Mary Sue

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A term that arose out of 1970s Star Trek fanfic, a Mary Sue is a generic name for the type of unrealistic fictional stock character who is so competent or perfect that she’s absurd — excelling at tasks that should not be possible.

The name comes from a character created by Michigan/Canadian fan Paula Smith in her 1973 parody story “[https:/ A Trekkie's Tale]," published in her fanzine Menagerie #2. The story starred Lt. Mary Sue ("the youngest Lieutenant in the fleet — only fifteen and a half years old").

At first applied only to bad fanfic, the term came into common use in media fandom and has since spread into sf and mundane literary criticism.

Smithsonian Magazine article


This is a fanspeak page. Please extend it by adding information about when and by whom it was coined, whether it’s still in use, etc.