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“Pushing papers really isn’t my thing. But you’re the one who can stop Saren. I believe in you, Shepard.”

Captain David Edward Anderson is a human war hero and the original captain of the SSV Normandy. Anderson was born on June 8, 2137 to Ursula and Paul Anderson, a nurse and flight mechanic respectively, in the city of London on Earth, and was the last of three children by his parents' second marriage. Anderson is one of the Alliance's most decorated special forces operatives, and the first to graduate from the N7 Special Forces program at Arcturus Station, serving with honor in the First Contact War.

Mass Effect: Revelation[]

In 2157, David Anderson was one of the N7 program's most promising soldiers. He was personally congratulated on his achievements by Jon Grissom at graduation, only to be informed that an alien force had been sighted near a mass relay. Grissom was impressed by the young Anderson's tactical mind and cautioned him to prepare for combat. Anderson later served with distinction in the First Contact War alongside Jill Dah.

In 2165, then-Lieutenant David Anderson was the Executive Officer (XO) of the SSV Hastings. When the Hastings responded to a distress signal at a remote research station on Sidon, Anderson led the ground team and discovered the Sidon facility had been harboring a traitor. Returning to the Citadel to recuperate after the mission, Anderson received the final decree of his divorce from his wife Cynthia, a separation caused by the long absences of his military career. He then followed the human tradition after getting divorced: he went to Chora's Den, near his apartment on the Citadel, to drown his sorrows.

After summoning Anderson to her offices, Ambassador Anita Goyle revealed that Sidon had been illegally researching artificial intelligence, and asked him to investigate the matter discreetly, as exposure would embarrass the Alliance. Anderson, with the aid of a salarian information broker, managed to look into the files of the only member of the Sidon staff who was absent during the attack, Kahlee Sanders, and discovered she was Jon Grissom's daughter. He went to Elysium under the cover of shore leave, and confronted Grissom. The retired admiral claimed he sent Kahlee to the safety and obscurity of the Terminus Systems, but Anderson kept the house under surveillance.

His gut instinct proved correct when a krogan named Skarr came looking for Kahlee, who was being hidden by her father. Anderson and Grissom would likely have been killed, but Saren Arterius, a turian Spectre, had been tracking the krogan and emerged to fight him off. Saren interrogated Kahlee about Sidon; though he seemed to accept her lie that it had been a station for biotic research, Anderson and Kahlee decided to leave Elysium and investigate the Dah'tan Manufacturing facility on Camala, where Dr. Shu Qian had obtained his components. One of Grissom's underworld contacts changed Kahlee's appearance and gave her a false ID to help sneak her off-world.

Arriving on Camala, Anderson discovered that Dah'tan Manufacturing had been destroyed. He ran into Saren again, who had discovered the truth about Sidon and was furious that Anderson had lied to him. Saren warned Anderson not to trust Kahlee, a statement that played out when Kahlee confessed she knew the true identity of the traitor at Sidon: Dr. Qian himself. She gave Anderson an OSD with proof, which he later passed on to Anita Goyle. However, as Kahlee was being sneaked off Camala by the Alliance, Skarr managed to capture her, after a tip-off from Saren. Goyle quickly appealed to the Council to let Anderson go with Saren on the rescue mission, to assess Anderson's Spectre candidacy, but Anderson and Saren already disliked each other, and the mission soon went sour. Saren broke from the plan and began destroying the element zero refinery where Kahlee was being held.

Anderson did not suspect that Saren had an ulterior motive during the rescue – claiming Dr. Qian's files on an alien artifact – as he was focused solely on rescuing Kahlee, with whom he had developed a budding romance. With her help, Anderson killed Skarr and the two of them escaped the refinery in time. Though Kahlee was saved, many innocent people died due to Saren's actions. However, Saren shifted the blame onto Anderson, claiming the lieutenant had alerted the guards and forced his hand. True or not, this was enough to keep Anderson out of the Spectres.

After the mission, Anderson and Kahlee had to say their goodbyes, as she was to be transferred to a classified position, and Anderson was devoted to his military career. A confused story of what happened at the refinery eventually filtered back to the Citadel, as a rumor that Anderson had been the first human Spectre and blown his first mission so badly they had kicked him out – a rumor Harkin still repeats almost two decades later.

Mass Effect: He Who Laughs Best[]

Anderson at the time of the Normandy's test flight

Captain David Anderson was one of the Systems Alliance officials present to observe the test flight of the SSV Normandy at Arcturus Station, and was accompanied by Captain Dillard and turian representative General Invectus. Dillard complained to Anderson about the Turian Hierarchy's mistrust. He thought they could have run the Normandy through her paces a week prior, but they had to wait for a turian overseer since the Normandy was a collaborative project with the turians. Anderson replied that their sending of only one turian was as close to trust as they were going to get.

Before the test flight was set to begin, an unknown pilot hijacked the Normandy and locked himself in the cockpit to the consternation of Anderson and the other observers. Dillard ordered the nearest fighter patrol to try to force the Normandy to land and, failing that, to target the Normandy's engines. Anderson was not enthusiastic about the idea of firing at the Normandy, but Dillard pointed out that until they knew what the situation was, they had to assume the worst and prevent the Normandy from falling into enemy hands.

The hijacker then revealed himself to Anderson as Alliance pilot Jeff "Joker" Moreau. When the patrol tried to disable the Normandy, Joker was able to evade their fire, complete the test-course, and return the Normandy to dock unharmed. As Joker was apprehended, Anderson asked him why he stole the Alliance's most advanced frigate. Joker responded that he was the most qualified pilot on Arcturus Station and was born to fly the Normandy, going so far as to say that he was in love with the ship and that the only chance he would get to fly it was to steal it. Dillard informed Joker that he would be court-martialed and imprisoned for his crimes.

Despite this, General Invectus was impressed by Joker's piloting skills. He defended Joker's conduct and insisted that he be made the Normandy's official pilot. Anderson agreed, saying that while Joker would have to be punished for what he did, he wouldn't trust the Normandy to anyone else.

Mass Effect[]

Captain Anderson views the carnage on Eden Prime

Anderson remains in the Alliance military, gaining an excellent reputation, and is eventually promoted to Captain. For a time, he serves as the commander of the SSV Tokyo, an Alliance cruiser. Both Navigator Pressly and Doctor Chakwas speak highly of Anderson's bravery and leadership skills. Due to this, and because of the secret and sensitive nature of the Normandy's shakedown run, the Alliance gives him command of their prototype frigate and allows him to hand-pick his crew. He chooses Commander Shepard as his XO and effectively becomes Shepard's mentor.

The Normandy's first mission is the covert retrieval of a Prothean Beacon from Eden Prime. A turian Spectre, Nihlus Kryik, is assigned to supervise the mission and assess Shepard as a possible candidate for the Spectres. Nihlus intends to accompany Shepard on several other missions to assess the Commander and give the Council a recommendation. However, the situation becomes more complicated when the colony comes under attack by the geth and a massive warship, and Nihlus is killed.

After Shepard is knocked unconscious during the encounter with the beacon, Anderson learns from Ashley and Kaidan, the Eden Prime ground team, that the attack had been led by none other than Saren, who murdered Nihlus in cold blood. Anderson believes that his old enemy is working with the geth to exterminate the entire human race, and is determined to stop him. But there is little he could do to stop Saren; their checkered past complicates the hearing with the Council. Ambassador Udina tells Anderson to step aside and let Shepard handle the investigation, so the Council will not claim the Alliance's accusations of treason are based on old grudges. Anderson is able to offer Shepard an explanation of Saren's history, and to find some leads to help build the case against him. Finally, once Shepard has been made a Spectre, Anderson steps down as the captain of the Normandy, handing the command to Shepard. He admits this is not how he imagined his career ending, but he is content to pass the torch on to his protégé.

Anderson and Udina

Anderson remains on the Citadel, able to give Shepard advice and guidance when necessary. He has a tendency to be more supportive than Ambassador Udina during any debriefs. If asked about Armistan Banes, Anderson is surprised to hear Shepard say the name, and points the commander to Admiral Kahoku in an attempt to find answers. Throughout the mission, Anderson remains one of the few on the station who actually believes Shepard's vision from the Prothean Beacon is true, and understands the magnitude of the threat the Reapers pose. Anderson guesses that the Conduit is some kind of Prothean weapon, one Saren is planning to unleash against the galaxy. When Shepard finally gathers enough evidence of Saren's role in the impending Reaper invasion and returns, Anderson realises the Council and Udina might use Shepard's talk of the Reapers as an excuse to ground the Normandy, but could not get a message to Shepard in time.

Anderson meeting with Shepard in Flux

Concocting a plan, Anderson invites the Commander to a meeting at Flux and offers his help to unlock the Normandy's systems. Shepard warns him that he could be arrested for treason, but Anderson only cares about getting the Normandy to Ilos in time to stop Saren. He offers to either risk facing armed C-Sec patrols to unlock the ship's systems directly (resulting in him being shot in the leg), or break into Udina's office to countermand the lockdown order (requiring him to punch Udina unconscious). Anderson's plan works, and the Normandy gets off the Citadel safely.

Somehow Anderson manages to survive the initial assault on the Citadel when Saren puts his plan into action. After Sovereign is destroyed, Anderson leads the rescue teams into the Council Chambers, searching for Shepard's squad.

Depending on the outcome of the final battle, Anderson is one of the two candidates Shepard can endorse as either the human Council representative, or the chairman of a human-controlled or human-exclusive Council if the Destiny Ascension is destroyed. If chosen, Anderson is honored to accept the role, with the Council declaring his nomination an inspired choice and welcoming him with open arms. He vows to either help strengthen and unite the Citadel races against the Reapers, or use his military experience to the full, and drive the Reapers back into dark space.

Mass Effect: Ascension[]

After their mission together, Anderson files a classified document detailing Kahlee's relation to Jon Grissom. This file eventually falls into the hands of the extremist group Cerberus. One of their agents, Dr. Jiro Toshiwa — who is then in a relationship with Kahlee in 2183— reads its contents and later discusses Kahlee's parentage with her, though Kahlee later realises she has never told Jiro about her father. This later leads to Jiro's exposure and capture.

Anderson is also mentioned by Kahlee later, when she, Hendel Mitra, Paul Grayson and his daughter Gillian are on the run from Cerberus. She suggests that he can protect them, but Hendel dismisses the idea, fearing that Cerberus will intercept any message to Anderson before it reaches him.

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost[]

Anderson commends James Vega

Anderson along with Admiral Hackett commends Delta Squad for its heroic and selfless actions against the Blood Pack mercenaries on the colony of Fehl Prime. Anderson congratulates Lieutenant James Vega for his leadership role in a "hell of a battle" which is expected of combat veterans.

In 2185, after the Collector attack on Fehl Prime has been defeated at the cost of almost all the colonists and much of the infrastructure, Anderson commends Lt. Vega yet again. Anderson asserts that Vega's actions have placed vital intel about the Collectors into Alliance possession which can not only gives them a tactical advantage over their opponents but also provides new weapons and ships research. After Hackett pins the medal of honor promoting Vega to Lt. Commander onto his uniform, Anderson gives Vega new orders. Seeing Vega's efforts to follow in Shepard's footsteps, Anderson tells him that he may have the oppurtunity to work with Shepard one day as rumors of their death are premature.

Mass Effect 2[]

“Fighting the good fight, right?”
Councilor Anderson

Depending on Shepard's choice following the Battle of the Citadel, Anderson either rises to join the Council or else is promoted to Admiral and becomes advisor to Councilor Udina - much to their mutual annoyance. After he hears rumours that Shepard has been rebuilt and has taken control of the Normandy SR-2, Anderson sends a message asking Shepard to come and meet him at the Citadel.

If the Council lived, Anderson arranges for a meeting with the Council and persuades them to give Shepard the chance to regain Spectre status. If the Council died, the new Council refuses to see Shepard, but Anderson has the authority to restore Shepard's Spectre status if desired. If the Council died and Udina was made Councilor instead, Anderson is unable to broker the meeting and the subsequent choice for Spectre status restoration due to Udina consistently refusing to listen to Anderson.

No matter the situation, Udina arrives and is upset that Anderson has arranged things behind his back. Anderson remains supportive of Shepard as always, against the odds, though he reflects that his current position is not how he expected to spend his twilight years. He is mistrustful of Cerberus, and harbors some slight resentment at Shepard joining their ranks, but Shepard makes it clear they don't trust Cerberus. If Shepard suggests that Anderson join them in their fight against the Collectors, he declines, stating that he is too old to go racing across the galaxy and that his responsibilities on the Citadel are too important for him to abandon them.

Even if he wasn't appointed to the Council, knowledge of the Reapers weighs heavily on now-Admiral Anderson's shoulders

If Anderson is visited before the mission on Horizon and is asked by Shepard of what became of either Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams (depending on who died on Virmire in 2183), Anderson mentions that they were on a "classified" mission and that he cannot disclose any details. If visited after the Horizon mission, if Shepard tells Anderson about bumping into Kaidan Alenko/Ashley Williams on Horizon, Anderson confesses that he sent them to the colony to find out if Cerberus was really behind the missing human colonists and he couldn't tell Shepard without compromising the investigation and apologizes.

If Shepard accuses Anderson of betraying them, Anderson explains that he had to investigate, given the disturbing rumors he received of Shepard's involvement with Cerberus. Anderson believes that the Illusive Man, still the master manipulator he is, is lying to Shepard. Anderson authorizes the building of the GARDIAN turrets on Horizon and Williams/Alenko's stationing there for the "outreach" program. Anderson also reveals that even though he still does not trust Cerberus, Williams/Alenko's report on Horizon confirmed Shepard's story about the Collectors being the real source behind the missing human colonists. Anderson also mentions that Williams/Alenko did not find any evidence to convince the Council the Reapers exist.

Mass Effect: Retribution[]

Just less than a year after the defeat of the Collectors, Anderson continues his role on the Citadel by leading the Alliance trade negotiations alongside the elcor, volus and turians. However, his feelings of resentment at his work continues, becoming increasingly frustrated at the slow pace and difficulty of getting things done in politics, and yearning for the happier and more decisive time he served as a soldier.

After receiving a message asking for help from his old friend Kahlee Sanders, Anderson abandons the trade negotiations to Udina, and convinces the turian Ambassador Orinia to assist him and Kahlee in finding Paul Grayson, who has been kidnapped by Cerberus. Using information Grayson has sent Kahlee, Ambassador Orinia is able to put together an all-turian task force to strike at various remote Cerberus facilities, capturing them and arresting a number of Cerberus operatives on the Citadel itself. Provoking a political storm, Anderson authorises a joint military exercise with the turians to allow them to strike facilities in Alliance territory, while encouraging them to strike two facilities in the volatile Terminus Systems in violation of the Citadel Conventions. Sick of his role and aware that his actions may have cost him his job anyway, Anderson resigns his post and accompanies Kahlee to the facility Grayson is kept captive to help her decode the Cerberus research files there.

Unfortunately, The Illusive Man has employed Aria T'Loak, the Pirate Queen of Omega, to recapture the facility and Kahlee in particular, so as to lure back the now escaped Reaper-enslaved and upgraded Grayson so that he can be terminated. Her mercenaries kill the turian soldiers and scientists working there, but capture Anderson and Kahlee, with Aria persuading Kahlee to send Grayson a message so that she could capture him alive. Convincing Aria's lieutenant Sanak that he has to be taken along for Kahlee to co-operate, Anderson overpowers Sanak and shoots him as the cybernetically enhanced Grayson butchers the rest of Aria's forces. As Anderson and Kahlee escape with the help of Cerberus operative Kai Leng, Anderson manages to stun Leng before taking him along and stealing his ship.

With Kahlee believing that Grayson had now made his way to the Jon Grissom Academy, Anderson manages to speed to the Academy and, donning an Envirosuit, successfully extends the docking ramp to permit Kahlee to warn the Academy staff of the Grayson incursion. While Sanders rouses the staff, Anderson hunts Grayson, managing to seriously wound him with his shotgun before himself being thrown by a blast of biotic energy, dislocating his shoulder, snapping the tendons of his left ankle, breaking ribs and his collarbone, suffering a collapsed lung and being knocked unconscious.

Upon rising, Anderson manages to find Grayson along with the captured Kahlee and, despite his injuries, defeats Grayson and saves the Academy. With Kai Leng having got free, and the injured Nick Donahue, a student of the Academy, bleeding out after being shot by Grayson, Kai Leng presents Anderson with a choice - allow Kai Leng to leave, or else watch as the boy died as Kahlee went to look for a medkit. Anderson chooses to save the boy, using his uninjured hand to apply pressure to Nick's injury to prevent Nick losing too much blood while he is stabilized- but not before shooting Kai Leng in the back of both legs to slow his escape.

With the Academy and the boy safe, Anderson recovers on the station. He convinces Kahlee to leave the Academy with him in order to perform autopsies on the dead Grayson so as to understand and perhaps find a way to fight the Reapers. At last alone, she and Anderson finally share a kiss.

Mass Effect: Deception[]

Note: This section features material from the first edition of Mass Effect: Deception, which BioWare has acknowledged contains discrepancies with other Mass Effect lore. Once revised editions of the book are released, this section will be updated.

In Mass Effect: Deception, Anderson is on the Citadel with Kahlee Sanders and Nick Donahue to present evidence to the Council that the Reapers were behind Paul Grayson's attack on Grissom Academy. Even after being shown Grayson's Reaper-mutated body, however, the Council is unconvinced and argues that Cerberus may be the sole culprit. Afterward, Anderson and Sanders discover that Nick has gone missing and may have become involved with a biotic supremacist group known as the Biotic Underground.

Mass Effect: Conviction[]

Anderson looking for Vega

In the aftermath of Arrival, Admiral Anderson arrived on Omega aboard the Normandy SR-2 to recruit Alliance marine James Vega for a special task. Anderson and a squad of soldiers find Vega in the middle of a fight with a group of batarians outside a bar. As Anderson leads Vega back to the Normandy, he reveals that Vega is to exclusively guard a special prisoner: Commander Shepard.

Mass Effect 3[]

For his gameplay attributes, see Squad Members Guide (Mass Effect 3)#David Anderson.
“You saw those men back there. There's a million more like them, and they need a leader.”
Admiral Anderson in 2186

David Anderson returns in 2186. If Anderson was picked as the human councilor, he resigns before the invasion and after the events of the Collector Attacks, realising that he is unable to live a life without action.

At the start of the Reaper invasion, he is in talks with Admiral Hackett over an unknown force surging into Alliance space. Anderson then goes to Vancouver on Earth, where Shepard is being detained for the destruction of the Bahak system or association with Cerberus. Anderson is to bring the Commander to a meeting with the Defense Committee to find a way to stop the incoming Reaper invasion. Unfortunately, the two end up as the only survivors when the Reapers attack and make their way to the refitted Normandy SR-2. Upon reaching the SR-2, Anderson chooses to stay behind, realizing that humanity can't fight the Reapers alone. He urges Shepard to convince the Council to send help, make them see the truth if necessary, while he remains on Earth to lead the survivors. Anderson then tosses Shepard new dogtags to reinstate his protégé into the Alliance military.

While leading the resistance, Anderson maintains contact with the outside galaxy via quantum entanglement communicators, periodically updating Shepard on the state of Earth and occasionally giving the Commander advice. The two have a few personal moments too, such as discussing Kahlee Sanders after Shepard saves Grissom Academy. After the attempted Cerberus coup, Anderson is appalled to hear that Udina aided Cerberus, he knew Udina was always power-hungry but never expected him to try to kill the Council and take over the Citadel, and is more disturbed to learn that Kai Leng was involved.

Anderson contacting the Normandy via QEC

Anderson calls the Normandy again following the previous conversation with Admiral Hackett. He says that the resistance was amazed and heartened to learn of Shepard brokering an improbable alliance between the krogan and turians; Anderson calls the morale boost "a shot in the arm." However, the fight against the Reapers on Earth has been exhausting for the resistance, as their guerilla-style hit and run tactics are no longer sufficient to hold back the onslaught. Anderson also shares that recent intelligence reports show large numbers of Reaper forces massing in London for unknown reasons, but it has to be for something big. Before returning to the fight, Anderson warns Shepard not to underestimate Kai Leng, rating the "vicious bastard" as a threat almost on par with the Reapers themselves.

After the fall of Thessia, Anderson, now calling from London, offers Shepard some words of comfort after the Commander is bested by Leng. He confides that surviving the First Contact War years ago was a miracle, and despite being labeled a hero, he just felt lucky to get out alive. He relates that many in the resistance know that their situation is hopeless but they still wish to fight in spite of it. He also admits that being surrounded by the ruin that was once the city of his birth is making him believe it will be the place of his death as well. He ends by urging Shepard to shake off the guilt, vowing that everyone will follow the Commander against the Reapers no matter the odds.

Anderson directs the Hammer ground forces personally

Eventually, Shepard, assembled fleets in tow, manages to return to Earth and rendezvous with Anderson and the remainder of the Earth resistance in London, UK. They join forces to assault a Reaper Conduit, the only point of access to the Citadel, but as a result of Harbinger, only Anderson and Shepard actually make it through to the Citadel itself. They are separated on arrival but manage to reunite in Citadel Control, where they encounter the Illusive Man, who immobilizes them with his Reaper enhancements. The Illusive Man asserts that it is preferable to control the Reapers rather than kill them, but Anderson sees he has obviously been indoctrinated and refuses to believe him. The Illusive Man, in a display of power, then forces Shepard to shoot Anderson in the stomach, before taking the Admiral's own sidearm to finish him off. If Shepard manages to kill the Illusive Man first (or convince him to kill himself), the Commander then slouches beside Anderson and the Admiral tells Shepard what an honor it's been to fight beside his greatest protégé. He then dies from his injury.

As Shepard decides the fate of the galaxy, Anderson is seen in a vision representing the "Destroy" choice. Anderson is later seen in Shepard's flashbacks along with Shepard's love interest, and the major characters that died over the course of the journey. Eventually, Anderson's name is added to the memorial wall on the Normandy.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel[]

When Shepard is ordered to go on shore leave at the Citadel, Hackett suggests they visit Anderson's Personal Apartment on the Silversun Strip. There, Anderson greets the Commander via a video link and donates the apartment to them, explaining that even if they win the war, the rebuilding means he won't be returning to his apartment anytime soon.

Dotted across the apartment are Anderson's audio logs, which were preparations for his biography, and Shepard can listen to Anderson's interview with Khalisah al-Jilani as well, which was recorded before the Reaper War began.

Mass Effect: Andromeda[]

Dr. Zoe Jean Kennedy is a close friend of Anderson's who left the Milky Way to settle the Andromeda galaxy. Over 600 years after Anderson's death, if Pathfinder Ryder successfully locates and secures a heavily-pregnant Dr. Kennedy, the first human child born in Andromeda is named after him: David Edward Kennedy.


  • During the mocap session for the scene where Anderson punches Udina, cinematic lead Shane Welhoun (suited up as Anderson) accidentally clocked the Udina actor on the jaw for real.[1]
  • The endgame save of Mass Effect does not record whether Shepard recommended Anderson or Udina for the Council. This happens because the endgame save is recorded after Sovereign's destruction but before the scene where Shepard makes that decision. If a saved game was imported to Mass Effect 2, during the shuttle ride from Lazarus Research Station, Miranda Lawson will ask who was recommended for the Council, regardless of the choice made in the previous game. If a saved game wasn't imported, the Destiny Ascension was destroyed and the Council died along with it; Udina rises to Councilor.
    • If Mass Effect: Genesis was installed the decision may be made as part of the interactive comic, with Miranda's question during the shuttle ride being removed.
    • In Mass Effect Legendary Edition, the endgame save of Mass Effect records the decision, so Miranda's question is once again removed.
  • Anderson stands at six feet and three inches tall.[2]

Cut Content[]

  • According to The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3, Captain Anderson was originally conceptualized as the hero of Mass Effect.
  • In an alternative cutscene for Anderson searching through the wrecked Council chambers for Shepard at the end of the first game, the two would have had a conversation at the moment of their reunion in which Anderson confirms all charges against him were dropped after the attack.[3]

See also[]