Top 10 Things Mary Sues Aren't

A Mary Sue is a perfect character. Several people misuse the term to the point it's lost its meaning.
The Top Ten
1 It is not simply a character you hate

Calling a character you hate a Mary Sue isn't legitimate reason to hate the character unless there's sufficient proof that they fit the criteria, which is usually a perfect character. Unfortunately, when broken down, the criteria for a Mary Sue becomes very subjective. So while you may consider one character to be a Mary Sue, someone else might think they're well-rounded.

While yes, most Mary Sues are hated in real life, most hated characters are not Mary Sues.

Mary Sues? Oh, yeah. Someone without weaknesses.

2 It is not a particularly attractive/fair-featured OC
3 It is not simply the protagonist of a fanfiction
4 It is not when an author self-inserts

An author can makes themselves a protagonist of a fanfic and still be a well-rounded character, especially if the character is them. If an author uses it as a coping mechanism or as a psychological self-analysis, that could be considered for character development.

5 It is not a character who simply never loses

Several cartoon protagonists would be a Mary Sue if that were the case.

6 It is not simply a very friendly character
7 It is not a character with a particular talent

If this were the case, almost every single character in the Danganronpa franchise would be a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is unreasonably talented at MANY things, and the Danganronpa Ultimates are usually highly skilled at one thing.

A Mary Sue has to be talented at damn near everything.

8 It is not just a particularly intelligent character
9 It is not a character with a cool weapon or two
10 It is not a character who acts as a mouthpiece for the author's political/religious views

For example, Brian Griffin and Lisa Simpson are definitely not Mary Sues.

The Contenders
11 It’s not just a brightly colored character

Like seriously, how do colors dictate a character's personality and stuff!

12 It’s not just a character that is a higher-up figure (princess, president, etc)

Your character could be a dictator, or it doesn't like being in a high title.

13 It is not simply a character with a unique name

The uniqueness of the name depends on how the other characters are named. If all of the characters, including the protagonist, have unique names, then that doesn't exactly make the protagonist a Mary Sue.

14 It is not exclusive to female characters

While the term itself refers to female characters who are absolutely perfect, it's not solely females who fall into the trap of a perfect character. Male characters can be Mary Sues as well, except they're usually referred to as a Marty Sue or Gary Stu when this happens.

15 It is not simply a character who has a tragic backstory

Just like being goth or emo, a tragic backstory doesn't necessarily make a character a Mary Sue. Instead it's how the backstory plays into their decisions and actions. For instance, a character may have gone through trauma as a kid and that trauma could be used as an obstacle in the journey. Say your character suffered trauma involving dogs, but the plot is centered around something dog-related. That can be a great source of character development. The readers can see how the character reacts when they, say, have to pet a dog for the first time in a long while, and eventually, this will help the character to grow.

That being said, if a character has a tragic backstory that doesn't play into their character and is used to get sympathy, you likely have yourself a Mary Sue.

16 It's not always someone who is optimistic about life.
17 It's not always a character with a unique power.
18 It is not always an emo kid

While there ARE goth and emo Mary Sues, just because a character IS goth and/or emo doesn't make them a Mary Sue. Lydia Deetz from "Beetlejuice," for instance, is a goth girl who's recently lost her mom and is trying to cope by fixating on death. Her being goth is an essential character trait and it plays into the story, as well as her choices. If a goth or emo kid were a Mary Sue, them being goth or emo wouldn't have any impact on their actions or decisions. It's usually there for the aesthetic or because the author wants to make an edgy character.

19 It is not simply a character who's part of a prophecy

While Mary Sues do tend to be involved in prophecies or be considered "chosen ones," not all "chosen ones" are Mary Sues. Neville Longbottom was part of the prophecy with Voldemort and he's far from a Marty Sue or Gary Stu. He starts off as a timid boy who's always getting the short end of the stick, but he still sticks it out and perseveres. As the series progresses, so does his character arc, even to the point where he could be considered the hero at the end as opposed to the titular character.

20 It is not always a character who has magic or has connections to magic

Yes, Mary Sues often have magic or magical connections. But there are Mary Sues who aren't magical or have those connections. Chloe Carmichael from "Fairly Odd Parents," while having connections to fairies, was a Mary Sue even before she had them. She was pretty, nice, loved by pretty much everyone, and never seemed to be in the wrong, even when she SHOULD have been blamed.

Inversely, characters with magic can still be flawed. Luna Lovegood, for instance, is considered downright weird because of how she lives and the kind of person she is, which doesn't really make her a Mary Sue. On top of that, her reactions to things aren't always seen as endearing by the characters. If she were a Mary Sue, her weird reactions would be painted as endearing, but they're seen as odd. Neville Longbottom is also a major example. He's an underdog who gradually begins to fight and stand up for himself.

21 They're not always good in terms of morality.
22 It's not always a girly-girl.
23 It's not always someone who causes the popular person to fall for them.
24 It's not always a blonde.
25 It's not always a recolored canon character.
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