Due to the nature of the series, Commander Shepard can be either male or female (named by the default settings as either "John" or "Jane"), and can have varying histories such as being Earth-born, a "Spacer" or Colony born. The default Shepard is male, (although this default is only applicable in Mass Effect 1) Earth-born and the sole-survivor of a devastating battle.
Despite the customizable options, several facts remain true across all "Shepards"; he/she was born on April 11th 2154 and is a graduate of the N7 System Alliance Special Forces Program. Shepard was assigned to the SSV Normandy as an Executive Officer after graduation. During the events of Mass Effect 1, Shepard became the first human Spectre; an elite force that work on the behalf of the Citadel Council.
As aforementioned, Shepard's pre-service history can alternate greatly. The Spacer background involves the fact that both of Shepard's parents were in the Alliance military, as a result of this, Shepard's early childhood involved traveling from outpost to outpost, cluster to cluster. Never staying in one place for more than a couple of months. Shepard followed in the footsteps of his/her parents and joined the Alliance military at the age of eighteen.
The Colonist background involves Shepard being born, and growing up, on the Planet Mindoir, which was a small human colony located in the Attican Traverse (itself located near the Terminus System). The Atticus Traverse was the "frontier" of Citadel-controlled Space, beyond it's borders lay the systems populated by the relatively minor non-citadel species, which are generally regarded as being less-civilized as those species represented by the Council.
At the age of sixteen, Batarian slavers raided Mindoir and killed Shepard's closest family and friends. During the massacre, Shepard managed to evade capture until a passing Alliance patrol responded to the rescue plea and rescued Shepard. Two years later, Shepard signed up the Alliance Military. Finally, the Earth-born history dictates that Shepard was raised as an orphan, and drafted into a life of petty crime and underworld dealings. At the age of 18, wanting to escape this life, Shepard enlisted with the Alliance Military.
Following on from the early life history, it is possible that Shepard's psychological profile, as based on key events in his/her service record, can differ between three possible choices of Sole-Survivor, War Hero and Ruthless. The Sole-Survivor profile states that during Shepard's service, a relatively simple mission resulted in the rest of his/her unit being decimated in a Thresher Maw attack on the barren planet Akuze. Forced to survive in this hellish environment for weeks before rescue, Shepard underwent immense physical and psychological stress. The War-Hero history states that early in Shepard's military career he/she repelled a Batarian slavers invasion on the planet Elysium single-handedly.
Shepard risked his/her life to save many. As an award for Shepard's bravery, the Alliance awarded numerous decorations upon the would-be Commander, a feat that would be repeated time again over his/her military career. The Ruthless history states that Shepard has always adhered to one rule; get the job done, no matter what it takes. Shepard has gained a ruthless reputation, and a certain wariness regarding his/her soldiers, not least because of the battle which took place on Torfan; in which Shepard sent over three quarters of his/her squad to their deaths as well as brutally murdering the attacking Batarians.
The character of Commander Shepard was created by Game Developers Bioware as the main protagonist (and only playable character) to their game Mass Effect, which was released in 2007. Originally an Xbox 360 exclusive, Mass Effect was later ported onto the PC format (in September of 2008) and the Playstation 3 format (December 4th 2012).
Commander Shepard's story is the main focus of the Mass Effect franchise, continuing on in 2010's Mass Effect 2, and concluding in Mass Effect 3 which was released on March 9th 2012. Shepard was named after astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to fly into space.
The first game released in the trilogy introduced the character of Shepard, then a decorated Commander regardless of the choices made by the player in the customization system. The game is set in the year 2183, 35 years after humans discovered abandoned Prothean technology on Mars, and some years after the discovery of the Mass Effect relays which allowed faster-than-light travel to be possible to the human race.The Mass Effect relay which existed in the Sol system (home to Earth) was only a small part of a much greater network which connected numerous systems in the Milky Way Galaxy.
At the beginning of the game, Commander Shepard is on board the SSV Normandy, en route to a relatively simple, supposedly low-risk mission to recover the recently unearthed Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. The mission was initially supposed to test Shepard's candidacy for the Elite Special Forces Program titled Spectre, and was being observed by current Spectre, and member of the Turian race, Nihlus Kryik. However, upon arrival it became evident that an unknown alien force was attacking the colony of Eden Prime, and the routine retrieval mission became one of rescue.
Upon searching the immediate area, it is clear that Geth forces are attacking, led by the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius. Nihlus confronts Saren, but is killed brutally. After finding the Prothean Beacon, Shepard approached it, only for the beacon to become active and exposing Shepard to ancient knowledge and visions directly into his/her mind. The beacon then deactivates, seemingly destroyed. After the mission, Shepard and the Normandy arrive at the Citadel, and confront the Council with the knowledge that one of their forces as become a rogue.
After the initial dismissal of Shepard's declaration, the Commander goes in search of evidence that would prove that Saren is a rogue operative. Confronted with the evidence, the Council instate Shepard as a Spectre, and give him/her a mission; stop Saren.
Mass Effect 2
In Mass Effect 2, Shepard reprises his/her main character status. Players are able to import their Mass Effect characters, provided that they have beaten the game. Throughout circumstances in Mass Effect 2, the player is allowed to change the appearance of his or her Shepard and is also able to change the class of the character. However, if the player has no save to import or chooses not to import, players are allowed to create Shepard with the same depth (class, psych-profile, appearance) that they could in Mass Effect. However, the events of the previous game are decided by Bioware (with the exception of the Alliance council representative), with many references to side quests in the first game not available.
Much of the game focuses on Shepard's relationship with his/her new crew members and the Illusive Man. Shepard's ultimate aim is to take on the Collectors in a suicide mission. And unless the players make the right choices during gameplay, the commander can end up dead as a result.Mass Effect 3
Commander Shepard is once again the protagonist in Mass Effect 3. Though it is possible for a Mass Effect 2 to end in such a way that all of the player's characters including Shepard die, such save files are not eligible for upload into Mass Effect 3. The game also features a new iteration of the 'default' female Commander Shepard, in the form of a character whose design was voted on by the community. She is present on the tin case of the Collector's Edition together with the male counterpart as well as other promotional and packaging materials.
Mass Effect 3
In Mass Effect 3, Shepard must unite the galaxy against the encroaching threat of the Reapers that culminates in a final battle on Earth. Decisions that the player made in the first two games affect specifics of certain events that take place in Mass Effect 3. However, regardless of these specifics, Shepard's main goal is to defeat the Reapers through the activation of a device known as the Crucible. Shepard has four ways to end the war:
Destroy the Reapers: In this ending, Shepard shoots a key control panel, causing a massive explosion. Using the mass relays, the energy fired by the Crucible travels from relay to relay, causing all synthetics to be destroyed across the galaxy, including the Reapers, EDI and the Geth. The mass relays and the Citadel are badly damaged but eventually repaired. If the player's Effective Military Strength is high enough, Shepard is shown to have survived, taking a deep breath in a pile of rubble. Otherwise, Shepard is killed.
Control the Reapers: Shepard takes control of the Reapers, becoming the new Reaper master consciousness. The Reapers depart Earth in this scenario and the Citadel survives and the Reapers help rebuild the galaxy, including the mass relays. If Shepard is a Paragon, the Commander will "give the many hope for the future". If Shepard is a Renegade, the Commander will "provide the many with a powerful leader".
Synthesis: In this ending, Shepard jumps into the Crucible's energy beam, sacrificing his/her life. Shepard's sacrifice transforms all life in the galaxy into a new form of synthetic-organic life. The Reapers depart Earth and the mass relays and Citadel are damaged by the Crucible firing. The Reapers help rebuild the galaxy, including the mass relays, and share the knowledge of the civilizations they have harvested in the past.
Refusal: In this ending, Shepard refuses to choose any of the three possible options. The Catalyst acknowledges the Commander's decision and disappears leaving the Crucible unable to fire. The Reapers succeed in harvesting all organic life throughout the galaxy as well allowing the cycle to continue.
Many years into the future, Shepard has become a legendary figure known as "The Shepard".Quotes
Shepard often ends conversations with "I should go". It's said to such an extreme that Female Shepard's voice actor, Jennifer Hale jokingly said "If I had a nickel for every time I had to say 'I should go', I wouldn't have to work anymore. I should go."
Shepard's personality differs wildly depending on the decisions he/she takes. The morality/personality paths come in three varieties Paragon, Renegade, or a mixture of both. The Paragon Shepard is an incorruptible pillar of goodwill, kindness, compassion, and strength. Though constantly making hard decisions, the Paragon Shepard will try his/her best to solve a problem with the least amount of death and conflict. Whether it is rational to try or not. The Renegade Shepard is an anti-hero with one foot in villain territory.
Though both versions of Shepard will solve a problem through any means necessary, The Renegade Shepard will attempt to solve the problems through the most sporadic or confrontational solutions. He/she will shoot first and ask questions later. He/She will sometimes shoot even, when there's another equally viable non-violent solution. The "Mixed" Shepard plays each situation by ear. Sometimes he/she works hard to keep everyone alive and sometimes he/she just doesn't care and wants to complete the mission. Regardless of the morality path chosen each Shepard personality share some basic concepts.
Above all else, Determination. Shepard, regardless of the perils of imminent death and all personal endangerment, Shepard will not quit, even when the entire universe is in peril, and the universe is getting destroyed around him/her, and the universe begins to weigh on him/her, Shepard never quits. Also Shepard is always a great leader, Shepard is capable of encouraging and inspiring people by his/her mere presence. Miranda Lawson draws attention to this, claiming that Shepard has "that fire that makes someone willing to follow you into hell itself." Regardless each Shepard is witty and snarky and risky.
Commander Shepard's gender could be either male or female, it was apparently not recorded by history. In game though, the only thing that gender changes is the romance options. Commander Shepard's doesn't become any less of a badass, nor does his/her competency change, whether male or female. There's only an appearance change and romance options change.
Like every other aspect of the character, Commander Shepard has a multitude of romance choices in each game. In the latest iteration Mass Effect 3, Shepard has options of heterosexual and homosexual options as well as a variety of different alien species. Shepard is even capable of cheating on a partner with another romance option.
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
- Male Shepard- Miranda Lawson (Only if continued from Mass Effect 2), Tali'Zorah vas Normandy (Only if continued from Mass Effect 2), Jack (Only if continued from Mass Effect 2), Ashely Williams, and Steve Cortez (The first homosexual option for Male Shepard).
- Female Shepard- Samantha Traynor, Garrus Vakarian (Only if continued from Mass Effect 2).
- Male/Female Shepard- Kaidan Alenko, Ashley Chambers (Only if continued from Mass Effect 2), Liara T'Soni, Diana Allers.
Shepard's appearance varies wildly, as is defined by the player and comes in millions of different variations. However within the story, Shepard's appearance changes through the moral choices he/she makes. If taking the Paragon or "good" route, Shepard faces is free from any blemishes or scars, accept those chosen by the characters in customization. When taking the Renegade or "evil" route, Shepard face is filled with scars making him/her appear more evil.
There are many options that the player is able to choose concerning Commander Shepard's history and origins. Shepard can either be male or female; his/her birthplace can be Earth, an off-world colony, or somewhere in space (ie. a ship or space station); and may have a sole survivor, war hero, or ruthless psychological trait.
At the time of the first Mass Effect, Shepard was born on April 11th, 2154 and is approximately 29 years old. He enlisted in the Alliance at 18 years old (2172) and is crew member aboard the SSV Normandy under Captain Anderson's command. Shepard's personality throughout the game is mostly determined by the choices the player makes in both dialogue and action.
Mark Meer provides the voice of Male Sheprad and Jennifer Hale provides the voice of Female Shepard.
- Commander Shepard is named after Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., the second person and the first American in space (May 5, 1961). He later commanded the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 and became the fifth person to walk on the Moon.
- Shepard's birthday (April 11) is the same day that Apollo 13 (an American attempted manned moon landing mission that almost ended in disaster) was launched (April 11, 1970).
- In the advertising for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, only a male Commander Shepard was depicted. For Mass Effect 3, BioWare created a trailer featuring a female Commander Shepard for the first time. In addition, the box-art for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Mass Effect 3 was reversible, featuring a male Shepard on one side and a female Shepard on the other.
- The default male face for Shepard is based on that of Dutch model Mark Vanderloo.
- Shepard seems to speak with a hint of Canadian dialect. This may be because Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale, the voices of the male and female Shepard, respectively, are Canadian.
- When Shepard is inducted as a Spectre, according to Admiral Hackett, Shepard is, technically, still part of the Alliance military (though Captain Anderson claims otherwise). Therefore, Shepard should still be referred to as a Commander, even though Shepard is outside of the Alliance military's chain of command and answers directly to the Council.
- Military ranks can, in some situations, be deferred in favor of civilian ranks. Considering the nature and authority of Spectres, it is likely that this is considered to supersede any military rank.
- The default names of both the male and female Shepard are the names for an unidentified male (John Doe) and female (Jane Doe) respectively.
- To keep the exact nature of Shepard's return quiet in Mass Effect 2, it is often stated that the Commander almost died, which is not really truthful. The male Shepard would later joke with Jack that he is "technically undead".
- When stopped by a C-Sec officer on their first return to the Citadel in Mass Effect 2, one of the dialogue options has Shepard say that he/she was "only mostly dead." This may be a reference to Miracle Max's line from The Princess Bride.
- Commander Shepard appears in another Electronic Arts game, MySims SkyHeroes, as a pilot.
- Renegade facial scarring in Mass Effect 2 is reminiscent of the effects of dark side corruption in BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as morally questionable actions adversely affect the protagonist's appearance in both games.
- BioWare held a contest prior to the release of Mass Effect 3 to allow fans to choose a new default face for female Commander Shepard.