Spoilers inside. you've been warned.
tldr version - my musings on what endings should have been, using already existing endings to expand upon.
if you are curious what prompted me to write, even though its one artform that I almost never engage in - read the wall of text bellow.
Having recently finished Mass Effect 3, just like many many people, I have been disappointed with the endings. its not the only thing I was disappointed with, while the game itself is great fun, I had many and varied often relatively minor issues with plotlines, characterizations, handling of relationships, bugs, dialogue (too much auto dialogue and some of it just didn't seem to fit), questing (how do you manage to take an annoying mechanic like planet scanning and both make it less optional as well as more annoying?), even combat (seriously bioware, "do all" button especially for PC games is NOT a good idea. rolling into cover instead of using an object is jarring to say the least).
But all of those issues, I could deal with, more or less. some through sheer avoidance of fanart materials dealing with things that bother me. some by finding ways around them.
but the endings. the endings figuratively killed me. they offered no closure. they didn't fit the established lore. they negated every single choice I made in all 3 games. and no matter what I chose - they made a liar out of my Shepard and were depressing as hell.
I don't understand why so many people sneer at happy endings? I just.. don't. there is enough hardship in real life to deal with, that when I chose my entertainment, I'd like to get something uplifting, promising, hopeful, something that makes me sit back, go aaaahhh and grin through the entirety of the credit song. tragedy has its place and can be extremely powerful, but forced tragedy with absolutely no option for anything even remotely happy?
up until Mass Effect 3, in every single bioware game - you had an option to save lives of most if not all of your companions and stay with your chosen LI. yes even Morrigan, though that took a DLC to be possible. some endings were darker then others. the ending of Dragon Age 2 is very very dark and there's no escaping it. but the protagonist has an option to not only survive, but also find some happiness after the story ends.
Mass Effect franchise is not even darkest world that Bioware created. its not as idealistic as the world on Star Trek, but it comes damn close. so what happened that prompted them to decide to give us the endings that they did? why are they so bitter? yes, not even bittersweet - bitter? and why do they break the lore as much as they do?
there are many theories explaining the endings, indoctrination theory being the most popular. my version of the revised ME3 endings? takes inspiration from that theory.