PG Cooper: The Mass Effect Squad Members Ranked

Posted: April 1, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists


Closing out my Mass Effect lists, I will be ranking the squad members. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me the characters have always been the top draw of the series and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the series. Like my other posts, spoilers below.

19. Jacob Taylor


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

Jacob is easily the most boring squad mate. I almost feel bad saying that because there’s nothing really bad about him, he’s just not terribly interesting. He’s a nice guy and a good soldier, but that’s about it. He has father issues, but 90% of the squad members have father issues in some form or another. Even from a gameplay perspective he doesn’t add much. He’s a decent biotic and a decent soldier, but there are other characters which fill both niches much better.

18. Zaeed Massani


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

I actually like Zaeed, but at the same time it’s hard to rank him high. He’s ultimately a pretty shallow and one note character who doesn’t add much in the grand scheme of things. He also feels like something of an appendage in Mass Effect 2. Honestly I think what bothers me the most about this character is the fact that he doesn’t have an arc. When Shepard first meets Zaeed, he’s a ruthless killer who’s only in it for the money and by the end of Mass Effect 3 there is no reason to believe he’s changed at all.

17. and 16. Ashley Williams and Kaidan Alenko



Introduced in: Mass Effect

I feel the same about both of these characters so it made sense to lump them together. In the first game, they’re okay. I think both are uninteresting and boring, especially compared to the rest of Shepard’s squad mates in that game, but they aren’t offensively awful. In Mass Effect 2 and 3 however, these characters’ only purpose is to bitch about how Shepard worked with Cerberus. It gets so tedious and irritating listening to whichever one is still alive constantly hurl the same comments at you. It also bothers me that no matter which one survives they each serve the exact same function. I gather that the two characters are involved with one of the most important moments in Shepard’s life, but I still don’t like them. I do rank Kaidan slightly higher though, because he’s Canadian and poked fun at Canadian love of beer, bacon, and beef.

15. James Vega


Introduced in: Mass Effect 3

James Vega is a character who got a lot of shit from fans when the game first came out and most of their hate was unwarranted; Vega’s not a bad character at all. He’s a likable enough guy and he does have solid chemistry with the classic characters. Most fan hate seemed to come from the fact that Vega looks like a dimwitted muscle head, which is unfortunate because there is more to it than that. Granted, I do have issues with the character. Early on it’s hinted that he has some animosity towards Shepard and that he’ll have some sort of arc but that’s never really paid off. I also don’t like how just taking paragon options leads to femshep flirting with Vega. That may sound like an odd complaint, but I found it frustrating. I also feel like while the character is fine, he does not hold a candle to the majority of the squad members.

14. Samara


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

What I like about Samara is that Bioware really stressed how powerful she is and I found that interesting. She’s also a character who has lived a long life and one gets the impression she’s been through some hard times. Her Justicar code of ethics is also pretty interesting. At the same time, she’s a pretty static character. One could argue that her time with Shepard teaches her the value of teamwork, but her character still doesn’t change in her behaviors. She also isn’t one of the more fun characters to talk to. Still, for what she is she’s pretty effective.

13. EDI


Introduced in: Mass Effect 3

I know EDI was in Mass Effect 2, but the idea of her having a physical body didn’t come into play until the third installment.  In fact that idea is what keeps EDI in the bottom half of the list. I love EDI as a character. I think she has a fun personality and I love the way she goes from cold A.I. to someone who feels alive.  All that stuff is great. But the idea of her having a physical body just feels like a lazy idea to me and I would have rather she just stayed as the ship. Still, I do really like EDI as a character so I can’t put her too low.

12. Miranda Lawson


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

I might have ranked Miranda higher if I was just judging Mass Effect 2. She has an interesting history and I like how the supposed “perfect” character is frequently proven not to be perfect. Her personality is strong and she does have a very clear arc. She’s a really strong character. Unfortunately the ball is dropped in Mass Effect 3. The writers didn’t seem to know what to do with her character so as a result she doesn’t do anything, claiming she’s working on something else. She should have just been part of the team.

11. Kasumi Goto


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

Kasumi doesn’t have a compelling arc or a deep back story, but what she does have is an extremely fun personality. She’s playful, witty, and straight up fun to be around. I also do like her backstory with Keiji and find it pretty sad. I also think her being a thief adds an interesting and unique element to the team. I don’t really have much more to say. I just really like this character.

10. Javik


Introduced in: Mass Effect 3

Javik is the last Prothean and he enlightens Shepard and the world of Mass Effect on Prothean culture. Specifically we found out the Protheans were not the benevolent and brilliant creatures we thought them to be. More importantly, Javik himself is a very interesting character. His struggle to adapt to a new time is quite compelling and his interaction with the rest of the crew is cool. Javik also works as a fun character and can handle comedy beats as well. But, not unlike EDI, I can’t put Javik too high because I feel like introducing a Prothean character was a lazy idea from the writers. He works because the character is great, but the idea is pretty uninspired.

9. Jack


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

Jack probably has the most depressing back story of any character with the possible exception of Javik. She was the victim to Cerberus experiments from the time she was a child and her life has been a struggle since. She’s a character filled with rage, but any player who takes the time to get to know her realizes there’s a much more sensitive person beneath her anger. She’s someone who’s genuinely sympathetic and likable. And even if one chooses to ignore that, she’s still a total badass. I also like where her character goes in Mass Effect 3. It’s an arc that makes a lot of sense that stays true to who Jack is while still showing big change.

8. Liara T’Soni


Introduced in: Mass Effect

When Shepard first meets Liara, she is shy, sensitive, scared, and she just feels young. In two, she is ruthless and cold. By the time we get to three, her experiences with Shepard have brought her warmth again, even though she can still be calculating on the battlefield. As you can see, she has one of the most interesting arcs of the series and changes a lot as the series goes. These changes are all interesting to watch and they’re also all believable. Liara herself is a likable character and you can tell the writers love her because they give her a lot. I might have ranked her higher, but I don’t think she’s quite as fun as some of the other characters.

7. Urdnot Wrex


Introduced in: Mass Effect

Now we’re getting into some awesome characters. Wrex is so damn cool. He’s a tremendously fun character who works as both a badass warrior but can also handle comedic beats. He’s also a character that Shepard has a very strong relationship with and I like that. This is pretty evident in Mass Effect 2 when Shepard first lands on Tuchanka. Instead of being full of doubt and suspicion like the Virmire survivor, Wrex is just happy his friend is still alive. Wrex also has one of the most epic arcs of the trilogy, starting as a mercenary disillusioned with the Krogan to being the leader of the Krogan.

6. Legion


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

Right off the bat, Legion is an interesting character because he is a Geth working with organics. There’s a lot of interesting tidbits about him too, such as the fact that he uses a piece of Shepard’s armor. Still, Legion is recruited pretty late into Mass Effect 2 so he can’t really shine until the third game. There, he takes a front and center role in resolving the conflict between the Quarians and the Geth. Moments like when he and Shepard go through the Geth consensus have a lot of weight and despite being a machine there are subtle emotional inflections throughout. Finally, now matter how one ends the Geth and Quarian conflict, Legion has an incredible moment. “Does this unit have a soul?”

5. Grunt

mass effect 2 grunt alternate armor

Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

Grunt and Wrex have a lot in common besides just being Krogan. Both are badass warriors, both are great with the comedic beats, and both have killed Thresher Maws. And while Grunt’s arc isn’t as epic as Wrex, he does have a character struggle I find more compelling. Grunt was bred in a tank and essentially engineered to feel a certain way. Because of this, he feels disconnected from his own species in a way no other character in Mass Effect can relate to. It’s a fascinating conflict and it’s all the more rewarding in Mass Effect 3 when he has truly accepted his place as a Krogan. Also, I alluded to Grunt handling comedy beats well, but god damn this character can really crack me up.

4. Thane Krios


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

As far as straight up coolness though, Thane is second to only one character. Krios is all kinds of badass, to the point that even when he’s doing from disease he can still save lives and kick ass. He’s got a badass look and an interesting back story, and I also love the way Drell slip into their memories. The fact that Thane is an assassin who also struggles with faith and a fractured relationship with his son gives him added dimension. Also, while Bioware originally dropped the ball on the aftermath of Thane’s death, they redeemed themselves with Citadel and gave the man a moving funeral. Well deserved for the awesome character.

3. Mordin Solus


Introduced in: Mass Effect 2

What isn’t there to love about Mordin? Everything is awesome about him, from his pattern of speech, to his ethical dilemmas, to his dramatic beats, to his comedy, he works on all levels. He’s a fascinating character and who’s had a very interesting history and has faced the toughest decisions of any character in Mass Effect. He handles comedy very well, proven by his singing, the various ethical dilemmas he’s faced are genuinely challenging, and he’s at the center with what might be the most dramatic of the series. And on top of all that, he has a very fun personality and I love interacting with him.

2. Garrus Vakarian 


Introduced in: Mass Effect

Remember when I called Thane the second coolest character in the series? Ladies and gentlemen, meet the coolest. Garrus is an uber badass and I can’t fathom a player not loving the guy. In addition, he’s very fun to talk to and has comedic chops. Plus he has a pretty subtle but effective arc, starting as essentially a dirty cop who bent the rules to a noble warrior who helped save the galaxy. Perhaps most importantly though is the relationship Garrus has with Shepard. Garrus is the ultimate bro of the Mass Effect universe, a pillar Shepard can always rely on. Garrus also has some of my favourite lines of the trilogy, and in addition to being the best friend of the savior of the galaxy, he was the Dirty Harry of the Citadel and the Batman of Omega? How fucking cool is that?

1. Tali’Zorah vas Normandy


Introduced in: Mass Effect

Tali is everything I look for in any character, let alone one in Mass Effect. Fun personality? Check. Complete character arc? Check. Dramatic moments? Check. Comedic moments? Check. Cool visual design and voice? Double check. Tali is a badass who can take a lot of names, but she’s also an awkward geek. She’s ripe with strong drama, but also provides some of the best comedy in the series. She has an amazing arc. Starting has a timid, nervous, and jumpy character who was a bit in over her head, to a strong and independent character who became more wise than the majority of her people. That isn’t an entirely original arc and a lot of other Mass Effect characters have a similar one, but Tali feels like she’s changed a lot but is still very much the same person. More than any of the other lists I’ve done, this one is very subjective so the character who tops my list does so because of how well they work for me and no character stuck with me like Tali.

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