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Mary Sue

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Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })Mary Sue is a derogatory term primarily used in Fan Fic circles to describe a particular type of character. This much everyone can agree on. What that character type is, exactly, differs wildly from circle to circle, and often from person to person.
TV Tropes doesn't get to set what the term means; the best we can do is capture the way it is used. Since there's no consensus on a precise definition, the best way to describe the phenomenon is by example of the kind of character pretty much everyone could agree to be a Mary Sue. These traits usually reference the character's perceived importance in the story, their physical design and an irrelevantly over-skilled or over-idealized nature.
The name "Mary Sue" comes from the 1974 Star Trek fanfic A Trekkie's Tale. Originally written as a parody of the standard Self-Insert Fic of the time (as opposed to any particular traits), the name was quickly adopted by the Star Trek fanfiction community. Its original meaning mostly held that it was an Always Female Author Avatar, regardless of character role or perceived quality. Often, the characters would get in a relationship with either Kirk or Spock, turn out to have a familial bond with a crew member, be a Half-Human Hybrid masquerading as a human, and die in a graceful, beautiful way to reinforce that the character was Too Good for This Sinful Earth. (Or space, as the case may be.)
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_2'); })Even back then, there wasn't a total consensus on what was or wasn't Mary Sue, since it's not always immediately obvious which character is an Author Avatar. As this essay reveals, suspiciously Mary Sue-like characters were noted in subscriber-submitted articles for 19th-century childrens' magazines, making this trope Older Than You Think.
The prototypical Mary Sue is an original female character in a fanfic who obviously serves as an idealized version of the author mainly for the purpose of Wish Fulfillment. She's exotically beautiful, often having an unusual hair or eye color, and has a similarly cool and exotic name. She's exceptionally talented in an implausibly wide variety of areas, and may possess skills that are rare or nonexistent in the canon setting. She also lacks any realistic, or at least story-relevant, character flaws — either that or her "flaws" are obviously meant to be endearing.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_3'); })She has an unusual and dramatic Back Story. The canon protagonists are all overwhelmed with admiration for her beauty, wit, courage and other virtues, and are quick to adopt her as one of their True Companions, even characters who are usually antisocial and untrusting; if any character doesn't love her, that character gets an extremely unsympathetic portrayal. She has some sort of especially close relationship to the author's favorite canon character — their love interest, illegitimate child, never-before-mentioned sister, etc. Other than that, the canon characters are quickly reduced to awestruck cheerleaders, watching from the sidelines as Mary Sue outstrips them in their areas of expertise and solves problems that have stymied them for the entire series. (See Common Mary Sue Traits for more detail on any of these cliches.)
In other words, the term "Mary Sue" is generally slapped on a character who is important in the story, possesses unusual physical traits, and has an irrelevantly over-skilled or over-idealized nature.
Over time, a male variant started to see use. Marty Stu (also known as Gary Stu, for those who prefer rhyme to alliteration) wasn't really that much different from Mary. Also an Author Avatar, it usually had implications of being a male crew member that tended to completely outshine established canon members in their roles and often become the best starship captain, ever. See The Ace. Since the female characters of Star Trek were all in secondary roles at best, the relationship angle was generally disregarded as being any sort of qualifier. Because of the not-entirely-unjustified perception that Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls, Marty Stu didn't really catch on for a long time.
Originally, the term used to apply exclusively to fanfiction, but by the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the term "Canon Sue" started seeing use, applying Author Avatar standards to canon works (most likely inspired by the backlash against Wesley Crusher; even Wil Wheaton has decried the character's obnoxiousness). It was around this time that the term started to lose a concrete meaning, since the label started getting applied even to characters who weren't explicit self-inserts (such as the title character of the episode "The Empath"), but just happened to use similar tropes. It was also (most likely) around this time that the term started to gain its pejorative tone.
Finally, the advent of the Internet allowed the term to migrate out of the Star Trek community to most fandoms, losing pretty much any real meaning in the process. There are dozens upon dozens of essays that offer interpretations of what the term means, generally basing it off of some usages of it, but none of them are truly comprehensive or accepted. Using the term in most contexts isn't too far off from Flame Bait, generally provoking the defendant into rants. Much Internet Backdraft has resulted, especially if the term is applied to a canon character on a popular show.
These last two paragraphs are why it's so hard to really nail down a definition of "Mary Sue": the term has started to be used in a much wider context, and to mean much wider things, than it once did, and there's no way to figure out which of those characteristics are necessary and sufficient to define a Mary Sue.
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DBTropes

The following is a list of statements referring to the current page from other pages.

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Wish Fulfillment
 Platypus Comix (Blog) / int_83743fe3
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 Doom Patrol (Comic Book) / int_83743fe3
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 A Guide To Not Making Your Tribute Suck / Fan Fic
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 Akatsuki Kitten: Phoenix Corporation Overhaul / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 Bleach Fan Works / Fan Fic
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 Brewdening Love Expanded Universe / Fan Fic
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 Casualties
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 DaPrincessInDaGleClub
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 ElementalSentaiKodenranger
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 HiddenProphices
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 ITS MY LIFE! / Fan Fic
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 LWWRitzed
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 LearningFromNightmares
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 Magical Troubleshooting Crossover Fighting Federation Ultra / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 MiharusStoryOfStarComand
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 OfficialFanfictionUniversity
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 OverUsed / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 Perfection Is Overrated / Fan Fic
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 Phantom's Ange / Fan Fic
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 Ponyriffs / Fan Fic
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 RatherVocalizedIllusion
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 Smexy Phantom / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 Soul Chess / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 Tarvos And Fairie A Love Story / Fan Fic
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 The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 TheDestinyofMarcelinaLamterb
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 TheHumanCentipedeLoveAtFirstBite
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 The Second Hand Fool / Fan Fic
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 TheVampoifeDoodWhoLifed
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 Things Better Left Untouched / Fan Fic
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 TokyoMewMewNoHopeLeft
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 Total Drama Equestria / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 A Angle Is With Us (Fanfic)
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 ATrekkiesTale
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 BrewdeningLove
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 Coffeehouse
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 FaceTheStrange
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 FairlyEnglishStory
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 Happy Endings (Fanfic)
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 Its An Adventure Right Right / Fan Fic
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 LegolasByLaura
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 Lucina Reacts (Fanfic)
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 MeInInvaderZimOhKami
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 MidnightGreen
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 Miharus Story Of Star Comand / Fan Fic / int_83743fe3
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 Pinkie Pie's Fourth-Wall Variety Show (Fanfic)
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 StarkitsProphecy
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 TheDarkerKnight
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 Heavenly Creatures / int_83743fe3
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 Mulholland Dr. / int_83743fe3
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 Pleasantville / int_83743fe3
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 Romancing the Stone / int_83743fe3
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 American Girls Collection (Franchise)
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 Anne of Green Gables / int_83743fe3
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 Misery / int_83743fe3
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 Saga O Katanie
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 Taiko
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 The Broom of the System / int_83743fe3
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 AJtheBlackDragon
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 AdditionalEvilOverlordListCellblockC
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 AllGenesAreCoDominant
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 AmericanGirlsCollection
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 AntiClicheAndMarySueEliminationSociety
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 Apocalypsering
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 BrewdeningLoveExpandedUniverse
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 CharismaIsNotADumpStat
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 DarkLadyCelebrian
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 DarkerThanBlackTwinsOfTheMeteor
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 DiversityLane
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 DungeonLords
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 Example Sectionectomy
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 FanFic
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 FanFicChopSuey
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 FanWank
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 FanficHeader
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 Fiona
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 FuckedUp
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 Lafein
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 LifeTimeMovieOfTheWeek
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 MarySueTopia
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 MetafictionizedPhlebotinumPoisoning
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 MewCookie
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 Middlemarch
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 NewMediaFlames
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 OCs
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 OfWarlordsAndPleasures
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 OfficialFanfictionUniversity
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 PernFandom
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 Ptitle3k4x5pvi
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 Rape as Drama
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 Redemption Equals Sex
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 RuleBreaker
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 SabreJustice
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 Sailor Earth
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 ShillingtheWesley
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 SlvstrChung
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 SuperTeensStuff
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 Susiemary
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 Taelor
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 TheDarkerKnight
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 TheLawrenceOfBrightmoon
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 TimeOfYourLife
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 TortTaura
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 Turtleducks
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 Utahann
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 VideoGameCrack
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 WillyFourEyes
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 WritersToolbox
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 TheDisappearanceOfClass12C
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 Warrior Cats RPG (Roleplay)
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 SPANC Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls (Tabletop Game) / int_83743fe3
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 Witch Girls Adventures (Tabletop Game) / int_83743fe3
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 Saints Row IV (Video Game) / int_83743fe3
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 Dragon Ball WTH (Web Animation) / int_83743fe3
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 Overly Sarcastic Productions (Web Animation) / int_83743fe3
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 Le Tropeur de l'Extrême (Web Video) / int_83743fe3
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 TV Trash (Web Video) / int_83743fe3
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 Terrible Writing Advice (Web Animation) / int_83743fe3
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 Ensign Sue Must Die (Webcomic)
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 FlipZone (Webcomic) / int_83743fe3
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 Homestesque (Webcomic)
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 Mary Sue Quest (Webcomic)
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 Pacificators (Webcomic) / int_83743fe3
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 Sweet Jade and Hella John (Webcomic) / int_83743fe3
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 Furcadia (Video Game) / int_83743fe3
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