How BioWare Heavily Implies Liara Should Be Your Canon Romance


Liara T’Soni ranks among one of the top love interest preferences for Mass Effect players. Who wouldn’t love the asari right? They’re smart, powerful and attractive. Did we fall in love with Liara’s character on our own? Or did BioWare just give us a push by seducing us with content specifically made for one character? If true, what are their motives for doing so? 

Note to Reader: This article was originally published on Commander Bedlam with the same title on the date of March 28, 2012. Parts of this post were edited and expanded upon to include the author’s opinion on the DLCs which were released after this article was written with regards to Liara’s role. Thank you and enjoy the article!

Arguably, Liara T’Soni ranks among one of the top love interest preferences for Mass Effect players. Who wouldn’t love the asari right? They’re smart, powerful and attractive. Did we fall in love with Liara’s character on our own? Or did BioWare just give us a push by seducing us with content specifically made for one character? If true, what are their motives for doing so? The following article reflects my own opinion and theories. Consequently, I do not claim this opinion as a fact but merely a theory devised by an ardent fan.

When I first played Mass Effect 1, I explored each romantic option for Shepard to get the most out of the story. Early on in the trilogy, there is little bias present to indicate that BioWare favors Liara as a romantic conquest. Sure, there was the quest in Noveria with Matriarch Benezia that provided additional content and dialogue for Shepard and Liara but I thought nothing of it. The final romance scene for Ashley, Kaidan and Liara was fairly similar EXCEPT for the fact that Liara’s was longer and featured more nudity.

In my opinion, the integral attractiveness of pursuing Liara’s character was the allure of an exotic inter-species romance. A tryst with an alien? That sounds like the ultimate science fiction experience to me. Isn’t fiction often times our escape from reality? To imagine, create and experience a whole different world from our own. Giving Liara a unique romance scene is not being biased on BioWare’s part because if she had the same scenes as Kaidan and Ashley then she wouldn’t be that much of an alien… might as well make her look like Ashley.

However, content beyond the first Mass Effect strongly implements Liara’s prominence throughout the whole trilogy’s narrative. First, we have the comic book Mass Effect: Redemption which cleverly weaves a story where Liara T’Soni stops at nothing to retrieve Shepard’s body. Clever because the story flowed without conflicting any player’s canon whether they romanced Liara or not. In the comic, Liara does not declare her affection for Shepard but it is evidently seen how much she cares for the Commander throughout her adventures in Redemption.

Interestingly, If this story applies to everyone’s canon narrative then how about the Shepards who fell in love with Ashley or Kaidan? Their absence in the search for Shepard’s body could dangerously imply the validity of their feelings toward Shepard. Players might start doubting pursuing the Virmire Survivor once more, and might even consider pursuing Liara. Ever since Redemption came out, I started to believe that Liara harbors strong if not romantic feelings for Shepard regardless of who you chose to pursue.

Moving on with Mass Effect 2, I really thought that I would be able to choose Miranda Lawson as a new love interest for Shepard due to Liara’s minimal role. There would be no guilt hovering around me or new content to keep me interested in the Liara storyline. However, when Lair of the Shadow Broker came out… it was a whole new equation. I believe LotSB was the best DLC for Mass Effect 2. LotSB can be considered one of the strongest evidences that BioWare champions Liara’s growing prominence because she was the only squadmate from the first game to have their own DLC with substantial content to flesh out her character and relationship with Shepard if she was pursued.

If you were unfaithful, she address your infidelity with humorous, memorable yet painful one-liners. There are also key moments in the game where BioWare pulls the guilt card on you by showing how much Liara was saddened and changed by your temporary death. In addition, it is possible to have another romance scene with Liara if romanced previously and the right dialogue choice is chosen. Liara’s role and appearance is as nearly as significant as any other regular squadmate for Mass Effect 2.

T'soni 120

So, back to those who chose the VS as their love interest. Unfortunately, you only encounter them on the planet Horizon for a very short time with a lot of bitterness and thus the term “Horizon treatment” was born. “The Horizon Treatment” is a infamous phrase usually used by several players in the forums to describe any poorly executed character role or appearance. Also, most new romantic options in Mass Effect 2 include more content for romance *cough*engine room*cough* but Liara’s DLC reasserts her rank with content as well.

For Mass Effect 3, I was determined with my storyline that I planned out. Previously in my canon, Shepard chose to stay friends with Liara to pursue Miranda. I stuck with Miranda on my first playthrough but it was not easy. Early on in the game, I was surprised that it was still possible to rekindle a relationship with Liara despite making it clear through the meanest renegade responses that it was over. Your decision during the current conversation is not yet locked and final and you still have another opportunity to rekindle a romance. Other romantic options such as Miranda just ask you once and if you reject them… they’re through with you.

Liara is also the only love interest who is available from nearly the beginning and can stay with you all throughout. Also like Mass Effect 1 and 2, there are no ways to directly or indirectly cause her death except for the EMS rating that applies to everyone in the squad. Arguably, Liara has the most interactions with Shepard which includes two well-written emotional scenes. Those scenes are available even if she was not romanced and they only vary slightly.

Even if not romanced, the content of those scenes strongly suggests that strong feelings Liara might have for Shepard. In addition to Liara, Kaidan and Ashley have the most substantial final romance scenes. Liara’s is slightly different mainly because of the unique method of Asari bonding.

T'soni

The Refusal ending was pretty interesting. Liara T’Soni was the one who was talking in the beacon that was meant to communicate to the people of the next cycle. It might sound like it’s nothing, but she’s pretty much the spokesperson/voice for the last civilization. She’s speaking for humanity, the asari, krogan,  and all the other species. This doesn’t have anything to do with Shepard’s love story, but it’s still another strong testament of her importance as a figure in the Mass Effect franchise.

To be fair, I played through the Extended Cut and Citadel DLCs. I think all of the possible love interests got more or less a fair share of time with Shepard in those two expansions. Extended Cut still largely ignored the Mass Effect 2 love interests, but Citadel did make up for their glaring absence in the third game. My point is Liara did not steal the spotlight from anyone else for the most part of these DLCs.

I mean I only got to hang out with her once, when I had to chance to go on two dates with my favorite GMO Miranda Lawson. However, that still does not dispute the arguments I mentioned above.

To summarize my points,(1) The massive role and content of Liara’s character could help influence a player choose her to maximize the experience.(1.5) She is the only one you can have a romance scene in all three games. (2) If she can die, then she is simply very, very hard to kill. (3) Numerous opportunities to establish and rekindle a romance despite of who you chose and times you rejected her. (4) Her character is written in a way that suggests that she has strong feelings for Shepard regardless of status as lover or friend. 

Lastly, why would BioWare ever want to influence our decisions? No, they’re not evil or trying to mess with our minds. I do have two theories why! (1) Possibly, because the writers really favor Liara’s character and hadwritten her in such a way that is endearing to many fans. (2) Through seducing players with these “Liara specific” content and opportunities, Liara’s growing popularity makes it easier to establish a canon romance in other mediums such as the upcoming film.

Her popularity might overshadow the inevitable discontent from fans who chose otherwise. With these in mind, I’m not saying if you did not romance Liara… you’re screwed! Go ahead, choose who you want your Shepard to love. The game is your story to tell after all, don’t let anything like a  movie with a fixed canon storyline to tell you otherwise.

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There are 27 comments

  1. iamfiefo

    I also think they heavily imply Liara is the canon romance because she’s Asari. And they can (conveniently) mate with both male and females. So, it doesn’t matter if you choose a male or female Shepard. You’ll always have the option on romance her.

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  2. Shawn

    I romanced Liara/Tali/Tali my first time through with a male shepard.

    I romanced Liara/Liara/Liara my second time through with a female shepard.

    Both were really well done, but all the funny stuff Tali says when she is your love interest makes her well worth switching in ME2 and continuing the relationship in ME3.

    Like

    1. Uyen

      she’s awesome up until she sings in citadel dlc haha totally killed that sound track for me (I was lost without you) I think… haha I chose “uh….” renegade choice after she sings… and that subsequently killed the mood lol

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  3. Drizzt

    Apart from what was said so far, I’d say another valid explanation would be, that Liara simply falls in love with you. And heavily so. For her it might not matter, that you didn’t respond to her advances. And when she rescues you from death, maybe you’ll see, who is really loving you.

    Liara is – in many ways – an interesting character. But something that became very clear during ME1 is, that she’s also very insecure. Therefore, after having given her heart to somebody, she might stick to her choice beyond was stronger personalities might consider healthy. Simply because she doesn’t want to deal with the rejection. Sure, in later ME parts, she is depicted as stronger/matured, but I often wondered how much she really grew up and how much is just show.

    On a purely personal note: I prefer to play as FemShep (far better voice acting, if you ask me) and I find Liara to be the most meaningful romance option available. From a role-playing perspective as well, since Liara is the Prothean expert and might be the person, that can shed some light on your visions and other things going on around you. Garrus is nice too, but not available at the beginning. Tali would be cool as well, but AFAIK you can only flirt with her as a FemShep.

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  4. Stephanie

    It’s funny — after listening to both – I thought that MaleShep had far superior voice acting — perhaps Citadel was an exception, where Hale raised her game. But, prior — she mostly just seemed fairly monotone and _trying_ too hard – often – to sound “badass”. Then again — after playing both, despite the forum participants skewing the actual #s (around 18-20% are played as MShep, while on Forums you’d swear it was 60 or more %).. I can’t take FemShep seriously for most of the trilogy — it just seems like a comedy almost. I am a feminist by the way — this is not sexism from me. Just square-peg and round-hole (hmmm… probably shouldn’t use pegs and holes to illustrate… ;-) No offense — it’s just my opinion. I think of ME as a Sci-Fi drama and not a dramedy/comedy… Femshep acting all tough at Krogan and such in ME1 … it’s … it is FUNNY. :-)

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    1. Stephanie

      I meant that 18% to 20% are playing as FEMSHEP… That is the correct stat. There are 4 M’s for every one F’sheps…

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  5. April Daniels

    Now if only they had just as heavily implied that FemShep was the canon player character, we’d be all set.

    Like

  6. hwoosh

    Heh. I’ve played through ME1 about six times, but funnily enough never romanced Liara. I think my first playthrough, way back in 2007, with a male Shepard, I romanced nobody at all only because I was grumpy that I couldn’t romance Kaidan. Then in various playthroughs I romanced Ashley and Kaidan in ME1, and Tali, Miranda, and Garrus in ME2. I guess I should revisit the series and finally get around to Liara, even though I think I’ve tapped out any enjoyment I got from the gameplay.

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    1. Yesika Reyes

      Don’t get me started on Miranda. She is the true love of my Shepard! hah

      But you did notice how BioWare kept sending the ‘here’s your chance to romance Liara!’ over and over again? lol

      Like

  7. Faith

    What was confusing for me was, I never romanced Liara. I didn’t romance anyone in the first one and romanced Garrus in the 2nd. Then in the third game I found Liara’s father at the bar where Liara is sitting on the citadel. I decided to talk to her and then she calls my shep, her girlfriend. I was so confused. I never romanced Liara in this playthrough. Now i’m worried it somehow screwed up my romance with Garrus!

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  8. Jamie K

    Great write up. I always knew that the team favored Liara, but never really thought of it in this way. Personally, I romanced Kaiden. I mean, I pretty much wouldn’t romance a female. I generally play video games how I would act myself (or at least somewhat close) if I was making a decision.

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  9. Ryan

    Now, we just need a DLC expansion to support the forgotten love interests of ME 1&2 : Gianna Parasini, Shiala, & Aria T’Loak, then allow me to steal the ultimate love interest : EDI. Honestly, I have romanced nearly all of the possible choices, with respect to leaving Kaidan to hold the line on Virmire, [Revenge is a dish best served nuclear, Carth Onasi] but I did wish that I had the chance to snatch up EDI from Joker if given the opportunity. . Sure, dating aliens is nice and all, but the harmony between organics and synthetics is partly what Mass Effect revolves around, and it’s sad that Shepard never got a chance to romance a synthetic to drive that point home. Besides, who better than the ship s/he trusts his/her life to, an AI with a weird sense of humor and that lovely voice that charmed Ms. Traynor?

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  10. Dr. Mike

    I totally disagree. I simply think that you get so many chances to romance Liara because that is the kind of character that she is. She wouldn’t be my first choice anyway, I prefer hair to tentacles! as for the better Shepard actor, maybe there were more male Shepard fans to start, but in the end, Fem Shep won by a landslide in the polls! As well she ought!

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  11. Jet

    I think that it would have been funny if liara got to meet shep’s parents had you chosen the spacer route. Or even more funny would have been Liara’s dad getting invited to the mass effect party and have Zaeed hit on her rather than samara. I could just picture those to getting on well.

    It’s also interesting that Kelly was just about almost entirely forgotten. Would have liked to see her at least get invited to the party.

    About Liara however in one play through I romanced her through all the content and what annoyed me the most was despite the fact I had never cheated on her at all she kept asking wether or not they were both together. When clear signs in the game before those questions were asked. It’s like watching Tv on your honeymoon unnecessary. It’s also interesting to know liara has a half sister that was only mentioned by her dad. Would have been a good scene if liara met her. It was also kinda of sad because of the ending that liara hints that she’s now pregnant.

    Oh yes I did a play through with one of my shepards having no flings or relationships what so ever and there is a scene with anderson as he is dying talking to you about that. As why you didn’t pursue any love interests at all. despite given the numerous options and opportunities to do so.

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    1. lippy87

      I figure that Kelly was mostly forgotten because of several possible reasons:

      1.) Her role in the game was pretty small. Did we get to party with Engineer Adams in the DLC? Yeah… didn’t think so.

      2.) She did spy on you and your crew, so perhaps she didn’t feel welcome.

      3.) Depending on a variety of factors she could have: died in ME2, committed suicide in ME3, been murdered by Cerberus in ME3, or busy helping refugees on the Citadel.

      Also, considering her complete UNpopularity among the fan base, I’m not surprised that Bioware didn’t really give a shit about her. That said, I actually liked Kelly and am a little sad that she kind of went out the window when her replacement Traynor arrived. (BTW I liked Samantha)

      Like

  12. E.R. Bass

    I found her annoying and obsessive, but useful in the battlefield. Plus, she looks gross in ME2 & ME3… with the scales all over her. It just creeps me out.

    Besides, I figured since the rest of the ME fans are banging Liara, there’s no need for my Shepard(s) to do the same.

    Like

  13. Sherlene

    I truly love your website.. Excellent colors & theme.
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    Like

  14. Taha

    I played me3 first and found Ashley the most appealing to be honest
    Through my endeavour of the whole trilogy preceding it, I saw nothing but envy on Ashley for Liara
    Ideally: it should be Liara

    Like

  15. Chumlee

    What happens if Shepard does not choose a romantic partner in any of the games? Is this possible? What happens as a result of each game? What happens at the end of 3?

    Like

  16. Jess

    I am honestly really annoyed by how clear it is that they love Liara. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with a canon love interest. I still have the choice to do what I want, but I feel it every playthrough–they are trying to convince me to romance Liara.
    Of course they want us to have our pick, but she is definitely their favorite for a number of reasons. Clearly they love her character and want us to see it too. She isn’t forced on us, but she feels forced on us.
    And the Horizon treatment, I agree–it always upsets me. While people argue that Liara loves you regardless of dating/friendship, I feel this way about Kaidan. Whether you like his character or not, I feel no matter which LI is chosen, he secretly loves you and wishes you would choose him, and is there for you as a friend.
    I respect Kaidan/Ashley for sticking to their morals and steering clear of Cerberus, and since they send such thoughtful apology letters, I would even be able to forgive their words on Horizon, but the lack of content for them in the game leaves a player feeling empty. It’s easy to forget why you liked them so much in the first game, because that one argument scene is the only one vivid in your mind. Meanwhile, Liara’s got a whole DLC of content just begging for you to romance her.
    And sure, i can romance someone in ME2 but in the back of my mind I always know there won’t be much of them in the third at all, so I’ve got my pick between virmire survivors and Liara once again if I want an in-depth, imported romance.
    Also, like other squadmates, I think you should be able to kill Liara somehow, if that’s what you want. There’s no reason she needs to be immortal. They find ways to fill in Tali, Garrus–every ME2 role, and virmire survivors… They can fill in Liara if she dies…
    Plus, in one part, I believe Citadel DLC (fact check me) when your LI joins you for the mission, if you don’t have one, it’s Liara. I would’ve thought it’d be Joker-usually how it worked-or you just went solo for things like that in previous games, (a shot of shep alone in his/her quarters without a LI in ME2) but in ME3 I noticed I was seeing Liara more and more . . .

    I think their attempt to prove to us that she loved us no matter what as opposed to others did her character a disservice, because in many instances, it came off as obsessive instead of loving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesika Reyes

      One of the reasons why I was unsatisfied with ME3 vanilla game was cause of the lack of closure with my ME2 romance. Liara seemed like the viable choice to make the most out of the trilogy as a whole in terms of content.

      Yeah, I remember how I ended it with Liara twice yet she still keeps coming back.

      Like

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