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"...he’s not a human so much as he is a Ken Doll, except instead of plastic, he’s molded from untempered Wish Fulfillment."

Mary Sue, and the plot bias indicative of it, is hardly limited to those of a female persuasion. For probably just as long (if not even longer) as there has been Mary Sue, so too has there been Marty Stu. All the same rules apply, but a couple variations do tend to show up, expressing different ideas of what constitutes male and female "perfection". Also referred to as "Gary Stu" or "Larry Stu" (for those who prefer rhyming to allieration), "Mary Joe", or "Marty Sam".

Once upon a time, Mary Sue didn't really do very much, because a woman who took an active role in dramatic events was unwomanly and, by definition, not perfect. So Mary Sue radiated a soft glow of purity and beauty into the narrative around her and had people fall in love with her a lot. And this side of her lineage still shows, even as changes in society have allowed women to get out their swinging katanas and flying and so forth.

Marty Stu, however, is usually restricted to being a creature of action since men who do not take an active role in dramatic events are unmanly and, by definition, not perfect (Non-Action Guy tends to be looked upon with disdain). So Marty Stu is the personification of action, action and more action. Or, if he is of an intellectual bent, he thinks his way through problems, inventing whole new branches of science and technology in the process. In contrast to Mary Sue who has been freed to play an active and/or passive role, Marty Stu is almost never seen taking on his sister's old school Purity Sue role: passive motivator of others through his purity, beauty and helplessness. When he does, it is almost exclusively the territory of wimpified Possession Sues in yaoi fanfic.

Marty Stu is devastatingly handsome (or if not, possessed of a strange, saturnine magnetism) and desired by all significant women, yes, but romance is not likely to be the main dish. He's an unstoppable fighter, a rogue agent, a fearless freedom fighter, a master of disguise. However, as times have changed, just as Mary's acquired a bratty temper, Marty's had the occasional opportunity to show his softer side.

Once upon a time, Mary Sues were noticed and hated to a much greater degree than Marty Stus. [1] It was almost as if male characters were forgiven for being implausibly plastic because they upheld stereotypically male virtues such as toughness, courage, and heterosexual promiscuity. And while men have finally begun to demand more realistic protagonists, making Marty Stu somewhat less acceptable it is still clear that Marty Stus still get passes far more frequently than Mary Sues resulting in quite a fair number of male canon sues who conversely are praised rather than criticized. Part of this may be due to Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls as well as Most Writers Are Male. Both female and male writers for analogous but different reasons tend to like such characters.

See also The Ace, which is usually made as a nod to the less realistic male characters of old and plays it as a supporting character for comedic purposes.

No examples, please. This only defines the term.

Common Marty Stu Traits

As far as their traits go, Marty Stu incorporates most of the Common Mary Sue Traits while having quite a few general trends to differentiate him. While the textbook Mary Sue is generally made as a pseudo-realistic ideal of feminine perfection, Marty Stu tends towards taking the Rule of Cool TO THE EXTREME!! Due in part to the Double Standard, Marty tends to be less of an emotional cornerstone and more just an embodiment of pure physical and mental awesome (ala God Mode Sue). He's the type that tends to be stronger than The Incredible Hulk, faster than Sonic the Hedgehog, and have more MP than God.

Marty also generally doesn't have the sort of purity common in Mary (although it's not unheard of). Instead, he tends more towards the Darker and Edgier path, with a tragic and very personal backstory being the order of the day. Whereas Mary would use this to emphasize just how special she truly is, Marty uses it for the sake of brooding. No doubt much of the recent popularity of this character trait owes credit to Batman and Wolverine (debatably also good examples of Marty Stu themselves, in the wrong hands), but there's no indication that it only started with those characters.

Obviously, neither of these traits are exclusive to Marty. There exist plenty of God Mode and Sympathetic Sues, but in sheer percentage, it's more common on Marty. Since All Girls Want Bad Boys, after all, increasing the Badass potential of a character has the secondary effect of making him more attractive to women without having to sacrifice any capability. Sometimes, this attitude goes just a little too far and creates Jerk Sue.

Just like the Always Male category on this Wiki, there's painfully little that Marty does that Mary doesn't, generally being limited to sexuality-related things. Nonetheless, here's the little bitty list of exclusive Marty Stu traits:

  • Perma Stubble. Nothing like the scratchy beginnings of a beard to emphasize that no, testosterone isn't in any sort of short supply for him. Actual beards are surprisingly rare.
    • Aesthetically placed scars can keep Marty from being too pretty, while emphasizing his dangerous lifestyle.
    • Sometimes, especially in Westerns, Marty is part Indian (never full-blooded) and doesn't have Perma Stubble.
  • Make him big and muscular. Even in professions where he does little physical work and shouldn't have time to train to be an Olympic weightlifter. While there's nothing preventing Mary from doing this as well, you won't see it happen very often (although there are some examples) because being muscular takes away from feminine charm in the eyes of most writers (if she needs to be strong, she'll often just practice Waif Fu).
  • Conversely, make him lean and streamlined, as is common with more romantic heroes; the female audience prefers the dancer's build with swimmer's torso. Overly conspicuous muscles are avoided for pretty much the same reason as they are with the Distaff Counterpart: because they detract from physical grace.
  • Lots of sex with lots of women (or men, or both, or even more than that). Sometimes up to the point of a Tenchi Solution, completely out of place with the setting. Girls can do this too, but thanks to the Double Standard it's usually considered a more Stuish trait.