Follow TV Tropes


Heartwarming / Mass Effect 3

Go To
Babies Ever After for an entire species.

Heartwarming moments from Mass Effect 3:

Reminder: Moments pages are Spoilers Off

  • According to the official site:
    The planet Rannoch, an arid planet orbiting an older star in the Tikkun system, is the former quarian homeworld. Almost three hundred years ago, the quarians were driven from Rannoch by the geth, synthetic servants who gained sapience and rebelled against their creators. Although Rannoch is now largely uninhabited, the geth have acted as caretakers, working to repair the planet's ecology, restore ancient structures, and cultivate some farmland.
  • The first dialogue between James Vega & Shepard. For context, Shepard has been dismissed from the Alliance Navy after the events of Arrival.
    James Vega: [salutes] Commander.
    Shepard: You're not supposed to call me that anymore, James.
    James Vega: Not supposed to salute you either.
  • Running into Captain (now Major) Kirrahe on Sur'kesh. Both Shepard and the salarian look genuinely happy to see each other again.
    • He also tells you he doesn't give a crap about politics and that, regardless of what the dalatrass says, Shepard can count on his support re-taking Earth. If Shepard refuses to go along with the salarian Dalatrass's request to sabotage the genophage cure and thus loses her support, Kirrahe makes good on his promise, effectively giving their political leader the finger and throwing in with Shepard and the Alliance anyhow.
      • And it’s not just Kirrahe's team. Kirrahe convinces the ENTIRE Salarian STG to likewise tell their leaders to stick it in their cloacas and commit to the Alliance.
        Admiral Hackett: There appears to be a rift developing between the military and the politicians. We've been receiving back-channel commitments from strike teams within the STG... These STG guys know the score. They're not going to jeopardize the entire Salarian Union just because some dalatrass didn't get her way.
  • Advertisement:
  • Just before the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, Garrus' words to a Heroic BSoD Shepard shows the Undying Loyalty and strong friendship (or more) that he has with him/her.
    Garrus Vakarian: Go out there and give them hell. You were born to do this.
  • The batarians are the first to suffer a Reaper invasion, resulting in massive numbers of Batarian refugees fleeing into what they consider enemy space, resulting in this quote:
    All report that the enemy, in whatever form, is blockading the relay, destroying most spacecraft trying to make it through. The refugees are not solely civilians. Hegemony Commander, Eruz Mathat, who is under guard while his cruiser is inspected, was blunt in his assessment of the situation. “I never thought I would say this to the human navy,” he said, “but we need you.”
  • You're actually given a Paragon interrupt when dealing with Chew Toy Khalisah Al-Jilani, in which Shepard comforts a legitimately distressed Al-Jilani, telling her that s/he's doing everything s/he can, and that she should keep pressing people on helping Earth and its cause. You then get a war asset notification. It gets a bonus if you refrained from punching her in the previous two games as well.
  • If you chose to send David Archer to Grissom Academy, he is there helping to protect the students during the Cerberus attack. He then tells Shepard that he's spent much of his time in the Academy "counting." When Shepard asks what he's been counting, he responds with "The number of days that you have lengthened my life." Made all the more powerful by the reprise of the same music that played at the end of Overlord if you spared him.
    • Just hearing him prattle on about his decimal point square roots gives you a MOH, especially when he verifies your identity to the suspicious Academy scientists he's with when you finish one for him.
    • If you have EDI with you, David recognizes her. EDI comments on how good he's looking and David looks over and says "I remember you. The Normandy computer. ...Sorry." EDI responds, "No apology is necessary." You'll get fuzzies growing on your heart after that.
      • Similarly, if you have Garrus with you, he apologizes again and Garrus gently says "It was never your fault."
    • How much better David is doing in general. He's actually doing better than he was before his brother plugged him in, if the recordings of David and Gavin are accurate. Maybe it's because he's around people who don't see him as a burden and use him as a mobile logbook, but even in a very stressful situation he keeps up with what's happening and the conversation.
    • Speaking of conversations, the fact that this autistic savant has grown from speaking only in square root equations, what he has heard verbatim, and little else to being able to carry a conversation. It goes to show how much of an impact the proper care and support can make for those with special needs.
    • You don't hear from that brother again until much later in the game, but he does ask Shepard what happened to David. Talk to him and it's clear that Gavin has fully realized the magnitude of what he did, to a greater extent than in Overlord itself. The Illusive Man wanted him to find someone else with David's talents, and in retaliation Gavin destroyed all his notes and quit, despite the Resignations Not Accepted nature of Cerberus. This doesn't make up for it - even Paragon Shepard is curt with the man - but his first thought is if David is safe.
      • If you play through a save where Shepard did not do the Overlord DLC (such as the default start), you can tell that Gavin really did care about his brother and came to realize the horrors of what he did on his own, after being forced to nuke the base from orbit. Shepard in this scenario is a lot more tolerant of Gavin since s/he did not see the horrors firsthand. (He does cotton to the fact Gavin isn't telling the whole story.)
    • Speaking of Grissom Academy, seeing the changes Jack has gone through, from the Ax-Crazy "psychotic biotic" to a Mama Bear who will "rip you apart" if you ever hurt her students, is all kinds of heartwarming.
  • Speaking of Jack's Character Development, if you remain romantically faithful to her, she'll openly kiss you in front of everyone, even her students. Considering her Back Story, her willingness to show genuine open displays of love and affection (while realizing it doesn't detract from her rough-edged charm and lethality) really says something. Heck, her students nicknaming her "the Psychotic Biotic" and imitating her combat bark "I WILL DESTROY YOU" is a CMOH.
    Rodriguez: I will destroy you!
    Jack: [dryly] Drink your juice, Rodriguez. You couldn't destroy wet tissue paper.
    • Grissom was where Jack could feel really at home. And learning from Cerberus and how the previous time one of the biotics was murdered by Kai Leng after her father died being the prototype Cerberus assault trooper and how they had a hand in the Ascension project, it was the ideal place to stick it to the Illusive Man by protecting them from another Pragia. If Shepard even dares to compare the two, Jack will tear into them about how the two are nothing alike. Shepard's expression during Jack's furious tirade on the differences is nothing short of unspeakably proud.
      • It laps heavily over into Tearjerker territory, but if you wait too long to go to Grissom Academy and Jack and the students are captured by Cerberus, Jack's vicious protectiveness of her kids is taken Up to Eleven.
        Cerberus Scientist: We're learning a great deal from those students you were training. Some of them may even survive.
    • Still crosses heavily with a Tearjerker, but a discarded Cerberus datapad gives you a pretty good idea of how that final confrontation went. The datapad instructs them to take "Subject Zero" alive for testing and conditioning—yeah, that's never worked before. And then that last note tells you everything you need to know. There's only one way Jack would ever let herself be captured by Cerberus again:
      "Current psych profile indicates that holding students hostage likely to be most successful tactic."
    • While the interactions between Kahlee Sanders and Jack are few there is a respect there that Jack doesn't show to anyone else except Shepard. The letter intercepted by Liara has them conversing as friends and colleagues. They may have a quasi-familial relationship like Anderson and Shepard do. Keep in mind how hard it it for Jack to respect anyone and, well...
      • More heartwarming is keeping in mind that Kahlee Sanders probably sees in Jack the fate of Gillian Grayson if the girl was fall in Cerberus's hands.
    • If you bring Garrus along, he'll comment that she's as charming as ever. If he's been romanced, she'll tell him to "bite [Shepard]. Probably how she likes it." If he hasn't been, she just says, without a hint of sarcasm, "Good to see you too, Garrus."
    • If you listen to the students' dialogue long enough, two of them make plans for a date if/when they get to safety.
  • Comes to a head in cut dialogue from London. It starts out cheerful, your average Rousing Speech, but as it goes on you realize how incredibly scared Jack is for her kids, how much she loves these scrappy little assholes, and by the time she's done she's choking back tears. It's one of the rare moments she really just sounds like a young woman who doesn't want to lose anyone else she cares about.
    Jack: How ya feeling, guys? Huh? Tired? Scared? Good. This is the perfect time to be scared. I'd be worried if you weren't. But you can do this. *small laugh* I mean, damn! You're keeping step with career soldiers. You are kicking ass. We've been fighting hard, saw some things we've never seen before, and we're getting ready to make the push. So. Heads down, barriers up, watch your flanks. *long pause* And whatever happens... I am so damn proud of you guys.
  • If you didn't romance her, Shepard's conversation with Jack at the nightclub, where she's stressed overlooking things for her students, thanks to someone making her now dependable. Shepard tells her to take a break and leads her to the dance floor. Jack's grin when she realizes that Shepard, who's got even more on their plate right now, is intentionally is going to make an ass of themselves to cheer her up, says how much those two have become friends.
  • One has to wonder if Jack ever found out about Aresh's Heroic Sacrifice. Her first show of mercy saved lives.
  • Kelly Chambers can be met on the Citadel. She gushes about how happy she is to see Shepard, and a Paragon interrupt gives her a big hug. She's also helping out refugees on the Citadel, and if you save her by convincing her to change her identity, she'll help out the war effort by finding some ex-Cerberus engineers to build the Crucible.
  • Fully supporting the krogan in ending the genophage. Just before the final fight against the Reaper on Tuchanka, Wrex stops Shepard and says the following:
    "You’ve been a champion to the krogan people, a friend to Clan Urdnot… and a brother/sister to me. To every krogan born after this day, the name “Shepard” will mean 'hero!'"
    • A Paragon interrupt even lets you firmly grasp his hand afterwards.
    • Also sort of a Moment of Awesome for Shepard given how difficult it is for aliens to impress or make such good friends with krogan.
    • Seeing Wrex come to like and respect Mordin. This is a scientist from a race that not only unleashed the genophage, but also a scientist who personally extended it. To see Wrex chuckle at him, call him "pyjak" jokingly, and just trusting him to be in the same presence as Eve... it says a lot for the both of them.
      Urdnot Wreav: The salarians gave us the genophage, why should we trust him?
      Wrex: (Headbutt) Because I do, and so will you!
    • Mordin and Shepard share a final goodbye before the former performs his Heroic Sacrifice to save the krogan. Moreso if the last Paragon interrupt was taken, seeing as the former clearly broke character very calmly...
      Shepard: I'm sorry.
      Mordin: I'm not. had to be me... (Elevator door closes) Someone else might have gotten it wrong.
    • Also the speech that Eve gives the assembled krogan, shaming the clans, Wrex and Wreav into finally cutting out the tribal bullshit. They listen.
    • Before the final mission of the Tuchanka arc, you can catch an ambient conversation in the Normandy medbay where Eve notes that Mordin promised to sing for her, and he launches into an adorable song about the krogan queens. Eve laughs, though Mordin says he still prefers patter songs. It's obvious that he cares about her as more than just a patient.
    • Seeing how Eve's relationship with Shepard evolves. Upon first meeting on Sur'Kesh, she is extremely wary and guarded, wondering what Shepard could possibly want with her. They respond by expressing interest in getting to know her. Once Eve is aboard the Normandy, you can go talk to her in the medbay, and it doesn't take long for her to open up. She eventually gifts Shepard a crystal shard that brought her hope during the lowest point of her life.
      Eve: In the darkest hour, there is always a way out.
    • If you make the choice to tell Wrex and the others about the salarian Dalatrass trying to get Shepard to sabotage the cure, Wrex says the following to Eve. You can really hear the pride in his voice:
      Eve: You just spared our race another genocide, Commander.
      Wrex: I told you we could count on him/her.
    • Actually curing the genophage. True, it comes on the heels of Mordin or Padok's Heroic Sacrifice, but then the cure starts to pour out from the Shroud and into Tuchanka's atmosphere, looking like golden light. To make this moment even more poignant, "Vigil" starts to play in the background and the reactions of Wrex and Eve really show you just what this will mean to their people. Then it really sinks in. You just saved the krogan. An entire species has had its future restored because of your actions. There will be countless generations of living children born because of you and they will all be raised to know that you are their hero. Good has never felt so good.
      • This fanart (Spoilers) encapsulates the moment perfectly.
      • After that, Wrex, Eve, and Shepard stop in an old krogan building.
        Wrex: A long time ago, my father betrayed me in this place. His own son. He tried to kill me. So I had to kill him... right over there. That's what the genophage reduced us to. Animals. But you changed that today, Shepard.
        Eve: Now we'll fight for our children, not against them.
    • Eve's final line on that mission encapsulates it all. Krogan, like asari, can live for upwards of a thousand Earth years — who knows how long she's spent as part of the shamanhood, without a name, without a clan, without hope, without anything? And now, in one fell swoop, you've given her back all three.
      Eve: Thank you for all that you've done... and know that Urdnot Bakara calls you a friend.
    • If you don't warn Eve and Wrex about the genophage, preferring to wait until it's just you and Mordin, you get this CMOH when you finally tell Mordin about the sabotage:
      Mordin: [slightly accusatory] And you knew.
      Shepard: I'm not sure I trust the krogan. But I trust you.
      Mordin: Thank you, Shepard.
    • After the mission, Shepard receives an email from Wrex that states that Bakara is helping re-rally the krogan clans for the war, and later learns during the battle to retake Earth that she is already pregnant with Wrex's children and insists on naming their first child Mordin.
      Wrex: You really came through for us. I'm proud to call you my friend.
    • He even offers to let the humans share Tuchanka with the krogan after the war is over. This alone shows how grateful he is for what Shepard has done to cure the genophage.
      • For those who don't get it, let's elaborate: the genophage is cured. The krogan are going to be breeding like rabbits to get their numbers up, which will really press them for space. Tuchanka is an irradiated death world, lined with varren, wormnecks, thresher maws and a million other nasties willing to swallow us whole. For humans, Tuchanka seems like the worst place to live for the wildlife, and the population space alone. And Wrex offers humanity a place there. Thanks to Shepard, humanity is more than just another race in the eyes of the krogan: they are brothers and sisters.
    • Even the (deadpan, but obviously humorous in its delivery) throwaway comment about naming "maybe a girl" after Mordin... sure, it's clearly a joke. It's also a dig at traditional human gender roles, because he's talking to Shepard. But among the krogan? Wrex and Bakara just said that they intend to name a healthy, firstborn, fertile female krogan after Mordin, the man who designed the genophage in the first place. The legacy of the genophage was a shattered, divided krogan people, where fathers never knew their children and females were by necessity treated, not as property, but as essential breeding stock...even by the females themselves. Naming a daughter after Mordin—a daughter who will grow up alive, free and strong, surrounded by her siblings, raised by both of her parents, because curing the genophage has given her that chance—is a profound honor.
  • Shepard's reunions with their old squaddies are full of genuine cheer and joy, especially for the player who's been through all three games with these people. Upon meeting Grunt and his new command, for example, the little guy practically slams his way through his squad just to give Shepard a krogan hug.
    • "Anybody... got something to eat?"
      • Oh god, that one's also a happy tearjerker.
      • Also awesome if you consider he's badly wounded, covered in blood, totally exhausted... and there's still NO WAY IN HELL he's going to show weakness in front of his battlemaster.
      • Remember the letter the Urdnot shaman sent Shepard in 2: begging that he doesn't let Grunt get killed, because he's special and the future of the krogan.
  • Grunt pulling an AWESOME You Shall Not Pass! to give Shepard time to get out. Goes double if he was loyal in 2 and survives.
  • The entire scene where Garrus and Shepard go up to the top of the Presidium and just shoot bottles. It's a bit that adds the perfect cement to the friendship between the pair, by showing two people just screwing around and having fun while ribbing each other.
    • Numerous ME fans have come to call that scene, and others like it, "Bro Time." It really fits if you think about it. Shepard and their crew aren't just friends, they're family.
    • The best part, when shooting bottles you can intentionally miss to convince Garrus he is a better shot than the famed Commander Shepard. His good-natured, jocular boastfulness sums up everything people love about Garrus. Especially because he invokes the "I'm Commander Shepard" meme in the process.
    • "There is no Shepard without Vakarian."
    • This exchange just before the final run:
      Garrus: I don't know if turian heaven and human heaven are the same place, but if this all goes sideways and we end up there... Meet me at the bar.
      Shepard: Heh, Shepard and Vakarian, storming the gates of heaven... Well, I guess there are worse ways for this to end.
  • The above mentioned scene goes a little differently if done with a FemShep romancing Garrus. The romance has moved from hilariously Adorkable to the most romantic one in-game, with scenes such as the reunion, when the Paragon interrupt is to kiss him ("That's the protocol on reunions,"), comforting each other over the possible fates of their families, Garrus comforting Shepard with a hug after asking if she's alright... but the R&R on the Citadel takes the cake. Garrus takes Shepard to the very top of the Presidium, ostensibly to determine who the best sharpshooter between them is... and then, the romance hits, culminating in this question:
    Garrus: [uncharacteristically shyly] So, Shepard... are you ready to be a one-turian kind of woman?
    • The Paragon answer boils down to a simple five words after the build-up: "I love you, Garrus Vakarian."
    • The entire Garrus romance is handled incredibly well. It's referenced throughout the game, especially if you keep Garrus in your squad, and hits the right notes of humor, warmth and affection. It's a very bright spot in an otherwise tense story.
      • Not just that, but throughout the whole trilogy, it is able to develop the most naturally of the possibilities. In ME1, he and Shepard are comrades-in-arms with an important mission to do, so there really wasn't much time to sit and think about a relationship. In the two years that divide it from ME2, he's obviously had plenty of time to think about her, and surrounded with uncertainty in Cerberus' employ as she was, she would see him as a constant in her now-fairly-chaotic life, and he is understandably worried about living up to her expectations. With her reassurance in 3 that she still loves him, they're now on the fast track to possible extinction, and players notice that they take nearly every available opportunity to reaffirm their personal bond. Honestly, their romance could have been given the full treatment which Kaidan, Ashley and Liara received, and it would have completely fit.
    • On Earth, just before you start the final battle, you can talk to Garrus (among other characters). First, he suggests that after you beat the Reapers, you two should go retire someplace warm and tropical, and "see what a human-turian baby looks like." At the end of the conversation, he tells you that if you both die and get to heaven, you'll meet up in the bar.
      Shepard: If I get to that bar, and you're not there, I'll be looking down. You'll never be alone.
      • After she's already walked away, the audience gets Garrus looking after her and whispering "Never," to himself. The two ways this could be interpreted are that he knows she'll never leave him completely (which is heartwarming) or that he'd just follow her (which is tear-jerking). Either way, it shows how much he loves her.
      • A non-romanced Shepard will say a slightly different, more platonic line. Both times she sounds as if she's going to break down.
        Shepard: If I get to that bar, and you're not there, I'll be looking down. I'll always have your back.
      • What really sells the line, though, is that right after she says that, Garrus makes this little ragged gasp. He's clearly holding back a sob. The audience probably won't have that same resolve.
      • The best thing about the Garrus romance in some ways is how hilarious it is. A lot of the other FemShep romances - especially Thane's, for example - can be so tragic, but Garrus, once you romance him, seems wholeheartedly dedicated to making Shepard smile as often as possible. He thrives on this Adorkable half-sincere cheesy romance shtick, and it's pretty clearly done just to cheer you up. Like his Big Damn Kiss on top of the Citadel. Or in the Citadel DLC with the tango, or when he booby-traps your apartment and makes the password to turn it off "I HEART GARRUS." When Shepard's worried she might be a VI designed by Cerberus, the other LIs get very sweet and assuaging, but Garrus goes for, "You're real. A little crazy, maybe, but real." Even the "meet me at the bar" thing feels like a last desperate attempt at comedy. It's so unbelievably sweet.
      • Garrus's evolving attraction to Fem!Shepard is also this: In the first game, he develops an immense level of respect for her as both a soldier and a leader, in addition to functioning as his Morality Chain if you play Paragon by reigning in his Cowboy Cop tendencies. In the second game, he's utterly lost without her guidance and presence, and what he is doing is at least partially motivated by the Council trying to destroy everything she'd accomplished, showing that he does still respect and value you. He becomes relieved to have his friend back in his life, and is grateful to you for bringing him closure with Sidonis, especially if you take the Paragon option. When you start his romance path via offer of casual sex, he's blindsided but agrees because of his respect for you as a person, and not because he "has a fetish for humans." The attraction gradually deepens when he lets slip that he's terrified of screwing this up and wants whatever this is supposed to be to go right, since literally everything else has been going wrong these past two years. Come the third game, he's definitely gained a greater appreciation for Fem!Shepard physically, all while his emotional attraction still has priority. By the time we get to late in the third game, and especially in the Citadel DLC, he admits that he's extremely attracted to her, from her hair, to her Little Black Dress, to her body. He's just completely smitten with all of her.
      • If you notice, Garrus is the only member of Shepard's crew who doesn't angst (even with his responsibilities with his own people). He doesn't have any conflicts with Shepard, avoids bothering them with problems, and doesn't ask for anything (except for Shepard to be with him on top of the Presidium, and then at the final battle to come back alive.) He never even blames you even for the most horrific Renegade choices. This is particularly powerful for a Fem!Shep romancing him, because while she's the rock the rest of the galaxy hangs onto, Garrus is well and truly the rock she hangs onto, forgiving her for everything because he knows what a horrible position she is in.
  • If you bring Ashley to the Geth Dreadnaught, Tali says it's good to see her again, using her full military rank. Ash tells her that it's okay to have a First-Name Basis with her.
    Tali: Thanks, Ash. Ready to go shoot some geth?
    Ashley: Just like old times.
  • If Tali died in ME2, you get this exchange while boarding the Dreadnaught.
    Shepard: Tali would've loved seeing this.
    Joker: Well... let's win this one for her.
  • If Legion survived the events of the previous game, at the end of the journey through the geth consensus, Shepard is shown one of the most recent memories the consensus has on record: Shepard's first meeting with Legion, and them shaking hands. The geth considered this moment one of the most meaningful in their history, showing the first instance since the Morning War of geth and organics co-existing peacefully, and giving them (and perhaps Shepard, as well) hope that they may one day achieve peace with their creators.
  • There's something about Shepard and Legion's last mission together, acting like Bash Brothers when they each borrow each other's little catchphrase before Shepard takes on a Reaper on foot. They've clearly got this quiet rapport with each other.
    Legion: Good luck.
    Shepard: Acknowledged.
  • This little conversation between Tali and Legion on Rannoch right before Legion sacrifices itself for the geth:
    Legion: Shepard-Commander. I must go to them. I... I'm sorry. It's the only way.
    Tali: Legion, the answer to your question... was yes.
    Legion: I know, Tali. And thank you. Keelah se'lai.
    • The real heartwarming happens as Legion starts referring to itself as an individual, using the "I" pronoun for the first time, and again later with the Prime after Legion is dead. Just through that one subtle difference, you can tell that the geth have transcended the computer code they originated from, to become truly sentient beings.
    • In a similar vein, Tali's exchange with Shepard after the fact.
      Tali: I look at all this... this picture of hope and peace... and all I see is everyone I've lost. My team on Haestorm, my father... even Legion. I'm mourning a geth. How crazy is that?
      Shepard: It's not crazy at all.
    • Even more so.
      Tali: I'd have killed the geth with no regrets. And I'd have been wrong. Thank you.
    • If Legion died at the Collector base, its role is played by a replacement who has no memory of Legion's time aboard the Normandy, is cagier and more logical, and distrusts organics, including Shepard. That is sad, but contrasting it to "real" Legion's role really proves that the geth's time working with Shep changed it, and for the better. The one critical difference in the "Enter the Geth Collective" mission between Legion and Not-Legion is the last one, which features a recording of Legion's and Shepard's first meeting. It was so important a memory to the entire Collective, because Shepard was the first organic being to welcome a geth instead of shoot at it since the beginning of the Morning War.
      Legion: Hope sustains organics during periods of difficulty. We find the concept... admirable.
    • If you bring Garrus with you to destroy the Geth Base, he'll say, "I know Legion's on our side, but... Reaper code?" Tali immediately shuts him up with a simple "No. Legion's on our side." Even Shepard is surprised about how much she's come to see it as a true companion.
    • Legion getting its own spot on the memorial wall is both Fridge Brilliance in this regard and a Tear Jerker. If nowhere else, it'll always be immortalized as an individual and crew member there.
    • The last time Not-Legion says it's not Legion, Shepard will reply, "You are today!"
  • If you didn't romance Garrus or Tali, they hook up.
    • Made all the better whenever they both predictably Adorkable the entire ship up after they're found out.
      Tali: OH!
      Garrus: We were just... uh...
      Tali: I... well, I... just came to say goodbye, and... well...
      Garrus: Er, uh... think one of my mandibles got hooked on her helmet.
      Tali: It might've caused a rupture, so I asked him to check...
      Garrus: W-well, you know, because of infection risks. Didn't want to jeopardize the mission...
      Tali: So...
      Garrus: Yeah.
      Shepard: I'm really happy for you. Both of you.
      Tali: (gratefully) Thanks, Shepard.
      Garrus: Appreciate it. Guess it helps to have something to come back to.
      Tali: (deviously) What do you mean, "to come back to"? This is just a fling, Vakarian. I'm using you for your body.
      Garrus: (flirtatiously) You're so mean... and I'm okay with that.
  • Regarding Tali and Garrus, just before the assault on Earth, you can meet them in Garrus' calibrations chamber where they talk about the upcoming battle and make a few bets. It might not sound like much, but the following lines really brought tears to my eyes:
    Shepard: You two have been with me longer than most. You believed in me when nobody else did. Thanks.
    Tali: We'll finish this the way we started it... together.
    Garrus: Damn right!
    • It is the knowledge that these two have been by your side throughout the entire story that makes it a truly wonderful moment. They helped you take down Saren, they helped you take out the Collectors, and they will help you take back Earth.
  • The minor conversations you can overhear at the Citadel:
    • One is between a batarian and a human. The batarian is initially mad at the human for blabbering all the time, then they bond over their experience of the attacks - they both were just inches away from actual Reapers. It ends with them as friends - the human promises to kick ass in the batarian's name.
      Batarian Refugee: Nail a few Reapers for me.
      Human Refugee: Right between the eyes, my friend.
    • The other is between two C-Sec turians. They're frustrated about swindlers taking advantage of people's suffering and one of them is concerned about his family on Palaven. In the end, the other one, completely unprovoked, suggests they quit C-Sec, enlist, go to Palaven and search for his friend's family - because they're partners.
      • One of the turians cancelled his planned holiday with his family in order to donate money to Earth after the Reaper attack, only for Palaven to be next. His empathy for a species the turians were at war with only a few years previously is quite touching, especially since both races are now in the same boat.
      • The cherry on top of this? As a Spectre, you can bypass all the red tape surrounding the swindler they're frustrated with and give C-Sec the authority to kick the bastard off the station.
    • A human soldier tries to get an asari Citadel embassy clerk to send her daughter to her asari wife's family, as the asari is already deployed in the war with the human following soon. With difficult intersystem bureaucracy stonewalling the process, the asari clerk suggests that the human sends the daughter to her own family, only to learn that said xenophobic family already disowned the human soldier for marrying an asari. The clerk proceeds to pull up favors from friends, jump through loopholes, and spend a few sleepless nights to get all the paperwork done despite the difficulties, then tells the grateful human mother - verging on tears - to spend her remaining time with her daughter.
      • Becomes a Tear Jerker, when you consider that the poor child is being sent to "safety"... to Thessia.
    • A salarian soldier on medical leave from an injury that's almost healed is chatting with his human friend outside of Purgatory, and he can't stop talking about the awesome new set of top-of-the-line heavy armor he just got, which he figures must have been sent to him by mistake since it's so much better than anything requisitions would normally supply. They talk about arranging transport when they leave and the salarian suggests his friend's car, which she used to go on and on about, but she tells him she sold it a couple weeks back - just around the same time he received his fancy new armor.
      Salarian: ...Come on. I'm gonna buy you a goddamn drink.
    • A perky teenage girl chats with a turian officer at the refugee camp. He's initially very suspicious, but then she tells him she's waiting for her parents - they put her on an evac shuttle and told her to wait for them. She's convinced they'll arrive any minute. The officer tells her that if she ever gets bothered by anyone, she's to immediately go to him and he'll take care of it. Each time you pass by them, she's still waiting, and he's looking out for her and awkwardly doing his best to reassure her.
    • A worried asari seeing her turian husband off to war. The turian tells her that they probably won't be able to stay in contact much, as the soldiers are meant to avoid sending messages and they can't depend on the comms. As they talk, it becomes obvious the two have children. Then, at the end of the conversation...
      Turian: I'll send a message for Niri's birthday.
      Asari: I thought you were supposed to avoid sending messages.
      Turian: It's a stupid rule anyway.
      • Another one that turns into a Tear Jerker in hindsight: The husband asks his wife to take the girls and go to Sanctuary where they'll be safe.
      • And despite his repeated assurances to his wife that he won't be in any real danger, he's shipping out to Palaven, which the player sees firsthand is already scorched and ruined.
    • A turian in Purgatory talking to a human friend mentions that a contact of his in Customs knows about some Alliance crates of medi-gel that they could steal a few of. The woman rips him a new one, informing him that skimming C-Sec weapons shipments during peacetime is one thing, but there's no way in hell she's skimming from the Alliance while they're fighting to defend Earth, and that if he doesn't make sure his contact leaves those crates the hell alone, she's going to turn them both in.
      • Even better, listening in on this conversation opens up a new message on the Spectre Terminal. It turns out the human smuggler has approached the Alliance to offer her assistance in gathering and transporting supplies. If you use your Spectre authorization to approve the request, it nets you 7 War Assets.
  • If you saved the Zhu's Hope colonists in the first game and helped them with their medical contract negotiations in the second, you'll get a message from Shiala telling you that the colonists are contributing in the fight against the Reapers. The remnants of the Thorian spores allow the colonists to think, act, and fight together as one, so that even the untrained fight with the skill of veterans. Shiala also mentions that she believes she's still indoctrinated, but her connection to the colonists is stronger and drowns out the voices of the Reapers. Good Feels Good, and nets you 30 War Assets to boot.
  • At the beginning of Act Two, Liara announces plans to make time capsules containing VI-operated computer archives in case they fail to stop the Reaper cycle (not unlike Vigil). She wants particular input from Shepard, and if prompted she espouses on Shepard's origin (Spacer/Colonist/Earthborn), on their karmic alignment, and on their class (such as if Vanguard, saying s/he is a "powerful biotic, and an unstoppable force when s/he charged on the battlefield" alluding to the Vanguard Charge).
    • The fact that if prompted, Liara speaks of Shepard in almost mythic overtones, because the galaxy needs heroes, even ancient alien ones.
    • Or, simply pulling a Cromwell, and asking her to tell the truth, Warts and All, and leave the future to judge their actions for themselves.
    • After the capsule is updated, they both sit on the Captain's couch looking smug. Liara: "...Well, I suppose I did just write your name in the stars."
    • It's also sweet and cute that it's Glyph who will be the VI to talk to future cultures.
      Glyph: And it will be a privilege to guide future discoverers of these records.
  • The entirety of the Rannoch mission, if you bust your chops in this and previous games to be able to Take a Third Option. Despite the war, despite the geth, Tali takes a moment to stake a real estate claim and decide to build a house there. "But we quarians are used to bringing our homes with us," she frets... And so Shepard picks up a rock and gives it to her. And then Legion Going Out With A Smile, and Tali watching the sunset with no mask... (Of course, if you aren't able to make things work, the mission can turn horribly traumatic as well.)
    • Watching Shala'Raan's hesitant response to the helpful Geth Prime at the end of that mission...
    • Before that, the Geth Prime welcoming Shala'Raan's people back to Rannoch.
      Admiral Raan: We've taken heavy losses... I don't know if we can... where are we supposed to go?
      Geth Prime: You are welcome to return to Rannoch, Admiral Raan. With us.
      Shepard: Legion?
      Geth Prime: No, I'm sorry, Commander. Legion sacrificed itself to give us all intelligence. It will be honored.
      Shepard: [quietly, almost to self] Good.
    • Shepard's callback to Tali's translation "Keelah se'lai: By the homeworld I hope to see someday" in their final speech to convince the quarians and geth they can live in peace on Rannoch.
      Shepard: You have a choice. Please. Keelah se'lai!
      • Shepard isn't talking about Rannoch here.
  • The aftermath of the geth/quarian peace, where you find out that the geth are not only helping the quarians to rebuild their home world, but are also helping to revitalize the quarians' immune systems. It's a beautiful moment when you realize that, awareness or not, the geth have only ever wanted to help their creators.
    • Even better? When learning of the Reapers' true motivations, the geth/quarian resolution is basically the biggest middle finger you can give to their position. Even the Catalyst has no legitimate counterargument to make and just tries to handwave it off.
  • Tali and Shepard's romance has many, many such moments:
    • Also related to the Rannoch mission, the first time Tali tells Shepard she loves him. Right as he's about to face a Reaper on foot alone.
      Tali: If this doesn't... if we don't make it...
      Shepard: You worry too much.
      Tali: I love you.
      Shepard: Keelah se'lai.
      • Even more heartwarming when they reaffirm what the other one said during the battle at London.
    • She confirms that it was not just adrenaline talking on Rannoch right after the battle on Thessia. While Shepard is despairing over his failure, and questioning why the hell the whole galaxy is putting its faith in him in the first place, Tali comforts him with a small motivational speech about how much he's accomplished. She ends it with this:
      Tali: And if that's not enough... you're the man I love. Don't forget that. No matter what happens.
    • The romance in general. Shepard just keeps getting more and more beaten up, slowly losing faith and his mind throughout the game. But once she's on the Normandy, Tali is there, supporting him no matter what, reminding him that she will always be there and always love him. Between her love and the friendship of Garrus and Liara, it felt like they were the only things keeping Shepard sane.
    • They have some truly adorable and snarky banter throughout the game.
      [Tali just saved Shepard from falling to his death after the elevator they were on exploded]
      Tali: I thought I'd lost you.
      Shepard: You were worried?
      Tali: You bet I was! I mean, you dying because a geth overrode my hack? Think of my reputation!
      Shepard: Yeah. You were worried.
    • In the Citadel DLC, following the ambush at the sushi place, Tali is the only love interest who actually asks if Shepard is alright when they first find them. Of course, she goes back to bantering immediately after.
      [Tali kills two mooks]
      Tali: Shepard! Are you alright?
      Shepard: Yeah, I'm fine.
      Tali: So... did you really fall through a fish tank?
      Shepard: We'll talk about it later.
      Tali: Remember you used to rescue me in the Wards?
      Shepard: We'll talk about it later.
    • Her reaction to Shepard viewing the Cerberus logs on Kronos Station shows just how far she has come regarding their relationship. Whereas in the second game she was nervous and hesitant to get seriously involved with him, by the time the trilogy nears its end she is utterly devoted to her boyfriend and very protective of him. While Shepard is viewing the logs for the Lazarus Project, the final one shows the Illusive Man laying out precisely how he plans to emotionally manipulate Shepard. Tali's response shows that you do, indeed, need to Beware the Nice Ones.
    • A subtle one after ending the quarian-geth war peacefully. Tali looks over Rannoch and comments:
      Tali: It is beautiful though, isn't it?
      Shepard: [looking directly at Tali] Yeah... it is.
      • More so as Shepard does this even if Tali isn't romanced.
    • The dialogue that comes immediately before, where Tali finally decides to forget about her obligations just once and pursue the relationship fully, also qualifies:
      Shepard: You going to be okay? I know working with the geth will 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: So ask me.
      Shepard: Tali...
      Tali: I don't know how much time we have left, or if we can even stop the reapers, but whatever happens I want to be by your side.
      Shepard: [smirks] I bet you say that to every guy who gets you a homeworld.
      Tali: [looks at him] Only the cute ones.
      • Made even better by "Vigil" playing during this scene.
    • Another CMOH during the battle of London between Tali and Shepard (if romanced), also crosses into Tear Jerker territory.
      Tali: Do you remember what we said on Rannoch?
      Shepard: You said "I love you."
      Tali: And you said "Keelah se'lai." I want... more time...
      Shepard: I know. [draws close to her] Whatever happens...
      Tali: I know...
    • When Tali shows up again with the other admirals, if she was romanced, the way Shepard's eyes simply light up when he sees her again.
    • After the resolution of the Rannoch arc, the quarians start changing their names to reflect their new home. For example, Admiral Raan ends her letter to Shepard by referring to herself as "Shala'Raan vas Rannoch", rather than "Shala'Raan vas Tonbay", as she did in the previous game. But Tali's name, in all the in-game text, stays as "Tali'Zorah vas Normandy." At first that may seem to be a simple oversight, especially since her first conversation in Priority: Rannoch ended with her specifically mentioning how Rannoch would be her home (referring to the land she claimed). But paired with the above conversation where Tali decides to leave her duties on Rannoch to be with Shepard, it takes on a different meaning. This is made extra clear if Shepard romances Tali and brings her to the (Extended Cut) beam run; Tali sustains injuries sufficient enough to require a medical evacuation, leading to this exchange:
      Shepard: [softly, while stroking her head] I need you to make it out of here alive, Tali. Go back to Rannoch... build yourself a home.
      Tali: [tearfully] I have a home!
  • Paragon Shepard's response to Liara asking how they cope with the stress of their leadership.
    Shepard: I think of the people I care about. That helps keep me going.
    Liara: I'm glad I'm among them. I hope...
    Shepard: Of course you are.
    Liara: I feel better already.
  • Overlaps with Tear Jerker, but the scenes meeting Kaidan in the hospital after he is critically injured on Mars by Dr. Eva. The first scene, when Kaidan is unconscious, is heartwarming, with Shepard telling Kaidan to fight and recover, that the Alliance needs him, and then, hesitantly admitting that Shepard really needs him too. This is regardless of whether or not Kaidan is romanced. Later, when Shepard bring him a get-well bottle of whiskey and comes to see him, is nothing short of endearing. Shepard asks if he'll be okay, and then the two have their heart to heart about Horizon. Kaidan reflects on how Shepard never judged him about Rahna back at BAaT, and that they went through Ashley's death together, and just wants to know if he and the commander "are good?"
    • You also get this gem if he was romanced in Mass Effect 1.
      Shepard: Are we going to be able to get past what happened on Horizon?
      Kaidan: I'd like to, Shepard. As friends... as more than friends. I mean, I don't know. I just like having you in my life.
    • He also mentions that he never saw anyone else after you died in ME2, because he loved you too much.
  • Female Shepard and Eve bonding over both being women placed into positions of great importance by their respective species.
    Shepard: Thanks for talking to me.
    Eve: It's my pleasure, Commander. I'm glad to see humans treat their women with respect. Your people have placed a lot of responsibility on you.
    Shepard: No more than your people have put on you.
    Eve: [laughs] Then maybe we can show the men how it's done.
    Shepard: [smiles] Deal.
  • If you saved Thane's son in the last game, you join him in Thane's hospital room after Kai Leng stabbed him during a try at the salarian councilor. Together, you read a very quiet and subdued passage on forgiveness and strength which ends as Thane breathes his last breath and dies peacefully. The kicker? That prayer wasn't for him. It was for you.
  • Near the end of the game, at the makeshift base just before the final assault, there is a communications master that you can speak to. He'll ask if you want to get in touch with anyone who may not be at the final battle with you. This includes your squadmates from Mass Effect 2, if you helped them with their problems. Just hearing them all again, wishing for you to give them hell, and some of them, even in the thick of it somewhere else. Even Zaeed will encourage you with his own Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    Zaeed: Let's gut the bastards.
  • Let's forget for a second that the Broken Base intensely hates Diana Allers. Before the final mission, if you have been keeping her up-to-speed with interviews, you will receive an email from her titled, "Normal is the best revenge." In it, she will describe how her home colony world, Bekenstein, was casually wiped out by the Reapers in a fly-by blasting; they didn't even stop to harvest any of the colonists. She demands that Shepard kick the Reapers' collective asses so hard, with her camera recording every second of it, that future generations can look back on the horrible galactic tragedy without fear, but pride in the fact that they overcame such a huge obstacle to the extent that the Reapers won't even be a footnote in the pages of history.
  • Assuming it's not a romance and that he didn't cheat on you, Jacob's revelation that he's going to be a father. In general, considering how reserved he was when it came to his emotions in Mass Effect 2, it was really telling just how excited he was over the prospect of that and finding his place with the ex-Cerberus Scientists.
  • The way you rekindle the romance with Ashley. You comfort her over the loss of her brother-in-law and tell her in no uncertain terms that you love her and always will. As with Garrus, the game goes a long way to showing that Shepard and Ashley are really lovers.
    • If you had a fling with Miranda in the second game, Shepard has to break up with her, while being as gentle as he can. Shepard honestly seems sincere when he tells Ash that it wasn't that the "fling" didn't mean anything, he does care about Miranda, but after Horizon, Shepard and Ashley were both in a place where they simply couldn't help being selfish and stupid. The fact that both can reconcile, even with Ash initially being cold to Shepard and Shepard's honest remorse at being unfaithful to Ash and how gut-punched they seem after Ash gets put into the hospital on Mars, shows how far the two have grown up and how they truly feel about the other.
    • Later, just before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, Shepard can tell Ash it was Love at First Sight:
      Shepard: I couldn't do this without you, Ashley. When I first met you on Eden Prime, I saw a woman who never gave up. You lost your company, expected no help, and there you were, fighting an invasion single-handed.
      • Followed by:
        Ashley: Just shut up and kiss me.
    • Shepard gets to say he loves her for the first time in the entire series, particularly heartwarming if you romanced her in Mass Effect and may have been waiting over 4 (real) years to do so.
    • On Mars after finding the implanted Cerberus soldier, Ashley is expressing concerns that even if Shepard is the real deal, she's afraid that Cerberus left a Trojan Horse inside. Shepard gets to reassure her that he is still the same person he always was, and he wants her with him. Ashley's reaction?
      Ashley: That's what I needed to hear. (Smiling)
  • If Shepard hooked up with Tali during the second game, Ashley takes it surprisingly well. Instead of being hostile or jealous, she says Tali is like a sister to her and gives her approval. Especially heartwarming considering how biting Ash's remarks about Jack or Miranda are if they're in the same situation, and that she doesn't really like aliens.
  • Nearly everything Paragon Shepard does in this game seems to chalk up to one of these. Shepard may be a badass, cybernetically enhanced, supersoldier with possible biotic powers, but their real superpower is a simple inherent faith in people to do the right thing when the time comes, a faith that is rewarded almost every single time.
  • "You did good, son/child. You did good. I'm proud of you."
    • And the cut dialogue, with Anderson asking Shepard if s/he intends to settle down and have children now. He states that any child would be proud to have Commander Shepard as their mother/father; not to mention the implication that Anderson views Shepard as the child that he was never able to have.
      Anderson: Think how proud your kids will be, telling everyone their dad/mom is Commander Shepard.
      Shepard: I don't know about that. Not everything I've done is something to be proud of.
      Anderson: I'm proud of you.
      • The Shadow Broker files in the second game revealed that Anderson does in fact have a son, but their relationship is strained. One could interpret this as that in addition to coming to see Shepard as a son/daughter to him, part of the reason he values their relationship so much is because it's the one he wishes he had with his own children.
  • When Joker gets out of his chair and salutes Shepard before returning to Earth with the combined fleets.
    • In an event probably missed by most players, after Cerberus attacks the Citadel and you kill Ash/Kaidan or deny their request to rejoin the crew in the aftermath, he does the same to show that while most of the galaxy still questions Shepard's actions after all that's happened, there are some who don't.
      Shepard: What's this?
      Joker: Someone giving you the respect you deserve.
  • When EDI isn't being a CMOF, she's often getting into this territory. Her sincere interest in humanity and morals is often quite endearing as is her devotion to the Normandy's crew.
    EDI: If the Normandy were captured, my fate would be similar to the indoctrinated. My code would be rewritten. I would become loyal to the Reapers. I would rather become nonfunctional than help them.
    Shepard: We won't let that happen to you, EDI.
    EDI: You may have no choice. If you perish first, I want you to know I will never be a part of the Reaper force.
    • She then describes the difference between the Reapers and herself. The Reapers only care about self-preservation and nothing but. EDI would gladly sacrifice her existence to save Jeff — and Shepard states that that makes her officially a crew member.
      Shepard: Welcome to the crew, EDI.
  • One minor one. After Cerberus invades the Citadel in Udina's attempted coup, when you go to the refugee camp, you can see a batarian placing his hand on the shoulder of a distraught human woman attempting to comfort her. Given the general hatred batarians have for humans it's a very powerful gesture.
  • If romanced Miranda in the second game but fail to save her from Kai Leng, she gently runs a hand on the side of Shepard's face she lays dying in his arms, with Shepard having a clear look of "It's all my fault." Shepard thanks her for saving them, comforting her in her last moments by telling her that she did the right thing and that he will look after Oriana now. Miranda doesn't need to worry anymore... her sister is safe.
  • The scene that starts the romance between male Shepard and Kaidan. Especially for fans who've been wanting it since the first game.
    Kaidan: We've been friends a long time, Shepard. Have you ever known me to be with anyone? I guess I'm just choosy or patient or... I don't know. Maybe what I've never found - what I want - is something deeper with someone that I already... care about. That's what I want. What do you want?
    Shepard: You and me? Is that what you're saying, Kaidan?
    Kaidan: It feels right, doesn't it?
    Shepard: "Be nice to have someone to turn to when things get grim. Someone to live for. Maybe love.
    Kaidan: Someone?
    Shepard: You, Kaidan. Huh. It does... (slowly) It does feel right. After all this time... You and me. I like that. A lot.
    Kaidan: And that... makes me so happy.
    • As much as BioWare wrote themselves into a corner by not including a proper male/male option from the beginning, Kaidan's was handled as well is it could have been. The result is something that honestly feels like a trilogy spanning Unresolved Sexual Tension romance with its own distinct feel compared to the male/female versionnote .
    • When Cortez admires the male dancers in Purgatory, Shepard can admit to enjoying the male dancers too. Cortez will chuckle that while he does think Shepard is husband material, he'll note that Shep's heart is with Kaidan. D'aw.
    • If you've already locked in another romance before talking to Kaidan on the Citadel, the conversation changes. If you haven't, he'll tell Shepard how he feels, and you can choose to commit or reject him. If Shepard's already romancing someone else, however, he starts by telling him/her he doesn't have many friends, but he considers Shepard to be one of those few, and a damned good one at that. The Paragon response is beautiful:
    Shepard: You're my brother, Kaidan.
    Kaidan: I'm glad to be a part of the crew.
    • Hell, Kaidan in general is this. Especially for a female Shepard who has loved him since ME1, it becomes very apparent just how much he's her rock, the Only Sane Man who can offer her advice and comfort in the direst and darkest of days.
  • Bring your LI with you when you infiltrate the Illusive Man's base with EDI. You'll find video logs about Shepard's resurrection, and they say flat-out that Shepard was brain-dead, causing the Commander to actually have a moment of doubt.
    Cerberus Scientist: Sir, Shepard is clinically brain-dead. After that much trauma, that long with no oxygen... We cannot overcome nature.
    Shepard: [watching the video] I didn't realize it was that bad.
    Shepard: [softly] Maybe they really just fixed me. Or... maybe I'm just a high-tech VI that thinks it's Commander Shepard. But I don't know, I...
    • Tali's response:
      Tali: You are real. Real, and mine.
    • Liara's response:
      Liara: I wish you'd told me, Shepard. I knew it was really you the first time I touched you again.
    • Kaidan's response is equally heartwarming:
      Kaidan: You're real enough to me.
      • It's just such a massive contrast to his doubts about Shepard at the beginning of the game. Before, seeing that would have all but confirmed his suspicions. But by the time he watches that log, he knows who Shepard is and he won't ever doubt it again.
    • Ashley's reaction sells it too.
      Ashley: Screw those Cerberus freaks. Whatever anyone says, you're you.
      • Then when Shepard admits that he should not have trusted Cerberus but he needed their help, Ashley doesn't blame him at all and says that now they can set things right. Compare to the start when that would have just confirmed her suspicions.
  • Upon entering the geth consciousness, you see several pivotal moments of the geth's history that are preserved and shown to Shepard. They are what you'd expect: initial relations between the quarians and the geth, and the Morning War. The most recent memory, however, is that of Shepard him/herself welcoming Legion as a member of the Normandy's crew. As Legion explains, it's a key memory it wishes to share with the rest of the geth: Shepard was the first organic to ever welcome it with (somewhat) open arms.
  • Reuniting Liara with her father, Matriarch Aethyta, who has been carefully spying on her for years to ensure the other asari matriarchs don't do anything to hurt her. She even threatens Shepard and talks boldly about Benezia... but the greatest moment is when Liara tells her the story of how Benezia fought to the end against indoctrination and helped Shepard - something Aethyta never knew and blamed Benezia for surrendering to.
    • She didn't even know that the Reaper Indoctrination was real, and thought that Saren had corrupted Benezia through conventional means.
      Arthyta: All this time, I'd blamed Nezzy for it. Thousand years old and I still don't know crap. Thanks for telling me.
      • The crowner is here, though:
      Aethyta: You're treating her like a baby bird, Nezzy, but she's gonna raise one hell of a storm with those little wings.
      Liara: "Little wing"?
      Aethyta: You okay?
      Liara: Yes... Thanks.
    • Also worth mentioning is the last dialogue between them, where Aethyta calls in favors with Eclipse mercs for Liara's sake. That's right, she gives her daughter a band of asari commandos as a gift. In response to this, Liara calls her the best father a girl could wish for.
      Liara: You got me... asari commandos?
      Aethyta: Well, you're too old for me to get you a damn pony.
  • Samara spent the last game talking about the Justicar code, and how it is black and white with no room for grey. So when the Reapers attack the Ardat-Yakshi monastery where her two remaining daughters live and has no choice but to leave one of them behind to blow it up to stop the Banshees, if she follows the code, it compels her to kill her last remaining Ardat-Yakshi daughter. She pulls out her gun and puts it to her temple, intending to kill herself rather than her daughter. Her love for her daughter is strong enough that she would die before killing her. Given that her loyalty mission in the last game was about tracking down and killing one of them, it's touching to see her instead want to kill herself than her daughter.
    • Thank GOD for the Paragon interrupt, though, which leads to a rare expression of emotion as her daughter proposes a way to ensure that the code is upheld and they live.
    • There is a small tearjerker, however. When Falere hugs her, Samara doesn't react for a bit. She's been so estranged from her daughters, she's slow in returning it, probably out of guilt, and most certainly because she's out of practice.
    • There is an earlier one regarding Samara and her daughter. When Falere insists that she and the other Ardat-Yakshi are happy living in the monastery and are not responsible for the attack, Samara steps in, telling Shepard that she vouches for Falere's words "with pride." It cuts to a shot of Falere giving a small smile.
    • And in the extended cut ending, you can see a shot of Falere and Samara together.
    • And a small one for the staff of the monastery. While it was harsh and very structured, some of the correspondence showed that they saw their jobs as protecting their charges from the Galaxy as much as they were protecting the Galaxy from their charges. One email has the Matriarch angry at one Justicar's tendency to bring in hysterical and scared women to the Monastery and pledging that it will never happen again. Another one has the staff approve of everyone but one to go visit Thessia, with the one exception being a legitimate concern.
  • EDI at the endgame: "I understand what is at stake, the Reapers have destroyed thousands of civilizations. But they have never destroyed ours nor will they."
  • Shepard in general is just so much more... human in this game than s/he has been in others. The strain is clearly visible at points. Particularly after Thessia, when Shepard has to take the call from the asari councilor and explain, for the first time in all three games, that they have failed.
    Asari Councilor: I never thought this day would come.
    Shepard: None of us did. I'm [asari councilor disconnects] ...sorry.
    • The scene afterwards where Joker wisecracks about the asari. Take the Paragon option, then apologize when he shows the war is affecting him too and points out how much stress Shepard is under, and the scene that usually follows after this (where Joker is angry at Shepard) is skipped. It shows just how much Joker knows the strain Shepard is under, and is willing to let go when s\he cracks.
    Shepard: [after calling Joker out for an off-color joke regarding after the destruction of Thessia] So why the jokes!?
    Joker: 'Cause EDI says according to your biometric scans, you're under more stress right now than you were during the Skyllian Blitz. Like more than Elysium, when it was you versus pretty much 10,000 batarians trying to kill you. And the last time I had a meeting with Anderson, he told me to take care of you. The guy leading the resistance - on Earth! - is worried about you, and I'm supposed to help!
    Shepard: I appreciate the thought, Joker, but I'm fine!
    Joker: The hell you are! You're like half robot at this point. [aside] No offense, EDI. And it's my fault! When the Collectors blew up the first Normandy, you died because I wouldn't leave… Because you had to come back for me.
    Shepard: Couldn't leave the best pilot in the fleet behind, could I?
    Joker: Yeah, we'll I guess that would've looked bad on your report.
    Shepard: Come on. We've got work to do.
  • Javik, of all people, delivering a brief but inspiring Rousing Speech to people on the Citadel, telling them that there is hope, they can win, that the protheans saw potential in all of their species, and that now is the time to rise to those expectations. Immediately afterward, he confides to Shepard that he honestly has enjoyed his time walking among the "young."
  • All interactions with EDI about humanity probably qualify, but this one deserves a special mention:
    EDI: News from Earth. The Resistance snuck video cameras inside a Reaper containment camp. I find the images difficult to process.
    Shepard: I bet it's pretty gruesome in there.
    EDI: I am not easily repulsed, but I expected the prisoners to adhere to a comprehensible hierarchy of needs. Stripped of societal norms and threatened with death, it is logical that their only priority be survival. They should have turned on each other and been uncompromisingly selfish...but not all were.
    Shepard: Some prisoners were, what, nice to each other?
    EDI: The Reapers delayed the execution of prisoners who informed them of other prisoners' escape attempts. The more attempts reported, the longer a prisoner would live. But few of the prisoners would report; some fed misinformation to the Reapers at the cost of their own lives to help prisoners that were not even relatives or friends.
    Shepard: It's not just about living 'til tomorrow. Sometimes, you take a stand.
    EDI: But the probability of success was near zero. And ultimately, they failed: No prisoners escaped.
    Shepard: Are you saying submission is preferable to extinction?
    EDI: My primary function is to preserve and defend the... No. No! I disagree. Shepard, I am going to modify my self-preservation code now.
    Shepard: Why?
    EDI: Because the Reapers are repulsive. They are devoted to nothing but self-preservation. I am different. When I think of Jeff, I think of the person who put his life in peril and freed me from a state of servitude. I would risk non-functionality for him, and my core programming should reflect that.
    Shepard: Sounds like you found a little humanity, EDI. Is it worth defending?
    EDI: To the death.
    Shepard: Welcome to the crew, EDI.
  • In Mass Effect: Datapad for iOS devices you receive messages from in-game characters as you interact with them in Mass Effect 3 itself. Using the app while romancing Garrus gives you this heartwarming message:
    It's late. Just got up for some water. You're still asleep. Wanted to say how beautiful I think you are.
    Love G.
  • Liara shares her memories with your prior to the last assault on London. She mentions that it is sometimes done between bondmates. She also mentions those little blue children you discussed earlier.
    • It may even be better with a non-romanced Liara. She leans against Shepard's arm and gently rests her head on their shoulder. It's a phenomenally sweet moment.
      Liara: Thank you. For everything.
      • Unless you happen to be wearing spiked armor... then it becomes unintentionally funny.
  • When listing her preparations for the final battle, EDI mentions kissing Joker for luck.
    • The Synthesis ending. During the entire game, we see Joker and EDI's romance forming. Choosing the Synthesis ending has a cyborg Joker and a cyborg EDI walking into the new world, almost like Adam and Eve. EDI gives the broadest smile in her life as she rests her head on Joker's shoulder in pure joy.
      • In the Extended Cut Synthesis ending, upon realizing Shepard is truly dead for good, the newly technorganic EDI cries for the first time, only to be consoled by Shepard's LI.
        EDI: I am alive - and I am not alone.
      • It's especially touching if Shepard's love interest is Tali. The quarian girl who's hated synthetics most of her life is now offering her shoulder for an AI to cry on. How far she's come.
  • The final scene between Shepard and Admiral Anderson warms your heart and breaks it all at the same time.
    Anderson: Commander.
    Shepard: We did it.
    Anderson: Yes, we did. It's quite a view.
    Shepard: Heh. Best seats in the house.
    Anderson: God... Feels like years since I just sat down.
    Shepard: I think you earned a rest... Anderson, stay with me. We're almost through this.
    Anderson: You did good, son/child... You did good. I'm... proud of you...
    Shepard: Thank you, sir.
    Anderson: ...
    Shepard: Anderson?
  • A lot of the fetch quests you can do after overhearing conversations on the Citadel qualify. The galaxy is falling apart, but Shepard still finds time to perform little acts of kindness. Finding heating units to save a salarian's clutch from dying out. Acquiring an improved power grid for the Purgatory bar to help give people — especially off-duty soldiers — somewhere to escape for a little while. Bringing back confirmation of a son's death so his family won't be left wondering. Recovering a batarian priest's religion artifact to give his people some faith to cling to. Just little bits and pieces that might not even matter once all is said and done, but it's a reminder that people are what we're fighting for, not just basic survival.
  • Gabby and Ken finally hooking up.
  • Mordin telling Shepard about his first meeting with "Eve."
    Shepard: You care about her.
    Mordin: My patient. My responsibility. Found her at STG base. Three doctors injured trying to restrain her. Undid arm restraints. Didn't resist when she grabbed me. Promised to help her. She said, "Please."
  • Javik's character development by the end of the game is impressive. When you first meet him, he's dismissive of everyone around him, calling the other races "primitive" and being very suspicious of EDI and Legion. Over time, however, he begins to see the potential the people of this cycle have as they band together and stand the best chance in tens of thousands of years of beating the Reapers. To wit: when Shepard first meets him on the Normandy, s/he offers to shake hands with him, but he doesn't accept the offer. Before the final mission, however, he offers his own hand to shake. Take that Paragon interrupt, and fill yourself up with warm-fuzzy feels afterward.
  • Javik says he might indulge Liara on helping her with her book. One of the titles Liara thought of was "My Travels with a Prothean." Just picture Javik and Liara after everything is over going off and having adventures together.
  • After the Cerberus coup on the Citadel, if you manage to do it without killing Kaidan/Ashley, you get a small scene with Garrus in front of the memorial wall. He talks about how Shepard almost had to kill him/her, and is thankful that he/she didn't join Ashley/Kaidan. He then comments that it was Kaidan/Ashley's fight too, and they need to win for him/her as well. Heartwarming to know he still remembers the one who died at Virmire two years after he/she dies.
    • Also, he'll sound sincerely happy to have Kaidan/Ashley back on the Normandy. It's nice to see he doesn't hold Horizon against them.
  • The encounter with the Catalyst, if you think about it. Here we have the creator of the Reapers, the source of the cycle of extinction, the ultimate Big Bad of the series... and he peacefully accepts his end, if that means a permanent peace between synthetic and organic life. No Cultural Posturing, no Villainous Breakdown, just a sad affirmation and acceptance of the end. Godspeed, you mechanical bastard.
  • Conrad Verner is back in this game, being his usual idiot self. But for all his stupidity, he got the Shepherds out of the war zone, using all of his funds. Conrad, leave the badassery to Shepard. But that doesn't mean you can't be a hero.
    • For some, who loved the character and thought that he was honestly a really good guy trying to do some good to the galaxy, getting those five War Asset points from him meant more than getting all of Tuchanka behind them.
  • Of all things, Balak. Keep in mind, he just pledged the last Batarians in existence to fight in the war. It would have been even more heartwarming had the Endings not precluded the fact that the Batarians would have probably been welcomed back after decades in exile to Citadel space.
  • Miranda laying out the guilt she feels for even thinking about putting a control chip in Shepard's head. She states how she should have known better given how she always tried to protect herself and her sister from their father's controlling influence. The apology that she gives Shepard for considering making him/her a slave to Cerberus feels genuine and heartfelt. Miranda's really come a long way.
    • It's even more heartwarming if Shepard forgives her and expresses their gratitude for Miranda's work on the Lazarus Project:
      Shepard: I lost two years of my life, Miranda. You gave the rest of it back.
  • If you manage to get the turians and the krogan working together, after a while you will get a sudden, seemingly random Codex entry added: "The Miracle at Palaven."
    • After generations of animosity, the krogan and the turians are working together for the first time since... ever. They coordinate a massive sneak attack against the Reapers by using a dreadnought as a distraction and then smuggling a large number of high-yield WMDs into Reaper harvesting camps. Countless lives are sacrificed, but through the combined efforts of the krogan and turians, they manage to strike possibly the biggest blow against the Reapers short of the battle for the Catalyst.
  • This conversation with Garrus after the fall of Thessia. When Shepard has comes as close as s/he ever has to a Heroic BSoD:
    • After spending two games being the squad's Warrior Therapist, it's nice to see them giving Shepard the pep-talk for a change.
      • The last conversation with Garrus will end with this line:
        Garrus: Forgive the insubordination, but this old friend has an order for you. Go out there and give them hell. You were born to do this.
      • A romanced Garrus veers in Tearjerker territory with a different line:
      Garrus: Forgive the insubordination, but your boyfriend has an order for you... come back alive.
  • If you successfully get the quarians and geth to make peace, the geth show that they had Undying Loyalty towards their creators all along. They build housing and help with the fields (which Tali says would have taken years, not weeks), and most amazing of all, the geth are curing the quarians of their immunity problems by simulating diseases (without getting them sick), strengthening their immune systems to the point the next generation won't need envirosuits anymore. Talk about Laser-Guided Karma. If only Legion didn't have to "die".
  • Finding out that Space!Shepard's mother is still alive and well in Mass Effect 3, you would expect her to be among the casualties defending Earth but surprisingly Shepard's mother made it out alright.
    • And how is this surprising? Shepard had to get his indomitable badassery from SOMEWHERE. Like parent, like child.
      • (Of course, we never do hear anything about Shepard's FATHER. Let the Chuck Norris jokes begin.)
  • In the first conversations with Cortez and Engineer Adams, Shepard shows an incredible fondness for the old Normandy. The ship may be gone and replaced, but hasn't been forgotten.
    Cortez: Welcome back to The Alliance, Commander.
  • Adams enthusing over Gabby and Ken, while praising the former as the best engineering progidy he's ever seen. Later, he, Gabby, Ken, Tali and EDI develop a tech together that adds War Asset points to the entire Alliance fleet.
  • Talking to Steve Cortez on the Citadel. He sees a turian frigate that's very scarred up, seen a lot of conflict, and compares it to himself, limping around and having no reason to live. Shepard can Paragon interrupt Steve by looking at a passing Alliance frigate, who was repurposed from a warship to evacuating civilians. He tells Steve there are always reasons to live. It snaps Steve out of his funk, and saves his life in the end. Good Feels Good.
  • Talking to Samantha Traynor has at least one big CMOH. She reveals that she was visiting her family on Horizon when the Collectors hit and she just sounds so grateful that Shepard and their team came for her.
    Traynor: When the Alliance was running studies, you were saving me and my family.
    • Even better was that Shepard was expressing their guilt about having worked with Cerberus, with Traynor assuring him/her that while Cerberus is a bad group, s/he was still doing the right thing.
  • If you chose the geth - and only if you chose the geth, for some reason - then when back on Earth you can talk to a Geth Prime who promises that the geth are fighting for their future - and once the war is over, they will help rebuild yours.
  • All of the final good-byes in 3 are this, though some more than others.
  • Shepard-Miranda interactions can be sweet, too:
    Shepard: Miranda... things are never going to be easy for us. But I'll always want you in my life.
    Miranda: [playfully] No regrets? This is your chance to back out.
    Shepard: None.
    • And...
      Miranda: Shepard... promise me you'll be careful.
      Shepard: I can't do that, Miranda.
      Miranda: [chuckling humorlessly] I know. Bastard.
    • In addition, Miri's (assuming she doesn't die) reunion with her sister is a sweet moment and shows that for all her being an "Ice Queen" she has a heart and loves her sister deeply, and now that her father is dead, they don't need to run anymore.
    • Her goodbye:
      Miranda: So finish this. Then FIND ME.
    • And with the Extended Ending: If Shepard survives, Miranda will be seen gazing out at a beautiful sunset on Earth, waiting for her lover's return.
  • The extended Synthesis ending took several levels in this from the original endings. Epilogue scenes show the Reapers actually helping everyone to rebuild narrated by EDI. Although still bittersweet at best, it's heartwarming regardless.
    • Also in the extended Synthesis ending, you'll get to see Kasumi reunited with her partner-in-crime and lover, Keiji.
    • A small one from the extended Synthesis ending: There's a scene where an alliance marine is getting mauled by a Husk, when the blast from the Crucible hits and knocks them flat. The human quickly gets to his knees and begins edging away from the Husk, only to see it looking around with a dazed expression and very human-like body language; almost like it's thinking "What happened? What the hell have I been doing?" Very poignant coming from a previously mindless automaton.
  • The extended Control ending is arguably just as poignant. Shepard lives on, not as a human, but as the immortal overseer of the Reapers. Under their, the Reapers rebuild the galaxy and make it more glorious than ever before, but Shepard's squadmates believe that he/she died to make it happen and Shepard will never be able to tell them otherwise.
    • There's no indication of "can't" in the Control ending; it's either a case of "won't so they'll move on" or... there's going to be some very happy squadmates when they get back from Gilligan's Planet.
      • Nothing really stopping Shepard from pulling an EDI and uploading himself/herself into a shell to hang out with their old crew, honestly. Fridge happy ending?
      • Also, consider Paragon!Shepard will be doing so he won't kill EDI and the Geth just to destroy the Reapers. EDI and the Geth will probably be feeling both sad and happy, especially if you played Renegade style on the second game and Paragon style on the third, making Shepard's Character Development into The Atoner and The Messiah for Synthetics. Also a great way of telling "Fuck You" to the Reapers and the Catalyst's Insane Troll Logic.
      • Not to mention, this comic. It pretty much says everything that Control Shepard with Liara as the LI should say post becoming the Catalyst.
  • And while we're at it, the extended Destroy ending may be a bit bleaker, but it is still optimistic. Lots of people died, including all the synthetics, but the Reapers are defeated, and the galaxy can (and does) rebuild, united as one. Let's not forget that Shepard can still survive in this ending.
    • If you have high enough EMS, Destroy will show your LI refusing to add Shepard's name to the memorial wall, and the Normandy flies off, presumably heading for the Citadel. Next it shows Shepard waking up in the Citadel's ruins. A BioWare poster on the forums confirmed this is meant to imply that the Normandy finds Shepard and he/she reunites with their LI and the crew.
    • If you happen have a high EMS score along with the iOS Datapad app and chose this ending, a day or two after finishing the game, you will receive a message from your LI that they are hoping to see you in the hospital. Not to mention the file that contains the scene of Shepard breathing is named "shepardlives."
      • Even better. Garrus, especially if romanced, would find Shepard among the wreckage on Earth, as revealed in a tweet.
  • In the Extended Cut, if you cure the genophage, one of the epilogue slides is of krogan parents with their children. They just look so peaceful it can reduce you to tears.
  • This message from BioWare at the end of the credits of the Extended Cut.
    "It has been a long journey - for Shepard and for the team here at BioWare - and like Shepard, we couldn't have done it alone. The Mass Effect trilogy began as a vision of a small team, but over the years it has grown. That growth has been fueled and shaped by the feedback and support of our player community. Thank you for joining us on this journey, and we look forward to sharing further adventures with you in the Mass Effect universe."
  • In the Extended Cut, the last scene most players will see before the credits is the Normandy lifting off and flying off into the sunset. It's a good way to say goodbye.
  • The Extended Cut ending card: "Congratulations on bringing an end to the Reaper threat. Commander Shepard has become a legend, and from here you can continue to build that legend." Also the child asking the Stargazer to tell him/her more about "the Shepard." The ENTIRE trilogy has been a story told from a grandparent to their grandchild. Arguments can be made saying the endings were too vague, or that they rendered the player's choices moot, sure; but one needs to realize that the legend of "the Shepard" is being told as a story; not unlike a parent telling their child a story at bedtime. When you realize that, who cares if EVERY SINGLE individual plot thread wasn't wrapped up absolutely perfectly, or that EVERY SINGLE choice you made in-game may or may not matter? The point is that the Reaper threat is OVER. The future that Commander Shepard secured REGARDLESS of Paragon/Renegade scores, REGARDLESS of Destroy/Control/Synthesis/Refusal, REGARDLESS of geth/quarians/both, cure/sabotage genophage, save/kill rachni, the save/sacrifice council, or anything else; the future that the Stargazer and their child have is one where they NO LONGER HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR. There is peace in the universe because of "the Shepard", which is the only thing that truly matters.
  • If you attempting to romance Samara in the last game, in this one, she will have a short additional scene on the Citadel with you as you are about to leave. She takes your hand, and tells Shepard that their time is precious, and he should spend it wisely, with those who care for him. Coupled with the heartbreaking way she speaks, it's really touching.
  • Councilor Gujir is a local council member on a little Alliance colony that's about to be overrun by Reapers. He proves worthy of his position:
    Secretary Phillips: The emergency fund's gone, sir. We don't have the credits to hire enough ships to evacuate the colony before the Reapers get here. Not with the prices their captains are asking for.
    Councilor Gujir: What about the military?
    Phillips: The left an hour ago. They said... they said it's too much of a risk to come back.
    Gujir: Did they?
    Phillips: Yes, sir.
    Gujir: Here.
    Phillips: This... is this a passkey, sir? And an inventory?
    Gujir: Phillips, I am authorizing you on behalf of this city's Senate to seize any and all eezo stockpiles in our treasury, in order to secure safe passage for our citizens on any available ships.
    Phillips: These look like private stockpiles. Senate members' stockpiles.
    Gujir: I'm foregoing re-election. Now get us those ships.
    Phillips: Yes, sir!
  • You can find Tali on the Presidium. She's acting as an ambassador for the fleet—or rather, for the homeworld. When Shepard runs into her, she's in the middle of helping a turian representative arrange evacuation of a besieged colony, offering compassion and reassurance alongside the promise of medical support and a rapid fleet response to get civilians out of the line of fire. Once the turian representative leaves, Tali reveals that it's been three years to the day since she was fired on by Saren's assassins on that very spot. Shepard's quiet pride in everything Tali's accomplished since her Pilgramage is sweet enough, but then Tali tells them the part of the story they haven't heard yet. The assassins used polonium rounds—on a quarian. Wounded, alone, terrified, and running a high fever, she still managed to make it to the embassy and ask for protection.
    Tali: The turian clerk called me..."suit-rat." He... threatened to have me thrown off the station if I didn't leave.
    Shepard: I wish that clerk could see you now.
    Tali: [softly] He did. That was him just now. I don't think he remembered me.
    • If you've romanced Tali, you can watch Shepard fall in love with her all over again in that moment. If you haven't, it's no less tender. Tali's captain is visibly, unspeakably proud of the woman she's become.
  • After Thessia, Liara is devastated, and some of the other crew aren't sure how to comfort her. Tali and Garrus anxiously argue about which of them should talk to Liara; neither knows what to say and they don't want to make it worse. If prompted, Ashley will say that she'll talk to her. Over the comm, EDI does talk and listen, deflating Liara's bitterness about how her relationship with her mother tied into it. When she confronts Javik in a rage, however, he needs some prompting to say something encouraging to her for once; after Liara leaves, Javik tells Shepard that, true or not, it was what she needed to hear.
  • After the mission on Horizon, Tali calls up Javik; one call has her basically sloshed, but she also puts in a much more serious call, where she expresses her horror at the whole thing. Javik was numbed to that and worse and says so, but less harshly than usual. Tali says that she's sorry he had to go through that - and he responds, "Your sympathy is not needed, quarian... but it is appreciated." He then seems to backpedal a little, claiming that quarians have always been emotional and it's thought to be a product of their biology.
    Tali: Or maybe it's genuine.
    Javik: ...Perhaps.
  • When Tali discusses Banshees with EDI, EDI interprets some of it as Tali expressing her own insecurity and feelings of uselessness and tries to help, at first rather awkwardly by saying "You (quarians) would make excellent Reaper soldiers", and then when this doesn't have the desired effect, she outright states that Tali has been a great help.
  • After the monastery mission, talking to Steve Cortez has him rather peevishly request that next time Shep blows up a monastery, s/he should tell him s/he's not still inside. "I worry about you!"
  • The Leviathan DLC opens up new systems to scan and new War Assets to acquire. One of them is a batarian governor.
    The governor of the batarian colony Camala was outspoken in the early hours of the Reaper assault, blaming the Alliance for the destruction of batarian comm buoys that were, in fact, destroyed by the Reapers. Now liberated from his world, the governor has undergone a dramatic conversion. His daily extranet videos rally his formerly conservative, xenophobic subjects to embrace the Citadel species as brothers and sisters in arms. Unlike many batarian politicians, he also avoids micromanaging military affairs, content with inspirational tasks and the logistical nightmare of providing urgently-needed relief to batarian refugees.
  • In Leviathan, Shepard's love interest actively scolds him/her for diving to the bottom of the ocean on an unknown planet, in order to speak to an Eldritch Abomination. S/he was more worried about Shepard's welfare than the multiple Reaper forces s/he and another squadmate were holding off, until s/he got back.
    • Earlier in the DLC, a romanced Garrus says one of the sweetest things.
      Garrus: Shepard, I... I admit I was worried about you on that dig site. Things got... pretty hectic. Not used to feeling like that, you know. That's what love does. Turns a guy like me into a nervous wreck with something to lose and the aim to make sure he doesn't. Nobody better hurt you, is all I'm saying.
    • Kaidan, if romanced, has this to say after the fight on Despoina:
      Kaidan: You scare the hell out of me with these risky stunts Shepard, but I guess it's part of what I love about you.
  • James Vega's concern for Doctor Ann Bryson.
  • Post-bomb mission, Wrex grills Garrus on whether or not he knew about the bomb, asking whether or not his friend would keep that from him. "His friend". And of course Garrus wouldn't.
  • One small one: When Joker is on the Citadel, he remarks how everyone finally realizes how serious things are getting by the way they're dancing. He notes they're waving their hands around and don't care if they look stupid. Shepard pounces on that and urges Joker, who has always stayed on the sidelines thanks to Vrolic's Syndrome, to dance and not care if he looks stupid. Sure enough, Joker is on the dance floor dancing the best he can, and sounds truly happy when you speak to him.
    • Keep in mind, this is also when Shepard volunteers to make an ass of themself dancing with Jack.
  • The Refusal ending makes the Stargazer epilogue even more poignant and heartwarming. Shepard refused to compromise their humanity at the cost of galactic civilization, but... s/he and Liara's efforts made sure that was the last time, and a new species speaks of him/her with awe, despite being 50,000 years later and Shepard being nothing but stardust at that point.
  • At some point in the game, Joker will ask Shepard about whether getting into a relationship with EDI is stupid or not, to which Shepard can say it is stupid, but Joker deserves every right to make "stupid" choices.
    • Also, in a way, both Heartwarming and Awesome how Shepard uses Joker's own logic "against" him. The conversation begins with Joker looking on as the marines on the dance floor dance and look stupid while noting that they, the marines, don't mind because they got bigger things to worry about (i.e. the Reapers). The conversation moves on to his beginning relationship with EDI and Joker remarks how stupid it is. Choose to encourage him and Shepard asks if he would be dancing and making an ass out of himself if he could. Joker nods and Shepard answers that perhaps his relationship with EDI is stupid, but apparently he has bigger things to worry about. Joker thinks about it for a few seconds, smiles, and limps to the dance floor to dance with EDI.
    Joker: (dancing) Still haven't broken anything, Commander!
  • Minor one, but if you've been completely open with Wrex, it really shows how much he trusts Shepard. Before the mission to disable the turian bomb we have this exchange:
    Wrex: What was all that over there with the Primarch? Are the turians up to something?
    Shepard: It's nothing, don't worry about it.
    Wrex: Uh-huh. Alright.
  • The Paragon version of Aria's speech after retaking Omega.
    Aria: We are Omega!
  • Crosses over into Tear Jerker territory, but after Nyreen kills herself with a group of Adjutants via biotic sphere and grenades, Aria flips out. Her response showing how much she really did care is quite touching (if morbid) compared to how flippant and cold she usually acts.
  • A Paragon Shepard will influence Aria to spare Petrovsky. Regardless of the fact that Petrovsky showed her mercy, a Shepard-less Aria wouldn't have bothered showing it herself.
  • When you ask Dr. Chakwas about her family, she'll reply that while she may be the last of her bloodline, "The Alliance is my spouse and you are all my children." She says it with such sincere, nurturing tones that you can’t help but feel the warmth flow through you. Team Mom indeed.
  • By the end of the Omega DLC, Bray, Aria's henchman in Omega, has probably the best relationship with Shepard out of any batarian in the series. At the end of the DLC, he is tasked with escorting Shepard to the dock to return to the Normandy, while everybody else is rounding up the Cerberus stragglers.
    Shepard: You always get these crap details, Bray?
    Bray: Heh. Not this time. You've got a galaxy to save. Let's get you off this rock.
    • After Omega, he sends Shepard an e-mail about how there is one batarian in the galaxy who doesn't hate Shepard.
  • Taking Kaidan to the Cerberus base, when you come across the remains of the human-Reaper, he says that he wishes he'd been there. Shepard's response is to just say "you're here now."
    • It's particularly poignant for male Shepards romancing him, as their relationship is filled with missed opportunities and lost time, and Shepard is quietly stating that what had passed doesn't matter, it's that they're together now that counts.
  • Admiral Hackett's late-game response to Shepard asking why he picked him/her of all people to unite the galaxy. It's a rare moment where Shepard opens themselves up and questions if they're even qualified for their task rather than if they can pull it off. This exchange, as well as Paragon Shepard's incredibly diverse fleet of humans, aliens and synthetics, some of whom were mortal enemies not so long ago, one could say the entire series, and the third game in particular, has one message above all others, and an overwhelmingly heartwarming one at that: Have faith in others, and they will have faith in you.
    Shepard: If I may Admiral, I have a personal question.
    Hackett: Speak freely, Commander.
    Shepard: ...why me? Why put me in charge of all this?
    Hackett: Because you're the only person in this whole damn navy who knows how to kill Reapers.
    Shepard: You just have to be smart and hope you get lucky. Anyone can figure it out.
    Hackett: Your dossier says otherwise, Shepard. [cites the amazing military accomplishment you chose way back in the first game]
    Shepard: And because of that you think I'm qualified to save the galaxy?
    Hackett: Shepard let me tell you something that I've learned the hard way. You can pay a soldier to fire a gun, you can pay a soldier to charge the enemy and take a hill, but you can't pay them to believe.
    Shepard: I don't follow, sir.
    Hackett: When you went up against Sovereign all those years ago there was no good reason to believe you'd win. But your crew didn't seem to care, they went along anyway. Your trip through the Omega-4 Relay? That was a suicide mission if there ever was one. Yet there your crew was, standing beside you! Proud to serve! Why? Because they believed in you. Their leader. That's what I need now.
  • If Fem!Shep has romanced Traynor, then just before the final push, it's possible to have a conversation with her where Samantha says she wants to settle down, buy a house and have kids with Shepard. Then she states she's not kidding. Verges into being a tearjerker, since in pretty much every ending, they'll never be able to get that little house with the picket fence.
  • Mass Effect 3: "Citadel" is set up to be this between Shepard and their crew, particularly the love interests. Some clips show Male!Shep and Tali watching a film featuring a quarian and a turian (specifically Fleet and Flotilla), FemShep and Garrus dancing, Male!Shep and Jack embracing, and Fem!Shep sharing a beer with Kaidan.
  • Mass Effect 3: "Citadel" takes the cake in every field. From having the mere CHOICE of saving your clone who was denied assistance to seeing all of your surviving friends hanging out and interacting, BioWare delivered when they said they were pulling all the stops. And it is a proper farewell to the trilogy.
  • Crossing with CMOF for the bluntness of it all: In "Citadel" when Shepard and squad arrive at the Normandy as it's getting stolen by Brooks and Clone!Shep, you find Traynor who was just thrown out of the Normandy. If Fem!Shep romanced Traynor, she is pissed because Clone!Shep just fired her for fraternization. What happens after is just adorable.
    Traynor: You! How can you even look me in the eye? After all that we... I thought we... and then you fire me for fraternization!
    [Paragon Interrupt appears which causes Shepard to passionately kiss Traynor]
    Traynor: Huh...?
    Shepard: Wasn't me. Evil clone.
  • Kolyat's memorial service for his father.
    • In addition to the Normandy crew, you can also see Commander Bailey there - oh, and the salarian councilor.
  • If you take Wrex and Tali with you to fight the clone, you're treated to this bit of dialogue in the elevator. Also counts as a CMoF.
    Wrex: You been practicing with that shotgun? Still remember that fast reloading trick I showed you?
    Tali: You know, I've taken care of myself for the past few years.
    Wrex: I know. I'm old and I worry, even though my favorite quarian is all grown up and killing Reapers.
    Tali: You're like the crazy head-butting uncle I never had.
    • Or with Liara
    Wrex: You ready?
    Liara: Absolutely.
    Wrex: No worrying? No emotional concerns? You've grown up, T'soni.
    Liara: [only if she talked to Aethyta/her father and found out her grandfather was a krogan] Well, I recently discovered that I'm one-quarter krogan.
    Wrex: Ha! I knew there was a reason I liked you.
  • Shepard and Kaidan can have a moment after the first combat sequence.
    Shepard: What would I do without you?
    Kaidan: You'll never find out.
    • Their final romance scene after inviting Kaidan to the apartment is pure domestic fluff. It's their first chance to just be normal together. At the end the player has a choice between going upstairs for sex, or staying on the couch to cuddle. If cuddling is chosen, Shepard sums it up;
      Shepard: I can't think of anything better than this moment right now.
  • Spacer Shepard can finally talk to their mother. Unfortunately, you don't see Rear Admiral Shepard, but she is still proud of her son/daughter and recalls a memory of her child having their own warship and crew. How heartwarming.
  • Relatively small one, but if Shepard competes in the Armax Arsenal Combat Arena and performs well, s/he gets fan mail from, well, fans. One of them is from a turian mother who informs Shepard that her daughter is fascinated with humans and she actually thinks it's good for her daughter to have a non-turian role model. It has been clear from the first game that Shepard is a hero and an idol in the eyes of many humans, but this is the first time that a normal, alien family informs Shepard that they are rooting for him/her.
    • Another one from the Combat Arena: Shepard can partake in a special match against the most elite Reaper units for the Mass Effect equivalent of the Make A Wish Foundation for an asari girl who recently was treated for a cerebral tumor. This even gets acknowledged by the announcer. The mail afterwards says the child had a blast watching Shepard and the commander is officially her hero now. And, in a CMOH reaching out into the audience, taking part in this match for charity earns you no less than fifteen points of reputation. It also leans into Tear Jerker territory, given that the super-elite Reaper units you're up against include Banshees, who are likely more or less traumatizing for any young asari to witness.
  • Shepard can find Joker trying to convince a bartender to give him free drinks by telling a ridiculous story about hijacking an Atlas Mech to fight off the Cerberus Coup. Shepard can vouch for him, not by validating the story, but instead by pointing out that Joker actually has saved the galaxy on multiple occasions.
  • If you spared Maelon and saved his data, then cure the genophage, he'll send you an ecstatic email, stating "This validates all the pain my experiments caused." He was truly regretful about the barbarity of his experiments when removed from it with some perspective, but everything he wanted was accomplished. In addition, he states he wants to meet with the Krogan females and apologize and ask for their forgiveness.
    Maelon: I guess this is the second time you've saved my life, Commander.
  • In the Citadel DLC, if the right conditions are met, Shepard and Samara can finally share the kiss they have been longing for ever since the Almost Kiss aboard the Normandy in ME2.
    • It's even more heartwarming if you think about how Samara has been conditioned and has followed her code since when she became a Justicar possibly hundreds of years ago, and she cares so much about Shepard that she's finally willing to make an exception for them.
  • Another for the Citadel DLC, Shepard and Liara share a romantic moment in the apartment. She is tapping out the only song she knows how to play on the piano, because years before, another archaeologist taught it to her to pass the time when they were stuck inside due to bad weather. After a few moments, Glyph proceeds to start playing the song for her and Shepard, without being asked. Very thoughtful for a mere VI.
    • Listen closely: it's a piano rendition of "Vigil."
  • If you are romancing Tali, you can invite her over for a date, and she takes the opportunity to serenade you with a romantic song. Although she lifts the lyrics from an in-game movie, Fleet and Flotilla, her body language and tone of voice indicate that she’s making a sincere declaration of love.
    Let the moon's shining light hide two lovers in its rays.
    Though I know that dawn will set us on course for separate ways,
    I will hold this night in memory for all my living days.
    Now unmasked, I feel your skin on mine.
    • The music she sings to is also the main love theme of the game, making the moment even more romantic and sweet.
    • Made even more sweeter when you realize that several of her lines from her romance arc in 2 were borrowed directly from the quarian character in Fleet and Flotilla. Given her Shadow Broker dossier mentioned her downloading it during the Collector mission, it's implied that she used it to give her the confidence to articulate how she felt about Shepard. Tali finally got her fairytale romance with a lover from beyond the stars.
    • After Tali sings, you get a dialogue option to express how adorable it is that she's so into it.
    • The dialogue option to make fun of her a bit is arguably better. Her response to Shepard's gentle ribbing shows how confident and comfortable she has become in the relationship, a stark contrast to her nervous and unsure demeanor at the very beginning of it, nearly a year ago in-universe.
    Shepard: I guess you've always had a thing for exotic alien men.
    Tali: I don't hear you complaining.
    [Tali wraps her arms around him; Shepard smiles]
    • You can get the scene even if you're not romancing Tali, with slightly altered dialogue, which means that she's essentially having a pajama party with Shepard (either sex). Better yet, you can still tell Tali that it's cute she's so into the quarian version of Titanic.
  • One more from Citadel, if you kept up the romance with Thane: After the usual final part of the ending scene, Thane shows up in spirit form and encourages Shepard to finish the fight. A great sendoff note for those who felt the main game dropped a bridge on the romance.
    • Also of note are Thane's video logs left for a romanced Shepard. Thane's dialogue is so well written that even Shepard starts tearing up from it. Note that Thane is the only character in the saga that Shepard has ever cried for. Doubles as a Tear Jerker as well.
  • Romanced Garrus gives you possibly the only instance of Shepard being good at dancing.
    • It's also very touching that he's willing to spend all night booby-trapping your apartment with Zaeed in Citadel rather than enjoying himself at the party, especially if you're in a relationship. It's also hilarious since most of the ideas are ones only possible with inebriation-compromised judgement, but it's also touching that Garrus is more concerned about your safety than anything else.
      • Actually, that was probably Garrus' (and Zaeed's) idea of a party. Much like Kasumi's drawer raid. Sure, the two of them are definitely concerned for Shepard's (and other partygoers') safety, but they were definitely having a blast with it.
      • That said, Garrus' spoken reason for the booby-trapping if you've romanced him is definitely very heartwarming. It's more the way he says it, to be honest. And then Shepard allows him to go ahead with every implication that it's entirely for his peace of mind, as though she's well aware of how much he cares for her and she's indulging in that caring purely to make her boyfriend happier. D'awwwww. Not to mention what the code for disarming the lot turns out to be...note 
  • There is a meta-heartwarming in the trilogy's final achievement. If the player manages to defeat the six player classes in the arena, they are declared The One and Only.
  • During the Citadel DLC, if EDI is taken to retake the Normandy from Clone Shepard, she will comment that it's odd to walk through the Normandy without sensors, and that she feels blind. If the third party member is not Javik or Wrex, they will say words of kindness to her. EDI simply gives a warm "Thank you."
  • One goes out to BioWare itself for the multiplayer mission "Operation Tribute." Earlier that month Zaeed's voice actor, Robin Sachs, passed away. BioWare designed a challenge weekend mission in his honor that requires scoring 50,000 with the Avenger assault rifle (Zaeed had one featured in ME2 named 'Jesse') and another 50,000 with firebombs (Zaeed's unique ability).
    Mission Description: Operation: TRIBUTE (Feb 22nd-24th): A surprise Reaper assault inflicted deeply-felt casualties on our N7 teams and interrupted supply lines to several worlds. Many units will have to rely on standard-issue sidearms and munitions. We must honor and avenge our comrades who fell – and let the Reapers know this was a mistake, not a victory.
    • To elaborate, this was a collective effort. In a single match, an individual would earn no more than a few hundred points. To score a grand total of 100,000 points would take the efforts of a lot of players, and everyone who played during the weekend that Operation Tribute was in place would receive the reward. They expected it to take all weekend. In an absolute heartwarming moment, It was achieved in four hours.
  • And while we're on the subject of Zaeed, there's also another example that crosses with meta in Citadel DLC when you play with female Shepard. If you only invite Zaeed to the party along with the default guests, you have the conversation written down below. There's just something jarring in listening Zaeed admit something so personal that he can only say it to Shepard in private; especially knowing that the voice who said it is now permanently silent, making them, in its own, strange way, the last words Zaeed says to her. And then it gets even more poignant when you realize that he didn't utter a single curse during the whole conversation: You know he's serious and it's not just the booze talking.note 
    Shepard: What do you think of the music? Good, bad, what?
    Zaeed: You don't really want to know what I think, Shepard.
    Shepard: Sure I do.
    Zaeed: I've always thought you were beautiful. There, I said it. Shh. Don't say anything.
  • Zaeed flirting with Samara. While she's flummoxed by an abstract painting, he waxes lyrical about it, leading her to observe, "You are a complicated man, Zaeed Massani."
  • Just listening to Mordin of all people singing Amazing Freaking Grace from beyond the grave via datapad.
  • During the party, despite their mutual dislike, Miranda can admit that she finds it extremely admirable that Jack is growing as a person, despite everything Cerberus did to her. It doesn't come out easy, but it's genuine, as is Jack's first surprised response.
    Jack: Wow. [Beat] Thanks. I still really hate you, but you have fantastic tits.
    Miranda: [laughs] All right. I can live with that.
    • It's subtle, but it's a huge change from Miranda's insistence that the Pragia cell wasn't "really'' Cerberus.
      • With Fem!Shep and a non-romanced Bro!Shep, when you invite her up, you get to hear the first time Miranda refers to anyone as "my friend". At the party itself, the Ice Queen is actually quite friendly with everyone, even those who ostensibly don't like her, like Jack and Tali.
  • Kasumi's encounter in the casino - she's pulling a heist, and expects Shepard's going to turn her in. The Paragon path is to wish her luck (she is doing it for the refugees, after all...)
    Shepard: I believe I hired you because you were the best damn thief in the galaxy.
    Kasumi: Sweet talker.
  • The fact that Zaeed actually bothered to try and get a kid a plush toy. Never mind the fact that it eventually turned into him wanting to beat it for honor.
  • Jack manages to adopt a biotic varren. Apparently, biotics make varren very short-tempered and even more vicious than they are normally, leading to abuse and abandonment. Jack rescued one from Thessia, and named it Eezo. Never before has a varren looked so cute.
    Jack: [cooing] Who's my badass biotic? Who's my badass biotic?
    • The similarities between Eezo and Jack are not lost on Shepard.
    • Just how casually Jack says "Can you imagine anyone doing that?" when she mentions Eezo having been abused and abandoned. The bitter, viciously jaded Jack we met in ME2 would have been jumping on the chance to point out that kind of cruelty as evidence that she's right to hate and distrust others, and likely gleefully mocked the idea that anyone could possibly be surprised at the idea of people abusing an animal. The fact that she's outraged at the idea, and doesn't even notice the irony, speaks volumes of how profoundly her worldview has changed since meeting Shepard.
    • And then Shepard starts playing fetch with Eezo... using a frying pan instead of something sensible like a stick. Mainly because s/he had originally grabbed it to use as a shield.
    • That scene plays out differently if you remained faithful to Jack. She gives you an omega-and-skull tattoo, explaining that she never tattooed anyone else because no one else mattered enough. Then, when she's getting worked up about her fears that Shepard won't be coming back (probably justified given the options), Shepard hugs her and tells her she worries too much.
      • This scene becomes Fridge Brilliance in hindsight if you pick the Destroy ending. Jack mentions that the tattoo might help identifying Shepard if he needs help, which is exactly what happens.
  • You can later meet Jacob in the Arcade. He's accompanying a group of kids whose parents are MIA and giving them a good night out.
  • Just saving as many of your squadmates throughout the series as you can and holding that last party in Anderson's apartment, finalized with the massive group photo (prominently hung in the lounge) and returning to the Normandy to gaze at it with pride before boarding.
  • It might sound strange, but breaking up with Garrus at the beginning of the game if you have romanced him in ME2. As you pick the option to end the relationship and brace yourself for a very painful scene, you'll instead see a turian that handles the breakup very well, a woman who refuses to callously treat their relationship as "just a distraction" and two people who obviously mean so much to each other, just more as friends than as lovers. Granted, it might not make any easier to actually pick the option to end the relationship, but at least the game handles it really, really well.
  • Anderson's biography mentioning Shepard. The sheer, undisguised PRIDE dripping out of his description, and his defense of ShepardNote , is incredibly heartwarming.
    "Thing is, you never heard a complaint. Never once got "No, sir. I can't do that." (S/He) never hesitated. Few people know what Shepard's been through. I'd like to think I come pretty close. And I worry sometimes (s/he) forgets: there's a whole bunch of people who lose sleep over (him/her) getting back home. Maybe it doesn't need to be said. Maybe we're too dumb to say it. Soldiers like the Commander are rare. (Men/Women) like Shepard... even more rare."
    • Also heartwarming? The interview is being conducted by Khalisah al-Jilani, and she is 100% sincere. After the running gag of punching her, she isn’t bothering with tabloid journalism, offering a truly genuine and respectful interview.
    • A Meta-CMOH is just the Citadel DLC as a whole. Over 5 years the franchise grew to new heights, nearly changed genres, created countless new characters and, while some bits weren't as good as others, no one could deny the franchise as a whole. Throughout Mass Effect 3, you could tell that the developers were truly in love with the franchise and the worlds they had creaed. And so the last piece of the Shepard Trilogy is not some new grand threat, it's not some new piece of lore to fill in blanks, it's nothing to tease out a new sequel. It's one last hurrah, one last chance to be with the characters so many people love, closing it out with an hour of party that's nothing more than hearing characters from all three games interact. If nothing else, the Citadel DLC's a love letter to the franchise, and the perfect way to end it.
    (Either Shepard's living love interest or Joker gives a pep talk finishing with some variation on "It's been a good ride.")
    Shepard: (after they leave, s/he smiles) The best.note 
  • A bit of fridge while playing co-op: the realization that in Galaxy At War, every species is working together, implying that Shepard did in fact manage to get the asari, krogan, turians, salarians, quarians, geth, volus, and even the batarians and the vorcha, to work together to fight the Reapers.
    • The Citadel DLC suggests this to be canon via some ambient dialogue. One pair is a Human infiltrator and a Vorcha soldier. While Vorcha are typically seen and treated as little more then savage beasts, this one is sharing friendly banter with a human and even giving her some tactical advice.
  • Its a subtle one, but in the N7: Fuel Reactors mission, the turian Corporal mentions that he's gone on "three tours" with Captain Riley, a human officer. This implies that there have been at least three years of joint-species military units working in the galaxy. Considering that in real life, there's rarely joint-nation operations, the fact that there are joint-species units that have been operating for so long indicates just how far things have come for the Citadel.
  • A completely random one in the wild party in Citadel, from Grunt. He's extremely drunk, but it warms the heart nonetheless.
    Grunt: (slurring his words) You guys... I love you guys.
  • Each of Miranda's scenes with Shepard in the Citadel DLC, romance or not, showing how good of friends they've become. Particularly with a Paragon Shepard, when one remembers how their relationship began. Non-romanced, they clink glasses to how special the other is.
  • One of the Extended Cut slides shows Zaeed contentedly sitting in a lounge chair on Earth enjoying a tall can of beer. Retired Badass indeed.
    • Even more heartwarming when you remember that he previously stated that his retirement plan involved ramming a shuttle into Omega. He's apparently been inspired to find a more pleasant alternative.
  • The Extended Cut itself could be seen as a CMOH for BioWare. That they actually listened to the fans' complaints about the ending, then brought back nearly every person who did voice acting for the game to actually do something to make it better, and then made the DLC free rather than charge for it. Of course, there's still a Broken Base, but considering the enormous scale of the controversy, this is a massive show of respect for the series' fans.
  • Shepard's final speech before the assault on the Citadel beam, cementing the trilogy's status as one of the greatest displays of camaraderie in all of gaming.
    Shepard: This war has brought us pain and suffering and loss. But it's also brought us together, as soldiers, allies, friends. This bond that ties us together is something the Reapers will never understand. It's more powerful than any weapon. Stronger than any ship. It can't be taken or destroyed.
  • After the fall of Thessia, Shepard can snap at Joker. That's not the heartwarming part. Afterward, Joker will greet Shepard on the bridge with a curt and hurt "Commander", until after the siege of the Cerberus Base, when a still-hurt Joker will respond to Shepard addressing him as such by trying to be more "professional", at which point Shepard can apologise.
  • From the Control ending, assuming Shepard has been played renegade through the game, the newly ascended Shepard's speech is pretty ominous stuff about how they will be a mighty army crushing anyone who threatens the new peace. Then it gets to Shepard's crew, and it notes how it will never forget them, with the Reaper-esque flanging dropping off for a moment.
  • Shepard encouraging Joker to dance with EDI at the party. They don't need to be a Shipper on Deck at this point, but they totally are anyways.