The Mass Effect Trilogy is one of the best sci-fi franchises ever. It is the Star Wars of video games, creating a grand connecting story, memorable characters, and developing a world of unique alien cultures. Mass Effect started on Xbox 360 and later became available to other platforms with Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 3 introduced a multiplayer mode that felt fun and allowed players to play as different aliens. This game series fulfills this grand space opera about being the first human Spectre to help fight against a galaxy wide extinction. Commander Shepard becomes a great protagonist that not even death could stop from achieving his goals.
Mass Effect is able to achieve having a strong story, along with great action. It has a cast of characters that are all unique and are able to grow through your decisions. You're able to travel to several worlds that offer great conflicts such as the Krogan genocide, the displaced Quarians, how humanity is seen as a threat, The Illusive Man, and the Reapers. The last game may have not ended in a satisfying way but the ride was nothing short of incredible. Mass Effect has had several books and comics written just about the lore and characters that the game introduces. With all that in mind, and with ME: Andromeda releasing today, let's look back at the 8 best and 7 lamest characters in the franchise's history.
15 BEST: Grunt
Grunt is a Krogan soldier that you encounter in Mass Effect 2. He was engineered to be the perfect Krogan soldier in order to bypass the Krogans' inability to repopulate. Grunt is great because he carries himself so well. He is brash and motivated to become the best that he can be while also being reasonable. He is a young pup who is looking for a fatherly figure and Commander Shepard offers his support and guidance. There's a great scene in which Grunt has Shepard pinned against the wall. Shepard convinces him to join his team and reveals that he had placed his gun on Grunt without his knowledge. Grunt is amused that Shepard extended an olive branch on one hand and armed the other. Thus teaching him to use diplomacy first and only resorting to force as a last option.
14 LAME: Jacob Taylor
Jacob Taylor is a Cerberus soldier that wants to make a difference in the galaxy. Jacob's story can be interesting and intriguing, but he still does not stand out. He is a human character that enlisted to make a difference which is a boring archetype. You learn about his father, who ends up being a bad dude and created a harem when stranded on an unknown planet. The story of Jacob's dad is far more fascinating than he is. Female Shepard can romance Jacob, but why would you? There are far better characters who are able to have more depth and growth throughout the series. After, Jacob's less than ideal father ends up disappointing him, he doesn't grow beyond that and only confirms his previous assumptions.
13 BEST: Urdnot Wrex
Wrex is a Krogan mercenary that appears in all the Mass Effect games. Urdnot Wrex is a big bad ass Krogan who on the surface seems to only care about himself and battle. As you peel back the layers of Wrex's backstory, you find yourself deeply caring about this Krogan who is concerned over the fate of his people. Wrex shows a strong desire to unite the Krogan clans in order to help them survive in a galaxy that doesn't want them. The Krogan were sterilized because they posed a threat to the galaxy for being extremely dangerous and good in battle after The Rachni Wars. Wrex becomes a strong leader and teaches his people how to build a society that doesn't always has to be based on war.
12 LAME: Miranda Lawson
Miranda Lawson is a human Cerberus agent who first appears in Mass Effect 2. Miranda was "designed" to be the perfect human female, by both being sexy and having strong biotics. She is great at espionage and can be deemed to handle any task as a femme fatale. Unfortunately, Miranda's description is boring and dull when compared to the cast around her. She is literally the femme fatale trope we've seen in thousands of movies since the 1940s. Even her deeper back story is about defying her evil father and saving her sister from him. Not only does that define her as someone with "daddy issues," but it's also very similar to Jacob's own personal struggle. Miranda's story is nothing you haven't heard or seen several times in order mediums.
11 BEST: Aria T'Loak
Aria T'Loak is a Asari crime lord who controls a small colony known as Omega. Aria is probably one of the best non-squad based characters that Mass Effect introduces. She is an powerful Asari who was able control and quell the gang violence on Omega through force and information. Aria is the beautiful version of Jabba the Hutt, but better acted thanks to the fantastic voice work of Carrie-Anne Moss. She is a smart, powerful Asari because of good writing and excellent voice acting. Aria never does anything for free or that wouldn't benefit her in some way. Commander Shepard has to always acknowledge that she is strong character through respect and admiration. Aria's character is intriguing and watching her work is half the fun. Characters like Aria is what makes Mass Effect's world feel alive, while also providing it's own unique sci-fi identity.
10 LAME: Legion
Legion is a Geth who is connected to a hive mind of other Geth that have rebelled against the Reapers. Legion chooses his name from the New Testament by quoting Mark 5:9, "My name is Legion: for we are many." On paper, this character could be an analog for an AI who wants to understand humanity and what it means to be human. However, Legion's delivery always seems vague and uninteresting. He makes little effort to understand other lifeforms and hardly grows by the end of the series. Making him part of a network of Geth who consult with each other is cool, but it never goes anywhere and it's poorly explained. Legion as a character is a cool experiment for storytelling but falls flat because of the complexity of his story. His delivery is bland and his backstory is confusing with no significant pay off.
9 BEST: Jeff "Joker" Moreau
Jeff "Joker" Moreau is a pilot who is physically handicapped by medical problems, but is one of the best pilots in the galaxy. He goes by Joker because he makes several funny and wise ass remarks around the bridge. Joker is a great character because he doesn't take anything for granted and does not allow people to feel pity for him. His character brings joy, humor, and levity to the story, thus becoming a welcomed addition to the Mass Effect cast. Seth Green does the voice acting for Joker and his performance makes this character memorable. He later develops a loving relationship with an AI named EDI and Joker grows as a character with his interactions with EDI; through playful banter of course.
8 LAME: Zaeed Massani
Zaeed Massani is a human mercenary with connections to the Blue Suns. The lamest part about this character is the fact that his story mission has to purchased and, well, it is not worth the price of admission. Zaeed is a grizzled mercenary that has a vendetta against people who screwed him and only continues to live for revenge and money. Older characters like Zaeed can often lend themselves to a good story by guiding or setting an example for the protagonist. Unfortunately, he does not add anything to the story other than some extra exposition about the Blue Suns and their criminal network. Zaeed learns from Shepard that letting things go would be in his best interest. He is a forgettable character that frankly was just added to get more money from the player.
7 BEST: Liara T'Soni
Liara T'Soni is an Asari researcher who studies the Prothean civilization. Liara has been a recurring character in the Mass Effect trilogy, as she is the only character that you can romance across all three games. Liara is a great character that grows and changes vastly by the time the trilogy comes to an end. She is a highly intelligent, shy, wise and adorable. Liara grows stronger and a little cynical because of story beats such as The Shadow Broker, her mother's involvement with Saren, and her fight against the Reapers. Many mainstream audiences will dismiss her as the hot blue alien you can have sex with. However, Liara is a more grounded and strong character that became essential to developing good story threads in Mass Effect lore.
6 LAME: Kai Leng
Kai Leng is the best assassin that Cerberus has at their disposal. On the surface, Kai Leng is suppose to be the Bobba Fett of Mass Effect, expect he has a sword, knows martial arts, and is practically a space ninja. Despite those cool features, Kai is a lame and boring cliche that does not fit well in Mass Effect. He reminds me of that one kid in class who tries to really hard to let people know how cool he is. In a game that has awesome villains like The Illusive Man and Saren, Kai Leng falls incredibly short. He even sends Commander Shepard a coded message that he is going to kill him and end his legacy. I want to known why Kai feels that way and what drives him as a character other than being just a weapon.
5 BEST: The Illusive Man
The Illusive Man is the leader of Cerberus and his only goal is to make sure that humanity becomes the most dominant species in the galaxy. He is a great villain and a powerful character that adds several layers of mystery to Mass Effect. Martin Sheen does the voice acting for The Illusive Man and Sheen's performance brings the 'frenemy' aspect of the character to life, which makes you question his every action. He presents a great contrast to Commander Shepard, as Shepard would take charge and base his decisions on morality, while The Illusive Man stays in the shadows but commands immense power through Cerberus and bases his decisions on the good for all; whether it is morally right or wrong. He plays this game of cat and mouse with Shepard while also trying to make the player see that the world isn't black and white. The Illusive Man will always be remembered in Mass Effect for delivering great dialogue and ideas.
4 LAME: Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams is your first human squad member in Mass Effect and she is one of the first early choices at romance for male Shepard. She has become a joke for most Mass Effect fans as the easiest choice for sacrifice when the story called for it. I respect Ashley's backstory, but she is a lame character because of her hate and distrust for aliens. She has strong religious beliefs which gives her character more depth. However, Ashley's lack of trust and understanding of other cultures goes against what the game is about. Mass Effect is a space drama about exploring new worlds and different aliens species while also saving the galaxy for everyone. So, Ashley doesn't really fit in.
3 BEST: Tali'Zorah nar Rayya
Tali'Zorah is a Quarian that you first meet on her pilgrimage in the first Mass Effect. Tali is strong and enjoyable character that comes from a robust background. Her people were displaced because of the Geth, which forced them to live like nomads. Each ship is essentially a state with the captain of the ship being elected to run and maintain its citizens on board. Tali and many other Quarians are seen as vagrants, but are only trying to find something they can bring back to help their people. She is skilled in robotics and is an excellent hacker. Tali is highly intelligent, quick witted, and can be an effective leader. She is one of the few characters in Mass Effect that I wouldn't mind playing as.
2 LAME: EDI (Robot Form)
EDI is a AI developed by Cerberus and she gains a robotic body in Mass Effect 3. EDI as an AI is a great supporting character that has heartfelt conversations with Joker. However, she suddenly gains a body and is able to take a role as a squad member. This is the worst direction that Mass Effect could have gone with this character. It brings the notion of a man having sex with his favorite car to an all new level. What makes it worse is that she was given a hot fembot body with killer curves. EDI being a AI and having a relationship built on personality and wit with Joker was great. As a robot, her relationship with Joker becomes cringeworthy by making her an object that is sexually alluring. Joker becomes a bumbling idiot around EDI when he tries to date her; ignoring the fact he knows her better than anyone in the galaxy.
1 BEST: Garrus Vakarian
Garrus Vakarian is a Turian who becomes the best thing about Mass Effect. Garrus is written so well that you can't help but love him both as an ally and as a romantic interest for female Shepard. He is interesting, supportive, strong, skilled, tortured, and a great friend. Garrus executes most things with genuine humor and style in a way that other Mass Effect characters cannot. Garrus and Shepard share a deep bond as they have embarked on a journey of making the impossible possible. Garrus is Shepard's rock when times get tough and vice versa. Turian culture has a tenuous relationship with humanity because of the First Contact war. Yet, you would never know that because Garrus is the best squad member and friend Shepard could have asked for.