The Most (In)Famous Mary Sues in Fiction

Bond, James Bond.

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?

  • Marci Yesowitch Hopkins

    Did you not notice that in every Bond book, he ends up in the hospital or presumptively dead? At the end of You Only Live Twice, he’s been poisoned and loses his memory. Off-book, he goes to Russia to find out who he is and is brainwashed and sent to kill his own boss at the beginning of The Man with the Golden Gun. He is nearly always discovered in the act of spying. He gets away with nearly nothing.

  • Lawanda Cates Masters

    My favorite “Mary Sue” Is George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life. He silently and heroically suffers his dead end existence in the hometown he wants so much to be away from. He lets everyone and everything keep him there for the sake of selflessness. What a guy. My least favorite Mary Sue is PollyAnna. She was sooo full of “gladness” until it happened to her. Sure, she was perky, cute and encouraged a lot of people, but she needed to remember her own advice she so glibly gave to suffering people, herself.

  • Jennifer Williams

    the character’s not from a book but: Karen Cartwright. Enough said.

  • Myra

    I don’t think Charles Wallace is a Mary Sue. He’s precocious. He’s a prodigy. Perhaps even on the autism spectrum. But I don’t really see him fitting the Mary Sue description.

    Sookie Stackhouse, however, becomes a Mary Sue over the course of the Southern Vampire series. She starts off well enough. But by the fourth or fifth book, everyone either loves her or wants to bed her.

    • Evoru

      I’m sorry, I spotted a typo…just a small one…I think you meant to say “everyone either loves her or beds her”. If someone wants to bed Sookie, all they have to do is wait a novel or two. No need to fret, folks!

    • Ed

      Charles kind of is. It’s even addressed in _A Wrinkle in Time_, when they say he is so competent he thinks he can do anything and has to be rescued. I think “Mary Sue’s” work better as secondary characters a more normal character can compare themselves to. Mary Sues’s in Children’s literature are a little different, because children see themselves as being much more mature then they are…so they often don’t notice how unrealistically the kids are written.

  • AirDave

    “Just once we want to see Bond getting hit in the nuts”

    Did you not READ Casino Royal? Or see the film adaptation with Daniel Craig? It’s right there! Le Chiffre’s torture! Hello! ;)

  • leonamarie20

    Ayla of the Earth’s Children’s series by Jean Auel,

  • Aubrey Pedersen Sorenson

    Ouch. Hard to see beloved childhood characters placed in the same catagory as *Bella* who is just insufferable. Although I must agree about Charles Wallace. He’s always creeped me out, even when I was a kid. But Beth? Really? She’s such a background character, really, that I think calling her a Mary Sue is just not fair.

  • Joel Cunningham

    “UGH, all these boys won’t stop asking me to the dance!” —> Shut up, Bella.

    • Common Sense

      How dare she not be attracted to any of those guys….

      • Joel Cunningham

        Yeah, they should have just sensed that and not been nice to or talked to her at all, leaving her alone to leer at the pale guy in the corner.

  • Anne Pilaro

    Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear and the rest of that series. She cooks, she cleans, she hunts and gathers her own food and for her family, she has mad medical skills, she delivered her son then trekked miles off in the snow to hide in a cave with him for a week to save him. If that’s not enough, she discovered horseback riding and canine companionship, she invented the travois, the horse-drawn sledge, the atlatl (OK, that was with Jondalar), the flint-based lighter and the sewing needle. Oh, and in her spare time she communicates with the spirit world, has become the most accomplished shaman in her time and will be the successor to the First of the Zelandonii. AND she’s beautiful, married to Jondalar with a beautiful baby girl, and every man wants to have sex with her. I hate her… ;-)

  • SJH2012

    Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake. That was my first introduction to Mary Sue-ism.

  • jerseygirl

    Melanie Wilkes in Gone With The Wind. Who can be more perfect than her?

  • Caitlin Saltzman

    Isabelle from the Mortal Instruments and Tris from Divergent, also Katniss from the Hunger Games.

  • euge

    I don’t think the author understands what a Mary Sue is. The only Mary Sue on this list is Bella Swan.

    • waltzme

      What do you think a Mary Sue is?

  • Common Sense

    Beth is a Purity Sue not Mary Sue. Sara is sort of a Purity too but nowhere near a Mary- she has a pretty unlikable temper at times that can lead her to be brutally honest in ways even the read doesnt always like.

    You should have added Ginny Weasley (much more of a Sue than freaking Bella Swan, the most overused character *ever* for this, just because the sheep have an irrational hatred of all things Twilight), Tauriel, Belle from BATB, Rapunzel, Katniss, and Hermione in the movies.

    • waltzme

      I agree about Beth, but Sara strikes me as a straight up Mary Sue. I can’t think of any time her temper was shown in any way the reader wouldn’t like; she only gets mad at people who deserve it. Possibly my all time favorite character in children’s lit…and a massive Sue. But it never annoyed me since A Little Princess is a morality tale.

      I never read Twilight but agree about the irrational hatred.

  • SamIAmWithMangaAndDoujinshi

    When I think about it, most of the time, Mary Sues find their way in published books through stories that just so happen to be in “1th Person Perspective.” Don’t get me wrong here, I do know there are plenty of books not in that category that also have Mary Sues, but when you think about it, this generation of Mary Sues often comes from the “1th Person Perspective” books people have made.

    I, as a writer (though, I admit I am an amateur one), would not make that choice and instead have chosen to keep myself “restrained” in some forms. When people write in “1th person,” I’m sure the first thing their mind realizes is the freedom they have this way (if not, correct me if I’m wrong). In this “freedom,” they come to insert themselves in situations, and fantasies they’d wish were real, and blam! That’s how one’s makes a Mary/Gary Sue!