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Marty Stu

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"...he’s not a human so much as he is a Ken Doll, except instead of plastic, he’s molded from untempered wish fulfillment."

Mary Sue, and the plot bias indicative of it, is hardly limited to those of a female persuasion. For probably just as long (if not even longer) as there has been Mary Sue, so too has there been Marty Stu. All the same rules apply, but a couple variations do tend to show up, expressing different ideas of what constitutes male and female "perfection". Also referred to as "Gary Stu" by those who prefer rhyming to alliteration. Other, more rarely-used monikers include Larry Stu and Marty Sam. Sometimes his surname isn't changed, leaving him Marty Sue or Gary Sue.

Marty Stu will be the personification of action, action, and more action. Or, if he is of an intellectual bent, he thinks his way through problems, inventing whole new branches of science and technology in the process, and in some cases, the character is often portrayed as the personification of both, completing missions as both the brains and the brawn, taking up the roles usually shared between the main character and a team or a partner. He's an unstoppable fighter, a rogue agent, a fearless freedom fighter, a master of disguise. But whether he is a Blood Knight or an Omnidisciplinary Scientist, Marty Stu will be devastatingly handsome (or if not, possessed of a strange, saturnine magnetism) and desired by all significant women, although as the works involved are usually aimed at a male audience, romance is not likely to be the main dish.

He has usually been (and still mostly is) restricted to being a creature of action since men who do not take an active role in dramatic events are unmanly and, by definition, not perfect (Non-Action Guy tends to be looked upon with disdain). So Marty Stu, in contrast to Mary Sue who has recently been able to take more active roles, is almost never seen taking on his sister's old school Purity Sue role as a passive motivator of others through his purity, beauty, and helplessness, unless it's in addition to the action and intellectual roles they already have. However, as times have changed, Marty's had the occasional opportunity to show his softer side, and beautiful, passive male Possession Sue examples are not uncommon in Slash fiction.

For related tropes, see the Badass Tropes index.

Marty Stus are often subject to a Double Standard where they tend to be noticed and hated to a much lesser degree than Mary Sues are. See also The Ace, which often uses this trope as a minor character for comic relief, and Memetic Badass when a character is turned into a Marty Stu by the fandom.

Common Marty Stu Traits

As far as their traits go, Marty Stu incorporates most of the Common Mary Sue Traits while having quite a few general trends to differentiate him. While the textbook Mary Sue is generally made as a pseudo-realistic ideal of feminine perfection, Marty Stu tends towards taking the Rule of Cool TO THE EXTREME!!! Due in part to the Double Standard, Marty tends to be less of an emotional cornerstone and more just an embodiment of pure physical and mental awesome (a la God-Mode Sue). He's the type that tends to be stronger than The Incredible Hulk, faster than Sonic the Hedgehog, and have more MP than God himself.

Marty also generally doesn't have the sort of purity common in Mary (although it's not unheard of). Instead, he tends more towards the Darker and Edgier path, with a tragic and very personal backstory being the order of the day. Whereas Mary would use this to show that she's a brave survivor, Marty uses it for the sake of prolonged brooding. No doubt much of the recent popularity of this character trait owes credit to tragic superheroes and '90s Anti-Heroes like Batman and Wolverine (who often provide examples of Marty Stu themselves in the hands of certain writers), but there's no indication that it only started with those characters.

Obviously, neither of these traits are exclusive to a Marty Stu, but since All Girls Want Bad Boys, increasing the badass potential of a character has the secondary effect of making him more attractive to women without having to sacrifice any capability. Sometimes this attitude goes just a little too far and creates Jerk Sue.

Despite the huge overlap between Marty Stu and Mary Sue, there are a few character traits that are much, much more common in Marty than his sister (generally sexuality-related things). Here's the list of exclusive Marty Stu traits:

  • Perma-Stubble. Nothing like the scratchy beginnings of a beard to emphasize that no testosterone isn't in any sort of short supply for this rugged fellow. Yet despite this, actual beards are surprisingly rare.
  • As well as that, give him a large penis. No, not a Gag Penis. The author will expect people to actually accept that his member can double as a baseball bat. The more blatantly inaccurate ones tend to be written by men (or sometimes by inexperienced women), believing that 11 inches is going to feel really good in bed. (It won't.)
  • Aesthetically placed scars can keep Marty from being too pretty, while emphasizing his dangerous lifestyle.
    • On the other hand, having zero scars even when it would be extremely unrealistic, such as a badass warrior who's been fighting powerful beasts in the wilderness without a single scratch to show for it. To not have any scars or battle wounds from such a lifestyle is equally Marty-ish.
  • A greater emphasis on his powers and strength than Mary Sue. Where a Sue author will still write as though there is suspense (Can Mary defeat the dreaded Count Weakling von Moron with her lightning powers, teleportation, super strength, and invincibility?), Stu authors will have fights where there isn't even the illusion of tension. Or if they do need some, Marty will either have an extreme handicap, a time limit, or need to protect someone else (Can Marty defeat the Cyber Uber Dragon? Of course he could! But could he do it in five minutes with one hand tied behind his back and save Duchess Damsel at the same time?)
  • Conversely, Marty shows an aversion to "unfair" powers relative to the setting. After all, if your guy is the only one running around with magical bulletproof skin, he's not really the most badass guy, now is he? Instead, his ability to tank a shotgun to the face often won't be explained at all. He's just that manly!
  • Make him big and muscular. Even in professions where he does little physical work and shouldn't have time to train to be an Olympic weightlifter. While there's nothing preventing Mary from doing this as well, you won't see it happen very often because being muscular takes away from feminine charm in the eyes of most writers (if Mary needs to be strong, she'll often just practice Waif-Fu). Being over six feet tall isn't uncommon, even if he's only a teenager.
  • Conversely, make him lean and streamlined, as is common with more romantic heroes; the female audience prefers the dancer's build with swimmer's torso. Overly conspicuous muscles are avoided for pretty much the same reason as they are with the Distaff Counterpart: they detract from physical grace.
  • Cool Swords, Hero's Classic Car... The Marty Stu will usually travel in and/or fight with something WAY COOL, and the writer will not let the reader get away without understanding just how cool it is. Basically, if female Mary Sue writers go overboard about making sure that the reader knows how crazy, gorgeous and revealing each of their character's one-per-chapter new costumes is, male Marty Stu writers will do the same about the exact model of revolver he uses and what cartridges he puts in it to kill what kind of monster, or precisely how he souped his Jaguar E-Type V12 up to 500bhp.
    • In order to afford all of these cool toys, travel to glamorous locations, and otherwise generally live the high life, he may be a member of the Fiction 500.
  • If he doesn't use firearms, he will be a master of some kind of fantastically-obscure and specialized (if not imaginary) martial art which will likewise be discussed in excessive detail. Bonus points if it's a martial art that the character would in the real world have no opportunity to learn, such as an eighteenth-century nobleman who single-handedly invented modern Mixed Martial Arts or an eleventh-century knight who went crusading and learned kung-fu from a wandering Chinese master who somehow made it to Palestine.
  • If written by a man, he will have had lots of sex with lots of women to prove his sexual virility. If he's written by a girl, he may be a virgin, proving that he's deeply sensitive and dedicated. Either way, the sex he dishes out will be the best ever.
  • Even in the rare instances where he uses his words to solve problems more than violence, he will still be said to be extraordinarily capable in a fight. Often, the entire reason he uses his negotiation first is that he's so manly and strong that he can't actually fight without the risk of killing someone.
  • He has an Eyepatch of Power because nothing says badass like missing an eye and still being the most capable guy around. Also, because pirates are cool. Similarly, he has a bionic limb because of some terrible accident where he was rescuing somebody or doing something else heroic. Logical downsides like a reduced field of vision are forgotten.
  • Rather than having an overly long meaningful name preferred by Mary Sue writers, Gary Sue will simply have an Awesome Mc Cool Name often with his own Red Baron.
  • Often the case for younger Marty Stus, he'll have some position or power of authority that doesn't make sense for someone his age. For example, he's secretly a military special ops agent, or he's asked by his school to train his classmates.
  • He is likely to be a Cultured Badass. Along with general asskicking duties, they will be any combination of Sharp-Dressed Man, Badass Bookworm, Renaissance Man, think that Wine Is Classy, play chess, like opera, jazz, and classical music, and otherwise be Sophisticated as Hell. They can easily pull off moves like kissing a lady's hand or other such chivalrous gestures (difficult to do in modern times). This sharply contrasts the rugged, blue collar, Jerk Jock meathead.

Types of Marty Stus

Marty Stus can fit any Mary Sue Tropes, but some are more common with Marty Stus than Mary Sues and vice-versa. Some of the most common types of Marty Stus are:

Please do not add examples to work pages, this merely defines the term.

Alternative Title(s): Gary Stu


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"Mary Sue"

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