I think the role-play forum is long due for a post like this. I won't say any names, but there have been a couple of overly 'charming', 'exotic' and 'talented' characters out there. I won't deny that some of my own characters have fallen victim to this (and have been re-hashed over the years to somewhat more realistic ways, at least in their own prospective universes), but I still think we could all use a bit of education from this, even if it's only the newcomers that may need it. ^-^
From Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Page
A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as "Mary Sues" is that they are too ostentatious for the audience's taste, or that the author seems to favor the character too highly. The author may seem to push how exceptional and wonderful the "Mary Sue" character is on his or her audience, sometimes leading the audience to dislike or even resent the character fairly quickly; such a character could be described as an "author's pet".
While the label "Mary Sue" itself originates from a parody of this type of character, most characters labeled "Mary Sues" by readers are not intended by authors as such. Male Mary Sues are often dubbed "Gary Stu", "Larry Stu", "Marty Stu", or similar names.
While the term is generally limited to fan-created characters, and its most common usage today occurs within the fan fiction community or in reference to fan fiction, original characters in role-playing games or literary canon are also sometimes criticized as being "Mary Sues" or "canon Sues," if they dominate the spotlight or are too unrealistic or unlikely in other ways. One example of this criticism is Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
'Symptoms' include one or many of the following:
- A self-insert character and/or a mouthpiece for personal views (religion, sexuality, politics, etc.)
- An absurdly 'special' character, talented at everything, picks up impossible tasks very easily, etc.
- A 'tortured' character (yet suffers no long-term psychological effect from said torture).
- A character that is despised (or on the opposite side of the spectrum, loved) by everybody for no particular reason.
- Said character is despised/loved because their physical appearance/physical prowess surpasses that of everyone's.
- Has an unusual appearance/power in a universe where said appearance/power would not exist.
- Owns devices/clothing not appropriate for the era of the RP/general story.
- Acts in a way not appropriate for the era of the RP/general story.
- Many more...
Here are a few tests if you want to be more aware of what the general 'symptoms' are (though these tests can
be inaccurate and should only be used as advice on how to better your character):The Universal Mary Sue Litmus TestThe Original Fiction Mary Sue Litmus TestThe Writer's Mary Sue Test
I don't mean to scare or insult any of you with this post; it's just fair advice given from somebody who's been in the position of owning a few Mary Sues and learning from their mistakes. In any case, it may serve to make you more aware as a writer, which in some cases (like mine) may help in your career (I'm currently studying digital animation, and will thus continue onto the entertainment business, so creating a relatable/likeable character would be very relevant to me). If it's just for fun, though, it still doesn't hurt to know.
You can ignore this post, or you can probably better yourself by it. We've all heard of Mary Sues, and we all dread
owning one, but if you dread it very much, well then, doesn't hurt to take one of the tests up there, then, does it?<Hello That One Dude, we took out the poll that was unrelated to the topic of the discussion, and also, because we already have Mary Sue discussion thread for writers, edited the thread title to narrow the scope of discussion for this thread to RP characters only. Hope you don't mind. ~ Tombow>
Note from Mod: Everyone, on this thread, please focus the discussion on RP situation only. If anyone would like to discuss Mary Sue in General Writing, then please post that on Mary Sue discussion thread for writers. Thank you!