Top Ten: Fictional Mothers

Mothers and their children share a special something something.

Hey, I don’t know what to tell you; my own mom was the dirt fucking worst. All kinds of abusive and really just the absolute pits. She died a long time ago, though, so it’s fine. I won.

But what are you, my therapist? This isn’t what you are here for! You’re here for the Top Ten List! We have regaled in you in the past with challenges regarding the Best Sitcoms, Best Candy, Best WrestleMania Matches, and many Best of the 2010’s lists.

You know what sucks about fiction? Almost all of it, outside of sitcoms? There is an inordinate lack of mothers! It’s such a lazy plot device to have a character without a mother, whether she ran off or died in an accident or childbirth or what-have-you. So much of our male-centric fictional realm is based around characters who are either orphans or are being raised by a single dad. Why you gotta hate moms, writers?

(I’ve been guilty of this, and I know why, actually: it builds in sympathy and gives an easy instant story if you decide to go that route)

But hey. How hard could it be to think of ten solid fictional moms? Just a short list of ten great ones who are high enough caliber to rightfully qualify for a list naming the very best?

That should be easy enough.

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#10. The Mother In That Danzig Song

For transparency’s sake… this might not actually be the best mother. I mean, she has to repeatedly be told to not let her children walk Danzig’s way or hear his words (what they mean OR what they say). Supervision might not be her strong suit.

But what she loses in letting her kids go the same way as Danzig, she makes up for in constantly refusing to find hell with him, so that’s a thing! I mean, if she said yes, you figure he’d quit inviting her, right? If you have children at home, you have more important things to do that going out in search of a torturous afterlife with a rock singer.

Baby steps, Mother. Baby steps!


#9. Peggy Bundy

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Nobody in the infamous Bundy clan seems like they should be on any kind of Best Of list. They were simply not good people. They were manipulative and corrupt and deceitful. They either would not or could not see past their own selfish needs, and every other person on Earth was merely a means to their own ends, either individually or as a family.

Truth be told, the Bundy’s barely liked EACH OTHER. Peggy and Al had a frigid, contemptuous relationship. Kelly suffered alternating bouts of being disregarded or being overly sheltered. Bud clearly needed some kind of emotional support.

But for as much as the Bundy’s may not have respected each other, heaven help anyone outside of the family who disrespected them. Peggy would go from a bon-bon munching couch potato to a voracious mama bear if anyone else treated her kids the way she herself did. Peggy and her family weren’t great people, but when the chips were down, they were there for each other.


#8. Lorelai Gilmore

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Lorelai Gilmore has more of a friendship relationship with her daughter Rory, sure, but she also has some solid parenting skills. While Lorelai has a contentious relationship with her own mother, she never really uses Rory as a weapon against her, and she allows her daughter to cultivate her own relationship with her grandparents.

Lorelai and Rory are extremely close and honest with each other. They don’t keep boundaries, and Lorelai treats Rory as a respected peer. There is genuine love and affection there.

Lorelai loses points, though, in just how awful of a human being Rory grows up to be in the last season or two (and including the four episode Netflix continuation). I wish Lorelai was my mom, but she really shouldn’t have let her daughter grow up to be such a useless jerk. Late seasons Rory is the fucking worst.


#7. Pamela Voorhees

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It’s an inside joke.

What’s the best trait a mother can have?

Is it the ability to cook three nutritious meals a day? What about having comforting arms in which to hold her child while she sings a lullaby? Could it be the fierce determination to defend your progeny from bullying or injustice?

It is, in fact, none of those.

The very best mothers are those that will fly into murderous rampages if their child is ever killed due to negligence; sprees designed to ensure that no other mother would ever have to suffer as she did, even if she has to pre-emptively eliminate those who show the slightest sign of the ability to neglect children.

She is basically an inverted Batman. Pamela Voorhees loved her son SO MUCH that she dedicated her entire life to ensuring that other mothers might always have the chance to love their own children.

Unless their children were camp counselors who engaged in pre-marital sex.

Then fuck those mothers.

Eh, Batman’s a hypocrite, too.


#6 The Alien Queen

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Just like Pamela Voorhees, the Xenomorph Queen saw some murderer walk into her home and start flamethrowering all her kids, and she was all “AW FUCK NAW”. She doesn’t make the list because she made the best hot cocoa or sang the sweetest songs. She scores for saying “IF YOU HURT MY KIDS, I WILL EAT THE FUCK OUT OF YOU, I SWEAR TO CHRIST”.

Also, she must really love being a mom, because she has SO. MANY. CHILDREN.


#5. Mallory Archer

Is Mallory Archer a great mother? No. Is Mallory Archer a great person? Even more no. But she saw these own flaws in herself and sought out a supremely dedicated butler in Woodhouse to raise her son as best he could because she knew that was the leg up he would need in life.

In her own way, Mallory is constantly looking out for her son, international superspy Sterling Archer. When he makes mistakes, she is there to pick up after him… after a possibly unhealthy amount of judging and condescension.

When Archer spent several seasons in a coma, it was to his faithful mother he woke up, as she had never left his side. That’s actually pretty sweet!


#4 Lucille Bluth

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I’m just going to let you in on a secret: literally every mother on television should just be played by Jessica Walter. She is a treasure.

Lucille Bluth combines the fierce “I can hate them but you can’t” creed of Peggy Bundy with the vaguely controlling nature of Mallory Archer. She is maybe the single funniest character in television history, and really… Jessica Walter really should be on every TV program.


#3 Aunt May

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Was Aunt May ever officially recognized as Peter Parker’s adoptive mother? After Richard and Mary passed away, did she and Ben ever officially adopt Peter? It seems like she would have to have done so, but… I can’t recall it ever happening.

Whether she did or not, Aunt May may not have been Peter’s birth mother, but she willingly and happily took in a child to raise as her own, and she was there for Peter at every turn. What a loving sacrifice! She was in every actual way that mattered, Peter’s mother. She provided him the stable home environment and the moral compass that he needed to grow into the greatest hero in the Marvel Universe. And when she found out that Peter had been lying to her for decades, she had a very human struggle to accept and forgive him, but she did.

We should all be so lucky to have a mother like May Parker.


#2. Jubilee

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Rule #1: If I can fit Jubilee onto a list, she makes the list.

Jubilation Lee, like Aunt May, proves that family doesn’t have to be in who is coincidentally biologically related to you… it can be in who you choose. And when she found an orphaned baby in a terrible situation, she took him in as her own, came to love him, and legally adopted him as her own son.

At a time in her life when Jubilee was feeling like an outcast and like she didn’t have a home, she was able to look beyond her self-pity and create a home for Shogo, who needed much more than even she did.

Since then, she and Shogo have been inseparable. They overcame her vampirism together and moved to Krakoa together. Even though he now sometimes turns into a dragon.


#1. Shaft

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He’s one bad mother, but I’ll just shut my mouth about that. Even though I’m talking about Shaft, so you can probably dig it.


So, uh, that’s my list, I guess. Of the best Mothers. Is it the BEST list? Nnnnnyes.

Turns out, there really aren’t that many great mothers in pop culture. Ma Kent would have made the cut, but you know what? She’s responsible for all that “MARTHA” shit, so I can’t really abide by that.

The takeaway here is this: I am still not sure why fiction hates maternal role model characters, but… there are SOME. And you have to respect the ones that there are, because even if they aren’t the most nurturing souls on the planet, a mother can be a fascinating and entertaining television figure.

Also, if your child dies in a tragic accident, it might be Kevin Bacon’s fault, and you should kill him dead.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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