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After potentially spending hundreds of hours forging allegiances, friendships and more across the galaxy, it can be heartbreaking when a comrade falls in the line of duty. But did they have to die, or could the situation have played out another way? By making different decisions, either in the heat of the action or during earlier interactions, the course of events can be changed to turn some characters' certain deaths into their moment of salvation.
We've put together details on the deaths of 25 characters, telling you what happens to them and whether it can be avoided. The complexity of the story structure due to imported save files, DLC and decisions made across all three games means you may not encounter all of the characters or situations listed here. Obviously massive spoilers follow, you have been warned...
(Characters that are only available using imported save files are marked in italics.)
During the final confrontation with The Illusive Man, Shepard shoots Anderson while under TIM's control. TIM will then move to finish Anderson off, killing him instantly unless Shepard uses the renegade interrupt action to shoot TIM. If the interrupt is used Anderson will have some final words for Shepard before slipping away, which boosts your Effective Military Strength.
At the conclusion of the Cerberus attack on the Citadel, Shepard or a squadmate will shoot Ashley/Kaiden if you don't have enough reputation points to convince them that Udina is a traitor. If your persuasion is successful, you can recruit Ashley/Kaiden to join the crew of the Normandy.
Unless you romance Cortez (as male Shepard) or speak to him enough times to help him get over the death of his husband, he dies in a crash when his ship is shot down during the final mission on Earth.
If you choose the ending where Shepard destroys the Reapers, EDI dies along with all other synthetic life. However, if either of the other endings are picked, EDI will emerge from the crashed Normandy with Joker if Shepard encouraged them to be together.
Unless Maelon's research data is saved during ME2 and imported, Eve dies after the genophage cure is created on Tuchanka. Eve can also die if the side mission to disarm the bomb on Tuchanka is not completed within the time limit. If Eve survives she will increase the Krogan Clans War Asset.