Commander Shepard (first name chosen by the player) was the first human SPECTRE and commanding officer of the first and second Normandy in the Mass Effect video games. Shepard prevented an invasion of the galaxy by the Reapers and stopped the Reapers' minions, the Collectors, from harvesting the human race.
The player can choose one of three childhood backgrounds and one of three service backgrounds for Shepard. As a child, Shepard either...
- grew up on starships as the child of Systems Alliance naval officers,
- lost his/her parents at sixteen years of age when batarian slavers raided the human colony on the planet Mindoir, or
- grew up as an orphan in an impoverished, gang-ridden area of Earth.
All these childhoods lead to Shepard enlisting in the Systems Alliance Navy at the age of eighteen and being trained in the N7 program, the Systems Alliance's most elite special forces.
After that, one of three things happened to Shepard.
- Shepard was on shore leave on the planet Elysium when it fell under attack by an assortment of pirates and raiders from the lawless Terminus Systems, a battle later known as the Skyllian Blitz. Despite being caught off-guard, Shepard managed to hold off an entire platoon of attackers singlehandedly, earning the Star of Terra medal afterward.
- Shepard was in command of a strike team on the pirate base of Torfin in retaliation for the Skyllian Blitz. Despite heavy casualties, Shepard pushed the team deep into the enemy base, eradicating the pirates.
- Shepard was traveling with a marine unit on the planet Akuze when they were attacked by several monstrous worm-like creatures called thresher maws. Shepard's whole unit was presumed to be wiped out, and only Shepard survived.