ATB’s Top 25 Female Characters: (23) Tali’Zorah


“After time adrift among open stars, along tides of light and through shoals of dust, I will return to where I began.”

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.

23) Tali’Zorah vas Normandy (Mass Effect) – 3 votes/87 points

Chris: Like Liara, my experience with Tali is probably a little different than most because I skipped the first game. I jumped in after rescuing her and immediately transitioned into my favorite mission in the series, when Tali is accused of treason and Shepard has to head to the flotilla to help.

Because Shepard is the captain of the ship that Tali currently occupies, he/she is suddenly the defense attorney in this makeshift trial. I love courtroom drama, so I was more than ready to face this challenge. I charmed my way into the judges’ hearts and intimidated when appropriate. I presented compelling arguments. But most of it didn’t matter because the Geth had overrun a ship with Tali’s father on board and everyone thought he was dead.

Long story short, Tali’s father indeed bit the dust after some bad experiments, and my Shepard comforted her, then kept her promise to Tali not to reveal the damning evidence against him just to get a not guilty verdict. I deftly avoided all the traps and Tali and I became BFFs.

Because of her personality and her frequent quips about everything around her, Tali was one of the crew members I brought with me the most on missions. I also really like that she and Garrus ended up together, since Garrus and my Shepard had been an item for a while but moved on going into ME3.

Shaun: Is there a more interesting, fleshed out, creatively composed character in the Mass Effect universe than Tali? I’m not saying she my favorite character out of the bunch, but the thought that went into her backstory and culture has to be some of the most compelling stuff in the game’s expansive lore. As a quarian, a species of space nomads who were kicked off of their planet after their own AI designs, the Geth, became self-aware and didn’t take too kindly to their own genocide, Tali starts the first game on a pilgrimage required by Quarian culture to bring back something of value to their ship. All that, and that’s before you even MEET her character.

From there, you help Tali through political turmoil on her planet, and get to know this sweet, brilliant, slightly naive ninja engineer, and the constant struggle she goes through on a daily basis, both externally (with her enviro-suit, out of which she cannot survive), and internally (the sins of the past with the Geth and her planet). Tali is a textbook example of why BioWare is so deft at creating interesting characters, and she made her way on my team numerous times throughout my many playthroughs.

Joseph: Another member of the Normandy crew, but this one gave me the cold, hard shoulder. Which is a shame, because she would have been my first choice for a relationship with Tron. But I guess her disdain for the Geth somehow translated to our favorite, lovable, misshapen commander. She eventually turns around, but by then it’s too late. Tron’s heart turned as cold as space. But at least she gets a happy ending with Garrus, so that’s something.

Jason: Ah yes, good old Tali. The best space-sista a Femshep could ask for. It speaks volumes of Tali’s worth that fans took to her so well that Bioware was all but forced to make her a romance option come Mass Effect 2 after originally working under the assumption that no one would want to romance a chick with chicken legs. Oh Bioware, you’re so lovably innocent sometimes. Of COURSE we want to romance the chicken legged chick with hips that go on for dayz! That’s just human nature.

Joking aside, however, Tali is also a stellar example of just how wonderful it is to see a character change and grow over time. Once little more than an interstellar gypsy with a nose for trouble, Tali ends up [potentially!] being one of the major players in finally brokering a peace between organic and synthetic lifeforms for the first time in probably ever (if the Reaper kid is to be believed). That’s some seriously big stuff right there!

One of my favorite bits with her though, is how she eventually joins Shepard and the Normandy’s crew as a family member. You notice how her last name is Normandy? Yeah, that’s cause she’s family. AND YOU DON’T MESS WITH FAMILY. Especially not Shepard’s family. One way or another, Tali was like family to you. Whether she was your little sister or your lover (maybe both?), you just had to love her.

And all of this is being said with the caveat that you don’t see Tali’s face until the end credits of the last game. She’s literally wearing a mask ALL THREE GAMES. Just keep that in mind the next time somebody tries to tell you that super realistic faces or acting makes a character better than another one. Because Tali is proof that this simply isn’t true.

Cary: Tali’s elevator conversations were some of the best, especially those between her and Wrex! My regular ME team often consisted of Garrus and Tali. Garrus on sniper, me with a shotgun, and Tali cracking locks — that’s how we did things!. Plus, her backstory had to be one of the better ones of the series, what with all the political in-fighting among the Quarians and personal ramifications of a Quarian’s pilgrimage, which is what led Tali to Shepard in the first place. And, can I just say that I really liked her voice? Well done there, Bioware. If I had a female cat that could talk, she’d sound like Tali.

Christine: Tali has an adorable charm. One of the moments I love from the games is when you catch Tali getting drunk at the bar, probably for the first time too. I got a kick out of her calling a straw an “emergency induction port” and Shepard keeps trying to correct her. It’s moments like that one that show how Tali is still kind of new to experiencing the world beyond her home and it’s that wide-eyed wonder that makes Tali such an endearing character. I just want to hug Tali for being too cute!


(24) Tear Grants

(25)  Liara T’Soni




Introduction/Honorable Mention


(1) Link

(2) Phoenix Wright

(3) Riku

(4) Zidane Tribal

(5) Garrus Vakarian

(6) John Marston

(7) Commander Shepard

(8) Yuri Lowell

(9) Lee Everett

(10) Kratos Aurion

(11) Mordin Solus

(12) Yu Narukami

(13) Bigby Wolf

(14) Auron

(15) Solid Snake

(16) Conker T. Squirrel

(17) Yoshi

(18) Red

(19) Ganondorf

(20) Kefka Palazzo

(21) Crono

(22) Alistair

(23) Mike Haggar

(24) Miles Edgeworth

(25) The Lone Wanderer




Honorable Mention


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