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This page is for listing the tropes related to the Citadel Council species in the Mass Effect universe, each with their own (often averted) tropes.

For the pages listing tropes related to specific characters in the trilogy, see the Mass Effect Character Index.

This page includes significant spoilers, and some are by their nature unmarked. Read at your own discretion.

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    Turians 

Turians

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/turians_codex_image_3287.jpg

If you want a problem shot, ask a turian...
Renegade Shepard

Homeworld: Palaven

The third race to join the Citadel Council. The Turian Hierarchy is a very organized and militant society. Every physically and mentally-sound turian is either a soldier, a retired soldier or training to be a soldier. This has resulted in the Turian Hierarchy having the largest military force in the galaxy. Turians were the first alien species that humanity encountered. Unfortunately, this encounter took the form of the First Contact War. Although the other two Council Races managed to end the war diplomatically, human-turian relations are still rocky.

Turians are available for multiplayer, and can use the Sentinel and Soldier classes. The Retaliation DLC also adds Ghost Infiltrators, Havoc Soldiers, and Saboteur Engineers. The Reckoning DLC adds Cabal Vanguards.


  • Alien Blood: Blue.
  • Badass Army: They have extremely disciplined armies, the largest fleet of warships (well over 10,000), the most dreadnoughts (39), and a proud military tradition. They also have by far the largest military in the known galaxy, except for maybe the geth.
    • They were able to hold their own against the krogan empires in a decades-long war of attrition at a time before the genophage when the krogan were actually breeding faster than the other races. They also managed to take down the fleets of krogan dreadnoughts with cruisers and frigates, which required a lot of expertise and production capability.
    • "Reaper troop transports have dumped hordes of husk to capture Palaven's inhabitants, but met with little success. Reaper capital ships are destroying city after city. But much of the turian fleet is still operable, and the citizenry is heavily armed. The turians refuse to be intimidated." To put this perspective, the turians are holding their own (even if it's just barely) against the largest part of the Reaper fleet assigned to any individual planet, which they sent in knowing the power of the turian fleet. They even managed to destroy a few Sovereign-class capital ships in the opening attack (contrast the humans and asari who got completely curbstomped in a few hours once the Reapers committed their forces.) They are the only race who actually manage to fight the Reapers on even terms (even if it was still a Hopeless War); the Reaper attacks on Earth and Thessia quickly turn into routs.
    • Of note is that every turian who is of age and is of sound mental capability is a soldier. Military service is mandatory across the entirety of their space. If that turian can walk and talk, that turian is trained to fight.
    • Of particular note is the Armiger Legion. Every member has a Power Fist, consumable packs that grant borderline invincibility, the best weapons in the empire, and a jetpack.
  • Bird People: A less obvious example than usual, but they were modelled after birds of prey, and indeed do have some raptor-esque traits.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • Their homeworld, Palaven, has a weak geomagnetic field, meaning it gets bombarded by more solar radiation than comparable planets like Earth or Thessia. How did Palaven's life adapt? It evolved a semi-metallic carapace.
    • The amino-acids on which life on their planet are based are incompatible with those of most other species (only the quarians have similar amino-acid structure). Alcoholic beverages that would merely seem strong to most races would in fact kill a turian. They also gain no nutritional value from non-turian food at best or have lethal allergic reactions at worst due to the amino-acid incompatibility. This works in reverse as well.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Though many aliens seem to have trouble with human metaphors, turians in particular struggle with the concept fullstop. Even Garrus has a problem with 'em. Although they are intrigued by how humans have a way with words.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: The DLC turian classes have a "Stimulant Pack" power that boosts shields and weapon damage.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Humans and turians fought a war that led to humanity's entering the greater galactic population. Humans call it the First Contact War. Turians call it the Relay 314 Incident.
  • Colony Drop: The turians frequently employ this tactic as a solution to deal with ground-forces, notably seen in the First Contact War and casually suggested by Garrus to take out the enemy geth on Rannoch, much to Tali's horror.
    • They were also frequently the victims of this during the Krogan Rebellions. The krogan had a habit of smashing asteroids into turian planets. It just made the turians angry.
  • Combat by Champion: One of the traditional ways turians can resolve large-scale conflicts: a duel between chosen representatives of each party. Parodied during a certain Cerberus Daily News story covering the War on Taetrus. A turian general and a leader of the rebel group Facinus got into a sword fight to decide the fate of Taetrus. When the rebel leader lost, very obviously photo-shopped images started surfacing the next day showing the general cheating in the duel. Facinus used these images as an excuse to declare war anyway.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In a way. In their culture, every turian serves in the army for a while after they reach puberty. Therefore, any population center with adults is considered a military installation. They are... reluctant to abandon this mindset when facing other species. To give an example, during their siege of Shanxi, the turian fleets bombed entire city blocks from orbit simply to take out individual fireteams. As revealed in the third game, they also hid a massive bomb in a major tectonic fault line on Tuchanka as a backup plan in case the genophage didn't work.
  • Conscription: At 15, turians begin a compulsory term of military service for an unknown length of time (possibly to age 30,) at the end of which they decide whether to remain with the military or become a civil servant. Those who choose to leave are still reservists, and can be called back into action should the need arise. The turian military also handles civil service duties such as maintaining infrastructure, police, and bureaucracy, meaning these reservists aren't necessarily going to be handling combat roles except in extreme times of need.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The turians absorb any conquered enemies (both turians and other races) into their ranks as supplementary units. While these units are rarely treated as anything more than infantry or cavalry, at the conclusion of a successful term of service, they are then granted full turian citizenship, with all rights and responsibilities thereof.
  • Determinator: A popular saying goes: "You will only see a turian's back when he's dead." Early in the Krogan Rebellions, the krogan tried to destroy the turians' will to fight by hurling asteroids at their colonies. All this did was make the turians even more determined to win. When the Reapers invade Palaven in Mass Effect 3, they continue holding their own and refuse to surrender, to the point that they pin down massive amounts of Reaper resources into conquering their homeworld for months on end, giving everyone else time to continue the fight elsewhere.
  • Fantastic Rank System: Downplayed. Turian society is stratified into 33 separate tiers of citizenship, each with its own distinct set of social privileges and duties. However, turian society is intensely meritocratic, and moving up the ladder is not only possible but to some extent expected. For example, promotion to the 32nd tier is gained by joining the (compulsory) military service, and promotion to the 31st by honorably completing said service.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: They're about halfway between space Prussians and space Romans with some Confucianism thrown in for flavor. Literally in this last case - since making peace with the humans, a small but growing number of turians have taken up Confucianism.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: They're the fighter to the asari mage and the salarian thief.
  • Four-Star Badass: Many examples. The Cerberus Daily News brought turian General Partinax to the fore, who dueled Facinus leader Kihilix Tanus. His record is surviving seven duels, 5 to first blood and 2 to the death. The codex also references Admiral Coronati, who managed to defeat the Reapers in a fight above Palaven using relatively primitive dreadnoughts by using the Reapers' massive size against them.
    Codex: Knowing that the Reapers' weapons had a longer effective range than any of his own, Coronati made a short, daring FTL jump—landing his dreadnoughts in the middle of the Reaper fleet. The dreadnoughts then turned to line up their main guns on the Reapers, which also needed to turn to fire on the turians. This ploy used the Reapers' size against them—because they could turn faster, and their concentrated firepower downed several Reaper capital ships.
  • Frontline General: Overlapping with Four-Star Badass, turian generals can be found fighting alongside their front-line troops on Manae during the Reaper invasion, including General Corinthus and General Victus, who is next in line to be the turian Primarch. Garrus, who is a government adviser on the Reapers (and is even saluted by the generals,) is right there in the thick of the fighting as well.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Mass Effect 3 reveals that their use of the genophage was this; despite all the military might of the turian empire, the krogan were winning the war, having pushed the line all the way to one of Pavalen's moons.
  • Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: Turian biotics are subject to much suspicion and mistrust by other turians and are taken out of normal military service and placed into special cabals. As a result of this stigma in society, some biotics decide to opt out of continuing to serve in the military after their mandatory service period has ended, to become mercenaries where their talents can be better appreciated and utilised.
  • Honor Before Reason: Turians are noted to have very heavy social stigma against avoiding personal responsibility. A turian may choose not to advertise that they committed a crime, but would likely admit to it if directly questioned.
    • Will Not Tell a Lie: This even counts for the numerous turian criminals and Arc Villains. None of them will outright lie about their agenda, but they certainly don't mind half-truths and From a Certain Point of View verbal tactics. It also makes them prone to Motive Rants when things come to a head. Garrus is also an example. When talking about the Dr. Saleon case, whereupon he "questioned" one of the Doctor's lackeys, Shepard can flat out ask if he used torture. Garrus will deflect the question and quickly change the subject, but he won't lie.
  • Hover Tank: They have one, the Jiris. It can traverse any terrain, has powerful kinetic barriers, and has a cannon that shoots homing missiles accurately for over 20 kilometers. Unfortunately, it never comes up in the game, only being referenced in Cerberus Daily News. It saw heavy use during the War on Taetrus.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Bipedal with two forward facing eyes, but with a more bird/velociraptor like structure and metallic skin plates.
  • Humorless Aliens:
    • Compared to most other species, anyway. Turians take discipline and protocol very seriously. Most of the funnier turians (like Garrus) are considered atypical of the species. The fact that turians are uptight fighting machines is one of the reasons the First Contact War was considered one of the worst ways for the human race to become introduced to Council Space.
    • Although they are just as likely to be Comically Serious Deadpan Snarkers. There's a reason why a certain dancing turian is so hilarious and memorable. And they do have jokes.
    • Wrex once said, regarding Garrus, that it was just his luck he happened to know the one turian in the galaxy who thinks he's funny.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Turians take the most direct approach to a problem. They won't hesitate to shoot someone or commit genocide if that's what it takes to end a threat permanently. See the running quote for Renegade Shepard's succinct view.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Often come across as this. Despite all their friction with humanity, after Earth is invaded by the Reapers, they are the first to step up in 3 to offer military aid, and the first willing to end the genophage, despite them being the ones who ultimately decided to use it.
  • Lawful Stupid: In-Universe, their adherence to following rules led to their brief war with humanity. Part of the resentment felt by humans is because, while they understand that they were simply enforcing galactic law, the turians never bothered to fire a warning shot or even explain that activating dormant Mass Relays was a felony, before they opened fire on them and proceeded to occupy one of their colonies.
  • Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves: Perhaps to give them contrast with species like the asari, the turians tend to favor more straight lines in the The Aesthetics of Technology, their ships and weapons being particularly angular. Even the turians themselves have a kind of "edged" look to them, with their thin frames and semi-rigid plates on their skin. Yes, even the females, as shown in the third game's Omega DLC. In their case, they don't have long fringes; instead, their faceplates have more elaborate edges.
  • The McCoy: To the asari Kirk and salarian Spock.
  • Mirror Chemistry: The majority of the galaxy is based on levo-amino acids, whatever other differences they have. The turians and quarians are the only ones with dextro-amino-based biology. This caused them a lot of trouble during the First Contact War. Since the food on the human colonies they conquered were levo-amino-based, they had to ship in their supplies from the Hierarchy, eventually making their position untenable.
  • The Needs of the Many: Turian philosophy is entirely based around this. The turian species as a whole always comes before the turian individual. "Squad before self" is how Tiran Kandros puts it in Andromeda. According the codex this is so engrained into their society that the name of the in-universe musical anthem for Turian race is "Die For the Cause"
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Designed after eagles, actually, and definately very lawful, though not necessarily good.
  • Not So Different: Fought a war with humanity when the two species first met and were the most anti-human of the three council races, but compare the stories of how the two races got their council seats. Despite the difference in biochemistry, humans and turians have more similar lifespans, gender dynamics, and social structures with each other than with the other two Council races, the salarians and asari.
  • Only Sane Man: During the Reaper invasion, they're the only species who aren't unhelpful (asari and salarians), fighting one another (quarians and geth, krogan with themselves, humans with Cerberus), or hindering the war effort (hanar, the salarian government).
  • Planet of Hats: Turians are renowned for and proud of their strict adherence to duty and protocol, and the fact that every member of their species has once served in the military. However, some turians are outliers. Some turians are funny, laid back, pacifists, hate red tape, and everything in between.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: They're the most militaristic Council race by far, but they place heavy emphasis on discipline, so it's more accurate to call turians a Proud Soldier Race. It offers a Deconstruction of the trope as well: the much more proud, physically dangerous and violent krogan were defeated by the much-better organized, no-nonsense turians. It also provides an extra nuance to the issue of the genophage: if it wasn't deployed, the turians would've had to commit genocide. Their national anthem, fittingly enough, is entitled "Die For The Cause".
  • Religious Bruiser: They named the standard assault rifle of their military the Phaeston, after the turian spirit of creation.
  • Shoot the Dog: The salarians developed the genophage, but struggled with the moral dilemma of whether to use it to end the Krogan Rebellions. The turians unleashed the genophage instead, ending the Rebellions.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: They fit this trope in comparison to most other races, but their antithesis is the krogan. The turians are organized, disciplined, and well-equipped. While not above warrior-like concepts like personal honor, orders tend to come first, and the job has to get done no matter the cost.
  • Space Police: The fact that they have the largest fleet of warships in the galaxy (that includes the geth) make them the official peacekeepers of Council Space.
    • The majority of C-Sec officers are turian, making up over 50% of the total police force. We also know from the first game that there are several turian spectres, whereas we usually only ever see one representative of each of the other species amongst their ranks.
  • Space Romans: Even their names sound Roman. They even resemble eagles, the empire's official animal.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Apparently turians are poor swimmers, according to Garrus in Mass Effect 3. Makes sense considering the metal skin and apparent lack of body fat.
    Garrus: You obviously haven't seen turians swim. It's a lot of flailing and splashing interrupted by occasional bouts of drowning.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: See a Colony Drop as a perfectly legitimate form of warfare.
  • Tribal Facepaint: The markings on turian faces are worn to signify the home colony that s/he is descended from, a tradition that began in the aftermath of the Unification War, when several colonial chieftains decided to break away from the Hierarchy to wage a particularly bloody war between themselves, shortly after their race ventured into space. While the Hierarchy restored the peace, many turians chose to adorn themselves with their colonial markings out of nationalistic pride. On a more lighthearted note, the term "barefaced" has entered turian vernacular to mean someone who is untrustworthy. As such, it's typically used to refer to politicians. Two of the three barefaced turians met in the first two games are straight-up villainous (Saren Arterius in 1 and Warden Kuril in 2). The third is a sleazy politician.
  • Utopia: While the asari are a socialist utopia and the salarians are libertarians, the turians are a right-wing military meritocracy like something out of Starship Troopers. Every citizen is in service to the state (their national anthem is called “Die for the Cause”), military service is mandatory at the age of 15, and their entire culture revolves around duty, discipline, and obeying superiors. The Hierarchy is governed by the Primarchs — skilled militant leaders who exclusively have the right to vote, freeing up their citizenry to maintain their societal structure like a well-oiled machine. Every turian knows their place, and ambition is not encouraged. They are allowed almost total personal freedoms as long as it doesn’t impede their duties to the government. They also enjoy a stable economy thanks to their client race, the mercantile volus, who vigorously manage it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: While there is still some tension with humanity due to the First Contact War, both races seem to actually get on with each other far better than they do with the salarians or asari. Both governments also are mentioned as having worked together quite well when building the original Normandy, and nowadays the turians see humans as worthy opponents, despite the fact that only 3% of their eligible population serve in the Alliance Navy. The turians know that if more humans served in the military, they'd be practically unstoppable. When the Reapers roll around, the turians are the first to offer aid to the humans and the Crucible project, even after their councilor had his famous air-quotes moment dismissing the reapers as a threat in the previous game.
    • Potentially become this with the krogan in the 3, though the krogan are naturally still bitter about the genophage. Primarch Victus hopes that the Reaper War will make them Fire-Forged Friends; the odds of this happening are better if Wrex is still alive.
  • Worthy Opponent: What they (grudgingly) consider the humans. The First Contact War (which they refer to as the Relay 314 Incident) gained the respect of the turians due to the resourcefulness and unconventional tactics of humanity. This has become Friendly Enemy with some Teeth-Clenched Teamwork by the time of Mass Effect, and by Mass Effect 3 the two races are basically Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Younger Than They Look: Well, act would be the better word than look. Of the two main turian party members the franchise has had, both Garrus and Vetra act like and have careers of a human in their 30s but are in their mid to late 20s. As a whole it seems like the turian mature earlier than humans. Whether this is a societal or biological trait is still up in the air.
    • Their mandatory military service begins at age 15, which may indicate a commonly-accepted point of maturity among the species, comparable to age 18 for humans.

    Asari 

Asari

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Asari-001_8964.png

....if you want a problem talked to death, ask an asari....
Renegade Shepard

Homeworld: Thessia

One of the two founding races of Citadel Space alongside the salarians and the most powerful and widespread race in the galaxy, the asari often take the role of diplomats. They are a long lived (lifespans generally covering a millennium) mono-gendered race, but are seen as female by other species. Asari reproduce by linking their nervous system to another sentient being of any race. The linking helps to randomize the asari's DNA while encouraging positive traits from the "father" species to manifest in the offspring (supposedly), which is always another asari. Partnerships of two asari are looked down upon by most of the species now as they believe it restricts genetic diversity (not to mention that asari born from such a relationship can be Ardat-Yakshi, a very dangerous mutation). Their government is a loose federation of nation-states collectively known as the Asari Republics. All asari have biotic ability, but require training to use it effectively.

Asari are available for multiplayer in 3, and can use the Adept and Vanguard classes. The Resurgence pack adds the Justicar Adept class, and the Retaliation DLC adds Huntress Infiltrators and Valkyrie Sentinels.


  • Absolute Cleavage: More developed asari like Benezia and Samara seem to enjoy showing off their... assets. According to Liara and others, the bosom keeps growing for hundreds of years.
  • Alien Blood: Bluish purple.
  • Alien Hair: They object to anyone (but themselves) referring to it as "tentacle-hair."
    Liara: They're semi-flexible, cartilage-based scalp-crests that grow into shape—and they don't "flop around."
  • Always Someone Better: Considered to be the most gifted race, due to their lifespan that easily quadruples everyone but krogan, Mind Meld like powers, and extremely advanced technology, which all causes issues with other Council races. The asari deliberately cultivated this reaction among the Citadel races when they were first integrated, and while they are still considered to be extremely gifted in the 2100s, the significant number of asari born from one asari and another alien race has made being a direct asari or being associated with asari traditions something that is looked down upon within their own culture. As Javik's comments and The Reveal on Thessia show, they were evolving at the same rate as humans in terms of technology and intelligence, but the intervention of the Protheans bolstered them to an advanced level, and those few who ever knew about it increased it even further by using a Prothean Beacon and keeping it secret from all other races.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Most of other races have this impression of asari. Justified to a small degree considering that it's pretty common for those in their maiden years to either become mercenaries or dancers/prostitutes. Their reproduction habits and concepts about sexuality don't help either. This is actually seen by some as something of a problem in their society—Aethyta, in 2, comments that asari maidens should be doing productive jobs instead of wasting their youths table-dancing. Joker gets a viciously boneheaded remark on the subject in 3 when Thessia is destroyed by the Reapers, noting that things might have gone better for them if they had more commandos and fewer strippers.
  • Amazon Brigade: Any asari force, by virtue of all its members being female.
  • Badass Army: Though in a nontraditional sense, as they have a very small standing army, but it essentially consists of biotic ninja.
    • The asari commandos are widely considered to be some of the most dangerous warriors in the galaxy, as even the "typical" asari commando has spent two or three decades training and hardening themselves for war, with the long-term professionals having quite literally spent centuries learning how to fight. Even the codex notes that getting into a one-on-one fight with one is practically suicide. Their navy is also the third most powerful in the galaxy, behind the turians and geth. There's a turian saying: "The asari are the finest warriors in the galaxy. Fortunately, there are not many of them."
    • On a strategic level, asari territory can usually be quickly conquered... and just as quickly becomes an ungovernable quagmire, as elite biotic insurgents sabotage and assassinate everything. It is worth noting that, even though their standing army on Thessia and other asari worlds are quickly overwhelmed by the Reapers, it is still extremely difficult to actually subjugate a planet whose entire population consists of biotics, and the asari's decentralized nature makes it hard to force a surrender unless all of them agree to submit.
    • The armed forces of an asari settlement also depend on the city-state in question. Those of a small colony or town will be little more than light militia of a few asari with small arms and light armor. The defense forces for a major city on a core world can be large and well-armed, with tanks, artillery, and aircraft.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: They're apparently able to produce viable offspring with every other sentient race in the galaxy, including ammonia-breathing volus, turians and quarians whom have an entirely different body chemistry from the other species in the galaxy, non-mammalian salarians, drell and krogan, and big stupid jellyfish (hanar). It's indicated in-game that the asari use their partner's DNA as a source of randomness to rearrange their own to produce a genetically unique child. They can obviously also mate with each other, though this is frowned on since contact with alien races became commonplace for their species.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Subverted with most asari: asari eyes turn black when they "meld," an act that merges their nervous system with anothers that is also how asari reproduce. With Ardat-Yakshi, though, it's played straight.
  • Boldly Coming: Justified. Asari can mate with any other species, and it's encouraged that they do so. Relations between two asari are considered taboo, perhaps because the child has a tiny chance of being born an Ardat-Yakshi. This unfortunately leads to some in-universe Unfortunate Implications about asari promiscuity.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Asari have played themselves as this for millennia and gotten away with it.
  • The Chessmaster: Matriarchs, the oldest asari, are said to make plans that are so complicated (often spanning decades or centuries) that most other beings find them incomprehensible. When you have centuries of life left, you don't really mind waiting a decade or two for a plan to pay off.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Their ground forces. The asari military's focus on elite biotic commandos and light infantry instead of a professional, mechanized standing army means that the turians are relied upon as the heavy hitters in any ground conflict. When the Reapers attack Thessia while the turians are bogged down fighting another Reaper force on their own home front, Thessia falls swiftly once the Reapers win in space because of the lack of a large, standing ground army. They do seem to have some fairly effective air support of their own, but those survive about as long as the other species' against the Reapers.
  • Constantly Curious: Asari have a fascination with learning and understanding, because their longevity means they can patiently wait to figure a difficult topic or subject out. This is also reinforced in their sexuality and mating cultures—one asari on Illium mentions that dating any race besides a krogan is popular because it's less commitment (the asari is guaranteed to outlive them), and Cora mentions in Andromeda that asari are curious about everything and take a lot of time to "figure things out." According to Peebee, this greatly diminishes once they get to the Matriarch stage. They stop being curious and stop wanting to learn new things because they're so sure they've Seen It All by that point. Again, this also depends on the individual. Samara is a Matriarch well beyond her wanderlust years, and staunchly rigid in morals, but she has a very open mind, particularly in regards to humanity.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The dominant aesthetic of the asari culture. Even some of their weapons conform to it in Mass Effect 3, being smooth, white and elegantly curved.
  • Doomed Hometown: In the third game, some of their worlds burn. Specifically, their homeworld, Thessia, to an extent.
  • Elite Mooks: Their entire military is made of up these. While they are effective to say the least, this by consequence makes their military relatively small and unable to wage an effective drawn out war (keep in mind, this is all relative; their actual military is still one of the most powerful in the galaxy), instead relying on the turians for protection. To put it in perspective, you hear two separate accounts of a commando dueling a krogan veteran. In the first case, the battle lasted for days, blew up a space station, and ended in a draw (Wrex vs. an unseen asari, but heavily implied in-game to be Aria.) In the second case, the two of them killed each other (Matriarch Aethyta's parents, and by extension Liara's grandparents.) The turians have a saying, "The asari are the finest warriors in the galaxy. Fortunately, there are not many of them."
  • Exotic Equipment: They are renowned for being able to mate (and produce viable offspring) with either gender of any species in existence, due to the unusual nature of their nervous system and reproductive methodology. This does not, however, address the messy issue of where parts... go. However, the fact that asari give birth (Atheyta says she didn't "pop Liara out.") implies that asari have an orifice analogous to a vagina (especially since love scenes between Liara and, in Andromeda, Peebee reveal that asari anatomy is similar to human women to the point that they have nipples). The "Lair of the Shadow Broker" DLC for the second game implies that they have some kind of lower-body erogenous zone colloquially referred to as "azure".
    • Andromeda makes it clear that they can have and enjoy sex without melding through Peebee's romance arc.
  • Experimented in College: Played With. Though same-sex relationships are not frowned upon in asari culture (because they see gender as meaningless) same-species couples between asari are a huge taboo. That said, it's common for asari commandos to form sexual relationships during deployment, and it's seen as a natural part of them "figuring things out".
  • Facial Markings: Most (but not all) asari have some kinds of marking on their faces, ranging from subtle (Liara) to not-so-subtle (Councillor Tevos). What significance they have, or even if they're natural or artificial, has not been explained.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of the ancient Greek city-states, apparently.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The mage in the asari-turian-salarian Trio.
  • Flash Step: Asari multiplayer characters do a short-range version of this instead of rolling.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: They look like human women wearing rubber headpieces and blue makeup, just "other" enough to be exotic but still attractive to humans. And everyone else.
  • The Hecate Sisters: A species-wide example. Their life goes as such: once they mature, they spend two hundred years in a state of perpetual wanderlust and thrill-seeking, tending to be mercenaries, explorers, and strippers; a life phase they call the "Maiden" years. Once they hit three hundred or so, they feel the need to settle down and raise a family; the "Matron" phase. Once they tip over the seven hundred point, they retire to become Matriarchs, using their experience and power to lead and advise (politicians, spiritual leaders, and bartenders) — though a very few number of them become Justicars. One of their religions involves worshiping a goddess who vacillates between the three stages as well.
  • High on Homicide: This is what makes Ardat-Yakshi so dangerous. When an Ardat-Yakshi melds with someone, she experiences an intense euphoria similar to heavy-duty narcotics. This sensation is extremely addictive, and Ardat-Yakshi who kill leave behind astronomical body counts in their attempts to experience that feeling again.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Naturally. Their unique reproductive method, which is closest to a strange form of parthenogenesis, only requires the partner to have an advanced nervous system to produce offspring.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: There are recorded instances of asari-elcor romances, and at least one case of asari-elcor offspring.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Of the species encountered in the game, asari are the ones that most resemble humans, with blue skin and cartilaginous structures instead of hair.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: They are the "you" to many people of many species. No matter what your species is, if you're attracted to women, odds are you're attracted to asari. They can even get salarians in the mood.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: Averted. They start to leave childhood at the age of forty, and are legally considered adults at eighty. That's forty years of puberty. According to Liara they still suffer from Not Now, Kiddo well into their second century.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: The ability to choose when to get pregnant means that the asari population stays fairly stable. Apparently there is also no age restriction on fertility, either, since both of Liara's parents were well into their Matriach phases by the time she was born.
  • Knight Errant: How Samara describes Justicar the order, literally.
  • Knight Templar: The Justicar order, who are generally kept away from other species to avoid a diplomatic incident brought on by their very strict code.
  • Lady of War: Averted. Although the asari are noted for their elegance, asari commandos are as hard-nosed and physical as most other soldiers in the galaxy. Played straight however, with justicars, if Samara is any indication.
  • Long Game: Asari plans and military strategies tend to be as long-term and far-reaching as possible. This greatly contrasts them with their Council peers, who look for short-term and practical solutions. Especially the salarians, who pride themselves on coming up with the most immediate solutions possible.
  • Magic Knight: Again, asari commandos. Or anyone serving in the asari military.
  • Magitek: Weapons like the Acolyte are designed to simulate biotic effects like Warp to complement an asari's natural biotics.
  • Mars Needs Women: Inverted, because most races have an abundant asari fetish. In Andromeda, kett files on the various Milky Way species specifically say that the asari — in particular, their reproductive methods — hold the most potential of them all. They are uninterested, however, in the emotional or spiritual aspects of it.
  • Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves: Asari architecture and technology is usually very sleek and curved. For example, compare the Disciple shotgun to every other weapon of its type. They also tend to be lightweight, which makes sense given that heavy weapons make it harder to use biotics frequently.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: How asari relationships with any other species that isn't asari or krogan tend to turn out. This is a major factor in the asari worldview; asari know that they will outlive several mates, but rather than getting depressed about it, they accept it and enjoy the time they have with them.
  • Mental Fusion: Asari have the ability to connect to the neural signals of any organic species. The ability is so potent that they can read or transfer thoughts. When mating, they combine thoughts and feelings with their partner, entering an extremely intimate inner world. If they want to produce an offspring from the union, they gather genetic information through the merger. Overall, it's a highly-versatile power with both practical and perverse capabilities.
  • Mind over Matter: They are the only species with natural biotics. In actuality, the Protheans altered their entire species to give them all biotics. The trope is even an occasional battle-cry in the second game.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Apparently, this is one of their hats, in addition to Boldly Coming.
  • One-Woman Army: Asari commandos are considered to be the deadliest fighters in the galaxy. This is perfectly summed up by the War Assets entry for the Serrice Guard, a unit of asari commandos. After a space battle with a Blood Pack ship, they and the Blood Pack were forced to crash land on a planet. Over the course of nine days, the Blood Pack suffered over a hundred casualties from traps, ambushes, and night assaults. When the Blood Pack gave up and finally surrendered, they found out that they had only been fighting five asari commandos. They're like the alien equivalents of Rambo.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Ardat-Yakshi. They're asari with a genetic mutation that impairs their ability to Mind Meld. In the most extreme cases of the syndrome, this "burns out" their partner's neuro-nervous system, which also allows the Ardat-Yakshi to consume the victim's memories. This is a narcotic experience, and boosts the Ardat-Yakshi's Psychic Powers, so they invariably become addicted to the process. This is why any Ardat-Yakshi is either carefully secluded and monitored, or executed for refusing to submit to the former.
  • Out with a Bang: The Ardat-Yakshi again.
  • Phallic Weapon: Inverted with the Destiny Ascension. Instead of looking phallic, it looks more... "feminine".
  • Planet of Hats: Boldly Coming Blue Skinned Space Babes mixed with Space Elves. Asari can mate with anything, and it's apparent that both their culture and biology encourage them to, and because of their longevity, they also tend to be patient and very willing to learn. However, some asari are not promiscuous (either mating for life or not mating at all), some hate politics, and a few are flat out worse Blood Knights than the krogan.
  • The Poorly Chosen One: The Protheans cultivated early asari civilisation and left them an intact Beacon, having chosen them as the most likely race to defeat the Reapers in the next Cycle. However, they didn't plan on those asari who found the thing keeping it a secret even from their own people, so that they (and the rest of the galaxy, by extension) were left woefully underprepared when the Reapers came.
  • Proportional Aging: A 40-year-old asari is considered young, with the 106-year-old Liara being the equivalent of her 20s.
  • Read the Fine Print: Illium is described as "Omega with expensive shoes" because of this trope. It's quite possible to become an indentured servant or medical test subject if the signee doesn't watch out.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: They look almost exactly like human women, just with fleshy tendrils (they're cartilage-based crests and semi-flexible, according to Liara in the third game) on top of the scalp, skin that is implied to be scaly in texture by the game's graphics, and natural skin-colors being varying shades of blue or purple. The game designers knew early on that they would have to make the asari the most human-like of the alien species so that they would still be attractive to players. This is lampshaded in 2 when a human says asari look like humans, and a turian says they look like turians, leading the human to wonder if asari manipulate your mind to make them seem attractive to whoever looks at them.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: They are responsible for the bulk of the laws that Council Space follows, being the race that found and appropriated the Citadel first. As such, these laws have very asari-centric leanings. Nowhere is this made more apparent than when Shepard visits Thessia and discovers that despite imposing and enforcing laws on other species to reveal and share any working Prothean technology that's discovered, they'd been harboring a working Beacon for millennia, but kept it hidden so that they would retain a technological edge on every other race.
  • Sex God: Everyone seems to want the asari, regardless of race or gender. Humans, turians, salarians, hanar... According to Javik, the asari were the only "primitive" race the Protheans dated. The rest they conquered and enslaved. Or ate. The reasons for it are discussed by NPC's in Mass Effect 2, where a few bar patrons (a salarian, human, and turian, all males on a "stag party" because of the salarian's reproduction contract) wonder why they're all attracted to an asari dancer and wonder whether it's genuine attraction or if there's some sort of subtle mental manipulation going on, which is strongly hinted is the case, since salarians have no sex drives at all, yet the salarian starts becoming entranced anyway. On the other hand, Steve Cortez, one of the few explicitly gay men in the series, expresses no attraction to asari when it comes up, and while there are plenty of cases of krogan being interested or in relationships with asari, there are also a handful of krogan who dismiss asari as physically unappealing. Mass Effect: Andromeda introduces the angara, and almost immediately we're told that asari are the most popular Milky Way race amongst them. A xenophobic group called the Roekkar explicitly finds their race's interest in them to be treason to the species. Andromeda also reinforces the notion that attraction to asari doesn't override human sexual orientation, as Cora, a heterosexual woman who served with asari commandos notes that she wasn't interested in even experimenting with them, and that their friendship was enough.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted with their shotgun, the Disciple. It doesn't do as much damage as shorter ranged shotguns like the Claymore, but it's very accurate and light. That doesn't mean that it's weak, however.
  • Space Elves: In many respects they're similar to the traditional "high elf" fantasy archetype, being an advanced, enlightened culture that focuses on art and learning but is backed up by elite, graceful warriors.
  • Stronger with Age: One of the reasons Matriarchs are so respected. If they get irritated with you, congratulations, you have one of the galaxy's most powerful and patient biotics getting medieval on your ass, and she probably has the connections and intelligence to ruin your life a thousand times over.
  • The Kirk: To the turian McCoy and salarian Spock.
  • Undying Loyalty: Asari Commandos have the concept of the Tiamna, a steadfast bodyguard who never abandons her charge, no matter what the situation.
  • Utopia: Just as the turians are a right-wing, militaristic utopia, the asari are a left-wing socialist one. They have a direct e-democracy and local councils as government (their main governing body is called the Asari Republics), are notably non-militaristic, place great emphasis on art and education, and are multicultural to the extreme. Their society is the most technological and culturally advanced (not to mention the richest) society in space.
    • Which isn't to say that they're without internal strife. We see plenty of asari criminals throughout the series, and in Andromeda, we're told by Cora, who served four years with an asari commando unit as part of a cross-species military integration program that asari space remains hectic enough that they require peacekeeping units to be active full time, generally dealing with domestic asari threats; "terrorists, cults, rogue Ardat-Yakshi, people demanding a withdrawal from the Citadel..."
  • Warrior Monk: The Justicars, with a side-order of Knight Errant.
  • Witch Species: All asari are natural biotics, and as revealed in 3 this was deliberately engineered by the Protheans.

    Salarians 

Salarians

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Salarian-001_6518.png

...if you want a NEW problem, ask a salarian....
Renegade Shepard

Homeworld: Sur'kesh

The second race to discover the Citadel and one of the two founding members of the Citadel Council. Their metabolism is much faster than those of other species; on the one hand, this means they're the second shortest-lived sentient beings in the galaxy after the vorcha. On the other, they waste a lot less of their lives sleeping. They also have "reproduction contracts" instead of marriages (which Mordin attributes to an inability to sustain courtship emotions). Similar to the asari, the salarian government is collection of clans, families, fiefdoms and duchies collectively referred to as the "Salarian Union" note . The Council based the Spectre program off the salarian Special Tasks Group, although the Spectres aren't as well-funded — you don't see STG operatives buying their own weapons.

Despite being outnumbered nine-to-one by the males, female salarian "dalatrasses" (clan/family leaders) wield the most political power on their home-world.

Salarians are available for multiplayer, and can use the Engineer and Infiltrator classes.


  • Alien Blood: Green.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Averted. The salarians have a nasty habit of trying to groom primitive races as quick fixes for their problems, which they call "uplifting". This leads Mordin and Padok to argue they should have such a rule, but they seem to be in the minority.
    James: These lizards like playing God, huh?
    EDI: The salarians appear to have learned nothing from the Krogan Rebellions.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Salarians, being amphibians, don't have any real sex drive and with that no concept of such things as romantic love (except for the ones that hook up with asari). Reproduction rights are determined by negotiation to continue certain dynasties or alliances, for which family history is very important. A family that loses their history can become a non-entity in such negotiations, as evidenced if Shepard returns one family's history.
  • Asexuality: Most of them are asexual, except in regards to the asari. As for how a species can survive despite being mostly asexual, it's because they're a haploid species. Unfertilized eggs laid by their dalatrasses (read: family matriarchs) are born as males. Fertilized eggs are born as females. Siring them is dealt with in a business/political agreement fashion ("Reproduction Negotiations"). As such, the majority of the population are males.
  • Badass Army: The salarian military is basically the pragmatic in the galaxy, who use espionage and stealth technology.
    • Salarians prefer to win a war before it starts through stealth, precision strikes at an enemies vital weak point and consider the notion of notifying the enemy that they will be attacked to be insane. Of particular note is the Salarian Special Task Group, a special forces organization so badass that they are what inspired the Spectres. Their doctrine is actually very similar to humanity's, albeit larger and more advanced: a relatively small volunteer force that relies on crippling the enemy before the war begins instead of slugging it out; humans cripple the enemy during the war; salarians would rather ensure the war doesn't happen.
    • One hallmark of salarian strategy is that they approach warfare very asymmetrically, gathering massive amounts of intelligence on an enemy before any conflict begins. They also emphasize crippling their enemy with attacks and techniques that leave it impossible for the enemy to fight, such as using the genophage to shut down the krogan, or employing various large-scale, engineered bioweapons such as gene-modded varren to disrupt enemy population centers and economies. They have no qualms with uplifting another species to fight their battles for them such as the krogan or the yahg.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Though they present a united front to the rest of the galaxy, the various salarian Dalatrasses are engaged in endless political maneuverings and backstabbings to gain power and maintain alliances on their homeworlds. This is particularly notable with how they treated the League of One, their most elite intelligence operatives. In order to curry favor with the asari, they released the League's personnel files, which exposed all of the members and led to them being hunted down by their enemies.
  • Combat Pragmatist: They consider declarations of war to be superfluous and stupid. When they attack, it is without warning and after as much time as feasible gathering intelligence and undermining the enemy.
    • They also consider very few measures to be out-of-bounds. One of their research facilities in the third game shows that they were researching altering varren (Tuchanka wolves) to be even more powerful, violent, and fast-breeding so they could be dropped onto enemy planets to completely wreck the ecosystem and attack civilian populations. A throwaway note on one planet suggests they're observing certain areas in the Terminus Systems, and any individuals who have the idea of uniting the warring pirates and slaving bands always die mysterious and untimely deaths.
    • Their reliance on their intelligence networks turned out to be a devastating weakness when the Reapers attacked, as the salarians' entire doctrine lay in destroying the enemy before conflict even began. Since they didn't virtually own the Reapers' communications network nor could prepare for or target their weaknesses prior to the unexpected attack, the salarian military was left at a severe disadvantage.
    • Basically, they are all about avoiding having to actually fight the enemy unless necessary, though they are capable fighters when it comes down to it thanks to their huge military, advanced technology, and super power status.
  • Everything Is An Ipod In The Future: Salarian weapons are typically small, sleek, and aerodynamic. While not quite as light or curved as asari weapons, they aren't far off from looking like something Apple, Inc. would release today.
  • Explosive Breeder: It goes unremarked, but, as the in-game codex notes, they are "haplo-diploid oviparous amphibians". In other words, female salarians lay dozens of eggs automatically once a year, and they don't need sex to make them hatch; sex merely determines whether or not the eggs will hatch into more females, who will lay more eggs. Salarian worlds are invariably densely populated as a result — theoretically, salarians can actually outbreed the krogan. This may explain why the salarian homeworld has much more people than the turian or asari ones, even though the salarians have managed to spread out their population into the colonies; there's just that many of them.
  • Fatal Flaw: For all their intelligence the salarians' relatively short lifespans appear to make them very shortsighted when it comes to decision making on a galactic scale. For example, uplifting the krogan without taking into account the long term consequences of their birth rate, especially when freed from the natural mortality rate of Tuchanka. Worse still it seems they feel the yahg are a great new prospect for uplifting into galactic society. Oddly enough, Councilor Linron in Mass Effect 3 takes the opposite stance, thinking in long-term matters regarding the dangers of curing the genophage... but she's doing so at the worst possible time.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The thief in the asari-turian-salarian trio.
  • Foil: to the krogan. One's a race of extremely durable, extremely long-lived, Proud Warrior Race Guys who believe Violence Really Is the Answer. The other is species of short-lived, squishynote  scientists who rely on subterfuge, intelligence (both in the military and the cerebral sense) and the best spies in the galaxy. While none of these differences justify the Fantastic Racism that both species throw at each other, it's easy to see why the animosity would start.
  • For Science!: Practically the salarians hat, though it's heavily lampshaded that this often doesn't turn out so well.
  • Gender Rarity Value: Females are rare, influential, and extremely well-protected, due to the reasons listed under Asexuality. You will never see a salarian female in a combat role unless things are very dire.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Justified, since males vastly outnumber females, and due to Gender Rarity Value and simple statistics male salarians are far more likely to be casualties in combat.
  • Motor Mouth: A few of them. At the very least they talk faster than most other species.
  • Not So Different: The basis of salarian civilization; males compete for the right to sire progeny on females, and females barter breeding rights as the source of their authority. Doesn't that sound just like post-genophage krogan? Salarians are also just as much Explosive Breeders as the krogan were before being infected with the genophage. However they aren't nearly as hard to kill as the krogan and have much shorter lifespans.
  • Overly Long Name: Salarians always introduce themselves shorthand. A salarian's full name is, in order, is their homeworld, nation, city, district, clan name and given name. For example, Administrator Bel Anoleis' full name is Rannadril Ghan Swa Fulsoom Karaten Narr Eadi Bel Anoleis.
  • Photographic Memory: As well as bolstering their skill as spies, it helps them keep track of their enormous extended families. In salarian terms, a "genius" is one whose memory is so sharp that they can recall trivial information on the spot as if it's still happening. The salarian pilot Kallo Jath is renown to have a particularly sharp memory even among salarians.
  • Planet of Hats: Salarians aren't very durable or long-lived, but they are expert at covert operations and intelligence gathering. They also tend to be strictly pragmatic and amoral. But Mordin and Maelon alone are perfect examples of how widely this can change and vary.
  • The Spock: To the turian McCoy and asari Kirk.
  • Stealth in Space: All salarian ships are equipped with the same stealth technology as the Normandy, even their dreadnoughts.
  • Sticky Bomb: They manufacture a pistol for their special forces called the Scorpion that shoots blue sticky grenades. Salarian Infiltrators in multiplayer are also fond of them.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Salarian weapons are fond of this trope. For example, the Venom shotgun and Scorpion pistol both fire explosive projectiles instead of bullets or slugs.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Other species tend to do this. As Mordin points out, while the salarians aren't physically imposing as the other races, their sheer aptitude for stealth and subterfuge, combined with their reputation as "easily dismissable", means that no-one ever sees them coming.
      Mordin: Advantage of being salarian. Turians, krogan, vorcha, all obvious threats. (sharp inhale) Never see me coming.
    • It is also worth pointing out that the salarians were the ones who began the Citadel's Spectre program and formed its first operatives, with the structure of the Spectres being based on a looser pattern of the salarian STG. Those who underestimate the salarians clearly have no knowledge of Citadel history.
    • Indeed, the Citadel Archives reveal that the first Spectre was a salarian STG operative, recruited from prison, due to using 30 civilians as live bait in order to flush out the assassin he was chasing.
    • Javik is highly surprised to learn that they evolved at all, let alone became one of the dominant species in the current Cycle.
    • The salarians also discovered the Citadel only a few decades after the asari, and unlike the asari, the salarians didn't have the advantage of the Protheans intervening to speed up their evolution.
  • Utopia: Downplayed compared to the asari and turians, but they are the Libertarian utopia to the asari left and the turian right, their Hats being intelligence, technology, and commerce, always in competition with one another on the merit of their brains and finances, being utilitarian and self-interested in the extreme, yet making it work (mostly) through sheer brainpower.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Salarians are hardly the strongest or toughest species out there. However, thanks to their accelerated metabolism, they can be quite quick in combat, described as "like a cat" by David Anderson who witnessed a salarian Spectre in a Bar Brawl. They extend this to strategic doctrine in warfare as well; the salarians will hit their enemy hard in the places they are most vulnerable before an opponent has an opportunity to respond because they have spent that much time and effort analyzing them first.
  • We Are as Mayflies: With a lifespan of around 40 years, they are shortest-lived of the powerful species behind the vorcha, who rarely last beyond 20 years.
  • The Worf Effect: The STG is said (and in the first game, shown) to be a Badass Army with some of the best technology and training in the galaxy, comparable to the Spectres (except they don't have to buy their own gear). However, by the time of Mass Effect 3, Cerberus manages to sneak onto Sur'Kesh undetected and surprise and stomp out an entire base of STG guards with only moderate casualties, with only Shepard being able to help repel them. Campbell even says that, due to Cerberus' technology, the salarians may as well have been throwing rocks.
  • Worf Had the Flu: However, this is due to the salarian preference to end a war before their enemy even knows that it has begun. They were completely blindsided by the Reapers, meaning most of their traditional tactics didn't apply and they didn't expect Cerberus to suddenly get a major technological advantage due to being augmented by salvaged Reaper tech from the Collector Base.
  • You Can Always Tell a Liar: According to Mordin, salarian body language has distinct cues for hiding something to protect yourself (which inspires curiosity in others) or for more complicated reasons (which inspires discretion). He compares cheating this system to humans faking a yawn; it's almost impossible to pull off convincingly.

    Humans 

Humans

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Human-001_6644.png

"... But if you want a problem fixed, ask a human."
Renegade Shepard

Homeworld: Earth

The most recent species to enter the galactic scene. Humans are a bipedal race originated from Earth. They are the most culturally and genetically diverse of all of the species in the series. On Earth itself, humanity is still very much divided, with major powers including the The United North American States, The People's Federation of China, and the European Union, but they all agree to project themselves as one faction to the galaxy through the Systems Alliance. They have advanced in galactic politics more quickly than other races, leading to a belief that humans are all impatient bullies. This advancement coupled with humanity's penchant for devising innovative ideas has led to humanity being considered to be something of a Wild Card; they are going to change the galaxy, but no one is certain how so.

Humans are one of the races available for multiplayer, and are the only one with access to all the classes and a customizable gender. The Rebellion Pack DLC adds the Ex-Cerberus Vanguard and Adept, and the Earth Pack adds N7 special forces characters for all of the classes, each with unique movesets and abilities. Additionally, the Reckoning Pack adds the Talon Mercenary Engineer.


  • All Take and No Give: The way humanity is seen by the other races, with humans demanding they be given equal, if not preferential, power and treatment to the other races, despite having done nothing earn it.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Invoked. Humanity's hat is hyper-ambition. A lot of the aliens you meet don't seem to appreciate the fact that they've been grabbing all the power on the galactic stage in the last forty years, when most other races take centuries to do so.
  • Arch-Enemy: With the batarians. The Hegemony and the Alliance have been engaged in a proxy war for years in the Skyllian Verge, with Alliance Marines facing off against batarian paramilitaries (like Balak's group), with various warlords and pirate bands being backed by both sides to fight the other. The batarian pirates who attacked Mindoir are an example of a Hegemony-backed band, whereas Lord Darius's gang is an example of an Alliance-backed band. Mass Effect 2 also reveals that the Hegemony is just itching for an excuse to start a war with humanity. As of the third game, this would have probably already happened after the destruction of one of their mass relays and the resultant death of over 300,000 batarians, if they weren't unfortunate enough to end up as the Reapers' first victims.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Other races are quietly terrified that this might happen, given that the humans were able to gain the full attention of the turians, having never fought them before, with such a small percentage of humanity's population in the military.
    • Used as a Batman Gambit by Udina's predecessor, Ambassador Goyle, in the book Mass Effect: Revelation. When an illegal Alliance operation is uncovered, the Citadel Council prepares to sanction humanity back into the Stone Age. Realizing that this would doom humankind to a fate much like the quarians or the krogan (the entire species reduced to a punchline and unable to do anything significant in Council Space for hundreds—if not thousands of years), Goyle boldly states that if the Council does this, the Systems Alliance will declare war on all Citadel Space. She was aware that humanity wouldn't ever win such a suicidal war, but that if humanity devoted a lot of their resources towards militarization they could inflict enough damage on Council space that the Council just wouldn't see fighting them as worth it.
    • This was also something humans were doing in ignorance during the First Contact War. They fought the turian forces deployed to Shanxi to a standstill and were gaining ground. However, the turian military was orders of magnitude bigger than humanity's (not that humans knew that at the time) and were preparing to route considerable reinforcements to the Shanxi theater when the Citadel Council intervened and prevented the war from escalating. A recording of two turian soldiers interrogating a human POW from the Citadel Archives even suggests that they may have been considering mounting an invasion of Earth before the ceasefire was called.
  • Badass Army: The Alliance military is very small, both on the ground and in space, compared to the other Council races, but an emphasis on maneuver warfare, flexibility, and innovative tactics and technology enable them to match larger and more established militaries, like the Batarian Hegemony.
  • Bizarre Baby Boom: Biotic abilities in humans only began to manifest after several starship "accidents" in the 2150s accidentally exposed pregnant women to Element Zero in-utero. As such, most of the first generation of human biotics are only around 30 years old.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The war doctrine of the Alliance is to quickly cut behind the enemy and destroy key installations, supply lines, and command centers. They're very big on offense; colonies only get token garrisons for immediate defense, but anyone who attacks will have the full force of the Alliance navy coming down right on their heads soon after. Likewise, their defense strategy boils down to having their Fleets positioned at key nexus points in the Relay Network, so should one of their colonies get attacked, The Cavalry will never be more than a jump or two away.
  • Determinator: Lampshaded by the various races, that despite overwhelming odds, humans never give up. Turians are excessively disciplined and krogan are outright stubborn, but humans have an uncanny ability to pull off the impossible.
  • Entitled Bastard: How most alien species see them. Almost immediately after joining the galactic community humanity instantly started demanding a seat on the Council in spite of other, stronger and more established species having to wait centuries for the same honor. It doesn't help that most humans aren't exactly polite about it.
    Pallin: If the Council wants to make Humanity their favorite pet that's their business. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
    Shepard: The Council treats us like second class citizens. We have to fight for everything we get.
  • Expanded States of America: The United States has been expanded and renamed the United North American States. It now also encompasses Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands.
  • The Federation: Back on Earth, there's the United North American States and the European Union. There's also the Chinese People's Federation, but it's not clear if they really are a federation or just a People's Republic of Tyranny. These three super-nations comprise the three major Earth-based powers in the Systems Alliance.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The ranking system of the Systems Alliance differs slightly from any modern one. While the Marines are no longer independent of the Navy, they like to keep some of their own ranks out of tradition. A complete list of the rank structure is present in the Codex.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: While the other three races specialize in one of these categories as an entire species, humans provide superlative individuals in all three categories. Zaeed is by far the best mercenary in the Terminus, so he is the superior Fighter. Jack is by far the most powerful biotic living, making her the superlative Mage. Kasumi is quite literally the best Thief in the galaxy, whose hacking and infiltration abilities earn her the respect of even a salarian Spectre.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: Unlike other races who are content to let the asari handle diplomacy, humans are not afraid to flex some muscle themselves with their navy. If the council is sacrificed, they use dreadnoughts to scare other colonies into compliance with their interests, causing the asari to use this exact phrase while criticizing the action.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: While there are naturally some exceptions, for the most part, humanity has easily adapted to the galactic scene, showing great enthusiasm and expressing a desire for a deeper role in galactic politics and in protecting it from threats.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Averted early in the series, discussed in the middle, then thoroughly subverted at the end. Starting out, humanity is a minor power who is weaker than most other established species. After the first game, humanity becomes a lot more involved in interstellar politics. However, after Earth is attacked, humanity desperately has to seek allies from the other species, with most of the final war assets coming from those species.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: Humanity had access to mass effect technology for only seven years and only a few colonies before making disastrous first contact with the Turian Heirarchy. Despite this early misstep, they continued on to become a major political force in the galaxy and subsequently gained a seat on the Council, only 26 years from initial first contact. To put the extent of this achievement into perspective, it often takes centuries for most races to even reach a lesser status.
  • Humans Are Average:
    • Physically, humans are the middle ground in almost every way compared to other species, which has proven to be an advantage of sorts. Thane's dossier reveals humans are generally easier to assassinate than asari or turians, and Grunt counts them as less hardy than quarians, which may or may not be because of the quarians' environment suits. In fact, in multiplayer, humans are the only species that can play any class.
    • Mordin reveals in the second game that humans have the most genetic variability in the Galaxy, meaning it's nearly impossible to predict where they can fall on the the biological bell-curve, compared to those of other species. If it weren't highly unethical, this would make them wonderfully valuable as a test group for medical experiments.
      Mordin: Biotic abilties, intelligence levels. Can look at random asari, krogan, make reasonable guess. Humans too variable to judge. Outliers in all species, of course. Geniuses, idiots. But human probability curve offers greater variability.
    • This also flummoxes the kett. While they identify desirable traits in other species (discipline from turians, salarian cleverness, krogan aggression, asari biotics), they find humans to possess no obvious genetic advantages. Yet their sheer determination in the face of this perplexes the kett.
  • Humans Are Leaders: This is how they see themselves, anyway. And it's embodied by Ambassador Udina and the Illusive Man in the negative sense, and Admiral Hackett and David Anderson in the positive sense, and Commander Shepard can fall anywhere between them on the scale. Hackett's actions in the third game do a lot to solidify this trope in the eyes of other Council races. Where other militaries only fight a local war against the Reapers in their planets and their systems alone, Hackett comes up with a truly galactic strategy and coordinates anti-Reaper operations in all theatres. He is the first and only one to figure out that conventional victory is impossible, and adapts an effective sea denial strategy until the Crucible is ready. The only other strategic decision of value - drawing in the krogan - was made in support of the humans' overall strategy.
    • Humans were also the ones who conceptualized, planned and for the most part carried out the Andromeda colonization Initiative. Jien Garçon was the visionary, Alec Ryder wrote the book on being a Pathfinder, and most of your outposts there have human mayors. Even Kadara port is under the stewardship of a human.
  • Humans Are Special: Played straight early on, deconstructed later. In the context of the series, humanity did gain political power rather quick, but that's mostly due to Shepard being Shepard. The Reapers agree, seeing humanity as the one species worthy of ascension into capital ship form. This decision may have been influenced by Shepard destroying Sovereign in the first game.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Human military tactics are considered rather unpredictable by the standards of the other races. Pound-for-pound, humans rival the batarians in capability (if not numbers), but lack the sheer brute force of the krogan, the discipline and power of the turian navy, the skill of the asari, or the savvy of the salarians. However, humans are unmatched in maneuverability, flexibility, VI and drone support, and individual initiative. Human tactics are focused around striking high-priority targets and supply lines rather than wars of attrition. In short, humans are well-known for achieving more with less.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: According to various comments from other races. They are also the only species able to use every class in the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold/Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Depending on the ending in the first game. Despite being, for better or worse, an ambitious and warlike race, humans come to the rescue of the Citadel and prevent a return of the Reapers. Whether this means saving the entirely alien Council from the jaws of certain death and becoming a part of the wider community, or sacrificing them in favor of fighting Sovereign, is entirely up to Shepard.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Unlike the turians, who fight to the last man to defend Palaven from the Reapers, the Alliance withdraws from Sol entirely (aside from a few stragglers like Anderson who stay behind to lead La Résistance) and husbands its resources for the construction of the Crucible. As a result, the Alliance becomes far and away the largest contributor to the unified war effort, having not suffered the same staggering losses inflicted on the other races while defending their homeworlds.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The codex says that the Alliance makes heavy use of drones to compensate for their lack of numbers compared to other species, ranging from flying tripod machine gun turrets to eight foot tall YMIR Mechs with a machine gun and rocket launcher combo to the anti-tank rocket drones to VI-piloted deep space fighters. In the various Alliance bases gone wrong that Shepard has to come to clean up, there are always huge amounts of mechs and drones there to defend it. In some cases, the mechs and drones are what killed everyone in the base.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: In response to the discovery of the Citadel species, many human countries passed strict laws on genetic engineering to preserve the uniqueness of the human genome. Augmenting existing human abilities is fair game, but adding new capabilities, like digesting cellulose or growing wings, is banned in most countries. Uplifted Animals occupy legal grey areas, and cybernetic modifications - at least, less obtrusive ones - are completely acceptable. Deliberately inducing biotic ability in people where there was none usually involves criminal acts, but people who were born biotic due to incidental in-utero exposure are not sanctioned by any laws. The Systems Alliance Navy actually is a major employer of biotics, as they are often social outcasts in civilian society and the Navy can always use people who can crush things with their minds.
    • Alec Ryder takes this further and enhances a human (his kid) with an AI which can alter internal biological processes to give that human enhanced abilities, including even biotics.
  • Planet of Hats: Defied Trope, and a huge Berserk Button for human politicians, military leaders, and colonists alike. What makes humans special is that they refuse to be marginalized or held back in any way, and that scares the other Citadel races and makes them question the hats they've been wearing for centuries or even millennia. But this, of course, means that humanity's "pseudo-hats" are ambition, defiance, and individuality, along with all of its strengths and flaws.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: How humanity is viewed by the rest of the galaxy; they throw their weight around and think themselves one of the big guys, despite being weaker than the elcor in practical economic terms. Lead codex writer Chris L'Etoilenote  sums it up:
    Chris: The power vacuum at the end of Mass Effect 1 is purely at the Citadel. The Council defense fleet there gets pasted, but the overall turian, salarian, and asari fleets outnumber the humans 10:1. Despite rah-rah-Earth-First rhetoric from Udina, it's utterly impossible for the Alliance to militarily best the Council on anything more than a local and temporary scale. All they have to do is gather their fleets and steamroll us. Also, we have a dozen colonies, none with a population larger than a modern city (Terra Nova, the largest at 4.4 million, is about equal to Riyadh). The Council races each have hundreds of colonies, many old enough to have populations in the billions. We can't out-produce or out-populate them, either.
  • Super Soldier: The N7 classes. Not exceptionally skilled normal soldiers that become N7s, like Shepard or the base multiplayer characters, but the specialized ultra-elite units that are only playable in multiplayer. They include a biotic ninja who can explode things incredibly rapidly and teleport, an invisible cyborg with a monomolecular blade that can shoot lasers, a human tank equipped with very heavy Power Armor which includes a shoulder mounted missile launcher, a wrist mounted grenade launcher, and enhancements for whatever weapon he happens to be holding, and more.
    • A SAM enhanced Pathfinder is even more so. The SAM enhancements consists of “profiles” that buff abilities on demand, allowing a Pathfinder to fight as any of the six classes at any time.
  • Tank Goodness: The Mako is called a tank by marines, despite technically being an Infantry Fighting Vehicle. But naming aside, it is a fine piece of work; a powerful cannon, a coaxial machine gun, great speed, powerful shields that recharge, room for an equipped fireteam, can be dropped from hundreds of meters in the air on to a planet, has effectively unlimited ammo (though all weapons in this franchise share that trait), and a total disdain of the laws of physics.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With the turians. The war between the humans and turians are still fresh in both races' minds so it makes collaboration filled with tension. By 3, it's strongly hinted that humans and turians are Not So Different and on the way to becoming Bash Brothers.
  • The Unchosen One: To the Protheans. They evaluated all of the "primitive" species in their cycle and determined that the asari were the next cycle's best hope to stop the Reapers. Cue Javik's surprise when awakens to find that the Reapers are most interested in humanity and that a human, Shepard, is the galaxy's best chance of stopping them.
  • United Europe: It's mentioned that Europe is also politically active, apparently having become one Nation-State, although the United Kingdom is also mentioned, leaving it ambiguous whether it's a constituent member or a separate entity.
  • Victory by Endurance: Human military strategy in a nutshell. Attack an enemy's resources and supply lines rather than their fleets directly, watch them "wither on the vine" and then when the time is right, curbstomp them.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With the turians. There might be tension, but these two societies have more in common with each other than with the salarians or the asari. They even co-designed the Normandy with the turians. And when the Reapers hit, the turians are the first of any species to offer military aid to humanity.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Humans in this setting are lucky to break one century, but can reasonably live for as long as a hundred and fifty years. The trope is played straight with asari and krogan, who both live to be over 1,000 years. It's averted with most other species, who have similar lifespans, and with the salarians, whose fast metabolisms gives them maximum lifespans of just 40 years. Even worse are the vorcha, who can count themselves lucky to see 20.
  • Wild Card: Given the relative newness of humanity on the galactic stage, most races aren't really sure how to predict human behavior. Samara states that humans are more individualist than any species she's met.
    Samara: If three humans are in a room, there will be six opinions.

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