Mary Sue Subtypes

Note: The concept of a "Mary Sue" is outdated and fraught with problems, and it's time to move on to a better way of looking at things. This article is here for reading purposes only. Please see "Does My Character Work Okay?" - How To Tell For Yourself! for character advice.

Descriptions of various subtypes of Mary Sues. Note that in practice, the types can and usually do overlap.

Table of Contents

Angsty Sue

Good characters don't have to be cheerful and happy all of the time - what makes an Angsty Sue a Sue is that the character's angst is treated as the Most Important Thing In The Plot, even when it shouldn't be ("oh my gosh, the meteor's about to hit the Earth! We have to do something!" "BUT WAUGH MY DADDY ISSUES COME AND COMFORT ME!"), and/or is hideously contrived or nonsensical - eg, frequently angsting over the death of someone xe would have been too young to remember, or angsting over something relatively trivial. Sometimes, canon characters will be completely derailed so Angsty Sue has something to angst over - EG, a character who in canon is one of the nicest, friendliest, most accepting people you could ever hope to meet will call xir a freak and trip xir down the stairs out of spite.

Pages of interest if you're looking to avoid writing an Angsty Sue:
Basic Tips To Create Better Characters With Tragic & Traumatic Backstories
Basic Tips To Write Better Abuse Victims & Abuse Situations


A character created to skirt being a Mary Sue by having pretty much none or even the exact opposite of your standard Mary Sue traits. The general result is a character who is horrifically boring and bland (think along the lines of Bella Swan) or is nonsensical in other ways - eg, a clumsy FBI agent being assigned to field work despite the massive liability xe would be, or someone with a horrible temper and massive violent streak being assigned as a noble's personal attendant.

Beacon Sue

The Beacon Sue apparently puts out a signal detectable by whatever characters xe deems important, as these characters will be drawn to and inordinately fascinated by the character despite having no real reason to interact with xir at all. Here are a few potential Beacon Sue scenarios:

Better-Than-You Sue

The character who has to be better at most, if not all of the cool things the canon characters do. Is Tom a great cook? Then BTY Sue is a certified chef. Is Susie a crack hacker? Then BTY Sue once hacked the Pentagon. Does Ricky love old cars? Then so does BTY Sue - and in fact, BTY Sue knows everything there is to know about old cars!

There's nothing wrong with sharing skills or interests with some of the canon characters. The problem comes in when the character is pretty much a one-person team, or when it's completely implausible for the character to have all of these traits, or when it's blatantly obvious that the sole reason the character has these traits is to gain the admiration of the canon characters.

Canon Sue

A term referring to non-fan character Sues. Characters often considered to be Canon Sues include Eragon, Buck Williams, Rayford Steele, Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, Drizzt do'Urden, John Galt, and Wesley Crusher.

Copycat Sue

A character who is basically a copy of another character, usually with a few token details changed. Copycats frequently take the form of a close relative (eg, sibling or child) of a canon character, or as an unrelated genderswap of the canon character. Usually, Copycat Sues can be summed up as "my favorite character, only better/more like me."

Let's invent a hypothetical Copycat Sue - we'll call this character Jessie. Jessie's parents were killed by Voldemort, was left with a Significant Scar, was given to an abusive Muggle family to raise, was the subject of an important prophecy, and joined the Quidditch team after going to Hogwarts.

Now sure, it's not unreasonable to think that Voldemort may have orphaned more children than Harry. And in-universe, we have a character who exhibits a lot of similarities to Harry - Neville Longbottom. Let's compare the two: Both lost their parents to Voldemort (though Neville's were driven insane rather than killed), both live with unpleasant relatives (though Neville's grandmother clearly does love him), both were the potential subjects of the same prophecy, and both are in Gryffindor. Aside from that, the two characters couldn't be more different. The difference between Neville and Jessie is that Neville sounds like someone who reasonably belongs in the Harry Potter universe, whereas Jessie sounds like someone did a search-and-replace on Harry's biography.

Flawed-But-Not-Really Sue

A character who has a few token flaws, but said flaws never actually work against the character, nor does the character have to struggle to get over them. A few examples:

If you're concerned about avoiding this type of Sue, see:
On Giving Your Characters Flaws & Weaknesses

Ideology Sue

There are characters who happen to believe in the same ideologies and beliefs as their writers... and then there are Ideology Sues, who exist to show off the perceived righteousness and superiority of the writer's belief systems. With an Ideology Sue, it soon becomes clear that the character's primary purpose is to preach to you and/or to act out the writer's fantasies of converting people to xir belief system while punishing those who disagree.

Those who don't agree with the Ideology Sue already will frequently be horrifically ignorant of xir beliefs, or may even be be willfully wrong. ("Yes, I know Santa exists, but when he didn't bring me the toy I really wanted for Christmas I swore vengeance and have since gone teaching children that Santa isn't real!") The Ideology Sue's opponents will also have weak and easily-destroyed arguments (basically, straw men), while the Sue's arguments will be portrayed as self-evident and nigh-indestructible.

People will often be converted to the Sue's ideology with ridiculous ease, even to the point of discarding beliefs held for their entire lives in a matter of minutes. Those who resist conversion will frequently end up punished somehow - eg, humiliated, physically harmed, or even killed.

The Ideology Sue will often be favored with massive double standards. EG, if someone harms or even slightly inconveniences someone who agrees with the Ideology Sue, then it's treated as a horrible and repugnant act, but the lives and welfare of those who don't agree with the Sue will be treated with callous disregard. In the world of an Ideology Sue, people only have value if they have already been converted, or are potential converts, or if they are are a stepping-stone to reach other potential converts. Anyone who is none of these is treated as disposable.

Jerk Sue

A character who is rude or even cruel to other characters and is expected to be sympathized with or even admired for behaving this way.

Of course, characters can be jerks without being Jerk Sues - what makes the Sue is the fact that the character's behavior is never treated or shown to be a problem in-universe. Some examples of potential Jerk Sue situations:

The fairytale The Blue Light is a good example of a Jerk Sue - the protagonist kidnaps the princess, forces her to work as a maid for him, and after he's put on trial and sentenced to death for what he's done he uses his magical macguffin to kill the judge who sentenced him. He only spares the king when he gives him the kingdom and his daughter to marry.

Pages of interest if you're looking to avoid writing a Jerk Sue:
Basic Tips To Write Better (And More Likeable) Badasses
Tips to Write & Roleplay Believable Successful Long-Term Relationships

Multiverse Kitchen Sink Sue

A character whose toys and goodies are clearly lifted from other universes without any regard to whether or not they make any sense at all in the universe the character is in, nor with any attempt made to nativize the character's goodies to that universe. The result and problem is that huge chunks of the character will run completely contrary to the universe xe is in, resulting in a nonsensical mess. Potential examples include:

Possession Sue

To put it simply, a Possession Sue occurs when a writer completely rips out a canon character's personality and replaces it with xir own personality (or the personality the writer wishes xe had). Reasons for this include writing or playing a self-insert that will be slightly less likely to be recognized as such, or rewriting the story so it goes how the writer thinks it should go.

Relationship Sue

A form of Sue that is created for the sole purpose putting into a relationship with another character, be that relationship romantic or platonic. Of course, not all fan characters and OCs that have relationships with canon characters are Relationship Sues - it's important to draw a distinction.

In the case of a Relationship Sue, canon characters will begin acting very out-of-character. Any flaws or vices that the Intended Relationship Partner had that might put xir and the Sue at odds with each other will magically vanish - EG, a longtime thief may give up a life of crime because the Sue is Just That Speshul. Canon characters who were close to or showed romantic interest in the IRP may either be strangely complacent with their former crush/partner/friend's new relationship, or may be vilified to make the new relationship seem more reasonable. Sometimes canon love interests or friends will simply be killed off, with the Sue's IRP experiencing little to no grief and ready to jump into the sack or be BFFs with the new character in a matter of days - or even minutes. Sometimes canon characters will be derailed so the Sue has someone to be romantically rescued from - EG, a boorish flirt may be derailed to a full-on misogynist would-be rapist so the character has someone to be rescued from.

Characters involved with a Relationship Sue will be way too willing to neglect or give up anything and everything from friends to hobbies to jobs. EG, a superhero who vowed to protect the world will realize that all xe really wants is to settle down and have a family. Meanwhile, the Sue xirself won't have any family, friends, or obligations that could in any way interfere with or complicate the relationship - or if xe does, xe will be willing to drop them all for the love interest.

The characters may realize they are Meant To Be or something similar in a ridiculously short amount of time, or realize they are truly in love just days or even moments after meeting each other. That the characters are clearly just infatuated with each other is never addressed, as for a Relationship Sue infatuation is confused and conflated with true love.

Some Relationship Sues may try to circumvent the "fall deeply in love with/become BFFs two minutes after meeting" problem with a retconned history with the canon character - the Sue may turn out to be an old flame or buddy or even a past-life spouse or lover - but what will make the Sue still a Sue is that it won't be handled well. The canon character will still be too willing to drop xir current partner, friends, or lifestyle for the old flame/friend, and other characters may still be OOC.

In short, what makes a Relationship Sue a Sue is that the relationship becomes the single most important thing in the universe to the characters involved (even when it really shouldn't), and/or the universe itself visibly twists and bends to accommodate it.

Pages of interest if you're looking to avoid writing a Romantic Sue:
Basic Tips To Write Healthy Relationships
Tips to Write & Roleplay Believable Successful Long-Term Relationships
Tips To End Canon Ships Better & More Believably

Social Sue

The Social Sue has very improbable social connections and/or influence. You know you're dealing with a Social Sue when the character's list of friends and enemies read like a Who's Who list of the universe even though it doesn't really make sense to know all of these people, or when the character just happens to be chummy with or have clout with enough sufficiently important people in the universe that xe can pull strings to get favors or shiny new toys pretty much whenever it's convenient. (Or is even simply gifted whatever shiny new toys the creator wants for xir character whenever it's convenient.) For example:

Victim Sue

Very similar to (and often overlaps with) the Angsty Sue, the Victim Sue is characterized by xir state of perpetual victimhood,which is usually brought about by absurd and/or contrived circumstances.

It's reasonable to feel sympathetic toward a character who had an abusive parent or partner, but it gets pretty hard to care about someone who is continually victimized because xe refuses to try to do anything about or prevent the problem, or when it becomes obvious that the writer is simply forcing the character into horrible situations to try to make the readers or other players feel sorry for xir and shower xir with sympathy.

Just as with the Angsty Sue, characters around the Victim Sue may be derailed so xe has reason to be a victim - eg, a canon character who was shown to generally be a kind and caring person may physically abuse the Victim Sue.

Pages of interest if you're looking to avoid writing a Victim Sue:
Basic Tips To Create Better Characters With Tragic & Traumatic Backstories
Basic Tips To Write Better Abuse Victims & Abuse Situations

Villain Sue

Villain Sues might not be good guys, but they're spoiled by the story nonetheless. This can work out in several ways.

Their efforts might work out for them when they really shouldn't. For example, they amass and keep followers despite lacking anything resembling leadership ability and giving minions no real incentive to work for them, or they might succeed simply because absurd amounts of people are absurdly inept.

If they work for others, their failures might never lead to punishment, demotion, or being passed over for new assignments, etc. If they kill or sabotage their rivals, it might happen that no one bats an eye or considers this to be a problem that could destabilize the organizations or groups they work for.

Other characters might let them live or let them go free when they have no real reason to. Or if they do have reasons, they're completely counterproductive or counterintuitive toward their own end goals and ideals, and this is never properly addressed. They might avoid death or capture for other contrived reasons, or other characters' efforts against them often fail for no particularly good reason.

Characters who really should be taking notice of what they're doing and do something about it might just ignore them for no real reason.

Finally, if they "turn good" or turn out to have some sympathetic/tragic reason behind their actions, characters they previously antagonized might forgive them quickly and easily, even if their actions caused severe harm, or they make little to no effort to take responsibility for their actions, or even if they're still actively causing harm.

Pages of interest if you're looking to avoid writing a Villain Sue:
Villain Tips: Of Conquest, Minions, Progress, & Planning
Tips For Writing Dark Stories, Settings, & Characters
Pointlessly Edgy Tropes To Reconsider Using
"Is This My Character's Fault?" - A Flowchart

The Hood Ornament (not actually a type of Sue, but often mistaken for one)

The Hood Ornament is not actually a type of Mary Sue, but is often mistaken for one so here it is. Like the hood ornament of a car, this character is usually nice to look at, but rather than actually drive anything in the story, xe is merely pushed around by the plot. As protagonists, they tend to be very boring to watch.

Remember, some Mary Sues can be Hood Ornaments (eg, Bella Swan), but not all hood ornaments are Mary Sues. If you have a character that you are not sure whether is a Mary Sue or a Hood Ornament or both, see What Is A Mary Sue?.

See also:

The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test
How To Write Powerful & Extraordinary Characters Without Being Obnoxious Or Boring
Basic Tips To Improve Your OCs & Fan Characters
Tips To Create Better OC Relatives of Canon Characters
Basic Tips To Write Better (And More Likeable) Badasses
Common, Yet Terrible Character Descriptors - And How To Fix Them (And Write Better Descriptions In General)
Basic Advice For Giving Useful Feedback To Creators

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