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Spoiler warning! This section of the article contains spoilers, or hints about the game's storyline or progression.
You might want to skip down to the next heading if you do not want facts about the game's storyline or plot revealed to you.
Note: The nature of character creation in Mass Effect permits a main character of either male or female gender. This article assumes the default selection of Male for Commander Shepard.
- 1 Main Character
- 2 Party members
- 3 Allies
- 4 Enemies
Commander Shepard is a veteran soldier, having seen action in multiple engagements across the galaxy. As a newly recruited Spectre agent, Shepard is assigned the most important missions in the galaxy and authorized to do whatever it takes to get those missions done. Something may have to be sacrificed to further the mission, and as all of Shepard's decisions are important ones, people's lives, and the fate of the galaxy, hang on the details of each choice. It is up to the game player to make those choices—and to live with the consequences that result.
Commander Shepard is the main character controlled by the player in the Mass Effect series of video games created by BioWare. Shepard's gender, physical characteristics, past and first name are determined by the player, and in effect becomes the player's "alter ego".  Bioware also provides a default character model for each gender that players are free to use instead of creating their own. The default first names for Shepard are "John" if male and "Jane" if female, however, as the first name is never said in the game, the player is free to use whatever name they wish, albeit within a ten-letter limit. The female version of Shepard is voiced by Jennifer Hale, while Mark Meer lends his voice to the male version.
According to BioWare, Commander Shepard is a veteran human soldier and an Alliance Marine Commander stationed on the SSV Normandy, who has seen action in multiple engagements across the galaxy. As a newly recruited Spectre agent, Shepard is assigned the most important missions in the galaxy and authorized to do whatever it takes to get those missions done. Something must be sacrificed in furtherence of the mission, and as all of Shepard's decisions are important ones, people's lives, and the fate of the galaxy, hang on the details of each choice. It is up to the game player to make those choices, and to live with the sacrifices that result.
Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams
A human female Alliance Marine that enlisted straight out of high school and is a competent non-commissioned officer. She joins the party during the first mission (after the death of her squad) replacing Corporal L. Jenkins (who was killed in action). Ashley is a pure soldier, skilled with weapons, but not skilled with biotics or technology. She is a possible romance interest for Shepard (male). Williams is voiced by Kimberly Brooks.
An asari companion that has a passion for studying and working with Prothean technology. Her field of work specialises in the Prothean's demise. She is in fact found in a Prothean ruin, trapped in a kinetic bubble prison. Liara is a possible romance interest for Shepard. In the game world created by Bioware for Mass Effect, the asari have only one gender, and have the ability to reproduce with any gender or species. Liara is an Adept. Liara is voiced by Ali Hillis.
A human male party member that accompanies Shepard from the very beginning of the game. Kaidan is highly skilled in both engineering and biotics. He is a possible romance interest for Shepard (female). Voiced by Raphael Sbarge.
A male turian party member. Garrus is a member of the Citadel Security force, a detective who has never liked or trusted Saren. He chafes under the rules and regulations of Citadel Security, and when given the opportunity to pursue Saren alongside Shepard - who is not bound by laws or rules - he is happy to accept. He is skilled at both weapons and engineering. Voiced by Brandon Keener.
Wrex is among the last of the krogan Battle Masters. They are rare individuals who can combine biotic abilities with advanced weaponry. Wrex quickly gained fame for his battle prowess and became a leader of one of the smaller Urdnot tribes at a very young age. To date, Wrex is the youngest krogan to be granted the honor in 1000 years.
Following the krogan genophage, Wrex realized that his people had degenerated from the honor-bound people they once were and had become senselessly violent, preferring death in battle rather than saving their culture through peaceful means. Wrex subsequently turned his back on his people. During the past three centuries, Wrex has worked as a bodyguard, mercenary, soldier and a bounty hunter.
Despite his menacing appearance, Wrex rarely loses his temper. Likewise, Wrex doesn't voice his thoughts very often. But when he does, people are more than willing to listen. The mere threat of his anger is enough to ensure that.
Wrex has abilities very similar to the Vanguard character class (a mix of combat and biotic skills). Voiced by Steve Barr.
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya
A female quarian party member. Tali'Zorah is introduced as a person who possesses information that can implicate Saren in the destruction of the human colony of Eden Prime. Saren himself sends assassins after her, and once Shepard rescues her, she joins the player's party. She is on a "Pilgrimage," which is a Quarian coming-of-age rite in which a young Quarian leaves the home fleet and finds something valuable, which is brought back to the fleet to prove their willingness to contribute to the community. She has some trouble adjusting to the quiet atmosphere of the Normandy because the ships she lived on at her home were all rather loud and clunky, and silence usually meant an air filter or other important component had broken.
"Tali," as she likes to be called, is a pure engineer, a technical specialist with minimal gun handling skills but great technical abilities. Voiced by Liz Sroka.
Captain David Anderson
Captain of the Normandy at the start of the game. In the prequel novel Mass Effect: Revelation he is the main character and partner/rival of Saren. In the game, Captain Anderson is a highly respected officer and serves as Shepard's mentor but he soon steps out of the plot when Shepard is given command of the Normandy. Voiced by Keith David.
David Anderson is a fictional character in Bioware's Mass Effect series of video games and novels. Created by writer Drew Karpyshyn, Anderson appears as the protagonist of the novel Mass Effect: Revelation, then later as the supervisor to the player's Commander Shepard in the first video game.
He is voiced by Keith David.
Jeff "Joker" Moreau
The pilot of the Normandy. He suffers from a hereditary disease that caused the bones in his leg to become brittle to the point where his legs were breaking in the womb. As a result of this, he became a pilot (as it wouldn't require any standing) and is now the best in the Alliance fleet. Voiced by Seth Green.
Navigator Pressly is the second-in-command of the ship, just under Commander Shepard. He takes over the ship when Shepard is out. He, as well as several other human members of Shepard's team, has some problems getting along with the alien party members.
Corporal Richard L. Jenkins
A member of Shepard's team during the first mission on Eden Prime. Confirmed to be a Leeroy Jenkins reference. Jenkins is killed in a manner similar to his namesake as well. Without waiting for orders, Jenkins dashes from cover where he is immediately cut down by the Geth.
A decorated turian Spectre agent, Nihlus is first encountered aboard the Normandy at the beginning of the game.
Nihlus has a back story found in the Mass Effect novel. He was born in a small colony outside of Hierarchy space. After the death of his father, his mother forced him to join the turian military. Despite his exceptional marks in class, he was never truly accepted by his peers due to his outsider status. While Nihlus was undeniably an excellent soldier, his reckless behavior in battle earned him nothing but criticism from his superiors.
It was during his third reassignment that he met Saren Arterius, a fellow turian and renowned Spectre. Impressed with the young soldier's abilities, Saren befriended Nihlus, and offered to mentor him. Within a year of meeting Saren, Nihlus was asked to join the Spectres.
Nihlus soon stepped out of Saren's shadow and quickly established himself as one of the Council's most able bodied agents. He maintains a cool composure when under dire circumstances and has an uncanny ability to root out an enemy's weaknesses and exploit them. While his methods are not as brutal as Saren's, he will take any steps necessary to get the job done—and eradicate anyone or anything that stands in his way.
Shialia is known as the Consort and you first find her (if you look) in the giant space habitat called the Citadel (which you go to after the first mission). There are several quests associated with Shialia and she has a number of acolytes who follow in her footsteps. Shialia is first presented very much as a Oracle, though her acolytes claim she is just an unusual Asari.
Admiral Hackett commands the Systems Alliance Navy's Fifth Fleet from Alliance Command on Earth. He is not seen during the game however he contacts the main character occasionally when situations arise that need to be dealt with. He, along with Captain Anderson, supported the main character's entry into the Citadel Spectres.
A Spectre turian agent gone rogue, Saren Arterius was best known for 'getting results' through brutal but efficient means. He harbors a seething hatred for humans, which is speculated by other characters in the novel to stem from the loss of his brother in the First Contact War. After the events described in Mass Effect: Revelation, Saren takes command of an army of Geth. He serves as the primary antagonist of the video game.
According to the character biography posted by BioWare, Saren Arterius is a former turian Spectre known for 'getting results' by any means necessary. More often than not, this meant he killed everyone and everything in range—the target, any witnesses, and innocent bystanders as well. In the novel Mass Effect: Revelation, he is seen torturing and killing his victims mercilessly, rarely having any regards for sapient life or the lives of anyone in his way from getting the job done, even deliberately killing innocent bystanders and witnesses (after he had extracted key information from them.) This seething hatred for humans is speculated by other characters in the novel to stem from the loss of his brother in the First Contact War.
Of note is that Saren does not consider his methods harsh. In the novel, he brutally tortures a batarian until, having exhausted the information resources he provided, Saren snaps his neck while he is unconscious, considering himself to be merciful and that he isn't "a monster."
An asari matriarch who is in league with Saren. She is also the mother of Liara, the "Father" is unknown, as Benezia was ashamed of mating with another Asari. She is a master of Biotics. She is voiced by Marina Sirtis.