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  • Land, Sea, Sky: The three largest armies can be seen to represent this in their favoured forms of warfare. The krogans utilise a ground-based Army and Tanks (Land), the humans use a Space-Navy with many Carriers to quickly deploy Marine forces (Sea), while the turians provide aerial-support and bombing runs (Sky).
  • Lag Cancel:
    • Adrenaline Rush does not take you into Bullet Time for the multiplayer, but it still instantly reloads your weapon.
    • Tactical Cloak can be used to keep your overloaded Infiltrator competitive. Since Cloak has a proportional cooldown now (always 3 seconds if you break it immediately), using powers like Energy Drain or Sabotage is much more efficient if you cloak first. Cloak's cooldown will override the used power's cooldown, shaving the time right off.
    • Tapping the context-sensitive "use" button (the one that activates, sprints, enters cover, etc) at just the right moment will cancel the reload animation, especially when standing still. If done right after the weapon magazine actually replenishes, the weapon can be fired immediately.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Generally all over the place, but Shepard gets a nice dig in when they expresses mild jealousy about the geth believing Legion's warning's about the Reapers.
    • A particularly excellent example comes from stalker and wannabe hero Conrad Verner, who is surprised when he finds out that they've replaced the old cooling systems from the original Mass Effect with a thermal clip system, pointing out that they might as well go back to ordinary ammunition. He even asks if the guns can, at least, still cool down on their own, and Shepard (rather uncomfortably) admits that they removed the self-cooling systems in order to make space for the clips. Every player probably asked the same thing, but Shepard blows him off.
    • In Mass Effect 2, Garrus had some of the least dialogue available out of all the crewmates, and would generally excuse himself with the same tired line about making calibrations; players probably heard it more than any other line. Characters in Mass Effect 3 generally poke fun at his apparent obsession with calibrating things.
    • If James is in the party during "Priority: Citadel," he gets incredulous that Cerberus Phantoms carry swords into gunfights. If Javik is the other party member, he warns James not to judge the enemy based solely on their weapon. Phantoms are one of the strongest enemies in the game, especially in multiplayer.
    • Glyph hangs a nice one in the Citadel DLC:
      Glyph: I have found another weapon modification. Why do people leave them in the open?
    • Citadel is one giant lampshade store. Shepard's dancing. "Shepard." "Wrex." "I should go." If there's something the DLC can point out or make fun of it's in there.
  • Laser Sight: Cerberus Nemesis operatives have a targeting laser on their Sniper Rifles. This beam is only active when the Nemesis is lining up their shot and about to fire, accompanied by an audible electronic whine. While such a thing may be a disadvantage for a sniper in reality, in the game it gives the player a signal to take cover.
    • It's also sort of a Call-Back to the first game, in which Geth Snipers did the same thing (because they were using the Assassination power, which buffed sniper damage and accuracy for the next shot). Thankfully, it's not a One-Hit Kill in this game.
    • Reaper Ravagers also have a sort of targeting laser... two, in fact. The purpose is the same.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Present in both single-player and multiplayer for some attacks—most enemy attacks that break your shields do not overflow into health damage, and if one of those attacks would deplete your health meter, it reduces you to a mere fraction of your last health bar and gives you a very brief invulnerability window.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • If Shepard and Dr. Chakwas decide to share another bottle of brandy, they note that neither of them has ever called the other by their first name. Chakwas feels using Shepard's first name would be a disservice to everyone she is fighting for... and if that makes no sense, it is just a lady's prerogative. Shepard can call her Karin, though.
    • Jacob mentions that his girlfriend wants to name their baby after Shepard... as in, naming the kid Shepard. He intends to talk her out of it, though. Later, he'll mention that his girlfriend thinks that "Hackett" is a good name... for their baby girl.
    • Carried through even to include the plaque placed on the Normandy memorial in the ending, even though it's text (and thus maybe the one place it could have been averted.)
  • Last of His Kind: Javik, the Prothean squad member from the "From Ashes" DLC pack.
  • Last Minute Hookup: Both for the player character and supporting cast.
    • Shepard will have the opportunity to bed their love interest (even if it's a new romance) right before the point of no return.
    • Provided they survived ME2, and you pardoned them in the Citadel Spectre office, Ken and Gabby finally admit their love for each other if you go visit them at the very bottom of Engineering prior to the final mission. This can happen way earlier though.
    • If you didn't romance either of them, Garrus and Tali are seen embracing when you walk in on them at the forward batteries. Tali says in the conversation afterwards (likely half-joking) that "This is just a fling, Vakarian. I'm only using you for your body."
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Jack. Repeatedly.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: None less than the Xbox Live frontend spoiled the fact that From Ashes gives you a Prothean squad member from day one.
  • Lazy Backup: Zigzagged. There are a number of missions in which you encounter ME2 squadmates; since the game is a cover-based shooter, they will frequently get entangled in combat situations. Most often, they do so offscreen or during cutscenes... but on two separate occasions you help a biotic character (Jack and Samara) run an Escort Mission in which they help defend untrained biotic NPCs (despite being NPCs themselves) while Shepard takes on the main body of foes. The weird thing is, the first of these characters (and their escortees) actually contributes to the fight during their mission, while the other just... stands there.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • The kid in the beginning that says "You can't help me." and dies shortly thereafter regardless of what you do seems to be talking to the player that you cannot save everyone.
    • A scene that follows continues this, with Shepard having the option to express just that.
      Shepard: It's hard enough fighting a war, but it's worse knowing no matter how hard you try, you can't save them all.
    • Conrad references the save import bug from the second game, apologising for claiming that Shepard held a gun to his face when they never did so, he thinks he was under a bit of stress at the time.
    • EDI at one point speculates that reality is in fact a holographic projection onto a 2-dimensional surface, but no one is capable of sensing reality in this way, not even the Reapers.
    • In Leviathan, EDI references online games having to nerf characters, weapons and enemies, after players complain they were too overpowered. The multiplayer has had this occur several times to make Infiltrators and Vanguards builds less gamebreaking, and this is frequent criticism leveled against enemies such as Banshees.
    • In Citadel, most of the conversations between random soldiers on the Silversun Strip refer to various aspects of the multiplayer.
    • Just before the Citadel DLC mission in which Shepard retakes the Normandy, after the player chooses two squad members to accompany Shepard, afterward one of the unchosen characters (Wrex if you don't pick him, your most-picked squadmate if you do) will express disappointment at not being picked ... and if there happens to be a character who the player never chooses, they will note this.
    • The final scene of the Citadel DLC is one that works in-universe, but also feels like BioWare and the voice actors saying goodbye to the trilogy and characters.
      Squad Member: It's been a good ride.
      Shepard: The best.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: In a manner with the squads in multiplayer. They are ostensibly Systems Alliance units and operate under Alliance command, with most of their members being human soldiers and other military specialists, but they also include volunteers and mercenaries from a variety of other races, such as turians, asari, krogan, drell, and quarians. Now with the Resurgence/Rebellion/Retaliation/Reckoning DLC Packs, geth, batarians, vorcha, Cerberus defectors, volus and Leviathan-liberated Collectors join the party.
  • Les Yay: Shepard, of all people, can bring this up in the Citadel DLC when Jack and Miranda are sniping insults at each other over their drinks. Shepard asks if they would feel better if they just kiss already, insisting that their attitudes must clearly be Belligerent Sexual Tension. Both have incredulous reactions to the idea and go for more drinks. Kasumi offers to record, saying that there must be a market for it.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: In the Retaliation DLC, you get to be a volus. Played right, and you're capable of keeping up with half-ton, headbutting murder-lizards and people who can crush other people with their minds (though as a Volus biotic, you'd be the type to crush people with your mind).
  • Lighter and Softer: The Citadel DLC can feel a tad jarring at points due to how dark the main game is, especially since, in order to maximize the number of available characters it's meant to be played just before the endgame missions begin. It's intentionally goofy, fun, filled with character comedy and ends on a party for all of the squad members in the series. Tropes Are Tools though as it's meant to be the final sendoff to the trilogy and the cast of characters and thus is technically intended to be played by those who have already played through the game a few times (and, even more specifically, have played through the complete trilogy).
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Vanguard class in singleplayer, Krogan and batarian vanguards in multiplayer. Basically, every character with the Charge ability is built around this trope.
  • Lightning Gun: The quarians love these, having designed the Arc Pistol, the Reegar Carbine, and the Adas Anti-Synthetic Rifle.
  • Like a Son to Me: Anderson will refer to Shepard as either "son" (Male) or "child" (Female) after saying how proud he is of what you have accomplished.
  • Limit Break:
    • What krogan characters get in multi-player after killing three enemies in close succession with melee attacks. What exact bonuses are given depends on your progression.
    • The vorcha Bloodlust ability works the same way, with successive kills granting bonuses to health regeneration, movement speed and damage.
  • Limited Loadout: Shepard can take one of each weapon from five types, with a slot for each on their back. Restricting this, the game implemented a "weight" system for weapons where every gun slows down the rate at which powers recharge. Technically, any class can carry five guns at any time but doing so turns your recharge rate into molasses. Party members get two guns at a time. Multiplayer also uses the weight system but with two slots.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Surprisingly inverted with classes in multiplayer. Classes can generally be divided into ones which primarily rely on their active-use powers to deal damage (the wizards) and classes that rely on their weapons to deal damage (the warriors). In early progression, a player's stock of weapons and weapon mods will be very limited and will have a hard time competing with, while they can level up a class quickly, relying mostly on their active-use powers for their primary damage. However, as players unlock more item packs, weapons will gradually improve in quality and level, rapidly catching up to and even exceeding the active-use powers for damage.
    • As a more specific example in multiplayer, any enhancements (via weapon mods, power evolutions, and gear) to melee damage are multiplicative, while enhancements to ability damage are additive. Technically both are linear, but a given amount of enhancement to the former will generate a much greater effect than the same degree of enhancement to the later. In that sense, melee fighters out-damage casters, given the same level of optimization.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: If an advanced Cryo skill is used on an enemy, they can be shattered into little ice chunks by shooting or punching them.
  • Living Relic: Javik, the Prothean party member made available in the From Ashes DLC who slept from the previous cycle in a stasis pod. To him, the most advanced races in the galaxy are but primitive barbarians and, in the case of the salarians, a food source (their liver is preferably served raw as a delicacy). He is ignorant of our culture, society and history, and views our philosophy and religions with near contempt, but also sees in us the potential for ending the Reaper cycle and vengeance for the slaughtered Prothean empire.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading:
    • Single player has a load screen between each level of the Normandy and each individual section of the Citadel.
    • In multiplayer it is possible to invite a friend to a game, have him accept, switch the game to public and have it fill up before he can join.
  • Lonely Piano Piece:
    • The end of the introductory sequence culminates in a slow tune ("Leaving Earth") which is repeated numerous times throughout the game.
    • Grunt's Hold the Line.
    • Liara plays a lonely version of "Vigil's Theme" in the Citadel DLC. If Shepard is in a relationship with her, Glyph will play it to give the two a romantic atmosphere as they bond.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Crucible, an ancient anti-Reaper superweapon discovered in the Mars Prothean Archives at the beginning of the game. The kicker is that the cast initially assume it is of Prothean origin, only to learn it has been designed bit-by-bit over multiple extinction cycles.
  • Love Theme: "I Was Lost Without You", a more melancholy sounding tune than the previous two.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: In the multiplayer missions, you step into the shoes of the ground troops of the Reaper war, whom Shepard generally sees dead or about to die in cutscenes.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Multiplayer objectives can frequently be this. Sometimes you score and all the various items you need to activate/deactivate are placed in the same room and far from the enemies, other times you have to kill four Banshees which all are heavily guarded by their Reaper allies.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me:
    • Cerberus Guardians carry riot shields into battle. They are quite effective at soaking up damage; however, the shields can be worked around with good tactics, good aim, or good use of powers. Alternatively, if you have a big enough gun or equip armor-piercing mods, they can be flat out ignored.
    • N7 Paladins also have shields made from their omni-tools, both to add to their already somewhat ridiculous defenses and to serve as melee weapons. They can be upgraded to freeze whatever they hit. Or set it on fire.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • The remains of Cerberus Troopers killed by Infiltrator Shepard's Sticky Bomb would fit better into a bucket than a body bag. Also applies to enemies killed with the 'Carnage' ability, naturally.
    • Large enough guns such as the Black Widow sniper rifle gib pretty much anything that lacks shields or armoring.
    • The Krysae sniper rifle. As a sniper rifle that fires explosive ammunition, almost every single kill with it will gib the enemy.
    • While requiring a few good shots to down Shepard and co, the Atlas' Mass Accelerator Cannon can instantly reduce any Cerberus enemy to a bloody paste, including Guardians.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Having been heavily implied in Mass Effect 2, this game confirms that Matriarch Aethyta is Liara's "father."

  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Hydra missile launcher, which is occasionally encountered in single player. Instead of firing one big missile, it fires a volley of self-guided ones with three-stage explosives, making it equally useful for taking out bosses or swarms of standard Mooks.
  • Made of Explodium: Half of Vancouver, apparently. Whenever a Reaper weapon (which shoots hyper-accelerated molten metal but nothing inherently explosive) hits a building, chances are something in that building will detonate violently, even if it's just a downtown high-rise. The Citadel Presidium is another big offender - when Cerberus attacks the station, there's stuff exploding left and right, often without apparent reason. Granted, the attackers are using grenades and similar ordnance this time, but that still doesn't explain why entire civilian stores go up in flames just because one mook shot at it a few times with a submachine gun.
  • Magic Countdown: During the mission Tuchanka: Bomb, a timer is activated on the bomb, giving Lieutenant Victus sixty seconds to separate the trigger from the rest of the bomb before it detonates. It takes eighty-seven real life seconds for this to happen.
  • Makes Sense In Context: Lampshaded by Wrex in the Citadel DLC.
    Wrex: Shepard's got a clone. Makes sense when you think about it.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Jack if she survived the suicide mission is very protective of her students and has even cut back on cursing in front of them to provide them with a good mentor.
      Jack: Didn't think I'd ever care this much. But I won't let anyone hurt 'em. They're my kids. MINE.
    • Samara, of all people, is a Mama Bear in this, assuming she survived 2. She is perfectly willing to take on an entire building full of Banshees on her own in order to rescue her two remaining daughters — and then to shoot herself in the head to protect her last daughter from herself/the Justicar Code.
    • Matriarch Aethyta for that matter. Despite being a "father" to Liara, she is still of a childbearing sex. She keeps an eye on Liara and promises to protect her even as she spies on her.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In keeping with series tradition, (Sovereign behind Saren, Harbinger behind the Collectors) The Catalyst is revealed to be an ancient AI responsible for the actions of Harbinger and the Reapers.
  • Mars: The Red Planet is visited very early in the game.
  • Master of All: The Collectors, both in multiplayer and in the Citadel DLC's Armax Arsenal Arena. The other three enemy factions all have their own strengths and weaknesses. The Collectors only have strengths. They're better cover-busters than the geth without being slow, can rush players like Cerberus without going down as easy because their units have way more hitpoints, have their troops buffed with more useful bonuses than Reapers, their sync-kill units are harder to deal with than the others, they spam a support unit that locks down power use, and that's not even all of their advantages. Most of the worst Demonic Spiders in the game are Collector units, which in itself should already tell you anything you need to know about them. Playing against Collectors is like turning the difficulty up another level. Gets lampshaded by one of the many NPCs on the Silversun Strip who can be overheard talking about nothing but the game's multiplayer mechanics. He remarks on how they used to complain about the Reapers having the toughest ground troops - until the Collectors came along.
  • Match Maker Quest: Shepard can encourage EDI and Joker to become a couple and can do the same for Ken and Gabby. The Citadel DLC gives Shepard the opportunity to encourage Ashley and Vega to hook up, and as a downplayed example Shepard can be a wingman to Garrus at a casino bar.
  • McNinja: Cerberus Phantoms. Also, drell characters from multi-player 'roll' like ninjas and get a speed bonus, and the N7 Slayer gets a strange ninja/trenchcoat design, complete with Asian-esque sword - which makes sense since they use Kai Leng's meshes.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • If Miranda survived the previous game, she will return and be searching for her missing sister. Shepard will caution her to be careful, to which she will respond "No promises." If you contact her before the final charge on Earth, they flip it around.
    • Mordin gives us two of these. In the previous game he told Shepard he sometimes fantasized that it wasn't his responsibility to work on the genophage that keeps krogan population in check. He follows this up by calling it a fool's wish because "It had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." Later, as Mordin prepares ascends to the top of a collapsing tower to make certain the cure for the genophage is effective, he repeats this line, though this time without any regrets as to his course of action. However if Wrex and Eve are dead and Shepard successfully convinces Mordin to sabotage the cure, s/he throws the "Someone else might have gotten it wrong" phrase right back at Mordin.
    • Shepard and Legion have a flip where Shepard wishes Legion "Good luck" and he responds "Acknowledged". They repeat it with the roles reversed near the end of the mission.
    • One from all the way back from the first game makes itself known here; during a conversation with EDI, Shepard can find themself echoing one of Saren's last words, with the opposite intended effect:
      Are you telling me that submission is preferable to extinction?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Dr. Eva Coré. In Mass Effect Evolution, it was the name of one of Jack Harper's companions. Who is Jack Harper? The Illusive Man.
    • The second-in-command of the Eclipse mercenary organization, who is a more subdued mercenary than the violently psychotic leader Jona Sederis, is named Sayn.
    • The name of the planet Terra Nova becomes a lot more meaningful if any low EMS ending is picked and the mass relays blow up, destroying Earth in the process. Since Terra Nova isn't near a relay, it could be the only habitable world left for those humans who survived.
    • The term "Banshee" to describe asari husks becomes a lot more meaningful if you think about their origins. Banshees are made from Ardat Yakshi or Demons of the night winds, so those people were already considered demons before the Reapers got hold of them. And now these demons wail and screech a lot. The term to describe a demon known for wailing and screeching - Banshee!
  • Mechanical Evolution: Discussed by Shepard regarding the evolution of the geth species. Legion and the geth can evolve to achieve sentience far beyond their original programming parameters.
  • Medium Blending: When reports start coming in about the Reaper invasion, it is shown with live-action footage from one of the trailers.
  • Mega City: The story starts in a city that is described as Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon merged. Later references make it clear that you were in the "Vancouver" part. More precisely, Vancouver, British Columbia. There's a Vancouver, Washington across the Columbia river from Portland.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Present in multiplayer. Upon getting revived, you will be invulnerable until you shields/barriers are restored.
  • Messianic Archetype: This game really ups the ante on how much of Messianic Archetype Shepard can be, particularly in the good endings.
  • Meta Casting: Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, voices a space-focused grandfather in the post-credits scene.
  • Mildly Military: Discussed if you have Ken and Gabby rejoin the crew. Engineer Adams, who unlike Ken and Gabby did not leave the Alliance to enlist with Cerberus, will praise both of their skills, but he will comment that Ken needs to learn to keep his mouth shut, and that he needs to remind Ken about proper military procedure and the chain of command.
  • Mind Screwdriver: Mass Effect 3 finally clears up the mystery surrounding Keiji's greybox in Kasumi's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2, answering what information could be so important that it could start a war if it got out: the information is about a "black ops" raid that the Alliance conducted on the batarians. That could have started a war if the batarians had found out about it.
  • Mini Game Zone: The Silversun Strip from the "Citadel" DLC. It has an arena, an arcade, a casino and a customizable apartment. And dozens of opportunities to interact with squadmates.
  • Mini-Mecha: Cerberus has ten-foot tall mecha at their disposal. You can actually kill the pilot before destroying the mech, letting Shepard run rampant in one.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: You can encounter (and recruit) numerous ex-Cerberus scientists and soldiers who left the organization once they realized that the Illusive Man was having their co-workers killed once they finished their assignments. The Project Phoenix operatives in multiplayer left Cerberus when they figured out they were going to be indoctrinated.
  • Mobile Factory: The Volus Fabrication Units (discovered by scanning a planet in the Aethon Cluster) can be used to replicate custom plastic parts for the Crucible using mobile production platforms.
  • Modular Epilogue: The game didn't have one of these originally as it presented the consequences of your choices during the game itself, but with the Extended Cut DLC, the scene for the ending you chose is followed by slides of what various races and squadmates are up to, depending on who survived and certain choices you made earlier in the game.
  • The Mole:
    • How Cerberus must have found out about the krogan female on Sur'Kesh.
      Garrus: Cerberus must have been tipped off. They got here too fast.
      Liara: Every war has its traitors.
    • Mordin/Padok was Wrex's mole — he leaked info about the fertile females and encouraged political pressure to release them. He is not Wrex's only source, however, as you will learn the hard way if you betray him.
  • Monster Arena: Citadel's Armax Arsenal Arena.
  • Monumental Damage: In the trailer we can see a pretty busted up Big Ben Clocktower, and a Reaper just about to land on the London Eye. The tower does, however, manage to remain standing through the end of the game.
  • Mood Whiplash: The entire Citadel DLC. Especially when going for 100% completion, it will be played right between the Sanctuary, where unspeakable experiments are conducted, and Thessia, where an entire planet and its population get killed before it and the climactic final fight after it. Yet it provides lighthearted banter galore and is almost completely upbeat.
    • It's justified in that the DLC was meant to be a send off to the characters and world of the trilogy.
  • Mooks but No Bosses: Especially jarring since the previous games had several bosses. There's only one traditional boss in the entire game, and he's just a slightly different version of a fairly common Elite Mook with more health. The other "boss fights" consist of the Reapers on Tuchanka and Earth (who are merely environmental hazards that aren't directly fought), the Reaper on Rannoch, and Eva Core (the latter two are more like quick time events/interactable cutscenes).
    • Finally averted in the Citadel DLC, which has Shepard's clone as the boss.
  • More Dakka:
    • The Revenant Machine Gun can pump out the dakka with seven 60 round clips. (The Geth Pulse Rifle [80 rounds], Geth Plasma SMG and Prothean Particle Beam [both 100 rounds] - but these come off more as Beam Spam than Dakka.) That's before you apply the Thermal Clip Extension V mod giving it an 80% increase bringing it up to 108 rounds per clip.
    • Found, of all places, in a submachine gun. The Geth Plasma SMG spins a disk of plasma and then flings off bolts from the spinning disk, steadily increasing rate of fire to an absurd level. If loaded with the right weapon mods, it can sustain its frighteningly accurate huge volume of fire for a very long time. The flavor text for it reveals that it's a pint-sized version of a much larger Geth weapon, the heavy Spitfire. It is the smallest bullet hose you will ever see.
    • Multiplayer eventually got the N7 Typhoon, which is pretty much a cross between the Revenant and the Geth SMG... plus armor-piercing ability and extra damage against shields and barriers. With only a minor spinup to hinder it, it had to be nerfed the day after it was released because the piercing was just too good; the aforementioned N7 Destroyer with one of these babies was virtually unstoppable against armored enemies. The Typhoon's main issue being its enormous recoil limiting its effective range, the flavor text (and mechanical performance) suggesting this is because it is practically a cut-down assault rifle, with all the power that implies but much less stabilization.
      • See also the Piranha shotgun, which is to the Scimitar what the Typhoon is to the Revenant.
    • The Geth Spitfire minigun (which is a single-use heavy weapon in campaign) has been added to multiplayer as a machine gun. It can spit out more damage than the Typhoon, but it's heavier.
  • Motivational Kiss: When EDI describes Normandy's readiness before the final battle, she states she even kissed Joker for luck.
  • Motivational Lie: After the fall of Thessia, if you use the Paragon interrupt during the Liara/Javik confrontation, Javik explains that the Protheans believed that the asari were the best hope for this cycle, and that the Protheans protected and nurtured them because they saw their potential. After Liara leaves, Shepard asks whether Javik meant what he said; he asks "does it matter?" and you get as an addendum either "I will tell you what you want to hear: I meant what I said", "She believes it. So she will keep fighting."
  • Mountaintop Healthcare: The alpine planet of Lessus; largely uninhabited due to the uncomfortable conditions, the only settlement is a mountainside facility for housing Asari with latent or active Ardat-Yakshi genes. It's described as a monastery, but in practice, it's more akin to a rehabilitation center: individuals with the condition are isolated from the rest of the galaxy and taught how to resist their urges, with the best-behaved among them being allowed to visit other planets - albeit under strict supervision. By the time Shepard gets there, it's been attacked by the Reapers and most of the residents have been converted into Banshees - except for Samara's daughters.
  • Moving Target Bonus: There's an achievement ("Eye of the Hurricane") for killing a Brute when it is already charging at you.
  • Multiplayer Difficulty Spike: The multiplayer caps the player level to 20 (compared to 60 in the SP), drastically reduces available skills, and consistently pits the players against Demonic Spiders rarely encountered even on higher difficulties in SP (or not encountered at all, such as the DLC-only Collector faction).
  • Multiplayer-Only Item: The characters you can play as in the Multiplayer co-op mode have exclusive powers pertaining to their own race that don't appear in the Singleplayer mode. There are DLCs that allow Shepard to use those powers, but only two powers (Dark Channel and Lash) are brought from the Multiplayer to the Singleplayer mode.
  • Multiple Endings: Comes in three final options; which options are available and the aftermath of the Crucible's activation is determined by your Effective Military Strength.
    • Control: Shepard uses the Illusive Man's plan and takes control of the Reapers, ordering them to cease hostilities and leave. In the Extended Cut, it is revealed that Shepard became the Reapers, all of them, and is rebuilding what they destroyed, vowing to serve as the preserver of all civilization. More renegade Shepards will vow to be a strong leader.
    • Destroy: Shepard uses the Crucible to destroy the Reapers, with the side effect of destroying every synthetic in the galaxy along with them. This is the only ending in which Shepard potentially survives.
    • Synthesis: Shepard takes a third option and disseminates all of their energy into the Crucible, causing a chain reaction that converts all organic and synthetic life in the galaxy into cellular-level cyborgs, but killing Shepard in the process. Since the Reapers' motive for the cycle no longer applies, they cease hostilities and begin helping galactic civilisation.
    • The Extended Cut DLC adds a new ending: Refusal: Shepard decides to reject all of these previous options and essentially tells the Catalyst to go screw himself. Unfortunately, this causes the Catalyst to shut down the Crucible, ruining any chance of defeating the Reapers... in this cycle, at least.
  • Mundane Luxury: In the monastery for secluded Ardat-Yakshi, you can find a message from one of the inhabitants mentioning that somebody managed to smuggle in a copy of the vid Vaenia. She is arranging a group watching and is practically bursting with anticipation, and all the Asari are risking rather extensive privilege restrictions if they are caught. Dialogue in Mass Effect 2 revealed that Vaenia is a story featuring two asari in love; they are going to these lengths to watch a romance film.
    • Considering Ardat-Yakshi can only be made by two Asari reproducing, and all Ardat-Yakshi are Asari, there's probably a good reason they're not supposed to watch stories about two Asari in love, making this Mundane Luxury also a Forbidden Fruit
  • My God, What Have I Done?: If Shepard shoots Mordin before he rides up the elevator to the Shroud, Shepard stands in shock for a moment before turning away with a grimace and throwing the gun away as they walk off. Especially significant if it's a Carnifex, the model of pistol he gave you as a good faith gesture the first time you met.
    • A similar animation plays if Shepard pulls a gun on Mordin, but doesn't pull the trigger, in more of a case of My God, What Did I Almost Do?
  • Mythology Gag: One of the games in the Castle Arcade is called Shattered Eezo. Shattered Steel was BioWare's first game.

  • Nail 'Em: The Kishock Harpoon Gun, which will pin enemies to walls if its projectiles are charged enough.
  • Naval Blockade:
    • Cerberus does this a couple of times, once at the Grissom Academy with a cruiser and a force of fighters, and another around Omega with a force of larger ships after usurping Aria T'Loak.
    • When the quarians go to war with the geth and get their asses handed to them, the geth's huge fleet continuously blocks access to the mass relay, thus trapping the entire Migrant Fleet in their home system until the conflict is resolved one way or another. Joker and EDI on the other hand make a point of telling you that the Normandy is invisible to the enemy's sensors and can leave the system at any time.
  • Neck Lift: Legion will do this to Shepard if you let the quarians wipe out the geth.
  • Nerf: Two flavors! A lot of guns were changed from the second game:
    • Now a vanilla weapon, the Phalanx Pistol went from a Hand Cannon that outdid the previous Hand Cannon with 1.5x more damage to being an intermediate between it and the basic pistol; essentially becoming a ".45 ACP" to the Predator's "9mm". The previous Hand Cannon, along with its new variant, is now practically a Sniper Pistol.
    • The Mattock still retains its power, but has a reduced fire rate cap.
    • The Viper Sniper now only holds half the shots and limits the rate of fire, the trade-off being a significant damage increase. The niche of "rapid-fire sniper" now filled by the Raptor.
    • The Locust SMG got a major damage nerf and reduced accuracy.
    • The Revenant took a 20-shot clip reduction, lost some accuracy and is slightly weaker per shot. Firing on the move also slows you down, regardless of whether you're aiming down the sights.
    • BioWare also takes a look at the multiplayer every week and adjusts the guns and abilities to balance things out:
      • The Falcon is probably the most different between modes; its multiplayer fire rate is half that of the campaign version, and its damage was cut as well. Other guns like the Paladin have had their clip sizes adjusted.
      • Stasis had its cooldown almost doubled, and Sabotage can't hack more than one enemy anymore. Decoy and drone abilities also distract fewer enemies.
      • Tactical Cloak, the Krysae Rifle and the geth characters' Hunter Mode were all nerfed to combat the proliferation of various Infiltrators. Cloak got hit the hardest, losing half its duration and a third of its damage buffs.
      • With the introduction of single-player DLC weapons being ported into multiplayer, several extremely powerful guns were weakened in the transition. The Adas rifle received a slight loss of damage and half of its firerate reduced, the Blood Pack Punisher's AP bullet deals much less damage, and the Venom's charged-shot cluster munitions maintain only a fraction of its original power.
  • Neutral No Longer: The entire point of the game: sending Shepard out to the various species of the galaxy in order to convince them that focusing solely on their own territories isn't going to work anymore, that they need to unite in order to survive.
    • Taken literally with the dialogue options, sort of. Almost all dialogues only give two reply choices outside of the Charm/Intimidate persuasion options.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the Leviathan DLC - Shepard gets the race that created the Catalyst, and by extension the reapers themselves, to join the fight!
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Garrus's opinion of Cerberus Phantoms.
  • Never Needs Sharpening: In-Universe with the Mattock assault rifle. It's exclusively semi-auto, and this is advertised as a feature to limit wasted shots.
  • New Game+: You'll restart the game at your current level with all the money, armor, weapons and attachments you acquired during the first run, the max upgrades for weapons will rise from 5 to 10, and you will get an achievement. However, your reputation, Intel Terminal upgrades (with the exception of the Predak Paddlefish intel which can only be obtained in a New Game Plus), and War Assets are reset to what you had when you started your first playthrough.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: Cerberus has been upgraded to a fully-realized military force in this game, with its own fleets of cruisers and fighters, and enough military force to challenge the Systems Alliance throughout its colonies. It also manages to launch a full-scale assault on the Citadel and come close to assassinating the Council, but Shepard afterwards remarks that that was probably the bulk of their total forces, and they would not be able to do anything of the like again. Soon after, Cerberus's next and final military engagement is at their own headquarters, as the Systems Alliance's Fifth Fleet arrives with Commander Shephard to destroy Cerberus and prevent further interference in the fight against the Reapers.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Some of your choices throughout the trilogy and this game will catch up to you, and not always in a good way. Some specific examples:
    • If you recruit them in a save where the rachni queen was killed, then her Suspiciously Similar Substitute is revealed to be indoctrinated, and goes on an offscreen rampage through Crucible R&D, causing significant damage to your war assets before she is put down.
    • If you encourage Javik to embrace the memories of the Echo Shard, the reminder of his lost comrades pushes him into full Death Seeker territory. Otherwise, he will at least be willing to find out what peace looks like if he survives.
    • On the Citadel, Shepard can overhear two conversations; one between an asari commando with PTSD and an asari psychiatrist in the Huerta Memorial Hospital, one between an Alliance engineer and her sergeant in the D24 docking bay. By listening to the conversations in their entirety, Shepard gets the choice to authorise giving the asari commando a gun and to authorise transferring the Alliance engineer to anti-Reaper missions instead of the anti-Cerberus missions she is supposed to be going on. If you authorise the asari getting a weapon, she commits suicide, reducing the Citadel Defense Force war asset due to traumatizing the doctors and nurses. If you authorize the transfer, then the Alliance war asset is reduced due to "lack of engineers impairing anti-Cerberus missions".
      • Worse in the second case, even if you authorize the transfer, the engineer and their superior still go through the whole scene with the briefing and all again. Should make them leave the hallway. If you looked at consoles in the early Cerberus lab mission with the Reaper tech, you find her brother's log notes, before and after indoctrination. You probably killed him there, but, even if you didn't, his personality is long gone.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Occurs several times throughout the game as a way for Shepard to actualize their guilt over leaving so many people behind on Earth during the evacuation.
  • Ninja:
    • The Infiltrators, if built right, are quite capable of dishing out headshots, launching grenades or performing stealth assassinations with the omniblade while remaining invisible for nearly the entire time. Coupled with a short cooldown for the Tactical Cloak, they can become virtually unstoppable on the battlefield.
    • Highly Visible Ninja: The new Turian Ghosts are Infiltrators equipped with jetpacks.
    • The Cerberus Phantom or as the fans lovingly call it, "Ninja Bitch".
    • The Phantom now has a playable counterpart in the N7 Shadow, who has a sword, Kasumi's Shadow Strike and an devastating Sword Beam attack. For when Infiltrators simply aren't ninja enough!
    • ...and the N7 slayer, a Vanguard who shares sword and biotic abilities with the Phantom. He is also able to teleport at short range, which brings some more ninja points.
  • No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: In cutscenes, the squad will often be holding either an unmodified M8 Avenger assault rifle or M-3 Predator pistol regardless of whether or not they were carrying those weapons. Sometimes their currently-equipped weapons will also appear on their back/hip in carrying mode, but other times they will completely disappear. Especially jarring if (though to a lesser extent than in Mass Effect 2) you aren't even carrying an assault rifle, and in fact haven't used one all game.
    • Especially painful when it happens to squadmates that are unable to use Assault Rifles in the last two games, Tali or Liara for example.
    • A few cutscenes avert this — partially. Characters will have the weapon they were last holding, but will still fire as if they were holding an M8 Avenger, even if they were holding, say, a Widow or a Spike Thrower. In which case, those cutscenes will get loud.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Happens to the Virmire survivor early in the first act (causing them to be out of commission for the rest of the first act), then later to Shepard in the climax.
  • No Indoor Voice: Batarians, krogan, and vorcha in MP. Everyone else, too, to a lesser extent.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Taking too long to start targeting the Reaper on Rannoch will cause it to devastate the quarian fleet, leading to a Critical Mission Failure.
    • Early in the assault on Cerberus Headquarters, the bad guys will try to vent the fighter launch bay into space. If you don't find a console to override the venting command in time, Critical Mission Failure.
    • In the endgame, if you do not drive the Illusive Man to suicide and you do not take either of the two Renegade Interrupt prompts, he shoots you and you die.
    • If you take too long to choose an ending, "The Crucible has been destroyed" appears on screen, offering you the usual game over options.
    • Even the Galaxy Map isn't safe. If you are scanning for resources and the Reapers detect you they will chase you around the system until you jump to another. If they catch you then it's game over.
  • Not so Fast, Bucko!: As Shepard, you land in London and go to work destroying a Reaper anti-aircraft cannon. A little while later, the Hammer forces mobilize toward the beam, fighting their way toward an artillery battery to take down a reaper guarding it. The guidance system fails, so you hold your position with your squad while EDI reprograms the guidance system. You are hit by Marauders, Cannibals, Brutes and Banshees. But you hold the line and then fire the remaining missiles and the Reapers goes down. And then Harbinger descends, and your dwindling forces make a dash for the beam, getting fired upon as they do. You are momentarily taken out, but you recover, and badly wounded, you limp toward the beam. Three husks come after you, but you don't let them stop you. A Marauder ambushes you, but you've come too far to be taken out. You drop just close enough, and you're transported to the Citadel. You recover surrounded by dead bodies, but at least someone else made it through. Admiral Anderson is elsewhere, tying to unlock the Citadel. As soon as you find him, you are beset upon by the Illusive Man, now with the power to control your physical actions. You try to reason with him, and maybe you succeed, but not before getting you to shoot Anderson in the gut, maybe not even before he can finish him himself, but one way or the other, the Illusive Man goes down. You stagger to the console and open up the arms, you slump down nearby, and maybe you have a moment of peace with Anderson, and talk about the future to come before he succumbs to his injuries. Maybe you're close to that, yourself, but you have no regrets, as you finally did it, and think it's over. It's not.
  • Non Standard Skill Learning: Squad members' unique Loyalty Powers can be learned by Shepard, too, but only after they have been unlocked by completing certain missions and/or talking to the squad mate in question enough. Additionally, only one Loyalty Power can be active at a time.
  • No Points for Neutrality: Averted for the first time in the series; paragon and renegade choices, as well as other neutral actions, all stack into a single reputation meter. So, instead of determining which persuasion options are available, the meter determines if you've got a big enough reputation to persuade them. At that point, the actual persuasion can go down any way you want.
  • No-Sell:
    • Humanoid enemies can roll to evade projectile powers like Warp or Incinerate. Since they can roll impressive distances, it almost always negate said power's effects. The only power that consistently no-sells this sort of No-Sell is Flare, Aria T'Loak's Omega-exclusive Loyalty Power - the biotic projectile is not only the single most powerful attack you can acquire in single player; it also has by far the largest impact radius, so no matter how desperately the targets try to evade it, they will get hit (and probably turned into Ludicrous Gibs).
    • A couple of enemies (Phantoms and Rampart mechs being the worst offenders) can bring up protective shields that either reduce all weapon damage to Scratch Damage or are completely impenetrable. They also negate nearly all powers, even the hitscan ones, as long as they're active.
    • Several multiplayer characters like the N7 Destroyer cannot be staggered by enemy attacks, no matter how powerful they are.
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • Almost every planet you have visited in the previous two games, you either re-visit or can procure Assets from. Yes, that includes ALL the UNC missions in the Mako from the first game except for Luna (for obvious reasons).
    • Firebase White, which takes place on Noveria, an area that hasn't been visited since the first game.
    • The Retaliation DLC pack is a variation on this, adding Collectors to the enemy list for multiplayer.
    • The last mission of the Omega DLC takes you to the Gozu District, where you recruited Mordin in the previous game and the final fight takes place in Afterlife, Aria's old headquarters.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: In order to maintain the professionalism Grissom Academy expects of its teachers, Jack has agreed not to swear. Joker asks if she has a Swear Jar, because emptying that could fund a cruiser!
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: In an unusual variation of this trope, exactly which decisions are Not Quite The Right Thing are different depending on decisions you made in previous games. Some examples:
    • If Wrex is the Urdnot leader because you were able to get him to see reason on Virmire, then leaving the genophage cure sabotaged is this trope, since Wrex gets tipped off about your betrayal because of an additional STG source, and before you're forced to kill him he takes away hundreds and hundreds of krogan War Assets! But if Wreav is the Urdnot leader because you either killed Wrex on Virmire or never recruited him in the first place, then curing the genophage is this trope, since in the Extended Cut ending, Wreav gathers a huge army of genophage-cured krogan to conquer the galaxy, just as he threatened he would!
    • In the previous game, rewriting the geth heretics is not quite the right thing if you're trying to broker peace between geth and quarians, although peace is still technically possible with rewritten heretics but much more difficult to pull off; and it's also not quite the right thing if you want to kill off the geth and keep the quarians, since rewriting the geth heretics results in weaker Quarian War Assets. But it is the right thing if you want to kill off the quarians and keep the geth because rewriting the geth heretics and then killing the quarians means you get much stronger Geth War Assets. Likewise, destroying the geth heretics in the previous game is not quite the right thing if you want to kill off the quarians and keep the geth, since this decisions weakens the Geth War Assets, but it is the right thing if you want to either kill off the geth and keep the quarians, since destroying the heretics gets you stronger quarian War Assets, or broker peace between the geth and the quarians, since making peace is easier if the heretics are destroyed than if they're rewritten.
    • In one mission, you're forced to choose between saving the Rachni Queen/Rachni Breeder, or saving the an elite squad of krogan called the Aralakh Company. Which choice is this trope, and which choice is the right thing, depends on whether you saved the Rachni Queen in the first game, in which case choosing the Aralakh Company over her in Mass Effect 3 is not quite the right thing since the Aralakh Company gets you less War Assets; or whether you killed the Rachni Queen in the first game, in which case you need to save Aralakh Company instead since it's saving the Rachni Breeder surrogate that's not quite the right thing, since the Breeder will eventually turn on you and kill off a a lot of the Alliance Engineering Corps.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: During the "From Ashes" mission, your other squadmate will ask Liara if she has ever dug up any dinosaur bones during her time as an Adventurer Archaeologist. Liara replies with a mini-lecture on the difference between archeology and paleontology before she realizes they're kidding. James Vega sheepishly quips, "I just like dinosaurs..."
    • Garrus asks the same thing, he as well knows full well what Liara's doctorate is in and the whole conversation becomes a Mythology Gag about Liara's wide-eyed naive alien-girl role in Mass Effect 1.
      Liara: Oh. You were joking, weren't you?
      Garrus: A little, but, at least you're catching on these days.
    • Or with EDI:
      Liara: Oh. That was a joke, wasn't it?
      EDI: No. A joke has a specific structure. This was "messing with you".
  • Not So Different: Shepard can compare Grissom Academy to the Cerberus facility on Pragia. Jack does not like the comparison.
    • Han'Gerrel, after firing on the Geth Dreadnought, will say that if it was Earth rather than Rannoch that was being reclaimed, Shepard would be okay with a spot of friendly fire too. In the Destroy ending, he's right; otherwise, he just comes across as an overly aggressive asshole.
  • Not What It Looks Like: The final confrontation in the Citadel coup. Shepard bursts through a door during the middle of a terrorist attack orchestrated by a group Shepard acknowledges having worked with with their gun raised on one of the leaders of the galaxy. It's actually because Udina worked with Cerberus to orchestrate the attack, though the Virmire Survivor has no way of knowing that. Unless Shepard and the Virmire Survivor have repaired their relationship to the point that they can convince them of what's really going on, Shepard or one of their squadmates will have to shoot the Survivor.
  • Now, Let Me Carry You: After two games of Shepard helping his/her crew with their problems, Garrus, Liara, Tali, and Joker all go out of their way to try to keep Shepard in check and his/her spirits and hopes up as much as possible as s/he constantly edges closer to the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Nuke 'em: Glyph, Liara's drone assistant from the Shadow Broker base, reveals that the entire colony of Tyvor detonated its nuclear arms on itself in an attempt to take the invading reapers down with them. On Earth however, the Reapers knew to attack the nuke silos and take the option off the table early into the invasion.

  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Everything Eve and Wrex say during and after the Priority: Tuchanka mission if you decide to sabotage the genophage.
  • Oblivious to Love: If they are both assigned to the geth dreadnought mission, Garrus and Tali can discuss the turian chocolates that Dr. Michel gave to Garrus. Tali reads into it, but Garrus does not seem to realize that Dr. Michel might have been trying to send a signal.
  • Odd Friendship: Tali and Legion actually refer to each other fondly, Tali in particular talks about her whole perspective being shifted because they kept in contact with each other between ME 2 and ME 3 (until Legion's disappearance).
  • Off-Model: When you start conversation that doesn't enter cutscene mode, the NPC's head turns to look at you. Apparently, the limits of movement aren't coded effectively, since character's heads often go past 90 degrees and into the Exorcist territory.
  • Off with His Head!: N7 Shadows and N7 Slayers have this as their heavy melee: a devastating horizontal sword strike that decapitates every humanoid enemy within a 180 degree arc around the player. And yes, it also works on Phantoms.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: We do find out where Cerberus gets the people to act as mooks, but how they assembled an army's worth of materiel and an entire fleet of modern warships with no infrastructure of their own beyond one command station and a few research stations (this is explicitly stated in the game) is never explained. The closest we get is the claim from EDI that they're massively funded through controlling several shell corporations, and Aria revealing that the Illusive Man took the Omega space station away from her by force.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: If you did not play the Arrival DLC, the events of the plot happen anyway, with an Alliance squad taking Shepard's place. However, they do not survive the mission, so Ghorek's sidequest that ties into the DLC's plot is reduced to a petty act of revenge.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Defense Committee has an excellent one as they see the first Reaper descend from the clouds. Made even better by the fact that they have finally realized that Shepard was right.
    • The Cerberus Mooks on Mars have one when they finally realize that Shepard is with the Alliance reinforcements.
      Cerberus Centurion: HOLY SHIT! THAT'S SHEPARD!
    • Wrex has a lesser one on Sur'Kesh; after losing his temper and attacking some salarian guards, he finds the laser sights of two salarian snipers on his face. Shepard intervenes before things get messy.
    • Garrus says those exact words on Sur'Kesh when an elevator's doors open to reveal a bomb.
    • In Leviathan, everyone's reaction to discovering the mining team on Mahavid have never heard of the Reapers.
      Shepard: What year do you think this is?
    • In a hilarious twist, Shepard has one when EDI jokes about the Normandy's oxygen-venting systems failing if she discovers something interesting.
    • A Running Gag in Citadel; the mercs you're fighting get increasingly panicked as they recognize the companions one by one (and the entire current roster plus Wrex are in the fight all at once).
  • Old Save Bonus: Taken Up to Eleven. The game tracks over a thousand variables from a save file that went through the previous two games, including:
    • Major plot threads like who leads the krogan, whether the Citadel is led by the original council or the replacements, who you chose to pursue a relationship with, Whether the geth and the quarians can find peace or not with each other, etc...
    • How many of your Mass Effect 2 squadmates survived, and whether they were loyal. It can make certain character-centric missions in 3 much easier.
    • An imported Shepard (and, by association, their squadmates) all start at the level you ended Mass Effect 2 with. A Level 30 character imported in gets all their points to spend right off the bat (although most of it gets assigned to the powers it was previously assigned to).
    • The game tracks whether or not you completed the previous game's downloadable content. If you completed Bring Down The Sky from Mass Effect, and saved the hostages, Balak can show up again; he also shows up if you didn't save the hostages and then left him for dead. If you completed Lair of the Shadow Broker, you can get bonus intel. Completing Arrival nets extra dialogue during a couple of conversations and prevents a reduction to a war asset (who had to do Arrival since you did not).
    • If you managed to save Kelly Chambers and followed a specific set of circumstances, you can get a bonus War Asset and bonus intel from a tropical fish bought in the previous game.
    • Importing a completed save of the iOS game Mass Effect: Infiltrator into a new ME3 save file nets an exclusive War Asset.
    • Taken to the point of self-parody in the Conrad Verner sidequest, which can bring up three seemingly-meaningless quests from the first game - Gavin Hossle, the ancient asari writings and the Elkoss Combine license - in rapid succession. Conrad is amazed. Oh, and the ending changes based on a fourth flag.
    • The upgrades you bought for the Normandy (Thanix Cannon, Heavy Ship Armor, Multicore Shielding) transfer as additive modifiers to the SSV Normandy war asset.
    • If you had stockpiled a lot of materials from planetary scanning in the second game, that wealth will translate into a hundred point war asset when importing an old save.
    • A cross-series example too. Owning a copy of Battlefield 3 on the same system (likely detected through Origin or save data) will unlock a Soldier character in the multiplayer. This cross-series promotion continued, with Mass Effect 3 unlocking a usable RIG in Dead Space 3, for what is possibly the most literal interpretation of Rule of Three.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship:
    • The Reapers. They manage to pull this off even when on the ground due to their habit of uncannily walking around on stilted legs, as if they weighed next to nothing.
    • The Crucible in the final showdown - and amazingly enough, the Citadel itself.
    • The first mission features a friendly variant, with an Alliance dreadnought floating over Vancouver duking it out with a Reaper dreadnought. Unfortunately, this just results in several city blocks being wiped out when the Alliance dreadnought is destroyed.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Liara's office on the Normandy has these. They actually follow you.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: In the Citadel DLC's Armax Arena, the unlockable map "Fatal Error" consists of multiple background images on the arena's monitors, shifting textures, and other visual glitches, in addition to the fact that when you first begin the stage, you can actually die due to damage levels of enemies exceeding safety levels.
  • One-Hit KO:
  • One-Hit Polykill:
    • The Javelin, Widow, and Black Widow sniper rifles are all capable of this. Add the Rifle Piercing mod and every other sniper rifle can pull it off as well.
    • Then there's this Noodle Incident that happened before or during Mass Effect 2:
      Liara: Is it true you once killed three Blue Suns mercenaries with one bullet?
      Garrus: No, of course not. The third guy had a heart attack. Not fair to count him.
  • One-Man Army: Any previous party member who neither dies nor rejoins the Normandy crew will become a War Asset worth 25 points. For purposes of comparison, asari cruisers of particularly high quality are worth 30 points.
    • Averted in the case of Mordin, Miranda and Kasumi whose contributions as War Assets are as a researcher on the Crucible, an advisor on Cerberus and as a technician on the Crucible respectively. Their count is still 25 though.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted at least twice.
    • After the Grissom Academy evacuation where you meet Kahlee Sanders, Vega lets Shep know that his father's last name is also Sanders, although there's no relation between the two of them.
    • The Citadel DLC adds the M-11 Suppressor heavy pistol, which means that if you possess the M-11 Wraith shotgun as well, you can now have two guns in your armory that share the same alphanumerical designation. Since this is the only such example in the entire trilogy, plus the two weapons have absolutely nothing in common aside from shooting bullets, it's probably an oversight on the part of the developers.
  • One-Woman Wail: "A Future for the Krogan" from the soundtrack contains this. Appropriately, it sort of doubles as Eve's theme in the game.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Mordin Solus. Terse Talker. Talks extremely fast. Rarely uses personal pronouns. Goes against these traits multiple times. All in serious situations. Notable one if cure for genophage is sabotaged:
    Mordin: I MADE A MISTAKE!
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Brooks from the Citadel DLC has an uneven British accent. She's actually a Double Agent, and when the mask comes off, the accent resolves itself as well.
  • Optional Stealth: In the beginning of Citadel you get a silenced pistol which can be used to kill enemies without alerting the rest.
  • Our Founder: There is a large statue of Jon Grissom in Grissom Academy.
  • Outrun The Blast Wave: At the end of the game, the Normandy is seen attempting to outrun the blast wave caused by the overload of the Mass Relays. It fails and is forced to make a crash landing on an unidentified planet.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Jason Prangley. If Jack survived Mass Effect 2, Prangley is just another one of Jack's students. If Jack didn't survive, Prangley is the students' teacher. And to his credit, he is a good leader; it's just that his teaching style is different from Jack's (Jack is the "psychotic biotic"; Prangley is a more traditional "you can do it!" kind of teacher). Unfortunately being a "good" leader does not always mean being a "great" leader: while he successfully saves Rodriguez's life just like Jack does, unlike Jack the enemy does manage to kill Prangley with one final shot.

  • Pair the Spares:
    • If they both survive to the end of the game and were not romanced by Shepard, the player can walk in on Garrus and Tali hooking up.
    • If they return to the Normandy and Shepard encourages them to enjoy life while they can, Ken and Gabby can be found making out in the sub-deck. Both try to cover what they were doing and are aghast that they were caught.
    • Ashley and James can hook up in Citadel if the former was not romanced.
    • If neither are romanced, Shepard can suggest this to Jack and Miranda in Citadel. No word on whether they actually do anything about it, though their reactions suggest they didn't.
    • Zaeed attempts this with Samara. She soundly rebuffs him.
  • Palette Swap: The CAT6 mercenaries from Citadel are Cerberus soldiers with different models and more abilities:
    • Their foot soldiers are Centurions with the ability to summon Disruptor Drones and to throw multiple grenades at once.
    • Their snipers are Nemeses with Tactical Cloak.
    • Their heavies are Guardians with their health bar replaced with an armor bar and a shield that can resist armor piercing attacks and regenerate but is vulnerable to electric attacks.
    • Their Atlas Mech is just the Cerberus variety with a different color scheme.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: if you choose the Refusal ending, Shepard has this to say to the Starchild:
    Shepard: I fight for freedom, mine and everybody's. I fight for the right to choose our own fate. And if I die, I'll die knowing that I did everything I could to stop you. And I'll die free.
    Starchild: So be it.
  • People Puppets: After getting Reaper implants, the Illusive Man gains this power. He uses it to keep Shepard and Anderson still during his final monologue, then forces Shepard to shoot their mentor.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Completing Priority: Tuchanka will make many side quests on the Citadel impossible to complete. There is little to no indication of this in the game.
    • While most upgrades, weapons or sidequest objectives will become available for purchase if you missed them during gameplay (upgrades and weapons at the various stores, objectives at the Spectre Requisitions terminal), the Shuriken SMG, Katana shotgun, Mantis sniper riflenote , and Talon pistol and Saber assault rifle do not.
  • Philosophical Choice Endings: "What's the best way to prevent the (supposedly inevitable) conflict between organics and synthetics?" The options are: destroying all synthetics (including friendly ones), putting them under complete control of the organics (even though the one controlling them will hardly count as an organic anymore), or erasing the distinction in the first place, turning everyone into synth-organic life-forms regardless of their wishes. One of the reasons the ending did not sit well with most fans was that even though the main antagonists of the series are a race of sentient machines, the games contain multiple examples of peaceful synthetic-organic coexistence (the geth, EDI)—thus, many players felt this question wasn't grounded in the plot at all. As a response, the Extended Cut additionally asks those players whether sacrificing all advanced life in the galaxy is worth not having to make that choice—with the caveat that someone else, millenia later, will have to do it in Shepard's stead.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: A turian is seen biting off the pin of a grenade in the ending battle of the game.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: The Alliance Infiltration Unit in multiplayer. This robot is about as small and wiry as EDI, yet her punches cryo-uppercuts send enemies flyng just like krogan do.
  • Pistol-Whipping: One of the available melee attacks. It is faster than using the Omni-Blade, but for obvious reasons, does less damage. The melee damage can be upgraded with the combat tazer attachment.
  • Planet Ville: Some planets were supposed to have multiple accessible locations, which would have averted this for the first time in the series. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be.
  • Planning for the Future Before the End:
    • Shepard and their squad have every reason to believe that they're going to die during the final push against the Reapers, but that doesn't stop Shepard and a romanced Garrus from calmly discussing whether they should settle down and start a family after the war is over.
    • Shepard and a romanced Liara once again bring up the thought of little blue children after the war.
    • Earlier, Shepard promises a romanced Samantha that she'll buy her drinks in Vancouver after the Reapers are defeated. Sam is less than impressed, and laments that Shepard never takes her anywhere nice.
    • All of the squadmates will discuss plans for the future after the war. Javik, for example, can end up deciding to write a book with "Dr. T'Soni", live like a king on Kahje, or join his comrades in death.
  • Plasma Cannon: Any geth weapon other than the basic Pulse Rifle and Javelin will be one. Though they do not actually fire projectiles in a plasma state, they launch conductive torus-shaped projectiles which are highly charged before firing and designed to shatter on impact. The shattering causes the charge to arc between the fragments and the whole thing gets excited to a plasma state. The penetration is low, but the stopping power is fantastic.
  • Platonic Life-Partners:
  • Please Wake Up: In the Geth Consensus level, the geth memory from the Morning War where the martial law enforcers corner and blow up a geth and his sympathetic owner...
    Damaged Nameless Geth: Creator Megara, what is your status?
    Damaged Nameless Geth: ...Creator Megara?
  • Point of No Return: There are two points in the game where, once you complete that part, previous parts of the game become inaccessible.
    • Tough: Once you complete Priority: Tuchanka, many Citadel sidequests can no longer be completed, as the next time you visit the Citadel it is attacked by Cerberus and the people to whom you report your success can no longer be accessed. Completing the Citadel mission in turn makes any as-yet-uncompleted missions on Tuchanka and the Grissom Academy mission also unavailable.
    • Merciful: Once you make the assault on Cereberus HQ, the endgame begins. When you first try to move in, Hackett explicitly points this out, saying that the Reapers will take notice and the assault on Earth will have to begin.
  • Police Brutality : Justicar brutality to be precise. Hinted at in a datapad found in the Ardat Yakshi monastery where the Superintendent complains that their newest inmate was brought there by a Justicar named Phora, and seems to be traumatized over how strongly she was persuaded by Phora to come. And apparently this is only the latest one that Phora has strongly persuaded this way. She then wants the resident Matriarch to find out how much persuasion is permitted by the Justicar code and if Phora exceeded it.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Joker tells a 1000 year old joke about a krogan and salarian. EDI charges that it's stereotypical, and such stereotypes of krogan being nasty, war-minded brutes led to the development of the genophage. Joker counters that it's one of the only jokes you'll hear both species tell, and that comedy is a way for people to air out nasty thoughts and grievances.
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: Referenced in Citadel. When asked how he'd turn Cerberus around, Joker says he'd make them popular again and launch a big P.R campaign - "shaking hands, kissing babes." Miranda tries to correct him, but he knows what he said.
  • Porn Stash: Joker apparently has seven zettabytesnote  of explicit material stored somewhere in the Normandy's computers. According to a Cerberus information terminal you find in their HQ, this collection was weaponized by EDI and used to spam Cerberus electronic warfare division computers trying to gain control over the Normandy. Of course she was joking about it being all Joker's.
  • Post-Final Boss: During the final battle of Earth, you have to face down the strongest waves that the Reapers can throw at you, including three Banshees with one-hit-kill attacks. After that, the whole battle field gets hit by a huge laser cannon, whereupon a critically-wounded Shephard must stagger his way through three Husks and a single Maurader, last name Shields.
  • Power Equals Rarity: played straight by the collectible weapons in multiplayer. The weapons you start out with are decent, but even relatively Boring Yet Practical options like the M-96 Mattock (which serves as the game's Designated Marksman Rifle) are Uncommon. Even worse, there are way more weapons at higher rarities: 5 Common weapons, 13 Uncommons, 25 Rares and 21 Ultra-Rares.
  • Power Fist:
    • Of the holographic variety, used by batarian characters to punch enemies across the room. The batarian "enforcement gauntlet" functions by flash-forging several blades around the wrist as the user winds up a punch. Once the punch is landed, a kinetic barrier is generated along their length and rapidly expands. The result of taking one of these to the chin causes understandably excessive cranial trauma. The batarian Gauntlet lets any character do this. Including the volus.
    • N7 Demolisher Engineers infuse their omni-fists with microgrenades, connecting their punches with a solid bang!
    • Alliance Infiltration Units gain a cryo-infused uppercut as a heavy melee, which will send enemies up into the air.
  • Power of Friendship:
    • According to Javik, Shepard's attempts to unite the galaxy against the Reapers are why this cycle actually stands a chance of surviving.
    • The Citadel DLC uses this as a Central Theme. The Mysterious Figure (who had previously spoken derisively about the "Cult of Shepard") asks Shepard what makes the two of them so different near the end, when both are hanging from the Normandy. Cue Shepard's team mates running to their rescue while the villain's confidant just turns away, showing the True Companions' loyalty and willingness to come and aid them as being the differentiating factor. The story ends with a party celebrating this.
  • Power of Trust: Shepard has to use this with the Virmire survivor at a key moment of the game.
  • Power Palms:
    • Cerberus Phantoms have a gun integrated into their hand. The awkward stance they use to fire it makes their other weapon vulnerable to a certain other trope.
    • Kai Leng has it as well, since he is basically a Phantom on steroids.
    • The N7 Slayer in multiplayer has a similar gun that runs off of the user's barriers.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Shepard to the heavily damaged Reaper on Rannoch if you take the renegade option:
    Shepard: Tell your friends we're coming for them!
    Shepard uses the targeting laser to call in a final strike from the fleet. Cue the Reaper exploding.
    Shepard: Never mind, I'll tell them myself.
  • Pre-Order Bonus: Depending on where you pre-ordered the game. All of the gear mentioned below plus a lot of other promotional items have since been made available for indirect purchase with the Leviathan and Omega DLCs - except for the Defender Armor, which can only be unlocked by editing the save file. Fortunately, neither of the guns is particularly useful, and the armor - while cool-looking - is made redundant by the various Cerberus armor suits, so even if you don't have them in your armory, you're not missing out on anything.
    • Gamestop pre-orders include "Defender Armor" and an N7 Valkyrie Assault Rifle (the only weapon not covered by the Collector's Edition weapon pack).
    • EA's Origin network offers the AT12 Raider Shotgun.
    • Others get the Argus assault rifle, which is also a midrange weapon.
  • Press X to Not Die:
    • If you cannot talk the Illusive Man down in the finale, failure to hit the correct prompt results in this after he kills Anderson. And yes, he kills you too if you do not take the second prompt. Hope you like going through the dialogue again!
    • In a less literal fashion, there are a couple of situations where Shepard has to kill an enemy (or three, in one case) quickly or they will be killed instead.
  • Previews Pulse: 3's trailers had them. The "pulse" is actually in-universe: it's the sound the Reapers generate when charging their massive lasers.
  • Previously On: If you did not play either of the previous two games, there will be two video prologues explaining the story so far and the races of the galaxy.
  • Profane Last Words:
    • If you don't do a certain side mission, the Dark Action Girl Jack, one of your squadmates from part two, is captured by Cerberus, tortured, and has her personality effectively erased to convert her into a Phantom. You later discover a video log of her final hours (as herself), showing her dropping F-bombs all the way.
    • You will be on the receiving end of this if you made no effort to reconcile with Ashley, and are forced to shoot her during the Citadel coup.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: If you choose the Control ending in the Extended Cut, Reaper!Shep becomes this, especially if they were a Paragon.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The entire game makes a big deal about gathering the forces of the universe to save Earth, despite other planets being in the exact same situation.
  • Psychometry: The Protheans had the ability to read the memory of things and living beings simply by touching them. Javik, the last Prothean, uses it to determine that the room he occupies on the Normandy was previously inhabited by a genetically engineered perfect Krogan soldier. It is also implied that the Asari's Touch Telepathy is a weaker variation of the same ability that the Protheans genetically engineered them to have, along with universal biotics.
  • Punched Across the Room: Adepts and Vanguards have biotic heavy melee attacks; the former gets an open-palm strike that focuses on distance, the latter gets a super-punch (that can be used right after Charge). Batarian characters can also do this to enemies with their enforcement gauntlets, which generate a giant holographic fist for a huge punch. The N7 Demolisher has a more literal example, as her omni-tool uses a concussive blast that trades off damage for additional Knockback. Finally, the Alliance Infiltration Unit deceptively small frame can uppercut enemies across the room.
  • Punch-Packing Pistol: While not quite as powerful as in the first game, pistols have received a huge buff since the second. Most pistols outclass their low to mid level long gun counterparts. However, pistols ultimately Can't Catch Up with the introduction of the Infinity +1 Sword versions of assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles.
    • The Predator and especially the Eagle have better accuracy, higher damage, and lower weight than the Phaeston and Avenger assault rifles.
    • The Phalanx not only has the above advantages over its assault rifle counterpart, the Vindicator, but the fact that it's semi-automatic instead of burst fire means it's easier for it to land headshots.
    • The Carnifex makes the Viper and Mantis completely obsolete; just as accurate, weighs less, holds more ammo, and can kill most enemies in one or two headshots.
    • The Paladin is an upgraded Carnifex which makes all sniper rifles barring the Widow, Black Widow, and Javelin completely pointless.
    • The Talon is a revolver that shoots shotgun rounds. Its range and damage are far superior to the Eviscerator, Katana, and Scimitar shotguns. And, like all other pistols, it weighs less.
    • The Suppressor heavy pistol boasts a high rate of fire and the highest headshot multiplier in the game.
    • Last but not least, the krogan-made Executioner outperforms all of the above in terms of raw per-shot damage, comes with minor built-in penetration, is ludicrously accurate (especially for a krogan gun) and can kill anything below (mini)boss level in one shot, often even by merely hitting center mass instead of the head. It pays for its monstrous stopping power with relatively high weight, a single shot clip and massive recoil. It's basically a heavy sniper rifle born in the body of a really huge Hand Cannon.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Yes, it's in all caps in the game subtitles, too:
  • Punny Name: The default stage at the Armax Arena in the Citadel DLC is called Wingman. The setting? On the wing of a turian cruiser.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Jack gives a very subtle one to Shepard when it comes time to decide where her Ascension Project students get sent in the war. Not to butter Shepard up, but to subtly beseech Shepard to have them go on support duty since she wants them to have a better chance of surviving the war.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Played straight in multiplayer with the basic human characters of all classes, as they have completely identical stats and abilities. Averted with everyone else, whether they are human or alien, since either a given race/class combination is exclusive to one gender, or, as with the quarian characters, the male characters have completely different abilities from the female ones.
  • Put on a Bus: Early in the game, the Virmire Survivor is critically injured and has to spend most of the first act recovering on the Citadel. Later, the player is given the option of bringing them back into the party or keeping them on the bus, in which case, they go join Admiral Hackett and become a war asset. Of course, this assumes that they are still alive by that point...
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Krogan multi-player characters, when they enter close combat. Also, Grunt has a disturbing tendency to sort of giggle as he kills things.
    Krogan PC: Hah! They're dead!
  • Putting the Band Back Together:
    • Of the five surviving members of Shepard's ME1 six squadmates, four of them — the Virmire Survivor, Garrus, Tali, and Liara — can rejoin the Normandy if they survived the previous games. Non-squadmate characters, including Engineer Adams, Doctor Chakwas, and Ken & Gabby, can be recruited to take their old posts on the Normandy.
    • The entire point of the Citadel DLC, one last time. Wrex also becomes a temporary squadmate for the DLC storyline and Armax Arsenal Arena.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Low War Asset tallies before the final battle result in greater and greater damage to your forces, which impacts what state galactic civilization exists at after the conflict. If you have very low War Assets, you don't even get to choose your ending; you either get Destroy or Control based on your choice for the Collector Base.
    Casey Hudson: If you just rip straight down the critical path and try and finish the game as soon as you can, and do very little optional or side stuff, then you can finish the game. You can have some kind of ending and victory, but it’ll be a lot more brutal and minimal relative to if you do a lot of stuff.
  • The Quisling: Udina decides to team up with Cerberus, and is responsible for the Cerberus raid on the Citadel, and can kill off most of the Council if you don't stop him.

  • Rage Quit: Multiplayer has experience and money earned for kills, completing objectives, and surviving waves. The player forfeits this if they quit before the mission ends in either success or failure, discouraging this trope. Unfortunately, this also causes players to forfeit any rewards whenever the game crashes or disconnects during a match.
  • Ramming Always Works:
    • Subverted in the Omega DLC. Cerberus manages to shoot down Aria's ship when she tries to ram it to breach Omega's defenses.
    • Averted offscreen when a mortally wounded Emily Wong crashes her skycar into a Sovereign-class Reaper during the invasion of Earth. Sovereign-class ships being nigh-invincible behemoths two kilometers in length, the only thing she accomplishes is put on a display of defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Similar to the N7 hoodie, the Citadel DLC retcons the game's main love theme ("I Was Lost Without You") into being from in-universe movie Fleet and Flotilla as the love theme for its turian and quarian protagonists. If Tali is Shepard's love interest, she sings along to the theme. Similarly, "Vigil's Theme" becomes a song which Liara heard and learned to play on the piano.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Kelly Chambers is not a badass soldier like Jacob, or a biotic genetically engineered goddess like Miranda. She is a Yeoman with a degree in psychology. When Cerberus come for her, if Shepard had not convinced her to change her identity, she will die. There is no fight. There is no battle. Shepard is not there to help. She is asked if she is Kelly Chambers, and when she says yes, she is shot between the eyes at point blank range.
    • After seeing them shooting down 160 meter tall Destroyers with heavy weapons, powerful backup and tactics, the game has Commander Shepard take on Harbinger the largest and most powerful Reaper with a small company of ground forces with little forewarning. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
    • In the Extended Cut DLC, the Refusal ending, where Shepard refuses to use the Crucible and tells the Catalyst that they, and the rest of the galaxy, will die on their own terms, not its. All of Sword, Shield, and Hammer are massacred and the galaxy falls to the Reapers.
    • In order to dispense the genophage cure, the Turians and Krogan come up with a brilliant plan to launch a combined air ground assault to distract the Reaper destroyer away from the shroud, allowing a small team to sneak in. Except nobody considered that Krogan aren't used to conducting these kind of coordinated assaults since swarming positions with shock troops is the only way they have fought for millenia, and they haven't run any military exercises with humans or Turians to learn the nitty gritty of these operations. So of course they fail to plan a proper route for their trucks to the shroud, and cannot convince the Turians to delay the air strike until the ground team gets to the op area.
    • EDI points out that despite their military might the Krogan lack the ships needed to actually transport their troops on a large scale. As well as other materials they'd need for a prolonged campaign, as they've only ever had to fight rival clans on their homeworld.
    • After hearing a traumatized soldier at the hospital explain what happened to her you can authorize her request to have a gun. Presumably to give her a sense of security. If so you'll discover she killed herself with it, demoralizing the staff. Handing a loaded gun to a clearly traumatized individual isn't a good idea.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Cortez mentions Alliance combat space-craft using "Auditory Emulators" in battle to count for the lack of noise in space.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Listening post X-19 is described as this as it monitors the rachni homeworld and no sentient life has been spotted in the star cluster for over a thousand years.
  • Rebellious Spirit: At the Ardat Yakshi monastery you hear about one inmate Yanis who had to be confined for lashing out at the guards, smuggled in a Forbidden Fruit asari on asari romance vid and used trickery to get herself added to the list of "reformed" inmates allowed to visit Thessia. And she's a romantic to boot, in a place where asari confine themselves to suppress urges to inflict Death by Sex.
  • Reconcile the Bitter Foes:
    • Shepard has a chance to end the war between the quarians and the geth (relatively) peacefully, though there are many conditions that have to be met for this to succeed.
    • The krogan/salarian/turian enmity can be mended to the point where the three races start cooperating — something deemed impossible for at least several centuries. Although getting the krogans and salarians to work together would require some rather unsavory skullduggery.
    • You can also recruit the surviving batarians for your cause, ending their hostility towards the humans. Especially powerful if Shepard's background (specifically Colonist and/or Ruthless) involved batarian raiders.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health:
    • With a twist: The health bar is split into five segments. Each segment will regenerate, but any depleted segments can only be replenished with Medi-Gel. The new health system encourages players to be more careful in combat, as well as extra Experience Points being given for picking up Medi-Gel past your carrying capacity.
    • Subverted with Vorcha Multiplayer characters, whose special ability is regenerating health with their Bloodlust. The more kills they get in a short window, they move faster, kill quicker, and regenerate health more. It's balanced out by their rather pathetic shield strength, however.
    • Same with the Krogan Warlord, except it's a passive ability, his barriers aren't weak at all... but he can't take cover.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Mordin sacrifices himself to cure the genophage. Legion also does this if you are able to stop the geth/quarian war, as uploading the Reaper code to the geth requires his personality to be uploaded as well, essentially killing him in the process. In his case, the redemption of the entire geth race equals his death.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Several instances abound.
    • A Player Character feature returning from Mass Effect 2. Shepard's cybernetic revival two years earlier left them with a bunch of facial scars upon their awakening, and how they heal depends on Shep's morality. Going the Paragon route will eventually make them disappear entirely, if they were even there to begin with in case you imported an ME 2 save file. Playing as Renegade, however, not only deepens the scars; it also makes Shep's eye implants glow ever brighter until her/his pupils and irides are almost completely subsumed by four glowing red dots. Considering what a Renegade Shepard stands for, this should serve as very clear warning not to get on their bad side.
    • When a Brute pounds its chest and its eyes turn red, it's prepped for an insta-kill.
    • Rampart Mechs - Cerberus assault robots you encounter in droves on Omega if you have the DLC installed - have four glowing red eyes and are significantly more dangerous than the humble LOKI mechs they're based on.
  • Relationship Values:
    • It's hidden, but the game keeps track of how you interact with Ashley and Kaidan: at the Mexican Standoff at the Citadel, a perfect relationship with them results in them automatically trusting Shepard, while worse relationships require higher and higher persuade checks until finally the player has no choice but to kill them.
    • The game keeps track of which characters you use the most during missions which, in addition to affecting dialogue, determines which squadmate(s) convince Joker to evacuate after the crucible fires, who steps out of the Normandy after it crash-lands and who puts up Shepard's plaque in the ending (assuming there is no Love Interest.
  • Repeating so the Audience Can Hear: Many Fetch Quest missions are gained by overhearing one side of a conversation, and afterwards you can hear the results the same way.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The M-358 Talon is a revolver handgun favored by Cerberus Guardians. It is basically a hand-held shotgun although the cylinder holds only 4 shots rather than 6. Unfortunately it is missable and will not be able for purchase if not found during the Priority: The Citadel II mission.
  • Required Party Member:
    • Liara is required for Thessia and Eden Prime (assuming you downloaded From Ashes), Tali is required for the first and last Rannoch missions, and EDI is required for the assault on Cerberus HQ. In addition, party members are chosen for you for the missions on Mars (James and the Virmire Survivor, with Liara replacing James a short time into the mission) and Palaven (James and Liara, with Garrus replacing the latter if he survived ME2).
    • Aria doesn't trust anyone on the Normandy but Shepard, so the Omega DLC forces you to use only Aria and Nyreen.
    • Citadel requires Guest-Star Party Member Brooks for the second mission, although there is no combat involved. The beginning of the DLC storyline also chooses specific squadmates to join up with Shepard during the first mission (your love interest/Liara, Wrex/James).
    • One of the Armax Arsenal Arena's challenges requires you to use a squad of only Alliance marines (Shepard, James, and Kaidan/Ashley (if they are in your squad)).
  • Retcon: In the Extended Cut DLC, the mass relays are shown merely suffering damage instead of blowing up, and the Normandy suffers a lot less damage upon crashing.
  • Reveal:
    • The asari were given an advantage over the other races because the Protheans picked them to be uplifted, with the idea the asari would use the Prothean tech to advance other races. Unfortunately, the asari decided to keep all of the Prothean tech to themselves, despite the mandate that all Citadel races donate Prothean artifacts and tech to the Council, such as when the Alliance had to do that when a beacon was discovered on Eden Prime in Mass Effect. As a result, the galaxy races were more unprepared for the Reapers.
    • The Leviathan of Dis, the corpse of a genetically engineered organic starship which was mentioned in Mass Effect 1 and by Balak, is revealed in this game to have been the corpse of a Reaper. This was one of the key reasons for the complete destruction of the Batarian Hegemony, as its corpse had indoctrinated many members of the batarian military and government who sabotaged their home systems defenses. The Leviathan DLC goes on to reveal that the real Leviathan—the thing that killed the Reaper—is one of the last surviving members of the species from which the first Reaper was created.
    • The final scene of the game reveals that the Citadel is home to an AI, referred to as "the Catalyst," that created and controls the Reapers. It uses them to harvest advanced organic life and preserve it in Reaper form out of a belief that a synthetic rebellion is inevitable, and that if it did not interfere then eventually the synthetics would wipe out all life, whereas with the Reapers at least the primitive races can continue to exist.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Oh, Lord, the quarians under Admiral Gerrel. Summed up perfectly if the geth destroy the quarians because they wouldn't listen to Shepard to stop attacking.
    Geth Prime: We regret the deaths of the creators.
    Shepard: (sighing) They made their choice.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: In one sidequest it takes the Salarians less time to clone the Krogan's Kakliosaur mounts from fossils in massive numbers, train them, and deploy them to the front lines than it does to say it.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • Cerberus, for several reasons, as per the Illusive Man's orders. The Illusive Man's belief is that the Reapers don't want to destroy all sentient life — because if they did, there'd be no reason to have left humanity alone last time or to go through this trouble to "harvest" races. He believes that since the Reapers see something valuable in humanity, it would be wiser to gain control of the Reapers and guide their plans with humanity's interests. Okay — all of that is absolutely true, but it doesn't change the fact that the Reapers plan to wipe out all galactic civilization as it exists and that humanity would effectively cease to exist being essentially "human", which would make preserving the species moot. Furthermore, the Illusive Man is indoctrinated, and it's made clear that the indoctrination would have prevented him from actually gaining control at all and was probably making him more sympathetic to the Reapers' goals than humanity's. Despite all of that, however, Shepard can choose to go through with TIM's plan and take Control of the Reapers in his stead.
    • On the Citadel, you can hear Rupe Elkoss (the billionaire owner of Elkoss Combine) lambaste the Sanctuary colony on Horizon, advising his conversational partner not to run to that "scam of a place" since he assumes that they are making money off people's desperation. He is right that it is a bad idea to go there, but instead because Sanctuary is a secret Cerberus atrocity factory focused on figuring out Indoctrination, using refugees as unwilling test subjects and having a secondary function of producing a lot of Cerberus mooks from some of the hapless refugees.
  • Robot Dog: The Collector's edition gives Shepard one - it's basically a slightly redesigned FENRIS mech with a stubby tail and blue 'eyes' instead of the standard red ones. If Gabby's dialogue is anything to go by, the crew calls it "Sophie" and has grown quite fond of it, although Kenneth can't understand what it's supposed to be good for. His confusion is somewhat justified, given how Sophie is confined to the flight deck and does nothing but stroll around in circles, scan stuff (probably her equivalent of a real dog's sniffing) and occasionally take a nap squarely in the path to where you want to go, like the weapons bench for instance. It doesn't help her case that during the one event where she might've proved useful - when Shepard fights their evil clone on the flight deck at the climax of the Citadel DLC - she's nowhere to be found.
  • Robot Girl: EDI becomes this after the team captures a robotic Cerberus infiltration unit.
  • Robot Hair: EDI's robot body sports a bob made out of steel. When it was masquerading as Dr. Eva Core, is was most likely made out of synthetic fibers that were burned away in the explosion. Notably, while it looks solid, it can be switched to a mass of hair-like fibres, making it both variations of the trope at once.
    EDI: ...and when it gets wet, I can't do anything with it!
  • Romance Sidequest: Up to Eleven in Mass Effect 3, which will resolve all of the romantic conflicts generated in the first two games - that is, if you were not faithful to your romance from Mass Effect, there could be sparks flying. The game will also reward you for being faithful to your Mass Effect romance (or Mass Effect 2 romance if you did not romance anyone in the first game). And if you do not romance anyone, the game will notice that, too.
  • The Ruins I Caused: If you can't create peace on Rannoch and the quarians get wiped out. You either get to see Tali or (if the former is already dead) Admiral Raan commit suicide, and then the rest of the scene is spent on a cliff watching the debris from the destroyed quarian flotilla fall down through the clouds, and knowing it's your fault. It's one of the most depressing scenes in the entire trilogy.
  • Running Gag:
    • Just as in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, it is possible to punch out the snarky and duplicitous tabloid reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani, provided you make the interrupt. However, she'll hilariously try to subvert this trope by dodging your first punch and attempting to counter-attack with one of her own, thereby prompting you with a second renegade interrupt. If you punched her before she'll deliver a different line before she strikes:
      Khalisah: Not this time, you military thug!
    • A minor event on the Citadel has Shepard seeing a disgruntled customer trying to get a refund from a shop. He has been trying since Mass Effect! In a Pet the Dog moment, you can support him, finally getting him... his fifteen credit refund... for a toaster oven.
    • In the Blasto radio drama, Bubin the Elcor C-SEC officer prefaces everything he says with "Badassfully:". His sister prefaces everything with "Coquettishly:".
    • Everyone makes a reference to Garrus Vakarian's constant tweaking of the weapons systems on the Normandy, including suggesting that he get back to the guns when he first joins your crew in the third game so that he can do more calibrations. He then, of course, does so, for the third game in a row, though at least this time his "go away" dialogue isn't that he's running calibrations... even though he is. There is a conversation between Legion and Garrus wherein Legion, an AI, claims the guns cannot be made more than 0.32% more efficient, and Garrus then promptly improves them by 0.43%. He's just that good. Garrus then tells Legion his cunning master strategy which basically amounts to a Montgomery Scott tactic. "You just have to hold back a bit more than expected."
    • Conrad Verner makes yet another appearance, causing yet more trouble by trying to emulate Commander Shepard, this time joining Cerberus and accidentally helping them sabotage medigel dispensers. His total ineptness is somewhat subverted, however, as when he yet again offers to help you, Shepard, in exasperation, tells him that they're working on a (top secret, not supposed to be talked about at all) Prothean dark energy device to save the galaxy. As it turns out, Conrad Verner studied dark energy and xenotechnology at university, and actually contributes some data to the Crucible project. To be fair, Verner is a bit crazy, so Shepard probably assumed no one would believe him anyway if he blabbed.

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