While Mass Effect fans love the series for many reasons, to them it is strange to think of the galaxy without Commander Shepard. The protagonist for the first three Mass Effect games is a character that strangely stands out, even considering the fact that a player’s decisions can change the Shepard that they play as. However, there are some consistencies about the Commander’s personality, no matter which path players take, such as the inability to dance that has spawned many Mass Effect memes.
Still, with the announcement of a new Mass Effect game in the works, more than a few fans are holding out hope that the next entry could bring about the return of Shepard. There was even a glimmer of hope around Shepard’s return when a Mass Effect lithograph on the BioWare store had the following as its description: “While Shepard and the survivors are left to pick up the pieces, fans are left wondering what’s next.” This piece of marketing seemed to confirm Shepard’s return and was enough to send the Mass Effect community into wild speculation, creating YouTube videos, articles, and more.
Following the fan craze around this supposed leak, BioWare has since confirmed that the mention of Shepard spawned from a mistake. “Yeah, that was a mistake,” Mass Effect project director Michael Gamble wrote. He later added that the description had been written by people unfamiliar with the game. While it did seem unlikely from the initial Mass Effect 4 trailer that Shepard would return, that didn’t stop fans from theorizing how the character would come back into the franchise.
While it does seem that Mass Effect 4 will bring players back to the Milky Way rather than the Andromeda galaxy, it appears less likely that the famous Commander will return. Not only would that have to canonize the destroy ending of Mass Effect 3, but it would also have to explain how Shepard survived way past normal human life expectancy. Due to the Asari Liara looking significantly older in the Mass Effect 4 trailer, fans believe the sequel could take place hundreds of years in the future, meaning Shepard would have likely passed from old age even if they survived Mass Effect 3.
BioWare has stated on multiple occasions that the end of Mass Effect 3 brings about the end of Shepard’s story, no matter if a player managed to make them survive. The new Mass Effect game will likely bring about a new protagonist, and some are even speculating that alien races could be playable. Besides the squad mates that can be given the occasional order, Mass Effect’s aliens have up till now remained firmly as NPCs, despite many wanting to play as a Turian, Asari, or even Krogan.
Mass Effect 4 is in development.