Fallfest was a few days ago, which is a chat bringing all different types of online roleplayers together. In a chat titled Mary Sue – Model Citizen or Menace to Society? by Sal Taybrim, people were asked to define what a Mary Sue character is. Here’s some of the answers:
A character for whom there is no challenge. Everything has an immediate solution, giving nothing to struggle against and no reason to grow.
Making your character TOO good at their job.
A character that people feel is too good, whether or not they are. I’m used to it being someone who narratively forces all plots to focus on them.
I think you have 2 important aspects of a Mary Sue character. 1 is that they’re an attention seeker, and 2 that they’re unrealistically awesome
– David Ball
Yes the last one is me 🙂 I got involved because I wrote this article (click here) about Mary Sues a while ago, and it’s still one of the most popular articles on this blog. crimsyn had this to say about my definition though:
I think “unrealistically awesome” is kind of a problematic definition. After all, Captain Kirk is unrealistically awesome…
…which is very true. The official definition is this:
A Mary Sue is an original 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.
But Sal Taybrim has this to say about it:
Everyone’s answer is different, we have a lot of points of contention on what is and isn’t a Mary Sue – and even the “official” definition leaves a lot to be desired.
Mary Sue is highly subjective. We all have different levels of tolerance based on what we do and don’t like. But we can all agree that there is a line that a character or player can cross and once that line is crossed, we dislike the character
Would you define a Mary Sue differently? Let us know in the comments below.