The community seems to be split on this, with most people disliking the endings, and a handful of people who say they are fine, and the arguments about what makes an ending "good" or "bad" tend to miss the point. In my mind, the biggest problem with the ending isn't that it is disappointing or poorly writting (it is, but I'll get to that in a minute). The problem isn't the tone, the ending could have been happy or sad (preferably one or the other depending on choices, but again, I'll get to that in a minute), and it would have worked either way. The problem is that the ending is simply wrong. It is incorrect. It is simply not what the series was building up to. This is a long post, but that's the long and short of it, so stop reading there if you want. It's like if Return of the Jedi had the ending to 2001: A Space Odyssy, because in essence, that's exactly what happened. At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke opened up a portal to another plane of existance where a some illdefined God-like being told him "Your friends are screwed, but you can sacrifice yourself to save them." He did it, and that's it. Roll credits. We don't get to see how it all turned out, or how anyone reacted to his sacrifice, and we don't get any explainations as to why that just happened. We just see a wierd looking explosion, and maybe one reaction shot. The End. But let's get to specifics. Since this will walk through the entire ending, don't read this if you want any surprises. Let's start with Shepard getting knocked out by Harbinger. That was Harbinger right? I mean, they all look the same to me. Anyway, Shep gets knocked out and from this point on it's never really made clear what's going on. The first time this happened to me, I let the three husks kill me because I thought it was like the nuclear bomb scene from Call of Duty, or a dream sequence or something. I supose between Reaper Indoctrination and Protean Beacons screwing with your mind, this series is already prone to wild theorys of "Everything after ____ is just happening in Shepard's head," but the presentation here makes the idea so plausible it's distracting from what's actually going on. In the next bit, we join Anderson on the Citadel, and again, I really don't know how that worked. Was he just slightly ahead of us? No. We would have been able to see him. Was he behind us? No, he gets to the Crusable controls before we do. Was he take a completely different route to get there? Maybe, but I didn't see any other paths. Whatever, the Illusive man shows up and you talk him down. I liked the way this bit mirrored the ending to the first game. Then Anderson dies. No complaints about that, I think everyone saw this coming. Honestly, I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did. He's the mentor figure, he has to die, it's like a trope or something. But here's where things really start to go wrong. We get beamed up to... somewhere and meet the Star Kid, and well, someone in another thread put it best: "The Catalyst starts going on and on about how the created will always kill the creator. The most critical moment in the game, and yet, there's no option to jerk that kid up by his holographic hair and say, "Bulls***! Look out there. Geth and Quarian, fighting side by side. Look at the Normandy, look at Joker and EDI. We're making it work. Maybe it will last, maybe it won't, but who the f*** are you deny us the chance to try?"" This right here, is my second biggest problem with the ending. We finally have an explaination for the Reapers, and it completely contradicts the theme of the series, or at least this game in particular. Getting the Quarians and the Geth to work together is, to me, the defining moment of the game. It is also the only "pure" victory Shepard ever gets during the main storyline, that is to say, it's the only victory without a "but" attached to it. Shepard escapes the Sol system, but Earth falls. He brokers a peace between the Krogan and the Turians, but in doing so shuns the Salarians or dooms the Krogan. He finds the Prothean beacon on Thesia, but... you get the idea. And also, where does the Star Kid himself fit into that little theory of his? Is he the creator or the created? If the Reapers have been faithfully carrying out the will of their creator for untold millions of years, doesn't that completely contradict what he's saying? And now you have your choice, and my biggest issue with the ending. There are so many problems here I don't really know where to start. I guess I'll start with a very simple question: Why does the Star Kid give a damn how many war assets I have? The whole thrust of the game, get more resources to get a better ending, makes sense... right up until this point. Dude's going to shut his ears and go "La la la" just because we didn't want to spend a few hours scanning uncharted star systems? Really? There's also the fact that one big decision to decide the fate of the galaxy just doesn't cut it anymore. You might be thinking "but that's always how it is, there's always the one big choice at the end, and it doesn't really matter what you did previously." That may have been the case in Mass Effect 1, but that was five years ago now. ME2 did a phenominal job of making it feel like all of your choices mattered in the end. You still had the one "big" choice sure (destroy or preserve the base) but you also had all of the decisions about how to prepare for the mission and how to go about infiltrating the Base, all of which determined your level of success. There was clear cause and effect. Upgrade the Normandy to survive the assault. Choose the right man for the right job. Here you just have some vague number that determines which choices you are going to be presented with for some reason that is never, ever, made clear. And then there are the choices themselves. Bioware says there are 16 possible endings, but really there are only 5 with slight variations, and even that is being generous since all five of them basically boil down to "Shepard sacrifices himself to save the galaxy" unless you have enough War Assets (again, why??) in which case you get an easter egg hinting that Shepard survived after all. First of all, this may be nitpicky, and depending on who you romanced, you might not have noticed it, but you see flashbacks to several people during the sacrifice and there's a reasonable chance that you'll miss out on your romantic partner. It's always Joker, Anderson, Kaiden/Ashley, and Liara, so unless you happened to romance one of them, Shepard's final thought isn't of his loved one (or loved ones if you romanced multiple people along the way). The ending doesn't offer any closure whatsoever. It's not abundently clear who lived and who died since it's never really made clear what exactly that green/blue/red explosion does. For all we know, Joker and company really are the only survivers of the assault on earth (how did the squad get back to the Normandy anyway?) and they repopulated uh... Earth? Where did they land anyway? Even if they survived, with the Mass Relays destroyed, it seems like the entire military strength of the the known Galaxy is stuck on Earth. How exactly is that going to work out? I wonder who in their right mind would choose the "destroy all technology" ending, since the Kid flat out tells you that it will destroy the Geth (implying that EDI would die too). We get the little epilogue with Buzz Aldrin (check the credits, that's him) talking to a kid, so we know it worked out... somehow. As always, the ending is vague about the details. I'm not sure if this is meant to be taken as a sequel hook, I kind of doubt it since the message afterwards literally tells you that Shepard's adventure will continue via ME3 DLC. In any case, this is a very poor way of conveying the information that the galaxy went on without Shepard. Mass Effect is a character driven story line. I don't want to see how his children's children remember Shepard, I want to see how his friends and allies remember him/her. So it's not just Shepard's sacrifice that's the problem, it's everything surrounding it. There is nothing worse in fiction than when something tries and fails to bring closure. You can bring closure to a storyline, or you can leave it open to interpretation, but the ending tried to do both, and in doing so, fails.