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Mary Worth is a soap-opera style comic strip by Allen Saunders.

The title character is a recent widow who moves to a condominium complex in California, where just about everybody seems to have some sort of problem. In most of the strips, one of the "young" people in the neighborhood is troubled by a problem such as drug abuse, alcoholism, infidelity, or teen pregnancy, which Mary takes it upon herself to fix. Though she is the title character, and the catalyst for most of the strips' dramatic plots, Mary herself doesn't appear all that frequently. Rather she is set up as a frame device to get each plot rolling, usually through her incessant meddling sage counsel.

The strip is subject to frequent parody from other newspaper comic strips and was frequently parodied by Carol Burnett on her variety show. The Comics Curmudgeon has brought attention back to it.

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There's also an old English legend about a ghost called "Bloody Mary Worth" who will slash at your face if you repeat the phrase "Bloody Mary" thirteen times in front of a mirror. This old legend has nothing to do with the comic strip, though; Saunders hadn't heard of the legend when he named his character, and the comic strip Mary Worth would prefer to serve you salmon squares instead.


Tropes:

  • Ascended Meme: From The Comics Curmudgeon. The author opened a Cafe Press store and created merchandise prominently featuring some of Aldo's greatest moments.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: It looks like Delilah and Laurence's marriage is heading straight long into this trope.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Dawn Weston, the nineteen year old daughter of Wilbur Weston who often comes across as shallow and entitled past her horrible luck in love.
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  • Broken Aesop: The only real lesson learned by Saul Wynter and his great-niece Madi seems to be, "Get over your grief because it's inconvenient to other people. Also dogs solve everything."
  • Captain Ersatz: An unusually literal instance in the 2012 "ship disaster" storyline, with the ship's captain behaving the same way that Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino was alleged to have done during the ship's sinking, but being drawn to resemble Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic.
  • Character Title
  • Converse with the Unconscious: In the storyline from September-November 2009 featured Scott (new fiance of Adrian) participating in a drug bust, getting shot, then being comatose in the hospital with non-specified injuries. While unconscious he is spoken to by Adrian's father Jeff, then Adrian herself. Concluded, of course, with him waking up just after Adrian has just concluded her speech about agreeing to marry him (he had proposed to her before the bust) and loving him no matter what.
  • Cool Old Lady: She's supposed to be.
  • Dating Service Disaster: In 2009 the comic featured a character named Ted Confey (get it? Confey? Confidence? Meh...) who was dating Dr. Adrian Cory after meeting her online. He proceeds to bilk her out of $50,000 using lines a three-year-old would see through. Just as he's ready to disappear, he's arrested by a Santa Royale detective who later asks Adrian out - and who turns out to be the son of Adrian's father's old college roommate (whom he seems to have cared about a great deal). The moral of the story? Finding partners in new ways bad, going out with someone approved of by Dad good.
  • Determinator: Good Lord, Mary herself. Once Mary Worth has her hooks in you, she will stop at nothing to meddle in your affairs until you are either "fixed" or dead.
  • Driven to Suicide: Aldo yet again. Don't drink and drive, kids.
  • Dumb Blonde: Toby Cameron never seems to think things through and tends to act half her age.
  • Emphasize EVERYTHING - Every sentence ends in an exclamation point!
  • Extreme Doormat: Poor Estelle keeps letting people take advantage of her from the con artist to even Mary and Wilbur.
  • Finger-Tenting: For some strange reason, Mary does this as she listens to an old friend give a speech praising her.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Deconstructed. Jared carried a torch for Dawn for years while she pursued more conventionally handsome and charming men. They finally got together, but Dawn quickly grew bored with his geekiness and introversion, while he got fed up with her taking him for granted and acting like she was doing him a favour by dating him. They ultimately split up on more or less amicable terms.
  • A God Am I: In January of 2012, Mary rescues a girl from a kidnapper (with the help of a friendly waitress) by delaying the pair with promises of dessert. A few days later she calls the girl's rescue "a miracle". Yes, Mary Worth referred to her own actions as miraculous.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Well, that depends on how heroic you see the cast but dogs are the more preferred pet of Charterstone's residents.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Anyone single who is old enough to be married will certainly be paired by Mary to someone of the opposite sex that she deems compatible for them.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Adrian and later her father.
    • Wilbur and that kid pretending to be his son subverts it, as we ultimately learn that the fake son is hanging out with Wilbur simply in order to deal with his own father abandonment issues so that he can be a good father for his own kid.
    • Estelle keeps taking back Wilbur despite him having issues with his ex and practically abusing her cat.
  • Informed Attribute: Oh, boy, this comic strip loves to lay these on which ends up making Mary look like she doesn't know a single thing about the people she claims are her friends such as Wilbur (an overweight middle aged man who writes an advice column) supposedly being a big fan of sports.
  • Lethal Chef: Mary's neon orange "shrimp scampi" is almost as, um....interesting as her salmon squares.
  • Manchild: The middle aged Wilbur Weston (who is also the father of a college student) often acts like a petulant child when he's not indulged in his demands. Toby Cameron also seems to be his Distaff Counterpart by acting more like someone half her age at times rather than a wife in her thirties.
  • May–December Romance: Professor Cameron is nearly twice the age of his wife, Toby. In the late 90s, his growing anxiety about the age difference led to an arc in which Toby was Mistaken for Cheating.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Toby is one of these from the little we see of her actually teaching her community college art class. She lavishes compliments and praise on all of her students of varying art levels without giving them any real criticism or ways to improve on their style. Remember, these are college students.
  • Moustache de Plume: Mary's neighbor Wilbur writes an advice column with the title "Ask Wendy". Mary sometimes ghost-writes the column, in which cases the trope is averted.
  • New Media Are Evil: If you use the internet, you will fall in love with a criminal, be deceived by someone pretending to be your long lost child, and have your identity stolen. Facebook is not to be trusted!
    • To be fair, the long lost child thing was more sad than evil.
    • A 2011 storyline has Dawn's usage of Twitter reaching levels of obsession akin to drug addiction. However, it all comes to nothing, as Dawn ends up beating her addiction by declaring that she will go Luddite for one day a week.
      • The storyline was contrasted with Jeff becoming obsessed with his iPad and Mary Worth vehemently denying being anti-technology (going so far as to reminding Jeff that she has a computer) when he accused her of being an old fuddy duddy for not being iPad crazy.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Mary's relationship with Dr. Jeff Corey is very much this. The most action they get is holding hands and yet we're meant to believe that they have a solid relationship despite Mary constantly refusing his proposals.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Good Lord, Mary. Very notably a current storyline has a new tenant moving into Charterstone, within minutes of meeting him Mary has done nothing but asking him questions about his personal life.
  • Pair the Spares: If you're single, expect Mary to try and pair you with someone (of the opposite sex) and she'll do her damnedest to keep you together no matter what.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Mary Worth has full freedom to meddle in the affairs of others whether or not they ask for it and is often proven to be right about everything even when it seems impossible. This also extends to her friends (particularly the Westons, the Camerons, and the Coreys) who are only given free reign to have horrible judges of character and even behave poorly while still getting everything they want simply because they are friends of Mary Worth. Anyone who doesn't believe in the power of Mary's meddling is often deemed unable to be saved and is given karmic retribution (or Disproportionate Retribution in the case of Aldo).
    • In the latest storyline, Wilbur becomes borderline abusive toward Estelle's cat Libby for taking attention away from him so he and Estelle break up. Immediately he decides to get a dog to "pick up chicks" but after a failed date with a woman he has nothing in common with, he foists the dog onto Estelle after he ruins her date with a karaoke battle. Thanks to some help (i.e. gaslighting) from Mary, once again they get back together with Wilbur still being cast as sympathetic the entire time.
  • Put on a Bus: In the latest storyline focusing on Wilbur and Estelle's relationship, Dawn Weston has left for Arizona with her teacher. The Camerons and the Coreys are also missing in this one.
    • This tends to happen a lot in the series. If no one has a significant part to play in a current storyline, most of the time they don't bother with an excuse why they wouldn't be around.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Wilbur and Dawn survive the "Italian ship disaster" of 2012. A disaster that they were a part of in part because of Game of Thrones. Following her break-up with her boyfriend, Dawn started obsessively watching the first season DVD set and fixated on Ned Stark's death as proof that the world was a horrible place with nothing good ever happens.
    • A kidnapper taking the kid to a diner, and being distracted with desserts while the employees call the cops. Was also big news story at one time. Though this one is just vague enough that it could be a coincidence.
  • Significant Anagram: "Aldo Kelrast" = "A(n) Old Stalker."
  • Single-Issue Psychology: In one 2010 story, a man is having trouble with relationships because he's estranged from his father. Eventually he finds that his father wouldn't open up to him because the father himself lost a friend as a child. Yeah, nested Single-Issue Psychology.
    • Subverted with several characters. Nola is just plain evil incarnate while Jill has a drinking problem and issues with regards to being jilted at the alter.
  • Small Reference Pools: Dawn Weston's brilliant art history professor, Harlan Jones, only seems to teach well-known facts about Leonardo da Vinci, maybe a few tidbits of Vincent van Gogh. To date, nothing about, say, Paul Cezanne, a pivotal figure in modern art.
  • Staging an Intervention: The cast holds an intervention to stop Aldo Kelrast from stalking Mary.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Aldo. He even spawned a meme.
    • Aldo's been replaced with Liza, a nurse who is twice as stalkery as Aldo and more insane, literally refusing to acknowledge Drew breaking up with her and abusing her hospital position to find out Drew's personal information to further stalk him.
  • Stalking Is Love: Terry Bryson was in love with her Secret Service partner Adam, but he broke up with her to join a congressman's security detail. Years later he finds out where she lives, moves across the country and into the same building she lives in, and opens a charm offensive to win her back. It works.
  • Student/Teacher Romance: Dawn claims this isn't the case with her and her art professor but she does decide to go with him to Arizona (presumably on a trip just with him) despite having a boyfriend.
    • One of Toby's students at her community college course wants this relationship with her.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Mary is only rarely the focus of a story arc, but usually only appears once or twice to utter some sage advice that helps the current central character solve their problems.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Adopting a French bulldog (an expensive breed known for being stubborn and manipulative for inexperienced owners) in order to both spite your ex (and her cat) and to "pick up chicks" isn't going to go over well if you aren't bonding with the dog.
    • Not calling your loved ones to let them know that you survived falling off a cruise ship and let them think that you were dead for over a week just to surprise them? They might be happy to see you but they're not going to let that slide so easily.
  • Think of the Children!: Delilah's reaction to one of Charley's artworks (a woman modeling in a one piece swimsuit) is expressing shock at how children could see it in a way that would make Helen Lovejoy jealous.
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption: Mary once adopts a cat from the humane shelter but needs to give the cat away when she finds out that Jeff is allergic.
    • Wilbur also ends up giving up Pierre the French bulldog when they don't bond together.


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