Dictator's Top 5 Worst Mass Effect Characters

 As I continue my look back on the original Mass Effect trilogy in preparation of Mass Effect: Andromeda, this time I am going to focus on the worst characters of the franchise. BioWare is one of the best in the industry when it comes to creating characters. Shepard and Garrus Vakarian from Mass Effect, and Hawke and Varric Tethras from Dragon Age all stand as a testament to that. Still, even the best can have their off days, and these five following characters are proof of that. Why five, instead of ten, like in my previous list? Well, I honestly had a harder time coming up with awful characters than I did paring my list of good characters down to just 10.

Once again, a few disclaimers, before I start. This only includes characters from the main 3 games, it does not include characters who are exclusive to the books or graphic novels or side games. Second, there are minor spoilers, so if you have not played the games yet, proceed at your own risk. Without further ado, let's get started

Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko

Kaidan might have had the potential to be a decent character, but BioWare made the curious decision to jam together two disparate archetypes. In and of itself, this isn't even a bad idea. It had potential to work very well in fact, as Wrex proved, but here it just fell flat on it's face. One one hand, Kaidan is the scarred, damaged-goods guy. He is an early biotic-using human and has troublesome “L2” implants to help control his abilities and went through the early turian-taught program for human biotics, an idea that was flawed due to humanity just having wrapped up the brutal First Contact War with the turians. An angry outburst at the distinctly anti-human turian trainer resulted in Kaidan killing the instructor with his abilities. The medical officer aboard the Normandy states that Kaidan keeps to himself because he “suffers from headaches.” First of all, it's 2183, Kaidan, try taking an aspirin. Second of all, I would greatly appreciate it if Kaidan would keep himself, because he never seems to shut up. This is because Kaidan was also designated the geeky guy with no social skills whatsoever. He frequently spouts his opinions on literally everything, even when not asked for it. Also, Kaidan tries Garrus' tactic of agreeing with everything you do, except when Garrus does it, you are reassured in your choices. When Kaidan does it, it just makes you wish you had made the opposite choice just to spite him, except that he would've agreed with that as well. So, when Shepard needs to pick between the Staff Lieutenant or Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams to stay behind and detonate a nuclear surprise for antagonist Saren Arterius during the mission to Vermire, I have almost always decided to leave Kaidan behind. After all he volunteers to be the one to stay behind and after that bomb goes off, he most certainly won't have to suffer from headaches anymore. I did chose him over Ashley once, hoping maybe he improved in ME2 and ME3, but, no, it's just more of the same. And I don't even particularly like Ashley either, as she is a bit of an alien racist and can be downright miserable at times, but she has more redeeming moments than Kaidan. I would actually like to see the data that BioWare has likely compiled showing the percentages on what character people chose to leave behind, as I'm reasonably certain Kaidan would be the loser.

Liara T'Soni

A member of the technologically- and culturally-superior, mono-gender asari species, there is only one word that describes Liara: boring. Recruited due to being one of the foremost authorities on Protheans (the long-extinct forerunner race that fought and lost to the Reapers and from who most technology is believed to be based on), as well as the offspring of one of Saren Arterius' allies, and a gifted biotic, she somehow doesn't bring much to the team. Most queries about the Protheans just results in her explaining that the Protheans vanished so long ago and that so little is known about them that she can't answer the question. Same when asked about her mother, who she admits to not having seen in years. Why did we rescue you from that archaeological dig site again, Liara? Throughout the entire series she fails to bring any really noteworthy dialogue, humorous, profound or otherwise. I would be hard-pressed to remember a single quote from her. When The Illusive Man is detailing how all of your previous teammates will be unavailable to join you hunt down the Collectors in ME2, I was upset to hear that most of them had other commitments, but upon hearing that Liara couldn't join just elicited a shrug. The Lair Of The Shadow Broker DLC heavily featured her in her hunt to take down the illusive information broker, and while the DLC was excellent, it wasn't good because she was in it. It was good and she just happened to be in it, tagging along as always. She returns to work alongside the Normandy crew again in ME3, taking up a team slot that could have been filled by a much less boring character than her. I will admit to using her a good bit in ME3 though, as her ability set is practically tailor-made to dealing with Cerberus troopers.

Navigator Charles Pressly

While Captain David Anderson had Commander Shepard as his executive officer when he was in command of the Normandy, when Shepard takes command he gets stuck with Navigator Charles Pressly as his XO. Pressly is a career Alliance Navy officer and served during the First Contact War, where the turians and humans fought a long, brutal war that resulted in a truce. This explains Pressly's extreme disdain for the turians, although it makes one wonder why he was assigned to the SSV Normandy in the first place, as the Normandy was a joint human-turian design venture. It also does not explain why Pressly seems to dislike literally every other alien species as well. Why the distrust of Tali and quarians, when humans and quarians have little to no history with each other? Pressly is also a total naysayer, even in the face of contrary evidence. After watching Shepard mow through hordes of rachni (a galactic menace that once brought the joint Council forces to there knees and was thought to be extinct for centuries) on Noveria, take on an army of entrenched geth and an ancient thorian on Feros and pull off a daring rescue/torch-and-burn operation with minimal casualties on Vermire, Pressly still thinks that every mission you plan is doomed to failure. Thankfully, Pressly is not with the Normandy team for very long. When the Collector capital ship obliterates the original SSV Normandy SR-1 at the beginning of ME2, Pressly is one of only 2 named characters to die, the other being Shepard. But while Shepard dies saving Joker, Pressly just dies from what appears to be whacking his head on a console after an explosion knocks him down. An unnamed female bridge officer does yell his name as he dies, but I assume it's because he owed her money that she's never going to be able to collect, because there is no way anyone misses this guy. And while Shepard returns from the dead with some help from Cerberus, they thankfully have no interest in reviving a stodgy old racist. During the creatively-named Normandy Crash Site DLC, in which you, surprise, visit the Normandy SR-1's crash site, you can find Pressly's journal, which indicates he had a change of view about aliens. But it feels less like a revelation on Pressly's part and more like BioWare trying to redeem an unlikable character and try to add some impact to his death.

Jacob Taylor

Jacob Taylor is a nice enough guy, it is just that, like Liara, he absolutely fails to stand out. I cannot recall him personally ever doing anything interesting or noteworthy throughout his tenure aboard the Normandy. Only one quote of his comes to mind and that's simply because it's a real doozy: “You know what they say, a good deed is like peeing yourself in dark pants; a warm feeling but nobody really notices.” Do they actually say that, Jacob? Because I don't think that people do. I have tried to work that pearl of wisdom into various conversations and have yet to succeed. Perhaps part of the reason that Jacob fades into the background is that aboard the SR-2 Normandy he is surrounded by super soldiers, master thieves, mercenaries, vigilantes and black ops R&D gone rogue. As just a normal guy, it's a little hard to stand out in that crowd. Another reason that Jacob fails to stick in peoples' mind is that he isn't much of a talker. Unlike some of his peers, who are happy to talk about their background and ideals, most conversations with Jacob end in a “I'm not big on these kind of talks” or “That's kinda personal. Maybe some other time.” All you really gather from him is that he was part of the Alliance military before getting tired of bureaucracy preventing him from doing his job, so he left and joined Cerberus (if that sounds familiar, it's literally Garrus's background but with C-Sec and Shepard swapped to Alliance and Cerberus, respectively), during his time with the Alliance he and now-fellow Cerberus operative Miranda Lawson worked together before to stop a major terrorist plot (which got covered up, leading to the gem of a quote about good deeds) and that his father was a crew member on a spaceship that went missing 13 years prior to the events of ME2. His father actually factors into one of the most deeply disturbing missions in ME2, and the franchise as a whole, when the distress beacon to the ship he was XO aboard becomes active 13 years later. But, much like Liara's DLC, this mission is a great mission that happens to involve Jacob, not because it involves Jacob. And, honestly, it barely involves him, with him remaining pretty much mute as you witness the atrocities his father had created. And after all is said and done, Shepard seems more outraged than Jacob, with Jacob's reaction afterwards just being “That man was not my father.” And speaking of the Lair Of The Shadow Broker DLC, Jacob can't even catch a break there. When you finally encounter the Shadow Broker, he has a unique quote for whatever teammate you bring with you. Except for Jacob, who literally just gets the quote the Shadow Broker uses on Miranda, but with Jacob's name copy and pasted in. Honestly, I'm surprised the Shadow Broker just didn't say “And as for you, Mister, uhhh, who are you?” Still, he does get some attention in-universe, falling in love with ex-Cerberus scientist after helping her defect in ME3 and eventually having a child with her. And ME2 DLC character Kasumi Goto also has a crush on Jacob and uses her stealth cloak to watch him work out without being noticed. So, at least you got that going for you, Jacob.

Dalatrass Linron

Dalatrass Linron (Linron being her name, dalatrass being the term of leadership for the salarian race) exhibits the very worst traits of the salarians. She's smug, thinks she's the smartest person in a given room, feels that everyone should follow her plan, and is sneaky and underhanded when things don't go her way. When the Reaper forces instantly decimate human defenses at Earth, Shepard turns to the turians to try and get some assistance. Unfortunately the turians are also taking a beating, and the turian leader, primarch Adrien Victus, offers reinforcements if Shepard can get the krogans to help take some of the pressure off of the turian homeworld of Palaven. With bad blood between the krogans and every other Council race besides the human, a summit is called between all parties. Shepard represents the humans, Urdnot Wrex represents the krogans and Victus represents the turians. The asari choose to sit the summit out, feeling that the poor history of the krogans with the asari, turians and salarians will result in the summit being a waste of time. And the salarians are represented by dalatrass Linron. Wrex offers to have krogan forces bolster the turians, but if, and only if, the genophage (a bio-virus that reduces krogan fertility rates, designed and deployed by the asari, turian and salarians after the krogan waged war against the Council races) is cured. Shepard and Victus are on board with the plan, but Linron decides to drag her heels, stating that curing the krogans could cause a massive war of retribution in the future. While a reasonable concern, it fails to take into account the fact that, without the krogan, all advanced races are doomed to be slaughtered by the Reapers. Then when she tries to protest that a cure can't be manufactured in time, Wrex reveals evidence that the salarians are holding female krogans vital to creating the cure. Eventually, she relents, after some strong-arming from Victus and Shepard, and lets Wrex and Shepard go to the salarian homeworld of Sur'kesh and retrieve the krogan females, but not before warning that bullies find themselves without allies during times of need. These words promise to be ironic later on. While Shepard is on his way to distribute the cure to the krogans, Linron covertly contacts him and tries to convince him to sabotage the cure, so that the krogans will think they are cured and throw themselves into battle and likely go extinct, in return for salarian assistance. If Shepard turns her down you never hear from her again, although you never receive official salarian support. The salarian Council representative clearly realizes the foolishness of the dalatrass' decision though, as she slips salarian support to the allied forces under the table. As for Linron's threat of being without allies in a time of need? Well, it's possible she was referring to herself, as late in the war, Shepard learns that without any real allies to call upon, and lacking a traditional military (the salarians tend to rely on espionage and small task groups instead of frontline combat, a tactic that is ineffective against the Reapers) the salarians find themselves crumbling under the Reaper offensive. Unfortunately, the ending of the game never reveals how badly the salarians got pounded due to Linron's ineffective leadership, or whether they promptly impeached her afterwards, although one hopes they did. For a character who shows up so little overall, Linron draws my ire like almost no other.

So, was I too rough on these five poor souls? Or not rough enough? Is there some redeeming feature that I missed? Or are other characters glaringly worse? Let me know your opinion. And keep tuned for one last article before the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda.
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