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Characters / Mass Effect Race Tropes: Non-Sapient

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This page is for listing the tropes related to the Non-Sapient 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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Thane: There are tales about such things among my people - devices buried on distant worlds that turn the finders into abominations.

Homeworld: N/A

Non-sapient synthetic creatures that are created using the bodies of organic beings. They are of Reaper origin. Husk is both the name of the 'generic' human zombie enemy and a general term for Reaper-fied organics.

  • Action Bomb: Abominations. In Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, it is shown that the detonator for their explosion resides in their heads. Thus, killing Abominations with either an anti-material shot to the head, or via a bladed strike to the neck / crushing it will prevent them from detonating. Killing them any other way triggers the explosion.
  • Arm Cannon: Scions in 2 and 3. Cannibals, batarian-human hybrids from 3. Adjutants from Omega.
  • Body Horror: All of them, often mixed with Mix-and-Match Critters.
    • Husks and Abominations are formed from humans who have had their internal organs all replaced by cybernetics by dragon's teeth, with the latter exploding upon getting close to foes. Cerberus troopers in 3 are much the same, but more intelligent.
    • Scions are combinations of three human husks fused together around a single biotic Arm Cannon. A blue sac over the same shoulder as the cannon holds redundant organs and element zero sources for their weapon.
    • Collectors are Protheans that had a complete genetic rewrite, including three fewer chromosomes, reduced heterochromatin structure, and elimination of useless "junk" sequences. Due to the extensive amounts of cybernetics, they lack many of their organs, and are essentially clones, with whether or not they even have any remaining gender unknown.
    • Marauders are husks of turians with armor plates grafted on and lenses embedded in their faces.
    • Brutes are formed from krogan, but with a turian head attached for intelligence. Due to the aversion of No Biochemical Barriers, the krogan levo-DNA clashes with the turian dextro-DNA, meaning that the entire creature would die very painfully if the cybernetics were not in place.
    • Banshees are naked, asari husks of those who are or have a predisposition to be Ardat-Yakshi. Due to the nature of asari sex, their creation could technically be considered a whole new meaning of Mind Rape.
    • Cannibals are batarian husks with an Arm Cannon made out of a human corpse who eat their allies to regain health.
    • Synthetic Harvesters are, as their name implies, huskified harvesters, though they also have added head-mounted cannons.
    • Ravagers are mobile turrets formed from rachni. Notably, concept art included a human husk corpse on the back, but BioWare decided that was too disgusting.
    • Swarmers appear to be spider-type robots made from rachni workers.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Banshees, husked Ardat-Yakshi, in Mass Effect 3. They have Biotic barriers and armor instead of health which makes them immune to a lot of biotic effects, they can Flash Step, and they also have the ability to grab people and subsequently impale them with their hands, resulting in instant death. Sometimes they will stand still and briefly appear to charge up, after which they will scream and release an attack that covers a surprisingly large area. Finally, they throw powerful projectiles that move slowly but track their target. Have fun. Praetorians and Scions in the third game multiplayer as well.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: To create a husk, organics are impaled on spikes which releases nanobots that converts organic materials into synthetic ones. Usually though, they're already dead, though the rush of adrenaline in their final moments of consciousness is enough to speed up the nanobot's processes.
    • Zigzagged if the Synthesis ending is used, since they become sapient, possibly immortal beings again. Hopefully, the human husks in such creatures as the Praetorians and Scions (and the arm cannons for Cannibals, which are fused to a human husk) are extricated, or it'll be a double dose of Body Horror on the level of The Human Centipede.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Adjutants.
  • Cybernetics Will Eat Your Soul: Luckily, most husks are already dead pre-huskification.
  • Elite Mooks: Marauders. Husked turians, they have kinetic barriers and a turian assault rifle, and also tend to buff nearby foes as well.
  • Giant Mook: Scions. Also a Boss in Mook Clothing. In Mass Effect 3, Brutes fill this role; they're huskified krogan with a turian head for higher intelligence. Scions, however, return in Retaliation for multiplayer.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Many variants have cybernetic eyes in place of their formerly organic ones.
  • Grenade Launcher: The Cannibal's Arm Cannon, in addition to shooting what appears to be red flechettes in the place of bullets, can also fire frag grenades. Unlike most examples of this trope, the grenades still take a few seconds to detonate after they land.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Marauders are capable of turning husks and cannibals into these.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The high-pitched scream produced by Banshees. Lampshaded by Joker, who suggests that the Reapers only engineered that feature because they are taking pleasure in actively screwing with them.
    Joker: Mutating people to turn them into living weapons is one thing, but the yelling? Why make them yell?! That's totally uncalled for!
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibals replenish health by eating corpses, friend or foe.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How they are made, and how Banshees will kill anyone within arm's reach.
  • Instant Armor: Cannibals are capable of spontaneously growing armored plates by consuming the bodies of other husks. Marauders are capable of applying instant armor to several other husk types, causing the targeted husk to float up in their air and channel some kind of nano-paste onto them which grows into more of those armor plates.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Banshee barriers are capable of negating powers.
  • Mini Mook: Swarmers.
  • Mooks: In all three games (though only the basic husk in the first game, plus Collectors in the second):
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: It's not uncommon for certain husk variants to be comprised of more than one individual, sometimes not from the same species. Scions are 3 human husks fused together. As noted above, cannibals are batarian-human hybrids while brutes are krogan-turian hybrids.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Discussed. Garrus points out the horrific genius behind the Reapers using husks as ground troops. The effect is two fold, you lose a man to their side and then lose the guy who hesitates to kill an old comrade. Javik states this is why the Protheans were only delaying the inevitable after a certain point. Every world they abandoned to fight another day would become an army of husks used against them in the next battle. The Reaper's have the dual benefits of psychological warfare and a constant source of "undead" cannon fodder.
  • Ominous Walk: Banshees will engage in this when not teleporting around.
  • Power Floats: Before you take down their biotic barriers.
  • The Reveal: In Mass Effect 2, it's revealed that the geth didn't create husks - the Reapers did. As the first game did allude to the possibility husks were not geth technology, Shepard and his/her crew merely had their suspicions confirmed come the sequel.
  • Rule of Scary: Invoked by the Reapers. Beside their obvious physical threat, husks serve as potent psychological warfare. Preying on the fears of their enemies is a weapon they know all too well how to make use of.
  • Slave Mooks: Husks have been robbed of all former sentience and self-awareness. They are essentially Reaper cannon fodder.
  • Smash Mook: Brutes charge headfirst into front lines, in an effort to steamroll oppositon with their strength and power. Once they close the gap, you had to contend with their massive claws.
  • Teleport Spam: Banshees will do this almost constantly while "charged", screaming as they do so. Their power will eventually wear down, restricting them to an Ominous Walk, but eventually they will get a surge of power back and do it all over again.
  • Villain Override: When the Collectors return in Mass Effect 3, Harbinger has extended his control to their unique husks. Possessed Scions fire grenades, while Abominations explode with about three times the force.
  • The Virus: Adjutants are capable of turning victims into more of them.
    • There is some implication that the Banshees can do the same to asari.
  • Was Once a Man: Or whatever other species (plural or singular) they came from.
  • Zerg Rush: When you consider that the Reapers can produce essentially unlimited numbers of these things, their use of this tactic is not surprising. Garrus even respects the Reapers for employing this tactic, saying that it puts down any local resistance, you'd never run out of cannon fodder, and for every soldier you gain, your opponent loses two: the guy you converted, and his buddy when he can't pull the trigger.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Well, they're mechanical, for one thing. The creation process is taking (preferably living) organic beings and impaling them on spikes, which slowly replaces tissue with machinery. They start out as somewhat standard zombies (albeit with electrical attacks), but Mass Effect 2 and especially Mass Effect 3 features tons of varieties with neat abilities like exploding, having guns built into their arms, and being very durable.

    Thresher Maw

Zaeed: Standard operating procedure when you get a thresher maw is run the hell away. Pick up sticks. Move the hell out! Krogan don't know any better.

Homeworld: Unknown, possibly Tuchanka

Tuchanka's ultimate predator, thresher maws are enormous subterranean creatures that spend their whole life eating or searching for something to eat. Thanks to their method of reproduction (spores that can survive in space), they've made it to plenty of other planets. In the Sole Survivor background, Commander Shepard was the Sole Survivor of a thresher maw attack triggered by a particularly nasty Cerberus cell.

  • Degraded Boss: Inverted. In the first game you killed almost a dozen of them in various sidequests. In the second, there's only one thresher maw, but you don't have the Mako to help you fight it, so it's a boss fight.
    • Not to mention the MASSIVE one seen in the third game, which is strong enough to kill a Reaper Destroyer.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The first time one is encountered in the first game can be like this.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Javik regrets that in this Cycle, they are now too big to ride anymore.
  • Kaiju: Kalros especially.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: All thresher maws you see in the series, including planets far away from Tuchanka, got there either by floating along for an insanely long time or being assisted by spaceflight in some capacity.
  • Monster Progenitor: The legendary Kalros, said by Eve to be the mother from whom all thresher maws spawn. This is probably just legend, but she sure made mincemeat out of that Reaper Destroyer. From the sound of things, Our Heroes seemed to just expect it to distract the Reaper, not outright kill it.
  • Plant Aliens: A mixture of a worm and a fungus, essentially. thresher maw spores are so strong that they can survive indefinitely in the vacuum of space until they find a planet to embed themselves in.
  • Sand Worm: Javik's line about riding them seems to be a Shout-Out to Dune.
  • Timed Mission: On Grunt's loyalty mission in the second game, you have to survive a thresher maw attack for five minutes. Or you can just kill it.

    Virtual Intelligences (VIs) 
Thank you for using Avina! Have a pleasant day.

Homeworld: N/A

Not a "species" in and of themselves, VIs are complex quasi-intelligent (but not truly sentient) computer programs often used to drive user interfaces; the ones most commonly seen throughout the franchise are humanoid, although Avina is asari in appearance, and Vigil is of Prothean origin. They can play a number of roles, usually serving as information access points, data analyzers, system monitors and optimizers, and distress beacon maintainers/interface points. True AIs are highly regulated or illegal in Citadel space; a VI might seem intelligent or sentient, but it's an illusion of clever programming.

  • Brain Uploading: At least with Vigil. While still a VI, it was given the lead scientist's personality via this.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: There's several instances of VIs being hacked, given a virus, or otherwise just subverted somehow to the point they become a serious threat to anyone using the systems under their control. David Archer of Project Overlord is a much more literal example.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Relative to what information it has access to, that is. If the user has the clearance for the information they request, that information will be dispensed to the VI's best ability with no trickery or deception.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: A VI's enforced etiquette will often invoke this if circumstances around them are abnormal.
  • Do Androids Dream?: In this case, no. They're specifically made to be limited, and said limits are usually found very quickly if they're treated like sentient beings. In 2, Jarrahe Station's VI becomes infected with a virus that makes it treat everyone like threats, and some of the station residents hope that maybe by doing nothing they can convince her that they're not dangerous. It fails, and it's clear when Shepard visits that 'she' has no understanding of the situation at all. Vigil, the Prothean VI on Ilos, seems to be more sophisticated and it does seem to have a grasp of the situation, but outside the situation it has no use or knowledge whatsoever - it wasn't programmed to. Several times a VI will bluntly respond to sapient reactions or questions with something along the lines of "I am incapable of [giving that information/feeling that emotion/making that judgement/accessing such data]. Do you have any other requests?"
  • Just a Machine: This is the legal extent to which the Council races permit an artificial intelligence of any sort to develop. One VI explicitly has no feelings one way or the other if its database is wiped after it's served its purpose, and says so; "In order for me to be 'killed', I would need to be alive."
  • Nice Guy: Programmed to be such; VIs are impeccably polite and incapable of making qualified judgements about the decisions of organics.
  • Omniscient Database: Averted, as VIs can't access any information which is outside of their reach, and there's at least one point where you need to re-establish a VI's connection with outside servers for it to provide more information to you. Avina's first appearance in Andromeda has her describing the Nexus in incredibly out-of-date fashions, as the station was never formally opened when the Pathfinder arks failed to arrive on schedule.
  • Projected Man: Avina provides the trope picture.
  • Robo Speak: Thoroughly averted. The vocal synthesisers employed in Mass Effect are evidently very sophisticated.
  • Theme Naming: All prothean-made ones we see have names starting with V.
  • Tron Lines: When a VI is given a humanoid-shaped holographic interface, it's covered in these. Andromeda seems to have abandoned the practice.
  • Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked at one point. After Sovereign's attack on the Citadel, Avina starts malfunctioning, causing her to glitch and act erratically when accessed.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In the same way the Codex is written in-universe, so are the available information stores in a VI.
    Avina: I have no information on a "Reaper." References to the term exist in some para-historical theories on galactic extinction cycles.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Can't get much more user-friendly than a person you just talk to.
  • You No Take Candle: Usually averted, but a VI can occasionally slip into it when it's not addressing the user, such as when it's parroting status messages.

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