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Best of the Worst: Ranking the Dirty Dozen in Mass Effect 2

The final mission wouldn’t work as well as it does without the fantastic cast of characters in the game.



Mass Effect 2 characters

Who’s the best of Shepard’s crew in Mass Effect 2?

Mass Effect 2 has regularly been recognized as one of the greatest games of its generation, and it isn’t hard to see why. Taking the already diverse and effective sci-fi mythology of the original Mass Effect and re-centering it’s cast of heroes as outcasts and underdogs was a masterstroke, one that made both the returning, and newly introduced, cast of characters all the more relatable.

Today, though, we’re here to find out who’s the coolest. Who’s the best of Shepard’s crew, and who’s the dirtiest of the dozen? Well let’s crack on and figure it out, shall we?

(For the record, this ranking goes by the original definition upon release, with Shepard and Joker filling out the cast to make a proper dozen. DLC characters Kasumi and Zaeed will not be included in this ranking.)

Ranking the Mass Effect 2 Companions

Image: BioWare

12) Jacob Taylor

Sorry Jacob, honestly you’re pretty damn cool, even for the boring straight-man of the group. For one thing your loyalty mission is like an echo of black America in a lot of ways, as an abandoned child seeks to settle the score with his absentee father. Very irreverent and prescient stuff. However, outside of this, your character is kind of the wet blanket of the team, and naturally falls to the rear because of that. Worry not Jacob, it’s like being the least coolest Beatle. You’re still a legend in your own right.% 

Image: BioWare

11) Tali’Zorah vas Neema

Apologies to the many (many) Tali lovers out there, but this writer was never quite as on board with her as the rest of her dedicated legion. Tali is likable enough but her hardcore sensibilities and front-and-center sense of duty make her a bit of an eye roll at times. In the end, she’s one of the toughest characters to connect with in this universe, despite the rich lore her character draws from.

Image: BioWare

10) Joker

For a comic relief pilot who seems to be based on Jamie Kennedy, Joker is a surprisingly effective member of the cast. As the regular pilot throughout the series, Joker is a force who is always present, even when he’s simply manning the ship. His condition, including a visible limp, leaves him a fount of pity, allowing him to be sympathetic even when he’s at his snarkiest. Joker is a much-needed character in a universe that’s as dark as Mass Effect‘s but he’s not the one you’ll remember and wonder about after the journey is complete.

Image: BioWare

9) Grunt

Look, I love the test tube Krogan as much as anyone but at the end of the day, there isn’t much depth to him outside of the brutal killer with an innocent disposition trope. Seriously, though, Grunt is great. Anyone who can slaughter a pile of aliens with merciless joy and then turn around to ask you some very basic questions pertaining to existentialism is a win every time. Simple but effective, Grunt shows another side of the notoriously violent and primitive Krogans.

Image: BioWare

8) Jack 

It hurts me to put Jack this low in a few different ways. For one, she was my love interest of choice in my original playthrough. More importantly though, she stands as an incredibly strong and defiant representation of female badassery, something we are too often lacking in. Jack is the ultimate woman scorned, and her fury is that of a million repressed house wives waiting for their vote to be cast and their voice to be heard. With her over-the-top characterization, Jack is still effective, and someone you want to like even when she’s at her most abrasive.

Ranking The Dirty Dozen In Mass Effect 2
Image: BioWare

7) Sir or Lady Shepard

Unless you’re a narcissistic sociopath, you’ll never relate to your own avatar character as much as you will with someone who is developed and written as a character unto themselves. With that in mind, the halfway point is the perfect place for Shepard. Whether he was a man with bad pick-up lines or a gal telling you her favorite place on the citadel, Shepard is only what you make of him/her, and, as such is the best place for a middle ground.

Garrus Vakarian
Image: BioWare

6) Garrus Vakarian

Garrus is like Shepard’s deadly right hand man for the entire Mass Effect trilogy but he’s never cooler than he is in Mass Effect 2, where he’s revealed to have adopted the moniker of Archangel in order to take on several gangs of criminals. Think of him like an alien version of Punisher. Garrus’ calm and cool demeanor do make way for the occasional quip but none of his personality could ever let on to just what kind of a badass sharpshooter he truly is.

Miranda Lawson
Image: BioWare

5) Miranda Lawson

Though there’s a good argument to suggest that Miranda is only in Mass Effect 2 for the purpose of eye candy (character model Yvonne Strahovski did have her entire body motion captured for the game after all), she is still a very effective force in the game. Her role as both Shepard’s guardian angel, having rescued him from death, and devious demon, for her close affiliation with the morally dubious Cerberus, make her a tough character to pin down. As Mass Effect 2‘s deadliest wild card, one never knows where Miranda will land on any given issue, and that makes her all the more intriguing.

Mordin Solus | best Mass Effect 2 characters
Image: BioWare

4) Mordin Solus

Mordin is basically what every nerd aspires to be. Both a hyper-intelligent scientific genius, and a highly capable killer, Mordin is the best of both worlds. When you add to that his hilariously detached persona and his penchant for breaking into his own re-worded versions of songs, you have yourself a classic character that will go down in the annals of gaming history as one of its most effective and memorable denizens.

Samara | best Mass Effect 2 characters
Image: BioWare

3) Samara

There’s nothing quite like a killer with a code of honor. Samara is brutal and unflinching in her ability to dispatch her quarry but it’s her unwavering belief in a purpose above herself that entrenches her in the player’s memory. Born with a rare condition that was passed on to her daughters, she takes it upon herself to hunt down and kill even her own child, Morinth, when she finds out about her capacity for murder and deceit. Technically you can back Morinth in this storyline (if you’re a sociopath) but Samara is easily the better character, and the obvious choice for those who want to have the best journey through the Mass Effect series.

Legion | best Mass Effect 2 characters
Image: BioWare

2) Legion

Legion, like Miranda, is most interesting because he is essentially an enemy in your midst. A hyper-deadly version of the Geth enemies that Shepard faced in the original Mass Effect, Legion is a sort of sentient robot attempting to make sense of the universe and decide for itself who it will be. Made up of 1,183 minds, its adoption of the moniker “Legion” upon another AI’s suggestion, and clipped manner of speech leaves it always feeling like an enigma. As a member of a race that seems to have no place anymore, Legion’s philisophical search for purpose and meaning becomes doubly effective and affecting.

Thane Krios | best Mass Effect 2 characters
Image: BioWare

1) Thane Krios

There’s a good reason that Thane figured so heavily in Mass Effect 3. Bioware obviously knew they had something special in Thane: a deeply spiritual killer who prays before missions and asks for forgiveness upon success. The number one assassin in the galaxy, Thane will kill anyone, anywhere, anytime but he explains that he can maintain this profession indefinitely, or at least until his terminal ailment finishes him off. Thane truly sees the spirit and the body as separate entities, and hopes for death to take him away from the chaos and bloodshed one day. Until then, though, he is absolutely the best of the worst on Shepard’s crew.

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.



  1. John Cal McCormick

    February 18, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Aside from Miranda being so high, and Tali being so low, and Samara not being dead last, this is a list I don’t hate.

    • Mike Worby

      February 18, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Part of what I love about this cast is how everyone seems to have a different list of favorite characters. The cast is so diverse and people like or dislike them based on their own personal experience with them.

      • John Cal McCormick

        February 19, 2017 at 8:32 am

        No Mike my list is better than yours.

        • Mike Worby

          February 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm

          Look, we’ve all seen crooked John McCormick’s list, it’s a terrible list. My list on the other hand is luxurious. It’s the best list anyone has ever seen, believe me.

          • John Cal McCormick

            February 19, 2017 at 5:15 pm

            I would have put the black guy at least one place higher.

  2. ex fact0r

    February 18, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    “Best of the Worst”? That title kinda insinuates that you think ME2’s cast is bad, lol.

    Either way, Swap Tali and Thane’s positions while removing Samara off the list completely and you’ll have a pretty decent ranking 🙂

    • Mike Worby

      February 18, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      Heh, well the title was intended to touch upon their spotty records and infamous back stories.

  3. john doeson

    February 19, 2017 at 7:05 am

    no zaeed??

    • John Cal McCormick

      February 19, 2017 at 8:32 am

      They don’t have DLC in Canada yet.

  4. Kobie Colemon

    February 19, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I knew before clicking that the hipster white writer would have the only Black character in the game bringing up the rear. I clicked anyway, just to confirm and, sadly, you did not disappoint. What I didn’t know is that the Trump-styled dudebro would also anoint himself an expert on what is happening in “black America” as well. Brilliant! O wise one, dark soul in a white mask, please more pontification on how us poor negro chilluns don’t be got no daddies in da hood ..

    • John Cal McCormick

      February 19, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      This is my favourite ever comment on this site.

    • Mike Worby

      February 20, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      Yikes. I certainly didn’t mean to belittle the black community by writing about a video game character so I’m sorry if that’s what you took away from it. Jacob isn’t even a bad character, he’s just not as interesting as the rest of the cast. If he were in Mass Effect 1 or 3 he would certainly have been above characters like Kaidan and Ashley.

  5. MiamiBeachMedMan

    February 19, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Liara will forever be my number one. Tali is my number two. Edi would be my number three. After that, stack them anyway you like, and yes, I’m tallying from the trilogy, not just one game. Also, brittle bones don’t get it done, so Joker is out. Too many jokes, not enough kicking ass.

    • Mike Worby

      February 20, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      Technically Liara and Edi weren’t really main characters in ME2.

      • MiamiBeachMedMan

        February 20, 2017 at 9:09 pm

        Perhaps, but given the thread of their stories throughout the Mass Effect series, they leave an impression few of the other on the list can match, so despite their lesser roles in the 2nd installment I cannot separate that from what I know to be their characters in the overall arch.

        Thane, Jacob, Joker, Grunt, Samara…while I liked them all, they were all pretty disposable imo. I saved them all, because I love Mass Effect and doing their loyalty missions was a forgone conclusion, but from a character standpoint for me they are all pretty forgettable. Thane is the whiniest assassin I ever done seen, Jacob was just a bit bland, Joker is as previously mentioned, Grunt is no Wrex, and Samara/Morinth is no Liara.

        • Mike Worby

          February 20, 2017 at 9:13 pm

          Fair point, I just don’t think it would have fit with the idea of my article. Still, if one were to do a list for the entire series, they would obviously figure in. I think the two of them are some of the strongest in the 3rd game.

  6. Eric Loken

    February 19, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Jacob was boring, my apologies to the fellow below who didn’t like the only black character bringing up the rear, but Jacob was just straight up boring. Had nothing to do with his skin colour, and everything to do with boring writing, and rather wooden voice work didn’t help. Now Sam Traynor, the communications and computer analysis expert from ME3 – and a fine black lady as well – was a far more interesting character with good voice work.

    I do have to agree with his complaint about the mission being some kind of reference to black America, WTF? I never got that at all, Jacob had not been close with his father, but had accepted that he had been lost in a crash. To find out the mission had gone all Lord of the Flies and his father had become corrupted by the power the circumstances had given him, was the ultimate of let downs by someone you respected.

    And Thane as #1? There was a character I could never connect with. I found him as boring as Jacob. Maybe moreso because at least Jacob’s loyalty mission was interesting. I couldn’t give a fart about Thane’s wannabe assassin kid. And Thane’s voice work was extremely monotone with the added annoyance of the added buzz.

    • Mike Worby

      February 20, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      I wasn’t complaining at all that the mission was synonymous with black America, I actually liked that angle. Of course that was just a conclusion I drew on my own, but if you do some research on the phenomenon of fatherless black children in America and how that effects them, you’ll see that it’s not something I just came up with (which of course doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what Bioware were aiming for with that mission).

  7. Matthew Dupree

    February 20, 2017 at 3:31 am

    For an article on ME2, it amuses me that a third of the photographs are of ME3.

    (Specifically, Tali’s shot comes from meeting her in ME3 in a side conference room just after arriving at Rannoch, Shepard’s shots are the ME3 game informer cover, Garrus’ armor is intact and he’s standing in the SR-2 main gun — a situation which only happens in ME3, and Samara is about to commit suicide in her tiny, tiny ME3 mission.)

    I also entirely disagree with the rankings, but that’s just to be expected of a Mass Effect title. Good article, nonetheless!

    … One last nitpick: Samara herself is not an Ardat Yakshi. She’s just a carrier for the genetic mutation, so any children she has will end up with the disease. If she were an Ardat Yakshi, she would have no children and would’ve shot herself the moment she took the Justicar’s code. Just FYI.

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