Most often found lurking in the pages of fan fiction, Mary Sue inspires rage in all who read her. Afflicted with such traits as unflinching goodness, inexplicable sex appeal, and comically overwritten good looks, Mary Sue is the character the author wishes she could be. Fanfic Mary Sue saves Dumbledore’s life with the world’s greatest healing charm, is proposed to by Mr. Darcy AND Captain Wentworth at the same garden party, and possesses striking green eyes that Peeta Mellark can’t stop staring into. But once in a while, Mary Sue (and her male counterpart, Gary Stu) makes it into an actual published book…
James Bond: If Casanova mated with a particularly ruthless robot, their child would be James Bond. He’s refined, clever, mad successful with the ladies, and able to keep a cool head in any situation. Just once we want to see Bond getting hit in the nuts with a football, or yelling at a Starbucks barista about soy milk.
Sara Crewe (A Little Princess): This little angel loses her father, her wealth, and her position in one afternoon, descending from the life of a benevolent boarding-school princess to that of a lowly scullery maid. Does it test her goodness? Not at all! She befriends a fellow maid and a friendly rat, and draws on her boundless inner resources to adjust to her terrible new life. When she’s a day away from starving, a friend of her father’s discovers her by chance, and restores her to her former, rich life. The rewards of unbearable optimism in the world of early girl fiction!
Charles Wallace Murry (A Wrinkle in Time): We love the Wrinkle in Time series, but we’ve got reservations about Charles Wallace. Younger brother of cranky, wonderful protagonist Meg, he’s a tiny, perceptive adult in a five-year-old’s body—and it’s a little bit creepy. Charles Wallace may be key to the mystical happenings of this timeless and beloved series, but he’s also behaved and articulate in a way that no little kid ought to be. Relax and eat a mud pie, Charles Wallace!
Little Orphan Annie: The sun might come out tomorrow, but right now, you’re on your hands and knees scrubbing floors in a Skid Row orphanage. It’s okay to admit you’re having a bad day.
Beth March (Little Women): We cried as much as anybody when Beth died of scarlet fever, but did she really have to contract the fever while bringing food to a poor family? In a house full of interesting, undisciplined women, angelic Beth was the only one who behaved. Her untimely death only ensured that she would live on in memory as a paragon of perfection to all who knew her. Classic Mary Sue move!
Bella Swan (Twilight): Though she’s a self-pitying downer who makes no time for her friends, Bella is adored by all. Her first day of school is, like, soooo hard for her, despite the fact that every person she meets instantly presents her with a best friend badge, and/or falls in love with her. Clumsy Bella is the Mary Sue of her generation.
Who’s your favorite/least favorite Mary Sue?