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Gunnery Chief/Operations Chief/Lieutenant Commander Ashley Williams

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Mass-Effect-3-Ashley-Williams_2442.jpg
Nothing like a nice relaxing stroll on the beach... blasting bad guys with my boomstick!
"Why is it whenever someone says 'with all due respect,' they really mean 'kiss my ass'?"

Voiced by: Kimberly Brooks

A human Systems Alliance Marine who specializes in weapons skills and heavy armor. Returns as an optional party member in Mass Effect 3 if she survived the first game. She is a romance option for a male Shepard in both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 3.


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    A-E 
  • Action Girl: Of all of the characters in Mass Effect, only Wrex can match her for sheer toughness, and no one is as adept with weapons as her. This continues in Mass Effect 3, where her skills are mostly focused on dealing damage (as opposed to James, the other soldier character, whose skills are more focused on survivability).
  • Affectionate Nickname: "Skipper", towards Shepard. Skipper is a nickname that U.S. Navy crew members commonly use for the commanding officer of the ship. She also calls Kaidan "LT", also a reference to his rank.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • In the military, due to being the granddaughter of the only general to ever surrender to aliens, even though he surrendered to spare his men and civilians. For this, he was considered a General Failure and promptly Kicked Upstairs.
    • She reached the rank of Gunnery Chief before we meet her, which is higher than her father ever got, although she says that she had "crap assignments" until that point. After the first game, she essentially "breaks the Williams Curse", either by posthumously receiving medals from the turians or salarians for her actions on Virmire, or by finally getting some good assignments and climbing up past the glass ceiling her family stigma imposed thanks to serving with distinction under Shepard.
  • Almighty Janitor: In the first game, Ashley is a lowly non-commissioned officer due to her family being politically blackballed. This is all in-spite of her exemplary test scores. Come ME2 and ME3, her work with Shepard is enough for her to finally achieve the ranks she deserves.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Confirmed by the developers to be mostly Hispanic.
  • Ambiguously Christian: Maybe. In the first game, Ashley is the Token Religious Teammate of the crew. The game never goes into deep detail of her faith, outside of believing in God and her father being in Heaven and that she regularly prays. Originally, she was supposed to have a more explicitly religious conversation where she asked Shepard about what they saw after dying, but this was Dummied Out.
  • Anti-Hero: A Knight In Sour Armor or a Pragmatic Hero.
  • Armor Is Useless: If Shepard is forced to shoot her, they only shoot her once with the Predator, the weakest pistol in the game. Despite wearing heavy armor, having kinetic barriers that have withstood dozens of bullets in cutscenes, and having medi-gel on hand just in case she gets shot, the bullet goes right through her and she dies a few minutes later.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: She's made the second human Spectre in Mass Effect 3.
  • The Atoner: A lot of her actions are fueled by her desire to restore her family's good name.
  • Badass Family: The Williams family is ridiculously badass. Her grandfather, while being most remembered for surrendering to the turians at Shanxi was nonetheless a General. Ashley also mentions that between her sisters, they are trained in hand-to-hand combat, swordplay and marksmanship. Ashley mentions that she once took a leave of absence to deal with her sister's overly horny boyfriend, who tried to push his luck. In the end, she actually didn't do anything, since when the boyfriend tried to hit her sister, her sibling put him into the hospital in a matter of seconds.
  • Badass Normal: On teams including a super strong combat robot, a fifty thousand year old Avatar of Vengeance with Psychic Powers, one of the few surviving L2 biotics, a scientist who also happens to be able to lift a Geth Colossus with her mind, and a thousand-year old Magic Knight who also has super strength and can pick up a Geth Colossus with his mind, what does she bring to the table? She carries lot of guns and modsnote  and really knows how to use them. This is more than enough to let her hold her own.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Most of her Mass Effect 3 outfits have a helmet for vacuum conditions, except her From Ashes version. The eyepiece apparently overrides it.
  • Battle Couple: With Shepard in the first and third game if romanced.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With male Shepard in the second and third games, if romanced in the first.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Part of her backstory involves her taking a leave of absence from the Alliance to help her little sister deal with an overly clingy boyfriend.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Her skills center around dealing out as much weapon damage as possible. She's also very enthusiastic, inside battle and out.
  • Brutal Honesty: One consistent trait about Ashley is that she never bites her tongue when voicing her opinion. In fact, it's one of the few things that differentiate her and Kaidan in Mass Effect 3, the most notable example being when she doesn't budge on her reactions on Horizon being justified whereas Kaidan is more uncertain in hindsight.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Hits hard and hits first. Also likes poetry, talks to her sisters back home, and develops a soft spot for Tali.
  • Character Development:
    • She gradually grows more comfortable about working with aliens over time.
    • In the third game, after Victus' son Tarquin sacrifices himself to prevent the bomb on Tuchanka from detonating, she will tell Tali that she is able to accept others dying in her place because she would make the same sacrifice for them, in contrast to her earlier Survivor Guilt after she is saved at the cost of Kaidan's life on Virmire.
    • A romanced Ashley goes from seeing Shepard as the only thing that makes her feel worthy to not needing to hear compliments from him.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: A mild case; she feels threatened by Liara's relationship with Shepard in the first game; even Liara lampshades this. In the third game, however, if he cheated on her with Tali in the second game, she takes it in stride if Shepard chooses to stay with Tali.
  • Commonality Connection: Ash and Shepard realise they both had the same drill instructor, Gunny Ellison, at the Macapá boot camp, recognizable his Antiquated Linguistics.
  • Cool Big Sis: Acts as one to her younger sisters.
    • Arguably serves as one for Tali as well. If the quarians are destroyed and Tali commits suicide, a heartbroken Ashley will flat-out state she saw Tali as a little sister to her.
  • Combat Pragmatist: If Shepard is unable to talk Wrex down on Virmire, Ashley will simply gun him down with no warning from behind while he's in the middle of a conversation.
  • Covert Pervert:
    • Pops up if you romance her in the first game. Along with the A Date with Rosie Palms entry, she'll mention that Commander Shepard has a great ass, twice, and will mention it again if broken up with after the Citadel coup in the third game.
    • Seems to be a family trait. Her sister comments that male Shepard is cute in the first game, clearly jealous that her sister has such an attractive boss. Cue Ashley turning around and realizing that Shepard is standing right there:
      Ashley: Tell me you didn't hear that.
      Shepard: 'Fraid I did.
      Ashley: [mortified] Shoot me now.
    • If Shepard is female, Ash's sister will instead turn her affection to Kaidan.
    • In the event that neither she nor James are romanced, Ashley declines Liara's suggestion to join in the pushup demonstration of physical supremacy at the party, clearly enjoying the view.
  • Cultured Warrior: Just because she can drill you between the eyes at four hundred meters doesn't mean she can't like poetry. She even tries to romance Shepard with it.
  • Custom Uniform: Her outfit in the third game looks nothing like other Alliance uniforms or armor.
  • Daddy's Girl: Ashley's father wasn't around often due to his career, but Ashley was apparently very close to him. A large part of the reason she enlisted was to make him proud.
  • Date Rape Averted: During one of her backstory conversations, she'll talk about how her Marine father taught all his daughters how to defend themselves. One foolish boy tried to put some unwanted moves on Ashley's younger sister. He got a very painful message - in a twist, he apologized to her, and they continued dating (seems some boundaries were set).
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: If you're male and turn down the chance of romancing her, Ashley will mention finding her own entertainment in her bunk.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Despite being dedicated to following protocol, she's definitely isn't shy about sassing Shepard.
  • Death Seeker: Has shades of this during the first game. If she survives Virmire, after she says she should have been the one to stay behind, one of Shepard's responses is to lose their temper and accuse her of wanting to martyr herself to restore her family's honor. This seems to snap her out of it.
  • Demoted to Extra: During the second game.
    • She also is hospitalized early in the third game after being attacked by Eva Coré on Mars, remaining out of action until the Cerberus coup attempt. Many of her fans have bemoaned the fact that Ashley is not given much dialogue on Normandy, but the writers have clarified that she has the same amount of lines as Kaidan; her conversations just mostly take place on the Citadel, while Kaidan's are largely restricted to the Normandy.
  • Determinator: Due to her grandfather being the only human to surrender to alien forces, the entire military hates her and assigns her to the lowest and most degrading posts they can. Despite this, she signed up for the Alliance anyway to help redeem her family name. Shepard notes in the third game that the very first time they met Ashley, she had just seen her entire platoon wiped out by geth and instead of laying down and giving up, her response was to pick up her gun and keep firing. Shepard implies that if they hadn't shown up, she would have likely continued to do so even if it meant she had to defend the colony by herself.
  • Did I Say That Out Loud: Pops up several times if Shepard is in a romance with her.
    Ashley: If you expect to get me in a tinfoil mini-skirt and thigh-high boots, I want dinner first... Sir!
  • Distaff Counterpart: Given that Ashley has considerable prowess with a sniper rifle and automatic rifle, is frequently cast as a Deadpan Snarker and in the first game was something of a Noble Bigot before Character Development, one could make the argument that she's essentially the human, female equivalent of Garrus Vakarian.
  • Drink Order: In the third game, to cope with the impending Reaper attack, James gives her a bottle of alcohol. She drinks the whole bottle.
  • Drinking Contest: This is what constitutes a shore-leave date with Ashley, romanced or not, in the Citadel DLC.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the first game, after Alenko performs his heroic sacrifice, Shepard will realize that Ash wants to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to atone for her family's sins. They can call her out on it.
  • Dude Magnet: She's pretty popular with men, as many show interest in her over the series and side material.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: If you refuse to patch up your relationship with her in 3 and are forced to shoot her during the Citadel Coup, she will curse you with her last breath.
  • Establishing Character Moment: She's first encountered fleeing from two geth troopers and their drones. She dives to avoid the drones' fire, takes them out with per pistol, then jumps behind cover before readying her rifle in anticipation for the two troopers. After Shepard and Kaidan kill the troopers, she thanks them for saving her life and then blames herself for the loss of the other marines.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • In spite of how she is less than trusting of aliens, particularly the Council, she references this in Mass Effect 2 to rebuke Shepard's offer of working with Cerberus.
      Ashley: I'm no fan of aliens, but Cerberus has a habit of being... extreme.
    • She also dislikes Terra Firma in the first game, saying that their platform is noble, but too many of their members just use it to spread racism. The fact they keep using Shanxi as a rallying cry also has something to do with her dislike of them.
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    F-J 
  • Family Honor: The driving force behind her service in the Alliance military.
  • Fangirl: Mildly towards Shepard if they have the War Hero background.
  • Fanservice Pack: In the third game, it seems that her promotion to Spectre status included a boob job.
    • Including the lingerie she wears in the romance scene with Shepard. That doesn't look like regulation military issue (although Traynor and Shepard have the exact same set, so...) Might be a perk of being a Spectre, though, they do always get the best gear.
  • Fantastic Racism: A surprisingly nuanced version of this.
    • She doesn't trust aliens and has issues with turians in particular because her grandfather was the commander at the garrison at Shanxi, who was also the only human commander to ever surrender to alien forces. As a Williams, she is already under (unfair) scrutiny for being an alien-sympathizer or not pro-human enough. As a result, the Williams name is something of a curse, and Ashley suffers for it.
    • It's important to note that even if she doesn't trust aliens, she vehemently criticizes the Terra Firma party for its much more overt racism. She also expresses sympathy for Tali the instant she hears how the Council shafted the quarians after the geth went rogue. Tali is also the only alien whose presence on the ship she doesn't object to on the Normandy, she also has no issue with Liara save for being a romantic rival and the daughter of an enemy. She will urge Shepard to speak to her after Benezia's death.
    • Ash also has trust issues in general, given her reaction to Shepard being involved with Cerberus in the second game and the fact she takes a long time to trust them again in the third. She herself describes her feelings as less "they're aliens" and more "we shouldn't become dependent on them". When push comes to shove, Ash will gladly accept their help, but in the long run, she just wants humanity to progress naturally without being babied by the other races. She knows that if they become desperate enough, they'll take care of their own first and leave humanity to fend for itself. The third game shows she's absolutely right, because almost every other species refuses to help humanity until Shepard solves their specific problem.
    • This trait seems to be completely gone by 3, replaced with a distrust of Shepard because s/he was working with Cerberus. She also states that she has difficulty in seeing synthetics as truly alive, although this sentiment is largely shared by the rest of the crew except EDI; many of the crew fought against the geth in the first game.
    • She unequivocally hates the geth from the beginning of the series to the end. Her response if Shepard lets the quarians destroy them rather than helping them destroy the quarians or making peace between the two factions sums this up quite well. If taken on the Geth Consensus mission, she's also one of the squadmates (along with Garrus and Javik) who will immediately question Legion's motives and advise against trusting it.
    Ashley: I know that wasn't an easy call for you, but I'm glad the quarians came out on top. I just can't see the geth as "real", you know? And ever since Eden Prime, losing the 212... I'll never forgive them for that.
  • First Girl Wins: If romanced.
  • Friendly Sniper: She can use sniper rifles, though cutscenes always show her wielding assault rifles.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: While far from naive and even somewhat cynical, she cannot comprehend what Cerberus hoped to accomplish in Sanctuary on Horizon, and considers her inability to do so what makes her human. This is also revealed to more or less be the reason she feels she was justified in being angry with Shepard in the second game whereas Kaidan feels he overreacted; doing wrong for the right reasons is still doing wrong.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Her sisters know fencing and aikido. Ashley knows Marine hand-to-hand and admits that she's "more or less a straight-up puncher".
  • Heartbroken Badass: If romanced by Shepard in the first game, it's clear that she took Shepard's death hard. It takes until half-way through the third game until she's ready to believe that Shepard is who they claim they are and trust them again.
  • Hero-Worshipper: To Shepard with the War Hero background.
  • Hidden Depths: Her views on human/alien interaction actually delve much deeper than simple racism. While she has trust issues, her views fall more along the line of "we shouldn't become too dependent on them."
    • She admonishes Shepard for thinking that just because she is capable of shooting someone between the eyes from 400 yards, it doesn't mean she can't like poetry.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Her default armor in the first game is white and pink. Pink. Justified in that, according to the armor's description, it's supposed to be for medics. But Ashley doesn't have the Medicine talent.
  • Improbable Age: Supplementary material says she's 25 in the first game, which is really pushing the suspension of disbelief if she's a senior NCO.
  • In the Back: She'll kill Wrex this way if Shepard orders her to or takes too long to talk him down.
  • In the Blood: She's a, what, fifth-generation Marine? She even invokes it during her encounter with Shepard on Horizon in 2.
    Ash: I'm an Alliance soldier. It's in my blood.
  • I Regret Nothing: Her last words if she dies on Virmire.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Her goodbye if Shepard chooses to save Kaidan instead of her on Virmire.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: She and Shepard do this. They "want each other to be happy".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As harsh as she was about it, Ashley was correct that the Illusive Man was using Shepard's gratitude about the Lazarus Project to manipulate Shepard, that he was blatantly feeding Shepard false information, and that he conspired with the Collectors to cause the attack on Horizon (TIM defends this as necessary though). The Illusive Man throws off all pretenses when Shepard decides to destroy the Collector Base, and he was using Shepard for more than just fighting the Collectors, with utterly horrifying results. The jerkass part was born from Ashley being left in the dark on several essential details, due to Liara not telling anyone about the events of Redemption. Furthermore, she won't back down on this the way Kaidan will in ME3, feeling she had every right to react the way she did since Cerberus were still pretty bad people to work with regardless of Shepard's intentions.

    K-O 
  • Killed Off for Real: Depending on your choices on Virmire. It's also possible to shoot her midway through the third game when Udina turns traitor but it's not too hard to avoid.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: She's bitter and distrustful of aliens and the Council, but is dedicated to her job and is willing to lay down her life to do the right thing.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": If Shepard has the War Hero background, she has a little hero worship at the start of the first game.
  • The Lancer: A dual role in the first and third games:
    • Shares the role with Kaidan in the first game until one of them is killed off.
    • Back in the part in 3, sharing with Garrus, though one or both of them may be dead at this point.
  • Last-Name Basis: Typically referred to as such in the first game, most often "Chief Williams" or "Williams".
  • Letting Her Hair Down: As of Mass Effect 3. There's something amusing about James' "she's a fun girl when she actually lets her hair down", given he never met her onscreen before (their first exchange implies they knew each other already, but probably not for long — presumably while Shepard was detained on Earth).
  • Lightning Bruiser: In the third game, Ashley's weapon damage is second only to Garrus. Whether it's with her Marksman ability, or by using a combination of Disruptor Ammo, Inferno Grenades, and Concussive Shot in that order to chain together Tech Bursts and Fire Explosions, Ashley can cause large amounts of damage very quickly with no help from Shepard or the third squadmate. She also has the highest defenses of the five squad members that don't have a damage reduction power.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Coming from a family that has been military for generations, one could argue her attraction to a Male Paragon Shepard is due to Ashley being instinctively drawn towards strong, determined men who are career military. If romanced, in the third game she believes that if her father were still alive, Shepard would be the first boyfriend her father would approve of and the two of them would get on like a house on fire.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: One of the main reasons why the reunion on Horizon goes so badly. Shepard seems to be the only one to think it might be a good idea for Ashley to know what the hell is going on. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late since all that left her with were the reports Cerberus itself was leaking to keep Shepard away from his/her old contacts. In the third game, rectifying this is an essential part of getting back on her good side. The player also has the option of continuing to leave her out of the loop, which potentially ends in her death because she can't be convinced that it's Not What It Looks Like. This plays into helping diversify her from Kaidan in Mass Effect 3 since, after dealing with corruption through must of the first game, she feels she was more than justified to rail at Shepard for seemingly leaving her in the dark.
  • The Lost Lenore: Potentially. As Kaidan or Ashley will be the Sacrificial Lion for the first game, they can also be considered this if a romance was pursued and they died.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The masculine girl to Kaidan's feminine boy. Ashley also has shades of this with a paragon MaleShep.
  • Meaningful Echo: In the first game, Ash makes the page quote about how 'with all due respect' really means 'kiss my ass.' During the Extended Cut in the third game, when Ash is injured during the run to the conduit and Shepard orders her to evacuate, said retorts:
    Ashley: With all due respect, Commander...
  • Military Brat: Ashley is pretty quick to let you know that she's the fourth generation of Williams to be in the military.
  • More Dakka: Marksman (buffs accuracy and firing rate) is one of her unique powers in 3. This really comes into play if you give her an already fast-firing weapon like the Revenant or Typhoon.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: With Kaidan after Virmire. One of them will always die, so it's impossible to finish the game with both of them.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Obviously, her views are influenced by her family's Dark and Troubled Past, but she believes that alien races are just as susceptible to Fantastic Racism as humans are, and that humans should therefore be prepared to go it alone. In any event, she still has concrete standards (namely loathing for the direction the more racist Terra Firma party has gone, and an absolute refusal to work with Cerberus due to their terrorist activities). She is also a complete professional in the field, regardless of the species she works with — if you assign her to lead the salarian STG contingent on Virmire, they come away from it with nothing but respect for her.
  • One-Woman Army: It happened offscreen, but Ashley apparently fought through Cerberus's soldiers completely on her own to reach the Council during the coup.
  • Optional Party Member: In the third game, after being severely injured on Mars, she's absent until Udina's attempted coup, wherein she can actually be killed or, barring that, have her request to return to the Normandy refused, making her a War Asset.
  • Out of Focus: Like Kaidan, Ashley has a central role in Mass Effect 1's plot, but plays a much more minor role in the sequels compared to the other original party members. The intended subplot about the Illusive Man turning Shepard and Ashley against each other was significantly stripped down, most likely because of the number of Idiot Balls everyone involved had to grab to make the original plan work. Particularly jarring if you romanced her in the first game, though it can be mitigated significantly if the player goes to talk to her when she asks; especially since she does work to explain her position - namely that, after having seen how the Well-Intentioned Extremist beliefs affected Saren and Cerberus, she feels she had every right to chew Shepard out for being left in the dark when they looked to be on their same path.
  • Overranked Soldier: As mentioned previously, Gunnery Sergeant is a somewhat implausible rank for a 25 year old woman to hold especially when she faces the kind of stigma that Ashley holds during a time of relative peace (i.e. before the geth attack on Eden Prime), and in the two years after Mass Effect is promoted to Operations Chief. And in Mass Effect 3 this is taken even further as somehow, in the six months between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, she is able to earn an officer's commission and be promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Note that this is three ranks above the starting officer's rank (it goes 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant, Staff Lieutenant, THEN Lieutenant Commander) AND a rank that normally takes many years to earn even for people who began their careers as young Ensigns.
    • It's possible that, since her technical scores are exemplary and she kept getting given crap assignments, the brass were trying hard to get her Kicked Upstairs with a post on some backwater planet, where she wouldn't be much of a problem.
    • Her promotion in 3 might be because being part of Shepard's crew opened a lot of doors for her, since it appears that the while the Alliance tried to hush up the crew about the Reapers, they only were actively trying to discredit Shepard. It also seems that she was being prepared as a possible successor to Shepard as a Spectre. Or at least, Udina probably wanted a Spectre more amenable to his bidding.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Much like Garrus, she's an extreme badass and a fine leader and, in the third game, gets inducted as a Spectre. But when Shepard is around, there's no doubt who's the boss, or why. Exemplified if Shepard is the one to kill Udina, at which point s/he immediately takes total charge of the situation.
    • She will also admit that she feels this way in regard to the rest of the crew in the first game. She fears she'll be ineffective against the geth since she can't use biotics or tech like the others.

    P-Y 
  • Pair the Spares: If unromanced, she can hook up with James in Citadel if encouraged.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Replaces her Prim and Proper Bun in Mass Effect 3.
  • Pet the Dog: In spite of her views, if you talk to her after the Noveria mission, she'll tell Shepard to go comfort Liara since her mother was killed there after succumbing to indoctrination. She also expresses a hope that having Tali be on their team will improve people's views of quarians during one of the game's many long elevator rides. As well, she takes the Virmire assignment of leading an assault force of salarians without complaint. In fact, the salarians come out of it with nothing but respect for her.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Subverted; her armor may be pink, but she's tough and hardly traditionally feminine.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: In the first two games, although Ashley herself is hardly prim and proper.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Ashley does not trust the Council because she feels if push comes to shove, they will put the good of their own races ahead of humans. Come the third game, she's proven right.
    • When she appears in 2, Ashley warns Shepard that the Illusive Man is using the Reaper threat and Shepard's gratitude to control him/her. If she is taken to Cronos Station in 3, Ashley is not surprised to find a recording of the Illusive Man detailing his plans to make Shepard sympathetic to Cerberus.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Averted. If Shepard asks about her family in the first game, she relays the time one of her sisters was almost raped by her boyfriend Mike when they were teenagers, but thankfully the Williams sisters all knew self-defense. After Sar flattened him for trying to rape her on a "romantic walk" in the woods, and then flattened him on the pavement again when he tried to verbally and physically assault her in broad daylight over it, Sar forgave him. If Shepard expresses apprehension over this, Ashley casually dismisses it, saying he was just a kid.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Subversion. She's an undeniable badass and certainly never seen wearing a dress in the main games, but when Shepard mentions that he can't see her in a dress, she hesitates, saying "Damn... right... you can't!" This implies that she thinks she's supposed to be this way. If you pursue a relationship with her, she's also revealed to be a romantic at heart, while still keeping up appearances of being a hardass.
    • Should Shepard cheat on her with Miranda in the second game, she angrily notes that when she goes into battle it's in armor, not swimwear. Which is hypocritically hilarious if you use the alternative outfit for Ashley in combat (which is her skin-tight leather suit).
    • Furthermore subverted in the Citadel DLC. If you take Ashley with you on the infiltration mission, she'll wear a dress. And if you don't take her, she'll say that she actually looks good in a dress and wishes she had an opportunity to wear it.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Kaidan's blue.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Potentially discussed; after learning about her family's backstory, Shepard can express concern that she hopes for an opportunity to fall on her proverbial sword in order to redeem her family name. If she's the one left behind on Virmire, it has this effect. Not to mention news reports from the second game: she's been awarded high honors by the salarian and turian governments for her willingness to give her life protecting aliens.
  • Refuge in Audacity: If she's taken to infiltrate the casino in Citadel. Her antics include feigning extreme drunkenness, loudly crying about a breakup, and brazenly hitting on a guard.
  • Relationship Upgrade: You can start a new romance with her in the third game regardless of history (the same applies to Liara and Kaidan, though Ashley's romance remains restricted to Male Shepard). "I'm just saying, we've been through a lot. I have to know — are we going somewhere?"
  • Relationship Values: Possesses this with Shepard in 3. It culminates in a Mexican Standoff. A high-value Ashley will side with you over Udina, while a lower one requires a reputation check, and if the reputation is too low, she will refuse to move and must be killed.
  • Religious Bruiser: "Hey, if they're trying to find God, I'd be happy to speed them on their way."
  • Semper Fi: She's in the human military, so natch.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: She got a major visual overhaul between 2 and 3.
  • Shipper on Deck: If Shepard romances her but later cheats on her with Tali, Ashley actually approves of their relationship due to her sisterly relationship with Tali.
  • Shoot the Dog: She kills Wrex on Virmire to protect Shepard if Shepard either orders her to or is unable to talk Wrex down.
    • And if Shepard is unable to talk her down during the Cerberus attack in the third game, Shepard can do the same to her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Her name is a reference to Evil Dead's protagonist. During the Virmire stage, she can also make a comment about her "boomstick."
    • She also romances Shepard with by quoting Walt Whitman (a.k.a. Dead Poets Society).
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Invoked in the third game if the romance was continued.
    Ashley: Just shut up and kiss me.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: She could use shotguns in the first game, affectionately referring to her shotgun as her "boomstick", but she prefers assault rifles. She loses the ability to use shotguns in the third game.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Takes the more realistic viewpoint to Paragon Shepard's continual Wide-Eyed Idealist nature.
    Shepard: That's a pretty pessimistic way of looking at things, Chief.
    Ashley: A pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist.
  • So Proud of You: Her father salutes her after she becomes a Gunnery Chief, a higher rank than he could ever achieve.
  • Sole Survivor: Of her unit on Eden Prime.
  • Space Marine: As with all human soldiers in Mass Effect, literally.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With male Shepard in the second game if romanced in the first. Avoided in the third game only if a specific ending is chosen.
  • Straw Civilian: Holds this view of non-military folk, particularly politicians. Granted, most of the time she seems to be right. One elevator conversation has her complaining about how people are going about their daily lives despite the threat of the geth and Saren; other party members' responses vary, but Garrus in particular points out that this is the difference between military and civilian worldviews.
    Ashley: It’s strange. The geth are attacking, and everyone around here is still worried about ordinary business.
    Garrus: You’re military, Chief Williams. They’re civilians. Civilians never believe the enemy is coming until they’re at the gates.
  • Survivor Guilt: If she's saved on Virmire, she will express this. In the third game, a conversation between her and Tali showcases her Character Development on this regard, as she tells Tali that she can accept Kaidan's sacrifice because she would have done the same thing in his situation, and says that one day, Tali will have her turn to sacrifice herself.
  • Take That!: She gives one to those who have a problem with people having religious beliefs.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Mainly in the first game. It's not brought up so much in the third. She was going to have a conversation about Shepard's Near-Death Experience, but it got cut.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the start of Mass Effect, she's a competent but unremarkable marine, and requires aid to survive against a couple geth troopers. In Mass Effect 3, assuming she survives, she's made a Spectre, essentially meaning she's declared humanity's second most competent agent behind Shepard him or herself.
  • Unequal Pairing: With Shepard. She also writes an e-mail to her sister warning about the possible implications of this, including possibly having to decide whether your loved one lives or dies. This becomes Harsher in Hindsight after Virmire, when she can potentially be saved because she's romanced, or sacrificed for a romanced Kaidan. It's technically averted in the third game, where both she and Shepard have the same rank of Lt. Commander, and the same position of Spectre.
  • The Unfair Sex: If romanced previously, male Shepard calls her out on this attitude in 3, noting that if he chose to romance someone else in the second game, it was only because Ashley made her feelings abundantly clear on Horizon that they were over.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Because Ashley was unaware of the Lazarus Project, the Illusive Man was able to turn her against Shepard by strategically leaking information about his/her survival, something Udina follows up on if Shepard makes no attempt to reestablish their friendship with Ashley.
  • Up Through the Ranks: Assuming she survived the first game, she goes from a gunnery chief (a grade of noncom) to a lieutenant commander.
    • Played straight as she has this attitude to the Alliance, who blacklisted her family ever since Shanxi when her grandfather, General Williams, surrendered in order to save civilian lives. Ashley's struggle to prove herself to the Alliance gets to the point where Shepard can berate her in the first game for wanting to jump on grenades, if it'd mean redeeming the Williams name.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Not always, but she is the only female squad member who can suffer a Plotline Death as early as the first game, while her girlier colleagues, Tali and Liara, don't face that possibility until part two and three, respectively.
  • Vindicated by History: In-Universe. If you choose to let her die in the first game, then by the second game she had become a martyr and face of the human fight on Virmire. She gets memorials in her name and all of her family's shameful past is forgotten and has been redeemed.
    • Also happens if she is still alive in the third game where she is promoted to Lieutenant Commander and eventually becomes the second human Spectre. She even lampshades it in the game that the Williams family curse is finally broken.
    • And, perhaps most alarmingly, her Fantastic Racism — the idea that the other species of the galaxy will let Earth burn down if they have their own problems to solve — is proven 100% accurate in the third game. And by that we mean, "is the plot of the third game."
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Comes into play if you romance her, especially if she kills Wrex.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: An un-romanced male Shepard or a female Shepard can allow this relationship, especially once Shepard finds Ashley suffering from a hangover in Mass Effect 3.
    Shepard: You know, is it time to test the fire alarm? I think it is!
    Ashley: I'll pay you a million credits not to do that, sir/ma'am.
    Shepard: Two million credits, and we have a deal.
    Ashley: You're a damn space pirate.
    Shepard: I could order Joker to sing to you over the comm.
    Ashley: I hate you.
    Shepard: "I hate you...?"
    Ashley: Sir/Ma'am.
    Shepard: As you were, Williams!
  • Walking Armory: In the first game. While everyone was required to carry all four possible weapon types, Ashley was the only squadmate with the potential to use all four effectively. This was removed in the third game when she was restricted to a Choice of Two Weapons like everyone else.
  • Warrior Poet: Inherited her love of poetry, particularly Walt Whitman, from her father.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Basically has this with Shepard in Mass Effect 2, which carries over to Mass Effect 3.
    James: You know the Commander?
    Ashley: I used to.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: If she becomes a War Asset in 3, she doesn't appear again, and her fate after the battle for Earth is unknown. Particularly jarring in that, while the other teammates-turned-War Assets can be contacted before the final push, she cannot.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • If Shepard is played full Renegade towards her on Eden Prime, she'll call them out on it in the first conversation on the Normandy. Whether Shepard apologizes is up to the player.
    • She gets a brief one from Kaidan if she kills Wrex. If she does so without being ordered, Shepard has the option of giving her one as well.
    • Like Kaidan, she doesn't take it well when she learns that Shepard had apparently faked his/her death to work for Cerberus in 2.
    • If Shepard is forced to kill her in 3 when trying to arrest Udina, she says she had to take a stand like you did back in the day. If your relationship is negative, however, she instead gives Shepard these last words:
      Shepard: Dammit Ash, he was with Cerberus.
      Ash: So were you. I hope the Reapers send you to HELL. [dies]
  • With Due Respect: She provides the page quote for the Trope.
    • Despite her opinion of this line (note her head quote above), she uses it at least twice. Once in the first game when discussing alien crewmembers, and again in the Extended Cut if she's the injured squadmate during the airlift scene.
      Shepard: You've gotta get out of here!
      Ashley: With all due respect, Commander...
    • Though her line from above may be an intentional callback on her part to what she said in the first game about what people really mean when they say that. Which makes it a bittersweet funny moment.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: At the same time as Kaidan's. It's up to you whether she survives over him.

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