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Admiral Tali'Zorah nar Rayya /vas Neema /vas Normandy

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Tali_6115.jpg
"Our Pilgrimage proves we are willing to give of ourselves for the greater good. What does it say about me if I turn my back on this?"

Voiced by: Ash Sroka (credited as Liz Sroka in 1 and 2)

A quarian machinist who specializes in technology or resources valuable to the Migrant Fleet. She is double-crossed during a meeting but is rescued by the timely arrival of Shepard, who sought information Tali obtained on Saren. Tali joins the Commander out of gratitude and to help bring down Saren. She becomes one of Shepard's closest friends, being one of only three people to be a party member in all three games. In Mass Effect 2, she becomes a romance option for a male Shepard.


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    A-E 
  • Action Girl: She doesn't hesitate to get into a scrap.
  • Adorkable:
    • Particularly when you start to romance her.
      Shepard: I appreciate the thought, Tali, and I feel the same way, but you don't have to prove anything to me.
      Tali: I know. Well, not that I know, but I... I didn't mean it like that. It's a.... um, wow! It's really hot in here!
    • If romanced in Mass Effect 2, she becomes more confident in her relationship with Shepard in Mass Effect 3.
    • Though this trait comes back in her romance in the Citadel DLC, where she acts like a giddy schoolgirl when recalling her childhood memories of watching "Fleet and Flotilla". She even sings Shepard one of the songs from the musical version. Which just so happens to be the romance theme of the game ("I Was Lost Without You").
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • James nicknames her 'Sparks' in 3.
      James: Yeah, your quarian friend. The jumpy one with the glowing eyes? Sparks.
      Shepard: Uh-huh.
    • A male Shepard who romances her calls her "miss vas Normandy." Joker quips that, every time he hears Shepard call her that, he expects her to be wearing a sash and tiara.
  • Apologetic Attacker: She really doesn't want to kill Legion, and tells it before it dies that yes, it really does have a soul. She then mourns him later.
  • Appropriated Appellation: During her loyalty quest the Admiralty board (specifically Zaal'Koris) has Tali's ship name changed from "vas Neema" to "vas Normandy," in the belief that being associated with a human ship (and having a human captain represent her instead of a quarian) would hurt her chances of avoiding exile. After you earn Tali's loyalty (especially if you proved the admirals wrong and got Tali acquitted without the evidence), she decides to let the name stick. Notably, she still keeps the name in the third game, when every other quarian has taken to using "vas Rannoch".
  • Ambadassador: Seems to be her de facto position on the Admiralty Board. Having her be an admiral is required to get the peaceful ending to the Rannoch quest line, and on one occasion she is seen negotiating with a turian to arrange the Migrant Fleet's evacuation of turian refugees.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Like the other love interests, if she's taken along to the final mission of the Leviathan DLC in Mass Effect 3, Tali chastises Shepard for almost getting killed.
    Tali: Keelah, don't do that to me!
  • Attack Drone: She can deploy two at a time in Mass Effect 3. One guards her personally, while the other floats around the the area, distracting enemies and bombarding them with rockets. While she can't summon more than two at a time, she can almost instantly replace them when they're destroyed. She could only deploy one in Mass Effect 2, which was so much weaker that a better name for it would be "Distraction Drone". At least that one had a name.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Though only technically. She's an Admiral in the third game, but aside from making a few deals on the Citadel and voting against going to war with the geth, she doesn't really do any admiral stuff.
  • Back Stab: She'll be forced to kill Legion this way if you're unable to broker peace between the quarians and geth and choose not to let Legion upload the Reaper code.
  • Badass Adorable: She can fight her way through hundreds of geth without breaking a sweat and yet she stammers when you romance her. She also names her combat drones and praises them for doing a good job of killing things.
    • The Citadel DLC reveals that several of her lines from her romance arc in 2 were borrowed from Fleet and Flotilla, her favourite film/musical. Given her Shadow Broker dossier mentioned her downloading it (as well as several other books about human interaction), it's implied she used it to give her the confidence to articulate how she felt.
  • Badass Bookworm: Being a quarian, she is required to know about advanced subjects like starship engineering. And even among quarians she is considered an expert, even before she finishes her Pilgrimage after the first game.
  • Badass Normal: Serves on several elite teams with only a few other badass normals,note  with the rest of the team being psychic super soldiers who can toss armored vehicles with their minds, super strong combat robots, superhuman psychic assassins, and half-ton organic walking tanks, all led by a Back from the Dead transhuman cyborg. She also often fights enemies of that same caliber. Yet she more than holds her own alongside and against these characters with nothing but her technical knowledge, military training, guns, and gadgets.note  Notably, a lot of her powers (Damping, Energy Drain/Overload, Sabotage) are basically Anti-Magic gadgets designed to nerf enemy capabilities, suggesting she expects to go in outmatched.
  • Battle Couple: With Shepard if romanced and Garrus if not.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Part of the reason she has such Undying Loyalty to Shepard. Until she met them, everyone she encountered on her Pilgrimage treated her like a second class citizen, a beggar or thief, simply because she was quarian. Shepard was the first person to treat her like an actual person, offer her a place on their crew and make her feel truly accepted.
    • It goes beyond this during 2, when it's shown that she believes that Shepard, a human, has been a better friend to her than any quarian ever has. It's notable that despite having "vas Normandy" shoved on her as a political play, if exonerated, she decides to keep the name.
  • Best Friend: By the end of the trilogy, she and Garrus have stood by Shepard through everything. Shepard can even acknowledge both of them as his/her most trusted allies.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Tali is right up there with Kaidan in the sheer niceness department. That doesn't change the fact that she is a monster with a shotgun, can easily lock down most enemies, and can potentially have the strongest shields in your entire party even without upgrades. And when provoked, she can get both vicious and creative.
      Tali (after being told by Shepard to not lose sleep over a volus who is racist against quarians): My brain agrees with you. My gut says I should jack his suit's olfactory filters so that everything smells like refuse!
      Garrus: Remind me not to get on your bad side.
    • The prequel comic "Mass Effect: Homeworlds" has her killing Commander Jacobus (the leader of Saren's mercenaries) by locking him in an incinerator and burning him to death.
    • In Mass Effect 3, her response to viewing the Illusive Man's plan to emotionally manipulate a vulnerable Shepard (after being resurrected by the Lazarus Project, and being cut off from all his friends and allies) into working with Cerberus shows she can be quite frightening when she is well and truly angry.
    • How she shuts up Garrus pestering her about talking about her immune system on the Citadel in 2.
      Tali: I have a shotgun.
      Garrus: Mmmmmaybe we'll talk later.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Seems to invoke this in a Paragon Shepard. If you threaten Tali, Shepard will come after you. Tali's trial in 2 has Shepard actually berate the quarian Admiralty for even daring to accuse her of treason, which results in Shepard becoming so furious that the quarian Admirals meekly decide to drop all charges against her.
  • Big Red Button: Though one doesn't really show up, she still points out the inadvisability of pushing them.
  • Bi the Way: During the Citadel DLC, if Garrus is romanced by Fem!Shep, depending on how the party goes, she can be found drunk and talking to herself in a pretend conversation with him, in which the possibility of a threesome intrigues her. Played for Laughs, but considering how flustered she got around Fem!Shep in the second game during that suit-linking conversation...
    • Also during the Citadel DLC party you can get a drunk Tali to tell you about her ridiculously elaborate tattoo, one element of which is a naked lady riding a Thresher Maw. While it's perfectly possible for straight females to appreciate the female form from a purely aesthetic standpoint, it does add a bit more weight to the idea that Tali has, shall we say, curiosities.
  • Boldly Coming: It seems that Tali is a xenophile at heart; she either can romance Male!Shep, shack up with Garrus if neither of them are romanced, fantasizes about a threesome with Fem!Shep and Romance!Garrus as evidenced above, and states that Fleet and Flotilla, a romance vid about a turian man and quarian woman "FTL-jumped [her] into puberty" after roping a romanced Male!Shepard into watching the vid and singing.
    • Her Shadow Broker dossier in 2 lists more than a few purchases of books on human-alien interactions.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Quarians are one of only two species (the other being turians) that have a dextro-amino acid based biology. As such, they can't consume any food or drink made for levo-amino acid physiologies (humans, asari, salarian, krogan, etc.) without, at the least, not getting any nourishment from it; or at the most, having a fatal allergic reaction. Also, the quarian immune system evolved to absorb and form symbiosis with micro-organisms, apparently a result of insect life never evolving on their planet; this makes them extremely vulnerable to infections, especially given they've been forced to live in totally sterile environments for centuries now. Javik even theorizes that this may have had a side effect of making her species more sympathetic to the plights of others.
  • Breakout Character: Like Garrus, her plot relevance surged up like crazy from the second game on, even becoming a Love Interest.
  • Break the Cutie: She suffers an emotional breakdown while investigating her trial. You can potentially give her comfort by hugging her. Or you can make it worse by handing over the incriminating evidence during her trial. Doing this will turn her father into a monster in the eyes of the quarian people and cost you her loyalty, most likely causing her death.
    • Let the geth destroy the quarians in the third game. She commits suicide. Even if the geth and quarians make peace, she mourns everyone who died. Including Legion, to her own astonishment.
  • Bubble Girl: Comes from a race of them. Their weak immune systems force them to live in their environmental suits constantly. As a bonus, prepubescent quarians actually do live in bubbles; getting their first suit is considered a rite of passage.
  • Body-Count Competition: If she was romanced by Shepard (or Garrus was), she and Garrus can be setting up one in their final conversation in the third game. It's apparently not the first time.
    Garrus: Shepard. We were making friendly wagers.
    Tali: Optimistic wagers, in your case.
    Garrus: A turian commando competing with a quarian mechanic, and I'm the optimistic one?
    Tali: Remember Ilos?
    Garrus: ...Yes. It was filled with geth, which tilted the odds in your favor.
    Tali: Excuses, excuses.
    Garrus: I doubt you'll be hacking any synthetics this time.
    Tali: I seem to recall killing my fair share in the Collector base.
    Garrus: I doubt we'll be in enormous rooms open to long-range fire this time, and...
    Tali: I still have the shotgun.
    Garrus: I'll be sure to let a few Reaper forces get close enough for you to use it.
  • But I Would Really Enjoy It: Tali is initially reluctant to sleep with Shepard, because their mutually bizarre alien biologies would result in anything from allergic reaction, to drastic illness, to death for her. She assures you that this does not coincide with her desires.
    Tali: Just so you know, I'm running a fever, I've got a nasty cough, and my sinuses are filled with something I can't even describe. And it was totally worth it.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: She works hard to subvert this. Her Shadow Broker dossier reveals she once had "nerve stimulation" implants, had them removed/turned off/reinstalled, and then finally had it installed and upgraded.
    • Assuming you romanced her, this is no longer a problem by the third game. Her body's immune system has adapted enough that she can have sex with Shepard safely.
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: After the Horizon mission in 3, you can find her in the Normandy lounge getting hammered. Then if you go down to the cargo bay to talk to Javik, you walk in on her drunk-dialing him. Happens again in the Citadel DLC — she gets drunk the quickest and is always one of the most hungover. If you opt to start the party lively, she is already slurring her speech, has to go to the bathroom, and has Alcohol Hic issues at the outset. If the party is in one of the third phase quiet paths, she's in the restroom mumbling semi-coherently in a stupor.
  • Character Development: Tali is more mature in the later games. The way she advocates geth/quarian peace in the third game speaks volumes when the first encounter she has with an AI in the series (the credit-scamming machine) was to demand Shepard kill it on principle. Also, see Vocal Evolution.
  • Character Tic: Tali frequently holds her hands together and bounces on her heels when she's nervous.
  • Chekhov's Gun: You know that knife strapped to her boot that we never see her using? It can come up in one very important moment in 3 stabbing Legion if you pick the quarians over the geth.
  • Clingy Costume: Like all quarians.
  • The Conscience: Acts as one of the voices of reason on the Normandy... except on the topic of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Her Combat Drone in the second game is purple, in contrast to the red and blue ones used by enemy engineers and Legion respectively. In the third game, the color of her drone is changed to orange.
  • Cooldown Hug: Shepard has the option of giving this to her after she finds her father's dead body.
  • Costume Evolution: Has probably the most notable one of any squadmate. In particular, her visor seems to become slightly less opaque with each new suit, making her eyes more visible; compared her first suit to her outfit in the third game.
  • Covert Pervert: It's fairly obvious during the second game that Tali has secretly lusted after male Shepard since practically day one. And the second he shows any romantic interest in her, the first thing she makes clear is that she wants him to do the honors, so to speak.
    • The Shadow Broker Dossiers further show that, after being authorized for Project Haestrom (shortly before the ME2's beginning), she installed several apps. These include videos dealing with loss, but eventually lead to apps on human mating rituals, Immuno-Boosters (for professionals) and several Nerve Stims (which she un-installs and re-installs several times ... until finally settling on the deluxe model).
    • Not so covert in her romance in the third game, where she has no problem flirting and dropping innuendo with Shepard in front of other squadmates. Much to their displeasure.
    • The Citadel DLC shows how horrible Tali is when she's drunk. Depending on your relationships with her and Garrus, she'll be fantasizing about Shepard or Garrus getting hot and heavy with her. If, as Fem!Shep, you romanced Garrus, she'll be fantasizing about all three of you together.
  • Curtains Match the Window: A rather more literal example than most, both her visor and hood being purple in color.
    • Subverted when a picture of her without a suit is shown in the third game. Although her hair could be a deep shade of purple, matching her choice in clothing. It's... kinda hard to tell.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: In general, she's good against geth and mechs, decent against 'standard' troops (tech-based mercenaries, Cerberus), and very ineffective compared to just about every other squadmate against purely combat or biotic based enemies like Husks, Collectors, and Blood Pack. In the first game this was fine because geth and 'standard' troops were almost all of the enemies, but she runs full into this territory in the second game, where she's only really worth bringing on missions with lots of synthetics. The third game gives her more flexibility by buffing her powers in general (e.g. Energy Drain does more damage and works on biotic barriers/organic health; Combat Drone has its recharge time cut down to 1/10 of what it once was and can now shoot rockets) and giving her access to better shotguns like the Wraith (and weapon mods).
  • Cyborg: Like many quarians, she has cybernetics to interface with her suit, boost her immune system, and for a variety of other tasks. If Liara and a romanced Tali are taken to the geth dreadnought, Tali will casually mention her cybernetics. This explains the odd lines on her face and hands, present in the picture she gives a romanced Shepard. Harbinger also mentions her cybernetics if she's taken on a mission with Collectors:
    Harbinger: Quarian. Considered due to cybernetic augmentation; weak immune systems too debilitating.
    • Note that she seems to have gotten them in the Time Skip between the first and second games. In the first, Ashley actually asks if she's partly synthetic under her suit, and Tali denies it.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: It's revealed in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC that she had Nerve Stimulation Implants, then removed and reinstalled the program multiple times before finally settling on the upgraded version.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: If romanced, the third game contains additional dialogue where she drunkenly reflects on her relationship with an alien. She then comments:
    Tali: I'm having a drink with my boyfriend. My human boyfriend. Ha, my father would've hated you.
    Shepard: Here's to him then.
  • Deadpan Snarker: To wit:
    Tali: [to Garrus] I'm glad the imminent destruction of all organic life has improved your career opportunities.

    Tali: [to Shepard] What could I possibly be suggesting? I mean, a young woman gets saved by a dashing commander who lets her join his crew and then goes off to save the galaxy? How could she possibly develop any interest in him?

    Shepard: I'm not working for [Cerberus], they're working for me.
    Tali: So you ordered the listening devices and tracking beacons that are all over this ship?
  • Death Glare: In her post-recruitment scene in the second game, Tali manages to throw a withering Death Glare at Jacob during her briefing on the Normandy. Through an opaque helmet, which somehow makes it even more menacing.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper:
    • Gets flustered and does this after accidentally revealing her attraction to Shepard in the second game.
    • Alternately, if neither she nor Garrus is romanced by Shepard, this is her reaction when Shepard walks in on her and Garrus together...
  • Driven to Suicide: In 3, if you can't get the geth and the quarians to work together, choosing the geth side means she has to watch the entire fleet (and with the Pilgrimage recalled, that includes every quarian that wasn't exiled who could make it) get blown out of the sky. She walks off a cliff to her death.
  • Disc-One Nuke: In the first game, she was a ridiculously durable death machine with maxed out Electronics and "Quarian Machinist", which raised her shields to very high levels, and in the former's case let her sap the shields off any enemy in one go. It was very easy to max out both those skills very early in the game.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: She resorts to this once or twice during the third game. It takes triple-filtered turian brandy introduced through an "emergency induction port".
    Shepard: That's a straw, Tali.
    Tali: Emerrrrrrgency. Induction. Port.
  • Dude Magnet: Almost as much as female Shepard, if you can believe that. She can shack up with Commander Shepard, but in case she doesn't, she's also one of only two remaining squadmates to have a possible love interest other than Shepard (namely, Garrus), and she draws positive attention from Joker, Kenneth, and Kal'Reegar as well, and even Javik in a way.
    Joker: Have you seen Tali? I don't have the hips to carry a suit like that!
  • The Engineer: In the first game, Chief Engineer Adams is impressed with her skill. In the second, she gets automatically promoted to chief engineer herself as soon as she's recruited.
    Tali: Please, Shepard. I’m a Quarian. Give me a chunk of scrap metal, a circuit board, and some element zero, and I’ll have it making precision jumps.
    • In the third game, with the return of Chief Engineer Adams, she unofficially becomes Second Engineer and acts as his Relief. Adams comments that its good to have her back as she clearly knows the new Normandy's engines better than he does. Even Joker says that the Normandy doesn't seem to be running right without her handling the engines.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • What she sees working with Legion as, until the end of the second game, where she stays in touch with it until the geth are upgraded by the Reapers.
    • She also hates Cerberus and makes it clear that she's only there because Shepard is.
      Tali: I thought you were undercover, Shepard. Maybe even planning to blow Cerberus up. If that's the case, I'll loan you a grenade. Otherwise, I'm here for you, not for them.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Fist's men start pulling guns during their meeting with her, she hits two of them with a grenade (destroying their shields and knocking them down), rushes to cover, and pulls out her pistol. If you wait a few seconds to intervene after the gameplay starts, she then guns one or two of the assassins down. After Shepard kills the remaining assassins, she thanks Shepard for the help, and tells him/her about how she obtained the data proving Saren is a traitor by disabling and then hacking information from a geth platform to Shepard's shock, as s/he thought such a thing was impossible.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Kelly thinks her suit is beautiful and wonders what her skin feels like under it, Fem-Shep has the aforementioned Les Yay moment with her, and Jack, if brought to the Citadel Party, has this to say about her:
    Jack: You're adorable Tali. If I was little bit drunker and knew how to unzip that suit...
  • Everyone Can See It: Her feelings for Male Shep. Kelly, Kasumi, Liara, and Javik can all comment on it. Liara, in Lair of the Shadow Broker, suggests she knew about Tali's feelings as early as the first game. Kaidan and Ashley's complete lack of surprise when they hear Shepard and Tali dropping innuendos at each other during a mission suggest they did too. The only ones who don't know are newcomers James and Javik.
  • The Exile: In Mass Effect 2, one possible outcome of her loyalty mission is that she can be permanently exiled from the Migrant Fleet. But she still has a home on the Normandy.
  • Expy: Of Aerie, the Broken Bird elf maiden from Baldur's Gate II, as evidenced by her naming her combat drone Chikktika vas Paus, a reference to Aerie's oft-spoken phrase "Faster than Chitika Fastpaws!"

    F-J 
  • Face Palm: Well, Face Plate Palm. Tali does this a few times.
    Tali: (when Shepard asks about "vas Qwib-Qwib") Oh, boy. Here we go.
  • The Faceless: Justified. Her species has a weak immune system that means she must wear a special suit at all times. In third game, if romanced by a male Shepard, she leaves a picture of her in his cabin.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sometimes slips into this, the geth having become a major Berserk Button for the quarians.
  • Foil:
    • She and Liara have character traits that play off one another. In the original game, Liara was cast as the Adorkable Cutie who loved Shepard and practically worshipped the ground they walked on. But, after she took a Darker and Edgier path in the second game, all of those traits fell to Tali. Further, they are both extremely smart and capable women, but extreme opposites in gameplay. Liara is a powerful Squishy Wizard with exceptional biotic abilities. Tali is a Gadgeteer Genius specced entirely toward Tech. Even their firearms contrast: Liara wields a pistol used at a safe distance, while Tali is outfitted with a Short-Range Shotgun, meaning that even having both in the squad at once means the team is prepared for every conceivable obstacle.
    • During the course of Mass Effect 3 Tali can play a large role in retaking her homeworld - in the best case anyway. Shortly therafter, Liara loses her world to the Reapers and rather unfairly blames herself for this. This even gets Lampshaded by Tali, by pointing out that she might not be the best person to comfort Liara given the irony of the situation.
  • Four-Star Badass: If she's exonerated in her trial in Mass Effect 2, the other admirals elect to have her fill her deceased father's vacant position.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The quarians' hat, but Tali is especially so.
    Tali: Please, Shepard, I'm a quarian! Give me a hunk of scrap metal, a circuit board, and some element zero, and I'll have it making precision jumps!
    • In addition to her skills in dealing with ships, hacking, combat tech, and robotics, she's pretty handy with firearm modification. Her Quarian Machinist passive power in the second game describes her as possessing "expertise in engineering firearms of all kinds", which is given as the reason why putting points into that power increases weapon damage.
    • Her contribution to upgrading the Normandy in Mass Effect 2 is some very advanced cyclonic shield technology that "slaps" incoming objects aside rather and simply tries to absorb the force of the impact. This upgrade is one of the three you need to have to prevent people dying during the initial phase of the suicide mission
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: You finally get to see Tali sans suit in Mass Effect 3 if you romance her and help the quarians reclaim their homeworld. Although her skin color isn't definitively green.
  • Get a Room!: If previously romanced and then continued in 3, Tali and male Shepard flirt constantly throughout the Geth Dreadnought mission. If brought along as the third squadmate, Garrus ends up snarkily invoking this.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: If romanced by Paragon Shepard. It's a wonder half the ship can't hear them.
  • Glowing Eyes: Like all quarian they become visible through her faceplate in Mass Effect 2 and 3. Weirdly, not seen in the picture of herself she leaves on Shepard's nightstand in 3.
  • Guilt Complex: A major part of her character is that she tends to place enormous blame on herself whenever something in her life goes wrong, justified or not. This extends to situations where she couldn't possibly be held responsible, like the death of her team on Haestrom (as a poorly conceived and unnecessary Suicide Mission from the start, that one's on the admirals) or her failure to prevent the re-ignition of the quarian-geth war (the geth were refusing to negotiate, and the admiralty board was stacked with pro-war admirals).
    • This trait is also a major part of her Romance Sidequest; she initially tries to back out of the relationship due to a combination of I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and concern that it could negatively affect her duties on the mission. She even apologises to Shepard, calling herself "stupid and selfish" for even considering the idea. If they resume their relationship in 3, she tells Shepard straightaway that she probably won't come back on the Normandy after the quarian-geth war is over, despite how much she wants to, because "My people need me". The emotional climax of her whole romance arc across both games comes at the end of the Rannoch arc, when she finally gains enough confidence in herself and her relationship to pursue it fully. After that, she and Shepard get along splendidly.
    Shepard: Are you okay? I know working with the geth would be difficult.
    Tali: I'm not staying. I'm coming with you.
    Shepard: I wasn't going to ask...
    Tali: Why not?
    Shepard: Because I respect you, dammit! You think I don't want you to come with me?
    Tali: Then ask me.
    Shepard: Tali-
    Tali: I don't know how much time we have left. I don't know if we can beat the Reapers. But whatever happens, I want to be with you.
    Shepard: [relieved] ...I bet you say that to every guy that gets you a homeworld.
    Tali: Only the cute ones.
    • This is arguably more pronounced in the 'Renegade' version of that conversation:
    Tali: I'm not staying. I'm coming with you.
    Shepard: I thought your people needed you?
    Tali: So?
    Tali: I gave up my father for my people. I gave up my freedom for an admiral position I didn’t want. I'm not giving up you.
  • Hack Your Enemy: AI Hacking is one of her abilities, a carryover from the Engineer class. She keeps it across all three games.
  • Handgun: Along with shotguns, her main weapon type in all three games.
  • Hartman Hips: The mandatory mentioning of them along with the character is virtually a meme. Joker even snarks about it when James suggests that he get suited like a quarian to help with his disability:
    Joker: Have you seen Tali? I don't have the hips to carry a suit like that.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With female Shepard.
  • Holding Hands: Part of her romance path with Shepard.
  • Honor Before Reason: Family honor, in this case. During her Loyalty Mission, she is willing to let herself be exiled purely to preserve her father's reputation, given that the evidence that would clear her of guilt would also indict her father of heinous war crimes.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In one version of the party in the Citadel DLC, she poisons herself with cheese made for levo-chiral consumers. Though it was really a desperate attempt to Change the Uncomfortable Subject of EDI discussing Traynor's... desires for EDI's voice.
    Tali: Well, I'm just going to sit here quietly til someone changes the subject.
    Shepard: Awkward?
    Tali: Awkward.
  • I Call It "Vera": Chikktika vas Paus, her combat drone. Her drones in the third game no longer have names, unfortunately. However, Chikktika is still mentioned at least once in the Citadel DLC, particularly on calling out Glyph's apparent incompetence at tracking down the clone.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: After secretly falling in love with a male Shepard during the first game, Tali is stunned if Shepard returns her feelings in the sequel, having assumed that he would not want to see past her helmet and see her for her.
    Tali: I've watched you for so long. And I never imagined you'd ever see past... [gestures at her helmet] this.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
    • An exorbitantly worded email from her father, but this is the general gist of its contents. It's a real shame you can't show it to Tali.
    • A more mild example with Kasumi after the night alone with Tali:
      Kasumi: Tali is so cute. You're all she talks about, in that sweet, rainbows-and-butterflies kind of way. She loves you, Shepard. Be good to her.
  • Ill Girl: Something of a Running Gag concerning her; she finds the perception irksome.
  • The Immodest Orgasm:
    • In the third game, a quick dialogue with a romanced male Shepard seems to poke fun at this.
      Tali: It's good to be back on the Normandy.
      Shepard: Let me know if it's too quiet for you to sleep. I'm sure I can find you someplace louder.
      Tali: Hmm...
  • I'm Standing Right Here: She finds herself saying this from time to time. Even once to Shepard. Case in point: this conversation if she accompanies Shepard and Mordin on the latter's loyalty mission:
    Shepard: [riling up a sick krogan] I said a badass, not a sick scout whining like a quarian with a tummy-ache!
    Tali: I'm standing right here!
  • Info Dump: Unlike the other alien teammates in Mass Effect, whose species' backstories are revealed through multiple conversations, other alien Non Player Characters, and Avina, Tali dumps pretty much everything you need to know about the quarians in your first and very long conversation with her on the Normandy. This is likely because she's the only quarian character in the entire first Mass Effect game.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Fits this trope like a glove during her romance. Averted in the third game, as being in an ongoing relationship with Shepard seems to have done wonders for her confidence and self-esteem.
  • Insistent Terminology: Falls into this when drunk on turian brandy.
    Tali: Turian brandy, triple filtered and introduced into the suit through an emergency induction port.
    Shepard: That's a straw, Tali.
    Tali: Emmeeerrrgency induction port.
  • Interspecies Romance: Her favourite movie (or "vid" as its called in-universe) is Fleet and Flotilla, a film about an interspecies romance between a turian and quarian. Dialogue from Citadel implies that Tali is into aliens. Also, she can end up with either Male!Shepard or Garrus depending on whom the player decides Shepard to romance. Both potential men she ends up with can be considered aliens.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: At first, she has trouble sleeping on the Normandy because the ship is so quiet. She's used to the ships in the Migrant Fleet, which are frequently bought used or are remnants from the geth uprising, and which make a lot of noise. A quiet quarian ship is typically a bad sign.
    • Reversed in the second game, where she's used to it and the clamor of the Migrant Fleet is distracting to her.
    • And of course there's the Call-Back to this in the flirting in the third game.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: She's overjoyed when Shepard starts making advances towards her but later tries to back out, believing herself to be undeserving of Shepard's affection and fearing that he'll be hurt by their relationship.
    Tali: You deserve to... be happy with someone. I can't do that. No matter how much I... I could get sick, jeopardize the mission.
    • Which is made all the worse at the end of ME3, if the Destroy option isn't taken.
    • Even if Shepard commits to her, Tali is more than willing to stand aside and allow Shepard to be with someone else.
    • If you break up with her in 3 in favor of a rekindled romance with Ashley or Liara, she doesn't hold it against you and says earnestly that she hopes you two are happy together. She has a similar reaction in 2 if you pursue a romance with her but back out at the last minute, calmly accepting the rejection and saying that there are no hard feelings.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Like most quarians, she believes that her ancestors made the right decision to try and exterminate the geth, at first. But gets better about it in ME3.
  • Improbable Age: As the description for her 'Quarian Machinist' power notes: "Though young, Tali is a true genius when it comes to dealing with mechanical and electronic equipment". Indeed, Tali is only 22 in the first game, and 25 by the third, yet she's one of the best engineers and hackers in the galaxy as well as a frontline combatant with a kill count possibly into the hundreds, and is the recipient of "the best military training on the quarian fleet". This is quite insane when you remember that the average starting age for a Navy SEAL or Delta Force operator in Real Life is between 29 and 33, while the average mechanical engineer tends to start around 27 (and, you know, they're usually not both). Gets taken Up to Eleven in the third game, where she's a genius hacker, engineer, roboticist and borderline One-Woman Army who is also an ADMIRAL. At 25.
  • Just Friends: Retroactively with male!Shep from the first game.

    K-O 
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Towards Shepard. Upped in the later games. BIG time.
  • Latex Space Suit:
    Ken: [to Gabby] Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful bucket... The whole suit is lovely, quite snug in all the right places...
    Tali: You know I can hear you!
  • Love Martyr: For her father. He broke the most sacred laws of his people aboard the Alarei, but Tali would rather let herself become Persona Non Grata to the only home she has ever known than let that become public knowledge. The really tragic thing is that this isn't even what he would have wanted; he did what he could to keep her safe from any political fallout, and would likely have wanted her to let the findings become public knowledge, if for no other reason than to ensure something good came out of it all.
  • Ludicrous Precision: If brought along to Noveria, and Shepard tries to dissuade the two cops standing guard at Qu'in's office, she'll tell them the chances of death if they try to fight are 90%.
  • Loophole Abuse: She admits the only reason she is an Admiral is because she is the geth expert.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: A literal example, even if she isn't evil at all. Rael's experiments are morally questionable at best, and beyond the Moral Event Horizon to some.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Referenced a few times if Shepard romances her, as the quarians are highly distrustful of outsiders (somewhat justifiably), and are seen as pests by the rest of the galaxy. She comments when drunk that her father would've hated her dating a human, and when she first meets up with Shepard again in the third game, Shepard wonders if their relationship could cause a stir in public opinion on the quarian fleet. This is seemingly disregarded after the conclusion of the Rannoch arc, though.
    Tali: I'm an admiral. People look to me for guidance. Public disagreement could divide the fleet.
    Shepard: And what about us? Would us being together "divide the fleet"?
    Tali: No! Well, possibly. I-I don't know. But right now, I've got civilian ships taking fire. Can we keep this quiet? At least in front of the admirals?
    Shepard: Sure thing... Ms. vas Normandy.
    • In the Citadel DLC, if she's taken as Shepard's date to the casino, she makes a comment implying that a quarian wouldn't even have been let into the establishment if she hadn't gone with Shepard ("It's not every a day a quarian gets to mingle with the rich and famous... Whatever it takes to get you to bring me somewhere nice"). She says something similar about a sushi restaurant she wanted to go to during her Pilgrimage ("I knew they wouldn't let a quarian in"). Though given her achievements and the fact that she's an admiral at that point, they'd probably make an exception at that point even if she wasn't with Shepard.
  • Mama Bear: Even for a quarian, Tali is very dedicated to protecting the Migrant Fleet.
    • Remarked upon in the second game. During her trial, various members of the crew of the Rayya are impressed that, despite being accused of treason and threatened with the possibility of exile, Tali's first thought was to safeguard the Fleet by embarking on a highly dangerous mission to secure the Alarei and eliminate the geth onboard.
    • One of the reasons why she's reluctant to act on her feelings for male Shepard is that she's afraid of jeopardizing his mission by risking her health in pursuit of being with him. Shepard can then convince her that she's always been generous to a fault, and that just once, she should pursue her own happiness.
  • Meaningful Rename: Despite the fact that "vas Normandy" is shoved onto her without her consent for political reasons, if she is exonerated, she still decides to keep her name as Tali'Zorah vas Normandy indicating her absolute loyalty and friendship with Shepard over any quarians.
  • Meganekko: In a sense — She doesn't wear glasses but her hazmat suit is a constant reminder of her vulnerability, both physical and emotional. Adding to that, she is very sweet, intelligent, and endearingly awkward when approached for as a romance option.
  • Mildly Military: She received military training on the Migrant Fleet and participates in military operations for the Admiralty Board in 2, but she's never identified by a rank and doesn't wear a uniform like the other Migrant Fleet Marines. She's also able to leave and join a renegade Spectre on a suicide mission simply by asking. In 3, she actually does get an official military rank as an Admiral, but she says that she doesn't actually do any military commanding. She does, however, serve as an ambassador (to both the geth and the Citadel races) and a front line combatant.
  • Military Brat: Due to her father being an Admiral in the quarian Fleet, Tali never saw much of him growing up. At the very least, she got the best military training in the Fleet, which explains her proficiency with a shotgun.
  • Military Maverick: Has shades of this as an Admiral herself in the third game.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: She's most notable for her genius in electronics, hacking, and robotics, rather than her skill with a gun. Even in combat missions, most of her powers revolve around disabling enemy equipment (e.g. Overload/Energy Drain disables shields, Hacking/Sabotage turns robotic enemies against their masters) or deploying a Attack Drone to aid her (particularly in the third game, where the combat drone can be upgraded to fire rockets and can be deployed with an additional "Defense Drone"). However, she still does have the best military training on the Migrant Fleet, and is fully capable of slaughtering her way through mercenaries, geth, and Cerberus with a good shotgun and Hand Cannon.
  • Motor Mouth: She admits to this as a defense mechanism when she becomes nervous.
  • The Movie Buff: To the point that many of her lines during her romance arc in the second game are from her favorite movie: Fleet and Flotilla.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tali is a very attractive woman who draws the attention of multiple people during the series despite being stuck in a environmental suit.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless:
    • She's thin and lightly built, but surprisingly strong. She can use very heavy shotguns like the Crusader without any trouble, which are on par in terms of weight and recoil with anti-materiel rifles. She also manages to easily pull the very heavily armored and armed, potentially 150+ kg male Shepard to safety on the Geth Dreadnought, as well as potentially on the Collector Base and at the climax of the Citadel DLC. For an idea of how hard that is, when the Mythbusters tested it they discovered that an average man struggled a lot to pull up someone about a third of Shepard's potential weight in that scenario. It's implied at a few points that quarians are stronger than humans of the same weight, so that might explain it.
    • Alternatively, it could be due to the cybernetic implants that the Quarians have- seeing as how a Fem!Shep with Cerberus cybernetics can easily overpower James in their sparring match.
  • Must Not Die a Virgin: Seems to be her motivation to "find a way before the last fight". It's no wonder that, if she survives to the third game, she doesn't end it alone.
  • Mysterious Veil: Her helmet and mask combo gives this impression, including giving us just a hint of her facial structure underneath.
  • Nice Girl: She's very polite, selfless, and forgiving. Shown especially in the third game, where she uses her connections in the Migrant Fleet to get a turian colony evacuated at the insistence of one of its former inhabitants, even though that same guy was a clerk on the Citadel who refused to let her into the Presidium, called her a "suit rat", and didn't even get her a doctor when she had a bullet in her arm. She notes that while she can rub in her current power to him, it wouldn't solve anything and would be immature.
    • She's also quite social, making fast friends with most of the crew. Even prejudiced characters like Navigator Pressly and Ashley, as well as anti-social jerkasses like Javik and Jack, eventually take a liking to her.
  • Noble Bigot: Reconstructed. As selfless and heroic as Tali is, she hates synthetic lifeforms — and she's one of the more open-minded quarians. This is based on the unfortunate fact that her people were driven off their home planet and nearly annihilated by their own created AI race, and the geth later kill her father as well. As the games go on, however, she is forced to confront the uncomfortable reality that while the quarians have good reasons to hate the geth, a lot of their suffering is of their own making, and meeting with Legion especially forces her to reexamine her Just a Machine attitude towards the geth, especially during her Loyalty Mission, where she gets a glimpse at how far her father was willing to go in the name of getting her back to the homeworld. Eventually, thanks to Character Development, she becomes in favour of peace with the geth. The player's choices can make her be more friendly to Legion, sparking a friendly Not So Different situation in the third game to resolve the whole quarian/geth conflict. Doing so factors in to the potential for reconciliation between the geth and quarians.
  • Not So Different: From a Spacer Shepard, since both are Military Brats whose parents eventually became an Admiral of their respective fleet. Even more-so when/if she becomes a high-ranked member of the hierarchy whom even higher-ups defer to.
  • Odd Friendship: In 3, it seems that she and Legion have been in communication, and it's clear that they develop a strange fondness for one another even after the other admirals lead the quarians back into war with the geth. If Legion "dies" to give the geth true sentience and peace is achieved, Tali mentions that in lamenting all the people she watched die, she's mourning even Legion, "how weird is that?"
    • The Citadel DLC implies she has one with Jack. They can be seen conversing relatively frequently, they dance next to each other in the 'wild' party, and Jack makes a (probably not serious) pass at her (see Even the Girls Want Her, above). It makes some sense; they were on the same deck for most of the second game, and Tali is nice and genuine person in general, which was probably much appreciated by someone who's gone through the type of life Jack has. Finally, when Shepard asks about Tali's tattoo at the party, she says she got it under Jack's recommendation. Or, more specifically, if Shepard romanced her, she says she got it because "Jack said you'd think it was hot".
    • Additionally, Tali adopts Jack's signature insult for Miranda, "Cerberus cheerleader."
    • The Normandy Crash DLC reveals that Navigator Pressly came to consider her a friend.
  • Only Sane Woman: Behind Jacob and Legion, Tali is one of the more sensible crewmembers on the Normandy in Mass Effect 2, though she still has her issues. At least until Mass Effect 3.
  • One-Woman Army: Implied to be this at a few points, believe it or not.
    • She was running missions against the geth in the two-year time skip between the first and second games, and apparently did pretty well on them. She's been promoted to the leader of a classified expedition by the time Shepard sees her. Additionally, the 'corpses' of the geth she sent back to her father only made up a small minority of all the geth she and the teams she was with killed, yet were enough to reconstruct at least a company of troops.
    • Some of the ambient dialogue in her loyalty mission from random quarians includes lines such as "If anyone can take back the Alarei, Tali'Zorah can". So apparently she did do very well for herself in the time skip.
    • See Body-Count Competition. She's apparently competitive with Garrus in this regard, who's quite the One-Man Army himself. She even killed more geth than he did on Ilos.
    • Of course, in-game, she's also full capable of cleaving through squads of elite commandos on her own. Even if she's somewhat Overshadowed by Awesome in this regard compared to, say, Wrex.
  • Optional Party Member: Just like Thane, Samara, Grunt, Zaeed, Kasumi and Legion (i.e. non-DLC, post-Horizon squadmates), you can complete the second game without her. Doing this will come back to haunt you, though...
  • Orgasmic Combat: Her french acting.
  • Out of Focus: Ironically, while her relevance to the plot grows bigger in the second and third games, her role in both of them comes much later than in the first where she was recruited after only two missions. In 2 she appears early on but is forced to take off due to the fact that she's in the middle of undertaking a mission for her people and she doesn't return until halfway through the game leading her to be absent for a good portion. Likewise 3 has Shepard busy with helping the turians and krogan and later dealing with the Cerberus coup, leading her to not return until halfway through the story once again.
    • That said, despite all of that, she and Garrus are the only two squadmates that can fight alongside Shepard across all three games.

    P-T 
  • Pardon My Klingon: She uses the term "bosh'tet" from time to time. Which is similar to the Hebrew word for "shameful one" or a way to saying "shit" in Portuguese.
  • Pair the Spares: If a Male Shepard does not romance Tali, or a Female Shepard does not romance Garrus, the two will hook up.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Like Garrus, link up with her in 2 or forever hold your peace.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: In the Extended Cut DLC, if you've got a romanced Tali accompanying you to the final run to the Crucible, she will end up critically injured in an explosion. Shepard will, in turn, have the other companion get her aboard the Normandy safely, prompting her to invoke this trope. You can either give her one final, tender, heartfelt goodbye...or say she'll just get in your way.
  • Please Wake Up: When she finds her father dead on the Alarei, she desperately thinks he has a back up plan, and it takes either a Paragon interrupt or a few moments for Tali to realize he is gone.
  • Plotline Death: Can suffer this in ME2, at which point she does not appear in ME3. Can also suffer this in ME3, depending on your choices during the re-ignited quarian/geth war.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Falls prey to several of these from the human crew, but finally gets to turn the tables in the Citadel DLC, when romanced Shepard fails to get her reference to Fleet and Flotilla, her favourite film/musical. The clip of the vid the player sees reveals she'd been quoting it directly in several of her romance scenes, and Shepard unknowingly did the right responses.
  • Powered Armour: The quarian suits are a peculiar version of this. In the first game, Tali has ridiculously high shields, while her alternate appearance in 2 comes with a targeting scanner on her mask and in 3, one of her outfits gives her faceplate a blast-shield.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • She only curses once in the first game. On Feros, after the team destroys a geth dropship, she comments:
    Tali: I hope that ship was full of those geth bastards!
    • When she's truly mad, she tends to use the term "bosh'tet," a quarian curse. She screams it at Kai Leng if she's brought along to Thessia.
    • Taking her along to the Cerberus Headquarters reveals that she's not afraid of using human curse words, either.
      Tali: Choke on it, Cerberus bastards!
    • After the mission at Sanctuary, when she gets drunk over Miranda, regardless if she survived or not, Tali will say "Keelah, she was such a bitch!", the only time she uses such a harsh curse term.
  • Properly Paranoid: Just like Kaidan/Ashley, she is absolutely right about her predictions that Cerberus cannot be trusted, as the third game proves.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Much of her default outfit in all three games is purple. The fact that she is the daughter of an admiral, and can potentially become one herself certainly prove that she wields quite a bit of power. Her skin may also be purple, judging by the photograph she gives a romanced Shepard. It's hard to tell.
  • Rank Up: She is an Admiral in the third game.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Technically becomes this in Mass Effect 3, even if her position as an Admiral is mostly ceremonial. She's still very helpful if you want to broker peace between the quarians and geth.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Some people see her as blue, with Kasumi being the Red Oni. Tali, though she has her moments, is kind, calm, and uses her considerable skills to aid others. Kasumi is upbeat, energetic, and uses her considerable talents for thievery and espionage.
  • Reassignment Backfire:
    • When the Admiralty Board accuses her of treason, they officially change her ship from the Neema to the Normandy, in hopes of publicly ostracizing her from the fleet and under the impression that Shepard would do a substandard job of defending her. Someone honestly thought that appointing Commander Shepard her public defender was a sure way to get her exiled.
    • The Paragon ending to this has Shepard go Papa Wolf/Mama Bear on the entire quarian Admiralty board, fuming that they would even consider to exile Tali after everything she's done, which was help save the entire damn galaxy. The middle option gets the entire crowd on her side. In the Renegade outcome, Shepard calls them flat out on their "political bullshit." The Admirals meekly decide to acquit her of all charges. After which, she decides to keep the name "vas Normandy".
      Shepard: We could still go back and get you exiled, if you want.
      Tali: [laughs] Hah! Thanks, but I'm fine with things like this. It's fun watching you shout.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Calling an admiral a bosh'tet in the middle of her trial. To be fair, news of her father's possible death was intentionally withheld from her by said admirals.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Potentially with Male Shepard in the second game.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • It even gets lampshaded by Tali that she often gets rescued by Shepard; not that she can't handle herself, but it certainly helped kick-start her feelings for him.
    • She gets her turn twice in 3 as she saves Shepard from falling to his/her death on a collapsing the elevator, and kills Legion/Geth VI if you side with the quarians in their conflict with the geth. And she can do both as his girlfriend.
    • The casual way in 2 that a Male Paragon Shepard states the reason for showing up to rescue Tali from an army of geth. Be honest, who wouldn't fall a little in love with him at that point?
      Shepard: I was in the neighborhood... thought you might need a hand?
    • Referenced in the Citadel DLC.
      [Tali kills two mooks]
      Tali: Did you really fall through a fish tank?
      Shepard: We'll talk about it later.
      Tali: Do you remember back when you used to rescue me in the wards?
      Shepard: We'll talk about it later.
  • Required Party Member: In Mass Effect 3, the first and last missions of the Rannoch arc.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: She can hack synthetic enemies and get them to kill each other. This includes Geth Primes, Geth Armatures, Atlas Mechs, and all types of turrets. Like most powers, it was nerfed heavily in the second game (it was considered overpowered in the first due to almost half of the game's enemies being synthetic), but was buffed again in the third (mainly in extending its functionality to screw up organic enemy weapons and covering both functions under the umbrella name "Sabotage").
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Her character quest in ME2 centers around her being held responsible for her father's geth experiments — actually a convenient smokescreen for the admirals to discuss the issue of going to war with the geth.
  • Shock and Awe: She could use Overload in the first game. This was replaced by Energy Drain in the second and third games, which is unique to her, except for potentially Shepard. Energy Drain buffs her own shields in addition to draining enemy shieldsnote , but lacks the certain offensive properties that Overload gains in the third game.
    • All of her powers in the third game come with the secondary effect of electrocuting her enemies. Energy Drain now stuns and damages organic enemies if used on them rather than just destroying their shields, Sabotage used on organics causes weapons to backfire and electrocute them, and both her Combat Drones and her Defense Drones have an electric shock as their main attack. At least until the Combat Drone gets upgraded to fire rockets. Energy Drain can also prime and trigger Tech Bursts.
    • She seems to like this trope. If she's Shepard's love interest, then she makes her entrance in the Citadel DLC by electrocuting two mercenaries to death with her omni-tool, then pulling out her shotgun for the next firefight after they're both dead. The other (non-biotic) potential rescuers just shoot them.
  • Shoot the Dog: If you can't broker peace between the quarians and the geth, then you must choose one of the two. If you choose the quarians, then Legion will knock Shepard down, strangle him/her, and hold him/her over the edge of a cliff. Tali then stabs it. In Legion's final moments, Tali tells it that she's sorry and that it does have a soul; if it's the Geth VI she says that "Legion would have understood" (she is mistaken), or that she knew it would turn on her and Shepard.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Well, she thinks so.
  • Shrinking Violet: In her romance with Shepard in the second game. She gets more confident and flirtatious in the third.
    • She's actually quite snippy. You sass her, she'll gladly return fire. Just ask Wrex.
    • Also, keep in mind that she isn't generally shy and is perfectly capable of having a conversation without stuttering or getting nervous. It's just Shepard's advances that make her nervous. And not even because of how forward he is; she's just looking out for his mission and doesn't want to pursue him at the expense of getting sick and not being able to help him.
  • Sibling Rivalry: If romanced in the sequels, after previously romancing Ashley in the first, both see the other as a sister. Bringing them both onto the Geth Dreadnought however, shows that they have some friction over their mutual feelings for Shepard (unless you commit to Tali beforehand).
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Her romance with a Paragon Shepard is just made of this trope, and also works as a nice Gender Flipped version.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: When Shepard first meets her, Tali has survived numerous encounters with geth and Saren's forces, but was easily lured into an ambush set by Fist and the Shadow Broker.
  • The Smart Guy: The tech and engineering expert.
  • Sole Survivor: Loses her entire unit on Haestrom, with the possible exception of Kal'Reegar.
  • Something Only They Would Say: How she can potentially realize that, yes, that is Shepard standing in front of her in the beginning of the second game. Only s/he would know about how she got the geth data for her Pilgrimage. This depends on whether you did give her the geth data way back in the first game.
  • Squishy Wizard: Her tech powers can be incredibly useful when trying to mezz enemies, especially when dealing with synthetics, but her physical durability is pretty poor, due in part to the general fragility of her suit and (in ME1 at least) the rarity of her armor upgrades. In Mass Effect this is balanced out by pouring points into her Electronics skill and her "Quarian Machinist" Class skill, which increases her shields to the point where she can survive pretty much the whole game with the same suit she started with; in the later games, she's a bit more durable in general and gets a loyalty power that drains enemies' shields or synthetics' health and replenishes (or even overcharges) her own shields.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Officially listed at 5'8. That makes her pretty tall even before considering the fact that quarians are generally slighter and shorter than humans (Golo, an average quarian male, was "a few inches over five feet"). To quarians, Tali may be something of a giantess.
  • Subordinate Excuse: The second game reveals that she goes with Shepard just as much to be around him as to save the galaxy.
  • Talking Lightbulb: What with being a quarian and all.
  • Tempting Fate: "Commander Shepard, this is Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib-Qwib. Do not ask about the name ." Guess what's one of the dialog options immediately after she says that?
  • Terrified of Germs: Given the quarians' weak immune system, this is rather serious concern. She's not as terrified as most of her race though, since she actively attempts to find ways to overcome this handicap in order to be intimate with a Male Shepard.
    • She also expresses that she'd be willing to join suits with FemShep, though it appears to be more about trusting her with her life, than actual romantic interest. Probably.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: She wears purple, and her hood emulates the basic shape of feminine long hair (as do all female quarians' hoods).
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Approaching the colony Cerberus have huskified prompts a "I have a bad feeling about this" from her.
    • On Virmire, on seeing Sovereign's hologram above the Prothean beacon, she murmurs "something bad is about to happen". She ain't wrong.
  • To Absent Friends: Regarding Miranda of all people, if the latter doesn't survive Sanctuary in the third game (she has the same scene if Miranda survives, but it doesn't fit the trope).
    Tali: Nice job, you genetically perfect Cerberus cheerleader bosh'tet. Keelah se'lai.
  • Token Good Teammate: In 2, is among the few party members who is not an Anti-Hero.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the beginning of the first game, (despite being 22), she essentially is a teenager in over her head, on the run from a few thugs. Come the third game — three years, more or less, in-universe — and she is an Admiral of the Fleet.
    • Also occurred between the beginning and end of Mass Effect 1. At the start, she was merely able to hold her own against a trio of regular assassins, and required Shepard's help to escape the situation alive. By the end of it she, like every other party member, is an army-crushing terror in gameplay, and in-story (at least according to her final conversation with Garrus in Mass Effect 3), she was able to rack up more kills against heavily armed and advanced geth infantry on Ilos than Garrus Vakarian himself.
    • She actually Lampshades this a few times. If taken to the Presidium in the second game she'll comment that those assassins seemed much more dangerous at the time than they would now. If romanced, in the Citadel DLC of the third game she turns up after the ambush in the sushi restaurant via fighting her way through an unknown number of power-armored, heavily armed mercenaries, easily finishing off two just as Shepard first meets up with her. This causes her to make a Call-Back to the time where she had trouble with three far more lightly equipped mercs last time she got into a firefight in the Wards. See the quote under Rescue Romance.
  • Tragic Bigot: She becomes this, even moreso than most quarians, after her Loyalty mission. It's easy to understand her hatred of the geth, and synthetics in general, after she fought to save the galaxy from them in the first game, and especially after her father is killed in the second. And yet, despite that, she still manages to overcome those feelings by the third game.
  • Tranquil Fury: Cerberus tends to be a calming influence on Tali. It makes more sense if you read the tie-in novel Mass Effect: Ascension, which details the events which made the quarians hate Cerberus.
    (to Jacob)I don't know who you are, but Cerberus threatened the security of the Migrant Fleet. Don't make nice. [...] I assumed you were undercover, Shepard. Maybe even planning to blow Cerberus up. If that's the case, I'll lend you a grenade.
    (After listening to the Illusive Man talking about how to manipulate Shepard into trusting him) He needs to die.
  • True Companions: While this trope applies for most of the Normandy team, Tali eventually comes to consider the Normandy Team her true family more than anyone else, as indicated by her Appropriated Appellation.
  • Tsundere:
    • After Shepard affirms he still wants to be in a relationship with her in the third game, she becomes much more relaxed around him, to the point that she starts displaying some of these traits.
      Tali: I thought I'd lost you.
      Shepard: You were worried?
      Tali: You bet I was! You dying because the geth overrode my hack? Think of my reputation!
      Shepard: You were worried.
    • In Leviathan, if romanced, she actually scolds Shepard for diving into the depths of the ocean to speak with Leviathan, since she was left worrying like crazy until he got back.
    • In the Extended Cut, Tali is one of the love interests that implores Shepard to come back alive. The other one is Garrus.

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  • Underestimating Badassery: The Shadow Broker in 2 has a unique comment for each potential party member about how valuable eliminating them and Shepard would be. But Tali? He's surprised Liara brought her along, what with her botched research mission on Haestrom. Though he could just be trying to press her Berserk Button.
  • Undying Loyalty: Best summed up in three simple words:
    Tali: Thank you... Captain.
    • This gets taken even further if Shepard and Tali are in a romantic relationship; Tali outright says that she trusts Shepard more than anyone else, hence why they... linked suits. Best summed up in four simple words near the end of the third game. Given the almost religious significance "the homeworld" has in quarian culture, and how she had previously remarked on wanting to build a home there, it's quite a powerful exchange.
    [Tali is injured and Shepard has demanded she be extracted, despite her protests]
    Shepard: [tenderly] I need you to make it out of here alive, Tali. [strokes her head] Get back to Rannoch... build yourself a home.
    Tali: [tearfully] I have a home.
  • Unwitting Pawn: To the Illusive Man, like so many others. The Illusive Man originally wanted to keep Tali away from Shepard like he did the rest of the original squad. That only changed when her cooperation with Shepard on Freedom's Progress convinced the Illusive Man that Tali was a factor he could control. He then used her to bolster Shepard's loyalty to Cerberus and to gain intel on the Migrant Fleet. Ironically, this may have saved Tali's life.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Gets a hint of this in the third game provided Shepard romanced her, especially if Shepard chooses the quarians over the geth; in that scenario Tali violently stabs her former friend Legion to death with a knife to protect her boyfriend. Also, she has four very simple words to say once the files at the Cerberus Base reveal how The Illusive Man manipulated Shepard into seeing Cerberus as sympathetic.
    Tali: He needs to die.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Garrus: Will snark at each other at any given opportunity, but they are shown to care for each other. If Shepard doesn't romance her, by 3 it is shown to be Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Vocal Evolution: At the very beginning of the first game, Liz Sroka hadn't quite settled the nuances yet; Tali's voice was higher and has less of an accent. Her performance from the second game on is uniform. She also sounds a lot more expressive with her emotions; notably so in her Tear Jerker scenes.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: If Shepard sides with the quarians and she's forced to kill Legion in Mass Effect 3, she wonders if it was really worth exterminating a potential ally and personally killing a friend..
  • "Well Done, Daughter" Gal: Tali is sure her father loves her, but regardless is said to be rather distant, and probably has similar expectations for her as much as everyone else. And if you don't hug her during her loyalty mission, she remarks on how her father never used his "sick days" to show her his face... She's also not very happy that his dying message essentially was just giving her orders, remarking that she's not sure whether he didn't care at all, or this is the only way he could show it.
    • Comes across in the third game when she gets hammered on turian brandy and admits in a conversation with Shepard that one of the reasons she admires Miranda is because she never changed herself to please her father. Even if half the time she was a "Cerberus Cheerleader Bosh'tet".
    • If romanced she also comments that she's getting drunk with her boyfriend. Her human boyfriend.
      Tali: My father would have hated you.
  • Watching the Sunset: Does this while sitting on a cliff with Shepard at the end of the Rannoch arc in the third game (provided she survived). She even takes off her mask, to see the sunset without a visor in the way. It's a particularly touching scene if Shepard is romancing her, especially given the conversation that accompanies it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: She will call Shepard out if he/she betrays her trust.
    • She also reacts that way when she finds out Shepard is working for Cerberus, has a functional AI on board, or recruits Legion. She was under the impression that Shepard had been working undercover and was planning to blow them up... she was even going to offer a grenade.
    • In the first game Shepard can call her out on her attempts to justify the quarians' attempted genocide of the geth when the geth became sentient (an action that led to the civil war that resulted in the quarians fleeing their homeworld).
    • She's furious when Garrus innocently suggests using the standard turian tactic of orbital bombardment to eliminate the geth troops on Rannoch, pointing out that the quarians have waited centuries to return home and he wants to leave bits of it uninhabitable by throwing rocks at it!
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Speaks in a vaguely Slavic accent unlike every other quarian seen except her father (her honorary aunt, for example, has an Iranian accent, while the captain of her ship the Neema speaks with a RP English accent). Her voice actor describes it as an intentionally vague "unidentifiable pseudo-Eastern European".
  • What Would X Do?: You can tell Shepard is an inspiration to Tali:
    • She emulates Shepard's nice job with the mining laser back on Therum with demolition charges. We'll just assume she forgot about how that kind of blew up in Shepard's face when s/he tried it... but hey, it still got Shepard what s/he wanted.
    • If Shepard tries to help a fellow quarian on Illium who sold herself into indentured servitude to pay off stock market debts, Tali will follow Shepard's lead if you try to charm/intimidate the Synthetic Insights rep into buying her contract, offering increased business with the Migrant Fleet if you use Charm, or threatening to park said Migrant Fleet on top of the Synthetic Insights headquarters if you use Intimidate.
    • If Shepard saves her from being exiled, Tali will become a quarian admiral, stating that she accepted because she thought Shepard would have done the same in her shoes.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Makes it very clear that she was never close to her father in childhood. Though that is sort of expected if your father is part of the leadership council for your entire race.
    Tali: I don't care what he would have wanted, Shepard! I wanted a father who cared about me more than his war effort. I wanted a father who would take the sick-leave time and let me see his face without a helmet in the way. Instead, I got orders. And this. And a panel of admirals who think I'm a traitor. Those were my father's gifts to me.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • If she is brought along for the rachni sidequest in 3, she makes it clear she does not like crawlies. By freaking out when attacked by swarmers and screaming "Spiders spiders spiders spiiiiiiiiiders!!" A later conversation with Garrus reveals she's felt this way since day one. If you have the Mass Effect: Datapad iOS app, she even sends you an email on the subject.
      Tali: Spiders, Shepard. Seriously. Spiders.
    • Which makes sense if you brought her with you to Noveria in the first game. She's particularly vulnerable to rachni acid attacks back then (since their acid attacks bypass her otherwise absurdly strong shields), and that was before the Reapers made husks out of them.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: How she sums up the Citadel DLC Busman's Holiday. "Worst. Shore leave. Ever."
  • Worth It:
    • Tali's response when she gets sick after her relationship with Shepard becomes intimate.
    Tali: Just so you know, I'm running a fever, I've got a nasty cough, and my sinuses are filled with something I can't even describe... and it was totally worth it.
    • Which gets a Call-Back in 3.
      Tali: And for the record? Still totally Worth It.
    • Gets another, more comedic callback in the Citadel DLC, as a hungover Tali wakes up in bed next to Shepard:
    Tali: [groggy] Keelah. I am going to be so... sick.note 
    Shepard: Totally worth it?
    Tali: I'll let you know... who put my suit back on? The buckles are all askew.
  • Wrench Wench: Quarians are the whole race of incredibly skilled engineers. And even among the quarians, she is counted one of the best engineers and geth specialists. Note that it's not an Informed Ability. She is as skilled with technology as Legion and Kasumi. In other words, her level of tech-savvy rivals over a thousand linked geth programs and the best human thief in the galaxy.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Believe it or not, Tali could be viewed as having shades of this. She's self-sacrificing, is very nice, is the most moral teammate of a Mass Effect 2 "squad" that mostly contains criminals and killers, the hood on her helmet resembles long hair, and for all her Action Girl tendencies she tends to ultimately defer to Shepard's judgment. And she prioritizes her people above everything else, even her (optional) relationship with Shepard: if you allow the quarians to get wiped out, relationship or not, Tali will commit suicide.
  • Young and in Charge: If you manage to prevent her from being exiled, she will become an admiral, which given her age at 25, probably makes her the youngest admiral in Quarian history.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: She receives this multiple times. Shepard can repeatedly tell her this. Admirals Raan and Gerell both say this to her during and after her trial. Finally, Admiral Raan can say this to her in Mass Effect 3 if she doubts her ability as an admiral.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: In the second game, Tali can be exiled from the Flotilla for treason. This doesn't stop the Admirals from calling on her during their assault on the geth in 3, but she admits she's their "dirty secret". It also keeps you from making peace between the two sides, as she must be an Admiral for that.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: When trying to motivate an injured krogan, Paragon Shepard can tell him he's not acting like a badass, but instead a quarian with a tummyache. To which Tali replies, "I'm standing right here!"
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