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The Mary Sue is a term often used to describe a fictional character trope and stereotype, frequently describing a girl or young woman that is portrayed as flawless, quirky and overpowered, and sometimes she may have a tragic backstory with romanticized elements. The concept of a Mary Sue character heavily influenced the world of Internet fandoms, fanfiction and animation memes during the decade of the 2010s.

The term is often used in a pejorative manner because the characters are seen as very unrealistic and unrelatable, and often deemed "cringe". Some Mary Sue characters were created as an attempt to stand out from the others, while many were made by Internet trolls as a way to outrage people online (Parody Sue). The masculine equivalent of a Mary Sue is a Gary Stu, and its polar opposite is an Anti-Sue.

History[]

Originalmarysue

Mary Sue from A Trekkie's Tale (1973) by Paula Smith, the first character described as such.

The term "Mary Sue" was first used in 1973, originating from a satirical Star Trek fanfiction story called "A Trekkie's Tale", written by Paula Smith. The story parodied the idealized female characters that were common in Star Trek fan fiction at the time. The term gained popularity and was later applied to characters in all genres of fiction, and it is now often used to criticize characters who are seen as being poorly written or unrealistic.

Subtropes[]

Quirky[]

The Quirky trope inside the Mary Sue stereotype, like the name implies, is based around characters that have a heavy amount of "quirks" or "special" characteristics. This can encompass magical powers, bright clashing colors, tragic yet romanticized backstories, talking to animals or fantasy elements like wings or animal ears, and perhaps some inspiration from Japanese pop culture, notably anime and manga. Sometimes the characters might also have heterochromia, a rare eye condition. It is by far the most popular subtrope, serving as the core of the stereotype. Some infamous pieces of media that portray the "quirky" Mary Sue include Ensign Sue Must Die!, Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls or the Fanloid character Mikunana Yumene.

Inside the fanfiction and digital art communities, these types of traits are criticized because they don't build cohesive characters, and simply collect "random" traits without justification rather than creating a deeper personality for the character. Sometimes, when these fictional characters are self-inserts of the author, they might just reflect their desires and likes.

Edgy[]

The Edgy archetype is mainly associated with pieces of media deemed "edgy", such as the Creepypasta, Twilight or Undertale fandoms, among others. The most used color palette is red, black, grey and purple and certain species associated with the trope are vampires, demons, werewolves or killers with supernatural powers. Other common traits are angst and rebelliousness, darkness for darkness' sake, excessive piercings and tattoos, ripped clothing, glowing neon eyes, etc.

Gary Stu[]

A Gary Stu is described as a really "perfect" male character that everyone in the story really loves, and has exaggerated traits such as being invincible or being the only powerful character in the play. Despite this, this trope seems to receive slightly less criticism and it's not as prevalent as Mary Sues in popular media, likely because of certain gender roles and stereotypes.

Anti-Sue[]

An Anti-Sue is a character trope that inverts the traits stereotypically associated with Mary Sue characters; while Mary Sues are written to be absolutely perfect and flawless, the Anti-Sue is an heavily flawed character with lots of weaknesses and insecurities[1], and might be portrayed as "stupid" or "repulsive". These characters tend to be self-inserts, and written by the authors in fear of accidentally creating a "Mary Sue" character. However, it's really ironic because such a character still counts as a Mary Sue, since they are still talked about and focused on by all of the other characters in the story, and their characteristics are taken to a harsh extreme.

Internet Trolls[]

Internet trolls have long exploited the Mary Sue archetype to draw attention on social media and further harm the reputation of the animation meme community. In TVTropes, characters or troll accounts that over-exaggerate the original trope are called Parody Sues[2]. Here's some examples:

Obsessed Fangirls[]

SANS_FANGIRLS_ULTIMATE_CRINGE_COMPILATION

SANS FANGIRLS ULTIMATE CRINGE COMPILATION

A "cringe compilation" of Sans fangirls.

The Obsessed Fangirl Mary Sue trope became popular in the early and mid-2010s when some users made troll accounts on social media, specifically on YouTube, where they pretended to be the "biggest fans" of certain fictional characters, such as Sans from Undertale or Bendy from Bendy And The Ink Machine. These accounts often posted animation memes of their OCs along with their favorite fictional characters, claiming that they belonged only to them. Consequently, this trope gained a lot of infamy at the time, with some users creating "cringe compilation" videos specifically featuring Sans fangirls. However, that was their very goal.

Art Tracers[]

Also becoming popular in the mid-2010s, some internet trolls made accounts adopting Mary Sue personas and tracing art made by other users on social media, like YouTube or the now defunct Sony Sketch. They tended to screenshot other people's drawings and/or download their animation memes without permission and draw over them to later publish the art without crediting the original authors.

PARA_MI_ERMANA_Y_MI_PRIMA_SOFIXX_Y_VALERY

PARA MI ERMANA Y MI PRIMA SOFIXX Y VALERY

A traced drawing by the YouTuber Darkita Kawaii.

This trolling tactic became really infamous in the animation meme community (especially the Spanish-speaking side), in which this practice later came to be known as "recolor". The most well-known example of an art tracer who has a Mary Sue persona is a Mexican YouTuber called "Darkita Kawaii". She adopted a "childish" personality, using really bad grammar on purpose, and trolled the FNAFHS/Five Nights at Freddy's High School (a Mexican webseries inspired by Five Nights At Freddy's) fandom through tracing art and lying about her personal life and various serious issues[3]. Overlapping with the "Obsessed Fangirl" trope, she also claimed to be madly in love with Bart from The Simpsons. The account hasn't uploaded anything since 2018, and while no one knows what happened to the person behind Darkita Kawaii, some of her close ex-friends like Mili Cookie argue it was a social experiment.

Criticism[]

With the rise of the animation meme community during the mid-2010s, the Mary Sue trope quickly became one of the most criticized fictional archetypes of all time with many cringe compilation videos being made on YouTube, as well as troll accounts such as the infamous "Sans fangirls". The characters were criticized for being unrealistically perfect, boring and poorly written (such as lacking weaknesses). Others also pointed out how the Mary Sue characters are often created in an attempt to overshadow every other character, and many fanfiction authors may take offense if these characters are criticized.

However, there's also pop culture critics who counter-criticized the archetype. Those who popularized the term "Mary Sue" received criticism for being potentially sexist, because it plays on certain societal norms like women not being traditionally allowed to have power fantasies. Overpowered male characters in popular media receive less criticism than female ones. Some people argue there's nothing wrong with teenage girls liking Mary Sue characters in the same way it's socially acceptable for boys to enjoy watching superhero movies[4]. Despite the existence of Gary Stu characters as their masculine counterpart, overpowered male characters still receive less criticism, resulting in double-standards. Other similiar phenomena that have been criticized for having misogynistic roots include the "I'm not like other girls" debate during the mid-2010s.

Media[]

Fanfiction/Webfiction[]

  • A Trekkie's Tale
  • Blood Raining Night (Fanfiction of various animes with original characters)
  • Ensign Sue Must Die!
  • Five Nights At Freddy's High School/FNAFHS (Mexican webseries inspired by FNAF)
  • My Immortal (Harry Potter fanfiction)
  • Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls
  • Starkit's Prophecy (Warriors fanfiction)

Related Fandoms[]

  • Creepypasta
  • Fanime
  • Five Nights at Freddy's (FNAF)
  • Furry Fandom
  • Gacha Club
  • Gacha Life
  • Gachaverse
  • My Little Pony
  • ROBLOX (especially roleplay games)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Star Trek
  • Twilight
  • Undertale

Fictional Characters[]

  • Ensign Mary Sue (Ensign Sue Must Die!)
  • Kagami Kawaiine (Fanloid)
  • Mary Sue (A Trekkie's Tale)
  • Mikunana Yumene (Fanloid)

External Links[]

External links can help you get a better understanding of this aesthetic.

YouTube Videos[]

Gallery[]

References[]

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