Pre-EC Introduction

1. The Evidence for Indoctrination
2. Other Compelling in-game Evidence
3. Clutching at Emergency Induction Ports
4. Evidence From Outside the Game
5. Problems with Indoctrination
6. Other Thoughts, Theories and Conjecture        
Latest Update: 14th June 2012 - See Updates

Welcome to what I hope to be one of the definitive sources for information and analysis of the Mass Effect 3 ending and especially the "Indoctrination Theory".

Be sure to check the updates page for what has been added recently. Especially if this is not your first visit!

And if you think this guide is missing any information or you see any incorrect information, please do not hesitate to let me know.

When I first played the ending of Mass Effect 3 I was convinced Bioware had pulled some amazing sneaky subtle trick on me, but I just wasn't sure what it was.

I knew as soon as I saw the Catalyst manifest as the child from Shepard's dreams that something was wrong, and after being told my choices I paused the game for 20 minutes to consider what that might be. Ultimately I decided that the Catalyst was lying to me and that his manifestation as someone only Shepard knew about must have something to do with Indoctrination.

Based on this I chose Destroy.

When my final moment showed Sheppard alive and taking a breath I was convinced I had made the right choice. However make no mistake I was still utterly confused by the ending. I did not think it was all a dream from the beam onwards and I did believe the choice I made actually happened.

The next day I spent hours on the internet reading people's fantastic interpretations of the ending, and other very legitimate criticisms of those interpretations. I also read how many people were angry and unhappy with the ending when taking it literally.

When I found the so-called "Indoctrination Theory" I was utterly convinced it was Bioware's intent. The only other option seemed to be that after 100's of hours of brilliant writing and a history of great storytelling Bioware managed to screw up the ending so bad that it made very little sense.

That said there has been significant moments where arguments against IT have seemed very persuasive to me. And I certainly believe it is possible that the Indoctrination Theory is wrong, and at the very least probably only partially explains Bioware's intent; but I am also convinced the literal interpretation could not possibly be 100% true either.

Many fans have done an incredible job of putting forward arguments and evidence on both sides of the debate. And others have asked for someone to compile as much of it as possible into a single location.

Having spent many many hours over the weeks since completing the game reading these argument, I have taken it upon myself to be that person. And while I still strongly lean towards the Indoctrination Theory I very much intend to show both sides as objectively as possible.

The evidence should speak for itself and I will try not to let my beliefs effect how I present the evidence.

After all like any theory, the only way to "prove" it is to fail to disprove it. Any good scientist works very hard to try and disprove a theory they believe to be true.

I will also not be presenting the so-called "Indoctrination Theory" as some complete theory that has to be taken as a whole. Because I simply do not believe that is the case. It is quite likely in my opinion that some parts of the so-called theory contain truth while others do not. So it should not be argued as a complete theory wherein if any part is proven false the rest should be discarded. Just as we should not discard the literal interpretation simply because we can prove that any element of it is inaccurate.

- Lee Swain (Parabolee)


  1. When i choses the destroy ending all that i was showed was that the reapers along with the earth had been destroyed. All i want to know is if i did something wrong or is that an alternative ending.

  2. Your Effective Military Strength was too low.

    See more info under "The Choices" -