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Commander Shepard From Mass Effect Was Originally Very Different

If you're familiar at all with the Mass Effect series, you know that your character, Commander Shepard, is totally customizable. Shepard can be either a man or a woman, and you can alter the commander's looks to suit your tastes. That said, it seems in most circles that the male version of Shepard is 'canon' Shepard.


Did you know that wasn't always the case?

On Twitter a few years back, former BioWare artist Jonathan Cooper — who served as the lead animator on Mass Effect — shared what he called his "very first [animation] test" for the title. And it revealed something rather surprising: the very first rendition of Mass Effect's Commander Shepard was female. According to Cooper, he used some mo-cap work that had already been done from a previous BioWare title called Jade Empire to get a basic "FemShep" up and running. But Cooper insists that "Shepard was always planned to be both male & female."


Despite Commander Shepard being a woman in her first moments as a video game character, though, the male version largely took over as the de facto representation of Shepard online and elsewhere. He was even the default cover star for the series, though Mass Effect 3 included a reversible cover with FemShep on the other side, at least. And all of that occurred even though the female version of Commander Shepard was also voiced by the immensely talented Jennifer Hale (who has voiced characters in all the cool things). Not to knock Mark Meer or anything, but Jennifer Hale has a long list of really awesome credits.

But hey! If you're someone who swears by the female version of Commander Shepard, you now have facts backing up the case that she is the one true Shep. So reverse that Mass Effect 3 cover and load up your game with pride. Male Shep may be the default, but Female Shep came first.