11 April 2011

Please don't...

... introduce me to a frustrated, unhappy, petty person who transcends her faults and limitations to be glorious, then wipe her memory so she doesn't remember how truly wonderful she could be.

... give me a female character who can defeat all comers with one hand tied behind her back - except for her love interest.

... offer me a vivacious woman who cherishes her independence, and then have her get into a 'pickle' and need to be rescued.

... show me a smart active woman doing her utmost to save her world, then make me watch her raped by a monster while the virginal passive and 'pure' woman ends up happily married.

... capture me heart and soul with the story of a girl who was the useless baggage of a team, who vowed to be more to save someone she loved, who stepped up and stepped up, overcame set-back after set-back, until finally...she decided she would never be strong enough and that she would leave it to the guy to fulfil her vow.

... make me regret all that I loved about a story.

This post was brought to you by teeth-grinding plot developments.


  1. Any of these that you want to name and shame? I recognise the first one (albeit in a televised rather than written format). The second one could pertain to a certain long-running webcomic of which I am fond, except that the flaw you cite is almost the only thing keeping the (glorious) protagonist this side of the Mary Sue black hole.

    Number four just makes me punchy, so feel free not to cite examples there, unless there are ones you feel particularly warrant avoiding.

  2. Blogger has such a buggy comment form. Just lost my extended answer, so in short:

    1. Donna from Doctor Who.

    2. Too many girls disguised as boys, mainly in manga.

    3. Georgette Heyer's "Regency Buck".

    4. An obscure fantasy novel.

    5. Sakura from Naruto (one of the most complete disintegrations of a character growth arc which I've ever had the misfortune to witness).

  3. Aha, yes. My version of #2 is Agatha Heterodyne from 'Girl Genius'. I maintain my faith that the Foglios will not find a way to screw up her character before the end of the story...

  4. Heh - the Foglios are the only people I've ever stood in line for an autograph. I rather think lots of people are better than Agatha at fighting, no only Gil (Zeetha, for instance). Agatha is the best Spark around, no doubt about it, but I really wouldn't put her in Mary Sue territory.

    [Too many characters get labelled "Mary Sue" when really they're simply heroes.]

  5. Actually you are right, tarring Agatha with that brush is very unfair. There have been times when I thought they strayed into treacherous waters, but they always pull it back. With a riduculous pratfall, usually.

    And isn't *everyone* stronger and better at fighting than Agatha now? I had a serious boggle moment when that airship sailor guy whose name I can't quite recall turned out to be yet another unstoppable battle machine (possibly literally, who knows?)

    God I love 'Girl Genius'

  6. The cast list refers to him as "The Unstoppable Higgs", and he definitely seems to be rather More Than What He Seems. Unfortunately, his and Zeetha's otherwise enjoyable interaction has been marred by falling right into number 2 there - he's obviously a better fighter than her.

    You really missed out not getting to the Melbourne WorldCon - they had a live performance Girl Genius "Radio" Play which was hella fun.


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