Created By: Pichu-kun on June 28, 2017 Last Edited By: Pichu-kun on November 14, 2017

A Saint Named Mary

A pure, motherly, or religious character whose name is "Mary", or some variant of it

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trope
"Maria! Say it loud and there's music playing, say it soft and it's almost like praying."
Tony, West Side Story

A pure-hearted or Token Religious Teammate character will often be named after the Virgin Mary. As Mary was biblical Jesus' mother, Team Mom and other motherly characters are often named after her as well. Bonus points if the character dresses in blue, as in many countries that is a traditionally feminine colour specifically due to its relation to Mary.

"Mary" is the main English way of spelling the mother of Jesus' name, however it is spelled differently in other languages (for example, "Miriam" and "Maria"). Despite appearing sparingly throughout the text, Mary is an iconic example of a nice and pure character. As a result many characters are named after her.

As common as this trope is played straight, it is often subverted as well. An evil or malicious character will be named "Mary" (or an alternative spelling) for ironic kicks. As the Virgin Mary is known as such a benevolent character, characters that seem like straight examples but aren't aren't uncommon.

Note, that the character must be particularly pure-hearted, religious, maternal, or otherwise an obvious Virgin Mary reference to count. A character just being named "Mary", "Maria", or a similar name is not enough. "Mary" is one of the most popular names out there and thus many characters are named it without any association to this trope.

Compare to Adam and/or Eve and Name of Cain for other religious themed names. Not to be confused with Mary Sue (though a Mary Sue might use this trope), and God help you if the character is named after "Bloody Mary" instead.


Examples:

Anime & Manga

Literature
  • Subverted with Precious' mother Mary in Push. She is a physically and emotionally Abusive Parent who let her daughter be raped by her father for years and impregnated by him, the first time at twelve. Mary also sexually abuses Precious herself and tries to kill her.
  • Jodi Picoult's Keeping Faith is about a little girl named Faith who shows signs of being a Messianic Archetype. Fittingly, her mother is named Mariah.
  • Gone: Mary grows to become the designated mother of children in the series, earning the in-universe nickname "Mother Mary." Later subverted, as she suffers increasing mental problems as the series goes on.

Live-Action TV
  • Once Upon a Time's "real world" version of Snow White is named Mary-Margaret Blanchard, a reminder of the fact that even in a world without happy endings, her soul is as white and unblemished as snow. The comparison between the Virgin and Mary-Margaret is furthered because the hero known as the Savior is the child of Mary-Margaret, much like how the Virgin Mary's child was the Messiah.

Films — Live Action

Music
  • "Buddha for Mary" by 30 Seconds to Mars is about a girl named "Mary" (who ironically is an atheist) and has a lot of religious overtones. It also possibly serves as a drug reference, as "Mary Jane" is slang for marijuana.

Theatre

Video Games
  • Ill Girl Maria Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog was the White Sheep of her family and was Shadow's best friend/sister-figure. She was also Too Good for This Sinful Earth and is a Posthumous Character who died undergoing a Heroic Sacrifice. Maria was decked out almost entirely in blue.
  • Golden Sun: Mia (Mary in the original Japanese) is the healer of a small town, using her Mercury Psynergy to heal the sick (though Muggles only see that she glows when healing someone). Her default class becomes Paragon and later Angel in the sequel.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Maria from the original Harvest Moon is most likely the most religious non-priest or nun character in the franchise. She is deeply devoted to the Harvest Goddess and spends much of her free time at church. In Harvest Moon: Magical Melody the town has no church due to plot reasons. Maria was thus made into a librarian. Despite the change in occupation, a large number of Maria's quotes relate to her religious beliefs. Maria dresses in a blue dress as well.
    • Maria's granddaughter is not as religious as her grandmother, especially after her initial appearance, but is still more religious than most. She is named "Marie" in Japan, "Maria" in Harvest Moon 64, and "Mary" from Harvest Moon: Back to Nature onward. Like her grandmother, she dresses predominantly in blue.
  • Marie Belmont from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow takes the French-equivalent to Mary because, well, she's a pure and Heavenly woman who gives advise from the glory of Heaven. Her living husband is motivated by her goodness, and his name is even Gabriel, the name of the angel who announced that Mary would give birth.
  • Subverted with Mary from Ib. She has shiny blue eyes, bright blonde hair, and a Cheerful Child personality. However it's a facade. She's actually a villain.
  • Queen Mary from Earthbound Beginnings. She not only rules over Magicant, which is essentially a Fluffy Cloud Heaven, but turns out that she was actually Ninten's great grandmother, Maria, who had foster-raised the alien antagonist Giygas as her own son.

Visual Novels
  • Subverted in Dream Daddy by Joseph Christiansen's wife Mary, who drinks all the time, dresses in black, and flirts with younger boys at a bar.

Web Comics
  • Homestuck:
    • Kanaya Maryam, the Team Mom and arguably one of the nicest of the trolls. Her ancestor, the Dolorosa, is a clear allusion to the biblical Virgin Mary.
    • Subverted with Porrim Maryam, a tattooed vampire feminist who's implied to have slept with most of her friends.

Web Original
  • Whateley Universe: Mary Goodhope, the daughter of a teleevangelist, and has the codename, Angel, with the expected angelic wings, blonde hair, blue eyes.

Western Animation

Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • June 28, 2017
    Chabal2
    Golden Sun: Mia (Mary in the original Japanese) is the healer of a small town, using her Mercury Psynergy to heal the sick (though Muggles only see that she glows when healing someone). Her default class becomes Paragon and later Angel in the sequel.

  • June 28, 2017
    Getta
    I thought there's an important character named Mary in Xenosaga but I dunno the context.
  • June 29, 2017
    TonyG
    Maria from West Side Story is the saintliest character in the story, a Setting Update on Romeo And Juliet set against a battle between street gangs in New York City, with her as the Juliet stand in. One song says that her name "sounds like praying".
  • June 29, 2017
    DustSnitch
    • Once Upon A Time's "real world" version of Snow White is named Mary-Margaret Blanchard, a reminder of the fact that even in a world without happy endings, her soul is as white and unblemished as snow. The comparison between the Virgin and Mary-Margaret is furthered because the hero known as the Savior is the child of Mary-Margaret, much like how the Virgin Mary's child was the Messiah.
  • July 5, 2017
    lakingsif
    ^ That sounds less of a reference to the Virgin Mary, and more one to another biblical character: Mary-Margaret.
  • July 5, 2017
    DustSnitch
    ^ There is no Biblical character named Mary-Margaret. The reason she has a double name is that she was first conceived as a nun, according to the character's actress.
  • July 5, 2017
    lakingsif
    ^there's definitely 4 important 'Mary's in all of the bible stories I know, swear one of them is called Mary-Margaret. Because we'd chant it...
  • July 5, 2017
    DustSnitch
    Mary and Margaret are common names in the Gospels, but I can't think of any compound names.

    In any case, the whole "mother of the Savior" thing makes it clear why they picked "Mary" for her name.
  • July 5, 2017
    AFP
    Reefer Madness The Musical features Mary Lane, the painfully wholesome Christian love-interest to similarly wholesome Jimmy Harper. Both of them fall victim to The Reefer and are driven manically insane, making Mary both a straight example and a subversion.

    We might add a note to limit this to characters where the name seems to be a specific point in their characterization, rather than simply being named Mary or something similar. Names from holy books are pretty common in more than a few cultures (hence all the Marks, Christophers, Johns, etc. running around in Anglophone nations)
  • July 6, 2017
    hszmv1
    It should be pointed out that Mary is the single most important saint in Catholicism.
  • July 6, 2017
    Madrugada
    @((Lakinsif}} — one of the Biblical Marys had a sister named Margaret. There's also Mary Magdalene. But no Mary-Margaret.
  • July 6, 2017
    lakingsif
    ^ah, thanks.
  • July 6, 2017
    Prime32
  • July 7, 2017
    Malady
    Web Original:

    Whateley Universe: Mary Goodhope, the daughter of a teleevangelist, and has the codename, Angel, with the expected angelic wings, blonde hair, blue eyes.
  • July 11, 2017
    DustSnitch
    • Maria from Stations Of The Cross is explicitly named after the Virgin Mary, and she is the only member of the fundamentalist Society of Saint Paul to be shown not to be silent, dogmatic or cruel. All she wants is not to sin and be closer to God, but she struggles in a life where her infant brother is sick and underdeveloped, and like Mary with her son, she cannot bear to see her little boy suffer.
  • August 1, 2017
    meticulousMorology
    Webcomics:

    Homestuck: Kanaya Maryam, the Team Mom and arguably one of the nicest of the trolls. Her ancestor, the Dolorosa, is a clear allusion to the biblical Virgin Mary.
  • August 2, 2017
    Synchronicity
    Anime and Manga
    • No points for guessing why Maria The Virgin Witch is named so. She's a virgin witch who strives to end conflict, and there's a man named Joseph who's in love with her, and at the end of the series has a Mystical Pregnancy.

    Literature

    • Jodi Picoult's "Keeping Faith" is about a little girl named Faith who shows signs of being a Messianic Archetype. Fittingly, her mother is named Mariah.
    • Gone: Mary grows to become the designated mother of children in the series, earning the in-universe nickname "Mother Mary." Later subverted, as she suffers increasing mental problems as the series goes on.

    Not to be confused with Mary Sue. And God help you if the character is named after "Bloody Mary" instead.
  • August 4, 2017
    meticulousMorology
    The name Mary is often not only given to saintly characters, but also those that serve as a mother figure of some type.

    Homestuck:
  • August 13, 2017
    DustSnitch
    • Marie Belmont from Castlevania Lords Of Shadows takes the French-equivalent to Mary because, well, she's a pure and Heavenly woman who gives advise from the glory of Heaven. Her living husband is motivated by her goodness, and his name is even Gabriel, the name of the angel who announced that Mary would give birth.
  • August 16, 2017
    WaterBlap
    I have some concerns with the description:
    • So there's a line that specifies that this is essentially an Expy of Mary Magdalene, but I think the first paragraph should make this more obvious. The second paragraph makes it seem like this trope is just "name (Mary) + trait (Goodness)," since it says that a possible subversion of this is when it's an"evil or malicious character" who happens to be named "Mary."
    • Does this character need to be the maternal figure to an All Loving Hero or a messiah-esque character or does she only need to be a maternal figure to the protagonist?
    • There shouldn't be an explicit reference to People Sit On Chairs, imo — since it's an Administrivia page geared toward tropers not readers, and trope descriptions should be written for readers not tropers. The description should just make it clear, to readers of the site who are not tropers, that a character happening to be named "Mary" and also who happens to be the Team Mom does not fit the trope.
  • September 17, 2017
    alnair20aug93
    • Subverted in Dream Daddy by Joseph Christiansen's wife Mary, who drinks all the time, dresses in black, and flirts with younger boys at a bar.
  • September 17, 2017
    Synchronicity
    Hmm, yeah, I think this could use a bit of narrowing to avoid ending up a "Nice Girls named Mary" sinkhole. I think there has to be some religious symbolism or lampshading present for it to qualify for this trope, so I'm on the fence on examples like Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music. They're nice and sweet women, but there's no inherent meaningfulness to them being named "Mary/Maria" other than the fact that the names were likely common at that time.

  • September 18, 2017
    Pichu-kun
    ^ Mary from The Sound of Music most likely does count. It doesn't seem like a coincidence to me.
  • September 18, 2017
    Synchronicity
    ^Shocker, but I haven't seen the work. There wasn't enough context in the example for me to know, "nun-in-training" is honestly lacking.
  • September 18, 2017
    Pichu-kun
    ^ I only watched half of the film, so I don't know much besides that and that she's a nanny. I'll spruce up the example.
  • September 25, 2017
    alnair20aug93
    I almost realized something when I thought of Mary from the Dream Daddy example. It's a bonus point if her love interest is named Joseph.
  • September 25, 2017
    henke37
    • Sonic Adventure 2 Has a young girl named Maria. She's part of Shadow's tragic backstory.
  • September 25, 2017
    PsiPaula4
    • Queen Mary from Earthbound Beginnings. She not only rules over Magicant, which is essentially a Fluffy Cloud Heaven, but turns out that she was actually Ninten's great grandmother, Maria, who had foster-raised the alien antagonist Giygas as her own son.
  • November 5, 2017
    DustSnitch
    ^^ I'm going to expand that.

  • November 6, 2017
    WaterBlap
    My previous concerns have been addressed.

    I do have another concern (that I didn't realize before). Should the paragraph concerning subversions to this Expy include some information about Bloody Mary in order to distance a subverted or inverted expy of Mary Magdalene from references to Mary Tudor? Or do y'all think what's there in the description is enough?

    That's really the only thing I can think of to revise in this draft before launch (though I realize this has enough hats to launch already).
  • November 6, 2017
    DustSnitch
    Instead of starting off with etymology, lead off with the sentences which describe the essentials of the trope: "A pure-hearted or Token Religious Teammate character will often be named after [the Virgin Mary]. Since Mary was Jesus' mother, Team Mom and other motherly characters are often named after her as well."

    Also, change "getting little actual characterization in the text" to "appearing sparingly throughout the text," since Mary's sparse appearances have been enough to give her hundreds and hundreds of different titles. You

    ^ The "Mary" who is the subject of this trope isn't Mary Magdalene, but the Mary Nazarene, the mother of Jesus. Magdalene was a loyal disciple of Christ who was the first to learn of his Resurrection.
  • November 6, 2017
    WaterBlap
    ^ See, I thought I knew more about Christian mythology than I actually do. It might help, or at least be beneficial, to mention that for non-Christians or people who just don't know that much about the mythology.
  • November 6, 2017
    DustSnitch
    Okay, nitpicking, but that part isn't mythological, those are historical people Jesus of Nazareth knew. Mythology would be like the Virgin birth and stuff.

    Maybe a Useful Notes page for Mary is in order.
  • November 7, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Her existence is part of the collection of stories concerning these myths; thus, she is in and part of the mythology. I never said she was mythological. Calm down.

    A Useful Notes page for Mary and Mary could be useful, especially since we already have such a page for Mary.
  • November 9, 2017
    DustSnitch
    ^ I just thought your word choice was weird. In any case, does this article need anything else before launch? An image would be hard to find for a name trope and I'm stumped for examples right now.
  • November 9, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Some of these expy tropes have images of a parody or an image of the parodied subject. Here are some pictures of the Virgin Mary that don't exactly play up the spiritual aspect (given the name of this trope, I figure the image should maybe not emphasize the "saint" part?):
  • November 9, 2017
    Synchronicity
    Getting a 404 on that first one there. Regardless, given that it's more of a name trope than an expy trope, I'd prefer something with the character's name in it (eg. Stellar Name).

    I also suggest the line from West Side Story as a page quote:

    "Maria! \
    Say it loud and there's music playing, \ Say it soft and it's almost like praying."
    Tony, West Side Story
  • November 10, 2017
    Synchronicity
    Fixed the quote formatting; corrected the Castlevania link
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xm6pe92c20e53x041uy8e5g4