Timeline of Mary Sue Meta

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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. Mary Sues are generally presumed to be idealized self-inserts rather than true characters, although they may actually be intended as point-of-view characters for the reader. In fan fiction, it is considered extremely gauche, or at least very immature, for an author to create characters based on him- or herself.

"Mary Sue" is an extremely subjective value judgement. One fan's Mary Sue may be another fan's awesome woman action hero. Someone at TvTropes observed that "Mary Sue" is actually the reaction that fans may have to a work that "is unduly favoring a character by changing other characters or the environment in inappropriate ways. When the audience calls "Mary Sue" on a character, the author has shattered their Willing Suspension of Disbelief."[1]

Mary Sue type characters do exist in both fan fiction and canon. The main difficulty with true Mary Sue stories is that they often cause canon characters, established story lines, and the very inner consistency of the canon's reality, to behave wildly out of bounds.

The male version of a Mary Sue is a Gary Stu or a Marty Stu.

See Mary Sue for much more.

Unknown Date

1973

1976

1992

1993

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

  • Everyone's A Superhero; Archive (Academic paper examining Mary Sue characters as representing "subaltern critique and empowerment" rather than narcissistic wish-fulfillment; and Mary Sue fanfiction as being fair use under copyright law) (2007)

2008

2009

2010

  • So Sue Me; Archive community on Dreamwidth for exploring the positive values of Mary Sue type characters (began in 2010-)

2011

2013

2014

2016

2017

References

  1. Avoid Writing A Mary Sue at TvTropes, pages found 2012-11-14. This is an observant and thoughtful article in their "So You Want To" series, going into detail about story elements that might "trigger" a Mary Sue reaction.