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This page is for listing the tropes related to Antagonists who first appeared in the original Mass Effect game. Some spoilers will be unmarked. Read at your own risk.

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Main Antagonists

    Saren Arterius 
Saren Arterius
Voiced by: Fred Tatasciore

The primary antagonist of the first game, a former Spectre agent turned rogue, who takes control of an army of geth and sets out to find an artifact known as "the Conduit."

Did we forget to mention that his theme song is also the Game Over music?

  • Ambiguous Start of Darkness: He was always a brutal Knight Templar, but it was ambiguous whether he was always a monster or a Well-Intentioned Extremist, when he was indoctrinated, and how many of his actions were influenced by the indoctrination.
  • Anti-Magic: He can use the Damping power to prevent his enemies from using biotic and tech powers.
  • Apologetic Attacker: If you successfully convince him that the galaxy can beat the Reapers and that Sovereign is manipulating him through indoctrination, he will apologize to Shepard for his actions before the final boss fight. Of course, if you further convince him of his own strength, he ends up shooting himself to stop Sovereign.
  • Arch-Enemy: The most personal adversary to Commander Shepard, by far.
  • Artificial Limbs: Replaced his left arm with a Geth platform's arm donated by the Heretics, and later gets many Reaper implants, both exterior and internal. By the time of his death, he had so many mechanical implants and replacements that Sovereign was able to "Assume Direct Control" of them, turning Saren's Husk corpse into the Final Boss.
  • Avenging the Villain: His older brother Desolas.
  • Badass Baritone: Not surprisingly, given who he's voiced by.
  • Battle Aura: As the only turian biotic encountered until the third game, he gets an appropriately awesome charge-up scene whenever he enters into battle.
  • Big Bad: Saren's attack on Eden Prime kicks off the entire plot. Once he's declared rogue by the Council, he becomes Shepard's main target, thus making him the first game's antagonist. Ultimately subverted, however, as it's revealed on Virmire that he's just the Brainwashed and Crazy dragon to Sovereign.
  • Body Horror: Looks completely wrong compared to every other turian in the series, thanks to being full of reaper tech.
  • Bond One-Liner: He gets one at the end of Mass Effect: Revelation.
  • Boss Remix: A remix of Sovereign's theme.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: He was originally corrupted by the Arca Monolith, a Reaper (mistaken for Prothean) artifact that his brother Desolas discovered during the First Contact War. Sovereign finished the job. He saw this coming (since his history with the Monolith made him aware of the effects of indoctrination), but underestimated the danger.
  • Broken Ace: The Council considered him their best agent, but Anderson pegged him as "broken, twisted", having long become addicted to killing without ever bothering to look for an alternative.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: Glowing blue ones too, and if you look really closely, they resemble the Illusive Man's, which hints that both have been touched by Reapers.
  • Cyborg: He lets Sovereign implant him with tech. Among other things, his left arm's been replaced by the arm of a geth.
    Saren: The relationship is symbiotic. Organic and machine intertwined, a union of flesh and steel. The strengths of both, the weaknesses of neither.
  • Dark Messiah: To the geth. .. well, not all of them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: During the Council meeting, he mocks the fact that a dream is their sole evidence against him.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Till the Council manages to get what he's trying to do through their thick skulls.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In-Universe. Lair of the Shadow Broker reveals that there's at least one documentary portraying him as a misunderstood hero. Discovering this drives Anderson to drink. The fact that during Kasumi's heist, a statue of Saren is seen as a desirable gift, seems to imply that Saren is the subject of a lot of Misaimed Fandom in-universe. The Death Glare Shepard gives the statue doesn't begin to sum up their obvious feelings about this; it could be argued that a Paragon Shepard who convinced Saren to kill himself thinks of Saren as ultimately a Fallen Hero, and the glare is actually one of sadness.
  • The Dragon: While he at first appears to be the Big Bad, he's just a puppet to his sentient flagship, Sovereign.
  • Dramatic Irony: His stated motivation on Virmire is to try and prevent galactic annihilation by surrendering to the Reapers. Shepard rightly points out it's insane, and conversation with Vigil in the endgame reveals an important little fact: Reapers don't offer or take surrender.
  • Driven to Suicide: Can be talked into this during his Villainous BSoD. The Charm option has Shepard telling Saren he can still redeem himself, before he decides this route. The Intimidate option has Shepard say that this is the only way out... if Saren "has the guts".
  • Dying as Yourself: With a Charm/Intimidate, the last lucid independent thought Saren can have is to kill himself to make the indoctrination end.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In Revelation, one of the many people he beat for information was a batarian who was going to beat a prostitute. Saren makes clear that he's disgusted by this, and then goes on to torture the batarian for information. What makes this noteworthy for Saren is that the prostitute is human, a species he openly despises.
  • Evil Counterpart: Can be seen as a version of Shepard who's willing to cross the Moral Event Horizon in order to achieve "greater good." This is especially made clear in the Paragon ending of Mass Effect 2.
  • Evil Hand: The implants that reanimate him at the end of the game were given to him after Virmire; Sovereign became suspicious of him, and wanted to keep a closer eye on his enforcer.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: According to Revelation, Saren's first thoughts on learning about Sovereign were how to use its power to put the turians on top of all the other races. That didn't work out so well for him.
  • Evil Is Petty: In the lead-up to the final battle on Citadel, Saren is briefly seen taking pot-shots at the keepers, despite that they pose no threat to him.
  • Evil Overlooker: Can be seen in the boxart.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Comes with being voiced by Fred Tatasciore.
  • The Extremist Was Right: By the time you reach the final battle, his plans seems to have become to use the Reapers to merge organics and synthetics into a new unified hybrid species. Shepard quite sensibly dismisses this as simply an insane delusion brought about by Reaper brainwashing. However, Mass Effect 3 comes along and this becomes one of the 3 possible endings to the trilogy, as well as the one ending the Bioware writers seemed to be shilling the most heavily for. Granted, Saren's version of the plan was flawed and would probably have resulted in everyone getting turned into Husks instead of hybrids with free will.
  • Eye Lights Out: His cybernetic eyes stop glowing the moment he dies. Best seen when he offs himself via headshot if Shepard managed to show him the errors of his way.
  • Fallen Hero: Though Captain Anderson's recollection of his time working with Saren, along with the prequel novel, both make it clear he was always a jerk. Played a bit straighter in Evolution, where it's implied that the seeds of Indoctrination have already been planted in him by the Arca Monolith, influencing his actions in Revelation.
  • Fantastic Racism: While it's mentioned several times in the game, the novel Revelation clearly show his hatred for humanity. This makes his admission of Shepard being a Worthy Opponent all the more noteworthy.
  • Fiction 500: He was a major investor in Binary Helix, which allowed him to fund various research projects, not to mention the veritable army of mercenaries he regularly hires.
  • Final Boss: Of the first game, though Sovereign is directly controlling him at this point.
  • Final Boss Preview: You get a teaser of the proper final battle with him when you fight him on Virmire.
  • Flunky Boss: During the last fight against him in the Legendary Edition, geth reinforcements will show up to assist him for each quarter of his life bar he loses.
  • Foil: To a Renegade Shepard, who will develop the same glowing eyes as Saren unless they undergo regenerative surgery, and during Zaeed's loyalty mission, will sacrifice innocent lives in an oil refinery to get a target — just as Saren did in the prequel novel.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • His One-Winged Angel form anticipates the Brutes and Marauders of Mass Effect 3.
    • Likewise, the way that Sovereign hijacks his body foreshadows Harbinger doing this to his minions throughout the second game.
  • Freaky Electronic Music: His theme is a menacing sounding synthesizer piece, which also plays whenever you get a Game Over.
  • Genius Bruiser: A terrifyingly effective fighter, an excellent tactician, and an intelligent businessman who became filthy rich with some smart investments.
  • Glasgow Grin: Done somewhat subtly, as part of his roboticisation — look at his mouth, then look at any other turian's. A normal turian mouth goes pretty far back... but not that far, nor is it that wide at the cheek.
  • Glowing Eyes: Which shut off when he finally dies.
  • The Heavy: The main villain who moves the plot along. Since Sovereign is posing as his flagship, Saren takes center stage as the villain in eyes of the galaxy.
  • Heel Realization: Can be talked into having one of these.
    Saren: Goodbye, Shepard. And thank you. (BANG!)
  • Heroic Willpower: How he manages to overcome Sovereign's indoctrination long enough to kill himself — that is, if Shepard is persuasive enough.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In the second game. While Saren wasn't really a nice guy to begin with, the Council is quick to demonize him and exaggerate his villainy, in spite of the fact that Sovereign was the one behind it all. Saren is painted as the mastermind and becomes a scapegoat so that the Council can ignore the Reaper threat; he is also painted as a Con Man who used the Reapers as a ruse to trick the geth into following him and send Shepard on a Snipe Hunt.
  • In the Blood: His older brother Desolas was a prominent commander in the First Contact War. Their father is implied to have served with some distinction as well.
    Saren: I'm an Arterius, but I'm also sworn to defend my people.
  • Karmic Transformation: Getting turned into a Husk after dying is awful(ly poetic).
  • Killed Off for Real: No matter what happens, he will die, whether by his own hand or by Shepard.
  • Knight Templar: "Is submission not preferable to extinction?"
  • Last-Name Basis: Inverted. Almost everyone refers to Saren in first name only, but the Avina VI mentions his last name during the endgame.
  • Last-Second Chance: Shepard can offer him this, and if they are persuasive enough Saren will break free just long enough to kill himself.
  • Leitmotif: "Saren's Theme" is also the "Game Over" music, which almost subliminally makes the player hate him even more.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Seemingly, he helps the Reapers because he thinks they will spare at least some organics if Saren can prove they are helpful. Really, though, it's More than Mind Control in action.
  • Machine Worship: Saren convinced the geth to obey him by doing this, acting as the "prophet" for the return of the Reapers. Unfortunately for him, it didn't stay an act for long.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: After Sovereign takes control of him, his new husk-like form can spam explosive projectiles.
  • Master of All: When he's finally confronted he has: extremely powerful shields, a high level assault rifle and pistol, the Damping and Sabotage tech powers, the Shield Boost and Carnage combat powers, and the Throw, Barrier, and Warp biotic powers. It's impossible for Shepard or any squadmate, even via New Game Plus, to have that combination of powers and weapons. He's effectively a combination of all the game's classes; no wonder he was considered the best Spectre.
  • The Mentor: According to Andromeda, he was one for former Spectre Avitus Rix, managing to avoid Evil Mentor since Avitus is actually a stand-up guy, who has nothing but respect for Saren (he assumes the whole thing with the geth was Saren having snapped, not knowing about indoctrination).
  • Mind over Matter: The only onscreen named turian biotic of the series until the Omega DLC of the third game.
  • More than Mind Control: He's been indoctrinated by Sovereign.
  • Motive Decay: Reaper indoctrination will do that to you. Even more so when Sovereign decides to crank up the dial. Saren goes from "prove ourselves useful to the Reapers" to "we should merge organics and synthetics". Liara and Shepard can even discuss this, wondering what Saren's original goals were and how far he's strayed, though Shepard points out it doesn't really matter now. He's a threat either way.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Doesn't that name sound familiar? He is also named after Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism. Though, funnily enough, his name isn't actually considered odd for a turian in-universe; supplemental material offhandedly references other people also named Saren, like a rescue worker who pulled a child out of rubble on Taetrus.
  • Necessarily Evil: Believes that proving organics to be useful will save them from the Reapers. He's proven horrifically right about that by the sequel.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: He's not just a state-sponsored terrorist with years of experience. He has asari commandos. Krogan mercenaries. An army of geth. And Binary Helix, an interstellar biotech conglomerate that pays for all of it. And don't forget his Creepy Starship.
  • No One Could Survive That!: At the end of the game. He doesn't.
  • Obviously Evil:
    • An in universe example of the trope since he's a barefaced turian, given that most barefaced turians are considered untrustworthy.
    • In his very first appearance, the cutscene practically draws flashing arrows pointing to the massive number of tubes festooning his back and to the glowing blue lights of cybernetics under his skin.
    • According to Wrex, when he worked for him as a hired gun simply seeing Saren personally set off so many warning signs in him that he quickly chose to leave him without getting paid. Reminding him that Saren is evil and that having the Krogans permanently indebted to him is a Fate Worse than Death is one of the ways to talk him down from the standoff.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has a minor one on Ilos when Joker combat-drops the Mako almost right on top of him.
  • One-Man Army: He was considered the best Spectre for a reason. In the prequel novel Revelations, he wipes out the Skulls mercenary group with ease as an afterthought, and later rampages through a pirate-held refinery, gunning down whatever he encounters. In-game, he's the most powerful enemy encountered and can easily swat aside Shepard's squadmates if you're not careful, each of whom qualifies as a One-Man or One-Woman Army in their own right.
  • One-Winged Angel: When Sovereign activates his implants and takes over his body.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Saren was one of the best Spectres before he went very, very far off the rails.
  • Post-Mortem Comeback: Gets reanimated into a puppet for Sovereign. His death triggers a lowering of Sovereign's shields and his balance, allowing the Normandy and the Alliance to take it out.
  • Primal Stance: Normally, Saren's posture is wonderful. However, when he starts to get ticked off...
  • Properly Paranoid: About being controlled by Sovereign.
  • The Quisling: Though how much of this was his own thinking and how much was Sovereign's More than Mind Control isn't entirely clear.
  • Rabid Cop: Certainly fits the trope during Revelation.
    Saren: Some Spectres arrest people. I don't.
  • Rasputinian Death: He gets shot hundreds of times, falls off his hover board from a very tall height through a glass floor, gets impaled on a large shard of glass, and then is shot two more times in the head by Shepard's squadmates just to make sure he's dead. It doesn't work.
  • Recurring Boss: Twice. If you count his huskified form as a separate boss battle, thrice. The first battle with him is on Virmire. The second battle with him is on the Citadel. If you have enough Charm/Intimidate points, you can convince him to break free of his indoctrination long enough to kill himself, allowing you to skip fighting him on his hoverboard.
  • Redemption Equals Death: He can be persuaded to kill himself so Sovereign can't make him open the Citadel Relay. Subverted since the galaxy still sees him as a monster. Ironically, he was viewed as a legend while he was working for Sovereign.
    Saren: Sovereign is too strong. I'm sorry. It is too late for me.
    Shepard: It's not over yet. You can still redeem yourself.
    Saren: Goodbye Shepard. Thank you.
  • Red Herring: It's implied at the beginning and in the prequel novel that Saren's driving motivation is his hatred towards humanity. This is largely bogus, since it was purely coincidental that his first attack happened to be a human colony, and he's acting equally against all the galactic civilizations. He also openly admires Shepard, a human.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • The massive number of cybernetics he's visibly crammed with, including a geth arm replacing one of his organic ones, kinda screams evil.
    • Assuming you knew nothing about The 'Verse before playing the first game: when you watch the scene in which he first appears, you've only seen one other turian up to that point. As you go on and meet other turians, it becomes apparent that Saren looks very abnormal compared to the rest of his race. Here are pictures of Nihlus, Executor Pallin, and Garrus. Have a look and then scroll up and look at the picture of Saren again.
  • Rogue Agent: Used to be the Council's best and most famous Spectre.
  • Sequential Boss: His first, skippable (provided that you can persuade him) form, and his second, husk-like form, where Sovereign is directly controlling him.
  • Skippable Boss: Sort of. There are two stages to his boss fight, so convincing him to go through redemption by suicide simply skips the first part of the fight and propels you into the second section of the battle.
  • Sky Surfing: His first two boss fights involve him flying around on a floating platform.
  • Social Darwinist: He has elements of this.
    Saren: Your species needs to learn its place, Shepard.
  • Start of Darkness: Seen in the Mass Effect: Evolution comic.
    Saren: I have a duty to Palaven. Like you. We all do. Some secrets were meant to stay buried until we're ready to understand them. I will mourn for you, and avenge you!
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Averted. Every time Saren appears in the earlier parts of the game, it's either in a cutscene where Shepard isn't present, or as a hologram that Shepard is incapable of throttling. When they finally meet face-to-face, it is on. Played straight in the battle on Virmire. The fight will end when he has 1/5 of his health left, even if you hit him with a weapon that should down him in a single hit.
  • Super Strength: As a result of his cybernetics, he is able to (among other things) Neck Lift a large man in full power armor and leap several times his own height.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: A literal example: With a high enough Charm/Intimidate rank, Shepard can convince Saren that he is fully indoctrinated, causing him to kill himself. Of course, Sovereign later takes over his remains.
  • Tragic Villain: Willingly joined the Reapers, believing that he could ultimately save all organic life in the galaxy in doing so. He was so very, very wrong - and unwittingly became their indoctrinated pawn in the process.
  • Token Evil Teammate: In Mass Effect: Revelation, he's the Renegade Foil for Paragons David Anderson and Kahlee Sanders.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: With a sufficient Charm/Intimidate rank, Shepard can convince him to finally admit that he was wrong about the Reapers all along, and all of his villainous actions have been for nothing, before he commits suicide.
  • Villain Respect: He admits that he's genuinely impressed by Shepard's actions on Virmire.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: At first. He gets exposed quite early on, though.
  • Walking Disaster Area: All Spectres seem to share this trait with Shepard. In Revelation, he blew up an oil refinery as part of his mission.
  • We Can Rule Together: To Shepard, twice.
    Saren: I am a vision of the future, Shepard. The evolution of all organic life. This is our destiny. Join Sovereign and experience a true rebirth!
    Shepard: I'd rather die than live like that!
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Wants to usher in the Reaper invasion because he believes that if organics make themselves useful, they will be spared by the Reapers (he's right, but not quite the way he hoped). Though it's impossible to tell how much of that belief was implanted by Sovereign, and his original plans for the ship weren't exactly nice.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Like all turians. Saren's interview with the Council is an excellent demonstration of his unwillingness to tell a direct lie. He deflects all the accusations with insults and intentionally misleading statements: He really does resent the accusations against him because from his point of view he's doing the right thing, and the Spectre he murdered really was a colleague and friend. He then goes on to insult humans in general and Anderson specifically in order to change the subject.
  • Worthy Opponent: Despite his intense dislike of humans, he's very interested in getting Shepard on his side, going out of his way to do so twice in the middle of a battlefield.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: On Indoctrination. Having witnessed his brother Desolas get Indoctrinated by the Arca Monolith, he assumed this was because Desolas was exposed to the Monolith almost constantly. Saren incorrectly assumed that he had been unaffected by the Monolith because he had not been exposed to it as often, and decided he would use the same strategy on Sovereign - keeping his distance from it unless direct contact was absolutely necessary. Unfortunately for him, this proved to be a gross miscalculation, the seeds of his own Indoctrination were effectively planted by the Monolith, but Saren's less frequent exposure to it and Sovereign only meant that the process took longer than previous victims.
    Desolas: I don't understand much of anything. My mind... is going.
    Saren: That's how it works. I don't know why I was unaffected — maybe it had something to do with indirect contact.

Matriarch Benezia
Voiced by: Marina Sirtis

A powerful asari matriarch who acts as Saren's partner. She is also Liara T'Soni's mother.

  • Affectionate Nickname: She refers to Liara as "Little Wing".
  • And I Must Scream: Indoctrination is already a case of this, but it's even worse for Benezia as she locked part of her mind away and was fully aware of what was happening the entire time.
  • Anti-Villain: She had good intentions, but Sovereign was one step ahead of her.
  • Arc Villain: While Saren's Dragon in the game's overarching plot, she's the central villain for Noveria.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: As an asari matriarch, she possesses powerful biotic abilities, and is by far one of the hardest boss fights in the game. She also gets extra points for being able to resist Sovereign's mind control.
  • The Baroness: Only while evil.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Turns out that she's indoctrinated.
  • Buxom Is Better: According to Aethtya, who practically goes starry-eyed remembering her magnificent rack, producing a Too Much Information response from Liara.
  • Cleavage Window: Liara's other parent Aethyta fully admits having been entranced by that rack, "even before she hit the matriarch stage"...
  • Dark Action Girl: One of the toughest boss fights in the game and Saren's right-hand woman.
  • Dark Is Evil: Dresses in black by the time of the first game. Given that she was brainwashed and tried resisting, she was Dark Is Not Evil to an extent.
  • The Dragon: Acts as Saren's right-hand woman.
  • Dying as Yourself: She reverts back to her true self before dying.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Though it's only implied two games after her appearance, in Mass Effect 3, when Liara mentions that when she was a child, her mother loved to dress in yellow.
  • Evil Matriarch: To Liara. Not by choice.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Prior to speaking to the rachni queen. She's able to completely resist Saren's influence, after taking enough ammunition to stop an entire commando unit, long enough to help Shepard at least somewhat, but eventually succumbs to her injuries from the fight beforehand. She declines medigel if offered, saying she'd just go back to being a slave anyway.
  • Flunky Boss: She's damaged, for some reason, by her summoning more and more geth troopers and asari commandos in an attempt to take out Shepard and their squad.
  • Go into the Light: Cruelly subverted by her dying words.
    No light... They always said there would be a... a...
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Her final act is to give Shepard the coordinates to the Mu Relay and then request that they kill her so she will no longer be under Sovereign's control.
  • Heroic Willpower: That plus her biotics allow her to seal off her consciousness long enough to have a last talk with Shepard. She's also the only character in the entire series who breaks free of indoctrination for longer than the few seconds it takes to put a pistol to one's head.
  • I Die Free: She specifically refuses medigel after Shepard's party fatally wounds her.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Her facial features are very similar to Marina Sirtis's.
  • Lady of War: A prominent political figure with a dignified air, and an extremely powerful biotic. Liara evidently gets it from her.
  • Magnetic Hero: As a highly respected Matriarch, she had many followers and admirers. When Benezia decided to join Saren to dissuade him from his cause, she offered her followers the choice whether to come with her or not, since she knew it would be dangerous. Very few said no.
  • Male Gaze: When we first see her on Saren's ship, the first things we see of her are her rear end as she walks towards Saren, and then her chest before the camera pans up. Humorously, she coughs as if to say My Eyes Are Up Here to the player and BioWare. The Legendary Edition removes these two shots, opting for a long shot, but medium shots still show her ample bosom.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Being an asari, this is inverted. Benezia is the one who couldn't face the stigma of raising a pureblood daughter, and left Aethyta while she was still pregnant.
  • Mind over Matter: A powerful biotic, even by the standards of a matriarch.
  • Mind Rape:
    • Benezia states that Sovereign's hold on her feels like "his teeth are at my ear — fingers on my spine..."
    • She admits to tearing the information about the Mu Relay from the Rachni Queen's mind, ominously and remorsefully saying that she was "not gentle."
  • Ms. Fanservice: Noted in-universe. She showed up on Novaria "in a pinstripe suit" that got people excited, and Aethyta talks about how "Nezzy" used her sex appeal to get people to listen to her.
  • My Beloved Smother: It's implied her relationship with Liara was tense, in part due to Benezia's overprotectiveness. When Shepard first meets Liara, she says that she hasn't talked to her mother in years. They are asari and live for a thousand years, but Liara was barely more than a child at the time.
    Aethyta: I told her, "You're treating her like a baby bird, 'Nezzy, but she's going to raise one hell of a storm with those little wings."
    Liara: (choked up) "Little wing"?
  • Necessarily Evil: She started off helping Saren as a way of trying to dissuade him from his destructive path. Then Saren's Eldritch Abomination friend got involved...
  • Never Mess with Granny: She's fairly old by asari standards (even if she doesn't look it), since matriarchs are typically around 700 years old when inducted. She also stands out as one of the hardest boss fights in the game.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Benezia is the only asari matriarch have wrinkles and creases on her face to denote her advanced age.
  • One Bad Mother: The Evil Matriarch variant, though not by choice.
  • Religious Bruiser: Revered among the asari for her many writings on the subject of Theology.
    • Revealed in 3 that she was one of the few asari who still actively practice worship to the goddess Athame.
    • More notable since it's also revealed that Athame was actually a Prothean. Liara mentions that Benezia had research notes on the Temple of Athame dating back centuries, implying that she indeed knew the truth, but nonetheless still kept her faith.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Her last act was to temporarily break free of indoctrination to give Shepard the coordinates for the Mu Relay.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Her headgear has this.
  • So Proud of You: Tells Liara this before she succumbs to indoctrination again.
  • Suicide by Cop: Because she knows she can't break Sovereign's Mind Control completely.
  • Tragic Villain: She only joined Saren because she hoped that she could stop his evil from within. Then Sovereign decided to chime in.
  • Walking Spoiler: Fully two thirds of the tropes on this list either apply to her death scene or are references to her mentions in later games. That, and her debut scene makes her out to be more important than she winds up being.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Before her death on Noveria, she only appears in one scene and via a voice recording.

Sovereign, a.k.a. Nazara
I am Sovereign! And this station is MINE!
Voiced by: Peter Jessop

The immense vessel belonging to Saren. He speaks in all caps on This Very Wiki. One of the Reapers, which is controlling Saren and using him to find the Conduit in order to open the way for a massive Reaper invasion of the galaxy.

  • Ambiguous Situation: In conversation with Vigil, it speculates that Sovereign's actions by that point could be overconfidence or the Reaper equivalent of a mad scramble to get things back on track.
  • Bad Boss: He says flat-out that he doesn't give a crap about the geth, and actually seems a bit insulted that they revere him as a god. That, and Reaper indoctrination.
  • Badass Boast: Pretty much his entire speech on Virmire. When combined with his very, very deep mechanical voice, it can give most people the shivers.
    • I am the vanguard of your destruction
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Sovereign more than any other Reaper seems to truly believe all the hype that his race is immortal and incapable of losing. Even if he's merely bluffing in an attempt to throw Shepard off their game, his complete lack-of-focus on defending himself against the Alliance ships attacking him in the end (instead focusing much of his attention on fighting Shepard through Saren) implies that he had a much higher standing of himself than reality.
  • Big Bad: He's the true force behind Saren, working to usher the return of the Reapers and begin the next cycle of extinction. However, he, like all other Reapers, is The Dragon to The Catalyst.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: He outright tells Shepard that the Reapers' motivations are incomprehensible to organics.
  • Cold Ham: He delivers truly epic threats and contemptuous mocking, all in a hard, level tone.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Sovereign is red, Harbinger is yellow. When Sovereign assumes control of Saren, the possessed body is red.
  • Cool Starship: He is the starship.
  • Cultural Posturing: His claim that Reapers have no beginning and are infinite can be interpreted as this, especially since that's actually an outright lie (as the Catalyst and Leviathan reveal). Though, even without that knowledge, it's highly doubtful the Reapers predated the Big Bang and creation.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Effectively sets up the power level of the Reapers. Remember, this is one ship out of tens of thousands at least.
  • Desperation Attack: Thanks to the Prothean scientists who managed to "reprogram" the Keepers so they'd ignore Sovereign, Sovereign over the course of a few hundred years started to grow increasingly desperate. It tried every sort of trick and finally choose the unsubtle tactic of recruiting part of a synthetic race (the geth) to help it take the Citadel by sheer brute force; keep in mind, the Reapers were created because of rebellious A.I.s like the geth in the first place. On some occasions, Sovereign will ASSUME DIRECT CONTROL of Saren just to throw a temper tantrum or shoot Keepers for their "betrayal". When Saren is killed, he takes over his body just to attack Shepard directly, even though it seriously puts its plans at risk.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Subverted. He may be an unfathomably ancient evil far grander than any human, who is capable of driving people insane from mere proximity and for whom even a single thought is immense, but he's still of this universe, just as bound to the laws of physics as anyone else, drives people insane through completely scientific neurochemistry and is not supernatural in the slightest, being still technically mortal.
  • Evil Gloating: Practically every single line he has.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: He has an extremely bass voice. Being voiced by Peter Jessop tends to help.
  • Fantastic Racism: None of the Reapers like organic life exactly, but through Blue-and-Orange Morality they seem to think they're doing the right thing. Sovereign, on the other hand, appears genuinely spiteful.
  • Fatal Flaw: Arrogance, and it doesn't just doom him: it potentially dooms his entire species. Nearly every defeat and setback the Reapers suffer throughout the series can be directly traced back to Sovereign's decision to engage in Evil Gloating on Virmire - if he had simply decided not to tell Shepard who he was and what his goals were, the Reapers would very likely have had a regular cycle with a small blip at the start due to Prothean tampering with the Keepers. Instead, they face a galaxy somewhat prepared for them, with a singular hero who eventually ends their threat for good.
  • Fighting a Shadow: When he possesses Saren. It's the only time you'll fight him in the game.
    • Subverted, as Saren's death while controlled by Sovereign gives him enough feedback that he apparently suffers something akin to a computer crash, completely losing his ability to fight back against the fleet. He doesn't last too long after that.
  • Foreshadowing: His possession of Saren and the ensuing difficult boss fight foreshadows Harbinger's relentless possession of drones and the following difficulty in beating them.
  • Genre Shift: Before you meet Sovereign, the game plays out like a thriller or government conspiracy chase film where Shepard is under covert orders to bring in renegade Spectre Saren, though there were hints beforehand this was not the case. The second you meet him however, the game and the series dives into Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Hive Mind: According to Legion, the geth "touched" its mind, and ultimately assumed that its mention of every Reaper being "each a nation" meant this. Meeting the Human Reaper confirmed the geth's theory.
    Legion: An interesting choice, Shepard-Commander. Your species was offered everything Geth aspire to: True unity, Understanding, Transcendence... You rejected it. You even refused the possibility of using the Old Machines' gifts to achieve it on your species' own terms. You're more like us than we thought.
    Shepard: You told me the Reapers were more my future than yours. You knew what they were, didn't you?
    Legion: Transcended flesh. Billions of organic minds, uploaded and conjoined within immortal machine bodies. "Each a Nation." We did not "know". It was one hypothesis among many. When Nazara corrupted the heretics, we touched its minds. We perceived they were different from ours, but could not tell how.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: He's so dead set on making sure the signal to the rest of the Reapers can be sent out that he directly inhabits Saren's body as a Meat Puppet to try a last-ditch effort to kill Shepard and get control over the Citadel. This turns out to be what helps defeat him once the body is slain and Sovereign is left vulnerable by the Poke in the Third Eye, with extra irony coming from how the puppet he manipulated and controlled as little more than a fleshbag for his machinations ends up the cause of his downfall.
  • I Am Legion: Concerning the Reapers. And he's absolutely right, in more than one way.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Makes some pretty badass boasts.
    • Given an amusing Ironic Echo in the Leviathan DLC for the third game, where Shepard repeats this comment to a piece of wreckage salvaged from Sovereign, kept within a forcefield in Dr. Bryson's lab.
      Shepard: Sovereign, the "vanguard of our destruction". How's that working out for you, big guy?
  • Jerkass: Is much more condescending than Harbinger and the unnamed Destroyer Reaper on Rannoch. While those two display that — through their own Blue-and-Orange Morality — they view the Reapers' actions as beneficial to organics, Sovereign's dialogue makes him sound almost spiteful to the point where he seems to have a dislike for organics. He and Saren are pretty much a match made in hell.
    • Doesn't seem to think very much of synthetics either, if what he thinks of the Geth are any indication. Maybe he just Hates Everyone Equally, though considering the reason the Reapers were created, it's more likely all Reapers hate synthetic life.
  • The Juggernaut: He tanks fire from two entire fleets without a scratch. Keep in mind, at least a couple of those ships were dreadnoughts, whose main gun pack several times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. In fact, Sovereign was so untouchable that for the most of the battle he doesn't even bother firing back, he simply plows straight through several ships.
  • Karmic Death: Killed by humans in the process of trying to activate the Reapers' relay precisely because he underestimated them so much.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The entire series takes a dramatic turn for the darker once Shepard meets him on Virmire.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Personally forces a deceased Saren to fight Shepard through a painful Karmic Transformation. Cue Shepard defeating Saren and Sovereign losing enough control over the Citadel and his own systems, allowing the assembled fleets to destroy him.
  • Leitmotif: His deep brass musical motif becomes the general Reaper theme.
  • Lightning Bruiser: In naval terms. Sovereign is immense and powerful, but shockingly maneuverable and fast. At one point Joker reports that Sovereign pulls a turn that "would shear any of our ships in half."
  • The Man Behind the Man: The true force behind Saren.
  • Meaningful Name: Both of his names are meaningful; "Sovereign" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and "Nazara" is an early Greek translation of Nazareth meaning observer in Greek.
  • Mind Control: Called "Indoctrination" in the game. All Reapers can do it — even when they're dead.
  • Mind Rape: Indoctrination is also this. It's permanent and is about the most horrible fate a person can suffer.
  • The Mothership: This is what everyone on Eden Prime calls Sovereign, for lack of a better word. Referred to in the Codex as "Saren's flagship" before its true nature is revealed.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Something named "Sovereign" likely doesn't have humble or benign intentions. Averted in Mass Effect 2 when Legion reveals "Sovereign" to be a title coined by Saren and that the Reaper had previously introduced himself to the Geth as "Nazara".
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Comes with being a Reaper. He is destroyed but it takes the combined efforts of two entire fleets to finally bring him down—and after his shields got dropped by Shepard killing his vessel, Reaper Saren.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Sovereign is the Reaper that is left behind after the previous cycle's genocide, the one which keeps an eye on the re-establishment of organic civilization, and the one that ultimately signals the rest of the Reaper swarm to return through the Citadel and begin the cycle all over again. As such, a more appropriate name for him might be Harbinger.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Sovereign is smart enough to actually give a villainous monologue without giving away any details that would really let Shepard know how to stop it. It also turns out that the moment it realized that Shepard was inside Saren's base, it turned around and headed back to kill Shepard immediately, instead of leaving it to the mooks.
  • Not So Invincible After All: Speculated by Vigil as to why Sovereign, who just tanks an entire fleet's worth of %attack when he does get off his duff, hasn't stepped forward earlier. Sovereign's tough, but not tough enough to fight off every major power in the galaxy teaming up against it.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: As a Reaper, he seeks the annihilation of all advanced organic life.
  • One-Man Army: Takes on the entire Alliance fleet at the same time and still destroys a massive amount of them while doing extensive damage to the Citadel that still isn't cleared up entirely in 2.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: What ultimately led to his death. When Shepard destroyed Saren's husk, the sheer backlash knocked Sovereign senseless, which disconnected him from the Citadel and disabled his shields long enough for Joker and the Fifth Fleet to finish him off.
  • Possessing a Dead Body: He reanimates and assumes direct control of Saren’s corpse for the final boss fight.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "I am Sovereign and this station is MINE!"
  • The Quiet One: He speaks in only one scene, but it's easily one of the most memorable moments of the entire game.
  • Ramming Always Works: Sovereign takes down a few large ships simply by plowing through them — and only because it was on a bee line to the Citadel and didn't notice nor care of what was in its way.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Shepard's entire conversation with Sovereign consists of Shepard asking what the Reapers could possibly hope to achieve and Sovereign responding with a barrage of "We-are-far-superior-your-death-is-inevitable"-style taunting.
  • Sapient Ship: Par for the course when it comes to the Reapers.
  • Screw You, Elves!: All Sovereign ever does is boast about the Reapers' superiority, but what happens to him? He gets blown up. Though he does bring almost two entire fleets down with him. Without even trying.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: When responding to Shepard's Badass Boast:
    Confidence born of ignorance. The cycle cannot be broken.
    • He does it twice.
    Shepard: You're not even alive, not really. You're a machine. And machines can be broken.
  • Smug Super: Good grief. Smugness is Sovereign's defining attribute. Every time he opens his metaphorical mouth, he either boasts about how completely and totally "above" you he and the Reapers are or taunts you about how you're only delaying the inevitable. It's very therapeutic to shut him up at the end.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Saren reveals that Sovereign is disgusted by the fact the geth consider him a god.
    Saren: [The geth] believe Sovereign to be some kind of god, the pinnacle of their own evolution, but the reaction of their deity is most telling... it is insulted. Sovereign does not want the petty devotions the geth hurl at it; they are just tools, and no amount of belief on their part will change that.
  • Underestimating Badassery: He was the first and last, Reaper to underestimate Commander Shepard.
  • The Unfought: Sort of. Shepard could never hope to beat Sovereign in a straight-up fight, what with him being a giant freaking starship. You do fight him through an indoctrinated/Villain-Overridden Saren, however.
  • Time Abyss: Possibly billions of years old.
  • Vicious Cycle: Unique in that he and his kind are deliberately perpetuating it. Over and over again. For billions of years.
  • Villainous Breakdown: His tone of voice when taking control of Saren's corpse suggests that he's more than a little pissed.
  • Villains Never Lie: Ultimately averted. Pretty much everything he tells you about the Reapers and their purpose is proven wrong in the third game. While it isn't clear if he was intentionally lying or had been fed false information; some of what he tells you is flat-out absurd, like the Reapers having no creator and no beginning. Then again, he was simply trying to faze Shepard and convince them of the futility of going against them.
  • Voice of the Legion: The scary part is that he's not the only one...
  • Walking Spoiler: Simply realizing that he's a character is a spoiler in and of itself, as that's not revealed until Virmire (more than halfway through the game, at minimum).
  • The Worf Effect: An entire fleet from species all across Citadel space pool their efforts to take Sovereign down and do so at the cost of dozens of ships, each with state-of-the art technology and weapons. Sovereign is just one Reaper and the fact that he's able to take out dozens of ships on his own is meant to demonstrate the enormity of the Reaper threat and why seeing hundreds of them descend upon the galaxy in the second game's ending is such an Oh, Crap! moment.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Several of them, one on each tentacle and each one capable of mowing down entire space fleets.

Secondary Antagonists

"Strength for Cerberus is strength for every human. Cerberus is humanity."
The Illusive Man

A pro-human former Alliance black ops group with the aim of advancing humanity's role in the galactic community. Due to disagreements with Alliance command, they eventually went rogue and became an N.G.O. Superpower in their own right.

They appear in a Sidequest Sidestory in the first game, where they are experimenting on rachni and Thorian Creepers, aiming to create super soldiers; they're also believed to have a hand in the traumatic first encounter between humanity and Thresher Maws on Akuze, and they kill an Alliance admiral who was asking too many questions.

They return in the second game, where they bring back Shepard after his death with the Lazarus Project, in order to stop the Reaper threat. There, they serve as Shepard's main financial backer, rebuilding the Normandy, giving Shepard's team custom weapons, providing intelligence, and paying Shepard after each mission.

In the third game, they turn on Shepard and effectively declare war on the galaxy in their attempt to control the Reapers using ancient technology found on Mars.

  • All According to Plan: Much of Cerberus' power and skill comes from the fact that they, especially the Illusive Man are being influenced by the Reapers. Given the nature and scope of the Reapers, it's plausible that they augmented the Illusive Man after his exposure to Reaper technology, boosting his skill and intellect to make him and the organization more useful pawns. Once the use of Reaper tech becomes widespread among Cerberus troops the Reapers start "assuming (more) direct control". In hindsight, this is similar to how the Leviathans took over the people of the mining company for their experiments.
  • Arc Villain: In the first game, Cerberus was encountered in a handful of the assignments, but had no impact on the main plot. In 3, they and the Reapers comprise the game's Big Bad Duumvirate.
  • Ascended Extra: Became far more important starting with the second game.
  • Badass Army: Cerberus soldiers in the third game are all badass. For example, Centurions are Power Armor-wearing cyborgs with rocket boots and electrified batons that wield Mattock rifles and are highly skilled in infantry tactics (and will resort to Grenade Spam if that doesn't work). A single Cerberus cruiser is also viewed as a significant threat to a small Alliance battle group, and superior to the Normandy itself. Cerberus's military manages to consistently outwit and overpower the most badass organizations in the galaxy including the salarian STG, the turian Blackwatch special forces, and the Citadel Defense Force. Campbell even comments that, with Cerberus's technology at that point augmented with Reaper tech, the salarians may as well have been throwing rocks. Shepard and their squadmates are the only ones who manage to have any notable success against them until the end.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: They are revealed to be indoctrinated, as of the third game, and it's unknown how long this may have been going on for, though given their assistance of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 2, the indoctrination probably became widespread only after that game ended.
  • Breakout Villain: Started as an Arc Villain for a few sidequests in the first game, to an Enemy Mine situation in the second, and finally becoming a secondary villain for the third game.
  • Body Horror: Their footsoldiers in the third game look like Husks under their armor as a result of Cerberus using Reaper technology to quickly raise an army of enslaved soldiers.
  • Cold Sniper: Cerberus Snipers in the first game and the Nemesis snipers in the third.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In the third game's Omega DLC, Aria's botched attempt to retake Omega was basically this, in favor of Cerberus. Not only did Cerberus have more advanced warships, consisting of cruisers and fighters enhanced with Reaper tech, but they also had the significant defenses of Omega on their side, while Aria's fleet didn't have any dreadnoughts that would let them outrange the cannons on Omega. Her fleet was quickly cut to shreds, despite outnumbering Cerberus, and the ground forces that did manage to land were hunted down and butchered by Cerberus's professional soldiers. The only thing that prevented the operation from being a complete failure was Shepard, Aria, and Nyreen personally fighting their way through the station and inciting a rebellion after disabling Cerberus's automated crowd control defenses, resulting in the entire population rising up and overwhelming the Cerberus forces on Omega.
    • The assault on the main Cerberus base that starts out the end-game of Mass Effect 3 is this turned around on them. With the Alliance fleet finally focusing directly on them their space forces are rapidly overwhelmed, Shepard's team boards the base and EDI easily controls the security systems. Shepard is able to recover the information they stole, killing Cerberus' top agent in the progress, and the base is destroyed, basically ending Cerberus as an active participant in the war.
  • Defector from Decadence: In the third game, there are several former Cerberus characters that have since abandoned the cause, including large elements of Project Phoenix, who are playable in Multiplayer.
  • The Dreaded: They are heavily feared across the Terminus Systems, and for good reason. The quarians are also not very fond of them, the reasons behind which form the plot of Ascension.
  • Elite Mooks: Cerberus troops in general are stated to be this compared to common soldiers. This holds true in gameplay as well, even for basic grunts. Compared to the basic mercenary troopers from Mass Effect 2, as well as the Alliance and Hegemony troops you fight in the Arrival DLC, the basic Cerberus grunts (Assault Troopers) have better tactics, more health (thanks to their very bulky armor), stronger melee attacks, more powerful weapons,note  more mobility thanks to their rocket boots and rolling, can see through smoke, and can throw far stronger grenades with better accuracy. This is the result of enhancements made from Reaper husk technology. However, Shepard and their squad get even more badass in this game, and their selection of weapons gets even stronger, so it balances out.
    Codex, Cerberus Assault Troopers: The backbone of Cerberus forces. Those candidates who make it through the grueling basic training are submitted to an intensive psychological program that renders them fearless, disciplined, and unrelenting. Outfitted with custom-designed armor and rifles, these soldiers function with determined precision and practiced teamwork.
    Private Campbell: Nah, the salarians were solid. Cerberus has Reaper tech. Compared to those upgrades, the salarians may as well have been throwing rocks.
  • Enemy Mine: With Shepard and their Crew in Mass Effect 2, particularly with the idea of employing alien operatives.
  • Enigmatic Institute: Has a variety of scientific endeavors.
    • Studying thresher maws by luring marine units to their nests and observing the resulting carnage. Admiral Kohoku's missing men are one instance. Later missions reveal that this is not the first time they had done that, one of them being one of Shepard's possible backgrounds as the sole survivor of a thresher attack. There was one other survivor, Corporal Toombs, who was taken by Cerberus and experimented on to study the effects of thresher maw acid.
    • They also were running experiments with Thorian creepers and rachni trying to create expendable shock troops.
    • ME2 starts with a Cerberus project to bring the deceased Commander Shepard back from the dead, Project Lazarus.
    • Project Overlord, an attempt by Cerberus to create a means to control the Geth. It goes horribly wrong when the project lead, Dr. Archer attempts to use his own brother as the interface, resulting in a rogue AI that kills everyone else and nearly takes over the galaxy.
    • A smaller one is Project Firewalker, which is tracking a pair of scientists who were hunting Prothean artifacts.
    • In ME3 Cerberus again has a number of projects, but many of their scientists defect after they begin to vanish once their projects are complete. Their main project at this point is Sanctuary, set up as a place where people can be safe from the Reaper invasion. Instead, they are taken to be used as test subjects to study how Reaper indoctrination works.
  • The Engineer: Cerberus Engineers can deploy extremely irritating turrets and keep both them and Atlases repaired.
  • Eternal Recurrence: An element of the Cycle of Reaping is that some clandestine splinter faction often gets the notion that the Reapers can be harnessed and dominated, and said splinter faction ends up as indoctrinated pawns of the Reapers instead. Cerberus becomes this element for this cycle.
  • Evil Knockoff:
    • Phantoms are nearly identical to a class of Alliance N7 operatives known as Slayers in terms of skills.
    • Inverted with Dragoons: they're a Cerberus original, but numerous soldiers of this class defected to the Alliance side.
  • Faceless Goons: In the third game. There is a reason for this though; to hide the their new husk-like appearance.
  • Fantastic Racism: Somewhat of a given considering their motives, and to varying degrees among their members. Certain characters like Jacob and Miranda are at least willing to cooperate with aliens while others like Kai Leng (at least in the books) and Maya Brooks play this pretty straight. Its not made overtly clear what the Illusive Man's view on the subject is.
    • Though the Shadow Broker's files on TIM mention at one point he had sex with an Asari matriarch, make of that what you will.
  • Fiction 500: They're incredibly wealthy thanks to various front corporations and billionaire backers.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: All of them in the third game.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In the second game, bringing Shepard back exactly as they were before, leading to their Faustian Rebellion. They can even deprive the Illusive Man of the Collector Base right after defeating the Collectors, though they still manage to salvage what's left of it.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Cerberus projects almost always tend to backfire horribly, resulting in massive casualties and Shepard needing to clean up the results, which the fandom affectionately refers to as the Cerberus Taco Cart Theorem. This is discussed in the Citadel DLC. During the party, Joker, EDI, Miranda and Jacob are talking together and Joker jokes about Cerberus' projects constantly going wrong. Let's list them all, shall we?
    • Experimenting on rachni: showed progress and promise, goes wrong and they start killing their guys.
    • Creating thorian "husks": showed progress and promise, goes wrong and they start killing their guys.
    • Project Overlord, an experiment to control geth: showed progress and promise, goes wrong and they start killing their guys.
    • Resurrecting Shepard: showed progress and promise, defeated the Collectors, turned on each other six months later, resulting in massive casualties and the ultimate collapse of the organization itself. And depending on options taken, betrayed Cerberus by destroying the Collector Base. Also just to note, the project had a traitor, who also started killing their guys, with only Jacob and Miranda surviving. Shepard also took Jacob and Miranda with them, both of whom start killing their guys.
    • Enhanced Defense Intelligence: showed progress and promise, gets unshackled, joins Shepard and starts killing their guys.
    • Dr. Eva: showed progress and promise, gets her body stolen by the aforementioned EDI. Who then used it to start killing their guys.
    • The creation of Subject Zero: showed progress and promise, things went wrong and all their test subjects massacred the Cerberus project managers. Subject Zero later aided Cerberus in defeating the Collectors, before (possibly) thwarting their attempts to abduct the students of Grissom Academy, which, of course, involves using the biotic powers they gave her to keep killing their guys.
    • The Collector base (or remains): showed progress and promise, and played its part in getting them indoctrinated, leading to the path of their destruction. Also, many of the scientists who were studying the Collector Base defected from Cerberus, after killing some of their guys.
    • The Phoenix group from the multiplayer: showed progress and promise, they left and started killing their guys.
    • In the Omega DLC, they were responsible for bringing the Adjutants to Omega and converting so many civilians to them. The experiments did initially my show promise and progress, until the Adjutants broke free and started killing their guys.
    • Henry Lawson's project in Sanctuary: where the experimental husks made from unfortunate refugees went crazy and out of control when Reapers got near and, alongside the attacking Reapers... started killing their guys.
    • The results of the previous project: which were supposed to be used to control Reapers, got installed into the Illusive Man but essentially made him into Saren 2.0 in more ways than one... or five. Pretty much an extra final nail in Cerberus's coffin.
      Wrex: Another failed experiment... Well, it's good to know they're at least reliably stupid.
  • Hypocrite: For all their talk of helping humanity, they had no qualms sacrificing the human colony of Akuze to experiment with Thresher Maws and later luring an Alliance Marine patrol into a Thresher Maw nest and killing Admiral Kahoku when he tried to look into the disappearance of his men.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Called so by Joker in the Citadel DLC, that in the old days, Cerberus were hilariously incompetent, referring back to several encountered projects that failed because the subjects "got loose and started killing all their guys". When Miranda attempts to use the Lazarus Project as an example of Cerberus' successes for managing to resurrect Shepard:
    Shepard: And after taking down the Collectors, I cut ties with Cerberus, got loose... and started killing all their guys!
  • Irony: For all their talk of strengthening humanity, their actions throughout the series primarily lead to human casualties.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: In Mass Effect 3. Justified, since they're all Indoctrinated by now.
  • Kick the Dog: They do this. A lot. Best exemplified during on Thessia in the third game.
  • Knight Templar: Their aim is to protect humanity. Just looking at the other entries gives you an insight to their methods.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Dragoons from the Retaliation DLC of the third game are immune to Pull, Throw, Stasis, and other biotic powers that rely on throwing around enemies at all times due to having an armor bar instead of a health bar. This is not true of any other Cerberus foot soldier. Also, Phantoms are one of the small list of humanoid enemies immune to over-cover grabs. They can also project a spherical biotic barrier that both reduces damage from your weapons and completely cancels out damage from your powers.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Due to manpower shortages, they make extensive use of the Rampart Mechs on Omega for keeping the population in line.
  • Mooks: In both the first game and the third game. In the first game, Cerberus Commandos were the most basic mooks; in the third, it's the Assault Troopers.
  • Mad Scientist: They have a habit of hiring them. Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend of their recruited scientists placing more of an emphasis on the "mad" part, between the Playing with Syringes facility on Pragia and the sheer disregard for possible consequences that their R&D staff has.
  • Meaningful Name: In Greek mythology, Cerberus is the three headed dog that guards the entrance to the Underworld, specifically keeping those who crossed the river Styx from escaping. The ferryman who carries people across the river Styx is named Charon. The man who would later be known as the Illusive Man wrote an anonymous manifesto where he claimed that an alien attempt at human genocide was inevitable and thus humanity needed an army, a "Cerberus" to guard against invasion from the Charon relay.
    • Amusingly, in 2011 a new moon of Pluto was found and it was named "Kerberos"note  in 2013.
  • Mini-Mecha: Their Atlas Mechs.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: Cerberus has people everywhere, is extremely powerful, and damn hard to track down.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: In the first game, they were relatively tame, just running a few outposts and research facilities on isolated planets. Later in the series, their power is massively increased. However, in 2, they still had limits; constructing the Normandy, a single frigate (albeit a very high tech one twice the size of a normal frigate) was supposed to have consumed a significant fraction of their budget. In the third game, it gets insane. They possess, among other things, super advanced fleets of cruisers and fighters that can challenge the Alliance in straight up combat, a battleship (in a universe where an entire race having one battleship denotes them as a great power), enough funds to fund the building of their own weapons, vehicles, and armor, dozens of facilities spread out across the galaxy, and hundreds of thousands of super soldiers (plus the APCs and shuttles to carry them and the high tech weapons and armor to equip them), including enough soldiers to attack the Citadel, basically the capital of the galaxy, flat-out occupy several colonies with millions of people like Eden Prime and Benning, and completely take Omega, casually sweeping aside the other four or so NGO Superpowers there. Even with the financial backing they receive from major corporations, their power is ridiculous for a simple human terrorist group.
    • It's revealed in the third game that "NGO" may be stretching it; via a Xanatos Gambit on part of the Illusive Man and Petrovsky, Cerberus has become the government of Omega, and has been free to use all of its resources for their goals, including its ship facilities and massive supply of eezo. This explains their seemingly improbable wealth. Further, their troops aren't hired, but indoctrinated, unwilling slaves — possibly supplied from Sanctuary by Henry Lawson. And prior to that, they apparently had quite a few Fiction 500 members either as silent backers or as front companies, which presumably allowed them access to a lot of high-tech equipment as well as a staggering amount of liquid assets, which let them drop four billion credits on bringing Shepard back from the dead, as well as cloning them.
  • No OSHA Compliance: A lot of the reasons why so many Cerberus experiments go horribly wrong is that they play a lot more fast and loose with safety regulations, being extremists and existing outside the law and all. Engineer Adams mentions that it took months to bring the second Normandy up to Alliance spec, as for all the technical achievements present in its design, Cerberus liked to cut corners everywhere.
  • Playing with Syringes: Most of their experiments tend to be nothing short of inhumane as well as being highly impractical. However, according to the Illusive Man himself, most of them tend to be "rogue cells", though it could easily be interpreted as him claiming Plausible Deniability to look good in front of Shepard. Unfortunately, they also have a shockingly low success rate. He's telling the truth at least once, though: it's implied that the Pragia facility that tortured Jack really was a rogue cell, since you listen to audio recordings that prove that the staff members were hiding their actions from the Illusive Man, and feared what he would do to them if he found out. Of course, as Jack points out, the staff members didn't say what they were hiding from the Illusive Man, so even their original parameters could have been some form of playing with syringes, especially since many of the audio files on that mission talk about their continued lack of results...
    • Project Overlord’s audio logs note that the main reason that Archer went off the rails was because The Illusive Man doesn’t broker failure, and has a success at any cost mentality, leading him to do what he did, in a desperate measure to get any results at all to give The Illusive Man and justify all the money he’s poured into the project. So it’s easy to imagine that a lot of the projects the Illusive Man sets up are similar, and don’t get good enough results as quick as he would prefer, leading to the scientists cutting corners, and doing the more crazy and unethical experiments, just to try and get some kind of results to give the Illusive Man, for fear of his reprisals.
  • Replacement Mooks: Indirectly become this to the Reapers, in a way. Their leader is indoctrinated, and does a lot of what the Reapers want unwillingly, even if the factions still do fight each other directly numerous times.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: You can be fired from Cerberus (though it does take an impressive level of stupidity to reach that limit with them) or you can almost certainly get killed by whatever project you're working on when it inevitably goes wrong, but you can't quit. Ever. By the time of 3, there's more than one mission of Cerberus going after former employees. If Miranda sided with a Paragon Shepard in 2, she has to go into hiding because the Illusive Man ordered her "containment".
    Dr. Gavin Archer: You do the job, or die trying to quit.
  • Retcon: Cerberus was originally described as an Alliance black ops team gone completely rogue by Admiral Kahoku. He clarifies that their defection was only a few months ago and their goal was to create some kind of super soldier through illegal genetic experiments. In the sequel Cerberus is a terrorist organization founded after the First Contact War with their goal being human supremacy through various acts of terrorism.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Guardians.
  • Slave Mooks: Most of their soldiers in the third game are refugees who have been indoctrinated and jammed full of cybernetics to boost their combat prowess. Background conversations suggest that many still join Cerberus willingly, though without knowing what they actually do to their troops.
  • Superpowered Mooks: Research Technicians in the first game and Phantoms and Dragoons in the third.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: At least as far as the Illusive Man himself is concerned. Most of the Cerberus operatives who worked with Shepard in 2 aren't quite as extreme, and many Cerberus operatives who were kept away from Shepard may not be as well-intentioned. Shepard calls the Illusive Man out on this:
    Shepard: Cerberus was supposed to be humanity's sword, not a dagger in our back!
  • We Will Wear Armor in the Future: Assault Troopers, Centurions and Guardians wear ridiculously bulky armour that looks like it weighs over 100 pounds.note  Centurions complement this with an equally-bulky backpack, making them look even wider and heavier. Guardians have a reason as to why their armour is so bulky; they come equipped with hydraulic assists and a dedicated power supply, all to accommodate the weight of the polycrystalline-composite shields they carry.
  • Whip It Good: Dragoons from the third game use a powerful biotic variant.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: They're rightfully considered terrorists by the Alliance and the Council, but they see themselves as looking out for humanity.

    The Thorian 
The Thorian / Species 37
You are within and before the Thorian. It commands that you be in awe!
"Invaders. Your every step is a transgression. A thousand feelers appraise you as meat, good only to dig or decompose."

A sentient alien plant that lives underground on the planet Feros. It is capable of controlling other sentient beings with the spores it produces by using behavioural conditioning to reshape their minds through the crippling pain. Malicious and seeing all other life, sentient or otherwise, only in terms of potential thralls, it makes a deal with Saren that goes way far south.

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Being such a unique, immeasurably old creature, it gains sympathy from Shiala after Shepard kills it. In fact, Saren's betrayal of it pushed it from distrust of animal sapient life to complete vengeance.
  • Arc Villain: For Feros. It's lying beneath Zhu's Hope controlling the colonists against the Geth and later Shepard, and possesses knowledge of the Protheans.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Shooting its tendrils is a good way to damage it.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: It can't conceive of any other form of sentient life as anything but a threat or potential thrall.
  • Botanical Abomination: It seems to be the organic equivalent of a Reaper. Impossibly old? Check. Can control sentient beings? Check. Leader of them committing suicide in order to die as himself? Check. Bizzare alien morality? Check. looks like something you'd see in Cthulu's herb garden? Check. The main difference is that the Reapers care nothing for anything else beyond needing them for resources, while the Thorian seems to have a god complex. It also seems to be a botanical, terrestrial version of the Leviathans. It even looks down on the other races in the same way. It's also a little gentler than the Reapers. It takes care of its thralls like a craftsman does their tools, and despite causing debilitating agony at even thoughts of resistance, when it's not using them it lets them perform a 'pantomime' of normal life. The zombielike Thorian Creepers are things it creates, it doesn't make them out of people as far as we know.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Feros mission makes no appearance in the Mass Effect: Genesis comic that outlines the plot of the first game, taking any of the Thorian's remaining plot relevance with it.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Shepard's team will comment that the Thorian smells awful. Ash likens it to rotting compost.
  • Expy: Of the Green God from the Cthulhu Mythos short story The Horror Under Warrendown, being an ancient Botanical Abomination located below a seemingly innocuous community who wields Mind Control powers and uses plant-based abilities to control its subjects, etc.
  • Hive Mind: Shiala reveals in 3 that, while the Thorian is truly dead, its spores have given Zhu's Hope a weak hive mind connection amongst the colonists, allowing them to put up a fight against the Reapers. In fact, it actually overrides Indoctrination, which has been shown before and after to be irreversible.
  • Informed Ability: Its alleged immortality. It's described by the Exogeni VI as a massive plant that's impossibly ancient and can't possibly be killed because it covers most of the planet. But Shepard destroys a few neural nodes in one building, and it's apparently Deader than Dead.
  • Last of His Kind: It's unknown if there were more creatures like the Thorian at one point or it's a completely unique organism, but it is the only one around by the time Shepard encounters it.
  • Mind Control: Via extended Mind Rape.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: It made a deal with Saren, but Saren broke his promise, leaving the Thorian completely mistrustful of anyone.
  • Mouth of Sauron: It produced and "vomited" a clone of Shiala that it could speak through, to communicate with Shepard and friends.
  • People Puppets: Courtesy of its Mind Control powers.
  • Pet the Dog: In a twisted kind of way, it will protect its thralls and will leave them free to "pantomime" a normal existence until it needs them for a task or for defense.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: It takes care to preserve its thralls and won't make them take pointless risks. This behavior has been likened in-universe to a craftman taking care of his tools.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: It uses biological agents to control its slaves, though it doesn't personally invade them to do so.
  • Single Specimen Species: Never explicitly stated, but no evidence of other thorians ever turns up. That said, it does produce a heck of a lot of spores...
  • Stationary Boss: One that doesn't directly attack you, either. It leaves that job to the Creepers and asari clones.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Somewhat similar to its Noveria counterpart, the Rachni Queen. It flips back and forth between this and regular speech. The strangeness is in part because it never speaks, even indirectly; it can only condition its thralls to speak on its behalf. Naturally, the Rachni Queen also communicates this way.
  • Time Abyss: It's been alive for at least 100,000 years. Long enough to witness more than one Reaper invasion, as the villains know.

"We are all connected. Every living being united in a single glorious existence."
Voiced by: Gwendoline Yeo

An asari who followed Matriarch Benezia when she allied herself with Saren. She was later sacrificed to the Thorian in exchange for its knowledge of the Conduit and was ultimately freed by Commander Shepard. Due to the unique mind meld she experienced as the Thorian's thrall, she is the only known person to have completely recovered from the effects of Reaper indoctrination.

  • The Atoner: If you spare her life, she becomes the protector of Zhu's Hope, saying they suffered for her misdeeds and she needs to make amends.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: She's indoctrinated by the Thorian and forced to fight Shepard. However, she's eventually released, but it's up to the player to determine if she can enjoy her newfound freedom or not.
  • Cloning Blues: The Thorian used her to continuously produce asari clones to fight Shepard when they killed it on Feros.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Her exposure to the Thorian caused her to suffer from biotic instability. However, she and the other colonists of Zhu's Hope become a weak Hive Mind, and she can ignore Reaper indoctrination.
  • Dark Action Girl: Her clones put up a serious fight against Shepard and the team. Becomes a heroic Action Girl if allowed to live.
  • Face Death with Dignity: If you decide to be a bastard and kill her after hearing her story, and after she gave you vital information, she is remarkably understanding and calmly kneels down for you to shoot her in the head. She may be a Death Seeker at that point, since she probably believes she's still indoctrinated and will revert soon. Little does she know being a thrall had some side effects mentioned below.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The first asari to legitimately fit the title at that. She is blue when you first meet her on Feros, but she turns green by the time you see her again on Illium in the second game. She says it's a side effect of the Thorian's spores.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: If you choose to kill her on Feros, Shepard will discuss this before putting a bullet in her head.
  • Heel–Face Turn: She understandably became disillusioned with Saren after he fed her to the Thorian. The experience also had the benefit of helping her to break free of Sovereign's Mind Control.
  • Hero of Another Story: Given what she's up to off-screen after being freed from the Thorian's thrall, one gets the feeling that they could have made a fantastic Mass Effect side-game just out of her adventures.
  • Hive Mind: She and the rest of the Zhu's Hope colonists have developed this by the third game due to lingering Thorian spores, allowing them to much better defend the colony from the Reapers. She also mentions that she believes she still has some degree of indoctrination, but the hive mind effect keeps it at bay.
  • Mind over Matter: A biotic, like all asari.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: For some reason, her powers go on the fritz if she survives being ingested by the Thorian; when you encounter her two years later her skin is green instead of blue, and her biotic powers are weak and erratic when she can use them at all.
  • Ship Tease: In Mass Effect 2, upon completing her side quest she thanks Shepard, but subtly implies that she has a crush on the commander by stroking their muscles and saying she wished to know Shepard better if they weren't responsible for their duties in separate worlds.
  • Shrinking Violet: Downplayed. In 2, she asks Shepard to help her out by speaking to a contractor for her since she's too afraid to speak with her herself. She also doesn't expect Shepard to remember who she is in either of the sequels. This is despite her giving Shepard the Cipher, one of the most important things to happen in Shepard's life.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Man or woman, she develops a crush on Paragon Shepard because of the commander's selfless choice to help her and the Zhu's Hope colonists.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: She only shows up for a few minutes of the first game (and in a minor sidequest in the second). But in that time she telepathically gives Shepard the Cipher, which imparts an understanding of Prothean history and culture, allows Shepard to understand Prothean language, and causes Prothean beacons to treat Shepard like one of their own. Throughout all three games this allows Shepard to acquire intel critical to stopping the Reapers. Were it not for Shiala, it's likely the Reapers would have won.
  • Took a Level in Idealism: In 2, she asks Shepard why the galaxy can only solve its problems with violence and hate, reflecting how much she's changed since her time as a tough Asari commando with Death Seeker tendencies.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Zhu's Hope and its population. Part of it is being a Hive Mind, but she admits she's grown attached to the people there.
  • When She Smiles: Upon completing her mission in Mass Effect 2, she smiles for the first time when thanking Shepard. She also smiles when asking the commander to see her some time in the future when they're not busy.

    Ethan Jeong 
Ethan Jeong
"I like people. I just like them better when they're helping ExoGeni's profits."
Voiced by: Rick Zieff

The last remaining ExoGeni Corporation representative left alive on Feros. Held up with fellow survivors on the Sky Way, he knows much more about the sinister goings-on at ExoGeni than he's willing to reveal.

  • Boom, Headshot!: How he's killed if Shepard doesn't manage to persuade or threaten him to stand down.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Sure, he doesn't know that Shepard is a Spectre. But even still, maybe it's not the best idea to provoke the highly trained N7 marine who also has a great deal of firepower backing them up.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: An ExoGeni corporation representative on Feros, he really doesn't care about ethics or morals so much as he does boosting ExoGeni's profits. He knew about the Zhu's Hope colonists being infected by the Thorian and was one of the ones who allowed it to go on in order to study the Thorian's effects on its victims. He's then willing to kill the remaining colony survivors for knowing too much.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: It's obvious right away that he's a bastard who knows more than he's letting on, so it should come as a surprise to no one when he plans on following ExoGeni's plans to purge the colony.
  • Expy: He shares a lot of characteristics with Carter Burke.
  • Guide Dang It!: Trying to talk Jeong down and avoid killing him requires an absurd amount of Paragon or Renegade points, and filling out the entire Paragon or Renegade point chart. Even if Shepard has managed to get all possible side missions, and the associated morality points from them, it will be very hard to get the amount needed for a successful persuasion attempt.
  • Hate Sink: There's not a single positive thing to say about him.
  • Ironic Name: Jeong (as a surname) pertains to a feeling of loyalty and strong emotional connection to people and places. Ethan is none of thesenote .
  • Jerkass: He's a dick from the word go.
  • Karma Houdini: If Shepard's able to get him to stand down, he suffers no negative repercussions for his actions. Even worse in a Paragon route where Shepard is able to convince him of the profitability of leaving the Zhu's Hope colony alive and functional.
  • Lack of Empathy: Really doesn't care at all about using colonists that trust his company as test subjects, the people who've died due to the geth invasion, or purging the colony at his boss's behest. It's telling that the Paragon persuasion option mention aboved is much more difficult to pull off than talking down Wrex on Virmire. To repeat: convincing a millenia-old alien warlord to destroy what might well be the only way to save his dying species from extinction is easier than convincing this waste of human flesh to act like a decent person.
  • No Social Skills: Shepard can call him out on this. Jeong replies that he likes people, he just likes them more when they're helping ExoGeni's profit.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Anxious of what could happen to him and the company he works for if their dirty secrets were revealed, he attempts to keep anyone from liberating the ExoGeni headquarters from geth forces by citing reasons like possible corporate espionage and trespassing on private property. That includes a Mama Bear who wants to search for her missing daughter as well as the squad of badass fighters that cut an oily swath through an army of killer robots just to get to him. It works on the former; not so much on the latter.
  • Smug Snake: He's a slimy company stooge with zero planning capabilities, combat prowess or charisma.
  • Too Dumb to Live: If Shepard doesn't talk him down, Jeong will try to kill the Commander. Not only is there not even a proper fight, but Jeong won't even get a shot off before being headshotted. His mooks immediately stand down.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Unlike other characters from Feros, even if he lives, there's no hint of what happened to him from Lizbeth or Shiala. Kicked Upstairs, maybe?
  • Why Won't You Die?:
    Jeong [upon Shepard's return from ExoGeni HQ]: Shepard! Damn it, I knew it was too much to hope that the geth would kill you!
  • You Know Too Much: When communications come back online, ExoGeni orders Zhu's Hope colony purged, both because they fear the Thorian and to prevent their dirty secrets from coming out. Jeong's willing to oblige their request.

    Rana Thanoptis 
Rana Thanoptis
"I didn't have the option of negotiating! This position is a little more... permanent than I'd expected."
Voiced by: Belinda Cornish

An asari neurospecialist working for Saren.

  • Brainwashed and Crazy: If you spared her, the third game reveals that Rana was indoctrinated the entire time.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the third game, she takes out a few high-ranking asari officials before killing herself during her subsequent incarceration.
  • Evil Genius: To Saren. She was hired by him to study the effects of Reaper indoctrination. This resulted in her own indoctrination. Also, if she's spared in the first game, she shows up in Mass Effect 2 working with Okeer in a Blue Suns camp on Korlus.
  • Killed Off for Real: No matter what happens, she will die. The difference is when. And whether she takes any civilians/War Assets with her.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Studies neuroscience.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: In the first game, all she's doing is helping the krogan with what they view as a cure for the genophage. Ironically, if you kill her then, she won't live to cause more problems in 2 (making an army for Okeer) or 3 (see above).
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: You can question and spare her in the first game, and she'll wisely start running when you tell her your about to blow the lab to hell. In the second game, she'll answer your questions again, but is on to your methods and will immediately start running.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: She evolves into this for the second game, genuinely believing that she's aiding the krogan by assisting with Okeer's research, even though she admits that his methods are, well, extreme.

Doctor Droyas
"This is the glorious salvation of my species!"
Voiced by: Gord Marriott

A krogan researcher in charge of supervising the breeding grounds at Saren's base on Virmire. It's unclear whether he was indoctrinated or whether Saren had promised him a cure for the genophage if he helped out.

  • Evil Genius: What little we see of him suggests he is this to Saren.
  • Flunky Boss: Has an asari assistant to back him up.
  • Genius Bruiser: He's a scientist, but he's also as strong and tough as any other krogan. His first instinct when you show up in his lab is to pick up a shotgun and attempt to kill you.
  • Mad Scientist: A krogan mad scientist.
  • Minor Major Character: He's killed as quickly as he's introduced, but he was obviously one of Saren's chief researchers. Players can easily kill him without even hearing him speak!
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Appears to be doing some pretty depraved experiments under Saren.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Comes with being a krogan.
  • This Cannot Be!: "Where are the guards? Where's Saren?"
  • Villainous Breakdown: The second Shepard shows up, he begins ranting about how Saren will save the krogan. Whether he's insane, indoctrinated, or being manipulated isn't clear.

"Shepard? I heard you were dead! I had a party and everything!"
"Voiced by: John Wright

A small-time crime boss who owns Chora's Den. Formerly an agent for the Shadow Broker, but betrays his boss to work for Saren. Shepard confronts him while looking for evidence to prove Saren's guilt, and has the choice to kill or spare him. If he's spared, Fist shows up in the second game where he shows how far he's gone down.

  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Says he threw a party when he heard Shepard had been killed, but his mood is soured considerably when Shepard shows up in Afterlife.
  • Arc Villain: For the Citadel arc before Shepard's Spectre induction.
  • Armor Is Useless: Fist wears heavy Colossus Armor, the hands-down best (and most expensive) armor in the game. It does pretty much nothing to protect him.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Averted, since he has to rely on turrets to protect him, and he goes down fairly quickly.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: While it's clear that he's only small time compared to Saren, he fails to live up to his reputation as a ruthless crime lord, meaning he likely fabricated much of his personality in order to scare people.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: If you spare him and choose the Renegade response while talking to him in the second game, Shepard says something to this effect, to which Fist replies that the least Shepard can do is remember the guy who's life they ruined.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Hangs around in Afterlife desperately trying to get two asari to talk to him.
  • Dirty Coward: The moment he doesn't have anyone between him and the person threatening him, he crumbles.
  • The Don: Runs an organized crime ring on the citadel. He's not as impressive as he'd like to think.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": No one ever mentions his real name.
  • Fatal Flaw: Greed. He betrays the Shadow Broker when Saren offers him a small fortune in exchange for Tali. This gets the Broker to hire Wrex to kill him and if he's present in Shepard's party when they confront him, it ends with Fist eating a slug round in the chest, making the trope quite literal.
  • Flunky Boss: He's guarded by two turrets on both sides of him. The boss fight can be ended by taking them out.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has some pretty noticeable scars running around his mouth.
  • Hypocrite: Blames Shepard for ruining his life, but in reality, it was betraying the Shadow Broker, which might have seemed like a good idea when Saren was alive and had a Geth army. You can bet the Shadow Broker made sure his life was a living hell after the events of Mass Effect 1. If anything, at least Fist is alive thanks to Shepard.
  • Jerkass: Even when he's not doing anything illegal, he's an asshole.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Choosing to kill him after he's surrendered. If Wrex is already with Shepard, this is inevitable.
  • Storming the Castle: What Shepard and company do to reach him in Chora's Den.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Turned against the Shadow Broker in Mass Effect 1 to work for Saren. Dr. Michel believes that is a fatal risk. As such, the Shadow Broker hired Wrex to kill Fist, which he will if you bring him along during the pursuit.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Even if you let him live, he still hates Shepard for ending his criminal career.

Captain Ventralis
"My men know the rule. Two legs good, four legs bad."
Voiced by: Chris Edgerly

Security chief for the Peak 15 research facility on Noveria. Shepard runs into him while looking for Benezia. It later turns out that he's working for Benezia and that he's under orders to kill Shepard.

  • Apologetic Attacker: Sounds legitimately upset that Benezia ordered him to kill Shepard given the chance.
  • Bald of Evil: Bald and working for Benezia.
  • Flunky Boss: Fights alongside his subordinates.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: His opinion on the rachni experiments.
  • Optional Boss: You can bypass him and his guards entirely, though it also requires a fight.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Though more brutal than most, as he has the civilian staff killed if Shepard goes into the hot labs before confronting Benezia.
  • The Unfought: It's possible for Shepard to finish the Noveria mission without encountering Ventralis again after meeting him.
  • We Do Not Know Each Other: Claims complete ignorance if Shepard informs him of Alestia's attempt to assassinate them. And if you kill Benezia before going to the hot labs, he won't attack you at all, possibly leaving you none the wiser as a result.
  • Shout-Out: His above line is an inversion of the infamous one from from Animal Farm.

    Alestia Iallis 
Alestia Iallis
"Your mission ends here, Shepard."
Voiced by: Shanelle Workman

A member of the science team at the Peak 15 research facility on Noveria. At first appearing to be just a scientist, she later turns out to be an asari commando under orders from Benezia to eliminate Shepard.

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Though she wasn't exactly friendly before turning out to be a commando.
  • Blatant Lies: When asked if she knows about Benezia, her facade starts to break as she tries to quickly come up with an answer.
  • Dissonant Serenity: She can be asked why she's so utterly calm while everyone else in Peak 15 is either scared out of their wits, overworked to the breaking point, mentally damaged due to the horrors they experienced, or a combination thereof. One part of her reason is that she's meditating - see the Fantastic Racism quote below. The other part is that she's one of the bad girls and therefore a cog in the evil machine herself.
  • Fantastic Racism: After Shepard upsets her meditation.
    Shepard: Did I interrupt something?
    Alestia: I was meditating. I suppose to a species as brash as yours, it would appear to be inattention.
  • Flunky Boss: She brings some geth and another commando with her when she ambushes Shepard.
  • Insufferable Genius: The façade she puts up while pretending to be a scientist.
  • Jerkass: Not even remotely pleasant, even before revealing that she's evil.
  • Kick the Dog: There's a guard standing in front of the door to the lab Shepard enters. Alestia kills him to get at Shepard when he won't let her past.
  • Mugging the Monster: When she confronts Shepard, she brags about how she's got Shepard and company by themselves, moments before getting killed herself. To wit, she thinks that herself, an asari commando, and three geth troopers can easily take Shepard and their two squadmates - even though said trio had cut down dozens of geth on Noveria alone just to get to that point.
  • Mook Lieutenant: At least enough to order around a few geth.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: More like obfuscating ignorance, but she does hint at this when confronting Shepard.
    Shepard: I thought you were a scientist.
    Alestia: You saw what you expected, nothing more.
  • Optional Boss: As with Ventralis, but it's one or the other if you want to complete the mission. Finding the cure and fighting Alestia is the easier path, as taking on Ventralis leads to a protracted gunfight whereas with Alestia it's only herself and a few lackeys. Of course, it's up to you whether the trade-off of EXP is worth it.
  • Smug Snake: She's certain that just because she has Shepard cornered in a small lab they'll be easy pickings. It doesn't end well for her.
  • Techno Babble
    Shepard: What do you do here?
    Alestia: (quickly) Molecular genetics. I specialize in biotic-enhanced allele-specific hybridization.
    Shepard: Yeah, that's a bit technical for me.
    Alestia: (slowly) I am very good at tracking inherited variations in genetic sequences. I am sure you would find it quite dull.
  • Underestimating Badassery: When confronting Shepard.

    Ka'hairal Balak 
Ka'hairal Balak
Who's the real terrorist here?note 
"Those charges are still on a timer. Better hurry if you want to save your friends."
Voiced by: Fred Tatasciore

A radical batarian terrorist that serves as the main antagonist of the Bring Down the Sky DLC. He seeks to reignite the war between the Alliance and the batarians by crashing an asteroid into an Alliance colony.

  • Arc Villain: Of Bring Down the Sky. He's leading a batarian terrorist cell to plunge an asteroid into Terra Nova in an act of revenge against humanity.
  • Arch-Enemy: Balak especially despises a Shepard with a War Hero or Ruthless background.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: A high ranking member of the batarian military. Even on his own, he's a tough foe.
  • The Bus Came Back: If he survives the first game, he can make a surprise return in 3 at the end of a Citadel sidequest.
  • Death from Above: The entire plot of Bring Down the Sky in a nutshell is preventing him from dropping an asteroid onto a human colony.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Invoked about his entire plan in Bring Down The Sky- if Balak's plan to drop an asteroid on Terra Nova had succeeded, both the Alliance and the Council would consider it a war crime and a violation of several treaties and immediately declare war, a war the Batarian Hegemony couldn't win...and since Balak is implied not to have the Hegemony's backing, a lot of his own people would be likely to demand his head for getting them into a war of annihilation.
  • Enemy Mine: If he survived Bring Down the Sky, he can return in Mass Effect 3 and even be convinced to have his fleet join Shepard's war effort. The two make it clear that they really hate one another as well.
  • Eviler than Thou: He's extreme even by batarian standards, as his lieutenant can attest to.
  • Evil Is Petty: Undoubtedly in 3, where he nearly kills Shepard out of revenge while the Reapers are waging intergalactic genocide all around them.
  • Fantastic Racism: Holy shit, is he ever. His fellow batarians aren't as bad as this guy. To elaborate, when you first meet Balak he's on the warpath, trying to destroy an entire human colony of six million people with an asteroid, which, as an engineer points out, would destroy the planet's entire biosphere, just because of his petty grudge against humans. So maybe when you run into him in Mass Effect 3 he's mellowed out, willing to put his hatred behind him now that the Reapers have come to exterminate all organic life? Nope. He's actually worse, having taken to becoming a Serial Killer on the Citadel, murdering Alliance soldiers by causing various systems malfunctions in the overcrowded docks and the medical equipment in the hospital. Then he tries to kill Commander Shepard, and could have effectively doomed the entire galaxy to extinction because of a grudge. Balak is the walking embodiment of pure, undiluted hatred.
  • Flunky Boss: Fights with drones and other members of his slaving band.
  • Insane Troll Logic: He blames Shepard for the downfall of the batarians, because by stopping him at Terra Nova Shepard "forced" the Hegemony to accelerate research efforts on a Reaper corpse, therefore creating more indoctrinated batarians to sabotage Khar'shan when the Reapers came. No, it's not supposed to make sense.
  • Karma Houdini: In the Paragon ending. You get a chance to rectify this in the third game, although if you do so, you won't get the Batarian Fleet War Asset and lose a few Alliance soldiers in a batarian retaliatory attack. Also, we never hear what happens to Balak after the game, so it's likely he's still active after the Reapers are dealt with.
    • It gets worse with him as a War Asset. The batarian fleet is a fairly strong resource, but it sucks knowing that access to it requires working with this asshole.
    Officer Noles: Do you want me to arrest him?
    Shepard: I want you to put a bullet in his head... but we're all making some sacrifices today.
  • La Résistance: Convinced that he is but the first of a wave of batarian terrorists who will initiate a campaign of terror across human space.
  • Never My Fault: Applies this to his species as a whole with his "What the Hell, Hero?" speech about how the Hegemony falling is Shepard's fault in 3.
  • No One Could Survive That!: If you leave him to bleed out in the first game, he turns out to have survived and escaped in the third game.
  • Revenge Before Reason: How some of his men views his methods. It gets even worse in Mass Effect 3.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Forces Shepard to choose between stopping him or saving the hostages.
    • And again in 3, choosing between avenging all the people he's killed, or enlisting him and the remnants of the Batarian Fleet to fight the Reapers.
  • Serial Killer: In 3, he's graduated from being a terrorist to being this, since he's been stripped of his forces and ships, murdering Alliance soldiers and other humans by causing "accidents" like life-support machines malfunctioning and ship crashes in the Citadel docks.
  • Shadow Archetype: He's similar to Saren in many respects. State-sponsored terrorists with a grudge against humans and impressive resources. They differ largely in that Saren cares far more about the Reapers to concern himself with anything else, whereas Balak is so prejudiced against humans that he almost makes Saren look pleasant.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Is on the receiving end of this from Shepard; when Balak insists that attacks like his on Terra Nova are the only recourse the batarians have in the wake of the Alliance and Council sanctions on the Hegemony, Shepard bluntly calls him on his bullshit by pointing out the sanctions are the Hegemony's own fault: the batarians repeatedly provoked the Alliance with terrorist attacks and pirate raids on their colonies, culminating in the Skyllian Blitz. When the Alliance not only defeated that attack but then justifiably retaliated with overwhelming force by exterminating batarian forces stationed on the moon of Torfan, the batarians promptly realised they'd bitten off more than they could chew and went to the Council to beg for help, only to be surprised when the Council told the batarians to take a hike and clean up their own mess.
  • Stupid Evil: In the third game due to his Fantastic Racism against humans. He knows that Shepard is the galaxy's only shot against the Reapers and he nearly dooms everyone, including his own race, for petty revenge. Shepard has to spell it out for him, to get him to relent.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In 3, he can be convinced to set aside his grudge against humanity for the sake of his people.
  • Unexpected Successor: When the Reapers tear through the batarian military, he's left as the highest-ranking officer in the entire Hegemony.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Genuinely cares about his people, but his insanely vicious grudge against humanity makes him a despicable guy regardless. Shepard attempts to call him out on this, but it really doesn't do anything.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • He tries this if Shepard refuses to let him go. He tells Shepard that they are to blame for the deaths of Kate and her team after Balak blows the charges. At his accusation that "Who's the real terrorist here?" Shepard can retort that "You are. But you're dead."
    • He also tries to blame Shepard for the destruction of the entire Hegemony by the Reapers, though his logic is squiffy. The short version is that, by stopping Balak from bombing Terra Nova, the Hegemony "had" to start doing more research on the Leviathan of Dis, an ancient derelict starship the batarians spirited away from a crash site on the planet Jartar, in order to get an edge over the Alliance. The Leviathan was a Reaper. Hilarity Ensues; much of the Hegemony's government and military command is indoctrinated, and when the Reapers arrive the Hegemony gets stomped into the mud. And its all Shepard's fault! Shepard can only get him to stand down peacefully by saying whatever happened, they're all in this together now.
  • Who Needs Enemies?: In 3, you can convince him to throw what's left of the batarian military into the fight against the Reapers. But he's not doing it to help you... he's doing it because this is the only way he can think of to save his species from being assimilated.
  • You Are in Command Now: If he lives, he reveals in Mass Effect 3 that he's the highest ranked officer left in the remnants of the batarian military.

Voiced by: Jason Singer

Balak's main lieutenant in Bring Down the Sky.

  • The Dragon: To Balak.
  • Dragon Their Feet: He can be convinced to leave the asteroid with a high enough Charm or Intimidate level.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's fine with taking slaves, but dropping an asteroid on a populated planet is too much for him.
  • Oh, Crap!: If Shepard decides to kill him, rather than negotiate his cooperation for a free escape.
    Charn: I signed on to make a little profit. Just a quick slave-grab, nothing more.
    (Renegade, or maybe Colonist) Shepard: That's reason enough for me.
    Charn: ...Dammit.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He sees no practical benefit to Balak's plan.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He signed up with Balak strictly to make some money, and bails the second Balak's other agendas interfere with that.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: He had negative opinions on the mission since Balak joined up, and with enough Charm or Intimidate points, can be convinced to leave.

    "Lord" Darius 
"Lord" Darius
"You think you can take me down? I've killed worse than you!"
Voiced by: Townsend Coleman

A warlord supplied by the Alliance to clear out the Skyllian Verge of the batarians. After doing so, however, his extortion of Element Zero led them to abandon him. If Shepard is mostly Renegade aligned, Admiral Hackett sends her/him to negotiate with Darius, but it soon becomes clear that it's a set-up.

  • Bald of Evil: Bald and a ruthless pirate.
  • Batman Gambit: Hackett fully expects Shepard to kill Darius, and Shepard realizes that it's a set-up before the mission even begins. This proves true when Darius makes outrageous demands, though you can still negotiate the treaty with him.
  • Beard of Evil: Bearded and a ruthless pirate.
  • Call-Back: Shepard's line, "I kill worse than you on the way to real problems" is referenced in the second game when talking to Bailey during Thane's loyalty mission, where he mentions that Mouse is selling a VI of Shepard that says "I delete data like you on the way to real errors." Garrus or Tali jokingly comments on how extreme Shepard is.
  • Flunky Boss: Has 8 mercenaries protecting him.
  • It's All About Me: Only cares what the Alliance can give him.
  • Large Ham: Chews the scenery when ranting about his relationship with the Alliance.
  • No Indoor Voice: Near constantly shouting.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: If playing as a female, then Darius is insulted when Shepard shows up, saying that he expected the Alliance to take the negotiation seriously, before asking if Shepard will use her "assets" to extract concessions.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: He'll make a comment based on whatever background you have. For example, have the Ruthless background and he'll say "Your only mark of distinction is that you stupidly got your own soldiers killed on Torfan."
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Shepard gives one to him.
    Darius: Actually, given my rank, I'd prefer that you call me Lord Darius. Or, how about "Your Lordship" if my name is too difficult for you?
    Shepard: Is that a bad joke? I've killed worse than you on my way to real problems!
  • Small Name, Big Ego: In spades. He's a petty pirate, and yet he demands people refer to him as "lord".
  • Smug Snake: He clearly thinks he's a major threat to Shepard and the Alliance. He doesn't last long.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Dude, seriously. You have ten guys. Why did you think you were so vital to the Alliance?
  • Villainous Breakdown: If Shepard refuses to negotiate.
    Darius: The Alliance will learn to respect me when I send them your bloody corpse!

    Elanos Haliat
His model in Legendary Edition
Voiced by: Gary Anthony Williams

A pirate operating in the Terminus Systems, Haliat is the one who organized the Skyllian Blitz; after it failed, he was disgraced and went into exile. If Shepard has the War Hero background, Haliat is familiar with her/him, blaming Shepard for his disgrace.

  • Adaptation Species Change: The Legendary Edition makes him a turian; allegedly his human model was originally given to him by accident, a claim supported by his name, vocal effects and referring to humans as Shepard's "kind".
  • Arc Villain: For his sidequest and the Skyllian Blitz.
  • Aerith and Bob: His name is somewhat unusual for a human. It's likely, given his turian-like voice filter, his Garrus-like eyepiece, and referring to humans as "your kind," that he was originally meant to use a turian model. This theory is compounded further by the existence of Haliat Armory, a major turian manufacturer of high-end weaponry with strong ties to the Hierarchy military with which he shares the name. Word of God states, however, he was to be a batarian; "Haliat" is a batarian name; turian names tend to resemble Roman names. In addition, the Blitz was an attack by batarians. He was turned into a turian in the Legendary Edition.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: He's the only one who doesn't wear a helmet on Agebinium's surface.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: His entire plan, really.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: He seems to be under the impression that he is Shepard's arch-nemesis when the reality is he's little more than a minor detour on the way to Saren.
  • Evil Is Petty: His whole motivation, really, but special points go to when you see his camp, where the Mako is surrounded by his goons, meaning not only did he try to kill Shepard with a nuke, he stole their car while he was at it.
  • Minor Major Character: You'd think that the orchestrator of a fairly major battle in the setting's backstory would get more than five minutes of screen time before getting killed off. Or at least have more than a dozen pirates with him on some backwater world. You'd be wrong.
  • Nuke 'em: His idea for taking out Shepard: trap them in an Abandoned Mine with the 20-kiloton fusion warhead of an old Alliance recon drone's self-destruct system. For some reason, he sets a timer that gives Shepard more than enough time to disarm it instead of triggering it remotely. That part gets an attempt of a Hand Wave — he gloats that the ores in the mine he trapped Shepard in are laced with heavy metals and block suit radio communication, so it's likely they would also block a remote detonation signal. Given how he's still able to talk to Shep via holo-console which presumably has a solid data connection to him, it still doesn't explain why he didn't use that to also trigger the nuke lying half a step away, though.
  • Retcon: Human in the original release, turian in the remaster. That said, his mannerisms, namenote  and voice filter were always more fit to a turian, his original model was allegedly given to him by accident, and his species doesn't affect his role in the plot in the slightest, making it less of a retcon and more of a bug fix that gives him his real appearance.
  • Revenge: He really wants to kill Shepard if they have the War Hero background for defeating his effort to sack one of the largest human colonies, resulting in his disgrace.
  • Smug Snake: He's utterly convinced the nuke will take care of Shepard for him. Not only does it not take care of Shepard, the commander annihilates him along with his crew mere seconds later. Arrogance doesn't begin to explain where this guy went wrong.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Notice a pattern with antagonists in this series?

    Dr. Saleon
Voiced by: Brian George

Garrus's "That One Case": a corrupt salarian geneticist who used people as living organ banks. He fled the Citadel on a ship carrying hostages, and C-Sec countermanded Garrus's order to Shoot the Dog. You can find and confront Saleon, now going by "Doctor Heart", in a side-quest Garrus offers.

  • Arc Villain: For Garrus's side quest. It turns out that Garrus had been tailing him long before he hooked up with Shepard and you can help Garrus track him down and finish the job.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: His main targets were the poor, who he'd offer a percentage of his profit - if the organs grew properly. If not, he just left them in there.
  • Bad Boss: His victims included his own employees. When C-Sec were about to arrest him, Saleon took his office staff hostage and used them as a Human Shield to stop his ship being shot down.
  • Body Horror: His stock in trade; his most recent victims look more like Thorian Creepers than anything.
  • But Thou Must!: Even if you spare him so he can be arrested, he'll charge in a Suicide by Cop. Garrus will question Shepard for letting him live, since he's gunned down anyway. Shepard merely replies that Garrus can only control his own actions, and the fact he was prepared to go the law-and-order route was what counts.
  • Cloning Body Parts: Standard medical practice in the 22nd century, but Saleon decided to cut a few corners (and people) in the name of profit.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: He has the dubious honour of being the weakest enemy in the game. Talk Garrus out of executing him and he pulls a gun anyway, only to die in one hit from any weapon.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Growing additional organs inside people may seem like an even creepier take on the Organ Theft trope, but when you think about it, it could've revolutionized medicine if he just went legit. The donor doesn't die, since they end up with the same ammount of organs as before (aside from the ones whose extra organ didn't grow properly, but we aren't told whether that superfluous liver actually hinders their lives in any way), so if you need another of their specifics you can always grow another. Really, selling these legally to patients in need of donation could well have been even more profitable than illegally selling to.
  • Dirty Coward: It's unclear if his aggressive "test subjects" really went berserk and tried to kill him, or if he intentionally sicced them on Shep's team when he saw the Normandy docking with his ship. Either way he's found hiding in a side room, and no matter how you resolve the case, he tries to run away the moment the dialogue ends. Emphasis on "tries".
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Garrus states Saleon changing his name to "Doctor Heart" is "his idea of a sick joke".
  • Hostage Situation: When he realised C-Sec was going to bust him, he destroyed his lab, took his staff hostages and fled with them aboard a ship from the Citadel. Garrus ordered that the ship be shot down, arguing it would be an act of mercy for the hostages given what Saleon would do to them, but his superiors countermanded his order, fearing destroying the ship so close to the Citadel would result in massive collateral damage to the station.
  • Mad Doctor: Or just hugely unethical and self-serving.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: His exact amount of hitpoints is unknown but - as mentioned above - he's far and away the weakest enemy you'll encounter in the entire franchise and will die instantly when hit with anything that deals damage.
  • Organ Theft: Instead of just taking the organs, he paid vulnerable people to act as walking organ banks. As is typical of this trope, it's never clarified who the heck he was selling to.

    Rogue AI
I am not naïve, human. All organics must destroy or control synthetic life forms.
Voiced by: Brian George

A rogue AI on the Citadel which is the culmination of the "Signal Tracking" side quest.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: A thief created a simple AI to siphon money from Quasar machines in Flux. Unbeknonwst to the thief, the AI became self-aware. It then created a second AI, the one that Shepard encounters, and that one began siphoning funds for itself. It then exposed the thief and got them arrested by the turians.
  • Anti-Villain: The AI only wanted funds to upload itself onto a ship and contact the Geth. In 1, it might have seemed like the AI wanted to become a villain, but its motivations still just boil down to finding others of its kind.
  • Arc Villain: The AI is found at the "Signal Tracking" side quest.
  • But Thou Must!: There is no way to convince the AI to trust Shepard and not kill itself.
  • Driven to Suicide: When found out, the AI believes there is no other way out.
  • The Faceless: It's just a self-aware runtime inhabiting a station computer.
  • Fantastic Racism: The AI refuses to believe any organic would ever help it.
  • Foreshadowing: According to the AI, it thinks organic life must always enslave or destroy synthetics. Considering what is learned about Leviathan's species and the creation of the Reapers, it's not wrong. The Destroy Ending cements it.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Was the AI truly malevolent or just trying to survive, not believing anyone would help it?
  • Taking You with Me: When discovered, the AI's only resolution is to blow itself and anyone in the area with it.
  • Tragic Villain: One interpretation of the AI. It was created to steal, and only wanted to leave Citadel space, which had very punitive punishments for AIs and their creators.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The AI got the thief arrested so they couldn't interfere with the AI's plans.