Mass Effect 2 cut queer romances because of media backlash

Mass Effect 2 Jack
(Image credit: BioWare)

Everyone's favorite biotic criminal, Jack from Mass Effect 2, was originally meant to be pansexual but was changed due to negative feedback from Fox News, according to The Gamer

Jack (AKA Subject Zero) is a famous criminal and one of the most powerful biotics in the Mass Effect universe, and she was initially meant to be a romance option for both male and female Commander Shepards. Many Mass Effect 2 players will find this unsurprising, as Jack's dialogue basically flat-out states her pansexuality: "I've been with lots of people. If you're asking about a boyfriend or girlfriend, no. It's a waste of time and it never works". 

However, the heavy and incessant backlash from mainstream media outlets like Fox News caused the BioWare team to back off of pansexuality, and swap Jack's romance options to male Shepard only late in development. 

Jack's lead writer Brian Kindregan tells The Gamer, "She was essentially pansexual for most of the development of that romance...Mass Effect had been pretty heavily and really unfairly criticized in the US by Fox News, which at the time... maybe more people in the world thought that there was a connection between reality and what gets discussed on Fox News." 

But the media frenzy after the first Mass Effect had a singular gay relationship option with Fem Shep and Liara ("which on paper was technically not a gay relationship because she was from a mono-gendered species", Kindregan points out) made BioWare balk. "I think there was a concern that if that had drawn fire, that Mass Effect had to be a little bit careful", says Kindregan. 

Even Jack's voice actor, Courtenay Taylor, was aware of Jack's pansexuality, saying that she was "surprised there wasn't a female romance possible because that was my understanding". She points out that "the community modded it immediately, so you can have it your way". 

With the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition potentially releasing in May, I'm curious just how many changes BioWare will have made. Perhaps Jack will be a romance option for FemSheps in Mass Effect 2 after all....

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Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.