The sun is nearly gone and a growing darkness swallows the room. It's difficult to distinguish the scattered birdarangs, video game controllers, and books on the floor. The brightest light in the cavernous Main Room emanates from near the window, lighting up the small corner with the blue glow of a computer screen. On the monitor, a small cursor blinks back and forth, on and off, beside a single sentence:
Somehow, you've got an interest in Mary Sues.
A light groan escapes the terminal chair as a figure sits and drapes their fingers on the keyboard. On the screen, the cursor slides to the corner of the window. A click scrolls the screen, revealing the entirety of the document. The figure sighs, leans back in the chair, then proceeds to read the rest of the page...
Maybe someone left a comment on your story accusing your original character of being one, and you'd like to know what s/he was ranting about.
Maybe you're creating a character for a story and you want to know if you're headed in the right direction.
Maybe you accidentally clicked on the link to this story when you really meant to go into one that had a summary like... "A mysterous girl with cool powers joins teh Titans. but who is she? and what does slade want with her? i suck at summaries! R&R Pairings are: MeRobin BBRae TerraSatan CyNobody cuz he sux0rz! LOL!112 NO FLAMES"
...I don't know, it's none of my business.
But Mary Sues are.
Therefore, the purpose of this test is to give authors an idea of where their character stands on the Scale of Mary Sue. "Mary Sue" is a term that describes a character (often a fan-created character in a piece of fanfiction) possessing attributes that severely hinders their development as a literary creation; in other words, "Mary Sue" describes a character that, for some reason, seems amateurish. Though there are numerous categories and subcategories of Mary Sue classifications, this test is designed to primarily detect Typical Sue and Insert Sue, which are notorious for being – among many things – over-powered, melodramatic, histrionic and generally unrealistic.
In order for this test to work properly, you must be absolutely honest. There are only two possible answers for each question: yes and no. Answers like "Well, I don't really know if that applies to my character because s/he..." don't count, and by making excuses, you'll only lie to yourself and skew the score toward what you want to hear. Simply add the points assigned to each question if the answer is "yes" and total your score at the bottom to examine your results. Now...
Teen OCs, go!
What's In a Name?
It is not advisable to begin designing a character by thinking up a name, but in the end, it is something that must to be done correctly. Though it's easy to ignore its importance, naming a character is not something that should be taken lightly. Contrary to popular belief, a character can be successful with a normal name — I mean, how much more normal does it get than Dick, Vic, and Garfield?
Does the character's name (first, middle, last, or hero name, nickname, etc) in any way resemble your name (first, middle, last, pen, or screen name, nickname, nick's name, imagined nickname)?
If so, then stop now.
DON'T do it.
For ANY reason.
Is the character's birth name an unusual spelling of a common name? (1)
Is the hero name an English word or a variation thereof that appears much less commonly as a proper name? (The word "destiny" most commonly refers to something other than a person, while "Ray" and "Frank" usually refer to people, not beams and hotdogs.) (1)
...Does the word have mystical or mysterious leanings? (2)
...Is the name of the character "Shadow?" (50,000, and Stop it)
Did the character give him/herself a hero name so that s/he "wouldn't forget something?" (2)
Would you ever take the name upon yourself or name a pet the character's name? (2)
Does the character have a foreign-sounding name (Latin, French, Gaelic, whatever) without ACTUALLY being foreign by blood? (2)
...Is the name Asian? (10, and God have mercy on your soul)
Is the character's name a correlation to any other Titan's name? (2)
...Is it anything followed by the word "fire?" (e.g. Greenfire, Redfire, Moonfire, Buttfire...) (4)
...Is it ANY type of bird? (e.g. Crow, Sparrow...) (4)
Does the character have a birth name...
...that s/he doesn't remember? (1)
...that is somehow tied to his/her destiny? (2)
...that the other Titans frequently call him/her by? (-1)
...that is common? ("Common" means you'd have to give a last name to identify him/her in a room full of people like "Emily" or "Mohammed") (-2)
... ...Is it so common, that it's John/Jack? (4, and Really? All the names in the universe and that was the best you could do?)
Does the title of the story in any way refer to the character? (e.g. A New Titan, The Stranger, The Hot Angsty Blonde That Saved The Titans And Seduced Robin, etc) (4)
...Does the title of the first chapter contain a description or a pun on the name of the character? (e.g. Flower Petals for a character named Rose) (1)
One more time, if the character's name is the same as your pen name, stop HERE.
Let's Get Physical
Remember all that stuff about beauty only being skin deep and looks not being important? Yeah, that's total crap. Physical appearance just might be one of the most important characteristics of a character: it provides first impressions, constant visual reminders, and a mental image for the reader to carry. If a lot of the questions in this section apply to your character, really think about what that means for him/her.
Is the character physically described with in the first two pages (12 point, single spaced, text document) of the story? (1)
...In the first paragraph? (2)
...In the first sentence? (10, and a Bitchslap)
Is the character ever described in the story (by whichever narrator) as being attractive? (2)
...Are the words "hot," "sexy," or "badass" ever used? (3)
...Do any of the Titans ever feel jealous because of the character's beauty? (4)
Does the character have an unusual eye color? (1)
Does the eye color...
...require more than one word to describe completely? (Hyphens count) (2)
...not require more than a word to describe, but more are used anyway? (2)
...not occur naturally in humans? (1)
...begin glowing in accordance with use/overuse of powers? (2)
... ...If so, does it become red? (1)
... ...Does it become white? (1)
... ...Does it change colors depending on which power s/he is using? (1 point for each color)
Does the character have unusual hair color? (1)
...Or more than one color streak? (1)
Does the character have unusual hair length? (Yeah, waist-length is unusual) (2)
Does the character have a prominent scar or tattoo? (1)
...Does it have a troubling story behind it? (1)
Is the character blind or mute? (1)
...Does s/he have any compensation for it? (Mental powers, Daredevil-like abilities, etc.) (1)
...Does the compensation make the character more powerful than a normal person? (1)
Is the character the same gender as you? (0)
...If not (I'm not sure I believe you, and -2)
Is the character any part angel, demon, vampire, or other mystical being? (3)
Is the character an inter-special breed? (i.e. a catgirl [OMG so kawaii!], foxdemongirl [kitsune-chan!], cowrabbitmermaidwench [...], etc.) (2)
...Do others look down upon him/her because of that? (2)
...Does the character have benefits of both races with reduced consequences of their drawbacks? (2)
...Does the character have drawbacks but NOT benefits of any of the races? Nice. (-2)
Is the character stick-skinny like Beast Boy or Terra but (conveniently) has super strength? (2)
Does the character have...
...(if male) toned muscles that are described within the story? (2)
...(if female) "curves" that are described in the story? (2)
... ...Did you feel tingling nether-sensations while writing the story? (Type 8,008,135 into a calculator, and Take a shower)
Is the character physically underdeveloped - if a girl, in the middle of puberty but regularly confused for a guy; if a boy, lacking real muscle definition? (-3)
Does the character wear a skirt, long boots, or a tube top into battle regularly? (Yeah, I know Starfire does) (2)
Does the character wear a lot of black? (2)
...And/or a lot of leather? (1)
...Does the wardrobe include a black, leather coat? (2)
Does the character resemble you physically? (2)
Does the character resemble what you would like to look like? (2)
Would you consider the character attractive (if you were of the corresponding sexuality)? Be honest, it's only one point. (1)
Does the character have acne? Not a-pimple-the-day-before-the-big-dance, but average-pubescent-angst acne (-3, and props)
Before and After, Past and Personality
Here it is: the real substance of a character. A character's personality defines who they are and how they interacts with the surrounding world. Typically, this is where Mary Sue attributes creeping out of the cracks and originality reigns as king; because in the end, who a character was is not nearly as interesting as who s/he is and will be.
Does the character fit the "prep" or "goth" image? (2)
...If so, are you a "prep" or "goth?" (Let's be honest here...) (2)
...If not, does the character resemble you in personality? (1)
Is the character regularly stoic? (2)
Is the character angsty? (You're only lying to yourself...) (1)
Do all the Titans immediately like the character? (2)
...Is the character rebellious or irreverent and still beloved (or beloved by all except one Titan)? (1)
...Does s/he make snarky comebacks at the Titans all the time yet is instantly respected? (2)
Was the character based on a preexisting comic/cartoon character during creation? (1)
...Could the character be consider a fe/male version of another Titan? (2)
Is the character in any way non-canonly related to any Titan? (1)
...Is the character a child of a Titan? (1)
...Is the character a childhood friend of a Titan? (3)
Is the character royalty of any type? (1)
...Does s/he not know about it at the beginning of the story? (2)
...Does s/he know about it, but run away because it was boring, strict, abusive, or included marrying someone against his/her will? (2)
Does the character make as many jokes as Beast Boy? (1)
...In your opinion, are they better than his? (1)
Does the character have any undesirable personality flaws? Flaws that one would not sanely desire like aggressive greed, crippling apathy, narcissism at the consequence of others' safety, paralyzing pessimism, unsympathetic and unreasonable phobias, etc. (I'ma tell you right now: extreme naivety, gullibility, stubbornness, acrophobia, and hydrophobia do not even come close to counting) (-3)
Does the character never do anything wrong or have strong justification if s/he does? (2)
...On the other side, does the character consistently mess up and receive forgiveness easily? (2)
Does the character suffer persistent guilt for something in his/her past? (1)
...Is that past somehow connected to the present crisis? (2)
...Is it a "new enemy that is terrorizing the Titans, but how is the new stranger connected to him?" (1)
...Does somebody eventually convince the character that it's not his/her fault? (2)
The Past: Add points if an event occurred in the character's life.
...Parents died at an early age (1)
...Born/forced into slavery or thieving (2)
...Lived in extreme poverty (1)
...Only survivor of disaster (1)
...Victim of domestic abuse (2)
...Sexually abused (3)
...Exiled or outcast (2)
...Born illegitimately (2)
...Suffered from temporary or permanent amnesia (1)
Does the character have a good singing voice that isn't related to their powers? (2, Also stop and ask yourself what that really has to do with the plot. I mean, really...?)
Does the character play an instrument very well (again, unrelated to powers)? (1)
...Does it come up in the first or second chapter? (1)
...Is it a guitar? (3)
...Do you play that instrument? (1)
...If not, do you wish you could? (1)
With Great Power, Comes Great Unbelievability
This is very hard to be objective about. Inside every author is the desire for his or her character to be the coolest, baddest, most mind-numbingly awesome fighter ever to roam the streets, and that is exactly where the problem lies. Every author wants that. When granting powers to a character, one must exert self-control to the fullest to avoid the disastrous route to Mary Sue.
Is the character ever described as being a "genius?" (1)
Does the character have the ability of...
...telepathy? (If unusual among his/her race) (2)
...superspeed? (Not like quick flight or reflexes, but like Flash speed) (1)
...invincibility or immortality? (3)
...flight without wings? (If unusual among his/her race) (1)
Does the character discover previously-unknown powers in addition to known powers? (1)
Does the character use a sharp or piercing weapon? (3)
...That doesn't pierce? (Pul-eez) (2)
...That is used for mass beheadings and badass vigilantism? (1)
Is the character the last living user of a form of magic or martial arts? (Including "...or so he thinks!") (2)
...Does the master who taught him/her die before or during the story? (1)
Does the character have a pet animal or spirit? (1)
...Is the pet not a traditionally domesticated animal? (1)
...Does it somehow contribute to his/her fighting skills? (2)
Does the character have a devastating "finishing" move (if you ever feel like Shang Tsung should tell him/her when to do it, it's a finishing move) that could easily take a crowd of bad guys? (2)
Does the character have a move that is triggered or marked by uncontrollable anger? (1)
Does the character call his/her attacks? ("Falcon Puuuuuuuuuuunchh"-style) (1)
Does the character ever do something by his/herself that the Titans could never accomplish or accomplished only when together? (e.g. Defeat Slade, catch Red X, release Trigon's hold on Raven) (4)
Much Ado About Raven
Raven is, without a doubt, the most abused character in Titan fanfiction. She is forced to think in simplistic out-of-character ways, utter painfully emo lines, and do things (and people) she would NEVER do in canon episodes. Therefore, as a gesture of peace, a small section has been dedicated to her in hopes of starting the healing process.
Does the character need to meditate every morning to control his/her powers? (3)
...If s/he doesn't have to meditate for powers, does s/he do it anyway? (2)
Does the character ever meditate with Raven? (4)
...Do they form some sort of emotional connection (no matter how small and insignificant) because of it? (2)
Does the character chant or repeat anything to activate or strengthen his/her powers? (2)
Does the character ever fall in love with Raven? (3)
...If so, is Raven your favorite Titan? (1)
...Is it love at first sight for the character? (1)
...Does the character act overly gruff/courteous in an obvious, middle-school-flirting manner? (1)
...If Raven reciprocates the feeling, is the character a girl? (4)
...Is it love at first sight for Raven? (2)
... ...Or does Raven immediately reject him/her, but gradually open up and love him/her back? (2)
Does Raven ever "feel like she can really open up with him/her," even though she (and the reader) has no idea why or even acts aggressively towards the character? (2)
Do the character and Raven ever engage in any sexual activity? (1)
...Is it Teen Titans cosplay sex? (-Say what?)
Does the character release Raven from her "emotional baggage?" (1)
...Through True Love or something of the like? (2)
...Through marijuana? (-420)
Does anything like the following lines appear in the story? (4)
..."Hey, we just had (luridly raunchy/romantically passionate) sex, and you didn't lose control of your powers. What's going on?"
..."I guess it's because I could only be freed from my curse by True Love..."
..."Wanna $#! again?"
..."Golly gee yeah!"
Is Raven ever jealous of the character's relationship with someone else? (2)
Subtract 2 points if the character is male and Raven never expresses romantic interest in him.
Does Raven ever find a new emotion in her mirror as a direct or indirect result of the character's actions? (2)
...Is it named Love or Lust? (5, and Gag yourself)
...Is it named Anti-Semitism? (-1,000,000, and Send me a link!)
There's Supposed to be a Plot?
Sigh. Yes, yes, there is. In most cases, this part either seduces an author into the realm of Mary Sue or provides him/her with an opportunity to redeem his/herself with originality and skilled writing. Unfortunately, the only thing easier than becoming a Mary Sue here is remembering to breathe.
Does the character join the Titans upon their first meeting? (1)
...Is the meeting in the first chapter? (2)
Does the story start with the character running away from something/someone? (4)
...Is it Slade? (2)
...Is it the enemy now threatening the Titans? (1)
Does Slade ever express interest in making the character into the third apprentice? (2)
...Does he succeed? (2)
...Do the Titans eventually turn the character back to a life a virtue? (2)
Does the character ever befriend a villain and eventually reform him/her? (2)
...Does the villain return to his life of crime, but retain a small vestibule of virtue because of their encounter? (1)
Is the character involved in a apocalyptic, you're-destined-to-destroy-humanity-now-stop-being-a-pansy-and-do-it-already storyline? (4)
Add 1.5 points for each major character (Titan or villain) that expresses romantic interest (even if repressed) in the character. (Round down afterward)
Add 1 point for each minor character (Titan or villain) that expresses romantic interest (even if repressed) in the character.
...Do any of the people like the character against the sexual orientation implied in the show or comics? (3)
...Do they ever get in a fight over the character? (2)
THE CLASSIC: Does the character ever single-handedly save the lives of all the Titans? (2)
...Does s/he become hurt or gravely ill in the process? (2)
...Does s/he die? (3)
...If so, does s/he come back to life? (3)
... ...Through the power of love? (4)
... ...In a later fic? (1)
...Does a Titan profess his/her love during the death or funeral of the character? (2)
Does the character ever deny his/her love for a Titan in order for that person to find his/her true love? (2)
Does the fic end with a wedding or a passionate goodbye between the character and another Titan? (2)
Do you plan to ever write a fic about the character's children or ancestors? (2)
Does the idea of someone calling your character a Mary Sue make you angry? (3)
...Do you feel like it's a personal insult? (It's not, get over it)
Has this test made you verbally protest to the computer monitor? (3)
...Are you planning to flame? (3, and Grow up)
00-05 ... Meh. This just as bad as a full-blown Mary Sue. Also, you're probably lying, but whatever.
06-12 ... Comfortable. This is a good place to be: the character has enough to intrigue the reader, but not so much that s/he runs on foul fuel.
13-20 ... Teetering. At this point, the decision is subject to individual appraisal. It's very easy to be a Mary Sue here if you aren't on guard for your dark side.
21-30 ... Definite. Go back and tear off some of the "coolness" of the character: does she really need to be Robin's little sister or Raven's cousin?
31+ ... ... Scrap it. Trust me: start over.
Before I begin getting a flood of reviews like "OMGz you ho! my charcter Krystalfire got a 37 and shes NOT A MARY SUE! my story (i never told You i Loved You) has 86 reviews and all them say shes awsome. Ur just jealous because shes so much better than..." I would like to say only three things:
One, don't take this personally. Just because you get a high score, doesn't mean I hate you. Just because you get a low score, doesn't mean I like you. This is a partially-subjective score and nothing else.
Two, this test does not guarantee Mary Sue-ness. There is no such thing a test that can detect a Mary Sue without fail; each case must be extensively reviewed by the author and multiple third parties. Just because a character scores high on the test does not automatically make him/her a Mary Sue; the author's reliance on gimmicks and unusual features does that job (and quite well, too).
Three, feel free to post whatever you want in the comments. Share your character's score, ask questions to others, suggest questions for the test, or whatever your heart desires. This test was written for all authors to benefit from; do what you will to improve your character and help others in their development.
NOTE: This test (and really, all others like it) is based on Dr. Merlin's Mary Sue Litmus Test. Search for it on Google and check it out, it's applicable to most fandoms.
The chair sits motionlessly in front of the computer. The only activity is faint snoring from far rooms in the Tower. On the monitor, the mouse is rests in the middle of the screen, the scrollbar at the bottom.
The cursor blinks back and forth, on and off, on the text document as the night continues its usual business...