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This page is for listing the tropes related to Commander Shepard, the protagonist of the Mass Effect series.

Lieutenant Commander Shepard
"You can fight like a krogan, run like a leopard, but you'll never be better than Commander Shepard!"
"We have to give everything....even if that means our lives. We will stop at nothing. We will fight for the lost!"
Voiced by: Mark Meer (male), Jennifer Hale (female), (English)
Boris Rehlinger (male), Pascale Chemin (female), (French)

The Player Character, a human Systems Alliance Marine and graduate of the N7 special forces program whose gender, appearance, and outlook are determined by the player.

In the first game, Shepard is selected to be the first human Spectre, an elite agent of the Council. After stumbling upon a Prothean beacon and a rogue Spectre named Saren, Shepard sets out on a quest to stop Saren and save the galaxy from his attempts to bring back the Reapers, an ancient machine race bent on exterminating all spacefaring species in the galaxy.

In the second game, Shepard is killed in a surprise attack by the Collectors. But since they're too valuable to leave dead, Shepard is resurrected through an exorbitantly expensive medical experiment by Cerberus, an underground human supremacist organization regarded by most of the galaxy as terrorists. Forming an uneasy alliance with these extremists, Shepard begins assembling a crack mercenary squad to stop the Collectors, who have been abducting entire human colonies for unknown purposes.

The third game opens with Shepard under house arrest for the crimes they committed alongside Cerberus in the previous game, only to be effectively pardoned due to the arrival of the Reapers. As the Reapers begin their final assault on the galactic civilization, it's up to Shepard to rally the disparate peoples of the galaxy together in their Darkest Hour to repel the threat of extinction.

The following tropes appear in-gamenote :

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  • 100% Heroism Rating: The deeds Shepard racks up, particularly if going the paragon path, make them legendary by the end of the series.
  • The Ace: Shepard is regularly stated to be the most skilled and lethal soldier in the galaxy and their charisma becomes practically legendary in 2 and 3. This actually causes some minor (major in Miranda's case) inferiority issues among a number of squad members. Beyond that, Shepard has a near flawless success rate, often with near suicidal odds. Over the trilogy, not counting the Collectors' ambush on the first Normandy (which was due to a failure of the stealth system rather than anything in Shepard's control), the hero is only shown to lose once, on Thessia, which sends them into a brief Heroic BSoD.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: A side effect of the cybernetic implants installed during their resurrection in ME2, which rendered Shepard immune to most drugs and toxins that would easily kill a normal human, while possessing a high tolerance for others.
    • This first is noticed in the introduction when Shepard briefly awakens prematurely, requiring Miranda Lawson and Wilson to administer over twice the dosage of sedative in order to knock Shepard out again. On Omega, a batarian bartender likewise gives Shepard a poisoned drink that is lethal to the average human that only knocks them out for a few minutes. On the Citadel, Shepard can even get an order for a krogan drink called "ryncol" which, according to Grunt, "hits [non-krogan] like ground glass". The bartender even says that after drinking it, Shepard will start setting off radiological alarms. All it does is finally push Shepard over the limit and knock them out.
    • Failure to realize that without constant supervision, a sedated Shepard won't stay that way for long, ends up foiling the indoctrinated Alliance agents in the Arrival DLC. One medical report in Arrival even mentions their frustration that it was necessary to increase every round of sedatives administered because Shepard's system simply grew immune to the previous dose.
  • Action Genre Hero Guy: Male Shepard's default face has this look.
  • Action Girl: Female Shepard, obviously. Also a Paragon Shepard, who routinely smashes entire armies and Eldritch Abominations with little trouble.
  • Action Survivor: The Sole Survivor background.
  • Admiring the Abomination:
    • After once again encountering the Rachni Queen, Garrus jokes in 3 that Paragon Shepard seems intent on wandering the galaxy in order to find the most deadliest things imaginable and then make friends with them. And it works.
      Garrus: Now, if you can only pacify the Reapers, they'd make you a saint.
    • In the Control ending, Shepard can do just that, becoming an immortal god-like being in the process.
  • An Adventurer Is You: There are six different character classes, centered around combat, biotic, and tech abilities: Soldier (pure combat, Scrapper/Evasion Tank), Adept (pure biotic, Nuker/Mezzer), Engineer (pure tech, Petmaster/Nuker/Mezzer), Vanguard (combat/biotic, Ninja/Scrapper/Mezzer), Infiltrator (combat/tech, Ranger/Ninja DPSer), and Sentinel (biotic/tech, Debuffer/Tank).
  • And This Is for...: How Shepard kills Kai Leng in the third game, with variations depending on the story. (If all of the mentioned characters died prior to Mass Effect 3, on the other hand, they instead mock him for not having a gunship to hide behind this time.)
    Shepard: That was for Kirrahe/Thane/Miranda/Thane and Miranda/Miranda and Kirrahe, you son of a bitch.
  • All-Loving Hero: Paragon Shepard can be supportive and helpful toward alien species that others within the Council races view as vermin at best or enemies at worst, including the krogan, the quarians, the geth, the batarians, and the rachni. Depending on the choices made, Shepard's faith in them can end up paying off big time.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Or All Women Are Lustful depending on gender choice. The first thing Shepard can ask The Illusive Man is whether being revived means they can still have sex. Knowing Shepard is very much a Deadpan Snarker he gives a straight answer.
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • Following the events of Arrival and their trial and incarceration Shepard technically isn't a commander anymore as they remark to Vega, but they're still the biggest threat to the Reapers. They are reinstated by Anderson prior to fleeing Earth.
    • In 3, despite still holding the rank of Lieutenant Commander (thus technically lower ranked than some of their own crew), they salute to them and they are essentially seen as the leader of the multi-species alliance against the Reapers. Granted, Shepard is acting on Admiral Hackett's orders, so the argument could be made that Shepard is a heroic Mouth of Sauron. However, all of this is sort of unofficial, as Shepard is a Spectre and therefore outside of Alliance authority.
  • Ambadassador: By Mass Effect 3 where they're tasked with making peace and creating alliances through species with centuries or millennia old conflicts. They never stop kicking ass along the way.
  • Ambiguously Christian: In a conversation with Ashley in the first game, Shepard can confirm, refuse to answer or deny whether they believe in God. During the first discussion with Legion if you choose to activate it in the second game, EDI quotes the Bible and Shepard understands the verse, implying familiarity with the Bible. Also, a female Shepard who romanced Garrus can promise to watch over him if she dies and enters Heaven and he lives. In addition, should the player choose the Paragon response to Mordin dying after curing the genophage, Shepard will say that they're sure he's putting in a good word for them all wherever he is now.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: In a conversation with Ashley in the first game, Shepard can confirm, refuse to answer or deny whether they believe in God. At the memorial for Thane Krios, Shepard, depending on what dialogue choice the player makes, may quote the Talmud, but attributes the line as simply being "an old human saying." However, they use the translation used by Schindler's List, and not the actual Talmud quote, implying Shepard just likes old movies.
  • Ambiguous Situation: In the best possible version of the Destroy ending in Mass Effect 3, a body in charred N7 armor that is almost certainly Shepard gasps for breath right before the credits roll. Word of God confirms that this is Shepard having somehow survived the Crucible explosion, and that the person about to put Shepard's name up on the memorial wall stops and smiles because they can sense that their friend/loved one is still alive out there. What happens after this, or if any of this will be expanded upon in the upcoming fifth Mass Effect game, may never be elaborated on.
  • Anti-Hero: While Paragon actions lead more towards the heroic end and the Renegade actions lead more towards the antiheroic end, it is very easy to play as an overall anti-hero due to the fact that you don't have to play to the extremes on either side.
  • Anything That Moves: Shepard can be played this way, since nothing is stopping you from cheating on your love interests between games; there are also Optional Sexual Encounters available. Parodied in this VG Cats comic. This can even extend to Javik in the Citadel DLC, if female Shepard's drunk enough.
  • Arch-Enemy: In the Reapers' billion-year existence of repeated extinction cycles, not one lifeform has ever confounded them like Commander Shepard has. Where others run screaming trying to hide, die futilely against their might, or become their mindless thralls, Shepard constantly defies the odds and keeps coming back for more. Not even death is able to stop them. This is further backed up by Harbinger singling them out as the single greatest threat of the entire cycle, and likely across all of their cycles. While emotions are a concept foreign to the Reapers, they are strongly implied to feel the closest things to fear and awe of Shepard as is possible for them.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • One of Paragon Shepard's tactics. Notably on Illium, where a grieving asari mother who lost her mate and both her children to war was taking it out on people of different races who had nothing to do with it. The Paragon line allows Shepard to ask her what her family did. Turns out, they all loved cultures and people, not just their own — to which Shepard asks the asari if they would approve of her actions.
    • In the case of this particular example, even a Renegade persuasion gives similar results.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In the Extended Cut of the Control ending, Shepard becomes a Sentient Cosmic Force controlling the Reapers. Yeah, you read that right. They became the Catalyst — at least, this time without the imperative to make new Reapers. They even narrate the ending, saying that they now understand what words like "eternal", "infinite", and "immortal" actually mean, and declare the entire galaxy under their protection.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership:
    • This seems to be the basis of the Spectre program.
    • You see that N7 emblazoned on some of Shepard's uniform and clothes? That's not for decoration. It's the insignia for the highest level of proficiency for the Interplanetary Combatives Training, where just being invited for the lowest level at N1 is considered a tremendous honor, and failing is not considered a shame. Only those who perform admirably and distinguish themselves through N2 to N6 are allowed to wear the coveted N7 designation on their uniforms, presumably to show the galaxy they are the baddest of badasses.
    • By the third game, Shepard is so badass that they effectively become the leader of the galaxy.
  • The Atoner: Certain background/playstyle combinations can be interpreted this way:
    • Playing Shepard as a Paragon despite having the Ruthless reputation (particularly with the Colonist background, which turns Torfan into Shepard's Roaring Rampage of Revenge).
    • Playing as a Renegade in the first game, and then as a Paragon in the second.
    • Playing as a Renegade in the second game and then as a Paragon in the third. This scenario can also count as an example of He's Back! if Shepard was played as a Paragon in the first game.
    • The Earthborn/War Hero combo comes across as this.
  • Back from the Dead: Shepard is killed at the start of Mass Effect 2 but is revived over the course of the next two years by Cerberus's Lazarus Project.
  • Badass Arm-Fold:
    • Shepard is fond of doing this, often leaning back simultaneously; when they do, you know things are going to go badly, somehow, for someone — definitely not for them.
    • Played for laughs in the Citadel DLC, where they fold their arms in the exact same way, while trying to blend in with the rich and famous at a party. Somehow, it works and they get away with the heist undetected by party security.
  • Badass Boast: Whether they're Paragon or Renegade, they will make many of these and all of them justified.
    Shepard: You're a badass, Zaeed. But remember who you're talking to.
  • Badass Bookworm: The Engineer Class. Arguably all of them, when you remember that around half of officers in first world militaries today have advanced degrees (an undergraduate degree being a requirement in most militaries), and Shepard is an improbably young colonel-equivalent in a futuristic military with presumably higher standards.
  • Badass Creed: Paragon Shepard defines their entire character at the end of 2:
  • Badass Family: If Shepard has the Spacer backstory, it's fairly obvious where Shepard gets it from. Hannah Shepard is a commander herself in the first game, gets promoted to captain over the two years between ME1 and ME2, and then repeatedly turns down a promotion to become an admiral in 2 in order to stay with her ship and crew. And then in 3, she begrudgingly accepted the promotion to rear admiral, becoming one of the highest-ranking surviving members of the Alliance Navy. Shepard's father is also in the navy, and implied to be still alive as of ME1 at least. No other info on him is available, however. It's also implied for a Colonist backstory. Dialogue options for the I Remember Me sidequest reveal that Shepard and their whole family fought back against the slavers but they were hit by an artillery shell and Colonist Shepard survived.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Kasumi procures a tuxedo for a male Shepard for use in her loyalty mission. It can become a default casual outfit for Shepard after the mission's complete. Likewise, Kasumi procures a little black cocktail dress for a female Shepard, thus having her Kicking Ass in All Her Finery.
  • Badass in Distress: In the Arrival DLC. They then bust themself out and tear the entire facility apart. In the "Leviathan" DLC, Shepard is briefly captured by the progenitors of the Reapers, who intend to brainwash them into becoming their slave. Shepard defiantly refuses, informs them that the Reapers are now aware of their existence, before proposing an alliance instead. The Leviathan are impressed with Shepard's determination, understand now why the Reapers fear them and agree to join the fight.
  • Bash Brothers: Shepard, Garrus, and Tali; the latter two are the only squadmates who are unconditional core members in all three games. This is highlighted in 3; Shepard admits that when times get tough, no matter what, they know that Garrus will always have their back.
    Shepard: There's no Shepard without Vakarian.
  • Batman Gambit: Pulls one on Leviathan, noting that now that they've found them, the Reapers have also found them as they were following them. This means they can no longer sit idly by in the war - they have to help.
  • Battle Couple: With any squad member that has been romanced.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Default Male Shepard's Perma-Stubble has evolved into this by Mass Effect 3.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight in the second game. If you go Paragon, the glowing scars fade away. If you play Renegade, they go into overdrive. Though there is a surgical upgrade that can instantly nullify the scars permanently.
  • Being Good Sucks: Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, especially in 2 and 3. No matter how much good they do, they're constantly screwed over by higher-ups and treated as if they're crazy and when people do finally start taking them seriously, they're expected to spearhead a war effort against an unstoppable force. It really takes its toll on them physically and emotionally.
  • Beneath the Mask: Throughout the series, as the commanding officer, Shepard is forced to constantly show an air of calm, confidence, and no fears or worries. As Mass Effect 3 goes along, this mask begins to crack more and more, as they are slowly broken down by the pressure of stress of having an entire galaxy on their shoulders, and begins to show a great deal of worry, fear, exhaustion, loneliness, and begins to question whether they can actually pull it off.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Paragon Shepard.
    • When you find in the Overlord DLC that a Mad Scientist used his own autistic, genius brother as a lab rat, the Paragon interrupt is to pistol-whip him. Even the Paragon dialogue choice when you meet him again in the third game has Shepard being brutally honest with him.
      Shepard: I have to go, and I'm not gonna pretend it was nice to see you again.
    • When letting Balak go in 3, Shepard has this to say to the investigator who asks if she should arrest Balak:
      Shepard: I want you to put a bullet in his head. [darkly] But we're all making sacrifices today.
  • Big Brother Mentor:
    • To Garrus; with the potential for a Teacher/Student Romance in Mass Effect 2 if Shepard is female.
    • Not quite as much as with Garrus but it also seems to apply to Tali.
    • Not as much as either of the above, but they come to be this for James Vega. Renegade dialog options regarding James becoming an N7 has Shepard telling him that training begins now and they have to commit 100%.
    • Also with Grunt. Shepard is his battlemaster, their honour is without question. In the third game, even if you tell him not to, Grunt will not even hesitate to single-handedly hold off rachni husks in order to give time for the Rachni Queen to escape, simply because Shepard wants peace with the rachni and it is what Shepard would do. Grunt surviving if loyal becomes even more awesome.
    • Even moreso with Kaidan Alenko/Ashley Williams in the third game whichever one you saved in the first game; they come to you for advice about their career as they're about to follow in your footsteps as a Spectre.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Or "Big Sister Instinct", depending on gender choice. Happens in the Overlord DLC if you play as Paragon Shepard. They'll become so utterly furious after learning the true origins of the Overlord VI, that they'll pistol-whip the ever-living shit out of the Mad Scientist responsible for creating it (and this is the Paragon interrupt), and threaten to end said scientist with a bullet if he tries coming near his brother David again.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Practically everything Shepard does. It wouldn't be hyperbole to consider Shepard the Big Damn Hero for the entire galaxy. Which makes their failure to obtain the Prothean VI on Thessia in the third game hit even harder.
  • Big Good: Paragon Shepard. In the first game, you mostly fulfill the role among your crew. In the second, you take this up a notch while dealing with problems of your squad and are the only one who is willing to deal with the Collector threat. Then again in the third game where you literally can unite the entire galaxy to stop the Reapers. Said third game is an interesting variation; Shepard views Anderson and Hackett as the Big Good of Earth and the Alliance respectively, while the rest of the galaxy generally views Shepard as the Big Good overall, with even the two admirals acknowledging Shepard as the key to victory.
  • Bio-Augmentation: No matter what class you choose for Shepard, they are an Alliance Marine with special forces training, so they are heavily modded. Even more so in the second game, when more upgrades are added during the Lazarus Project.
  • Blood Knight: A Renegade Shepard shows these tendencies from time to time, in the second and especially third games.
  • Boldly Coming: Across the course of the series, Shepards of either gender can become romantically involved with asari; Male Shepard can romance a quarian, and Female Shepard can romance a drell or a turian. In Citadel, Female Shepard can have a drunken one-night stand with Javik, the last Prothean. ME2 discusses the trope, with there being some concern over interspecies relations. Mordin will offer Shepard medical advice on their Love Interest; this is especially important for Tali and Garrus, who have incompatible chirality. Mordin advises against oral contact and, ahem, "ingesting".
  • Book Dumb: Earther Shep grew up on the streets, and by Miranda's words had no real formal education. You'd never know from watching some of their actions, like being able to talk shop with a man who works in a genetic engineering firm, or citing historical examples of It Will Never Catch On to a rear-admiral.
  • Book Ends:
    • Spacer Shepard was born in space. At the beginning of ME2, Shepard dies in space.
    • In ME2, Shepard was reborn on a Cerberus space-station. Shepard can potentially die in ME3 on another space-station, the Citadel.
    • 2 has Shepard sacrificing his life to save Joker. In the Bad ending, Shepard will sacrifice his life to save Joker.
    • The first scene in Mass Effect begins with Shepard overlooking Earth from the Normandy. A late scene of Mass Effect 3 has Shepard overlooking Earth whilst on the Citadel.
  • Boyish Short Hair: A number of Female Shep's default hairstyles.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • Averted in the first game, as Shepard's sheer force of will kept the Prothean visions from the beacon at bay, which Liara mentions would have driven a lesser mind insane.
    • Played straight in the Overlord DLC in the second game, where due to their cybernetic implants, Shepard gets hacked.
    • Leviathan tries this on Shepard but they resist long enough to convince it to join them in the war against the Reapers.
  • Breast Expansion: A common joke among the fanbase was that Project Lazarus, for some reason, gave Female Shep a boob job, as the improved Mass Effect 2 character model is noticeably bustier than the original in Mass Effect 1. Though, given that Miranda, busty as she is, was the one in charge of the project, it could have been a design choice.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Shepard literally breaks their arm in the first game when they defeat Sovereign. And again in the third game, leading the charge across No Man's Land in London to the portal leading to the Citadel. Literally and in the sense that their entire sizable task force is wiped out in the attempt.
  • Broken Ace: Shepard is the World's Best Warrior, a Magnetic Hero, and has saved the world on multiple occasions. However, as the games progress, the toll of having the responsibility of saving the world as well as the losses incurred begin to weigh down on Shepard.
  • Broken Bird: Can be played like this if Shepard chooses Renegade options and goes with the "Sole Survivor" background. As it can be implied that his Jerkass responses are a result of their trauma.
  • Broken Pedestal:
  • Brutal Honesty: Downplayed. Shepard can be pretty direct in a number of conversations, and though it's lampshaded on occasion, no one really seems to mind. Considering Shepard is a decorated soldier, it makes sense for people to not mince words when they ask them questions. Even when exiting a conversation, they come off as pretty blunt; they don't say "See you later," or even a simple, "Goodbye." It's almost always a plain, "I should go."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: To both the Council and the Alliance after they run into the Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. No one other than Anderson or Shepard's crew really believes their theories about the Reapers coming back to harvest all organic life in the galaxy, but, much like Fox Mulder, they let them go on about the alien conspiracy because of how good they are at their job, at least until Shepard does an act that, in the eyes of anyone not in on the truth, appears to be nothing more than genocidal madness. Of course, since Shepard was right about everything, they're also a Cassandra Truth, but the dynamic still existed between Shepard and their superiors prior to Mass Effect 3.
  • Buffy Speak: Shepard invokes this when drunk, just before ordering a Gargle Blaster intended specifically for krogan.
    Shepard: Hell yeah. Put more of the stuff in the... the thing more stuff goes in.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A Renegade Shepard can be on the giving end, especially in 2, with some of their actions toward Grunt, Jack and Samara. Yeah, insult that krogan. Call the severely traumatised, violent biotic a wuss. Commit crimes in front of the Knight Templar who can and will murder any criminal she sees. Grunt at least has Undying Loyalty. Samara admits that if she hadn't sworn the oath of submission, she would be trying to murder Shepard.
  • Busman's Holiday: The War Hero service record. Try and get some R&R, and wouldn't you know it, you wind up killing space pirates.
  • Butch Lesbian: Female Shepard can certainly be one while in a relationship with Liara T'soni, Kelly Chambers, Samantha Traynor or Diana Allers. Given the ready availability of unisex outfits, three decidedly more "butch" short hairstyles, female Shepard's naturally deep voice, her masculine walking animations and unladylike habit of never crossing her legs (even in a cocktail dress), She can pull the trope off effortlessly. However, she always comes across as a bit of a butch Ladette, even in a straight relationship. Butch hetero/bisexual maybe?
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In Mass Effect 2, Shepard can meet with Fist, who gets real snippy at the fact that you ruined his life. The Renegade option basically has you say "I forgot about you five minutes after I told you to run".
  • Came Back Wrong:
    • A possibility in 2 if the player chooses to alter their imported character during the Lazarus Project. Not that it keeps anyone that Shepard met in the first game from instantly recognizing them.
    • It's possible to perform a mental version of this in 2 by going the Renegade route after being a Paragon in 1. Sure, Shepard may have been an All-Loving Hero before their death, but who knows how badly their death messed with their mind...
  • Came Back Strong: Due to the Lazarus Project, Shepard now possesses a reinforced skeletal structure, cybernetic implants, immunity to poisons and toxins that would kill a regular human and potentially gained biotic abilities, even when they didn't have them earlier.
  • Canada, Eh?: Shepard definitely sounds Canadian if you listen to them speak. (Owing to the fact that both Shepard voice actors, Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer, are Canadian.) However, Shepard isn't even born on Earth in two backgrounds (Colonist and Space,) and the Earth-born background doesn't specify where on Earth they're born.
  • Canon Name: "John" and "Jane" are the default first names for Shepard depending on gender and can be changed by the player, but are never actually used in the game. Even up to the very end of the third game, Shepard's full name isn't used on the Normandy's memorial wall. Shepard always stays, however.
  • The Cape: Paragon Shepard.
  • The Captain: Even if Shepard admits they never officially reached that rank. Although as commanding officer of a ship, quarian law recognizes them as "Captain Shepard vas Normandy"; this of course is in parallel with Earth naval tradition in which the ship's commanding officer is always the "Captain" regardless of rank.
  • Cartwright Curse: Only if Shepard's love interest in the first game dies on Virmire, their second love dies during the suicide mission, and their third love interest is blown up by Harbinger during the run to the Citadel beacon.
  • The Casanova: Shepard can be played this way.
  • The Cassandra: When it comes to the Council. Even up to the third game, after their warnings about the Reapers are proven right, the idea that all the races have to help each other to even stand a chance is not instantly well-received by the asari and salarian Councillors.
  • Catchphrase: Renegade Shepard really hates being "jerked around" and generally "[doesn't] have time for this", and Shepard in general often opens dialogue with "What can you tell me about [insert thing here]", then finishing with "I should go." In the Citadel DLC Shepard finds out about the "I should go" thing and is annoyed that no-one ever told them how awkward it sounds (if Shepard has the Spacer background, a call with mom shows she does this too).
  • Celebrity Endorsement: "I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel." Repeat for every single store on the Citadel. Lampshaded by Mark Meer (male Shepard's voice actor) in a launch event for Mass Effect 3 after saying GameStop was his favorite store on the Citadel: "Although I have to admit, I've given that endorsement to anyone who's asked for it, so I'm not sure what it's worth. I have a lot of favorite things on the Citadel at this point." Given his endorsement, it turns out that Applejack is best pony.
  • Celibate Hero: A male Shepard may opt to be one. A female Shepard will be one, unless they have a party in the Citadel DLC, in which she'll have drunken sex with Javik.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Shepard's job is not a very fun one (in-universe at least). This becomes one of the most dominant themes in Mass Effect 3, with Shepard slowly getting ground down by the stress of having an entire galaxy resting on their shoulders.
  • The Champion:
    • Paragon Shepard in particular can become this to both the geth and the rachni.
    • Wrex himself refers to Shepard as a champion of the krogan people. Whether or not you live up to his praise is a major plot point of Mass Effect 3.
  • Character Development:
    • Playing mostly Paragon or Renegade in the first game does not stop you from being the opposite in the sequels. In fact, you could conceivably go from all of one in 1, to 50/50 in 2, to the other in 3, or several variations thereof.
    • Even without intentional action, Shepard quite clearly becomes a much more well defined character with a distinct personality over the course of the games. If Shepard is a "blank slate" in the first game, they are certainly far less so by the third game. Note how much of Shepard's lines you have control over in the first game; Shepard begins speaking for themself more often from the second game onward.
    • Another thing that seems to undergo canonical change is Shepard's attitude towards aliens. It's particularly visible if they're a Renegade; while in the first game they don't miss an opportunity to insult a turian or boast about how great humans are, in the sequel they have no problem with having non-humans aboard, and in the third game they are clearly dedicated to saving whoever they can.
      Clone: Somewhere along the way you forgot about your entire species. You saved more alien lives than you have human.
  • Character Model Karma Meter: In Mass Effect 2, Shepard's scars heal if they perform Paragon actions, but grow deeper and glow red with Renegade actions.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • The vast majority of Shepard's personality and actions were decided upon by the player, in the first and second entries in the trilogy. Come the third game, they have a much more clearly defined personality, and much more dialogue independent from player input. Also in the third game, Renegade options also distance themselves from the typical Laughably Evil Heroic Comedic Sociopath outcomes in previous entries, in favor of actions that would make Shepard look like an outright Villain Protagonist.
    • Renegade Shepard had multiple changes between the first game and the second game as well. Namely, a large aspect of Renegade Shepard's characterization in the first installment is that they could be very xenophobic, particularly towards turians. And at the end of the first installment, Shepard can let the Council die not out of pragmatism to stop Sovereign, but because they want to promote humanity's interests. Yet in the sequel, those xenophobic traits go completely away. Despite working with the human supremacist group Cerberus, Shepard makes it clear that they do not share Cerberus's xenophobic leanings. They could also be a complete asshole towards their crew in the first game, causing said crew to start to avoid talking to Shepard whenever possible, and while it is possible to alienate certain crew members in 2 by bungling their loyalty missions or disputes, they won't avoid Shepard just because of mean dialogue options.
  • Chest Insignia: The Onyx Armor's N7 became so iconic it was worked into nearly every non-DLC chestplate in 2.
  • Chest of Medals:
    • The presentation and names ("Council Legion of Merit", "Service Star") of the games' achievements suggests that they are actual awards presented to Shepard over the course of the game, which would mean a quite hefty medal case.
    • With the War Hero background, Shepard is explicitly said to have won the "Star of Terra", the highest award the Alliance can bestow on an officer, roughly equivalent to the U.S. Medal of Honor and British Victoria Cross.
    • Seemingly contradictory, but the award for completing Mass Effect 1 at least once is explicitly called "Medal of Honor", and is seen in Shepard's quarters in the second game and is where the player can check their achievements/trophies/challenges/etc of that nature in game. It's seen again in the third game in the same spot, but isn't manipulable.
  • Chick Magnet: Or "Dude Magnet". People with very diverse backgrounds are attracted to Shepard, disregarding their actions and that's just comparing the official love interests: be you soldier, Cerberus operative, notorious criminal, or badass alien of any kind, chances are you want to bang Shepard.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: While Shepard can get an early start shooting Wrex dead in the first game, the second and third game offers the Commander the chance to embrace this wholeheartedly by backstabbing squadmates and betraying entire species.
    • In Samara's loyalty mission in 2, they can murder her in order to recruit her daughter Morinth.
    • In Tali's loyalty mission in 2, they can present the evidence of Tali's father's wrongdoing, causing him to go down in history as a war criminal.
    • In Zaeed's loyalty mission, they can abandon Zaeed to his death if they undertake the mission after defeating the Collectors with at least two other surviving party members.
    • On Tuchanka, they can betray the krogan by sabotaging the genophage cure. Unless Wrex and Eve are both dead, this also requires them to betray and murder Mordin/Padok (and if sparing Mordin/Padok is an option, the krogans honestly have it coming).
    • On Rannoch, they can either betray Legion and the geth by killing him and allowing the quarians to destroy them, or betray the quarians and Tali by allowing Legion to upload the geth sentience code so they can destroy the quarians. Unfortunately, if you haven't done everything perfectly in order to make peace between the quarians and geth possible, someone is getting stabbed in the back.
    • At the end of the trilogy, they can betray all sentient life in the galaxy by refusing to fire the Crucible. They can also betray the geth and EDI by using the Crucible to destroy all synthetic life in the galaxy, although if your EMS isn't high enough they might honestly not have a better option.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Paragon Shepard (depending on playstyle) will not allow any problems they come across to remain unresolved. Starting from around Noveria, their crewmembers catch on.
  • The Chosen One:
    • Averted in the first game. Other than being a badass N7, there was nothing special about Shepard. Their ship just happened to stumble across a plot to rebel against the galaxy, they just happened to pull Ashley/Kaidan out of the way before being sucked into the Beacon, and they just happened to be a convenient solution for the Council to stop Saren. The exact moment Shepard becomes this trope is when they speak with Vigil and learn the truth about the Reapers. At that point, they became The Only One that could stop them.
    • Miranda sums it up at the start of Mass Effect 2:
      Miranda: If we lose Shepard, humanity might well follow.
    • Shepard in the third game, where Hackett notes that the sole reason Shepard was chosen to speak as a envoy on behalf of humanity was because, while you can teach a soldier to follow orders and pay people to point a gun, you can't teach a soldier to believe. Shepard has proved numerous times by willing to defy orders because they honestly believe in the mission that much, repeatedly earning the loyalty of people who would gladly follow Shepard into hell simply because they believe in them.
    • Several characters lampshade this fact in the third game. Unite the krogan and turians, as well as cure the genophage? Ridiculous. Finding peace between the geth and the quarians? Impossible. Shepard can do both simply because that's who they are and what they do.
      Garrus: Go out there and give them hell, you were born to do this.
    • In the Prothean Empire, there were individuals who became the embodiment of an ideal. Javik himself was proclaimed the avatar of Vengeance. After witnessing this Cycle, Javik believes that Shepard is the avatar of Victory.
      Javik: You are now the avatar of this Cycle. The exemplar of Victory. Not just for humanity, or turians, or Protheans; but all life! Every soul that has ever existed is watching this moment!
    • In Leviathan, Shepard is referred to as "an anomaly" by the Leviathan, one that has never manifested in any previous Cycle.
    • Epilogue kid to the stargazer: "Can you tell me another story about The Shepard?"
  • Cipher Scything: Doesn't appear in any way in the novels or comics. But will appear in the movie and anime.
  • Cloning Blues: An interesting variation. The "Lazarus" project was tasked with taking Shepard's body's biomass and recreating their memory as close as possible, since Shepard's body was brain-dead when it was recovered. Their body was reconstructed, but even Shepard questions whether they are a clone in 2 or a high-tech VI who just thinks they're Commander Shepard in 3. Liara however states that Shepard is indeed the original. However, the Citadel DLC reveals that there is a clone of Shepard created by the Illusive Man, ostensibly for "spare parts" for Lazarus.
  • Cold Sniper: Renegade Shepard who chooses to use a sniper rifle.
  • Colonel Badass: What they were before being promoted to The Captain.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Shepard can play very dirty indeed with the right skills. Turning invisible to run from a fight, or stab you in the face, hiding behind boxes while letting mechanical drones wear you down, taking control of your teammates to fight for them, freezing you in place so you can't hit back... simply put, paragon or renegade, it's a rare Shepard that lets a fight be 'even.'
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Shepard is fond of rescuing people in this manner.
  • The Comically Serious: Especially in the Citadel DLC, where Shepard shows that years of life-or-death missions give you really Skewed Priorities. Shepard's biggest concern when their clone locks them in the vault? "Why didn't anyone tell me that's what "I should go" sounds like?" Then there's the It's Personal reaction to their hamster being threatened...
  • Commanding Coolness: Their military rank is Commander, and they are the greatest hero in the galaxy.
  • Consummate Professional: Can be played as one. Seems that Shepard can't help it, as having been a soldier for most of their life, it's basically become an almost unconscious reaction for them. If playing chess against Traynor in the third game, they actually apply real-world military tactics, allowing Traynor to easily crush Shepard.
  • Contralto Of Danger: Female Shepard has a notably deep voice.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • A Paragon female Shepard towards Tali. She can also become one to Grunt. After earning his loyalty, he doesn't see her as a squishy female, only as his Battlemaster.
    • James Vega reveals this is the reason he calls Female Shepard, "Lola":
      Vega: My best friend's sister growing up was Lola. Older sister. Hot. Tough.
    • "Eve" and Female Shepard bond over being one of these to their respective species. "Eve" notes that she's glad that unlike the krogan, the humans treat their women with the respect they deserve.
  • Cosmic Plaything: The Colonist/Sole Survivor combo. Shepard's life just sucks.
  • Court-martialed: At the start of Mass Effect 3 Shepard is on house arrest awaiting trial, either for working with Cerberus or for the destruction of a batarian colony in Mass Effect 2's "Arrival" Downloadable Content. The charges are dropped when the Reapers turn up and Shepard is needed to help fight them. (Also, since the batarians have just been effectively wiped out, pleasing them isn't much of an issue now.)
  • Covered in Scars: It's implied that Shepard has collected a large amount of scars over the course of the trilogy. Confirmed in the "Citadel" DLC, as the Clone Shepard calls Shepard a 'Scarred, piece of Cerberus tech', to which they respond by stating they got them from defending the galaxy, naming nearly every location the story required you to go.
  • Covert Pervert: Or not-so-covert, depending on how you play. They can collect porn, Female Shep in particular is particularly sexually aggressive and when first meeting The Illusive Man can ask if their parts still work. Put her with Traynor and they are nothing short of raunchy. Paraphrasing...
    "You wanted to grab EDI by the hair and nibble down her back? Let's remember that one for later."
  • Cowboy Cop: Renegade Shepard. A conversation with Garrus in the first game can make it clear they have no intention of bringing Saren in alive, regardless of what the Council might want. They're also pretty gung-ho about killing anyone who stands in their way.
    Shepard: [to some goons] You're criminals. I can kill criminals.
  • The Cowl: Renegade Shepard.
  • Cracking Up: Several times Shepard will do this. Once in eagerness to deliver a beatdown and another when they discover a volus has a pass card into a mercenary base. One moment of Shepard cracking their knuckles later, the swindler thinks they should have it.
  • Cruel Mercy: Renegade Shepard merely wants you dead. Paragon Shepard prefers to let people suffer in penance.
  • Cultured Badass: Notable when romancing Ashley. Also implied to be familiar with Thomas Hobbes when talking to Thane in 2. Renegade Shepard also references Machiavelli, saying "It's better to be feared than loved."
  • Cultured Warrior: Can be played as this. Shepard can recognize poetry quoted by Ashley, knows a thing or two about Hobbes and can even quote ideas from Beccaria's "Crimes and Punishments" in the right situation. Also notes Machiavelli by name, referencing the idea "It's better to be feared than loved."
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Many with their squad, but their fights on the asteroid in Arrival are especially notable, as Shepard pretty much wipes out every member and trooper involved with the project (not a small number) with absolutely zero backup.
    Project Guard: Shepard is tearing us apart!
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Owing to the need of the cutscenes to account for every class Shepard can be, Shepard will never use any of their powers in cutscenes. Even when those might make the threat they face irrelevant. This will for example lead Shepard to only ever use their guns when fighting in cutscenes, rather than using much more potent biotic, tech or combat powers on their foes.
    • This also extends to the weapons Shepard fires; specifically, Shepard almost always uses their default pistol, as it's the one gun every class is guaranteed to have access to, even if there's much better options in the player's inventory.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: If you take "Bioware Canon" as canon, and if the default Shepard in 2 is any indication, then, according to Bioware Canon, Shepard is a Renegade Sociopathic Hero.
  • Cyborg: Was kind of necessary to bring them Back from the Dead.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: If your Shepard has the Colonist background, they were sixteen when batarian slavers attacked and destroyed their home of Mindoir, signaling the end of their normal life.
  • Dark Action Girl: Renegade Female Shepard.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
  • Darkest Hour: The fall of Thessia is probably the lowest point for them. When Joker tries to crack a joke, there are no responses that will have Shepard ignore his ill-timed attempt at humor.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Shepard's default armor is dark. There's nothing stoping you from changing that up though.
  • Dark Shepherd: Shepard will act like this when the player picks the Renegade options (taking Paragon options makes them a Good Shepherd, and both courses of action have pros and cons). Either way, they end up saving the galaxy.
  • The Dead Have Names: In Mass Effect 2, there's a scene where Shepard is getting hassled over how much damage was done during Sovereign's attack on the citadel. For the Paragon response, you can have them reel off a list of all the Earth ships destroyed because of their decision at that point. Provides the page quote for the trope page.
    Shepard: The Alliance lost eight cruisers. Shenyang. Emden. Jakarta. Cairo. Seoul. Cape Town. Warsaw. Madrid. And yes, I remember them all. Everyone in the Fifth Fleet is a damn hero. The Alliance owes them all medals, the Council owes them a lot more than that. And so do you.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A lot of options lead to these type of responses. A lot of their neutral responses, especially in the Citadel DLC, consists of them snarking the ridiculousness of their circumstances.
  • Death Seeker: Begins to have subtle vibes of this during the third game, having recurring nightmares of the boy in the vent and fallen friends. While Shepard still continues to fight as they've always done and claims to be fine, the mask of cool and collected is beginning to crack and various characters start to notice how emotionally burnt out they are. On the whole, they give the impression that while they're not actively looking for death, they would consider it a relief.
  • Defeat Means Respect: Shepard's constant victories and utter defiance in the face of hopeless odds results in the Reapers gaining a certain admiration for them.
  • Defiant to the End: Picks up this attitude more and more with each game. Can culminate with the "Refusal" Ending.
    Shepard: I fight for freedom. Mine, and everyone's. I fight for the right to choose our own fate. And if I die, I'll die knowing that I did everything I could to stop you. And I'll die free.
  • Deity of Human Origin: The epilogue implies that Shepard's heroic exploits ultimately lead to them becoming known well into the future, becoming regarded as almost a demi-god of sorts, as the near-mythological figure known only as "The Shepard." The Extended Cut DLC Control ending means that the epilogue is the grandparent telling the child the origin story of a literal cybernetic deity.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Very nearly goes past it after the fall of Thessia.
  • Determinator: All three of Shepard's possible backgrounds (War Hero, Sole Survivor, and Ruthless) have shades of this. And in the games themselves, not even being blasted by Harbinger will stop Shepard's last-ditch effort to activate the Crucible. Despite a gunshot wound, broken bones, internal bleeding, and being violently thrown through a transporter meant for "vehicles", Shepard keeps going. After all this, Shepard still goes through with either defying the Catalyst to prove a point, or activating the Crucible, even though they know that through doing so they will either be blasted back to Earth in a fiery explosion, be stuck controlling the Reapers for possibly an eternity, or willfully jump into a the power core for the device and be disintegrated to develop a synthetic-organic hybrid race.
    Leviathan: Your confidence is singular.
  • Determined Defeatist: As the third game rolls on, Shepard becomes progressively less optimistic about the galaxy's chances. It still doesn't stop them from fighting tooth and nail to win.
  • Disappeared Dad: Spacer Shepard's mother, Captain/Rear Admiral Hannah Shepard, makes a couple of phone calls and emails to them over the course of the trilogy, but their father is never even alluded to.
  • Disney Death:
    • Played with in the first game, subverted with the second.
    • The Destroy Ending of the third game if you gathered enough war assets.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: At the end of game three, Shepard has personally killed three Reapers directly. Two on foot. And orchestrated the killing of three more while fighting it. Granted, one was half-dead already and the other was pretty much an embryo, but still impressive. They've also killed the Thorian and several Thresher Maws, who are "merely" extremely powerful Kaiju-like wildlife, but nonetheless were worshiped as gods by primitive civilizations.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • They pissed off the Reapers so much that the entire fleet is after them personally. When controlling a Collector, Harbinger at times orders them to focus entirely on Shepard, but not to damage Shepard's body, if possible. Only Bioware knows what horrors he wants to inflict upon the Commander.
    • The Renegade interrupt with the Reaper on Rannoch is tantamount to the middle finger of God, having the entire quarian fleet shooting it in the face (in the eye, actually) because the thing just won't shut the fuck up.
    • They also get a nice post-facto one in Leviathan, made all the more sweeter when you remember that Reapers can still be technically conscious long after death. Spotting the quarantined piece of Sovereign that crashed into the Citadel tower and nearly killed them in the first game, they quip to it: "Sovereign, vanguard of our destruction. How's that working out for you, big guy?"
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: The entire plot of Leviathan revolves around this.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Regardless of gender, this happens several times with James Vega in the third game.
  • Diving Save:
    • Action Commands allow Shepard to pull a few of these in the second game, as well as during the regular cutscenes. One of the more notable occurrences is during the final assault on the Collector base, where you have to jump to save one of your party from sliding into an abyss. Depending on your party composition, it's possible for Grunt - a krogan easily two or three times Shepard's size - to be the one rescued in this fashion.
    • Subverted if the geth are allowed to wipe out the quarians at the end of the final Rannoch mission. Even if you take the Paragon interrupt, Shepard will fail to catch Tali's hand.
  • Do I Really Sound Like That?:
    • Shepard's reaction to a VI in Mass Effect 3.
    • Then, in the Citadel expansion, Clone Shepard says "I should go", causing Shepard to react after they leave, "Do I really sound like that?!" They then practice different ways of saying the phrase. "I should go." "I should go."
      Shepard: How come nobody told me this before?! I'm open to feedback here!
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Paragon Shepard frequently invokes this when dealing with adversaries, hoping to win them to their side or convince them to not fight, otherwise they will be forced to act.
    Shepard: And don't let us meet again.
    Adversary: What's this? Commander Shepard pleading for their life?
    Shepard: I am pleading for yours.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Depending on dialogue, they can take this attitude.
  • Doomed Hometown: The basis for Colonist origin. At the age of sixteen, batarian slave raiders paid Shepard's home colony of Mindoir a visit. They were the only survivor of their family.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: This is how Garrus's romance starts in 2. Garrus relates a story about him and a scout going six rounds in the sparring ring, ending in a tie; the two of them then held a "tiebreaker" in her quarters. female Shepard can bluntly ask Garrus if he wants to "just skip right to the tiebreaker." Garrus is blind-sided by her brazenness.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: The death scene at the beginning of the second game. A Dummied Out sequence in the third game has Shepard describe it, saying that they felt a sharp pain in their chest, had all the air in their lungs leave their body, and almost immediately blacked out, before waking up immediately after in the Cerberus lab.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: A gift from the Prothean Beacons. Shepard's dreams in the third game are more symbolic yet mundane.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Even though in game-play all mooks display Suicidal Overconfidence, the Commander is referred to like this on two occasions: First, on the MSV Strontium Mule assignment, Merc datapads contain Oh, Crap! messages on the fact that you're attacking. Second, on the Arrival Downloadable Content, there is a Optional Boss fight where you Holdthe Line against waves of scarily intelligent enemies and a Mini-Boss all by yourself. If you can win the fight, you'll hear increasingly desperate cries about how unstoppable you are.
    • And once Shepard wakes up from the sedatives, the scientist there gets terrified and soon security is just as terrified.
    • The Reapers consider Shepard this, with their twitter feed referring to them as "Hostile target Shepard". Keep in mind that the rest of that feed has them repeatedly appear unconcerned with any resistance whatsoever but the fact they don't know the location of Shepard has them nervous. It's notable that the Reapers will ignore nearly everything else around them when Shepard is around, targeting them with their main weapons, normally designed to hit starships. The Reaper on Rannoch is a notable example, in that it ignores the Quarian fleet hitting it from orbit with everything in their arsenal to specifically focus down Shepard, moving closer and closer until it prepares to fire at point blank range. The Reaper in London similarly abandons its well defended position to go after Shepard, and Harbinger itself abandons the space battle above once that reaper is destroyed and employs Beam Spam (again, with weapons rated for starship combat) in an attempt to eliminate Shepard once and for all. And all of these fail. Leviathan notes that Shepard is the only being that the Reapers have ever feared.note  It's also worth noting that after the Rannoch mission, Shepard is told that "Harbinger has spoken of you." For a Reaper to take notice of a singular individual and, in effect, WARN his brethren about them....speaks volumes about the effect Shepard has.
    • The mission to Mars in 3 shows that Shepard has become this for the average Cerberus troopernote :
      Cerberus Centurion: Holy shit, it's Shepard!
  • Drives Like Crazy: Liara seems to think so during the car chase in Lair of the Shadow Broker, complaining every time you almost crash. It would also explain all those shenanigans with the Mako in the first game.
    Liara: Truck!
    Shepard: I know!
    Liara: TRUCK!
    Shepard: I KNOW!
    Liara: Truck!
    Shepard: Again?!
  • Dual Wielding: Depending on how you interpret omnitools. If you look closely, it turns out that Shepard is actually using two omnitools. You can see both in action when using a heavy melee attack as a Sentinel.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked. They are not amused by Joker's attempt to "lighten the mood" following the destruction of Thessia.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Both used and subverted. Most people are aware of how impressive Shepard is, but that doesn't stop them from asking the Commander to do whatever legal or illegal errands they need run. Nor does it make the Council any more likely to listen to their claims.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help:
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Default female Shepard looked quite different in Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, due to a contest asking for fan input on a new design. This coincided with BioWare making female Shepard a part of the marketing for the game.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: They're a member of the N7 special forces and a Spectre, probably the two most dangerous fighting forces in the galaxy alongside the salarian STG, turian blackwatch and asari commandos.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Especially for a Paragon Shepard, working with the Illusive Man and Cerberus is definitely an example and they make it clear that they're only working with them because no one else is willing to help them.
    • A Paragon Shepard makes its perfectly clear in the third game that the only reason they are going to work with Balak, the batarian terrorist from Bring Down The Sky, is because Shepard needs the batarian fleet to aid in the war, something as the de-facto leader of the remnants of the Batarian Hegemony, Balak can provide. Afterwards, Shepard even admits to wanting nothing more than to put a bullet between all four of his eyes, but they don't get to have what they want... today.
    Shepard: What I want is to put a bullet between his eyes... [storms off pissed] But we're all making sacrifices today.
  • Enemy Summoner: In the third game, from the point of their enemies, Engineer Shepard qualifies, especially if they take Tali's Defense Drone as a bonus power. They can summon three types of drones at a time to control the battlefield: the Combat Drone, which floats around the field spamming rockets and attacking enemies, the Defense Drone, which floats around Shepard and shocks anything that gets in range (something like ten yards from Shepard), and the Turret drone, which is a small, stationary, floating turret with a gun and a flamethrower that attacks any enemies near it. All of these regenerate extremely fast, letting new ones be redeployed almost as soon as the first ones are destroyed. In fact they can deploy four mooks if you count the enemy synthetics that they can hack to their side with Sabotage.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: FemShep has no shortage of asari, and no less than three human women, expressing interest in her in addition to all the men she attracts.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: MaleShep earns the romantic affections of four out of six of the first game's gender equal squad (not to mention the immense amounts of Ho Yay that shippers have created for MaleShep and Garrus).
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: You can be remorseless Renegade but it doesn't lock out the chance to get into a relationship with others.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A Renegade Shepard in 2 is noticeably devoid of xenophobic tendencies compared to the first game, and clearly unenthusiastic about the role Cerberus has taken in their post-resurrection life. They also have multiple cases throughout the series where a Renegade choice is arguably more moralistic or demonstrating of emotional standards compared to the "everyone should be saved" idealism of Paragon. This is most noticeable on Tuchanka, where the Renegade options are looked at more favorably by the Proud Warrior Race Guy krogan.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave:
  • Everyone Can See It: Depending on Shepard's gender, there will be repeated commentary on their rapport with either Tali or Garrus. It's only brought to their attention once they are available romance options in the second game.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Paragon Shepard is supposed to be the by-the-book hero of justice that sees the good in everyone. But even they have their moments where they'll chew someone out for their crap, generally gets irritated when the Council bluntly stonewalls them for personal agendas, or someone genuinely crosses a line that is considered irredeemable without an excuse like indoctrination. Sometimes choosing a Renegade solution as a predominantly Paragon Shepard can be construed as drawing the line on their idealism.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Played with from Mass Effect 2 onwards. Renegade actions will cause Shepard's face to get continually more scarred and their eyes will glow red, yet nobody in-universe ever seems to notice.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At:
    • Can be used in the second game to shut up an incredibly annoying krogan.
    • Shepard can intentionally miss the shot in 3 while shooting bottles with Garrus, who triumphantly declares himself the better shot and the bigger badass.
  • The Extremist Was Right: A considerable number of Shepard's more extreme actions ultimately prove fruitful in certain entries. After the events of Arrival, where Shepard was forced to kill 300,000 people, they were branded a terrorist and murderer, discharged and awaiting trial from the Alliance and condemned by the Council for their actions. Only when the Reapers finally show up, do people realize exactly what they were trying to stop and warn them about.
  • Eyed Screen: If you encourage Traynor to challenge her Sitcom Arch-Nemesis.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Shepard gets a few opportunities to do this in the second game. Can be really creepy if you have heavy Renegade scarring.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In 3 in a conversation with Liara, Shepard briefly wonders if the asari have schools for biotics like Grissom Academy. Liara then points out that the asari are all biotics, so every school has to have biotic education.
    • Also when asking Liara in Lair of the Shadow Broker what kind of weapons a taxi has.
  • Failure Hero: Played with. In 3, much more emphasis is put on Shepard's character, and how utterly plagued they are by the deaths during the Reaper War. Of course Shepard's choices are still mostly determined by the player (so any tactical blunders the player makes may be minimal at best), and they're still viewed overall as the best chance the galaxy has at beating the Reapers... but it's clear that they're terrified of losing the war, and heartbroken about the losses under their command.
  • Fainting Seer: The Prothean Beacon knocked Shepard unconscious for more than half a day after giving them the vision.
  • Faking the Dead: Played with. Shepard really was killed and brought back. However, only a very small pool of people were aware of the Lazarus Project. Everyone else, including most of Shepard's friends and allies, only thought that Shepard's death was faked and behaved accordingly.
  • Fallen Hero: How they're viewed by many in the galaxy during Mass Effect 2 due to their relationship with Cerberus. Even Kaidan/Ashley, one of their closest allies, has difficulty trusting Shepard through most of the first half of Mass Effect 3, mostly due to the Cerberus connection and the events of Arrival. It is implied that Cerberus intentionally made Shepard look like this to prevent them from accessing any resources the Illusive Man didn't approve of. You can embrace the trope by playing Shepard as a Renegade in 2 after having been Paragon in 1.
  • Famed in Story: Oh God yes. No matter how you play Shepard, news of their exploits spread quickly. Perhaps subverted, though, because hardly anyone knows the truth about their greatest exploits. Played straight after the credits of Mass Effect 3.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • They can display various shades of this for some or all alien races, from simple uneasiness at working with them to outright xenophobia.
    • The Colonist background lends itself very well to hating Batarians, and the Colonist/Ruthless combination gives the implication that Shepard killed every Batarian on Torfan for revenge.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Another of Shepard's favorite gestures.
  • A Father to His Men: Or a mother, depending on which gender is chosen. If Shepard takes the time to get to know their crew and builds up their trust. Screwing with Shepard's squadmates is a quick way to end up with either a hole in the head, a punch to the face, or a massively public humiliation. And may God have mercy on your soul if you screw with their Space Hamster and fish.
  • Faustian Rebellion: If you decide to give TIM the finger in the second game, although it's unimportant to the third game, as TIM is gunning for you no matter what.
  • The Fettered: Paragon Shepard.
  • Fiery Redhead: Female Shepard has red hair by default, and no matter how you play her, she's pretty fiery.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Shepard can be any one of these, or mix two classes together with the Biotics/Tech, Combat/Biotics, and Tech/Combat classes.
  • First Law of Resurrection: Employed by Cerberus in the Lazarus project.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: The second game is effectively an anthology about Shepard's squadmates. They get most of the character moments, while Shepard provides the thread that links them all together.
  • Flanderization: Shepard's ability, or lack there of, to dance. In the first game, Shepard's dance movements were exactly the same as the NPCs, but this became the butt of jokes in the fandom. In Mass Effect 2, it becomes a Fandom Nod with Shepard potentially scarring off an asari with their awful dancing. In the third game, it's a full on Running Gag, with everyone making jokes about it.
  • Foil: Paragon Shepard is one to Garrus, being effectively the Superman to his Batman. Paragon Shepard also curbs Garrus's need for absolute justice by pointing out when Garrus is in danger of becoming one of the very monsters he hunts.
  • Fluffy Tamer:
    • In 2, Shepard can pet and feed Urz on Tuchanka, causing the varren to follow you around like a puppy.
    • The Rachni Queen, the Krogan Battlemaster, the Geth... The only thing Paragon Shepard can't befriend seems to be the Reapers. And with the Control and Synthesis endings, even that's arguable.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Shepard is the only party member that can use the Vanguard's biotic Charge, from Mass Effect 2; they was the only character to use it at all until Tela Vasir came along in "Lair of the Shadow Broker". By Mass Effect 3, it was standard for Vanguard's of most races.
  • For Want of a Nail: If Shepard didn't do the Shadow Broker DLC, Liara says that it took a squadron to usurp the Shadow Broker - and she couldn't save Feron. If Shepard didn't do the Project Overlord DLC, Archer says that dozens were killed by David and they had to nuke the entire facility to stop him. If Shepard didn't do the Arrival DLC, Hackett sends in a platoon of marines to liberate Dr. Amanda Kenson, but were forced to send the asteroid into the mass relay, leaving no survivors. However, the alternative outcomes lead to certain war assets being reduced or removed entirely come the third game. For example, the marines that die doing Arrival in Shepard's stead constitute about 50 points of war assets in the Alliance 103rd Marine Division, while the brothers Archer (yes, both of them) combine to bring about 30 points to the table by themselves.
  • Four-Star Badass: Everything but name only in 3. Despite having a lower rank, Shepard is, along with Hackett, essentially the leader of the united alliance to fight the Reapers. But only where the human military is concerned. In the galactic scene, Shepard is a Spectre and is outside of Alliance jurisdiction. Hackett pointed out in the first game that "[the Alliance military] couldn't reprimand you if we wanted to."
  • Friendly Sniper: Paragon Shepard is a heroic champion of the galaxy who can opt to fight with a sniper rifle.
  • Futile Hand Reach:
    • In the third game, during their recurring nightmare about the little boy their watched the Reapers kill.
    • They also do this if Tali steps off the edge of a cliff, complete with a Paragon Interrupt that doesn't change the outcome.

    G - N 
  • Gangbangers: With the Earthborn background, Shepard used to roll with the Tenth Street Reds, one of the many street gangs on humanity's homeworld. Shepard dropped their flags after enlisting with the Systems Alliance.
  • Gasp of Life: Possibly. In the most elusive ending of Mass Effect 3, achieved by accumulating 5000+ Effective Military Strength points before the endgame and then choosing to Destroy the Reapers, we see a body in N7 armor lying motionless amidst the wreckage before suddenly gasping for air. While we don't see the person's face and their identity has never been revealed, most players assume that this figure is Shepard.
  • Genius Bruiser: It's heavily implied that Shepard is extremely intelligent due to their political tact (as much as they hate it), and ability to come up with creative solutions to many seemingly unsolvable problems, both through good strategic thinking and on the fly. It is pretty much required for an N7 marine.
    • Let’s not forget that Shepard is potentially highly skilled in disciplines such as hacking and military engineering. As a highly-trained special forces officer, Shepard is presumably well-versed in a high number of disciplines such as trauma medicine, demolitions, etc.
  • A Girl in Every Port: On the Citadel in the first game, Shepard can sleep with the asari Consort. In the second game, Shiala can express interest in a relationship and a male Shepard can get a kiss from Gianna Parasini on Illum. On the SR-2, they can romance one of several crewmates while cheating on their ''ME1 love interest.
  • Glowing Eyes:
    • The further you go down the renegade path in 2, the more Shepard's eyes will glow red. Fixing up the scars makes them normal again.
    • The third game depicts Shepard's eyes turning a vivid green whenever in proximity to Prothean technology.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Thanks to their cybernetics, Renegade Shepard may get glowing red eyes in the second and third games, depending on the Paragon/Renegade decisions (and averting this with a possible makeover).
  • Godzilla Threshold: In the third game. After the events of Arrival, Shepard turned themselves in to the Alliance and was placed under house arrest at headquarters for several months, awaiting trial for what were technically war crimes against the batarians. However when the Reapers arrive on Earth's doorstep, the Alliance promptly decides to reinstate Shepard, recognising that not only were they right, but they are clearly the most experienced officer to put in charge of dealing with the Reapers.
  • Gone Horribly Right: For the Illusive Man. Bringing back Shepard to be exactly like they were before... Then he rages when Paragon Shepard doesn't help him get things like Collector/Reaper technology, and can even pull Miranda (arguably his most loyal operative) over to their side.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: During Thane's loyalty mission, though the game not-so-subtly edges you towards being the "bad cop." The most convenient possible scenario is invoking your Spectre status, which is a Renegade option.
  • Good Counterpart:
    • This to no less than three characters: Saren Arterius, Tela Vasir, and Kai Leng.
    • By the time 3 comes around, they also serve as a bit of one to the Illusive Man.
    • In the Citadel DLC, to the Clone Shepard created by Cerberus.
    • The Control and Synthesis endings of 3 are both more moral versions of the Illusive Man's and Saren's respective plans to subjugate the Reapers (as done by a non-indoctrinated Shepard rather than the very indoctrinated TIM) and allow the Reapers to merge organics and synthetics (resulting in free-willed hybrids rather than the husks that would have been the most likely result of Saren's plans.)
  • Good Is Not Dumb: It's truly astonishing how many villains think that they can take on the soldier who's killed mecha-gods and wiped out entire armies just because they're trying to be reasonable.
  • Good is Not Nice: Renegade Shepard. Unlike Paragon Shepard who is this when they're provoked, Renegade just goes straight to being ruthless with little to no provocation, and will do very vicious things for the sake of the greater good. They're also an extreme Jerkass to boot.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Paragon Shepard is one of the most notable examples of this trope imaginable. They are unquestionably selfless and compassionate, but if pushed, will not hesitate to gun down anyone stupid enough to get in their way.
    • The ending to the DLC mission Overlord defines this. Even a pure renegade Shepard is sickened by what is done to David. The Paragon option is to take David away; with a bonus Paragon interrupt to Pistol Whip his brother, and then threaten him at gunpoint that if he ever comes after David again, Shepard will shoot him.note 
      Archer: No! Wait! He's too valuable!
      Shepard: [pistol-whips Archer and brings the gun to his chin] You even think about coming after your brother, and this bullet will be waiting for you! Then we'll see who's valuable!
    • Then there's Shepard dealing with Harrot forcing a young quarian to not undercut his prices. This is how a Paragon Shepard convinces him to release the quarian from their "deal":
      Shepard: What if you and I make a deal? You let him set his own prices, and I won't break both your legs.
      Harrot: With barely contained terror: You drive a hard bargain, human.
      Shepard: [cracking their knuckles] I haven't even started.
    • Also, Shepard can leave Zaeed to burn to death in an exploding factory at the end of his loyalty mission (provided the suicide mission has already been completed). And this is considered Paragon (as Zaeed was the one who started the fire in the first place).
    • If you choose to release Grunt from cryo, Paragon Shepard will use their usual charm and eloquent arguments to get Grunt on side... whilst having a gun pressed up against his gut the entire time just in case things turn bad. Paragon Shepard would prefer to solve problems without violence, but don't think for a second that they aren't keeping violence available as a last resort.
    • While a full Renegade Shepard is pretty much a Jerkass through and through, the fact that they're opposing the Reapers is in and of itself a heroic act. So even they only just barely qualify for this trope.
  • Good Morning, Crono: The beginning of the second game. Only instead of waking up to go to work, Shepard wakes up from being, you know, dead.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Shepard's way of dealing with the Shadow Broker.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The default Male Shep has a scar cutting into his hairline. As of Mass Effect 3, the default Female Shep has a scar across one of her eyebrows.
    • From the second installment onwards, they gain some glowing scars after dying and being resurrected by Cerberus. If you play a Paragon, they slowly disappear almost completely. If you play a Renegade...
    • The first game's character creation screen features a variety of scars suitable for every alignment.
    • The Citadel DLC reveals that Shepard considers their scars badges of honour that they earned from the struggles they went through to get to this point. Clone Shepard just doesn't get it.
  • Go Through Me: Paragon Shepard, in a case that is just as much for the benefit of the shooter as for the target, will put themself between Sidonis and Garrus' sniper rifle in an attempt to convince him not to do something so unlike him by implying that if he wants his revenge, he'll have to shoot through his best friend to get it.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Pun aside, Shepard is this in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Their warnings about the Reapers motivate the people behind the Andromeda Initiative to move up their schedule.
  • Guile Hero: Paragon Shepard will find come up many creative ways to bring tense situations to a peaceful solution, or just outwit their enemies.
  • Guilt Complex: Can be played with one. They even admit that they feel guilt for what happened in the Bahak system, which was a completely justifiable act.
  • The Gunslinger:
    • Shepard can fall into every category if you play as the Soldier Class; Adrenaline Rush allows Shepard to hit nearly any point of an enemy's body (Type A); the Revenant has an insanely large ammo clip and will completely obliterate anything in its path (Type B); Shepard, as previously stated, has Adrenaline Rush, which slows down time to a crawl allowing for completely domination in CQC (Type C), which will also allow Shepard to kill enemies before they're even aware of their presence.
    • If you're an Infiltrator (tech/combat) class, your main gun is the sniper rifle, letting you pull off some Alan Quatermain Type A shots.
    • In cutscenes, every Shepard shows off a combination of Type A and D, being able to pull off very impressive shots and getting them off very quickly.
  • Handgun: Pistols are the only weapons that Shepard can use in every game, regardless of class, and is the weapon they're usually shown wielding in cutscenes.
  • Handicapped Badass: Shepard noticeably favors one leg when they walk in 2, possibly as a side effect of being resurrected. Seems to get better by 3.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: In the first game, Shepard described the aftereffects of being exposed to a Prothean beacon as being like "the morning after shore leave," though they never actually drink anything. They more than make up for this in the second game, but don't really seem to get hangovers. Just drunk. The cybernetic implants help.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Admits to Javik that they sometimes feel like this. Shepard's been an Alliance soldier now for so long, they have honestly forgotten what it is like to be anything else. Despite being a Shell-Shocked Veteran, Shepard knows that their life is ruled by warfare and accepts that unless they finish the fight, they can never can earn their freedom from it.
  • He's Back!: Playing as a Paragon in the first game, then switching to playing as a Renegade in the second game and then finally switching back to playing as a Paragon in the third game.
  • The Heart: Paragon Shepard.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Can become this easily. A Shepard who romanced Kaidan or Ashley will definitely become this after their encounter on Horizon in the second game.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: While not technically a power per se, Paragon Shepard has an unerring faith in people to do the right thing and this often ends up paying off in a spectacular way. Legion lampshades this, noting that he's surprised that Shepard has never stopped having faith in the geth, even though most organics would have simply given up on them by now. The fact that Shepard has never given up on them indeed is part of why the geth chose them to be their advocate.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Averted. Everyone refers to them purely as Shepard, even love interests; the player-chosen first name is purely cosmetic. Unless you make your first name "Commander".
  • Herald: Oddly enough, despite being the protagonist, this is arguably Shepard's other main role in the series. Most of their squadmates are clearly the Hero of Another Story, but none of them would have stepped up before Shepard waltzed in, offered them a place on their crew and gave them the chance to save the entire galaxy.
    • In a similar vein, it's highly likely that most worlds would have quickly fallen to the Reapers unless Shepard hadn't gotten the ball rolling on a galaxy-spanning alliance, allowing for the creation of a coordinated resistance movement.
  • The Hero: By virtue of being the player character. Shepard goes from having their ship looking to them for guidance, to the entire galaxy.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Renegade Shepard is a dick. But as Laughably Evil covers below, choosing the Renegade option leads to some hilarious results, and Renegade Shepard still has solid goals in mind, hence the heroic part of this trope. Played straight in 1 and 2, but completely averted in 3. Being a comedic asshole suddenly becomes a lot less funny when the galaxy's survival is at stake, especially when a lot of the pure Renegade options are horrifying for how evil they can be.
  • The Hero Dies:
    • At the end of Mass Effect 2, if Shepard's entire team dies in the suicide mission, Shepard falls to their death. However, the player has to really try to cause this outcome, and it cannot be carried over into 3.
    • In all but one of the endings of Mass Effect 3, Shepard sacrifices themselves to stop the Reapers. The only way for them to survive is if they pick Destroy with sufficient EMS, where they are seen to have survived the Crucible explosion, gasping in a pile of rubble.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Of course you can customize Shepard's hair color and style, but going by the default flaming red hair for female Shepard this trope applies for her love interests.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity:
    • Cerberus's funding of Shepard is the reason nobody in power trusts them in the second game, no matter what else they do in the course of defeating the Collectors. It's heavily implied that Cerberus invoked this with strategic leaks to get Shepard under their thumb.
    • Completely dissipated by the time Mass Effect 3 turns around. It was portrayed before launch that Shepard would be Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee, but instead they are dragged before a panel of panicking Alliance Navy admirals who are desperately asking them what to do when ominous signs point to Shepard being right all along about the Reapers. Of course, it's heavily implied both Anderson and Hackett used every trick in the book to delay the proceedings long enough, by which time, the writing was very much on the wall that the Reapers were both real and they were coming.
  • Heroic BSoD:
  • Heroic Fatigue: Gets hit hard with this in ME3, especially after The Fall of Thessia. By the end of the game, it's quite apparent how exhausted they are and that there is barely any fight left in them, with their voice sounding like someone who hasn't rested in years.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: No matter if Shepard is Paragon or Renegade, they sacrifice their life to get Joker to safety. In the bad ending, they do it again, for the same reason. Most of the endings to the third game also count.
  • Heroic Willpower: Particularly if playing with the Sole Survivor or War Hero background.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: A very real possibility by Mass Effect 3, depending on how you play. Shepard can become so ruthlessly driven to defeat the Reapers, that even they seem shocked by the measures they take.
    • Choosing to ascend Renegade Shepard in the "Control" ending will result in them commanding the Reapers to destroy anything that threatens their vision of galactic peace.
  • Hipster: They can use this as a method of enticing Morinth into meeting with them alone.
    Shepard: I like obscure music.
    Morinth: How obscure?
    Shepard: If you've heard of it, it's already too mainstream for me.
  • Holding Hands: Thane and FemShep will do this naturally while pursuing their romance; a male Shepard will do this with Tali to try to convince her of his feelings.
    • If Liara was romanced in Mass Effect, she and Shepard will hold hands in Lair of the Shadow Broker while Liara tells Shepard to promise her that they will always come back.
  • Honey Trap: How they maneuver Morinth into being ambushed by Samara.
  • Hope Bringer: Paragon Shepard seems to instill the will to fight in everyone they meet. Even Renegade Shepard can pull people up.
    Asari Councilor: Whether you know it or not, you have become the sole ray of hope, in a very dark night.
    • Centuries after crossing the Despair Event Horizon and feeling that his people were beyond saving, traveling with Shepard for a time saw Urdnot Wrex rediscover his hope for the krogan, leading to him deciding to go back to Tuchanka to make a second attempt to save his people from themselves and eventually becoming the Big Good of his entire species.
    • Even the Geth view Shepard as this if they enlist Legion in the second game. That one off-hand handshake gesture Shepard gave to Legion is clung to in the Collective's memory as a hope that peace with organics may be possible... but only if Legion is kept around and survives the Suicide Mission.
    Legion: Hope sustains organics during periods of difficulty. We... admire the concept.
    • Hackett mentions that this is the reason they essentially made Shepard the Big Good of the galaxy in 3. Shepard has an uncanny ability to inspire people to fight for reasons beyond personal gain, to make them believe in what they are fighting for. People will fight for them and follow the most suicidal sounding orders because they give them reason to believe in the cause and hope for a better future.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The ancient and unspeakably powerful Reapers fear Shepard, turning their guns away from entire fleets in an attempt to take them out. Leviathan is also quite taken aback by them.
  • Horse of a Different Color: In Mass Effect 3, one of the sidequests involves Shepard retrieving an alien dinosaur fossil for salarian scientists to clone, for the sole purpose of letting the krogan ride them into battle.
  • Hot-Blooded: Both Renegade and Paragon Shepard can be played as this.
  • Humble Hero: Despite all their accomplishments, a Paragon Shepard will on numerous occasions state they are just doing their job and attempt to downplay their heroic actions. In the third game, Shepard even questions why Hackett wants them to speak for humanity at peace-talks, stating they're not a diplomat, despite being the reason most of the various parties even agreed to be in the same room as each other.
    Shepard: I'm just doing my job, sir.
    Hackett: I wish every soldier had your definition of "doing your job."
  • Hurting Hero:
    • Definitely there with a Colonist background and mixed with a War Hero or Sole Survivor background. Also depends on dialogue choices.
    • Can also be shown at the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC as shown in the Knight in Sour Armor entry below.
    • Very much so in ME3. To the point where Admiral Anderson — stuck on Earth in the middle of a Reaper invasion — asks Joker to take care of Shepard.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Serves in this role for Aria during the Omega DLC.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted. Every one of Shepard's guns, and all their equipment, are clearly visible on their body. While this is standard for the series, it's a notable aversion for both RPG and Third Person Shooter protagonists.
    • Mass Effect 3 averts this further; every weapon you carry has mass and bulk. A lightly-equipped Shepard will get a few useful stat boosts, conversely a heavily loaded-down Shepard will suffer mobility issues.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Tela Vasir says that Shepard is one when they judge her for working with the Shadow Broker when they're essentially working with the terrorist organization, Cerberus. Although the player can't call Vasir out of it, her retort falls flat because she willingly worked herself to the Shadow Broker who doesn't care about the safety of the galaxy when he attempted to sell Shepard's body to the Collectors.
    • Paragon Shepard often berates criminals, smugglers, looters, mercenaries or vigilantes for breaking the law, seemingly forgetting that most of their squad are comprised of these individuals and Shepard herself/himself frequently falls into one or more of these categories. Although, in this particular case, Spectres are explicitly above the law.
    • In quite a tragic example, Shepard calls out Vega's Death Seeker tendencies, despite having become one themself by Mass Effect 3.
    • If a female Shepard romances Jacob after previously romancing Kaidan or Liara, her calling out Jacob for cheating on her comes off as hollow (as he points out in turn).
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Shepard: Most of the time, I'm not being stupid about it.
  • I Am Your Opponent: Highlighted in 3, where on more than one occasion Shepard literally charges at a Reaper, on foot, while the Reaper is intentionally aiming at them. Then Shepard kills them.
  • I Can't Dance: Shepard can kill, negotiate, bribe, or charm their way out any situation, and has long since been proven the ultimate problem-solving machine in the galaxy. Despite their long list of impressive skills and athletic ability, in no situation seen thus far (except one) can they avoid looking like a complete jackass when attempting to "dance."
    • This is lampshaded by Jack in the Purgatory club in Mass Effect 3 should she survive to Act 2. Shepard pries her away from doing work on her supposed shore leave to go dance, and she calls Shepard out for their lack of dancing skills.
    • Garrus will also mention it while challenging Shepard to a shooting competition.
    Garrus: Not saying you don't know how to use [a sniper rifle], just that some of us know how to make it dance.
    Shepard: There are a lot of people who've seen me in action, Garrus. They seemed to be impressed.
    Garrus: Yeah, but I've actually seen you dance, and, well… no comment.
    • The interaction text for any dance floor reads: "Dance?" This is the only interaction text in the whole game with a question mark. That's right, even the game itself calls Shepard out on their lack of ability.
    • During the Citadel DLC party, Shepard will dance with the group — which leads to hooting and hollering.
    • Also during the Citadel DLC, a female Commander Shepard romancing Garrus will end up dancing a tango with him. Even she lampshades her usual lack of dancing skill: as he pulls her out onto the floor, all she can say is "No no no no no no no no no!" Surprisingly, it looks spectacular.
    • In a drinking contest with Ashley she might react to a comment about saving the best moves by claiming if drunk at least Shepard will have an excuse for the way they dance. Their reaction is all, "Oh no you didn't."
    • Also during the Citadel DLC party, EDI will be petitioning Joker for a dance and Shepard can offer to sub in. Cue 30 seconds of Joker laughing.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Whether Paragon or Renegade they will defend many of their actions in this way. One of the biggest ones came at the end of the Arrival DLC where they destroyed an entire solar system and killed over 300,000 people.
    • EDI invokes this as the reason she doesn't blame Shepard for destroying the "Hannibal" Luna AI in the first game, when it's revealed that EDI herself (or an early incarnation) was once that system. She states that she understands Shepard had no other choice and she kept it to herself so as not to upset them.
    • In 3, Shepard can admit that they do feel guilt over destroying the Alpha Relay in Arrival, telling a dying batarian who lost his entire family;
      Shepard: You think I didn't feel guilty? I destroyed an entire colony! I've thought about the people who've died. About how I couldn't warn them in time. In the end, I didn't have a choice. But I'm sorry... if that means anything.
  • I Die Free: The Refusal ending in the Extended Cut DLC.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: If a female Shepard starts to romance Garrus, this is what she'll say if she breaks it off.
  • Ideal Hero: Paragon Shepard is a Reconstruction of this trope. Shepard understands how out of place their ideals may seem when the galaxy is full of people willing to be cruel and selfish to others. Yet, they still believe in the importance of those ideals and inspire others to search for the better people within themselves.
  • Immortal Hero: Both played straight and subverted. The Illusive Man brings them back from the dead because he knows Shepard is indispensable to the defense of the galaxy, but that doesn't stop Shepard from dying if you were careless at the end of the second game.
  • An Ice Person: In Mass Effect 2 and beyond, Shepard is the only character with access to the Cryo Ammo power as an Infiltrator, Soldier, or Vanguard. In fact, only an Adept Shepard is without any form of freezing power, as Engineers and Sentinels get Cryo Blast.
  • Immune to Drugs: From 2 onwards, combined with Never Gets Drunk due to all the cybernetics. Krogan liquor? On their feet in a few minutes. A fatal poisoning? A bad hangover. Two days of sedation? Back in fighting shape before you know it.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: In the beginning of 3, they are told by Anderson to testify before an Alliance committee about the Reapers' arrival. Shepard is quick to reply that they are "a soldier, not a diplomat." One might argue against that phrase with the fact that with player input, Shepard can talk their way out of trouble, but it should also be remembered that Shepard has no formal education as a diplomat and has only being making it up as they went along.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: Paragon Shepard, while seeing the importance of someone serving as a symbol to inspire, generally tries to downplay their heroics, feeling that they're just doing their job.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Renegade Shepard can say this to Thane, with the justification they're heading into a suicide mission, so getting friendly (or more) is a waste of time. Thane responds that they could survive, and speaking from his own experience no-one should be "an island".
  • Implacable Man: Especially so in the second game. No matter what Shepard's enemies do, up to and including outright killing them, Shepard will not stop coming for them. This is especially emphasized in the Arrival DLC, where after decimating a large number of their forces, the Project Rho troops finally subdue them, only for them to break through the sedatives. Every single defense and holding tactic that the troops put in Shepard's way is easily cut through as Shepard slaughters their through the whole facility, single-handedly.
  • Informed Attribute: Even if you play Shepard as a Renegade all the way through 2, Jack will still refer to them as "king / queen of the scouts" when they meet up again in 3.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Judging from the various comments encountered throughout the series, Shepard's talent for destruction has garnered them quite a few fans amongst the krogan. If Shepard kills the Thresher Maw during Grunt's loyalty mission in 2, they receive a breeding request. This is also a big part of why Garrus is attracted to female Shepard - he finds her immense ass-kicking skills both impressive and arousing.
    Urdnot Dagg: I envy your enemies, Commander. To be hated by ones so powerful speaks well of you. My krogan would destroy anything we face to earn such a reputation.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Renegade Shepard seems to take perverse pleasure in finding flimsy excuses for their rampages.
    • "Hey! Everyone! This store discriminates against the poor!"
    • Renegade Shepard is even repeatedly called out on it, particularly in the first game. There are no less than three examples on Noveria — Parasini, Lorik Qu'in and Opold will all invoke some variation of the trope if you screw them over.
      Lorik Qui'in: What insane breed of logic is that?
  • Invisible Parents: Captain Hannah Shepard for a Spacer Shepard; Shepard calls their mother on the comm system, and, like with Admiral Hackett, the camera focuses on Shepard the entire time.
    • She's also "appears" in 2 via email and a news-report and is mentioned several times in 3, after being initially being listed as M.I.A. due to the confusion from the Reaper invasion, with Hackett later reporting that she's both alive and been promoted to Rear-Admiral.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Potentially one in a conversation with EDI in 3.
      Shepard: Are you saying submission is preferable to extinction?
    • In a relationship with Liara, you can tell Matriarch Aethyta that "nobody messes with my girl", which she had said before regarding her desire to keep Shepard away from her if they were still with Cerberus. She is impressed.
  • I Should Have Been Better: Can take this attitude through the first two games on the series depending on player choice. Will take this attitude in Mass Effect 3 as the bodies and defeats pile up, especially after the Fall of Thessia.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Paragon Shepard will go out of their way to refer to Legion as "him" instead of "it," to the point that Tali has to correct them so as to not worry the other Quarian admirals.
  • It Runs in the Family: With Spacer Shepard, it's either being militarily awesome, or signing off with some catchphrase.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: From the point where they find the Prothean beacon on Eden Prime, almost everything in Shepard's life is death and misery.
  • It's Personal:
    • Shepard displays this attitude toward Saren, the Illusive Man and the Reapers.
    • One can infer Colonist Shepard took the Collectors' attacks during the second game very personally.
    • Upon seeing the Mysterious Figure from the Citadel DLC disposing of Shep's pets and ship models, they state that it's now personal.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Shepard invokes this in 2, when mowing through an army of geth on Haestrom to rescue Tali.
    Tali: And what are you doing here, Shepard? We're in the middle of geth space!
    Shepard: I was in the neighborhood... thought you might need a hand?
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Shepard's reason for killing themselves in 2someone has to warn the rest of the galaxy of the Reaper mass invasion, and Joker is incapable of saving Shepard himself.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Renegade Shepard is fond of these. Paragon Shepard might not actually use these, but they aren't shy about threatening someone with one.
  • Jerkass: Full-blown Renegade Shepard is, to put it bluntly, a colossal asshole to damn near everyone. From 1 alone, there's: calling Ashley a coward for retreating from the geth (a tactical retreat, by the by, after they'd killed the rest of her unit), punching out the clearly unstable Doctor Manuel, threatening Emily Wong for no reason, pointing a gun at Conrad Verner's face, not even trying to save the inhabitants of Zhu's Hope, killing the last rachni queen, killing Wrex in cold blood, and leaving the Council to die — and admitting they did it on purpose to allow Udina and humanity to make a power move.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In-Universe example, as well as out-of-universe. This is pretty much the entire point of at least half of the 'intimidate'/lower-left red dialogue options.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • A Shepard who is mainly neutral, with a mix of Paragon and Renegade.
    • Even a full-blown Renegade Shepard has their nice moments - it's Renegade Shepard who states they will do anything to recover the body of one of Ashley's squadmates from Eden Prime, just because her husband asked. And a Renegade Shepard is just as overjoyed to reunite with Garrus in 2 as a Paragon.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Shepard has this authority as a Spectre.
    • Played straight with Renegade Shepard, who is quite willing to abuse this so they can shoot anyone who happens to piss them off.
    • Subverted with Paragon Shepard, who frequently states they only use lethal force as a last resort.
  • The Juggernaut: In Mass Effect 2, Shepard is The Juggernaut. Even alone, tears through enemies as if their armour was made of paper. Being enhanced through cybernetics and having enhanced tech makes about 50 enemies like a 4 minute fight. Takes a Reaper tech device at full power to bring them down. Even sedated, it doesn't stop them for long. In fact each dose of sedative had to constantly get increased because Shepard grew immune to it. their entire lone wolf "fight" through the facility afterwards confirms them as this even more. Among the classes, Sentinel Shepard is one of the most ridiculously tanky things in the universe, and in 3, Vanguard Shepard becomes an unstoppable living grenade that kills everything in their path.
  • Just a Machine: Expresses this view of Sovereign in 1. They're very wrong on that score. Renegade Shepard will express the same views toward EDI and Legion in 2, also wrong.
  • Karma Houdini: Shepard will always be hailed as the hero who rallied the galaxy against the Reapers and can retain the loyalty and respect of their squad, even if they are a full-blown jerk and/or genocide entire species. Particularly true for a Renegade Shepard who ultimately chooses to control the Reapers, who is rewarded with immortality and godhood.
  • Kavorka Man: Via face customization during character creation, you can make Commander Shepard look like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, and everyone still wants to get in their pants. Guess the badassery/heroicness shines through no matter how Shep looks. And on top of all of this, Shepard also has some pretty ugly scarring for much of the game (which gets worse if too many Renegade choices are made), although there is a Normandy upgrade that will make scars disappear permanently.
  • Keep the Reward: This is the 'nice' option for many sidequests, but a full Paragon Shepard actually subverts this and gets even larger rewards through selflessness.
  • Kick the Dog: A common option.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: More common than Kick the Dog due to the large number of Asshole Victims in the games.
  • Kill It with Fire: Depending on their class, Shepard can use incendiary ammo rounds, and/or the Incinerate power. Zaeed's loyalty mission gives you a flamethrower and incendiary grenades for a bonus power. All those powers return in the third game as well.
  • The Kirk:
    • Paragon and Renegade actions tend to slide in The McCoy and The Spock territory as well.
    • Paragon Shepard, along with Primarch Victus, definitely fits this in the genophage arc, next to Wrex's McCoy and Dalatrass Linron's Spock.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: No matter where they go, Shepard can loot things. Even when threatening other looters.
  • Knight Errant: Paragon Shepard, who travels the galaxy, righting wrongs and asking for no reward.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Paragon Shepard is an incorruptible idealist who always behaves chivalrously towards the people they love and will always save the day. Shepard particularly becomes a shining example of this trope with the Spacer + War Hero background.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Yes, the play styles are infinite, but if you have the Colonist origin, the asari Consort pretty much describes you this way. Basically if Paragon Shepard isn't a Wide-Eyed Idealist or The Pollyanna, they're likely a Knight in Sour Armor.
    "I see the sadness behind your eyes, it tells a story that makes me want to weep. Pain and loss. But it drives you, makes you strong. It is that strength that people are drawn to. It is why you lead and others follow without question. You will need that leadership in the battles to come."
    • At the end of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, Liara will ask Shepard how they're doing. If you choose the right dialogue option, Shepard will vent to Liara about how tired they are of dealing with Cerberus and the Council treating them like they're nuts. But in the end they keep going because it's the right thing to do. It really drives home how much crap Shepard is going through. See Patrick Stewart Speech below for part of the exchange.
    • Big time in Mass Effect 3. Throughout the entire game, Shepard feels that nothing they do is really going to make a difference. They just keep on going anyway.
  • Knight Templar: Some of the choices that Shepard can make can look a bit like this, especially in the third game. If you choose to ascend Shepard as commander of the Reapers while playing the Renegade route, they'll use the Reapers to impose order and stamp out possible threats to their vision of "peace".
  • Knuckle Cracking: Shepard's way of preparing for a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique. Once, they only have to do this to make a volus give up a keycard.
  • The Lad-ette: Female Shep doesn't seem all that feminine: career marine, rarely wears dresses, sits like a man, speaks with a deep voice, and downs shots just as readily as Male Shep (even ryncol). You can even do a Renegade interrupt in one mission when a merc "mistakes" you for a stripper. (If you don't make the interrupt, the Merc is still impressed. "Wow, not even a smile. That hardass, huh?")
    Shepard: Show me yours, tough guy. [pulls out firearm] I bet mine's bigger.
    • Comes up in conversation with Miranda in the Citadel DLC, where she and Miranda try to talk about more feminine interests, and neither of them can even think of one thing to really talk about.
  • Lady of War: FemShep definitely qualifies. Despite typically acting as The Squadette during her off-duty hours, she manages to remain focused, reserved and cool-headed at all times throughout combat situations. Particularly if FemShep is an Infiltrator, where they're armed with a sniper-rifle that was designed to punch through tanks. Vanguards also get a Krogan shotgun which would shatter every bone in a normal human's arm just from the recoil.
  • Large and in Charge: Male Shepard is 6'4"note , and towers over all but a few of his alien followers. Completely inverted with Female Shepard.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Shepard can sacrifice the Council at the end of 1 and put Udina in charge in a power grab. Two years later, Udina refuses to give Shepard their Spectre status back. While it is possible that Shepard can turn down the chance of getting it back in 2, making Udina a councilor is the only path where this is guaranteed.
  • Last Disrespects: Renegade Shepard can go the extra mile after killing Wrex, and tell Kirrahe to just toss their former teammate's body in the nearest swamp.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Everyone, from superior officers to lovers to random people you just met on the street will call you Shepard. Lampshaded by Dr. Chakwas in 3.
      Chakwas: You know, I just realized you never have called me by my first name.
      Shepard: Well, neither have you.
      Chakwas: And I never will!
    • The default first names of male and female Shepard are "John" and "Jane", which are Meaningful Names in that those names are also associated with "Doe"; pertaining to unidentified people.
    • This trope lasts all the way to the end of the third game. The text format of their memorial wall placard could have accommodated whatever first name the player gave them, but instead it just refers to them as "Commander Shepard." Even Anderson's full name is written on his.
  • Last of His Kind: Depending on background, Spacer is the only one to have a surviving family throughout the series, with Earthborn and Colonist Shepard being orphans who are the last of their family.
    • Played with in 3. Spacer Shepard initially hears no word from their mother, leading them to believe that she perished in the initial attack on Earth. Turns out that Captain Hannah Shepard not only is still alive, but has been promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and is working directly under Admiral Hackett in leading the Fleet.
  • Laughably Evil: In the 1st and 2nd games at least, a lot of players like to play Shepard as a jerk because it leads to a lot of amusing dialog and moments.
  • The Leader: They fit all four types, but Type IV is the most notable, with most characters noting their remarkable charisma.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: It's possible for an unromanced female Shepard to sleep with Javik in the Citadel DLC.
    Javik: It turns out that there's one thing primitives are good at...
    FemShep: Not. A word...
  • Lighter and Softer: The popular Spacer/War Hero combination leaves Shepard relatively trauma-free, with an idyllic childhood, a surviving mother and a chest full of medals.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Soldier Class has the fastest storm speed of all the classes.
    • Storm speed schmorm speed. Vanguard thinks Soldier is quaint for having to run to shotgun their foe in the face.
    • All classes move much faster in Mass Effect 3. Expect Soldiers and Vanguards to take it up to eleven.
  • Like an Old Married Couple:
    • Shepard's interaction with Liara has this vibe in Lair of the Shadow Broker, even if she wasn't romanced.
    Liara: Their attacks are disorganized. They would be much more effective if they attacked in force.
    Shepard: Please don't give the mercs ideas…

    Liara: Here comes the next wave. It looks like a big one!
    Shepard: You just had to give them tactical advice!
    Liara: But it means there will be less guards to deal with inside.
    Shepard: Keep dreaming, T'soni.

    Liara: More mercs?! How many guards does the Shadow Broker have?!
    Shepard: I told you.
    • Shepard and their love interest start dipping into this in Citadel.
      Shepard: (preparing to shoot a door open) Stand back!
      Love Interest: Wait. (politely knocks on the window and asks) Could you open the door for us?
      (door opens)
      Love Interest: Thank you.
      Volus Skycar Manager: Please leave!
      Love Interest: (looks smug)
      Shepard: Well, I could have done that.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Never promoted above the rank of Commander, despite having responsibilities and power far beyond that rank and command of Earth's most advanced ship. This gets lampshaded in the second game, where the Quarians insist on using the the title Captain despite Shepard not actually holding that military rank. It gets especially ridiculous in the third game, when Shepard is the second or third most powerful person in the Alliance and the public face of humanity. However, given that they're a spectre and thus outside of Alliance authority, it's a moot point.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: A feminine-looking female Shepard romancing Liara, Kelly, Samantha or Diana comes off as this. Can be noticeably averted with a butch Fem Shep.
  • Little Black Dress:
    • Kasumi gets Female Shepard a nice black leather outfit.
    • A different one one is seen in the Citadel DLC where Shepard has to infiltrate a fundraising gala at a casino.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: With crews like these, Shepard playing this role was inevitable. Whether this is better or worse for the crew members depends on your playstyle.
    • Joker lampshades this as the Trope Namer for "We Were Your Team", where he notes that after Shepard's death in 2, none of Shepard's crew had anyone to keep them all banded together, so they were forced to go their separate ways.
    • By Mass Effect 3, this starts turning around as Shepard keeps moving closer and closer to the Despair Event Horizon. Liara, Tali, Garrus, Kaidan, Ashley, and Joker act as ones for them to keep them going. It also gets a lampshade when he out of the blue asks EDI if she has any daddy issues to work through involving the Illusive Man; when she just gets confused he says he's learned to ask that kind of thing.
  • Living Legend: From the beginning of the first game, Shepard is famous amongst humanity as an N7 marine with a distinguished service record, which is what gets Shepard the attention of the Council as a Spectre candidate. By the end of the first game, Shepard becomes this for the galaxy overall and it lasts into the 2nd game. At the beginning of the third game, when the Reapers return and Shepard's warnings and actions become vindicated, they become a living icon and a symbol of hope to humanity and the other species of the galaxy in their resistance against annihilation. By the end of the third game, Shepard becomes truly legendary, being remembered for generations to follow. Though the "living" part of the trope may no longer qualify depending on the ending chosen...
  • Lonely at the Top: Most of the dialogue options in the second game have Shepard ask former squadmates if they can join them once more. The third game really reinforces the fact that Shepard needs the crew of the Normandy as much as they need them.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: At the end of the third game, Shepard has flashbacks to important people in their life during their Heroic Sacrifice with a slow piano piece essentially bidding Shep goodbye. The song is fittingly titled "An End, Once and For All".
  • Loony Fan: They have one in Conrad Verner, an overenthusiastic civilian who wants so desperately to be a hero like her/him. Some players find him hilarious, others annoying, but if you put up with his antics throughout ME 1 and ME 2 and complete a handful of entirely unrelated side quests in ME 1, he actually turns useful in ME 3 by providing you with a War Asset and some amusing dialogue full of Take Thats and Running Gags.
  • Machine Empathy: The third game reveals that Shepard can sense Prothean technology in proximity to them, causing their eyes to glow vivid green.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Due to Cerberus upgrades during the resurrection process, Shepard's skeletal structure has been reinforced to the point where they can literally headbutt a krogan without flinching.
    • Lair of the Shadow Broker shows that Shepard is strong enough to hold their own in a fist-fight with a yahg. In fact, if the Shadow Broker wasn't relying on using a shield during the fight, it's likely that Shepard would have beaten him into submission with their bare hands.
    • Upped in Mass Effect 3, where aside from several instances of falls and being thrown across the room by explosions with no ill-effect, they survive being blasted by Harbinger's main gun. The kind that cuts capital ships in half. Though not unscathed by a long shot.
    • And if you pick the Destroy ending and have the Extended Cut and sufficient EMS, Shepard survives the Citadel/Crucible exploding around them and according to an email on the tablet app, is awake in a hospital not too long afterwards. Iron doesn't really describe it at that point.
  • Magic Skirt: The DLC add-on involving Kasumi (which is also included free of charge in the PS3 version released in 2011) adds a Little Black Dress to the female Shepard's Normandy wardrobe. The trope (particularly the "gaping black void under the skirt" aspect) is taken to hilarious extremes if you engage any crewmembers in conversation that require Shepard to sit down in a chair. This can continue even up to the third game.
  • Manly Gay: Like his female counterpart, a male Shepard romancing Kaidan or Steve after remaining single for the first two games really comes off this way between his mannerisms and the shear amount of crap he's pulled throughout the series.
  • Magnetic Hero: And how. Just go through the character pages and count how many have Undying Loyalty to them. It'd be easier to count those without. So great is Shepard's ability to inspire this kind of absolute loyalty from so many diverse people that the Big Bad of the Citadel DLC derisively labels their team, "The Cult of Shepard".
    Miranda: I don't have what you do. That fire that makes people willing to follow you into hell itself.
  • Mama Bear: If Shepard's chosen gender is a female. Do not threaten Shepard's crew or you will end up dead! But threaten to throw away Shepard's Hamster and Fish and it will become personal.
    "[Spoiler! villain] messed with my hamster, guys. Now it's personal. Guys? Were you gonna say something,, no, I get it. Hard to even find the words."
  • Married to the Job: When they discuss settling down in 3, Jacob admits he feels the Normandy is Shepard's real love and can't picture them giving it up. Interestingly, he treats a Shepard who romanced him differently — he tells her that happiness is out there for her when she wants it. Whatever his advice for Shepard is, it comes off as him trying to justify why he's already with someone else by the time Shepard meets him again.
  • Martial Pacifist: Paragon Shepard often emphasises (particularly juxtaposed to Garrus's Cowboy Cop tendencies) that just because you can use force to solve a problem, doesn't mean should use force. Best exemplified on Garrus's sidequest in the first game involving Dr. Saleon. They also bring this up when Nassana Dantius attempts to say that they're not that different from each other.
    Shepard: You kill people because they're beneath you, they're in your way. I kill people because they leave me no choice.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Both versions of Shepard play the more masculine partner to their Gay Option love interests.
    • Even the most femininely designed female Shepard is very much a Butch Lesbian in her mannerisms and demeanor, while Liara, Kelly, Samantha, and Diana are all Lipstick Lesbians or the bisexual equivalent.
    • More downplayed if Shepard is male. Steve and Kaidan are Straight Gay and the bisexual equivalent respectively, but are still clearly the sensitive guy to the Manly Gay Shepard.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Shepard/Shepherd. The Commander has the ability to gather people to their cause and guide to become better people
    • Not to mention a Paragon Shepard fulfills this role entirely, protecting both the innocent and their flock from encroaching wolves... or Reapers. In the Control ending of 3, a Paragon Shepard vows they will guide the races of the galaxy, shepherd them if you will.
    • Also, Alan Shepard, aviator, test pilot, astronaut, the second person and first American to fly in space, and the fifth man to walk on the moon (where he hit two golf balls on the lunar surface).
    • Guess who else was known as "the Shepherd"?
    • A post-credits scene has a kid ask for another story about "The Shepard."
    • Inverted in 3. If Shepard cures the genophage, Wrex declares their name will come to mean "Hero" in the krogan language.
    • In order to infiltrate Hock's party, Kasumi creates for Shepard a fake history as a mercenary and the alias "Solomon/Allison Gunn", depending on their gender. Interesting enough, Solomon and Allison mean "Peace" and "Noble" respectively, while the surname Gunn means "Battle". Overall, rather appropriate for a mercenary, wouldn't you agree? It also goes without saying, that Gunn is a homonym of "gun".
  • Megaton Punch: Adept and Vanguard Shepards apparently prefer biotic palm strikes/punches to this newfangled omni-blade thing. They make an exception for Kai Leng alone.
  • Memetic Badass: In-Universe and out. There's even a joke about it at one point.
    What's the difference between Commander Shepard and a krogan? One is an unstoppable juggernaut of headbutting destruction and the other has four testicles.
  • Messiah Creep: The death and return of Shepard in the beginning of the second game doesn't refer to anything. Really.
  • Messianic Archetype: Character traits and story fulfillment.
  • Mildly Military: While the Alliance and even Cerberus-trained crews are fairly spit-and-polish, the majority of Commander Shepard's squad is anything but traditional.
    • Although it's mentioned a few times that the level of military discipline enforced onboard lies solely at the discretion of the Captain of the vessel. Paragon Shepard is repeatedly shown in both games to be perfectly fine with waving rank aside and letting the crew speak freely as friends and equals, even stating at one point that they always keep an open-door policy.
    • It's worth noting that the only people in authority that Shepard is shown to have any respect for, always refers to as "Sir" and actively remembers to stand to attention while speaking to are Admirals Hackett and Anderson .
    • The Citadel DLC reveals that Shepard and EDI avert this by insisting on carrying out thirty minutes of extensive pre-flight checks before each takeoff. These are actually largely unnecessary and the Normandy can be prepped and ready to go in under five minutes, something the rest of the crew were well aware of, but decided to simply humour them about. Shepard isn't particularly happy to learn this fact, mostly because they genuinely believed it took that long!
  • Military Brat: The basis for the Spacer origin. Both parents were Alliance Navy, and is the only origin story where at least one parent is still alive.
  • Military Maverick: So very, very much. Even if you don't play a Renegade, you still end up conspiring to defy the Council and get your ship back to fight Saren, and that's just one occurrence. And in the second game, you can have a second authority group you can defy. Fairly, you can get called on this. You can even call up the Council, the most important and powerful individuals in the galaxy, for the sole purpose of hanging up on them.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Regardless of how the player chooses, Jack will assume female Shepard is flirting with her at the end of her conversation chain, and as a result refuse to speak to her further.
  • Moment of Weakness:
    • A potential (depending on dialogue) and very brief one at the end of Lair of the Shadow Broker. Shepard, no matter how bad things have gotten, has always nearly always kept their suffering secret from the crew. Liara, showing the strength of the relationship between her and Shepard (romance or otherwise), can convince Shepard to lower their defenses where Shepard will, for the first time, express real worry about the task ahead or vent as to how they have to make the tough decisions and be shunned for them.
    • Several, in ME3. All of Shepard's friends worry about them. Shepard goes from giving everyone pep talks, to being the one receiving pep talks.
    • One of the most notable can come during the assault on the Cerberus HQ, when Shepard finds a video that confirms that they were actually brain-dead. This causes Shepard to have a brief existential crisis, almost completely forgetting they were in a combat situation and not even really talking to anyone in particular but themselves, wondering if they are the real Shepard or just a high-tech VI that thinks its Shepard. It takes another squad member and possibly Love Interest reassuring them that they believe Shepard is the real Shepard to snap them out of it.
  • Mook Horror Show: Very noticeably becomes this as the series goes on, with special mention going to Korlus and the Arrival DLC in 2, and Mars and the Citadel DLC in 3.
  • Morality Chain:
    • Paragon Shepard plays this role for Garrus, keeping him from becoming the kind of people he fights against. Especially notable if FemShep romances Garrus.
    • Paragon Shepard also is one for Liara, the Paragon interrupts in Lair of the Shadow Broker pointing out the sheer collateral damage of her actions and attempting to pull her back from her descent into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory.
    • Paragon Shepard also becomes one for Miranda and Jack (or at least as Jack starts getting better).
  • Mr. Fanservice: Male Shepard's face was based on a model.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Likewise, you can have a female Shepard wear some very revealing outfits, like the leather outfit in the third game.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: A very literal example: You choose an origin and a highlight in Shepard's service record at the beginning of your game. The different decisions you can make as you play expand on this:
    • Spacer: Born to Alliance officers, grew up moving from one post to another, enlisted at the age of 18.
    • Colonist: Born and raised on Mindoir, family killed by slavers, rescued by Alliance soldiers, enlisted a few years after.
    • Earthborn: No parents, grew up in the slums of one of Earth's cities, enlisted in the Alliance to escape a life of crime and poverty.
    • War Hero: Risked life and limb to save fellow soldiers and singlehandedly fought off batarian slavers on Elysium, for which they were awarded the Alliance's highest honors.
    • Sole Survivor: Endured significant trauma as their unit was wiped out by a thresher maw attack on Akuze, barely escaping with their life after their fellow soldiers died.
    • Ruthless: Has a reputation for doing whatever it takes, costs be damned, as demonstrated when they sacrificed most of their fellow soldiers in battle on Torfan and killed surrendering batarians.
  • Mugging the Monster: It's mind-blowing how many enemies think trying to kill Shepard is a good idea.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Female Shepard, in particular, is a stick figure. Instead of a krogan crushing her, however, she crushes them. She does have cybernetic implants in the second game which could explain it for 2 and 3. Could also be seen as Gameplay and Story Segregation since all female human and asari characters share the same generic body model, including female Shepard, so In-Universe she might be pretty buff.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Averted with biotic Shepards. Word of God states they were one of the rare latent biotics who only manifested as a result of secondary exposure, well into puberty. By the time Shepard was officially recognised as a biotic, BAaT had been shut down for several years and they had already joined the Alliance military.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • The Fall of Earth is this to Shepard, until the Fall of Thessia, where not only did Shepard watch as an entire world was sacked by the Reapers, but they also failed to get the intel needed to complete the Crucible and end the war for good.
    • Shepard's failure to save the boy in the vents comes back to haunt them in recurring nightmares, which are joined by everyone Shepard has failed to save during the series.
    • Prior to the third game, the events of Arrival. Even if Shepard did try to warn the batarians to evacuate the system, the message never got through and 300,000 people are killed in the resulting blast.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes:
    • Mass Effect: Genesis has Shepard recalling the events of the first game as they're dying after the destruction of the Normandy SR-1.
    • Also happens at the end of Mass Effect 3.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Rare human example for Paragon Shepard. Since most aliens see humans as selfish, greedy, bullying Entitled Bastards, many an alien expresses genuine shock at meeting a human who is actually reasonable, respectful, and willing to aid alien species instead of just mowing them down to further humanity's interests. Paragon Shepard can also frequently butt heads with human extremists, arguing that humanity will not win any hearts or minds if they continue to treat their alien allies with hostility or contempt. Averted for Renegade Shepard, who plays the Humans Are Bastards galactic stereotype dead straight.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Named after Alan Shepard, the second man and first American in space.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Shepard with the Ruthless service record is known by the batarians as "The Butcher of Torfan".
    • Commander Shepard itself becomes this to their enemies in the second and third game.
  • Names to Trust Immediately: Shepard. Played straight with a Paragon Shepard, who will never stab a good person in the back; if they turn on someone, it's usually up front and because they brought it on themselves. Subverted with Renegade Shepard, who is quite capable of stabbing anyone in the back.
  • Necessarily Evil: Paragon Shepard tries to make it very clear that they despise Cerberus, both their methods and what they stand for. They are only working with them because they are the only ones willing to give them support against the Reaper threat.
    • A Renegade ending of Mass Effect can have Shep stating that they let the Council die because they wanted humans to take over, to the shock of Anderson and the delight of Udina. They then walk off like a classic Villain Protagonist and the closing scene has them posing with an assault rifle against a frighteningly red background - and this is perhaps the most evil Shepard will look in the entire series.
  • Nerves of Steel: The kind of stress that they go through and horrors that they see would utterly break just about anyone else. While those do start to break them down by 3, it still doesn't stop them from staring down Reaper Destroyers with only the slightest hints of fear.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Shepard's cybernetic implants make them a Type 3 in the sequels. It takes a combination of several shots of something green, uncut batarian ale, and krogan ryncol to knock them out.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Shepard can get quite tired of being greeted with "But you're dead!" everywhere they go in the second game.
    Shepard: I've been getting that everywhere. It's a pain in the ass.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Bonus powers in ME2 and ME3 can include biotic abilities, something Engineers, Infiltrators and Soldiers originally lacked. Possibly justified as perhaps being an unintentional side effect of the Lazarus Project causing Shepard to manifest as a latent biotic. This would conceivably fit within the lore as biotic Shepard, according to Word of God, did not manifest until they were around 17, hence why they never entered the BAaT program (it had already shutdown). This is also why biotic Shepard was outfitted with the L3 next generation implants, unlike Kaidan who manifested earlier and thus received the L2 implants. It's also potentially worth noting that there is a lot of Element Zero scattered around the Normandy crash-site, which potentially could explain how Shepard, if a latent biotic, got secondary exposure between games.
  • Nice Guy: Paragon Shepard is kind-hearted, generous, friendly and forgiving. Beware the Nice Ones is in effect, however.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Killing or causing the death of Wrex, which allows his brother Wreav to become head of Clan Urdnot and crushes the reformist movement that had sprung up around Tuchanka after Virmire.
    • Allowing the death of the Council causes a massive upsurge in Fantastic Racism on the Citadel, as humanity becomes increasingly controlling in the name of "security".
    • Shepard has the option of refusing the three choices offered by the Catalyst, choosing instead to find a different solution to defeating the Reapers. This "solution" is letting the current cycle run its course, and having the next one defeat the Reapers with the help of Liara's time capsules. Pyrrhic Victory at its finest.
  • Nightmare Fetishist:
    • Can show signs of this while talking to Miranda and Jacob about Grunt's tank. Can show them much more strongly in the Leviathan DLC. James Vega is fascinated by the severed animated head of either a Husk or a Cerberus trooper, and even after it bites him he wants the Commander to take it home with them... and the Commander can.
      Shepard: All right. Just don't tell anyone.
    • In the second game, Shepard retrieves their N7 helmet from the wreck of the first Normandy and Liara later gives them back their original dogtags. So basically, Shepard enjoys decorating their cabin in things they were wearing when they died!
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or more specifically Psychic Cyborg Zombie Space Marine, that might also happen to be a ninja depending on your chosen job class and powers.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: A Renegade Shepard can make many racist assumptions about other species, and is quick to make remarks regarding their desire to avoid cooperation with them.
  • Noble Demon: A possible playthrough of Renegade Shepard: a ruthless Anti-Hero who will do anything to complete their mission, and actively embraces the image of a One-Man Army bestowed upon them... but at the same time can help any person who may need it, and would gladly place themself in harm's way for or speak on the behalf of any member of their crew.
  • No-Sell: With a high enough Paragon or Renegade score, Morinth's attempts to mind-control Shepard completely fall flat. When Morinth realizes this and Samara then walks in, Shepard casually sports a grin on their face that clearly says, "You think you're a badass? Bitch, please!"
  • Non-Promotion: Come 3, Shepard has never advanced past the rank of Lieutenant Commander (easily explained by their work with Cerberus, the events of "Arrival", and having spent two years dead), and their own mother outranks Shepard, but being the resident Reaper expert who has done everything possible to stop them, they get the "privilege" of flying around the galaxy to gather allies, answering only to Admirals Hackett and Anderson. Then again, once the Council reinstates/upholds their Spectre status, it doesn't really matter that much.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Shepard in the second game and the third, likely cause they've already done that. Aided by the fact that in the third game, they become a mild version of a Death Seeker. They're not really looking to die and want to finish the job, but at this point they really don't care.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Even as the ultimate hero/badass Shepard begins to crack under the pressure, to the point in the third game where they lash out at comrades, breaks down around friends, and becomes a borderline Death Seeker.
    • There's also this scene when Wrex tries to hurry Shepard up to call a Thrasher Maw.
      Wrex: Shepard! Get that second hammer going!
      Shepard: THERE'S A REAPER IN MY WAY, WREX!!!!!
      Wrex: I know! You get all the fun!
    • If a female Shepard romances Thane, in the Citadel DLC, she receives some video messages from him after his memorial service. As she listens to the final message, she openly cries.
    • Then there's Shepard's interaction with Toombs in the first game. A Paragon then Renegade option can have Shepard exploding that he wants to gun down the scientist too, but jailing him hurts him more. You can hear the angst and pain in Shep's voice.
  • Now, Let Me Carry You: On the receiving end of this throughout most of Mass Effect 3, particularly from Garrus, Liara, Tali, and Joker.
  • Number Two: At the beginning of the first game, Shepard serves as the second-in-command under Captain Anderson. After becoming a Spectre, Shepard becomes Admiral Hackett's go-to-guy/gal when it comes to under the table Alliance Affairs. Garrus eventually takes up this role for Shepard.

    O - Z 
  • Oblivious to Love: Used in three different instances to explain why a character could not be romanced in their first appearance.
    • A male Shepard towards Tali in the first game.
    • Given how quickly he jumps at the chance to be with a female Shepard, this might apply to Garrus as well.
    • Dialogue in their romance scene also implies that a male Shepard who romanced Kaidan in the third game was this toward Kaidan in the first.
    Kaidan: You were always so focused on the work back then. The mission was everything.
    Shepard: It's true. I'll never know what I missed.
    • A Female Shep can be totally oblivious to the fact Samantha Traynor is crushing on her, even when Sam is in her shower. It's that obliviousness that shoots down a chance of romance, as Sam will realize in this instance Shepard doesn't reciprocate.
  • Odd Friendship: Paragon Shepard seems to have this with nearly everyone. For good reason; Shepard's squadmates are a motley bunch of melancholic misfits and miscreants.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Paragon Shepard fits the trope like a glove. Renegade Shepard, decidedly less so.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: In 2 — ten brand new party members, plus Garrus, Tali and one DLC mission with Liara. Reversed in 3.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Everyone, everyone, especially Javik, can't help but remind Shepard they fell through a fish tank in Citadel.
      Javik: You are a trailblazer! (Prothean chuckling)
    • Then there's their dancing.
      Garrus: I've seen you dance. No comment.
    • Their cooperation with Cerberus. By the time Diana Allers brings it up in her interview after the Citadel coup, all Shepard can do is bury their head in their hand in dismay.
  • One-Man Army: Or "One Woman Army". They can take a squad of three against three hundred and come out on top, as well as bring their entire squad through a guaranteed suicide mission alive. Even without any squad members to back them up, they're a force to be reckoned with. Just ask all of the members and assault troopers of Project Rho. Oh wait you can't, they're all dead.
    • Someone actually bothered to count all the enemies Shepard kills throughout the three games and various downloadable missions. The total is well into the thousands.note 
  • One of the Boys: Female Shep, usually.
  • Only Mostly Dead: They even invoke the trope word-for-word.
    Shepard: I was only mostly dead. Try finding that option on government paperwork.
  • The Only One: To Shepard's great displeasure. They try to warn the galaxy and rally allies against The Reapers and their pawns, but even the few that humor those pleas basically answer, "No True Spectre comes whining for help all the time. Do it yourself." In the third game, this is actually justified, because everybody else is fighting for their lives against the Reaper forces.
  • Only Sane Man: Paragon Shepard in 2 and 3 often has to keep their various allies from trying to kill each other.
    • In the second game, due to the Alliance and Council denying the existence of the Reapers, Shepard refuses to let the issue drop and will bring the Reaper threat up at every chance they can.
    • In the third game, we get a nervous murmur from the Alliance personnel when Shepard insists that the colonies going dark is proof that the Reapers are coming. This is indeed proven right, moments later when they descend through the clouds and begin to attack Earth.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After the Fall of Thessia, Paragon Shepard will snap at a few of their subordinates in response to things they would usually let slide, showing just how near the Despair Event Horizon they are.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Shepard does this twice to evacuate the Virmire survivor. Once on Virmire after they've sustained injuries in combat against the geth and again on Mars after being critically injured by a Cerberus mech. Bonus awesome points if it's female Shepard hoisting Kaidan.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Shepard is actually the one overshadowing their own teammates. The Shadow Broker notes that Garrus, for example, has great potential as a leader but will never realize it while in Shepard's shadow. Ditto for Tali (although without Shepard, one wonders who she would look up to as a role model, given her mixed feelings toward her father). It's even explicit if Shepard chooses to aid Liara with the Shadow Broker. If Shepard does help her, they take the Broker down together. If Shepard doesn't help her, Liara eventually defeats the Broker with only minimal aid from Cerberus. The rest of her squad, however, all die; unlike Shepard, who doesn't lose a single squadmate in the process.
    • This is also a major part of Miranda's character. Being genetically designed, she feels that she can't take personal credit for any of her accomplishments. Shepard on the other hand, is a normal human who manages to do everything she does and more, often achieving better results than she could have.
  • Papa Wolf: If Shepard's chosen gender is a male. Do not threaten Shepard's crew or you will end up dead! But threaten to throw away Shepard's Hamster and Fish and it will become personal.
    "[Spoiler! villain] messed with my hamster, guys. Now it's personal. Guys? Were you gonna say something,, no, I get it. Hard to even find the words."
  • The Paragon: Paragon Shepard.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both played straight and averted. Selecting Earthborn or Colonist backgrounds results in your character being an orphan. However, Spacers not only have still-living parents, but even get to call their mom during a sidequest.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Paragon Shepard can become one towards Grunt in the second game. The Citadel DLC gives us Shepard having to free Grunt from C-Sec after he escaped from hospital and caused trouble on the Citadel, in a scene very reminiscent of a parent picking up their son after he did something stupid. A Paragon Shepard will force Grunt to "apologize to the nice man for setting his car on fire." Subverted after the cop leaves when he asks Grunt how the noodles were then tell him "you're my hero".
    • Shepard also becomes a surrogate father/mother-figure for EDI in the third game, acting supporting and even giving her The Talk in regards to her blooming relationship with Joker. EDI being treated as Shepard's "daughter" is further shown by Joker nervously asking for their opinion about him and EDI dating, essentially asking for their permission, as well as later telling Mordin over the intercom that he doesn't want Shepard to know that they're intending to have sex (while Shepard is standing right next to Mordin).
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Shepard has the option of delivering a heroic subversion, saying that humans can't do everything on their own and that every race in the galaxy needs to stick together if they're going to survive. Change 'human' to 'every sapient species' and it's played pretty straight whenever a Reaper comes onto the scene.
    • Also appears during some dialogue options in the Lair of the Shadow Broker if the player didn't romance Liara:
      Liara: So tell me what you want. What are you fighting for?
      Shepard: I guess I'm fighting for us: all of us.
      Liara: That's a lot of responsibility.
      Shepard: People are messy, awkward, sometimes selfish and cruel. But they're trying, and I'm going to make sure they have a chance.
    • How Shepard can possibly end the geth-quarian war in 3.
      Shepard: Your entire history is you trying to kill the geth! You forced them to rebel! You forced them to ally with the Reapers! The geth don't want to fight you! If you can believe that for just one minute, this war would be over! You have a choice. Please. Keelah se'lai.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Many of the Renegade options can have Shepard being a completely ruthless bastard towards other bastards.
    Shepard: You chose your side, Elnora, and you lost.
  • Perma-Stubble: The default Male Shepard model has this and it can't be changed. Apparently being able to defeat whatever the galaxy throws at you is incompatible with knowing your way around a razor blade.
  • Pet the Dog: Some of Renegade's Shepard's actions qualify, such as threatening the asari red sand dealer to tell Conrad how helpful he was or promising to help Tali and the quarians reclaim their homeworld. Playing as a Renegade does not automatically lock Shepard out of Paragon dialogue and actions, so there are numerous opportunities to do this.
  • Phrase Catcher:
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Female Shepard is 5'3,note  making her one of the smallest people on the Normandy, yet she's still a force to be reckoned with even bofore the enhancements from the Lazarus Project.
  • Plagued by Nightmares: In the first game, Shepard has unsettling dreams about the visions from the Prothean beacon. Understandable, considering that it A) was information delivered in a format not meant to be understood by human minds, and B) concerned the extermination of entire species. In the third game, Shepard starts having flat-out nightmares about the people they couldn't save.
  • Playing Both Sides: Possible on Noveria at Port Hanshan, Shepard can take an assignment from Opold the hanar, then jerk it over, leaving it to the mercies of Anoleis and an angry krogan, then sell Anoleis out to the internal affairs agent after him (or alternatively, tell Anoleis about said agent, leading them to a Mutual Kill).
  • Playing with Fire: From the second game onwards, four of Shepard's six possible classes can use either Incinerate or Incendiary Ammo.
  • The Pollyanna: A full Paragon Shepard comes off as this, especially in the first game. They never fully give up hope that the Council will do the right thing in the end, they will try to end a conflict by negotiating no matter how big of a bastard the bad guy is, and they have almost infinite patience for the character flaws of others (Udina's attitude is dismissed as him "having a lot on his mind" or "just doing his job". The encounter with Al-Jilani is described as "We had differences of opinion, sir. I hope she at least believed my sincerity".) Doesn't make them any less of a badass though. Somewhat justifiable as having become humanity's first Spectre, the entire galaxy is watching them very closely. Most of Paragon Shepard's dialogue seems to imply that they're very much aware of the responsibility placed on their shoulders and that they have to appear squeaky-clean at all times.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Cerberus spends a lot of time, money, and technology in bringing Shepard back from the dead. Thus the player can invoke this trope at the end of the second game by choosing to destroy the Collector base against The Illusive Man's wishes. Whatever your choice in the second, in the third, Cerberus becomes a major antagonist, forcing you into this. Gets a lampshading in the Citadel DLC.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Does this at the end of the Overlord DLC if the Paragon Route is chosen. After learning the titular Overlord VI was created by forcibly hooking up a young, autistic genius to the geth network so humans can have a way to control the geth, Shepard decides to take David far away to a place where he can be cared for and be able to live without being exploited. David's brother Gavin, the person responsible for the Overlord's creation, tries to stop Shepard from taking a "valuable" person and tries to shoot them, but Shepard easily dodges and hits the scumbag with his gun, and warns Gavin they'll personally make him bite the bullet if he ever tries finding David again.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Shep can espouse some pretty xenophobic views on occasion, such as the famous "if you want a problem solved" speech.
  • Porn Stash: Shepard can have one in the second game if you buy the Fornax magazine on Omega.
  • The Power of Friendship: The Citadel DLC specifically highlights the importance of Shepard's friends and allies in their adventures, with either Paragon or Renegade choices resulting in friendly, playful banter with them. When they fight their clone, the clone frustratedly asks what it is Shepard has that they don't. Seeing Shepard's squadmates rush forward to help them while Brooks hangs back, not willing to risk her neck, makes it sink in just how alone they really are in comparison. If Shepard offers to help them up, they will be Driven to Suicide and pitch themself off the Normandy into a building.
  • The Power of Hate: Renegade options often work just as well as Paragon options, in a vast majority of cases. But then 3 comes up and being a Renegade becomes extremely unadvisable in many occasions, often to the point where Paragon options are often made out to be more beneficial in the long run.
  • The Power of Love: Paragon options really help turn the tide in your favor, for the most part. At least until 3 rolls around, where Paragon Interrupts end up not working as well as you'd want them to...
  • Pragmatic Hero: Renegade Shepard.
  • Pragmatic Pansexuality: Regardless of how you decide to play Shepard, Samara's Loyalty Mission requires you to attempt to seduce Morinth, an Ardat-Yakshi.
  • Precision F-Strike: Shepard almost never swears, so on the rare occasion they do, it's a sign that some serious shit is going down.
    • Once, during Tali's loyalty mission (if you're a Renegade):
      Shepard: Do whatever you want with your toy ships. But leave my crew out of your political BULLSHIT!
    • And, when you choose the Renegade option while speaking with the Illusive Man after after you blow up the Collector base.:
      Shepard: I'm sorry, I'm having trouble hearing you. I'm getting a lot of bullshit on this line.
    • Not even swearing, but Shepard's honest irritation, even as a Paragon, at the hanar who attempts to aid the Reapers in the third game because their Insane Troll Logic that since the Protheans became the Collectors, who serve the Reapers, their gods clearly demand they do the same.
      Shepard: You... big... stupid... jellyfish!
    • When chasing down the clone, Shepard might say, "One way or another we're taking this bastard/bitch down." Not harsh by itself but the tone of voice they use is reserved for the likes of Gavin Archer, who in Shepard's view counts as the biggest monster in the series.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman:
    • Paragon Shepard. At least, if one assumes that Shepard is a Transhuman and EDI was simply lying in order to spare Shepard's feelings, since they had previously expressed discomfort at the idea they might be considered one because of their bio-synthetic implants.
    • Paragon Shepard in the Control Ending, becoming a benevolent force to lead the Reapers.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: In Leviathan, Shepard develops one when trying to prevent being mind-controlled during their conversation.
  • Puberty Superpower: A biotic Shepard was born with latent biotic abilities, but only manifested after secondary exposure to Element Zero when they were 17. As such they were officially recognized as a biotic when they joined the Alliance a year later, where they received standard biotic training and were given L3 implants.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Paragon Shepard gets two notable ones:
    • Shepard will get a Paragon interrupt during the Overlord DLC for 2 where they pistol whip a scientist who was using his own autistic brother as a test subject in a brutal experiment.
    • In 3, one mission has Shepard investigating an indoctrinated hanar diplomat. When the hanar justifies his actions with some Insane Troll Logic, Shepard snaps:
      Shepard: You... Big! Stupid!! Jellyfish!!!
    • A general example can occur during Thane's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2. If Shepard doesn't simply beat a confession out of Elias Kelham, Thane eventually warns them they're running out of time. Take the third Renegade interrupt and Shepard snaps at Elias, puts their arm on his throat and threatens to cut off his balls and sell them to a krogan. It's a Mood Whiplash especially if up until then (Paragon) Shepard acted like the good cop and tried to charm Elias into confessing... which may be the reason why it works.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: How every one of Shepard's squads starts out. They're abnormally skilled misfits, but would still probably kill each other in a heartbeat without Shepard guiding them.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Renegade Shepard enjoys giving these, though Paragon can get in on the action as well, notably giving a memorable one to Al-Jilani in the second game.
    • Also Paragon Shepard's verbal smackdown to the quarian Admirals in the second game, which literally involves yelling at them for falsely charging Tali with committing treason.
    • Paragon Shepard's speech to end the geth-quarian war in 3.
      Shepard: Your entire history is you trying to kill the geth! You forced them to rebel! You forced them to ally with the Reapers! The geth don't want to fight you! If you can believe that for just one minute, this war will be over! You have a choice. Please. Keelah se'lai.
    • Renegade Shepard's speech is blunter, essentially telling the quarians they're tired of saving their asses and will sit back and let the geth tear them to shreds if they're Too Dumb to Live. And still adds Keelah Se'lai.
    • If Shepard's main superpower is the Rousing Speech, then this is their secondary power. For example:
      Shepard: How are the legs? Getting tired?
      Kai Leng: You're still slow, Shepard!
      Shepard: I'm only slow, 'cause I'm not running! You ran at the Citadel! You ran on Thessia!
      Kai Leng: S-shut up!

      Shepard: I'm taking the Normandy back. And honestly, I'm doing you a favor. 'Cause you don't have what it takes.
      Mysterious Figure: I'm Shepard, do you hear me bastard/bitch! I'm Shepard!
      Shepard: No, you're not.
      Mysterious Figure: I am Commander Shepard!
      Shepard: Are you kidding me? Conrad Verner is better at being me than you are!
      Mysterious Figure: My team is better than yours!
      Shepard: A team? You have minions! And you're running out!
      Mysterious Figure: You're just cybernetics! Scarred, worn-out Cerberus tech!
      Shepard: You know where I got those scars? Feros and Noveria and Virmire and Ilos! At the Collector Base and Palaven and Tuchanka and Rannoch and Thessia! I earned these scars protecting the galaxy! You got yours from a petri dish!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Paragon Shepard to their crew.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: Once the Reapers show up and Shepard's actions are given more context, most of the galaxy who lost faith in them becomes willing to rally behind them, and if played correctly, Kaidan/Ashley and Shepard become friends/lovers again once they are finally given the full picture.
  • Recurring Dreams:
    • Of the unpleasant variety in the third game. They're just about a little boy who they watched the Reapers kill at first, but then expand to include every one of Shepard's companions who died in the fight against the Reapers. The last one has Shepard watching themself dying as well.
    • While not explicit, a line of dialogue in the first game has Shepard admit to not being able to sleep well because every night they are forced to rewatch the Prothean beacon message in their dreams.
  • Red Baron:
    • "The Butcher of Torfan" if given the Ruthless background.
    • All versions of Shepard are referred to as the "Hero of the Citadel" by some after the first game. Dr. Chakwas also calls them the "Conqueror of the Collectors" and "Savior of the Galaxy" by the third.
    • A War Hero Shepard is "The Hero of The Blitz."
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In Mass Effect 2, Shepard's eyes will glow red the more Renegade they become, til they're glowing in the dark.
  • Red Is Heroic: Shepard's default N7 has a distinct red stripe running down the right arm.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Renegade and Paragon Shepard, respectively.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Potentially with Tali or Garrus in the second game, depending on Shepard's gender. Any of the love interests from the first game can be subject to this in the third if not romanced previously, though Ashley is only available for male Shepard.
  • Religious Bruiser: If the player chooses while talking with Ashley in the first game.
    Shepard: You know the saying, "there are no atheists in foxholes"? I've been to a lot of foxholes.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Paragon Shepard, who always tries to talk enemies down first, but nonetheless is prepared to knock seven bells out of them if they have to.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?:
    • The second game has everybody fully aware of just how many ridiculously impossible missions Shepard has completed and will mention them if they feel like it.
    • Cruelly subverted in Arrival, where Shepard ends up having to face trial for blowing up a mass relay and slaughtering hundreds of thousands of batarian colonists.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Shepard drops this line a few times in the second game, even though they really weren't. However, apparently "spending a year dead" is a good "tax dodge".
  • Retirony: By the end of 3, Shepard's started saying how tired they are of saving the galaxy, and suggests packing it, settling down with her/her love interest somewhere quiet. Even if Shepard is sincere (which more than one character questions), in three out of four endings, they doesn't get the chance.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Colonist Shepard with the Ruthless personality became known to the batarians as "The Butcher of Torfan" in gaining retribution for the loss of their family and friends to a slaver raid on Mindoir.
  • Rogue Agent: Most of the galaxy views Shepard as one in the second and third game, though they can get reinstated as a Spectre. One could make the very serious argument that during the second and third game, Shepard is merely following their oath as a Spectre to protect the galaxy, even if it means ignoring the morons on the Council, who happen to run it!
  • Sad Clown: Of course Shepard can be played any number of ways, but it seems canon that they use snark to cover up their sadness. Particularly if you chose the Colonist background, being one of the few survivors of a batarian slave-run in which your parents were killed. Even more so if you're playing as a Sole Survivor, which meant your first mission ended with your entire squad either slaughtered right in front of you or were picked off one by one by a nest of angry Thresher Maws.
  • Sadistic Choice: Is forced to make a few. The third game can become a long series of these, depending on how you played the first two.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: By 3, the stress of the Reaper invasion seems to have driven Shepard into a severe case of this, regardless of alignment. Implied PTSD and Survivor's Guilt over those they couldn't save manifest themselves in numerous haunting dream sequences that occur throughout the game, and past a certain point the support of their squad seems to be the only thing holding them together. It's particularly driven home in the ending if you choose Destroy, the only ending where they survive, they still walk towards the exploding conduit.
  • Save the Villain: Paragon Shepard attempts to do this to Saren in 1, their evil clone in 3's Citadel DLC, and The Illusive Man in 3, despite the fact that they have repeatedly tried to kill them and, in case of Saren and TIM, are heavily indoctrinated. He also will attempt this with his clone, too, but said clone crossed the Despair Event Horizon and just lets himself die.
  • Say My Name: To a Running Gag with certain characters, like Wrex. However, the most chilling comes nearly at the end of the game, when Shepard is running towards the transit beam; Harbinger himself will thunder, "SHE-PARD", before blasting them with an eye beam almost point blank.
  • Science Hero: Engineer Shepard obviously and arguably a Sentinel Shepard, who would have undoubtedly gone through biotic training and studied engineering during their time at boot-camp.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, unless they're going for...
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Also Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, though more so in Mass Effect 2. With a loose enough definition of "what's right," Renegade Shep also counts, sometimes.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!: You have the option to reject the Catalyst's options. Needless to say, it ends badly and becomes a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Not the character itself, but the stories behind them. No matter what origin and backstory you chose for Shepard, all of those events happened. They were just only present for one or two of them.
  • Second Love: If their first love interest dies on Virmire and they romance someone else in 2. Can even stretch to Third Love if the second romance dies during the suicide mission.
  • Secular Hero: Shepard picks up multiple religious teammates, but the only chance to mention their own beliefs comes in a first-game conversation with Ashley.
  • Secret Art: Starting with 2, Shepard gets several exclusive abilities depending on their class.
    • The Soldier, Infiltrator, and Vanguard have Cryo Ammo. Notably, this is the only power exclusive to Shepard to remain so in 3 even including multiplayer.
    • The Soldier has Adrenaline Rush.
    • The Engineer has Combat Drone 2, although Tali and Legion also have this ability as well, it's still worth mentioning that only Engineer Shepards can deploy drones. And they gain deadlier and more combat-oriented the Sentry Turret in 3.
    • The Adept has Singularity in the base game, although Liara also has it in Lair of the Shadow Broker and keeps it in 3. They gain Cluster Grenade in 3.
    • The Infiltrator has Tactical Cloak. Kasumi gets it in 3: Citadel. They gain Sticky Grenade in 3.
    • The Vanguard has Charge in 2 and 3 and Nova in 3.
    • The Sentinel has Tech Armor.
  • Seen It All: By the third game, nothing particularly fazes them anymore. In Citadel, they seem more annoyed than anything else after discovering that Cerberus created an evil clone of them.
    Shepard: I just took down my clone. I've gotta figure anything is possible.
  • Semper Fi: Shepard starts out as a Marine. An extremely talented Marine who went through specialized training to become a Special Forces officer, but still a Marine.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force: In the Extended Cut of the Control Ending, Shepard is the voice of the Reapers.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • In the second game, female Commander Shepard during Hock's party in Kasumi's loyalty quest. It's the only time in the series to date that Female Shepard has worn anything feminine, a dress and heels. Sadly, the usual male jaw-drop that typically happens during one of these scenes is absent. Kasumi makes an offhand comment, but that's about it. (Male Shepard gets a suit too, but his is just a re-skinned version of the same suit every male character wears. Female Shepard's is actually unique.)
    • Female Shepard gets another dress in 3 that she's basically poured into. Even if your Shepard is as ugly as sin, there's no denying she has a good body. By contrast, Male Shepard gets a leather jacket.
    • Miranda says this to a Male Shepard at the casino during the Citadel DLC.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran:
    • If played right, despite being only the age of 29 in the first game and 31 in the second they can come off as being already nearly emotionally crippled by what they've seen and experienced.
    • Played straight in 3 and even holds the current page quote. Shepard has recurring nightmares of the boy in the vent they failed to save and everyone they've lost. And by the end, it's quite clear that they're pretty much emotionally burned out.
  • Shipper on Deck: In 3, Shepard is happy for Garrus and Tali if they hook up, and can also encourage relationships between Ashley and James, EDI and Joker, and Gabby and Ken.
    • Played for laughs at the end of Citadel. Finding Jack and Miranda still sniping at each other, Shepard can half-seriously suggest they "kiss and get it over with", assuming it's just sexual tension (like a good few fans). They're not amused.
  • Shirtless Scene: Male Shepard during his love scenes in the first and third, but at the end of the third game, love interest or no, Shepard gets one just before the assault on Cerberus headquarters.
    • Also gets one in the third game during his romance with Jack. Justified, she's putting a tattoo on his back.
  • Shock and Awe:
    • Shepard can use Disruptor Ammo and Overload, which deals more damage towards synthetics. In the third game, they also stun organics and detonate Tech Bursts, damaging blasts of lightning that can be spammed endlessly with the right build.
    • The Arc Projector is basically a chain lightning launcher.
    • And in the third game, an Infiltrator Shepard's omni-blade is enhanced with an electrical charge.
    • They can also make use of quarian weapons that rely on electricity to do damage like the Arc Pistol, Reegar Carbine, and Adas Anti-Synthetic Rifle.
  • Shoot the Dog: The player is presented with this option multiple times throughout the series; exterminating the rachni, killing Wrex, abandoning the Council, leaving Zaeed to die, etc. In addition, Shepard will do this in the Arrival DLC by destroying a mass relay to slow the Reapers' advance into the Milky Way. The resulting energy burst destroys the entire star system and kills the 300,000+ people living in it. By Mass Effect 3, Shepard can become so obsessed with defeating the Reapers or simply psychotic that they will deliberately gun down anyone in their way, even allies and squad members.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Every ending of the third game has Shepard's many deeds being remembered far into the future, although some of the details have been lost to time. They are known only as "The Shepard".
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Does this a lot. More so in ME2 with the Renegade "interrupt" options. Paragon Shepard gets their piece in too, though more with regular conversation.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: The default female Shepard. Emphasizing the pervasiveness of this trope is that when a fan poll was created to choose the new look of Commander Shepard for Mass Effect 3, so many people indicated that their vote depended on getting a red-haired, green-eyed Shepard with their favorite face model that the developers posted a second poll allowing people to pick the coloration, and the green-eyed redhead won by a large margin.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: The more cynical Renegade decisions tend to go badly.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Shepard often invokes Dare to Be Badass in their friends and allies in 2 and 3. Could be seen as one to Ashley/Kaidan in the third game when they become a Spectre. If you hold off the Renegade interrupt, Shepard's hesitation to shoot Udina could be interpreted as a way of letting Ashley/Kaidan know the responsibility that comes with being a Spectre and of owning ones mistakes, meaning they should be the one to shoot Udina.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • As Citadel repeatedly demonstrates, years of exposure to near-constant mortal danger and people trying to kill them will certainly have this effect.
    • Even seems to extends to the people around Shepard. Joker's reaction to the warning that someone is trying to kill Shepard is to simply laugh and note that a lot of people are. Likewise, upon discovering the existence of Clone Shepard, everyone seems more interested in riffing on the possibility of using them as a butler?!
    • Taken to a head in the final mission of Citadel: the Normandy being hijacked? My clone will die. My hamster and model ship collection being thrown out? My clone will die painfully.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Paragon/Renegade.
  • Small Steps Hero: Shepard can be played this way, with results anywhere down the Idealism/Cynicism scale. This is especially true in the third game, where a seemingly well-intentioned decision can lead to a loss of war assets, or even an entire species' extinction.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Subverted. Shepard is highly intelligent and regarded as a brilliant tactician and leader, but flat out sucks at chess.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Renegade Shepard, particularly if you go with the "Ruthless" background.
  • Sole Survivor: Explicit name for the second service record. Deployed to a planet called Akuze, and your entire unit, except apparently you, is slaughtered by a Thresher Maw. There is one other survivor, whom you can encounter on a sidequest, but he's unhinged from spending years as a lab experiment for Cerberus.
  • So Proud of You: Spacer Shepard's mother tells them that they're making her proud in their conversation in the first game, and Hackett says she's proud of what her child is doing in the third game. Also Anderson's last words.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: If romancing Liara, a female Shepard can use this response to shun Kaidan's attempts at romance.
  • Space Marine: Naturally, since Shepard is an officer in the Alliance Navy.
  • Space Police: After becoming a Spectre.
  • Spell My Name with an S: It's "Shepard." No second 'h', no second 'p', and spelled with an 'a'. This one always seems to be a problem... Lampshaded in ME2. Upon finishing Jack's recruitment mission, Shepard receives an email from one of the ex-prisoners in Purgatory, calling them "Shepherd".
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Stinger of ME3 has Shepard actually remembered far into the future as "The Shepard".
  • Squick: In-universe. In ME 3, Shep gets really freaked out when they learn about Conrad Verner's Stalker Shrine. It's by far the most disgusted sound they make in the entire trilogy.
    Shepard: Conrad, if you have some kind of weird shrine of me, I'm going to be very unhappy.
    Verner: It's just a poster with a few candles. It's very tasteful.
    Shepard: Gah!
  • The Strategist: Shepard is regarded as this and an excellent tactical leader in-universe. Whether they actually live up to that reputation in game depends on the player, particularly in the Suicide Mission and potential preparations made for 3. Notably, Aria, an asari whose Fatal Flaws are Wrath and Pride, puts herself under Shepard's command during the retaking of Omega due to Shepard's tactical reputation. It's also why Traynor finds it hilarious how bad Shepard is at chess.
  • Street Urchin: Basis for the Earthborn origin. Born an orphan, street urchin, later gang member. Enrolled in the Alliance Navy to get away from that life.
  • Strong and Skilled: Already one of the deadliest soldiers in the galaxy in the first game, regardless of species, Cerberus resurrects them in the second game with numerous implants that give them highly increased strength and potentially more potent biotic abilities. This leaves Shepard with all the peerless skill they originally had along with the strength to nearly stand toe-to-toe with krogan and yahg, including the use of their limb-shattering weaponry.
  • Supermodel Strut: Female Commander Shepard in 3 gets quite a lot of bounce thrown into her non-combat walking and running animations. This is was likely a minor Author's Saving Throw from BioWare after fans complained in 2 that female Shepard had the exact same gorilla-like walking, running, and sitting animations as male Shepard.
  • Superpower Lottery: Regardless of class, Shepard gets superhuman strength, speed, stamina, immunity to poisons, and a healing factor. But biotics classes (Adept, Sentinel, and Vanguard) play this especially straight.
  • Super Soldier: Becomes one in Mass Effect 2. To a lesser extent was also one in the first game. Alliance soldiers often choose to undergo gene therapy to put them at peak physical health and increase their combat effectiveness, to say nothing of their training as an N7 which easily made them one of the deadliest soldiers in the galaxy without the transhuman upgrades they get in 2.
  • Super Speed: Soldier Shepard's Adrenaline Rush actually allows them to move at normal speed while time is dilated. With Heightened Adrenaline Rush, Shepard is essentially the Point Man minus the flying kicks. Vanguard Shepard also gets to slow down time. In 2, it's an option for the Biotic Charge's fourth upgrade. In 3, it's automatic regardless of the upgrade tree. It's not as extreme as Adrenaline Rush, however. Beginning in 2, Infiltrators get a version when looking through their scopes. In 3, everyone has that option, but Infiltrators take it further.
  • Super Strength: Downplayed, but from Mass Effect 2 onwards Shepard has this thanks to their cybernetic resuscitation by Cerberus. This is shown explicitly in some scenes, such as when Shepard engages the Shadow Broker, a yahg, in fisticuffs.
  • Superhero Trophy Shelf: Shepard's cabin effectively serves as the second and third game, becoming littered with various artifacts Shepard has picked up during their travels.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Obviously, the games are Shepard's story, but they take a passenger seat during Loyalty Missions (to squadmates), in Lair of the Shadow Broker (to Liara) and Omega (to Aria and, to a lesser extent, Nyreen). Shepard's role in those stories is, essentially, to shoot things. And, if Paragon, to act as a Morality Chain to many of them.
  • Survivor Guilt: They suffer from this BIG TIME in Mass Effect 3. The Sole Survivor background also has Shepard have this right out of the gate, depending on how you play it. If a Colonist, they can also tell Talitha that they suffer from this after their parents' murders in the Mindoir raid.
  • Take a Third Option: Almost as fond of it as Batman.
  • Take My Hand!: Paragon Shepard is fond of this. In the Citadel DLC, they even attempt this with Clone Shep, but they chose to fall to their death.
  • Take That!: Engineer Shepard seems to lean on the fourth wall a little in the Omega DLC, when they bypass a lot of the work other Shepards would have to do, saying that they's no "grunt" soldier - taking a shot at the non-Engineer Shepards.
  • Taking You with Me: The Destroy Ending. Though Shepard can survive, with a high enough EMS score.
  • Talking the Monster to Death:
    • Shepard can convince Saren to realize he's been brainwashed, leading Saren to summon to will to shoot himself in the head.
    • And again in 3, with the Illusive Man!
  • Talking Your Way Out: Paragon Shepard will take this option at every opportunity. Renegade Shepard can do this too, although they are usually far more fond of...
  • Talk to the Fist: ...interrupting enemies/annoying reporters mid-flow with bullets or punches to the face. The best example has to be interrupting a krogan... with a headbutt!
  • A Taste of Defeat: Shepard only legitimately loses once in the entire series, Thessia. The defeat sends Shepard into a temporary Heroic BSoD and near the very edge of the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: One interpretation of the relationship between Garrus and Shepard is that of student (Garrus) and teacher (Shepard). This makes a female Shepard and Garrus getting into a relationship this trope.
  • Team Dad: Shepard can play the part of disciplinarian and use blunt authority to keep the team in line. This sort of approach is generally a Renegade option, but Paragon Shep knows how to lay down the hammer, too. A good example is the argument between Tali and Legion in the second game, where Shepard can tell them both to stop being idiots or get the hell off their ship.
    • Team Mom: ...At the same time, Shepard can be nurturing and act as the mediator and heart of the team. In the same debate above, Shepard can persuade both of them to cooperate and realize that they have more in common than they realize.
  • Team Killer:
    • After the Suicide Mission in 2, it's possible for Shepard to survive alongside only two squad members (from a maximum of twelve). The Normandy crew can also kick the bucket if Shepard refuses to assign them an escort. These can result in a squad of just four in 3, a very lonely party in the Citadel DLC, and a large amount of Suspiciously Similar Substitute characters for those that died (such as Tali and Grunt). Also leads to an almost comically tragic final scene where Shepard can observe up to eight coffins in the Cargo Bay, as well as the Memorial Wall on the Crew Deck being only four spots away from being completely filled at the start of 3. Shepard can end up giving a Rousing Speech in the Collector Base to only one squad member as they prepare to hold the line, coming off as seriously expecting said squad member to hold up against the might of the Collectors (especially amusing if it's someone defensively weak like Tali or Mordin).
    • In 3, Renegade Shepard seems to go through allies even faster than the Reapers, personally killing Mordin, Wrex (if he survived the first game), Legion, and Ashley/Kaidan. If you count preventable suicides, you can add Tali and Samara to that list, as well (and you can render Samara's suicide entirely pointless by killing the last of her daughters immediately after). Deaths by omission/neglect include Miranda, Jack, and Kelly Chambers. And so on.
  • Teleport Spam: Starting in Mass Effect 2, a Vanguard Shepard can fully abuse this trope with enough cooldown reduction on their Biotic Charge. The charge itself not only instantly teleports you to your enemy, but also sends any unarmored target flying, refills your shields, and can slow down time. At it's absolute best, the cooldown can finish in just under two seconds, (some of which is during the slowed time) meaning that any Shepard who tries this will find themselves hard pressed to be killed. It's worth noting however than just about anyone else with the Charge ability, even Shepard's clone, can do it infinitely more often and don't require an enemy target.
  • Terror Hero: Some of Shepard's meaner paragon actions use intimidation to bring villains in line. The paragon path in general tries to avoid the use of violence unless there is no other choice so an effective paragon character (especially in the sequel) needs to be a Terror Hero by default. The Renegade path also gives plenty of opportunities to intimidate the bad guys into giving up.
  • That Man Is Dead: After their ascension in the Extended Cut Control ending, Shepard considers their pre-ascension self an entirely separate person. However, they also have a great deal of respect for the previous Shepard, and honors their sacrifice by protecting the galaxy.
  • The Extremist Was Right: A Renegade Shepard will insist Rana Thanoptis is too dangerous to live, and shoots her dead, even as she's pleading for her life. 3 shows this was the right move. Letting her live means she eventually kills a lot of people when her indoctrination kicks in.
  • Think Nothing of It: Paragon Shepard often invokes this, attempting to downplay their heroic deeds.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Invoked during the Extended Cut, when Shepard flat out orders their squadmates to retreat to safety while they make the final charge to the portal to the Citadel by themselves.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: A Paragon Shepard will get pissed after learning the truth behind Project Overlord. Gavin Archer may as well be a Reaper himself judging by how much Shepard despises him.
  • Threatening Mediator: A Renegade Shepard generally resorts to being this when ending conflicts.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the Renegade resolution to post-Loyalty Mission clashes between teammates is basically browbeating them into cooperation in the face of the upcoming Suicide Mission.
    • In the Renegade Golden Path ending of the Geth-Quarian War in Mass Effect 3, Renegade Shepard threatens the quarians that if they don't cut it out and stop attacking the geth, they're not going to pull their asses out of the fire this time because they're sick of their stupidity.
  • Thrill Seeker: Liara states what players have suspected during the Shadow of the Broker DLC while Driving Like Crazy in a flying taxi:
    Liara: You're enjoying this, aren't you!
    Shepard: (gleeful) Yeah!
  • Tired of Running: Shepard invokes this throughout the third game.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Shepard is forced to go against the law many times throughout the games.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • In the third game, during the Alliance raid on Cerberus HQ, Shepard finds evidence that they may be a Frankenstein cyborg powered by a VI that thinks it is Shepard. Shepard's friends quickly assure them that this couldn't be the case, but it isn't until the appearance of a recording from the Illusive Man stating that he wants Shepard to remain unaltered in any way that this trope is defied. If Shepard has Liara with them she can assure them thanks to the psychic bond they share that Shepard is real.
    • Played for Laughs between Shepard and Miranda during the Citadel DLC. When the idea that the clone survived instead of the real Shepard is raised, Miranda laughs and essentially says, "Well, whichever one you are, we're stuck with you anyway."
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: YouTube videos of Renegade action in the first game were titled Shepard is a jerk. For the second game, even if they were darker the videos were called Shepard is still a jerk. In the third game however the humor is gone and the Renegade interrupts are met with Commander Shepard is...oh my god Shepard has become evil. (Though anyone who experienced the 1 ending in which Shepard tells a shocked Anderson he killed the Council because they were in humanity's way will know that Shepard was Evil All Along.)
  • Took a Level in Kindness: It's possible to play Shepard this way. Depending on the player's choices, Shepard can start the trilogy as an unrepentant jackass who hurts and lies to people with no provocation and end the trilogy as an absolute saint of a human being who will do their best to right every wrong they come across.
  • Touched by Vorlons:
    • As a result of exposure to the Prothean Beacon and the Cipher in the first game, Shepard is recognised by their technology as though they are a Prothean and gained a subconscious understanding of their language.
    • The third game expands on this. Shepard also see Prothean data as they would, allowing them to interpret things others would see as mere static and also are able to sense proximity to a beacon on Thessia.
  • Tragic Bigot: A Renegade Colonist Shepard can majorly hate Batarians because of what happened to their hometown and family, in addition to the general contempt they shows them at the beginning of Bring Down the Sky.
  • Training from Hell: Shepard graduated the Alliance's Interplanetary Combat Training program with the coveted N7 designation. To put this into context, prospective candidates train for more than 20 hours per day, leading small combat teams through hostile terrain with little sleep or food, just to become an N1. N2 through N6 training is often held off-planet and includes instruction in zero-G combat, military free-fall (parachuting), jetpack flight, combat diving, combat instruction, linguistics, and frontline trauma care for human and alien biology. At N6, trainees experience actual combat experience in combat zones throughout the galaxy, with full N7 status finally being awarded to trainees who have survived the scenarios in an "admirable and effective fashion". Even people who fail N1 training are highly respected.
  • Transhuman:
    • All six of the base classes are at least a lesser version of this, since all Alliance soldiers have basic Bio-Augmentation and implants to deal with space travel, interface with holograms, use biotic powers (when applicable), etc.
    • Taken much, much further in Mass Effect 2, where Shepard is brought back from the dead through synthetic body parts and experimental technology. The new upgrade system allows even further expansion of Shepard's transhumanism, by using illegal Terminus Systems technology to increase muscle strength, skin durability, speed of medicine circulation and so on. Becomes especially uncomfortable in the Project Overlord Downloadable Content, where Shepard turns out to be non-organic enough to be hacked by an AI.
    • Commented on in the third game where EDI comments that Shepard may be one and that the legal issues about transhumanism are rather complicated. When Shepard gets worried, she claims to have been joking and clarifies that Shepard isn't as their cybernetics don't control their mind, merely enhance their body. However, its worth remembering that EDI has by now learnt how to lie to spare others' feelings, so Shepard really could be.
    • If a biotic class, Shepard is already transhuman by nature of being able to manipulate mass effect fields with their mind. Even before dying and resurrecting in the second game, a biotic amplifier implant is a piece of wetware required to make any sort of combat-applicable biotic effects.
    • Ultimately becomes a Plot Point in the Synthesis ending. Shepard is the perfect blend of organic and synthetic that the Catalyst has been seeking all along, and Synthesis allows them to spread their bio-synthetic framework to all other beings in the galaxy.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Practically canon in games but can also extend further into their backstory. They go through a lot of crap.
    • Holy crap, pretty much all of Mass Effect 3 for them. It starts with the Reapers invading Earth and them failing to save a little boy and it all goes downhill for them from there.
  • Trick Bomb: Cool and flashy grenades such as acid, radioactive, flashbang, incendiary, and concussion, can be used by any class in the first game. The third game changes it so each class gets their own specific Trick Bomb, except for the Soldier, who gets bog standard frag grenades. The Vanguard, who gets no grenades, instead gets the class power Nova. You are the grenade.
  • True Companions: What Shepard's crews eventually become.
  • Troll: Can definitely show some hints of this. While talking with Miranda and Jacob about the super-krogan picked up on Korlus Shep can show a degree of manic glee over the prospect of letting him out, much to the consternation of their companions. On Thane's loyalty mission the Renegade option for scaring away a stock boy is to exclaim that there's a bomb and he has to get out of there, followed by laughing when it works. In "Lair of the Shadow Broker", Liara is horrified to realise that Shepard is actually having fun during the flying car chase through Ilium, despite their notoriously bad driving. Then there's 3. Paragon or Renegade, male or female, love interest or not, Shepard trolls the fuck out of a hungover Ashley.
  • Troperiffic: How many characters have a page dedicated entirely to them? Buffy Summers hadn't done it. Rei Ayanami hadn't done it. The goddamn Batman hadn't done it either. As far as individual characters go Shepard has almost reached Troper Critical Mass. Of course, nowadays there are more such character pages, but Shepard's is the first/most notable.
  • Try Not to Die: When the Alliance tribunal realizes the Reapers have arrived, they plead with Shepard for word on how to stop them. Shepard essentially says this.
    Shepard: "Stop them? This isn't about tactics. This is about survival."
  • Tsundere: Can fall into this trope in any type depending on how often you switch from Paragon to Renegade, or vice versa.
  • Turn in Your Badge: By the beginning of Mass Effect 3, Shepard has apparently been unceremoniously stripped of their Spectre status, and with the Alliance has been relieved of duty and stripped of their rank. Although the Spectre status actually appears to be complicated. If you chose to become reinstated in the second game, it appears that due to working with Cerberus, being restricted to the Terminus Systems was a form of probation. In the third game, you are returned to full Spectre status.
  • The Unchosen One: Through a combination of ability and circumstance, they went from random (if notably badass) soldier to the protector of the galaxy in the span of a week at most.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Technically, a Paragon Shepard in the first game. By the end of the game, so many high level guns, armor, mods, ammo types, and other things were dropping off enemies that your only option was to sell them to vendors so they wouldn't clutter your inventory. This resulted in Shepard accumulating a fortune of millions and millions of credits, while still swimming in high-level guns. Later games don't let you do this; you can't pick up enemy weapons off their bodies or loot their chests, and picking up a weapon on a mission will cause Cerberus/The Alliance to only give you enough copies to supply your squad. Not that it would matter anyway, since you also can't sell things.
  • Unequal Pairing:
    • Just about every romance in the game, even if by simple virtue of Shepard being captain of the Normandy and the squad being their crew.
    • In the first game, notable examples include Ash and Kaidan, whom Shepard outranks. In fact, Ashley at one point even admits that romancing Liara would be the most logical thing, since she's a civilian.
    • Averted in ME2, since Shepard is "no longer technically in the Alliance" and Cerberus is not a military organization. However, Tali is a quarian, a culture that emphasizes strict loyalty to their ship's captain, and Shepard plays with it, basically telling Tali to hurry and find a way to subvert Can't Have Sex, Ever under "Captain's orders". It's safe to say she's pleased by the idea.
    • Also, regardless of military protocol or lack thereof, it is still very clear Shepard is in charge and everyone is expected to follow their orders.
    • The ME1 relationships mentioned above change significantly with Ashley or Kaidan being promoted to ranks equal to or even above Shepard's own, and given Spectre status to boot. However, they still treat Shepard as a direct superior and two of the three new love interests in said game are even lower pay-grade Alliance subordinates. Also, while Tali is given the rank of Admiral in the quarian flotilla, making her proportionally higher-ranked than Shepard, it's still a rank which means bupkis on an Alliance vessel. Not to mention that her official name is "Tali'Zorah vas Normandy", which means Shepard, by virtue of being the commanding officer of the Normandy, is still her captain... not that she minds being referred to as "miss vas Normandy". Although since she's with the quarian delegation, this would technically make Tali an Ambassador, thus giving her full diplomatic privileges whilst she's aboard Alliance vessels.
    • While Garrus deflects Shepard's question about where he is on the line-of-succession to become "Primarch Vakarian", it's worth noting that he's the closest thing to a Reaper expert his species has, he gets saluted by generals, and he advises the Primarch. He's likely very high on that list.
    • In ME3 several squad members are promoted to levels that avert this i.e. Kaidan now outranks you, Kaidan or Ashley become a Spectre, Tali (provided you exonerated her) is an Admiral, Liara is the Shadow Broker. Pretty much anyone who travels with you becomes one of the most knowledgeable people about Reapers meaning that their species leaders turn to them for advice and counsel.
    • This is in fact the very reason Joker gives for not hitting on Shepard should a female Shepard express interest in him in ME3. He does make it clear that it's pretty much his only reason.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Shepard's survival in Mass Effect 2 and some help in number 3 depend on the Commander inspiring this in as many squad members as possible. It's up to the player whether or not the Commander returns this devotion to their troops.
    • Shepard can reciprocate. Paragon Shepard will reciprocate. Exaggerated when they find out the asari Matriarchs have considered ordering a hit on Liara:
      Shepard: Nobody messes with my girl.
  • The Unfettered: Renegade Shepard.
  • Uniqueness Decay: In ME2, Vanguard Shepard was the only character in gameplay who could do the Biotic Charge. Then Tela Vasir showed she could do it. By Mass Effect 3, nearly a sixth of the multiplayer characters could do it.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the second game, no matter how bad Renegade Shepard's scars look or how brightly their eyes glow, no one will ever take note of their appearance.
  • Unwitting Pawn: To Cerberus in the second game. The Collector threat was real, but an examination of the mission summaries shows that they were using Shepard for other projects. When they come to realize the extent of their manipulation of them when attacking the Cerberus HQ, both they and their squad members are not pleased, to say the least.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: The three backstories function as such. Spacer? Had as normal a childhood as you can have while living on spaceships the whole time, have a kind and supportive surviving parent who repeatedly says she's So Proud of You — ergo bonus Paragon points. Earthborn? Grew up rough on the streets, never knew their parents and were forced to join various street gangs to survive before deciding they wanted more from life — ergo bonus Renegade points. Colonist? Witnessed their home planet being invaded by batarians who abducted and enslaved most of the population they didn't just kill, but were rescued by the Alliance and enlisted not long after — ergo a mix of both.
  • Up Through the Ranks: Implied. An optional interaction on the Citadel in Mass Effect 3 has Shep buy a round of drinks for some Marine grunts at James Vega's request. They give a call-and-response toast, and a Renegade interrupt lets Shepard supply the response. Vega comments he didn't think an officer would know that one, suggesting Shepard may have spent time in the ranks.
  • Valkyries: If romanced, Thane refers to FemShep as "Siha", comparing her to one of the Warrior Angels of the goddess Arashu in drell mythology.
  • Verbal Judo: Paragon and Renegade actions, all the time.
  • Villain Killer: The reason Commander Shepard is so highly regarded and feared is that, against all odds, they are known for being able to do whatever it takes, defend the galaxy, and stop threats. While they already had this reputation as an N7 Marine, and later a SPECTRE, they became a Living Legend for being the first and only known person to successfully kill a Reaper. In the next games (regardless of player morality or choice), they would then go on to destroy the Collectors, a faction of renegade geth, other rogue N7s and SPECTREs, more Reapers, and even an Evil Doppelgänger of themself.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: FemShep can show this when she talks to Matriarch Aethyta about Liara.
    Aethyta: The Matriarchs might have ordered a hit if I hadn't agreed to keep an eye on her.
    Shepard: That's not gonna happen!
    Aethyta: No argument here. I only took these crap jobs to keep the Matriarchs happy that she's under control.
    Shepard: Just as long as we're clear. NOBODY messes with MY girl.
  • Vocal Evolution: From both Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale, Shepard's voice noticeably shifts to more weary, tired, and stressed as the series progresses.
  • Voice of the Legion: Picks this up in the Control ending in Mass Effect 3.
  • Walking Disaster Area:
    • Shepard tends to cause massive destruction wherever they go, regardless of intentions. In fact, it's so widespread that the galaxy at large has started to notice.
      Moklik: Things explode around you, Shepard. You can't blame Aria for being careful.

      Rana Thanoptis: Now, if you don't mind, I'm gonna run like hell before you blow the place or something. I know how you work.

      Grunt: [Okeer] is dead.
      Wrex: Of course. You're with Shepard. How could he be alive?

      Thane: The measure of an individual can be difficult to discern by actions alone. Take you for instance. All this destruction... chaos.

      Mordin: Excellent. Glad to see affinity for destruction still intact, Shepard.
    • Taken to an enormous new level with the Arrival DLC, where you are forced to blow up a mass effect relay, and an entire star system with it.
      Admiral Hackett: All I know is I sent you out there to break Amanda Kenson out of prison, and now an entire system is destroyed. I hope you can fill in the leap of logic between those two events.
    • On the Citadel, Captain Bailey says that one of the reasons he's helping you is so that he'll know where you're headed so he can clear the civilians out first.
    • Despite Spectres being the most elite soldiers in the galaxy, when one considers how many Spectres have a tendency to die around Shepard, one has to seriously wonder if they aren't like kryptonite to them, turning them into a Red Shirt Army. In the first game, Nihlus is murdered shortly after meeting them and Saren dies at Shepard's hands or his own should they talk him down. In Lair of the Shadow Broker after revealing herself to be a traitor, Tela Vasir is killed during a confrontation with Shepard. The Virmire Survivor can potentially be killed during a standoff in the third game if certain speech checks aren't met, and Jondum Bau can potentially die, depending on whether or not Shepard recruited Kasumi in the second game.
    • Taken to new extremes with the Citadel DLC when on shore leave Shepard is attacked and causes huge amounts of destruction. During Miranda's visit to Shep's apartment, she states: "I'm not sure the galaxy could handle two Shepards. Think of the property damage." She then notes her favorite sushi place was closed down. Shepard's excuse?
      Shepard: I fell through the fish tank… It exploded.
    • The Citadel DLC might not even Shepard's first disastrous shore leave! In the War Hero background, Shepard was on vacation in Elysium of the Skyllian Verge, when mercenaries and pirates crashed the party. The Skyllian Blitz is considered a major event, so at the very least, property damage must have been high.
  • Wall Slump:
    • Of the non-fatal variety, after Udina and the Council ground Shepard to prevent them from going after Saren after The Reveal concerning Sovereign.
    • After defeating The Illusive Man, they engage in one with a dying Anderson.
  • War Hero: One of Shepard's three selectable backgrounds is literally called "War Hero". In this background, Shep is revered throughout the galaxy for single-handedly holding off an entire army of Batarian slavers in a raid that became known as "the Skyllian Blitz" until Alliance reinforcements arrived. For this heroic act, Shepard was awarded the Star of Terra — the highest military decoration awarded to individuals by the Alliance.
  • Warrior Therapist: Paragon Shepard, especially in Mass Effect 2. Good thing, too, with a squad like this...
    • Quit Your Whining: ...or you can chew out your squad members.
    • Also applies with conversations with outsiders as well, particularly when Paragon or Renegade options allow Shepard to minimize or avoid combat entirely. With a few exceptions, Paragon options tend to rely on appeals to the other party's sense of nobility and dignity, while Renegade options involve Shepard channeling the darker side of the trope to hone in on hatreds, fears, or other character flaws and press the other one's buttons.
    • Both played straight but also turned around in Mass Effect 3. By the third game, while Shepard still acts as this sometimes, most of the squad members have dealt with their demons and are functioning much better. Meanwhile Shepard is beginning to crack under the pressure and the squad members who have followed Shepard from day one are constantly worried about them and try to give them the support they need to see it through. Garrus in particular acts as Shepard's rock, especially after the Fall of Thessia.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: And they did. The goal of Project Lazarus was to bring Shepard back as close to normal as possible, but they threw in a few necessary upgrades. In Mass Effect 2 you can purchase or research more bio-synthetic upgrades that toughen your skin, and there's a minor sidequest where a batarian fails to poison you because Shepard's implants are resistant to the poison. Bonus points for the opening of 2 resembling the Trope Namer The Six Million Dollar Man in terms of music and visuals. One can almost hear "We can make him stronger. Faster..."
  • We Do the Impossible:
    • Shepard's effectiveness in completing suicidal missions has attracted the attention of more than one group.
      Thane: Attacking the Collectors would require passing through the Omega-4 relay. No ship has ever returned from doing so.
      Shepard: They told me it was impossible to get to Ilos, too.
      Thane: A fair point. You've built a career on performing the impossible.
    • In 3 Anderson notes that entire armies have fallen trying to kill a single Reaper. Shepard has managed to kill about four. With the last two being done on foot.
      Miranda: We're all hoping you can do the impossible, Shepard. No pressure.
    • Leviathan has been around for about a billion years or so, and suns up Shepard with four words.
      Leviathan: You are an anomaly.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Lampshaded in Citadel, where Shepard flat out admits nothing about their life is normal.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Many of Renegade Shepard's dialogue options and actions veer into this direction. Sometimes even Paragon actions can arguably be considered this.
    • Arrival best exemplifies this for Shepard. Faced with the imminent arrival of the Reapers, Shepard's only choice is to delay them by detonating the system's Mass Relay, killing over 300,000 batarians.
    • In ME 3, choosing the "Control" ending as Renegade Shepard has them using the Reapers as a means to stamp out anything that doesn't fit their vision of galactic peace. Choosing the "Destroy" ending also counts if Shepard was supportive towards the Geth and EDI and considered them genuinely alive, as Shepard still sacrifices them in order to give the galaxy a clean slate free from Reaper influence.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: invoked Renegade Shepard often blows off and demeans many people that aren't combat personnel. This can even extend to starship crew.
  • What the Hell Are You?:
    • After defeating Sovereign, the Reapers become increasingly intrigued by Shepard. It's subtly implied that one reason why they turned their attention to humanity is out of desperation to understand how a fairly average species with no special mental or physical attributes, could somehow produce a single individual that is so incredibly dangerous?
    • In the Leviathan DLC, even Leviathan has this reaction to Shepard, referring to them as "an anomaly" that they have never seen before.
      Leviathan: None have possessed the strength in previous Cycles. Your own species could be destroyed with a single thought. But you are different. I have witnessed your actions in this Cycle: the destruction of Sovereign; the fall of the Collectors. The Reapers perceive you as a threat. And I must understand why?!
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • While Shepard can be called out on their actions depending on them, they are given the opportunity to call out other people themselves several times, including Udina, the Council, and Zaeed in the Paragon ending of his loyalty mission.
    • Corporal Toombs letter to Shepard can be a Gut Punch to many players.
    • The Virmire Survivor calls Shepard out in Mass Effect 2 for working with Cerberus and supposedly faking their death. At the beginning of Mass Effect 3, they're also being called out in a major way for blowing up a star system and killing over 300,000 batarians.
    • Kill Mordin and sabotage the genophage cure, and Wrex will call you out on it. By pointing a shotgun at your face.
    • Through the Rannoch arc in 3, Shepard can really let Legion have it over their behavior, and that of the geth as a whole, making things so much more annoying for everyone.
      Shepard: The Council's useless, the krogan almost wouldn't help, and the quarians have started a war!
    • In the Omega DLC, Petrovsky calls Shepard out on aiding Aria, who is a murderous, ruthless criminal as well as perfectly willing to gun down anyone and anything in her path to get what she wants. While Petrovsky's claims would just roll off a Renegade Shepard's back, a Paragon Shepard might have a harder time dismissing his words. However, he'll also praise a Paragon Shepard at the end for successfully talking down Aria.
  • When She Smiles: Probably due to engine limitations, nobody in ME 1 ever smiles at all, so Shep practically has no choice but to be The Stoic when their story begins. ME 2 rectifies that to some extent and gives us the occasional smile in special situations, something that goes a long way to make our hero(ine) more personable and identifiable. And then ME 3 came along with that memorable sharpshooting contest between Shep and Garrus in an area of the Citadel Presidium they're not supposed to be. Reaffirm your friendship/romance with Garrus and you'll be treated to Female Shep actually doing a little but honestly happy laugh that's downright adorable due to how completely out of the blue it comes, especially under the grim circumstances the whole galaxy's in. She does another one in the Citadel DLC, and while it's still cute to hear, it's nowhere near as heartwarming as the one mentioned before.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist:
    • Paragon Shepard. One of the responses to Ashley Williams asking if they joined the Alliance to uphold some family tradition:
      Shepard: No. Humanity's future is out here. There is so much we haven't seen yet...
    • And even if they are given a cynical view, at the end of the day, Paragon Shepard always believes that most people will attempt to do the right thing.
  • With This Herring:
    • Spectres are expected to self-sufficient. As such, the Council will not give Shepard any resources beyond occasional information. The Alliance and Cerberus are much more generous.
    • In the third game the Alliance does this to a degree, ordering Shepard to be the one tasked with rallying a force to retake Earth, however they can. This is somewhat justified however, after all the impossible things Shepard has done over the years, Admiral Hackett admits the reason they were chosen is because they know the Shepard can deliver results.
    • Averted in the third game if you bought the Collector's Edition. Shepard starts the game with enough high level pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, and sniper rifles to equip their entire squad, and enough money to upgrade them all to level V almost immediately. Said weapons are the N7 weapons, some of which are among the best of their respective classes in the entire game.
  • World's Best Warrior: Oh hell yes! Eventually, it gets to the point that if you even think of taking on Shepard in a fight, people will consider you Too Dumb to Live. Even the Reapers acknowledge them as the only serious threat they have ever faced in their billion plus years of existence.
  • Worth Living For: Near the end of the third game, Shepard can admit to Javik that their friendships with the Normandy's crew is the only thing keeping Shepard going, with Javik possibly noting Shepard's lover in particular. Given that Shepard has become something of a Death Seeker by the end, Shepard's thoughts of their lover, or the crew in general if Shepard is single, are implied to be what makes Shepard hold on in the Destroy ending.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Becomes this in the eyes of Saren, which is quite impressive on their part given Saren's enormous racism towards humans. Also, Harbinger labeling Shepard as "an annoyance" could be seen as it acknowledging that they are this for the Reapers, also an impressive feat.
      Dying Reaper: Harbinger speaks of you.
      • Leviathan later noted that the Reapers consider Shepard to be the only true threat they have ever faced.
    • The Illusive Man, in the third game, admires and has nothing but the utmost respect for Shepard and is always trying to get them to see his way of thinking rather than just use violence against them. He constantly warns Kai Leng to treat Shepard as a worthy opponent and to respect their skills and how dangerous they are. Kai Leng arrogantly refuses and gets killed for that mistake.
    • Shepard admits to having respect for General Petrovsky in the retaking of Omega. Petrovsky makes it clear that the feeling is very much mutual.
  • Wowing Cthulhu: The Reapers have enormous respect for Shepard, who has become the only thing they have ever truly feared. The Leviathan, their precursors are similarly awed at Shepard's ability to terrify their errant progeny, something they have never witnessed in billions of years. In fact, they want to keep Shepard just to figure out what makes him different.
    Leviathan: You are an anomaly.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • There's a rare lapse in Lair of the Shadow Broker, when Shepard wonders what kind of weapons a taxi has. Of course given the chaotic nature of Shepard's life, expecting a taxi to have guns is something that honestly isn't considered too far-fetched, especially considering that Illium is described as just Omega with fancier shoes.
    • Since Shepard has been a soldier for most of their life, Traynor lightly mocks them in 3 for being unable to get out of this mindset. Turns out Shepard actually tried to use real-world military tactics in a game of chess.
  • Younger Than They Look: Shepard is obviously The Leader and strength of personality and will makes Shepard come across as older than they really are. But like much of the crew, Shepard is relatively young, only 28 or 29 at the beginning of the first game. Based on the Mass Effect timeline, born in 2154, Shepard is actually about bang in the middle of the crew age range, being younger than Samara and Wrex (who both mention being nearly a thousand years old), Liara (2077), Hackett (2134), Anderson (2137), Thane (2146), Miranda and Mordin (2150), and Kaidan (2151). In this regard, they are older than Joker (2155), Jacob (2157), Ashley (2158), Kasumi (2160), and Jack and Tali (2161). It's worth noting that the default Male Shepard's face model, Mark Vanderloo, was pushing forty when the first game came out.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • For the first two games, Shepard is primarily giving this to other squad members. However, as Shepard slowly crumbles under the pressure of having an entire galaxy on their shoulders and moves closer and closer to the Despair Event Horizon in 3, this starts getting turned around. In particular, Liara, Garrus, Hackett, and Anderson consistently try to encourage them that they really are worthy of all the faith and trust that is being put in them.
    • This is how Paragon Shepard gets Saren and The Illusive Man to kill themselves rather than be Indoctrinated. He reminds Saren that he's a Spectre and that he's strong enough to fight Sovereign. He tells The Illusive Man that he is betraying the core goal of Cerberus: a strong humanity, and that he knew better than to give in to Indoctrination.
  • You Are Not Alone: Similar to the above. Shepard essentially reminds their squad members this for the first two. Once the war begins, their squad members (Liara, Garrus and Joker in particular) try to make sure Shepard knows they don't have to face all of this stress and heartbreak alone.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Played with. Colonist Shepard mentions in the third game that they rebuilt Mindoir, but it wasn't the same afterwards, with their tone of voice indicating that it also contains too many painful memories. Shepard can go home again, they just don't want to. An Earthborn Shepard has no choice in the matter by the third game, remarking that the city they grew up in is now a warzone.
  • You Did the Right Thing: Paragon Shepard is often on the receiving end of this, after letting terrorists, mass-murderers, etc go in order to protect the innocent.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: War Hero Shepard pulled this off, single-handedly fending off an entire platoon of batarians who breached the garrison's defences during the Skyllian Blitz. Becomes even more awesome if Shepard has the Colonist background, because they effectively took on a larger number of troops than those that attacked Mindoir and actually won.
  • Youthful Freckles: FemShep has them, to go with the red hair and green eyes.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: After they cause a supernova that kills over 300,000 batarians Admiral Hackett tells them that they'll have to fulfill this trope in order to avert a war between the humans and batarians.

I should go.