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  • Actor Allusion:
    • When Tali gets drunk, she complains that Shepard saying "Aah!" makes him/her sound just like a vorcha. Mark Meer, Male Shepard's voice actor, also voices all of the vorcha characters encountered throughout the games.
    • During the "energetic" party at the end of the Citadel DLC, Grunt can be found drunk on the shower floor mumbling a bunch of nonsense to himself. One of the things he says is "Who's a space cowboy? Me!"
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  • Ascended Fanon: Among the other fandom nods in the Citadel DLC, Traynor makes some of the "squadmate cocktails" drawn up here, referring to the "Shadowbrokertini" and "Full Biotic Kick" by name.
  • Based on a Dream: The Graal Spike Thrower was inspired by a nightmare lead gameplay designer Corey Gaspur had about an unstable man chasing him around with a nail gun.
  • Billing Displacement: An unusual instance of this applying to a composer; despite Clint Mansell's involvement with the soundtrack being hyped up pre-release, in actual fact he contributed just two pieces to the soundtrack; the duo of Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco were more the game's main composers, with Lair of the Shadow Broker composer Christopher Lennertz also making a return, along with series veteran Sam Hulick.
  • Casting Gag: The game's Spaceship Girl / Fembot EDI is voiced by known Cylon Tricia Helfer.
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  • Character Outlives Actor: Robin Sachs finished recording his dialogue for Zaeed Massani in the Citadel DLC a month before its release, and a special multiplayer event, "Operation: Tribute", was held in his honor.
  • Creator Killer: Backlash over the game's endings plus other problems, including Consumerist calling EA the "Worst Company in America" in 2012 and 2013 over the oil and banking companies, ultimately resulted in John Riccitello resigning from EA.
  • Defictionalization: Oddly inverted. In Mass Effect, Shepard wore the iconic N7 armor, which was merchandized as a hoodie. But now, Mass Effect 3's Collector's Edition will let Shepard, in the game itself, wear that very same hoodie.
  • Development Gag:
    • In the Codex for the Reapers, it is explained that they were thought by some civilizations to be beings that consumed suns. This is a reference to the original purpose for the Reaper harvesting before Mass Effect 3 was written, and is what the dying star plotline with the Quarians was all about.
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    • If you speak to James after the mission at Grissom Academy, he brings up Kahlee Sanders and mentions how his father's last name was Sanders, quickly stating there's no relation. During the game's development, James' last name was originally going to be Sanders, but was changed, probably to avoid confusion with Kahlee.
  • Fandom Nod:
    • Silversun Strip in the Citadel DLC has several pairs of off-duty mercenaries and regular troops you can overhear conversations from. Virtually all of them gripe about annoyances and issues in the multiplayer.
    • In the Castle Arcade, a turian sentinel and salarian infiltrator discuss weapon and equipment selection for dealing with foes. The turian is rather...enthusiastic about detonating his Tech Armor, while the salarian argues for more diversity of tactics. The two talk about numerous enemy types faced in the game and what to do about them, and it sounds like a forum argument about how to optimize multiplayer characters.
    • An asari adept and an asari vanguard complain about other biotic-capable races. This includes the drell, pointing out how one of them seems to kick the air for no reason and steals grenades all the time, and humans, who toss singularities way too often.
    • A human infiltrator complains to a vorcha soldier about how her squad was unavailable and she was called to a mission immediately, and thus had to hook up with the nearest N7 forces whom she never worked with before. She wanted a nice, smooth mission but their unfamiliarity turned it into a train wreck. The rest of the group stood in the open at the top of a ramp, the ex-Cerberus vanguard kept racing forward to disable indoctrination devices instead of letting the infiltrator do it, etc.
    • An N7 Fury talks with an Alliance requisition officer, discussing the new gear she's supposed to get. The officer ends up delivering a Graal Spike Thrower VII, thermal clip packs, and strength enhancers - all useless to a light biotic class such as hers. Meanwhile, the requisitions officer indignantly tells her that she should be thankful and that the Krogan soldiers he's dealing with would love a new Graal Spike Thrower... and then mention how he hopes that they could use those biotic amps he sent them. Turns out the Random Number God-nature of the store is just a hilariously inept bureaucracy managing the supply chains.
      Fury: You are the reason we are losing this war!
    • A 'veteran' Alliance soldier and engineer go on a nostalgia trip (reflecting the nature of the game back at release) and consequently complain about how all their allies have shiny new equipment and rather improbable combat tactics (which is what the game has become after a year). Their points of discussion include two N7 characters, the new Armiger Legion turians, and biotic volus.
      Engineer: Or those N7 engineers, with their grenade pylons. Who needs that many grenades?
      Soldier: I joined up with turians on this drop onto one of their colonies...you know what those crazy birds bust out? Jet boots! What kind of frontline soldier needs a pair of damn jet-boots? It's just showing off is what it is.
    • Another complaint from the Veteran Soldier is the unfairness of N7 Demolisher's strutting around like a Walking Armoury.
    • The funniest complaint may be about the sudden inclusion of Volus troops and their tendency to toss grenades around that have yields high enough for them to be considered weapons of mass destruction.
    • It's not just the multiplayer, either. Drunk! Tali references an infamous forum thread debating what her sweat would smell like (yes, it actually happened). "It just smells like sweat! Why would you even ask that?" Shepard references Jack and Miranda shippers, and Joker finally has the nerve to ask how Kaidan gets his hair like that (it's static from using his biotics).
    • While scanning Bryson's office for clues the first time in "Leviathan", EDI performs an extranet search on the term "basilisk" for Shepard. Among her search results is a video game enemy that's getting called "overpowered" on forums because of its One-Hit KO attacks - a criticism often leveled at Banshees on the BioWare site.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The nameless sniper from the first trailer was called "Big Ben" until he was revealed as Major Coats in-game.
    • People on GameFAQs appear to like calling the boy seen at the beginning of the game, "Vent Boy".
    • Phantoms have become "Ninja Bitches".
    • James Vega: All of David Ryder's nicknames.
    • "Prothy the Prothean" for the spoilerific downloadable squadmate. Referenced in-game when Joker insists on calling Javik by that name; Javik, true to form, threatens Joker with an airlocking.
    • Diana Allers is called "Space Snooki."
    • The Catalyst has earned the nickname "Task Manager", because it gives you the option of controlling the Reapers, altering them, or deleting them. In other words CTRL+ALT+DELETE. He's also commonly referred to as Starchild.
    • Similarly, 'Space Magic' for the power of the Crucible.
    • "Marauder Shields" and "The Three Husketeers", the four enemies encountered on the way to the beam in London after Shepard gets wrecked by Harbinger trying to bring a starship-grade weapon to bear on Shepard, which wind up being the final four enemies you fight in the whole series.
    • S.A.V.E: All four Volus classes in one team (Sentinel, Adept, Vanguard, Engineer). Takes four Lethal Joke Characters and makes them into a Lethal Joke Team.
    • Any team with four Krogan will usually be referred to as a Quad, after Krogan slang for their four testicles.
    • "War Machine" for Geth Juggernauts specced around firing out barrages of Siege Pulses.note 
    • If you play a Hunter Mode-less Geth Soldier with an Acolyte, chances are you will be called the Toaster
    • After some hilarious and well-written multiplayer guides, the Krogan Vanguard is now the Murder Train and the Krogan Warlord is the Hammerlord.
    • The new "retrieval" objective has been dubbed the Pizza Delivery. Lampshaded in the Citadel DLC, when they're planning the raid on the Archives; Vega gets hungry and orders a literal pizza delivery.
    • "Enforcement gauntlets"? Nooooo, the batarians use the Falcon Punch.
    • "Super MAC" for the lead writer Mac Walters.
    • Eve was known by the fanbase as "Krogan Princess" prior to the game's release, before her actual in-game alias was revealed.
    • Players who had Legion die in the suicide mission won't actually know that the backup is called the "Geth VI" in playthroughs where Legion was never activated or was sold to Cerberus. If Shepard activated Legion, then the backup will be referred to as Legion in subtitles as well. So some players nicknamed it by its Catchphrase, "We are not Legion", to differentiate it from the original Legion.
    • ME3 solidified Anderson's role as Shepard's father figure, to the point where he is frequently called "Dadmiral Anderson".
  • I Knew It!:
    "There are two endings I wouldn't like for ME 3. One being a random GOD LIKE force that saves the Galaxy or another being that to defeat the Reapers, everyone has to become a primitivist and destroy the Relays, Citadel, etc. Both would make me pretty unhappy as those endings have been done to death."
    screwoffreg, a.k.a. "the Prophet".
    • On the Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer boards, there were various ideas being thrown around for defecting Reaper troops. When the Leviathan DLC emerged, the Leviathan became the most lore-friendly means of doing so. Come the Reckoning DLC, that's what happened with the Collector Adept, though most ideas had the defecting Reapers still be thralls of the Leviathan.
  • In Memoriam: The February 2013 multiplayer event Operation Tribute, was this to Robin Sachs, who voiced Zaeed and passed away a few weeks before the event. During this event, players were encouraged to kill enemies using Avenger Rifles and Inferno Grenades. Zaeed's favorite gun, Jessie, is an Avenger Rifle and Inferno Grenade was Zaeed's loyalty power in the previous game. The flavor text for the event even said that it was in honor of fallen comrades. The Citadel DLC's credits contain a more standard tribute to Sachs.
  • Lying Creator:
    • Pre-release press statements were that playing multiplayer, and getting their War Asset multipliers, would not be a necessity for those who wished to get the Golden Ending. However, though most endings can be achieved without multiplayer, there are not enough War Assets available in the game to unlock the highest-tier endings. Although the Extended Cut DLC fixed it, the issue remains that the initial promise was a lie.
    • Mac Walters, the lead writer, made a statement before release saying that the presence of the Rachni played a major role in the third game or even just in the final battle. In the final version, the Rachni appear in one side mission, and don't appear at all during the final battle or any other time. To make matters worse, it should be noted that this statement was made after the game went gold.
    • Casey Hudson stated that the plot would not be solved by using a "long lost Reaper off-button" and the endings would not be simple "A, B, or C" endings but "have a lot more sophistication and variety in them". But in actuality, it is hard to describe the circumstances of the Crucible's discovery and its eventual function as anything but a "long lost Reaper off-button" even with a heavy element of what can only be described as "space magic" added to it, and the ending, at least in its original form, is determined by a Last-Second Ending Choice, where exactly three different choices is offered to the player.
    • In a rare positive example, BioWare initially claimed that the Extended Cut DLC would not be changing the endings, but instead expand and clarify them. While there was definitely a lot of that, it also changed a lot of the more contentious plot holes and most of the Sudden Downer Ending, such as damaging the mass relays instead of destroying them. Cue (most) fans rejoicing.
    • After confirmation that a ''Citadel'' DLC was false information, that very DLC was announced as the truth.
  • Multi-Disc Work: The Xbox 360 version was split into two discs, however, disc 1 is required again for endgame content.
  • Name's the Same: Miranda's father, Henry Lawson, shares the name with an early Australian Poet, which is apt considering the likely origin of the Lawson family based on their accents.
  • 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.
  • Promoted Fanboy:
    • Jessica Chobot of G4TV plays Diana Allers, a new love interest for Shepard.
    • Freddie Prinze Jr., who voices James Vega, has also stated that he's a fan of the first two games.
  • Relationship Voice Actor:
    • Seth Green (Joker) and Freddie Prinze Jr. (James Vega) previously worked together on Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed. On top of that, Green, Brandon Keener (Garrus Vakarian) and Robin Sachs (Zaeed Massani) used to work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Prinze Jr's wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar.
    • Tricia Helfer (EDI) and Michael Hogan (Commander Bailey) previously worked together on Battlestar Galactica (2003)
    • As mentioned above, Dr. Baynar and Dr. Cole are voiced by Nicholas Boulton and Jo Wyatt, who played Male and Female Hawke in Dragon Age II.
    • Female Shepard's voice actor is Jennifer Hale, who in Bioware's Dragon Age: Inquistion voices Cremisius Aclassi, sidekick to The Iron Bull— who is voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.
    • If you have Ashley in your party for when you fight Kai Leng, you'll essentially end up with Oracle vs. Robin.
  • Star-Making Role: The role of Javik made Ike Amadi a recognizable voice actor, landing him future jobs in the business and upraising his profile.
  • Teasing Creator: Here's a pretty good rundown.
  • The Other Darrin: William Salyers takes over for Michael Beattie as Mordin. Wreav also has a voice actor change, but since nobody really liked Wreav anyway, it doesn't get much comment.
  • Trolling Creator: The creator tweets refusing to explain the ending and saying to wait for future announcements, therefore fueling speculation like the Indoctrination Theory or ending DLC, and keeping the fan outcry from burning out. Possibly the ending itself, which was expected to create "lots of speculation". The new 'Refusal' ending from the Extended Cut is even being out and out reviled by many as a troll ending (although some fans specifically requested it).
  • Viral Marketing: Pre-release, twitter accounts called "The Cerberus Daily News" and "Alliance News Networks" posted little bits of information, such as comm buoys going out, along with the comments being filled with the various races commenting on it, such as a quarian disproving theories that the Migrant Fleet is attacking the batarian homeworld, or an Alliance soldier commenting on a sudden, massive influx of batarian refugees through the Exodus Cluster relay and how the human colony of Elysium is ready for anything that may happen.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • A Reaper-ized version of the Illusive Man was considered as the Final Boss, but rejected as uncharacteristic: the Illusive Man's strength is his mind, so making him a bullet sink would diminish him. Instead, he casually strolls in and neutralizes Shepard with Reapertech indoctrination abilities; to win, you have to Talk Him To Death - either by Driving Him To Suicide to save humanity from his mistakes, or Taunting Him into dropping his guard.
    • There were deleted scenes and ideas that would have made the end much more bearable, such as the Normandy performing an epic Gunship Rescue while Hammer makes the desperate dash for the Conduit while taking fire from Harbinger (which was ultimately put back in for the Extended Cut), and this conversation between Shepard and Anderson.
    • From the script leak: a few post-Rannoch mentions of Admiral Xen, including a direct confrontation and Hackett reporting a botched attempt to hack the geth after peace is declared. She wouldn't have succeeded, but it would have cost the geth a few ships.
    • Ditto: the Thessia mission might seem like a gut-punch as-is, but it could have included a choice between saving Ashley / Kaidan and Liara. It's unclear whether there would have been any way to avoid it (say, if you held you own against Kai Leng), but all that remains of that scene is the bit where the temple floor collapses beneath Shepard. There was also a bit with Leng framing Shepard for several murders on Eden Prime to turn Ash/Kaidan against them. An alternative version of the script indicates that after the recruitment of the Virmire Survivor was moved to the Cerberus Coup story arc, the choice would have been between Liara and whichever other squadmate you took with you to Thessia (as Liara was mandatory for that mission).
    • Unused dialogue shows that there was originally more to the final battle (or that at least Jack, Jacob, Zaeed and Grunt played more of a role).
    • Originally, the team with Shepard at the start of the run towards the Conduit would have died if the player's EMS was too low — if the player has high EMS, both squadmates are able to limp away from the battlefield without further injury. While it was speculated that the scene was cut because killing two of Shepard's team with no fanfare was too cold hearted, especially when you factor in that it could potentially include Shepard's love interest, the buggy nature of the original sequence (it's still in the files, albeit in an unfinished form) means that production deadlines were likely the real culprit for the scene being excised. This is worked back into the Extended Cut - if your EMS score is too low, you're treated to the sight of Harbinger disintegrating both your squadmates. The Priority: Earth Overhaul Mod also includes the option to restore the original version of the Conduit Run as an optional module, fully cleaned up and integrating both High and Low EMS outcomes.
    • Datamining has uncovered a massive amount of cut material. Notably: Javik and Eden Prime originally had much larger roles in the story (Likely cut once it became clear that Javik would be DLC), the Cerberus coup arc went much differently (Kai Leng was nowhere in sight and Thane's death was much more heroic), and Thessia was going to have a Virmire-esque decision at the end to save a squadmate. Probably the absolute biggest change was that Javik was originally meant to be the Catalyst, as in "the final missing piece of the Crucible that would activate it", not "the leader of the Reapers who offers you a choice."
    • Other cut elements include: a proper romance scene with Kelly, Kal'Reegar and Emily Wong not dying offscreen but actually being present and meeting Shepard, a lengthy explanation of the preparations that went into the Cerberus Coup, at least twice the squad banter both in-mission and on-ship (mostly discussing plot points left unresolved by the final game), and while it wasn't designed as a second hub (a-la Citadel) as initially promised, Omega served as a source for several lengthy quest chains that included hunting down Cerberus officers, venturing beyond the Omega-4 relay and, if you did particularly well, breaking the Only Rule Of Omega.
    • As with the previous games, leftover voice over files (and one interview with Mark Meer) imply that at some point in development James Vega was not only supposed to be romanceable, but also to be available as a Love Interest for Shepards of both genders (though the Citadel DLC reintroduces this element for a female Shepard.) The same seems to have been planned for Tali (there are voice-overs for FemShep for scenes that only take place with a romanced Tali, but this was also true for Mass Effect 2, alongside Miranda and Jack).
    • One of the original concepts of the game was for Shepard to implant himself with reaper technology to combat the reapers. This would have led to conflict with the Virmire Survivor.
    • The Ending itself. Originally, Shepard would hear a different explanation for the Reapers' motives, which also tied in with the Dark Energy subplot established in Mass Effect 2. Ultimately in the end, Shepard would be given two choices - destroy the Reapers and look for another solution, or agree to allow all life to be harvested.
    According to Drew Karpyshyn this was just a story seed they planted but never developed. It looks like the dark energy plot was not really part of the "original ending" but one of many other storylines that never developed.
    • Originally, Vega was supposed to be named James Sanders (and originally identified only as "Jimmy" in early scripts). His surname was changed to Vega, most likely to avoid having fans think that he was related to Kahlee Sanders. This is lampshaded in-game; see Development Gag above.
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