[[quoteright:347:[[Franchise/KingdomHearts http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/marysue_5657.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:347:[-[[ImpossiblyCoolClothes Impossibly cool outfit]]? [[GracefulLadiesLikePurple Purple]]? [[MagicalGirl Ethereal traits]]? [[PlotHole Contradictory backstory]]? [[CopyCatSue Stealing the hero's job]]? [[EverythingsBetterWithSparkles Sparkly]]? Perfect. She's good to go.-] ]]
[-[[caption-width-right:347:[[http://blacklillian.deviantart.com/art/Sora-Is-36973935 Image (part of a bigger picture)]] by [[http://blacklillian.deviantart.com/ BlackLillian]]]]-]

->''"Im good at too many things! WHY CAN'T I JUST BE NORMAL? IT'S A FUCKING CURSE!"''
-->-- '''Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way''', ''FanFic/MyImmortal''

While MarySue is too nebulous to be judged by any hard and fast standard, certain traits have become surprisingly popular in defining what "makes" a Sue. In an effort to make their characters more attractive without having to do the leg work of natural character development, the authors just add some of these superficial traits to their character. Below are the ones that the collective unconscious (so to speak) find especially attractive and end up incorporating into their characters with regularity.

With the way the term "Mary Sue" has mutated over time, a great many people just end up labeling any character overdosed with these traits as a Mary Sue regardless of her importance within the story (or because they just don't like the character). [[TropesAreTools That's not necessarily true]]. '''Even if a character has quite a number of the traits described below, Mary-Sueness can still be averted by a good enough explanation for why they're there'''. Some female characters may seem over-powered and a bit "too good to be true" on paper, but when placed in ''context'' they can be well-developed, three-dimensional characters. It's when a trait exists more to make somebody stand out than to develop them as a character that it starts going into Mary Sue territory (unless it's PlayedForLaughs). Alternatively, you may feel as if the writer is frantically trying to justify a trait to themselves and the reader.

Sadly, a lack of these traits does not automatically mean the character ''isn't'' a Sue: see AntiSue and SuetifulAllAlong. And with the many somewhat arbitrarily formed "is your character a Mary Sue?" questionnaires floating around, it's all too easy for a character who's well-developed and interesting to be slapped with the label simply because her blonde hair and blue eyes added one point too many.

This article will concern itself with gender neutral and female traits. For (the few) male-exclusive variants, see MartyStu. For a litmus test that draws on much of the same source material, see [[http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm here]].
For a useful and reasonable definition and tutorial on how not to make a Mary Sue, see [[http://hatedlove6.deviantart.com/art/Mary-Sues-Part-1-185285110 here]]:

* ''What'' personality? In these cases, it's fairly blatant that the author is just writing the character for amazing stuff to happen ''to'' instead of a character that actually exists as a person. Obviously, this is only a MarySue trait if what happens gives the character [[TouchedByVorlons special powers]], fantastic romances, or somehow lets her be a [[BigDamnHeroes big damned heroine]]; otherwise it's just another faceless first-person perspective.
** The personality of a MarySue -- if she has one -- is not nearly as important as how other characters react to it. No matter how shy or socially awkward MarySue is ''supposed'' to be, other characters will be drawn to her and inexplicably prefer her company over that of anyone else. All of her ideas are brilliant, all of her jokes are funny, all of her advice is an amazing breakthrough. People will trust her immediately, or very quickly, and feel more comfortable talking to her than to anyone else (even their own family or their significant other), even if she hasn't done or said anything to make them feel that way about her.
** If another character ''doesn't'' feel this way about MarySue, it's usually to portray them as either bad or just an idiot.
** MarySue doesn't have to actually ''do'' anything to be considered a good person--she just ''is'' good. By extension, anything she does is good, and even when she does nothing she brings more good into the world simply by existing than any other character ever could. Goodness just seems to seep out of her body like radiation.
* [[EasyEvangelism Highly persuasive]], regardless of the actual content of the conversations. Everyone finds her opinions are just better than their own -- [[CharacterDerailment even when they're usually stubborn bastards]]. This is especially likely in an AuthorTract.
* FriendToAllLivingThings. It's becoming gradually less common as authors catch on to the MarySueClassic framework.
** She [[AllLovingHero loves everyone and forgives them all for their imperfections]]. [[MartyrWithoutACause Plus she is willing to save, protect or risk all]] [[TheDulcineaEffect for the sake of someone she has met just seconds ago]].
* Is either [[GenkiGirl brave and cheerful]] ([[ThePollyanna despite her past]] -- [[RealityIsUnrealistic not unheard of in real life]], but with Sues it tends to come across as AngstWhatAngst) -- or [[{{Wangst}} unnecessarily mopey and depressed]].
* [[IncorruptiblePurePureness Incorruptible]]. In fact, unaware of the possibility of temptation.
* Occasionally a [[JerkSue complete asshole]], especially when she's ''supposed'' to be all of the above. Nobody will [[WhatTheHellHero call her out]] on her abrasive, casually abusive behavior. Strong badass characters who would normally rip someone's spleen out for squeezing the toothpaste from the wrong end, are instantly cowed and become meek, spineless {{Wangst}} factories as soon as she "puts them in their place."
** Full-on {{Jerk Sue}}s will routinely be flippant, snide, and rude, yet will be treated as a charmingly sarcastic character. They will flout authority as a matter of course and never suffer the consequences. Even if said authority figure is known for a tough stance on disrespect, they will either gamely ignore the Sue's challenge to their authority, or--worse still--''praise'' her for her "cheekiness" or "boldness."
* Her [[GoodFlawsBadFlaws "major flaws"]] will be stubbornness and a bad temper. These will only ever help her, never hurt her -- because she's always right, so whatever cause she dedicates herself to with such stubbornness will be a good cause, and whoever she loses her temper with will deserve it.
** Sometimes they'll mess her up once so she can learn an [[BrokenAesop important lesson]]. And then they'll help her for the rest of the story.
** A character who's described as being blunt to the point of rudeness or tactlessness will be praised for being "refreshingly honest" or for "telling it like it is." Only the bad guys or other unsympathetic characters will ever say, "What a bitch."
* If she has any flaws intentionally written in by the creator, expect them to be [[InformedFlaw Informed]] or [[SuetifulAllAlong not really flaws to begin with]]. Bonus points if they're genuine flaws that would actually be pretty awesome were it not for their drawbacks (e.g. substance abuse, nymphomania, etc.), and of course [[FunctionalAddict the drawbacks will never be shown]].
** Clumsiness in the MarySue is not seen as a flaw, but a potentially cute character trait. If it ''is'' implemented heavily enough into a character to be a flaw, the character devolves into PluckyComicRelief and if they are the protagonist, the story risks becoming pure slapstick.
* Unjustified IJustWantToBeNormal: [[CursedWithAwesome Being super awesome is a curse]]. Now in a franchise like ''Franchise/XMen'', a character can find their awesomeness a curse, but at the very least it's because mutants are feared and their powers can cause them serious problems. The MarySue, on the other hand, will claim she wishes she was normal even when there's no actual downside to her powers.

* Inexplicable and/or poorly-defined abilities in general, especially if they [[InformedAbility play no role in the plot]] after their introduction (not even as a [[RequiredSecondaryPowers Required Secondary Power]]) and are only there to make the character seem even more awesome.
* Regardless of what skill level the canon characters have established, she might just simply be ''better'' than them, often in ways that [[PlotInducedStupidity do not make sense]]. Not to mention that if she isn't already skilled at something, [[InstantExpert she'll pick it up in a fraction of the time required]] -- [[NewPowersAsThePlotDemands if she even needs to learn it at all]]. She/he may have powers similar to what the other characters have, only with [[StoryBreakerPower all of the downsides and limitations removed]].
** (See also: AlwaysSomeoneBetter, GodModeSue.)
* A perfect singing voice. Most often shows up in MarySueClassic. This died out for a while, but is returning due to the popularity of pop divas. She may also have an extreme proficiency with a musical instrument of her choice. (Bonus points if said instrument is something that would be ''highly'' improbable for her to know how to play, such as a PrincessClassic from medieval France who knows how to play the didgeridoo.)
** And if it's a SongFic, she'll possess the ability to compose her own lyrics and songs. Of course, they're ''not'' her own lyrics; they've been ripped off the internet by the author.
* She tends to [[IdealizedSex not have]] [[AnatomicallyImpossibleSex normal sex]], but [[GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex the most mind-blowingly divine sex ever]], regardless of how experienced she actually is. (She is ''usually'', though not always, [[NatureAdoresAVirgin explicitly a virgin]].) And her lover is often a DracoInLeatherPants quickly {{Heel Face Turn}}ed by her [[SexFaceTurn vagina]].
* [[{{Omniglot}} Speaks several languages fluently]]. This can vary depending on the setting, of course. A modern-day diplomat is expected to know at least one or two other languages, but a 14-year-old peasant girl in Medieval Europe shouldn't speak Japanese and Hindi fluently. It's much worse if it [[SpeaksFluentAnimal includes animals]]. Bonus points if an alien lands in her backyard and she can communicate instantly ([[AliensSpeakingEnglish provided it doesn't speak the language already]]).
** The most common second languages are probably Romance languages ([[EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench because they sound awesome]]), Japanese (for the otaku) and Lakota (many Sues[[note]]A [[IncrediblyLamePun Mary Sioux?]][[/note]] are of American Indian admixture, [[ButNotTooBlack but never more than half]]).
* Skilled in a type of martial arts in a setting or with a backstory that doesn't allow for it. Not regularly skilled either; she could kick the ass of the resident ninja of her choice.
* Just random magical powers, such as telepathy in a universe where it's never even been mentioned.
* Absurd natural athletic ability -- she can run like the wind without ever having worked on her running, and has impossibly high acrobatic skills.
* And with all this -- don't expect the GreenEyedMonster to show up. Envy appears in the Mary Sue's life only as a means of angst, and so does not appear just because the Mary Sue has everything.
** Alternately, anybody who does get jealous is a bitch and [[ProtagonistCenteredMorality is wrong]]. This is typically a single other character and may be DieForOurShip or for other reasons.
* {{Mary Sue}} always has excellent fashion sense. Even if she's meant to be a rough-and-tumble {{Tomboy}} type who doesn't care about that sort of thing, she will always look [[UnkemptBeauty effortlessly beautiful]] and other characters, often males, will frequently talk about how they like that she isn't as high maintenance as other girls (if she has a female rival they might mention her specifically).
* All skills and traits unusual for the setting can pretty easily fall into this, since young authors usually forget to portray all consequences of picking a certain trade. For example, a medieval peasant girl will have no problems becoming a respected genius scholar.
* VirginPower.

[[folder:Physical Appearance]]
* SoBeautifulItsACurse[[{{Tradesnark}} ]]. While being attractive isn't a qualifier of MarySue (who ''wants'' to be ugly?), it's a bit excessive to try and play it as being some sort of disadvantage. Alternatively, she may only be SuetifulAllAlong. In an AntiSue, this is reversed into a hideous monster. Regardless, her astounding beauty (or astounding lack of it) will make her stand out from the crowd -- [[InformedAttractiveness or so we're constantly being told]].
* [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair Unusual hair]] relative to canon is another common characteristic of MarySue. Alternatively, these features may be [[WhatBeautifulEyes amazing]] in other ways -- shining and shimmering eyes, or AnimeHair in non-Anime fandoms. RapunzelHair is also common.
** Note that White Hair isn't really considered all that unusual in anime-based fiction. It only becomes Sue-ish if it makes her special.
** More important than colour is [[SkunkStripe highlights]]. Of course hair dye is nothing special, but somehow Sue's streaks are not only a colour completely different from the base, but also ''natural''. Nature allows ''some'' leeway here -- blonds with dark roots aren't unheard of -- but that's not what Sues are after. Similarly, these "natural" highlights are often a color such as blue, pink, purple or [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair any other color that doesn't occur naturally in hair outside anime.]]
* KaleidoscopeEyes: Seeing it in text is practically an instant MarySue qualifier.
* MismatchedEyes, or heterochromia, are a common alternate choice.
* If the setting is at least semi-realistic and she isn't Caucasian, expect her to have eyes that aren't brown. Blue, green, and grey are popular choices (not counting unnatural ones like violet, gold, or cat/lizardlike), even though 90% of the world's population has boring brown eyes.
** Also expect those eyes to be described in [[PurpleProse overly poetic or specific terms]] ("celery green," "cerulean," "slate-grey"). Expect these adjectives to be repeated more than once.
* A very easy way to identify a Mary Sue is by looking at beauty magazines, note all physical attributes praised in them and look at a fanfic at the time of the beauty magazine's release to notice that all of those attributes praised in those magazines are part of the character, but taken UpToEleven. If height and weight figures are given, expect it thus to violate physics (unless she's made of Styrofoam or something).
* Mary Sues tend to be [[HollywoodThin drastically underweight]], and their authors may attempt to even instill Angst, claiming that their character is extremely overweight (or at least believes herself to be) and even [[HollywoodPudgy abused by other characters for their weight]].
** This particular trait is magnified if her role in the story has her doing things that would require a lot of upper body strength and therefore bulk, such as wielding a sword or fighting hand-to-hand. It's magnified even more if there are other female canon characters with similar roles who are built more like female mixed martial arts fighters. Having one lone waifish and delicate young girl in that group because the author thinks muscular women are gross-looking and to have that lone waif fight just as well or better than someone with more muscle mass despite her physical limitations is a bog standard MarySue trait.
** MarySue is also never depicted as putting too much effort into maintaining her body; she may get an AdrenalineMakeOver, but she ''never'' has to diet or exercise (she may exercise for other reasons, but ''never'' just to maintain a certain weight or to look a certain way) or use any cosmetic products. She just naturally looks (the author's idea of) perfect and usually doesn't understand why everyone is so impressed by her effortlessly flawless appearance. Most real-life models--male and female--spend ''hours'' a day working out and maintaining their physique because being beautiful is literally their job.
** No matter how thin the character is in other areas, however, there will be one area in which she is [[MostCommonSuperpower more than amply endowed]]. Authors with some interest in actual biology should note that women who are mistaken for anorexic are rarely G-cups.
* No matter what she's been through, MarySue will never look ugly. The worst she'll ever be reduced to is UnkemptBeauty, and even if she is somehow injured and scarred or handicapped, the scar will always be a cool-looking, Bond villain-type scar that serves as more of a decoration than anything else. Plus, when she overcomes the handicap, she will be just as amazing as she was before getting injured (or better).
** Likewise, if MarySue has a birthmark, it will be in a significant shape (heart, half moon, etc.) and never in a place that compromises her beauty. Expect the Mary Sue to think the birthmark makes her unattractive. This will be despite the fact that other characters insist that the birthmark makes her more attractive, especially in comparison to physically flawless characters.
* She'll often wear [[{{Stripperiffic}} revealing outfits]] with tons of gems, fishnets, FrillsOfJustice, and other extraneous details, even if it may be difficult or impossible to find such an outfit in her world (or be well outside of her realistic price bracket). Such flashy outfits will likely be [[ImpracticallyFancyOutfit just too impractical]] to wear in RealLife. Even if the rest of the cast wears uniform.
* Purple seems to be popular. After all, GracefulLadiesLikePurple, PurpleIsPowerful and SupernaturalIsPurple. This applies especially when the canon characters are a FiveManBand color-coded with red, yellow, green, blue and white/silver/black/pink. Gold is about the second most popular.
* Descriptions of her looks are usually overly-detailed and distinctly [[PurpleProse violet-hued]]. Because saying she's slim with long black hair and blue eyes only tells you what she looks like. Saying she's a delicate, willowy goddess with flowing tresses that shimmer onyx like the feathers of a raven and sparkling cerulean orbs that shine like the ocean and radiate with femininity tells you she's ''special''. Likewise she will describe her clothing in pretentious PurpleProse. Sometimes she'll do it with ''every'' outfit she wears.
* If you're on a roleplay site that takes faceclaims or playbys (celebrities that represent what the character looks like), you can bet their faceclaim will be someone who's [[YoungerThanTheyLook in their late 20s while the character is 16.]] And you'll be lucky to find one that doesn't use a faceclaim who's universally perceived as lovely. (Creator/MeganFox, Music/SelenaGomez, Miranda Kerr, Adriana Lima and other Victoria's Secrets models...) Bonus points if it's an emo-sue with Amy Lee as their face.
* If they are some sort of animal or generally nonhuman species, they may have strange and unnatural fur colours -- even outside of the aforementioned purple. Also expect colour combinations that clash horrifically (especially in text where thought will not have been put into how they actually ''look'').
** There's also a tendency to give animals humanlike hair and NonMammalianMammaries.
* In many cases, she'll possess some animal-like physical trait, such as wings, cat ears, or a tail, [[LittleBitBeastly but otherwise appears human]], in a world were such traits are rare or nonexistent. Bonus points if she believes this makes her look ugly even when all the other characters tell her [[ButYourWingsAreBeautiful the exact opposite]].
* Obscenely long eyelashes. Appears on Sues of both genders.
* Their skin color is either the same as the author's or what the author views as the prettiest/ideal skin color. Because of this, Mary Sues are usually white (and often a pale shade of white,) but darker-skinned Sues are not unheard of (see the section on ethnicity below.)
* A VillainSue ''may'' have physical flaws, but a "good" Sue ''[[BeautyEqualsGoodness never]]'' [[BeautyEqualsGoodness will]]. Especially so if she happens to be a PuritySue and/or a RelationshipSue.

* Magic jewelry. It might be used as a GreenLanternRing to justify her abilities. Bonus points if [[PowerGlows it glows.]]
* Exotic weaponry in a setting where she shouldn't have access to it. Usually, the question of why the law enforcement allows her to carry it doesn't come up and nobody seems to find a [[GirlWithPsychoWeapon girl carrying a large sword]] intimidating. Bonus points if there is [[{{Hammerspace}} no explanation for where she keeps it]].
** A katana. Now it's not impossible to have a katana outside of Japan anymore, but when it's because KatanasAreJustBetter (especially in a place they either shouldn't exist or would be technically useless), you've got Sue-ness coming on. ''[[DualWielding Two]]'' katanas is almost always a dead sure sign.
** Sometime they'll use guns instead, especially if the setting doesn't usually have them, and in which case they're almost always [[RevolversAreJustBetter revolvers]]. Or a [[GatlingGood minigun]]. Or if [[AuthorAppeal they're particularly into firearms]], just check the list of RareGuns (Desert Eagle in particular). Often [[GunPorn as lavishly described as the outfits]].
* If she has her own transport, it will always be [[TravelCool cool and expensive]]. Sometimes she has her own TimeMachine - even worse if it's based on something from a different canon.
* She may have access to a HumongousMecha in a universe that lacks them, or only hands them out on a case-by-case basis.
* [[TheWebAlwaysExisted The web exists everywhere]] for her - she can whip out her laptop '''''anywhere''''' and have access to both our normal internet and the local internet of whatever world she lives in. [[EverythingIsOnline And use it to hack toasters and the Pentagon]]. Additional Sue points if her laptop displays an unnaturally long battery life. (i.e. the battery never runs out, even while adventuring in places where there's no obvious means of recharging it, such as forests, deserts, or mountains.)
** Bonus points if the story is set in a world or time period where the internet doesn't exist, such as a medieval fantasy world or prehistoric Earth, among other possible places.
* Music players, usually an iPod, are common. Rarely more than a device to let the Sue and canon characters [[AuthorAppeal listen to the songs the author likes]]. Bonus points if the songs and bands didn't exist at the time the story takes place. Even more bonus points if Mary Sue ends up in a low-tech fantasy realm, and people are more impressed by the amazing music than the device itself.
* If the Suethor's favorite character has a one-of-a-kind weapon, Mary Sue can have a related weapon. The trait is reinforced when Mary Sue's weapon was handed down to her through generations, especially if, in canon, no one knows where the original weapon came from. For example, if [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII Sephiroth]] has the Masamune, the Mary Sue that has been foisted on him in a particular story will have an identical weapon called the Murasame.
* If she has a pet, it will be [[CoolPet exotic or fantastic]]. Wolves are very popular, as are [[PantheraAwesome big cats]], despite being undomesticated and illegal to own in most countries. As are unicorns and dragons. If most characters canonically have a pet or familiar, she might have a menagerie. The animals will rarely even be mentioned after their initial appearance, and it will never bother explaining any special care (stables for horses, permits for foreign species, etc.) they require.
* Bonus points to all of the above if Mary Sue is a poor orphan who should not be able to afford the item in question.

[[folder:Canon Character Relationships]]
* Some WishFulfillment with a character you think is hot isn't ''that'' bad. But MarySue seems to grab their attention straight away. Even if they already have a stable love interest in canon, that relationship will be treated as either non-existent, or the couple will be split up in some way.
** Bonus points if the love interest stands aside or sacrifices himself/herself so Mary Sue can be happy, or is [[DieForOurShip twisted into]] [[RonTheDeathEater a hateful person]] to justify Mary Sue breaking up the canon couple.
** Or perhaps Mary will be introduced as the canon character's NewOldFlame and this is their rediscovery of each other, though it's never really explained why they split up in the first place if they loved each other so much.
* Turns out to be [[LukeYouAreMyFather the offspring of a canon character]]. Made worse if that character would have been too young to have the MarySue, is gay/{{asexual|ity}}, or perhaps is just physically incapable of it. For added {{Wangst}}, it's the villain.
** She may be related to a canon character in some other way. This can be the explanation for a CopyCatSue. And why spend chapters explaining why the heroes accept a total stranger into their midst so readily, when they can just shout, "Luke, I am your sister!"
** KidFromTheFuture may explain away the 'young' part, but not much else.
** IfItsYouItsOkay can explain the "gay/asexual" part. Alternatively see MisterSeahorse which only makes said MarySue more unique.
** In some cases, the character may turn out to be the clone of another character. A common plot is for a villain to somehow make a clone of said character and for the Mary Sue to have some sort of nefarious mission (that she of course gives up because of her IncorruptiblePurePureness).
* Even the characters who don't have sex with her give her more heed than they normally would. Characters she likes can't stop praising her positive traits. Characters she doesn't like can't stop [[StrawLoser making themselves look bad]] by insulting her. Even if she's not physically present, that just means everyone can speak "freely" about her. In addition to the previous scenarios, at least one character will confess to being secretly be in love with her. There may be just "something special" about her, with no particular reason why anybody would think that. In the worst-case scenarios, they pay no heed to their own responsibilities or lives, only to Sue.
** Bonus points: the disliked character behaving badly toward the Sue eventually sees the "error" of his/her ways and grows to love Sue as much as everyone else does.
** More bonus points: the bad behavior and treatment of the Sue by disliked characters is portrayed as jealousy.
** Villains, or [[RonTheDeathEater characters made into villains]] will spend every waking moment obsessing over real or imagined slights caused by the Sue, and everything they do will be to cause the Sue's downfall.
* [[CharacterDerailment Previously-established personalities change in reaction to her]]. Arrogant gimps may admire her for everything. Sweet, mild-mannered characters (that she and the author don't like) insult and degrade her. A leader with responsibilities pays attention only to her. Young, reckless characters who would never settle down just yet will become totally reliable. Evil characters follow her around like a puppy or seem uncharacteristically obsessed with her. Extremely competent characters become stumbling buffoons who require her help to do anything. The characters in general just seem unnaturally focused on her, positive or negative.
* If she's inserted into a story from before a canon character turned out to be evil, she will be the only one who suspects him.
** Or if the canon character's evil was the result of a FaceHeelTurn, she will be the one who [[FixerSue prevents this alignment switch from happening]].
* She gets special treatment in-universe. The classic example is the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' "exchange student" fic where a 16-year-old American girl enters Hogwarts as a sixth year, is immediately given a spot on the Quidditch team and doesn't have to wear the uniform. Chances are good that Sue will be making all the calls that should be somebody else's prerogative; she's probably the one telling the Sorting Hat which house she's going to be in. [[note]]Contrary to CommonKnowledge, Harry himself did not actually get to do this. 1. He was equally qualified for all four houses, giving the Hat some leeway to consider his wishes, and 2. Harry only stated which house he did ''not'' want to be in; the final choice between the other three was still made by the Hat.[[/note]]
* May serve as a ManicPixieDreamGirl [[BroodingBoyGentleGirl if her love interest is especially dark, brooding or troubled]]. She "cures" him of that, often at the expense of his characterization.
* She may have relationships of some kind with multiple major canon characters. For example, she's the secret daughter of A who gave her up to be adopted by B's parents, making her his sister, and she goes on to have a passionate affair with C, remaining friendly with him even though she goes on to marry D, and she's E's best friend, F's closest advisor...and so on.
* [[AuthorAppeal She's dating the author's favorite character,]] e.g. "Hi there! I'm [[OverlyLongName Gemmalynne Sakura Feenixxe Fidelity Moonlight!]] And I'm dating Franchise/JamesBond!" Bonus points if canon characters start fighting over her, and bonus-bonus points if: 1. Her lover is a character that's uninterested in romance, 2. Characters who are friends in canon become enemies because they all want her, or 3. She can ''get a character to change their personality to win her affections.''

[[folder:Story Elements]]
* MarySue is always on the SpotlightStealingSquad. [[BlackHoleSue Without her]], [[AnthropicPrinciple there would not be a story]].
* She's TheChosenOne. Even if the canon hero is already TheChosenOne, she either 'shares' the position or just steals it away from them.
** Or she might be part of the same specialized species/organization as the hero. See SailorEarth.
** Alternately she is "destined to help the destined one fulfill their destiny" which pretty much means do all the real work except for the final blow so the prophecy isn't technically wrong.
* She is often around the age the author is, or just looks that way despite being ReallySevenHundredYearsOld so that she can be wise and leaderly. This doesn't have to be bad (there are many settings where it's acceptable) but when you start seeing [[ImprobableAge hardened military officers that are 16]]...
* SympatheticSue has an unusually DarkAndTroubledPast to excess, but other subtypes often have them too, just to emphasize how brave and special she is to live through it. This past is never really a point in the story, just dropped casually into the conversation to get attention. Alternatively it's written badly owing to not doing much research. How much she {{Wangst}}s about it is usually out of proportion with how bad it really is.
* She might be a BlitheSpirit and [[EasyEvangelism reform an entire population center]] of its negative qualities. Bonus points if this involves ThePowerOfLove, ThePowerOfRock, or (to paraphrase [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Lisa Simpson]]) being "[[RuleAbidingRebel rebellious... in a conformist sort of way]]".
* Perform a HeroicSacrifice as a way to prove that she's TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth. Bonus points if the story goes out of the way to ensure she doesn't leave an ugly corpse (whether it be by a method that doesn't involve external physical damage or by [[NeverFoundTheBody her body not being recovered]]). More bonus points if it turns out to be a DisneyDeath.
* She might turn out to secretly be some kind of HalfHumanHybrid. She could be crossed with just about anything, but she's still beautiful. She'll usually be an [[OurElvesAreBetter Elf]], though other [[TheBeautifulElite "pretty" races]] will work too.
** It's possible for her to be not-so-secretly part of an "ugly" race like being half-[[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orc]] or [[AllTrollsAreDifferent Troll]], but [[ButNotTooBlack being half-human means she'll still be pretty enough by our standards, with just enough exotic features to stand out]]. Bonus points if her beauty is described as coming from her human side even if it's a setting where full-blooded women of these races are already inexplicably [[CuteMonsterGirl attractive to humans]]. For added points, make her feel [[{{Emo}} outright shame]] because she's not fully human even although, if anything, it only makes her [[FreakinessShame more beautiful]] [[CursedWithAwesome and/or powerful]].
** If there is a character in the original story who is explicitly the LastOfHisKind (or her kind), Mary Sues will often be of that race, or a hybrid of that race, just to keep him company.
* Redeems the villain through her overwhelming goodness. Might be through RedemptionEqualsSex (bonus points if it [[{{Lemon}} leads]] into IKEAErotica). Even more bonus points if the story decides to mention that this is her loss of virginity. Yet more bonus points if the villain comments on how awesome she is in bed despite said virginity.
* Is a princess. EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses, after all. Bonus points if she [[RagsToRoyalty grew up as a peasant (or equivalent social class) and only just discovered this during the story]]. Of course, in any case, it will be a position of high opulence and little actual responsibility.
** On a similar note, the ChangelingFantasy is popular enough in its own right without ever involving RagsToRoyalty to begin with. It's certainly advantageous to the writer to have a set of cruel parents that can be replaced with ideal ones.
* She will often have a tragic family life. Coming from an abusive background is quite common. Her mother is often either dead or a WickedStepmother. In the latter case, she will most likely be in CinderellaCircumstances. Her father is frequently an OverprotectiveDad (or in some cases, a Wicked Stepfather). [[DeceasedParentsAreTheBest Orphans]] are also very common, as is ParentalAbandonment.
** In darker fics, [[RapeAsBackstory her backstory often involves rape]].
** In these kinds of stories, the past is where any and all potentially interesting aspects of the Sue's adventure remain trapped. By making all the hardships and struggle over and done with at the start, she has no more room left to grow as a character. Ideally, a backstory should help explain things like a character's motive and/or how they acquired certain skills or items. A good author puts a relatively ordinary person into an extraordinary world and sees them steadily go through and react to all this pain and conflict over the course of the plot and develop into a stronger person bit by bit. A Mary Sue author skips that, with their character starting out as a badass and ending up as the exact same badass.
** Another variant on the DarkAndTroubledPast is making the Sue the so-called "black sheep of her family"....because she's so talented and special and smart that she frightens her small-minded parents, shows up her more favored siblings, and/or draws the attention of the BigBad.
** Yet another variant is to make the Sue the "WhiteSheep of the family". Literally everyone else in her family eats babies, except the Sue, which makes her ''special''.
* In fantasy canons, she can break the [[MagicAIsMagicA Rules of the World]] at will. Often, nobody will even be surprised.
* If she ever does anything wrong, she's both instantly remorseful about it ''and'' EasilyForgiven by those she wrongs. For example:
-->'''Sue:''' I'm sorry IJustShotMarvinInTheFace.\\
'''Marvin's Friend:''' It's okay. I never liked him, anyway.
* She will often suffer from SpecialSnowflakeSyndrome, having some trait or backstory that sets her apart from her race.
** This can be taken to the point of being from another setting entirely. It's no coincidence that many of the most notorious fanfics are {{Massive Multiplayer Crossover}}s.
* Sometimes, the Sue has only one supernatural power: being TheChosenOne. Her [[BarrierMaiden chosenness makes her critically important to the world]], but since she has no other godlike powers, she will spend most of the story being [[DamselInDistress kidnapped]] (usually by a villainous love interest) and/or otherwise victimized. This is becoming more common as writers catch on to GodModeSue, since it allows her to continue [[SpotlightStealingSquad stealing the spotlight]] while still avoiding the "god mode" label.
* Will often be either of the author's ethnicity, an ethnicity the author wishes to be (often MagicalNativeAmerican), or [[ButNotTooForeign both]]. Not bad by itself, but can lead to UnfortunateImplications, and often occurs in cases when it's not even likely.
* In fanfiction at its most unoriginal, an AuthorAvatar is sometimes just inserted into the story as it happened (the Tenth Walker is to ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' as the American exchange student is to ''Literature/HarryPotter'') and has basically ''no'' effect on the plot -- she's there to either elbow aside each of the canon characters in turn and take over the plot points they were responsible for, or even more boring, just stand around and watch them do their thing, thinking all the right thoughts to show what a good judge of character she is -- maybe with a romance with a canon character or an occasional FixerSue moment thrown in. Reading these fics is like experiencing the original work with a thirteen-year-old fangirl talking in your ear.
* MarySue is also often written into fanfiction as a character that not only was not shown in the actual movie (book, graphic novel, etc.) but who was [[HeroOfAnotherStory really super important behind the scenes]].
** You remember that dark, brooding, emotionally closed-off character who always had his guard up and never confided in anyone? Well, little did you know, he had a best friend/relative/therapist/love interest who was the only person he ever felt comfortable talking to and he told her all of his hopes and dreams and secret motivations.
** You know that lone vigilante who saved the day and then disappeared into the night? Well, little did you know that he had a friend/love interest who was secretly by his side through it all and even helped him to execute his plans/ helped him come up with all his best ideas/ was his whole inspiration to be a hero in the first place!
** Writing an OC who has a connection to an existing character isn't necessarily bad but must be handled delicately; too many fanfiction writers make the mistake of making their OC solely responsible for everything that was good about a particular character or putting her behind every significant canon event.
* A MarySue will often have a backstory that [[ContinuitySnarl contradicts itself]], and/or is illogical (e.g., how is it that she's the daughter of [[Literature/LesMiserables Enjolras]] and [[Literature/TheHungerGames Katniss Everdeen]] AND half-vampire? ''AND the CROWN PRINCESS OF SIAM''?) Also, [[PlotHole things often don't match up on the story's timeline]], and if the author tries to deal with the continuity issues, they are either [[HandWave waved off,]] or {{Voodoo Shark}}ed.

* May be named after the author in some form. Becoming less frequent as people catch on to the Litmus Tests.
** The more common practice is to give the Sue a name that the author [[AwesomeMcCoolname really, really likes]]. As in, [[AuthorAppeal wishes it were their own name or the name they'd give to their firstborn]].
* May have some [[OverlyLongName overly long]], complicated, usually MeaningfulName that [[StevenUlyssesPerhero relates to her abilities or personality]] - whether this is usual in canon or not.
* Her name is sometimes a gemstone, a flower, [[StellarName celestial bodies, (i.e. Luna, Stella, Celeste)]] or a pretty color (e.g. Violet, Sapphire). With Emo-Sues, her name is [[DarknessVonGothickname something spooky, mystical, or related to darkness (e.g. Raven, Trinity)]]. Of particular note, Serenity [[http://pottersues.livejournal.com/tag/serena%2Fserenity seems to be a cliche]] often finding its way into parodies.
* May have [[MyNaymeIs an unusual spelling of a normal name]], like Krystal or Syndi. Substituting a 'Y' for any other vowel is generally a warning sign. Substituting ''multiple'' Ys for vowels makes it virtually certain or [[PoesLaw almost satirical]].
* May have a masculine-sounding name. Feminized spelling (like Micki or Harrie) is optional.
* Maybe they have a generic Japanese name like Hikari or [[CherryBlossomGirl Sakura]]. Bonus points [[GratuitousJapanese if it's a decidedly non-Japanese setting]].
** [[GratuitousEnglish The reverse can also occur in other cultures]], when people are given "exotic" English words for names. Often results in name which doesn't mean quite what the author intended, due to the large vocabulary and connotations attached to many supposedly synonymous words in the English language.
* Names are often a word or phrase in any language (usually foreign to the author) that have edgy translations in the author's language. And of course the same can apply to any other language that [[AuthorAppeal the author thinks is cool]]. Bonus Point if [[DontExplainTheJoke she points out what it means]], e.g. "I'm Sakura Hinode! That's Japanese for 'cherry blossom sunrise'!"
* It is not uncommon for a Sue to have a combination Japanese/Western-type name, e.g., Hikari Rose Nightshade or Sapphire Morimoto. While such names are not unheard of in real life, they are practically a six-foot-high neon sign flashing I'M A MARY SUE when it comes to fanfic.
* Above all, the name is [[AerithAndBob inconsistent within their particular culture]]. So you get cases of a small isolated village where Bob and Andy are lusting over Serenity Jasmine Sunrise Snapdragon.
* Which raises another point: if standard western names have 3 or 4 parts--a first, middle, and last name--expect her to have ''four or more''. For example, Robert Charlie Smith and Mary Jane Jones will be friends with Raven Fire Trinity Helena Hope Marissa Insanelylongandhardtopronouncelastname. Or in a world where most of the character's middle names aren't revealed, or they simply just don't have them, a Mary Sue's middle name(s) will be plastered to the beginning of her introduction.
* If part native, expect one of a list of native names that [[YouKeepUsingThatWord probably don't mean what the author thinks they do]], aren't really native, or are the names of tribes.
* Her name may be an awkwardly feminized version of the author's favorite male character's name. For example, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' fanfic is littered with Sephiras, Sephirothas, Sefiras, etc. There has even been a Sephora.
* Her name may have a meaning that is highly complimentary (e.g. Bella meaning Beautiful).
* Her name sounds like it was made up by a name generator, e.g.: Jade Toraleigh Divinity.

* A massive amount of time gets spent on describing her every feature in her introduction. Obviously, most canon characters are already well-defined to the reader whereas the new character needs an adequate description, but if it spends paragraphs, continues cropping up throughout the story, and includes detailed appendices on every little detail, just abandon all hope.
* She gets PurpleProse (usually with heavy {{Fetish}} emphasis) while no other character (canon or otherwise) gets it. Whereas her love interest extends his hand out to her, she slowly but confidently raises her slim, tender, yet dexterous left hand that has a ring on her index finger to hide a small birthmark, shifting her weight to her front stiletto-adorned foot and causing her long, flowing aquamarine hair done with two front tails to ripple and her supple yet firm right breast to shift ever so slightly, rubbing against her slightly loose but supportive black lace bra and causing her heart-shaped face to gain a slight bit of blush underneath her sparkling emerald eyes.
** Relatedly, many things about her are described as "[adjective] yet/but [adjective that often comes into conflict with the other adjective]".
* In visual media, the [[MaleGaze camera just can't]] [[FemaleGaze stop staring at her]]. Every angle is seen several times and her every action gets a heavy emphasis with close-up shots galore. Other characters don't get to be in the frame alone if it can be helped.
* [[{{Crunchtastic}} New words get made up to describe her]]. She isn't just fantastic, she's megariffic!
* Whole passages (almost always concerning things other than her) seem [[BeigeProse minimalistic]], as though the author knows what's going on and only wrote the parts that he/she wanted to fetish-obsess over.
* Pressing concerns of the actual story such as a villain who's actively trying to take over the world, aren't even addressed because everybody is too busy taking an interest in the new girl's life.
* Alternatively, major plot points (that aren't solved by the new girl) are done entirely off-screen. If the [[DracoInLeatherPants handsome yet evil character]] walks in and explains that he has [[HeelFaceTurn seen the error of his ways]], [[CallingTheOldManOut confronted his evil father]], killed TheDragon and [[PlotCoupon found the seventh and final]] MacGuffin all in one sentence and nobody seems to really care because ''[[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses Princess]]'' [[WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants Doctor Professor]] [[PuritySue Saint]] [[{{Series/Firefly}} Serenity]] [[Disney/{{Aladdin}} Jasmine]] [[Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast Belle]] [[LightIsGood Sunrise]] [[InstantAwesomeJustAddDragons Snapdragon]] [[GratuitousNinja the Ninja]] [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot Pirate Zombie Robot]], [[FunWithAcronyms KBE]], [[RankInflation Esq.]], wasn't directly involved, that's not a good sign (and also [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome a pretty stupid thing in itself]]).
* When the character is off-screen, if ever, the other characters are still talking about her, taking it as a chance to speak "honestly" about the new girl. If they like her, [[CharacterShilling they sing her praises]]; if not, their dislike will be taken as jealousy, as her "haters" will only talk about petty issues (Sue's background, perceived promiscuity, etc.), and not genuine gripes (massive {{attention whor|e}}ing, for starters).
* The story is often told entirely from the POV of the Mary Sue, sometimes in first person so the focus can never shift away from her.
* She's the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanishing_point vanishing point]] - everything revolves around her.

[[folder:Author Investment in the Character]]
* The same character - either literally the same character or the same in spirit - tends to appear in all of the works by a particular author or artist because they identify so closely with the character. It's a bit more forgivable in a series that allows for multiple iterations of the same character, but even there it must be handled carefully.
* [[WriterOnBoard The author]] pits his characters against {{Straw Character}}s in order to [[AuthorFilibuster advocate his political opinions via the protagonist]], who is [[ProtagonistCenteredMorality invariably never wrong]].
* The author takes personal offense at any criticism of the character or story, no matter how well-meaning or justified it is. Bonus points for an [[SmallNameBigEgo overblown ego]] behind it.
* The author may get upset when she sees her favorite character paired with anyone but her OC.
* In extreme SmallNameBigEgo cases, the author will create a fan club for her own Mary Sue and/or aggressively ships the Sue with a canon character and makes a fan club for ''that''.
* The author/artist has a massive gallery of art exclusively of the character. There's nothing wrong with drawing your OC, even repeatedly because you like them or you want to give readers an idea of what they look like. Over a hundred illustrations of a single OC, on the other hand, is an bit of an obsession.
** Caveat: This may ''not'' always be a reliable indicator of Sue-ness, if the large size of the gallery is meant to indicate ArtEvolution.