|“||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)|
Commander Shepard is the main protagonist and player-character of the original Mass Effect video game trilogy. He/she is assigned to the SSV Normandy as the leader of his/her own squad in a desperate mission to stop the Reapers, a race of sentient machines hellbent on destroying all organic life in the Milky Way galaxy. His/her appearance and skills can be customised depending on the player.
Shepard is a soldier in service of the Systems Alliance. His/her background depends on how the player selected him, he/she could be born as a Spacer, a Colonist or on Earth, with a psychology also chosen by the player, be it a War Hero, Sole Survivor or Ruthless.
Shepard's journey started on the SSV Normandy SR-1, still 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, aside from fellow humans Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko and Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, he recruited Krogan mercenary Urdnot Wrex, Turian security officer Garrus Vakarian, Quarian mechanist Tali'Zorah nar Rayya and Asari archaeologist Dr. Liara T'Soni.
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's crew, along with a group of System Alliance 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 Citadel Council disguised his/her actions as mere scouting missions to wipe out 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. His/her corpse was recovered by the human-supremacist terrorist organization Cerberus, and reconstructed 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.
Whilst Shepard and his squadmates were away on a mission, the Collectors attacked the Normandy again and abducted most of its crew members. Shepard rushed to their rescue and along the way, destroyed the Reapers' attempt to create a Human Reaper. He/she then destroyed the Collector Base with a nuclear bomb, despite the Illusive Man warning Shepard that he/she should instead preserve the base so Cerberus can use its technology in the fight against the Reapers. Shepard then proceeded to sever his/her ties with Cerberus, much to the Illusive Man's anger.
Mass Effect 3
Several months after the battle with the Collectors, Shepard was put under house arrest on Earth after destroying a mass relay in Batarian space to prevent the Reapers' early arrival. During a hearing, the Reapers attacked and quickly overwhelmed Earth, forcing Shepard to retreat and forge alliances with the 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.