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  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In Priority: Tuchanka, you are offered a choice between curing the genophage and gaining krogan support, but losing the support of the salarians, or sabotaging the cure and retaining salarian assistance. It is possible to gain the help of both. One of these options is if Wrex is already dead. It's still possible to gain the help of both even if Wrex is alive and you cure the genophage. If Kirrahe survived the events of the first game, AND the Cerberus attack on the Citadel, he'll rally support, oppose the dalatrass, and gives you the support you need. If Kirrahe didn't survive, but Mordin sacrificed himself, the STG will rally to support in honor of Kirrahe and Mordin, but it'll be less than what the dalatrass promised.
    • A Spectre named Jondum Bau asks you to stop an indoctrinated hanar. However, the hanar uploads a virus that will take out the defense systems of Kahje, the hanar and drell homeworld, and has a human accomplice strangle Jondum Bau so Bau will not be able to stop the virus. That forces you to choose between either taking the Renegade Interrupt and saving Bau from the accomplice (which gets you a Spectre Unit from Bau but costs you Kahje), or not taking the interrupt and stopping the virus (which gets you Kahje's support but costs you the Spectre unit). The third option requires you to download the Kasumi Goto DLC in Mass Effect 2. If Kasumi survived the Omega-4 Relay, she will stop the indoctrinated hanar's virus, and Shepard will automatically save Bau, though she dies (or at least, fakes it without telling you) in the process if her loyalty mission in the second game wasn't completed... Unless you secured her loyalty by getting her dead partner's memory implant, in which Shepard will see right through the ruse and tell her to come out once Bau leaves the room.
    • Din Korlack, the unpleasant volus ambassador from the first Mass Effect game, is kidnapped by bounty hunters for his past work with Cerberus. After you save Din from the bounty hunters, Shepard will ask Din to give them the location of the turian colony about to be attacked. Din will demur and offer you the Volus Bombing Fleet as a bribe so that his culpability will not be revealed, and Cerberus will not know he betrayed them. The Paragon choice is to save the turian colony, but this just prevents a loss in War Assets. The Renegade choice is to accept the Volus Bombing Fleet, but this will result in a loss in one of your turian War Assets. However, if you downloaded the Zaeed Massani DLC in the previous game, and he survived the Omega-4 Relay, and he's still loyal, Zaeed will be part of those interrogating Din but will kill the bounty hunters upon Shepard's arrival, and you can persuade Din to give you the information and the bombing fleet.
    • The Omega DLC gives us the delightful scenario of Aria and Nyreen being trapped in a reactor, while you have to reset it to disable shields. If you reroute the reactor, then the force fields go down, but you're placing both Nyreen and Aria at risk. But if you perform a hard reboot, you shut off life support, killing thousands of civilians. As per the Mass Effect series with dilemmas such as this, such a choice is never complete without a third way: if you're an Engineer, via an Interrupt, you can quickly reroute power without endangering Aria and Nyreen. In the end it's a moral dilemma for Shepard alone because choosing the anonymous civilians over Aria has no gameplay repercussions other than Aria chewing you out after the battle, which she does constantly anyway if you're going the Paragon route.
    • The very last choice in the storyline; your options boil down to one option that will very likely result in Shepard's death - and whether or not Shepard survives, will result in the destruction of EDI and, if they haven't already been wiped out, the Geth - another that will result in Shepard's body being burned to ashes in a Brain Uploading process, and yet another that will render Shepard Deader than Dead, with not even their consciousness surviving in any way, shape or form. Oh, and if you either have the Extended Cut DLC or are playing the Legendary Edition, and refuse to take any of the choices, the Reapers win, at least until the next cycle.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Sanctuary is touted as being a safe haven for people to wait out the invasion. Revealed to be a Cerberus base using refugees to create controlled Husks. And then Reapers show up.
  • Saved From Their Own Honor: At the end of the Lesuss arc, Samara attempts to shoot herself so she doesn't have to honor-kill her last surviving daughter Falere, as the Justicar Code demands of her. A Paragon interrupt lets Shepard stop her, giving Falere enough time to propose a compromise that both satisfies the Code and lets everyone live on.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: No one saws off the barrel of the mass effect enabled linear accelerators which function as guns in this setting, but the AT-12 Raider certainly comes close to duplicating the function of one. It is a shotgun with only two shots before it needs to swap the thermal clip, and a lot of widespread when fired, but those shots hit hard. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is a weapon of batarian manufacture.
  • Scenery Gorn:
    • Everywhere at all times where there are Reapers. A glimpse of Palaven from one of its moons, for example.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • "From Ashes" reveals that Eden Prime is beautiful when it's not being devastated by a geth attack.
    • The mission to Menae, the moon of the turian homeworld Palaven, is essentially an excuse for a nice, long scenery porn run, as you wander down canyons that end at magnificent vistas of the burning planet, Reapers walking across the surface, and lovingly detailed shots of crashed turian ships. The amount of destruction also overlaps with Scenery Gorn.
    • If you take EDI with you on the Sur'kesh mission, she will note that the view from orbit isn't as spectacular as the view on the ground. This may be because the physical perspective of an organic sapient-sized body is a new experience for her.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: After leaving the Geth Consensus, Joker will posit the theory that you never left, and that everything you are seeing is just a part of the simulation.
  • Science Is Bad: Apparently, this is the aesop the Reapers embraced. They came to the conclusion that organic civilizations would ultimately destroy themselves by creating synthetic life, so the best way to preserve their existence was to convert them into Reapers before their science reached such a point.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale:
    • The War Assets in Mass Effect 3 aren't really consistent with scale. Certain assets have an oddly disproportionate effect on how they impact your total assets, such as individual, exceptional characters, ships, or small infantry units having as much impact as entire military divisions or fleets. Others are reserved specifically for either scientific work on the Crucible, or for the final assault on London, but even then, have a disproportionate impact, such as four individuals and a cruiser having as much impact as hundreds of quarian heavy warships.
    • One caused by a minor continuity error: The war assets for the turians references a Cerberus Daily News column where the War on Taetrus was sparked by the turian separatist group Facinus crashing a ship into Vallum, killing 100,000. The entry says that the suicide ship was crashed into the planet at FTL speeds. If it was going that fast, it should've snapped the planet in half, not damaged one city. It was not actually moving that fast, according to the CDN article, which specifies that the ship was beginning the acceleration to FTL speeds and that it only impacted at roughly the velocity of a single mass accelerator round.
  • Scoring Points:
    • In the multiplayer mode. Unlike most cases of this trope, the points have a purpose; at the end of a match, each player's individual score is added up, and the total is converted into Experience Points and given to each character.
    • In the single player Citadel DLC, the player is given the option to participate in the Armax Arsenal Arena, a holographic combat simulator where the player may set up matches for viewers' enjoyment. Rewards are based on score, and score is based on a combination of how well they play and how difficult the match is. The rewards are tokens to unlock more content in the Arena, but they can also be redeemed for credits.
    • The War Assets mechanic is a story-justified version of this for single-player.
  • Secretly Gay Activity: Samantha Traynor's romance subplot has a scene where she visits female Commander Shepard's quarters and gushes about how spacious and functional the Commander's showers are. She makes a passing remark that the standard showers in the women's quarters are crap, and Shepard can offer to let her use her own. If the Homoerotic Subtext wasn't thick enough with that, once Traynor steps inside, the two of them discuss a "hot date" that Traynor is getting cleaned up for "if she's interested". The player can then end all further subtelty by saying "she's intersted" and joining her in the shower.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Vega and Cortez bicker over the merits/flaws of the Mako and Hammerhead. Vega says the Hammerhead practically has armor made of paper, while Cortez complains that the Mako "handles like a drunk rhino."
    • There's a Towers of Hanoi game in the arcade of the Citadel DLC. Try and play it and Shepard will go, "I don't think so." Several of Bioware's previous games have included Towers of Hanoi as puzzles - including Mass Effect.
    • Conrad gets a full minute plus discussion with Shepard about thermal clips.
      Conrad: I dunno, seems like a backwards step to me. You can still let the guns cool down themselves though, right?
      Shepard: Ehh, no. They had to remove the self-cooling systems to make room for where the clips go.
      Conrad: Oh, well that's just... You might as well just go back to limited ammunition!
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
    • The Catalyst judged that synthetics would try to destroy their creators, so he decides to harvest the very race that create them. Of course, due to its Blue-and-Orange Morality, it doesn't consider this action actual aggression against its creators.
    • The whole quarian/geth conflict also turns out to be one.
  • Senseless Sacrifice:
    • At the end of the Ardat-Yakshi monastery arc, Samara attempts to commit suicide to save her daughter Falere from her Code, which demands her death. Shepard can let this happen, and still kill Falere for being a threat.
    • Can be turned up to eleven with Rannoch. One end to Rannoch's arc results in saving the geth and sacrificing the quarians, Tali included. Legion also dies to give the geth true consciousness. One of the endings to ME3 destroys the Reapers, but at the expense of wiping high-end synthetic life like the geth, thereby rendering Legion's sacrifice and Shepard's deliberate sacrifice of the quarians pointless.
    • The Tuchanka decision is made completely irrelevant in one of the endings. No matter what choice was made about the krogan, in the Synthesis ending all krogan, just like all other species, are turned into some higher life-form. Therefore, both the option of Shepard sacrificing Mordin to stop the risk of a possible krogan war of conquest if it turns out they can't limit their overpopulation, and the option of Mordin sacrificing himself to cure the krogan are rendered completely moot.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The Stinger reveals that the entire trilogy was being recounted to a child by their grandfather. He promises to tell them "One more story about the Shepard" before the screen fades. A message follows about Shepard "becoming legendary".
    • Provided your War Assets were high enough, Shepard wakes up at the end of the "Destroy" ending.
  • Serious Business:
    • It's possible to futz with a computer on Sur'kesh, with the nearby salarian repeatedly demanding you not touch it, even telling Shepard that if they keep doing so, they risk a diplomatic incident. Over a feces analyzer.
    • In "Citadel", Zaeed becomes obsessed with a claw game in the casino.
    • Traynor also gets her moment of this in the same place, squaring off against her Archnemesis at... Space Chess. Even her dental hygiene is implied to be this, with her toothbrush that uses mass-effect fields to remove plaque.
  • Shadow of Impending Doom: The Reaper destroyer on Tuchanka can kill you if it stomps on you. A shadow will form on the ground about two seconds before its leg hits, so you'd better get out of there fast.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: According to party banter, the Phantoms are carrying monomolecular swords.
  • Shockwave Stomp:
    • The Vanguard's new unique power, Nova.
    • The N7 Destroyer's heavy melee attack.
  • Shooting Gallery: In the Spectre's office on the Citadel, allowing players to test weapons without having to start up a combat mission.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Downplayed; it's wise on paper to go after Cerberus Engineers first because they can repair a nearby Atlas or turret, but their AI is much more likely to aggro onto a player instead. Their repairs can still easily outpace Shepard's or an entire multiplayer team's damage output when they actually bother to use it.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Precisely what happened to the Citadel-based characters is left unresolved, but Word of God is that "bad times" happened to many of them.
  • Shout-Out: See here.
  • Shown Their Work: In the Citadel DLC Clone Shepard mentions that they need the real Shepard's fingerprints since they're not determined by DNA.
  • Show Within a Show: Blasto the Hanar Spectre eventually seems to have had a full blown radio drama made about him. Inspired by Lethal Weapon, no less. And you even get to star in Blasto 7 with Javik in the Citadel DLC. What happens during filming cannot be described in words alone, so here's the link.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • On Mars, the Illusive Man warns Shepard not to interfere with his plans. Shepard's renegade response? "Go to Hell!"
    • During the final boss of the "Citadel" DLC, this dialogue occurs, all in the middle of battle:
      Clone: I am Commander Shepard!
      Shepard: Are you kidding me? Conrad Verner is better at being me than you are!
      Clone: My team is just as good as yours!
      Shepard: A team? You have minions! And you're running out!
      Mysterious Figure: You're just cybernetics! Scarred, worn-out Cerberus tech!
      Shepard: You know where I got those scars? Feros and Noveria and Virmire and Ilos! At the Collector Base and Palaven and Tuchanka and Rannoch and Thessia! I earned these scars protecting the galaxy! You got yours from a petri dish!
  • Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer:
    • At face value the Multiplayer seems little more than a tacked-on experience to help with the Campaign readiness. But once you get into it, it has a surprising amount of depth and content, as well as loads of unlocks. It also sports a very impressive drop-in drop-out system, and great netcode. It very effectively breaks the tradition of great campaigns having terrible, tacked on multiplayers, and a lot of players spend most of their time in Multiplayer.
    • The Citadel DLC counts as well on several levels. It offers a new Personal Apartment where you can meet with characters and throw a big party, and is located on the Silversun Strip which offers a casino with three different forms of gambling, Castle Arcade with three Arcade Games with their own high score rewards, and the Armax Arsenal Arena that is a PvE arena shooter complete with its own unlockables and Side-Missions (and the only way to grind for infinite credits). What really puts it into this trope is that the best time to play it when you've finished Tali and Miranda's stories, which is during the most tragic part of the story when things start to look utterly hopeless. But sure, pop into the arena to get some cash!
  • Sigil Spam:
    • Cerberus, who badly abused this trope in Mass Effect 2, now take it to the next level. The inside of their 'secret' bases, their weapons, their armour, and their vehicles are stamped with their logo, and all their soldiers sport the distinctive black, white and yellow paint job. Justified since Cerberus is done with secrecy, unleashing the full might of their forces on the galaxy to fulfill the Illusive Man's final plan.
    • The Alliance is just a small step behind them. If you pay some attention to your surroundings while fighting through Grissom Academy, you'll notice that the academy's symbol is just about everywhere you look. The Normandy herself is positively littered with Alliance sigils - you can barely go five meters without stepping on one painted onto the floor or spotting at least one on the nearest wall. The only reason they aren't as infamous as Cerberus is that they tend to be more subtle with the colour choices. Makes you wonder why the Alliance deems it necessary; one should think the big-ass markings on the outer hull are more than sufficient to show the ship's allegiance.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The Mantis sniper rifle, which is the first sniper rifle unlocked in singleplayer and multiplayer. It's a near-hitscan weapon with great damage and the lowest weight of all sniper rifles. Coupled with an Engineer who can score consistent headshots, it becomes one of the best weapons ingame.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: If you romanced Jack in ME2, she would punch Shepard in the face before giving him a passionate kiss.
  • Slave Mooks: Though the Reapers have always had the husks, it is eventually revealed that most Cerberus troopers are this too, as Cerberus managed to raise such a large army in the six-month gap between the second and third games by kidnapping civilians and using Reaper implants to indoctrinate them.
  • Smash to Black: The last shot in the game excluding The Stinger ends like this before fading into the credits.
  • Smug Snake: Kai Leng. Emphasis on "smug".
  • Smoke Out: CAT6 snipers in The Citadel DLC throw smoke bombs at their feet when foes draw near, then activate a Tactical Cloak to slip away in the confusion to re-engage at a more favorable distance.
  • Sniper Pistol: Gun customization means you can, well, add a sniper sight to your heavy pistol. The proper modifications on the proper pistols effectively make them into a lightweight, mid-range sniper weapon. The Carnifex works well for this, and the Paladin works even better. The Executioner, a mother-of-all-handcannons with a muzzle bore diameter that's probably a good inch across and added by the Groundside Resistance DLC, works best of all. Pretty useful for Adepts, Vanguards, and Sentinels who want to engage in sniping but don't want the power cooldown penalties imposed by the extra weight a sniper rifle adds to the player's loadout.
  • Sniper Rifle: Standard equipment, coming in models that offer armor-piercing capability and with attachments that let you see through smoke.
  • Socialization Bonus: Your War Assets, which build up via both plot and sidequest, are assigned point values, the way they might be in Tabletop Games; Miranda Lawson, as an example, is worth 25 points all on her own. Those bonuses add up to help the final battle go better and provide a better outcome. However, each asset's value is modified by their "efficiency" rating, measured in a percentage that goes up with multiplayer victories: base War Asset value times the Efficiency percentage equals "Effective Military Strength," which is the number that really counts. A 1,000-point army at 100% efficiency has the same EMS as a 2,000-point army at 50%.
    • The bonus is removed in the Legendary Edition since it doesn't include the multiplayer mode, rendering the Galaxy at War system pointless.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: The CAT6 mercenary group from "Citadel" consists of ex-soldiers who were dishonorably discharged for criminal behavior. The name itself is the term for a Systems Alliance dishonorable discharge.
  • So Last Season: There were gradual updates in Multiplayer with new character classes that eventually made the original classes practically obsolete. In particular was the N7 Earth update, where each were human special forces with incredibly brutal powers for each category, and the last one Reckoning, which includes unexpected characters like a Geth Juggernaut (essentially one of the boss enemies in Multiplayer), a female Turian and Alliance Infiltration unit that can revive itself as a power. Averted with the baseline human Engineer and Adept; with their ability to set off tech or biotic combos on any enemy very quickly, they remained top-tier characters throughout all updates.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: In the Krogan Rebellions, this was the whole dynamic between the turians and the krogan. The turians are organized, disciplined and collectivist; every adult turian is expected to perform military service at some point, and their children are raised to understand the importance of following orders, understanding protocol, and performing duties earnestly. The krogan were born on one of the harshest planets on the galaxy before they nuked it into oblivion, and their society is extremely Darwinistic; individualistic, proud and tough, but also unreliable and unpredictable (which is a double-edged sword), they are peerless as shock-troopers, berserkers and guns-for-hire. Initially the war was one-sided in the krogan's favour, but the deployment of an engineered sterility plague turned the krogan's main tactic, We Have Reserves, into a liability. The turians were able to push back the krogan and eventually win the war, but even at a greatly reduced combat strength, the krogan remain a force to be reckoned with, as Mass Effect 3 demonstrates. This difference is glaringly exposed during Priority Tuchanka where the Krogan warriors get bogged down by a bad road having not planned a proper route to the op area, causing a timed coordinated air ground assault typical of organized militaries staffed by soldiers, to fail.
  • Sole Survivor: At the end of the "Citadel" DLC, if you end up killing The Dragon, the lone survivor of the Mysterious Figure's forces is the pilot.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Used on Sur'Kesh, during the extraction of 'Eve'. Shepard and co. call an elevator to head for the surface... only to find that Cerberus left a present. Naturally, everyone survives, except an STG Red Shirt standing too close when the doors opened.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Ereba, the asari whom you possibly convinced to rekindle her relationship with her krogan boyfriend, is pregnant by the time of this game. Unfortunately, Charr dies fighting Ravagers and Swarmers during the war.
  • So Proud of You:
    • If Shepard has the Spacer background, Hackett informs Shepard that their mother is still alive, promoted to Rear Admiral, working on the Crucible, and that she's damn proud of what they're doing out there. Also said by Shepard's mother herself when you call her during the Citadel DLC.
    • Said to Shepard in the ending sequence by the dying Admiral Anderson.
      You did good, son/child. You did good. I'm proud of you.
  • Space Battle: Quite a few happen over the course of the story, most referenced in passing or seen from a distance, but several put you right in the midst of it, especially the prelude to the Quarian vs. Geth showdown.
  • Space Is Noisy:
    • Handwaved; Steve Cortez twice refers to "auditory emulators" to explain why there is noise in space; he mentions that he sometimes turns them off so that he can watch ships go by in complete silence.
    • And played with during the final battle scene. We go from the opening barrage of mass drivers from the fleet approaching Earth, to a large formation of fighters closing the intervening distance. Once the scene begins to follow the fighters, all you can hear for a few seconds is the whine of starfighter engines before they engage the Reapers directly.
  • Spent Shells Shower: The N7 Typhoon is a light machine gun which fits in the assault rifle slot and is one of the heaviest regular weapons a character can wield. It is capable of generating a ridiculous amount of dakka and has spent bits continuously flying out of an ejector port while it fires. It might seem illogical that a weapon that fires ammunition shaved from solid block has casings, but closer inspection reveals that they are not "casings" at all but individual cells from the many thermal clips the weapon requires, ejected as fast as possible to keep it cool.
  • Spider Tank:
    • Reaper Destroyers, the go-to heavy ground-based combat unit for their forces. At around 160-200 meters tall, they're less than 1/10th the size of the actual Sovereign-class Reaper ships (around 2 km), but still well into Humongous Mecha territory.
    • Ravagers (rachni husks) are literal Spider Tanks (or, rather, Spider Howitzers).
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Liara is required for three missions (four, if the From Ashes DLC is played), and is given many scenes with Shepard that other characters will not have. Before the Extended Cut, Liara is the last person Shepard thinks about if his romantic partner was not Ashley or Kaidan. In the Citadel DLC, Wrex does this on a slighter scale. While Shepard is still the star, Wrex still gets more dialogue than the others, and talked up at how great he is by the others.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: Depending on what ending you choose, there is an animation of control, destruction, or synthesis spreading from mass relay to mass relay.
  • Squee: Joker kids about this pertaining to Liara and first discovering Javik.
Joker: So, a real live Prothean, huh? Has Liara stopped bouncing yet? I'm guessing there may have been some bouncing.
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • The Adept. Even with all of the fitness tree upgraded this class is by far the least durable of them all in terms of hit points and resistances. It makes up for this with having incredibly useful abilities like Stasis or Singularity that is exclusive to the class. This is also helped by an extremely fast recharge rate from using light weaponry. Liara, essentially being a character-specific "adept" class, is somewhat lacking barrier points and greatly lacking hitpoints.
    • Engineers are also somewhat less durable than the norm, although one of EDI's special abilities, Defensive Matrix, does help quite a bit with that.
    • The Drell in multiplayer. Low hitpoints, lowest shields in the game- but very speedy, and very wizardly.
    • The Volus in multiplayer. A normal amount of shield points but a pitiful 150 hitpoints and only average Fitness bonuses. However, the Adept is a surprisingly powerful offensive character, and the Engineer is now a cornerstone of defensive strategies with its support abilities.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: An in-universe fictional example: Shalei, a quarian, and Bellicus, a turian, protagonists of the movie classic Fleet and Flotilla.
  • Status Infliction Attack: Many powers in the game inflict a status effect in addition to damage, which not only causes a secondary effect to the target, but it also primes them for a Power Combo, which can be set off by hitting them with a different power. For example, Overload and Disruptor Ammo both shock targets, which can stun them for a brief time and set them up for a Tech Burst. Incendiary Ammo, Incinerate, and Carnage all set the target on fire, causing additional damage for a short time and setting up a Fire Explosion. Cryo Ammo weakens the target's armor, makes them more vulnerable to damage, and slows or freezes them (targets that have armor, shields, or barriers are slowed, targets without are frozen) and sets them up for a Cryo Explosion. And Warp weakens the target's armor and makes them more vulnerable to further damage while also setting them up for a Biotic Explosion.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Of a sort. When traveling on the Galaxy Map, you have to be careful while exploring a system under Reaper control. If you draw too much attention to yourself (by doing an excessive amount of scanning), then a number of Reapers appear to attack your ship, forcing you to flee.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: A little boy vanishes around a corner silently while Shepard looks away momentarily, and they don't notice.
  • Sticky Bomb:
    • The appropriately named Sticky Grenade, the Infiltrator-specific grenade power. It can be upgraded to blast through armor more effectively, as well as to arm itself on a timer and serve as a proximity mine should it fail to land on a target.
    • The Scorpion (Kirrahe's pistol during the Sur'Kesh mission) shoots lower-powered versions of these.
      Garrus: How do I not have one of those?
  • Stimulant Speedtalk: Citadel DLC reveals that Kaiden Alenko turns out to be a tad dependent on coffee in the mornings, and in sharp contrast to his sober, responsible usual self, the caffeine makes him babble at high speed to anyone else who might want coffee - interspersed with queries of "am I being too loud?"
  • The Stinger: After the credits, Buzz Aldrin (the second man to set foot on the moon) voices a character known only as the Stargazer, who, in the distant future, relates Shepard's exploits to a child. However, if the player chooses the "refusal" ending, there is an alternate Stinger where the Stargazer is an alien woman instead of a human man, as humanity has been wiped out by the Reapers.
  • Stone Wall: A Sentinel Shepard who picks Barrier or Defense Matrix as a bonus power may use them on top of his/her Tech Armor for an 80% damage reduction. And if s/he has Fortification instead, it reaches a whooping 90%. However, the high cooldown times brought by both protections and the lack of weapon damage bonuses of the Sentinel class limits a bit his/her offensive capability - not that it really matters since, in grand Soldier fashion, you may load him/her with all the best guns you have instead.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Garrus and Tali can jokingly comment on the importance of giving "dextros" (Species based on dextro-amino-acids) a good impression on the rest of the galaxy.
    • Wrex and Eve will give a joint one to their entire clan.
  • Stop Poking Me!: There is a console on Sur'Kesh that you can touch repeatedly to get these responses from a nearby salarian:
Please don't touch that.
As I said, Commander. Don't touch that.
Again, I would ask you to refrain from touching that.
Perhaps "don't touch that" means something different in your language?
I would rather not refer this matter to the human embassy.
Touch it all you want. You'll never find out what it does.
Are humans really so deprived of stimulus that they must insist on touching everything?
I'm afraid if you keep touching that, you risk a diplomatic incident.
Further manipulation of this object is grounds for further admonishment.
Really! You must stop touching that!
Once more, the Salarian Union formally requests that you not touch that.
Fine! If you're so enamored of that object, then I suggest you get your own feces analyzer.
We've already been down that road. No more.
  • There's a fountain in the Silver Coast Casino with a similar gag.
    Please don't play with the waterfall.
    Don't touch that.
    Fine, it's a hanar urinal. Knock yourself out.
  • Storming the Castle: The attack on Cerberus HQ.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability:
    • Dr. Eva is impossible to kill during the chase sequence, as her shields instantly regenerate when damaged. This is necessary as her "body" is needed for later in the game when EDI takes it over.
    • On Thessia, Kai Leng cannot be touched when the gunship is covering him.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: The game includes the "Narrative" difficulty setting that drastically reduces the core combat gameplay difficulty to let players focus on the story.
  • Strawman Emotional: There's Ensign Copeland on the Normandy who is seen chatting with Garrus and Javik, after the Lesuss mission. He makes pointlessly childish comments about how evil the process of indoctrination is, and he's only there so that Garrus and Javik can lecture him on how there is no such thing as good or evil in war.
  • Strictly Formula: The way enemies work in the game, generally with one (sometimes two) of each enemy type per faction.
    • Foot Soldier: Basic enemy types with ranged weaponry and no shielding.
      • Cerberus: Assault Trooper
      • Reapers: Cannibals
      • Geth: Geth Trooper
      • Collectors: Collector Trooper
    • Commanders: Slightly more powerful than foot soldiers. Have shielding in addition to health. In most cases have a way to buff their teammates.
      • Cerberus: Centurions
      • Reapers: Marauders
      • Geth: Geth Rocket Trooper
      • Collectors: Collector Captain
    • Cover Busters: Enemies who will Zerg Rush your position and force you out of cover. Either melee only or have very short-range attacks.
      • Cerberus: Guardians and Dragoons
      • Reapers: Husks
      • Geth: Geth Pyros and Geth Bombers
      • Collectors: Abominations and Possessed Scions
    • Elite Mooks: More powerful than most enemies you face and tend to be fairly uncommon. Usually short ranged, similar to Cover Busters. Some have melee only One-Hit Kill attacks.
      • Cerberus: Phantoms
      • Reapers: Brutes
      • Geth: Geth Hunters
      • Collectors: Scions
    • Bosses: Appear rarely. Tend to be very powerful with strong attacks and usually have a short ranged One-Hit Kill attack.
      • Cerberus: Atlases
      • Reapers: Banshees
      • Geth: Geth Primes
      • Collectors: Praetorian
  • Stylistic Suck: In-Universe with Blasto 6.
    • And again with Blasto 7, which Shepard and Javik get tricked into making cameo appearances in the Citadel DLC.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: During the Thessia Mission, it turns out that the asari goddess Athane was a visualization of the Protheans, and her miracles the efforts to uplift the asari race, including teaching them how to write and farm. If Javik is present, he will call Liara out on her initial disbelief, until she is finally convinced.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Plan A for dealing with the Reaper destroyer on Tuchanka is a two-pronged assault by krogan armor and turian fighters. Plan B? Using the maw hammers to summon Kalros, the "mother of all thresher maws." It actually works better than they'd hoped: instead of merely distracting the Reaper, Kalros outright eats it!.
  • Super Prototype: The player-controlled Phoenix Adepts and Vanguards play this trope straight when compared to their production-line (and completely Cerberus loyal) counterpart, the Dragoon. To drive the point home, a Phoenix spec'd for maximum biotic damage can one-shot a group of Dragoons with a single Biotic Smash.
  • Superweapon: The 'Crucible', the culmination of millennia worth of flinging an ever more complete light into the future, when connected to the citadel, it is capable of wiping out every single synthetic being in the galaxy, including the synthetic Reapers, and when it becomes apparent that the Reapers cannot be defeated through conventional combat, the attention of everyone in the galaxy turns towards ensuring its completion and defence. It is later discovered that it can also perform an inverted Villain Override, or subject the entire galaxy to Transhumanism, which renders the Reapers' objective moot, and sets up Philosophical Choice Endings.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Several instances occur throughout the game, based on who lived and died in any one person's particular playthrough throughout the series. If certain squadmates from ME2 died in the suicide mission, other characters may fill in for some of them where they are supposed to appear.
    • If Mordin Solus died in the Suicide Mission in ME2, Padok Wiks (the Special Tasks Group commander on Sur'Kesh) assumes his role in the narrative and can fulfill exactly the same role as Mordin. The game even calls attention to it - Joker takes to calling Wiks "Not-Mordin."
    • If you did not spare the rachni queen in the first game, a queen appears in the rachni hive and can also be recruited if the player chooses. However, this has a nasty consequence; this queen has been created by the Reapers, and it and its children run rampant on the Crucible and cause several deaths before they are put down, giving a reduction to your War Assets.
    • If Grunt did not survive the Suicide Mission, his role is replaced by Urdnot Dagg, another krogan picked (by either Wrex or Wreav) to lead Aralakh Company. Unlike Grunt, however, Dagg always dies at the end of the mission.
    • If Legion did not survive the Suicide Mission or he was sold to Cerberus, his role in the geth-quarian War will be assumed by a nondescript "Geth VI" constructed in Legion's likeness. Shepard will even note that the VI looks very similar to the geth they retrieved in the previous game if Legion was never turned on. This does not count Legion's appearance as a "Geth Assassin" at the Cerberus Base if you sold him previously. It is also impossible to achieve peace with the Geth VI.
    • If Tali did not survive the Suicide Mission, then Admiral Daro'Xen will replace Tali's role in the Geth Dreadnought mission, and Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay will replace Tail's role in the Rannoch Reaper Base mission. And just like Tali, Raan kills herself if you allow the geth to wipe out the quarians. Unlike Tali, though, Raan doesn't jump off a cliff; she shoots herself in the head, and unlike in Tali's case there is no "fake Paragon interrupt" to attempt to stop her. Also, just like Tali, Raan will kill Legion if you allow the quarians to wipe out the geth; unlike Tali, instead of using a knife, Raan just shoots Legion, and you won't get a Renegade interrupt to shoot Legion yourself three times.
  • Supporting Leader: Several, including Urdnot Wrex (or Wreav), the members of the quarian Admiralty Board, and Primarch Victus as you try to get entire alien races to unite and assist Earth. Holding down the fort until these allies can show up are Admiral Anderson, who stays behind on Earth, and Admiral Hackett, who seems to be the de facto leader of the joint species fleet in the end.
  • Sword and Gun: In addition to the standard two-gun carrying capacity, N7 Shadows and N7 Slayers come equipped with mono-molecular-edged swords on their backs that they draw to perform their melee attacks.
  • Sword Beam: Kai Leng, the N7 Slayer and the N7 Shadow class can all do this (the former two with biotics, the latter with tech explosions); the end result is almost exactly like Shockwave.

  • Take a Third Option:
    • The mission to cure the genophage can result in gaining support from either the salarians or the krogan. Depending on your decisions in past games and your later actions in this game, it is possible to gain the support of both after the Cerberus attack on the Citadel.
    • During the geth/quarian conflict, you are forced to choose one side over the other, with both sides promising various things. Depending on what you did in previous games, Shepard can choose to save both races instead of letting one side or the other get wiped out.
    • The lead-up to the endings sees Shepard, Anderson and the Illusive Man arguing over whether or not to destroy the Reapers or take control of them. The Catalyst itself can possibly provide a third option: to make the entire galaxy a synthesis of organic and synthetic life, causing the Reapers to cease hostilities. In the Extended Cut, Shepard can take a fourth option: Refuse to take any of the Catalyst's offered choices in defiance of its claim to know the destiny of organic life. All space-faring life is wiped out, leaving Liara's warnings for the next Cycle.
  • Take My Hand!:
    • Shepard pulls a variation of this towards a traumatized little boy. In this case, the boy is not in any immediate danger beyond being on Earth as the Reapers invade, Shepard is simply trying to get the boy to trust them enough to let them take the boy to safety. The boy declines.
      "You can't help me."
    • A conventional example can be found while on the geth dreadnought, where Tali saves Shepard from falling to their death when the elevator is damaged by a rocket.
    • Subverted on Rannoch, where siding with the geth will cause Tali to jump off a cliff. Shepard runs towards her; a Paragon Interrupt flashes onscreen... and Shepard arrives a moment too late.
    • After defeating the Clone in the Citadel DLC, Shepard will offer a hand if you take the Paragon option. The Clone refuses, not having a reason to live.
  • Take Up My Sword: The task of developing and building the Crucible has been passed on through countless cycles of reaping, each one contributing new discovery about the Reapers and new technological inventions to make it into a working weapon against the Reapers.
  • Take Your Time:
    • Played with on the galaxy map. If you activate the Normandy's scanner often enough to attract the Reapers to the system you're in, you only have a short time to escape before they catch you and incur a critical mission failure. However, if you enter a planet's or moon's orbit for scanning or sightseeing, time freezes, and you can dally around for as long as you want without the Reapers bothering you or even moving.
    • If you play Multiplayer frequently, Galactic Readiness never falls under 50%, but anything beyond that can still degrade.
    • War Assets remain pristine throughout the game. While many of them can be strengthened, only some can lose effectiveness, and these are all linked to specific choices you make throughout the game. They're all fighting a Robot War against Eldritch Abominations whose Readings Are Off the Scale, and yet none of them ever take damage from this as time passes.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • At the conclusion of the Poisoned Medigel mission on the Citadel, Conrad will do this for Shepard, complete with a dramatic slow-motion dive. If you completed Jenna's sidequest in the first game, then he is not shot after all.
    • If he survived the Virmire mission in the first game, and Thane did not survive the suicide mission in the second game, Major Kirrahe will take the bullet for the salarian councilor during the Cerberus invasion of the Citadel instead of engaging Kai Leng in combat.
    • In the Citadel DLC, Maya Brooks takes an assault rifle bullet meant for Shepard when CAT6 mercenaries ambush them in a restaurant. Becomes less impressive when she turns out to be in league with the mercs from the beginning, but the hit still seems to have been real regardless or was at least faked very convincingly.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • The turian and krogan insurgents during "The Miracle at Palaven" who sacrificed their lives guarding the ship-busting bombs they smuggled inside the Reaper ships.
    • The colony of Tyvor. When escape or fighting were no longer viable options, they detonated their stock of nuclear weapons to wipe out as much of the invading Reaper forces as they could.
    • If Wrex is still alive by this game, he can withdraw all Krogan forces from defending Earth if he learns that you have conspired in sabotaging the genophage cure. As he states it, if you are willing to see to their extinction, he is entitled to ensure humanity dies with them.
  • Talking the Monster to Death:
    • If your Reputation is high enough (and you didn't miss any conversation options) you can convince the Illusive Man to commit suicide instead of continuing to oppose you.
    • Talked about in the game's intro sequence:
      "Unless we're planning to *talk* the Reapers to death, the committee is a waste of time."
  • Tamer and Chaster: Both plays this trope straight and inverts it compared to the previous games: your squadmates now wear more conservative clothing this time around (the former squadmate who wore nothing but tattoos from the waist up included) and mentions of sex outside of romance subplots take a back seat to trying to save the galaxy. On the other hand, the sex scenes are even more risque than the first game, showing much more skin than before.
  • Team Pet: KEI-9 in the Collector's Edition, who is a robotic dog that was left behind by an Alliance engineer during the Normandy's retrofit and exists to walk around in the ship's shuttle bay and be referred to by Shepard as a "good dog".
  • Technicolor Eyes: For the first time in the trilogy, Shepard is not restricted to the standard range of human eye colors but can have more exotic iris colors like white or red. In the Synthesis ending, everyone gets glowing eyes (as well as very faintly glowing dermal-circuitry) depending on their original iris-color (though in the ending slides they're all just green, presumably as visual shorthand). Joker's eyes are bright green, Liara's are bright blue, Traynor's and Kaidan's are bright gold, James and Ashley get shimmering bronze-gold, EDI has teal and so on.
  • Technology Erasure Event: Originally, no matter the choice of ending, all mass relays (the technology that makes interstellar faster-than-light travel possible) are destroyed, essentially dooming interstellar society. The Extended Cuts modified this after significant fan backlash, so that two of the three endings only result in significant damage to the relays with possibility of repair.
  • Teleportation with Drawbacks:
    • The multiplayer N7 Slayer and N7 Fury characters are capable of this over short distances. Walls are no object, as long as there is a safe space to exit on the other side. Their melee attacks are also teleport-based.
    • All Vanguards but one can teleport using Biotic Charge, although this requires an enemy in sight to teleport to. Same goes for the N7 Shadow.
  • Temporary Online Content: A profile for Mass Effect: Infiltrator affected this game, adding War Assets to your score depending on how far you had progressed in that game. Now that the game is no longer sold, these War Assets are no longer attainable legitimately, and due to how it functions, it's also one of the few things the Legendary Edition couldn't reinstate in any capacity.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Depending on the player's choices, this could also double as Foreshadowing. After Shepard says it, Anderson even says they shouldn't tempt fate.
      Shepard: I don't know how we'll win this, but we will. Even if it kills me.
    • Slightly more subtle:
      Shepard: I'm just a soldier, Anderson, I'm no politician.
      Anderson: I don't need you to be either.
      • From there, of course, the only way to get the highest possible EMS rating is to be both.
  • Terrible Pick-Up Lines: In the Citadel DLC, Garrus, with Shepard's prompting, hits on a female diplomat in a nightclub. If Shepard pushes Garrus towards paragon suggestions, Garrus will give a creepy analysis of her personality and call her an alcoholic. If Shepard pushes Garrus toward renegade suggestions, the diplomat seems honestly worried that Garrus plans to kill her and bury her in his basement.
  • Theme Naming: Multiple:
  • There Is No Kill Like Over Kill: Wrex gets this gem of a line in The Citadel DLC:
Wrex: This is why I love hanging out with you guys. Why shoot something once, when you can shoot it forty-six times?
  • The World Is Just Awesome: During the Casino job in the Citadel DLC, energy mogul Jonah Ashland comments about how nobody's distrustful of other races anymore, and that if the war is won, the galaxy will be a pretty great place (presumably after cleanup).
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Major Coats's expressions after killing the husk and looking up at the Reapers screams this.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Westmoreland and Campbell, two guards on the Normandy's security checkpoint who banter about whatever just went down on your mission.
    • Should they survive ME2, Gabby and Ken can come back on board to join Adams in engineering after you give a Spectre stamp of approval on pardoning them for their previous Cerberus association.
  • Throw-Away Country: Adelaide, Hamburg, Al Jubail, and Fort Worth get destroyed by the Reaper attack's first strike.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock:
    • Javik threatens to do this to Joker after being continually referred to as "Prothy The Prothean". He's also in favor of spacing Legion due to his views on synthetics.
    • If you sabotaged the genophage cure and Wrex is the krogan leader, you will need to kill him on the Citadel when he discovers your betrayal. Bailey will tell Shepard that they will have to do this to Wrex's body, as they simply do not have time or resources for a funeral or even a coffin large enough to fit him.
    • Shepard is not averse to this: During the Citadel DLC archives, after being trapped in a vault, you get to talk to the Big Bad, Shepard's clone, and Maya Brooks, threatening to take both their heads and mount them in the CIC, and then invoke the trope. Javik approves.
    • According to flavor text while exploring the Krogan DMZ, the penalty for smuggling warship weapons into krogan territory is death by spacing, and the turian peacekeepers stationed there do not hesitate to enforce this law.
  • Time Abyss:
    • The Reapers have been active for billions of years. The Catalyst is older than the Reapers themselves and has watched countless cycles of life evolving and being destroyed.
    • The Leviathan DLC reveals the Leviathans have been around even longer than the Catalyst (considering they created the Catalyst, which then turned on them). They've apparently spent those billions of years passively watching every harvest and mastering the game of Hide & Seek.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Several non-Priority missions have to be completed soon after receiving them or you fail automatically. Tuchanka: Bomb has to be completed within three missions of getting it, while the Grissom Academy mission is automatically failed if you don't do it before Priority: The Citadel II. In a different vein, when attacking the Cerberus space station, you have only a little more than a minute from EDI telling you that they're going to vent the hangar before they do so. That last is very easy to avoid - if you do realize that for once the squad's banter about urgency actually holds water and find the ladder.
    • Every few waves in multiplayer, players are required to complete an additional task, like killing specific enemies or escorting drones. Completing them earns bonus credits based on how quickly the task was completed. Failing them results in instant mission failure.
  • Tiny-Headed Behemoth: The Brute is a husk composed of krogans and turians that has a small head on a stalk, attached to an enormous ape-like body.
  • Tired of Running: Shepard accidentally woke up a Reaper tank and their first response is to just get away, but Shepard realized that by running all they would do is delay a massive battle and more lives will be lost because the Reaper was controlling/influencing the geth forces. So Shepard decides to stand their ground and calls in the Migrant Fleet for a precision orbital strike.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Discussed. Near the end of the game, Shepard watches some videos in the Illusive Man's base that confirm that, yes, Shepard really was brain dead and wonders, "Maybe I'm just a high-tech VI that thinks it's Commander Shepard?" Whichever squadmate is with you at the time will vehemently disagree with the notion. The case for Shepard being the original is more likely since they retain the Prothean Cipher, which was implanted in their subconscious. Furthermore, an actual Clone Shepard appears in the Citadel DLC who doesn't share their counterparts memories and laments that the Illusive Man preferred to bring back a corpse rather than a copy.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Rannoch Reaper. Its one threat is Shepard standing on an open cliff using a targeting laser to help the quarian fleet pinpoint it. But instead of simply horizontally sweeping the cliff with its One-Hit Kill beam, it slowly vertically sweeps the beam forward and up, giving Shepard ample time to scurry to the other side of the cliff and continue giving the quarians targeting data. Or, since the Reaper is only vulnerable when trying to shoot, why doesn't it just walk over to Shepard and smash the cliff they're on?
  • Took a Level in Badass: Tabloid reporter Khalisah Al-Jilani has learned from her previous encounters with Shepard.
    • In Mass Effect, your four alien crew members were a mercenary (Wrex), a C-Sec operative (Garrus), an archaeologist (Liara), and a wandering teenager (Tali). By the time you hit this game, those same characters have become the de facto leader of the krogan race, a notorious ex-vigilante and commander of a special military unit, the Shadow Broker, and an Admiral of the quarian Flotilla. Not to mention that your fellow human goes from Lieutenant/Gunnery Chief to Staff Commandernote /Lieutenant Commander and becomes the second human Spectre. Damn.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Miranda and Jack most obviously, though it can be seen in many other characters returning from Mass Effect 2 in subtler ways.
  • Trash Talk:
    • The first time Shepard converses with the Mysterious Figure during the Citadel casino heist, said person immediately starts threatening and insulting them. Shep's reaction?
Shepard: That the best you got? The last guy to trash-talk me was a few kilometers taller than you.
  • Shepard can use the phrase again in the same DLC when calling the asari player out for using cheap psychological tactics against Traynor in their game of Kepesh-Yakshi. Then, Shepard sinks to using the same tactics by quipping about the fall of Thessia, and whether the "asari have ever won a war." Ouch.
  • Trash the Set: That fancy field-of-stars office the Illusive Man communicates from? It will suffer heavily during your final fight with Kai Leng.
  • Tripod Terror: The Reapers may have more tentacles than that, but the apocalyptic sight of several of them slowly walking around Vancouver, Menae, Thessia, and London and vaporizing everything with death rays leaves no doubt as to what are they supposed to be referencing. And in case you still doubt it, the deafening WHOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNGGGGH sound they give off will reiterate it.
  • Triumphant Reprise:
  • True Companions: Explicitly mentioned by Shepard in regards to Tali and Garrus, which are the only two team members to have full-time roles in every single game in the trilogy and have a substantial fanbase.
Shepard: You two have been with me longer than most. You believed in me when nobody else did. Thanks.
  • It's also made clear that Shepard considers both Liara and Joker to be this. Chakwas can also express such sentiments. Whether Ashley/Kaidan still counts is left up to the player.
  • Showing this with the entire surviving playable cast of the series is pretty much the point of the Citadel DLC.
  • Prior to the attempted Cerberus coup on the Citadel, Shep can overhear two turian C-Sec officers discussing their situation outside the Purgatory club. One of them is thoroughly fed up with having to watch a nightclub's door while criminals go about their business unchallenged elsewhere on the station and, more importantly, his homeworld is burning. What does his partner do? Propose to quit their jobs right then and there, go to Palaven to fight the Reapers and search for his friend's missing family. When said friend incredulously asks if he would really do that, all he says is "Of course I would. We're partners." Turians are awesome.
  • Turn to Religion: Padok Wiks, a minor character. After helping with upgrading the Genophage, he started studying various religions around the galaxy trying to discover who is the creator that determines the future out of guilt.

"...not enough."
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Some portions of the game have Shepard manning a turret to blast away at massive enemies, or acting as door gunner on a drop shuttle. Once even both at the same time.
  • Unexpected Successor:
    • If he survived the events of "Bring Down The Sky" in the first game, Balak goes from being the leader of a small batarian terrorist group to the highest-ranking member of the Hegemony, due to the Reapers wiping out the entirety of the upper leadership on Khar'shan.
    • Adrien Victus is taken aback after learning that he's become the new Primarch for the Turian race, having spent much of his life as a military general with little political experience.
  • The Unfought: Since Mass Effect 2, Harbinger was built up as the Big Bad of the series, and is stated to be personally leading the Reaper attack on Earth. However, the closest you get to fighting him is him blasting you with a laser as you rush towards the relay to the Citadel.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • Playing a New Game Plus can create this on Mars. Certain pistols, the Scorpion particularly, lack the DPS to kill Dr. Core during the Bullet Time segment at the very end of the mission. This can be averted, however, by switching weapons (preferably a rapid-fire one) as soon as you gain control of Shepard.
    • You also can't reload in that segment, so the extremely-damaging one-shot Executioner pistol that's ridiculous levels of overkill against what you've been fighting if you're a good shot... isn't enough.
  • Unique Enemy: The Legion Assassin enemy, which is encountered during "Priority: Cerberus Headquarters" if Legion was given to Cerberus in Mass Effect 2. You may also encounter Jack, converted into a Phantom during "Priority: Cerberus Headquarters" if you didn't help her at Grissom Academy; they will even use Jack's typical battle quotes when they attack you. Morinth is this to a lesser extent, as she is a named Banshee during "Priority: Earth" who is otherwise identical to a typical Banshee.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Occurs in the Citadel DLC mission. A salarian fish stall worker is in a freezer on a smoke break. A ruckus goes down and C-SEC locks down the area. The Illustrious Commander Shepard, who was turning heads in a swank sushi restaurant moments earlier, stumbles into the freezer, a little worse for wear due to the events going down, with a gun at the ready. And what all does he have to say? "Hey."
    • Considering how utterly stoned out of his gourd he sounds while saying this, he's probably smoking something stronger than your average cigarette.
  • Unusual User Interface: During a mission on the Citadel DLC, Liara gives Shepard contact lenses which scan for wired connections and project tracings of those wires into the eyes. This has the side effect of making the eyes glow bright yellow, but given the technology of the setting this could be dismissed as a fashion choice.
  • Upper-Class Twit: In the Citadel DLC at the Casino Fundraiser level, we finally get to meet the infamous Paris Hilton expy Aishwarya "Aish" Ashland, daughter of Jonah Ashland, energy mogul and co-founder of Eldfell-Ashland Energy. And her poor father who is drinking both for relief from the savaging of his business's facilities by the Reapers (all those wrecked fuel facilities around gas giants you read about in planet descriptors, "most of them are his") and from his daughter's "self-absorbed phase".
  • Use Your Head: Krogan player characters in multiplayer use head-butting as their "weak" melee attack, in place of the Pistol Whip or gun butt of non-krogan characters. There's a reason why "weak" is in quotes: the krogan headbutt is among the fastest and strongest of the basic melee attacks. A properly speced krogan can one-shot enemy infantry just by headbutting them.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Cerberus. The Reapers are the main threat, and their Husks are the primary mooks you have to fight, but Cerberus hounds Shepard and the Normandy crew every Goddamn step of the way.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Javik the last Prothean and the Prothean avatar of vengeance can be pushed either towards this realization (in which case he despairs and plans to commit suicide after the war) or away from it (letting him start enjoying his life again).
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The end game essentially starts with the assault on the Cerberus HQ, but the final battle takes place on Earth, with the final confrontation being on the Citadel.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential:
    • If you saved David Archer from Project Overlord & then saved the students at Grissom Academy, when you come across Gavin Archer in a later mission, he will ask if Shepard has heard anything about David. The player has the option of telling him that David was saved with the other students, or letting him suffer. Not telling Gavin will result in him pulling out a pistol and killing himself.
    • There are a lot of characters you can personally kill with Renegade decisions, often with little ethical justification, including Mordin (shot in the back to prevent him curing the genophage), Wrex (shoot him dead when he finds out you have doomed his people and comes after you), the Virmire Survivor, and Legion (if you let the quarians wipe out the geth; you get the option to shoot Legion four times in the face). You can also get Miranda and Jack killed through your negligence, and drive Tali to suicide by letting the geth destroy the quarians in the skies above their own homeworld. The worst one however is allowing Samara to commit suicide, which she flat-out tells you she only does because it's the only way for her to spare her daughter without violating her code of honour, and then heartlessly gunning down the girl anyway. In previous games, Renegade Shepard was an amusing Jerkass; in this game they come across as a total monster.
    • Play your cards right from the very first game and you could effectively bring around a large fraction of the galaxy's sapient races to extinction.
      • Krogan: Kill off Wrex in Mass Effect 1, delete Maelon's data in Mass Effect 2 and then sabotage the genophage cure to effectively lead the krogan onto a path of self-destruction.
      • Hanar and Drell: If Kasumi is dead or not recruited in Mass Effect 2, and you choose to save Jondum Bau's life, then the Reapers will conquer Kahje. According to a later news report on the Citadel, there were no survivors.
      • Quarian: Support the geth in the final mission on Rannoch. This leads to...
      • Geth: Support the quarians or support both races then pick the Destroy Ending.
      • Rachni: Kill the Queen/Fake Queen.
      • Everyone: Pick the Refusal ending and stick it to the Catalyst, resulting in the entire galaxy falling to the Reapers.
  • Videogame Cruelty Punishment:
    • If you chose to betray Samara for Morinth in Mass Effect 2, you have to fight her as a Banshee in London, and miss out on a war asset.
    • Sending Legion to Cerberus instead of activating him makes him come back as a Geth Assassin (pretty much just a re-skinned Nemesis) in the Cerberus base raid. This also makes you unable to end the geth/quarian conflict without genocide.
    • If you chose not to support the salarian teams on Virmire back in the first game and thus did not save Captain Kirrahe, his replacement in this game lacks his willingness to trust or support Shepard, meaning that the salarian STG will not defy the dalatrass in order to help against the Reapers if the genophage is cured.
    • Not responding to the distress call at Grissom Academy allows Cerberus to capture Jack and convert her into a Phantom with indoctrination.
    • If Wrex leads the krogan and you sabotage the genophage cure, which can only be accomplished by killing the salarian operative with you, either Mordin or Wiiks, Wrex will discover the truth and pull krogan support from the war with the Reapers before forcing you into a confrontation that claims his life.
    • In the Leviathan DLC, you can sacrifice Ann Bryson to narrow down the location of your target (basically, you'll have to search fewer systems). She becomes a war asset if she lives.
    • You can convince Khalisah al-Jilani to support your cause, after which she becomes a war asset, but if you punched her in either of the two previous games, her effectiveness as a war asset is cut in half.
  • Villain Protagonist: Averted for the most part. Renegade Shepard's snarky attitude has been toned down in this game, and he or she will now feel the emotional weight of his or her actions such as shooting Mordin.
  • Visual Pun: The Black Widow sniper rifle's model is more or less just an M-98 Widow reskinned to be black.
  • Voice of the Legion:
    • Shepard in the Control Extended Cut ending
    • The fake rachni queen.
  • Voodoo Shark: The Extended Cut attempts to resolve the question raised in the original endings of how your squad mates got onto the Normandy. This is explained by your party members getting injured and Shepard calling the Normandy in for an evac. This begs the question of how the Normandy was able to get down from dogfighting in orbit in a matter of seconds, why an evac would need the Normandy instead of one of shuttles already on Earth, and why Harbinger stops firing and just stares at the Normandy during the entire process instead of shooting it down. It is established that the Normandy and other frigate-class ships were occupied fighting the Reaper ships prior to the evac (and likely resumed doing so after Hammer was wiped out), and the evac scene does have an EMS threshold to trigger (otherwise Harbinger simply wipes out your squadmates) but the scene still breaks up the pacing of what was originally a desperate dash to the beam.

  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Brutes on Menae. Until then all you have faced are Cannibals and Assault Troopers which are standard unshielded troopers, Marauders and Centurians who are standard shielded troopers, Husks (same old Husks) and Guardians who required a little bit of outmaneuvering. All of a sudden you get this hulking monstrosity that soaks up more damage than a Krogan, charges faster than a Krogan, Acrofatic unlike the lumbering Krogan and will wallop you in two close range hits. Now you can't sleep through this anymore with standard Take Cover!, run and gun. You have to keep your wits about you as you fight them.
  • Waiting Puzzle: The Citadel DLC adds an optional one. James Vega challenges Shepard to break his record of 182 pull-ups, and you are completely welcome to do so via a long, long series of interrupts, both paragon and renegade. As in, each interrupt window lasts at least two seconds, with the actual pull-up taking about one second. James occasionally comments on your progress as you keep at it. If you do make it past 182 pull-ups, all you get for your trouble is an additional cutscene with James complimenting Shepard.
  • Walking Spoiler: The Citadel DLC's Arc Villain: a disgruntled clone of Commander Shepard, working with a former Cerberus agent pretending to be the comic relief in order to steal Shep's identity and the Normandy.
  • Walking Transplant: A major plot point of the Citadel expansion. During Cerberus' project to revive the dead Shepard in Mass Effect 2, they cloned Shepard in order to have a complete set of replacement organs for Shepard in case something went wrong. The clone was kept sedated, but around the same time the Normandy SR-2 hit the Collector base the clone was revived by and escaped with a disgruntled Cerberus employee, and is the expansion's Arc Villain.
  • War Is Hell: As might be expected, taking place during the full Reaper invasion Shepard has been warning everyone about means the game has near endless examples of the trauma the Reaper war has already inflicted going on in the background. Bear in mind that with one exception, all of the following examples are conversations that Shepard literally cannot do anything about. They just have to stand there and listen as people's lives are shattered.
    • The game opens with Shepard stating that "Anyone Can Die" in a war, driven home by the little boy's shuttle being destroyed by a Reaper as it tries to flee, traumatizing Shepard.
    • A senile human woman on the Citadel who keeps trying to get in touch with her son, a soldier who "hasn't called in a while" because he is in an active war zone. The asari clerk she is talking to tries to remind her that they have already had this conversation many times, but the woman's senility not only makes her forget that she has already been told there is no news, but she also begins to incorporate the asari into the memories that she does have. Then the conversation repeats...
    • An asari commando who killed a crying farmgirl to prevent her from giving away their position, and keeps begging for a gun because she claims it will make her feel safe. The crying girl may have very well been Joker's younger sister. This is the only time Shepard can intervene in a way that affects the outcome; if you use your Spectre clearance to give permission for her to have a handgun, she kills herself.
    • A human Alliance soldier recalled to active duty, married to an asari commando who's already been pulled back into service, is at the embassies trying desperately to get their daughter transported to Thessia so she can be with her mother's family, as hers disowned her for marrying an asari. She eventually receives permission and the girl is sent there...right before Thessia is hit by the Reapers.
    • A human soldier who was injured and whose wounds became infected, so despite receiving proper on-site medical care, still has to have his leg amputated afterwards and can't rejoin his friends in the unit.
    • One teenage human girl in the refugee camp stands patiently near a converted information kiosk, because her parents said they would meet her there, even though they were on different escape shuttles. The turian on duty knows full well that her parents are not going to make it, but cannot bring himself to tell her. She slowly works it out herself anyway, and resolves to wait for them all the same.
    • It is shown through the interaction with squad members as many of them get reports of their families being killed or worrying about news of that, homeworlds destroyed, etc. And the strain that it puts on Shepard is very noticeable.
    • Ashley's youngest sister is a newlywed... and her Alliance Marine husband was K.I.A. You can find her standing in front of the remembrance wall in the refugee camp even if Ash was not the Virmire Survivor.
    • Alternately, Kaidan, previously notable for his complete lack of parental issues, can tell you that his father has gone MIA and is presumed dead. Like Ashley's sister, the implication is that this happened regardless of which one made it off Virmire.
    • An elcor diplomat asks you to help in the evacuation of the elcor home planet, Dekuuna, which is under siege by the Reapers. After the rescue, Shepard will ask how many they saved, and the diplomat will simply answer, "Not. Enough." Elcor are known for the lack of emotion in their speech, since they communicate emotions through pheromones, and subtle facial expressions and tones at best, but this time he does not preface his speech with an emotional explanation, you can actually hear the grief in his voice, particularly in his hesitation to speak. The implication that there are simply no words to describe his pain twists the knife even more.
    • After the mission on Sur'Kesh, Liara's drone assistant, Glyph, reports that the colony world of Tyvor stopped reporting in. When pressed for details it unveils that the entire colony detonated their nuclear arms on themselves when the Reapers attacked.
    • A new Alliance recruit is being briefed on her first assignment at the Normandy dock, and when told it's expected she'll be facing Cerberus troops, asks for reassignment to a posting where she'll have to fight Reapers instead. It quickly comes out that her younger brother had joined up with Cerberus and she's afraid of facing him in battle. Getting to the end of her conversation triggers a request in the Spectre office that allows Shepard to approve her transfer (which ultimately turns out to be quantifiably bad in War Assets), but a very early N7 mission (that you may have already completed) has you finding files from someone with her last name, indicating that you may have already mowed her brother down as a faceless Cerberus mook.
    • Going back to 2, if you convinced Ereba (the asari on Illium with a poetry-spouting krogan boyfriend) to accept his marriage proposal, then during a mission to find a krogan scouting team, you find his corpse, along with a recording he made to her in his final moments telling her that he loves her and their unborn daughter. You then have the option to give this recording to her where she works at Nos Astra Sporting Goods.
  • War Memorial: There is a memory wall on the Citadel where people place the names and pictures of their loved ones taken by the war with the Reapers. Also, on the new Normandy, there is now a wall listing the names of all Normandy crew members who lost their lives over the course of three games-including Shepard themself in all but one ending.
  • The War Room: The Normandy comes with a very in-depth one that allows players to keep track of their war assets.
  • Watching Troy Burn:
    • The Reapers ravage Vancouver in the background of the first level and you cannot do anything to affect them. You can watch as they slaughter hundreds, but you can only proceed if you leave humanity to its fate.
    • The turians you meet up on their moon are having their morale waste away because they can see the war being waged on their home planet as billions are killed. Your party member, Garrus, even notes a flaming continent where his family used to live.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Any MP player who is using one of the starter classes and weapons to rack up high scores.
  • Weak Turret Gun:
    • The Engineer gets one of these they can throw into position, and see through walls.
    • The Cerberus Engineers can deploy them as well; in a subversion they are quite powerful and tough to destroy once they've been deployed (though if you can hit the Engineer with an Overload as they're setting the turret up, the resulting explosion will not only destroy the turret, but usually kill the Engineer as well.)
    • Female Quarian and Geth Engineers can also use one in multiplayer. The Quarian one is offensive, the Geth one can restore some shields.
  • Weaponized Offspring: The Ravagers release tiny Swarmers when wounded, which crawl towards the attacker and try to push them into the Ravager's line of fire.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Despite the Reaper invasion, some of Shepard's potential allies are trying to kill each other. Shepard will need to resolve their issues to get their support.
  • Well-Trained, but Inexperienced: The mission to Grissom Academy features a unit of biotic students being trained for the war against the Reapers; the kids have received the best training possible... but none of them have seen any actual combat experience, resulting in confusion and panic when Cerberus attacks the academy. How well they do depends on whether or not Jack survived the previous game: if yes, Jack is working at Grissom as a teacher and is able to keep the kids focused enough to survive the battle, eventually deciding that her students are ready to serve on the front lines. However, if Jack isn't there, the students' CO is killed by Cerberus before you arrive, forcing Ensign Jason Prangley to take command; lack of overall experience results in Prangley getting killed while rescuing a fellow student, and Kahlee Sanders doubts that the survivors are remotely ready for front-line combat.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Priority: Thessia. Not only does the homeworld of the galaxy's most prosperous species fall, it turns out that the asari owe their prosperity to Prothean technology that they have been hoarding to themselves, in blatant violation of their own laws against withholding such technology. For the first time in the whole series, Shepard flat-out fails thanks to Kai Leng's dirty tricks. It is very quiet and brooding on the Normandy afterwards. What makes this hit harder is that Shepard just came from a resounding victory on Rannoch, where they took down a Reaper Destroyer on foot.
    • The entire Leviathan DLC is one massive Wham Episode. Shepard finally discovers the true origins of the Reapers.
    • Rannoch, where Shepard allows the Geth to upload the Reaper code and either forces a truce or let the entire Quarian fleet get wiped out. If Tali is present for the latter outcome, she commits suicide by dropping off a cliff and not even a Paragon interrupt from Shepard can stop it. Speaking to the Normandy crew afterwards will highlight how either impressed or horrified they are by what happened, especially with Tali.
  • Wham Line:
    • After your third story-mandated trip to the Citadel, if you sabotaged the genophage cure and Wrex is the krogan leader, your choices come back to bite you in the ass.
      Urdnot Wrex: I know what you did. [produces audio recording of Shepard agreeing to sabotage the genophage cure for the salarian dalatrass]
    • After you finally the heart of the Citadel and deal with the Illusive Man:
      Admiral Hackett: Nothing's happening, the Crucible's not firing.
    • From the "Leviathan" DLC:
      Shepard: I thought you were a Reaper.
      Leviathan: They are only echoes, we existed long before.
  • Wham Shot: In Priority: Mars, the sight of Cerberus troops executing Alliance officials makes it abundantly clear that Cerberus are the bad guys now.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • During the mission to Sur'Kesh, Cerberus attacks the STG facility and both Mordin and Shepard's squad mention that Cerberus must have been helped by a mole in STG to get there that quick, but this is never brought up again later and whoever it was remains unrevealed.
      • Ambient dialogue early in the mission also confirms an encrypted message (against protocol) was sent out from the base 20 minutes prior, which would have been while Shepard and co. were still in transit. As above, how Cerberus was able to subvert a Salarian STG agent remains a mystery.
    • The Raloi, who are mentioned in passing as a race that was only discovered 18 months previously. When the Reapers show up, they immediately throw their hands up, inform the Galaxy that the Reapers aren't their problem and they're going to destroy all their advanced tech, so the Reapers hopefully won't see them as a threat. Their fate is unknown.
    • The pre-Extended Cut endings were this for the entire galaxy, which was what led to its creation in the first place. Even with the Extended Cut, Twitter posts from developers are the only source of information on the fate of the entire population of the Citadel, which was left in a very precarious state in in the endgame. Not one single Citadel-bound NPC (that isn't a former squadmate of Shepard's) is explicitly mentioned or shown anywhere in the endgame or epilogues, and the ending slides added by the Extended Cut only reveal the fates of former squadmates. What happens to the current crew of the Normandy after they leave the planet they crash landed on is very much a mystery though the high EMS Destroy ending where Shepard lives does imply, they'll go back for him/her.
    • The ultimate fate of every racial homeworld that isn't Earth, Tuchanka, or Rannoch, though sidequests do shed some light on what happened to some of them during the course of the war.
    • Mess Sergeant Gardner, which is especially odd considering the care they took for other NPCs (like NPCs from Virmire, such as Kirrahe). EGM explains what happened to him after 2, he reiterated his loyalty to Cerberus and integrated, but still doesn't give him a definitive fate.
  • What the Hell Are You?: In Leviathan, the titular characters have this reaction upon encountering Shepard, referring to them as "an anomaly" that has never manifested in any of the previous cycles.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Someone is going to be angry no matter how you handle important decisions:
    • If you cure the genophage, the salarian dalatrass emails you and explains that she will withhold Salarian Union support from the Crucible since she believes you have just doomed the galaxy to another Krogan Rebellion after the Reapers have been dealt with. However, depending on your actions in prior games, the rest of the salarians decide to support you, especially if Kirrahe's still alive and you save their councilor. If you sabotage the cure, Mordin or Padok will catch on to what you are up to and expresses indignation that Shepard will throw all that work away for a backroom deal with the dalatrass. Either of them can, however, be persuaded to come around to your viewpoint if Wrex and Eve are both dead. If Wrex is leader and you sabotage the cure, he rails at you for being two-faced when he confronts you on the Citadel and withdraws his forces from the battle for Earth, with either you or C-Sec having to subsequently gun him down.
    • If you resolve the situation on Rannoch by allowing the geth to upgrade and wipe out the quarians, almost all of Shepard's crew will be upset, especially with Tali being Driven to Suicide. Only EDI responds positively, thanking Shepard for putting trust in synthetics. James doesn't voice an opinion, Garrus wearily concedes that he trusts Shepard's judgement but is sorry the quarians (especially Tali) are gone, Liara is stunned by the extinction of an entire species, Javik and Ashley both chew you out (Javik since he doesn't trust synthetics and Ashley since the geth wiped out her squad on Eden Prime and she loved Tali as a sister), and Kaidan expresses grief and anger over the quarians' deaths (especially if Tali was among them). Similarly, everyone is happy if the quarians destroy the geth except EDI, who criticizes Shepard for "sticking with the familiar."
  • What the Hell, Player?: A minor one in the casino infiltration mission in the Citadel DLC. An extraneous opportunity arises to rob an ATM. Upon doing so, you get 3000 credits... and +2 Renegade rep to remind you that you just robbed an ATM.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • The salarian dalatrass offers the full aid of the Salarian Union in building the Crucible, provided you sabotage the genophage cure. She specifically points out that nobody will know what you did, as the countermeasures they have in place will initially make it look like the cure was successful, and when the continued presence of the genophage is discovered, it will look like a god-faith error. Depending on which characters have survived this and past games, and which decisions you make here, your complicity can be discovered, leading to a severe criticism of Shepard.
    • The ending. Do you take the chance that people can manage their own future and destroy your enemy regardless of collateral damage? Do you give yourself absolute power and police the galaxy in place of your enemy? Do you take the chance that your enemy is right and rewrite the entire galaxy? Or do you reject all the other choices and leave everything to the next cycle for the sake of a moral point?
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: In the main three endings, the Extended Cut provides a slideshow that shows the state of various characters and worlds, unless you take Refusal, in which case an alien in the distant future relates how they used the information from this cycle to beat the Reapers for real, or do poorly enough that the Crucible backfires, in which case you just get a short, bleak narration from Hackett.
  • Where It All Began:
    • The "From Ashes" DLC pack adds a mission about a Prothean artifact on Eden Prime, the location of the first mission in the original game. Liara flat-out says this is "where it all began" for them.
    • The finale takes place on the Citadel, on the underside of where the first game ended, once again trying to open the arms.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Garrus when he sees Kirrahe's sticky grenade launcher.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The trilogy basically becomes this if you go with the Refusal ending. It ends with the hologram of Liara retelling the events of the war.
    Liara: My name is Dr. Liara T'Soni. Herein lies the recounting of our war with the Reapers.
  • With Lyrics: The Fleet & Flotilla song is "I Was Lost Without You" with lyrics.
  • Wolverine Claws: The vorcha characters have Omniblade claws for their melee weapons.
  • Working with the Ex:
    • Shepard and Liara/the Virmire Survivor, if you pursued a romance with them and then a different crewmember in the second game.
    • Potentially applies to Tali or Garrus, if you pursued one of them in the second game and choose to dump them in 3.
    • In the airlock while preparing to board the Geth Dreadnought, two characters, if they are rival LIs, may have an interesting conversation. If you haven't committed, for example, Ash and Tali will start getting testy with each other. If you have committed to Tali beforehand, however, the snipping starts, and then both realize it's a conversation direction neither wants to go down and they instead talk about anticipating the geth-killing spree they're about to partake in.
    • In the Omega DLC, this is the relationship between Aria and Nyreen.
  • Worth It:
    • After the party in the Citadel DLC, several party members will wake up hung over (or with indigestion in the case of lactose-intolerant Kasumi who thought she was drinking soy) but claim that they are had a great time anyway.
    • If you romanced Tali in the second game, she says this after the Suicide Mission. When she returns to the Normandy, she repeats this in her first conversation:
      Tali: And for the record? Still totally worth it.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Illusive Man, despite being one of the main antagonists of the game, has nothing but the utmost respect for Shepard and lets them know it multiple times throughout the game, always attempting to get Shepard to see his point of view and join him, rather than just killing them. He also seems concerned that Kai Leng's lack of such respect for Shepard's capabilities may become a problem. It does.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The Geth wiping out most of the Quarian race during their rebellion in the backstory is played down. So is the unprovoked Quarian attack on the Geth that wiped most of them out in the game. Whichever way their war ends the winner will never be called out for wiping out the other (with the obvious exception of the Golden Ending where they make peace).
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: The CAT6 mercenary group from the Citadel DLC is composed of soldiers dishonorably discharged from the Alliance, many of whom also have criminal records. However, after the sushi restaurant shootout in the first level, EDI notes that, according to the news, "Civilian casualties seem to be restricted to... fish."
  • X-Ray Vision: Enemies are visible through walls with the geth's Hunter Mode. An equipment item added in the Reckoning DLC can allow any class to see through walls.
  • "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: In the Citadel DLC Shepard winds up in trouble (big shock) and Wrex (or James Vega if Wrex is dead) arrives to bail Shepard out. As the two of them defend their position from waves of mercenaries:
    Wrex/James: Shepard, you've got a plan for getting us out of here, right?
    Shepard: Wrex/James, please. I'm a professional.
    Wrex/James: That's not a yes...
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • This is how the Illusive Man justifies turning on Shepard during Priority: Mars, saying that they were merely a tool meant to serve a purpose, and that he doesn't need them anymore. However, this is contradicted by many of his actions in Mass Effect 2, such as investing so heavily in resurrecting Shepard to begin with when there were far cheaper options available, and overruling Miranda's suggestion of implanting Shepard with a control chip. Indeed, this is not his real reason for turning against Shepard, since he's actually been indoctrinated.
    • After Cerberus began to really dig into the technology left from the Collector base, the Illusive Man began having his scientists killed after they had finished their assignments. "Contract terminated" was the euphemism in use.
    • During Cerberus' siege of the Citadel, it's mentioned they had a mole inside C-Sec to help them get in. Shepard can eventually stumble on two troopers having executed the person, saying they'd outlived their usefulness.
    • You can deal with the Geth and EDI this way too. Pissed at the Geth for siding with the Reapers then pleading for your help when their deal didn't turn out so well for them? Never respected synthetic life and only allied with them out of convenience. You can string them along, broker that peace, get the extra fleet and corps to soak up damage for the Crucible to the point that firing it needn't kill you but then sacrifice EDI and these new geth allies in the process.
  • You Taught Me That: If Shepard does not talk Ashley down during the Citadel Coup, Shepard can ask why Ashley stood her ground even though it meant dying. Her answer:
Ashley: I had to take a stand, Shepard. You taught me that.
  • Yo Momma: In his unedited un-submitted interview questions strewn about his (former) Citadel apartment, Anderson talks about how he broke the quiet tension amongst his squad of marines while in transit to combat during the First Contact War by using such a joke. Another marine responded in kind, and tension was averted.
  • Your Head Asplode: Headshots have become cathartically more interesting. Krogan characters can sometimes get the same result by headbutting people. Batarians can do so reliably with their Power Fists. Vorcha remove heads with their omni-claws.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • The final space battle is basically this. You need strength in sheer numbers to stand a chance against the technologically superior Reaper forces. The numbers are only big enough to protect the Crucible. If it isn't used, the Reapers outfight the Zerg rush.
    • Hammer Force attempts a mad rush to the beam to the Citadel. Technically, it works; Hammer is for all intents and purposes blown away, but two people reach the beam.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: The Catalyst turned its creators into the first Reaper, which the Leviathan DLC confirms to be Harbinger. It also reveals that it was created more or less specifically to prevent this sort of thing and refuses to acknowledge the irony. The Leviathan DLC reveals that the Leviathans, the creators of the Catalyst, don't actually disapprove of its actions and believe it to be acting on behalf of their wishes.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: When not indoctrinating the people, the Reapers will mutate existing species into their footsoldiers. The previous games introduced husks and scions (human), Collectors (Protheans), and praetorians (human/prothean hybrids) but this game introduces cannibals (batarians with an Arm Cannon made of a human), marauders (turians), ravagers (rachni), banshees (asari) and brutes (krogan/turian hybrids). Learning and controlling the process (in turn giving them control of Reaper forces, or so they hope) turns out to be Cerberus's primary goal.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: According to the fluff exposition, Cannibals (grotesque monsters made from both alien and human carcasses) vomit on dead flesh to consume it and grow stronger. This was originally supposed to be their Finishing Move against the players, but that was cut out before the final release.

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