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|synonyms= Gary Stu, Marty Stu, Lt. Mary Sue, Lieutenant Mary Sue
|seealso= Canon Sue, Suethor, self-insertion
A Mary Sue is an original fictional character in fan fiction, usually but not always female, who for one reason or another is deemed undesirable by fan critics. A character may be judged Mary Sue if she is competent in too many areas, is physically attractive, and/or is viewed as admirable by other sympathetic characters. Mary Sues are generally presumed to be idealized self-inserts rather than true characters. In fan fiction, it is considered extremely gauche, or at least very immature, for an author to create characters based on him- or herself.

Mary Sue type characters do exist in both fan fiction and canon. The main difficulty with true Mary Sue stories is that they often cause canon characters, established story lines, and the very inner consistency of the canon's reality, to behave wildly out of bounds.

The male version of a Mary Sue is a Gary Stu or a Marty Stu.


File:Original mary sue msfg1b.gif

illo of Yeoman Ellen Grey, otherwise known as Dirty Nellie Grey. Fan critics consider her a Mary Sue in spite of the realism with which she is portrayed. By Joni Wagner from a story in Warped Space #21 (1976).

"I never intended to put down all stories about aspiring females." - Paula Smith

The term was coined in 1973 by Paula Smith who in the zine, Menagerie, parodied the archetype in a Star Trek story called "A Trekkie's Tale".

==Influential works==


art for the original story by Paula Smith: "A Trekkie's Tale"

* A Trekkie’s Tale.[1][2]

Smith described the origins of A Trekkie's Tale in an interview:
:"Then came along this one story. I don't even remember the title of the zine, but I remember vividly that its cover was illustrated with hand-colored yellow ducks.[3] Well, that didn't seem to have a whole lot to do with Star Trek, but I guess it meant something to the author. This particular one not only had the young teenaged girl who was a lieutenant come on the bridge, where Kirk and Spock immediately fell in love with her -- I think Scotty and McCoy did as well -- but they all backed off and were very respectful because she only had eyes for Chekov. So during the adventure, everybody beams down to the planet and everybody gets captured by the aliens, and this character manages to spring them because—literally—she has a hairpin. When they get back to the ship, she's sick. She had caught something down there and she dies. And then she resurrected herself…"[4]

Smith saw this as an example of a pattern she had observed:
:"I'm very much a pattern seeker, and you could see that every Trek zine at the time[5] had a main story about this adolescent girl who is the youngest yeoman or lieutenant or captain ever in Starfleet. She makes her way onto the Enterprise and the entire crew falls in love with her. They then have adventures, but the remarkable thing was that all the adventures circled around this character. Everybody else in the universe bowed down in front of her. Also, she usually had some unique physical identifier—odd-colored eyes or hair—or else she was half-Vulcan. The stories read like they were written about half an hour before the zine was printed; they were generally not very good."[4]

Ms. Smith's story stirred up considerable sentiment pro and con. Subsequent to the story's appearance, Ms. Smith and her partner Sharon Ferraro wrote LoCs to various fan publications to point out that this or that story "contained a Mary Sue". When the authors and other readers objected, Smith and Ferraro began to explain in detail what they saw as Mary Sue and why it was detrimental to fiction. Her overt purpose was to help amateur writers improve enough to be taken seriously by professional science fiction magazine editors. She went into some detail about this in issue 3 of Halkan Council.

However, at the very beginning Trek fan fiction did not include any such characters or stories. How did the concept begin, and did it really dominate fanfiction and fan publications in the 1970s? [6]

==A New Kind of Fan==

"... I was unaware of the ever-increasing number of Star Trek fans who had no experience with science fiction, and no interest in science fiction whatsoever." - Joan Marie Verba from Boldly Writing

Because all early fan fiction involving romantic themes was "het", focused on heterosexual relationships, those stories which did not pair the male leads with canon female characters had to involve original female characters. Such stories were numerous in the early days of TOS fandom.[7] Since there was hope the original show would return within a few years, many fans wrote stories that could presumably be adapted into viable Star Trek episodes. Original female characters were no more questioned in fan fiction than the female guest stars on the show, nor were all such characters deemed self-insertions of their respective authors. Unusual hair, eye color, fancy names, abilities or exceptional traits were taken for granted as they had been in the series.

In an online discussion taking place in 2003, Livejournal user Carmarthen said she had talked to women who only write male/male slash "because they are afraid that if they write about female characters, they will use their own female perspective in the writing, which leads to Mary Sues." [8] However, there is no evidence that the advent of K/S and other slash premises, first published in 1974, had anything to do with the shift in how original female characters were viewed by some fans.[9]

In her history of Trek fan fiction, Boldly Writing, Joan Verba attributes both slash stories and the modern type of Mary Sue to the fact that by the mid-1970s numerous amateur authors were becoming attracted to the series who had little or no background in science fiction. They saw Star Trek primarily as a "buddy" show about three guys exploring the galaxy together. These, not the very earliest fan writers, were the ones whose writing focused on emotions and relationships between the characters rather than on plot elements.

In an essay in her book On The Good Ship Enterprise Bjo Trimble rationalized K/S by claiming that "psychologists [she doesn't say which ones] recognize this as a tendency for women to want something very much and decide that the only reason they cannot have it is (a) something is 'wrong' with it or (b) it is totally unavailable." Whether the Mary Sue concept had similar origins, or whether men who write K/S and Mary Sue have similar motivations, is unknown.[10]

Even after the appearance of "A Trekkie's Tale", some fans[11] merely noted in passing the appearance of "adolescent wish-fantasies" or "alter ego" in stories, with the attitude that amateur writers often create such stories for practice if nothing else. However, since fan writers began publishing on the Internet, the focus on Mary Sue and the need to avoid writing such characters has increased exponentially.[12]

== Changes in Mary Sues over time ==

"To make the transition from child to woman, the active agent within her had to die." - Camille Bacon-Smith, from Enterprising Women


Mary Sue (and Harlan Ellison) from Menagerie #10, art by Martynn, click to read

Initially, a Mary Sue was a teenaged, brilliant, good-looking girl, who is also modest, self-effacing, self-sacrificing and gets the guy as her reward. In other words, the smart young girl gives up her independence and intelligence to fulfill the traditional subservient role of women in society. In stories where she did not end up with one of the canon male characters, she invariably died.

Bacon-Smith says:
:"For intelligent women struggling with their culturally anomalous identities, Mary Sue combines the characteristics of active agent with the culturally approved traits of beauty, self-sacrifice, and self-effacement, which magic recipe wins her the love of the hero... [the] Mary Sue story is [the writer's] attempt, if only in print, to experience that rite of passage from the active child to the passive woman who sacrifices her selfhood to win the prince... Mary Sue writers traditionally kill the active self with their alter-ego character at the end of their stories."

Paula Smith believes Mary Sue is about "the teenage girl suddenly finding ... the power of her sexual attraction... It's a stage of development in young girls."[4]

Modern Mary Sues, if nothing else, show more variety—maybe because possible fictional hero roles for women have expanded. However, today's fan critics may call Mary Sue on characters that might not have been judged Mary Sue in past decades. Simply having an unusual hair or eye color, exceptional abilities (in a "verse" where exceptional people are the norm), good looks or an exotic pet—any one of these traits is enough to get an original female character criticized as a Mary Sue by some amateur reviewers today, even though all of these elements are legitimate and have been used in serious amateur and professional fiction.


The definition of Mary Sue has changed over time, which seems only right, as our definition of a "real woman" has changed drastically in the last thirty years. Interestingly, the concept of "Mary Sue" has trickled down from media fandom into general SF fandom and even the mainstream,[13] a rare example of fannish drift flowing the other way.

===Common fannish definitions===
* Idealized self-insert: In the strictest sense, Mary Sue is an Original Female Character (OFC) in fan fiction. She is perfect in every sense of the word, and is usually considered to be a self-insertion of the author. In general, Mary Sue is related to or becomes romantically involved with one of the main characters. She is unique in numerous ways (by having an unusual hair color, eye color, special abilities, etc) and the author may devote a lot of space to descriptions of the character. At some point in the tale she "saves everyone" in some way. Nearly everyone in the story instantly loves her; and those who don't are eventually brought around to see the error of their ways. Some Mary Sues may have emotional difficulties, and may have suffered a difficult or tragic past, inspiring sympathy from canon characters. If she has flaws, they are "perfect" flaws, such as wanting to serve others to the detriment of her own well-being.[14]

  • The Attention Hog: Original character who overshadows the canonical cast. "A hero achieving many great things over the course of a series is not bad and is not Mary Sue. It's what heroes *do*. Having a dark and/or complicated past is not a bad thing by itself. The problem arises only when, in fanfic, you distort the canon characters out of recognition by introducing a new character, or modifying a canon character, or, to a certain extent, deforming the laws of human nature in writing people's reactions to an original hero. It should not be a put-down for female heroes (or even male ones who are improbably competent.) It should not be wholly focused on self-insertion or ridiculous names. It should not be used as an excuse to not write women in fanfic. Otherwise the term starts to get watered down, and a serious level of sexism creeps in." [15]
  • The Warped Protagonist: Any poorly-written protagonist, appearing in almost any story and in almost any form. They are created by writers who "lack sufficient skill or a sufficient understanding of human nature". Her primary defining characteristic is that the central canon characters are "inexplicably warped out of shape," allowing the Mary Sue to make the decisions and take the actions normally taken by others. A canon character can be made into a Mary Sue by this definition. May include characters, male, female, aliens or even animals, who are introduced as confidants of the main protagonists. They are set into the story for the purpose of bringing the two lead characters together or reconcile them if they have quarreled.[16]

===The score: Mary Sue Litmus Tests===
A 19-point Mary Sue Litmus Test [17] was originally created by Melissa Wilson. Writers of original amateur stories and fan fiction can test original characters to see if they fit the profile.[18] There are other such tests,[19] some reputed to be more useful than others.

Some writers question the usefulness of having a litmus test at all or think that more adjustments are necessary,[20] especially after some amateur authors admitted to working from the test when developing a new character simply to ensure she would not be a Mary Sue.[21]

=Mary Sues in Fandom=


the cover of the zine, Diamonds and Rust, features super-agent Chantal Caberfae, a well-known Mary Sue.

Fandom, and readers, dislike Mary Sues with varying degrees of passion. There is a Livejournal community dedicated to making fun of stories with Mary Sues in them,[22] as well as a similar community for Canon Sues,[23] though some people feel this behavior is a form of character bashing and will inhibit amateur authors, particularly beginners or the very young, from writing at all. In Harry Potter fandom, the overwhelming number of Mary Sues led to the fanonical creation of House Sparklypoo, into which all such characters were sorted.[24]

Despite this, it is not uncommon for an author's very first pieces of writing to contain Mary Sues. An author who writes extreme Sues may be called a Suethor in some fandoms. Some more experienced authors also enjoy the wish fulfillment of writing Mary Sues.

Numerous parody stories with "Mary Sue" type characters also exist, and may be mistaken for the genuine article. My Immortal (Harry Potter story) is an example. Cupidsbow's (rated NC-17) With 6 You Get Unicorns, the sequel to the slash meta piece 8 ways not to write a fanfic (rated PG-15), offers another.

==A Fan Talks About Her Mary Sue==
A popular series in the mid-1970s was The Landing Party 6, and one of its characters was Sadie Faulwell, a character written by Paula Block.

"The 'Faulwellian Epic's' genre was... well, I can't exactly say it was action-adventure, can I? I always considered it a Mary-Sue (how could I honestly consider it anything else, when the drawings of Sadie were patterned after me?), in that Mary-Sue incorporates portions of the author's personality within the main character. And Sadie certainly reflected a lot of my thoughts and yearnings. Though 'she got her man in the end,' I always tried to keep her as humanly imperfect as possible. She didn't win by beauty, gile or feats or heroism. It was her personality that pulled her through -- a sense of fatalism blended with a sense of humor, vulnerability balanced by stamina. A lot of people could identify with her, which helped transform the meaning of 'Mary Sue' in this case from Wonder Woman to Everywoman." [25]

==Advice to Avoid Mary Sue==
Along with common-sense advice such as attention to plot, theme, setting and mood, guidelines written for amateur writers by amateur writers now include a warning to "avoid Mary Sue". Young authors are sometimes warned not to create original characters who are so much as attractive[26] although most seem to stick with the definition of Mary Sue as "too perfect" or an idealized version of oneself.[27]

File:Mary Sue.JPG

On the subscription page on the New Landing Weyr website, prospective new members were advised , "Please, no purple-eyed red-heads! Keep your characters realistic."

These types of guidelines and warnings also appear frequently in RPGs. For example, on the website for the Dragonriders of Pern RPG, New Landing Weyr, the subscription page (archived) advised new members:
:"Want to know what not to make your character? Please meet Righinn, our very own "What Not to Create Your Persona" created especially for the first pass! Thank you Melissa for creating her."
The bio for Righinn McGregor (archived) presented a deliberately overwritten, exaggeratedly virtuous, Mary Sue-type character as a mock candidate for membership in the game.

Mary Sues in Canon[]

Sometimes fans notice when the writing staff steps over the fictional line and moves a character out of believability and into the Mary Sue realm. This is occasionally referred to as a Canon Sue.

Probably the most famous case of a Canon Sue is Wesley Crusher, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, annoying boy hero, written by Gene Wesley Roddenberry.

(For a longer discussion of Canon Sues with more examples, see the Canon Sue page.)

:"The automatic reaction you are going to get is 'that's a Mary Sue.'" - Interviewee at Clippercon 1987

File:F!s post1266 no197.jpg

Perhaps no term or concept in fandom has managed to stir up the amount of emotion evoked by the words "Mary Sue". Amateur editor Edith Cantor once remarked that "in terms of their impact on those whom they affect, those words [Mary Sue] have got to rank right up there with the Selective Service Act." [28] Fan writers report feeling inhibited, even frightened, by the thought of writing original characters who might be seen as Mary Sue by readers. ==Is fear of "Mary Sue" stifling creativity?==

Why is it that in a community that is probably 90% female, we have so few stories about believable, competent, and identifiable-with women? - Johanna Cantor, "Mary Sue, A Short Compendium", quoted in Camille Bacon-Smith's Enterprising Women'

The "Mary Sue" concept has drawn criticism from amateur and professional authors. Many such criticisms are brushed off as coming from writers who create "Mary Sues" and are thus beneath notice. However, the onus of wishing to avoid being condemned as a "Suethor" ("Mary Sue" author) apparently weighs heavily even on professional authors and sophisticated amateurs, particularly women.

Camille Bacon-Smith includes a subsection on the "Mary Sue" concept in her book, Enterprising Women,[29] tying it together with the Canon Sue issue. While not denying that such characters exist, and going into considerable detail as to just why fans write them, she observes that fear of creating a "Mary Sue" may be restricting and even silencing pro as well as fan authors. She cites "Mary Sue" paranoia as one of the sources for the lack of what Johanna Cantor called "believable, competent, and identifiable-with" female characters in today's fan fiction. Bacon-Smith also quotes Edith Cantor describing a story she received from a neofan in 1978. In the cover letter, the fan said "I don't know if I ought to be sending this to you. I'm afraid it's a Mary Sue. Only I don't know what that is."

Fear of being accused of writing Mary Sue may also stem from a practice endorsed by some (by no means all) professional writers and taught in creative writing classes: briefly, if a piece of your own writing sounds good to you, if you feel it is fine writing, some of the best you've ever done, tear it up—it's crap. The better you feel about your own work, the worse it is.[30]

Amateur writers respond to the emphasis on avoiding Mary Sue in several ways. Some continue to create original characters, but make them as dull, unattractive and colorless as possible. Some do not create original characters at all. Today, a good character is plain looking, has many faults or flaws, never has any traumatic experiences, and is neither special nor chosen in any way.

At Clippercon 1987 (a Star Trek fan convention), Bacon-Smith interviewed a panel of women authors who say they do not include female characters in their stories at all. She quoted one as saying "Every time I've tried to put a woman in any story I've ever written, everyone immediately says, this is a Mary Sue." Bacon-Smith also pointed out that "Participants in a panel discussion in January 1990 noted with growing dismay that any female character created within the community is damned with the term Mary Sue."[31]

Several other writers quoted by Bacon-Smith point out that James T. Kirk could be seen as a Canon Sue, and that the label seems to be used more indiscriminately on female characters who do not behave in accordance with the dominant culture's images and expectations for females as opposed to males.[32] Professional author Ann Crispin is quoted: "The term 'Mary Sue' constitutes a put-down, implying that the character so summarily dismissed is not a true character, no matter how well drawn, what sex, species, or degree of individuality."[33]

In recent years, since the advent of the Internet and particularly in 1998, criticism of "Mary Sue" has escalated to the point that amateur authors may hesitate to include any of these elements in their writing for fear of being called out as a Suethor. The appearance of a character deemed Mary Sue is viewed as a license to ridicule and humiliate the character and the author.

The presence of any character identified as Mary Sue now elicits expressions of murderous rage among fan critics. For example, in a 1979 LoC in an issue of S and H, a Starsky & Hutch letterzine, a fan is already well-aware of the term, and what it represented. "With any luck, Sergeant Mary Sue will be strangled in her cradle as she deserves, and readers will be spared the thoroughly embarrassing spectacle of daydreams made public... The defensiveness and ill-will that has sprung up in Trek over this type of story, and the K/S story, which negates its possibility, should serve as an additional warning." [34] Other LoCs to the same fanzine expressed the opinion that fans wrote S/H slash "because we want to enjoy their sexy bodies making mad, passionate love -- without having to share them with some other broad." Others pointed out that stories with sympathetic heroines were being unfairly classed as Mary Sue, while S/H slash was "safe".

Thirty years later, in a discussion page at TV Tropes, one commenter questioned the Mary Sue concept. Her analysis was labeled a "brainfart" and she was told that Mary Sue was "the literary equivalent of publicly soiling yourself."[35] Fan critics compare writers of Mary Sue characters to pedophiles and rapists and advise them to commit suicide.[36]

Groups such as PPC and self-proclaimed "Sueslayers"[37] now appear in online communities. Choosing stories that they judge as containing Mary Sue characters, they proceed to rewrite them, inserting characters based on themselves into the plot for the express purpose of killing the character they have decided is Mary Sue.[38]

===Criticism of Sue-phobia===
For this and other reasons, the "Mary Sue" concept is facing growing criticism within fandom.[39][40]

Writing "Mary Sues" is empowering. Writing them being awesome is empowering. Calling Mary Sue, and contributing to an environment such as the above, which encourages the denigration of female awesomeness in fiction, which encourages the bullying and harassment of participants in female awesome, is participating in that culture.
Calling "Mary Sue" in this environment is shaming women for empowering themselves.
There is no substantive harm in writing a "Mary Sue" -- there is no substantive harm in creating a character, original or otherwise, who "warps the world around them", who is "adored by all for no particular reason", who wins the day.
There is substantive harm in bullying and shaming real people for empowering themselves through their writing. Words have power. Words cause harm. Words hurt, and the wounds they leave are deeper and longer-lasting than many physical wounds. I nearly stopped writing entirely, as a teen, after having my work and my OC called "Mary Sue". I have friends who did stop writing because of it.
Before anyone says: "Oh, they/you should just have sucked it up and grown a thicker skin! Learn to accept criticism!"
You are blaming the victims of bullying for their bullies' behavior.
That is Not. Okay. Ever.[41]

From a 1991 LoC by Jacqueline Taero in the letterzine Southern Enclave:

"I was also taught, very early on, that created characters of the female variety would automatically be dismissed as (1) alter ego, (2) Mary Sue, or (3) both. Well, I use a lot of created characters, some of whom are female. I do not write alter ego characters ... my characters are considerably more interesting than I am and the majority of them have personalities which are, by and large, vastly different from ran my own. And all of them are in some way flawed, because most of them are human beings, and I've never yet seen a perfect one in this life--so I don't consider that they fall into the Mary Sue category. But everywhere I looked, I constantly saw female-created characters being derided. Now, admittedly, some such may well have deserved the scorn and ridicule--but it seemed to be applied with little discrimination." [42]

==Are some "Mary Sues" just strong/competent women?==
Some fans who write original female characters find that these characters will always be labeled as Mary Sues, no matter how well written or characterized, and see the obsession with the Mary Sue label as evidence of misogyny in fandom.

Two fans write:
: "It looks to me like people are utilizing multiple definitions of Mary Sue, and by at least one of them, "any strong female heroine with an interesting life" qualifies. This is upsettingly sexist, especially to a person who hopes to make a living writing strong male *and* female heroes with interesting lives."[43]

"My definitions of "success" have changed--does she need to be pretty? Does a man need to love her? Does everyone need to recognize how awesome she is?--but the initial impetus has not. When I sit down to write a woman now, I think: I want her to be awesome. I want her to achieve things that are important to her. I want her to succeed."[44]

Essential to understanding the need for restraint in labeling a character Mary Sue is the existence of the competent man or woman character in fiction. Described and named by Robert Heinlein in his novels, the competent character has no super powers but has a very wide range of expertise, is not afraid to take up something new, and may appear to be able to do everything well. When this character is a man -- the Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, James Bond -- he is more or less taken for granted. Female competence -- Telzey Amberdon, Yoko Tsuno, Modesty Blaise -- is more likely to be derided as Mary Sue or as a cliche.

Are all characters based on the author "Mary Sues"?[]

Paula Smith herself specifically states that characters based on oneself, even if they have a romantic relationship with a canon hero, are not necessarily Mary Sue in the sense that she meant it: "For example, by 1976, we were seeing Paula Block's Sadie Faulwell in the "Landing Party" series in the Warped Space zine. It was a very loose roman à clef about Paula Block and her friends. They were really self-portrait characters, but for whatever reason, they had more of a sense of proportion about them. She had McCoy fall in love with Sadie, but it did not necessarily change McCoy's characterization, and it didn't change anyone's characterization, and the stories were intriguing on their own. Was this a Mary Sue or not a Mary Sue?"[4]

The same could be said for the Dorothy Conway-Myfanwy Orloff series written by Dorothy Jones Heydt and Astrid Anderson and published in early issues of T-Negative.

Stories of time-space displacement in which an original present-day character finds themselves in a fantastic or science fiction universe are also sometimes criticized as Mary Sue. Such stories are generally designed to let the reader experience that universe with a familiar point of reference. However, many reader/critics still view this type of story as "self-insertion" and therefore less worthy of serious regard, even if the present-day characters do not resemble the author and are not unusually beautiful or gifted.[45]

Such stories can, of course, have "Sueish" elements. Lois Welling's The Displaced features a woman who is actually named "Sue" who is transported into the Star Trek universe and finds herself kidnapped along with Spock, in an ensuing pon farr and slavery trope,[46] While Sue is not outlandishly attractive or talented, and an effort is made to portray the situation seriously and without melodrama, this story is often cited as a "blatant Mary Sue".

A more likely candidate for "blatant Mary Sue" is Sharon Emily's The Misfit, in which a homely old maid who has never known love finds a way into the future and is literally transformed (via the spores from "This Side of Paradise") into a beautiful, perfect woman who becomes Sarek's second wife.[47] (Sheryl Roberts' "Sherrith McRaith" crackfics are a parody of The Misfit and the Kraith subverse in general.)[48]

Critics of the Mary Sue concept compare the definition of "Mary Sue" today vs. what it was thirty years ago, to the changing definitions of words like "slut"—which used to mean merely a sloppy, badly dressed person.

Are all "Mary Sues" author self-inserts?[]

The idea that creating a character based on oneself is bad writing practice would certainly be news to Ray Bradbury, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Anais Nin or Amy Tan. But it may be incorrect to define all Mary Sue type characters as "self-inserts", author avatars or alter egoes. Unless a critic is telepathic, or bothers to ask the author what she was thinking, there is no reason to believe that every original female character in fan fiction written by a female author is a self-insert.

The author may be describing someone who is not herself, but a friend or relative. She might also be casting a favorite actress in the part, especially if her work is meant as an "episode" of the show. Exceptional characters in fan fiction should be expected in a "verse" where the canon characters are exceptional people. And many of the traits which supposedly identify a Mary Sue are actually realistic, such as having green eyes, talent in more than one field, or unusual pets.

==Embracing Mary Sue==
Despite criticism, some fans took Mary Sue into their hearts, though in a guarded way. In 1986, one zine asked for submissions for "The Unabashed Mary Sue." "Seeking submissions for an adult 'zine featuring stories which focus on female characters and strong relationships (not limited to romantic!). Erotic content acceptable but the strength of the story is the criteria for selection. Any fan universe qualifies. Names of authors carefully guarded if requested." [49]

Real Life Mary Sues[]

Some of the so-called litmus tests for Mary Sue characters include acknowledgements that there are real persons who score as Mary Sues on said tests. The usual example is Bono, the lead singer of the rock group U2, who got 72 points on the Original Mary Sue Litmus Test.

Can someone's real life be so lucky, so perfect, that if they were a fictional character, we'd insist they were a Mary Sue? Maybe.[50] Or at least it's funny to think about: "Dear America, please stop it. Your OMC, Obama, is the worst Sue I've seen in a long time."[51]

==Related Links==
* A conversation with Paula Smith by Cynthia W. Walker in Transformative Works and Cultures, Vol 6 (2011).

  • Everyone's A Superhero Academic paper examining Mary Sue characters as representing "subaltern critique and empowerment" rather than narcissistic wish-fulfillment; and Mary Sue fanfiction as being fair use under copyright law;WebCite
  • So Sue Me community on Dreamwidth for exploring the positive values of Mary Sue type characters; WebCite


  1. A Trekkie’s Tale; WebCite
  2. A Trekkie's Tale, originally published in Menagerie #2, reprinted in Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan & Zine History, 1967-1987(pdf) by Joan Marie Verba (accessed 15 Aug. 2008).
  3. The zine in question was apparently Sylvia Bump's Double Exposure. In an editorial in Menagerie #10, Paula cautions fan editors that their zines should "NOT look like Double Exposure, a handtyped, handcrayoned Spockie zine of some years back which had dozens of little yellow ducks tracking across its pages."
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Interview by Cynthia W. Walker. A conversation with Paula Smith, in Transformative Works and Cultures, Vol 6 (2011). (Accessed 15 March 2011)
  5. Every Trekzine? Or was this like some fans' perception that "every fanzine is K/S now" when it was really only about a third of them?
  6. There are no such stories in Spockanalia, T-Negative, Tricorder Readings, Eridani Triad, Pastaklan Vesla or Babel, for instance.
  7. Among them were Lelamarie S. Kreidler's Lian Jaimeson in "Time Enough" (Spockanalia 4), Judith Brownlee's stories of Captain T'Pelle in Eridani Triad, D. Sobwick's "A Few Wives Too Many" in Pastaklan Vesla 4, Claudine-Marie de Sisi's satire "Joy in the Morning" in Grup, Jacqueline Lichtenberg's T'Rruel in the Kraith story "Spock's Affirmation" (T-Negative 8) and T'Aniyeh (Tanya) Minos in "Spock's Argument" (T-Negative 12-13), Morrow Damion in Laura Basta's The Daneswoman (Saurian Brandy Digest 6), Dorothy Jones Heydt's "Dorothy and Myfanwy" series, also in T-Negative, and her novella The Skyborn (Spockanalia 5) which is not a romance but does feature a strong female "guest star".
  8. What I don't understand about the fear of Mary Sue, discussion by Carmarthen, 2003-01-26.
  9. Starsky and Hutch fans did discuss this issue in
    S&H 1-5
    and S&H 11-15 .
  10. In an interview, which possibly took place much earlier than the publication of her book, Trimble characterized K/S slashers as "bunch of twisted sickos".
  11. Sondra Marshak, Myrna Culbreath, Joan Winston and Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Star Trek Lives! (Bantam, 1975)
  12. Laura M. Hale, Historical Perspective on Mary Sue, covers some of this history.
  13. Several blogs and online magazines criticize Stieg Larsson's character Mikael Blomqvist as a Mary Sue.
  14. This is more or less the definition in Recreating the Adolescent Self: Mary Sue in Camille Bacon-Smith, Enterprising Women, Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth (Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1994), p. 94.
  15. Alara Rogers. Make up your Mind: what is a Mary Sue? January 30th 2003. Accessed 19 November 2008
  16. KLangley, comment in Thoughts about Mary Sue, dated March 21, 2010; accessed Feb. 8, 2011; WebCite.
  17. WebCite
  18. When is a Mary Sue Not A Mary Sue?/WebCite
  19. Original Fiction Mary Sue Litmus Test
  20. "I feel that people have become accustomed to shouting 'Mary Sue!' far to [sic] quickly and I think these kinds of tests are not helping.... The first is that they are all anti-description, the second is the whole ratings thing, and the third is that many of the questions have nothing to do with the character's character but rather are plot points or clichés or are far to [sic] common place to even be considered something that causes Mary Sueism.."The Original Anti "Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test at
  21. "I cannot stress strongly enough what a BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD way to write a character this is. You don’t put a character together like an equation. You don’t give her a negative score for positive attributes and a positive score for negative attributes, and then jiggle the figures until the character profile fits within the “not a Mary” category. If you do things like this, you will end up with completely false characters with a string of bizarre personality traits." From "The Fear of Mary Sue on, a fan critic's blog.
  22. Marysues at Livejournal.
  23. Canon Sues at Livejournal.
  24. Sparklypoo comic
  25. from an interview of Paula Block in Menagerie #16
  26. Original Characters by Silverfox at How To Write Fanfiction. The great short-story writer O. Henry would be surprised to discover that there is never any such thing as a beautiful salesgirl.
  27. Tips for Fanfiction Writers by Cmar on
  28. The words to which Cantor refers are Greetings from the President of the United States. You are hereby ordered to report for induction. This is the opening of the U.S. military draft notice received by hundreds of thousands of young men before the draft was discontinued in 1973. Those who received this letter, especially during the Vietnam era, often reacted with fear and anger.
  29. Bacon-Smith, Camille, Enterprising Women, Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1992. The entire Mary Sue subsection is on line at Google Books.
  30. William Faulkner originated the phrase "kill your darlings" to refer to this practice.
  31. Bacon-Smith, p. 110. A footnote states this was reported to her by Judy Chien, who attended the panel at MostEastlyCon 1990 in Newark.
  32. Smith, p. 97.
  33. Bacon-Smith, p. 98.
  34. What is any writing but a daydream made public?
  35. Just Bugs Me, Mary Sue Discussion Page on tvtropes; cached at WebCite.
  36. "You should be ashamed for subjecting us to this character. You should be ashamed for creating this character. In fact, you should just be ashamed, full stop." Commentary on the fan discussion board for My Life as a Teenage Robot;WebCite.
  37. These people go into considerable detail and can be said to have formed their own fan universes.
  38. Try a google search on +"kill the Sue" sometime.
  39. on mary sue policing and why i cannot abide it (Accessed April 10, 2010)
  40. goldjadeocean. Actually, I'm just lazy and blogging the short version instead (Accessed April 10, 2010); WebCite.
  41. Storming the Battlements or: Why the Culture of Mary Sue Shaming is Bully Culture. (Accessed April 10, 2010)
  42. 'Real Life', letter in Southern Enclave ca. January 1991, p. 28.
  43. Alara Rogers, Make up your Mind: what is a Mary Sue? Posted January 30th 2003. Accessed 19 November 2008
  44. Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On, Dreamwidth blog, April 10, 2010. Accessed Feb. 11, 2011.
  45. A rare fictional example of a Mary Sue is found in The Secret Country trilogy by Pamela Dean (although the term is not used anywhere in the books). Five children create a fantasy kingdom and are later transported into it and must pretend to be their imagined characters. In the game, clumsy, bashful, unattractive Laura reinvented herself as a perfect and beautiful child, an excellent horsewoman, a good musician, and "the best dancer in six kingdoms". Since the children have few if any of their alter egoes' abilities, Laura has the most difficult time faking it.
  46. The Displaced by Lois Welling, first published as a zine in 1978. (accessed 25 July 2009)
  47. Sharon Emily, The Misfit, written in 1974 and originally published in Showcase 1. Entire novel online at
  48. The Affirmation First story in the Sherrith series of alternative universe Kraith tales, published in Kraith Collected. Entire series on line at
  49. from Datazine #42
  50. According to her biographers, such glowingly angelic reports were written about the young Helen Keller that staff at the Perkins School for the Blind seem to have regarded her as a Mary Sue. Their antagonism towards her and her governess finally culminated in the scandal of The Frost King.
  51. LJ post by mistress_siana, entitled "Dear America, please stop it."

"Ooooh Spock, you were sooooo good! But I fear I have one small confession to make..."
"What's that, my darling Mary Sue?"
"I'm a Klingon agent. Bye bye, Spocko!" BLAM!! BLAM!! thud....