do, instead of rolling in Multiplayer, at the cost of draining some energy from their barriers.
    • A favorite trick of the Banshees, which is particularly problematic given their ability to insta-kill you at close range.
    • The Vanguard's Biotic Charge basically is a combination of this and Foe-Tossing Charge.
    • In Multiplayer, the N7 Slayer, N7 Fury, and Cabal Vanguard can actually teleport instead of dodging. Extremely useful when you can jump through full walls, past vertical drops, and past clusters of enemies to escape a tough situation.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: The "Fleets Arrive" sequence includes all of the amassed fleets you've acquired jumping into the Sol System in succession, along with Joker and several galactic representatives reporting their fleets as ready, all set to a Triumphant Reprise of "Spectre Induction" from the original game.
  • Fling a Light into the Future:
    • Designs for the Crucible, an incomplete and impossibly advanced anti-Reaper superweapon, are left by the Protheans for the species of the next cycle to use. We later learn that the Crucible is only partly of Prothean design. It originated many, many cycles in the distant past, and was passed down through time from one cycle to next, each adding their own improvements, with the hope that someone in a future cycle would be able to iron out all the details and build it.
    • In a direct Call Back to the first game, Liara made plans for very detailed instructions on who the Reapers are and how to fight them them so various time capsules can be put in place in the event they do not win and any future species are able to recover the vital information. The epilogue implies that this paid off in the Extended Cut's Refusal ending.
    • Javik, the Prothean Avatar of Vengeance, was to wait out the extinction of the Prothean Empire with one million other Protheans in stasis pods hidden on Eden Prime, intending to awake once the Reapers had returned to dark space, then uplifting and conscripting the primitive races (humanity and contemporaries) to re-arm for the next cycle's end. Unfortunately, Reaper assaults on the bunker damaged their sensor equipment and the VI managing the stasis pods felt that it was too dangerous to wake the pods without being sure that the Reapers had left, so it decided to keep all pods active until a new species discovered them. As time progressed and power began to run out, the VI deactivated the pods one by one until only Javik was left alive to be woken by Shepard.
      • Leading Joker to half-seriously suggest that if the war with the Reapers goes south, they could always take a page out of the Prothean's book and freeze Shepard to pick up the fight in another 50,000 years time?
  • Flunky Boss: Kai Leng. In the first fight, he is backed up by a single gunship, and in the second he is helped by seven Assault Troopers, one Nemesis, and two Phantoms.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge/Punched Across the Room: Krogan in multiplayer can do this as their 'heavy' attack and will cue Oh Crap reactions from foes who see them coming.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Shepard's dreams, the dream always ends with the boy burning, but the final dream ends with Shepard seeing themself burning alongside with the boy. The Catalyst takes the form of that boy during the ending, all of which (except possibly Destroy) feature Shepard burning along with it.
    • During your second visit to the Citadel, all of your squadmates mention that the war will eventually reach the Citadel. After completing Priority: Tuchanka, Cerberus brings the war to the Citadel early by staging a coup; and after spending the rest of the game as the only safe haven in the galaxy, the Reapers arrive and drag the Citadel to Earth, the site of the final battle.
    • Early in the Sur'Kesh mission, to the left of the elevator, you can overhear a soldier mentioning that he detected someone from the base sending an anonymous message to an unknown source twenty minutes ago. Guess we know why the base was attacked shortly afterward.
    • Should Shepard attempt to find out more about the Reaper cycles from the defeated Reaper on Rannoch, it will disagree with Shepard's opinion that organics and synthetics don't have to fight each other, referring to the conflict between the quarians and the geth. The ending reveals that the Reapers were created as a way of preserving organic races before they could be wiped out by synthetics - which can possibly happen should Shepard side with the geth over the quarians shortly afterwards.
    • On Thessia, Vendetta implies that there may be a master behind the Reapers because the patterns are too consistent to be merely chance. This foreshadows the reveal of the master in the ending.
    • In the Sanctuary facility on Horizon, you discover that Cerberus has indeed made advances in controlling Reaper husks, which ultimately leads up to the possibility of controlling the Reapers as the Illusive Man believed was possible. Also regarding Sanctuary, you can overhear a volus telling a human that it's most likely a scam.
    • When Shepard first interacts with the boy in the vent, a piece of music begins being played on piano. The specific song is "An End Once & For All," which only plays again once Shepard has made the choice regarding the utilization of the Crucible.
    • If Shepard romanced Jack and meets her in Anderson's apartment during the Citadel DLC, she gives Shepard a tattoo so that he can be identified if he's ever "hurt, barely breathing, lying under a pile of rubble at the ass-end of this war." This exactly describes the last shot of Shepard in the game, if you pick the high-EMS Destroy ending.
    • During Priority: Tuchanka, Shepard can find an ancient painting depicting krogan riding large beasts of war. This foreshadows a side Mission acquired on the Citadel where Shepard can find kakliosaur DNA in amber to recreate ancient alien dinosaurs for the krogan to ride into battle.
    • If you cured the genophage and made peace between the geth and quarians, Garrus will jokingly say that if you also manage to pacify the Reapers you would be a saint. Shepard does in the Control and Extended Cut Synthesis endings.
  • For Science!: Dr. Brynn Cole, a defecting Cerberus scientist, explains that "science must never bow to tyranny." One of the reasons she and other Cerberus scientists left the organization, apart from the Illusive Man's aggressive contract terminations, was because they wanted to pursue their research as they saw fit.
  • Forceful Kiss: In the Omega DLC, if Shepard has been consistently Renegade during the DLC, Aria gives one to them.
    • And in the Citadel DLC, if playing as a female Shepard who has romanced Traynor, you will get the usual haranguing from her when you attempt to board the Normandy for the endgame, but then Shepard both silences Traynor and convinces her of her true identity by grabbing her and delivering a very forceful kiss.
  • Fossil Revival: One mission has requires searching for fossils to resurrect an extinct dinosaur species called the Kakliosaur. Shepard even says he found the fossil encased in amber.
  • Fragile Speedster: Asari and drell. The drell have the fastest movement speed and the asari have the best dodge move, but they both have below average defenses to compensate.
    • Further DLCs add the normal-sized geth (with the hunter mode providing a buff in speed and power but halving the shields), and the N7 Fury.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Played straight most of the time for both sides, but during the final Hold the Line segment of the last level, the Reaper's main gun one-hit kills anything it hits — including its own teammates. Sometimes you'll get lucky and a Banshee will wander into the path of fire.
  • Friends Rent Control: The Citadel DLC has Admiral Anderson gifting his apartment on the Citadel to Shepard. The place is absolutely enormous for an apartment, covering two floors with floor-to-ceiling windows and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and is in the neighborhood of one of the Citadel's most active and attractive locations for night-life. Anywhere else this would be considered big apartment, but it is especially huge by standards of accommodation on the Citadel, where the finite size of the station and the need to keep building height below a certain threshold to allow the arms to close and ships to pass through means that living real estate is at a premium. Presumably Anderson makes a fair amount of money as an admiral, but being an admiral he hardly even spends any time there even before the attack on Earth. Kahlee apparently was hoping the two of them could retire to there.
  • From Bad to Worse: The Reapers are no longer a looming future threat, they are here.
    • Thessia. Shepard heads there to meet up with a scientific team and find an artifact that may provide crucial information on the Catalyst, only to meet a Reaper invasion. You find the science team killed. It's discovered that the asari are superior because the Protheans groomed them to lead this cycle, even providing a fully-functional beacon, only for asari leadership to sit on it for millennia and pass off the advantages it gave as innate asari enlightenment (though Prothean beacons are difficult to decipher, but if they shared it with the rest of the Council, they'd have had a lot more help). Kai Leng shows up and steals the data on the Catalyst. As Shepard leaves, Thessia falls completely to the Reapers. In some cut content, it was even worse, with Shepard forced to choose to save the life of Liara or the other squadmate in a scenario similar to Virmire.
  • Funny Background Event: Jack brings her new pet biotic varren she named Eezo over to Shepard's apartment in the Citadel DLC. While Jack talks about the maligned history of biotic varren and how she got him from a rescue group, Shepard plays fetch with a frying pan in the background. On the second toss, they fake a throw, to which Eezo responds with a biotic burst under Shepard's feet that sends them to the floor.
  • Fusion Dance: So, ever want to find out what a krogan + a turian would look like, or a batarian + human? As husks? Well, you're going to find out.
  • Futile Hand Reach: Shepard to Tali if Shepard allows Legion's upload to the geth fleet and fails to convince the quarians to break off their attack, resulting in the Migrant Fleet's complete annihilation. A Paragon interrupt comes close to making it not futile, but even it can't stop Tali from being Driven to Suicide.

    G 
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The infamous "Vanguard glitch". If you're not the host in a multiplayer game, lag can allow you to charge after you've been downed. The game's attempt to figure out whether you're alive or dead and whether you charged or not makes you start bouncing off the floor when you revive, eventually glitching you out of the map and in some cases even freezing the game. To try to offset this, BioWare recently gave class-wide buffs to Biotic Charge.
    • Ladders have always been a bit wonky, but some ladders will not let you climb down to progress unless you do it in a very specific fashion, (the somewhat counter-intuitive act of aiming upwards whilst climbing down, or alternatively walking decidedly nonchalantly slow towards it amidst enemy fire).
    • Sometimes, upon dying, your character will be automatically revived, but will be stuck under the map - this happens most frequently under the landing zone on Firebase White.
    • The Vanguard character class may have difficulty with the bridge shoot-out in the Omega DLC, as their signature Biotic Charge ability (which you've probably leveled quite heavily to take advantage of its unique degree of survivability and mobility) frequently causes the player to instantly die.
    • If you use the Acolyte pistol (obtained with the Groundside Resistance weapon pack DLC) during the "Priority: Mars" mission, you can get into an infinite loop of death due an oversight causing the quick-time event at the end of the mission to be near impossible to complete, as the Acolyte's charge-up nature takes too long (especially as the event is in slow-motion). You will have to reload an earlier save or restart the mission to switch out the pistol or avoid using the pistol during the mission at all.
  • Game Changer: When the Reapers finally launch their invasion it's clear that their technological and numeric advantages are insurmountable. All anyone can do with conventional warfare is slow the Reapers down as they blitzkrieg the home worlds and colonies of several Citadel races, including Earth. Then Liara discovers plans for a super-weapon in the Prothean ruins on Mars that may be able to wipe them out. Building the weapon, dubbed Project Crucible, becomes the Citadel's only hope. On another note, the invasion finally convinces the Council to admit that the Reapers are real, and the turians in particular start actively helping Shepard.
  • Game Mod: Various armor mods (including one that changes the Cerberus Ajax Armor to N7 colours), and some alternate ending mods.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: After completing the mission on Sur'Kesh, the turian and krogan leaders will both say they have an important mission for Shepard, but that they will not discuss it with the other person still in the room. Once the cutscene ends you can walk up to each of them in the War Room and get the details, even though they are both still standing only a few feet from one another.
    • There's also the fact that repeatedly promoting multiplayer characters into the single player campaign can result in an N7 Spec Ops war asset that amounts to an intergalactic superpower greater than all other assets combined. That doesn't make much sense in the context of the campaign.
  • Game Within a Game: Sort of. The Armax Arsenal Arena added in the Citadel DLC technically features the same gameplay as the rest of the game, but it's explicitly depicted as an in-game combat simulator with its own currency system.
  • Gatling Good: The geth Spitfire, which is a plasma bolt gatling gun. The N7 Typhoon also counts.
  • Gay Option: Male Shepards have Kaidan or Steve Cortez, while female Shepards have Diana Allers or Samantha Traynor. Liara remains a romantic option, but is not technically female.
  • Genetic Engineering: It is revealed towards the climax of the game that asari were the subject of this by the Protheans in order to groom them as the next race to lead the fight against the Reapers.
  • Genius Ditz: The Reveal that Conrad Verner is actually Doctor Conrad Verner.
    Shepard: Conrad, I'm building an Ancient Prothean Dark Energy device to stop the Reapers. Can you help with that?
    Conrad: Well I did write my doctoral dissertation on Xenotechnology and Dark Energy Intergration.
    Shepard: *Beat* Really?
  • Genocide Dilemma:
    • You have to choose between the total extermination of either the geth or the quarians at the hands of the other over the skies of their homeworld, However, it is possible to Take a Third Option, but you'll have to set a lot of ground work in the previous game and then transfer that save to even open the possibility.
    • If you choose the ending in which Shepard (possibly) survives, you'll be sacrificing all synthetic life, including EDI and (if they're still around) the geth.
  • Gentleman Thief: In the Casino mission in the Citadel DLC, one of the people you can mingle with is a turian con artist named Rolan Quarn. He has this to say in a low suave voice when accused of being a con man:
    Rolan Quarn: Con men leave their marks angry. Con artists... leave them smiling.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The Extended Cut is most added footage to help clarify the intended endings, including an expanded epilogue to give elaboration on your choice in the climax. But there are some re-worked scenes that change what was in the original game, some overtly different ( the mass relays are damaged rather than destroyed) and some cosmetic (showing specific war assets you've gathered as part of the united fleet).
  • Gilligan Cut: In the Citadel DLC, a female Shepard and a romanced Traynor can meet up in Shepard's apartment. Traynor comments on the luxurious hot tub in the upstairs bathroom, prompting Shepard to say something like "You know, we don't have to..." Cue sudden cut to the two women in the bath together.
  • Giant Mook: The Brute, Atlas and Geth Primes. Banshees might count, judging by their height.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: When Ken asks Gabby if she has seen attractive new crewmember Samantha Traynor, Gabby tells him not to bother, since he is not Traynor's type. When he then suggests that she make a move on Traynor, Gabby says she just might since nobody else is expressing any interest, and Ken then tells her to make sure she takes pictures. Later, when Ken asks Gabby if she helped repair some damage to EDI's mobile frame, he asked if there was any lubricants involved, and maybe some moaning, and that he wishes his imagination was good enough to picture it.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • (Human) Vanguards are this now more than ever thanks to the addition of the "Nova" ability, which completely discharges your barriers into an Area of Effect biotic explosion.
    • Liara has much lower health than other squadmates and no defensive abilities, but possesses powerful crowd-control biotics, a potent ammo power, and her class passive allows her to frequently use her powers for crowd-control and Biotic Detonations.
    • Joker explicitly names this trope when expressing his dismay over the quarians arming their liveships (the principal food suppliers of the fleet) with dreadnought-sized guns, as they are not equipped with strong shields.
    • The drell classes in multiplayer have the lowest starting shield/barrier amount of any classes (only rising above lowest durability once the volus were introduced). Their Fitness power gives higher health and shield/barrier increases, but it still doesn't make them comparable to many other classes.
    • Geth characters become this with the Hunter Mode ability, a sort of anti-Tech Armor that halves your max shields for a set of offensive buffs.
    • For the N7 Destroyer in the Soldier class, the cost for having a shoulder-mounted auto rocket launcher comes at the price of about 500 shield power drop.
  • Glowing Eyes: In the From Ashes DLC, Shepard's eyes glow green when they interface with the Prothean data and accesses Javik's memories.
    • In the Synthesis ending, everyone's eyes glow green.
    • The casino infiltration part of the Citadel DLC mission has Shepard wearing contacts to allow them to see the wiring throughout the casino. It causes their eyes to glow gold.
  • Godzilla Threshold: It's definitely been reached.
    • Hackett admits that not even the people building the Crucible really know what it will do if fired, comparing it to the fears that the first use of the atomic bomb would ignite Earth's atmosphere. They just do not have any other options. Quoth the Codex: "Staggering financial costs were disregarded in the common effort to create something, anything, that could stop the Reapers."
    • Primarch Victus of the Turian Hierarchy remarks that it is entirely possible that the krogan and turians will wind up at war again after the Reapers are defeated if the genophage is cured, but if the genophage is not cured then there will not be any turians or krogan left.
    • The Codex entry "Desperate Measures" discusses just when the point is reached that makes horrendous destruction and sacrifice an acceptable result of stopping the Reapers. The two proposed strategies, destroying the mass relays to strand the Reapers where they are and using starships as suicide weapons, are both dismissed not because of the massive losses in life they would entail, but because they would simply not be effective at stopping the Reapers.
    • A retroactive one is applied to the Arrival, where upon the Reapers arrival at Earth, most of the galaxy realise that the Shepard's destruction of the Alpha Relay and the Bahak System was completely justified and bought them all some precious time.
    • On a smaller scale of reaction, the Reaper war has prompted the Turian Hierarchy to disseminate military-grade hardware to everyone: The Krysae anti-materiel rifle's fabrication specs were released deliberately onto the extranet, so anyone with a sufficient fabricator can produce one to join the fight.
    • After the fall of Thessia, Garrus convinces Primarch Victus to hold back the turian fleet attempting to retake Palaven for the Crucible. He admits to Shepard what an enormous gamble it is, but acknowledges that it's become the only way for his race to have a chance at surviving the war.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Basically the premise of the entire game, deconstructed in showing just how difficult it is to acquire allies when resources are stretched thin and every race having bad blood with at least one other species (turians/salarians vs. krogan, quarians vs. geth, humans vs. batarians, and more. Even the asari, not at odds with anybody, refuse to help, citing as justification the need to protect their own planet). Almost all plot-relevant missions are about you negotiating away centuries of hostilities and bartering for support in just about every theater of the war.
  • Good Bad Bugs: In-universe example. After the infamous Fatal Error incident in the Armax Arsenal Arena is resolved, the Armax IT team renders the resulting hodge-podge of hologram artifacts and random bits from other arenas into a usable arena, not capable of truly killing like it was before.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: After Ashley discovers what Cerberus was doing at Sanctuary, once she is back aboard the Normandy she explains to Shepard that she simply cannot understand the kind of thinking that went into something like that. She also says that she is glad that she cannot follow that line of thinking, since it makes her feel human.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: One of the bits of info you can read on Liara's Shadow Broker Terminal details two Alliance intel operatives interrogating a Cerberus Phantom. They start the good cop/bad cop routine... and then her face explodes. Looks like the Illusive Man was listening in when Mordin said that ocular nerve flashbangs work better than suicide pills hidden in teeth.
    • In the Citadel DLC, when you find out that Elijah Khan was killed before you could reach him in the Casino infiltration mission, Garrus and Kaidan have lines mentioning this. "And I had this whole bad/good copnote  routine ready..."
  • Good Guy Bar: The Purgatory Bar on the Citadel, judging by the amount of Alliance and turian military soldiers hanging out there. However, with the capture of Omega by Cerberus, Purgatory is now serving Aria T'Loak and other criminals. Despite its size and popularity, Avina doesn't recognize that it exists.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Liara's first appearance in this game has her being chased by Cerberus troopers through an air vent on Mars. She exits the vent, and uses a Singularity to immobilize both troopers as they try to follow her out. After this, she shoots both troopers while they are in the air, then casually shoots each one again after they hit the ground, with an icy cold expression on her face. She's come a long way from the timid archeologist who spent her entire first battle huddled in the middle of the room in the original game.
  • Good Running Evil: Potentially how the series can end, if a Paragon Shepard takes control of the Reapers in the finale.
  • Gradual Grinder: Javik possesses the "Dark Channel" biotic power, which is also an optional bonus power for Shepard. The power lasts longer than any other biotic attack and does not end when the victim dies, but instead switches to the closest living enemy. It is also a biotic combo primer, and doesn't lose the priming when it jumps to a new victim. So use a quick-cooldown biotic detonator power and play warpsplosion whack-a-mole.
  • Grand Finale: The main game is the end of Shepard's story and the war with the Reapers. The Citadel DLC, the final story mission for Shepard's team in the franchise (though not chronologically), goes all out.
  • Gravity Screw: The beginning of the mission aboard the geth dreadnought has you walking through the destroyed remnants of a docking extension tube on the ship, and sometimes the only footholds to move forward are on the ceiling.
  • Great Big Library of Everything: The Citadel DLC has the crew visiting the Citadel Archives, a vast collection of material, physical, electronic, and holographic historical records from across all Citadel Space going back to when the Citadel Council was first formed. Much of information there is also highly classified, and even C-Sec cannot access the information without proper cause and authorization. It turns out that the mere presence of a Spectre can cause full disclosure of classified information, as this reveals that the Council really did know that the "Geth Dreadnought" in the first game was actually a Reaper when you come across a holo-archive pertaining to it.
  • Grenade Spam:
    • The gold challenges on multiplayer have had quite a few recognize this in effect; it in fact led to the creation of the trope page.
    • As well as normal grenades, Centurions have smoke grenade spam, using two or three at a time to block your vision, in between throwing normal grenades. Rinse and repeat when the smoke clears as many times as they take to die, it could be three or four cycles. That's at least twenty-four grenades they're carrying, a single soldier.
    • The N7 Demolisher which, with the right equipment and skills, can carry around 13 grenades. They're also the only class with access to two grenade powers. Plus they can resupply themselves with two grenades every few seconds.
    • In Multiplayer, the Collectors are back. And Harbinger can ASSUME DIRECT CONTROL over more than just regular collectors. Instead of energy blasts, Possessed Scions shoot projectiles that erupt into clusters of 6 grenades. Harbinger can posses 3 enemies on gold difficulty. Do the math if those 3 happen to be Scions.
    • Also, the Geth Bombers in multiplayer. In later waves, you can quickly find 20+ grenades at your feet because you neglected the few small, floating robots while trying not to be roasted by pyros.
    • The CAT6 mercs in Citadel live and breathe this trope, throwing grenades that split into five bomblets. Possessed Scions in multiplayer also gain a second cannon that fires cluster grenades.
  • Grey and Gray Morality:
    • The geth vs. quarian war. The geth just wanted to evolve on their own, while the quarians feared that the geth would rebel and kill them all off. Talking to Legion and Tali sheds a lot of light on this in Mass Effect 2, and your decisions will affect the final outcome.
    • The conflict between the krogan and the Council races is, historically, a question of what species is exterminated. The krogan truly were an expanding, overpopulating empire that would have exterminated other species if left unchecked, but the genophage simply turned them into the dying species. Even those who created the genophage view it as a horrible action, but one required to prevent more horrible actions in turn. Mordin sums this up back in the second game as "save galaxy from krogan, save krogan from galaxy."
    • There is no clear-cut Paragon or Renegade ending choice, and the game goes out of its way to ensure that. Destroying the Reapers is argued for by Anderson in the preceding cutscene, but choosing that results in the death of EDI, the geth, and every other AI in the galaxy. Commanding the Reapers is proposed by the Illusive Man in that cutscene, no races get sacrificed, and apparently Shepard commands the Reapers to fix the relays and share their powers and knowledge, but Shepard's physical body dies as a result. Synthesis does not result in any genocide or Reaper manipulation, but involves forcibly rewriting the entire fabric of life's existence without any input or opinion from... well, anybody. (It also kills Shepard, like the Control ending.) All of them involve damaging the mass relay network, so even if you have figured out which ending seems most appropriate, you are still causing something almost everyone can agree is problematic.
  • Golden Path: Getting the best ending for the "Priority: Rannoch" questline (the one where the geth and quarians make peace) requires you to earn a particular points value based on actions taken throughout the trilogy. The Mass Effect wiki has the full details. This unlocks a Reputation check where Paragon Shepard makes a speech begging the quarians to cease fire, and Renegade Shepard bitches them out and tells them they're done saving their asses and they can cut it out or get slaughtered.
    • Heck, this entire game is about looking for the Golden Path throughout the entire trilogy that will allow you to earn as many War Assets as possible, both so the Crucible will actually be capable of doing what it's supposed to do and so you have enough forces to actually stand a chance against the Reapers. And in a variant of this trope, the trilogy-wide golden path changes depending on which choices you made in the previous two games. For example, if you killed Wrex in Mass Effect 1, you're better off not curing the genophage since Wreav won't discover the deception and you get both krogan and salarian support. But if you saved Wrex in Mass Effect 1, you're better off curing the genophage so Wrex won't get pissed off and take hundreds of War Assets away from you before you're forced to kill him. For another example, if you killed the rachni queen in Mass Effect 1, you're better off saving the Aralakh Company, but if you saved the rachni queen in Mass Effect 1, you're better off saving the rachni.
  • Guest Star Party Member: You can use your surviving crew from 1 and 2 inside of the Armax Arsenal Arena, provided you earn the bronze stars to unlock their permissions.
  • Guide Dang It: The final persuade option with the Illusive Man. You have to have tried to persuade him the same way in every other conversation you've had with him in the game. Sucks for you if you were button-mashing through the first confrontation in a New Game+ and picked a vanilla option.
    • Numerous variables go into whether or not you can negotiate peace between the geth and the quarians on Rannoch, including several based on choices in the second game. You may have already made doing so impossible before even playing Mass Effect 3.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: More so than either of the previous games. Besides the ability to kill off several close allies if you so choose, missing the Grissom Academy side-quest leads to Jack being kidnapped and experimented on by Cerberus AGAIN after she had finally managed to build a life for herself. You get to hear records of her being tortured when you hit the Cerberus base... shortly before having to kill the Phantom they turned her into.
  • Gun Accessories: Gun modifications return, and each one visibly attaches to the weapon (if external, like a scope) or causes changes in the weapon coloration (if internal, like a heat sink expansion).
  • Gunship Rescue: So many. The retrofitted Normandy makes its first appearance in this manner, but the biggest example is Shepard being given a laser targeting device for the Normandy to take out a Reaper construct and when the "construct" turned out to be a Reaper itself, Shepard called in the whole damn quarian Migrant Fleet for an orbital strike.
    • A villainious example occurs on Thessia, where a Cerberus gunship gives Kai Leng the edge he needs to snatch the Prothean VI from Shepard.

    H 
  • Hacker Cave: Liara sets up one on the Normandy to continue her work as the Shadow Broker while traveling with Shepard.
  • Hand Cannon: The Carnifex returns from the second game, but it's far outshone by two new additions. The first is the Paladin, a variant of the Carnifex so hard to come by it has to be requisitioned using Spectre authority. It only holds twenty shots, but makes up for it by dealing more damage than most sniper rifles. The second is the Talon, sidearm of choice for Cerberus Guardians. It's a revolver. That fires shotgun blasts. Both of these pale in comparison to the Executioner, a single-shot krogan pistol made for one-shotting other krogan. It is like a sniper rifle without the sniping or the rifle.
  • Handwave: The Widow sniper rifle and Claymore shotgun can now be used by fragile humans and salarians in multiplayer, despite being explicitly stated to have bone-shattering recoil. Good thing "trial-and-error testing" "eventually produced less hazardous versions of these weapons."
  • Harder Than Hard: Hardcore and Insanity difficulties return to this game with the recent major upgrades to the combat AI, the Earth multiplayer DLC introduced the platinum difficulty level to multiplayer, and the Retaliation DLC upgraded the combat AI again while also introducing environmental hazards to several of the maps.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: The game starts with Shepard trying to help the Alliance Defense Committee make sense of the Reapers.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Fighting Kai Leng on Thessia. He has gunship support that will target you every time you take down his shields, and eventually it switches to a cutscene.
  • Hero Killer: Kai Leng. Ignoring his novel exploits and looking only at the game, his potential victims list can include two former squadmates, namely "designed to be perfect" Miranda and super-assassin Thane. If Thane is not around, then his spot may be taken by Major Kirrahe, certified STG badass of "hold the line" fame.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • The way multiplayer is justified; players take on the roles of an elite team assisting Shepard in tackling hotspots.
    • Each of the squadmates introduced in Mass Effect 2 is off doing their own thing: Miranda continues to fight her father, Jacob is protecting a group of ex-Cerberus scientists, Jack is mentoring biotic students at Grissom Academy, Grunt is fighting off indoctrinated rachni, and Samara is investigating an Ardat-Yakshi monastery that went dark.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Zaeed and Garrus fall into this territory during Shepard's house party. Are exploding glass wall fixtures, a booby-trapped kitchen with cyanide, and rearranging the apartment so it's easier to defend going to be comedic when they're used? Probably not. Is it comedic the way Zaeed and Garrus discuss it? Hell yes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Word of God is that "victory through sacrifice" is a Central Theme in this game, so a player can expect quite a few:
    • Tarquin Victus, the son of the new turian Primarch, can sacrifice himself on Tuchanka to prevent an ancient bomb from being detonated by Cerberus.
    • Thane performs one to save the salarian Councilor from Kai Leng if Thane survived Mass Effect 2; otherwise, Major Kirrahe may replace Thane; if Shepard is Paragon, Mordin or Padok Wiks performs one to cure the genophage in a collapsing building where they are killed in an explosion a few seconds after the cure is complete. Legion also pulls one if Shepard sides with the geth or uses the Paragon/Renegade choice to take a third option, since the geth cannot achieve true sentience unless Legion uploads all his newly-Reaper-enhanced code to the geth consensus, which "kills" Legion.
    • Two of the ending choices involve Shepard willingly sacrificing themselves to end the Reaper threat. Shepard may also perish if they choose to destroy the Reapers, though a high Effective Military Strength will result in their survival.
    • Subverted in several missions involving ME2 squadmates if they were loyal in the previous game:
      • If Aralakh Squad is left behind to buy the rachni queen time to escape, Grunt will turn and tell Shepard to go back to the shuttle without him while he holds off the Reaper-converted rachni. As Shepard and company are arriving at the shuttle, Grunt emerges from the cave, covered in blood, and asks if anyone has something to eat.
      • In Kasumi's quest on the Citadel, she is caught in an explosion as she attempts to halt the virus upload that will deactivate the defenses of the Hanar homeworld. Though Jondum Bau believes her to be dead, Shepard realizes the "body" was a decoy and gets her to reveal herself after Bau leaves.
    • You can also learn of several minor and offscreen characters committing these. Notably Kal'Reegar (the quarian marine) sacrifices himself to make sure an important turian communications relay gets repaired, Aresh (the antagonist from Jack's loyalty mission) sacrifices himself so a ship full of "less fortunate lottery winner" children can escape from the Reapers, the krogan and turian insurgents during the Miracle At Palaven sacrifice themselves to smuggle bombs into Reaper processing centers and then detonate the bombs, and the Second Alliance Fleet at the Battle of Arcturus Station sacrifices itself so the First and Third Alliance Fleets can retreat.
    • In the Omega DLC Nyreen gets this while rescuing civilians under fire from Adjutants. She activates a belt of grenades, then pulls up a biotic barrier, sealing the Adjutants and her in it. The explosion disintegrates everything in the bubble.
    • In the Extended Cut DLC, the Refusal Ending pretty much turns Mass Effect's story into this for the entire galaxy. Shepard rejects each of the options given to him by the Catalyst; unfortunately, this results in the Crucible being shut down, and the Reapers pursue the cycle unhindered. However, there was enough time for the galaxy to leave a message behind for future generations, and the epilogue reveals that while the Reapers may have won this battle, they ultimately lose the war.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • As of this installment Male Shepard and Garrus have reached this point.
      Shepard: "There is no Shepard without Vakarian."
    • Shepards of either gender will call a non-romanced Kaidan "my brother" during their lunch at the Citadel.
    • Paragon Shepard and Wrex, if all efforts have been made to cure the genophage throughout the series.
    Wrex: You've been a champion to the krogan people, a friend of Clan Urdnot, and a brother/sister to me. For every krogan born after this day, the name "Shepard" will mean "hero!"
  • Hidden Elf Village: A planetary example appears in the Leviathan DLC. Turns out the Leviathans, the race responsible for creating the Catalyst, have been hiding out on a backwater ocean world ever since their creation betrayed them and slaughtered most of their race to create Harbinger. Despite still being by far the most powerful race in the galaxy, they've pretty much resigned themselves to staying in seclusion while the Reapers continue harvesting all organic life (except for the Leviathans, of course). Then Shepard comes knocking on their front door...
  • Hide Your Children:
    • Averted in the game's CGI trailer, which shows a little girl playing with a toy spaceship in a sunflower field as a Reaper looms ominously overhead. In the next scene the sunflower field has been transformed into a blackened wasteland, and Shepard picks up the girl's toy spaceship from the ashes, implying that she did not survive - or worse, got turned into a husk.
    • Averted in the first ten minutes of the game. Shepard comes across a young boy hiding in an air duct who refuses to let Shepard help him (and then disappears when Shepard briefly looks away). Later, when Shepard leaves Earth, (s)he sees the boy get onto an escape shuttle—which is promptly destroyed by a Reaper.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: This is a recurring point of contention:
    • The Illusive Man believes he can do this to the Reapers, and use them to bring about humanity's dominance over the galaxy. Despite all his efforts, he ends up indoctrinated by the end of the game.
    • Commander Shepard can do this in the Control ending..
  • Hitbox Dissonance: The Geth Pyro's flamethrower has a much longer range than the graphic would indicate; a subversion of Convection Schmonvection.
    • A more classical example is the arms of Brutes during their charge.
  • Hive Mind: Shepard in the Control ending — their consciousness is distributed throughout the whole Reaper fleet.
    • The geth, as usual. They may unhive somewhat and become individuals, depending on Shepard's decisions. They stay interconnected though.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: On a remote planet, a Batarian survey team discovered a Reaper corpse, which "disappeared" when one of their capital ships visited the system a short while later. They then denied that the corpse ever existed, despite video evidence from the other races. It turns out the Batarians took it back to their homeworld for study, where it indoctrinated several scientists and officials who then sabotaged their planet's defenses when the rest of the Reapers showed up. The Batarians became the first civilization to fall to the Reapers' invasion.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted. There are multiple places that are pitch black, forcing Shepard and the squad to turn on the flashlights on their guns. Outside of the beam, you cannot see anything.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Toward the end of the "Citadel" DLC's Armax Arsenal Arena sidequest, Shepard is asked to investigate one. It ends with a glitch forcing Shepard to fight the strongest enemies in the game. If Shepard loses, the feedback will kill him or her.
  • Honor Before Reason: Samara tries to kill herself to avoid being forced by the justicar code to kill her last surviving daughter. Shepard can stop her with a Paragon interrupt.
  • Hopeless War: The entire game drives this point home. Earth is overrun in a matter of hours and the turians, the most powerful military in the entire galaxy, are just barely holding their ground against a portion of the Reaper fleet. The Reaper fleet as a whole is simply unstoppable by conventional means. Which is why everyone is putting their faith in a weapon that nobody knows anything about.
  • Hope Spot: All over the place. To name a few: The kid getting onto the shuttle (it is blown up); finding Rila intact in the monastery (she has started to transform into a Banshee); trying to save Tali if you allow the geth to destroy the quarians (not even the Paragon interupt can stop her from committing suicide); finding the key to completing the Crucible on Thessia (Kai Leng steals the information, Thessia falls); launching missiles at a Reaper after a grueling ground battle (they miss).
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Regardless of which ending occurs, the Stargazer retells the story to his grandson, revealing that life managed to survive, and speaks of traveling to the stars.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: While mingling during the casino infiltration in "Citadel", Shepard can talk to a politician who has a history of accepting contributions from criminals, such as Elijah Kahn, Aria T'Loak, and Tela Vasir. The politician is not corrupt; she is just really naive and takes their claims that they are law-abiding citizens at face value.
  • Hot Blade: Shepard can now wield an Omni-Blade, using the tech from the Omni-Tool. The Omni-Blade is forged by the omni-tool's onboard fabricator. A hot carbon based blade held in place by a mass effect field that is diamond hard. The blade is often tinkered with by the user to produce electrified and twin blade versions. The Engineer takes this trope to its logical extreme by having blade coated in burning hot plasma literally setting it ablaze. The N7 Shadow gets to wield a more traditional sword, which can be set ablaze with the proper evolution.
  • Hot Springs Episode: The Citadel DLC is both this and a trilogy epilogue of sorts. After a Curb-Stomp Battle with a Quirky Mini Boss Squad, Shepard and crew spend a few days partying, shopping, drinking, dancing and... well, the rest has to be seen to be believed.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The game's launch trailer features a blurb from IGN that says Mass Effect 3 is the sexiest game in the series, and a minute later we get glimpses of a sex scene featuring Ashley and Shepard. Also, one of the casual outfits that FemShep can wear around the Normandy is a sleeveless, low-cut, form-fitting cocktail dress.
  • Humongous Mecha: Multiple battles take place on foot against Destroyer-class Reapers, which are 160-200 meter tall ships that are built out of the "lesser" species of each cycle. The Sovereign-class Reapers are a whopping 2 kilometers in length, dwarfing even the largest ships in the Council and Alliance fleets.
  • Hypocrite: The salarian dalatrass accuses Shepard of being a bully when the Commander, Victus and Wrex/Wreav tell her that unless she gives them the location of the krogan female immune to the genophage, they will leave the salarians to the Reapers all because she refuses to give into the one demand the krogan have in exchange for their assistance. Before the mission to cure the genophage, the dalatrass contacts Shepard and threatens to withhold salarian support unless Shepard sabotages the cure.
    • Even worse, she's preparing to have the yahg uplifted, which are arguably more dangerous than the krogan.

    I 
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Cannibals, husks created by fusing humans and batarians, regain health and gain armor plating by eating fallen enemies (or allies).
    • As of the Retaliation DLC, this includes fallen squadmates.
    • Javik frequently mentions the Protheans eating many of the races of the current cycle. Especially salarians.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Species-wide example: if confronted by Wreav about his part in modifying the genophage, Mordin reminds Wreav that he could have sterilized the krogan outright, were he so inclined.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Banshees pick you up and impale you on their arm if you let them get close. One of them will do this to Rila, Samara's eldest Ardat-Yakshi daughter.
    • The new Praetorians that show up with the Collector Faction in multiplayer can also do this. Thankfully their grab animation is slower than the Banshee's, and they're much easier to stagger.
    • And it seems to be a pretty common strategy among batarians, who impale their enemies with their heavy Melee attack, have the Ballistic Blade ability, and created the Kishock Harpoon Gun.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: When Joker comments on EDI's new body, and says that he'd like to take a picture of her, EDI (who is sitting right beside Jeff, and can hear his entire conversation with Shepard) comments in a slightly hurt/embarrassed tone:
    EDI: ...I'm right here, Jeff.
    Joker: Yes, you are EDI......yes, you are.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Samantha Traynor, a romance option for FemShep, turns MaleShep down if he tries to make a move on her. Later, when Ken and Gabby are talking, Gabby has to tell Ken not to bother flirting with Traynor, since he is not her type.
  • Indecisive Deconstruction: Of the Attempted Deconstruction variety. Mass Effect 1 was primarily a Deconstructor Fleet and Mass Effect 2 was a Reconstruction of many sci-fi tropes, but with this game many conclusions of the previously-deconstructed or reconstructed tropes are abandoned, most notably in regard to the application of What Measure Is a Non-Human? to synthetics, which was a major contribution to the game's mixed reception on release.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with the boy Shepard encounters during the escape from Earth. His escape shuttle gets blown up by a Reaper-Destroyer as it was lifting off.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Martin Sheen (The Illusive Man), Keith David (Admiral Anderson), Yvonne Strahovski (Miranda Lawson), Seth Green (Joker), and Jessica Chobot (Diana Allers) all look exactly like their characters. James Vega is a variation; he looks like Freddie Prinze Jr. but only after bulking up at the gym. Chobot adds a new twist in that she plays a journalist in the game, which is what she is in real life.
  • In Memoriam: The February 2013 multiplayer event Operation Tribute, was this to Robin Sachs, who voiced Zaeed and passed away a few weeks before the event. During this event, players were encouraged to kill enemies using Avenger Rifles and Inferno Grenades. Zaeed's favorite gun, Jessie, is an Avenger Rifle and Inferno Grenade was Zaeed's loyalty power in the previous game. The flavor text for the event even said that it was in honor of fallen comrades. The "Citadel" DLC's credits contain a more standard tribute to Sachs.
  • Insane Troll Logic: An indoctrinated (or possibly just crazy) hanar on the Citadel believes that, since the hanar worship the Protheans and the Protheans were turned into Collectors, that means that the Protheans served the Reapers. Therefore the hanar must serve the Reapers. Shepard even lampshades this when they hear this.
    Shepard: You BIG STUPID JELLYFISH!
  • Insistent Terminology:
    Shepard: How are you getting drunk?
    Tali: Very carefully. Turian brandy, triple-filtered, then introduced into the suit via an emergency induction port.
    Shepard: ...That's a straw, Tali.
    Tali: (slurring her words) Emergency... induction... port.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Cerberus Phantoms are described by the official site as "Goddamn ninjas on speed!"
    • The N7 Shadow and N7 Slayer multiplayer also count.
  • Instant-Win Condition: This is what everyone hopes the Crucible will provide. On a mission level, the big fight in Priority: Tuchanka ends the moment the maw hammers have been triggered, even if you have a ridiculous number of Brutes within inches of pulling your head off and stomping on it.
  • Interrupted Suicide:
    • Subverted in the case of Tali, if you let the geth destroy the entire Migrant Fleet on Rannoch. Despite the Paragon interrupt appearing right before the suicide, pressing the button changes nothing.
    • A Paragon interrupt allows Shepard to stop Samara from killing herself in order to protect her surviving daughter and uphold the Justicar Code.
  • Interspecies Romance: With the entire galaxy falling apart because of the war, this becomes more apparent then ever among Shepard, the crew, and background characters.
  • Ironic Echo/Call Back: "It had to be me. Somebody else might have gotten it wrong."
  • It Has Been an Honor: Before you set out on the final battle you get a chance to talk and interact with all the crew members possible. At least half of the conversations end up using some variation of the phrase.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Wrex: "Shepard has a clone. Makes sense when you think about it."
  • It's Personal: All of it, from the Reaper attack on Earth to Kai Leng's attacks on Shepard's crewmates.
    • In the Citadel, Shepard is upset that their evil clone is taking things off their cabin. Shepard is especially angry about the Space Hamster.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: In-universe, Joker kids about this concerning Cerberus after the botched coup, saying how he was all for them when they were vigilantes helping the helpless, but now they're a "bit too mainstream...and evil."
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Most of the Ultra-Rare weapons. The N7 weapons are of note, as they are available right from the start of the game in single-player. If you purchase their upgrades and slap a few mods on them, they quickly become the best weapons in the game. The only real downside is that you need to pay money for them- four of them came with the Collector's Edition, one with the N7 Warfare Gear pack or the Omega DLC pack, and two with the Groundside Resistance Pack. This isn't a problem in multiplayer, as they're free there, but multiplayer presents a whole new set of problems: Ultra-Rare weapons are notoriously difficult to acquire (average drop rate for a UR per Premium Spectre Pack is approximately one in ten, meaning it takes about one million credits for one upgrade, translating to 13 successful rounds of Gold matches or around 5.5 hours of game time). Additionally, five certain Ultra-Rares used to bbe only obtainable through Commendation Packs, which you get for completing weekly challenges; weekly challenges have been discontinued so these weapons are now in standard rotation within multiplayer packs. Since all of the weapons have to be acquired ten times to reach their full potential, you'll spend a lot of time grinding for their upgrades. Even so, at levels V-X their power is simply unmatched. They're basically a replacement of the Master Spectre Weapons from the first game.
    • The N7 Hurricane may look like an SMG, but it has the power and firing rate of a full sized machine gun, able to chew through even the toughest enemies in seconds, especially if equipped with high level armor piercing rounds. The only downsides are high recoil and low ammo capacity, which are easily bypassed by the Turian Soldier or N7 Destroyer in multiplayer due to their powers and inherent weapon bonuses. Plus, in multiplayer, you won't be using your SMG Rail Amps for anything else.
    • The N7 Crusader is a shotgun that shoots slugs. This is rare in video games (in fact it's the only shotgun in the series that acts like this), but there's a reason why: it gives the Crusader the stopping power and accuracy of a sniper rifle... except it's semi-automatic and can be used on the move. Very useful.
    • The Cerberus Harrier matches the Hurricane's insane damage and fire-rate shot for shot, with significantly less recoil and much more accuracy. It essentially does what all other assault rifles do but better, and its relatively low weight allows it to be used by adepts and engineers without too large a penalty on their cooldowns.
    • The Black Widow and the Javelin are the kings of the sniper rifle category, featuring monstrous per-shot damage and lots of user-friendliness due to a three-shot magazine and an infrared scope respectively. For any infiltrator looking to deal maximum damage, there is no substitute.
    • The M-358 Talon has a tighter spread and better DPS than most other full-sized shotguns. Additionally, it is extremely efficient with ammo powers as the shotgun feature spreads the power's abilities much more readily. This allows for a deadly one-two punch with power-based classes, as a single shot from a disruptor-ammo Talon can set up the target for a quick tech burst which the player can detonate, or incendiary ammo priming for a rapid stream of fire explosions.

    J 
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The Illusive Man and, as it turns out, Saren had one in the first game. Throughout the game Shepard, Hackett and Anderson constantly dismiss the idea of controlling the Reapers and insist on destroying them. When you get to the final choice of the game the suggestions they hadnote  turn out to be possible options, actually requiring more Effective Military Strength to get than destruction.
    • The Catalyst's argument that organics and synthetics will inevitably come into contact and try to exterminate each other seems pretty much inevitable given what happened with the geth (especially if Shepard failed to broker peace between them and the quarians), the unnamed synthetics in the Citadel DLC, and the Metacon Wars according to Javik. Whether its solution is an effective one, grinding up everyone to make into Reapers, is hotly contested, but his motivations aren't based on a deranged fantasy as much as we'd like it to be.
  • Joke Character: Volus, oh so much. While their shielding strength on level with the standard human kits, they have a whopping 150 hp, they cannot take cover (Volus are short enough to stand behind most cover though), and have no melee attacks (light and heavy replaced with a cloak and emergency barrier, respectively).
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In this case, the center of the geth hive mind.
  • Jump Scare: A certain husk in Sanctuary.

    K 
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Any biotic who doesn't have blue eyes naturally.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Just to make it one hundred percent clear who the bad guys are, a Mini-Reaper is shown shooting down unarmed civilian transports, one of which had a little boy on it.
    • The Illusive Man presents himself as Necessarily Evil but still has a few moments of utterly needless cruelty. During the Mars mission, he orders Eva to "finish"/"dispose of" the Virmire Survivor. During the endgame, he shows off his new power by forcing Shepard to shoot Anderson.
      • Not to mention all his attempts to screw with Shepard's work in uniting the galaxy, even though his plans ultimately rely on Shepard succeeding. Although that one's justified, since it turns out he's indoctrinated, so most of his "shooting his own plans in the foot" was due to the Reapers screwing up his brain.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Fallen allies in multiplayer can be revived, unless trooper-class enemies or Atlases stomp and execute them. Until recently, though, the enemies would avert the trope on Gold or Platinum, forcing players to sit and wait until the revive meter runs out or Rage Quit and lose any experience for that mission.
  • Kill All Humans: ...or enslave them, or mind rape them, or turn them into piles of gray goo, if the Reapers have their way.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: On Mars, an e-mail that was being typed right before the sender was killed, she types along complaining about someone then immediately switches to all-caps raising the alarm about the mess hall being vented... but doesn't finish in time. Presumably, the author was narrating to a VI who wrote it down.
  • Killed Off for Real: Anyone Can Die means anyone. Unavoidable deaths (provided they survive to, and appear, in this game) include Legion, Morinth, Thane Krios, Donnel Udina, the Illusive Man and David Anderson. If War Asset levels are not high enough everybody dies in the ending. Shepard dies in most endings, with one potential survival if certain conditions are met.
  • Kill It with Fire: Vorcha characters and geth soldiers in multiplayer get hand-mounted flamers. A number of other classes have the Incinerate power; throwing balls of fire. Soldiers and vanguards in Single Player can load their weapons with incendiary ammo as well. Ash also packs Inferno Grenades, and so can Shepard if that bonus power is unlocked and chosen.
    • An Ice Person: Cryo powers are quite common, including Cryo Ammo, Cryo Blast, and Snap Freeze. In single-player, only the Adept lacks any form of ice-based power, and Kaidan uses Cryo Blast.

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