Commander Shepard

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Spoiler Warning: This article may contain spoilers. If this bothers you, proceed with caution.

Name: Commander Shepard
Occupation: Alliance Marine, Spectre
Title/Rank: Commander
Location: SSV Normandy, Normandy SR-2
Status: Varies
Relationships: Varies
Fandom: Mass Effect
Other: Mass Effect Wiki
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Commander Shepard is the player character in the Mass Effect trilogy. Shepard is an Alliance Marine, and becomes the first human Spectre during the first Mass Effect game. Shepard dies, and is brought back to life by the pro-human/terrorist organization Cerberus in Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 3 finds Shepard once more serving the Alliance. Throughout the series, one goal drives Shepard: The need to save humanity, and the galaxy, from the Reapers.

Customizing Shepard

Shepard's given name, gender, appearance, class, pre-service history, and psychological profile are all customizable. Throughout the game, Shepard gains paragon or renegade points through her dialogue choices and actions; Shepard's paragon/renegade score opens up some actions and dialogue options, and closes others.

Female Shepard's default name is "Jane." She is known to fans of the game as FemShep. Male Shepard's default name is "John." He is also referred to as DudeShep, ManShep, M!Shep, and Sheploo [1] by fandom.

Players can choose one of six classes:

  • Soldier (combat specialist)
  • Engineer (tech specialist)
  • Adapt (biotic specialist)
  • Infiltrator (combat/tech)
  • Sentinel (tech/biotic)
  • Vanguard (combat/biotic)

Shepard's class has little direct impact on the story of Mass Effect, although it impacts gameplay style, and what powers and weapons are available to the player.

Shepard's pre-service history and psychological profile have a minor impact on the story. "Spacer," "Earthborn" and "Colonist" Shepards each have a unique side mission in the first Mass Effect. "Sole Survivor," "War Hero" and "Ruthless" Shepards each have a personal connection to one of the general side-missions in Mass Effect 1. While these options are mostly available to offer a bit of "flavour" in-game, fans have explored their favourite origin(s) for Shepard in-depth in fanworks.



Over the course of the Mass Effect series many fans wanted the female version of Shepard to share in the promotional materials that had only shown a male Shepard. For Mass Effect 3 Bioware announced that there would be a reversible cover for the game, one side showing a female Shepard and the other a male Shepard. However to decide what FemShep would look like they showed several pieces of concept art and lets fans vote on which they preferred. Some felt this was a "beauty pageant" for FemShep and instead of using the default look that she already had in game, Bioware wanted a new, "hotter" default FemShep for Mass Effect 3.

Imagine then the excitement when BioWare announced that femShep would be appearing alongside her male counterpart on the box art and promotions for Mass Effect 3. Female fans were delighted, hurray for BioWare! But wait. Apparently in favour of the “one step forward, two steps back” approach, BioWare then decided to put femShep’s appearance to a vote. A general vote. For all Mass Effect fans. Including the 82% that play as the male character. Including the vast majority of Mass Effect players that are male. That’s right folks, they put Commander Shepard, hero of the galaxy, in a fucking beauty pageant.


Changing the aesthetics of the character at this stage seems like a desire to move away from having a rough and tough femShep, a Shepard nobody was complaining about, and towards having a more sexualised female character. A realisation that putting a female avatar that wasn’t hyper-sexualised on the box art meant a missed opportunity to get more sales based on sex appeal. And by putting it to a public vote BioWare have essentially absolved themselves of any of the blame – you’re complaining about the sexualised femShep? But you voted for her![2]

FemShep Vs DudeShep

Is FemShep (Jennifer Hale) or DudeShep (Mark Meer) a better character?/Who has the better voice actor?

Some people are a bit lazy and like to play a game right out of the box. You’d be missing out an opportunity to create a character that is truly yours. Moreover, most Mass Effect fans will gladly tell you that FemShep is the best Shep. Jennifer Hale is a truly gifted voice actor and her inspiring speeches (and not-so-veiled threats) are a lot more nuanced than the generic dude-bro deliveries of the male counterpart.[3]


Shepard has a variety of romance options throughout the series, most of which are limited by Shepard's sex. FemShep is often paired with Garrus Vakarian, Kaidan Alenko, and Liara T'Soni. Thane Krios appears less frequently in fanworks. Jacob Taylor is a canon romance option in ME2, but almost never appears in fanworks. Samantha Traynor is introduced in ME3, as a FemShep exclusive love interest.

Garrus is a popular character in his own right, and is often the LI of choice for FemShep. Kaidan is less popular than Garrus, although there are fans devoted to his romance with FemShep. There is sometimes conflict between "Shakarian" and "Shenko" fans. Kaidan is the only male love interest available in ME1, but his relationship with Shepard becomes strained during ME2. Kaidan's only appearance in the second game involves him expressing his disappointment in Shepard for working with Cerberus, and his distrust of her motives. Garrus becomes available as a romance option in ME2, and fics often have Shepard moving on from Kaidan with Garrus. Character bashing can occur.

Tali'Zorah is one of the most popular love interests for DudeShep. He can also romance Ashley Williams, Liara T'Soni, Miranda Lawson and Jack. Mass Effect 3 is the first game that opens up options for a gay or bi DudeShep. Kaidan Alenko becomes available as a romance option, and pilot Steve Cortez is introduced.


Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.






  1. Who/what is "Sheploo"? (Accessed Dec. 3, 2013)
  2. Women in Gaming: The Mass Effect of Backlash
  3. 3 Ways to Play Mass Effect 3 Wrong]