What is a Mary Sue?

I think the group consensus is that Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation started off as a Mary Sue/Larry Stu for Gene Roddenberry.

The Earth’s Children series (Clan of the Cave Bear, The Mammoth-hunters, etc.) by Jean M. Auel has Ayla, a tall blonde cavewoman who discovers and invents everything but the wheel, while taming wild animals and having hot sex with a tall blonde caveman, Jondalar. The first book was good, but it was all downhill from there.

Midshipman’s Hope (by David Feintuch) has a Gary Stu named Nick Seafort. I think it’s still an interesting book despite that. The author had studied the British Navy and the Napoleonic Era and it shows. The others in the series aren’t as good, of course. Like with Auel’s books, it just gets silly after a while.

Mary Sues often have the same initials as their creators.

In the Harry Potter series, Hermione may well be a Mary Sue for JK Rowling.

I don’t know about that. I haven’t read the last two books, but I always felt that Rowling treated Hermoine very unsympathetically and consistently gave her the short end of the stick.

It’s a reach but could the character Harriet Vane in the Lord Peter Wimsey stories by Dorothy L Sayers be an early example of a Mary Sue?

Even earlier: Beth in Little Women. She is described as having a round face. Here is a picture of Louisa May Alcott.

There are Mary Sue tendencies in Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol,” but he doesn’t die.

The Mary Sue Litmus Test—this one’s a pretty generic version—tends to be a good indicator about what makes the character a MS; it’s informative for the casual researcher, to boot.

The test mentions something that I’ve noticed crossing several fandoms—the eyes. Mary Sues almost always have striking eyes or eye color. I don’t know if there’s some deep, Jungian signifigance to that or what.

Cool, there’s a phrase to describe this concept. I think that the main character in True Romance is a Mary Sue (Gary Stu sounds dumb) for Quentin Tarantino.

Oh my god, that reminds me of Anne Rice’s Exit to Eden. She starts right off the bat saying this woman has round eyes and not almond eyes and that even though every other beautiful woman has almond eyes that doesn’t stop this dumb character from being the most beautiful person ever. I never knew what that was called before!

Kay Scarpetta has to be queen mary of the sues. Reading a Kay Scarpetta book is like watching Patricia Cornwell masturbate in front of a mirror.

There’s a good number of people who believe that Sayers created her ideal man in Lord Peter Wimsey, so it’s an interesting notion to stretch the Mary Sue definition to include her.

However, I should point out that Sayers was a very no-nonsense woman when it came to her writing and her life. The thought of creating a goo-goo adolescent MS to put herself into her books doesn’t jib with her personality.

Still, it’s amusing to consider.

Wikipedia makes several points about how much Harriet Vane resembled Dorothy Sayers:


I’m not sure I would say that Sayers was “a very no-nonsense woman . . . [about] her life.” She wasn’t very pretty and basically threw herself at a couple of men who she should have realized didn’t actually love her. She then married a man mostly because he was willing to live off her income.

Stumbling across this sentence made me swallow my gum…

So all those family members with the tawny eyes in the Lensman series, do they qualify?

Maybe, maybe not. Kinda like the old saying goes; “all insects are bugs, but not all bugs are insects.”

Randomly off-topic: does anyone else find that picture vaguely creepy?

So is any character who’s just “too good to live” a Mary-Sue, even if they aren’t a stand-in for the author? E.g., would Remedios the Beauty from One Hundred Years of Solitude be a Mary-Sue?

If you mean that Beth March is the typical “too good to live” type, then yes. If you mean that Beth March is supposed to represent the author, then I disagree of course - Jo March is well-known to be the young Alcott.

Damn yes. I’ve never even thought about it before. Comic-loving, kung fu movie-loving socially awkward nerd gets hot girl and turns into action hero. I don’t know how I missed it.

Jane Austen once wrote a short parody sketch about a main character who was absolutely perfect in every way: beautiful, unfailing polite, perfectly dressed, a great singer, artist, and writers, played the piano, the violin, the harp, and twenty-five other instruments. Austen later said that she wrote that piece merely by compiling all of the suggestions for characters that she’d received from her friends and family. It’s included in the appendix of the Norton Critical Edition of Emma, if anyone wants to read it.