“Our travels now are somewhat different from my normal excavations. I would prefer lengthier studies… and fewer explosions.”
This is our list of the top 25 female characters of all-time. Today, we begin counting one by one until we reach the best of the best on Sept. 30.
25) Liara T’Soni (Mass Effect) – 3 votes/85 points
Chris: As I’ve mentioned multiple times to this point, I didn’t get more than a few hours into the original Mass Effect. That means I didn’t get to spend as much time with Liara as other folks who played all three games in the trilogy did. I also didn’t use her in combat much in ME2 or 3, because I was an adept and didn’t really want to go overboard on biotic powers.
This background is important for two reasons. One, I’m not a huge fan of Liara. Sorry, Liara fans. Two, she still managed to be an entertaining character DESPITE the fact that my exposure to some of her best moments were limited.
Liara goes from a shy, introverted loner with mother problems in the first game to becoming the Shadow Broker. The journey between those two diametrically opposed versions is what makes Liara the most interesting. My Shepard may not have relied on Liara in battle much, but she was always one of the first crew members I would consult between missions, especially in the third game thanks to her vast information network.
Shaun: My first experience with Liara came through a Fox News expose on how the new Mass Effect video game is going to warp the minds of America and pervert our youth. According to the in-depth and very accurate report based on reliably heresy and unconfirmed absolute truths, the player would be able to engage in interspecial pornography with a blue alien sex slave.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I first met Liara. She seemed less like a space hooker, and more like a…huge dork. In a game full of flawed characters seeking redemption, Batman wannabes looking to stretch the law to “get the job done,” and reporters that I have to punch in the face, Liara was a breath of fresh air.
I think my favorite part about her was her always entertaining balance between genius level intelligence, and extreme real world naivete. She’s the only one with knowledge on the Prothean Beacon and how to complete your mission, but her complete lack of world experience makes every encounter and conversation new and interesting.
Combine those personality quirks with the fact that she can kick you in the teeth with her mind, and you had the groundwork for what would become one of the most compelling, dynamic, powerful characters in the Mass Effect universe.
Oh, and turns out when you actually do make her your love interest (the clear choice out of the female options in 1), it’s an intimate, tasteful scene built off love and respect. The report must have gotten it wrong somehow….
Joseph: Liara was an interesting Mass Effect character. While not a stereotypical gray man, she essentially embodies everything we expect to find in an alien species: humanoid, oddly colored skin, still willing to mate with you. Putting the relationship aspect of the first game aside (but seriously, who chose Ashley?), she could have played a sad role in the game’s main storyline. It meant liking her would have its drawbacks, because while you got to have her in the party she would inevitably help you kill her own mother.
And that’s just in the first game. She is one of a handful of playable characters who returns for multiple games, making the time and effort you spend on her pay off over whatever multi-part narrative you chose. Keep up with her and she eventually becomes the Shadow Broker. Not many people in the galaxy can say that.
Jason: One of the best parts of the Mass Effect series was watching all the characters grow over the course of three games (and plenty of DLC). Liara is not exception. Oh sure, she may have started as a doughy-eyed scientist (who I easily fell for I’ll admit), but by the end of the third game she was a biotic powerhouse with access to practically every scrap of information in the galaxy. Despite all that change however, her core character never really changes. She loves to solve mysteries, she’s a loyal friend/lover, yet she’s surprisingly stubborn and lacking of tact sometimes.
Perhaps one of my favorite moments is during the Shadow Broker DLC for ME2, where both Shepard and Liara bicker with each other like an old married couple during a hover-car chase. “Truck.” “I see it.” “TRUCK!” “I SEE IT!” It’s the small moments like these that really highlight the very human-like qualities of Mass Effect’s characters, despite the fact that Liara is a blue skinned alien with telekinetic powers who can reproduce with anyone regardless of sex or species. She may not technically be human, but she’d fit right in with us. Which is, at it’s core, what makes her so lovable. She the sexy blue skinned alien friend we’ve always wanted (but probably don’t deserve).
Cary: It took a couple ME playthroughs for me to make peace with Liara. First time I just found her to be rather uppity and annoying. Second time I paid closer attention to her story, and especially the relationship between her and her mother. By the third playthrough, I met her on a level playing field and took time to really get into her backstory. (Shut up, perv, that’s not a euphemism. Though, yeah…I did totally romance her that time.) Anyway, Liara was a compassionate and feisty ally, and I appreciated her biotic talents in battle.
Christine: What’s interesting about Liara is you get to see her change, grow, and evolve as a character throughout the entire series. When you first meet her, she’s the shy, quiet, and socially awkward scientist who doesn’t go out much or has many friends. By Mass Effect 2, Liara is no longer the shy and meek little asari she was before. She isn’t afraid to stand up to someone, she gets herself into situations that are downright dangerous sometimes to get a job done, and she becomes the Shadow Broker. That’s a huge step up from the first time we meet her in the first game.
I always liked Liara and saw her as a very good friend to my Shepard. She has a kind and gentle heart and she seems to offer a quiet, calming presence whenever you talk to her. It’s always good to have a friend who just by talking to her, it feels like a warm salve on my Shepard’s already stressed mind and heavy heart.