Mary Sues & Gary Stus Allllll Around Us: Media

Lara Croft

Week #6: MS & GS Allllll Around Us: Media

This is a quick one, which is good because it needs to be talked about and my eyes are getting tired.

This is a subject that always burns me up. Readers of fanfic stories might jump up and down and have smoke come billowing out of their years if the come across an original character that sounds “Mary-Sueish or Gary-Stuish.” Too pretty, too handsome, friendly, everybody like them, awesome at martial arts, have mystical powers, intelligent, blah blah blah …

But then—oh look! ORIGINAL ESTABLISHED CHARACTERS FROM THE ENTERTAINMENT UNIVERSE HAS THE EXACT SAME TRAITS, AND NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE!!!

Hypocritical? You bet better frickin’ believe it. Why? Damned if I know. I said in a previous post that some of these characters have been around for so long that people have become accepting of them and consider those characters as the norm. Fanfic writers are allegedly trying to copy those original established characters, therefore coming out with a hack piece f writing.

Well, I think it’s time to pull out a few examples of established Mary-Sues & Gary-Stus and show everybody what they look like when you break them down into MS traits only. I’m not saying these characters are bad. I love all of them, but you’ll see what I’m getting at. Please note that under “Special Talents,” “Tragic History,” and “Weaknesses” I have also included personality traits.

THE MARY-SUE

NAME: Lara Croft

AGE: 29 (in first TR game)

SEX: Female

HOME: England

OCCUPATION: Archeologist/adventurer, writer

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: 6’0”, 120 lbs., 34D, brown hair, brown eyes

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: Marksmanship, rock climbing, deciphering ancient Greek, Latin & Egyptian, can hold her breath for 2 minutes, Olympic gymnast, ballet dancer, extremely intelligent, very strong, witty, cool under pressure

POPULARITY: extremely popular with some, but many demonize her as a literal “tomb raider” and say that she’s defiling ancient sites. Some governments won’t even let her in. Many see her as a sex symbol.

TRAGIC HISTORY: TR 1: in college she was on a skiing trip with her friends when their plane crashed in the Himalayas, leaving her the only survivor. When she returned home she vowed to turn her life around and broke off her engagement with her fiancé. Her father became angry and  disowned her. TR Legends: 9 year old survives a plane crash that killed her mother in the Himalayas. Top Cow Comics: 18 year old Lara Croft survives a plane crash in the Himalayas that kills her parents and fiancé. TR Angel of Darkness: unfairly accused of murdering her mentor. TR Revelations: buried alive.

WEAKNESSES: Temper. Stubborness. Mortality. 3 year old Lara was savagely bitten by her aunt’s corgi and has a fear of corgis as a result.

INTERESTING INFO: 11th generation countess of Abbington. Born on Valentine’s day

NAME: Buffy Summers

AGE: 16 (1st season) 23 (final season)

SEX: Female

HOME: Sunnydale, California

OCCUPATION: Vampire slayer, student

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: blonde, blue eyes

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: extreme strength, sarcasm, bravery, clever, very talented with weapons and in fighting.

POPULARITY: fairly popular with teens and adults and clueless vampires with a soul

TRAGIC HISTORY: parents divorced. Witnessed her cousin’s death as a child. Had several friends killed by monsters. Vampire boyfriend went psycho & she had to send him to hell. Died. Died again. Was resurrected while still buried underground & had to dig herself out, resulting in severe trauma. Rejected by other slayers temporarily. Was not able to save many victims. Was betrayed several times. Drank enchanted beer and went cave-woman. Dumped by an asshole. Dumped by an idiot. Frequently embarrassed. Attempted to kill a rogue slayer. Mother died.

WEAKNESSES: Stubborness. Hospital phobia. Too defiant.Can’t drive for crap. Complains. Desperate for approval. Wants to have a normal life. Can’t maintain a normal, healthy romantic relationship.

NAME: Nikita

AGE: 29

SEX: Female

HOME: New York (I think)

OCCUPATION: Rogue spy/assassin

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: 5’7”, black hair, hazel eyes

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: top notch markswoman, actress (for undercover work,) computer hacker, brave, excellent fighter, persistent, clever, great at deception

TRAGIC HISTORY: Was addicted to drugs as a teenager and then shot and killed a cop. She was sentence to die by lethal injection, but instead she was taken to a unit called Division to be trained as an assassin and spy. She was among their best but she went rogue after they killed a man she was in love with. She rescued a girl named Alex and trained her to become a mole inside Division, but is riddled with guilt over sending her there and over the role she had to play in the murder of Alex’s father. (There’s more but I don’t want to give a lot away.)

WEAKNESSES: Doubt. Pride. Love. Anger. Obsessiveness. Guilt. Frustration.

All hail for the ultimate Queen of the Mary-Sues!

NAME: Anita Blake

AGE: 27

SEX: Female

HOME: St. Louis

OCCUPATION: Necromancer/a feared vampire executioner/supernatural consultant for the police/leader of the werewolves, werelions and wereleopards, though she is somehow immune to their bites and therefore not any of them/servant to the chief vampire in the city/succubus

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: of German & Mexican descent. Black hair. Supposed to be extremely beautiful. Has several large scars.

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: (oh, for God’s sake) necromancer, vampire executioner, succubus, has a black belt in judo, is studying kenpo character (YOU ARE NOT WORTHY!!!), talented markswoman, can raise a vampire during the day as if he were a zombie, control him and heal his wounds, is a detective who usually finds more clues and makes more accurate assumptions than anybody in the police force, stronger than most humans, can heal faster, can drain people of energy, can cause people to be sexually attracted to her, every damn Y-chromosome carrying person on the planet is attracted to her, has three or possibly four strains of werelion/wolf/leopard/possibly tiger in her but doesn’t shape shift, can hypnotize people.

TRAGIC HISTORY: Her mother died in a car accident that Anita witnessed as a small child. Her necromancer powers emerged when her dead dog crawled out of its grave and jumped up on her bed. She was excommunicated from the Church. She was once engaged to a sucky boyfriend who used her for lousy sex and then was pressured by his mother to dump Anita because she was ½ Mexican. Has a poor relationship with her stepmother. Has several dozen scars from fights with vampires. Claims to be a fairly meek person despite jumping into the fight head on. Constantly reports that she’s terrified of a person who’s going to hurt her, but is able to outwit and kill them. 9 times out of 10 has someone she knows or loved sexually and repeatedly tortured and/or mutilated.

WEAKNESSES: Claustrophobic. Doesn’t stand up for herself sometimes. Let’s herself become doubtful. Can almost never make up her mind about what or who she wants. Has a lot of scars. Can still make mistakes.

That’s all I can come up with as far as weaknesses are concerned. And if she’s not a Mary-Sue, then I don’t know what is.

THE GARY-STU:

NAME: Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader

AGE: undetermined as adult

SEX: Male

HOME: Tatoonie

OCCUPATION: Jedi Knight/Sith Lord/Emperor Palpatine’s enforcer/bodyguard

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: As Vader: 6’+. Dressed entirely in black. Expressionless mask. Stands confidently. Just looking at him you know he’s strong.

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: Extremely talented at lightsaber. Top notch pilot. Telepathy. Intimidation. Short to the point responses. Likes to drop shocking news at the worst possible moments. Telekinesis. Can deflect blaster bolts with his hands. Crafty. Intelligent. Formidable. Patient.

TRAGIC HISTORY: Was born a slave but rescued by a Jedi. Don’t know who or what his father is. Was an extremely resistant student. His mother was murdered by Sand People. His first mentor was killed by a Sith lord. He was influenced by a maniacal chief of state to turn against the Jedi & Republic. Lost a hand to a Sith lord. Killed a Sith lord. Killed or at least contributed to his wife’s death. Killed hundreds of Jedi children. Helped to kill a Master Jedi. Attempted to kill Obi Wan Kenobi but lost and was horrifically burned by the heat of a lava flow. Was rescued by the Emperor and given cybernetic implants and limbs. Proceeds to eradicate Jedi, capture several to turn to the dark side, tutored many young Jedis to become Sith or at least supersoldiers for the Empire. Needed armor and breathing apparatus to survive. Managed to kill Obi Wan the second time they met. Began to doubt his role in the Force upon learning that he had a son and daughter. Gets his ass kicked by his son. Kills the emperor in order to save Luke, but dies as a result.

WEAKNESSES: Obedience to the Emperor. Obsessiveness. Hate. Doubt. Pride. Anger. Stubbornness. Love for his son.

NAME: Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett

AGE: who the hell knows? Rounding in around 100

SEX: Male

HOME: Canada/U.S.

OCCUPATION: Super hero

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: 5’5”, very muscular, wild black hair, strong jaw, brown eyes, gorgeous so women are always throwing themselves at him.

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: Adamantium skeleton and claws. Trained as a samurai. Served in WW2. Has a connection with wolves. Can live off of anything in the forest. Good with the comebacks and wisecracks. Brave. Amazing healing factor. Heightened sense of smell. Extremely strong. Extremely loyal. Funny. Protective.

TRAGIC HISTORY: Was the son of a wealthy industrialist in Canada, circa 1850s. When he was 11, his adopted father was murdered, mother committed suicide, Wolverine killed his real father in rage. He and friend Rose fled to the wilds of Canada and joined a mining camp. Following a tragedy Logan left Canada and traveled the world. Went back to Canada and enlisted in WW2. Went to Japan. Suffered a military experiment bu the Canadian government to have adamantium infused to his bones. Freaked out and escaped, his traumatized mind inducing amnesia, causing him to live like an animal. Rescued,rehabilitated, joined Department H. Resigned because he fell in love with one of the members and didn’t want it to affect her marriage. Joined X-Men, rapidly fell in love with Jean Grey, met and fell in love with Mariko Yashida. Was about to marry Mariko, but she was poisoned with blowfish toxin and he was forced to kill her to end her suffering. Years later Magneto rips the adamantium off of Wolvie’s skeleton, nearly killing him.He starts to turn to a monstrous animal but is recruited by Apocalypse who gives back the adamantium in exchange of Wolverine’s obedience.Turns out that years ago he had fallen in love and married another Japanese woman who was killed w/ their unborn son. He has some cloned kids he didn’t know about. Has an adopted daughter in Japan after he inadvertently caused her mother’s death. Other stuff.

WEAKNESSES: Berserker rage. Falling in love. Irritation. To cope with trauma he induces amnesia. Red haired women. Japanese women. Impatience. Anger. Occasionally rejects society so he can live in the woods by himself for a time. Chafes with authority if he doesn’t respect/like them (i.e. Cyclops.) Relentless. Sarcastic.

NAME: Spider-man/Peter Parker

AGE: call it 30 for sake of argument

SEX: Male

HOME: New York

OCCUPATION: crime fighter/super hero/scientist/freelance photographer/teacher

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: 5’10”, 167 lbs., brown hair, hazel eyes, muscular,

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: can climb walls, Incredibly strong. Fast. Has spidey sense that lets him know if danger is nearby. Designed web shooters and web fluid. Great sense of humor. Can heal faster than most humans. Very intelligent, but not genius-level. Awesome reaction ability. Can jabber away no matter what the situation. Great sense of humor though it can be self-deprecating.

TRAGIC HISTORY: When he was 15 he was bitten on the hand by a radioactive spider and developed spider abilities. His parents died in a plane crash. His uncle Ben was murdered by a robber. The first Green Goblin killed Spidey’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy. At least one clone was made of him. Once possessed by the sentient black Spider-man costume. Was a wimp in high school and was constantly picked on by Flash Thompson. Spidey’s friend Harry (the 2nd Green Goblin) became addicted to drugs and alcohol which contributed to his death. Spidey witnessed 9/11. Had some weird mutations going on. His wife has a miscarriage. More stuff.

WEAKNESSES: Exhaustion. Villains that are stronger and faster than he is. Doubt. Anger. Loyalty. Concern for others. Fright. Doesn’t think highly of himself sometimes. Stubbornness.

And now I present to you, the King of the Gary-Stus!

NAME: Batman/Bruce Wayne

AGE: 35

SEX: Male

HOME: Gotham City

OCCUPATION: crime fighter/billionaire

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Mid 30’s. 6’0”, Black hair, blue eyes, snappy dresser as Bruce Wayne, handsome. Solidly built muscle-wise. As Bruce Wayne he exudes an air of playfulness and seems carefree. As Batman he is serious, dark, forboding.

SPECIAL TALENTS/POWERS: Extremely intelligent. Strong. The World’s Finest Detective. Gymnastic. Acrobatic. Can speak several languages. Knows ALL 127 forms of martial arts. Knows how to use a variety of weapons. Designed the Batsuit (cowl has nightvision and microscopic goggles, and audio processor. Taser system in suit. Kelvar. Flame resistant). Invented all of his tools and weapons. Designed all of the Batmobiles, Batboats, Bat helicopters, Bat motorcycles, Bat scuba gear, Bat mini submarine. Utility belt has camera, recorder, flashlight, micro camera, gas pellets, mini computer, Batmobile remote, jumplines, Batarangs, bat cuffs, blowgun, grenades, crime scene kit, mini tool kit, binoculars, tracking device, gas mask, (but no shark repellent!) Great actor. Can get out of any tight situation. Almost always catches the bad guy. Has an astounding amount of patience and self control. Knows Morse code. Has an awesome lair. A master of disguise. A teetotaler. Incredible skill of focus and memorization. Is often spot on in his theories and deductions. Can find clues that the police missed. Can whip up whatever kind of chemical he needs (like Agent Orange) on his own.

TRAGIC HISTORY: Witnessed the murder of his parents when he was 9 years old.Traveled the world for years seeking out some of the most obscure and most talented fighters to learn from them.Witnessed the death of the 2nd Robin. Had his back broken by Bane but was able to recover. Was framed for murder. Was unable to stop the Joker from crippling the first Batgirl or killing Commissioner Gordon’s wife. Had a tutor named David Cain who went nutty. Had a friend who became the villain Hush. The 2nd Robin returns from he dead and is now a villain. Has a son with the daughter of evil Ras Al Ghul. Came thisclose to death God knows how many times. Saw Gotham being wiped out by an earthquake that killed hundreds, if not thousands. Disappeared. Reappeared. Disappeared again. Reappeared again. Haunted by the memory of his parents. Cannot form a trusting long lasting relationship and often tries to drive people away from him. Tons more.

WEAKNESSES: Physical limits, i.e. exhaustion or strength. Obessiveness. Vengeful to a degree. Has to maintain a dual personality (Bruce Wayne and Batman.) Has a tendency to fall in love with women who are evil. A bit of paranoia. Frustration. Intimdating. Mortality. Aloofness. Knowing that he does care about people and desperately tries to push that away. Makes mistakes sometimes. Might underestimate villain.

I call Batman the King of Gary-Stus because of all the stuff he has. Really, let’s think about it: he’s a billionaire and a vigilante. Okay, sure, but seriously, he knows all 127 kinds of martial arts? And it’s possible that he designed and built those gadgets, but all of them? He designed and built all those vehicles? He’s the world’s greatest detective? Really? Batman’s all that and more?

Superman may have supernatural (for lack of a better word) powers such as flight and has to maintain a dual identity, but when he’s compared to Batman—who’s already been broken down into the traits described above—then you know that The Last Son of Krypton is hardly a Gary-Stu in comparison. Batman is super intelligent, rich beyond belief, a brilliant inventor, a superb hand to hand fighter (ergh!!), and has a memory that could put the newest Cray supercomputer to shame. He can outwit, trick, outthink and defeat almost 95% of the villains he meets. He has a dark and bloody complicated past, he’s cold to others, and is consumed with a need for justice … hey, those are all Anti Gary-Stu traits too, right?

Look, some of you don’t understand my point right now but think about it: Batman is a normal human man who has pushed himself to be the greatest crimefighter the world has ever known. He has no metaphysical or enhanced powers, but he’s so rich it’s insane. He created every one of his weapons, gadgets and vehicles. HE KNOWS ALL 127 FORMS OF MARTIAL ARTS IN THE WORLD. Come on, people! Somehow this is acceptable while an fanfic OC that has even the tiniest bit of similarity to Batman gets flayed alive?

I’m sure a lot of you are reading this and are screaming at your computer because you’re upset about the way I’ve treated Batman and the other characters. And I’m glad you are, because that’s my whole point: Mary-Sues and Gary-Stus exist in the media, but nobody cares. When an apparent MS or GS makes an appearance in somebody’s story, these hypocrites go crazy and attack it. Most of them don’t stop and think about all of the other established characters that are out there. I bet if they did, some of them would insist that these characters can’t be MSs or GSs because they “make mistakes.” So? Their other traits still easily qualify them for being a Mary-Sue or Gary-Stu.

Think about it. And if some of you don’t get it or refuse to accept it, THEN STOP READING THE DAMNED FANFICS!

ON A SIDE NOTE:

I found an interesting meme on deviantart drawn by a girl who is making fun of the Mary-Sue ridiculousness. Go take a look, it’s pretty funny.

http://zimadonna.deviantart.com/art/Zima-is-Not-a-Mary-Sue-Comic-72912900

I also found some links that are pro Save the Mary Sue type sites and articles:

Geek Feminist Blog: Quick Hit: “Mary Sue Policing” http://geekfeminism.org/2010/04/18/quick-hit-mary-sue-policing/

Kapaychan’s journal on dA: http://kapaychan.deviantart.com/journal/32979713/

There’s also a horrifying slew of Anti-MSs, the worst one being from a girl vividly stating that she would “PERSONALLY gut you like a fish if I ever critique you,” if you gave your non-Japanese character a Japanese name. (I guess then she’ll cross the pond to chat with me about forgetting to include that in my blog before. Hmm. I hope she’s not too offended, that lunatic.)

So, you know, researchers beware, there are a lot of losers and psychopaths out there

Ooh, that rhymed!

Next week: A short discussion on MSs/GSs in mythology and how it’s affected everything anybody’s ever written.

And then the week after that issssss (opens the envelope): THE BLOG ABOUT LOVE ROMANCE & SEX!!!! I cannot wait to see what people have to say about this one! XD

What You Need to Read/Watch/Play: Mary Sues & Gary Stu

More by this Author


Comments 4 comments

Celanna192 profile image

Celanna192 5 years ago

I know what you listed here in terms of established OC's is but the very tip of the iceberg.

I commend Zimadonna for defending Zima.

To the "I will personally gut you" chick, Sora says, "kiss my grits!" If someone is so offended by the naming of characters, they should not be reading...period. Considering what some celebrities have named their children, giving a "japanese" name to a non-Japanese person is very benign.


Fizzbit profile image

Fizzbit 5 years ago from Wichita, KS

Celanna - I agree, but only in modern day settings or when the setting is appropriate. Seeing a Satsuke who's anything but Japanese in any setting before 1980 (or even 1990) just isn't plausible. These days people can get away with very radical naming conventions, but you have to take setting into account, and part of that setting is when they were born. Giving a name that's acceptable to give an infant in 2011 might not have been common when that character would have been "Born". You might see a 2 year old caucasian boy named Satsuke in 2011, but you certainly won't see a 30 year old caucasian man with the same name. Make sense?

I think one of the reasons people get mixed up in crying "Mary Sue Alert" is exactly that reason: Setting. Batman VS Superman, for example. If Superman were a human born on earth, then yes, he would DEFINITELY be a Stu. However, he came from the planet Krypton, where he would have been completely normal and not at all out of place if he had stayed there.

Having someone out of place in a certain setting should be there for a reason. Is your character a vampire? Are they benevolent? Are no other vampires benevolent except them? Why?

I'd also like to take this moment to point out that there is NO TEXTBOOK DEFINITION FOR A VAMPIRE. Stephen King's vampires are different than Anne Rice's vampires, who also differ from Stephanie Meyer's vampires, who are radically different from Joss Whedon's vampires. Every cultural mythology has a different definition of the vampire, so having a vampire who happens to be immune to garlic isn't automatically a Sue if every other vampire in the same story share the immunity. I'm sick of seeing people accuse vampire characters of being Sues because they can walk into a church without flinching, or walk out in broad daylight. In my own personal mythos, newly Turned vampires can't go out in daylight but can slowly build up a tolerance to it. Vampires who are born vampires already have this tolerance. (That's another thing - some vampire mythologies allow for vampires to breed. Others don't. Get over it) Vampires have become Pizza over the years - everyone's recipe is different, but so long as that recipe stays the same throughout, it doesn't make it a bad pizza.

...I kind of went on a tangent there, didn't I? Now I want pizza.


Fizzbit profile image

Fizzbit 5 years ago from Wichita, KS

Oops, accidentally double-posted.


Jessa618 5 years ago

I'm obscenely late in catching up here!

Your list choices were really well-chosen, a lot of them being heavy hitters in pop culture. I think a lot of first-time writers who develop original characters/MS/GS really look up to these types of characters that they are already familiar with and might wish to emulate. I know I did.

A trend I'm also seeing lately,is critics going out of their way to point out what they think are Sue-ish traits in someone's character. Whether an author deserves that haranguing or not is up to you. Take Stephanie Meyer's Bella Swan. Okay, I get it, Deviantart, Bella is a blank slate and exhibits MS qualities. These traits make her an arguably lame character. But to press for that being the ONE reason to hate the entire series? Trust me, there are plenty more...no offense to Twilight lovers, because there are just as many reasons to like it, I'm sure.

Fizz, I love that you bring up something as amorphous as the vampire thing. I think the more inexperienced writers take advantage of the 'vampire' label and like to throw in a bunch of their favorite bits from other vampires subgenres, usually for the sake of coolness or making their character stand out from the others. One of the perks to writing vampires in this case is that with all of the possibilities out there for that particular creature type, they can pick and choose the traits that best suit their whims here and now. That can often mean using all of the coolest parts without taking the weaknesses into consideration. Same thing with werewolves--I've heard of characters who can control whether the full moon affects them fully or at all, whether a cloudy night affects a transformation, a ritual, etc.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working