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34 Good (and Bad) Pop Culture Moms to Celebrate Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a formal celebration for those who have bravely taken on the journey of motherhood. Sometimes, that road involves giving birth to a child (or children) and guiding them throughout life. Other times, motherhood may come in a different form—through adoption, step-parenting, or another avenue where a person can have a powerful influence on someone’s life. A mentor, coach, or community leader might exhibit some “mom-like” traits as they take others under their wings and give them some needed love, guidance, encouragement, and kindness. Do some moms absolutely suck? Yes. But there are also a lot of imperfect ones who try hard to be a solid momma.

TV and film moms often reflect the realities of real-life motherhood. There are moms who fit the “wholesome” mold while others are both loving and willing to shoot your face off. Fictional moms may be unconventional, fun, brave, badass, silent, outlandish, rowdy, patient, successful, stubborn, deadly, or just an entire mess. But, no matter what, they are a vital part of the storyline, for better or worse. There are countless famous moms but everyone should know and love (or maybe hate) these moms:

Morticia Addams, The Addams Family
morticia addams looks into the distance

MGM Television

Morticia Addams is hella cool as a person, with her thorny vase arrangements, bubbling brews, and knife-throwing prowess. But she’s also a great mother. She is always actively engaged with her kids, whether it’s validating their feelings, offering emotional support, and encouraging them to expand their horizons. Morticia isn’t afraid to advocate for her kids as she shows them ample respect and kindness. The Addams kids are secure in their individuality with a healthy example of love and marriage in their household. Basically, Morticia is 100% worthy of some Mother’s Day love.

Ellen Ripley, Aliens
A woman holds a child and a gun

20th Century Fox

Good moms will go to war over their kids, and there’s no mom more ready for battle than Ellen Ripley. In Alien she asserted herself as one of the best woman protagonists of all time, and one film later she bonded with Newt over their shared pain of losing everything. Her innate desire to protect this innocent girl led to the classic scene of her screaming, “Get away from her, you bitch!” before dispatching a massive, terrifying alien.

Aunt May, Spider-Man
Aunt May stands in front of Peter in Spiderman suit

Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Peter Parker calls her Aunt May but she’s pretty much his mother. There are a lot of different adaptations of this Marvel character, with some of them living in oblivion about Peter’s Spider-Man alter ego and others finding out the truth. But Aunt May has always been nurturing, supportive, and a foundational part of his life in every universe.

Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones 
Daenerys stands with Drogon

HBO

The show didn’t give her the title “Mother of Dragons” for no reason. Daenerys may have been willing to murder thousands of people for her own personal gain, but she always treated her dragon children with love and care. Her attachment to Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion was amplified after losing Drogo and their unborn son and, sadly, she would witness more loss before her own demise.

Jackie Tyler, Doctor Who
Jackie and Rose Tyler stand in living room

BBC Studios

The modern era of Doctor Who dives deep into the companions’ world, often introducing their immediate family members. Most Doctor Who companions’ moms are either nonexistent, deceased, oblivious, or not a fan of The Doctor, but Rose Tyler’s mom Jackie is a bit different.

Her relationship with The Doctor started off rocky but she eventually found herself fiercely protective of him as he took her daughter on adventures. Jackie’s desire to defend Rose and The Doctor led to her establishing a new life on a parallel planet and playing a major role in the Tenth Doctor’s Endgame-esque adventure.

Michonne, The Walking Dead
Michonne and Carl walk on train tracks

Gene Page/AMC

Motherhood is a complicated pursuit, whether it’s in “normal” life or during a zombie apocalypse. In The Walking Dead’s TV and comic universe, Michonne is a brave survivor, warrior, leader, friend, and a loving mother. Comic Michonne dealt with guilt over being separated from her daughters in the apocalypse. She later reunited with Elodie and reconciled a broken mom/daughter bond.

TV Michonne’s motherhood journey started with her reeling from the loss of her toddler son Andre. She withdrew from society until she established a mom/son/best friend bond with Carl Grimes. Michonne also raised her stepdaughter Judith, passing on her katana and leadership skills to help her survive this an apocalyptic world. She later became a biological mother once again to RJ while stepping into Rick’s shoes as a leader. Her love for family is her driving force and will continue to sustain her as she goes off an unknown adventure.

Sarah Connor, Terminator franchise
woman looks off into distance wearing shades

TriStar Pictures

Sarah’s journey into motherhood has some timeline twists, including her being hunted down to prevent her not-yet-conceived son John Connor from being born. This knowledge helps her boss up and become the full-blown heroine whom we all love. Sarah Connor is not only his mom, but the figurative mom and defender of the Earth who is always about that action.

Martha Kent, Superman
Martha embraces Clark in a corn field

Warner Bros./DC Comics

Being a mom to a completely human kid isn’t easy. So, imagine what it’s like to raise an otherworldly child with superpowers. Martha Kent was instrumental in instilling Clark Kent’s core values and teaching him how to assimilate among humans. She creates his first costume, encourages him to use his powers for good, and helps him become an all-American hero.

Helen Parr a.k.a. Elastigirl, The Incredibles
elastigirl rides on the top of a train car

Walt Disney Studios/Pixar Animation Studios

Helen manages to keep her superfamily in line as they save the world together. Sometimes, her family stretches her a little too thin but she handles it all in stride. She was instantly lovable but Incredibles 2 made her an even better hero. Helen stepped outside of the typical “mom” duties and become a one-woman crime-fighting force.

Queen Ramonda, Black Panther
Ramonda stands in front of T'Challa

Marvel Studios

The Queen Mother of Wakanda is responsible for two intelligent and bold offspring. She bravely goes to M’Baku for help when all hope seems lost and revives her son T’Challa. Ramonda lost her children in a Thanos snap and held things down for five years until they came back. She’s everything a queen should be: careful with her words, loyal to her country, wise, formidable, and respectful and loving in her treatment.

Bo, Fast Color
Bo looks in a book with daughter Ruth

Codeblack Films

Bo handles two generations of superpowered girls with an incredibly level head. She raises and protects her granddaughter Lila while her daughter Ruth goes into the world and battles a drug addiction. When things get out of control, Ruth goes to the place that gives her security: home. Bo welcomes her daughter back with open arms and allows her to bond with Lila. In the end, Bo does what many great film mothers do—sacrifice her freedom to save her family’s lives.

Nicole, Raising Dion
Nicole gives her son Dion a pep talk in school hallway

Netflix

All moms have a lot on their shoulders but Nicole carried weights of dealing with the “death” of her husband Mark, abandoning her passion as a dancer, struggling to pay bills, and raising her son Dion. She navigated everything from conversations about racism to dealing with her son’s brilliant superpowers as best she could while trying to maintain her own sanity. Nicole exhibited a ton of patience and an unshakable determination to keep her son safe at all costs.

Maureen Prescott, Scream franchise
Maureen Prescott acting portfolio

Dimension Films

Maureen Prescott is one of the biggest characters in the Scream franchise despite her death prior to the films’ events. By all accounts, Maureen was a good mom to Sidney and raised her to be a smart, resourceful woman. Her attempt to heal from tragic experiences while making a fresh start is extremely sad yet a reality for a lot of moms.

Alana, Saga 
Alana and Marko prepare for a fight

Image Comics/Fiona Staples

Alana’s story of breaking boundaries and falling in love is an epic comic tale filled with action and emotion. She’s a mom on the run who encounters a litany of hardships and horrors alongside her love Marko while trying to protect their daughter Hazel. She’s a being with morals, heart, and compassion in a world ravaged by war.

Maria von Trapp, The Sound of Music
Maria dances in an open green field

20th Century Fox

Nobody solves a problem like Maria. This entry is a bit of a cheat because The Sound of Music is based on the real-life von Trapp family. But, any musical has some level of dramatization and made-up elements so let us have this one. The von Trapp kids and their super strict father were living in a home without a lot of joy and kindness until a chipper governess changed their lives.

Maria brought a breath of fresh air with her songbird voice, patience, and love for carefree fun, softening everyone’s hearts in the process. There aren’t a lot of “loving stepmom” movies but this one is a golden example of how you don’t have to give birth to a child to love them fiercely.

Mrs. Gump, Forrest Gump
Mrs. Gump talks to Forrest from her death bed

Paramount Pictures

Mrs. Gump always had a way of saying things in a way that Forrest could understand. She defended her son’s right to have access to every opportunity that his peers had and wanted others to treat him like a “normal” person. Forrest’s mom was a goldmine of great quotes and encouragement for all of us.

Aunt Viv, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Aunt Viv gives a stern look

Warner Bros.

Yes, Will has a momma who sent him across the country after one little fight. But Aunt Viv became his second mom who guided, scolded, and supported him through critical years in his life.

Aunt Viv was an educated, wealthy mom but she’s not afraid to pull up on her kids in Compton or remind them that she wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. In the words of Megan Thee Stallion, the original Aunt Viv was classy, bougie, and sometimes ratchet.

Joyce Byers, Stranger Things
Joyce stands in pharmacy aisle

Netflix

Joyce Byers is perhaps one the best TV moms of all time. She’s a hardworking divorced parent of two latchkey kids who doesn’t always know what’s going on in their lives. Joyce feels some “mom guilt” over working so much but she also has to make ends meet. But she still manages to be a supportive mom who encourages her kids to be their authentic selves.

The little things she does, like respecting Will’s fort rules, giving him space to be sensitive, and supporting Jonathan after his arrest, make her the best parent in Hawkins. In fact, her love for her sons and impeccable mother’s intuition are the reason why Hawkins isn’t in complete shambles. Joyce doesn’t care if people think she’s weird or plain crazy: all she wants is to make sure her kids (and their friends) are safe.

Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
Marge cooks in kitchen

Fox

Motherhood sucks sometimes. Marge is known for being the patient and loving moral compass of the Simpson household but that role can take a toll on her. At one point, Marge would rather spend more time in jail than be with her annoying family. Honestly, we would feel the same way if our kids didn’t grow up after 30+ years.

Mom Parker, A Christmas Story
Ralphie mom stares at him

MGM

Ralphie’s mom is the classic overprotective mom. She’s afraid you’ll shoot your eye out with a new toy. She will wrap you up in 17 layers of clothes for a cold day. And she might stick a bar of soap in your mouth for letting out a string of curse words. Mrs. Parker might have a tight grip on her kids but she’s also a doting mother who isn’t afraid to let down her guard (or break a leg lamp). She finds humor in her slightly dysfunctional family and rolls with the punches of daily life.

Claire Huxtable, The Cosby Show
Clair points a stern finger

Carsey-Werner Productions

The Huxtable family matriarch managed to balance a successful legal career with keeping five kids in line. Claire had zero tolerance for big fun with the wretched or unruly behavior as the primary disciplinarian. But she was also a source of rich advice and would use her legal expertise to defend her children’s rights. Her ability to “have it all” and exhibit feminist ideals have made her #workingmomgoals for countless women.

Linda Belcher, Bob’s Burgers

Linda stands in restaurant with bob

20th Century Fox

Everyone wants a happy, fun, and supportive momma like Linda. She loves a good song, a prank, romance novels, wine, and having a good time with her family. The way to her heart for Mother’s Day is absolutely a spa day, bottle of wine, and a smutty novel. Linda will lay down the law when she needs to but her carefree, relaxed parenting style is a reminder to not take things too seriously.

Catelyn Stark, Game of Thrones
Catelyn Stark looks on bravely

HBO

Like everyone on Games of Thrones, Catelyn Stark was a complicated and flawed woman. Her love for her children, political knowledge, and push for peace were often undermined by her impulsive actions and underestimation of others. She died avenging Robb while mourning the destruction of her family but at least she went out like a boss.

Helen Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries
Helen sits in her kitchen

Walt Disney Pictures

This film is primarily about the relationship that geeky teen Mia built with her classy royal grandmother Clarisse. However, Mia’s mom Helen was a pretty cool lady. She was an artist with an eclectic and cozy home, including Mia’s ridiculously cool room.

Helen gave Mia the space to be confused and angry when she discovered the truth about her heritage, and she apologized for keeping her past a secret. She gave up the chance of being royalty to pursue a more carefree life as an artist but allowed Mia to make her own decision about accepting the crown. Mia and Helen were an adorable, quirky, rock-climbing match made in heaven.

Blanca, Elektra, Candy, and Lulu, Pose
The women of Pose stand at a ball

FX Networks

The crux of Pose’s storyline is about finding family and camaraderie in a world that doesn’t welcome your authentic self. Blanca, Elektra, Lulu, and Candy (RIP) are all mothers of houses who rock the ‘80s and ‘90s NYC ballroom scene.

They take in LGBTQIA+ young people who have been discarded by their blood families and give them a safe, creative space to thrive. Some of them, like Blanca, rule their homes with tender love while others, like Elektra, are tough as nails. The house members may not share a blood relation but they are families—a group of people coming together to form a powerful bond.

Sarah Jane Smith, Doctor Who & The Sarah Jane Adventures
Sarah Jane and Luke stand together

BBC Studios

Sarah Jane Smith is the ultimate Doctor Who companion. She got into adventures with several doctors and secured her own show about her otherworldly investigations. This investigative journalist is brave, opinionated, and ready to go to war with the deadliest foes to not only defend Earth, but also protect her son Luke and her young proteges. Sarah Jane will have our hearts forever.

And now for some less admirable mothers…

Pamela Voorhees, Friday the 13th
Pamela Voorhees stands with a knife

Paramount Pictures

The worst fictional moms are usually horror moms. They explore the dark (and deadly) side of motherhood and are not the best recipients of beautiful flowers or a sappy card. Pamela Voorhees took revenge to a new level when she became Camp Crystal Lake’s worst nightmare.

She not only kills the people who were (indirectly) responsible for her son’s death, but took out anyone who stepped on the camp’s grounds. Her killing spree and death led to Jason’s infamous journey as a hockey-mask-wearing murderer.

Margaret White, Carrie
Margaret stands with a knife

MGM

The film may be called Carrie, but Margaret White is the true villain. She’s one of the worst fictional mothers of all-time: an abusive religious fanatic who locks her own daughter into rooms. She calls Carrie a “satanic witch” and drags her into a prayer closet for having a menstrual cycle. Yikes. Moms like Margaret are the reason why some people don’t celebrate Mother’s Day.

Kate McAllister, Home Alone
Kevin's mother makes call on payphone

20th Century Fox

Kevin’s mom isn’t a killer, enabler of crime, or horrifically bad in any way. But any ‘90s kid who has revisited this movie as an adult knows she’s not winning any mom-of-the-year awards either. She made an eight-year-old responsible for packing his own clothes for an international trip and let his Uncle Frank call him a jerk in front of the entire house. Then she left him in the attic alone overnight and didn’t notice his absence until they were halfway to Paris! Sure, she went through a lot to get back home to him…but she also did it again. Sigh.

Lady Tremaine, Cinderella
Lady Tremaine smiles a calculating smile

Walt Disney Studios

Lady Tremaine is the classic awful stepmom with a cruel, passive aggressive attitude. She unfairly treats Cinderella like an indentured servant simply because her own daughters are ugly and untalented. Sometimes the people who raise us are terrible, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have our own version of a happily ever after.

June George, Mean Girls
June walks into daughter's room wearing all pink

Paramount Pictures

June George really loves being a cool mom. She dresses trendy, serves cocktails to kids, and knows all the right dance moves. Some of her actions are certainly questionable but she also wasn’t overly judgmental nor preachy to her daughter. She’s sex-positive and takes an interest in Regina’s life… which makes her not so bad after all!

Featured Image: Gene Page/AMC