I often find that whenever it is asked which video game has the best cast of characters, the Mass Effect trilogy is almost always the answer, and for good reason.
Created by Casey Hudson and releasing from 2007 to 2013, the trilogy has some of the best characters in all of video games, with the Legendary Edition, released in 2021, giving players a reason to get reacquainted with them all over again.
Having recently replayed the trilogy myself, I decided to find out which of these characters I consider to be the ten best.
This was not easy because there are so many fantastic characters in the trilogy so I have to leave a couple out, those characters being Miranda Lawson and Edi.
They nearly made the list but there were ten characters I considered to be better, starting with..
Javik is a character who was locked behind day one dlc when Mass Effect 3 launched.
This scummy practice was a shame because it locked one of the trilogy’s most interesting characters behind a pay wall.
Javik is the last survivor of the Prothean species and has fought the Reapers for his entire life.
After being awakened from stasis by Commander Shepard, Javik joins the crew to help complete the task his people unfortunately failed in.
The trilogy up until that point had portrayed the Protheans as an enlightened race but Javik serves to contrast this, what with him having been at war his entire life and also revealing the more colonial aspects of the Protheans.
Along with revealing more about his species, Javik also serves as a challenge for other characters.
Bringing him to Thessia is pretty much a must in my book because of how it can lead to him motivating Liara.
With his ruthless and cold personality, it can be hard to like Javik at times but what makes it easier is just how funny he can be with his deadpan humor.
The scenes where he disses the Salarians and him being on the film set in the Citadel DLC are comedic gold.
His ending is uncertain, however, as depending on your choices, he can wish to take his own life to be with the rest of his people after the Reapers are defeated so we will have to see if this plays any part in the next Mass Effect game, should he return.
Javik is a character with a lot of depth behind his cold visage.
It is just a shame that he was not available for many players until the Legendary Edition because of the dlc.
Honestly, when I first played through the Mass Effect trilogy as a teenager, I did not like Jack.
Her hot-headed personality made me barely interact with her and I stupidly did not upgrade the Normandy for the suicide mission so Jack died in its opening section, leaving her story unavailable for Mass Effect 3.
It was only when I bought the Legendary Edition that I was able to finally connect with Jack’s character.
Tortured and experimented on by Cerberus for her Biotic abilities as a child, Jack escaped and lived a life of crime until her capture, after which Shepard is sent to recruit her for the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2.
Unwilling to trust Cerberus after what they did to her, Shepard has to earn that trust through her loyalty mission, which sees them travel back to the destroyed science facility where Jack was held.
Shepard helps her uncover new details about her escape and maybe even get some closure through dealing with the other escapee turned potential perpetrator, and then blowing up the base.
I have not had my Shepard romance Jack but, looking up clips, it uncovers an even more vulnerable side to her character.
Shepard helping Jack through her trauma allows her to do some good in Mass Effect 3, becoming a teacher at Grissom Academy, teaching other powerful biotics like her and then protecting them from the fate she suffered by fighting off Cerberus.
I am glad that I got to know Jack better in my replays of the trilogy, as she went from probably one of my least favourite characters in the trilogy (although that perception was more my fault) to one of the best human characters.
Introduced in Mass Effect 2, Grunt was a character I liked instantly.
At first, we think Shepard is going to recruit the Krogan Okeer but, after he dies, Shepard instead takes his creation, a Krogan bred in a tank to be a perfect warrior.
After releasing the creation, he takes the name Grunt and decides to fight for Shepard to live up to the purpose he was made for.
This is a purpose he does struggle with, though, because Grunt is pretty much a grumpy teenager when he comes out of the tank, and buying him a few dances at Omega is not going to fix the problem, Garrus; thank you for the input, though.
Taking him to the Krogan homeworld of Tuchanka, Shepard helps Grunt through a rite of passage, potentially becoming the first Krogan since Wrex to take down a Thesher Maw during the trial.
Should he survive the suicide mission, Grunt will then help Shepard take down a group of Rachni indoctrinated by the Reapers.
This is an encounter he can die from if you do not have his loyalty.
If he survives this mission as well, he will reappear in the Citadel DLC and I would highly recommend saving him because he has some of the funniest gags in that dlc.
From him crashing out of a window, to him constantly denying guests who want to come up and party, to him and Wrex constantly saying Shepard’s name; Grunt gets a lot of laughs.
His ending is also great, as it is shown in the extended cut that he and Wrex are working togethor to rebuild Krogan society.
Grunt is both an awesome and funny character to watch and I hope he makes a return in the next game.
The Geth were one of the main antagonists of the first Mass Effect so it was quite the surprise to encounter Legion in the second game.
There is a great misdirect where the player initially thinks he is going to take a shot at Shepard, only to kill the husk behind him and then address him in this iconic moment as, “Shepard-Commander.”
Named Legion by Shepard, there are signs that he is different from other geth right from the get-go, as he uses a piece of Shepard’s armour to patch a hole, indicating some kind of sentiment, when all other Geth are devoid of this.
Following his recruitment to the team, you can go on his loyalty mission to either kill or reprogram Geth working for the Reapers.
If you have not completed Tali’s loyalty mission by this point, then I would highly recommend taking Legion along, both because of how the Quarians react to him and also because of how hilarious it is to just see Tali defend herself by stating she only sent deactivated Geth, while currently working with a very active Geth.
Legion will then return in Mass Effect 3, being held captive by the rest of the geth who are now working with the Reapers for survival.
Going on numerous missions with Legion, allowing for exploration into the events of the Morning War between the Quarians and the Geth, Shepard then has to choose which species to save or to save them both.
Either way, it ends tragically for Legion, as he either dies trying to give his people sentience, or dies succeeding in doing that, finally gaining full awareness as he refers to himself as “I.”
Legion is a great character who could have been a lot higher had he more screen time, since most players recruit him late, due to his recruitment starting a time limit to save the crew of the Normandy.
6. Thane Krios.
Out of all the characters to recruit for the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2, Thane certainly makes one of the bigger impressions.
His introduction is one of contradictions, as we see him efficiently assasinate a group of thugs, before praying over their bodies.
We can gain a better understanding of how these supposed contradictions actually equate to Thane’s way of life, especially when considering his terminal illness, by talking to him on the Normandy.
I actually had a lot of fun learning about him and Drell culture on my most recent play through.
Thane’s loyalty mission is also unique as, unlike the others, it contains very little combat, centering around finding Thane’s son Kolyat and stopping him from becoming an assassin, like his father.
His potential relationship with Shepard is also considered to be one of the better fem-shep romances from what I have heard.
Much like Jack, though, Thane was a character I did not see any of in Mass Effect 3 because I did not think upgrading the ship would be important for the suicide mission.
Making sure to do so to keep Thane alive, I was finally able to see Thane’s complete story in the Legendary Edition, catching up with him on the Citadel before seeing him dealt a fatal wound by Kai Leng during the Citadel attack.
Thane’s last movements with Kolyat and Shepard were very moving and his death made it all the more satisfying to put an end to the annoyance that is Kai Leng.
Holding his funeral in the Citadel DLC also served as another moving sendoff for his character, with the messages he leaves for Shepard.
Thane is a complex character who I enjoyed creating a friendship with after I stupidly got him killed on my first playthrough.
5. Liara T’Soni.
Of all the characters in Mass Effect, Liara is among the ones who changes the most throughout the trilogy.
When Shepard first meets Liara, she is a scientist studying the Prothean Ruins, considered too young to be taken seriously by other Asari, at the young age of 106 (Yes, Asari have ridiculously long life spans).
How Liara plays into the narrative of the first Mass Effect depends entirely on when you choose to recruit her, leading to a humorous moment where, if you wait too long to do so, Liara will believe Shepard is a hallucination.
From her recruitment, we see Liara grow, as she can help Shepard take down her indoctrinated mother for the good of the galaxy.
Liara returns in Mass Effect 2 but not as a potential member for the suicide mission.
Instead, she gets one of the best dlcs in the series centered around her, Lair of the Shadow Broker.
There are numerous great interactions between her and Shepard in this dlc, especially one in a taxi, and it all ends with Liara taking on the role of the Shadow Broker, gaining a vast information network, which she utilises in Mass Effect 3 in the war against the Reapers.
It is through her that we learn about the Crucible, and the later loss of Thessia hits her hard, ending with plenty of development spurred on by Javik.
There are also many ways Shepard can impact Liara’s life because, if you choose to do so, you can motivate Liara to reconnect with her father.
As for Liara and Shepard’s relationship, I did find a lot of their scenes to be romantically coded, even though I have yet to romance Liara in any of my play throughs.
Liara starts off the trilogy as an often flustered scientist and transforms into one of Shepard’s greatest allies with a vast information network, making her one of the best characters in the series.
4. Mordin Solis.
First introduced in Mass Effect 2 as another recruit for the suicide mission, Mordin makes a quirky impression on the player, right from the start.
A fast talking and ruthless scientist, Shepard first meets Mordin when he is attempting to cure a plague on Omega started by the Collectors.
After helping him do this, Mordin joins the crew of the Normandy, serving a key role in the squad, as it is his study of the Collectors which allows Shepard to negate the seeker swarms.
His loyalty mission leads to darker areas of Mordin’s character as we eventually learn he was one of the scientists behind a modification of the Genophage used to quell the Krogan’s numbers.
This mission does play a role in his eventual redemption because, if he saves Maelon’s research data, it leads to him saving Eve in the future.
Mordin also serves as a great source of comic relief on the Normandy, with him showing off his singing skills to Shepard and even offering them sexual advice depending on who is romanced.
It is Mass Effect 3, though, where Mordin really shines, having had a change of heart about his role in the Genophage.
In one of the best missions of the game, Mordin travels with Shepard to Tuchanka to cure the genophage which, unfortunately, will mean that he has to commit the ultimate sacrifice.
There is a way to stop him, however… which is shooting him in the back.
Honestly, sabotaging the Genophage cure is probably something I’ll never do (unless Wreav is in charge), especially because you have to murder Mordin to do so (again, unless Wreav is in charge).
It is much more fulfilling to have Mordin sacrifice himself to cure the genophage, going out while singing a tune to himself: “I am the very model of a scientist Salarian.”
That you were Mordin, that you were.
3. Urdnot Wrex.
In the Citadel DLC, Tali describes Wrex as the “crazy, head-butting uncle I never had”, and that is the perfect description of him.
Upon meeting him in the first Mass Effect, Wrex certainly lives up to the “crazy, head-butting” part of Tali’s description, for he is working as a merc hunting down a criminal named Fist.
You can choose to enlist his help, after which he will kill Fist and join Shepard’s crew.
From there, conversing with Wrex will lead to exposition about the Krogan, the genophage, and Wrex’s own traumatic past, since he had to kill his own father.
This leads into another mission in which Shepard retrieves Wrex’s family armour for him, which can be a big help in saving Wrex on Virmire when he learns of the genophage cure Saren is creating and nearly turns on Shepard.
This interaction is one of the best character moments in the first Mass Effect with Wrex’s potential betrayal, also potentially leading to his death, revealing him to have the most layers out of any of the crew by that point.
Should he survive the first game, he is unfortunately never a squad mate again in the main story, only being available in the Citadel DLC.
His story is still impactful despite this, however, as we can meet him on Tuchanka on Mordin and Grunt’s loyalty missions, where he is the leader of Clan Urdnot.
Him running up to Shepard and shouting “My friend!” never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Then there is his role in Mass Effect 3, with the curing of the Genophage storyline being one of the best of that game.
Once again, Wrex has many standout scenes here, from him hilariously interjecting when Shepard is trying to get past the Reaper, to him fighting off some of the Reaper’s forces on his own to, of course, him declaring that Shepard’s name shall mean “hero” to the Krogan people.
It is for all of these reasons that I find it impossible to sabotage the Genophage cure, since it will mean betraying Wrex, who will eventually find out, forcing you to kill him.
Wrex may only be a main squadmate in one of the game’s but he makes such an impact across the trilogy that he easily makes the top three.
2. Garrus Vakarian.
When looking at other lists ranking Mass Effect characters, it becomes obvious that Garrus Vakarian is the most popular character in the trilogy, given that he nearly always ranks at number one.
I, myself, almost gave him the top spot but, in the end, I rewarded another character with it for reasons I will get into later.
As for Garrus himself, his start in the first Mass Effect is certainly strong, what with him being introduced as pretty much the only C-Sec officer willing to investigate Saren, making him a natural choice to ally with to help take down the rogue spectre.
Frustrated with how the system always seems to let criminals get away with their crimes, Garrus then joins Shepard’s crew.
While not having much of a role beyond that in the first game, the player can decide how his character turns out through helping him hunt down an organ harvester named Dr Saleon.
Thus, when Shepard reunites with him in Mass Effect 2, he will either had gone down a more paragon or renegade path.
Either way, he still begins the second game as a vigilante on Omega, with his return coming as a welcome surprise.
He then has a fantastic loyalty mission where Shepard helps him track down Sadonis, the Turian who betrayed Garrus, getting his entire squad killed.
Again, the player can either set Garrus on the paragon or renegade path, allowing him to kill Sadonis or convincing Garrus to spare the guilt ridden traitor.
Gaining Garrus’ loyalty also makes him a vital member for the suicide mission, as he is great in leadership roles when the squad has to separate.
Should he survive the mission and return in Mass Effect 3, he will have become the Turians’ advisor on the Reaper threat, with the help of his father.
Rejoining Shepard and the Normandy crew once again, Garrus is again essential in the galaxy’s fight against the Reapers, while also having plenty of great downtime moments, like when he and Shepard hang out on the Citadel, having a shooting contest.
Speaking of the Citadel, in the dlc centering around it, we see how awkward he is at flirting, when he tries to win over a female Turian.
I was dying with laughter as Garrus kept accidentally insulting the woman but was all too happy to serve as his wing-man.
As for Garrus’ other romantic pursuit, his relationship with a female Shepard is one of the best romances in the series.
I have never played as Fem-Shep before but looking up their romance on YouTube provided a lot of laughs at how this skilled C-Sec Officer, turned vigilante, turned military advisor can be such a dork in private.
The dance scene in the Citadel DLC is one of the most romantic scenes in all of Mass Effect,
As Shepard says before the final mission of Mass Effect 3, “There’s no Shepard without Vakarian.”
Whether Garrus serves as Shepard’s best friend, or boyfriend for a female Shepard, Mass Effect would not be complete without him.
1. Jacob Taylor.
April Fools! The True Number One Is…
1. Tali’Zorah vas Normandy.
Taking the top spot, Tali is the only squadmate alongside Garrus who is with Shepard for all three games.
Speaking of Garrus, I mentioned previously that he nearly took the number one spot.
Well, the reason I ultimately decided to put Tali above him and at the top of the list is because, in my opinion, she has by far the best missions of Mass Effect 2 and 3, but I am getting ahead of myself.
In the first Mass Effect, Tali serves a vital role in the game’s opening act.
Starting off as a young Quarian on her pilgrimage, Tali uncovers evidence of Saren’s betrayal and Shepard has to rush to save her, before she is killed and the evidence is lost.
Tali, however, proves herself more than capable, taking out many of her assassins alongside Shepard.
After exposing Saren, Tali boards the Normandy as part of your crew, helping to work on the ship and serving to explain the history of the Quarians and the Geth, the latter of whom is especially important, given that the Geth are one of the main antagonists of the first game.
We meet Tali again early in Mass Effect 2, as Shepard encounters her while investigating a human colony attacked by the Reapers.
Tali has clearly changed in the years that Shepard has been dead, now being a much more confident leader, with Shepard helping her rescue one of her people driven mad by the attack.
Tali’s actual recruitment comes later in Mass Effect 2 and it is followed by what is, without a doubt in my mind, the best loyalty mission in the game.
In this mission, Tali is recalled to the Migrant Fleet to stand trial for sending active Geth, leading to the deaths of many, including her father, a crime of which she is innocent.
Serving as Tali’s lawyer, it is up to you how Shepard will defend Tali, with there being multiple different ways to have her declared innocent and gain her loyalty.
A loyal Tali will then also prove essential during the Suicide Mission, as her tech skills make her the perfect squadmate to send into the vents (unless you just want to send Jacob in to die because that’s also a reasonable call to make).
Tali then reappears in Mass Effect 3 as an admiral of the Migrant Fleet and, in the best storyline of the game, alongside the Genophage storyline, Shepard must help her end the war with the geth, whether this ends in a Quarian or Geth victory, or with the two sides making peace.
However, this can end tragically because if Shepard sides with the Geth and the Quarians are wiped out, Tali will take her own life in her grief.
Should she live, Tali has a lot of funny moments towards the end of the game as well.
There is the already mentioned comment about Wrex being like an uncle in the Citadel DLC, along with Shepard seeing Tali drunk on the Normandy, toasting Miranda.
Tali’s romance is also one of the best in the entire trilogy, as she starts off nervous in the beginning before growing out of her shell in this new relationship.
This results in numerous touching moments, such as her badly singing to Shepard in the Citadel DLC and the best goodbye to a character at the end of Mass Effect 3, when she tells Shepard, “I have a home” in a heart-breaking scene.
Proably the only thing I did not like about Tali was how terrible her face reveal was in the original Mass Effect 3, with it just being a photoshop edit but the Legendary Edition fixed this.
Tali has incredible development across the trilogy, along with the best missions in the trilogy as well, and it is these factors which make me believe she is the best squadmate in all of Mass Effect.