Worst Mary Sues?

2 months ago | TheAdamBo (Member)

After reading some of the replies on my other thread, I figured I'd ask: who are the worst Mary Sues you've ever seen, be they in books, movies, or video games?

I have three. First is Celaena Sardothian from Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass. I hate that book, and it's mostly because of her. Maas wants you to think she's a super cool, highly trained assassin (the most feared in the whole kingdom) but Celaena acts more like a millennial teenager than anyone remotely dangerous. She whines about having to get up too early, she whines about her clothes being ugly, and when someone beats her in a training duel she whines about them cheating (because an assassin would NEVER do that, would they?). And yet, everyone just goes along with it, trembling in their boots whenever she walks past because the author told them they had to. Except for the two super hot guys who fall in love with her right off the bat. One of them being the son of the man she was trying to assassinate before she was caught. Ugh, I really freaking hate this book.

There's Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicles. While The Name of the Wind was and is one of my all time favorite books, all its sequel The Wise Man's Fear managed to do was turn Kvothe into the biggest Gary Stu ever. He's not just good at everything, he's THE BEST at everything. Except math, because CHARACTER FLAW, LAWLZ!1! The second book feels like nothing but a string of events specifically designed to show off how much better Kvothe is than you, and he doesn't even have the nerve to act humble about it. When he repeatedly drops lines like, "My mind is so sharp that sometimes I cut myself on it. You'll never understand unless you're as smart as I am," my opinion if him goes flying out the window so fast that it makes a sonic boom. The worst part is where 15 year old virgin Kvothe hooks up with a literal sex goddess, who's been seducing men since before the dawn of time, and HER MIND IS BLOWN BY HOW GOOD HE IS. At that point I wondered how many times Rothfuss had to edit his own name out of the rough draft before he sent it in for publishing.

And lastly is Agatha from the Girl Genius comics. I'm a little more lenient on this since it's a free to read webcomic, but I also couldn't bring myself to finish it because of how insufferable a Mary Sue the main character is. She's so beautiful that every man who lays eyes on her immediately falls in love (who also all have to be super hot models), she's the smartest person in the world, she can act, sing, etc without taking a single lesson, she's the last surviving heir of a royal family, everyone is literally begging to be her servant, the only people who don't like her are the villains, and she constalty pulls new talents out of her ear whenever she needs them. The Other's in my head? No problem! I'm suddenly smart enough that the gadget that made me stupid before doesn't work anymore! It's a shame too, because I liked literally everything else about this comic. The Jagerman are freaking hilarious. But when the author/artist constantly shoves everything else aside just to focus on Agatha and her stupid love triangle, I can't help but lose interest.

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Responses

  1. BGHilton (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    James Bond?

  2. Fiona Gregory (Moderator)

    Posted 2 months ago

    I have to say Ayla in the Clan of the Cave Bear series, and it's too bad because those books were so imaginative and thoroughly researched. The first two are the best and the Mary Sue-ness is not as discordant because in #1 she's a child being raised by Neanderthals, so it makes sense she would have different abilities and provoke strong emotions among them. That was actually a good example of legitimate Mary Sue like attributes. In the second, Valley of the Horses, she was alone for most of the book and though she invented an improbable amount of things on her own, it kind of made sense since she had all this time to think and no-one to tell her not to do things. After that, though, it got more ridiculous with every successive book.

  3. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Whatshisname, the protagonist of Sword Art Online.

    He's an exception to the game rules just because, no reason given, and of course everyone loves him and every girl wants to marry him even though he's supposedly... antisocial and a loner type? Or something.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  4. Maromar (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Kirito/Kazuto/The Black Swordsman (Guts deserves the title more) from Sword Art Online. I'm aware of the fandom behind the franchise, the concept holds much of the appeal given off by .hack. People get trapped in a game world, everything that was meant to be fun now becomes a life or death struggle, etc. Some even say SAO was a major contributor to the rise of lit-RPGs.

    I just can't get behind the main character. He's a black hole snowflake sue who, in the end, gives off the impression that he never actually struggles for anything, or faces the consequences of his actions beyond a motivation for becoming more "awesome". This crap wouldn't be a problem if the other characters, who manage to be interesting, were given a greater amount of independent development.

    I finished the GGO arc of the anime with a bitter taste in my mouth, and not simply because they eschewed plot elements for fanservice. Kirito's just everywhere, tearing down the suspension of disbelief behind an otherwise enjoyable piece. You get a neat little snack that you eagerly bite into, like a chocolate chip cookie, only to discover that it's just a cardboard printout. I know that he's the protagonist and it's hard to NOT have him everywhere, but Asuna, Agil, or Klein would have made better choices in my opinion.

    Edit: Ninja'd by Chrysalis...

    The first step to becoming a hero is being mulched by a truck: https://mysticnanblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/spark-i/
  5. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Oh boy, this is a hard one.

    I get the feeling I'd put Kirito on the list, but I have the enviable distinction of never actually watching the show, and never intend to.

    My picks (of characters in media I've actually consumed) are as follows:

    1- Every main character of a GGRMartin book. All of them count as a single entry because it's impossible to tell them apart. They're all a bunch of angsty violent psychopaths whose "tragic backgrounds" are more an excuse for them to be magically awesome and face no real consequence. At least until ol' Grim Reaper gets bored with them and murders them for the next character who acts just like them, but is even MORE awesome with an EVEN MORE fucked up backstory.

    2- Harry Potter. If all the aspects of a Sue can be thought of as "notes", then Harry Potter is a concerto.

    3- All of Marvel's new "Diversity Hire" comic characters.

    4- Goku, of DBZ fame. Escalation, escalation, more escalation, and the plot just revolves around making this one dumbass somehow the most powerful being in the universe despite having the intelligence of a legume and being the worst friend- or, for that matter, parent- of fictional history that's not actually a villain.

    Author of Price.
  6. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sword Art Online Abridged is pretty great. They make the entire series so much better.

    The MC from Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This book was being promoted everywhere a while back and everybody was gushing over it. The protagonist is a huge Mary Sue. Everyone loves her and she solves everyone's problems with the power of her pure heart. I really didn't see how anyone except for tween girls could like it.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  7. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 2 months ago

    I've got to admit to having mixed feelings about the whole notion of the Mary Sue. There are definitely characters out there that warp the story around them, making it worse by their presence. Those characters bug me. More often than not though, they're written by new writers.

    Competent writers' Mary Sue characters are less likely to be Mary Sues in that sense. In my observation, lot of characters accused of being Mary Sues amount to non-sexual versions of "Not My Kink" for many people.

    Main characters to a greater or lesser degree are almost always larger than life and serve up plenty of wish fulfillment. This is particularly true in genre writing, but sometimes in literary fiction too. In order to actually be successful in stopping an alien invasion, preventing the Dark Lord of your choice from conquering the world, or fighting a near godlike being to a standstill requires extreme competence or luck. You could argue that just about any character capable of those feats is a Mary Sue. They certainly aren't a normal person. More often than not, even literary fiction includes a certain amount of wish fulfillment (see further a huge pile of books written about middle-aged college professors having an affair with a student--written by college professors who don't want to get fired and thus aren't doing that).

    The way I see it, people are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to characters who fulfill their fantasies, but less of one to the characters that don't.

    Thus, I personally don't get a huge charge out of romantic triangles, but they are a staple of romance novels. It's not my thing, but there are plenty of people who get into it. Similarly, there's James Bond's effect on women (they all want to have sex with him--well, most of them). It's not really my thing either, but it's certainly a fantasy for some segment of the population. Characters capable of thinking their way through complicated situations, possibly by inventing something impossible? That certainly is my thing, but it may not be yours.

    While I think the concept of the Mary Sue is worth thinking about every now and again, I don't trust it as a way of describing what's wrong with a work. Just about any character can be a Mary Sue in somebody's eye.

  8. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Wesley Crusher is often the go-to example. He bends characterization (even the gruff starship captain takes to him quickly enough, despite his regular bending & breaking of rules), setting coherence (why is he allowed on the bridge!? Why do people listen to him!?), more setting coherence (why is a teenager coming up with brilliant answers that a trained engineering crew can't?), whole plot arcs dwell on him, yadda yadda.

    The light novel Re:Monster has someone born into the body of a goblin, and he has the ability to gain skills from every monster he slays. He quickly becomes an ogre with deity-like powers who crushes all beneath his feet. The entire story devolves into a series of meaningless and low-stakes confrontations and long lists of power-ups. The entire story is basically power-up masturbation (excuse my French), as far as I read it.

    I'd make the argument that Rey from The Force Awakens is one. [Spoilers throughout this paragraph] I've had debates over this, I don't think she's a super-severe case, but her lack of demonstrable flaws (that aren't likely to be benefits in disguise), the setting-defying level of competence with no training (fighting a trained lightsaber user without any training of her own, use of the Force to escape confinement with significantly more power than established characters in movie-canon, like Anakin/Vader & Luke), competence in other things like piloting with no reason to believe this poverty-stricken scavenger has piloted anything before, and maybe most egregiously, the way character interactions play out around her? A grieving Leia not hugging or even acknowledging Chewie when her husband/Chewie's friend just died, instead hugging this girl she barely knows? Her almost automatic inclusion on Han Solo's crew, after initial grumblings were done with?

    Anita Blake. I read the series as a teen, read past the naughty stuff to get to the actual events, and somewhere along the line, I bought a book, and was nearly 150 pages into it when I realized it was just Anita's warped character/power stuff going on, feeding back into itself so she created conflict that she then fixed which created conflict, 95% of which was rude stuff. I put the book down and left it behind. But it goes back to everything feeding into & through the character or revolving around her. By the later books in the series she's a natural necromancer by way of bloodline, a vampire servant, five different kinds of lycanthrope but without the actual transformation kind (just with the natural benefits), she's part of two triumvirates where power is shared between her & two other people with power shared out between them... and that's only scratching the surface. There isn't a major character who doesn't loathe her or love her, I don't think.

  9. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Oh god, Anita Blake. Completely forgot about her!

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  10. LadyAnder (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    I'm kind of like Jim on this subject. I'm mixed but I lean further and further on it just bugs me a little seeing posts like this because they just seem to be a vent post for people to talk about characters they don't like.

    Surely I most have a character that I dislike to the point I'm willing to call out. I suppose the only one that I could sound out is Bella Swan from Twilight. Easy target, I know, but I couldn't think of another character that I could talk about in a silly *cough* I mean serious manner.

    The reason why she bothers me is because of her very strong story warping abilities. A type of dark art that even can't even Hogwarts can't even defend itself against given Harry used a bit of it himself however, he wasn't as good at it. No, her mind infesting abilities where strong so that every character she met was affected by it. Some might've took longer to affect, but all succumb. They all gave her what she wanted.Including becoming a vampire. Once that happened, the story couldn't control her. It couldn't even summon up a single twist to stop her. She was at 200% perfection. Not even basic vampire rules could apply to her. And when they did, she shielded herself from them. In the end, she got everything she wanted, a baby, money, beauty, a husband that listens to her every whim, and immortality. Not only does she get to live forever in the story, she is the character that just can't escape the minds of others. I did my part tonight in keeping her legacy alive.

    Muhahahaha

    (why did this turn into a badly written creepy pasta?)

    Sorry not sorry

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  11. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    After reading Princess of Mars (the first John Carter novel), I have to say John Carter. I mean, holy shit. The John Carter series started a lot of the tropes of pulp adventure and later superhero sci-fan stories, and the Mary Sue is definitely one of them. I mean, even for the time, back when adventure characters were pretty much just cardboard cut out power fantasies (of the brawny and/or brainy types) used as a vehicle to explore wacky sci-fi worlds, this guy takes the cake.

    He's the sort of prototypical messianic great white hero in a foreign land archetype. Gains super powers when he reaches Mars and can outfight all enemies. Is cleverer than everyone. A natural leader and magnetic personality that unites warring tribes. Morally superior to the savage natives. Gains psychic abilities out of no where right when he needs them, that even master psychics on Mars can't overcome. The princess is your typical instantly infatuated, yet pretends otherwise helpless princess that Carter woos with no effort. Saves the world at least once (presumably several more times in future installments). Becomes the Prince of Mars by winning the princess.

    The book was written back in ye olden days when people weren't sure if Mars or Venus might have life, racism of the "skin color can tell you someone's IQ and moral leanings" variety was common, and even good writers still hadn't gotten the full grasp of what we today would consider good story-telling techniques. So, in a way, you could let it slip that this was just a symptom of its times. But seriously, I've read deliberate Mary Sue fan fics that weren't as egregious as book one John Carter.

    My meager offerings: http://sharkerbob.blogspot.com/
  12. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Jason Fox, main character of "Subjugation" and I believe the resulting series.

    He's the son of a pilot taught how to fly an aircraft as a kid. And put into karate, so he's a good enough martial artist to beat an alien soldier in a one-on-one duel. He even later takes on an entire squad of alien soldiers with only one or two people backing him up, and manages to win. Also, he can play piano so well that this restaurant in town isn't opposed to him playing on one of theirs if the regular pianist isn't in. Oh, and was originally in college on a football scholarship on account of his amazing playing ability, which was only hampered by him preferring to spend time on his academics. And speaking of academics, he's forced to go to college to learn the alien conquerors' engineering, and ends up creating multiple inventions that the aliens themselves never thought of that also earn him patent rights and an income.

    Also, his ability to meditate from his karate somewhat immunizes him to alien telepathy. But that's ok, because he later gains telepathy and telekinesis, because an ancient ancestor of his was a member of the alien species, which means he's the equivalent of a Baron in the alien civilization. Some oath taken by a species of shapeshifting aliens known to be the best spies in the galaxy means that entire species is loyal to him above all prior allegiances.

    Also, he's so attractive that he constantly gets women thrown at him. The alien he beats in a duel pursues him, and her squadmates think she's picked a great guy. One of the soldiers he beats in the big melee wants to bed him, and ends up dating his friend because Jason's such an awesome guy, his friend must be awesome, too. And then later on, Jason nails the Empress of this alien space empire and extracts extraordinary political concessions out of her. She had her sights on him anyway, because the super prestigious imperial engineers have been hoping to recruit him since he was in college.

    He's so good, he can build a railgun that somehow fires without the projectile creating any sound as it breaks the sound barrier. He leads a guerilla war against a massive empire with a dozen or so people, and wins. There's not even any tension between the humans who are telepathic and the ones who aren't, despite segregated living quarters.

    I could go on and on (which explains the length of my review of that story).

    P.S.: yeah, pretty good chance Psycho Gecko the character is deserving of being on this list somewhere, too.

  13. Walter (Member)

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anita Blake may be the perfect example.

    Bella from Twilight I'd actually argue. I feel like complaining about her being a Mary Sue is like complaining about Bruce Wayne being the Greatest Of All Men. That is, the problem of a Mary Sue is that they bend and destroy the setting around them, but Twilight is built around Bella from the bones up, just like how Gotham is there for Batman to fight in. The setting is perfectly comfortable orbiting Bella and attending to her every whim.

    The dude from Irregular at Magic High School (sometimes known as the Ballad of Magical Jesus) is a pretty pure Mary Sue. Lots of anime veers into this particular skid, but that's the most recent example that comes to mind.

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