A Mary Sue, shortened as Sue, is a character archetype in fiction. A lot of troll fanfictions have a Mary Sue as their protagonist, or even as secondary characters.
However, the Mary Sue is not exclusive to fanfiction, and exists in regular fiction as well. The most commonly accept Canon Sue is Bella Swan of the Twilight series.
Defining what a Mary Sue is is very tricky, as it is often a subjective concept. Here are a few key elements on what makes a Mary Sue. Note that each of these are their individual tropes as well, and just because some of them apply, does not automatically make a character a Sue.
- The original meaning of Mary Sue was a simple self-insert character, i.e. a character that represents the author. This is no longer a sufficient condition, but most Mary Sues are still blatant inserts of their authors. Bonus points if the Sue is exactly the way the author wants to be.
- The Mary Sue is nearly always the protagonist: only when there are several Sues can one of them be a secondary character (because the spot of protagonist is already taken… by another Sue).
- The Mary Sue is idealized. In most cases, this means she has no flaws, or insignificant flaws (see below). In some cases, she will be idealized the other way around, having every possible flaw in the book and no redeeming quality, which is often nicknamed an Anti Sue.
- The Mary Sue is special. She can be the last of her kind or a member of a very select few, have extreme powers beyond the setting's established limits, or be a straight-out Chosen One.
- Being idealized, the Sue is often both beautiful and talented. Usually these talents also come at no visible effort (learning instantaneously, for instance)
- Generally, the Mary Sue will be idolized by most characters, except the token antagonists and "bitch" archetype. On the other hand, a Sympathetic Sue will be hated by everyone except the One.
- In fanfiction, the Mary Sue will often end up in a relationship (or in extreme cases, several) with the characters the author wish they could date. An alternative to several romantic relationship is, for instance, a very strong friendship (usually to the point of the other character nearly worshipping the Sue) with, or being related to, other characters. This can cause a lot of characters to act out of character.
Relationships, flaws, and consequencesEdit
As is apparent in the list above, one of the defining elements of a Sue is not herself: it is the way the other characters interact with her. She will usually meet little to no resistance from the other characters in anything she says or does, safe for, as previously mentioned, the antagonists and the "bitch" archetype (in the case of Bella, take Rosalie, who hates het for no apparent reason).
This is also part of her being idealized: the reactions of the characters around her tend to be very polarized, either completely positive, or completely negative, with little to no middle ground.
Another very important aspect of the Mary Sue is her flaws. A very common oversimplification of the trope is to say that the Sue "has no flaw". This is, however, a false assumption, and it leads to authors defending their characters by pointing out their one flaw, even their character is an obvious case.
While the lack of flaw is a common trait, it should be more accurate to say that, if there are any flaws, they are not treated as such by the story. If we keep our example of Bella, she has two flaws she complains about: her clumsiness, and her "plain" looks (and for the sake of the argument, this article will not delve into the fact that looks are considered a character flaw). Her clumsiness is very much of an informed trait: it never actually amounts to anything in the story of the Twilight series. As for her looks, while Bella tells us that she is plain, she gathers a total of three suitors (four if you count James's bloodlust) over the short duration of the first book.
In short, if there are flaws, they have no consequence. This is also what allows the concept of the Anti Sue to exist: even though she is the most despicable, incapable and ugly human being, the Anti Sue will usually be treated by everyone around her in very much the same way as if she were her perfect counterpart.
All in all, both of these aspects go back to the same thing: the lack of consequence. The Mary Sue, especially when she's a self-insert, serves as a power fantasy: no matter how flawed she is, or how she acts towards other people, she gets her way in the end and has all the friends she wants.
Mary Sues on the S.S. Snark WikiEdit
Here is a list of the Mary Sues that have their page on this wiki. This list is far from being an exhaustive collection of all the Mary Sues in fiction, or even in fanfiction.
- Adriana Sulpicia Volturi
- Alexandre Hawke Jacob Miles
- Ariana Erehaha SilverDove Seagull
- Atlantiana Rebekah Loren
- Chella Cancer Lovely Pain
- Dally Darkblood
- Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way
- Helena Darkness Beautiful
- Joan St. Sanctuary Louisa-Smith
- Rachel Rebecca Leah Amelia Johnson
- Rebecca Swansin
- Twila Beautiful Psycho Topaz