Mass Effect 1: What Happens if You Save or Sacrifice the Council?

Should you save or sacrifice the Council in Mass Effect? Let's look at the pros and cons of the choices you can make with this key decision at the end of the first game. It's one of the many questions players have been asking themselves when playing through Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

Mass Effect 1: What Happens if You Save or Sacrifice the Council? Cover

Whether you’re playing the trilogy for the first time or you’re revisiting the space-age adventure, Mass Effect Legendary Edition brings with it a variety of difficult decisions to make. The effects of these choices ripple from game to game. With how the Citadel Council treats Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 1, it feels easy to allow their ship, the Destiny Ascension, to be destroyed in the assault against the Reaper, Sovereign. However, it’s equally simple to overlook the benefits that may come in the ME2 & ME3 by sacrificing human lives to save the galaxy’s leadership. 

If You Save the Council 

Obviously, if you allow the loss of some of the Alliance fleet to save the Destiny Ascension, the Council is grateful to you for effectively saving their lives. In addition to a further 28 Paragon points, the Council warmly offers humanity a seat amongst their ranks. This is where you can choose between Anderson and Udina to take the role.

In Mass Effect 2, whilst the Council still won’t acknowledge the existence of the Reapers, Shepard’s Spectre status will be reinstated out of compromise. Sacrificing human lives to save the Destiny Ascension is its own pro vs. con in Mass Effect 3. Alliance war assets will be weaker, but the Citadel Council’s ship will be a part of your fleet in the final battle, with a military strength of 70.

Mass Effect - What Happens If You Save The Council???

If You Let the Council Die

Choosing to let them die leaves the Destiny Ascension to be destroyed, initially granting you 29 Renegade points. The Turian, Asari, and Salarian Council members die. Nevertheless, the show must go on. A new council is formed in their stead; diverse if your morality spectrum was Paragon-focused, human-only if Renegade. Although you can still choose between Anderson and Udina to head the new council, only the former will reinstate your Spectre status in Mass Effect 2.


Being wary of Shepard, the new Council won’t even grant you an audience. What’s more, prioritising human soldiers over the leaders of all races will make Citadel NPCs far less friendly with you as well. On the bright side, your more-intact Alliance fleet war asset is worth slightly higher points compared to having the Destiny Ascension in Mass Effect 3, an additional 100 military strength compared to the DA’s 70. 

The third option, “Concentrate on Sovereign”, ends in the same result. The difference, though, is that you’ll receive far fewer Renegade points as a reward.

Mass Effect - What Happens If The Council Dies?

Should You Save or Sacrifice the Council?

Weighing the pros and cons, it’s best to save the Citadel Council at the end of Mass Effect 1. Whilst having the Destiny Ascension as a war asset is worth slightly less compared to the fully stocked Alliance fleets (70 vs. 100), Shephard will have an easier time throughout the trilogy by sparing the alien leadership. You won’t have to deal with animosity via other races on the Citadel and distrust of a replacement council.

What’s more, being reinstated as a Spectre won’t allow you any extra resources, but you’ll have access to dialogue options on missions to resolve situations that would otherwise be unavailable. If you’re worried about that 30-score difference in war assets in Mass Effect 3, you’ll be able to make that up no problem, thanks to a wide variety of further assets available by DLC bundled in Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Looking for any other answers to those difficult questions in the Mass Effect trilogy? Well, there’s also my other guide on how to peacefully resolve Tali and Legion’s fight in Mass Effect 2

(Videos by Big Dan Gaming.)

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