Whether it's Bioware's signature choose-your-own-adventure style gameplay, the RPG-shooter hybrid combat, the huge original universe to explore, or the opportunity to unfurl larger-than-life galactic mysteries, there are countless reasons people keep revisiting the Mass Effect games over and over. But no matter what about the series most appeals to you, if you've spent any significant amount of time traversing the many worlds of ME, then chances are at least a few of its characters have wormed their way into your heart, both in and out of game. Mass Effect isn’t just trying to be just a standard sci-fi action series; it aims to be a mature, thoughtful, HBO-equivalent narrative experience. And that means in-depth romantic relationships.
Sure, people may jokingly refer to the ME series as an “alien dating simulator,” but admit it: you look forward to learning which romances you can pursue each game. You've probably also saved before saying “yes” to sleeping with a character so you can find out what happens and then reloaded to avoid the consequences.
Well, just like real dating, some of these sequences are the satisfying culmination of carefully played out and developed relationships. While others are short, bizarre, and leave you feeling dirty with a sense of “oh god did that just happen?” Well, here’s your definitive list of Mass Effect relationships that actually result in your character sleeping with someone, ranked from worst to best.
25 Diana Allers
What a horrifying, regret-inducing way to kick things off. Leaving aside the fact that, as a character, Allers serves virtually no narrative or mechanical purpose, the Mass Effect 3 sort-of-but-not crew member has no relationship with Shepard, but will sleep with him effectively out of curiosity after interviewing him for the galactic media. It's weird, forced, and comes almost completely out of left field. One can't help but wonder what adolescent, grimy impulse led the designers to even allow this course of action. Add to that the fact that her likeness is actually based on and voiced by the very real person Jessica Chobot, and it gets way creepier. At least we can be grateful the sex is implied and not a fully animated cutscene.
24 Yeoman Kelly Chambers
Kelly is a nice girl. She tries to be kind and understanding to everyone and just wants to make Shepard feel good. Then again, she also works for a human-supremacist terrorist organization and acts like it's fine with the uncomfortable justification that she "doesn't hate aliens," because "my sister started a dog shelter, but she loved cats too." Sure, Kelly. I'm sure all the aliens love when you 'humansplain' that one to them. Of course, if you pursue a romance with the yeoman, you're treated to hammy romance-novel dialogue, and then eventually Kelly becoming your own personal stripper. That's not an exaggeration. Why? Why does this happen? It gets worse when you consider that the whole relationship is a pretty big abuse of power on Shepard's part. Kelly is effectively Shepard's secretary; she literally tells you when you have appointments and emails. Kelly does become more developed in Mass Effect 3, but she's also barely present in it. Ah well, at least she kept my fish alive.
23 James Vega
The first of several perpetually shirtless characters listed, James felt like a bit of a party crasher to many Mass Effect fans when he showed up as one of the party members in ME3. Voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr., Vega certainly has his moments of charm. But, considering the amount of time this mountain-of-muscle spends as eye candy for Shepard, it's amazing that his romance is only tacked on as a last-minute addition to the final DLC, "Citadel." James is a nonstop flirt and show-off, but for 95% of the game, you're shot down if you try to do anything about it. You can eventually sleep with James if you try hard enough, but there's too small an emotional bond to make it worth the amount of teeth pulling you need to do for such a small payoff.
22 Sha'ira, The Asari Consort
Sha'ira serves as an introduction to a lot of elements of the Mass Effect universe. She's the first Asari you can get to know well, she gives you several of your first real missions, and she gives you your first sense that Shepard is stepping into something far bigger than initially seems. Oh — she's the first character in the series that you can sleep with. However, despite Sha'ira's initial allure, Sha'ira is a complicated diplomat-meets-courtesan, and the disappointing sequence ends up feeling uncomfortably transactional; it's literally given to you as a "reward" for doing Sha'ira a favor. And once it's over, you're never allowed to go back to see her again. Ouch. She shows up in Mass Effect 3 as a cameo, but it's incredibly short, and all of her mystique is gone.
21 Gil Brodie
Our first contender from Andromeda, Gil offers an impressively in-depth romance to male Ryders. The Tempest's chief engineer shows up immediately as an option to flirt with, and there is an impressive amount of romance content available if you pursue a relationship. But, although it's far from sparse, the Gil romance is just kinda plain and boring. It feels like you arbitrarily hit relationship milestones with him without any real catalyst, jumping from potential poker buddy (also, groan at the innuendo here) to "you're my boyfriend" without it feeling earned. Gil's romance ought to be satisfying, but it's so formulaic and flavorless that you'll likely be rolling your eyes more often than having your heartstrings pulled. By the time you're sleeping together, what should be a fairly spicy sequence feels stale because the character just isn't interesting.
20 Thane Krios
Everyone's favorite amphibious assassin, Thane's introduction to the series brought several fresh elements: a new species, a new style of combat, and a personality type we hadn't really seen yet in the game. This religious zealot makes an amazing and memorable party member, and offers a stark romance storyline that feels like it fits the universe better than many others. But Thane's romance is a tragic downer. Terminally ill, any relationship with him is fated to end in the near future as he succumbs to his disease. While in ME2 he's still capable of martial arts, so one imagines quite a bit else, he admits he's in constant physical pain. By ME3, while still capable of more than a few tricks, he's stuck in a hospital for almost the entirety of the game.
19 Miranda Lawson
Miranda is basically a gigantic neon sign shoved in your face reading "ROMANCE ME I AM SEXY" in Mass Effect 2. Suffice it to say that she and, more importantly, Bioware are trying way too hard here for it to be genuinely appealing. Miranda is one of the least dynamic characters in the series, with her only character change seeming to be that she realizes Cerberus isn't so great. Her romance arc in ME2 isn't bad, and it certainly results in what is arguably the steamiest sex scene of the game, but that's undercut by her near complete absence from ME3. Miranda exists consistently in the periphery of the third game, so consider yourself lucky if you get a video log or hologram of her until you finally reach the Citadel DLC. Also, let's be honest: she's such a Miranda.
18 Jacob Taylor
Jacob Taylor serves as a gentle, good-guy counterpart to Miranda Lawson in ME2. Jacob starts out with the right elements to make for a memorable romance; he's handsome as hell, confident without being cocky, not overly aggressive with your character, and seems to be a good person while still being complicated. But whatever complexity the character seems to have gives way to a ridiculous, convoluted story about his father that feels hard to invest in. If you pursue his romance, it's rewarding enough... until you play Mass Effect 3 and you get dumped for someone else. Yup. You literally cannot pursue a successful romance with Jacob. He does a terrible job of letting you down, which they try to remedy with a long sequence in the Citadel DLC, but overall it just feels like Shepard's been played and insulted. Kudos to Bioware for choosing to have a romance narrative that didn't follow the standard tropes, but bucking trends also makes this one of the most unsatisfying romances in the series.
17 Kaidan Alenko
I honestly don't know what Bioware was going for with Kaidan, but whatever it was, it never quite lands, and instead, he comes off as "generic male romance companion." Kaidan seems to be a romance option simply because he's there. Don't get me wrong; Kaidan's a nice, good guy with some sweet biotic moves, but his personality is bland an unmemorable to the point of struggling to describe it, other than him often being whiny. What Kaidan does have going for him is that his romance persists through all three of the original Mass Effect games, giving him one of the lushest and developed romance arcs. It's just a shame they didn't give that attention to a more interesting character.
16 Dr. Suvi Anwar
With more degrees than a salarian scientist and an adorable Scottish accent, Dr. Suvi Anwar serves as an excellent romance option for female Ryders. The romance sequences with her are some of the more adorable in the entire series; she's very sweet but manages to actually intimidate Ryder enough to make her bashful (a rare response from any Bioware hero). Although one might question her sensibilities when she tells nostalgic tales of licking rocks, Suvi's story develops in a way that feels more natural than most of the game's romances. Unfortunately, Suvi's story is short and thin on content. She doesn't accompany you on missions, and essentially all of your conversations happen in unexciting settings and circumstances. Moreover, while it's certainly implied more happens than a kiss, Suvi's romance feels rather chaste and condensed when compared to the plethora of other romantic options in the game, leaving it pretty underwhelming in the end.
15 Vetra Nyx
Vetra is one of the most charming characters Andromeda has to offer and serves as a kind of female counterpart to the original series' Garrus Vakarian. She's smart, badass, and her feelings for Ryder develop in a way that feels organic and genuine. Her romance scenes would bring a smile to anyone's face, and they use the interspecies dynamic as a way to explore genuine relationship issues. Despite being well-written, Vetra's arc lacks passion. There's emotional depth, but it lacks the physical bond that makes some of the characters higher on this list so much more fun to pick from. Watching Vetra awkwardly try to take Ryder in her arms and bring her to the bed is endearing, but it hardly makes you wish you were there.
14 Ashley Williams
Just like Kaidan, in Mass Effect 1, Ashley is presented as the sort of "default" romance option for Shepard. Ashley is tough as nails, deeply committed to the cause, and surprisingly sensitive. Sadly, she is a bit boring mechanically as a companion character. She's a fierce guardian of those she loves and immensely loyal, which gives her romance a sense of depth and passion to it... which is why it's such a blow when she spends ME2 effectively working against you. She's also one of the only characters whose relationship can be explored over all three original games. The biggest downside to Ashley is that she's a fairly one-note character. While she gets a pretty big makeover for ME3, ultimately her character doesn't feel like it develops much. That, and a pretty worrisome drinking habit are why Ashley Williams just doesn't make the cut for the best romances.
13 Cora Harper
Cora offers one of the most robust romances in Andromeda. Unfortunately, having a lot of content does not mean that her romance is a particularly interesting one. Cora too easily switches from competitive frenemy to interested admirer of Ryder, and doesn't add much emotional complexity to any situation. Bioware clearly decided to push some boundaries with Cora, giving her what has to be the most gratuitously graphic sex scene in the series — it's enough to make you shut the TV off were someone to walk in during it. But, all that said, Bioware deserves props for offering one of the few characters that gives an impressively real sense of physical chemistry with your character, rather than just emotional.
The truth is, Jack is a sort of love her or hate her character, and most of us fall into the latter category. Jack is an emotionally volatile space punk. She spends most of her time trying to practically scream "I'm a badass and I don't care what you think!" in various forms. The designers at Bioware somehow managed to vaguely justify giving her a series of leather straps as an outfit, pretending it was out of some kind of character choice rather than a blatant excuse to get a scantily clad character into the game. Jack seems fascinating at first, but her immature, spiteful, rebel routine gets old fast. If you work at it, Jack ends up being the more emotionally complex character Bioware wanted, especially if you see her through to ME3. However, any relationship with Jack seems to spell abuse for everyone involved, which is going to make most people's Shepard steer clear.
Morinth's romance is one of the more short-lived of the Mass Effect series (pun intended). The deadly Ardat-Yakshi is the subject of an entire mission revolving around mutual seduction to lure her into a trap. She's a blatant villainous, whose clear intent with her advances is to consume the life force of those she sleeps with. While her romance is limited, she's the ultimate want-but-can't-have of the Mass Effect series. There aren't many characters you can so actively risk death to be with in the game, and hell, in a universe where people are being made into undead robots, a night with Morinth doesn't sound like the worst way to go.
10 Tali'Zorah Nar Rayya
A lot of folks will be surprised to see Tali this far up on the list, but they shouldn't be. Tali may be one of the most memorable and beloved characters of the franchise, as well as one of the few relationships carried through all 3 original games, but she doesn't exactly have the most compelling love story. Starting in ME2, when Shepard can begin actually romancing her, Tali becomes a jumble of awkward, adorkable flirting cliches. The series plays a smart game by creating a physical barrier between Shepard and Tali with her suit, both hiding her appearance and making it "impossible" for them to be together. People always want what they can't have, right? The problem is, Tali is too easily won over; it's almost treated like it should be a given that she is in love with Shepard. Add to that the incredibly disappointing reveal (or lack thereof) of her appearance in ME3, and things start getting worse. Not to mention the kind of biological hazards presented by Shepard and Tali being intimate; knowing that physical contact with you might give your loved one a life-threatening infection is a pretty major mood killer.
9 Samantha Traynor
Communications Specialist Samantha Traynor is Mass Effect 3's attempt to redo what Kelly Chambers was, and do it right this time. Cute as a button, smart as a whip, and blatantly enamored with Shepard, Samantha serves as a fun alternative to the mostly hyper-confident romances the game offers. Unlike Chambers, Traynor has a true sense of personality and existence outside of the game's main story. The toothbrush, mildly (ok maybe severely) OCD girl is the series' first openly lesbian character to boot (as opposed to the many "they'll be whatever you want them to be" characters they had introduced in the past). They don't shy away from this by giving her one of the more well-thought-out sex scenes of the series (it doesn't just involve them kissing and then lying down) while not feeling entirely exploitative of the character.
8 Reyes Vidal
The closest thing Mass Effect has ever had to Han Solo, Reyes Vidal is a favorite romance for many, and not without good reason. The smuggler-with-swagger has a compelling persona for both male and female Ryders to enjoy. He is also one of the few romance options in the Mass Effect series that doesn't fit into the standard party/crew member dynamic. Although he's not a part of your team exactly, Reyes is involved in an in-depth story arc that goes far beyond the usual "I just stand here on the ship until you talk to me" dynamic so typical for many ME romances. As a result, pursuing Reyes is an unusually engaging endeavor. He'd be higher on the list, but he's only in one game and, more importantly, after hearing him once referred to as "space Zevran," I haven't been able to get the image out of my mind and am deeply concerned for Ryder's health.
7 Pelessaria B'Sayle (Peebee)
Lone wolf, artifact tinkering, fast-talking Peebee might not be the best animated character in the series (once again, thanks, Andromeda facial animations), but she has the classic hook of a character with a bit of mystery who likes to push people away. Peebee has a more complex view of romance than many other characters; you can hook up with her "no strings attached," but in a way that still feels more emotionally genuine and grounded (despite the lack of gravity) than most sex-based encounters in Mass Effect. More interestingly, you can make things messy and complicated afterward by deciding that Ryder should catch feelings for the young Asari. You'll have to work for it, but if you do, Peebee's tough exterior melts away to a tender Asari love scene, which is particularly rewarding given the near-mystical bonding experience Asari go through with their partners. Plus, who wouldn't want an elcor for a father-in-law?
6 Liam Kosta
In addition to probably being the best animated companions in Mass Effect Andromeda, Liam also happens to be one of the most likable. Yes, he's another one of our "oh my god does he ever put on a shirt?" characters, but Liam also goes through his own story and emotional arcs in Andromeda, and how Ryder reacts and handles them helps determine a great deal of their relationship. Liam has a solid sense of humor, a sense of justice, and a passion for Ryder that makes it easy to want him in your corner. Give him the chance and he'll literally sweep you off your feet (and off a cliff, but don't worry). He'd be even further down the list, but he never gets quite as frisky as some of the other characters on the list for some reason. Also, he wants to bring a car into space. You have a spaceship, Liam. Get it together.
5 Garrus Vakarian
Garrus isn't #1?!? Gasp! Shock! Horror! Well, it's not a mistake and the list doesn't need any additional calibrations, either. Like Tali, Garrus is one of the only characters who actually serves as a squadmate in all of Shepard's campaigns, so it only makes sense they'd develop a strong bond. While Garrus becomes more complex and appealing with each new entry into the series, eventually becoming a sort of self-deprecating, bad boy (bad alien?), heartthrob, it's easy to forget that he starts the series as a pretty annoying, petulant security officer in ME1. When you finally start romancing him in ME2, it culminates in a date that gets ruined by Garrus essentially breaking down in PTSD about everything they've been through. From a narrative perspective, it's actually an incredible moment. But as a romance, well, he's lucky Shepard is patient.
4 Steve Cortez
The daredevil shuttle pilot/chauffeur of Mass Effect 3, Steve Cortez had the potential to be an incredibly bland and flat character. However, spending time with Steve on missions and, more importantly, in the shuttle bay, you learn that he's a thoughtful and nuanced character. He's one of the few characters in the series where flirtation feels naturally worked in rather than forced and jarring. He helps Shepard out on missions, and Shepard has the opportunity to help him overcome some lasting trauma. At moments, Cortez can seem like a bit of a sad sap, but these are usually remedied with a moment of levity if you give it a chance. Like many non-squad member characters, his story is a bit light on content, but they give you a diverse array of experiences and conversations with Cortez to really make it feel like you're bonding with him.
3 Jaal Ama Darav
For most fans, Jaal seems to be the breakout romantic interest of Mass Effect Andromeda. Everything about Jaal feels new to the series, from his species to his voice acting to his persona. Most importantly, Jaal's dialogue is written so that he speaks in rather romantic poetry that is designed to make Ryder (and the player) swoon. He wears his heart on his sleeve, but that doesn't mean he's easy. He and Ryder have what has to be the most over-the-top romantic love scene in any of the games, and it's a gratifying sequence that feels properly built up to throughout the story. He may be a strange fish-man who doesn't understand idioms right away, but he and Ryder develop what feels like a real physical and emotional connection.
2 Liara T'Soni
Liara T'Soni is easily the flagship companion and romance of the Mass Effect series. When you meet her, you rescue her like some classic video game princess (which isn't an entirely inaccurate way to describe her), but she quickly proves to be a far more developed character than that. She's a brilliant and slightly awkward scientist with deep personal involvement in the galactic conflicts you're engaged in, and she soon turns out to be a biotic powerhouse who is far more funny and sly than you would have expected. By the end of Mass Effect 3, you're almost involved with a completely different Liara than in the first game, and yet her transition feels completely natural and related to Shepard's own development.
Yep. You read that right. Javik is #1. I know what you're thinking. Javik is only in one game. He doesn't actually offer a romance arc to Shepard. You can sleep with him in the Citadel DLC, but it was basically made as a joke! Well, all of that might be true, but I would argue that you haven't thought this through enough. Javik is the last living Prothean in the universe and considered to be an "avatar" of his people. His entire existence is dedicated to the singular purpose of eradicating the Reapers. He shows little to no love for anyone in your universe. And yet, despite all this, Javik takes the time to actually hook up with Commander Shepard, and seems happy about it after the fact. That's particularly impressive when you consider that he can experience memories through touch. Shepard may tell Javik not breathe a word of their affair to anyone, but that's probably just because their feelings are so strong for each other and she knows society wouldn't understand, right?