Mass Effect 3 Alternate Endings. SPOILERS

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Arkis's avatar

Literature Text


**EDIT** Holy crap this got way more attention than I was expecting. The comments and support have been amazing everyone!
A few points: Credit where credit is due; this ending, as much as everyone seems to love it, was only created because the amazing team at Bioware created a universe that was so rich and full of life and detail. As much as I know a lot of fans are hurt by what they did, we need to remember that Bioware still created an incredible trilogy, one of the best ever. So hats off to them all round.
Also, this was written really fast and so the ending (specifically the last part on how you actually win using TIM's signal) isn't very fleshed out. I know there are holes, and they can actually be fixed quite easily. This isn't perfect. Also, this doesn't deal with a 'happy' ending. If there were to be one, or you were to even CONSIDER taking the fourth option, you'd need to be damn ready. I'm talking ALL war assets etc to even have a chance. And the ending does not suggest that the Reapers are completely defeated at Earth, merely that portion of there fleet, thus buying time to recover the research from TIMs base. Also doesn't address an epilogue.
But again, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy, and if you are really passionate about it, let Bioware know. Crazier things have happened...**

**SECOND EDIT** I just want to say that I don't think Bioware should change their endings. If you guys haven't heard or seen the 'Indoctrination' theory, I suggest you look it up. Essentially the idea is that once Harbringer zaps you while running for the Conduit, from that point on, it's all a dream/indoctrination. It's really cool, and if it had been properly revealed, would have been amazing. People are theorizing that additional details will be revealed soon. If it's true, I don't think it was a good plan by Bioware, but an awesome idea nonetheless. And yes, this piece below was written with some fanservice in mind.

Ok, so first off, let me say that I liked what Bioware TRIED to do with the ending, I just think it was handled soul-crushingly poorly. SO, I decided while I was bored this morning at breakfast I wanted to try rewriting it to flesh it out some/ try and make sense of it/ give it one other add-on. I know alot of people demand a happy ending, and I don't need that. I'm fine with sad, it made me sad. I just want it to make more sense.

Alot of the dialogue is from the game as I wanted to fit into what already exists. It's rough, but let me know what you think... sorry about the length.

This begins just after Shepard has taken the heaven-elevator...

Child: Why are you here?

Shepard: *groggily* Wh-where am I?

Child: The Citadel. It is my home.

Shepard: Who are you?

Child: I am the Catalyst.

Shepard: I thought the Citadel was the Catalyst?

Child: No. The Citadel is simply a tool. One that has been reclaimed.

Shepard: I need to stop the Reapers. Do you know how to do that?

Child: The Reapers are mine. I control them. They are my solution.

Shepard: Solution? To what?

Child: Chaos. You bring it on yourselves. The created will always rebel against their creators. So it was with us. So will it be with you. But we found a way to stop that from happening. A way to restore order for the next cycle.

Shepard: By wiping out organic life? I don't understand...

Child: No. We harvest ADVANCED civilizations. Preserve them from their own mistakes.  Leaving the younger ones alone. Just as we left your people alive the last time we were here.

Shepard: But you killed the rest...

Child: We helped them ascend. Preserved them in Reaper form. Saved them from their own creations.

Shepard: What creations? What are you talking about?

Child: The synthetic. The new child that is born of organics. The child that destroys everything.

Shepard: What?

Child: We were like you once. We flourished and spread throughout the galaxy. We unlocked the secrets of the universe. We could bend the very fabric of nature and time, leap the galaxy in a single stride, but even that was not enough. We searched for purpose, a reason for our existence....
Shepard: You were organics?

Child: We were children of the stars. Searching for where we fit into the pattern of the cosmos. And when we discovered the truth, it destroyed us.

Shepard: What truth?

Child: Organic life has no purpose. We are an accident.

Shepard: An accident...

Child: We were a simple pattern. Basic chemistry combining into unusual chaotic forms. When we mastered the galaxy we found there was nothing else remaining. We were lords over a domain that had no need for us.

Shepard: That... but, why kill us? I don't understand! You found the edge and now you're punishing us for it?!

Child: No. We are saving you. Our children, our synthetic creations, did not suffer our qualms. They did not need to find purpose, they were created by us. We had given purpose to them. And that gave them the power to choose to rebel.

Shepard: You were beaten by your machines?

Child: You have seen the pattern yourself. The Geth. Your Rogue AI's. Even now, the pattern is repeating. As it did with us. As it always does. The war threatened to destroy everything. Our own weapons could wipe out suns, harness the dark energy of the universe that bound it together. We could have destroyed the galaxy.... we nearly did.

Shepard: The relay network....

Child: Our weapons. We realized that if the synthetics defeated us, they would not stop. All life, however simple, however small, would be destroyed. Eventually they would spread to other galaxies. They were infinite, could last indefinitely. And then the great accident, the great miracle of life, would be doomed.

Shepard: But you found a way to stop them! We're still here! Just tell me how!

Child: We became them.

Shepard: What?

Child: We could not defeat the synthetics. Not as we were, frail, mortal... flawed. So we evolved. Preserved ourselves as those you know as Reapers. We ascended.
We became the synthesis of life and machine. And we destroyed our children.

Shepard: But why all THIS?

Child: Our time was over. We knew we had reached the crucible of our existence. But we will not allow those who followed in our footsteps to repeat our mistakes. You will create your own destroyers, if you are allowed, and doom ALL life again. We do not give you that chance.

Shepard: But you're not saving us! You're dooming us!

Child: No. We are preserving you.  You use our technology, spread through the galaxy using the Mass Relays, never learning the secrets for yourselves. Thus we confine you to this galaxy, so that we may preserve you. We divide you, cripple you from within. Turn your own forms against you. Contain your mistakes. Then, we allow you to ascend to become one of us, and thus, safeguard the next cycle.

Shepard: We don't WANT to be preserved! We want to keep our own form.

Child: You cannot.

Shepard: The defining characteristic of organic life is that we make our own choices. Take that away, and we become no better than the machines you claim to protect us from. We can choose not to repeat the pattern.

Child: You have already repeated it. The geth are only the first step. And even now, they have risen to a state of being that will allow them to destroy you, should they choose.

Shepard: They are standing beside us. We still have a choice.

Child: Yes. You have more choice than you deserve. The fact that you are standing here proves that. Despite all our plans, you have found a way around them. There is no certainty that another cycle will not do the same. The solution is....flawed. And then there is the Crucible. It has changed things. Created new possibilities.

Shepard: I don't understand. What does it do? How does it work?

Child: We could rewrite the stars in our time. The Catalyst was our greatest achievement, a machine that could alter mass and rearrange matter at will. The Crucible focus's that. Takes what it is given and allows the Citadel to spread it. But I cannot control it so I cannot make that happen.

Shepard: Make what happen?

Child: What you came here to do. You can destroy us, if you like. Wipe out all synthetic life in the galaxy, including the Geth. Even you are partly synthetic. It will give them time to find a new solution....But your children WILL repeat the chaos.

Shepard: But the Reapers will be destroyed?

Child: Yes. You may also use it to control the Reapers.

Shepard: So, the Illusive man was right...

Child: Yes, but he could not control us, for we already controlled him. The catalyst will let you merge with them. But it will destroy you, consume you utterly.

Shepard: But the Reapers WILL obey me?

Child: Yes.... We will do as you will. But without us, the pattern will reappear. And you will eventually choose for us to begin the cycle again, this time perfected. There is however, a third option.

Shepard: Which is?

Child: Synthesis. You are partly synthetic. Merge with the Catalyst and you can change all life in the galaxy to become as you are. As we are. Synthetic and Organic. The entire galaxy will ascend.

Shepard: The...whole Galaxy? That's impossible.

Child: Is it? You have seen it already. It is how we are able to combat you, fusing your forms with synthetic matter to create new DNA. You call them 'husks'.

Shepard: But...the whole galaxy....

Child: Everything in the universe is energy. Matter, mass, even time is nothing more than that. The Relays and Catalyst are simply tools that control that energy. Life will be preserved. The growth will be stopped. And there will be peace.

Shepard: Why are you telling me this?

Child: You have done what no other organic has. You have proven that our solution can be overcome. We underestimated you before, thought of you as a mere inconvenience. But you are more than that. You have given us a new...perspective...Variables that we cannot forsee.

Shepard: The perspective that organics don't like being murdered? Something tells me you haven't been paying attention...

Child: We have eradicated eons of life. You have done what none of them could. We do not confess that lightly. Whichever you choose, once the energy from the Catalyst is unleashed, it will destroy the mass relays.

Shepard: But if we lose the relays... We'll have nothing. Whole civilizations will fall!

Child: That is a possibility.

Shepard: But... I don't... I can't....

Child: The paths are open, Shepard. You must choose.

*Shepard looks down at her bleeding side, then up at the raging battle above her head. We see ships of all sizes being shot down, Reapers crumbling under crushing fusillades  of fire. You can now choose to go down one of the three paths. OR... you can wait...*

Shepard: I... can't make this choice...

Child: It is the choice you asked for. It is salvation.

Shepard: No matter what, it damns us! Without the relays we will lose everything!

Child: Perhaps.

*We see the battle raging on Earth, squad members we have saved, armies we have recruited, all fighting desperately against overwhelming odds. Shepard, looks to the Catalyst.*

Child: You have no other way Shepard. Your followers trust in you. Make your decision.

Shepard: They didn't trust me to destroy us! You can stop this! You can choose to call them off! Just leave!

Child: No. If you will not choose a new solution, the cycle will continue. We will simply... reassess, for the future.

Shepard: It doesn't have to be that way! You can still give us a chance!

Child: We cannot. Your followers trust you to save them. You cannot. Not as you wish. This fight is in vain. We are giving you a chance. One that is more than you deserve.

Shepard: I won't play God...

Child: Your friends are dying Shepard. *The boy turns into the Virmire casualty* I know you'll do whatever it takes to get us through this, skipper.

Shepard: Go to hell...

Child: *turns into Anderson* Come on child. This is what you're here for! This is how we win! We can't fight them conventionally, you know that!

Shepard: FUCK you! I won't! I've beaten your kind already!

*We see the battle raging above them, the massed fleets being obliterated on both sides*

Child: *morphs into Hackett* We threw everything we had at Sovereign, and that was just one Reaper.... We just can't stand up against them. Not even together.

Shepard: No! We've broken the pattern! We've allied with the Geth! We've unified our species! It doesn't have to happen again!

Child: *turning into LI* You know we can't do this. We can't come this far just to throw it away! We're dying out here!

*Shepard can now choose one of the three options OR gamble everything...*

Child: *Illusive Man* Don't throw away everything over your ideals! This is the only solution!

Shepard: *turning to the child* Oh my god... you're scared... aren't you?

Child: No.

*a Reaper above them is destroyed under a feirce volley of massed ships*

Shepard: Yes.... you are... You should have rolled over us by now.... But you didn't...

Child: We have been merely delayed. If we must, we will destroy you all. We have offered you salvation.

Shepard: No.... you offered me a way to stop the fighting. You've never faced something like this before... The Illusive Man knew how to beat you, knew he could disrupt your armies... that's why you attacked him. Indoctrinated him. He came up with another option, he just didn't know it. He he thought he'd found control.... but he really found out how to turn that into Chaos.

Child: *aloof* We held the power to rewrite the stars. We are perfected. We cannot be defeated. Choose.

Shepard: Bullshit. You're not perfected. You're MACHINES. Machines that sit on the edge of the galaxy, lurking where we can't find you when you're vulnerable. Vigil said it himself. That's why you USE us! Turn our own people into your armies! You can't beat us on your own!

Child: We are the salvation of all life. We have swept away all before us.  We will do so again.

Shepard: By blindsiding your targets through the Citadel! By coercing us into a trap with the relays! You've always picked off your opponents independently! You used the same tactic with the Collectors! You've never had to stand and fight the combined might of a galaxy united!

Child: Your arrogance will only lead to your destruction. Choose.

Shepard: No. We killed Sovereign. We killed the Reaper at the collector base. We killed them on Rannoch, on Tuchanka, and down there! We stopped you from using the Alpha relay, and you're spread thin. The Illusive Man found out how to control your armies, disrupt your signal. That's why you attacked him, you were scared. We can beat you.

Child: Paltry victories.

Shepard: Maybe. But the combined might of the galaxy is holding you back. The Krogan and Turians on Palaven, the Quarians and GETH on Rannoch. And we'll do it, here, on Earth.

Child: We have given you fair solutions Shepard. Options to fix the system.

SHepard: No you've given me YOUR options. We've shown you we can win, and you're looking for a way out, a way to cripple us because you can't do it the way you used to. You failed at playing God and now you want me to wipe out your mistakes! Well I won't. I choose what we've ALWAYS chosen. I choose to take our damn chances.

Child:  You would risk the eventual destruction of all life? Risk the future to the likes of the Geth? The Krogan? More like them will follow. Do you trust them?

Shepard: They put their trust in me to unify them. I trust them to finish the job.

Child: We thought you were different Shepard. We thought you would understand.
Shepard: Happy to disappoint.

*The child transforms into Harbringer*

Harbringer: So be it. Shepard. *then disappears*

*Shepard collapses*

Shepard: Admiral? Hackett? Anyone...

*we see the crews of multiple ships, the soldiers and charcaters fighting below all in the midst of hectic combat hearing Shepard's broadcast. What happens next is dependent on whether or not you have enough war assets/readiness to actually break the reapers here. If you don't the Reapers win, no questions asked, and the cycle remains unbroken.*

Shepard:... I don't know if you can hear me. But the Crucible is not an option... it won't save us... It won't bring us victory. I know a lot of our friends have died for this chance. But this isn't the end. We can beat them. You can beat them. They've always won by dividing us, turning each other against ourselves. But no longer. You CAN beat them. The ships next to you, the soldiers fighting by your side, can beat them. They aren't invulnerable. We beat them at Rannoch. We beat them at the Citadel. You can BEAT THEM NOW. You can break the back of the greatest threat the galaxy has ever known, because you, together, are the single greatest force this Galaxy has ever seen. Give them hell.

*The battle that follows is the epic conclusion, as Shepard watches, broken and bleeding, as everything he has put into this unified force throws itself at the Reapers. This is where all those decisions come to fruition. We want to see those War Assets fighting. The Destiny Ascension obliterating a Reaper with it's main gun before being swarmed over by Destroyers, the Geth armada pulling along side to save her. The Salarian STG calling in a biotic artillery strike on cluster of Reaper troops. Wrex and Garrus, on the front sharing a  stern moment in cover, before nodding to each other, brothers in arms, before charging over the barricade. Back to back, they face down hordes of husks, Wrex shouting defiantly, "You think you can take our future!? You think YOU CAN TAKE MY CHILDREN?!"
We want to see the Quarian flotilla scrambling, all guns blazing, trying desperately to form a battleline, as one of the admirals quietly turns to their crew, signalling his ship all ahead full. "For the homeworld. Keela..." their words cut off as the live-ship rams a Reaper, exploding spectacularly and damaging two others. We want to see the Normandy frantically weaving through the wreckage, Joker and EDI yelling warnings to one another as the fleets explode around them. We want Tali leading a charge of Geth Primes against a Cannibal gun line. Rachni drones swarming over a Reaper Destroyer by the thousands, pulling it apart from the inside. We want to see Grunt wrestle a brute to the ground and unload his shotgun into his head.

Happy or sad, we just want to see those decisions play out. We want to see that what we did mattered. And as the battle unfolds, you are left with the Choice. Do you think you have enough? As Shepard bleeds out, watching all he/she loved go up in flames, do you take the risk? Provided you have enough manpower, can you break the back of the Reaper fleet, though at horrendous cost? Once the battle is over, and the truth of what the Illusive Man discovered is revealed, the remaining survivors get the word out that there is a way to disrupt the Reaper signal, scatter the Reaper armies. Or something*
*Front page!? THANKS GUYS!! :D*

60,000 views in exactly 48 hours. Unreal. I'm flabbergasted and humbled by the response, again, thanks.

A quick note: I think the 'Indoctrination' theory is probably the best one out there. And I think it's a really friggin' cool idea as to why the ending is the way it is, even if I think it should have been tied up alot better. This was created for kicks as a 'this is the alternative the fans seem to want' piece. I don't think it's particularly good/clever, but I'm thrilled so many of you are enjoying it.

A quick revision of the dreaded ME3 Endings, which crippled what was otherwise a phenomenal game and trilogy.
© 2012 - 2021 Arkis
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TheMythicalMenagerie's avatar
It's the ending the Bioware should of done.
godlikenative's avatar
I've just seen this from /r/masseffect and it brought back all the feelings... I think this is what we all wanted. Thank you for writing it
Short-Change-Hero's avatar
OMG IT--ITS PERFECT! THANK YOU!!:officechair: 
BlazeInferno's avatar
I remember finding this years ago, and I was in love.  I don't know if I commented back then, and I don't know why I didn't favorite it at the time.

But as far as I'm concerned, *THIS* is the ending I choose for Mass Effect 3.
Izumi-koizumi's avatar
I really like your final... I would like to see it in my screen... crying seeing everyone together giving their very best for the best of the galaxy. 
I had a final too... but that is only a think that It was in my mind with shepard alive. If that is something that I can feel playing the game is that Shepard should be tired of fighting. So If Shepard stays alive... I would like to see him/her see the fallen ships on Earth and when the war is over speaking with the scuad:

"whe won, Now what?"

Shepard take a long breath and left his weapon aside "Now? It's all over..." *turns to see his/her scuad members* "Dismiss..."

And there he could die in peace... 

I have to admit that your description of the last final, almost make me cry only just for imagine it.... Was perferct... I really enjoyed it... It would be good if Bioware worked better the final of this excelent series.

Congratulations for an EXCELENT final.
Stickeavo's avatar
I read about the controversy multiple times for the following months in 2012. But playing the game and witnessing my decisions being ignored like that, was a blow. I don't think I'll be playing the Mass Effect series any time soon. Even with EC, none of what you did mattered. Sure, slideshows show you the aftermath of the war but I wished to see... more. I worked my ass off to get Krogan support. Curing the genophage was a gamble but since I know Wrex and Eve, I trust them to do what must be done and guide the Krogan. It won't be easy but I trust their leadership and I'm sure that many other clans do too. I had to fight a Reaper ON FOOT and yell at a stupid admiral to get the Geth and Quarians on my side. I sacrificed human lives so I could save the Ascension(I love that ship). I was chased down by Reapers while trying to find more ships for my fleet. I united three of the most dangerous mercenary bands under one banner(even if it's temporary). I freed the Rachni Queen TWICE knowing that she might become a HUGE problem. I took that gamble and it paid off. Her workers helped with the Crucible and I had her warriors at my side. Yet, not only does none of that is shown but you are given three choices and if you refuse, then "screw you, everyone is condemned to extinction". What happened to Commander Shepard? Throughout the series, Shepard always solve problems on his/her terms whether you play renegade or paragon. Shepard never submits to what someone else says. S/he does what s/he sees fit for the situation. Yet, in the last 10 minutes of the adventure, Shepard must submit to what the Reaper's creator says? It hurts more when you play the trilogy on a row to be rewarded by this atrocity of an ending we have. Even the Extended Cut doesn't change the fact that you've just spend 90 hours(the trilogy) making all the "right" choices to see none of it matter in the end.
Chika1345's avatar
This is great and I wish there had been an ending like this where all of our decisions actually mattered and made a difference in the end of the game. I'm hoping that Dragon Age Inquisition lives up to it's promises of varied endings that are affected by your decisions, it seems Bioware learned a bit from the reactions Mass Effect 3's ending caused.
This and the MEHEM are both awesome.
Thank You! I just finished ME3 a few days ago and I am still pissed at that load of crap endings I got! That has made me feel like I wasted all those hours of my life for nothing! I almost wish I never listened to my stupid brother and started playing them! I was pissed enough that they killed Shepard, only to follow up with that "oh here you go, we are sick of writing this" garbagefest of endings makes me want to kick them.. But you, you made it,,,,,,,,,,Better!
trent-redfern's avatar
I'd like to forget the ending I had to witness for Mass Effect three and just pretend I read this as a spoiler. THIS is now the ending of Mass Effect 3.
I find the Indoctrination Theory implausible and ad hoc- this ending, on the other hand, strikes me as elegant. You've preserved alot of the concepts and outline from the Starchild conversation, but the changes you've made make the whole story more consistent and plausible- in particular, the bit about the reapers become synthetics in order to save the galaxy from themselves. Also makes their motivations for harvesting organics make more sense.

But the most important part, I think, for most fans, is the bit at the end- where THE CHOICES WE'VE MADE AFFECT THE ENDING; seeing the characters who survive, or the war assets we've acquired, in action, would be just the sort of customization we've been given all along (it would make the ME3 ending much more like the ME2 ending- which was superior, if for no other reason because OUR CHOICES MATTERED). Too bad BW didn't take notes, as this is far superior to the EC and refuse ending they tacked on to placate fans.
RaptureRue's avatar
This is now my head canon.
Hey! Anybody out there tech-savvy enough to just make an "unofficial" dlc with such a great ending? You know, like those mods or unofficial patches that make old games look so good. Whoever made such a thing would be forever praised. I swear I'd do it myself had I the know-how!
I WANT A DLC WITH SUCH GRAND FINALE!!!! MATE, IT MADE MY HAIR STANDING!!! IT'S AWESOME! It's just what I (and I'm sure the majority of ME fans) has expected the finale to be! Bioware MUST come out with such a thing. Only way to redeem thei name.
This kind of thing proves my point.
My fellow gamers, the time has come for us to rise up from being simple consumers and become content creators ourselves.
FUCK the system.  FUCK the bullshit mandatory DLC.  FUCK it all.
We will make our own stories, our own adventures, our own glories.

The time has come to show these worthless sacks of shit what real gamers can do when motivated enough to do more than fanfiction for THEIR intellectual property universe.  We will NOT go quietly into the night.  We will make our own fantastic worlds and they will be BETTER than the tripe they try to shove down our throats for $70+DLC costs.

Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are the revolution.  The internet is our oyster.
Now who's with me? :)
Kalawaki's avatar
The main reason the Mass Effect 3 ending was so bad is because they used a different writer for the third game. They fired the person that had been writing the plot for the first two games.

The original ending was much better.
PersephoneEosopoulou's avatar
To be honest the Dark Energy ending actually sounds pretty stupid as well, either sacrifice Humanity so they becomes Reapers as well and they solve the Dark Energy problem but the rest of the galaxy is spared or kill the Reapers and hope that galaxy can find a solution in the little time left.

That actually sounds just as bad no matter how well structured.
bethmora's avatar
This. All of my yes forever.
ShadesOfTruth's avatar
I find it odd as well that they would opt for a war of attrition via direct confrontation. I mean, granted that the Crucible could end the Reapers, they were still in the dark on what the Catalyst was. To bank on only one course of action to win a war would be foolhardy. It has been proven that they could eliminate Reapers but takes more firepower. Couldn't they just resort to a hit and run tactic? Or have a side-development of arms which is feasible since the Crucible science team can surely come together to brainstorm a more effective type of artillery which they can base off on the ones known to have been able to take down Reapers (i.e. Quaraian Flotilla ammunition). The ending really made little sense to me in terms of military strategy. Don't get me started on that surprise AI kid. Sigh. The story was great up until Sanctuary / after Priority: Thessia.
SkrDoodle's avatar
Better ending than what was given in-game.
Eternally-Twisted's avatar
This is what we really deserved from ME3! Maybe, depending on certain choices, or reputation, that's what determined who lived and died? And that epilogue... I'd hope they wouldn't pull a Dead Space 3, make us pay out the ass for what really should've been there.
This is awesome bro! Wish Bioware would've brought you on as a writer for the final game. That would have been epic.
Sylvanio's avatar
My God,when I began reading the final battle description,Wrex line,and all that,I cried. This is so beautifully written.... Makes me wonder why Bioware screwed up.
Awesome Ending. If Bioware doesn't implement this in some future DLC, then I hope someday when a Mass Effect Trilogy movie is being made, they use this version as a climax. [link]
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