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Experiences The exact opposite of Mary Sue.

Crow

Top-tier Avian Master
We all know what Mary Sues are.

Actually, we don't, we very clearly don't.

A Mary Sue is a character who is depicted as unrealistically lacking in flaws or weaknesses.

Now, we all scorn Mary Sues. We want to make sure our characters are as far away from being them as possible. Oh yes, let's give them flaws!

But... what if you give them too many flaws to the point where they become the most annoying member of the cast? Too many weaknesses to the point where they're the most useless of the group?

People hate Mary Sues, but what do you all think of the exact opposite end of the spectrum? Have you encountered them before?
 
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Cormorant

New Member
^ TV Tropes gives a wide array of Sue subcategories, and this sounds a bit like the Anti-Sue. I think Anti-Sues are the product of bad writing and suffer from mostly the same issues that Mary Sues do.

But if you're talking about a character that just has no redeeming qualities, without the bad plot and character conveniences that come with the Anti-Sue, I guess my opinion is that it depends. If handled well, such a character has greater potential for growth over the course of a story, but I don't really know if they have any place in RP though, since other players may not want to cover for their weaknesses all the time or even interact with them.

About whether or not I've ever encountered such a character, this isn't related to RP and is probably a controversial opinion, but Zenitsu from Demon Slayer falls into this category for me. I know his cowardice and overall terribleness is supposed to be funny (according to the Internet) and he allegedly gets better later (I never got that far), but everything about him rubbed me the wrong way. The unconscious fighting was gimmicky and overly convenient for shielding him from the repercussions of his character flaws; it compromised the logic of a world that is ostensibly brutal and unforgiving.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
I'd call that a "Pity-Me Sue" and that is definitely a type of Sue. I really hate them, more even than a traditional "good-at-everything" Sue. Just like a Mary Sue can do anything from the get-go and never develops (because she is already good at everything), a Pity-Me Sue will never, ever, overcome their weaknesses and faults and will whine about them continually, regardless of how other characters try to help them. In fact , the more help people give them, the more they whine. Even thinking about them makes me see red a little bit, lol.

What is a true opposite of a Mary Sue? A character who has to struggle to overcome obstacles. A character who behaves like a real person. A character who has strengths AND weaknesses. That's basically it.
 

Kahir

"𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖆 𝖎𝖆𝖈𝖙𝖆 𝖊𝖘𝖙"
I am not sure if this also falls on the "Pity-Me Sue" type, but something that I also dislike are characters who have a tragic backstory just in order to be even more pitiful. I am totally fine with tragic backstories if they justify the character's current goals and (well-rounded) personality. But characters that have a tragic backstory just because the roleplayer wants to make the other roleplayers feel sorry for the character is awful and useless. Actually, these characters' backstories, as they are often just thrown in just because of the pitifulness, don't really add much to character development. In fact, the roleplayer/author might not even explore them, because their only purpose is to make characters look miserable.

Also, not every character needs to have a tragic backstory. It's perfectly fine if characters don't have a tragic backstory. The obstacles that they need to overcome might only appear during the roleplay/story, and there is nothing wrong with it. Not all characters need to have a tortured past.
 

Deredere

Happy [insert holiday or event.].
If they don't need have a tragic past, then how and why should other people care about them? How do I make them have a backstory that isn't filled with angst and make them normal, yet appealing?
 

Delinquent

Member
I don't really agree with the notion that the opposite of an Mary Sue would be someone who's bad at everything and has too many flaws.

I mean, isn't like the main point of a Mary Sue that everyone unconditionally loves their character? So the opposite of a Mary Sue would be someone that all the other characters hates for little to no reason.
 

Kahir

"𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖆 𝖎𝖆𝖈𝖙𝖆 𝖊𝖘𝖙"
If they don't need have a tragic past, then how and why should other people care about them? How do I make them have a backstory that isn't filled with angst and make them normal, yet appealing?
You don't need to pity someone in order to find them appealing. In fact, when I create characters with a tragic backstory, my main goal is never to make them victimised, but to show how they used their strengths in order to overcome such obstacles, but also how those very own obstacles changed them. And this can go beyond the "I am bitter because of my past" type of characters.
However, you don't need to have a tragic backstory in order to make a character appealing. This depends a lot on one's taste, but I love charismatic characters who are often born into a noble family, who never had any problems in life, but that are Machiavellian and capable of doing anything they want in order to get what they want, for example. Other types of characters that I also like and that don't need a tragic past are those sage type of characters. Characters who are driven by an intense thirst of knowledge and that will discover a lot of secrets and face great dangers on their path for knowledge. There are many ways of making characters interesting and relatable other than giving them a tragic backstory. Giving a character a consistent personality, backstory, goals and motivations can make them more well-rounded and likeable characters than just throwing around a tragic backstory that does not contribute to the general character development.
As in real life, people don't need to have a tragic past in order to be interesting. That can help, some times, but I truly don't believe it is necessary when it comes to fictional characters.
 
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Crow

Top-tier Avian Master
So the opposite of a Mary Sue would be someone that all the other characters hates for little to no reason.
Well, that's probably part of the reason why a Pity Me Sue would be detested. Or if not the character, the setting.

Additionally, that aspect of a Mary Sue will not be easy to replicate in an RP. Neither will its polar opposite. So for roleplaying purposes...

It's simple, a harem protagonist. They are so bland and they have nothing special.
Huh. You're the only one who thinks this as far as I know. People would more likely put harem protagonists as Mary Sues than Pity Me Sues...

... nah, pretty sure even the neutron star asses of Ichika and the Kampfer guy fall somewhere in middle ground.
 
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Kazami42

Budget Morpheus, soldier #1,128,300 reporting in.
Relevant


I've beholden the apocalypse more than once before, one stumbling in, the others by research like ya skelereaper here was Steve Irwin in the wild. Always came out of it agitated or more so than a Mary Sue. The biggest challenge is a single sitting of seeing a text format version of characters like it outside a RP medium. However, I hold exception for those of which can be redeemed IC through personal reflection and realization, or being helped by others. Also trust me fam, the only mary suing most those roughneck wannabes are doing is having thirty giga-terrabyte-batrillion women that want them but yet hasn't started genociding each other, and being denser than forty two neutron stars in close proximity. Besides while I can respect not even recognizing these, quite clearly, seven ducks and a blobfish in a human flesh suit as male, isn't the male equivalent a Gary Stu? I don't think I've ever encountered a female on female harem series in all my days in the field. But I'm sure I'd lower my mask, eyes wide, and proclaim "holy mother of God" before the jaw drops.

Look brother/sister/Eldritch sibling from another mother, captain pencil neck, believe me when I say:
It isn't easy being squeezy.
I already have to handle Operation Yeetskrieg including a bunch of nuke spam from the 3rd suicide mech squadron on my position, I don't need another detachment from the 502nd heavy fungi battalion again. We clearly don't have enough rounds and flamers for this shit, but I guess cowabunga with the shovel and bayonets again it is.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
Might I submit this for consideration

View attachment 760014

Competent flat is the classic Sue. Loser flat is the pity me Sue
I think we should all fill this in for ourselves. XD

If they don't need have a tragic past, then how and why should other people care about them? How do I make them have a backstory that isn't filled with angst and make them normal, yet appealing?
How does a tragic past make a character appealing, or make people care about them? If you meet someone and become friends with them IRL, how do you decide that you like them? Usually it's about how they behave. You very rarely know real people's tragic pasts until you are already close friends with them. Same with RP characters - how they behave and what they are like during the RP is what is important to make them likeable or interesting.

Tragic pasts are so overdone, and really unnecessary to making a good character. Almost everyone's past has bad things and good things in it. Again, it's about making a character well-rounded. Everything being awful just turns them into a caricature.

I don't really agree with the notion that the opposite of an Mary Sue would be someone who's bad at everything and has too many flaws.

I mean, isn't like the main point of a Mary Sue that everyone unconditionally loves their character? So the opposite of a Mary Sue would be someone that all the other characters hates for little to no reason.
I disagree. If "everyone" has the same reaction to your character they are probably FLAT (see Lace's graph above). A well-rounded (Sue opposite) character should induce different reactions from different people. "Everyone hates me" isn't the opposite of "Everyone loves me" it's the same attention-seeking, one-note character. "Everyone hates her because she's so beautiful and so good at everything" is also a really common traditional Sue trait.

isn't the male equivalent a Gary Stu?
I see Mary Sue as a gender-neutral descriptor, like Jack of All Trades. But yeah you could call 'em Gary Stu if you want.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
True, but it takes more than being a flat character to be a mary sue.
I think what it is, is that anything on the extremes is Sue. Completely flawless: Sue; riddled with being terrible at everything: Sue. Tragic boo-hoo poor me backstory: Sue; Happy-clappy everything wonderful backstory: Sue.

You can imagine like a parabolic graph, where the Y axis is Sueness. Those who are less Sue are at that sweet spot, the trough in the middle. Once you get to either end of the x axis labelled "skills", or "backstory happiness" or "beauty" or whatever Sue trait we are talking about, the Sue levels reach their extreme heights and trend toward vertical.
 

Delinquent

Member
I think what it is, is that anything on the extremes is Sue.
I disagree. Mostly because a lot of what people consider to be "mary sue" traits have really nothing to do with bad writing or flat characters which means that the opposite of a mary sue can't simply be a well-written character.

This is, of course, assuming that "mary sue" is actual thing and not merely the buzzword used to describe characters people simply don't like that it so obvious is, but I digress.
 

Deredere

Happy [insert holiday or event.].
I disagree. Mostly because a lot of what people consider to be "mary sue" traits have really nothing to do with bad writing or flat characters which means that the opposite of a mary sue can't simply be a well-written character.

This is, of course, assuming that "mary sue" is actual thing and not merely the buzzword used to describe characters people simply don't like that it so obvious is, but I digress.
I might also add this if it makes things more muddy or clearer.
 

Deredere

Happy [insert holiday or event.].
It's that canon characters can also be Mary sues so inexperienced players aren't the only ones at fault. Not even cano can be safe from the mary sue!
 

Delinquent

Member
It's that canon characters can also be Mary sues so inexperienced players aren't the only ones at fault. Not even cano can be safe from the mary sue!
I got that part, I just don't get why you qouted my post. My point was that I don't really think mary sues exist and that it's more of a buzzword thrown around to make criticism of a character seem more valid.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
It's that canon characters can also be Mary sues so inexperienced players aren't the only ones at fault. Not even cano can be safe from the mary sue!
Oh there are most definitely canon Sues. Wesley Crusher being the ultimate canon Sue (annoying boy genius who becomes a god), but there are plenty of others.
 

Melpomene

Destroyer of Worlds|Art by NataliaDrepina|
This discussion is interesting

I think Mary-Sue is a little more than a buzzword, but it is very ill-defined. The definition of Mary-Sue tends to change depending on who you ask, but the two main ones seem to be 1. The character is without flaw, or 2. (The one I personally think) the character makes the universe bend to their will. I.e. they have some reality bending trait which makes everything revolve around them.

I think the problem with some criticism, as you said, is that some people use "Mary-Sue" to make their criticism hold more weight (and I would like to add I feel Mary-Sue will be applied to female characters unfairly at times).

Furthermore, I think some people will see one or two traits of a Sue and then label as a Sue when the fact of the matter is... It really needs to be judged on a case by case basis.

For example, many Sues tend to be liked by everyone, even the Pity-Me-Sues, to an extent. A good example of this is Handbook for Mortals (oh yes, THAT infamous scandal) where the main character, Zade, is somehow disliked by her entire town but also has been told how great she is by them (???). Also she isn't likable so I don't know what they complimented her on. And that is a tell tale trait of a Sue, to me, because this character somehow managed to make everyone think they were likable despite the fact by all means they shouldn't have had anyone like them.

But see, being well-liked isn't a Sue trait inherently. Some people treat it like it is, but a genuinely likable character being well liked is reasonable, isn't it? Like, yeah, that person is charismatic/very nice. Why wouldn't people like them? Being charismatic is not a Sue trait, normal people can be very charismatic (look at politicians, actors, cult leaders, etc.)

And there are people who treat characters being kind and nice as Sue traits when in fact, they aren't. Because believe it or not, there are nice and kind people in the world.

So, I would say that Mary-Sue is a bit... Overused. I believe some people see a character that isn't well written and immediately call it a Sue sometimes rather than dissecting what it is. And I also think with it being so ill-defined in many cases, it is easier to just pinpoint the actual problems of the character rather than just calling them a Sue since Mary Sue can actually mean many things.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
This discussion is interesting

I think Mary-Sue is a little more than a buzzword, but it is very ill-defined. The definition of Mary-Sue tends to change depending on who you ask, but the two main ones seem to be 1. The character is without flaw, or 2. (The one I personally think) the character makes the universe bend to their will. I.e. they have some reality bending trait which makes everything revolve around them.

I think the problem with some criticism, as you said, is that some people use "Mary-Sue" to make their criticism hold more weight (and I would like to add I feel Mary-Sue will be applied to female characters unfairly at times).

Furthermore, I think some people will see one or two traits of a Sue and then label as a Sue when the fact of the matter is... It really needs to be judged on a case by case basis.

For example, many Sues tend to be liked by everyone, even the Pity-Me-Sues, to an extent. A good example of this is Handbook for Mortals (oh yes, THAT infamous scandal) where the main character, Zade, is somehow disliked by her entire town but also has been told how great she is by them (???). Also she isn't likable so I don't know what they complimented her on. And that is a tell tale trait of a Sue, to me, because this character somehow managed to make everyone think they were likable despite the fact by all means they shouldn't have had anyone like them.

But see, being well-liked isn't a Sue trait inherently. Some people treat it like it is, but a genuinely likable character being well liked is reasonable, isn't it? Like, yeah, that person is charismatic/very nice. Why wouldn't people like them? Being charismatic is not a Sue trait, normal people can be very charismatic (look at politicians, actors, cult leaders, etc.)

And there are people who treat characters being kind and nice as Sue traits when in fact, they aren't. Because believe it or not, there are nice and kind people in the world.

So, I would say that Mary-Sue is a bit... Overused. I believe some people see a character that isn't well written and immediately call it a Sue sometimes rather than dissecting what it is. And I also think with it being so ill-defined in many cases, it is easier to just pinpoint the actual problems of the character rather than just calling them a Sue since Mary Sue can actually mean many things.
I feel that in the case of likability, there's a difference between making a character who is then liked by the other characters which obviously is fine, and making a character who claims that everybody likes them before the RP gets off the ground. There's also a difference between charming/charismatic and "everyone wants to be around them all the time". Sue traits are not inherently bad, what is bad is when these traits are taken to extremes, make no sense in terms of the surrounding universe/plot/characters, OR when there is an accretion of Sue traits to a character.

When the accretion gets to a certain point, then you have a Mary Sue.

Obviously what is Sue and what is not, and when it reaches that accretion level is subjective.

And yeah, people shouldn't use it just for characters they don't like. But most of the time, when people complain about their character being called a Mary Sue, it's just one more symptom of that character being a Mary Sue, because the author is so attached to it, and how great it is, that they can't take criticism. (Being overly attached to your character OR it being a self-insert is another common Sue-ifier.)

I agree, telling someone their character is a Sue is not in the least helpful in terms of helping them develop it. It's better to go through it with constructive criticism point by point.

Also I agree with you that female characters tend to get hit with the Mary Sue stick more often than others, particularly Canon Sues. I had a huge conversation with a friend over whether Rey was a Mary Sue, with me defending, but in the end I was defeated. :/
 

Melpomene

Destroyer of Worlds|Art by NataliaDrepina|
I feel that in the case of likability, there's a difference between making a character who is then liked by the other characters which obviously is fine, and making a character who claims that everybody likes them before the RP gets off the ground. There's also a difference between charming/charismatic and "everyone wants to be around them all the time". Sue traits are not inherently bad, what is bad is when these traits are taken to extremes, make no sense in terms of the surrounding universe/plot/characters, OR when there is an accretion of Sue traits to a character.

When the accretion gets to a certain point, then you have a Mary Sue.

Obviously what is Sue and what is not, and when it reaches that accretion level is subjective.

And yeah, people shouldn't use it just for characters they don't like. But most of the time, when people complain about their character being called a Mary Sue, it's just one more symptom of that character being a Mary Sue, because the author is so attached to it, and how great it is, that they can't take criticism. (Being overly attached to your character OR it being a self-insert is another common Sue-ifier.)

I agree with you that female characters tend to get hit with the Mary Sue stick more often than others, particularly Canon Sues. I had a huge conversation with a friend over whether Rey was a Mary Sue, with me defending, but in the end I was defeated. :/
Oh yes for certain. I do believe the difficulty comes in asking where to draw the line for newer writers, though being more seasoned myself I see the line rather clearly. I feel Mary-Sues mostly tend to be a problem in fanfiction and roleplay (because both these mediums tend to be, to an extent, a way for an author to vicariously live out their fantasies.) which is ok, but we all can agree that a Mary Sue tends to make for less than stellar story telling. Because, well, they're bland characters through and through.

(Side note: I do know they can show up in canon, but because of editors it tends to be a lesser degree, but I feel it is good to reiterate that published =/= good. As I said, Handbook for Mortals was published... Kind of?)

They tend to never change, are almost always extremely gorgeous (gotta love when someone you RP with feels the need to mention how beautiful their character is every single post. So. Damn. Many. Feel this need.), but I should mention they don't know they are gorgeous because then they would be conceited. And even when they have the personalities of bricks tend to be well-liked and loved.

I have had several times a partner just assume characters they had never seen, nor knew anything about would like their character just cause... She was pretty, I guess?


And I agree that one of the biggest sue signifiers is being overly-attached to a character. I understand coming to love a character, I really do. But when a partner takes it as a personal insult that my character doesn't like theirs or if my character, IC, says something mean, rude, or just generally not praising/nice to theirs, I know I am dealing with a Sue.

Overall, I think Mary Sue is an interesting phenomen
 

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