Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers or the Looney Tunes episode I quoted. The basic format was taken from an instruction book on how to build cider presses, if anyone cares. I got this idea from StarWriter0303's Summed up Life of Mary Sue, which she got from a game I made, so hooray for meta fics.
As usual, the examples listed are not comprehensive. If you have ideas or suggestions, feel free to tell me!
"Gary Stu: an idealized character with cliché traits, used for authorial wish-fulfillment fantasies."—Albert Einstein
The Perfect Character
My Gary Stu Story
I remember it well. It was 2010, I was a mere teenager, with a brand-new fanfiction account. I hadn't even published a story yet; I was here to hone my writing skills. Tentatively, I started reading through fanfiction in the Power Rangers archive.
The trouble was, I wasn't much of a fanfiction reader. I'd encountered a few stories years and years ago, in 2008 or so, and hadn't liked them. Yet here I was, scrolling through the Power Rangers story archive. I clicked on a story.
It blew me away. The sloppy grammar, the hackneyed dialogue, the nonexistent description—but most of all, the gloriously overpowered, utterly bland male lead. He was my first Gary Stu.
In the years to come, I discovered more and more Gary Stus dotting the internet, along with their more popular female counterpart, the Mary Sue. They were brooding, friendly, evil, heroic, nasty, kind—but through it all, one trait shone through.
The story existed to bend to their wills.
Unfortunately, not all writers grasped this concept. They wrote action sequences not involving their Gary Stus. They took several chapters to introduce him. Some even reviewed Gary Stu stories to complain about the Stus! Something had to be done.
I researched the concept thoroughly, studying each and every aspect of the fanfiction Gary Stu. I cross-referenced my information, interviewing famous authors on the subject and gathering as many opinions as I could. By which I mean I read a few pieces of fanfiction and chatted about the concept with a few writers. Regardless, this guide was the result. I look forward to seeing your magnificent, unbelievable Gary Stu in action!
List of Parts
POWER RANGER TEAM
HOT LOVE INTEREST
COOL SCARS (optional)
The primary, and most critical, ingredient in any GARY STU STORY is BLATANT FAVORITISM. The plot and characters exist only to make your GARY STU look good. In fact, calling the others "characters" is a bit misleading: they are no more characters than the setpieces of your story. Never force your GARY STU to earn victories; give them to him, whenever you feel like it.
And now, to design specifics.
Your GARY STU will begin as either a canon character or an OC. Both have their advantages.
The canon character is more likely to be accepted by readers, and you don't have to think of a way to work them into your POWER RANGER TEAM. On the other hand, readers may also complain that he is "oh-oh-see," or "out of character," if you make him act different than on the show. They can't seem to see how important for your plot this behavior is.
Alternately, an original GARY STU gives you more freedom in terms of appearance and backstory, though more people may complain about him being a GARY STU, since they seem to notice more easily. You also have to come up with a way to force him into the story.
The next step in creating your GARY STU is his DARK BACKSTORY. Note; in some regions it is actually illegal for a GARY STU to have both parents alive, well and loving. To be safe, try some combination of dead, abusive or villainous. You may provide him with a COOL SCAR or two in conjunction with this; they're conversation starters. Alternately, you can reveal his past through a FLASHBACK.
Along with a DARK BACKSTORY, your GARY STU will need an AWESOME WEAPON or POWER at the start of the story. This usually provides a good reason for him to join forces with your chosen POWER RANGER TEAM; after all, who wouldn't want to have the guy with a demon sword on their side?
Ideally, there should be a PROPHECY or LEGEND about your character, his AWESOME WEAPON or both. He should get upgrades fairly regularly, especially if you've written yourself into a corner or if he faces any actual challenges. You don't want to make it too hard for your GARY STU, after all!
Now we come to the actual meat: writing the story. Begin the story with your GARY STU, and attach yourself to his point of view. No other character matters—except for the HOT LOVE INTEREST, of course.
The HOT LOVE INTEREST and OBSESSIVE VILLAIN can be canon characters. This will tie your story together, make it easier to imagine for your readers. Your treatment of them should be almost identical: both of their lives now revolve around your GARY STU. The HOT LOVE INTEREST should only want to please him (misunderstandings aside), the OBSESSIVE VILLAIN stop at nothing to destroy him.
As a brand new writer, you may be worried about the presentation of your character. Certainly, you probably have an army of reviews already (some even readable!), but the inevitable criticism may make you nervous.
No fear! There is a simple rule to make sure your story's priorities are straight. It's a reverse takeoff of the BECHDEL TEST: if there are any scenes of two non-GARY STU characters discussing something other than him, you fail. Your GARY STU must be the center of the universe, or you're doing it wrong.
Lone Wolf – a wandering warrior with COOL SCARS and a DARK BACKSTORY. He should want nothing to do with your chosen POWER RANGERS TEAM until the HOT LOVE INTEREST draws his interest. Most are dark and brooding, and more likely to be related to their OBSESSIVE VILLAIN. Associated with demons, vampires, werewolves and other cursed beings.
Accidental Seventh Ranger – an ordinary teenager who just happens to stumble across a new morpher and augment a POWER RANGERS TEAM. These come in a wider variety; brooding, amiable, bland, etc., and some may avoid a DARK BACKSTORY entirely—but few do.
Son of the Monster – the previously unseen offspring of the OBSESSIVE VILLAIN. He may start out evil, and make the POWER RANGERS TEAM quake in their boots. However, he will change sides due to his HOT LOVE INTEREST. More outlandish names are the norm, as well as AWESOME WEAPONS or POWERS.
Carbon Copy – the son or brother of an existing Power Ranger. His family connection allows him easier access to the POWER RANGERS TEAM in question, since all friends automatically like and trust each other's siblings. Whoever his brother or father is, he must be an exact duplicate—unless the plot says otherwise.
Woobie Boy – this variation is more popular with female writers. He exists to suffer beautifully, in order to gain the sympathy of all around him. A DARK BACKSTORY and COOL SCARS are required. This species also tends to infect the HOT LOVE INTEREST with Sue-ness, in order to make her his protector.
"Red Ranger. Finally," Deker said, drawing his sword with a metallic shing. Jayden backed up. "My sword, Urumasa, thirsts for battle." But as he raised it, the blade was crossed by a second. Its owner was a young man, glaring intently at Deker. A breeze tugged at his ponytailed blond hair, brushing a few strands before his ice blue eyes and making his black leather jacket creak. He kept both hands on the hilt of his sword, an elegant silver-and-ivory katana, whose sheath was strapped across his back.
"No one will interrupt my ultimate duel," Deker said, turning a slow glare on the stranger. The blond cracked a small, tough-guy grin, all teeth.
"It wasn't my decision. Sishima heard her sister and brought me here," he replied, to the shock and awe of Deker and Jayden. He broke the weapon lock and stepped in front of Deker, katana at the ready. "So if there's going to be a duel here today, I'll have to be involved. Sorry about that." He didn't sound sorry at all.
"Very well!" Changing into his Nighlok form, Deker charged, swinging Urumasa. The stranger met the blade with a clang and shower of sparks. The two sparred, Urumasa and Sishima whirling through the air almost too fast to see. The clash of metal on metal filled the air like an army of blacksmiths. The stranger moved fluidly, ducking and sweeping, throwing his entire muscular body into each strike. Deker began to retreat.
The other five Samurai arrived, gathering around Jayden. They were astonished by the spectacular display of swordsmanship playing out before their eyes.
"Who is that?" Kevin asked. "He fights like a samurai."
"I don't know," Jayden said. "He didn't say—except that his sword was Urumasa's 'sister.'"
"Weird," Mike mused, watching the battle. With a duck and a flick of the wrist, the stranger disarmed Deker, sending Urumasa to the ground.
"Woah! He's good," Antonio exclaimed, and the others nodded, with the exception of Mia. She was staring at the unknown teenager. Panting, the stranger stood, and leveled Sishima at Deker. He grinned again, showing off his pearly white, perfect teeth. The half-breed transformed back into a human, breathless and furious.
"That ultimate enough for you, or are you going to keep stalking these guys?" The stranger asked.
Somersaulting aside, Deker seized his sword and sheathed it. He pointed at the stranger. "You haven't heard the last of me, boy." Then he vanished.
Sheathing Sishima, the stranger started to walk away. Mia snapped out of it and ran over.
"Hey, that was great!" He paused at the sight of her, and she smiled. "Thanks for helping us. I'm Mia." She held out a hand, which the stranger just looked at for a moment.
Then he shook it. "Wesley." Mia noticed a narrow scar running up the back of his wrist, but he withdrew his arm before she got a good look. Now the rest of the Samurai joined them, clapping Wesley on the back and asking a million questions.
It was midnight. Wesley stood in the outdoor training area, shirtless, sword drawn. Sishima gleamed dangerously in the moonlight. The scars crisscrossing his back and right arm looked very dark against his skin and taut muscles. He was almost too buff for a guy not on steroids. Raising the sword, Wesley began to go through his training exercise. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, until Sishima was a silver blur all around him.
Finally, he stopped with a yell, slamming the sword down into the floor timbers. He split them with a shower of splinters, and stood there, chest heaving. Then he realized that he was being watched, and looked around. Mia stood in the shadows of the porch. She came forward slowly, as Wesley yanked his sword free.
"Sorry," he muttered, sheathing it.
"I've never seen anyone fight like that," Mia said, somehow failing to distinguish between attacking a floor and fighting a battle.
"I still don't want to talk about it," Wesley retorted. He and Kevin had nearly gotten into an argument about this very subject earlier that day. Only Mentor Ji's timely intervention had prevented Wesley from "demonstrating" his training by attacking Kevin.
"I can see why," Mia said, giving a significant glance to his scars. Wesley turned and walked away, but Mia followed.
"Leave me alone. You're just curious because I'm the mysterious new warrior, aren't you?" Wesley snapped.
"Do I have to have a reason to care about you besides you?" Mia snapped. She drew back, blushing, and Wesley gave her a second, more scrutinizing look. A breeze blew her black hair around as if she was in a shampoo commercial. It also made her shiver, since she'd made the rather hasty decision to go outside at night in shorts and a t-shirt. Producing a coat from nowhere, Wesley wrapped it around her shoulders. He, of course, was not cold in the slightest, nor was he sweaty from his workout.
"The life of a wandering samurai isn't a kind one," he said.
"Then why wander? You're doing a lot of good right here," Mia replied.
"But I could be doing good elsewhere," Wesley replied. Mia came closer. "Every minute I spend here, some guy could be getting mugged in an alley," the Pink Ranger slid her arms around his neck, "A Mafia boss could be knocking off an informant…" he grew less sincere as he put his arms around her waist.
"But here you are," Mia said. Her eyes were like little goldfish ponds at a Chinese restaurant.
"Yeah." The inevitable kiss lasted so long that both teenagers almost passed out from lack of oxygen. They both recovered quickly, though, as Deker's laugh rang out through the night. A dramatically convenient wind picked up, and Wesley glared around. Deker appeared, in Nighlok form.
"I thought you wanted to fight Jayden when he was ready!" Mia exclaimed, with a brief flicker of logic.
Deker's voice was a menacing growl. "My quest has changed. Now I am going to destroy you, Wesley, in every way I can." Wesley stepped between him and Mia.
"Go inside," he ordered the Pink Ranger. She went to obey, but Deker zipped into her path. As Wesley yelled, the Nighlok slashed at Mia from behind. She crumpled, and Wesley drew Sishima.
Cackling like an old crone, Deker stopped, and faced Wesley. He raised Urumasa, now reddened with blood. Mia groaned a little; despite being obviously serious, her wound didn't seem to be very painful.
"You'll pay for that," Wesley snarled. Deker leaped over Mia, and their swords clashed with showers of sparks. Ho!—haha!—guard—turn—parry—dodge—spin—ha!—thrust—Urumasa shattered as Sishima plunged into Deker's chest. The broken hilt clanged to the ground, and the half-Nighlok looked down at Wesley's blade in disbelief.
"Bye," Wesley said, grinning fiercely. The Nighlok vanished in a burst of ash, and Wesley turned back to Mia. By now she was lying in a pool of blood. Wesley darted over, wrapping his arms around her and dropping Sishima.
It was just like his mother ten years ago, murdered by a mysterious ninja who'd also tried to kill Wesley himself. The eight-year-old had been badly hurt in the encounter, but managed to crawl to a neighbor's house and ring their doorbell, and had been rescued.
"No, no, no," Wesley repeated, as Mia fainted from blood loss. For some reason the racket hadn't woken up any of the Samurai inside. Without knowing why, he kissed her on the mouth again. Mia lit up like a Christmas tree, and the gash across her back vanished. She woke up as Wesley broke the kiss, and quickly restarted it.
Trivia: Albert Einstein is one of the most commonly misquoted people today, hence the opening attribution.