[[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 [[{{Flanderization}} 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.

Contrariwise, 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? The typical MarySue doesn't have one, because she isn't ''meant'' to be a character; rather, she's an entity by which the author makes cool stuff happen. She's thus not defined by her personality, but rather by her [[TouchedByVorlons special powers]], fantastic romances, and [[BigDamnHeroes random acts of heroism]].
* What little personality a MarySue has isn't 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 inexplicably drawn to her. All of her ideas are brilliant, all of her jokes are funny, and all of her advice is spot-on. People will trust her implicitly, even more than their families, significant others, or closest friends. Anyone who doesn't react to her this way is usually portrayed as evil or stupid. She doesn't have to ''do'' anything to deserve this treatment; she's an impossibly good person because the author says she is.
* She's [[EasyEvangelism extremely persuasive]]; everyone finds her opinions to be better than their own, regardless of the actual content of her supposedly awesome arguments. This is especially common in an AuthorTract. It's also particularly jarring when characters who are usually very stubborn [[CharacterDerailment immediately take her side]].
* She's a FriendToAllLivingThings and AllLovingHero. Although the other characters are nowhere near as awesome as she is, she will forgive them for all their imperfections. And she's [[MartyrWithoutACause willing to risk her own safety]] to save another person, [[TheDulcineaEffect even people she just met]]. This is such a MarySueClassic trait that authors are starting to catch on, and it's gradually becoming less common.
** However, an equally valid (And equally grating) Is a sue who treats others with contempt, anger, and insultingness, yet DESPITE everything, every single character (except for the bad guys) adores her. Even characters whom she constantly treats like crap still want to be "best fwiends" with her and risk their lives for her.
* She's [[IncorruptiblePurePureness incorruptible]] -- so much so that she may be unaware of the ''concept'' of temptation.
* She has a DarkAndTroubledPast, which she deals with in two ways: either she turns up the {{Wangst}} (and thus gets lots of attention), or she remains [[AngstWhatAngst unreasonably cheerful and optimistic]] in spite of it and becomes a full-on GenkiGirl. There is no middle ground here.
* She may be flawed, but these are all {{Informed Flaw}}s. This usually happens when the author is actively avoiding these common traits but doesn't know [[GoodFlawsBadFlaws how to do this realistically]]. This usually leads to "flaws" that [[SuetifulAllAlong never actually hinder the character or make her look bad]]. If it's something that makes her DarkerAndEdgier, like [[FunctionalAddict substance abuse]] or [[ExtremeLibido nymphomania]], we never see any of the drawbacks of it. If she's a klutz, that just makes her a CuteClumsyGirl. And sometimes she will even complain about her [[CursedWithAwesome awesome power]] or [[SoBeautifulItsACurse stunning beauty]] or [[IJustWantToBeNormal special place in the world]], for no reason other than author realizing that the character can't look ''too'' perfect -- except [[MostFanficWritersAreGirls she]] usually forgets to write in circumstances that would ''actually'' cause someone to react that way.
* And occasionally she'll be a [[JerkSue complete asshole]], even when she's ''supposed'' to be all of the above. This can manifest itself in several ways:
** The author wants to write a badass but doesn't know how. This leads to a character who mistreats everyone around her and is never [[WhatTheHellHero called out]] on her abrasive, casually abusive behavior. And other badass characters, no matter how tough or violent, provide her with an opportunity to "put them in their place" -- or rather, they instantly capitulate and turn into meek {{Wangst}} factories around her.
** The author is trying to present her assholery as a flaw but fails like with all the other flaws listed above. A "flaw" like stubbornness will never come back to bite her because she will always turn out to be right all along. A bad temper just gives her an excuse to [[CurbStompBattle pwn her enemies]], all of whom deserve it. Rudeness and tactlessness are portrayed as "[[BrutalHonesty speaking her mind]]" and she'll always [[JerkassHasAPoint be right]].
** The author doesn't know how to hold back the character, meaning that [[GodModeSue she will succeed at practically everything]]. This means that when she encounters rules or authority figures who would otherwise prevent her from doing what she wants to do, she rolls right through them (and they praise her for her "boldness" in defying regulations). If a bad guy is violent and aggressive, she can beat him by being more violent and aggressive (with all that entails). It's impossible for her to go overboard because she's protected by ProtagonistCenteredMorality.

* Her skills will generally be inexplicable and poorly defined. Many of them may [[InformedAbility play no role in the plot]], not even as a {{Required Secondary Power|s}}; they're introduced solely to make the character seem even more awesome.
* She will always be better than the canon characters, regardless of what canon has established they can do or whether it makes any sense. Her powers will often be similar to those of the existing characters, only with [[StoryBreakerPower all the downsides and limitations removed]]. If the characters need a new skill, she'll often [[NewPowersAsThePlotDemands already have it]]. And if she does need to learn it, [[InstantExpert she'll pick it up in no time]]. It's especially common with a GodModeSue.
* She has a perfect singing voice. She may also be extremely proficient at a musical instrument (often one which would be highly improbable for her to know how to play, like a medieval French princess playing the didgeridoo). And in a SongFic, she'll even compose her own lyrics and songs (which the author has conveniently ripped off from the Internet). It's a very common MarySueClassic trait, enough that it died out for a bit when authors caught on, but with the popularity of {{Idol Singer}}s it's never quite gone away completely.
* She doesn't have normal sex; she has [[GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex the most mind-blowingly divine sex ever]]. Interestingly, she's often also [[NatureAdoresAVirgin a virgin]] at the start of the story. (Which often has little to no bearing on the plot, or her role in the story, and sometimes is used to [[NotLikeOtherGirls set her apart from "all those other girls" in the story]].) Her lack of experience never diminishes the quality of the sex; nor does [[AnatomicallyImpossibleSex anatomical impossibility]] (which usually betrays the ''author's'' lack of experience). Her lover is often a DracoInLeatherPants, an enemy who can be [[SexFaceTurn redeemed by her vagina]].
* She [[{{Omniglot}} speaks several languages fluently]]. Most of these languages are totally unrelated and just what the author thinks sounds cool; they range from Romance languages [[EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench like French or Italian]] to [[GratuitousJapanese Japanese]] to Lakota (many Sues[[note]]A [[IncrediblyLamePun Mary Sioux]]?[[/note]] are of American Indian admixture, [[ButNotTooBlack but never more than half]]). Sometimes the author will put the character in a situation where it would make sense to know multiple languages (like making her a diplomat or a translator); most of the time, they won't. The worst cases can also [[SpeaksFluentAnimal communicate with animals]] and aliens [[AliensSpeakingEnglish who don't already speak English]].
* Her skills will often be unrealistic within the story's setting. She can be a master of a martial art that she should have no way of learning or [[ArtisticLicenseMartialArts which doesn't exist]]. She can use magic or {{telepathy}} in a universe that's [[LikeRealityUnlessNoted like reality otherwise]]. Her physical abilities will be absurd; she can run like the wind without breaking a sweat or ever having trained for it.
* She has excellent fashion sense. Usually, this happens without her even trying; she's just naturally beautiful and whatever she wears will always be awesome and stylish. Even if she's meant to be a rough-and-tumble {{Tomboy}} type who doesn't care about that sort of thing, the characters will always praise her UnkemptBeauty and perhaps even admire that she's also low-maintenance. Extra alarm bells go off if the clothes are described and [[InformedAttractiveness not all that attractive or stylish]]. Be on the look out for clashing colors and overly complex outfits, especially if these are portrayed as casual wear.
* And with all this, don't expect the GreenEyedMonster to show up. Envy appears in the MarySue's life only as a means of angst; it's not there to show the downsides of being awesome at ''everything''. Anybody who does get jealous of her is deliberately set up as stupid or evil (and often [[DieForOurShip in the way of the author's preferred ship]]).

[[folder:Physical Appearance]]
* She's SoBeautifulItsACurse[[{{Tradesnark}} ]]. Being attractive doesn't make a MarySue in and of itself (who ''wants'' to be ugly?), but when the author tries to play it as so strong as to be a disadvantage, that's a sign you're dealing with a Sue. The other characters will constantly bring up how beautiful she is (even if [[InformedAttractiveness the readers have no reason to believe it themselves]]). Alternatively, an author might realize how common a trait this is and downplay the character's beauty, but she will forget to address all the ''other'' problems; this usually makes her SuetifulAllAlong or an AntiSue.
* She will be described in PurpleProse and in incredible detail. 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''. Her clothing gets the same treatment (sometimes for each individual outfit she wears).
* Not coincidentally, the ''color'' purple is also popular, partly because it [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience helps her stand out]] and partly because it stands for particularly exotic traits (see GracefulLadiesLikePurple, PurpleIsPowerful, and SupernaturalIsPurple).
* She will have unusual hair, especially relative to canon characters' hair. This usually means a [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair unique hair color]] or [[ImprobableHairstyle a funky hairstyle]]; RapunzelHair is also common. The worst offenders have unusual [[SkunkStripe highlights]], often natural but in a color not found in nature. It's essentially taking AnimeHair and using it ''everywhere''.
* She will also have [[WhatBeautifulEyes unusual eyes]]. No MarySue has brown eyes, regardless of her race. Often, it's a color not found in nature, like violet or gold. She might have MismatchedEyes to get more unusual colors in. And if she has [[InconsistentColoring inconsistently colored eyes]] that's almost an instant MarySue indicator. Whatever color her eyes are, expect the author to use PurpleProse to describe them ("celery green", "cerulean", "slate grey") and for these terms to be repeated often.
* She is often [[HollywoodThin very underweight]]; if height and weight figures are given, expect them to violate physics unless she's made of Styrofoam. Furthermore, she often does physical activity like sword fighting or hand-to-hand combat that are much harder when you're that thin. This seems almost entirely because the author thinks a supermodel would look more attractive than an [[UsefulNotes/MixedMartialArts MMA fighter]], who could more realistically undertake these tasks. Scarily, MarySue may even consider herself overweight (or at least HollywoodPudgy). Despite this, she will almost always [[MostCommonSuperpower be very amply endowed in one particular area]], regardless of how biologically rare that would be.
* She is almost never depicted as putting any effort into ''maintaining'' her impossibly "perfect" body. She never has to diet or exercise to stay in fighting shape. She never has to use cosmetic products to maintain her beauty; the most she may get is an AdrenalineMakeOver. Authors essentially give her a supermodel appearance without the hours of body maintenance RealLife supermodels undergo every day.
* She will [[BeautyIsNeverTarnished never look ugly]], no matter what she's been through; the worst she'll ever be reduced to is UnkemptBeauty. If she is ever somehow injured or scarred, the scar [[GoodScarsEvilScars will always look cool]] and serve more as a decoration than anything else. She may have a birthmark, but never in a place that compromises her beauty (although she may {{Wangst}} that it does, no other character will agree with her); it will also have a significant shape or be a BirthmarkOfDestiny.
* All of her outfits are {{impractically fancy|outfit}}. They're usually [[{{Stripperiffic}} very revealing]], have tons of gems and other extraneous details, and include fishnets or FrillsOfJustice. If she's supposed to wear a uniform, it will be a NonUniformUniform if she wears one at all.
* She may possess an animal-like physical trait, like wings, tails, or [[CatGirl cat ears]], but [[LittleBitBeastly otherwise appear human]], especially in a world where such traits are rare or nonexistent. Sometimes [[FreakinessShame she will believe this makes her look ugly]], but every other character will insist the exact opposite.
* If she's an ''actual'' animal or other non-human species, expect strange and unnatural fur colors (purple or otherwise). Color combinations will tend to clash horrifically, as if the author just threw together what she thought was cool and gave no thought to how it would actually look. She may also still have humanlike hair and NonMammalianMammaries.
* Some Sues appear on roleplay sites that encourage "faceclaims" -- the author can use a picture of a real celebrity to represent what the character looks like. A Sue will almost always have someone extraordinarily pretty as a faceclaim, like a Victoria's Secret model. If the character is a teenager, [[YoungerThanTheyLook her faceclaim will be in her late 20s]]. And if she's an {{Emo}} Sue, her faceclaim will almost always be [[Music/{{Evanescence}} Amy Lee]].

* She has exotic weaponry in a setting where she shouldn't have access to it. Usually, no one questions why she's allowed to carry it, and nobody [[GirlWithPsychoWeapon finds her intimidating]]. Bonus points if there is [[{{Hammerspace}} no explanation for where she keeps it]]. Common MarySue weapons include:
** Magic jewelry, which can be used as a GreenLanternRing to justify her abilities. Bonus points if [[PowerGlows it glows.]]
** Swords, especially a katana, because KatanasAreJustBetter. While you can find them outside of Japan these days, their utility as swords is not high. [[DualWielding Two katanas]] is a dead giveaway.
** Guns, particularly RareGuns, especially ones like the Desert Eagle that a thin, waifish teenage girl would struggle just to carry, let alone aim accurately or actually fire; like a katana, if they're using handguns they typically [[GunsAkimbo use two]]. If they're [[GunNut particularly into guns]], they'll have ''all'' the rare guns, described [[GunPorn as lavishly as her outfits]] (except for how she got ahold of them, of course). She might use a gun even if the setting doesn't usually have them, in which case she can get away with a more elegant [[RevolversAreJustBetter revolver]]... or a [[GatlingGood minigun]].
** Any weapon related to a canon one-of-a-kind weapon. The canon character's weapon may be unique, mysterious, powerful, and of unknown origin. The Sue's weapon will be the same but cooler and more powerful, and she'll know exactly where hers came from; it was handed down through generations.
* If she has her own transport, it will always be [[TravelCool cool and expensive]]. She may have access to a HumongousMecha in a universe that lacks them, or only hands them out on a case-by-case basis. She may even have her own TimeMachine, which could be lifted wholesale out of a different canon.
* [[TheWebAlwaysExisted The web exists everywhere]] for her, even on other planets, medieval fantasy worlds, or prehistoric Earth -- 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 she can use it to hack toasters and the Pentagon]]. Additional Sue points if her laptop displays an unnaturally long battery life, so she can use it even when she's been adventuring in the wilderness for several days.
* She will often have a music player, usually an iPod. It's mostly used to let the Sue and other character [[AuthorAppeal listen to songs the author likes]]. The songs and bands need not exist when and where the story takes place. Sues have even been known to take these devices to [[GivingRadioToTheRomans less advanced people]], only for them to be more impressed with the music than the device itself.
* If she has a pet, it will be [[CoolPet exotic or fantastic]]. Wolves are very popular, as are [[PantheraAwesome big cats]], despite these being undomesticated and illegal to own in most countries. {{Unicorn}}s and [[OurDragonsAreDifferent dragons]] are common as well. If most characters canonically have a pet or familiar, she might have a menagerie. These animals will rarely be mentioned after their initial appearance, and the story will never bother explaining how she cares for them.

[[folder:Canon Character Relationships]]
* MarySue is [[RelationshipSue often designed]] to hook up with another character, often as a form of WishFulfillment. This isn't ''that'' bad in and of itself, but MarySue accomplishes this without any sense of realism. She just grabs her lover's attention straight away, and their relationship will never face any obstacles or tension; it's straight to true love right away. The biggest giveaway is if the love interest is explicitly [[AuthorAppeal the author's favorite character]], and she essentially "cures" him of [[BroodingBoyGentleGirl all the angst that ails him]] (at the expense of his characterization).
* Her love interest will often be with someone else in canon. This is not a problem for MarySue, whose author can get rid of the other girl in many ways, including [[DieForOurShip killing her off]], derailing her into [[RonTheDeathEater a hateful person]] and thus easy to break up with, or even letting her step aside or sacrifice herself [[IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy just so that he can be with Mary Sue]]. Sometimes Mary Sue is introduced as a canon character's NewOldFlame, explaining why he might leave his current girlfriend for her (but raising the question of what led them to break up in the first place if they're ''that'' great together).
* She will be related to a canon character in some way. This (marginally) helps explain such phenomena as her being a CopyCatSue and other characters accepting her so easily. She will often be [[LukeYouAreMyFather a canon character's offspring]] -- perhaps even the villain's for added {{Wangst}} -- but this tends to raise further questions, like the character being too young for a child (occasionally resolved with a KidFromTheFuture) or being gay or {{asexual|ity}} (occasionally resolved with IfItsYouItsOkay or a MisterSeahorse scenario -- this is FanFic, after all). She may even be related to more than one character, or she may a character's clone (but better).
* Most characters give her more heed than they normally would. The good guys never stop praising her. The bad guys never stop belittling her (and thus [[StrawLoser making themselves look bad]]). They talk about her when she's not present. At least one will confess to being secretly in love with her (if more than one does, they may [[CockFight fight each other over her]]). The villains will obsess over her, to the point of destroying themselves in their jealousy or opening themselves up to redemption and the realization that she was good all along (usually [[RedemptionEqualsSex by having sex with her]]).
* Characters' previously established personalities [[CharacterDerailment change in reaction to her]]. Proud, arrogant gimps suddenly acknowledge her superiority in everything. Reckless youths will listen to all her advice. Responsible leaders will defer to her instead. Villains will obsess with her to the detriment of all else. Extremely competent characters will become stumbling buffoons who require her help to do anything. Sweet, mild-mannered characters whom the author doesn't like [[RonTheDeathEater turn evil and insult her]]. They all become unnaturally focused on her in some way.
* She's a perfect judge of character, and she'll be right about everyone. If everyone suspects an ally is really a backstabber, she'll be the only one to trust him. If everyone believes the villain is really a good guy, she'll be the one to suspect him. It's particularly obvious when she's inserted midway into a canon story and knows ''exactly'' how everything will play out; this allows her to play FixerSue and do things like preventing a canon FaceHeelTurn.
* She will get special treatment in-universe; anything the canon characters would have to fight for or earn, she just gets automatically. The classic example is the 16-year-old American ''Literature/HarryPotter'' "exchange student" who goes to Hogwarts, is immediately given a spot on the Quidditch team, and doesn't have to wear the uniform.

[[folder:Story Elements]]
* MarySue is always a single-person SpotlightStealingSquad. The entire story [[BlackHoleSue hinges on her existence]]; if you removed her, [[AnthropicPrinciple there would be no story]]. All other elements of the story are designed to show off how awesome she is and cannot function independently.
* She is not bound by [[MagicAIsMagicA the rules of the universe]], whatever the setting may be. Nobody will ever comment on the impossibility of what she does; they'll just assume she's that talented.
* Her backstory is often [[ContinuitySnarl self-contradictory]], as the author piles on more and more awesome things without any regard for how they could all happen. Most continuity issues are {{Hand Wave}}d or {{Voodoo Shark}}ed.
* MarySue is TheChosenOne, even if the setting already has one. There are many ways she can accomplish this: she can be a SailorEarth type who "shares" the position with the canon hero; she may be vaguely "destined to help the destined one fulfill their destiny" (''i.e.'' do all the work except the final blow so that the prophecy is still technically correct); or the canon hero may be revealed to be a FakeUltimateHero all along. Being the ChosenOne doesn't necessarily involve her being a GodModeSue, especially as authors become aware of the phenomenon and try to avoid it, but it does make her [[BarrierMaiden critically important to the world]] and allows her to continue [[SpotlightStealingSquad stealing the spotlight]] without the "god mode" label.
* That said, if the author likes the canon work, the fic will not change very much of the canon work. The worst Mary Sues of this sort don't have any effect on the canon story; they just watch the plot, correctly guess everything that will happen, and occasionally take over one of the canon characters' accomplishments, resulting in an experience that's like reading the original work with a thirteen-year-old fangirl talking in your ear. Sometimes she'll be a character who wasn't in the original work but was [[HeroOfAnotherStory super important behind the scenes]], usually as a canon character's secret LoveInterest.
* She is often around the same age as the author, usually around 16. This often becomes an ImprobableAge as Mary Sue starts taking command of everyone and everything around her. Some authors work around this by making her look 16 but be ReallySevenHundredYearsOld.
* She is usually the same ethnicity as the author; if not, she's whatever the author wishes she could be (often a MagicalNativeAmerican), or [[ButNotTooForeign both]]. It often involves a ForeignCultureFetish and leads to UnfortunateImplications.
* Most Sues have an unusually DarkAndTroubledPast. It's often used to create a SympatheticSue, but any type of Sue can have one. Such backstories never actually factor into the story; they're just casually dropped into the narrative to draw attention to the character and let her {{Wangst}} (usually out of proportion to how bad it really is). Most authors tend [[CriticalResearchFailure not to research]] such tragedies and their effects, which breaks the reader's WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief.
* Relatedly, she will often have a tragic family life. This could involve ParentalAbandonment or [[DeceasedParentsAreTheBest orphanhood]], and whichever parental figures she has are often {{abusive|parents}}, putting her squarely into CinderellaCircumstances. Darker fics will often have RapeAsBackstory. She might be the BlackSheep who's so smart and talented that the rest of her family fears and abuses her -- or she might be the WhiteSheep who's the only redeemable member of her otherwise evil family. Regardless, this backstory will never actually hold MarySue back from anything she wants to accomplish.
* She might be a BlitheSpirit who easily [[EasyEvangelism reforms an entire group of people]] of its negative qualities. This is often accomplished through ThePowerOfLove, ThePowerOfRock, or (to paraphrase [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Lisa Simpson]]) being "[[RuleAbidingRebel rebellious... in a conformist sort of way]]".
* She's TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth and will perform a HeroicSacrifice to prove it. The story will often go out of its way to ensure that she [[BeautyIsNeverTarnished doesn't leave an ugly corpse]], either by a method involving no external physical damage or just [[NeverFoundTheBody not leaving a body to be recovered]]. Half the time, [[DisneyDeath it doesn't take anyway]].
* She might turn out to secretly be a HalfHumanHybrid, giving her [[FreakinessShame cause to angst]]. As explained above, though, this will never mean that she looks ugly; the most that will happen is that she's a LittleBitBeastly, and rarely will the non-human part be an "ugly" race like [[OurOrcsAreDifferent orcs]] or [[AllTrollsAreDifferent trolls]]. In fact, the non-human part will most often be a race even ''more'' [[InhumanlyBeautifulRace beautiful than humans]], like [[OurElvesAreBetter elves]]. If a canon character is non-human and explicitly LastOfHisKind, her non-human part might be of that race, just to keep him company.
* She can redeem the villain through her overwhelming goodness and purity. More often than not, though, she does it [[RedemptionEqualsSex by having sex with him]]. As explained above, she will often be a virgin when this happens (implying that she's sacrificing a VirginPower to redeem the villain), but this never prevents sex with her from being [[IdealizedSex the most awesome sex ever]]. It's often never ''written'' as [[IKEAErotica particularly awesome]], though.
* She's [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses a princess]]. This basically gives her a position of high importance and opulence but little actual responsibility. It's often combined with a RagsToRoyalty or ChangelingFantasy element where she only discovers her royalty during the story (and it makes up for her angsty DarkAndTroubledPast).
* She almost never does anything wrong. In the rare instance that she does, it's usually ''(a)'' a way for the author to disclaim her being a MarySue by introducing a single imperfection (that has no bearing on anything anyway) and ''(b)'' designed to show her smarts by making her feel [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone instant remorse]], and she'll be EasilyForgiven anyway:
-->'''Sue:''' I'm sorry IJustShotMarvinInTheFace.\\
'''Marvin's friend:''' It's okay. I never liked him, anyway.
* She will often suffer from SpecialSnowflakeSyndrome; ''i.e.'', she has a trait or backstory that sets her apart from her group or race. This is exacerbated by so many notorious fanfics being {{Massive Multiplayer Crossover}}s, as she can {{wangst}} about this just because she's from an entirely different setting.

A MarySue ''always'' has an unusual and OverlyLongName, often with four or more parts. It's the first and most obvious sign to the reader that this character is ''special'' in some way, especially if it [[AerithAndBob stands out among canon names]]. That said, there are many ways for a Sue's name to accomplish this:
* A MeaningfulName that [[StevenUlyssesPerhero relates to her abilities or personality in some way]], usually highly complimentary (''e.g.'' Bella, Divinity). The name Serenity is [[http://pottersues.livejournal.com/tag/serena%2Fserenity enough of a cliché]] that it's [[PoesLaw more commonly used in parodies]] than anywhere else.
* An [[MyNaymeIs unusually spelled]] common name, especially if a "Y" is substituted for a vowel ("Krystal", "Syndi").
* A masculine-sounding or [[GenderBlenderName gender-blending]] name, occasionally with feminized spelling (''e.g.'' Micki, Harrie).
* An awkwardly feminized version of the author's favorite male character's name, leading to things like ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' fanfic being festooned with Sephiras, Sephirothas, Sefiras, and at least one Sephora.
* References to gemstones, flowers, [[StellarName celestial bodies]], or pretty colors (''e.g.'' Violet, Sapphire).
* With {{Emo}}-Sues, something [[DarknessVonGothickname spooky, mystical, or related to darkness]] (''e.g.'' Raven, Trinity).
* A foreign name, particularly a [[GratuitousJapanese Japanese]] name. The author will often [[ForeignCultureFetish really like the language]] and point out [[YouAreTheTranslatedForeignWord what the name means]] ("I'm Sakura Hinode! That's Japanese for '[[CherryBlossomGirl cherry blossom]] sunrise'!") -- and [[YouKeepUsingThatWord not always correctly]]. If it's [[MultiEthnicName combined with an unusual Western name]] (''e.g.'' Hikari Rose Nightshade, Sapphire Morimoto), that's almost a dead giveaway that the character is a Mary Sue.
* And, of course, [[AuthorAvatar sharing at least one name with the author]]. The author may also name her after [[AuthorAppeal what she really wishes she were called]].

* MarySue is introduced with an incredibly detailed description of her every physical feature. It reads as though the author has a very fixed idea of ''exactly'' what her character looks like and considers it vitally important that the reader shares this image of the character. The worst cases will do this repeatedly and even have ''appendices'' on every little detail.
* She is described in hopelessly PurpleProse, often with very {{fetish}}ized language, 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.
* She will be described with the most positive adjectives the author can think of. Often, she'll cover all her bases and describe her as "[Adjective A], yet [Adjective B, which contrasts with Adjective A]". The author may even resort to [[{{Crunchtastic}} making up words]] to describe her.
* Passages that ''don't'' concern her will be [[BeigeProse written minimalistically]], as though the author is writing them out of obligation and only wants to write the bits she wants to obsess over. This leads to pressing concerns of the actual story not being mentioned in favor of the characters obsessing over MarySue; important plot points may even occur off-screen, no matter [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome how impactful they may be]].
* The story is often told entirely from Mary Sue's point of view, often in FirstPersonPerspective. This allows the narrative to never stray from her.
* In visual media, the camera just [[MaleGaze can't stop staring at her]]. Every part of her is seen from every angle, and her every action is heavily emphasized with close-up shots galore. Other characters almost never get the frame to themselves.
* If Mary Sue is ''not'' on screen, the characters will be talking about her anyway, giving them a chance to speak "honestly" about her. If they like her, [[CharacterShilling they sing her praises]]; if not, they will gripe about her and thus be portrayed as evil and jealous.
* She will never be an EscapistCharacter, though a few authors familiar with both sues and escapist characters may claim otherwise. Despite all the common traits listed here a sue, by definition, is always specific enough to be appealing to author over audience. The escapist character on the other hand is vague enough for the reader to imagine themselves in their position. The major difference is usually detail; the sue author must specific that her creation exactly conforms to author's idea of an ideal character where there escapist is usually intentionally vague to allow the reader's imagination to fill in the rest.

[[folder:Author Investment in the Character]]
One of the biggest signs of a MarySue is the author having a particularly strong interest in the character at the expense of all others. Some signs that this is happening:
* The character appears in nearly all of the author's works, whether literally the same character or the same character in spirit. This can be done properly, but it must be handled carefully (''e.g.'' a LegacyCharacter or a series that allows for different iterations of the same character); without that, it looks like an obsession.
* The author uses the character to [[WriterOnBoard promote his or her own opinions]], often by pitting her against a StrawCharacter who will [[ProtagonistCenteredMorality never be right no matter what he does]].
* 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 displaying an [[SmallNameBigEgo overblown ego]] in the process.
* The author tries to dictate how others use or interpret the character, or she gets upset when someone pairs up her favorite canon character with anyone other than MarySue.
* The author creates a fan club for the character, or aggressively ships her with a canon character and makes a fan club for ''that'' (which admittedly is an extreme case).
* The author has a massive gallery of art exclusively of the character. It's not ''always'' an indicator of a Mary Sue; some artists experiment with a character design to invoke ArtEvolution, respond to requests to show what she looks like, or just like to draw her. But if the artist has clearly just built a shrine to Mary Sue with over a hundred illustrations, that's a red flag.