Mass Effect: should you choose Udina or Anderson as Councilor?

You're faced with a lot of choices in Mass Effect, but one of the most momentous choices that Shepard will have is to choose between who ends up joining the Citadel Council in the name of humanity. You're given a choice of two people you get to know well throughout the story: Captain Anderson or Donnel Udina. So, which should be councilor?

Despite seeming like quite a large choice that could have major ramifications, this is one of the Mass Effect choices with consequences that are ultimately less than you'd expect; they're rather minor. So, our first advice is to tell you to simply go with your gut, choosing between the principled military man Anderson or the slimy career politician Udina, who admittedly knows the Citadel politics better. It's arguably a choice between idealism and cynicism, and it's an ideal chance to make a choice that lines up with your Shepard's personality, including the background and psych profile you chose at the start of the game.

With that said, here's how the choice plays out in ME2 and ME3, to help you make an informed decision...

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Should you choose Udina or Anderson as Councilor in Mass Effect?

Before we get into the choice itself, a fun fact to note is that in the original versions of Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, this choice is actually bugged - the result of who you choose doesn't get saved properly, and so in Mass Effect 2 Shepard is asked to re-confirm their choice at the start of the game as part of a memory test. Actually, it's helping to tell the game what you chose. In the Legendary Edition remasters of ME1 and ME2, this bug is fixed, the choice is correctly tracked, and that section of the memory test is removed from Mass Effect 2's opening stages.

Going into ME2, your choice of ambassador for the councilor position will have some minor impacts. Keeping it as spoiler-free as possible, here's what you can expect in the sequels as a result of this choice:

  • If you choose Udina for the Council:
    • Udina remains quite hostile to Shepard in future games.
    • If you allowed the original Citadel Council to die and appoint Udina as the new councilor, your Spectre status will not be reinstated in ME2. This changes minor dialogue around Shepard's rank and powers.
    • If you saved the original council, they will re-appoint Shepard as a Spectre (if you wish), against Udina's wishes.
  • If you choose Anderson for the Council:
    • Anderson remains a strong ally to Shepard in ME2, though his support is basically verbal and little else.
    • Regardless of the fate of the original alien council members, Anderson will reinstate Shepard's Spectre status when you check in with him in ME2.
    • Anderson clearly isn't very happy in the Councilor role, and will quit and be replaced by Udina before the events of ME3. One of the tie-in Mass Effect novels tells the story of Anderson's decision to quit his duties on the Citadel.
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