The Mass Effect Series is based on players taking control of Commander Shepard, and, like most RPGs, the player is given choices and customization options.

In Mass Effect (the first game), players get to pick the commander's first name, gender, pre-service history (Spacer, Colonist, Earthborn), and psych profile (Ruthless, Sole Survivor, War Hero).

Clearly, Shepard can be many things, but I'm wondering what the canonical Shepard is. For instance, we know that in the Canon of Mass Effect 2, if you don't import a save file, the Council was not saved.

Does Commander Shepard likewise have a "Canonical" origin, or are these two options always under direct control of the player - i.e., without a default?

1 Answer 1


In each game, there's an option to use a premade default Shepard. This Shepard is a Soldier, Earthborn Sole Survivor. If male, his name is 'John', if female 'Jane'.

Since this didn't change between games, I think we can assume it's as close to canon as anything (and certainly is in the same vein of the didn't-import-a-save options).

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  • I believe ME3 may also have a prebuilt female Shepard available (I'd expect her to be the same except probably named 'Jane' or something like that).
    – Shinrai
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 23:30
  • It's been a while since I played the first ME, but was there not a default female in it as well? Otherwise, I'd say your answer as as close to "canon" as we're going to get without a definitive quote from BioWare.
    – Niro
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 23:38
  • 1
    @Tristan Yes, there's been a default female in both ME 1 and 2. The difference is that all promotional art has exclusively used the male shepherd. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 23:51
  • @Tristan - I don't remember there being one, but apparently Raven disagrees. What I remember is that your options were essentially "Just shut up and let me play the game" (which gives you John Shepard) or "Let me start from scratch".
    – Shinrai
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 23:52
  • I just checked the wiki and apparently I did misremember that one detail. Editing my answer.
    – Shinrai
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 23:53

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