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"Once upon a time, there was a little girl with an adorable red cape and great FLAAAMING eyebrows!"

As the name implies, a Self-Insert Fic is one where the author has made a simulacrum of him- or herself -- commonly called an avatar -- in the story's world as a key character. If the author has any sense of subtlety, the resulting character won't share their name or alias, but it's still easy to tell who that "new character" is.

The self-insert is very often a Mary Sue -- in matter of fact, the original Mary Sue (she who gives that trope its name) was born from a parody of the standard Self-Insert Fic. In the most extreme cases -- which are usually but not always quite bad -- the insert character gains some degree of godlike power, or retains considerable (OOC) knowledge of the series in which he's been inserted, or both, and uses them to adjust things to his or her liking. In rare instances, it might work well -- especially if the people in the setting -- heroes and villains -- react accordingly to the new situation and the guy that knows all the stuff he saw in the (anime/game/etc) and the situation changes in ways the character can't anticipate.

However, equally common is the subversion, where the main character applies This Loser Is You to themselves and ends up as The Ditz, The Fool, or in extreme cases a Butt Monkey. Care must be taken to not still make themselves more important than anybody else, lest they just end up with an Anti-Sue. The main rule is to never put the character in a high-ranking story position, although they may be the narrator.

The Self-Insert has two primary varieties: the Self as New Character, where the author simply opens the top of the story and drops a copy of himself right in (a new body may be necessary to fit in with anthropomorphic worlds, but it's still you), and the Self as Existing Character, where the author finds himself forced to take over the life (and sometimes the body) of an existing Canon character -- without necessarily being restrained to staying "in character" for their new role. See Possession Sue for the latter.

Note that self-insertion isn't automatically bad. After all, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be a hero in your favorite show -- provided that you remember to insert your flaws as well as your fantasies. After all, not everybody loves and adores you in real life, so they're not all going to love and adore you in a fanfic, either. Play it this way, and even if somebody does notice that you've just written an Author Avatar, they probably won't mind too much. Self-insertion, complete with flaws and realistic reactions from everyone involved, is just as good a way to make a new OC as any other. What was originally a self-insert can even adapt and evolve into a genuine Original Character.

Even hooking up with your dream character can be acceptable provided they do so realistically. For example, Starscream from just about any Transformers universe is a real creep, as are many other Seekers. Maybe your OC will eventually hook up with him but it's hardly likely to be an instant thing when he won't stop perving your chassis or shut up about how much better than you he is, and it probably won't be genuine lovin' for a while either.

The trouble is that a new writer doesn't think about that. They think only about ways in which their Author Avatar can be perfect, can within minutes hook up with the sexiest character available, cure their faults, force their beliefs on others, and ninja-kick their way to being the hero, rather than working on a realistic way they can enter the plot.

Played for Laughs this can become almost a different story entirely, which usually involves an average loser realising that whatever fictional world may not be the best or safest place for them, and commenting on the implausible things going on.

See also Life Embellished, Author Avatar, Write Who You Know, Her Codename Was Mary Sue.


Fan Work Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Interestingly deconstructed, averted, and played straight in Dreaming of Sunshine the Author Avatar is not godpowered- and, in fact, attempts to change the timeline as little as possible. This is actually justified, as she is attempting to retain her advantage by not rendering her knowledge of future events useless. This is difficult, as she arrived many years before the worst of the shit starts to hit the fan. She has some skills beyond the norm, but those stem from being reborn with her memory intact, not from being an Uberninja.
  • Nine times out of ten, a new original senshi in any Sailor Moon fanfiction will be a self-insert, replete with godlike powers and totally authority over everyone and everything -- the girl is usually related to a canon character as well. Considering the show's target audience was teenaged girls, which then became 5-13 girls when the show hit the US, this is not surprising.
  • In the Bleach fanfic Fanfictional Fugitive, the author directly admits that the main character is based on herself as much as possible. Then she starts to pretty much beat the entire shit out of her(self?) by both turning the character based on herself into a whiny, powerless, selfish and generally unlikable damsel in constant distress and making Fanfic!Myrthe experience an ongoing series of nasty events. And then lets her character react to these events in a way that does not flatter her character at all.
  • Jared "Skysaber" Ornstead is known for his deliberately over-the-top self-insert character Skysaber, an interdimensional superspy-troubleshooter who was actually apotheosized into a literal god during the course of The Bet.
    • His current (August 2007) project is a "type two" Self Insert called My Gilded Life, in which he has found himself taking over the life of Gilderoy Lockhart right at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; with his knowledge of the books he is deliberately and relentlessly running roughshod over canon. Sadly, he seems to be losing control of the story, and it's running off the rails.
  • The authors of Undocumented Features started the project in the early 1990s as a self-insert fic for themselves and many of their friends, but as time has gone on, the focus has moved mostly off their avatars and onto other, newer characters.
    • Many other EPU projects also involve self-insert avatars, making it one of their signature details. However, even though their Neon Exodus Evangelion didn't include either of the two primary writers as insert characters, critics still accused the story's lead of being one or the other in disguise. (Arguably this protagonist, DJ Croft, is a Marty Stu. But he's not an avatar.)
    • NXE manages to invert the Author Avatar trope with John Trussell. He was inserted in the story before he became one of the authors.
  • SIs are pretty common in Neon Genesis Evangelion fandom. Especially the female body swap kind... either a spare body of one of the show's main characters, or some OC with an even more fucked-up past than the series' own characters. Unfortunately, these are considered the good ones. New Perspective Evangelion by Dartz_IRL and I was a Teenage Dummy Plug by Foxboy. The second of these is usually regarded as the best of the subgenre.
  • Hybrid Theory by Blade and Epsilon deconstructs and satirizes the self-insert phenomenon while at the same time subverting the Mega Crossover.
  • Gregg "Metroanime" Sharp also subverts the self-insert trope with his fictional counterpart "Grey", who becomes a cosmic Butt Monkey doomed to endless futile struggle in an uncaring multiverse.
  • Contrabardus a.k.a. Carrotglace has also played with Self Insertion, but usually with a somewhat more comedic take than Metroanime. See his stories The Spirit Within, Insertion, Insertion: Reflux! and Gaijin (though this last is anything but comic).
  • Possibly the most infamous example of the godlike insert is Darren "Twister" Steffler and his incomplete mid-1990s megaseries Twisted Path. Steffler's work started out rather crude but improved noticeably as he continued writing, although it never quite reached better than high average in quality. Nevertheless, Twisted Path was incredibly influential, prompting a number of other writers to create their own Self-Insert or pseudo-Self-Insert fics, many of which included Shout Outs to Twisted Path or blatantly set themselves in the same multiverse.
  • One such story was Bert Van Vliet's The Bubblegum Zone, a Bubblegum Crisis self-insert which later had an explicit crossover with Twisted Path in the latter series' fourth installment.
  • Another is Ed Becerra's Legion's Quest, which carefully and skillfully walks the complicated line between playing a godlike Self Insert straight, parodying it, and subverting it. It, too, crosses over explicitly with Twisted Path, in its own Bubblegum Crisis segment.
  • Possibly the most notorious self-inserter of all was the one known only as "Oscar"; his Author Avatar was a 13-year-old Super Saiyan hermaphrodite (no, that is not a joke) who engaged in a sexual affair with Artemis from Sailor Moon... in his cat form. (Again, that is not a joke, as much as one might wish it so.) In later stories, Oscar became "involved" with Felicia from Darkstalkers and Lola Bunny. To top it all off, the real Oscar then mysteriously disappeared, and is now presumed dead. A link to an MST series of some of his work; linking to the actual stories would be NSFW.
  • Dr. X of Suburban Senshi is a surprisingly well-done self-insert, even with his gobs of power that mix and match multiple canons. It's all in the writing (and the fun social commentary, upon which the series could stand alone).
  • Not A Dirty Word by Michael Fetter is a rather... twisted, if witty parody of the usual Type 2 self-insert, in which the male author finds himself stuck in the body of Kasumi Tendo of Ranma One Half -- and finds he has to abide by her "rules of behavior". His efforts to find loopholes in those rules, and the repercussions his successes have on the established plot, are what really make this a fun story. Just, please, ignore the utterly cringeworthy prologue describing Jesus getting mad at the author and punishing him with the insert.
    • Speaking of Ranma ½, fanfiction written in the mid-90's commonly featured Self-Insert Fic, but with amusing twists due to authors trying to avoid the pitfalls of this trope. The most common twist was usually the author being deposited in the fic wholesale, with no changes from their real self, and the story characters teaming up to reap gallons of pain on the author for the things they've "put them through".
  • Tom. Fucking. Dyron. is one of the more audacious, unbelievable examples readily available. His 13-chapter fic, Evangelion 2: The DELTA Invasion (EVANGELION 2!), is the most ridiculous mess ever seen. Tom, the character, is... look, just read it. MSTed in the link above, do not attempt to read it raw.
  • David Gonterman's fanfics everything feature Gonterman himself (or an obvious Author Avatar) as the story's real hero. In the rare cases he isn't, it's because he made an obvious dream heroine, whose boyfriend will be suspiciously similar to him.
    • One might consider this blanket statement to be nullified by Gonterman's insert in Planeswalker being the father of the main character... if it weren't for his lax attitudes about incest coming to the forefront of Sailor Moon: American Kitsune... yeah...
  • Hikaru's Non-Redundant Self-Insertion Nadesico Fanfic, in which a character in the series inserts herself into a fictionalized account of oh dear I've gone cross-eyed. It's a lot easier to understand than it is to explain. Needless to say, this is Affectionate Parody of the genre.
  • Crazyeight's Fourth Wall series is set in a fanfiction website that is a place in its own right, accessible to authors the way the Digital World of Digimon is accessible to the Digidestined, except they only need to log on to visit. The first in the series, The Wages of Fans is Fiction, is about an author who tries to replace the Digimon canon with his own fiction and the resulting revolt, with other authors leading the revolutionaries in person.
  • This fanfic parodies (or maybe the word is deconstructs?) Mary Sue Self Inserts.
  • Hundreds, possibly thousands of these came up over the years in the Bob and George forums among the fan authors. It would be impossible to list them all. Needless to say, some were good, some were bad, and some were just plain ugly.
  • Oh! My Brother. An example of the good kind of self-insert fic. Christopher Angel manages to create a very readable and enjoyable series.
  • The Multi-universal crossover Sleeping with the Girls, deconstructs the idea of a self-insert heavily. The idea is that every time the nameless self-insert falls asleep, he is teleported to the bed of one of eight girls from anime. The problems quickly build up, as a) most of these girls are Tsundere types, and do not react kindly to him. b) "comical" attacks like a Megaton Punch will kill the Self Insert and subject him to the Chunky Salsa Rule. c) Because he has to wake up as quickly as possible to avoid the aforementioned consequences of death at the hands of crazy girls, by the end of the first volume, he has gone almost a week without sleep, is badly injured from a vast collection of wounds accumulated from a variety of sources, and the healing nanobots he picked up in his first world nearly boil him alive in his own sweat. d) because of his actions, he has severely damaged the timeline of several worlds, possibly dooming them.

Film

  • Ebony Enoby Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, of My Immortal infamy, is a thinly-disguised self-insertion Black Hole Sue in an unrecognizably goth (and poorly written) Harry Potter universe. The author, Tara Gliesbie (or Gillespie, her spelling skills are notorious) only saw the movies, and only became aware of the books at around chapter 15 or so ... not that she has any respect for the movies' canon either. The other characters occasionally slip up and call Enoby "Tara", thus giving away her nature as a self-insertion.


Literature

  • The Irregular Webcomic character Will Shakespeare, based loosely on the playwright, wrote himself into his Harry Potter fanfic. And later into his novelization of the Lord of the Rings movies, as Willimir.
  • When challenged to write a shameless self-insertion in the Harry Potter fandom, Sam Storyteller went the 'godlike powers and meta knowledge' route. The end result was a touching guardian angel style piece which may just have turned the genre on its head.
  • The hero of The Takers is two-fisted action-adventure writer Josh Culhane. The book is written by action-adventure writer Jerry Ahern, who deliberately gives the character some of his own traits.
  • Many Harry Potter fanfictions feature an 'American exchange student' (in a British school), who happens to have a main character fall in love with them and be friends with everyone (even the Slytherins). No reason is ever given behind the exchange, nor do any Hogwarts students ever go over to America..


Live Action TV

  • Not surprisingly, a fair amount of Star Trek Fanfic follows this line, including any number of stories where, due to painfully contrived circumstances, Mr. Spock falls passionately in love with a woman who bears an astonishing resemblance to the author. The term "Mary Sue" actually comes from a parody of these kinds of stories.
    • On the other hand, no less a luminary than David Gerrold originally wrote the famous "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode to feature a young ensign that he saw as a self-surrogate, and did something similar in his novel The Galactic Whirlpool.
    • This whole idea was parodied with Melllvar's fan script on the Star Trek episode of Futurama. Melllvar is called on by the crew to save them from catastrophe, and Uhura unenthusiastically falls in love with him.
  • ICarly: There is copious amounts of this usually by having a new transfer student that just happens to have the same name as the author joining the same school as the iCarly Power Trio. They also usually end up in a Love Triangle with them all.
  • The Professional Wrestling internet fanbase loves this kind of fiction, often called "Dynasties", "Legacies", "Diaries", or just plain "Fantasy Booking".
    • The whole concept of taking a wrestling company and shaping it as the author sees fit doesn't necessarily have to be Self-Insert Fic material, but when the story opens with Vince McMahon handing over control of the family business to a total stranger, the tone is irreversibly set. (And don't start on the number of women's wrestlers who get into romance...)
    • In 85% of wrestling fanfic these days The Undertaker ALWAYS has a daughter in her early-twenties who, of course, falls in love with [insert name here but it's usually Randy Orton].
    • Almost as common is a girl showing up as Matt and Jeff Hardy's long-lost sister. This will not necessarily stop her from sleeping with one or both of them.
  • Parodied extensively in the British comedy show ~Garth Marenghi's Darkplace~. The show is based on the premise that Garth Marenghi wrote and starred in a 80s low-budget hospital-based horror show. Many jokes are based on the idea that Garth Marenghi not only wrote the series, but also plays the central role in the show. As such, his own character -- Doctor Rick Dagless, M.D. -- exhibits outrageously unrealistic traits.
  • Lampshaded and spoofed in this episode of Science Fiction Theater 1,000,000,000 (a fan fiction series based on Mystery Science Theater 3000) where the Author Avatar tries to play the role straight, but after probing by Crow and Servo, he then turns into a typical Marty Stu, even changing the series into Freedom Fighter Theater 3000 for a time.

 MAGIC VOICE: Warning! Unauthorized use of self insertion!

JIM: Cram it, you talking tin can!

MAGIC VOICE: You're out of line, mister-- eep!

JIM: Hahahahahaha! I'm invincible!

  • A famous, and often ridiculed, Marty-Stu among Doctor Who fandom is Ben Chatham, a character who very strongly resembles his creator (the legendary Outpost Gallifrey/Gallifrey Base poster sparacus), sharing his manner of speech, his political viewpoints, even his taste in drink. Even the suggested actor for this character is an actor that the author has admitted to fancying. Needless to say, around 90% of characters in each story instantly fall for Chatham.
    • A rather large percentage of other fanfics featuring an author-created companion for the Doctor could arguably fit in this trope quite comfortably as well.
    • The Foreword to the Doctor Who 2009 Specials box set is, in fact, a short story by David Tennant wherein he goes back in time thirty years to tell his eight-year-old self that he will play the Doctor someday. In other words, it's a double-self-insert RPF. (And yes, it's adorably geeky.)
    • Russell T. Davies got his start writing DW fanfic. After learning that, the canon Rose/Doctor ship makes a _lot_ more sense....
  • A good chunk of Supernatural Fanfic contains self-inserts that are supposed to be the Winchesters' sister, who is either a long-lost relative or just always been there.
  • The My Name Is Earl episode "Creative Writing" has the main cast writing self-insert stories. Most of them blatant Mary Sues (complete with superpowers and ninja); one writes a soap opera, and another writes a musical number.


Video Games

  • Kingdom Hearts is somewhat notorious for its terrible self-insert fictions, mostly starring young fifteen year olds who somehow get sucked into their television sets and get keyblades.

 "There's sure a lot of people here," Tsuki tilted her head and bit her lip a bit. "I guess I was under the impression there was, um, only one Keybearer."

Yeah, you'd think so, wouldn't you? the creepy text said irritably. But in this world, the Keybearers apparently reproduce like little bunnies.

  • A writer of Wing Commander fanfic wrote themselves in as being the off-screen love interest of the character Mariko "Spirit" Tanaka, who died in the Heaven's Gate mission series. The odd part (or more so than otherwise) was that the character and said love interest both died, when Spirit crashed into the starbase where her fiance was supposedly held prisoner by the Kilrathi.
    • You can read it here. Draw your own conclusions.
  • Mixed Bag Comics is a Sprite Comic using characters from, well, as many sprite-based games as possible. Some of these characters appear to act as if in their original continuities while others don't and yet more do so only partially, making the position of the self-insert seem less out-of-place than it would be otherwise. The webcomic twists the trope even further in several ways:
    • The Author Avatar and the narrator are two distinct characters who both play reality-bending parts in the story.
    • Neither the author nor the narrator, despite being reality-benders, are the most powerful characters in the story; there are godlike programmers that are more powerful reality-benders than both the author and the narrator, and both have been trumped several times by regular characters as well.
    • The author not a very important character, but he isn't so unimportant that he's just an occasional cameo. The author is pretty much on equal terms with the rest of the cast in terms of importance and shifts out of the focus of the comic as often as any of the other regulars.
  • Final Fantasy VII fandom is a breeding place for this type of fanfiction. A good example would be Sephirothslave'sShinra High and its sequel, Shinra SOLDIER. The main character is a blatant self insert. There are few differences between the OC and its creator: it shares her name, appearance (with improvements in the bust area), likes and dislikes, preferences, fears, desires, opinions and some skills. The self insert allows Sephirothslave to enjoy the game universe, twist the characters to her own liking, "earn" a position as Commander of the Shinra Army, Sephiroth's love and the adoration or respect of everybody except a few who hate her (and are thus automatically evil). What few seem to notice however, is that she didn't only insert herself into her fanfictions, but also her real life friends (while not even bothering to change their family names), younger sister and even her band teacher. The massive ego-mania and canon defilement have earned her hundreds of negative reviews, the occasional sporking and the outrage of many fans of the game.
  • A less Stu-ish example comes from ToyHammer with a direct self-insert (down to name, appearance and personality) in the form of Vincent, a friend of the main character (a reclusive artist named Michael). There's a slight piece of Fridge Brilliance in there when you realize that both Vincent the author and Vincent the character both literally 'drop off' Michael into the story (via creation then by car), but otherwise that's the only mention of him for the first ten chapters of the story. However, he does become a surprisingly competent fighter (for an unfit gun-geek) and later a Supporting Leader.
  • My Inner Life has the blatant self insert Mary Sue of Jenna Silverblade. Hilariously, the author actually freely admits that Jenna is "herself" (or rather an alternate version of herself who lives in Hyrule when she sleeps) and gives a huge disclaimer at the beginning that because of this, she believes the fanfiction to be true to some degree.
  • Manga of My Memories of Playing Touhou by Shino/Ponjiyuusu is example of Tropes Are Not Bad. Shino replaces playable character and acts as Psycho Lesbian Butt Monkey. She repeats mistakes made by common Touhou players and get herself hilariously beaten by game bosses from PCB to UFO.
  • Another well made example of this trope could be Mass Vexations, whose protagonist, Art is actually a fan of Mass Effect, which he loses repeatedly and ends up trapped in, making him Genre Savvy to the point of Medium Awareness, justifying his status as a nail in the Mass Effect universe even when he doesn't invoke it himself. While Art ends up in a relationship with a canon character, their relationship progressing at a realistic rate, only becoming official 20 chapters in to the fic's Mass Effect 2 version, more than two years after they met.
  • Not even Team Fortress 2 is safe from this. The Adventures of Brody and Sniper, widely considered one of the worst TF2 fanfics ever written, is about a Mary Sue who is playing the game during a thunderstorm, causing Sniper to come out of the computer. He soon falls in love with the Sue, and follows her around during her daily life.


Web Original


Western Animation

  • Neo's Happy Funtime Land by User:Neo The Saiyan Angel is an excellent parody of a Self Insert, in which the author rewrites an episode of Kim Possible and secretly tricks the animators and voice actors into producing it. The author describes herself as an "absolutely gorgeous person..." for a paragraph or two. Neo goes so far as to change a character's hair with the snap of her fingers, saying that she liked it better blond.
  • User:Donteatacowman's brief fic The Strange Self Insert sees the author dropped into Kim Possible to gush over Ron (but she preferred him evil) and tell Kim she's one-dimensional. Unsurprisingly, they decide to send her home as quickly as possible.
  • In the Animaniacs fanfic A Horrible World of Plot Holes and Spelling Errors, the author inserted herself into the fic. Dot immediately recognized her as "that bitch who had me strangled to death by a drug addict on Christmas Eve". Since the fic was a parody of current fics, the Warners encountered no less than three Mary Sues (two of which were hopelessly in love with Yakko), spelling errors galore, and a crazed fan of Dot. The Warners go to the author to see what was going on. She explained that it was a parody of Mary Sues and the role they play.
  • Danny Phantom. Where to begin? There's tons of them out there. When you find one, expect that the Sue will be in love with Danny and have ghost powers for no explainable reason.
  • Transformers. Oh Primus, where do I start... The classic example would be infamous Tri Chess (that now seems to disappear off the web). Transformers Armada has it the worst, with almost every OC being a self insert of various degree and a Mary Sue. Regularly played with and parodied in Insecticomics.
  • Who hasn't seen ones like this in X-Men Evolution? Plenty to see, some not that bad, some terrible, you decide.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, due to the high and notable levels of Longing for Fictionland in its fandom, has a lot of "human in Equestria" stories, and it can be guessed a lot of these are self-insert fics. Through the Eyes of Another Pony began as an attempt to pull off a self-insert character well, though the protagonist's characterization has since evolved away from simply being the authorial alter ego.
    • "Filling the Gap" (warning: not very safe for work, or for people with quality standards) is an example of a poorly disguised Self-Insert Fic where the author accidentally switches from third person to first at times, forgetting that they're supposed to pretend the protagonist totally isn't them. This story perhaps beats a record by doing so in the very second sentence, and then doing so again, in both cases in the middle of a sentence--to surreal effect.

 ... he found himself losing my grip on reality very quickly.


Crossover

Canon Examples

Comic Books

  • Blood Red Dragon may have taken this to absolutely new heights... or lows. The entire story is based on a self-insert of Yoshiki Hayashi and a model, at least at the beginning.
  • When Marv Wolfman was writing The New Teen Titans, he gave Wonder Girl an older boyfriend (who was, apparently, one of her college instructors). The new boyfriend, named Terry Long, was breaking up with his wife who looked like an older version of Donna to marry the hotter, younger, super-powered version. He was also an insufferable jackass in his earlier appearances. For some reason, the artist, George Pérez, drew Mr Long to resemble Marv himself. Undeterred by fan Squick, Marv had Donna and Terry marry; afterwards, Terry developed into a nicer, more decent, more tolerable character.
    • Once Wolfman had left the book, one later writer had Donna and Terry divorce, and then a Wonder Woman writer killed off both Terry and the son he'd had with Donna in about one page.
  • The most important of the THUNDERAgents is Leonard Brown, AKA Dynamo, a studly hero who could tear apart tanks and had to deal with the attentions of several beautiful women, including the sexy villainess Iron Maiden. The name of his original writer? Len Brown. However, Dynamo differs from many self-insert characters in that he has concrete limitations on his powers, as he couldn't use his Thunderbelt for more than thirty minutes at a time. He also had the advantage of being drawn by Wally Wood. (Also, it turns out that the character wasn't named Leonard Brown when Len Brown created him: the editor renamed him for the lulz.)


Film

  • One of the (two) screenwriters for the B-Movie Soultaker (which is best known for being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000) also played the lead female in the movie. The plot? A rich girl and her ex-boyfriend get into a car accident and must outwit an angel of death, who was in love with her in a past life. Hmm...
  • Charlie Kaufman wrote himself into the script of Adaptation, a movie "adapted" from the book The Orchid Thief. The movie is about him trying to adapt The Orchid Thief, and eventually writing himself into the script.
    • The wild thing is that he manages to go the This Loser Is You route as well as the (well-written) Mary Sue route by inventing a fictional twin brother Donald who is everything Charlie is not. He even goes so far as to list Donald Kaufman in the actual credits of the film alongside himself, meaning that he was the first fictional character to be nominated for an Academy Award.
  • Basically the point of The Room is Johnny Wiseau telling the viewer how unappreciated he is and how much his life sucks, but in the most unintentionally hilarious way possible.


Literature

  • Richard Marcinko, former Navy SEAL, has written the Rogue Warrior series, a collection of anti-terrorism action novels with himself as the main protagonist. What is especially interesting is that the fictional Rogue Warrior books are written as sequels to the factual first book, entitled Rogue Warrior, which was Marcinko's autobiography. What is even more interesting is that his real life exploits (leader and founding member of both SEAL Team Six and Red Cell, along with being a legitimate Jerkass Stu) make it almost impossible to draw a line between self-insertion and avatarhood. Fans and critics of the series argue over whether Marcinko's characterization in the fictional followup books is blatantly overpowered or whether he is, in fact, just that Badass.
    • FBI agent Joseph Pistone, better known as Donnie Brasco, wrote (or put his name on top of) several fiction novels following him going undercover yet again as Donnie Brasco to infiltrate some evil goings-on or another. These seem to be out of print.
  • A rather blatant example, the post-apocalyptic novel Warday, by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka, follows the authors as they travel the country five years after a nuclear war, making a study of postwar America. The characters only differ from the authors in that the characters have been through a nuclear war.
  • It has been argued that Left Behind by Tim La Haye and Jerry B. Jenkins, is biblical Fanfic where the two intrepid, studly, and irreproachable leads (Rayford Steele and Buck Williams) are transparent MartyStus for the authors and their personal ideologies.
  • Subverted by Geoffrey Chaucer when he includes himself as a character in The Canterbury Tales. He tells a tale so lame that he gets rudely interrupted by the host (who also makes fun of his nerdy appearance).
  • Look at a picture of Laurell K. Hamilton and then read a description or look at a picture of the title character of the Anita Blake series. Yeah...
  • The same goes for Stephenie Meyer.

 "very fair-skinned, with long, straight, dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. Her face is heart-shaped -- a wide forehead with a widow's peak, large, wide-spaced eyes, prominent cheekbones, and then a thin nose and a narrow jaw with a pointed chin. Her lips are a little out of proportion, a bit too full for her jaw line. Her eyebrows are darker than her hair and more straight than they are arched. She's five foot four inches tall, slender but not at all muscular, and weighs about 115 pounds. She has stubby fingernails because she has a nervous habit of biting them."

    • Even Robert Pattinson, the guy who plays Edward in The Film of the Book Twilight, thinks the book is a Self-Insert Fic.
    • However, in the books, Bella is given so little physical description (or depth of character) that she is in many ways the ultimate in self-insert Mary Sues, because any girl reading it can slide herself into Bella's place (assuming she's not just reading it for the lulz). Meyer flat out said that she "left out a detailed description of Bella in the book so that the reader could more easily step into her shoes."
    • There's also the fact that Edward is Stephanie's own Relationship Sue, having at one point stated that if an actual Edward Cullen came along, she would leave her husband and children without a second thought.
  • Well known among Mary Sue sporking communities is the infamous and (sadly) unfinished NaNoWriMo entry BeanSidhe's Wail. What's interesting about it is it's not a simple case of Wish Fulfillment. The author is an Otherkin and shares almost all of her "life story" with the (incredibly unlikable) main character, Wynne. (Including the bit about Catherine Kathryn Howard.)
  • Halfway between fanfic and literature, in the Beekeeper's Apprentice we are introduced to Mary Russell. It is unrevealed whether her middle name is Sue, but Mary is a Sherlock Holmes fan who runs into the aging detective in Sussex (at a point after where the Conan Doyle stories end). Mary eventually gets a degree in theology and marries Holmes. She is of course written by an author who is a Sherlock Holmes fan with a degree in theology. However, the series is written by a professional author and you can buy it in bookstores.
  • Clive Cussler writes himself into every one of his later Dirk Pitt novels, either overtly (with him stating his full name to Pitt at some point) or slightly more subtly (His initials, for example). He generally appears for the sole purpose of assisting the main characters in their adventures, who never manage to remember him, though they do find him familiar on occasion.
    • Even when Cussler himself doesn't appear, he inserts himself another way sometimes. One example is Professor Beaty in Night Probe!, who bears a distinct resemblance to Cussler.
    • Sometimes, if he doesn't appear, he'll give some extremely minor (as in, only mentioned once) character his name ("the notorious bandit 'Big Foot' Cussler") This isn't a self insert per se, but nothing beats the time Clive Cussler inserted Bruce Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren into a novel (not in his guitarist capacity though).
  • Older Than Print: In The Divine Comedy, Dante is the author Dante Alighieri with a heavy dose of Wish Fulfillment: he gets to see his real-life enemies burn in Hell, interact with famous people he admires, reunite with his real-life lost love Beatrice who turns out to have loved him so much that she set up this whole journey to save him, and ascend all the way up to Heaven to see God up close. That said, he's not as bad as most examples of this trope because he's not idealized or talked up as a paragon of masculinity and the books are more about the places he journeys through than his heroic deeds or specialness.
  • In the Redwall Series, Gonff from Mossflower was supposedly based on the author, Brian Jacques. That the later book Doomwyte deals with Gonff's descendants probably has something to do with this.
  • An example of a very good Self-Insert Fic is Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Like Jane, Charlotte was a governess to the children of Constantine Heger, a married man who she was "lonely" and "homesick for" when apart from him, and "attached to" when she was in his company. No crazy ladies in the attic at the Heger home, though. Jane's strong moral character and love for/ambivalence towards the rules set forth by God were also very much a part of Charlotte's personality. Self-Insert Fic can be cool!
  • Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Cycle has stated that his main character Eragon started out as a fantasy version of himself doing things the real Christopher could never do.(i.e. being a Dragon Rider).However, he also says Eragon eventually developed into his own character and is no longer this.
  • It's tough to say whether it counts as Mary Sue or autobiography, but either way Rivella in 17th century proto-novel The Adventures of Rivella is the author, Delariviere Manley.
  • J.K. Rowling has said that Hermione Granger is the closest to a Self-insert character, being partially based off of her own childhood self.
  • James Joyce's A Portrait of an Artist as A Young Man and Ulysses have a self-insertion character by the name of Stephen Daedalus. He isn't the most sympathetic character.
    • Considering that Portrait is, more or less, Joyce's autobiography (as the title makes rather clear) or at least his telling of his coming-of-age story, and that Ulysses is its sequel, this makes sense. More interesting is that, although Stephen is quite clearly an Author Avatar, he shares more personality traits with Joyce's brother rather than James himself. Then again, this is according to the brother
  • Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. BOOOOOOOO....
  • The protagonist of Philip K. Dick's VALIS, Horselover Fat, is heavily based on the author. ("Horselover Fat" is a rough translation of "Philip Dick", from Greek and German for his first and last name respectively.)
  • Wayne D. Barlowe made himself the main character in his book Expedition.
  • Peter S. Beagle has Joe Farrell, a rare example of this done well.
  • Sammy-Jo Strauss doesn't even try to hide it in her self published book, From Reality to Fiction considering the main character shares her name.
  • Stephen King appears as himself in two volumes of The Dark Tower. He is by no means a sympathetic character, and is disliked by the ka-tet. He is also literally their creator, making him a rather supreme example of an Anti-Sue.
  • The villain of Those Who Trespass is suspiciously similar to author Bill O'Reilly. The hero also shares O'Reilly's background and the personality he claims to have in his nonfiction books, but is not as obviously meant to represent O'Reilly himself.
  • Rhonin, a character appearing often in Warcraft novels written by Richard A. Knaak, is highly regarded as an insertion sue. His exploits ranging from saving the red dragon aspect from an orc warlock of greater power to going back in time to help win an ancient war (that had already been won, who knows why he felt the need to put himself in it) to banging Sylvanas' other sister that never existed until Knaak decided he needed some elf ass.


Manga

  • Singer and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's widow Courtney Love pretty much admits that Princess Ai is a very loose and much more fantastical version of her life. That is, if the fact that the title character works as a singer, falls in love with a "sensitive musician" named Kent, and has a name that means "love" in Japanese or Chinese didn't tip you off.
  • This is the actual power of Bleach's new post-Time Skip villain Tsukishima. To those not affected, it's Invasion of the Body Snatchers-level disturbing to see their friends greet him as if they'd known him all their lives. Especially for Ichigo, when he learns that Tsukishima Marty Stu-ed himself into everything he has fought and suffered for.


Live Action Television

  • Margaret Thatcher once wrote a skit for Yes Minister, in which she played the part of the Prime Minister. The piece is actually quite amusing, and did air on the BBC.
  • Melina Kanakaredes (Stella Bonasera) wrote a fifth season episode of CSI New York and turned her character into a forensics MacGyver.
  • Charlie Brooker likes to write in sneering, cynical Only Sane Man-type characters who resemble himself. In Nathan Barley the character of Dan Ashcroft qualified, and in Dead Set it was the Big Brother producer, Patrick.
    • Although both of these are also clearly shown to be enormous bastards, so what this says about Brooker's opinion of himself is open to discussion.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer epsiode "Superstar", Johnathan "Short Idiot" Levinson uses demonic powers to alter reality into a painfully-bad Self-Insert Fic, complete with the Scooby Gang following him around like stunned guppies. It even includes a bit of Twin Threesome Fantasy for good measure.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon wrote a Star Trek fanfic when he was a kid, about how a little kid from Texas is taken away by Mr. Spock to join the crew of the Enterprise.
  • This is the basic gimmick of Secret Girlfriend. The main protagonist is you. He's never referred to by name and never says anything out loud, but all of his friends adore "you." All of the jokes (which you're basically supposed to insert) are hilarious. All of the girls want you and you end up with most of them. You would probably feel awesome if not for your two friends being total idiots and your ex-girlfriend being a Yandere.


Video Games

  • 50 Cent: Bulletproof and its sequel 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. According to The Other Wiki, when asked to do the voice for the main character of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, 50 Cent replied that he would only voice himself in a video game. So these little self-insert adventures were developed for him.
  • This trope is literally invoked in the Kingdom Hearts series with the 100 Acre Wood. Thanks to the magical nature of the book (it sucks the reader from the "real" world into the story), restoring the Pages (and thereby reconstructing the world) and interacting with the characters, allows Sora to (inadvertently) rewrite the plot of Winnie the Pooh to include himself as a prominent character. When you lock the world's keyhole, it even includes him on the cover with the rest of the characters.
  • In-universe example: The fifth arc of Umineko no Naku Koro ni is largely a Self-Insert Fic written by the main villain, whose Author Avatar hijacks the story from the usual protagonists and proceeds to wreak havoc on the plot and characters.
  • Accidentally happened in Metal Gear Solid, when Shinkawa designed Otacon to look like Hideo Kojima, and Kojima ran with it and based Otacon's personality off his own as well. While Otacon is one of the most heroic characters and ends up having sex with Naomi, a character Kojima based on his ideal woman, the amount of abuse Kojima piled on him easily overwhelms all this and makes him look kind of pathetic.
  • Sakupen in Dadgame is probably a parody of this played for laughs (his power is really over the top, plus he runs away screaming when first engaged) which does not stop him from being atrociously hard.
  • An RPG Lord of the Rings The Third Age's story is about a group of people who act like a shadow to the original fellowship of the ring. They go to the same places and witness simillar events in the movie. They even help the original team fight off Balrog and the monster army in Helms Deep.
  • The entire plot of Touhou Pocket Wars Evolution is that of the player (a slightly obsessed Touhou fan) going to Gensokyo.


Webcomics


Web Original

  • Survival of the Fittest has had a fair number of self-inserts over the course of four versions. Usually they're not frowned upon, as long as they're treated realistically and don't stretch the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. And other times characters based off of people the handler knows show up too.
  • Since the day the Draw Your Own Story comics began on the CivFanatics forums, most of the Loads and Loads of Characters were more or less Sue-ish self-inserts (often represented by the user's avatar.)
  • SCP-423 is literally named "Self-Inserting Character," a piece of paper who can add a minor character named "Fred" into the story. Normally the character plays a background role, never very important or changes the story. However, it was noted that when placed inside it's own SCP article, the only thing that changed was the addition of "ruggedly handsome" at several points.


Western Animation

  • There was an example in The Simpsons. It involved Marge practically inserting herself into her own novel, but she didn't stop there, she more or less inserted the entire residency of Springfield into the story. Initially she writes Homer's character as a noble, loving husband, but when the real Homer commits a brazen display of Jerkass-edness, Marge angrily rewrites his character to match. The real conflict comes when Marge has her protagonist fall for Ned Flanders' character, making everyone in Springfield suspect that Marge had fallen for Flanders. When Homer actually got around to reading it, he went after Flanders...not to kill him (unlike the novel), but to ask him for advice on how to be a better husband. As for the novel, it got terrible reviews.
    • ...but sold well enough for every person in town to have a copy of it.
  • Brainiac 5 of Legion of Super Heroes places himself into one of these where he dies in Superman's arms after saving his life.
  • An episode of Samurai Jack had Aku tell fairy tales to the children of earth in hope of showing them his side of things and making them more obedient minions when they grow up. This eventually ended up with him turning every protagonist into himself (WITH GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS!) and every antagonist into Jack.
  • In the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", the entity known as Melllvar has written a script for an episode of Star Trek, where he saves the crew of the Enterprise, and has Uhura tell him how attractive he is. He then holds The Original Series cast prisoner, and forces them to act it out.


Meta Examples

Fan Fic

  • The fic Martian Manhunter turns the concept of the Self-Insert Fic on its ear, along with the Fusion Fic. Veronica Mars finds herself, along with her supporting cast and backstory, shoehorned into her favorite TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It plays out as a self-insert fic, and yet it isn't. Much Better Than It Sounds here.
  • Similarly, Ma Vie Et Roses by Scott Johnson and Scott Jamison subverts and plays with Self Insertion. In this Revolutionary Girl Utena fic, an anime fan finds himself shoved into a show he's barely even heard of. One of the authors, who was genuinely unfamiliar with the series at the time, wrote the actions of the pseudo-Author Avatar Skyler Sands, while the other wrote the rest of the fic around him. Acting out of true ignorance, Skyler manages to thread his way through the main action while still ranging far afield (such as ending up joining the Shadow Girls' avante-garde theatre group). Skyler is very Genre Savvy, which helps (but not enough), and eventually ends up speculating on the existence and motives of the "meta-Skyler" who put him in the story.
  • Self-Extraction: a "charming little tale of the people who write themselves in, and the people who shoot them back out", written round-robin by a half-dozen or so authors. Initially played for laughs but gets more serious toward the incomplete ending.
  • The Wild Horse Thesis has Ranma Saotome inserted via magic spell into the place of Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion by Gosunkugi in the hopes of getting rid of him. Unfortunately for the caster, Ranma uses his situation to his advantage, and proceeds to wreak havoc on Gendo's plans to change the ending of the anime for the better. One of the better examples on this page, it was good enough to earn a place on the Fan Fic Recommendations listing.
  • In the Mass Effect fanfic Project Gethinator, it's mentioned that Admiral Daro'Xen, who is Yandere for Shepard in a big way, has written quite a few Self-Insert Fic Real Person Fics involving herself and Shepard. According to those who know of them, they're quite sick and depraved, second only to what Prazza did in Fornax's Forbidden Issue, and illustrate quite nicely how completely fucked up Admiral Xen is.


Literature

  • One minor character in the Hawk & Fisher novels was a self-promoting mercenary who wrote loads of over-the-top adventure stories about his own "incredibly heroic deeds", then published them as mass-market chapbooks under a pseudonym.


Real Life

  • Historical example: Given the state of the facts, Martha Jane Canary-Burke, aka Calamity Jane herself, may be the world's first fangirl to create Self-Insert Fic -- her claims of relationship to Wild Bill Hickok and serving under Custer are largely unverifiable or false by history.
  • Similarly, Anna Leonowens (the "I" in The King and I) similarly exaggerated her role and influence at the court of the king of Siam, though not to the extremes her erstwhile "biographers" did in the works based on her own.
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