NOTE: Due to the nature of the Mass Effect series, how exactly Commander Shepard is depends entirely on the player. This article assumes the version in question is a "pure" Renegade, not a "Renegon" (mostly Renegade but somewhat Paragon).
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|“||Why would I ever betray you Wrex? I've known you a long time. It's just you and me, taking on the galaxy together.||„|
|~ Renegade Shepard lying to Urdnot Wrex's face upon being confronted with their sabotaging the Genophage cure.|
Commander Shepard is the main protagonist of the Mass Effect trilogy. Despite this fact, he/she does not necessarily have to be a heroic character, and the Renegade iteration of Shepard is an extremely cruel, brutal, and militant individual who operates in a much more ruthless and callous manner than that of the more heroic Paragon Shepard.
Like Paragon Shepard, Renegade Shepard has one of three possible backstories, either being the son or daughter of spacers (Hannah Shepard), an orphan and former gang member from Earth, or a colonist from Mindoir who was orphaned during an attack by Batarian slavers. Renegade Shepard also has one of three possible "reputations": a War Hero, the Sole Survivor of a Thresher Maw attack, or (perhaps most likely) a ruthless individual who is already notorious for using any means necessary to get the job done, also being known as "The Butcher of Torfan".
Throughout the course of the Mass Effect Trilogy, Renegade Shepard consistently shows either contempt or indifference to everyone around them, often being needlessly rude, patronizing, and insulting, even to friends and allies. Renegade Shepard has little if any sympathy towards the plights of others and prefers instead to order angsting allies to "get over it".
Renegade Shepard also displays homicidal and bloodthirsty tendencies, as shown by their always opting for a more violent and brutal approach to solving problems (as opposed to Paragon Shepard who tries to look for a better way than wanton destruction) and seems to relish fighting. Renegade Shepard has also persuaded allies to indulge in their own darker inclinations, Garrus Vakarian in Mass Effect 2 being perhaps the best example of this.
Though Paragon Shepard often finds constructive solutions to problems, and never endangering innocents, Renegade Shepard has little patience for such things and believes in doing "whatever is necessary" to get the job done, regardless of "collateral damage". Notably Renegade Shepard is shown to take a liking to Cerberus in Mass Effect 2, who operate under a very similar philosophy. That Renegade Shepard also displays occasional xenophobic views and tendencies (another major part of Cerberus' MO) is likely another reason for this.
Though occasionally justifying him/herself by claiming that they are doing what is "necessary" this claim loses much of its validity in the face of Paragon Shepard's consistently being able to find a better way and also Renegade Shepard's hypocrisy. Throughout the games Renegade Shepard expresses disgust at the actions of others even though most if not all the time these individual crimes are no worse than what Renegade Shepard himself has done. An example of this would be Renegade Shepard's criticizing rogue Spectre Tela Vasir, even though her loyalty to the Shadow Broker is little different from Renegade Shepard's own loyalty to the Illusive Man. Also, noteworthy is the fact that though Renegade Shepard approves of Cerberus, they are also quick to assume the worst of their so-called allies. This is the opposite of Paragon Shepard, who ironically despite hating Cerberus also sometimes shows them the benefit of the doubt.
Mass Effect 3
Though always unpleasant and brutal, Renegade Shepard becomes noticeably worse in the final installment of the trilogy, something that did not go unnoticed by many fans, with even people who had up to that point argued against Renegade Shepard's villain status admitting that he/she had become genuinely terrible. In the third game Renegade Shepard betrays and murders old allies (such as Mordin Solus and Urdnot Wrex), murders Samara's last surviving daughter after Samara commits suicide to keep from having to execute her, and condemns at least two to four sentient species to extinction (the Krogan, Rachni, Quarians, and Geth).
Following many of these things many fans outright admitted that Renegade Shepard had established themselves as someone who could not be redeemed, with the Moral Event Horizon crossing in question likely being their cold-blooded murder of Mordin Solus when he refuses to help Shepard sabotage the cure to the Krogan Genophage, itself an act that condemns the Krogan species to extinction.
- The "Ruthless" backstory, where Shepard is as a war criminal known to Batarians as "The Butcher of Torfan".
- Upon seeing the state of the colonists of Zhu's Hope (who had become possessed by the mind-controlling Thorian plant), Renegade Shepard elects to just wipe them all out, even though they were given gas grenades beforehand to help defuse the situation.
- Executed Shiala, even though she was not really evil but just being controlled by the Thorian.
- After Gianna Parasini offers to help Shepard in exchange for exposing Anoleis, a corrupt official on Noveria, a Renegade can rat her out to Anoleis and get her killed.
- Condemned the Rachni to extinction by killing the last Rachni Queen, even after learning that the Rachni were a peaceful race and only waged war with the galaxy previously because of miscommunication.
- Allowed the Citadel Council (and everyone else on the ship The Destiny Ascension) to die. While a Paragon Shepard can do this to preserve human lives, a Renegade can flat out admit that their actions were motivated by xenophobia and can support an all-human Council after the original has been killed.
- Casually throws their lot in with Cerberus (known terrorists and mass murderers guilty of many ethically sketchy acts and having expressed xenophobic views). Unlike Paragon Shepard (who only pursues an alliance because it is necessary), Renegade Shepard is very comfortable working with individuals who have a similar worldview as them.
- During Thane's recruitment mission, Renegade Shepard mercilessly guns down a clearly traumatized and unstable Salarian who points a gun at them without even trying to talk them down (which Paragon Shepard does).
- During Jacob's loyalty mission, Renegade Shepard allows a completely innocent woman to be shot to death by a crazed hunter for literally no reason at all.
- During Zaeed's loyalty mission, Renegade Shepard lets innocent people burn to death just to allow Zaeed to get revenge on Vido, showing no remorse or concern for the innocent lives.
- Encouraged Garrus to murder Sidonis in retaliation for him betraying Garrus, even though Sidonis is clearly remorseful over his actions and Garrus killing him will serve no true purpose.
- Betrayed Samara (who had sworn an oath of loyalty to Shepard beforehand) in her loyalty mission and allowed her sociopathic and sadistic daughter Morinth to kill her. Shepard coldly justifies this by deciding that Morinth "is more useful".
- Ignored Tali's wishes and exposed her deceased father as a war criminal. This ruins his reputation, causes panic in the Quarian flotilla, and loses Shepard Tali's loyalty.
- Sold Legion to Cerberus, despite Legion basically saving Shepard's life and desiring to reach out to them.
- Allowed Project Overlord to continue despite it being blatantly unethical. This becomes even worse if Renegade Shepard recruited Legion, and therefore learned that the Geth as a whole are not a threat to the galaxy, making Overlord a complete waste of time and being morally wrong. In effect, Renegade Shepard is allowing David, an innocent man, to continue to be tortured for no reason at all. While they express some disgust at what they see, this does little to redeem them given how by this point Renegade Shepard has committed far worse crimes, rendering their disgust completely hypocritical.
- Committed genocide against the Geth Heretics, even though they could have been reprogrammed instead. While a Paragon Shepard can do this to save the Heretics from being brainwashed, a Renegade does so because of their belief that the Geth are just machines.
- Gave the Collector Base to Cerberus, despite its potential for misuse. This would give Cerberus Reaper technology. More impotently, the base was a death-camp where millions were killed to construct a Reaper ship; this leaves open the possibility of Cerberus killing millions more to finish the ship's construction. Renegade Shepard then immediately betrays Cerberus anyway after doing this.
- In the Arrival DLC, Renegade Shepard commits genocide against the Batarians. While a Paragon Shepard does the same, they do it with regret, and attempts to warn the Batarians beforehand. A Renegade, however, does not warn them and expresses no remorse over their actions; they're well-established xenophobia makes their motivations for committing the genocide very suspect.
- Does not reestablish their friendship with the Virmire survivor, being rude to them on Mars and potentially never visiting them in the hospital before shooting them in cold blood during the Cerberus coup.
- Sabotaged the Genophage cure, which condemns the Krogan to extinction. While a Paragon can do this if Wreav is sole Krogan leader by talking Mordin/Padok down, they still express hope for a cure later. Unless this is the case for a Renegade also, they are forced to betray and murder Mordin/Padok. If Wrex is Krogan leader, he finds out, and a Renegade Shepard will boldly lie to Wrex's face when confronted with the proof of their betrayal before gunning him down.
- Murdered Samara's last surviving daughter, rendering her earlier sacrifice, if it occurs, meaningless. No solid justification for this act is ever given, and it is essentially wanton cruelty.
- Possibly condemns the Geth, Krogan, Quarians, Rachni, or all four to extinction.
- Renegade Shepard is remarkably similar to several of their enemies (which also renders any disgust the former feels for them completely hypocritical):
- Saren Arterius: Both are corrupt Spectres with clearly expressed xenophobic views who have murdered large numbers of innocents in the name of said xenophobia. Renegade Shepard like Saren also doubts whether the Reapers can really be stopped and can also ultimately choose to do what Saren wanted all along: fuse organic life with technology.
- Illusive Man and Cerberus in general: Like the Illusive Man and his organization, Renegade Shepard is a ruthless and amoral xenophobe who believes in doing whatever is necessary to get the job done and further humanity's agenda, no matter who has to suffer for it.
- Tela Vasir: Both are corrupt Spectres who serve someone other than the Council and help further their agenda without hesitation, justifying their actions as being "necessary" for the "greater good' but really just being amoral sadists. Vasir's loyalty to the Shadow Broker is also similar to Renegade Shepard's own loyalty to the Illusive Man; Vasir even points this out.
- Kai Leng: Both are former N7 Marines who come to be dedicated followers of Cerberus that also display homicidal, ruthless, bloodthirsty, sadistic, and xenophobic tendencies.
- The Reapers: Like the Reapers, Renegade Shepard is a genocidal xenophobe who is also an organic being augmented with technology and gets others to follow them and obey their orders against their better judgement. This similarity becomes especially noteworthy if the player chooses to control the Reapers at the end of the trilogy, which causes Shepard to become an actual Reaper.
- Shepard's Clone: They have the same DNA and similar skills, are both xenophobic, manipulative, ruthless, and are fairly self-absorbed. And, just as Shepard's clone is aligned with Maya Brooks, so too can Renegade Shepard potentially be involved with a former Cerberus femme fatale in Miranda Lawson.
- Commander Shepard on the Mass Effect Wiki
Mercenaries and other Criminals