|“||Ah, yes. "Reapers". The immortal race of sentient starships, allegedly waiting in dark space. We have dismissed that claim.||„|
|~ Turian Councilor Sparatus, in denial of the Reapers' existence.|
|“||Reaper? A label created by the Protheans to give voice to their destruction. In the end, what they choose to call us is irrelevant. We simply...are.||„|
The Reapers, also known as the Old Machines by the Geth, are an ancient race of gigantic living spaceships and the main antagonists of the Mass Effect trilogy. Initially thought to be a myth by most of the characters, the Reapers hibernate in "Dark Space" for thousands of years and then return to the galaxy every few millennia to destroy all the Milky Way's most advanced civilizations, most notably the "Protheans", who gave them the name "Reaper". Their motives for doing this are completely unknown, and they claim that it is beyond mortal understanding. The origin of the Reapers is a mystery too, and it is said that they have existed since the beginning of time.
The Reapers have the ability to gradually brainwash anyone who comes into prolonged contact with them, a process known as "Indoctrination", and also to directly take complete control of an organism's body. It is also revealed that they were the ones who originally built the Citadel, the main base of galactic civilization, intended as a "trap" of sorts to attract a large number of advanced life forms together in one place.
Prior to Mass Effect 3, exactly four Reapers are encountered in the series:
- Sovereign: The main antagonist of the original Mass Effect (besides Saren Arterius as the secondary antagonist). Sovereign initially appears as Saren's flagship, but is later revealed to be a vanguard of the Reapers who would initiate their eventual return to the galaxy by activating the mass relay at the Citadel for the other Reapers to enter through. However, Commander Shepard killed Saren and installed a defense program in the Citadel's mainframe, delaying Sovereign and allowing it to be destroyed by the Citadel fleet, preventing the return of the other Reapers for the time being.
- Harbinger: The main antagonist of Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 (besides Illusive Man as the secondary antagonist), and leader of the Reaper fleet. It is the largest and oldest Reaper in existence and was the controlling force behind the "Collectors"; who were actually warped versions of the Protheans. It directly possesses the Collector General most of the time, and can also take control of any normal Collector at any time to fight Shepard. At the end of the game, it relinquishes the Collectors and is seen in its true Reaper form leading the other Reapers as they slowly travel towards Earth.
- Derelict Reaper: A "dead" Reaper floating in space visited in Mass Effect 2, which holds vital research. Here, a friendly Geth named "Legion" is met. At the end of the mission, Shepard battles the Reaper's still-intact core protected by an army of Husks, after which the Reaper is destroyed completely.
- "Human-Reaper": The final boss of Mass Effect 2, this monstrosity was a new, smaller, humanoid version of a Reaper being made by the Collectors, led by Harbinger, out of processed human DNA. It was discovered in the center of the Collectors' base by Shepard and friends, and was destroyed before it could be completed.
In addition, hundreds of currently unidentified Reapers are seen along with Harbinger in the ending sequence of Mass Effect 2 flying towards the inhabited Milky Way, who finally reach it in Mass Effect 3. In this final game, no full–sized Reapers are fought directly, though many do appear as background hazards and chase the Normandy during the space travel sequences. A few "mini–Reapers" known as Destroyers are fought however.
The Reapers are created by the Catalyst who modeled them after the Leviathans. The first one was known as Harbinger. One Reaper was created after one cycle.