As one of the best sci-fi role-playing series’ of all time, the Mass Effect series is chock-full of flushed out characters and deep and meaningful relationships to be created and explored with them. After three entries in the original story and Andromeda beginning a new tale, we're going to take a look back at the 25 companions and see how they stack up with each other in terms of characterization, personality, character arc, combat effectiveness and generally how well-liked they are within the fan base.
These characters are the backbone and support system for both Commander Shepard and Pathfinder Scott/Sara Ryder. They help keep them together when things get crazy. Some act as friends, others seem more of hired hands.
While it is highly improbable that this order will change that much, it needs to be said that some of these characters have had three games of development, while those of Mass Effect: Andromeda have only had one with the potential to grow more in the future. The only companions on this list are those who are permanent companions and are the ones Shepard is meant to recruit, which does include DLC companions if they remain on the crew for the remainder of the game. So you wont find Morinth and Aria T’Loak on this list. This is where things stand for now within the supporting cast of the world of Mass Effect.
While I think it goes without saying, I will issue a spoiler warning for every character within this list, and for Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3, and Mass Effect: Andromeda.
This one shouldn’t surprise anyone who has played the games. Kaiden rarely sees any action past the first installment, as he is often the chosen one to die on Virmire over Ashley. He is not only an incredibly generic and bland human companion, he is also rather annoying as a person.
He is a generic companion who set the bar for the series for crappy companions. While many of the human companions lack any real defining characteristics that help them leave an impression, the misadventures of traveling with Kaiden leave a nasty sting, one that was rectified by the many companions that succeeded him.
His irritating personality was made better by the presence of the option to abandon him to his fate and not suffer anymore of him throughout the remainder of the series.
Partially following in the bland footsteps of one Kaiden Alenko, James Vega is essentially nothing more than a basic foot soldier for Systems Alliance. He is far too stereotypical and his impact on the story is very limited. James is a soldier through and through, he is hotheaded and temperamental and looking for any chance he can to get boots on the ground and kill some reapers.
While his intentions are admirable, and he is driven by his love for his home world and his yearning to defend it at all cost, he suffers in this area as it is really all he cares about. This combined with his late appearance in the series, only meeting Shepard and joining him in Mass Effect 3, means he is left with little time to develop into a truly unique character that would separate him from any other soldier on the field.
The lesser of two evils when it comes to crappy starting companions, Ashley Williams isn’t much better than Kaidan when it comes down to it. They are very similar in terms of combat capabilities, with neither one being anything amazing.
She is a very noticeable bigot towards other species and thinks herself above them. Upon meeting her again in Mass Effect 3, she now has a nagging distrust for Shepard after he worked with the shady Cerberus organization. No matter how many times you try and reassure that you are trustworthy, she always has some excuse why she can’t quite trust you. On top of that, she is nothing special in terms of either uniqueness or combat effectiveness.
The only real reason she makes it to the next two games, most of the time, is because she's still better than Kaidan.
Samara is one of the powerful biotic soldiers to help Shepard on his suicide mission, but she is one of the more boring Asari that Shepard meets on his adventures. She speaks in a monotone voice and lacks any form of emotion, despite her often speaking of it.
Her loyalty mission is a big part of why she is so low on this list, as she is forced to make some difficult decisions there. Her indifference to this decision slightly dwarf the impact of the mission however, as she must kill her own daughter and barely bats an eye.
This can say a lot about her resolve towards her mission, but I find it to subtract largely from her development, as it denies her a true moment of vulnerability.
Now we get to the interesting stuff, Peebee is an Asari scientist and explorer who just wants to do new things and learn about new cultures. Ryder runs into her for the first time while trying to setup the first outpost for the Initiative on Eos. She has a huge affinity for all things Remnant and will do anything to learn whatever she can about them. She is also more than a little bit odd and it does give her a little bit more character.
Now if your wondering why she is so far down on this list, it’s because everything I just used to describe her pretty much also describes the much more popular and more loved Liara. She loses a ton of points for having most of her character traits ripped from another companion from the same race.
He’s difficult to place, but Zaeed fits where he is on this list. He is separate from the rest of the Mass Effect 2 crew, as he is the only one who is there purely because he is being paid to be there. He is a dangerous and well-known mercenary and his background is filled with questionable decisions.
He is a former member of the Blue Suns and he is quite the contrast to the rest of the team. However, since he is such a far cry from the rest of the crew, he doesn’t really fit in with them and seems like a stranger compared to the rest of the crew. His dark and brooding demeanor conflicts with most of the other team. If that wasn’t enough, he also isn’t that likeable and is only available through DLC.
While I will say that Liam is better than two of the starting male companions we've had in the four Mass Effect games, he’s not the best out of the four. The Initiative member warms up rather quickly to the new galaxy and finds a place among Ryder’s Pathfinder team. He is an ex-law enforcement officer who decided his skills were better suited for the vast unknown galaxy of Andromeda.
He is knowledgeable of all things weaponry, as well as biotics and his skills on the battlefield are some of what led Alec Ryder to choose Liam for the Pathfinder team. This London-born operative also served as a part of HUS-T1, which was a multi-species disaster response effort. While he is still better than many other human companions, he cant quite keep up with other companions who have more interesting back stories.
Kasumi earned her reputation as the most mysterious thief in the galaxy. After purchasing the Stolen Memory DLC, you meet the enigma and become one of a handful of people to ever see her in person.
She is different, it’s hard to refute that. She is very knowledgeable of events and is one of only two people who will actually recognize Morinth in disguise as Samara. As fun as all that is, she isn’t that helpful in the field, which is obviously very important in a game like this and which keeps her down the list.
This kleptomaniac also earns her place for being relatively unavailable unless you shell out extra cash and because she is relatively uninteresting aside from the occasional one-liner. Unfortunately, due to the paywall, most people never get to interact with her anyway.
Here we have our favorite starting male companion in Mass Effect. Jacob gains a few more points over Kaiden and James for starting as a Cerberus operative before joining up with Shepard in Mass Effect 2 and later defecting from them after seeing what they were truly about.
When Mass Effect 3 rolls around, we find him on Gellix defending civilians and other Cerberus defectors from an endless Cerberus attack. He grew from Cerberus lackey into a leader of his own people and does whatever he can to protect them.
Jacob’s story arc shows something in his character that is very rare for video game characters: perspective. He is able to look at his life with Cerberus and realize that he needs to change sides. He is not without his faults, and most of them come in the combat area, as he's not as useful as other companions, but he is a pretty good companion in terms of personality.
As Ryder's sole companion who actually comes from the Andromeda galaxy, Jaal Ama Darav had a lot of hype behind him. This Angaran companion wears his emotions on his sleeve, allowing the player to get a real feel for him. He treasures his people, as well as their deep history and, like the rest of his people, he has a deep hatred of the Kett. He fights along with the rest of the Angaran resistance to help free them of Kett warfare and leave a safer world for their children.
He also serves as Ryder’s envoy for the Angaran people and helps Ryder to adjust to the new galaxy and find his place in it. While he could've been slightly more varied than other characters we've seen, considering he's from a brand new race, he was still interesting to talk to and decent in combat, leaving him around the midpoint of this list.
The initiative technician who knows her way around a spaceship and a battlefield. Vetra joins up with Ryder as part of his crew to seek out and find inhabitable worlds for the Initiative. She earns a ton of points for finally putting badass female Turians right in the center of the action.
She isn’t all action though, as she is also acting as the parent to her younger sister after their parents were killed. Her skills are incredible and geared more towards defensive capabilities and are sure to keep her up and fighting much longer than other companions.
Unfortunately, she only appears in Mass Effect: Andromeda and that leaves very little of her to really delve into, as most of the other companions on this list have several games. So sadly she drops a little further back, but hopefully she makes her way into another game into the future, which will likely see her climb this list.
Javik is undoubtedly THE most unique companion in the series, given that he is the last of his long extinct race. As the final member of the extinct race of Protheans, Javik was found in a stasis-pod on Eden Prime. As the avatar of vengeance for his people, Javik carries with him the rage of watching his people burn and his world destroyed.
He earns a ton of points for finally helping us get a glimpse into what the Prothean civilization was like and he has some of the most entertaining dialogue in the game, even saying that the Salarians were once lizards eating bugs back in his cycle.
Javik does not blink in the face of seeing yet another cycle face extermination, instead he joins Shepard’s fight and takes it straight to the reapers with joy. The Vengeful Ancient is compelling, gripping, and exactly what Shepard needs.
As the on board artificial intelligence for the Normandy SR-2, she has a very large role in both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. While she is only a supporting character with no real effect on the ground operations in her first appearance, she gains a physical body in Mass Effect 3, which allows her to accompany the team on missions.
She is understandably a tech expert and excels at taking down synthetic enemies. Her synthetic life is given depth by her relationship with the Normandy’s pilot, Joker, and it creates interesting moments of vulnerability and urge to further understand the world. Since she is essentially ever present, it is very easy to grow attached to her throughout the course of these two titles.
Another winner for female companions, we have Cora Harper. This woman has such powerful biotic abilities that she actually served as an Asari Huntress for the Asari commando unit, Talein’s Daughters.
I found her engaging and gripping in her position as second in command for both Ryder and his father while they are Pathfinder. Despite her urge to be Pathfinder, she loyally backs up Ryder as a trusted friend and adviser. She, of course, has a connection to Asari people and she crosses uncharted territory that no other companion has really ever done: being a part of another species' elite military unit. She exemplifies great things for the human race and she’s just a cool person to hang out with planet side.
The newest Krogan companion shows up in force in Mass Effect: Andromeda. He first meets Ryder on Eos after he hands some of his enemies a beating they will never forget. Just like the rest of the Krogan in the series, Drack has a deep love for violence and all forms of combat and fighting. His rough and tough exterior is softened by love for his niece.
He is over 1,400 years old and is the oldest Krogan ever met in the Mass Effect series. He shows us that the Krogan never really lose their love for violence as he throws down harder than anybody else in a fight and is a very useful addition to the effort for new homes. He joins Ryder after he gains his respect, as he has no problem making it known he thinks the human race is useless in a fight.
When Shepard was essentially reborn at the start of Mass Effect 2, there was one woman in particular who took a special interest in his recovery. Miranda Lawson kept close tabs on Shepard’s recovery, showing that from the beginning she was invested in him.
Miranda is to humans what the next entry is to the Krogan. Her abusive father genetically engineered her to be the example of human perfection and, with that, she has some biotic abilities that will definitely come in handy in a pinch.
Following the attack on the Collector Base, she defected from Cerberus, just as Jacob did and, as with Jacob, The Illusive Man also wants her dead. This doesn’t stop her however from putting her life on the line to protect her younger sister from their nightmarish father. She is a loving sister, devoted teammate, and a great companion for Shepard.
After rescuing Grunt from a lab on Korlus, he takes up arms against the Collectors right alongside Shepard. He is an incredible powerhouse and perhaps the closest thing to a living tank that Shepard has during his suicide mission.
He was bred to exemplify all the best traits of the Krogan race, including their love of battle. He was designed to be nothing short of a Captain America-style super-soldier.
After ME2's suicide mission, he climbs the ranks of the Urdnot clan and is placed in charge of Aralakh Company, which under his leadership becomes the most efficient squad of the clan. Depending on your relationship with him, he can fight through an army of Rachni and get a few scrapes or he can die attempting to make sure the Queen lives. Grunt is one of the most genuine Krogan in the series and one of the most open with how he feels.
A special case among the warlike synthetic race of Geth, Legion lends a very analytical and by-the-numbers point of view to the already incredibly eclectic crew that Shepard has put together. It sucks that Legion is so dope, as it puts you in a very difficult place when it comes to the finale of the Geth/Quarian war.
Legion considers Shepard a friend and he offers a unique take on the way we view the Geth. He seeks to help his race to find peace in the same way Tali seeks to find it for hers. In the final moments of the war between the two species, Legion sacrifices himself to give his people consciousness and individuality. He is an amazing companion and a hell of a tech expert to boot, and his death is by far one of the most painful in the series.
The most volatile woman in the galaxy, Jack (also known as Patient Zero) is definitely a standout addition to Shepard’s suicide mission crew in Mass Effect 2. This ridiculously powerful biotic was being held prisoner in Purgatory for numerous crimes, including murder, when Shepard came looking for her.
Her unique appearance helps to better separate her from the rest of the crew’s diverse soldiers and scientists. Her warlike demeanor and full body tattoos are likely to be the last thing her enemies will ever see.
Fast forward to Mass Effect 3 and Jack became a teacher at Grissom Academy, where she puts her powerful biotic abilities to good use, teaching young biotics how to harness and control their powers and not fear them. She also helps Shepard to repel a Cerberus attack on the academy and save the lives of her students.
The OG behemoth, Urdnot Wrex has been around since the very beginning, joining Shepard in the fight against Saren and the Geth in Mass Effect. Another one of the beloved companions from the first three games, Wrex is the strongest companion that Shepard has in his first mission and it's very apparent.
Wrex becomes one of Shepard’s most loyal allies and, depending on if he survives on Virmire, he rises to rule lead clan Urdnot.
He is incredibly unforgiving when it comes to other races interfering with his race’s recovery from the Genophage. He is also not as volatile as other members of his race and can keep a little more levelheaded than most. He has a very expansive presence in the series, but it all depends on how you handle him on Virmire.
The premier biotic of the whole pool of companions for the series, Liara holds a very high place in many gamer’s hearts. This scientist is as useful on the battlefield, as she is in the lab. She is compassionate, intelligent and has the combat skills to put the hurt on Cerberus, the Geth, the Reapers, and anyone else who steps up against her and Shepard.
She is one of the first squad mates Shepard ever recruits in his mission against the Geth and Saren back in Mass Effect. She went on to become The Shadow Broker and is one of the foremost scientists in the galaxy on Prothean society. All of this, on top of her powerful abilities on the battlefield, gives you have one very well-rounded addition to the war effort.
As I said before, ranking the many companions from Mass Effect 2 is tricky, as most of them were only companions in that one title. Of all the companions in that title, one stood out as the pinnacle of the series’ one-off companions. That would be the Drell assassin, Thane.
When we first meet this skilled killer, he is pursuing a contract he has undertaken and you meet at the moment he claims the kill. Thane is a very conflicted character and is almost tragic in a way. He is terminally ill with Kepral’s Syndrome and is trying to make his way back into his estranged son’s life.
Thane is loyal and dangerous, which is why it hurts so bad to see him die due to the wounds he receives while saving the life of the Salarian Dalatrass. The last action of this assassin's life was to save the life of another.
We meet the young Quarian on the Citadel in Mass Effect, as she is being held at gunpoint by some very shady figures. Loyalty is one of her strongest traits and she shows that in her relationship with both Shepard and her own people.
Even though she was exiled by her own people, she stops at nothing to protect them and does whatever she can to bring an end to the Geth/ Quarian war. Like all Quarians, she dreams of one day returning to her home planet of Rannoch.
She has very interesting interactions with the rest of the team, especially with Legion and she even finds him to be sort of a friend, despite being a Geth. Her dream can either be finally realized or she must watch as her own people are lost forever. This is perhaps one of the most gripping recurring plot points throughout the series and she plays the largest part of it.
Odd, quirky, and gleefully obnoxious are just some of the ways to describe what is perhaps the most intriguing Salarian of the entire series. We run into Mordin on Omega as he is running a clinic for the injured of the city.
e is one of the main scientists responsible for creating the Krogan-sterlization virus known as the Genophage. This plays into his most character defining moment in Mass Effect 3, when he not only admits he was wrong for the first time, showing great humility, but he also gives his own life to administer a cure for the Genophage and cure the destructive disease from the Krogan bloodlines.
He is a true hero and unequivocally the most developed Salarian in the series, and one that will always hold a special place in our hearts.
If any companion can be considered Commander Shepard’s best friend, then this Turian is it. Garrus has been a companion and loyal friend to Commander Shepard since the first game, has returned to fight alongside him in the next two installments that followed and is the only companion other than Tali to do so. He has the honor of being the only Turian to join the squad throughout the first three titles and he more than puts his combat expertise to good use.
He is deadly from pretty much anywhere on the battlefield and his unwavering loyalty to Shepard places him in high regards with the series’ large fan base.
He is a constant force for good, even becoming a vigilante named "Archangel" before rejoining with Shepard in Mass Effect 2. In terms of raw combat experience and teamwork capabilities, there is likely no one better in the series to come out of the four games in the series.