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"Mass Effect" (2009): I Kill Garrus on Every Trilogy Playthrough

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Lee has an embarrassingly deep love of all things "Mass Effect." Her favorite is the original first game.

Garrus promotional art.

Garrus promotional art.

Garrus has a huge fanbase among Mass Effect fans, so I wouldn't be surprised if people angrily clicked on this article with the intention of giving me a piece of their mind.

The fact remains, however, that I'm not a fan of Garrus at all. Sometimes I think I'm the only Mass Effect fan who doesn't love him but doesn't hate him either and is just kind of . . . indifferent?

At the most, I dislike Garrus, but not enough to hate him.

Garrus as he appeared in the first "Mass Effect."

Garrus as he appeared in the first "Mass Effect."

I understand why Garrus is so popular, and him being popular isn't my issue. I'm a huge Liara and Wrex fan, and they are very popular within the fan base for various reasons (Liara easily has the best romance—sorry, it's true—while Wrex is just . . . Wrex).

The reason why Garrus is so popular is that he's funny and also sticks by Shepard no matter what.

The thing about human beings is that we won't remember what you say, but we will remember how your words made us feel, and Garrus is very funny. Even in the first Mass Effect, he is known to crack jokes.

Because Garrus has you laughing all the time, you will largely associate him with good feelings—thus, his popularity. But personally, a character has to have more to them than being the comic relief for me to like them. Sue me.

Let me explain why I don't like Garrus.

Garrus is Boring

The first scene with Garrus in "Mass Effect."

The first scene with Garrus in "Mass Effect."

Yeah, I went there.

The first time I played the first Mass Effect, I recruited Garrus purely because I'm a completionist. The first time I play a game, I like to complete all the content so that I can get the entire story the developers are trying to tell me.

So I recruited Garrus. I liked his story about "Krogan balls," but aside from that, I largely found him boring. His background comments were funny, sure, but his elevator conversations with the other followers largely had to do with how he was racist toward so and so species.

He made for an interesting character in that regard, but the fact that you can only learn about it by chance while riding elevators was kind of off-putting. And since I didn't use Garrus much, I missed out on his elevator conversations the first couple playthroughs. This made him boring to me.

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But even getting his entire background in the first game wasn't enough to make me like him, boring or not. Looking at some Youtube videos of Garrus being a dick to Wrex and Tali didn't endear him to me (naturally).

I Didn't Like His Character Arc

Garrus during his personal quest in the first "Mass Effect."

Garrus during his personal quest in the first "Mass Effect."

I remember how it really annoyed me that Garrus was given this entire arc in the first game, where Shepard could steer him more toward being a Renegade or a Paragon, only to have Mass Effect 2 be the same damn thing.

On my first playthrough with Garrus, I steered him toward being a Paragon. This was largely because I was young (I was in my early twenties when Mass Effect came out) so I had a black and white mentality and I was playing a purely Paragon character.

So when Mass Effect 2 was released and Garrus had gone full Renegade, I was initially really annoyed.

The takeaway was supposed to be that Garrus went full Renegade after Shepard died because he was grieving his friend. He felt hopeless without Shepard and decided to try to do what Shepard would do (or what he thought she would do) to make a difference.

So Garrus heads to Omega, tries to be a leader, and gets a bunch of people killed in the process. A lot of fans love that and compare him to Batman, but I actually thought it was pretty childish, and it made me like Garrus even less.

First of all, Shepard never went around randomly slaughtering mercenaries in the first game. She only killed people when someone waved irrefutable evidence in her face. She didn't go looking for fights.

This is because—all evidence to the contrary—mercenaries are people who can change. They are not irredeemably evil. And we have plenty of examples of this throughout the game, some of them our own followers! Wrex was a mercenary. So was Samara.

Helena Blake as she appeared in the first "Mass Effect."

Helena Blake as she appeared in the first "Mass Effect."

And so was Helena Blake, a woman who you can actually talk into walking away from a life of crime. When you meet her again in Mass Effect 2, she has become a social worker on Omega.

People can grow and change, and we have to give them that chance to do so.

Now, if mercenaries are in your face shooting you, that's another thing entirely. But going around slaughtering them for fun? That is childish, the stuff of comic book fantasy. It's also evil.

In the end, Garrus was no better than the mercenaries he despised. He could have spent those two years warning his people about the Reapers. Instead, he decides to play vigilante. The one nice thing about Garrus in Mass Effect 3 is that at least he grows up and tries to warn his people about the Reaper threat. In Mass Effect 2, he's a child.

And what's worse? Shepard is given no way to call Garrus out about it. That's probably the most frustrating thing. When before you could guide Garrus down the correct path, now you're stuck pretending like you admire his foolishness on Omega.

Sorry, but Aria was right. Garrus was a naive child who didn't understand how the world worked. He saw things in terms of black and white. And yet, I don't hate Garrus. Because, as I mentioned up top, I was the same way when I was his age.

I just don't like Garrus, either. (Straight) Shepard needs a man, not a boy. The fact that he's a romance option in Mass Effect 2 is a bit cringeworthy to me.

His Romance Was . . . Unfortunate

Garrus and Shepard in "Mass Effect 2."

Garrus and Shepard in "Mass Effect 2."

It's true that you can steer Garrus back toward Paragon in Mass Effect 2, but the fact that Shepard is always guiding Garrus and giving him wisdom is what makes his romance so cringey to me.

Garrus and Shepard always had a student-teacher relationship since the very first game. To romance Garrus after the fact seems like a violation of that to me. There is just something really disturbing about sleeping with someone who is your mentor.

I tried the Garrus romance once just to see what all these female fans were on about. Even lesbian fans loved Garrus' romance better than Liara's!

And I admit, Liara was given the short end of the stick in Mass Effect 3. Her romance is hardly acknowledged. Romancing her feels like a friendship, while not romancing her feels like being stalked. On top of that, you have to keep confirming your feelings for her, which is a dialogue that could have focused on something more worthwhile.

Garrus, meanwhile, gets so much more content. Characters constantly talk about his romance with Shepard. It's acknowledged over and over. There are lots of cute references and jokes. And Garrus himself can be really sweet.

So why do I hate his romance?

Garrus and Shepard go on a date in "Mass Effect 3."

Garrus and Shepard go on a date in "Mass Effect 3."

I think it's because I don't like Garrus as a character. And there are numerous reasons why I don't like him.

As I mentioned up higher, I consider him to be childish and immature. Meanwhile, there are people who hate Garrus because they see him as a sycophant who sticks by Shepard no matter what. If anything, I found Garrus annoying in the way that he kept arguing with my Paragon character. He constantly mocked her for being Paragon in Mass Effect 3, to the point that I started wondering what the game would be like without him.

It's not so much that I hate a character disagreeing with me, but you can disagree with someone without mocking them. It was just annoying. Especially when Shepard's the one pulling all the weight and Garrus has her to thank for his entire career!

Garrus on Palaven's moon.

Garrus on Palaven's moon.

That's another thing I just can't stand about Garrus: he rides on the coattails of Shepard's success.

When you get to Mass Effect 3, it's to discover that Garrus is now someone very important on his planet and all thanks to his accomplishments with Shepard—rather than anything he actually did himself.

By comparison, Wrex is a badass who had his own accomplishments before he even met Shepard. That is largely the reason why I like his character more as Shepard's best friend: Wrex is Shepard's equal. He's a friend on her level. He's an adult. (It will forever amuse me that Wrex does not approve of Shepard romancing Garrus, much in the same way that I don't.)

Garrus is just a child.

The same can be said for Tali, but I actually find her a likable person, so it doesn't bother me. With Garrus, it's just annoying.

I think it's largely because Garrus is so insecure. His entire career is a bunch of failures, which is a result of his overbearing father putting pressure on him. And because he's insecure, he behaves in a competitive way with Shepard.

I really just don't like competitive, insecure people. Tali is also insecure, but she doesn't project that onto Shepard by constantly trying to one-up her. If anything, she acknowledges that she doesn't deserve to be on the Admiralty Board in the third game, and Shepard is given the opportunity to comfort and encourage her (which I always take).

To be fair, there isn't a huge difference between Garrus and Tali. They were written by the same writer from Mass Effect 2 onward, and are really just the male and female version of the same character. The only difference is, Garrus is significantly more insecure and uses jokes to mask that.

I'm sure lots of people would find that appealing, or "deep" writing, or whatever. But Garrus just isn't my cup of tea. And that's okay.

He is Forced on Me

Garrus' first appearance in "Mass Effect 2."

Garrus' first appearance in "Mass Effect 2."

And finally, probably the largest reason I dislike Garrus is the fact that he is forced upon me as my best friend. Wrex is my best friend!

After playing the second Mass Effect a few times, I got so tired of Garrus that I went back to the first game and didn't recruit him, thinking that maybe that would change something in the second. Maybe I wouldn't be forced to act like his friend when I had largely ignored him before!

Nope! This is not acknowledged. Instead, Garrus will spend the trilogy bragging about all the adventures he went on with Shepard, regardless of the fact that Shepard may not have recruited him in the first game or even spoken a word to him for the majority of the second (I always imagine my Shepard was secretly disgusted with what Garrus did on Omega but—perhaps out of kindness—never lectured him about it).

As you can imagine, I found it really annoying anytime Garrus would say "Like old times, Shepard."

The death of Garrus in "Mass Effect 2."

The death of Garrus in "Mass Effect 2."

My only solution to this problem was to kill off Garrus in Mass Effect 2, during the Suicide Mission. This actually made me pretty happy, since I only had to talk to him once in Mass Effect 2 to get his gun upgrades. And then in Mass Effect 3, I didn't have to put up with him talking about adventures we didn't go on, arguing with my Paragon, and leeching off Shepard's accomplishments (lol).

I actually kill off all the characters I dislike in Mass Effect 2 because I enjoy the added drama (and the relative peace in Mass Effect 3). It also feels more realistic that Shepard can't save everyone all the time. This is something that the loss of Kaidan/Ashley underscored in the first game, and I love being able to do it in the second game as well.

Once you figure out the second game's system, having the characters you dislike die while having the characters you love survive is incredibly easy. And also fun!

I also hated saying goodbye to Garrus on Earth. I never even liked him! And yet he's going on about meeting Shepard at the bar in Heaven? Why was there no other option? If you ignore James for the entire game (which I do), he has a very brief and polite goodbye with you (which I liked), but Garrus acts like the two of you are adoptive siblings.

It's weird and annoying.

Garrus, Fanservice to the Extreme

No, Garrus is not "the real hero of Mass Effect."

No, Garrus is not "the real hero of Mass Effect."

Garrus acting like he and Shepard are best friends no matter what was done for fan service. It was badly done fan service, since it didn't take into account that not everyone likes Garrus.

Because of this, I know exactly how fans feel who hate Liara, and I don't begrudge them that hatred. I feel sorry for them.

At least I can kill Garrus off.

© 2019 Lee

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