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Die, vile protagonist: killing off the Mary Sue!

Die, vile protagonist: killing off the Mary Sue! published on 3 Comments on Die, vile protagonist: killing off the Mary Sue!

In a paper about “150 years of Mary Sues,” Pat Pflieger comments about the coup of killing off a Mary Sue — that is, the character that is the author’s shill. Why is a dramatic death the ultimate end?

1. Mary Sue is too good for you. Like the saintly, sickly paragons of Victorian novels [Helen in Jane Eyre, Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop], Mary Sues become too talented, too virtuous, too stupendously amazing, for this world. So there’s really nothing else to do except kill them off. In a fanfic that’s full of the highest highs, deepest lows, widest loves and most passionate hates, a Dramatic Death makes an orgasmic conclusion.

2. Hah, you really loved her, didn’tcha?!?!? Like the original rebellious female character who loved the evil man [Clarissa], Mary Sues die to afford the author and reader some perverse glee. Since everyone loves Clarissa [and the Mary Sues], everyone feels devastated when she dies. Thus, pre-death and even post-death, the author and reader can bask in the secondary characters’ grief because the grief proves how greatly the main character [Clarissa or Mary Sue] was loved.

3. You’ll remember her forever. Because they’re so damned good and because everyone loves ’em, it’s guaranteed that the characters will not forget the Mary Sue. Her virtues will shine as a noble beacon forever. Secondaries will idealize and idolize her. She will never leave their minds. More wish-fulfilling whack-off on the author’s part.

Hmmm, and I thought killing Anneka was just a good way to literalize a huge change in her life. Nope…it was the Orgasm of the Mary Sue!

Dear Loremistress  — If Mary Sues are so hated by other writers, why do you think LHF, which is so obviously teeming with Mary Sues, is well-liked?

Go read what the Loremistress muses about Mary Sues. She’s good. 😀


I like AE because she’s got problems… normal problems and BIG problems and many of them not so noble. She makes a fool of herself on occassion and she makes mistakes and doesn’t want to own up to them. Most mary sues that people hate don’t do that. They’re PERFECT and if they have any problems they’re OMG I AM SO NOBLE IT HURTS type of problems… or angsty problems.

*thinks about this for a bit*

I think there are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, as the first commenter here noted, the potential Mary Sues in LHF are full of imperfections, too. (Genuine ones – ones that run deeper than “Oh, I’m so pretty it’s a curse, because nobody will ever understand me!”) They bicker. They fight. They’re not all-powerful or beloved of everyone against all reason and sense. Also, bonus: they are largely characters of your own devising, so the element of “canon rape” that upsets some writers most is pretty much absent. That will go a long way to neutralizing Mary Sue Rage. One might even question their status as Mary Sues on these counts. 🙂

Also…while I was wandering around looking up things about MS and her adventures, I came across “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Fan,” a bit of fiction that was described on the page that linked to it as having changed some people’s minds about hating her. (Here’s the URL: )

I think the author’s point about Mary Sue being, by this point, a sort of archetype…the infinitely malleable personification of admiration, the Opener of the Way for those who yearn to spend time in another existence…is interesting, and may well be true. And the thing is, even though it may stir in us a deep shame, most of us do, or did, or will, need her. (Heh. Kind of like Sarah and the Labyrinth folk.)

It takes a certain bravery to accept your Mary Sues. The social stigma is strong. But I think if most of the people who are angry really thought about it, it might be that it isn’t the self-insertion that angers them particularly. It is the liberties taken with a beloved canon, or the irritating perfection inherent to the purest MS, or simply the poor quality of writing in a piece. I don’t think LHF is especially prone to any of these issues, so I think your answer may lie there. 🙂

Oh, and thank you for the compliment. I do try. 😉

Rampant Bicycle

Hi Elizabeth

Sorry about the delay there. Once I got home from hospital I had nearly three weeks worth of work waiting for me (and you know they never *really* mean it when they say “take your time”). Here’s a brief update. I’ve been working on the background – the inside of the castle, and the inner part of the arch. I’ve introduced some warmer tones to keep a balance, though the foremost part of the castle will be in blues and greys. I’ve also laid down a bit of sparkle – my favourite part about the Underground is that there’s glitter everywhere!

I’ll update again soon!

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