Reinterpreting the controversy surrounding such bestsellers as Lady Audley's Secret, this essay shows how the unexpected problem of "redundant women" reshaped the Victorian novel. It argues that this peculiar hypothesis of female surplus population takes form in sensation narratives and permanently destabilizes domestic fiction. By overpopulating households and eroding qualitative distinctions among characters, these narratives created a new paradigm. The redundancy paradigm infiltrates realist classics (notably, George Eliot's novels) against which Mary Braddon's notorious novels were regularly contrasted. It further transforms critical discourse, which echoes sensation plots in representing popular fiction itself as a surplus that literary culture cannot contain.