This war has brought us pain and suffering... and loss. But it's also brought us together; as soldiers, allies... friends. This bond that ties us together is something the Reapers will never understand. It's more powerful than any weapon, stronger than any ship. It can't be taken or destroyed. The next few hours will decide the fate of everyone in the galaxy. Every mother, every son, every unborn child. They're trusting you, depending on you to win them their future. A future free from the threat of the Reapers. But take heart! Look around you! You're not in this fight alone. We face our enemy together, and together, we will defeat them!
~ Commander Shepard giving one last speech to his/her squadmates before the Battle of London (Paragon route)

Lieutenant Commander Shepard is the main protagonist and player-character of the original video game trilogy, Mass Effect.

He/she is assigned to the SSV Normandy SR-1 (Systems Alliance Space Vehicle Normandy Stealth Reconnaissance-1) as the leader of his/her own squad in a desperate mission to stop the Reapers, a race of sentient machines bent on destroying all organic life in the Milky Way galaxy.

His/her appearance, specialization and skills can be customized depending on the player. The default names are John Shepard for male characters, and Jane Shepard for females, though only the first names may be customized.

Male Shepard is voiced by Mark Meer, while Female Shepard is voiced by Jennifer Hale, the latter of whom who also voices Naomi Hunter and Elektra Ovirowa.



Shepard was born in April 11, 2154, is a graduate of the Systems Alliance N7 special forces program (service no. 5923-AC-2826), a veteran of the Skyllian Blitz, and is initially assigned to the SSV Normandy as Executive Officer in 2183. Shepard later becomes the first human to join the Spectres, an elite special task force for the Citadel Council.

His/her background depends on how the player selected; he/she could be born as a Spacer, a Colonist or on Earth, with psychology can also be chosen by the player, be it a War Hero, Sole Survivor or Ruthless. Alternatively, the player can choose the default pre-made Shepard as a male Soldier named John, with the Earthborn/Sole Survivor profile.

Mass Effect

Shepard's journey started on the Normandy, serving under Captain David Anderson, as he/she was sent to the human colony of Eden Prime to investigate a strange beacon. The strange beacon turned out to have belonged to an ancient race known as the Protheans and brought a vague warning of the impending Reaper invasion. During the mission, rogue Spectre Saren Arterius murdered fellow Spectre Nihlus Kryik, and Shepard was assigned to hunt down Saren and bring him to justice, inheriting command of the Normandy from Captain Anderson. Shepard gathered many friends of different species for the mission such as Krogan mercenary Urdnot Wrex, Turian C-Sec officer Garrus Vakarian, Quarian mechanist Tali'Zorah nar Rayya and Asari archaeologist Dr. Liara T'Soni, aside from fellow humans Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko and Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams.

Though Shepard worked for the Citadel, the Normandy remains considered to be under Alliance jurisdiction and her unique design means that Shepard was often asked to complete missions for Fifth Fleet's commanding officer Steven Hackett, especially those requiring discretion.

Throughout the journey, Shepard faced many adversaries and was forced to make many sacrifices, but eventually, he/she found out that Saren had been indoctrinated by the Reaper Sovereign, his personal ship. Using Saren, the Reaper laid siege to the Citadel, but Shepard and the Normandy, along with the Systems Alliance naval forces, went after them and eventually defeated the two villains, saving the Citadel Council's lives in the process. Afterwards, Shepard left for the Terminus Systems, knowing that the Reaper threat was very real and that the galaxy needed to prepare in order to stand a chance of defeating the Reapers. However, the councillors disguised his/her actions as mere scouting missions to wipe out the remaining Geth forces.

Mass Effect 2

During a patrol in the Amada System, the Normandy was ambushed and destroyed by a Collector cruiser, with Shepard asphyxiating to death following a suit breach and reentry into the planet Alchera. His/her corpse was recovered by the human-supremacist terrorist organization Cerberus, and reconstructed via Lazarus Project under the surveillance of Cerberus operative Miranda Lawson. The reconstruction went smoothly and Shepard returned to what he/she had been before the Collector attack. After escaping the facility where he/she had woken up, due to the activities of a Cerberus traitor, Shepard met with the Illusive Man, the mysterious leader of Cerberus, who tasked him/her with investigating mass disappearances from human colonies. It was on one of these colonies, Freedom's Progress, that Shepard learned the existence of the Collectors.

Shepard was assigned by Cerberus to investigate what the Collectors were planning to do with the abducted colonists, whilst also being given dossiers on people to recruit, which surprisingly included two familiar faces: Garrus Vakarian and Tali'Zorah vas Neema, along with a new ship, the Normandy SR-2. The rest of his/her former friends were either busy with their own activities or refused to join Shepard due to him/her working with Cerberus. Eventually, Shepard learned that the Collectors were actually Protheans that had been turned into slaves of the Reapers, this time under Harbinger, the oldest and most powerful of all the Reapers.

Shepard also regained contact with Admiral Hackett, who sent an email to the Commander requesting for him/her to honor his/her fallen ship, SSV Normandy SR-1, with a monument on Alchera's surface and be the first to walk on the crash site, retrieving the dog tags of the lost crew members and his/her N7 helmet before sending his/her findings back to the Alliance.

Whilst Shepard and the squad were away on a mission, the Collectors attacked the Normandy again and abducted most of its crew members, taking them to the Collector base. Shepard rushed to their rescue and along the way, destroyed the Reapers' attempt to create a human Reaper. He/she destroyed the base with a powerful bomb, despite the Illusive Man warning Shepard that he/she should instead preserve the base so Cerberus could use its technology in the fight against the Reapers. Then, Shepard proceeded to sever his/her ties with Cerberus, much to the Illusive Man's anger.

Mass Effect 3

After the battle with the Collectors, Shepard was put under six-month house arrest on Earth either for destroying a mass relay in Batarian space to stall the Reapers' early arrival or for working with Cerberus. During a hearing, the Reapers attacked and quickly overwhelmed Earth, forcing Shepard to retreat on the Alliance-refitted SSV Normandy SR-2 and forge alliances with various races of the galaxy in order to liberate Earth and quell the Reaper threat. However, Cerberus had now become enemies with Shepard, due to the Illusive Man wanting to harness control of the Reapers in order to establish human dominance in the galaxy.

Through many hardships and sacrifices, Shepard managed to unite the various races of the galaxy and stood ready to battle the Reapers thanks to a newly recovered weapon left behind by the Protheans, the Crucible. Making his/her way to the Crucible's core within the Citadel, he/she was confronted by the very being directing the Reapers: The Catalyst. The Catalyst admitted that it would accept whatever Shepard decided to do: Destroy the Reapers, sacrifice his/her life to control them, or merge his/her DNA with the Reapers, turning everyone into a new species. Regardless of what decision Shepard took, the Reaper threat was ended once and for all.

Shepard could also refuse to play by the Catalyst's rules and die fighting the Reapers to the last man. In that case, it turned out that as a fail-safe, Shepard had ordered Liara to create a message about how to defeat the Reapers to be sent to the next cycle of life, in which case, the species from the next cycle would build the Crucible in an earlier time and defeated the Reapers before things went out of control.


This is Commander Shepard speaking. We have our orders: find Saren before he finds the Conduit. I won't lie to you, crew. This mission isn't going to be easy. For too long, our species has stood apart from the others. Now it's time for us to step up and do our part for the rest of the galaxy! Time to show them what humans are made of! Our enemy knows we're coming. When we go into the Traverse, Saren's followers will be waiting for us. But we'll be ready for them, too. Humanity needs to do this. Not just for our own sake, but for the sake of every other species in Citadel space. Saren must be stopped, and I promise you all... we will stop him!
~ Shepard's intercom speech to the crew and squadmates of SSV Normandy SR-1 (Paragon route)
You're not even alive. Not really. You're just a machine, and machines can be broken!
~ Shepard to Sovereign
Just once, I'd like to ask someone for help and hear them say "Sure. Let's go. Right now. No strings attached".
~ Shepard in Mass Effect 2
There's a lot of people back on Earth dying while we gather our strength. They're wondering if we're ever coming back; friends, family, parents and children. This isn't their fight, but they're buying us time with their lives.
~ Shepard in Mass Effect 3



  • Commander Shepard is named after Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., the second person and the first American in space (May 5th, 1961). He later commanded the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 and became the fifth person to walk on the Moon.
  • Shepard's birthday (April 11th) is the same day that Apollo 13 (an American attempted manned moon landing mission that almost ended in disaster) was launched (April 11th, 1970).
  • 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.
  • It would appear that Shepard has a gift for being a leader. Miranda Lawson draws attention to this, claiming that Shepard has "that fire that makes someone willing to follow you into hell itself". This is similar to the protagonist (Revan) of BioWare's Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, who is also said to possess such a trait.
  • 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 they were "only mostly dead." This may be a reference to Miracle Max's line from The Princess Bride.

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