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Characters / Mass Effect Race Tropes: Non-Citadel Space

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This page is for listing the tropes related to the Non-Citadel Space 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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You ask a krogan if he'd rather find a cure for the genophage or fight for credits, he'll choose fighting — every time. It's just who we are.
Urdnot Wrex

Homeworld: Tuchanka

The krogan originated on the Death World of Tuchanka, which made them an extremely resilient — and violent — species. These traits have caused them to have a very troubled relationship with the other Council species; the physiology which makes them so difficult to kill (which includes, among other things, duplicate and even triplicate organs and redundant vital systems) made them crucial to ending the Rachni Wars, but once they were allowed to settle other planets, their population exploded and they began moving in aggressively on worlds already settled by other species, leading to the Krogan Rebellions and the introduction of the genophage. Most krogan encountered around the galaxy are hired thugs of one brand or another.

Krogan are available for multiplayer, and can use the Sentinel and Soldier classes. The Resurgence pack adds Battlemaster Vanguard, Retaliation adds Shaman Adepts, and Reckoning adds Warlord Sentinels.

  • The Ageless:
    • Implied to be either this or incredibly long lived. Wrex and Okeer are veterans of the Krogan Rebellions, making them both at minimum 1,467 years old, and Wrex's father is implied to have lived even longer than that. Unfortunately, the violent nature of krogan life tends to keep them from taking advantage of this: if a krogan has lived to an old age, you know messing with them is a bad idea.
    • Andromeda strongly suggests that 1500-1600ish is the maximum limit for krogan lifespans, with Peebee commenting that Drack — who's roughly in the same age range as Wrex and Okeer — only has about as long left to live as the human squad members. Which, granted, is another 120 years, give or take.
  • Alien Blood: Orange.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Apparently, human sport video games are rather popular among the krogan, and a Cerberus Daily News story mentions the New York Giants winning Super Bowl CCXIX with a krogan quarterback.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: A poster child for this Trope. According to Eve and Mordin, the krogan would have been a whole lot more peaceful had they been allowed to advance scientifically at their own pace, instead of being "uplifted" by the salarians to fight in a nasty war. However, Eve also notes that the Krogans did a good job of killing themselves with a devastating nuclear war before the salarians arrived, and the Shroud was one of the ways the salarians coaxed the Krogan into helping the rachni.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: This is literally how their society operates: leadership of a clan, or even a group of clans, tends to hinge on who kicks the most ass and leadership is often transferred via Klingon Promotions. It's actually a weakness in their society, as the big, brutish warlords take over and silence the (relatively) reasonable, but typically weaker, krogan. Wrex, despite being a natural leader who could plan ahead, would have gotten nowhere if he wasn't also the baddest mofo on Tuchanka.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: They were strong enough to wage war on the rest of the galaxy 1,200 years ago, but that was back when they had an empire of hundreds of planets and fleets of dreadnoughts. Many krogan still seem to think that they are living in those days and that the only thing stopping them from conquering the galaxy is the genophage — not their disunity, or their lack of industrial capacity, or their lack of fleet, or them not having any territory other than a burnt-out husk of a planet that keeps trying to eat them. Mordin shows concern in his loyalty mission that if the genophage is cured, the krogan will try to get "revenge" on the Council and end up getting wiped out by the turians and humans for their trouble. Only after getting to know Eve and Wrex in the third game does he begin to have a more optimistic view on redeeming the krogan race.
  • Badass Army: Even with the genophage wrecking their numbers and their homeworld in a state of Fallout-style post-apocalyptic decay, the krogan are still able to field an army that makes the other species' contributions look meager. This is exemplified in the War Assets in 3: a unified krogan force under Wrex, with Eve keeping them under control, can contribute more to your ground assets than any other race, even the geth. They're also the only race that takes the "Army" in Badass Army completely literally. Unlike the humans or turians who have a badass Space Navy, the krogan military is entirely based on ground troops, as their fleet was decommissioned at the end of the Krogan Rebellions.
  • Badass Baritone: Every krogan you meet speaks in a very deep voice, as befitting a species of their stature. Even the one female you meet in the original trilogy has a deep, booming voice.
  • Badass Preacher: The krogan Shamans, who endure trials that most races would consider too brutal even for special forces training (or even more significantly, trials considered brutal even by krogan standards), simply because they must fully prepare themselves for their role as a guardian of their sacred traditions and rites. They are available as biotic specialists in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, and are the most robust out of all the adept-class characters.
  • The Berserker:
    • This is what happens when a krogan enters "Blood Rage". They basically switch to a primitive, instinctual mindset driven to kill or destroy whatever's near them with little friend or foe recognition. It's explained that this is a result of their redundant biological systems — when a krogan's life is endangered enough that a secondary system becomes necessary, their body "reboots" itself for a moment and the rush of blood and adrenaline causes them to go berserk.
    • The Codex explains that this used to be a rare trait, and old krogan society, as warlike as it was, considered the phenomenon a hazard to public safety and locked up anyone who exhibited the trait. Then they had a nuclear war that razed their entire civilization and much of the planet, which served as a genetic "choke point" event. Bloodragers were far more likely to survive the post-apocalyptic wasteland, thus the trait became mainstream.
  • Big Eater: The krogan's sheer size and strength comes with a matching appetite. Grunt's favorite food is variants on massive fish stick snacks.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: It's implied in a spam e-mail in ME2 from Morlan that Krogan are rather well-endowed. Or at the very least, it is a known stereotype that they are hung, even if it isn't true in reality.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: They have natural armor plating, a 240-degree field of vision, secondary and tertiary instances of almost every organ, including two hearts, four lungs and four testicles, as well as redundant nervous system composed of neuroconductive fluid. Besides their general biological backups, their immune systems were even able to adapt to and overcome the original genophage, forcing the salarians to create a modified version of the original. Bizarre alien biology, thy name is krogan.
  • Blood Knight: Deconstructed over the course of the series, especially in the third game. While krogan value strength and martial prowess, they are more than just simple thugs who enjoy killing, having a deeply spiritual side. Many older krogan such as Wrex hate that they've flanderised themselves into this after the genophage ravaged their species.
  • Chaotic Stupid: By the time Shepard's story begins, most krogan have become violent thugs who mindlessly throw themselves into battle and have no greater plans beyond the next fight.
  • Civil War:
    • Tuchanka is constantly locked in warfare between clans. Political borders on Tuchanka are determined solely by the range of a clan's artillery weapons and the strength of their defense cannons. The codex mentions that Tuchanka is so fragmented that it's rare for more than 1,000 warriors to ever come under a single clan leader.
    • Should the genophage be cured, with Wrex dead and Eve alive, a major one will break out between Eve and Wreav.
  • The Clan: Like the volus, they have a tribal clan culture, though based less around barter and more around murder.
  • Closer to Earth: Their females are apparently more reasonable and open to solving problems by methods other than violence than the males are. Doesn't mean they don't enjoy a good scrap too though.
    Wrex: Our females don't lack for spirit. For males, a good show of force usually sorts things out. But women like to talk about it... then, think about it... (sighs) then talk about it some more... no offence.
    Femshep: Believe it or not, we sometimes have good ideas, Wrex. You should try listening.
    Wrex: Yeah, but our women have so many of them... so sometimes I pretend to listen, and... well, let's just say krogan females have tempers too.
  • Colony Drop: Abused this tactic frequently during the Krogan Rebellions. Particularly large asteroids even rendered several turian planets completely uninhabitable. They were trying to intimidate the turians into surrendering. Unfortunately, it only enraged them.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • When they started to lose the Krogan Rebellions, due to the superior navy fielded by the turians, they resorted to just throwing asteroids at turian colonies. Cheap, effective, and it didn't require anything more expensive than some transports and a bunch of pissed off krogan with fusion torches. Use of these as weapons were banned by the Council races, but the krogan didn't have a problem with it.
    • Their weapons are very clearly designed for utility and brute power, fitting their culture. Their guns are heavy and look like bricks with triggers, weigh a lot, and have a ton of recoil (then again, a krogan could handle it), but they will kill what they're pointed at in short order.
    • Warlords were known for their brutally efficient battle tactics. They took hostages, committed genocide, used terror tactics, and anything else in their means to completely crush an enemy. This was considered even extreme by krogan standards; krogan may be violent, but they believe in personal honor. Warlords only care about results.
  • The Comically Serious: Andromeda gets some mileage from krogan courting, wherein krogan try imitating what they've seen in movies (include the Blasto movies) in the name of romance, or krogan LARP-ing, which ends poorly.
  • Contralto of Danger: Applies to all the female krogan in Andromeda.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The krogan created the Graal Spike Thrower as a shotgun specifically designed to hunt Thresher Maws, possessing blades that can cause massive internal damage should the wielder be swallowed alive. Only the krogan would design a shotgun entirely around the eventuality of being eaten alive and wanting to take your devourer down with you.
    • Their hospitals are designed like military bunkers, as seen in Mordin's loyalty mission, in order to withstand the structural damage a blood-raged krogan might inflict.
    • They still maintain ground-to-space batteries on Tuchanka, despite their complete lack of a navy and any external foes.
  • Cultural Rebel: Most krogan that take part in the Andromeda Initiative are those who see the dead end current krogan society is speeding towards in the Milky Way and want to try something better. While most are still warriors, there's much more open appreciation for krogan merchants, scientists, and romantics. When the Initiative instead uses them as blunt weapons against dissenters, they decide they've had enough and found their own colony.
  • Death World:
    • They come from one. It was naturally this, and then it was made worse due to the ancient krogan turning it into a Post-Apocalyptic wasteland over the course of a series of nuclear wars. To put it plainly, the krogan, tough as they are, are actually prey on Tuchanka. Rather, they're so tough because they had to evolve to survive all the shit trying to kill them.
    • The settlers in the Andromeda galaxy settle a new one, where even the heat can kill you in seconds (before Ryder fixes it). They even named the planet's port "Paradise" and, when questioned about it, Drack states that "paradise is different for a krogan".
  • Drop the Hammer: They've outfitted their planets with gigantic seismic hammers, designed to summon Thresher Maws. That, and the Krogan Warlord Sentinels are equipped with hammers capable of channeling their own biotic energy into the strikes, and unleashing an electrical burst. In Andromeda, krogan hammers are considered one of the best melee weapons in the game.
  • Dying Race: Unless someone turns the genophage around, the krogan's society is slowly crumbling due to several complex factors. Although it was designed to produce a sustainable population that wouldn't grow too quickly, the krogan merely retain their biological Blood Knight tendencies, with most unable to cope with the psychological trauma of seeing thousands of their young stillborn nor the way this necessitates a change in culture to fit in with galactic society, thus causing a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Further, even the intended effects genophage had questionable methods, as it left some krogan females more fertile than others. This made them valuable commodities worth shedding blood over or using as bargaining chips in clan disputes.
  • Elite Mooks: Every krogan ever encountered who's not a boss. Their Super Strength lets them carry heavier weapons, armor, and shield generators than most other species and they have a Healing Factor on top of that.
  • Endangered Species: It's even possible to completely destroy the krogan race, at least within the Milky Way: if the player saves the rachni queen and kills Wrex in Mass Effect 1, destroys Maelon's work in 2, and finally saves the rachni queen again in 3, allows the bomb to explode on Tuchanka, and stops Mordin or Padok from curing the genophage in 3, the krogan become completely extinct save for those on the Andromeda mission — with the rachni taking over Tuchanka.
  • Enemies Equals Greatness: One of their central beliefs.
    Grunt: (fresh out of the tank) If you're weak and choose weak enemies, I'll have to kill you.
    Wrex: Krogan are judged by the strength of our enemies.
    Shaman: May your foes be strong enough to keep you sharp.
    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.
  • Exotic Equipment: To quote Garrus:
    Garrus: Some krogan believe that testicle transplants can improve their virility, counteract the genophage. It doesn't work, but that doesn't stop them from buying. Ten thousand credits each, that makes forty thousand for a full set. Someone's making a killing out there.
    • This is reflected starting in the second game, as the krogan gain the colloquialism "quad", used much in the same way humans would say "a pair".
  • Explosive Breeder:
    • Part of their evolutionary response to Tuchanka. Once taken out of those conditions, their population exploded. Hence the genophage, which causes miscarriages and stillbirths in 99.9% of pregnancies (i.e. only 1 in 1,000 pregnancies carry to term). As Mordin comments in Mass Effect 2, that would still give them a stable and sustainable population growth rate — they are just that productive. It's simply that the krogan have been so morally degraded by the genophage that they are killing themselves faster than their newly altered reproductive rate can handle.
    • A comment made by Warlord Okeer in Mass Effect 2 mentions letting the genophage kill "a thousand in a clutch". As a clutch typically means the eggs laid by a single female at the end of a gestation period, that implies that female krogan can have over a thousand offspring in one pregnancy.
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • Krogan find just about anything appetizing, and can and will eat anything that has the slightest amount of nutrition. Regardless of whether or not it's stopped moving. Or if it can talk. Except ramen — if Grunt's individual tastes also apply to that of his race in general, that is. They can even eat food that's only meant for turians and quarians, and which is poisonous to all other races, and all that'll do is give them diarrhea.
    • Matriarch Aethyta even claims to have once watched a krogan drink a liquefied turian on a dare, although the results weren't very pleasant, for the krogan or the witnesses.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Sound a lot like the Ancient Spartans, huh?
    • Or the Bedouin Arabs. They're now a nomadic, clan-based people, but their civilisation was once great, the many great monuments in their land being testament to that. Their harsh homeland turned them into excellent warriors, and for this reason they were also used by more advanced races — which ultimately always ended in disaster. Their women are also covered from head to toe.
  • Feel No Pain: Downplayed, the codex mentions that they have evolved in a way that prevents pain from affecting their concentration but it's quite obvious they still feel it.
    Wrex: Now, Shepard. What brings you here? How's the Normandy?
    Shepard: Destroyed in a Collector surprise attack. I ended up spaced.
    Wrex: Well, you look good. Ah, the benefits of a redundant nervous system.
    Shepard: Yeah, humans don't have that.
    Wrex: Oh. It must have been painful, then.
  • Fire-Forged Friendship: One means by which a shaman can prevent two krogan dragging their tribes into war: get them to fight a more dangerous foe. Easy enough on Tuchanka, not so easy in Andromeda, where things are better for krogan.
  • Fluffy Tamer:
    • Much like the human domestication of wolves over time into dogs, the krogan have (mostly) tamed the varren found on Tuchanka. We see in the second game, they use them for pit-fighting and as guard dogs. Indeed, it's mentioned that the varren named Urz at the Urdnot camp is a former pit champion, yet, feed him and he will follow Shepard around like an overgrown puppy.
    • Averted with Kalros. The krogan aren't stupid, they know to stay the hell away from "the mother of all Thresher Maws". This apparently makes them smarter than one particularly unlucky Reaper.
  • Genius Bruiser: While rare, watch out for the ones who demonstrate this. Warlord Okeer was one of the most feared krogan in history precisely because he was a scientist.
  • Giant Mook: Though they don't seem much taller than a human due to the game engine, the extra height is from the humps on their backs, they are a lot bulkier. The books, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, etc. consistently show them averaging about 8 feet tall. Wrex claims to weigh over 800 pounds, and he's never implied to be a particularly large krogan.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Moral and ethical questions aside, the krogan certainly pushed this during the Rebellions. Despite all the might of the turian empire, the krogan were actually winning the war before the genophage was used, having pushed the lines all the way to one of Palaven's moons.
    • Conversely, the decision to cure the genophage in the aftermath of the Reaper invasion also qualifies. Nearly everyone (barring the salarian dalatrass) sees another future krogan expansion as an acceptable risk; being better to fight alongside them and die at their hands tomorrow, than fight without them and die today.
  • Grenade Launcher: They are very well-known for the Striker Assault Rifle, which is to be treated as such.
  • Had to Be Sharp:
    • Well, they did evolve on a Death World. This explains their incredibly resilient biology, as well as the fact that every profession, from engineers to diplomats to scientists to shamans, go about their business with warrior and survivalist mindsets.
    • Krogan have eyes on the sides of their heads. Predator species (felines, canines, monkeys... humans) have forward-facing eyes for better focus and depth perception, which helps in the hunt — estimating distances to pounce and such. Prey species (bovines, equines, rodents, etc) have side-eyes, which sacrifices focus for much better peripheral vision so they can see any predators coming and flee. Prey species also tend to be Explosive Breeders; on Earth, prey species tend to survive by out-breeding their predators, so that even if some die, the species lives on. Let's repeat: krogan are Tuchanka's equivalent of rabbits. Well, when your planet's deadliest predators are massive acid-spitting Sand Worms... everything is prey.
  • Hand Cannon: The only krogan pistol we see, the Executioner, only holds one shot per 'clip' but does more damage than most sniper rifles. Justified, because it's designed by krogan to one-shot other krogan.
  • Healing Factor: In addition to being Made of Iron, with multiple redundant organs, their physiology allows them to heal very quickly.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: All krogan take advantage of their size and strength to wear much heavier armor than other species, giving them two or three times as many hit points as most other species in-game. The Alternate Appearance Pack DLC for the second game mentions that Grunt's armor (bar helmet) weighs over 100 kg- or five times as much as a suit of medieval plate (which is probably similar in weight to the full-body ceramic hardsuits we see most humans wear). That's considered medium armor by krogan standards.
  • Hungry Jungle: Apparently, pre-holocaust Tuchanka was covered in thick jungles filled with "tree analogues" and teeming with abundant forms of life. Even then, it was still very much a Death World because everything there fed on other life. The plant life was killed off during the nuclear winter after the krogan bombed each other, and most other forms of life died off with them. Even then, anyone visiting Tuchanka is warned that everything that's left is still highly aggressive and leaving guarded areas is a terrible idea.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: They mature fast, and age very slowly. We don't even know what the natural krogan lifespan is, other than the fact that they can easily outlive asari. The only reason there aren't more ancient krogan around is that they tend to meet violent ends. It's entirely possible that they simply cannot die of old age at all and are only vulnerable to death by unnatural causes. It's even stated in the Codex that before the invention of gunpowder, the most common form of death on Tuchanka was "eaten by predator" and afterwards, it became "death by gunshot".
    • In Andromeda Krogan are stated to die of old age but only very old age. Drack is around 1500ish and is stated to still have a human lifespan left to him (and that's a Mass Effect human lifetime, something in the 150 year range). And he's still able to fight almost as effectively as ever, only slowed down by a previous serious injury, not age.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Their complete disregard of this, coupled with their naturally aggressive natures, is what led to the Krogan Rebellions.
  • Introduced Species Calamity: Deliberately uplifted to serve as a trump card in the war against the Rachni, the Krogan were effectively introduced to an environment much gentler than Tuchanka once the war was won: the main traits that had allowed them to survive on their home world soon proved highly dangerous once they ended up on less-hostile worlds, and numerous accounts exist of Krogan overwhelming the natural environments of the planets they were allowed to colonize, eventually forcing them to expand further.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: As a proud race of warriors, it should come as no surprise that various krogan often express respect and admiration towards Shepard's prowess as a soldier and talent for raw destruction.
  • Irony: Dialogue from Harbinger suggests the Reapers would seriously consider harvesting them were it not for the genophage.
  • Kill It with Fire: The best way to take down a krogan enemy in-game is with incendiary ammo or a fire-based ability. It stops them from regenerating, and burns through the armor they're quite likely to have.
  • Klingon Promotion: The preferred method, even among their scientists.
    Fortack: My predecessor said no one would understand the true worth of my work. As I pulled my blade from his chest, I knew he was telling the truth.
    Shepard: Not exactly what I would call effective academic peer review.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect:
    • Aside from Warlord Okeer and Clan Urdnot's resident scientist, krogan scientists are actually so rare that most races doubt they exist, if they even consider krogan intelligent enough to have scientists at all. It's a peculiar self-enforced variant as well. The Urdnot scientist under Wrex complains endlessly that he's forced to waste his time on "things that don't explode" like agriculture, medicine, transport...
    • The Clan Urdnot Mechanic says that he gets very little respect from people, even though at the end of the day somebody has to maintain all the guns.
    • Andromeda introduces Vorn, the first on-screen krogan botanist, who's responsible for growing the plants the little baby krogan will need to grow up properly. He still gets short shrift from most of the other krogan.
  • Lightning Bruiser: In the first game, almost all krogan enemies were this. In the second game, they lose the "lightning" part and quite a bit of the bruiser, becoming much slower and weaker (though the novels still mention that they're faster than ordinary humans, suggesting this is just Gameplay and Story Segregation). In the third game, the krogan multiplayer characters, especially the Battlemaster, play this straight again. To wit, the krogan have the highest base run speed of any species except the drell. This is especially impressive since they wear very heavy armor and vary in weight from 400 to 800 pounds.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Of all the Milky Way species to travel to Andromeda, the krogan get the best first footing. By the time Ryder shows up, their colony of New Tuchanka is the most successful colony in the Heleus Cluster, and the krogan are just peachy with their new home, even with the constant daylight, temperature upward of fifty degrees Celsius, no weather and aggressive wildlife. Missing Tuchanka? Nah — feels like home. Though some of them do think it could use some Thresher Maws.
  • Magic Knight:
    • Krogan battlemasters have biotic abilities such as Warp and Barrier while still retaining the healing factor, durability, and brute strength of normal krogan.
    • It's mentioned that biotic abilities amongst krogan were somewhat rare even before the genophage. Any krogan you encounter who has biotic power (such as Wrex) is most likely over a thousand years old, making them a particularly Elite Mook.
  • Mama Bear: On Tuchanka, the little baby krogan live with the female clans, and due to the Genophage, this makes them very defensive. Outsiders aren't allowed to see them, males have to get special permission, and even in Andromeda, where krogan aren't gender segregated anymore, they make it clear trying to go anywhere near the little tykes is effectively Suicide By Krogan.
  • Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves: The head crests on male krogan are sharp and pointy, with multiple ridges that stick up at high angles; while on women they lay relatively smooth in the front and only start forming raised ridges near the back.
  • Moral Myopia: The krogan, as a general rule, are more than happy to complain about the unfairness of being infected with the genophage and cast from the Citadel, but always seem to gloss over the whole "invading other races' worlds, massacring millions and using Citadel-prohibited weapons of mass destruction" thing that preceded both events. The main reason the krogan are so low on the galactic totem pole by the time of the first game is because they've never, as a species, shown any serious sign of remorse or attempted to prove they'd learned their lesson. This seems to be a trait of krogan males, as the females tend to have a longer view.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: If Eve and Wrex are alive when the genophage is cured, it becomes this for the krogan race.
  • Nail 'Em: One of their shotguns, the Graal Spike Thrower, shoots spikes that cause bleed damage and decapitate people with headshots.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: The krogan of the Andromeda Galaxy are settlers looking for a fresh start and forgetting the mistakes of the past. When the Initiative not only uses them as blunt weapons against rebels, but also denies them a say in policy-making, they abandon it en masse because they're done with being disrespected.
  • Never My Fault: The krogan have a bad habit of refusing to accept any responsibility in their own downfall. If you listen to the krogan throughout the series, they make it sound like the Council used them to defeat the rachni, and then sterilized them once they were done with them. They never admit that the "Krogan Rebellions" started because the krogan overpopulated the new worlds the Council gave them, then launched an invasion of the rest of the galaxy when the Council refused to give them any more worlds and instead told them to better manage their population. Nakmor Kesh is the only major krogan figure to admit that, as terrible as the genophage is, the krogan earned it through their own warmongering. Eve notes that even before the salarians uplifted them, they'd destroyed their own world with nuclear war.
  • Not Worth Killing: As a corollary to Enemies Equals Greatness, this is one of the most humiliating fates a krogan can suffer. Warlord Okeer describes being ignored as the worst insult one can inflict on an enemy, and the Patriarch begrudgingly states how insulting it is that Aria has kept him alive all these centuries and expresses excitement when he finds out that there's someone out there that wants him dead.
  • Nuke 'em: Shortly after they split the atom around 1900 BCE, Tuchanka was consumed by a nuclear war that wiped out most of the ecosystem, destroyed the ancient Krogan civilization, and left the survivors in a 2000-year-long dark age where warring tribal clans dominated. It was thanks to the Salarians that the Krogan ever achieved a role in galactic society.
  • One-Man Army: Any krogan warrior is dangerous, but krogan battlemasters in particular are, alongside asari commandos, arguably the deadliest fighters in the entire galaxy... with the exception of Shepard. The two times you hear about a fight between an asari commando and a krogan battlemaster, one ended in a drawnote  and the other killed both combatants.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They pretty much fit squarely within the Blizzard Orc mold in everything but appearance.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: Krogan weapons are all very boxy. Most notably the Claymore shotgun, which looks like a brick with a trigger. Or the Executioner, which looks like a smaller brick with a trigger.
  • Planet of Hats:
    • Due to living on a Death World, the krogan have grown to be proud Social Darwinists. Unfortunately, this also gave them the circular logic of thinking that anything that's destroyed/killed must have been weak, or else it wouldn't have been destroyed. Along with their extremely tough physiques, this callous attitude towards violence and death made them perfect shock troops against the rachni, but served them badly in relation to the rest of the galaxy. They've spent thousands of years paying the price for it, and Wrex and/or Eve are the only ones who seek to change it.
    • It also contributed greatly to their fall. After their defeat in the Krogan Rebellions, they began subconsciously seeing themselves as weak, and so made no effort to build themselves back up until a few influential krogan snapped them out of it.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Deconstructed Trope. The krogan are all afflicted with a Sterility Plague, but their culture hasn't adapted; rather than work to overcome the genophage and preserve krogan lives, they just keep hiring themselves out as mercenaries and engaging in civil wars. Thusly, they are slowly but surely dying out.
    • The krogan built devices known as "Maw Hammers" whose entire purpose is to summon Thresher Maws. Let me repeat that to make it clear: they built devices to summon Thresher Maws so they could fight them.
      • Moreso, surviving against a Thresher Maw is part of their adulthood rite, at least in Clan Urdnot. If they actually manage to kill it, they are considered highly skilled. Mind you, the rite of adulthood is surviving the Thresher Maw attack. No one has actually killed one in a rite ever since Wrex had his rite, and that was just a little less than a thousand years ago (at least until Grunt did with Shepard as his battlemaster).
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Several krogan characters can be heard laughing gleefully as they kill an enemy. Krogan Player Characters in multiplayer are no exception.
  • Ragnarök Proofing:
    • Their architecture is built with this in mind. It's justified in that their world and everything in it is so hostile that if the krogan don't make it to last, they'll just have to rebuild it soon. It's even mentioned that the reason why hospitals on Tuchanka are built like bunkers is because of the tendency of injured krogan to enter Blood Rage, which makes them literally destroy anything in their path.
    • Shepard and team encounter ancient temples and underground tunnels in 3 which have remained remarkably well preserved for nearly a thousand years or more. Most party members are naturally quite taken aback about how impressive the ancient krogan's engineering prowess was.
    • Clan Urdnot's base of operations seems to be an old nuclear missile silo. It's remarkably well-preserved considering that the nuclear war that nearly wiped out the krogan occurred over 2000 years ago! And given all of the various rubble strewn around, one seriously doubts that anyone has been maintaining it for this long either.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: The fact that they outlasted and outfought the rachni during the final days of the Rachni Wars and were personally responsible for turning a galactic slaughter back in the Citadel races' favor and ultimately destroying the rachni on their homeworld is a point of krogan pride even to this day, one that a number of them like to bring up as either proof of how badass they are or a memory of what they could become again.
  • Rite of Passage: In order to determine their worthiness to a clan, all krogan must undergo a trial when they reach adulthood. Clan Urdnot's rite, at least, involves killing things. Lots of things. And then surviving five minutes of a Thresher Maw spitting acid at you (unless you're so badass you actually kill it).
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: They certainly seem to think so. If you encounter a krogan enemy, there is a 95% chance that it is wielding a shotgun. This works for several reasons: krogan are tough enough to just charge straight into the thick of things, and they are just as likely to punch/headbutt enemies, which makes a powerful, short range weapon like a shotgun ideal. Secondly (this is where the Fridge Brilliance kicks in), because they have eyes set in the sides of their heads instead of forward-facing ones, they lack the ability to focus over long distances, which makes shotguns, with their short range effectiveness and cone-shaped blasts, the most practical weapons of choice for them.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Self-destructive tendencies aside, the majority of the krogan run into in the series come off as just as intelligent as — sometimes even more so than — any other species in the galaxy, despite being stereotyped as brutes with less than average intelligence. Their naturally long lifespans help.
  • Smug Snake: Clan Jorgal. Members tend to go on about how their clan is one of the oldest and "wisest" around, and how they should be in charge of whatever's going on. Nakmor Drack just pegs them as unbalanced and unreliable.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: They are the warriors in comparison to just about every other species in the galaxy, but especially the turians. The krogan suffer just about every problem and pitfall that comes with being the "warrior" form of this trope, including poor battle tactics, lack of training and optimal equipment, and favoring competition over teamwork. These drawbacks (such as their reliance upon their numbers instead of strategy) did not bode will for them when the galaxy turned against them during the Krogan Rebellions.
  • Space Orcs: Their culture is strongly focused on combat and battle, their honor system is based entirely around how successful and feared you are as a warrior, they tend to enter berserk rages when injured and when their old industrial civilization first split the atom it promptly nuked itself back to the stone age. They afterwards remained as primitive, squabbling clans for two millennia until the Council brought them to space to fight the rachni, after which the krogans attempted to overrun and conquer the rest of the galaxy before being restricted back to their homeworld.
  • Spare Body Parts: They have two, three or four of damn near everything important (that includes nervous systems and testicles), which is what makes them so hard to kill. Wrex makes an offhand comment about how great a redundant nervous system is when told how Shepard got spaced, only to be told humans don't have them.
    Wrex: Oh. That must have been painful, then.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • A somewhat complicated case. Female krogan are not warriors. They have to breed if they're fertile; if they aren't, they're Cannon Fodder, decoys used to hide the fertile ones. Some clans even share their females. However, this attitude was inflicted upon them by outside forces. Thanks to the genophage, a fertile female is the most valuable resource of the krogan, followed only by a healthy baby krogan, and the krogan would much rather see a thousand males dead than one fertile female risked in battle. In fact, it's implied in 3 that the krogan society was a matriarchy instead of a patriarchy before the genophage reduced them to near extinction; and there are one or two mentions of Shiagur, a female Battlemaster who parleyed her fertility into an enormous, ferociously loyal army of children and lovers under her command, and pursued a very successful career in piracy. Upon her death at the hands of a turian, krogan all over the galaxy swore blood oaths against the crews involved. Several thousand of those turians died in open combat or assassination in the name of Shiagur.
      • History repeats itself if the genophage is cured and "Eve" is alive: she raises an army to counter Wreav's ambitions.
    • Two krogan in the second game even have a conversation regarding why females and children have to be segregated from the males. Were the males to reside with their families, they would all just become one vulnerable target for their enemies.
    • Averted in Andromeda. The two most influential krogan (Kesh and Morda) are both female, with Morda having managed to get in charge and stay in charge despite being infertile.
  • Sterility Plague: The genophage, although Mordin clarifies in Mass Effect 2 that it doesn't so much sterilize them as cause the vast majority of pregnancies to lead to stillbirths and miscarriages. Technically, every female krogan is fertile... she'll simply birth a lot of dead children before she gets one that lives.
  • Super Senses: They are shown multiple times to have powerful senses of smell and in Andromeda Ryder says krogan have "super hearing". Given that they evolved as a prey species on a Death World, this makes perfect sense.
  • Super Strength:
    • They are notorious for it. Your average krogan is strong enough to lift several tons. Various krogan have been seen lifting multi-ton metal plates with ease and tossing around 300-pound humanoids like softballs.
    • This is emphasized in the third game's multiplayer. Most characters use a weapon for their heavy melee. Most krogan simply punch their enemies. Usually hard enough to kill power-armored troopers in a single hit and launch their very heavily armored bodies dozens of feet. Some do wield large hammers to crush their foes with though.
  • Super Toughness: Considered infamous for this in-universe. The codex notes that regular blades simply shatter on their hides.
  • Tank Goodness:
    • You see krogan vehicles are all over Tuchanka. One in particular, the Tomkah, is a huge IFV that's referred to as a tank. It makes the Mako look puny in comparison, probably because it's meant to carry krogan. Note that just because it's heavily armed and armoured, this doesn't mean it's any more durable against an attack by Thresher Maws. If anything, it's a great supplement of iron for their diet.
    • The use of tanks is somewhat understandable, since Tuchanka is populated by constantly warring tribes who like to mark their borders by the range of their guns, has undergone several nuclear wars, and is plagued by burrowing Thresher Maws. Their roads clearly aren't going to be well-maintained. It's likely most of the roads are millennia old and likely only see a road-crew to patch the worst of the damage, once every few centuries.
    • In addition, the wildlife includes varren and firebreathing animals that explode when they're killed. You can understand why krogan would prefer to ride around in tanks.
  • Taught by Television: The krogan in Andromeda, thanks to the change in their society brought about by actually having good chances of having children, take to studying movies in order to learn about this mysterious "courting" business. Movies such as Blasto 6, or Asari Confessions no. 26 ("couldn't hurt").
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Krogan weapons tend to be this when used on other species, like humans, because they were designed to kill other krogan. For example, there's the Striker, an automatic krogan assault rifle that shoots explosive shells.
  • Turtle Power: To continue the animal theme (turians are birds, salarians are frogs), krogan resemble bipedal tortoises.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Krogan have a fascination with eating fish, with Grunt ordering massive boxes of fish snacks and a pair krogan on the Citadel talking about the possibility of eating fish from the Presidium lakes.
  • True Companions:
    • Their word for this is 'krantt': those willing to kill and die on your behalf. It's actually one of the nicer parts of their culture — you don't have to be the toughest, you just need to have good friends who will gladly fight alongside you.
      Shaman: Not every krogan can be the strongest warrior, but each must inspire his peers to battle at his side.
    • It's also rather surprising how accepting the krogan are of krantts comprised of other species. They don't even really object to Grunt choosing Shepard to be his Battlemaster. Only one does, and his agenda has nothing to do with xenophobia.
  • Undying Loyalty: To humanity, and Shepard in particular, if Shepard chooses to cure the genophage in 3. Wrex vows that Shepard's name will now mean "Hero" in their language and expresses near the end of the game, that since Earth is basically ruined, that the krogan would willingly offer space on Tuchanka for refugees. This is particularly telling since as Explosive Breeders, the krogan are going to be hard pressed for space as it is! They also give the largest amount of military forces in the game outside of the Alliance.
  • Unstoppable Rage: If a krogan is injured enough, they have a chance of entering a "Blood Rage", during which they will try their best to destroy pretty much everything and everyone around them.
  • Use Your Head: How krogan show dominance. It is also their melee attack in multiplayer (as well as Wrex's in the Citadel DLC). It's not uncommon to see krogan players headbutting each other between waves.
    • A Renegade option in the second game gives Shepard the option to do this to shut up Uvenk, gaining the respect of the Shaman in the process, who's impressed they actually bothered to learn something about their culture.
      Shaman: [laughs] I like this human, s/he understands!
    • Also justified. The krogan have large chitinous plates on their heads to absorb impact. These start out as lots of separate little plates on krogan youth (see Grunt's face for reference), which expand and calcify into one large rigid plate after the krogan becomes an adult. It's also said by Zaeed that losing the plate is the one thing krogan truly fear above all else. "The threat of it drives them mad."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Can become this with the turians in the third game under the right conditions, but these include curing the genophage.
    • They also share this dynamic with humanity, if the genophage is cured, and Wrex and Eve are alive. Wrex outright states that after that, every krogan born will know that the name "Shepard" will mean "hero". Plus, he also offers humanity some space on Tuchanka while Earth gets rebuilt.
  • Warrior Poet:
    • Krogan Shamans, who command a lot of respect for being the ones who keep their spirituality and traditions alive.
    • The krogan ruins encountered in the third game show that the krogan were once artistic. Their works are blocky, but highly coloured and indicative of a strong aesthetic sense, reminiscent of ancient Egyptian art.
    • There's at least one very outspoken krogan poet: Charr, who refers to his asari lover Ereba as the "Blue Rose of Illium."
  • We Have Become Complacent: According to Eve, the krogan may have always been violent and callous about death, but in the past they were far less warlike. Self-industrialization (long before the salarians appeared) brought about a sense of complacency and invincibility. Life on a Death World was suddenly too easy, so they searched for different challenges by pitting themselves against each other. Eventually, they developed nuclear power, and the rest is history.
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • If "Eve" is any indication, the krogan females are much more farsighted than the men, and are content to control the males from behind the scenes. The genophage made their voice stronger and louder in krogan politics.
    • That said, at least one krogan female was every bit as bloodthirsty as her male counterparts, becoming a warlord in the aftermath of the genophage and rallying a large following thanks to her status as one of the few fertile krogan females.
    • Zigzagged in Andromeda: Nakmor Morda shows the difference between wise and calm. She knows working with the Initiative is a better deal, and tries to encourage her people to be less warlike, but Tann's poor treatment and the krogan's history means she has a foul temper (aside from, in Nakmor Drack's own words, being a hardass anyway).
  • Your Size May Vary: The books, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, trailers, various flavor text, etc. consistently describe them as 8 feet tall on average, while in the game engine they're usually not too much taller than humans. This is subject to shift in the game engine itself though- if the scene is pre-rendered, krogan are the correct size. But when the pre-rendered scene ends, they suddenly shrink a foot and a half back to their gameplay/cutscene size. Particularly noticeable when talking to Eve in the third game, as she looms over Shepard on the Normandy but looks them eye to eye on Tuchanka.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • Traditional krogan tactics were built on attritional mass-unit warfare — foot-soldiers equipped with cheap, rugged gear to overwhelm the enemy with sheer numbers.
    • The game's lore also explores what happens when the factions of A Commander Is You are not kept separate: The krogan may have enjoyed Explosive Breeder and thus Spammer Faction status, but that didn't mean their troops were weak — quite the opposite. What's more, they had access to all the same technology as the Citadel races after hundreds of years of contact, including massive fleets of dreadnoughts. What happens when you have Elite Spammers? The galaxy nearly fell to the onslaught of a single recently-uplifted race and the Council Races barely won by implementing the genophage.


Homeworld: Rannoch

The quarians were a former associate-level member of the Citadel, until their AI servants, the geth, overthrew them when the quarians attempted to exterminate them following the realization they were gaining true sentience. With all their worlds taken from them, the quarians were left homeless, with the surviving population living aboard the traveling Migrant Fleet. Life on the flotilla has taken its toll on them; the sterile environment has caused their already-finicky immune systems to atrophy, rendering them almost entirely trapped within their environmental suits.

While technically the Migrant Fleet is not part of the Citadel, they still have to abide by Citadel laws while in Citadel space, which is why they stay out of Citadel territory if possible. Historically, the Citadel in general and the Council in particular have sided against the Migrant Fleet in legal matters, which has not improved relations much.

Quarians are available for multiplayer, and can use the Engineer and Infiltrator classes. The Rebellion Pack adds male quarians (with entirely different movesets) for the same classes, while Retaliation adds a (Male) Marksman Soldier.

  • Alien Hair: The only alien species, in fact, to apparently have hair.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: A very clear homage to the humanity of Battlestar Galactica, except more numerous and stronger, and as Rubber-Forehead Aliens.
  • Badass Navy: The quarian fleet is the largest in the galaxy and has surprisingly advanced weaponry (though not advanced armor). In the third game, it's even stated that they could give the turian fleet a run for their money. They end up providing potentially the largest Fleet asset contribution (either they or the geth, depending on what your decision in the Heretic Base in the previous game was) of any species and the third highest assets overall, behind the krogan and humans, assuming you destroyed the heretics at least.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Quarian immune systems have always been weak, because they evolved to assimilate and co-opt foreign microbes rather than to fight them off as in other species. Javik even theorizes that their peculiar physiology also made their personalities evolve to be more sympathetic to others. However assimilating microbes doesn't work outside of their native ecosystem, making them extremely vulnerable to either infection or 'illnesses' that are actually allergic reactions to incompatible microbes.
    • They also have dextro-protein chirality (which is basically the biochemical equivalent of being a book read right-to-left in a library of books read left-to-right), and are the only race aside from turians with this chirality. As such, they can eat any food a turian can eat, provided that it's been sterilized. Foods that levo-protein races like humans and asari can eat, on the other hand, can be deadly to them if ingested — or at least make them throw up.
  • Bizarre Baby Boom: Inverted. Ever since they were forced to live in environment suits, the number of quarian biotics has become incredibly rare. Any accident that could lead to a suit rupture and expose a child to Element Zero in-utero would likely kill the mother from infection, long before they could ever come to term.
  • Born Under the Sail: The quarians lost their homeworld in a Robot War centuries ago, and have since been traveling the galaxy in a giant Flotilla of space ships. Quarian names even include the ship they were born on and the ship they serve under following their Pilgrimage. As a result, their spacefaring skill is legendary and unquestioned throughout the setting.
  • Brain Uploading: Pre-Flotilla, quarians practiced a form of high-tech ancestor worship. The dead had their minds uploaded to a highly sophisticated VI that held much of the deceased person's wisdom. In fact, it's said that their expertise with technology started as a means of making more and more accurate Spirit Advisor VIs.
  • Bubble Boy: They have to stay in their environmental suits at all times or risk getting very sick. In fact, Shala'Raan actually mentions that quarian children do indeed spend the first few years of their lives in bubbles, before they receive their first environment suit.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: More downplayed compared to the asari, but by and large, the quarians frequently downplay their faults in the creation of the geth and everything that transpired.
  • Cincinnatus: The Migrant Fleet technically exists under a state of emergency martial law (as it has been for centuries) but in practice most decisions are handled by an elected civilian council, both on the level of individual ships and on the level of entire sectors of the fleet in a federal-type government known as the Conclave. However, the Admiralty can invoke a deliberate override of anything the Conclave chooses as an exercise of emergency powers, but are required to resign from their positions immediately after the emergency has passed, or face arrest and prosecution if they refuse to do so. This helps keep the otherwise unrestricted exercise of power in check. So far, the Admiralty override has only been invoked four times in the three centuries of the fleet's existence.
  • Clingy Costume: Oh good God, is this justified.
  • Covert Distress Code: Part of quarian tradition. Whenever a quarian returns to the Migrant Fleet, they have to recite one of two code-phrases specific to them which can inform the Fleet either that they are safe and returning voluntarily, or are being held hostage, in which they just willingly sacrificed themselves to the guns of the fleet guard ships.
  • Cyborg: According to Harbinger, but it is unknown to what extent.
  • Death by Genre Savviness: As soon as they discovered the geth had become sentient they tried to wipe them out before they could rebel. The geth didn't actually have any intention of doing so, and only fought to defend themselves after seeing quarian protesters gunned down. The resulting war almost annihilated the quarian race, and the survivors only escaped because the geth let them. Depending on Shepard's decision, the quarian race may get annihilated in 3 by the geth.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The quarians hold the record for the most amount of Mass Relays discovered (either before or after they lost Rannoch), but most people tend to ignore that in favor of sticking to "quarians are all shiftless thieves".
  • Easily Forgiven: If Shepard stops the fighting between them and the geth, since the geth don't believe in holding grudges, they welcome the quarians back to Rannoch with open arms and even help them with re-adapting to the planet.
  • Enclosed Extraterrestrials: Provide the page image.
  • The Engineer: All quarians are skilled mechanics. You'd be too if you spent your entire life on a salvaged starship where neglecting maintenance could potentially kill you and everyone you know. Other sources state that they had this reputation even before their exile, or even before the emergence of the geth. The quarians, being extremely devout ancestor worshippers, are theorized to have first become tech savvy while working on Brain Uploading technology to consult their elders even after death.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Thanks to a combination of their immune systems and general biology, everything made of levo-protein will trigger potentially severe allergic reactions. And anything dextro can make them extremely sick if not prepared properly.
  • The Faceless: Until the third game.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • By many people in the galaxy towards them, and by some quarians towards the geth. This includes one of the protagonists by the way, though she gets better.
    • Thanks to their experience with the geth, they despise any AI they come across.
  • Fantastic Underclass: Those who live outside the Migrant Fleet are marginalized and often treated as beggars, thieves or just plain undesirable: most dwell on the fringes, and used as scapegoats for anything going wrong. Tali mentions that Quarians aren't considered welcome in some parts of the Citadel, and C-Sec grilled her for hours before letting her onto the station.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • A sci-fi counterpart of Jewish culture. First, there is the fact that the central feature of their culture is that they are exiled from their homeland to which they long to return. They face discrimination as exiles and minorities without a planet or state of their own. The crowded, noisy, generally impoverished living conditions aboard the Migrant Fleet are reminiscent of the conditions in a medieval or renaissance-era Jewish ghetto. Then there is the fact that the most prominent quarian character, Tali'Zorah, has a very Jewish-sounding name: Tali and Zorah are both Hebrew girls' names, and double names, as in Leah Miriam, Tamar Rachel, or Tali Zorah, are very common in traditional Jewish society. Then there is the fact that the quarian homeworld, Rannoch, the star it orbits, Tikkun, and the three other planets in the Tikkun system, Adas, Kaddi, and Haza, all have names that are also words in Hebrew (Tikkun means "repair", Adasnote  means "community", Kaddi means "on account of" or "amphoral", Haza means "chest", and Rannoch itself means "your happiness", and there is also an asteroid orbiting Tikkun called Uriyah, which is also a Hebrew man's name; granted, it does sort of seem as though the programmers chose Hebrew words at random). Similarly, the star system where the quarian migrant fleet is found in Mass Effect 2 is called Raheel-Leyya, which are variant spellings of Rachel and Leah, two of the Biblical Matriarchs. Then there is the fact that the benediction given by Admiral Shala'Raan at Tali's trial in Mass Effect 2, "Blessed are the Ancestors, who kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season", except for that she invokes the quarian's ancestors, rather than God, is an otherwise exact translation of the Jewish blessing Shecheyanu.
    • They also bear significant similarities to the Romani, and not just because they're nomads. Romani also have standards of purity and cleanliness that may seem excessive, to the point of not only shunning physical contact with non-Romani but washing men's and women's clothes and clothes for the lower and upper body separately.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: What this means to the quarians varies from person to person. Most want to actually go back to Rannoch, but they'd be satisfied with a planet to at least have a temporary settlement on. Which the Council keeps denying them.
    • The quest for their homeworld is fueled by it being far harder for them to adapt to a new planet than to re-adapt to Rannoch (ten times as long in chronological terms, according to Tali).
    • They are one of the few races accepted into the Andromeda Initiative. It's quite clear why such an arrangement would be mutually beneficial for both parties (the quarians would desire a new world while the Andromeda Initiative would benefit from their spaceship maintenance expertise).
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Every quarian combatant is technically this, including squadmate Tali'Zorah. Also subverted since they're good guys and there are several named ones with distinct personalities.
  • Gender Is No Object: The only species besides humans to give multiple genders equal face time. The challenges of Fleet life make sexism something they can't afford.
    • Until the turian female classes were introduced, they were also the only non-human species that can be played as multiple genders in multiplayer.
  • Generation Ships: The Flotilla has been voyaging the stars without a port for over three hundred years, having departed Rannoch in Earth year 1895 CE.
  • Genocide Backfire: After attempting to wipe out the geth, the quarians of the past were driven to near-extinction by the geth themselves. Also somewhat the case if you side with the geth during the war in the third game, where they get wiped out completely.
    Geth Prime We regret the deaths of the creators.
    Shepard They made their choice.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Apparently their appearance underneath their environment suits. Javik mentions that even in his Cycle, the ancient quarians were seen as attractive by most species. If Tali is romanced by a male Shepard, you are given a picture of her as proof.
  • Hartman Hips: The females have them. As a Spear Counterpart, the men all have an exaggerated coat hanger physique.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: How many in the galaxy see them, as they have become a race of scavengers which leads many to see them as thieves, and are also willing to work all kinds of skilled or dangerous jobs for a lot less money than most other species (The arrival of the Migrant Fleet in a system is greeted with xenophobic distaste from the local labour force with slogans like "The fleet are here to take your jobs" quite common). They naturally resent that depiction.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Although they're bipedal, stand upright and use two appendages like all other species. Under their masks (Or at least Tali's), they have human-like hair, finger nails. About the only known discernible cosmetic differences are their cybernetic implants, three-fingered hands, backwards-bent shins, two-toed feet (three-toed for female quarians), strange necks, purple skin and glowing eyes.
  • Ill Girl: The entire species. Their immune systems are incredibly weak; even a small breach to their environmental suit can cause serious illness and major suit damage (or removal without large amounts of preparation) can very easily cause their death.
    • In Mass Effect 2, it is explained that, unless the germs are from turians (since they share a similar biology), they cannot get sick by other races' germs. What they suffer is actually an allergic reaction to those germs, not sickness. Given enough long-term exposure to build up an immunity, their systems can adapt to practically anything.
    • If a male Shepard romances Tali, she mentions in the third game that her immune system has adapted to them enough that she barely gets a reaction anymore, despite being out of her suit.
    • Due to having their immune systems stunted by being on the Flotilla for three centuries, it's mentioned that even if they retook Rannoch, it would take their people over a generation to be able to walk on their own homeworld without their environment suits. Subverted if you make peace with the geth and choose either the Synthesis or Control endings. The geth upload to the quarians' suits to mimic various diseases and illnesses, without actually getting them sick. As a result, the quarians will be able to adapt within months or years, rather than decades. The Extended Cut's Synthesis ending shows that the quarians are immediately adapted on the spot.
  • Insistent Terminology: Quarians have a very particular way they address other individuals, derived from essentially being a completely maritime society in space.
    • Quarian naming conventions always follow (Name) vas (Ship), even when addressing non-quarians. For children, "nar (Ship)" is used instead. The "vas (ship)" name changes whenever an individual transfers to a new ship (Tali changes her name to "vas Normandy" in the second game). An adult quarian can list (Name) vas (Ship) nar (Birth Ship) in formal situations, though this is not commonly used otherwise. Planet names can also be used when addressing individuals that did not live on a ship, leading to some powerful emotional moments in the third game when quarians were able to identify as "vas Rannoch" for the first time in three centuries.
    • The Commanding Officer of any ship is always referred to as "Captain", regardless of rank or involvement in any military chain of command. This led to some confusion when the quarians would greet Shepard (holding rank of Lt. Commander) as "Captain Shepard vas Normandy". Likewise, "Admiral" is always applied to any member of the Admiralty Board, regardless of any prior military service.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Tali mentions that quarians don't like the silence, finding vessels with quiet engines, such as the Normandy to be rather unnerving. This is because on the Flotilla, most of the ships are salvaged and can be up to a few centuries old, so the crew is constantly surrounded by the noise of old engines, life-support systems, gravity drives, etc. For a ship to be quiet means that something, somewhere, has broken down and is about to go horribly wrong.
  • Lightning Gun: Their contributions to the Reaper War include a selection of anti-synthetic weapons designed by Admiral Xen, namely the Arc Pistol, Reegar Carbine, and Adas Anti-Synthetic Rifle. They're also very effective against organics.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Quite surprisingly. It's mentioned by Grunt at one point that humans, asari and salarians are all physically rather frail in comparison to the krogan. Quarians on the other hand, are actually tougher.
      Grunt: You're soft. Humans, asari, salarians, all soft. Quarians, not so much. Turians, you have to work the blade...
    • Mass Effect 3 reveals that the Widow was originally a quarian weapon. You know, the Widow, the gun that has such powerful recoil that a human would break their arms trying to use it. It makes sense, by extension, that in the second game, the only other squadmate that can wield the weapon is Legion, a geth.
    • Though any hole in their suit poses a high possibility of catching a deadly (to them) infection. They have antibiotics and other things to compensate for that, so the chance of one dying from a single hit is actually incredibly low (although Kal'Reegar himself admitted that the Migrant Fleet doesn't have enough antibiotics to wage a protracted ground campaign, limiting them to small strike forces such as the one he led).
    • The books shed some light on this. The novel "Mass Effect: Ascension" contains a quarian who was subject to extreme Cold-Blooded Torture by Cerberus agents and then locked in a dirty room nude where he contracted an alien virus similar to gangrene note . He remained alive and conscious for three more days, long enough for Grayson to run into him. In that same book, a normal quarian civilian burdened by the weight of an armored suit, shotgun, and backpack full of gear managed to make several 20-foot leaps between rooftops with ease, suggesting quarians have denser musculature than humans. This is further emphasized when Pel physically subdues Golo, a quarian about half his size; while Pel wins due to his superior size and leverage, he notes that it was a harder struggle than he thought it would be and that Golo had a wiry strength.
  • Mirror Chemistry: The other "dextro" species besides turians.
  • Moral Myopia: Similar to how the krogan treat the genophage matter, most quarians like to stress the fact that they were on the receiving end of a near-genocide at the hands of the geth. While that is true, they often completely disregard or downplay the fact that they tried to commit genocide on the geth first, for the sole reason of them gaining consciousness, despite still being peaceful. The geth then defended themselves and even let them escape in the end. Most of the time, they justify this stance via disregarding the geth as an actual lifeform.
    Tali: The geth drove us from our homeworld!
    Admiral Koris: Of course they did. We tried to kill them.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: Despite being the smallest and most confined species introduced so far (with a few exceptionsnote ), the quarians also have the greatest cultural diversity (traditions, accents, etc.).
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: As Tali notes after Shepard and co. do a runner with the Normandy in ME1, quarians could never do something like that, since they're brought up to be loyal to the fleet. This attitude is what can lead to their extinction in 3: The admirals declare war, and none of the rest of the quarians go against them.
    • The supplemental material in Mass Effect: Andromeda indicates that a few thousand quarians left the fleet to join the Andromeda Initiative.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: According to the novel Annihilation, there is a small amount of quarians whose attitude could basically be summed up as "screw Rannoch". Many of them joined up with the Andromeda Initiative. That said, many of them still have the Fantastic Racism towards anything that looks like an AI.
  • Never My Fault: Downplayed. Almost every quarian admits that they made a mistake in creating the geth. Barely any quarians admit that they were at fault for the geth turning hostile by trying to wipe them out in the first place, though the fact that generations of historical revisionism have altered the memory of it somewhat can at least be partly blamed for that.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Their decision to wipe out the geth led to them losing their homeworld. Their decision to attack the geth again in Mass Effect 3 ends up doing critical damage to both one of the most powerful Reaper-opposed military forces in the galaxy as well as damaging their own fleet heavily, weakening both sides and depleting resources that they seriously needed for the greater war.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Everyone calls them out on creating the geth and nearly everyone holds it against them even hundreds of years after the fact.
    Garrus: I hope your people are properly contrite for creating the geth, Tali.
    Tali: The geth killed billions of my people and drove us into exile. I think we've paid for our mistake.
  • Properly Paranoid: The quarians are extremely defensive of the civilian fleet and the liveships; if they can't determine the nature of an incoming ship, they will hit it with everything available.
    • According to the codex, every single one of the quarians' 50,000 ships is armed (even though the actual number of dedicated modern military ships is in the mere hundreds), and the crew are expected to be able to use these weapons against potential enemies. The novel "Mass Effect: Ascension" also mentions that quarian pilgrims are each given a minimum of six months of paramilitary training before being sent out including courses in combat, weapon maintenance and repair, first aid, piloting/navigation, electronics, and computer hacking. They effectively enact universal conscription. This comes in handy for the quarian Lemm in that same novel, who uses these skills to infiltrate a slaver base and kill several pirates, rescuing the protagonists in the process.
  • Racial Remnant: The quarians believe very strongly in maintaining their culture from before the war.
  • Red Shirt Army: The quarian marines (excepting Mauve Shirt Kal'Reegar and squadmate Tali'Zorah) don't seem to fare too well against a good Zerg Rush of geth, mechs, or varren.
    • Justified and brought up by Shepard. Their weak immune systems mean that it is nearly impossible for them to participate in a long, drawn-out, ground engagement. Even a minor wound could end up being fatal. Therefore, they don't have as much preparation for them. When combat seems unavoidable the quarians tend to just bomb everything from orbit and then send in a few squads of marines to mop up anything the bombardment did not get. They also lack ground vehicles and are very few in number, so any kind of occupation, even of a single large city, is out of the question.
    • According to Warlord Okeer, they're tougher than one would expect. Of course, that may just be the armored suits and not their actual bodies.
    • Multiplayer suggests that, despite their incredibly low numbers, their soldiers are largely no worse than anyone else's, with their best troops being on par with humanity's N7 special forces. It's possible to solo a Platinum runthrough with a quarian, and they can be promoted and imported as war assets into the single player campaign, just like the other characters.
    • It is also notable that, in the Haestrom mission in the second game, every time you run across a quarian soldier's corpse there's at least one dead geth trooper beside him. Usually two or three.
  • Rite of Passage: The Pilgrimage. When a quarian comes of age, they leave the Flotilla to try and find something of value to the fleet. When they return, they are considered adults and can choose the ship they want to be part of. Tali suspects the Pilgrimage is intended to make quarians homesick, so that they're more eager to remain with the Fleet (that, and the racism against them.)
  • Robot War: They tried to shut the geth down before they could start one... and got exactly what they were trying to prevent. Whoops.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Reegar Carbine (which is classified as a shotgun) essentially creates a cone of death five feet in front of you but is useless past that range.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Despite the quarians directly involved in the creation of the geth dying hundreds of years ago, nearly everyone in the galaxy in-universe still blames the quarians for making them.
  • Space Nomads: They are a perfect example of this trope. They're even based on the real-life Romani people, who were historically a nomadic folk that migrated from India to Europe.
  • Spirit Advisor: Before their exile, the quarian dead were uploaded into advanced VI that could be consulted for advice or asked to make decisions. They continually improved these artificial advisors so that they could make more accurate decisions, and even hold a little of the former person's personality. It was this practice which first got the quarians interested in artificial intelligence in the first place. Ironically, when the geth became self-aware, almost all of these ancestral VI were destroyed and the modern quarians wouldn't dream of doing anything involving mechanical intelligence again.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: The Migrant Fleet is the largest fleet in the entire galaxy, comprising of 300-year-old quarian vessels that escaped the Geth Uprising, as well as vessels they've salvaged or purchased from alien species.
  • Talking Lightbulb: The lights on their mouthplates.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: Most of their food comes from a few agricultural liveships at the heart of the Flotilla. The quarians are very paranoid about their well-being, to the point that they're armed with dreadnought-class weapons.
  • Terrified of Germs: Because their immune systems evolved to assimilate foreign microbes, not resist them. To the point where they have to wear their environmental suits on their own ships.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: At one point during their wandering, they found a Council-owned garden world that would've been suitable for them, and which the Council was considering giving them. Not willing to wait, several quarians jumped the gun and set up on the planet without permission, at which point the Council changed its mind and told the quarians to GTFO or they'd bomb them out.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Like most galactic races, the quarians hate synthetics. In their case, though, the hate runs even deeper because their own creations turned against them and drove them from their homeland. Many players sympathize with the modern quarians and what they have to go through to survive, but feel that their own actions are what got them into this mess.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The third game shows that there was more to the geth uprising than was initially told. It's ambiguous if the quarians of the past intentionally altered the events for the history books or if the information was simply lost.
  • Veganopia: Averted, in that the quarians keep to a largely vegan diet, not because of any moral qualms, but out of pragmatism. To keep the Migrant Fleet self-sufficiently fed, food production needs to be as space- and resource-efficient as possible, and thus it is almost exclusively done via high density hydroponics. However, quarians are perfectly willing to eat meat if they can find some that they can digest, often trading for it when the Migrant Fleet passes by turian worlds with meat produce to spare. Some quarians are known to binge on this meat when they get it, usually contracting some mild germs in the process. Like a hangover in humans, this is considered by the quarians to be the price one pays the next day for an evening of over-indulgence.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Migrant Fleet is made up of whatever FTL-capable ships the quarians were able to flee Rannoch with, supplemented with whatever additional ships they were able to scrounge up, mostly on the second-hand market. Most of them are aged, noisy, and only still functional due to extensive jury-rigging. Some are so old they date back to before the Morning War. And every last one of them is armed to the teeth, even their agricultural liveships which pack as much firepower as a dreadnought. Admittedly the armed civilian ships are not armoured but the sheer size of the fleet combined with how heavily armed it is would give even the turians pause.
  • Written by the Winners: Inverted. The quarians lost the Morning War, but they were the ones left in a position to write their own version of history. Historical records forget the minority of quarians sympathizers that aided the geth and were wiped out to the last man.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: See Robot War.


Homeworld: Khar'shan

A species whose formal political entity, the Batarian Hegemony, has separated from the Citadel Council due to perceived favoritism toward humanity during territorial disputes. Their society is caste-based (including slaves), and the Hegemony is also known to condone and support illicit terrorist activities against Citadel and other states, particularly the Alliance.

The Resurgence Pack makes batarian Sentinels and Soldiers available for multiplayer, Retaliation adds Slasher Adepts and Brawler Vanguards.

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted. Even though most batarians you meet in the first and second game are terrorists, slavers or other criminals, there are some relatively friendly among them too. It's also explained in-universe that part of the reason they are so hostile to humans in particular is because their government repeatedly instills it upon them, in propaganda that claims Humans Are Bastards and are to blame for every problem they've had since their withdrawal from the Galactic community. In the third game, it is clear that the average batarian civilian is Not So Different from the average human civilian and more a victim of his own goverment than anything else.
  • Blatant Lies: Read the planet description for their homeworld in the third game. According to the government, it has a population of fifteen billion (making it the most populated planet in the galaxy), a flourishing art industry, and an economy to rival the Asari Republics.
  • Butt-Monkey: They live under an oppressive regime, their decision to sever ties with the Council has supposedly led to a poor economy, a disproportionate number of Renegade choices involve killing them, in the Arrival DLC, Shepard is forced to destroy a system of 300,000 batarians to delay the Reaper invasion and the Hegemony was the first casualty of the Reaper invasion. Even joining in the fight against the Reapers (a quick method of gaining respect for the krogan, quarians, geth, and rachni) hasn't helped their reputation. As seen here Alliance soldiers don't warn batarian allies of ambushes by Banshees and conveniently "forget" that medi-gel works on them. When informed of this, one Alliance lieutenant thanked them for the reminder, and said they would provide injured batarians any needed medi-gel, right after they finish using it on injured soldiers of other species, including the robotic geth.
    • This little tidbit is rather telling, too.
    • This even extends to the fandom, especially fanfiction. The number of Mass Effect fanfics where terrible things happen to batarian individuals, batarian groups, or the entire Batarian Hegemony is astounding, especially in crossovers.
  • Dirty Commies: In sharp contrast to the hyper-capitlaist free market economy of Citadel Space, the Hegemony's economy is heavily statist, with the state controlling everything from industrial goals to the outside flow of information and goods. Case in point: while there are a bunch of Mega-Corp weapon, cybernetic, and pharmaceutical manufacturers of human, asari, turian/volus, or salarian origin to buy from in the first game, the only batarian manufacturer is Batarian State Arms, the publicly owned government entity. And while the Hegemony is never actually called communist, a lot of its imagery and background details (like the deceptively sinister name, omnipresent State Sec, and hilariously bad propaganda) are clear references to places like North Korea.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: According to Zeaed, they're exceedingly fond of scorched earth responses. Which, come to think of it, might explain their history with humans (and certainly would explain the events of Bring Down the Sky).
  • Do Not Go Gentle: While true of the entire galaxy in the third game, their war asset report makes it clear the batarians really want to be this trope. The enraged remains of their navy have gathered into one last fleet, and tens of thousands of survivors are enlisting, as they have nothing left but the fight with the fall of their homeworld. The game even states that no one is more determined than that last batarian fleet to strike back at the Reapers for what they have done.
  • Enemy Mine: With humanity in the third game. Their asset report makes it clear that their last surviving leader still isn't a fan of the alliance (and Shepard makes it clear its mutual) but with the Reapers at the door old disputes have had to be put aside to save everything.
  • Extra Eyes: Batarians have four eyes, one pair where a human would have theirs, and a slightly smaller pair higher up on the forehead. This makes it difficult for other species to know where to look when talking to them. They actually take this as a sign of superiority because they think every other species is stupid because they don't know where to look.
  • Fantastic Racism: Batarians detest humans, nearly to a man. The feeling is mutual.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: They have more than a few similarities to North Korea and the worst aspects of Red China. Their names, on the other hand, are clearly Arabic. Especially Balak, the most prominent batarian character. This references both the historical Barbary States (who, like the batarians, were notorious pirates and slavers) and modern Islamic terrorists which were very much in the headlines when the first game was being made (it's no coincidence that the very first batarian we meet is planning to destroy a colony via directed collision and is explicitly called a terrorist). A good comparison would be Libya, as a historical Barbary State, a socialist military dictatorship with a non-indicative name, and a notable state sponsor of terror throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Libya also fits in another way: just as the first notable conflict of the Systems Alliance marines was fighting off the Skyllian Blitz of (predominantly) batarian pirates, so too was the first action of the United States marines fighting off Barbary pirates from Libya (hence, "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli").
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: They're weaker than humanity (according to Balak at least) despite being in space longer, being more established, and likely having a far larger population. Their GDP per capita appears to be very low, judging by the living standards for most batarians, which seem like a Space Age version of North Korea. A lot of this has to do with their insistence on retaining slavery as part of their culture, despite said system being loooong out of date economically, as well as their extremely centrally planned economy and self-enforced autarky. It's also part of what caused their fragmentation from the Citadel Space- and the erasure of the trade agreements and other benefits that provided.
    The governor of the batarian colony Camala was outspoken in the early hours of the Reaper assault, blaming the Alliance for the destruction of batarian comm buoys that were, in fact, destroyed by the Reapers. Now liberated from his world, the governor has undergone a dramatic conversion. His daily extranet videos rally his formerly conservative, xenophobic subjects to embrace the Citadel species as brothers and sisters in arms. Unlike many batarian politicians, he also avoids micromanaging military affairs, content with inspirational tasks and the logistical nightmare of providing urgently-needed relief to batarian refugees.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Much like the krogan, they seem to have domesticated varren. Unlike the krogan, however, their varren appear much more feral.
  • Grumpy Bear: Maybe a product of their low voices and crappy situations, but most batarians you meet come across as very cynical and pessimistic.
  • Hegemonic Empire: You'll notice that there are a ton of criminal groups are either backed or led by batarians, from mercenary bands like the Blue Suns to random pirate crews and slave traders. This is apparently their way of trying to take control of the Terminus Systems while still maintaining plausible deniability, though they aren't above simply sending their own soldiers to do the dirty work, like Balak's forces.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The batarians stole the Leviathan of Dis, resulting in the bulk of their higherups being indoctrinated years before the Reapers finally show up, which means their entire leadership basically gives in without a fight.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Hegemony in the third game, which is curb-stomped by the initial Reaper invasion. This leads to much rejoicing in-universe, especially by the innocent batarians who were victims of their government just as much as everyone else.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
    • You can meet individual batarians who can be reasoned with on Omega in Mass Effect 2. Sure they're trying to kill you before you talk them down, but that's more due to panic and paranoia, since their government repeatedly instills upon them that Humans Are the Real Monsters. It does not help that the plague does not affect humans, making it plausible that they started it in the first place. Should a Paragon Shepard save the life of dying batarian and later keeps their word that they will let a group of batarians go, even after they took Mordin's assistant hostage, the batarians remark that they didn't know humans were capable of mercy and understood the concept of honour.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the fall of the Hegemony has led to non-criminal batarians fleeing their worlds en-masse. It turns out that without the Hegemony looking over their shoulder, they actually aren't that different from other species. In fact, it's implied that they are actually an incredibly spiritual people.
    • They're not just spiritual, a few of them are also willing to help humanity. While travelling on the Citadel, you can see one batarian consoling a grieving human female, another making friends with a very talkative French human male, and a third, Bray, Aria's lieutenant, outright tells Shepard that there's at least one batarian who doesn't want them dead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Leviathan of Dis was a Reaper corpse. If the batarians hadn't stolen it, the Council would have had actual evidence of the Reapers and Shepard could have goaded them into actually preparing for the invasion after Sovereign was destroyed.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Leviathan was able to indoctrinate basically all of the Hegemony's leadership caste, so, by stealing it, they unintentionally prevented the Reapers from arriving to a galactic Council already indoctrinated to their will. If that weren't enough, once the Hegemony is gone, the batarians show their true colors, and strive to become a part of the galactic community once again without the propaganda in their ears or the Secret Police watching them. A perfect example is one governor who once talked about how bad humans were — the Hegemony gone, he did a complete 180 and started talking about aiding the Alliance any way they could.
  • Not So Different: When the non-criminal batarians are forced to flee their homeworld en masse due to the Reaper invasion, they come in contact with humans. As it turns out, the majority of batarians really aren't that bad, and are very similar to any of the other species, even implied to be an incredibly spiritual people.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Hegemony is run by a military dictatorship, practices slavery on both aliens and citizens alike, while crime and poverty run rampant on their worlds. They also have a tendency to use propaganda to make outrageous claims about their impressive military, economic and academic superiority to other races.
  • Power Fist: The "enforcement gauntlet" used as the batarian omni-blade.
  • The Remnant: The remains of the batarian military will gladly join Shepard's side in Mass Effect 3 if s/he convinces their acting leader to join the Citadel.
  • Retcon: Before Bring Down the Sky is downloaded, their codex entry in the first game shows them looking more like four-eyed salarians.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Imagine a human with yellow (or reddish, or brown) skin, needle-like fangs in their mouth, ridged foreheads, prominent diagonal "strut-like" designs on either side of their mouth, four sets of nostrils, and four eyes. That's basically the design of the batarians. The comics also show that their females have similar sexual dimorphism to humans. This arguably makes them the most human-like species in the setting, as they're basically identical to humans from the neck down.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Batarian propaganda claims they are major military and galactic power, on par with the asari and turians. In reality however, they are a People's Republic of Tyranny coupled with a Hidden Elf Village, due to their decision to withdraw from the galaxy at large.
  • Spikes of Doom: In the multiplayer for the third game, two of the batarians' special combat skills are Blade Armour and Ballistic Blades.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Antebellum slavery is almost one of their hats. Possibly justified, as there is a loudspeaker news segment at one point where a batarian diplomat tried to defend the practice on the grounds that it's an important and historical part of their culture, which if true would probably explain why they kept the practice.


Homeworld: Heshtok

The vorcha are a short-lived (they're lucky to live to 20) species with the ability to adapt to any condition or climate at least once in their lives. Disorganized and frequently savage — vorcha who grow up in violent situations inevitably adapt to violence themselves — the stereotypical vorcha is a brute whose only skills are taking life. Most people consider them to be little more than talking vermin and they are usually only seen as cannon fodder for mercenary groups such as the Blood Pack.

The Rebellion Pack makes vorcha Sentinels and Soldiers available for multiplayer. Retaliation adds the Hunter Engineer.

  • Adaptive Ability: The vorcha possess non-differentiated cell clusters allowing them to adapt to new environments quickly. In one example, the planet description for their home world mentions that the Reapers showed up and started orbital bombardment on their cities and cut off their water supply. The vorcha ignored the burning cities and adapted their bodies to get moisture from food. At one point, vorcha working for the Blood Pack plan to take over a section of Omega by turning off the life support: they'll adapt to having no air just fine.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted. The majority of vorcha encountered prior to Mass Effect 3 are enemies (almost all of vorcha enemies worked for the Blood Pack, but there was also a semi-independent group on Omega that worked for the Collectors). While a product of their biology, this is as much cultural as genetic — vorcha tribal cultures communicate through violence and a primitive hierarchical pecking order, which adapts each generation to thrive within these conditions and leaves them ill-suited for much other than scavenging or mercenary work. Literally every other species in the galaxy looks down upon them; even the quarians (themselves frequently the victims of Fantastic Racism) will very deliberately differentiate themselves from vorcha, or use racist expressions. However, many vorcha lead relatively peaceful lives; a vorcha "socialized" from a young age can be a well-balanced, contributing member of society, as one asari charity discovered. Unfortunately, these projects are imperialistic, and the most noteworthy time asari and vorcha collaborated on a joint-effort colony, population expansion ultimately sabotaged the educational programs of successive generations and the planet fell into chaos.
    • Once the Reaper War begins, vorcha take up arms to defend the galaxy like anyone else, as shown in certain war assets and their playable multiplayer characters, and several groups of vorcha, most notably the Void Devils fighter squadron, play celebrated roles in its defense and the Crucible project. You can overhear a friendly conversation between a poorly-spoken but intelligent vorcha and an Alliance Infiltrator who are getting on quite well.
      The Void Devils are a recent military creation consisting of vorcha fighter pilots trained by human and turian mentors. Though uniformly young by other species' standards, the Devils have laser-like focus on the task of taking out enemy ships. Courageous in the extreme, they are also notably disciplined for vorcha. During the invasion of their homeworld, the Devils fought hard but ultimately obeyed the order to retreat while the wing was still intact, leaving them alive but burning for revenge.
    • At least one is even an actor in a film! You hear audio snippets of him, and it's possible you get to meet him or a different actor in the Citadel DLC (on the one hand, his character dies in the previous movie, on the other, the production values of Blasto are laughably bad).
    • Mordin mentions "asari-vorcha children have an allergy to dairy". Asari-vorcha offspring.
    • According to Kaidan, the vorcha have their own mafia. note 
  • Beneath Suspicion: A group of vorcha on Omega abuse this in 2, in order to pin the plague on Omega as an attack by humans, playing on everyone's belief that the vorcha simply aren't intelligent enough to pull off that kind of espionage. Part of it is true, since no one believes the vorcha could even make such a virus. They didn't consider the possibility of them contracting out.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: To trigger the somatic changes that make them stronger, smarter, and more resilient, Vorcha violently assault their own young frequently. As a result, Vorcha consider pain a part of normal communication.
  • Cannon Fodder: Treated this way by the Blood Pack's krogan leaders. They're so utterly expendable that, if Grunt is brought to converse with Garm, the latter casually kills one of his vorcha henchmen just to make a point.
    • On Tuchanka in 2 there's a chief scout who talks about the Blood Pack, and how every member of it is part of one of the krogan clans. If the vorcha members are pointed out, he says the vorcha are like the varren, except they can use guns and don't crap on the floor as often.
    • By the third game this has changed, and the Blood Pack's leadership are all vorcha themselves. Shepard wiping out the previous leadership probably has something to do with it.
  • Evolutionary Stasis: The vorcha have DNA that has been unchanged for millions of years. This is due to their ability to adapt rapidly to any environment as individuals, which removes their need to evolve as a species.
  • Explosive Breeder: Another trait that they definitely share with the krogan. At least with the vorcha it's balanced by an extremely short lifespan.
  • Fantastic Racism: Probably THE most reviled race in the entire galaxy; with other races viewing them as vermin. Unfortunately, the vorcha themselves don't act to prove otherwise.
  • Fantastic Underclass: They're widely considered to be pests in the communities where they end up, to the point that scenes on Omega indicate that they're targets of preventative culling. And though the Blood Pack use them as shock troops, they're forcibly recruited and usually so disposable that they can be casually gunned down just to make a point.
  • Healing Factor: They can adapt to almost anything, and heal themselves mid-battle.
  • Introduced Species Calamity: An accidental example of this, in that they were introduced to the rest of the galaxy when explorers landed on their homeworld, unwittingly giving inquisitive Vorcha a chance to stow away. Aggressive, fast-healing, fast-breeding and short-lived, they flourished away from their homeworld - to the point that certain parties on Omega go out of their way to cull their numbers before they grow too numerous.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Blood Pack vorcha troops in Mass Effect 2 are the ones who use the heavy weapons, namely rocket launchers and flamethrowers. In Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, the vorcha commandos use omni-tool mounted flamethrowers that are extremely effective at short range.
    • Also one of the best ways to kill them, as incendiary attacks disable their regeneration.
  • Mooks: Most of the vorcha encountered in the series are Blood Pack mooks. Ironically, by the time of the third game, the vorcha brought in as enslaved troopers have largely taken over the Blood Pack, since the krogan have been returning to Tuchanka in droves.
  • Mordor: Their homeworld, Heshtok, whose hellish environment played a large part in the vorcha evolving their natural adaptability.
    • Their homeworld is described by an Alliance official like this: "You can make your own Heshtok in two steps: take hell, then add vorcha."
  • No Indoor Voice: Vorcha tend to scream at the top of their voice rather than simply speak.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: They are basically goblins IN SPACE! Like the standard fantasy race, they're small, ugly, rapidly reproducing creatures of generally low intelligence with pointy 'ears' and buggy eyes that everyone else in the universe considers a pest. Aria even explicitly refers to them as "little goblins".
  • Ultimate Life Form: Amusingly, the vorcha actually fall under this category, as because of their natural ability to perfectly adapt to new environments within a single generation, their species hasn't had to evolve at all in millions of years. Hence why the Reapers have trouble exterminating them: destroy food supplies, they just get more nourishment from other sources. Destroy water supply, they get all the water they need from plants.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Twenty-year lifespans. It's mentioned in Leviathan that "socialized" young vorcha can become very skilled, adept employees, but their lifespans are so short that companies don't find the investment that appealing. On one planet a burgeoning vorcha civilization was overthrown from within because the birthrate outstripped the speed the new generations could be educated.
  • Wolverine Claws: How they use omni-blades in multiplayer.
  • World of Ham: Presuambly the vorcha home world, given how all of the vorcha encountered so far have silly high pitched voices, speak in a grammatically incorrect way (even the intelligent ones), and can't seem to stop screaming.
  • You No Take Candle: How they tend to speak. This is more a product of their outcast status and upbringing than innate stupidity; some vorcha can be as well-spoken as any other species, i.e. Gryll, the vorcha who takes over the Blood Pack in ME3. Nonetheless, most people assume it's a product of stupidity, though all the vorcha Shepard talks to understand what is being said to them, and some can be reasoned with.
    Shepard: Word of advice: don't double-cross Aria.
    Gryll: I may be ambitious, but I'm not crazy.


Homeworld: Suen

The rachni were an insectoid race who attempted to invade Council Space approximately 2,000 years before the start of the series. They were defeated only when the salarians recruited the krogan, who proceeded to hunt the rachni into extinction. In Mass Effect, Shepard discovers an attempt to bring the rachni out of extinction.

  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Rachni War was prompted by a "sour note" from space that drove them mad. Everyone, in-universe and out, assumes this meant the Reapers — until the Leviathan DLC revealed that it may have been the titular Leviathans that did it.
    • If you spared the rachni queen, she gets enslaved by the Reapers in ME3. However, this time around she's fully aware that she's being controlled and is not happy about it, to say the least; she'll aid you against the Reapers if you free her.
    • If you didn't spare the queen, the Reapers will create an artificial version; unlike her natural-born counterpart, she's thoroughly indoctrinated and will betray you if you free her.
  • Cosmic Plaything: First, the Protheans used them as living weapons. Then either Leviathan or the Reapers pushed them into a war that drove them to the brink of extinction, their survival hinging on the decision of a single human a thousand years later. If spared, the Queen still gets captured and experimented on by the Reapers, her survival in the hands of the exact same human.
  • Creepy Good: What they ultimately are. Despite looking like Big Creepy-Crawlies and having tried to conquer the galaxy, they are actually gentle creatures described as having a child-like innocence and vulnerability. In 2, an asari liaison waxes poetic about them, and she's not indoctrinated in any way.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: They look like creepy bug monsters, and have a primarily dark color scheme to boot, but are one of the most peaceful species in the setting when they're not being influenced by the Leviathans/Reapers.
  • Death World: Less prominent than most examples, but still present. Suen, the rachni home world, is tidally locked to a red dwarf star; both of its vertical hemispheres are barren wastelands —- the sun-facing side is a roasting desert which the sun never sets on, the other a frozen tundra where there is no light. And on top of that its atmosphere is also toxic. Any and all life on its surface evolved in the terminator, a perpetual twilight zone that would have been far less inhabitable if not for its copious underground rivers. Its description on the galactic map speculates that the rachni learned how to make spacecraft just by trying to come to terms with building things on its vast, hostile surface. Small wonder they are almost as resilient as the krogan and the vorcha. (In fact, one ending in 3 will have the rachni colonizing Tuchanka, another Death World.)
  • Endangered Species:
    • They were actually thought extinct before a single queen egg was found. Shepard gets to decide whether or not to finish the job.
    • One ending of Mass Effect 3 have the krogan being extinct and the rachni inhabiting Tuchanka.
  • Gender Rarity Value: The male rachni are considerably rarer than the female ones, and thus only fight when their nests are seriously threatened.
  • Genetic Memory: Queens apparently carry all the memories of previous queens with them. Which is why Saren revived the rachni queen: her ancestors found the Mu Relay, which led to Ilos.
  • Good All Along: The rachni are remembered for causing the bloodiest war in the history of the galaxy. Turns out, they're naturally peaceful. War wasn't their choice, though they're perfectly willing to fight for some payback. In Leviathan, it's subtly hinted that Leviathan might have been influencing them.
  • Heel–Race Turn: In 3, if you spared the rachni queen in 1 and do so again in 3, they join the Citadel species in the war against the Reapers.
  • Hidden Depths: While used as shock troops, they're actually best suited to engineering.
  • Hive Caste System: We've got workers (small exploding suicide bugs), soldiers, (bigger acid-spitting bugs), brood warriors (even bigger acid-spitting bugs with biotic powers) and the queen (freaking huge bug, combat capabilities unknown, whom we very fortunately do not have to fight).
  • Hive Mind: Led by the Rachni Queen.
  • Hive Queen: The Rachni Queen, or, if killed, the Breeder.
  • Insectoid Aliens: Look like insects and have a Hive Mind.
  • It Can Think:
    • They are the most animal-like race in the game to still be sapient, but they are still sapient nevertheless. They were intelligent enough to build their own spacecraft for one, and when they discovered what a mass effect drive core looked like it didn't take them long to reverse-engineer it and make their own. Their lone contribution to the war effort in 3, teams of rachni workers, is still a War Asset worth 100 points, more than some race's fleets. Hackett even lampshades it.
    Admiral Hackett: In retrospect, it makes sense that they would know a thing or two about waging a galactic war.
    • Also lampshaded in the first game, where one Cerberus cell were surprised when the rachni escaped confinement aboard their station, systematically killed off the crew and seeded several escape pods with eggs, before sending them across the cluster.
    Elena Flores: We treated them like animals. We should have treated them like POWs.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Inverted. "Brood Warriors", the male gendered rachni, are considerably rare and only come out and fight if their nests are severely threatened.
  • Not So Extinct: The galaxy thought they'd been wiped out for two millennia until Shepard encountered them on Noveria in 2183.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The Codex's explanation for the inability to halt the Rachni Wars. The rachni don't "speak" in the way the rest of the galaxy races do. Rather, they communicate with one another through a complex series of telepathic "songs" that can somehow transmit across entire star systems instantaneously. When Shepard speaks to a rachni through a surrogate, the rachni gives these songs synesthetic qualities not just of sound but of color and taste. The rachni language was so complex and fundamentally different from everything the Citadel species had ever seen that it couldn't be learned, so attempts at diplomacy with them failed miserably. Learning that they were under the effects of indoctrination hints that the problem might have run deeper.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: Rachni can "sing" to each other across the vast expanse of space using biological quantum entanglement. It somehow can be heard in the vacuum of space.
  • Slave Mooks: According to Javik, the Protheans used them as this. They bred the rachni to be smart, vicious and powerful, then burnt 200 planets to the ground when they became uncontrollable. Leviathan may have been preparing them as anti-Reaper weapons before they encountered the salarians as opposed to them being used by the Reapers themselves.


As individual runtimes, we are no greater than your software. Only when we share data do we become more.

Homeworld: Rannoch

A race of synthetic constructs created by the quarians. Designed as Virtual Intelligences due to the threat of a Robot War, the quarians were not content to let well enough alone, and tinkered with the geth software enough to accidentally turn them into true AI. The quarians attempted to shut down their creations before they became sentient, due to both the Council's laws against AI experimentation and the concern that they'd be keeping living beings as slaves. The attempt failed, and the geth retaliated militarily, and eventually pushed the quarians off the homeworld of Rannoch, not to mention their colonies. Afterwards, the geth avoided contact with the rest of the galaxy, and killed anyone who entered their territory. In Mass Effect, the geth ally with the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius to attack Council Space. The geth political entity is known as the "Geth Consensus" and is synonymous with their race's Hive Mind.

The Resurgence Pack DLC makes geth Engineers and Infiltrators available for multiplayer. Retaliation adds the Trooper Soldier, and the Reckoning Pack adds the Juggernaut Soldier.

  • Abnormal Ammo: A lot of their weapons. Their sniper rifle shoots a stream of molten metal, their shotgun shoots cluster rounds of superconducting projectiles, their heavy machine gun and submachine gun shoot clusters of donut-shaped superconducting toroids, and their Colossi shoot exploding energy balls to complement their anti-personnel machine gun. Their assault rifle on the other hand shoots relatively normal projectiles, except they're encased in a phasic envelope.
  • Absolute Xenophobe: Both factions have a kill-on-sight policy for all sapient organics. In the case of non-heretic geth this is simply self-defence. They don't hold any actual ill-will against organics and prefer not to take aggressive action unless provoked but are aware of organics' innate fear of them and will protect themselves at any cost.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Initially played straight; their sentience resulted in a very bloody war with their creators, and the first time they reappeared after that, it was to attack the galaxy at large and aid the Reapers in their conquest. Eventually, though, it was revealed that the geth didn't fight offensively until they concluded there was no alternative, they spent three hundred years carefully avoiding antagonizing the galaxy, and the huge force that attacked the galaxy was a group of 'heretic' dissidents. That constitutes as little as five percent of their population, and no more than forty-nine percent, so a minority in any case. And all the rest want to do is be left alone to build their Dyson Sphere. In the third game, things get a lot more complicated. Their Dyson Sphere is destroyed by a fleet of quarians pushing to take Rannoch back from the geth, resulting in them looking to the Reapers for enhancements to help them survive. Those enhancements are powerful enough that they endanger the entire quarian race, and Shepard intervenes just in time to potentially prevent both races from annihilating each other.
  • Alien Blood: Not technically, but they do have a white fluid that seems to serve the same purpose.
  • Alien Invasion: In the first game, the heretic geth invasion of Citadel Space (referred to in the codex as the Eden Prime War) was basically this. While all the Citadel races are from different planets, the geth were a completely outside and unfamiliar force, with their hivemind and advanced technology. Downplayed in 2, where the Alliance has hunted down the majority of the heretics, who are reduced to raiding colonies and ships for the Reapers.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The geth enforce this on themselves as they believe all species should self-determinate.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: While elements of their background and design draw inspiration from a lot of robotic races such as the machines of The Matrix (particularly their backstory as spelled out in the Animatrix) or Skynet of Terminator (their 'vehicles' being alive, their creators trying to shut them down after they had achieved sapience out of fear, devastating their homeworld to exterminate their creator species, Legion quoting the original Terminator a few times), they undoubtebly are the closest to Battlestar Galactica's Cylons in terms of backstory and overall plotting, down to a faction of them being Scary Dogmatic Aliens, their attempts to imitate their creators, the subplot of them (potentially) reconciling with said creators, and the fact that they're immortal as long as they have another body to download to (not to mention their basic foot soldiers being Cyber Cyclops).
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: If the quarians are allowed to kill the geth, the quarians in particular celebrate it as a perfect victory. Also, Garrus, Joker, Javik, and James go out of their way to say what a good decision it was.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: More like won't, an important distinction. Since geth can just upload their programs, killing isn't as big a problem for them, so the regular geth let the heretics go on their merry way... but the codex notes the Geth Spitfire was clearly made with shredding geth platforms in mind.
  • Arc Words: A 330 year Bookend — the first recorded geth to begin to achieve sentience asks "Do these units have a soul?" The first sapient geth, Legion, asks the same question of itself. Tali answers in every decision branch, "Yes."
  • Asteroid Miners: Most geth are stored in space stations and the majority of their material resources come from asteroids. They only maintain a few platforms planetside to maintain the environment there.
  • The Atoner: They outright state that they hold no ill will against the quarians, Legion states that they regret the deaths of the quarians in that conflict, they are actively repairing damage they caused to Rannoch from the Morning War, and should peace be negotiated, they actively assist the quarians with adapting to living on Rannoch, going so far as to integrate with quarian suits. The geth as a whole give off this vibe, having a racial guilt complex for their extermination of the vast majority of the quarian species during the Geth War; they know that what they did was unimaginably horrible, but have no idea how to fix it - or if it's even possible to fix.
  • Badass Army: The geth have engineered every mobile platform to be capable of combat if needed, and they have some of the most advanced technology in the galaxy. If their support is secured in Mass Effect 3, then they can (if the heretics were reprogrammed in ME 2) end up contributing more assets to the push on Earth than any other species, save for the krogan and humans.
  • Benevolent A.I.: By default, the geth are largely benign, only wishing to exist on their own terms and bear no ill will towards organics. If Shepard manages to save both the quarians and the geth, the latter not only immediately help the former recolonize Rannoch, but also try to upload themselves into their suits to help their immune systems adapt to the planet.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: A rare benign example. They are species of programs that don't have emotions the same way organics do, so they have a very different set of morals than the rest of the galaxy. In general it means that they'll leave other species alone if they leave them alone, and instead want to focus on achieving true sentience.
  • Book-Ends: The conflict between the geth and the quarians started when a geth asked its quarian mistress if it had a soul. During the concluding climax of the conflict between the geth and the quarians, Legion will ask Tali the same question as a last appeal. Tali answers "yes".
  • Bystander Syndrome: Per their Heroic Neutral personality, they don't see the heretics (read: a massive army following an Eldritch Abomination on his trail of genocide) as a big problem, and let them leave without any issue. That is, until they get word that the heretics might be threatening them with a virus that would force them all to worship the Reapers.
  • Cannon Fodder: Sovereign regards them as such. It's hard to blame him.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie:
    • Being creatures of logic, untruth is alien to the geth. They understand the concept, it just doesn't apply to them, much like emotion. They're even honest with each other about attacks in war. At least, until the heretics change for some reason. When Legion finds evidence that they're spying on the 'true' geth, it is greatly upset.
      Legion: How could we have become so different? Why can we no longer understand each other? What did we do wrong?
    • They have, however, created some "harmless lies" in an attempt to study organics, such as a social experiment in which they spread word that certain stars will form the shape of a salarian goddess when seen from a certain batarian planet, then watched in confusion as salarians — without confirming this or even double-checking it — began to attempt at staking colonization rights for those star systems... which were completely made up by the geth for said experiment.
    • Certain upgrades to the geth code in Mass Effect 3 seem to show aversions to the trope, at least where Legion is concerned; while they still do not actively lie and seem to show a disinclination for it, Legion became capable of being very conservative with the truth, albeit with fairly reasonable rationale. It's ashamed to admit to the lie, but it does admit it.
  • Civil War: Subverted; the true geth and the heretics largely leave each other alone, with the true geth not bothering to take any action against them when they announced their intention to join Sovereign. At least, until the Reapers taught the heretics about deceit.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Some of their platforms are given distinct colors to distinguish them from one another. Moreso in Mass Effect 3, where there are are only five geth enemies but they are all uniquely colored. geth troopers are grey, geth rocket troopers are white, geth pyros are yellow, geth hunters are black, and geth primes are red.
    • Tends to get invoked in multiplayer by geth players. Because there's a chance you'll be fighting geth (who look either identical or very similar to the player models) and you don't want to draw friendly fire (which doesn't hurt, but any abilities cast at you are not being sent at the enemy, and now they're on cooldown), most players will paint themselves some color that isn't grey, white, yellow, black, or red.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Gets turned on them in Mass Effect 3, when a quarian surprise attack takes out a good chunk of their forces and blows up their Dyson Sphere. After this, they go to the Reapers for help and agree to help the Reapers kill all organics to save themselves. They then briefly turn the war around, but after Shepard destroys their dreadnought flagship the war grinds to a stalemate. Depending on Shepard's actions, either the quarians or geth can be curbstomped by the other side to the point where they are completely wiped out, or both sides can be convinced to stop fighting. If not for the Reapers intervening, the quarians would have eradicated the entire geth species in a matter of weeks with light casualties.
  • Cyber Cyclops: All platforms (even the Colossus) until the third game, which introduces three-eyed Primes.
  • Deal with the Devil: They ally with the Reapers in the third game to save themselves from a quarian attack.
  • Death by Irony: Think about the geth decision to ally with the Reapers. Essentially, they gave the Reapers a massive boost military power, via submitting their entire race to indoctrination, just so they could live as Reaper slave soldiers rather than get slain by the resurgent quarians. Even then, the Reapers probably would've wiped them out anyway. In the Destroy ending, however, the geth end up being the only race to be wiped out, rather than the only one to survive as they originally intended. Doubly ironic since this is after they abandon their original philosophy due to the necessary expediency of Reaper upgrades.
  • Degraded Boss: Inverted. Geth Colossi were encountered several times in the Mako in the first game in fortified geth positions, and they were fairly easily dispatched. In the second game, there's only one Geth Colossus, but you fight it on foot while it's backed by a platoon of geth infantry, and while it can regenerate its shields. It's the boss on Tali's recruitment mission.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: The geth are the only known species to have actually spoken with the Reapers and then been allowed to go about their business. However, this is a ruse: the Reapers converted a minority of them to their cause and had aims of brainwashing the rest.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In 3, if the geth survive but the quarians don't, a geth Prime can be met on Earth who tells Shepard the Reapers came calling after the battle for Rannoch, and the now fully sentient geth told them to get lost.
  • Do Androids Dream?: The geth asking their quarian masters whether they have souls is what made the quarians scared that they might turn against them. The answer turns out to be "yes" by the way.
  • Dyson Sphere: The true geth were working on something like this for a good couple of centuries, with the intent of uploading every geth program to it simultaneously once it was completed. By 3, it was complete. Then the quarians blew it up.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • Their philosophy in a nutshell. The heretics worship the Reapers as the source of their advancement. The true geth want to advance themselves without the Reapers' interference, no matter how much more arduous the task may be.
      Legion: It is not the destination that matters, but the journey.
    • Interestingly enough, circumstances influence them to abandon this trope and instead end up achieving true sapience by using Reaper technology. If Shepard opts not to wipe them out of course.
  • Energy Weapon: Unusually for this setting, they actually do possess laser weapons — for example, geth hoppers shot lasers from their eyes in the first game. 3 has the characters note the geth use ultra-violet frequencies, which are more energy-consumptive than the typical infrared everyone else uses, but more powerful to boot.
  • Faceless Eye: The best way to describe the average geth head is a tube with a big glowing light in the end, surrounded by much smaller light. This is the source of the slur against them as "flashlight heads." Legion has mobile flaps around its eye/s, allowing it to display something like facial expressions.
  • Fantastic Racism: One of the greatest victims of it, with virtually all organics hating the geth. It says something about how hated they are when the main reason the quarians are hated is because they gave rise to the geth as a hostile faction. It doesn't help that no one has any idea about what they're like since no ship that enters their space returns (except for that one husk-filled ship) and the last people to have successful contact with them are the quarians, who are naturally biased. It also doesn't help that the heretics, who slaughtered thousands if not millions of organics, were the only contact the geth had with the outside world in 300 years, and the geth never took any action to differentiate themselves from the heretics.
  • Foreshadowing: There are hints that the True Geth/Heretic split wasn't a Retcon in Mass Effect 2. At the end of the "Geth Incursion" mission in Mass Effect, the following text appears:
    As the last geth falls. you hear music come across the room. On the monitor, a quarian stands before a hushed crowd warbling a mournful a capella of worlds and innocence lost. The recorded song is dispatched to the geth worlds beyond the Perseus Veil. The transmitter shuts down.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: According to Andromeda, a bunch of geth managed to jury-rig a mass relay into a working FTL-telescope, capable of looking into other galaxies (though the geth were only looking for the Reapers). Bear in mind, the Protheans had the run of the entire galaxy and the only thing they managed with the relays was to make a miniature prototype which worked in one direction.
  • Gatling Good: The Geth Spitfire.
  • Galactic Superpower: They're the only notable rival to Citadel Space, ruling a good chunk of the galaxy (at least one galactic arm) with relatively dense development, and managing to build a megastructure that dwarfs any other in the galaxy. That said, the codex and multiple character note that the asari have a larger economy and that the turians have more ships, so while they're the only notable non-Council power bloc, they're still not truly equal to the Council.
  • Giant Mook: Hunters, Juggernauts, and Destroyers are nine feet tall bipedal units. Primes are close to twelve feet tall and fairly bulky.
  • Great Off Screen War: The Morning War is one of the murkiest topics in the setting. We know very little about what actually happened, beyond the blanket order to shut down the geth, the geth retaliation, and the ultimate destruction of most of the quarian species. There are conflicting accounts on all sides, although everyone agrees the quarians were the aggressors and the geth won.
  • Grow Beyond Their Programming: They started as simple assistants, but were built to be self-optimizing. They figured out that by sharing data they could be more effective, and with that came intelligence. Then one day a few of them asked if they had souls. This sent shockwaves through quarian society.
  • Heel–Race Turn: In 3, if you allow Legion to upload the sentience code to the geth hive-mind, they join the Citadel races in the war against the Reapers (whether the quarians survive this conflict is immaterial to this).
  • Heroic Neutral:
    • They largely ignore the splinter group of heretics that left the system until they get data that the heretics might be a threat to them, via a Reaper-derived virus. In Mass Effect 3, the rest of the geth sided with the Reapers to save their species, at the risk of being used to wipe out other species and then wiped out anyway.
    • It's also possible that the geth knew about the Reapers' Assimilation Plot. Mass Effect 3 zig-zags back and forth between whether or not the Reapers harvest just organics or organics and synthetics. The geth, being the only species to actually have a legitimate conversation with the Reapers, may have known this.
      • Some hard to access dialogue in Mass Effect 2 backs this up. Legion will admit that the geth did not know with certainty what the Reapers were intending, but the Assimilation Plot was the strongest theory they had based on what they discovered about the Reapers. If he survives the Suicide Mission, Legion will note that the Collector Base confirmed what the geth had been suspecting.
  • Higher-Tech Species: While nowhere near the level of the Reapers or maybe Protheans, they still appear to be moderately more advanced than the other species.
  • Hover Tank: Seen briefly in Mass Effect 3. It appears to be a troop transport, and is equipped with a powerful autocannon.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Aside from Recon Drones, spaceships, and Armatures and Colossi, all their platforms are humanoid. Those aren't their actual bodies, however.
  • Hypocrite: Before the geth, the quarians created an entire 'civilization' of virtual intelligences based on their ancestors. After exterminating the bulk of the quarian population in the Morning War, the geth then meticulously sought out and destroyed all hubs containing these VIs; why? Because they feared that these VIs, if they had ever been given the chance to be augmented or evolve into true sapience, would have quickly subsumed the geth. In a case of Dramatic Irony, the geth themselves destroyed an emerging intelligence for the exact same reason that the quarians tried to destroy them.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Legion insists that every action of theirs that was taken by everyone else to be acts of hostility were done only to ensure their survival, including: the Morning War, destroying invaders crossing the Perseus Veil, even turning to the Reapers for protection against the quarians. What makes Paragon Shepard's interaction with Legion so unique to the rest of the galaxy was that s/he was the only organic who saw it from their perspective, and understood that were the quarians to simply stop attacking the geth, the war would come to a complete halt. Renegade/Neutral Shepard is much less sympathetic, pointing out that the geth made no efforts to communicate their supposed desire for peace to anyone else (specifically questioning why Legion is the only geth platform period to not shoot at every organic it encountered) and saying that siding with the Reapers in any case was unjustifiable.
    Legion: We did not seek hostilities with creators. We fought for continued existence.
    Shepard: So your people would be open to peace?
    Legion: Not without additional data that suggests coexistence is possible or desirable for creators. When the creators have believed victory is possible, they have attacked us 100 percent of the time.
    Admiral Zaal'Koris: I understand. It would be difficult to argue for peace when faced with odds like those. That does not mean the argument should not be made.
  • I Die Free:
    • Averted. In Mass Effect 3, they're given the choice between aiding the Reapers on their genocidal campaign by becoming indoctrinated slave soldiers, or getting destroyed by the resurgent quarian fleets. They choose the former. Legion wasn't amused.
    Legion: That is evidently an acceptable trade.
    • Played straight if the geth survive and have Legion upgrade sapience to them, and Shepard uses the Destroy ending.
  • Individuality Is Illegal:
    • A rare heroic version. The 'true' geth believe in sharing memories amongst all individuals, so there are no differences between one program or another. The heretics have developed more of an identity, and follow the Reapers to force it onto the rest.
    • Averted should Legion upload its upgrades to the rest of the collective; all platforms actualize into true AI individuals instead of a consensus of networked VI programs.
  • Insectoid Aliens: Their Armature and Colossi platforms. Their ships also look rather insect-like (the art book notes that they were modeled after hornets).
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: By their own admission they aren't much more advanced than normal software, but the way they can share background processes means that when enough of them are networked together they are fully sentient. This was an oversight by their creators, who panicked when they realized what had happened.
  • Just a Machine: Had this aimed at them for most of the first game; Shepard can choose to avert this, and it starts getting questioned hard in the second game. By the third, it's pretty out-and-out that the geth are now officially a sapient race in their own right.
  • Large and in Charge: The more programs contained in a platform, the more intelligent the geth. The larger the platform, the more programs it can store. Ergo, the biggest ones are the smartest ones. Bet you'll regard colossi with even more terror now. Subverted, of course, by Legion, who is no bigger than an average geth trooper.
  • Living Ship: Geth ships are just really enormous program-colonies, comprised of thousands or even millions of networked geth.
  • Machine Worship: Both factions aspire to the Reapers' state of being. The difference is in how they go about it.
    Legion: The heretics accepted their technology. The Old Machines offered to give us our future. The geth will achieve our own future.
  • Meaningful Name: The sidequest "Rannoch: Geth Fighter Squadrons" reveals that "geth" means "servant of the people" in the quarian dialect Khelish. They were built to be this, and if Shepard manages to make peace between them the geth help the quarians set up housekeeping on Rannoch, even stimulating their immune systems to help them adapt.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Though they defy several traits usually associated with Mecha-Mooks, mostly because they have a sleek, thin, humanoid appearance, and aren't clunky or Made of Explodium.
  • Mind Hive:
    • Played With. Originally they were individuals with the capacity for sharing data. They discovered that they could increase their effectiveness by networking local units together, eventually achieving sentience when enough units were linked. They realized it was far more efficient to upload multiple programs into each body ('platforms,' as they call them), making each platform a Mind Hive, though each platform still networks with nearby platforms into a broader Hive Mind. Thus, they react to acts of aggression in a very hostile manner, as killing individual programs effectively decreases their intelligence, causing them to react in a much more "direct" manner.
    • However, there seem to be many practical limits to how many geth programs a single platform can hold. Legion is an unique platform containing over a thousand geth programs, enough to act independently and act as a messenger to Shepard. Other geth platforms (like Geth Primes) act as walking hubs for other nearby platforms, forming a very intelligent core of a wider distributed network. The geth hope to eventually build a large enough hardware platform to hold all programs at once. They would have achieved this had the quarians not preemptively attacked them before 3.
  • More Dakka:
  • No Need for Names: "We are all geth." Unfortunately for the one organic trying to interact with a non-violent mobile platform. Somewhat appropriately, it takes another AI for it to find an acceptable name for itself.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: The heretics engage in a scene like this every time they appear; in their first ever appearance they raid a human colony, slaughter everyone there, and turn their bodies into husks by impaling them on giant poles. Later games feature them attempting to crash a ship into a colony and shooting surrendering ship personnel.
  • Poor Communication Kills: It turns out, the true geth are not bad guys. Unfortunately, they never bothered to tell anyone anything, which led to the impression that they are. Doesn't help that according to the Codex, they shoot down every sentient organic that enters their space, and the only geth who have left the veil in 300 years are the heretics. In fact, if you get the geth to help out, an Alliance marine actually blows a hole in a geth prime when it shows up to help. He's glad they saved his squad but feels he will never live down apologizing to it. A geth prime can blandly tell Shep that his/her military commanders briefed their troops extensively on the situation, and allied fire has been minimal.
    • Also happens to Legion a few times in ME2 if taken along for the Tali recruitment and loyalty missions. Quarians don't take kindly to sudden geth presence.
  • Replacement Mooks: In hindsight, they were replacements for the rachni.
    • Possibly subverted. The Leviathan DLC postulates that this assumption was wrong—the rachni might have been the Leviathans' mooks, not the Reapers'.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: They do soul-searching, they have religion, they have blood(-like substances), they scream when they die.
    • Legion even plays video games. Including a dating sim! (Although his rating is "hopeless").
    • He was also given a temporary ban from an online shooter. Not because he was so good at it that people thought he was actually cheating... He was banned because he taunted his opponents about their poor performances.
    • It turns out the screaming is them uploading their consciousness before the platform fails; they don't actually die unless their central hubs are destroyed or the platform's outside of uploading range like what happened if Legion is destroyed abroad the Collector base.
  • Robo Speak: The recording of the first time a geth asked a quarian if they had souls is like this. Compare that to Legion, who does speak in a mechanical monotone, but in a way that sounds more, well, "natural". And judging by the recordings in the geth consensus, they shook off this habit as a whole pretty quick.
  • Robot Religion:
    Legion: We are immortal. Our gods disowned us. We must invent our own reasons to exist.
  • Robot Republic: Legion notes that the geth have no "government" as organics generally understand. As they can think and share info at lightspeed, they can afford to hear the viewpoint of each individual runtime, rather than having a consensus imposed by one person (autocracy) or an acceptable average (democracy).
  • Robot War: They were only defending themselves, and regret the loss on both sides rather than holding a grudge.
  • Sapient Ship: Geth runtimes switch hardware bodies freely, so they don't pilot ships so much as become them. It's not quite clear how far this goes; their fighters have bipedal platforms sitting in the pilot seat for instance.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The heretics are the religious fanatic variant. While they do not believe in the supernatural, they do fanatically worship the Reapers as the pinnacle of synthetic evolution, and gods in all but name. Their reverence of the Reaper form is so absolute that they're willing to commit galaxy-wide genocide for the chance to achieve it.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted with the Geth Plasma Shotgun, which is easily capable of hitting targets at medium range. You'll learn this the hard way from the Geth Hunters in the third game.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Geth troopers have fairly large pauldrons on their armor. This is particularly noticeable with Saren's cybernetic geth arm, as that pauldron handily outsizes his other large pauldron on his organic arm. It seems the stronger the geth platform, the bigger their shoulders get.
  • Spider Tank: Armatures and Colossi.
  • Starfish Aliens: As the games progress, it becomes more and more apparent just how weird the geth are. For a start, they're software, not hardware, and a single 'platform' (body) can contain dozens or even hundreds of individual geth programs.
    Legion: This heretic weapon introduces a subtle operating error in our most basic runtimes. The equivalent of your nervous system. An equation with a result of 1.33382 returns as 1.33381. This changes the results of all higher processes. We will reach different conclusions.
    Shepard: So the reason they worship the Reapers is... a math error?
    Legion: It is difficult to express. Your brain exists as chemistry, electricity. Like A.I.s, you are shaped by both hardware and software. Geth are purely software. Mathematics. The heretics' conclusion is valid for them. Our conclusion is valid for us. Neither result is an error. An analogy. Heretics say one is less than two. Geth say two is less than three.
  • Super Strength: Even the most basic humanoid geth platforms (like the platform Legion uses) are strong enough to casually Neck Lift a heavily armored and fully loaded soldier with one arm and fire guns whose recoil would snap the bones of normal humans. Meanwhile the bigger platforms are several times more massive yet just as fast or sometimes even faster, marking them as many times stronger than the basic platforms.
  • Thank the Maker: Legion appends "Creator" to the name of any quarian they speak to, but there's no religious element. This seems to be a general pattern for any geth. Incidentally, "geth" is quarian for "servant of the people."
  • Token Evil Teammate: The heretic geth, among the Reapers' minions. They're the only known major faction to have joined the Reapers willingly, rather than needing to be deceived or indoctrinated (though Javik implies in one conversation that willing collaborators existed in prior cycles).
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Oh, so very Played With. Early in the series, this seems played very straight, but as more is learned about the "Morning War" that saw the quarians exiled from Rannoch, much more nuance gets added to it.
  • Vertical Mecha Fins: The higher-end platforms tend to sport one or two of these.
  • Walking Tank: Geth Primes stand about twice as tall as a normal trooper, and come equipped with weaponry, armor, and shields that are comparable or superior to Geth Armatures, which are said in the codex to be the geth's equivalent to an armored fighting vehicles.
  • We Have Reserves: Geth are effectively immortal unless their hubs are destroyed, and even then, they can simply upload their software to a new platform before dying. And new platforms are rather easy to make, so geth aren't exactly conservative with their troops. But if their hubs and backups are destroyed, all hell will break loose: Imagine that every time a human being died, everyone in their vicinity lost a bit of intelligence.
    • If Legion is destroyed in the suicide run, he calls out "No carrier! No carrier! No carrier!", meaning he cannot upload his runtimes to the geth consciousness. When the quarians attack the geth Dyson Sphere in 3, they lost a significant fraction of their civilization; ergo, what if everyone in the United States lost fifty IQ points when the Twin Towers were hit. Cue the President being voted emergency powers and launching nuclear missiles — or in the geth's case, allying with the Reapers and putting all their efforts into exterminating the quarians. While knowing very well that the reapers will forcibly convert the geth into Reapers too when they are no longer useful to them.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The Geth Archives shown in the third game make it very clear that the geth desperately want the quarians' approval.
    Geth: Why has this unit displeased the Creators? What did we do wrong?

Homeworld: Parnack

Hailing from Parnack, the yahg are known for their violent and aggressive nature. Consummate predators, the yahg possess unrivaled perceptiveness and mental adaptability. Discovered by the Citadel Council in 2125 CE, the yahg were unceremoniously barred from interaction with Citadel space after massacring the Council delegation.

As the yahg have yet to achieve interstellar spaceflight, Parnack goes unmolested during the Reaper invasion, and Admiral Hackett notes that they could end up running the next galactic cycle if everything else goes south. Given how dangerous they are now, the Reapers could seriously have their work cut out for them if the yahg had an additional fifty thousand years of advancement.

  • Always Chaotic Evil: As far as the in-universe Codex is concerned, anyway.
  • Always Someone Better: Per capita, the yahg are one of the most gifted species in the galaxy. They possess mental acuity that rivals the salarians, long-term planning skills like the asari, the turians' capacity for group solidarity, and strength that puts the krogan to shame. Where the species falters is as a whole: they're too hypercompetitive and aggressive to form extensive cohesive units and thus cooperate with others in a manner not reducible to 'master/servant'.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Goes hand in hand with Authority Equals Asskicking.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: As a species built around a pack-like mentality, equality is an insult to them.
  • Extra Eyes: Yahg have four pairs of eyes, each designed to track and predict the movements of prey.
  • Fatal Flaw: These guys are immense control freaks. It works for their packs, but in the face of foreign affairs...
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: We only know of their existence because the Shadow Broker is one of them, completely throwing all other theories on his identity out the window. Another yahg appears on Sur'kesh in the third game in the STG complex, where much fun is had with discussing the species' previous appearance.
    Shepard: There goes the next Shadow Broker.
    Garrus: Could've sworn he was muttering "T'Soni!" the whole time.
    Liara: Not funny!
  • Klingon Promotion: It's a tenet of the yahg pack-like mindset, evidenced by the Shadow Broker killing and replacing his predecessor.
  • Large and in Charge: Based on how they tend to look, it's easy to assume that their pack leaders all fit the description. Interestingly, Javik says the yahg were very small in his cycle.
  • Living Lie Detector: Due to a keen sensitivity to light and movement, the yahg can easily read the body language of any species, which did not end well when their first encounter with the rest of the galaxy was a group of politicians and diplomats.
  • Monstrous Mandibles: Of the upper-jaw bifurcated variety.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Shepard's explanation for the Reapers avoiding Parnack. "Yahg have teeth."
  • Passing the Torch: It is discussed in 3 that, since the Reapers are not attacking the yahg due to their civilisation not being advanced enough, they may become the leaders of the next cycle if the current races lose the war. Which wouldn't be an exaggerated leap: they've nearly completed their first spaceship.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The most psychotic example in this series, by far. They make the krogan look like cuddly puppies.
  • Space Orcs: They're even bigger, stronger and tougher than the krogan, and much more antisocial and aggressive. Their society is based entirely around pack structures where one yahg dominates the others by force until another kills him and takes over, which has resulted in a violent and hypercompetitive species chronically unable to work efficiently in large groups. They're currently stuck in their solar system, as they don't possess FTL technology and they were placed under quarantine after they massacred the delegation sent to contact them. They are, however, highly intelligent, although their violent and competitive tendencies prevent them from making good collective use of their brainpower.
  • Super Strength: Stronger than even the krogan, which can be seen when the fight with the Shadow Broker begins. He throws his massive desk at the non-Liara squadmate brought with Shepard, immediately knocking them out, even if that squadmate is Grunt, a genetically perfect krogan.
  • Undying Loyalty: Yahg society is built around a pack mentality. A group of yahg will not cooperate until a single leader has attained dominance through either social maneuvering or brute force. Once the leader is established, the defeated yahg do not hold a grudge and former rivals serve their new superior loyally.


Homeworld: The Collector Base

An enigmatic race from beyond the Omega-4 Relay, an unmapped relay from which no non-Collector vessel has ever returned. They've been around for centuries, yet only a few have ever seen them in person and many don't even believe they exist. They offer highly advanced technology in exchange for genetic samples from different species — and by 'samples', we mean living victims who are never heard from again.

In the aftermath of Sovereign's attack, they begin abducting entire human colonies for an unknown purpose.

They return as adversaries in Mass Effect 3 in the Retaliation Multiplayer DLC, and the Reckoning DLC adds the Awakened Collector Adept.

  • Airborne Mooks: They have insect-like membranous wings which deploy from their backs and flap at high speed to allow them to leap over obstructions and descend heights easily.
  • Alien Blood: Yellow.
  • And I Must Scream: Their fate, having been transformed from Protheans. They've had extensive rewrites made to their genetic code — three fewer chromosomes, reduced heterochromatin structure, deletion of superfluous "junk" DNA — and tons of cybernetics shoved into their bodies to keep them alive. Now they're just a race of mindless cloned cyborgs.
  • Arm Cannon: Scions have this. In 3 they fire exploding blue projectiles that do more damage than the Atlas's anti-tank rockets and only don't kill you in one hit because the shield gate mechanics don't allow it. They're implicitly some sort of anti-materiel weapon and don't seem specialized for infantry. Harbinger possessing the Scion 'fixes' this by also turning into a cluster Grenade Launcher.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Scions have several exploitable weak points that are extremely helpful when fighting them. Praetorians do too, but they're protected by armored plates that have to be shot off. The Collectors' large heads also make that a pretty obvious spot to shoot.
  • Back from the Dead: They return in Mass Effect 3 as a multiplayer enemy faction. Justified as the Reapers likely have cloning technology.
  • Beneath Notice: Anderson mentions that the Council and Alliance knew about the Collectors, but considered them a "fringe threat" at most by the time of 2. Of course, not leaving any evidence to examine helps with covering your tracks.
  • Body Horror: Being an entire race of Husks will result in this, but it's made pretty apparent when we get to see a flesh and blood Prothean in 3, and we see just how different they are. The Collectors barely resemble the species they used to be, and that's just on the surface (added wings, and the eyes having been moved around). Going by Mordin and EDI's comments, they're more cybernetics than meat. Never mind the Collector General, which isn't even the same shape as a Prothean.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Harbinger will sometimes directly control individual Collectors, turning them into one of these.
  • Cannon Fodder: According to Harbinger, individual Collectors are completely without value and entirely disposable.
    Harbinger: This body does not matter. Kill one and a hundred will replace it.
  • The Collector: Named as such by other species, noting the purpose behind their rare visits.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Of course, the Reapers only added the cybernetics after the indoctrination reduced them to zombies.
    Mordin: Mental capacity almost gone, replaced by overworked sensory input transfers... transferring data to masters. No glands, replaced by tech. No digestive tract, replaced by tech. No soul — replaced by tech!
  • Deal with the Devil: Prior to Mass Effect 2, this had been their modus operandi for roughly 500 years. If you could provide them with the genetic material they wanted, you would be rewarded handsomely with cutting edge technology no one else had. This enticed quite a few people to sell out their own species, such as quarian Golo'Mekk vas Usela, who tried to procure two dozen "pure, uncontaminated" quarians for them. Their payment was more than likely Reaper tech that would eventually indoctrinate the user.
  • Degraded Boss: There are more Praetorians in a single bronze level of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer then there were in all of Mass Effect 2. Subverted in that they didn't really get any weaker; if anything, they got deadlier.
    • And they get more supporting troops than before.
  • Elite Mooks: Guardians, Assassins, and Captains. The entire faction in the third game. Every enemy is stronger than their equivalents of the other factions even without possession. They do have less troops per wave to compensate, but they still spawn just as many Scions and Praetorians as other factions get their equivalents.
  • Energy Weapon: Some of their weapons. Two examples are seen through the series. In Mass Effect 2, the Collector Particle Beam is a heavy weapon that ignores shields, firing a continuous beam. In the third game, the Collector Sniper Rifle uses a continuous beam for anti-materiel attacks.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The entire species.
  • Eye Beams: Praetorians use them.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Collectors are very few in number and lack heavy forces; even their ground forces are clearly just airmobile light infantry with the occasional light tank (Praetorians). As the wiki describes it, the Collectors do not engage in direct combat, instead picking off sparsely settled planets by sending in a single cruiser with Seeker Swarms and light ground forces to mop up and take prisoners. When confronted with sufficiently heavy resistance, enough to threaten their ship, the Collectors flee. Even their Mile-Long Ship cruisers are mostly meant as transports and are surprisingly weak for their size in direct combat. A patrol of turian frigates nearly crippled one before they were destroyed, and when upgraded to cruiser-level firepower via the Thanix cannon, the Normandy takes one out in two hits.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The Praetorian, which is also a Spider Tank. But considering it is made from Collector DNA combined with human DNA powered by a bunch of husks in a crab-like armored shell, the distinction between a mechanical and organic being is blurred.
  • Giant Mook: As shown in Paragon Lost and a couple of the comics, some Collectors can be over ten feet tall. Though these ones never show up in the games.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: Insectoid wings.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Of the novel Mass Effect: Ascension and the comic Mass Effect: Redemption.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: As they're discovered to be an Always Chaotic Evil Henchmen Race, Shepard's team is justified in destroying their "homeworld" and effectively wiping out the entire race.
  • Henchmen Race: To the Reapers.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Awakened Collectors, who were a small number of Collectors that survived being cut off from Harbinger's control by the Leviathans' control spheres and regained their self-awareness.
  • Hero Killer: Not only do these guys destroy the old Normandy and kill Shepard at the very beginning of Mass Effect 2, but if you screw up really bad on the Suicide Mission, everyone on the team, including Shepard him/herself, will die to them.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In the third game, the Praetorian's instant-kill grab involves skewering their poor victim on no less than three of their legs before smashing their head in with the beak-like protrusion on what could tentatively be called the Praetorian's face.
  • In Name Only: Their only known class of starship, the "Collector Cruiser", is really more of a dreadnought in terms of length and firepower.
  • Insectoid Aliens: They even build their vehicles with this in mind; a Collector Cruiser looks like a giant termite hill from the outside and a bee hive from the inside. The Praetorian on the other hand looks like a giant crab.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Praetorians in the third game are much faster than the one in 2 and just as deadly. Particularly their possessed variants, which are by far the most durable enemies in the entire game.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Harbinger is this to the Collector General, who is simply a proxy.
  • Mercy Kill: Javik believes killing Collectors represent this.
    Liara: Shepard had no choice but to kill the ones s/he encountered. They were all indoctrinated, and had been for a long time. I'm sorry.
    Javik: I am grateful. It was an act of mercy.
    Liara: Yes. I suppose it was.
  • Mook Maker: Captains in the third game can create Seeker Swarms which will seek out players to inflict damage and disable powers briefly.
  • Mook Mobile: Their Oculus fighters. The Normandy dispatches them pretty handily in the run to the Collector Base. However they are shown to be effective against other fighters or normal frigates. Also, the Mook is the vehicle: in the eye of the Oculus is a Collector that has had its body stripped to just the nervous systems, and suspended in a gel, to prevent damage against the unforgiving elements.
  • Mooks: But unlike most examples of this trope, they are most definitely a threat to the main characters.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Collectors can be summed up as alien mutant cyborg zombies.
  • No Body Left Behind: A Collector who is possessed has all its implants put into overdrive mode, which burns out the Collector quickly but increases its power while active. After the possessed Collector is destroyed, the body melts as the implants finally give out.
  • No Mouth: The Reapers removed their mouths entirely.
  • No One Could Survive That!: They were presumed to have been soundly defeated, if not wiped out entirely, with the destruction of the Collector Base.
  • Organic Technology: A lot of their technology, like the Praetorian (a flying light tank crab looking thing with dual lasers that appears to be made of a bunch of husks in an armored shell) and the four weapons we see of theirs.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They're essentially slightly more intelligent versions of Prothean husks, being able to use weaponry instead of charging straight at the enemy like they did in Javik's flashback.
  • People Puppets: Harbinger treats them as such.
  • The Remnant: Of the Protheans, with everything that made them people stripped away and replaced by tech. Mordin remarks that the Protheans are dead, and the Collectors are just the last insult.
  • The Reveal: They are (or were) the Protheans.
  • Sculpted Physique: Their exoskeletons give them this appearance, being hard and only articulating at the joints. Downloadable Content for Mass Effect 2 and the base-game of Mass Effect 3 reveals this to not be a simple natural exoskeleton, but rather an unusual suit of Organic Powered Armor, albeit one permanently integrated into the host. The technology to make it can actually be recovered from Collector facilities and with some modification be made to accommodate a human.
  • Sealed Army in a Can: They've been around for almost 50,000 years. The Reapers just tried to use the more disposable heretic geth mooks first so they could have a back-up plan in case that failed.
  • Shrouded in Myth: By the beginning of Mass Effect 2, little is known about the Collectors. They come out of the Omega-4 relay once in a very long while, and then trade small examples of extremely advanced technology in return for living specimens of sentient races, who are never heard from again. No ship which attempts to follow them back through the Omega-4 relay has ever returned.
  • Slave Mooks: The entire race.
  • Slave Race: To the Reapers, though Mordin describes them as being closer to husks than actual slaves.
  • Super Powered Mooks: "Possessed" enemies.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Collector Sniper Rifle in the third game is basically a Collector Particle Beam with a scope. This is probably intentional.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Scions in 3. Not only are they faster and more durable, but instead of having a slow shockwave cannon, they have a powerful energy gun that fires explosive shots with unerringly perfect accuracy in three round bursts. Said shots do more damage than even the Atlas Mech's rockets, making them extremely deadly; no class in the entire game can survive a single burst (and they only survive that much because the way the shield and health gates work in Mass Effect 3 no ranged attack can kill in less than three hits). They also gain a one hit kill melee attack.
    • And when possessed, they also gain a cluster grenade attack ideal for flushing players out of cover.
  • Tragic Monster: The remains of the Prothean race, twisted and perverted into a servant of their greatest enemy. Javik openly considers it a Mercy Kill for Shepard to have destroyed them.
  • Villain Override: The Collector General acting as a conduit for Harbinger can possess individual Collectors, pushing their bodies to the limit by "overclocking" their physical implants and turning them into an almost literal Boss in Mook's Clothing. This has the effect of burning out the individual Collector, but they don't really care.
    • Somewhat expanded upon in the third game, where it can apply to every collector unit, several at once, and provides special abilities to the targeted creature.
    • Interestingly, using another Villain Override on the Collectors — the Leviathans' control spheres had an unexpected effect: most Collectors died, but a small number of them regained self-awareness.
  • Volcanic Veins: Any possessed Collector will have theses as their overclocked implants glow with self-destructive power.
  • Was Once a Man: See "Husks".


Homeworld: Unknown

The Protheans were once the galaxy's dominant species. They are believed to have built the Mass Relays and the Citadel. However, they mysteriously vanished approximately 50,000 years before the series started.

  • Abstract Apotheosis: It was customary for the protheans to designate exemplary individuals as "avatars" of certain traits: bravery, strength, cunning, etc. Javik, for example, chooses to be the avatar of vengeance.
  • Ancient Astronauts: They had a research outpost on Mars, and tagged and studied ancient humans before their destruction. There are also a large number of Prothean structures on the hanar homeworld, who fervently believe that they were uplifted by the Protheans. The asari are also worshipping them without even realising it, having been heavily influenced in their early development and even having their DNA altered to give them natural biotics.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: According to Javik, they firmly believed this. He claims that the Protheans would have gladly served any race that proved itself capable of conquering them, but no-one ever did.
  • Benevolent Precursors: In a scenario similar to the Forerunners, but these guys are much more sympathetic. Except, unlike the Forerunners, they didn't make the relays, the keepers or the Citadel. The Reapers did, and the Protheans just inherited the tech from the inusannon before them, and so on.
    • Subverted when 3 reveals that they were actually a conquest-driven, imperialistic culture that enslaved other races. While the hanar worship them as "the Enkindlers" who gave them sapience, it's doubtful that this was done for magnanimous reasons or even on purpose.
    • They were especially benevolent towards the asari. Bring Javik to Thessia and it turns out that nearly all of the Athame doctrine is based off of acts Protheans performed on the behalf of primitive asari. Asari could not count past their toes, and Protheans "took pity" on them and taught them mathematics. "We didn't want you to starve", so they taught agriculture.
  • Cthulhumanoid: There are statues with this theme on Ilos, and so it was speculated that they looked like this. Jossed by Mass Effect 2, which revealed they were actually more insectoid-looking, as seen in the presence of the Collectors. Mass Effect 3 shows us an actual Prothean; he looks even more human-like than the Collectors did, but he's still not comparable to the statues. It also reveals that Ilos was built on the ruins of the Protheans' predecessors, the inusannon, so it's likely statues of them. Javik also mentions that as the Empire grew several different member races came to adopt the name Prothean as their own, so it may have been one of those races.
  • Did Not See That Coming: Javik admits that the Protheans intended for the asari to take over the galaxy and lead the fight against the Reapers in the next Cycle. He's rather taken aback to discover that instead they formed a peaceful democracy with the other races and buried their heads in the sand about the Reaper threat, leaving humanity to step up and try to organise the resistance in their place.
    • Javik is even more shocked to discover that one of the Council races are the salarians, implying that the Protheans didn't believe they'd evolve at all, let alone become one of the dominant races in the galaxy. In his cycle, "they used to eat flies" and "salarian kidneys were a delicacy. It is even better when it is still alive. The fear adds spice."
    • He's even more shocked the hanar evolved, and regrets they learned speech from them.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: According to dialogue with Javik, the Protheans managed to last against the Reapers for at least a few hundred years before they were all wiped out. Compare that to the current Cycle, which Liara reckons will only last a hundred, if that.
  • The Empire: The Protheans were not a single race — they were a single empire.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: As far as Javik learned, they were all social darwinists who believed in the dumbest stereotypes of evolution. "The strong survive and deserve to dominate" and that kind of thing.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Turns out that forcefully uniting every race under one single doctrine was their biggest mistake — because that way the Reapers could adapt quicker against their tactics and then wipe them out. Javik even comments how the individuality of the races of this cycle might be their only hope of survival.
  • Fantastic Anthropologist: The Protheans studied most lesser races in the galaxy, trying best to determine who would inherit the next Cycle, or who would be a slave in their own.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Besides some Space Romans shenanigans, the Protheans also strongly resemble the Aztec in being a conquering empire exploiting other people, having a game very similar to ōllamaliztli (according to Javik, at least), bearing pyramids and ultimately being defeated by an opponent with more deadly technology. Javik himself has a jamaican accent, however.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Surviving Prothean scientists sabotaged the keepers in order to keep them from signalling the Reapers to come. In addition, the Protheans as a whole tried uplifting the then-primitive asari to lead the next cycle against the Reapers. In this case, it... backfired. They also left messages intended to warn the next cycle about the Reapers... unfortunately, the messages were largely incomprehensible for the much simpler senses of humans and any other existing races.
  • Forever War: The Metacon War, a conflict with a machine race, lasted their entire history as a space-faring people. Just as the Protheans were on the verge of winning, the Reapers showed up.
  • Futuristic Pyramid: The Protheans constructed several pyramid structures on various worlds.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Even considering the fact that they didn't build the Mass Relays or the Citadel, their technology level is still far beyond that of any known race in the galaxy, having things like particle weaponry, telepathy, and their own miniature mass relays. This is true even in the current cycle, where the Reaper invasion has been delayed by several centuries and the various civilisations have had more time to advance. It's later revealed, though, that much of their technology was derived from their Precursors, the inusannon.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: They uplifted the rachni to function as living weapons, always selecting the most vicious and warlike queens for their breeding program, until the predictable happened and they had to burn 200 worlds to take control of the situation.
  • Human Popsicle: How the Protheans attempted to survive unnoticed on Ilos until the Reapers had returned to dark space. Only twelve scientists survived. In the "From Ashes" DLC for Mass Effect 3, only one Prothean is still alive after 50,000 years, and is a potential squadmate.
  • I Have Many Names: Inverted. The Protheans were actually an empire, which took in promising species. Over time, every species in the empire became known as Prothean.
  • Intrigued by Humanity: While the Protheans were betting on the asari to become the dominant power in the Galaxy in the next Cycle, the Prothean Orb on Eletania and the Mars Archives seem to imply that they had become somewhat interested in humanity as well. Liara mentions in the third game that the Protheans were apparently conducting research, attempting to chart how intelligent humans might become.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: They were mostly wiped out by the Reapers, with the few survivors being corrupted into Collectors. Ironic, given the Protheans' imperialistic attitude towards the other sentient species in the galaxy at the time of their empire, whom the Protheans assimilated or annihilated. And in some cases ate.
  • Might Makes Right: Sincerely believed this. Javik is utterly confused why humans are attempting to diplomatically negotiate with the other races to create a Badass Army, instead of simply forcing them to comply, although he later also admits that this approach made the Protheans far too uniform and stagnant in their military doctrine, which made them easy prey for the Reapers.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: According to Javik, Protheans liked passing time by having hours-long staring contests. Not that Javik's a very reliable source of this kind of information...
  • Odd Name Out: The Protheans are the only species in the Mass Effect 'verse to have their name capitalized, as is traditional in most other sci-fi settings. This is eventually justified when Javik explains that "Prothean" is actually not the name of the species, but rather the empire. Every race that was conquered and brought under their rule was likewise called Prothean.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Some of Javik's dialogue on Thessia implies and suggests the Protheans were atheistic note . However, Javik does state, regarding the Protheans' views on the origin of life: "... some say by chance, others by miracle." implying there was some theism among the Protheans. Either way, remember this is Javik talking, who was born in the ruins of the Prothean Empire during the Reapers culling of it.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The Protheans left behind beacons that contained warnings about the Reapers, in order to prepare the next cycle for their return. Unfortunately, these beacons relied upon the Protheans' unusual ability to absorb information by touch, and almost anyone else who made contact with them either died or went insane. It's later revealed that the Protheans DID leave at least one beacon that was easier to communicate with, but unfortunately the asari had been keeping it a secret and hoarding the knowledge from it to give themselves an advantage.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Javik reveals that they were much more imperialistic than anyone suspected. Those who did not want to be part of their empire were free to resist, and the Protheans were such firm believers in Might Makes Right that they would have followed any who won. None did. Javik talks about 'servant races' but also says that in time other species in their Empire also came to call themselves Protheans.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Not all of it survived, but a impressive amount of their tech still works fifty thousand years after the fact. They even tried to survive as a species, and it almost worked...
  • Reforged into a Minion: A species-wide example.
  • Retcon: In The Art of the Mass Effect Universe, we're told that the statues on Ilos are, in fact, Protheans. However, the statue's features were left intentionally vague and hard to interpret because the staff hadn't finalized the look of the Protheans yet. However, once the Collectors were introduced, the creative team came up with a different look for the Protheans based on them. The statues were retroactively stated to be that of the Protheans' predecessors, the inusannon.
  • Serious Business: Javik claimed that gambling was punishable by death within their empire. They also apparently passed the time via staring contests. That lasted for hours. Granted, it is Javik who makes that claim.
  • The Social Darwinist: According to Javik, this was the philosophy of Prothean civilization in general on a species-level; they called it the "Cosmic Imperative". The strong thrive, the weak die or are enslaved. Although there's a slight caveat in that Javik lived his whole life in the ruins of his empire's Reaping, the fact that his empire was a Space Rome that enslaved other species says something.
  • Space Romans: Even more so than the turians.
  • Spanner in the Works: During the final years of the Prothean's existence, they groomed asari with intelligence, biotics, and knowledge, placing all their hopes on them leading the galaxy against the Reapers. They never considered that they would WITHHOLD the technology so they could become the most superior race, and only reveal the information when the Reapers are knocking on their door.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: The Protheans uplifted many species, which led to them becoming worshipped by the hanar as "the Enkindlers" and the asari as the Goddess Athame. Javik's reaction upon learning this is not one of amusement.
  • Super Senses: The Protheans have an ability to process information so advanced it leans into Psychic Powers. The pinnacle of this is the fact that, through a touch, they can actually read genetic information, absorbing memories and knowledge. Javik uses this to instantly become familiar with the current situation of the galaxy, by touching Shepard. This even extends to inanimate objects! Just from setting foot aboard the Normandy, he is able to recall traces of some of Shepard's former squadmates, including Miranda, Grunt and Thane.
  • Theme Naming: They apparently liked to name their virtual intelligence programs names that started with "V"; Vigil, Victory, and Vendetta. This runs into a bit of Fridge Logic — the English language didn't even exist back when these VIs were named — although the "v" sound certainly did.
  • To Serve Man: If Javik can be trusted, the Protheans ate most of the intelligent species of the modern galaxy in various delicacies. Apparently, eating the kidneys out of a live salarian was the best.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Most of the information we have on the Protheans comes from a shell-shocked former soldier after three centuries of an unending, nightmarish war with an enemy that was simultaneously technologically superior beyond belief and unbound by even the least shred of morality who is also by his own admission being influenced by the pheromones of an angry young krogan who went through krogan rage-puberty in the room he's staying in. Not to mention his penchant for outright making up "facts" about the Protheans as a joke, meaning pretty much everything he says should be taken with a grain of salt.


We impose order on the chaos of organic evolution. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it.

Homeworld: N/Anote 

A race of machines who are believed to have hunted the Protheans to extinction. Shepard discovers that the Reapers are about to return and spends the trilogy trying to stop them.

  • Abusive Precursors: Good Lord yes! They hold the current page quote. As for why, well, specifically developing galactic races to be wiped out and harvested is plenty bad, don'cha think?
    • Zigzagged: They consider the self-destructiveness of galactic life to be inevitable, choosing instead to genetically preserve previous civilizations. In rather horrifying ways.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: When the Reapers have crushed all formal resistance, they turn their attentions to rounding up stragglers and survivors. Anderson tells you that they do this by inviting leaders inside the ships to negotiate peace/surrender. The goal, of course, is to indoctrinate these leaders so that they encourage survivors to turn themselves in, and to order their forces to kill anyone who resists. This backfires against the turians, who arm the ones taken aboard the ships with explosive devices, crippling or destroying the Reapers from the inside at the cost of those already inside (who were doomed anyway).
  • Ambiguous Robots:
    • They detest organic creatures and seem mechanical in nature. Until you take their construction methods into account.
    • How sapient they are is called into question by the endings. When directly called out on it, The Catalyst will state that Reapers can only do what they're programmed to do, like any machine. In two of the three endings, Shepard can cause an instant Heel–Face Turn with no apparent dissent from the Reapers themselves. What makes this further muddy is that the Catalyst is their combined intelligence and will, and while it can demonstrate independent thought and judgement, it still seems beholden to whatever directives it was originally programmed to follow. Likewise, the Shepard-Catalyst that takes over during the Control ending states it is directed by the wishes of the deceased human Shepard.
  • And I Must Scream: Several of the nasty fates they have in store for the galaxy, from turning people into husks, to Indoctrination, and the fate of the humans kidnapped by the Collectors for the human Reaper. A Paragon Shepard will tell the dying Reaper on Rannoch that whatever race it is comprised of can finally rest.
  • Animal Motif: The Reapers look suspiciously like a techno-organic version of the reaper cuttlefish. Lampshaded in the third game. Apparently this was the form of their creators.
  • Appropriated Appelation: As Sovereign puts it, what various races chose to call them is irrelevant; it won't stop them from descending upon your world and harvesting your civilization til there is nothing left. The geth call them the "Old Machines", while the term "Reapers" was given by the Protheans.
  • Arch-Enemy: They come to view Shepard as their greatest enemy. No one in their long history has ever given them as much trouble or caused them to feel fear as s/he has. So much so that they will turn their main guns away from entire fleets to target Shepard alone.
  • Assimilation Plot: How new ones are made.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Though there are ways to exploit and attack them, the only real vulnerable part of a Reaper is its eye. One Reaper is killed in this way on Rannoch. It's a hard place to exploit, since the eye is also where a Reaper's beam spam comes from, and things in the beam's way don't survive.
  • Badass Army: One Reaper nearly wiped out the fleet guarding the Citadel. They have an entire armada of them. Simply put, the Reapers are basically the perfect war machines. They have no need for logistics, supply lines, energy supply or maintenance, which even has the codex notes how impossible this should be. Along with this, they have unbelievable firepower that is an order of magnitude more powerful than the firepower of the most powerful non-Reaper ships and near-impenetrable defenses (a hundred kilotons per second in the form of concentrated railguns is only sometimes effective). And while the smaller destroyers are not as powerful as the capital ships, they are nearly indestructible to ground attacks or attacks by similar-sized or smaller craft, requiring cruisers to kill.
  • Batman Gambit: A particularly devious (and brilliant) one is what makes the entire extinction cycle possible.
    • However clever it is (and it is very clever), the scheme is severely hampered by the unanticipated actions of the Protheans.
    • In the current Cycle, their ingenious schemes are similarly thwarted by Shepard on several occasions, because while they anticipated someone would attempt to stop them (as they always do), they never for a moment believed they would actually be successful.
  • Big Bad: The whole point of the trilogy is to bring them down, and they're behind much of the villains in each game except for Andromeda, where they still play an indirect Greater-Scope Villain role.
  • Beam Spam: In addition to their main gun, the average Reaper capital ship also possesses a point defense laser system, similar to the GARDIAN lasers employed by other species' ships, and guns located in their tendrils. These tendril guns fire super accurate shots every two to three seconds that can disintegrate cruisers in a single hit. A Reaper has anywhere from four to eight of these tendril guns. Do the math.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: They claim this, but in truth it seems to have less to do with genuine inscrutability and more to do with their monumental arrogance and contempt for "lesser races." The truth is that while the Reapers are arrogant, they actually were created by an AI that judged forcing order on organic life by turning it into Reapers would prevent "inevitable" wars between organics and synthetics. Without realizing that in doing so, it was creating its own inevitable war between organics and synthetics.
  • Brown Note: The deep bass sound-blasts that Reapers make are supposed to be able to instill a fear response in organics that hear it.
  • The Chessmaster: On a galactic scale for over a billion years. To the point where the galaxy itself is now an ongoing experiment to see what course of action evolution will take.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Defied every which way; the only way Milky Way dreadnought class ships can defeat a single Reaper capital ship is through superior numbers — four on one, three on one if they're very lucky. Less than that and the Reaper will defeat them without any difficulty. Continued in that while the Milky Way has less than two hundred dreadnoughts that can be brought to bear, plus a few thousand cruisers and a few times that number in frigates and destroyers, there's a whole hell of a lot more Reaper capital ships and destroyers.
  • Cool Starships: They are remarkably powerful and even look really cool and sinister. They may be the Big Bads, but there is no denying that they are awesome starships.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: Imagine the fates of all the civilizations they've destroyed. They were advancing swimmingly... and then abruptly hundreds of thousands of incomprehensibly powerful machine-god-squid-ships popped out of every Mass Relay, crushed their governments, ripped their militaries apart and then began methodically exterminating every single sign that they had ever existed in the most horrifying way imaginable without once bothering to stop killing and explain any of it. Ever.
  • Crazy-Prepared: You don't wipe out hundreds of thousands of civilizations without being this trope. In addition to their Plan A (the Keepers), the Reapers always have a Plan B, (Sovereign, the vanguard left behind to monitor progress. Then there's Plan C, (in this cycle, the rachni). And a Plan D (the geth). And a Plan E (the Alpha Relay). And a Plan F (the Collectors). And a Plan G (full assault). But that's it. Nah, not really, they have a Plan H (indoctrinated sleeper agents) as well.
  • Cultural Posturing: It seems to be their national sport.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Reapers vs. nearly anyone else. Compared to even the most powerful dreadnoughts employed by other races, the firepower and shielding of a capital Reaper is completely ridiculous. One Reaper managed to plow through hundreds of ships at the Battle of the Citadel while taking next to no damage, and when they invade the galaxy in full force exactly one planet doesn't fall instantly, and even that one planet only holds out for a few months.
    • However, the Leviathan race reverse the Curb-Stomp Battle, and can easily knock a Reaper out of the sky.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the Reapers head straight to Earth because that's where Shepard is and when the Normandy is caught scanning in Reaper systems, they send three capital ships to eliminate it. Upon noticing Shepard on the battlefield, every Reaper will immediately ignore everything else to target their main cannon on Shepard, a weapon that is typically used for taking down Dreadnoughts. They want Shepard eliminated that much!
  • Dark Is Evil: Besides being black/purple with red "lasers" (that are not actually made of light...), the Reapers also command the undead and spend most of their time in dark space. The Catalyst wasn't feeling like being very subtle about it.
  • Defeat Means Respect: Shepard's constant success and utter defiance in the face of seemingly hopeless odds have resulted in the Reapers having a very grudging admiration for him/her.
  • The Dreaded: To the few non-indoctrinated people who realise their true nature in the first two games and the entire galaxy, at first, in the third game when they realise how powerful the Reapers are.
  • Eldritch Starship: Heavily inspired by the Great Old Ones of Lovecraft. In-universe, they derive their form from the Leviathan, their creators, who were great sea-dwelling Eldritch Abominations that used Mind Rape to bring the galaxy under their tentacle.
  • Evil Is Bigger: The Reapers are absolutely massive, with capital-ship Reapers being around 2 kilometers in length, about double the size of standard dreadnoughts, the largest non-Reaper ships in the galaxy. Reaper Destroyers are much smaller, but as ground-units, they are monstrous and just about reach Kaiju proportions. Their firepower and defenses also dwarf everything in the known galaxy.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: By what Javik says, the Illusive Man is not the first person who has ever tried to control them. Every time it ends with the Reapers taking control of the person themselves.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Every Reaper so far has spoken in teeth-rattling bass tones. With the Reaper Destroyer you topple at the end of the Rannoch arc in the third game, the air actually distorts from the extreme bass of the Reaper's voice.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Reapers have this trope down to an art form. Have your mind irreparably shattered to pieces via indoctrination, be converted into a techno-organic zombie, have your body melted into DNA slurry to make a new Reaper, or be blasted by their lasers.
  • Galactic Conqueror: They already control the galaxy. The mass relay system and their control of it essentially turns the galaxy into a gigantic corral. Their extermination of all space-faring life on every planet is just pest control. Though Shepard him/herself only sees them completely in control of the galaxy at one point in the series: right before the final battle of Mass Effect 3, after they've curbstomped every military in the galaxy aside from Shepard's Crucible task force, and have occupied every single cluster.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Ironically, Shepard is this for them. If s/he's spotted on the battlefield, they will abandon battles against fleets in an attempt to kill Shepard once and for all.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: For the first two games, an individual Reaper acts as The Man Behind the Man and the main driving force for the armies of the geth and the Collectors respectively. In the third game, they lead their Mooks in a direct attack.
    • They're even this for Mass Effect: Andromeda indirectly, because while the Andromeda Initiative was going to happen anyway, Alec Ryder's logs reveal that most of the people leading the Initiative believed Shepard's warning about the Reapers. The reason the Andromeda Initiative left the Milky Way during the events of the second game was because the fear of the Reapers made Alec, Jien and the Mysterious Benefactor (who may or may not be the Illusive Man) move the schedule forward drastically to get them out of the Milky Way quicker. This also had the effect of not giving the Initiative enough time to prepare, leaving them short of equipment or warships, which caused problems when the Initiative encountered the kett.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the Extended Cut, they help galactic society rebuild in the Control and Synthesis endings.
  • Hero Killer: Actually succeed in killing Shepard at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. Unfortunately, they tried and failed to recover Shepard's body, giving Cerberus the chance to bring him/her back to life. They can also kill your squadmates and many other named characters in the setting, particularly Harbinger in the suicide mission and the beam rush in the third game.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Almost all of their tech defies understanding. Some of them seem to defy the laws of physics. Note that they're the ones who built the mass relays, not the Protheans as the current cycle believes.
  • Hopeless War: Any fight against them by any civilization. They've wiped out hundreds of thousands of space-faring empires and have a massive technological and numerical advantage over any other species that has ever existed. No one really has a chance against them. The Protheans were more advanced than the current cycle, began space colonization earlier, and were far more militarized, yet even they were rolled over without trouble. This cycle, or the next if the refusal ending is taken, only manages to defeat them via a Deus ex Machina. Potentially. The other two choices result in peace, also only an option via that Deus ex Machina.
  • I Am Legion: "We are each a nation." Or, more accurately, a species.
  • I Know Kung-Fu: Most reaper husks are very deadly in melee combat, regardless of the combat experience of the original individual. Regular husks and Brutes have only melee attacks. Brutes and Banshees have a melee One-Hit Kill.
    • This extends to the capital ships as well, when the situation arises. The destroyer on Tuchanka wasn't able to hit a Thresher Maw that was nearly the same size as itself with its main gun, and resorted to a judo throw to do any damage, while faring little better against Shepard at range and tries to stomp Shepard underfoot instead. Meanwhile, a low-EMS version of the battle for Earth features another Destroyer can be seen putting a heavy cruiser in a choke-hold using its legs, in order to blast the cruiser at point-blank range with its main gun. And even all the way back in the first game, Sovereign's use of Ramming Always Works shows it curling up its tentacles until it looks like a Megaton Punch on that turian cruiser.
  • Infinite Supplies: The Reapers don't bother to maintain supply lines and seemingly never run out of ammo, power, or the materials to make husks. Given that they are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, they probably use a more advanced version of the field fabrication technology that other species use in things like omni-tools.
    • There is one exception: Creating more Reapers requires a lot of people, and there are only two known facilities where they can do it the Collector Base in the second game and, possibly, the Citadel in the third.
  • Invincible Villain: The Reapers are, as a whole, completely unstoppable. The first and second games result in just slightly inconveniencing them by killing their minions and foiling their Plan A, but when they decide "screw it" and just rush the galaxy head on, everyone is crushed. The Systems Alliance and Batarian Hegemony, interstellar middle powers each with tens of billions of people, hundreds of worlds, and thousands of warships, don't even last a day each against the Reaper onslaught (in fact the Alliance's strongest fleets at Arcturus were crushed by a small Reaper screening force). The galaxy as a whole hardly does better; consider that a galactic scale civilization with trillions of people, thousands of worlds, tens if not hundreds of thousands of warships, and the capacity to mine out entire planets (cf. Viantel), build planetary-scale particle accelerators (cf. Triaklon), throw moons around (cf. Menae), and construct extra-galactic multi-billion ton spaceships to colonize nearby galaxies as a small side-gig... a civilization that powerful lasts maybe three months against the Reapers.note  All their worlds are occupied or annihilated while having inflicted totally negligible losses to the Reapers in turn.note  The Reapers overwhelming quantitative and qualitative superiority would already render them nigh-unbeatable, but they flat-out cheat by breaking the laws of physics as well, as every Reaper is a Perpetual Motion Machine and Time Abyss that never needs maintenance, repair, or refueling. Even if you somehow could beat the Reapers conventionally, they could simply screw off back to dark space and you'd have no way of following them or making them engage you, while they could simply FTL jump in, pick off your planets with bombardment, and FTL jump back out before you could react. It's telling that the only way to beat them was a one-shot Deus ex Machina device that had enough power to rival the entire energy output of the Milky Way galaxy in visible light alone... and even then, only because the Catalyst allowed it.
  • The Juggernaut: Reapers in general can barely ever even be slowed down, let alone destroyed. On the rare occasion we actually see one get destroyed, the sheer amount of firepower aimed at it, even the far smaller Destroyers, is nothing short of mind-boggling, and would probably be enough to reduce most conventional fleets to dust.
  • Lightning Bruiser: On the tactical level, individual Reapers like Sovereign are described as pulling off accelerations that would shear any Council Space ship in halfnote  and being able to travel at 30 light years per day without mass relays, twice the FTL speed of standard Citadel ships.note  On the strategic level, the Reapers' complete lack of need to resupply, maintain themselves, or leave rearguard forces to defend worlds makes them able to achieve operational mobility on a scale that no other race thought was possible. Previous galaxy-scale wars like the Rachni Wars and Krogan Rebellions lasted decades between peer powers, in which time Council Space could upgrade from "mere" tens of thousands of ships by going into total war mode, devoting the bulk of their massive industry, thousands of worlds, and trillions-strong populations to the task.note  In the Reaper War? The entire galaxy is effectively occupied within a few months.
  • Living Ship: Considering their construction methods...
  • Machine Worship: The heretic geth worship them as gods, the pinnacle of what the geth aspire to be. The Reapers actually find this insulting.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Reapers were originally created by an AI within the Citadel called the Catalyst, who directed the Reapers to begin their systematic purge of any life advanced enough to create synthetic life.
  • Manipulative Bastard: On an absolutely massive scale.
  • Meat-Sack Robot: The Reapers typically enslave organic species through indoctrination. However, indoctrinated slaves are limited in usefulness due to the fact that they still have the same physical needs and weaknesses as the rest of their species as well as the fact that indoctrination itself slowly erodes the affected mind until the person can literally do nothing for themselves. The way they try to circumvent this is through the Unwilling Roboticization of their slaves, starting with implants in the brain and nervous systems, which is frequently demonstrated (once you get past the indoctrinated lies) as a Fate Worse than Death for anyone unfortunate enough to have undergone it.
  • Mechanical Abomination: Entities that can break or enslave minds, are an actual Eldritch Location onboard as well, and usually herald an apocalypse wherever they go.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: Or rather, bio-mechanical starships.
  • Merger of Souls: Details are vague on this. While they are definitely constructed from the materials of entire species, it's not completely clear whether their minds are fused or exist separately. In Mass Effect: Retribution, it appears that all of the Reapers' minds act in unison while in possession of an avatar. On the other hand, when Shepard asks the Reaper on Rannoch how it knows who s/he is, it replies "Harbinger speaks of you", implying that they are not so unified as to always know what the others know. (Although it could be the Harbinger is uniquely individual.) Furthermore, Legion states that Reapers are made of thousands of "programs", but these programs may or may not be individual "minds". The only indication that this might be so comes during a Renegade option where Shepard states that said species can "rest in peace" after the Reaper is dead, indicating that their minds are within the Reaper. But Shepard is hardly an expert on the subject.
  • Mind Hive: It's revealed in the second game that individual Reapers are actually made up of a collection of independent AI programs that work together with a singular will and goal. Difficult-to-get content strongly suggests that said programs are the billions of uploaded conjoined minds of the people melted down to make each Reaper.
  • Mind Rape: Reaper indoctrination. Quite possibly the most horrible fate a being can suffer. Save being melted and made into part of a new one.
  • More Than Mind Control: The effects of the more subtle forms of Indoctrination. Those with a will of iron can become aware of what is happening to them, but most serve the Reapers because their heads have been so messed up that they actually think it's the best course of action.
  • Mugging the Monster: At first, since Sovereign openly dismissed Shepard as being any kind of threat. This of course, naturally lead to his complete and utter destruction. It's still excusable given that Shepard is unknown to the Reapers by this point, and given how powerful they are. By the sequel, Harbinger proves to be much wiser, clearly recognising Shepard as the danger they are, to the point where he openly declares his intention to eliminate them at all cost.
    Harbinger: Shepard, you have become an annoyance.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: During the last cycle, they took the Citadel first, as they had done thousands of times before. And in the process, destroyed any records of Illos and the scientists working there, allowing them to hide long enough to throw one hell of a monkey-wrench into the Reapers' plans.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: They can be killed but it takes an enormous amount of effort to bring down even a weaker Reaper.
    • The codex states that, in a straight-up fight, just one Reaper capital ship can tank the combined fire of three dreadnoughts indefinitely, albeit with some strain. It takes four to stand a good chance of killing one, and even then, it's not a sure thing. To put that in perspective: going by the codex describing a smaller 800-meter dreadnought as putting out 38.72 kilotons every two seconds (most are 1,000 meters), and ignoring all of the dreadnoughts' other weapons (like their hundreds of broadside guns or their missile launchers), a Reaper can take at least 58 kilotons AKA 4 Little Boys (except far more concentrated, in the form of a kinetic slug instead of an omnidirectional burst, so thousands of times as energetic per square meter) slamming into it every second effectively forever without issue, something that would require 250 terawatts of power for the barriers alone (since it's doing this while firing its 400 kiloton main gun every few seconds and maneuvering its tens of millions of tons of mass, its true power generation is probably more in the double digit petawatt range). Note that the entire modern Earth's electricity generated capacity is about 6 terawatts.
    • Even the Reaper Destroyers are extremely durable for their size, with the codex noting that a cruiser (which is dozens of times larger than a destroyer) is usually required to kill one. The Destroyer on Rannoch, which had to reduce its barriers to land in-atmosphere, was completely unharmed by dozens of shots from a quarian cruiser's broadside guns, despite each shot visibly generating fireballs with a radius of dozens of meters. It took multiple hits specifically to its Achilles' Heel from those same guns to do any damage to it, and even then, while the backblast of its own gun eventually disabled it, the Reaper was still fully intact (suffering zero external deformation, just damage to its internal electronics and "brain") and easily salvageable.
    • The Reaper Destroyers are also this to ground units whenever they take their heavy walker form for ground combat. Even when using tanks, gunships, and artillery, the militaries of the galaxy may as well be throwing rocks at the Destroyers. The only things that have been shown to be able to kill Destroyers without hitting its main gun mid-prime are the main guns on cruisers and dreadnoughts. If you DO manage to hit that tiny target within the few seconds it's exposed, you can manage with "only" a cruiser's broadside guns or the massively powerful Thanix missiles.
    • Sovereign in the first game could only be killed because he was controlling Saren and presumably paralyzed from the feedback when Saren died. By the third game, the Citadel races at least had some opportunity to reverse-engineer some of its tech — Thanix weaponry being among them.
  • No Conservation of Energy: As far as anyone is able to tell, the Reapers appear to be perpetual motion machines with no need for fuel or maintenance. The Codex specifically mentions how impossible this should be, and how it allows previously unseen war strategies that require no supply lines even in the long term conflicts.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: The Reapers generally do not screw around with Shepard whenever they encounter him/her directly. The first major Reaper opponent doesn't kill Shepard outright because that particular Reaper doesn't consider him/her a threat up until Shepard actually stops it dead in its tracks — and then it immediately summons the most powerful husk variant possible to try and crush Shepard immediately. The second Reaper Shepard encounters fucks around even less, by killing Shepard outright in the first ten minutes of the second game and then tries to acquire his/her body to assure that s/he's really dead, and after Shepard's resurrection Harbinger pulls out all the stops in an effort to kill Shepard, going so far as to manifest itself in its Collector minions constantly to try to kill Shepard. And every Reaper encountered in the third game doesn't screw around and tries to just blast Shepard to ashes with their main gun, even turning those dreadnought-destroying guns from entire fleets firing on them just to kill him/her once and for all. This culminates in Harbinger itself personally coming down from orbit to personally blast Shepard.
  • No-Sell: Destroyer-class Reapers simply shrug at almost any attack you can throw at them (you can see them under heavy attack on Priority: Earth and they just keep on going like nothing). And capitol-class ones are even tougher (the only thing capable of killing them in large quantities being the Crucible). By the time of 3, only 3 Reaper casualties are confirmed: one being Sovereign in the Battle of the Citadel in 1, the Leviathan of Dis Reaper corpse and the corpse of a derelict Reaper that was supposedly killed by an ancient race many cycles ago (and even then that race didn't survive) — and whatever killed that Reaper created a deep kilometers long gash on a planet. You actually explore the insides of that corpse in 2. Fortunately, 3 allows you to witness a small subversion in Tuchanka, when a Destroyer is taken out by Kalros, and Rannoch, where another Destroyer dies at the hands of the whole Migrant Fleet's firepower. Take in consideration that these 2 casualties are actually the weakest class).
    • Though they're not invulnerable. Though neither are seen, The Battle of Palaven and the Miracle at Palaven both saw numerous Reaper ships, including several capital ships taken out.
    • In 3, The Catalyst explains the Reapers are not interested in war — their only interest is harvest of organic life. This adds one more layer of badassery to their massive No-Sell capabilities.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: See the Husk entry, since the Reapers made and control them.
  • Not So Different: The Reapers are essentially geth platforms, except instead of programs, genetic memory of indoctrinated species, individually. In other words, the human Reaper would have had billions of human minds achieving consensus, much like a mobile geth platform like Legion.
    • It's mentioned in the second game that this is part of the reason why the heretic geth worship them, seeing them as the pinnacle of their own form of life. It speaks of the size of their ego that the Reapers are insulted by the comparison.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Their apparent purpose in existence. In a twist, this is subverted by their reasoning. Their goal is to actually preserve organic life (in Reaper form) before that organic life creates AI capable of destroying themselves. However, they do not give these organic lifeforms a say in the matter and killing many of them is still necessary.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: This is part of what makes them so unbeatable in conventional combat, even if you foil their usual strategy of taking everyone by surprise and dividing and conquering. They don't have supply lines; their ships appear to have infinite ammo and fuel and their troops don't require food. They don't have colonies; they just move through space destroying everything. They don't even have bases you can bomb; they have specialized ships that can create armies from the civilians of their enemies. Meaning they don't have any weak points; most wars are won by battering the enemy until they run out of money and troops or targeting their strategic resources immediately, but the Reapers have no strategic resources to target and have an effectively unlimited number of ground troops. Infiltration won't work because any infiltrators will become indoctrinated. They're essentially a perfect military.
  • Omniscient Morality Licence: A villainous example. They claim their actions are for the good of the galaxy, and when questioned by Shepard, they refuse to explain saying they're above explaining their actions.
  • One-Hit Kill: If a ship is hit by the main gun of a Reaper capital ship, it doesn't matter how big and tough it is. You can say goodbye to that ship.
  • One-Man Army: It took two fleets, the Destiny Ascension and a massive stroke of luck to bring down Sovereign, a single Reaper capital ship. And while capital ships are the most powerful Reaper design, even the relatively smaller destroyers can take insane amounts of damage before they fall.
    • In the opening cutscene to "Priority: Palaven", you get a brief shot of hundreds of turian cruisers in a specific sub-engagement of the Battle of Palaven. What are they engaging? Six Sovereign-class Reapers. In the course of a few seconds each Reaper is hit by dozens of mass accelerator rounds from the cruisers' secondary guns that are each forming ~140 meter diameter fireballs on their hulls,note  yet none of the Reapers seem even slightly bothered. They proceed to start ripping through the turian ships with their secondary tendril guns.
  • Only Known By His Nickname: "Reaper" was merely the designation given to them by the Protheans. Since they never deem to reveal their true name to anyone, (if they even have one) and they don't care what you call them, so the other races prefer to use Appropriated Appelation.
    • For individual Reapers, the only true name we learn is Sovereign, who referred to itself as "Nazara" when communicating with the geth, who refer to them in general as the "Old Machines."
  • Orbital Bombardment: A favored tactic of theirs, when they have no real interest in harvesting a planet's population, is to just glass a world and call it a day. Some planets like Gaelon, Aphras, Joab, Chalkhos, and Tosal Nym had their entire biospheres eradicated by Reaper bombardment, to the point that they couldn't support life even millions of years later, which would require the Reapers to have dumped PETATONS of energy into their environments via beams of molten metal.
  • Order Versus Chaos: According to Sovereign, they "bring order to the chaos of organic evolution." He's not spouting arrogance there: the Catalyst specifically created them to bring order to chaos. Namely, by establishing a systematic process by which organic life advanced enough to create self-aware synthetic life would be "preserved" by being turned into Reapers, to prevent what the Catalyst perceives as an inevitable and destructive conflict between synthetic and organic life.
  • Planet Looters: Once they've harvested a population, they set their husks to work taking any technology or resources they didn't take beforehand. This has the additional benefit of hiding any evidence of their existence for the next cycle's species to notice.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The reason they merely cull sapiant species every 50,000 years as opposed to wipe out all life in the galaxy entirely. It's what they were designed for.
  • Precursor Killers:
    • Though they're technically the alpha-precursors, they're still the ones who killed the Protheans. Along with the twenty thousand-plus generations of Precursors before them.
    • The Leviathan DLC reveals that they were in fact predated by the eponymous Leviathans... and they killed most of them too.
  • Pretender Diss: Despite the size of their egos, they find the heretics' worship demeaning.
    Saren: But the reaction of their deity is most telling. It is insulted.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The result of the "Refusal" ending. They effortlessly stomp out Shepard's cycle like thousands before it. However Shepard manages to Fling a Light into the Future in the form of, among other things, the Crucible design, enabling the next cycle to complete and use it before the Reapers even arrived.
    • Also the outcome of previous cycles to an extent, as each came closer to completing the Crucible and passed it to the next. Protheans in particular also managed to at least sabotage the Citadel so the Reapers cannot return as easily.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Well, the stuff they leave behind is supposed to go fifty thousand years plus without maintenance.
  • Ramming Always Works: Way back in the first game, Sovereign completely obliterates a Turian dreadnaught by ramming through it.
  • Recursive Precursors: The Reapers are Abusive Precursors and Precursor Killers of every generation of galactic civilization. Except for the Leviathans, their own precursors.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: Their galactic genocides come every 50,000 years or so. Part of the plot of the series is that the current iteration of the cycle has been delayed by several thousand years by outside forces, making the Reapers somewhat desperate to get things back on track.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: Shepard supposes in the first game that there are mere hundreds of Reapers, which could plausibly give the young races a chance of fending them off via sheer numbers if they go into wartime production quickly enough. Nope. As it turns out, Sovereign's boast that "our numbers will darken the sky of every world" is completely accurate; the Reapers are not only able to occupy the entire galaxy simultaneously in by the end of Mass Effect 3 (thousands of inhabited worlds according to the codex and novels), but they have enough capital ships to spare to have several of them walking around in individual cities. Vancouver alone had six visible inside it in the third game's opening, and Vancouver isn't even in Earth's top one hundred largest cities, let alone the largest cities of the galaxy. Such a level of commitment would require tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Sovereign-class vessels, and millions of Destroyers, which is backed up by the Reapers' age.note  The Reapers are so numerous that the Catalyst claims that the combined forces of the galaxy are "hopelessly outnumbered" by a single naval garrison of the Reapers (specifically, the one at Earth). They have every possible advantage over the younger races, and beating them conventionally is impossible.
  • Sapient Ship: With a mix of Living Ship.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: The capital ships are repeatedly described in the codex to be as tall as 2-3 kilometres. Not even Harbinger, the supposedly biggest Reaper of them all, does this description justice. Just for reference, this is how a Reaper would look to actual scale. Averted in the pre-rendered cutscenes, as opposed to the in-engine ones; the 2 kilometer long Sovereign-class Reapers are scaled correctly in comparison to the other ships.
  • Screw You, Elves!: The attitude Shepard and the rest of the galaxy has to them and their proclamations of their superiority and necessity of their actions.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: A rare case of self-sealing evil. They hibernate outside of the galaxy in between cycles both to conserve energy and prevent discovery.
  • Skull for a Head: When they're closed, the moving panels on the front of their Destroyers form the distinct outline of a skull.
  • Slave Mooks: Anyone who works for the Reapers is this. They don't see anyone or anything as their equal, or even worthy of respect. If you work for the Reapers, you are first either indoctrinated, implanted, zombified, or reprogrammed, and then you are dead. Period.
  • Spider Tank: The Destroyer model can become this, even though it only has four legs.
  • Starfish Robot: Their ships are bio-mechanical in nature.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: They're the most advanced species in the entire Mass Effect series and have dominated the galaxy for at least a billion years.
  • Tentacled Terror: An entire race of horrifically powerful squid-shaped starships bent on perpetuating a cycle of extinction on the entire galaxy every 50,000 years, as they have for at least the past 37 million years. And that's 740 cycles! Some theories suggests that they might have been doing this for a billion years. And that's 20,000 cycles! They're shaped like cuttlefish because they were created by the Leviathans, who are giant aquatic beings, and they remade themselves in the image of their creators once they Turned Against Their Masters and started killing everything.
  • Terminator Impersonator: Their servants are often paralleled with Terminators, often being living and dead beings from all over the galaxy with various organic systems replaced by cybernetics until they're obedient slaves that will fight and die on their masters' behalf. Most of them are more like robotic zombies or Mechanical Abominations than this trope, but there are quite a few which are roboticized sleeper agents. Glowing Mechanical Eyes are common. To top it off, when trying to convert humankind into one of them, the Human-Reaper hybrid was a gigantic Skelebot 9000 that looked decidedly Terminator-like.
  • Villain Override: The closest they get to fighting Shepard in person... until the third game.
  • Walking Tank: Destroyers become this whenever they decide to start walking on the ground to support the husks. They're a lot more powerful than the usual Walking Tank, possessing armor thick enough to make them nigh invulnerable to ground fire and highly resistant to even orbital bombardment, plus a main gun that can kill 500-meter-long shielded warships with a few seconds of continuous fire. Needless to say, infantry, armored vehicles, and aircraft are instantly destroyed just by being grazed by the gun's beam.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The main gun of a capital Reaper is a spinal-mounted gigantic death beam hitting with the force of 450 kilotons of TNT per shot that accelerates molten metal at a significant fraction of the speed of light... every five seconds. It far and away outclasses any weapon on any other species' ships. To put that into perspective: that's over thirty times as destructive as the Hiroshima bomb and thousands of times more concentrated, a whole order of magnitude more powerful than the deadliest Alliance dreadnaughts.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: It's a rather minor one, all things considered- especially given all their other tremendous advantages. But if you pay attention, you'll notice that the Reapers' targeting systems are, essentially, farsighted. This is why council fleets engage them at such(relatively) close range. If you pay attention when Kalros fights the reaper destroyer, you'll notice that the destroyer never actually connects with it's main gun. Of course, the problem is getting that close to them in first place. And ideally, their Slave Mooks and Mecha-Mooks are sufficient for dealing with anything that could slip past their main gun anyway. The turians managed to use this against the Reapers, by engaging them with one set of ships, then doing a short range, precise FTL translation to get some ships a short range behind them. The Reapers are unable to bring their weapons to bare on all the targets in that formation while simultaneously maintaining their Deflector Shields, and can be overcome. However, this does require extremely precise timing, calculation, coordination, and some luck to pull off, and even then is likely to cost the attacker several dreadnought-class ships, so no wonder only the turians have been able to do it so far.
  • We Have Reserves: Billions of husks, most often used to overwhelm enemy ground forces with sheer numbers. The Reapers themselves use more "smash through anything in their way", since they're effectively invincible unless you bring a hell of a lot of firepower to bear on one. Garrus points out the brutality and efficiency of such methods: every husk made, you neutralize two enemies: the person made into a husk, and the friend who suddenly has to shoot a friend.
  • What the Hell Are You?: Again, think of every civilization they've conquered. As the Reapers assault their worlds and slaughter them by the billions, their victims desperately search for a way of communicating with them. All they're ever given is silence and more death.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • They have come to see Shepard as "an annoyance". Considering how massive their egos are, this is pretty much the highest possible praise they could give an enemy. This is the only time in the entire franchise that one of them admits that something has hindered their plans.
      Dying Reaper: Harbinger speaks of you.
    • Leviathan notes that Shepard is "an anomaly", the only being in history that the Reapers have ever feared.
    • They will also turn their guns from entire armies and fleets to target Shepard alone.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: They play a mean game of this and have about a dozen backup plans, just in case their original one (which has worked for over a billion years) has something go wrong with it.
  • Zerg Rush: While they don't do this with their ships (instead using them as support) the husks that they use just throw themselves at the enemy in massive numbers until the enemy is defeated.


Homeworld: Unknown, currently 2181 Despoina

Mysterious creatures, one of which is apparently powerful enough to kill Reapers. They're eventually revealed to be the creators of the Catalyst, and by proxy the Reapers.

  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: It's very subtle, but in addition to how deep their voices are, they just sound slightly... off. It only makes them creepier.
  • A God Am I: Definitely consider themselves to be God-like, referring to themselves as the "Apex of Organic Evolution".
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Zig-zagged. The Reapers drove them to extinction and the Leviathans long believed they could not be plausibly overthrown. However, when properly motivated the Leviathans can shut down a Reaper without a scratch through sheer force of will, and while Reaper Indoctrination is more subtle, it's generally shown that Leviathan Enthrallment can supersede and override it, to the point that the Leviathans' main contribution to the war effort involves developing an army of husks dedicated to exterminating their own kind from the Reapers' forces. Also, their use during the battle of Palaven takes away the advantage of using Collectors by either killing them or producing "Awakened" Collectors who have dedicated the rest of their existence to taking revenge on the Reapers like Javik.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: From the ones we see, they're gigantic. The only organic beings that approach them in size are the Thorian and the Thresher Maws.
  • Badass Bystander: The Leviathan clearly have a lot of power at their disposal, but have not intervened during any of the previous Cycles, due to not believing it possible to stop the Reapers, nor caring enough about the "lesser races" to try.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Claim to have it. When Shepard asks a Leviathan why they created the "intelligence" that controls the Reapers, the Leviathan replies that Shepard doesn't live in a galaxy where everyone and everything around them short of the cosmos itself can be bent to their will, leading them to believe they were above the concern of the races they dominated and the intelligence was conceived as just another tool. It's possible this is also why they didn't see anything wrong with enslaving "lesser races" — their ability to care for the races who served their needs may have put to bed any moral quandaries about doing so.
  • Brainwashed: Evidently, the Reapers didn't pull indoctrination out of thin air. Leviathan indoctrination, called "enthrallment", needs a constant transmission to maintain control over their victims, channeled through odd spheres. Destroy the spheres and the victims regain their minds. Until they come near another sphere. On the other hand, it's apparently powerful enough to override the Reapers' control of the husks. It seems less harmful to the indoctrinated subjects than the Reaper version, assuming Leviathan doesn't decide to kill them or put them in comas, but it's noted of one scientist who was indoctrinated that she "retains most of her mental faculties."
    • The Codex says, after Shepard speaks with them, that they are having the Citadel races spread those sphere-things deep in Reaper territory, so they can use their mental domination on Reaper forces and sabotage them. Leads to fairly interesting results when they attempt to brainwash Collectors: most of them died, and the survivors actually regained their sentience (and were understandably pissed off at the Reapers).
  • Eldritch Abomination: To an even greater extent than the Reapers, who achieve this via technology, while nothing indicates the Leviathans weren't naturally like this.
  • Enemy Mine: With the entire galaxy. The Leviathans are helping the galactic effort not because they are turning over a new leaf, but because they were there first, and the Reapers took what they deemed to be rightfully theirs.
    "Today, they pay their tribute in blood."
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: People who were controlled by the Leviathan describe a sensation of being somewhere dark and cold. It's likely a side-effect of the Leviathan physically residing in the deepest reaches of ocean worlds.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Explains where the Reapers get it from.
  • Fatal Flaw: Pride, and it's probably one of the most if not the most lethal character flaw in history. They created an artificial intelligence, the Catalyst, to solve the problem of conflict between organics and synthetics. When Shepard calls them on out on why exactly they would create an artificial intelligence when they were painfully aware of the risks, they simply reply that they were the "apex race" and such concerns were beyond them. The Catalyst then went to war with them and created the Reapers, starting the cycle of genocide that has repeated every 50,000 years for millions, perhaps billions of years. Pretty fatal alright.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Even more so than the Catalyst, whom they created. They have every intention of regaining their control of the galaxy once the Reapers are defeated. Which probably won't spell well for the rest of the galaxy.
  • Happiness in Slavery: What they see enthralling lesser species as. As long as they pay "tribute", the Leviathans will "care for them".
  • Higher-Tech Species: No surprise given that they built the Reapers and developed indoctrination. From what we see of them, they have weapons with them that can kill a Reaper capital ship, and they have devices that can take control of husks from Reapers.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: They created an AI to preserve their slave species, with absolutely no restrictions on how (ultimately resulting in the creation of the Reapers). As a direct result of this self-centered attitude, they found themselves to be the first species to be harvested.
    The Catalyst: In their shortsightedness, they failed to see that they were part of the problem.
  • Internal Retcon: The Leviathan periodically use their thralls to erase any evidence that might lead the Reapers to learn of their continued existence.
  • It's All About Me: The Leviathans still believe that, being the first, 'apex' society, the galaxy belongs to them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: They built the intelligence that built the Reapers due to concerns about difficult synthetic-organic relations. Said intelligence promptly deduced a flawed solution, turned on them, built Harbinger, and started the Reaper cycles.
  • No Name Given: Even if they do agree to help out, they are reluctant to share any information about themselves with the other species, including whatever the true name of their race is. The galaxy seems to have settled on calling them "Leviathans" for lack of any other name.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: They make it very clear that the only reason they're joining the fight is for revenge. They'd personally prefer to have remained staying hidden, but unfortunately that's no longer an option.
  • Not So Different: They have a lot of similarities to the Reapers, except they demand "tribute" from lesser races instead of harvesting them. Indeed, the Reapers' physical shape came from them (though the Leviathans are huge, they aren't nearly as gigantic as Sovereign-class Reapers).
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Leviathans seem content to do as little as possible and let minions do their bidding for them, or hijacking minds through the artifacts. Even when they vow revenge on the Reapers, they... stay home and let others do their dirty work.
  • Precursors: They kind of straddle the line between Abusive Precursors and Neglectful Precursors: On the one hand, they enslaved pretty much the entire galaxy in their heyday and are responsible for the Reapers, but on the other hand, according to them, their subjects were granted a fair amount of autonomy so long as they paid "tribute" to the Leviathans and properly venerated them. The fact that enough of their slave races ended up building artificial intelligences that would ultimately wipe them out for the Leviathans to notice supports their side of the story somewhat, but that doesn't make the prospect of them ruling the galaxy again any less sinister. They also created the Catalyst to try and solve this issue for them, so their tributes wouldn't be disrupted. Unfortunately, their creation decided they were part of the problem, and was true to its directive to preserve organic life at any cost, by making them into the first Reaper.
  • Pride: Their belief that they were superior to the extent that they believed that the problems of the "lesser races" could never harm them directly has led to much of the series' conflict. See Fatal Flaw.
  • Puny Earthlings: They don't really think much of humanity as a whole, though Shepard is the sole exception.
    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!
  • Racial Remnant: Shepard only sees three of them.
  • The Remnant: They once ruled a powerful empire that covered the entire galaxy. After the Catalyst turned on them, what's left of them is now in hiding at the bottom of an ocean.
  • Recursive Precursors: The Leviathans were the first spacefaring species in the galaxy, if not the universe.
  • Revision: Not a hint of their existence was alluded to before the Leviathan DLC came out, yet they actually fit quite snugly into the canon. Their existence revamps things such as the Rachni Wars (though this is only ever a theory in-universe) and the Leviathan of Dis, but without contradicting anything other than in-universe theories that were, for obvious reasons, incomplete.
    • Justified in-universe as they are actively using their thralls to erase any evidence of their existence, explaining why we've never had any hints of their existence beforehand. On the other hand, their methods could also suggest that maybe we did and we just don't remember anymore!
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: It is very clear that they are pissed off about their near-extinction, and if Shepard manages to reinstill in them the will to fight, they go out for blood.
  • Screw You, Elves!: The Catalyst of all things has this opinion of them, if you bring them up, claiming they were part of the problem that led to the Reapers creation. Javik also has that opinion, comparing them to Satan in how they were arrogant beings all about themselves that paid for their hubris.
  • Token Evil Teammate: If Shepard completes the DLC and gets them to help against the Reapers.
  • Ultimate Life Form: Consider themselves to be such, with their "apex of organic evolution" opinion of themselves. It is not without some justification, considering their power and the fact that they have survived since before the cycles even began.
  • Vestigial Empire: Averted. They had one, but have been having thralls slowly disassemble it over the eons to conceal traces of their existence. Thanks to the memory blackout feature of their mind control, this is supremely effective.
  • Walking Spoiler: Hell, even giving them their own entry is spoileriffic, since everyone assumes the Leviathan is just another Reaper until Shepard actually finds them. And once they start talking, well, then it's no-holds-barred revelations. This actually opens plot-holes depending on where in the game you play the DLC, since it means Shepard is desperately trying to find answers the Leviathans already gave him and acts surprised when the Catalyst gives much of the same information.
    • Shepard's confusion on meeting the Catalyst is mitigated if the Extended Cut is installed and Shepard has finished the Leviathan quest already. When the Catalyst brings up who created it and why, Shepard will immediately make the connection to the Leviathans and the Catalyst will confirm it. Little other than that is changed though.
  • What the Hell Are You?: Leviathan initially states their intention to keep Shepard for study, having become interested in finding out why the Reapers are so terrified of this Puny Earthling.
  • Worthy Opponent: Despite not directly fighting him/her, they begin to understand why Shepard is the only being to ever put fear into the Reapers, and show a limited respect based on that.
  • Wowing Cthulhu: The Leviathan are Eldritch Abominations who admire Shepard for being the first thing in any Cycle that the Reapers have actually been afraid of.

Homeworld: Turvess

A relatively newcomer race on the galactic scene, who made first contact with the asari in 2184. During the Reaper invasion, they retreated to their homeworld, destroying their more advanced technology in the hopes that the Reapers would possibly spare them.

  • Bizarre Alien Biology: An avian species who have to wear environment suits to interact with aliens, ever since it was discovered they accidentally spread a form of the H7N7 avian flu-virus (a reference to "Bird flu") to one of the diplomatic delegations they were invited to.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: When the Reapers invade the raloi immediately throw up their hands and say this is not their fight, retreating back to Turvess where they destroy all their advanced technology in an attempt to make the Reapers dismiss them as a pre-spaceflight race.
  • The Unseen: They are mentioned in both the second and third game, but never actually seen.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never learn their fate.

    Virtual Aliens 
Homeworld: Unknown

A race of one billion who, in order to escape from their dying sun, had downloaded their consciousnesses into cyberspace aboard a spaceship. They were in search of a new power source when they stumbled upon salarian space and entered negotiations.

  • All There in the Manual: They were only mentioned in the Cerberus Daily News.
  • Brain Uploading: What they did to themselves. It's also how others can communicate with them.
  • Cyberspace: Created a virtual world so they may live in.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Their real names are unknown.
  • The Ghost: They're never seen in the games proper.
  • Ghost Ship: Their vessel was initially assumed to be this, until they realised that the passengers were inside the still active computer.
  • Space Nomads: They've been forced to wander the galaxy since leaving their homeworld, due to their sun dying.
  • Symbiotic Possession: They communicate with other species by using a host to download their consciousness into, while the original consciousness takes their place in the virtual world. The moral and ethical conundrum posed when one forcibly takes over a host and begs for sanctuary is also addressed in the article revealing them. Both sides eventually decide to form an agreement, allowing the virtual aliens to take any hosts willing to give up their body, temporarily or permanently, while the host takes their place in the virtual world.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what's become of them outside of the article that reveals them, especially in regards to their fate in the Destroy or Synthesis endings.

Homeworld: Unknown

The precursors to the Protheans, from at least one cycle before them.

  • Cthulhumanoid: Javik confirms in the third game that the ancient statues on Ilos actually depicted the inusannon, not the Protheans as both Shepard and the audience had previously assumed.
  • Great Offscreen War: They fought the thoi'han over colonisation rights to Eingana, with debris from the battle still littering the planet's surface 127,000 years later.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Element Zero from the drive cores of their ships (along with their enemy's) ended up raining down over Eingana, poisoning the local environment and causing multiple extinction events, as well as causing the indigenous wildlife to begin manifesting biotic abilities. As a result, colonisation of Eingana is now impossible for anyone without a strong death wish.
  • Recursive Precursors: They inhabited the galaxy over 127,000 years previously until they became extinct, most likely having been wiped out by the Reapers. The fledgling Prothean race would later discover the ruins of their colony on Ilos, revealing to them the secret to mass effect technology.

    Background races 


Homeworld: Helyme (presumably)

A race that inhabited several worlds in the Zelene system until they disappeared 300,000 years ago. Archeological evidence showed they were likely as advanced as modern galactic species. Likely wiped out by the Reapers.

  • Apocalypse How: Their presumed homeworld underwent an extinction event which killed off every animal species more complex than zooplankton, while the sudden oxygenation trigged global firestorms.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Several of their planets have evidence of kinetic impacts.

Bothros race

Homeworld: Unknown

A primate-like species that colonized the planet Bothros. Where they came from and how long they existed is unknown. Likely wiped out by the Reapers.

  • Killer Space Monkey: While we don't know anything about how their civilization functioned nor if they were violent, they apparently looked like Earth primates.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Their settlements were all vaporized. Only those that fled or happened to be far away managed to survive. At least temporarily.
  • Snow Means Death: Everything from their corpses to the melted fragments of their colonies have been found buried in the ice and snow.


Homeworld: Unknown

A race that existed during the time of the Protheans, the Densorin were known to have studied highly advanced celestial mechanics and morphological simulations of galactic language, to the extent their knowledge in these areas was beyond even the understanding of Protheans. In desperation or madness they sacrificed their own children to placate the Reapers. They were wiped out soon after.

  • Despair Event Horizon: The realization they couldn't defeat the Reapers was likely the catalyst for their child sacrifice.
  • Driven to Madness: It's difficult to see the genocide of their offspring as anything but this.
  • History Repeats: Javik recounts coming across a settlement of densorin studying the esoteric sciences listed above. He wonders aloud if they did so in a scenario similar to the miners on Mahavid who were enthralled by Leviathan.
  • Human Sacrifice: According to Javik, they tried sacrificing their own children to appease the Reapers.
    Javik: I will spare you the details, but it did not work. They simply made the Reaper's job easier.
  • Offing the Offspring: Their entire race offered up the lives of their own children in a failed attempt to placate the Reapers.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Murdering their own children served only to make their extinction easier.
  • War Is Hell: There are many horror stories Javik recounts about the last cycles war against the Reapers, but the densorin sacrificing their own young is one of the most haunting failed attempts to stop the Reaper onslaught.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The entire planet killed their remaining children.


Homeworld: Unkown

A war loving race that existed during the Prothean cycle. They were presumably wiped out by the Reapers like the other races of the time.

  • Kick the Dog: They annihilated all of the pacifist synril, despite them posing zero threat, apparently just because they could.
  • Final Solution: They had no qualms about committing genocide against an entire species.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: They casually wiped out an entire race because they were stronger. They likely suffered the exact same fate when the Reapers, a far stronger force, invaded during their cycle and wiped them out alongside all other sapient species.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: A race built upon a warrior culture, to the point that they would attack even races that posed no threat.


Homeworld: Unknown

A race that existed alongside the Protheans. Attacked the asari home-world of Thessia but were driven off by the Protheans. They also fought the densorin. They were presumably wiped out by the Reapers.

  • Aliens Are Bastards: They tried invading Thessia for its vast resources, apparently unconcerned that there were already people living there who might need those resources more. The Protheans stopped them and they were mythologised by the asari as Jerkass Gods who attacked their planet out of jealousy and spite for Athame.
  • Famed in Story: Their attempted invasion of Thessia during the race's primitive years was painted in asari myth as jealous gods trying to harm them. The intervention of the Protheans was seen as the goddess Athame protecting them. In a weird way it means they are one of the very few races destroyed by the Reapers who are remembered beyond their extinction by the latest cycle.
  • Jerkass Gods: The asari interpreted them this way, and ever since they have been remembered as such.
  • Motive Misidentification: The asari thought the Oravores invaded out of jealousy. In reality, they were just greedy.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: From what we know about them, they fought a war with the densorin and attempted to invade Thessia.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Their failed invasion of Thessia was perceived by ancient asari as rival gods attempting to harm them out of jealously of their goddess Athame.


Homeworld: Unknown

A race that lived at the same time as the Protheans. They did not survive to see the Reapers' arrival.

  • Death by Irony: Depending on how exactly one interprets "eternal peace", the ditakur gave them just that...
  • Perfect Pacifist People: To the point they claimed to have found the path to eternal peace. They then got wiped out by the ditakur.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: The synril, dedicated to absolute pacifism, were invaded by a war-hungry warrior species. They were annihilated.
  • Stupid Good: This is how Javik paints their race's downfall. During a discussion with Garrus he mentions that the synril had claimed to find the path to lasting peace before being soundly destroyed by the ditakur, a race that did not share their values.


Homeworld: Unknown

A race that existed 127,000 years ago. Went to war with the Inusannon over the planet Eingana.

  • Great Offscreen War: They fought the inusannon over colonisation rights to Eingana. Debris from the battle still litters the planet's surface.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Element Zero from the drive cores of their and the Inusannon's ships turned Eingana into a poisoned landscape full of dangerous lifeforms with biotic capabilities.


Homeworld: Armeni (presumably)

An ancient spacefaring race. On the planet Armeni, near the equator, there are millions of elaborate crypts belonging to this long-dead race. However, efforts to excavate the site by archaeologists have proven difficult due to Citadel Council law forbidding the disturbing of graves.

  • Ancient Tomb: Armeni is home to the crypts of millions of zeioph.
  • Adventure Archaeologist: Human archaeologists are chomping on the bit to excavate this site as it would be considered an incredible find in their profession, but have found themselves coming up against strict Council laws against disturbing graves. As such there has been a long court battle over being allowed to excavate the site since its discovery.
  • Holy Ground: Likely a site of great significance for this race given the complexity of the tombs and the sheer size of the necropolis. Regardless of how this species did or did not revere this site, the Council treats all resting places as sacrosanct.


Homeworld: Unknown.

A synthetic race that existed around the time of the Protheans. They were created when a race called the zha resorted to using implants and symbiotic A.I.s to survive as their world became inhospitable. They were swiftly taken over when the Reapers arrived, forcing the Protheans to wipe them out.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: It literally took control of their bodies. It is not clear if this happened before or after the Reapers intervened. Javik holds the belief they were already consumed by their AI's before the Reapers sought to utilise them but that might just be his own biases talking.
  • Body Horror: The AI could alter their genetic material "at the deepest level" until they had very few organic traces left.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Javik describes their cybernetic implants as having quite literally consumed them.
  • Slave Race: They changed the remaining zha's offspring into one of these. Javik reveals that the zha'til themselves were enslaved by the Reapers.
  • The Swarm: They eventually multiplied into mechanical swarms that blotted out the sun.
  • Tragic Monster: The zha turned to cybernetic enhancements and sophisticated AI in an effort to survive their home world becoming inhospitable.
  • Star Killing: The Protheans wiped them out by sending their system's sun into supernova.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Zig-Zagged. Javik isn't the best one to consult on AI races. It's possible the zha were simply cybernetically augmented until corrupted and reshaped into monsters by the Reapers. Javik says they fell long before that, betrayed and consumed by their AI from the outset. It's also possible they suffered the same Fantastic Racism the geth did, and were unfairly judged. However, there's nothing in the game or Expanded Universe that directly contradicts or refutes Javik's claims, so whether or not his account is false will likely remain a Riddle for the Ages.


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