Subject: Oh, that definition.
Posted on: 2021-05-04 09:56:00 UTC

I think it wouldn't be unfair to say that the original definition of "Mary Sue" is a perfect female self-insert who wrecks the canon. Delightfully, Wikipedia currently has the entire text of the 1973 "A Trekkie's Tale" on their Mary Sue article, and (barring that it was a parody) the definition fits.

Since that time (and stars above, Original Mary is in her mid 60s now), various people or communities have focussed in one part or another of the term:

  • Fandom as a whole tends to focus on 'perfect'. That's where you get the big lists of traits, with "if your character scores more than X points they're a Mary Sue!".

  • Whole swathes of obnoxious men have picked up 'female', and now deride any OFC as a Mary Sue. This is where a lot of the backlash against the term comes from, and is why I prefer "Suvian" in my own writing these days.

  • As you note, a lot of people look at the 'self-insert' part, and I think this is what people mean when they say "I know my character's a Mary Sue" or suchlike.

  • The PPC nowadays hones in on the 'who wrecks the canon' aspect. We're actually quite unusual in that respect, which is why we define the term at such length on the wiki. It's worth noting that this position has developed over time - we used to have a lot more focus on traits and attributes, but that way lies sexism, and we really don't want that around.


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