Follow TV Tropes


Fanfic / Avatar of Victory

Go To

Avatar of Victory by James Golen is a crossover fanfic between Avatar: The Last Airbender and Mass Effect, a blend of the universes in question that has the Earth of A:TLA replacing the usual one.

What this means for the universe besides Shepard being the Avatar is that Bending is a present and practiced phenomenon among all the races of the Citadel as well as the presence of spirits and certain other aspects of the Avatar universe.

It has a Spacebattles thread dedicated to its updates, available here and continuing here after the original thread became too long.

Now In Audiobook form!

For a few years, from January 2016 to March 2021, the story became dormant and thus seemingly became a dead fic. However the author finally updated in March 18th of 2021, promising to release the final chapters and finish the story once and for all. The first of these final chapters would be posted on March 26th, 2021, with the story eventually being fully completed on April 14th, 2021.


This fic provides examples of the following:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played around with in the background. They're viewed as something along the lines of Spirits, and how each culture views those spirits shapes how they view AI's. For example, on Thessia, their spiritual experience was mostly negative, so the thought of a machine with a mind of its own makes them have strongly negative views on AI. The Salarians had no knowledge of any type of spirit at all until contact with the asari, and had their worldview shaped by said contact. Turians, on the other hand, believe that AI could be a good thing, mostly because they have had an extremely positive relationship with spirits, and they believe that AI(properly controlled and supplicated, like a spirit), could help improve society greatly.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: see more in the "Beethoven Was an Alien Spy" trope below, but suffice it to say, Korra couldn't conceive of alien life forms or the quarter-million year cycle Vaatu and Raava operated on, so she changed things in her mind to allow herself to handle it (not intentionally, just as a coping mechanism).
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Ashley Williams - Asha Al'wahim.
    • Legion - Adahn.
    • There are also a number of subtle changes in spelling and such for human names, bringing them more in line with the Asiatic names of the Avatar setting. For instance, Joker's real name goes from Jeff Moreau to Jet Moro, Captain Bailey to Bei-Li, and so on.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Many characters or events that the original Mass Effect series didn't address (what little there is) are expanded on in this fic, and many characters with less screentime are given A Day in the Limelight.
    • As with Golen's other works in the Avatarverse, there's also a good deal of work put into the Avatar side of the backstory, creating a history going back thousands of years and developing several more locations and cultures than canon had a chance to explore.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Jack is far more pleasant and joined the Alliance before the story began, and Balak is one of the good guys, while in the main universe he was a batarian terrorist.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The big bad in the Phoenix attack on the Citadel was Councelor Valern, the salarian Councilor... who hired human groups to make it look like Cerberus, but instead made the majority of the salarians devote the majority of their war materials and supplies to helping the humans... just as Weaver planned.
  • The Alcoholic: Shepard has been hitting the bottle since before she went through puberty. Udina, himself an alcoholic until he was Reassigned to Antarctica early in his career, suggests that Shepard should sober up because 1) despite her tolerance, she has been legally drunk on several important missions, and a drunk Spectre is bad for PR and 2) her drinking might be impairing her ability to function as the Avatar. Unstated is also 3) that she's in charge of a starship with weapons of mass destruction at her disposal, and being drunk while in charge of those is a really bad idea.
    • This culminates in a nasty fight between Liara and Shepard over her drinking later on, which nearly destroys their relationship. Shepard's love for Liara pushes her to moderate her drinking, and the two eventually reconcile.
  • Alternate Universe: While as a fusion fic, it's obviously not really in canon for either per se, in this universe, Raava's destruction did happen; the only way Hong was able to get in contact with the past Avatars was that, somehow, he contacted a different Korra who had beaten off Unalaq before he destroyed Raava.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Leviathan manages to best Shepard twice when she finally decides to Just Shoot Him and find another Avatar later, and she is only saved the first time by her crew interfering, and the second time due to Leviathan not knowing/forgetting Shepard can energybend.
  • Anyone Can Die: Jacob Taylor was already dead when Shepard woke up at the start of Book 2. Shepard managed to kill his attacker (a robot) and stole his clothes and weapon (as she was literally naked otherwise).
    • Thane and Adahn didn't survive the Suicide Mission, and Samara suffered brain damage (which is almost always fatal to asari due to how their brains are structured) which left her in a coma for a time and crippled her motor functions.
  • Arc Words: In books 2 and 3, "Something has changed..."
  • Adaptational Badass: While Grunt was already pretty strong, he was still a vanilla krogan in the source material- he was just a really strong krogan who hit things, "Perfect krogan" genetics and upgrades nonwithstanding, especially given that the other krogan squadmate you had had previously (Wrex) was capable of doing biotics. This fic fixes this by making Grunt everything he was in the original, but also makes him a Shaman. In a world where spirits exist and have great influence on the real world, this means that he can go around obstacles that would normally be closed, bend beasts and spirits alike to his will, and even convince other people's weapons to backfire on them by communing with them, via a Badass Finger Snap. Oh, and he actually managed to do better than Wrex in the Rite- Wrex was the last to kill a Thresher Maw. Grunt... managed to tame a Maw, and can now summon it like it's a Pokemon. Many of Shepard's other teammates also qualify: Wrex is an earthbender with centuries of experience, Tali learns how to waterbend in addition to her engineering skills, and bending overall is becoming more and more widespread throughout the galaxy after humanity made contact.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Wrex's description of the station where he fought Aleena: "We weren't alone. That station was crawling with the Terminus' finest. Slavers, mercenaries, pirates, telemarketers. Scum of the galaxy."
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: How one of Toph's descendants made first contact with the krogan. She came out on top.
  • The Atoner: Al'Wahim; not for herself, but for her ancestor having the dubious honor of getting the last Avatar killed.
  • Awful Truth: The asari were originally created by the Reapers, to serve as a sleeper weapon they could Mind Control en masse. Liara goes into a Heroic BSoD when she finds out. Javik even lampshades it afterwards.
  • Badass Army: Just as much as in canon, with the raloi and even the volus starting to qualify: the volus have, after the Reaper invasion began, started reverse-engineering the gun that killed the Derelict Reaper on which you found Legion in the original game for use against the Reapers, and the raloi are unparalleled snipers.
    • However, even though they are now extinct, by far the most badass were the Nazara. How badass are they, you ask? They fought the Reapers to a standstill, and so far came closer than anyone else, ever, to defeating them outright.
  • Badass Crew: The Normandy's crew, naturally.
  • Badass Normal: Asha al'Wahim, a non-bender who nevertheless keeps up with the Avatar.
  • Badass Preacher: Ka'hairal Balak. Also doubles as a Badass Teacher.
  • Badass Unintentional: Conrad Verner, who accidentally brings down criminal organizations. Ironic considering his original aspirations.
  • Badass Boast: Shepard asks Garrus how quickly a turian fleet can mobilize to respond to a threat, given a 90-second preemptive warning. Garrus replies that they can "fight a war... and have fifteen seconds left over." He's not joking.
    • Leviathan also gets an excellent one in Chapter 44, when it terrifies the Reapers inbound to the galaxy into taking orders from it.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Avatar Wan was an alien. The "First Cycle" that Korra saw in her Flashback in her series was actually just the only way her mind could comprehend what she was seeing, and Wan's cycle took place nearly two billion years ago on an alien world. Similarly, Vaatu was a Reaper super weapon. The Harmonic Convergences also don't happen every ten thousand years, as Korra thought, but rather, every two hundred and fifty thousand years.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Morinth finds out the hard way, you do not mess with the Avatar's memories. Doing so results in Unstoppable Rage.
    • Do not go back on a bargain with the Meretsegger. The last thing you want to do is to make Tuchanka's chief spirit of death angry, especially at you.
    • Leviathan, once depowered and stuck in a Zhent body, is one for Vega. Understandable, since at one point she literally ripped his soul out... He got better, though.
  • Beta Couple: Garrus and Tali are becoming this.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Shepard and Kasumi are cornered by Vido and Hoq in a gunship, when Zaeed comes out of nowhere in a Tu Wei Lu (Atlas) and annihilates said gunship in order to take out his revenge on Vido.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Inverted- Shepard mentions that the Elcor have red blood, like humans.
  • Blow You Away: Shepard's natural element, stunted after she used it to kill a batarian.
    • Also, Adahn/Legion.
    • Shepard is nearly killed by several krogan airbenders. Not so much because they were airbending, but because… well, the fact that krogan airbenders existed was extremely shocking for her and it caused her to hesitate.
  • Bond One-Liner: Garrus is especially fond of these. In time, he gets Tali doing it, too.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Reapers turn out to be this: apparently, the main controlling intelligence for each one is an Avatar for that species who was subjected to Indoctrination.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Liara has this happen to her twice; once after the geth tried to kill her at the dig site where she met Shepard, and again after Wrex shoots her in the forehead to test if her newly purchased armor is worth the two million credits she spent. It is.
  • Broken Bird: Shepard, in spades.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Vega, after having his soul ripped out by Leviathan, is no longer capable of Bending... although he can No-Sell having sex with an Ardat-Yakshi. He gets better when Shepard gives him one of her souls as a replacement.
    • Leviathan in the Final Battle against Shepard; Shepard energybends her and tears her soul out of her Reaper body, forcing it into a mostly powerless zhent body.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: more accurately "But I Couldn't Have Been Pregnant"; Elli finds out during a medical examination that she had twins almost a month prior (during her rage moments against the hanar), and didn't realize it because Protheans are marsupials. She is completely baffled by this, as she hasn't had sex in years and has been stuck as Leviathan's plaything for some time.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Naturally, the humans have these, as befitting the Avatar side of the crossover. However, the turians seem to have gained modern sayings in this universe, like "A sitting duck," which the humans don't get.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Shepard is clearly extremely reluctant to be the Avatar, and makes it clear that she never wanted the job. Unfortunately, as a member of the Systems Alliance Military, she often has little choice in the matter.
    • Subverted with some of the other Avatars. Some time after Korra died, thanks to the exploding human population, settling distant planets, and other such reasons, identifying the Avatar became exceedingly difficult. At least one died without even knowing that he was the avatar, dying as a street urchin getting taken down via hit-and-run as a teenager.
    • Used in a very dark way, as whenever an Avatar goes into the Avatar State, the Reapers will instantly know where he or she is, if they're close enough.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Why Shepard is still the Avatar rather than reincarnating after being killed by the Collectors; the Avatar spirit realizes it does not have the time to reincarnate before the Reapers arrive, so it has to use Shepard.
  • Character Development: Through the influence of her teammates, Shepard begins to soften up a little and divert from her usual "Shoot first ask questions later" mentality (such as giving the Thorian a Last-Second Chance and allowing the Rachni Queen to go free).
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's easier to list the things which don't end up being relevant later in the story. The Codexes appear to be the biggest offenders.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Liara.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Chapter 37, Marcus Pastor invokes this to Solana Vakarian, who is being hunted down by Kai Leng.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In chapter 32, Shepard almost dies because a krogan tries to use Airbending to take her out. The reason she nearly got killed, if Tali hadn't intervened? Shepard was honestly so amazed at the prospect of a krogan Airbender that she couldn't help but stare.
  • Companion Cube: Minor running gag with Garrus and his Mantis and Shepard and her Mattock. Especially when Shepard begins to fangasm over her new Cain.
    Garrus: Sometimes you're a little creepy, how into your weapons you are.
    Shepard: Says the man who'd marry his rifle if it were legal.
    Garrus: Well, there's an obvious distinction there. I've never cheated on my rifle.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place. One of Toph's descendants made first contact with the krogan, and Liara nicknames a krogan mook "Sugar Queen," which was Toph's nickname for Katara. Also, Rai Li, a member of the Alliance, is basically the (airbending) War Hero version of Shepard's backstory.
  • Control Freak: As much as she would like to appear in control, Leviathan really freaks out when people mess with her things.
  • Creator's Favorite: Invoked pretty heavily in several places where Mass Effect canon has some degree of moral ambiguity surrounding a conflict, past atrocity, or ongoing atrocity, and so the author has had to go out of their way to construct ways for their favored party to not be even a little in the wrong. It arguably borders on Creator's Pet in several places, most notably with the Quarians, a fan favorite culture canonically subject to genocide for attempting to kill their AI creations. Mass Effect treats this as a situation where the Quarians were likely in the wrong to some degree but still a heavily persecuted minority subject to near-extermination; Avatar of Victory turns that genocide into a myth created by the migrant fleet, removing all shades of grey, making the Geth objectively correct and the Migrant Fleet evil in every meaningful sense, and even includes Rannochian Quarians with painful phonetic accents and unlikable personalities who are about as self-righteous as imaginable and are portrayed as right for it every step of the way while everyone outside the Migrant Fleet looks down on it as an orwellian nightmare.
  • Crossover: Between Avatar: The Last Airbender and Mass Effect.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Once Shepard goes into the Avatar State, things go exceedingly poorly for Morinth, to put it mildly.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: The fourth time Shepard battles Leviathan, on the Collector Ship. Shepard manages to land a few blows, but the fight is overwhelmingly in Leviathan's favor, since he decided to stop trying to capture the Avatar, and instead just kill her. Shepard only survives because of her team's intervention.
  • Dark Secret: Remember Wrex's tale of Aleena, the asari merc that he tangled with once that destroyed a space station when the two fought? She cleaned up her act later on in her life and goes by Counselor Tevos now.
  • Darkest Hour: Chapter 49: Leviathan cripples the Normandy, reveals that he can pinpoint their location with amazing accuracy and can shut down Mass Relays, and Samsara is revealed to be a front for Phoenix, with Weaver as the Illusive Man.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All. Over. The. Place.
  • Deconstruction: Shepard, contrary to many other stories, chooses Udina to be the councilor of the Alliance, rather than the far more popular, well-liked, and sympathetic Anderson. When asked why she chose Udina, she replies that Anderson would make a terrible councilor, pointing out that in the meeting about Saren, he tried to use her "Visions" as evidence for a major galactic government to exile one of its best men. While Udina doesn't agree with her on many, many issues, at the same time he has political knowledge, has been working in the system for decades, and knows a great deal about discretion- something Anderson showed he didn't have.
    • The Migrant Fleet receives some as well, pointing out that unlike most fanon (where they are simply the woobie that the big, bad, Citadel Council picks on for no reason), that their government and social structure is kind of messed up, creating a monoculture obsessed with a goal they can never reasonably attain. Their other crimes (strip mining other worlds, simply dumping off criminals on inhabited worlds, a massive Never My Fault mentality) also get some limelight as well.
    • The concept of the krogan riding to the rescue of the turians in the third game was awesome. Former enemies, fighting against a common foe? Sweet! Unfortunately, this story points out that there aren't that many krogan left in the galaxy, meaning that the "Hordes of krogan saving the turians" doesn't quite go like that. They're strong, sure, but they're not exactly capable of turning the tide on their own. Furthermore, the lack of krogan numbers are something that even the Reapers take notice of, as in this story, Brutes have no krogan components, but have Yahg components instead. In addition to this, Liara points out that turian amino acid chirality for their homeworld means that the krogan who go there would have to rely on any food they brought in or their own internal fat stores, because with Reapers overhead, food resupplies don't seem likely.
    • Remember how in all the Mass Effect games, the bad guys had a seemingly endless supply of human husks to throw at you? Ever wondered where they got those when humans were relatively new on the galactic scene, and the number of human colonies weren't that large? Apparently the author did as well, because the primary basic Reaper husk used on Palaven are salarians, who have nearly a trillion-strong population.
  • Defector from Decadence: Balak; he is disgusted with the current state of the Batarians, and hopes to get a chance to get rid of the current rulers and set the Batarians on a new path. After the events of The Arrival, however, he doesn't think even that is possible.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Shepard Spiritbends Leviathan during the Final Battle, severing her soul from the Reaper and forcing her into a mostly powerless body.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Earthbenders. A couple of notable ones include (apart from Shepard) Jenkins, Wrex, James, and Weissnote .
  • Doing In the Wizard: Wan was the first Avatar, but not the first human Avatar. Also, Vaatu was actually a Reaper super-weapon and did not return every ten thousand years (Korra simplified it, taking a hyperbolic "ten thousand years"—akin to Wan Shi Tong's epithet He Who Knows Ten Thousand Things—as a literal, when the cycle operated on a far greater time scale).
    • Inverted in that it turns out that the reason that humans can't be both Biotics and Benders at the same time is that Biotics is a form of Bending, just not one that anyone knew about. And since Humans can't bend multiple elements (except the Avatar), you can either be a biotic or a bender but not both. In fact, Shepard's "Natural" bending state is that of biotics, and the reason that she was capable of using airbending is because she was the Avatar.
  • Driven to Suicide: Rael'Zorah, after learning that the geth marked him, and anybody protecting him, with death due to his experiments. Overlaps a little with Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Dying as Yourself: This is effectively how Abentus came into being. The race it was crafted from, at the behest of their Avatar, willingly threw themselves at the Reapers to be harvested. With the entire species having been processed in a matter of months, there was no time for Indoctrination to set in, leading to the birth of a Reaper with free will.
  • Earth All Along: It turns out that the Earth that has been the center of the Alliance in this universe wasn't the first Earth… or the first humans. Omega is actually the remnants of the original Sol system, from billions of years ago, and that it was our earth, or something like it, that was the precursor race that kicked off the whole cycle. Unfortunately, they fell to shadowy spirits who formed the First Reaper, and scattered life across the galaxy.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Nataraja, a Reaper super weapon/Dark Spirit that is unleashed on Palaven.
    • Meretsegger, Tuchankan death incarnate. There are only two courses of action you can take when confronted by it: Run or Die... and there's no guarantee that running will save you. To give you a hint of how powerful this thing is, it made Shepard, the AVATAR, run away screaming. If that doesn't tell you the threat, than consider that it is the main spirit of death... for Tuchanka. A galactic codex entry has it on the same level of dangerous as Koh. When someone suggests that they try to kill it, the response is that since it's a death spirit, all it would do is make it stronger and annoyed that someone tried. Grunt walks right up to it and convinces it to fight the Reapers, since they twisted the bargain the Meretsegger made with them.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Garrus Vakarian. Spends the first book bemoaning that he wasn't a bender, only to find himself firebending during the Battle of the Citadel, and having no idea how. Solana Vakarian, his sister, also permanently gains the ability to firebend, even after the Reaper-tech device that gave her her bending is removed.
  • Evil Counterpart: Kai Leng is shaping up to be this for Shepard; he can bend multiple elements, physically cross through the spirit world, and is a batshit insane loose cannon whereas Shepard is pragmatic but still on the side of good.
  • Extreme Doormat: Tali'Zorah has a very hard time telling people 'no'. Thanks to Garrus and Shepard, she's getting a lot better.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Due to getting his soul ripped out, Vega suffers one of these just after winning the fight for Fehl Prime.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Elli (the Prothean Shepard saved). She expresses confusion and outrage (mostly outrage) that hanar are a Citadel species (they were pests in her cycle) and that technology has not advanced much since her life.
  • Foil: The Migrant quarians and the Rannochian quarians are definitely this. The Migrants have engineers? Due to the fallout of the Morning War, 1/3 of the Rannochians are biotics. Where the Migrants have had to maintain a population of 17 million and a one child policy, the Rannochians have been having multiple children per family (Zek'Eluus has six siblings, apparently). The Migrants hate geth, and the Rannochians attribute the fact that they survived to the geth. Whereas the Migrants are descended from an anti-geth faction which made up most of the government and military, the Rannochian's ancestors defended the geth and apparently, were composed of most of the civilian population, which was nearly destroyed due to said military/government nuking and then gassing the planet to get rid of them, prompting the geth to retaliate and completely wipe them out, before helping save the remaining civilians.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Two of the big turian organizations are THIS and THAAT. THIS stands for "Turian Hierarchy Intelligence Service", and "THAAT" is "Turian Hierarchy Advanced Arms and Tactics."
  • Fusion Fic: The Avatar world replaced Mass Effect's Earth. Thus, we get various mash-ups, like "Chora's Den," a Bad-Guy Bar and strip club, getting turned into "Korra's Den," a theme bar based on the Roaring Twenties that The Legend of Korra took place in. It's not a strip club, either. Also, it turns out that bending is not unique to humans—pretty much every race has benders of one kind or another.
  • General Failure: Sajuuk... was not a good Avatar. At all. He alienated or killed almost all of his potential allies, causing the Protheans to lose the war to the Reapers, and died in disgrace a short time later. He makes Javik seem reasonable in comparison. Shepard makes 'a conscious effort not to be like him when this Cycle comes around.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Seems to be a staple of the setting, with at least four named AI characters who all developed independently of each other, and well outside what they were originally designed to do. Adahn is a sentient geth (Known in canon as "Legion"), obviously. EDI was a targeting computer. Sybil was a casino cheating program, while Sonny was designed to emulate human behaviors.
    • As of chapter 47, Adahn one-ups most of the other examples in the setting due to being an airbender since the Morning War.
  • Groin Attack: Happens to a krogan in chapter 32. With a mining charge.
    • Attempted again in Chapter 47 on a New Collector. With a spike of ice. Unfortunately for Shepard, it doesn't have one, and Leviathan mocks her for thinking it'd have such an unnecessary weakness.
    • Abylon does this to Vega while they (and Garrus and Tali) were on what the turian would eventually call his favortie spot in the Citadel. The hybrid wanted some liquor, but James kept it out of reach, and this was her response.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Shepard's 'evil' clone from Citadel is on Shepard's squad in the third book.
  • Hero of Another Story: Zaeed, who managed to destroy the prison ship Purgatory on his own (he took Jack's place in the recruiting process), but also managed to save all the people at the refinery… by accident.
    • Commander Rai Li, whom not only shares a background with canon's War Hero Shepard, but in this fic she also runs with her own crew of misfits of a variety of species including turian, quarian, and rogue AI, flies a sister ship of the Normandy SR-2 (of which there is an entire class running around the Alliance fleet) and even is promoted to Spectre by the time of Book 3.
  • Heroic Lineage: Kasumi is a direct descendant of Avatar Aang.
    • Though Zia deconstructs this by pointing out that because the Avatar comes from such a wide range of populations, geographical areas, and is reborn into every single generation, virtually one hundred percent of the human race has at least one Avatar somewhere in their ancestry.
    • One of Toph's descendants was among those who made First Contact with the krogan.
  • Heroic RRoD: Tapping into the full power of the Avatar State can tear the user's body apart from the stress. This happened twice to Shepard; during her No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Morinth, and again when Phoenix kidnaps her sister.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Adahn and Thane during the Final Battle; the former takes a shot for Tali and is blown to pieces, and the latter pulls a You Shall Not Pass! to allow the others time to escape and regroup.
    • Chapter 62 has a random evacuation scene where the evac ship has to leave behind a limping man because he was too far. Only to get biotically pulled by a Banshee as they try to leave. That limping man then does a biotic charge right at it, buying the ship enough time to break free.
    • Anette in Chapter 31, who despite dying, manages to biotically bring down the Collector ship, and save Vega, Kamille, and what’s left of the Human Colonists of Fehl Prime. The effort basically kills her, even after the power boost she got from melding with Leviathan.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Saleon gets it so bad, Garrus feels bad putting a mercy bullet in him!
    • Morinth ends up getting killed as a direct result of trying to take over Shepard's mind.
    • As in Mass Effect canon, despite starting from much nobler intentions, Weaver ultimately succumbs to indoctrination, though he accepts it and gracefully—more or less—bows out of action and sets Samsara/Phoenix on the path to self-destruction, rather than fighting to the bitter end against Shepard.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Played with. Humans are special because out of all the races in the galaxy, we're the only ones who can bend all four elements (plus, we have the Avatar). However, humans are also the only race who can't combine bending with biotics, and the longer life span of some of the species means that they have a lot longer to get really, really good at their art.
    • As it turns out, biotics are actually another type of bending, and the Avatar is able to harness this form, but due to the Avatar's presence, other humans cannot be both biotics and benders.
  • Human Popsicle: Javik, but instead of a stasis pod like in canon, he was sealed in diamond. This also applies to his 'daughter' Abylon. Of course, they eventually were released, but in different times.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Weyrloc Guld dies when Tali stakes him from the head down with an compressed ice spear.
  • Insistent Terminology: Avatar Vajrapata insists that Unalaq was not a Dark Avatar. The real thing, a true Dark Avatar, is ever so much worse because a true Dark Avatar comes from an Avatar actively deciding to be evil.
    • After learning that the 'Goddess Athame' was actually a Prothean, Liara now says 'by the Anthropologist' where she previously would say 'by the Goddess'.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Many of the main characters, but Wrex and Shepard in particular. Shepard seems to have taken the view of Sam Vimes: the galaxy isn't fair, so she's going to make it be fair.
  • Lampshade Hanging: On the copy/paste nature of a lot of the "bases" you fought through in the first game. Garrus claims that the turians practice on mockups of Alliance bases frequently, which leads everyone to wonder how badly the Alliance is compromised... until Garrus mentions that since most Alliance bases are just prefabs that use the same layout for simplicity's sake, "The only variation is the positioning of the cover."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In chapter 73, a discussion about time and perspective from EDI goes off on a tangent to this thanks to Liara.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: In chapter 39, while in the Collector Base, Shepard decides to take Tali, Mordin, Samara, and Jack on a side-mission, leaving the rest of the ground team (Miranda excluded, as she's on the Normandy as XO) to go with Grunt, who is holding the bomb. Garrus lampshades this in an attempt to defy it, but goes with the plan anyway.
  • Making a Splash: Tali learns how to Waterbend and is later revealed to have learned Bloodbending. [[spoiler:This also applies to the other Tali, who was previously an airbender.
    • Thane also knows this to a degree, to help pull the fluid out of his lungs, but this causes tissue damage in the process.
    • According to Thane, the hanar have a great deal of waterbenders, though we have yet to see one in action.
    • In lieu of biotics in the games, Miranda is now a waterbender instead.
  • Mega-Corp: A rare benevolent example of this trope is found in Samsara, a human non-profit organization-turned galactic economic powerhouse and Foil to Phoenix (Cerberus). While it's practices are admittedly shrouded in secret at times (and to be fair, you wouldn't exactly want people to know you stole tech from the Illusive Man to bring the Avatar back to life), it still manages to retain some semblance of proper human morals.
    • Not so benevolent now that Weaver has been revealed to be the Illusive Man. Though the benevolent part still seems to apply to most of the remaining members who weren't in the know about Phoenix.
  • More Dakka: The turian fleet vs. Leviathan's rampaging Reaper body.
  • Motor Mouth: People (usually Shepard) have to constantly remind Liara to take a breath before she talks herself into unconsciousness. Also Mordin, but that was how his canon self was as well.
  • Mythology Gag: Hoq has two artifacts in his vault that are very familiar to Avatar fans. For one, replacing the head of the Statue of Liberty is the head of the Aang statue that stood at the entrance to the harbor of Republic City. The other is Sokka's Space Sword.
    • During a conversation between Aethyta and Shepard, the former provides an old saying that is almost exactly Renegade Shepard's summarization of the Council Races in the second gamenote , except replace the last part's answer ("If you want a problem solved…") from "human" to "quarian".
    • When Jack is taken prisoner and has to escape from Phoenix in Book 3, she does so wearing an outfit similar, if not identical, to the one she pioneered in Mass Effect 2, getting the trousers from a dead Phoenix trooper, and the belt from one of her (male) students (she had been gassed in the shower, leaving her naked by the time she was found by Zia).
    • A little after the above, after bringing back a comatose Shepard due to prolonged Avatar State out of rage that her sister Talitha was kidnapped by Phoenix, just like Korra before her, Shepard is unable to remember who she is, to the horror of Talitha, Liara, Asha, and Erdeni. And then it turns out she was faking it.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Morinth is on the receiving end of one when she goes too far in meddling with Shepard's memories.
  • Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: Abylon, daughter of a dikatur and Javik (a Prothean).
  • Noodle Implements: Shepard in chapter 56 asks Wrex for "a pillow case, an electrical cord, a jug of milk, and your lizard-parrot." to make the salarian dalatrass tell her where the krogan females are. It turns out she was exploiting this; due to how fast salarians thought, the most effective thing she could have done was to let her come up with what Shepard was going to do to her.
  • No-Sell: Thanks to having his soul ripped out of him by Leviathan, James Vega can survive sex with an Ardat-Yakshi.
  • Official Couple: Despite some Ship Tease with Kaiden early on and Eating the Eye Candy with Vega, Shepard ultimately settles down with Liara, and their relationship survives, endures, and develops all the way to their wedding in chapter 81.
  • Oh, Crap!: Shepard's reaction upon hearing that the seemingly numberless hordes of Geth that she was fighting throughout the first part of her mission… were only about five percent of all Geth.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Asha's ancestor, while a decent commander, accidentally got Avatar Hong killed. Her family has been considered jinxed since then, and her desire to be The Atoner is part of the reason why she joins Shepard. It really doesn't help matters that Shepard died on Asha's watch as well…
    • Garrus apparently will never live down when he almost nuked Shepard and her squad on Agebinium, some time between book 1 and book 2.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, in that there are a number of 'Tali's in the story, including Shepard's little sister.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Adahn repeatedly sustains damage to his chassis that would (and did) kill normal Geth, and the worst that comes of it a forced lockdown for a brief period. This abnormal resilience is a sign of the presence of a soul.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Adahn is thrown for a loop when he discovers that the Geth slaughtering the crew of the Alarai are composed of both Heretic and Orthodox Geth runtimes forming consensus with one another. Through interrogation of a disabled Geth, he learns why: the Migrant Fleet's torture/experimentation of Geth resulted in them learning to feel irrational hatred.
  • Opposites Attract: Shepard and Liara. Liara is a genius who earned her doctorate (or equivalent) early, Shepard barely passed high school. Liara at first screams and runs away from any fight she gets into, Shepard is an N7 graduate who set a new record for getting through the program. Liara is a Cloud Cuckoolander, whereas Shepard is very down-to-earth (which leads to her serving as the Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder for Liara).
  • Organization with Unlimited Funding: Averted. Samsara's pockets aren't bottomless (unlike Cerberus…). Resurrecting Shepard and reconstructing the Normandy (both massively-expensive projects) threw the organization into an immense debt, to the point that Siwang Weaver had to fund the company with his own money for a short time and ask Shepard to pawn off any interesting stuff she found during her missions.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • Garrus finds out he's a firebender during the attack on the Citadel.
    • Tali also breaks out a flamethrower when the Normandy gets attacked by Thorian Creepers.
    • Given the crossover, firebenders in general.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Shepard and Garrus.
  • Power Limiter: The Javik VI acts as one to Shepard, preventing her from using the Avatar State to overcome certain situations. He allows her to use the Avatar State when fighting Leviathan.
    • Also, it's implied that memories of using airbending to kill a Batarian are why Shepard's airbending is stunted.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Bei-Li. And surprisingly considering his canon portrayal, Ambassador Donnel Udina.
  • The Remnant: There are quarians still living on Rannoch, descended from the ones who didn't want to destroy the geth.
  • Refusal of the Call: Shepard outright blows off many of the sidequests from the first game, claiming that she's not interested, or that the activity in question is downright illegal. She also refuses to recruit Zaeed, as he appears to be (to her) a gibbering madman who is slightly less controlable than a Thresher Maw.
    • James Vega makes an early cameo in the mission to Yue (the Rogue VI on Luna in canon) and gets caught up in the Normandy crew's batshit insanity. When all is said and done, Shepard asks him about possibly joining her mission. The reply she gets is a "No. Just... No" Reaction.
  • Rule of Funny: Combined with Gameplay and Story Segregation, this is why despite Shepard going straight to Therum to recover Doctor T'Soni (Liara), Liara believes that Shepard and her party are hallucinations. In the game, this only happens if you recruit Liara after doing many, many other missions before recruiting her (such as Feros and Noveria).
  • Running Gag: In the second story arc, Shepard's budding biotics cause her to break her armor. A lot. This seems to have gotten fixed when she gets the Collector Armor, which is partially biological and is able to adapt to her new powers.
    • Adahn REALLY needs to stop observing Shepard. He's running out of crap to repair himself with. This has become far less of a problem since he joined the crew and he's now dead, meaning that the joke is done.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Leviathan was once a female zhent. She gets put back into that body during the Final Battle of Book 2.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Between the events of Book 1 and Book 2 Asha al'Wahim finds herself on the wrong end of one.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: When hunting a rogue AI on Illium, Shepard and co. run into a band of Eclipse mercenaries who are after the same thing. The salarian in the group decides to throw in the towel once Shepard introduces herself.
  • Shout-Out: Lots:
    • One prothean is named Sajuuk.
    • Humanity's first grenades were based off of citrus, hence why humans refer to them as 'lemons' instead of calling them 'pineapples' as in the real military.
    • Liara names one geth Wuffles. It's not the same one, and is a mook who lasts all of three lines before he gets mowed down.
    • There are also several more Shout Outs and nods to Glorious Shotgun Princess, such as Legion/Adahn's encounter with Sovereign, compared to Wuffles/Legion's encounter with Harbinger.
    • One quarian marine (strongly implied to be Kal'Reegar) hears Garrus talking about Feros, and how "Naked asari clones were crawling all over him," and the marine mutters "I'll be in my bunk." Jayne Cobb and Kal'Reegar share the same voice actor/regular actor.
    • The description of the Pre-Mass-Effect FTL drive the quarians used is nearly identical to the Jumpdrive from BattleTech, and even has quarian scientists whose names are very thin parodies of Kearny and Fushida (the scientists in the BattleTech universe that invented the Jumpdrive). Surprisingly, this is actually a plot point later on.
    • At one point Miranda mentions that Shepard's shuttle is on DRADIS.
    • As of the second book, the armors sport collapsable helmets, which function like the ones in the Dead Space games.
    • "We're in space, it's not like they can hear us even if we scream."
    • An exchange between a recently recovered hostage and Shepard:
    Passenger: But surely they have better accommodations than this.
    Shepard: Nope. This is all the room we have. And don't call me Shr-Li.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Fai Dan tries to shoot himself, but Shepard uses bloodbending to make him divert his shot.
    • Subverted with Okeer. He survives the initial recruitment mission, and then Grunt kills him in the next chapter.
    • Zig-zagged with Tela Vasir. Whereas in canon, she worked for the Shadow Broker and tried to kill Liara and Shepard, in this version, she survives... because Jondam Bau, a Spectre that you meet in the third game, takes her place. And he's supposed to survive (if you do it right).
    • Shepard saves Mordin from dying after he cures the Genophage.
  • Squee!: Liara's reaction to finding out there's a living Prothean onboard the Normandy.
    • Shepard lets her inner child loose whenever she's around an Elcor.
  • Stations of the Canon: Played with. While certain things change (the Thorian is a Spirit made manifest in the physical world, similar to Wong Se Tong from "The Library"), much of the story remains fundamentally the same (save for Shepard being inspired by visions from the Prothean cycle to invent the M-920 Cain just after Therum). At the same time, we see characters appearing way before we meet them in Mass Effect, such as Legion, Miranda, Vega, and Kolyat. Hell, Jack was present at Eden Prime, the FIRST MISSION!
    • The backstory has far more changes, though. For example, it wasn't the turians that humans made first contact with, but krogan from a crashed ship, which allowed the humans to prepare for the wider galaxy far better.
    • Humans aren't the only ones with spirits, though. Turians have the largest number of "shamans" in the galaxy (should that be shaturians?) because they encounter many spirits on Palaven. The asari consider them to be evil due to bad past experiences, and the salarians didn't know any existed until they met the asari.
  • Stealth Pun: In-universe. To access a secret hallway, Shepard has to poke the nose of a picture of Admiral Grissom- literally tweaking the nose of the most famous human of the last two generations. For those who don't know, Grissom was the first human to use a Mass Relay, and is the man that Grissom Academy was named after.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Chapter 61 has two: Kalros, as per canon, and Meretsegger, whom Grunt convinces to fight the Reapers because they violated a deal the death spirit made with them millenia ago.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted. While Siwang Weaver may share many traits with Legend of Korra season two character Varrick, the Author points out in chapter 40 that the character of Weaver was introduced eleven months before season two premiered.
    • Although post-season two, some of Varrick's traits have been incorporated into Weaver, most notably having an assistant named "Ju Li," and occasionally asking her to 'Do the thing.'
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: A quarian who was exiled from the Migrant Fleet is escorted away by another quarian. Their destination? Rannoch.
  • Take That!: to several of the Mass Effect plot elements.
    • The Migrant Fleet, and anything to do with it, is not looked kindly upon in this story, calling it a myopic propaganda machine who indoctrinated (not Reaper-Style) all who live in it to serve commands of those higher up in the chain of command. There are still plenty of heroic quarians among the fleet, however.
    • Zaeed… is viewed as a barely-sane maniac who leaves a trail of devastation a mile wide. Even a Shepard who comes across as far more Renegade than the Avatar really should, who has Jack as a best friend, thinks that he's not worth taking on the mission.
    • Possibly a fairly minor one to a particular time-consuming Fetch Quest from the first game: Alenko accepts the Keeper-scanning sidequest in Shepard's stead in Chapter 3. Rather than wasting a couple of hours wandering all over the Citadel in search of the few Keepers hanging out in the open, he just sits himself in an area directly over a Keeper tunnel and catches up on some reading while the scanner catches any Keepers that happen to pass underneath him.
    • At least one Justicar says that keeping Ardat-Yakshi locked away is a stupid idea, since all it's doing is taking a bunch of people who love their freedom and have the ability to kill with their minds and putting them all in one place, forming 'A ticking time bomb.' Mass Effect 3 has a mission where you go to an Ardat-Yakshi monestary that's been taken over by the Reapers, and you see just how right she was.
    • Shepard says that if it wasn't for the krogan, she'd be "As spiritually bankrupt as [Avatar] Korra."
  • The Unfettered: Siwang Weaver states that he will do absolutely anything, and sacrifice anybody, to defeat the Reapers.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Shepard needs Leviathan on her trip to the Mu Relay to investigate a weapon even the Reapers considered was only as a last resort since without the depowered Reaper, any trip there would be hopelessly one-way as only she can activate the Mass Relay on the other side.
  • Tempting Fate: Vega says as much, saying that naming the VI on the moon after the guy who created an Orwellian society in Ba Sing Se was pretty much asking for it to go crazy and start killing people.
    • In Chapter 45, Shepard comments on how she's never seen a krogan Firebender. Guess what she ends up running into near the end of the battle.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Morinth's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown ends with her getting spaced.
  • Time Abyss The Avatar Cycle has been passing between different species for more than 2.5 billion years.
  • Token Heroic Orc: In this case, token heroic Batarian Balak ends up joining Shepard's team. They don't really like each other, but they are willing to set aside (most) of their differences if it gets the job done. Later, we learn why he's a token heroic batarian… or rather, we learn why the batarians are so bad to begin with.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Chapter 52, which follows Shepard during the events of leaving Earth when the Reapers invade, follows Shepard's clone Zia instead of Avatar Shepard herself.
  • Undying Loyalty: Ashley (renamed Asha al'Wahim). She sees it as a way to atone for her ancestor accidentally causing the death of the previous Avatar... and Shepard dying on her watch during the Collector attack.
  • The Unintelligible: Imagine if Donnely's scottish accent was kicked up to maximum overdrive and slightly drunk. Thus far Jack has been able to understand him, but not many others. Even EDI has trouble understanding him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Morinth pokes around Shepard's memories and targets one of Liara. She gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown and Thrown Out the Airlock for her troubles.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Golden Spiders mercenary group are this to the Illusive Man/Phoenix.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Literal case, but not real example - While searching a ship raided by Eclipse mercenaries looking for Mordin Solus, Shepard and company overhear two of them smuggling a set of egg-crates and a huge block of tofu.
  • Virtual Ghost: The VI of Javik that Shepard gained from her contact with the Prothean Beacons shows both a lot of autonomy, and a strong (abrasive) personality. Since the VI doesn't know all of what's inside it, who created it is still in question.
  • Wham Episode: While the story mostly stays in line with canon, there are still several major surprises in store.
    • Chapter 49: Leviathan is capable of tracking the Normandy while in stealth with ease, and nearly kills the entire crew. In the aftermath of having to unshackle EDI... well, remember Siwang Weaver? The Honest Corporate Executive who brought Shepard back this time? It turns out, he's not only not very honest, he's the Illusive Man.
    • Chapter 76: While there was a great deal of Foreshadowing in hindsight and they're no longer under their thrall, it turns out the asari were originally created by the Reapers as a sleeper weapon.
    • Chapter 80: We learn the true history of the Reaper cycle, how the galaxy is descended from us and our Earth, who seeded the galaxy with life because they were the first sapient species, and how the Reapers arose from a race, the shadowed ones, that sought to dominate them. Moreover, bending itself was created as a weapon to fight back against this malignant species, and they in turn created the Harbinger to crush humanity. All this is revealed by a good Reaper, Abentus, and the Pantokrator, an AI akin to God created by the first humanity and the creator of Raava (and thus indirectly of the Avatar cycle itself).
  • Why Won't You Die?: Garrus to Kai Leng. Even Shepard wonders how many times she has to kill him after dropping a boulder on his head.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Hate Engine, while incredibly dangerous, and responsible for billions of deaths, really looks like she needs a hug.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Weaver's plan for the Phoenix invasion of the Citadel. If it had worked and the councilors were killed, humanity could have stepped in. He didn't put much faith in that and arranged for Udina to take the blame for hiring pro-human mercenaries, leaving the evidence just flimsy enough that Shepard or others could find the true one responsible, Councelor Valern... who was indoctrinated by Rho, who Weaver is keeping as a prisoner and was forced to start the coup early. Since that Valern was behind it becomes public, the salarian military will in all likelihood split themselves away from the dalatrasses entirely and throw their weight behind humanity in order to distance themselves from Valern's insanity, giving the war effort a massive boost and causing a massive amount of power to go to the humans, turians, and asari. The worst part is that this works. The codex at the end of the chapter says that that exact thing is happening.
  • You Killed My Father: Shepard's reason for hating Batarains: slavers arrived and killed her parents and enslaved her little sister. She was forced to use Airbending, the most pacifistic of all bending styles, to murder a Batarian in an elevator... which she was then trapped in for several hours. There's honestly a whole bunch of problems knotted up there.
  • Your Soul is Mine!: The Ardat Yakshi can do this, as well as Leviathan.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: During the Final Battle against Leviathan, Thane is fatally injured. He holds off the Reaper's forces long enough for the others to regroup and escape.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: