Ashley Williams is a human soldier who served in the Systems Alliance as a Gunnery Chief in the 2nd Frontier Division on Eden Prime, and was later assigned to Commander Shepard's squad after the geth attack on Eden Prime. She is a potential romance partner for a male Shepard.
Ashley Williams is voiced by Kimberly Brooks.
Born on April 14th, 2158 on the colony world Sirona in the 61 Ursae Majoris system, Ashley Madeline Williams comes from a large family that includes a long line of Alliance soldiers. Her father was an enlisted man and she is the oldest of four daughters in the family, followed by Abby, Lynn, and Sarah. Due to her father's frequent deployments, she helped to raise her sisters, and the four siblings grew close to one another as a result. Despite his hard work and dedication, Ashley's father never rose above the rank of Serviceman third class, a fact she is deeply bitter about.
Following her family's tradition, Ashley enlisted in the Alliance Navy as a marine after high school and was assigned to the Recruit Training Depot in Macapá, Brazil. During training, Chief Williams was certified proficient with the standard-issue M7 Lancer assault rifle and light to standard-weight combat hardsuits. She also completed certification in zero-gravity combat aboard the Rakesh Sharma Orbital Platform in Earth geosynchronous orbit. For Hostile Environment Assault Training, she was assigned to Fort Charles Upham on Saturn's moon, Titan, where she was awarded a commendation for her bold assault technique in a field exercise simulating an attack on turian point defense emplacements. Drill Instructor Gunnery Chief Ellison noted her steadfast endurance and aggressive instincts, and promoted her to squad leader, and subsequently to platoon guide after observing her effective tutelage of the less skilled members of her training unit. Her platoon had logged unanimous positive feedback on her leadership in the recent fitness review cycle. Private Nirali Bhatia praised her focus on team-building exercises and "tough but fair" discipline.
Later, it was revealed that her grandfather was General Williams, who surrendered the garrison at Shanxi to the turians during the First Contact War, thus becoming the first human to surrender to an alien force. Her superiors' prejudice against her family meant she had mostly been stuck on groundside garrison posts — preventing her from gaining actual combat experience — despite her exemplary technical scores. She repeatedly requested a transfer to a shipboard posting, but each request had been denied, without explicit reasons. Possibly due to the discrimination she experienced, Ashley asserts that a Williams has to be better than the best, to make up for Shanxi, making her dedicated to her job, but also prickly, blunt and quick-tempered. Her aggressive instincts and tendency to speak bluntly are suitable as a field unit, but might lead to complications if her duties require her to interact with civilians. Additionally, her political opinions may be problematic, given the focus on improving relations with the Citadel.
Ashley Williams is first encountered on Eden Prime during the course of Commander Shepard's mission to retrieve a Prothean Beacon. Ashley's unit, the 212, was wiped out by an army of geth also intent on retrieving the beacon. As sole survivor of her unit, and having demonstrated her combat abilities on Eden Prime, Captain Anderson has her transferred to the SSV Normandy. Ashley is uncomfortable about filling a dead man's shoes after the loss of Corporal Jenkins, and blames herself for not being more alert during the geth attack. Over time, she becomes accustomed to the crew, even getting along well with Kaidan Alenko.
While off duty, Ashley spends her time in the Normandy's storage section, cleaning rifles. Upon interaction, she will give feedback on recent missions, or the latest shipboard gossip before anyone else. Ashley enjoys talking about her family and is interested in Shepard's background. She is amazed that she and Shepard went to the same training facility and even reminisces about getting yelled at by Gunnery Chief Ellison.
Ashley has strong religious beliefs but is hesitant to discuss it with Shepard because she's concerned of the uneasiness it may cause in others. Her faith is strengthened by her work in space — "How can you look out at this galaxy and not believe in something?" — and she believes that her father who had passed away is with God. She still remembers his favorite poem, Tennyson's Ulysses, by heart. When Shepard jokingly states that Ashley is the last person the Commander would expect to hear quoting classical literature, Ashley indignantly replies "just because I can drill you between the eyes from a hundred meters, doesn't mean I can't like sensitive stuff! But don't spread it around." Though she is tough and aggressive, Ashley has displayed a compassionate side; when meeting Samesh Bhatia she is very respectful and sympathetic, taking the time to say how much his wife Nirali loved him.
Due to her family history, groundside assignments, and lack of experience in working with other races, she tends to be distrustful of aliens. Ashley doesn't trust the Citadel Council and believes humanity can't rely on them staying allies. She questions the wisdom of allowing Urdnot Wrex and Garrus Vakarian to wander around freely, and dismisses the Prothean Cipher as "some asari mumbo jumbo", believing the Commander has suffered needlessly to get it. However, Ashley acknowledges that Shepard is in command and the presence of aliens on the Normandy is not her decision. That being said, Ashley isn't xenophobic. She dismisses Terra Firma as a group of xenophobic "jackals" who have replaced the original noble aims of the party with anti-alien paranoia. Also, even though she will not hesitate to shoot Wrex if she believes he presents a threat to Shepard on Virmire, she happily volunteers to go with Captain Kirrahe's team and works well with the salarians, respecting their tenacity and skill.
At the operation on Virmire, Shepard can choose to save Ashley's life, but at the cost of losing Kaidan. During the debriefing, Ashley gets angry at Shepard's decision, saying Kaidan was a superior officer and she should have been the one left behind. However, Shepard responds by asking how far Ashley is willing to go in order to clear her grandfather's name. Ashley does have qualms about facing the Reapers, claiming she's infantry and will have no place in the upcoming battles but Shepard assures her that she's needed. Eventually Ashley comes to her senses and agrees to work with the Normandy's multi-species crew to stop Saren.
A male Shepard and Ashley can build a rapport after Eden Prime that gradually grows into a romantic interest. Though Ashley is receptive, she's also not shy about needling Shepard on his attraction to a soldier under his command. Ashley claims she isn't one for words, but her interest in poetry helps her to say what she feels.
When the Normandy is grounded by the Council, Ashley persuades Shepard not to give in and nearly share a kiss before being interrupted by Joker. En route to Ilos, Ashley comes to Shepard's quarters, saying that, after a long career of being sidelined by the Alliance, Shepard helps her to feel "good enough", and the two spend the night together. Ashley continues to tease Shepard; she claims to have something important to tell him, but if he wants to hear it, he'll have to survive Ilos and come back to her first.
Mass Effect 2Collectors and Shepard ordered her to evacuate with the rest of the crew. Though she and the majority of the crew managed to escape, the ship was destroyed, with Shepard killed after being blown into space; a fact that shattered Williams. She remained in the service of the Systems Alliance for the next two years and was promoted to the rank of Operations Chief, all the while attempting to move on with her life.
However, after a string of Alliance colonies had been abducted, it was believed that Cerberus was involved in these actions. Ashley Williams was even informed of reports indicating that Commander Shepard was alive and working for Cerberus. Thus, she was dispatched to the Horizon colony in order to update its defenses to prepare it for an expected Cerberus assault. However, that proved not to be the case as the planet suffered an onslaught from the Collectors while the defense grid was still non-operational. During the assault, Ashley is attacked and paralyzed by a seeker swarm, but is found after the Collectors leave Horizon. Though she is glad to be reunited with Shepard, she is not very fond of the idea of Shepard working for Cerberus, feeling that the Commander may feel indebted to the pro-human organization for being resurrected. If Garrus is with you on Horizon, Ashley will also be surprised that Garrus is working with Cerberus and Garrus will attempt to reason with Ashley claiming her feelings towards Cerberus are blinding her to see the truth behind the attacks.
RomanceNormandy SR-2, showing that Shepard still cares for her. She and Shepard share a brief emotional reunion on Horizon and after the mission, he receives an e-mail from her apologizing for her behavior. She reaffirms her feelings towards Shepard, telling the Commander to "just stay alive out there...Skipper. I can't lose you a second time." Should Shepard choose to remain faithful to Ashley throughout the events of Mass Effect 2, Shepard gazes at her picture for several moments and smiles at it during the journey to the Collector station.
Ashley's email to Shepard after Horizon:
On the other hand, if Williams died on Virmire, a news broadcast on the Citadel reports that Ashley Williams has been decorated for her service by both the salarian and turian governments, receiving the salarian Silver Dagger and turian Nova Cluster medals, becoming the first human to receive these awards and being quoted as saying "human or alien, we're all just animals". While searching the wreck of the first Normandy, Shepard will briefly see Ashley in a flashback.
Mass Effect 3
Ashley returns as a squad member in Mass Effect 3, provided she survived the events on Virmire in Mass Effect. If she did not, Kaidan Alenko will take her place in the squad. By the time of the events of Mass Effect 3, Ashley has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
During the Reapers' invasion of Earth, Ashley assists in evacuating Shepard from Earth on-board the Normandy SR-2, where she then joins Shepard to a mission to recover Prothean data on Mars. Ashley still shows some mistrust towards Shepard after discovering a Cerberus presence on Mars, even becoming more worried about the experiments performed on Shepard after discovering that Cerberus processed their own people. Near the end of the mission, after chasing down Dr. Eva, Ashley is critically injured after the Illusive Man orders Dr. Eva to "finish her." After disabling Dr. Eva and fleeing Mars, Shepard takes her to Huerta Memorial Hospital on the Citadel, where she slowly recuperates. While recovering, Udina offers her Spectre status.
Shepard will be able to speak to Ashley in the hospital after every "Priority" mission, where he/she can choose to be either friendly or hostile to her. In time Ashley recovers from her injury and accepts Udina's offer. When Cerberus invades the Citadel, Ashley is tasked to protect the Councilors but is unaware that Udina is working with Cerberus to take control of the Council. This puts Shepard and Ashley in conflict, and she must be convinced of the truth.
Depending on past interactions with her, Ashley can be talked down. If Shepard succeeds in talking Ashley down she will instead turn her gun on Udina and order him to stand down. Udina will then raise a gun on the asari councilor and if Shepard doesn't shoot Udina, Ashley will. If Shepard cannot persuade Ashley to back off, then Shepard will be forced to kill Ashley. If not Shepard, a squad member will shoot her instead.
If Ashley lives through this, as Shepard is about return to the Normandy she will meet him/her by the docks, where she reflects on how they both almost killed each other doing what they believed to be right. Ashley mentions that she was offered a place on Admiral Hackett's team but that if she has any choice in the matter she would rather be on the Normandy. Shepard can either allow her back into Shepard's squad onboard the Normandy or leave her behind to provide assistance in the war.
Once on the Normandy, Ashley has fewer lines if Shepard isn't pursuing a relationship with her. There is, however, a rather amusing scene in which Shepard finds Ashley having tried to 'get her mind off stuff' by drinking an entire bottle of unspecified liquor. She is subsequently lying on the floor with a hangover, Shepard can either respond to this with playful banter or strict professional scolding.
If Ashley is left behind on Virmire, or killed during the Cerberus coup attempt, her name will appear on the Memorial wall aboard the Normandy.
If Ashley is assigned to Hackett's team instead of becoming the Normandy squad member, she cannot be contacted prior the final battle. She will send Shepard an e-mail though:
If Ashley is in the squad at the final push towards the Conduit, she will be killed by Harbinger along side another squad member if the Effective Military Strength is too low.
When Shepard visits Ashley in the hospital, she will call him out if he was in a prior relationship with her, but pursued another person while working with Cerberus. She is very judgmental of Miranda and Jack but seems more comfortable with the idea of Shepard and Tali being together, saying "Tali is like a little sister, I totally approve... not that you needed my approval." Though despite saying that, if Shepard hasn't built enough of a friendly rapport with her, Ashley does display signs of jealousy during the Priority: Geth Dreadnought mission if brought along with Tali, even making catty remarks towards her.
If Shepard has remained faithful to Ashley, the conversations in the hospital are a lot more cheerful and less confrontational. It is a good place to start to rebuild the relationship. A good tip would be to remain as friendly as possible and to buy Ashley the 'Complete works of Alfred Tennyson' from the Huerta Hospital gift stand.
If Ashley is chosen to come aboard the Normandy, Shepard can start, or restart a relationship with her. Ashley does not talk a lot on the Normandy. Eventually, Ashley will send an email asking Shepard for help; Ashley is going to comfort her younger sister Sarah who has lost her husband and doesn't want to do it alone. If Shepard is comforting and respectful to Ashley during this scene, she will be available for romance.
Later on, she sends another email asking Shepard to meet her on the Citadel. Ashley tells him how her dad would have liked Shepard. She apologizes for all that has happened between them and asks if they are "going somewhere". If Shepard reciprocates, they share a kiss together.
Just before the assault on the Cerberus headquarters, she visits the Captain's Quarters and, unless directly turned down, she tries to comfort Shepard about all the people they've lost. She expresses how she felt lost herself and that it broke her heart when Shepard was dead. At long last, they admit their feelings for one another, then kiss and spend the night together.
In a final conversation between her and Shepard on Earth, they reflect on how many times they've saved each other in the past. Shepard then recites from one of Tennyson's poems The Charge of the Light Brigade, a reference to how poetry has been used to convey their feelings throughout their relationship. Ashley grabs Shepard and tells him she doesn't want him to go and that she loves him. He gently replies that he loves her too and then says 'let's get it done, and go home'. In a breaking voice, Ashley responds "aye aye Captain."
If Ashley is the love interest for Shepard, at the very last moments of the game, the last thing he will see will be an image of Ashley looking at him and warmly smiling.
- According to Bioware's official data, Ashley's Military Vocational Code is B4 and her Blood Type is B-Positive. She had received genetic enhancements including in-utero vision correction (maternal predisposition for nearsightedness) and Class-B Alliance Infantry Upgrade Package.
- Ashley is one of the 'poster' characters for Mass Effect and usually appears on the promotional art along with Garrus. The two of them are also seen accompanying Shepard in most of the demo footage, including the mission on Caleston where Ash can be seen arguing with Garrus. When he says they can't risk the mission to save a group of human miners trapped by the geth attack, Ashley claims that if they were turian miners he'd want to get them out.
- Ashley also shares the same name as Bruce Campbell's character Ashley "Ash" Williams in the Evil Dead and Army of Darkness movies. If Ashley is in the team on Virmire, her conversation response includes a reference to shooting things with her "boomstick."
- Ashley was originally to recite Robert Heinlein's "Cool Green Hills of Earth." The rights for Heinlein's work are rather complex, and when time ran out to acquire permission, it was replaced with Tennyson's "Ulysses," which is in the public domain. The second and third stanzas were used when she discussed her father, and the fourth and final on the way to Ilos.
- On the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2, if Ashley died on Virmire, her picture may appear in Shepard's cabin even if she was not the chosen love interest in the interactive in-game comic, possibly caused by a glitch in the game. 
- Ashley's middle name, Madeline, is another reference to Tennyson from her poetry-loving father.
- The "James" referred to in Ashley's email is secretly a BioWare technical designer, who transferred to the Austin studio the day the piece was written.
- Gunny Ellison and his predilection for using elaborate words are a veiled reference to author Harlan Ellison.
- It appears Ashley was originally able to romance with a male and a female Shepard.
- Kimberly Brooks, who voices Ashley Williams, also voiced the character Lanaya in Dragon Age: Origins, another BioWare game.
- On December 14, 2011, a soundfile was released in which Kimberly Brooks voices Ashley's apology email to Shepard in Mass Effect 2 after the two meet on Horizon. Like Kaidan's letter, it was similarly released on Youtube by fans.
- During a conversation with Ashley at the memorial for Sarah William's husband, Ashley mentions that live fire exercises prepared her father for life with 4 daughters and a strong wife.
- Along with Garrus and Shepard, Ashley is one of the first three characters to have an action figure made in her image by Square Enix's Play Arts Kai. It is not yet known when they will be released but the prototypes can be seen on Mass Effect's Facebook page
- As with all squad members, Ashley has unique dialogue that can be heard at various locations, during missions or assignments, or if a specific squad member is in the selected team.
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Charge_of_the_Light_Brigade_(poem)
- ↑ http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/292/index/5765804/1
|Mass Effect Squad|
| Ashley Williams • Garrus Vakarian • Kaidan Alenko |
Liara T'Soni • Tali'Zorah nar Rayya • Urdnot Wrex
|Mass Effect 3 Squad|
| Ashley Williams • EDI • Garrus Vakarian • James Vega|
Javik • Kaidan Alenko • Liara T'Soni • Tali'Zorah vas Normandy