Commander Shepard is the main protagonist of the Mass Effect games.
Shepard is a human Systems Alliance Marine and graduate of the N7 special forces program. In the first game, Shepard is selected to be the first human Spectre, an elite agent of the Council. After stumbling upon a Prothean beacon and Saren's plans, Shepard sets out on a quest to stop Saren and save the galaxy from his attempts to bring back the Reapers.
In the second game, Shepard is killed in a surprise attack by the Collectors. But since they're too valuable to let stay dead, Shepard is resurrected by Cerberus, a staunchly pro-human group with an, at best, checkered history with the rest of the galaxy. After forming an uneasy alliance with the extremist group, Shepard begins building a team for a suicide mission to stop the Collectors and their mass-human abductions.
In the third game, the Reapers began their final assault on the galaxy, and it's up to Shepard to rally the disparate peoples of the galaxy together in their Darkest Hour to repel the threat of extinction.
Shepard was a tall, fair-skinned athletic man toned in muscle who stands at 6 feet 2 inches tall with blue eyes and almost black hair that was shaved upon joining the military and keeps a clean shaven and sometimes stubble appearance. According to Liara T'Soni, he is considered to be very handsome by most women—human and aliens alike.
In 2183, Shepard wore a charcoal grey N7 armor with a red and white stripe on the right forearm as well as bearing the N7 logo on the left side of his chest, symbolizing the blood he must sacrifice to save the galaxy. During his off-duty hours, Shepard would usually wear a sleeveless tank top (white, blue or black) and a pair of jeans as well as his military dogtags with his service number on them around his neck.
Two years later, Shepard’s outfit underwent modification after his death and resurrection. The N7 armor donned a more blackish color with more durable attachments on his shoulders, arms, chest, legs and waist. Shepard was occasionally seen wearing a black and white Cerberus officer’s uniform with golden cufflinks around his wrist and a yellow Cerberus insignia while onboard the Normandy SR-2. During his infiltration into Donovan Hock’s estate, Shepard briefly sported a black suit with a white collar and a white dress shirt underneath. When he was brought back to life via the Lazarus Project, Shepard had glowing red scars along his jawline and brow, but after undergoing surgery his scars were completely healed and faded. His body also underwent cybernetic modifications, considerably augmenting his physical parameters and increasing his lifespan. After destroying the Collector Base and quitting Cerberus, Shepard simply wore a crewman’s outfit.
By the time the Reaper War begun in 2186, Shepard’s traditional N7 armor remained the same with the exception of additional items to the omni-tool on his right arm. During his testimony at an Alliance tribunal, Shepard wore a battle dress uniform, which was worn to shreds and covered in blood when the Reapers invaded Earth. In addition, he wore an Alliance officer’s dress blues with three grey stripes on both of his shoulders with golden cufflinks around his wrist and regained his dogtags when he was recommissioned, and continued to wear it throughout the war. While off-duty, Shepard was seen wearing an N7 leather jacket with the N7 logo, red stripes on both of his shoulders, a white t-shirt, navy blue jeans and black shoes. He also claimed to possess an N7 hoodie, but has not publicly been seen wearing one. Sometime after the Crucible’s activation, Shepard loses his left arm and most of his armor was obliterated – bearing several burns and scars across his body. He soon acquired an advanced cybernetic forearm to replace his severed one.
Shepard can be supportive and helpful toward alien species that others within the Council races view as vermin at best or enemies at worst, including the Krogan, the Quarians, the Geth, the Batarians, and the Rachni. Depending on the choices made, Shepard's faith in them can end up paying off big time.
Shepard can be pretty direct in a number of conversations, and though it's lampshaded on occasion, no one really seems to mind. Considering Shepard is a decorated soldier, it makes sense for people to not mince words when they ask them questions. Even when exiting a conversation, they come off as pretty blunt; they don't say "See you later," or even a simple, "Goodbye." It's almost always a plain, "I should go."
Shepard is regularly stated to be the most skilled and lethal soldier in the galaxy and their charisma becomes practically legendary in 2 and 3.
A side effect of the cybernetic implants installed during their resurrection in ME2, which rendered Shepard immune to most drugs and toxins that would easily kill a normal human, while possessing a high tolerance for others.
Shepard can play very dirty indeed with the right skills. Turning invisible to run from a fight, or stab you in the face, hiding behind boxes while letting mechanical drones wear you down, taking control of your teammates to fight for them, freezing you in place so you can't hit back and simply put, paragon or renegade, it's a rare Shepard that lets a fight be 'even.'
- Commander Shepard is named after Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., the second person and the first American in space (May 5, 1961). He later commanded the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 and became the fifth person to walk on the Moon.
- Shepard's birthday (April 11) is the same day that Apollo 13 (an American attempted manned moon landing mission that almost ended in disaster) was launched (April 11, 1970).
- In the advertising for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, only a male Commander Shepard was depicted. For Mass Effect 3, BioWare created a trailer featuring a female Commander Shepard for the first time. In addition, the box-art for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Mass Effect 3 was reversible, featuring a male Shepard on one side and a female Shepard on the other. Presenting Shepard uniformly as male was intentional, as the original trilogy was designed to be cinematic and movie-like in nature. Having a singular, titular character that people would recognize spurred this decision.
- 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.
- Both of the actors who voice Shepard have extensive voice work in BioWare's library of games.
- In addition to providing the voice for Male Shepard, Mark Meer also provides the voices for all of the vorcha and hanar characters, as well as Niftu Cal and Prazza in the Mass Effect series. Previously, Meer provided the voices of Zhong and The Watcher in Jade Empire. Meer also voices several characters in the Dragon Age series: Athras, Jethann, the Lothering Marchant, The First, and Tug.
- The female Shepard is played by prolific voice actress Jennifer Hale, who also voices May O'Connellin Mass Effect. Previously, Hale voiced Bastila Shan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and would later provide the voice for Satele Shan and the Female Republic Trooper in Star Wars: The Old Republic and Krem in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
- 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.
- The default names of both the male and female Shepard are the names for an unidentified male (John Doe) and female (Jane Doe) respectively.
- 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.
- 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.
- Commander Shepard appears in another Electronic Arts game, MySims SkyHeroes, as a pilot.
- Renegade facial scarring in Mass Effect 2 is reminiscent of the effects of dark side corruption in BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as morally questionable actions adversely affect the protagonist's appearance in both games.
- One early idea for Mass Effect 3 had Shepard self-augmenting with Reaper technology, deepening the rift between the Commander and Ashley / Kaidan.
- BioWare held a contest prior to the release of Mass Effect 3 to allow fans to choose a new default face for female Commander Shepard.
- As of March, 2013, 82% of Mass Effect players play a male Commander Shepard (according to Bioware's statistics).