Favorite Fictional Moms
Updated: Jul 30
The journey to becoming a mom is as unique as the children born around the world every day.
Some moms dreamed about being moms from the time they were little. Many moms inherited their responsibilities unplanned or unexpectedly. Some moms tried for years to have children. Some were never able to have children. That didn't stop them from loving and caring for children who needed a mother's love. There are step moms, foster moms, and single moms; aunts, grandmas, and mother in laws. Regardless of the how or the circumstances surrounding motherhood, moms are some of the most selfless, hard-working, and caring people on the planet.
So in honor of moms and Mother's Day, I wanted to look at some of my Favorite Fictional Moms, who each remind us why moms are some of our greatest heroes:
10. M – Skyfall
Not all Bond movies are created equal, but Judi Dench, in typical Dame Judi Dench fashion, brought gravitas to even her worst written scenes in the James Bond franchise, which she joined in 1995 as M, the calculating, assertive leader of British Intelligence and Bond’s boss.
In Skyfall, arguably one of the best-written film in the Bond franchise (and one of my favorites), the battle between Bond (Daniel Craig) and the film's big bad Silva (Javier Bardem) proved to be a fight between brothers, a current and a former agent. And what better way to link two brothers than explore their relationship with the closet thing they have to a mom, M. M was the link between Bond's past and present. She recruited him, invested in him, believed in him, and trusted him to get the job done. M wasn't blind to Bond's flaws. But like any good mom, she recognized his strengths and potential when few others could.
OO agents were never supposed to form attachments. That’s what made them such lethal killers. But in Skyfall we see that Bond has become attached. And what do the writers do? Threaten to take away the one consistent relationship Bond has in his life. How far is he willing to go to protect the woman, imperfect as she may be, who made him who he is? But as much as the double-O life had fractured Bond's soul, M was probably one of the few who cared enough to try and preserve it, and we love her for it.
9. Jill Taylor – Home Improvement
Jill Taylor, played by the perfectly cast Patricia Richardson, makes this list for modeling more patience and forgiveness as a wife and mother than most women in television history. With an accident-prone husband addicted to “more power” (Tim Allen) and three lovable hooligans for sons, Jill ran the Taylor house with confidence, assertiveness, and a truckload of grace.
Not many men could blow up the dishwasher or drop a five-ton-beam on their wife’s car and still have a wife. Still, Jill forgave Tim even after his biggest mistakes. She was no Edith Bunker and no pushover either. She showed frustration over Tim’s antics and called him out when he was wrong, but she never belittled her husband or treated him like a moron even when he made moronic mistakes. Jill supported Tim in his goals, pursued her own, and always spoke well of her husband in front of their sons, a unique trait for sitcom mothers in the Married with Children era of television.
In a house overflowing with testosterone, Jill also fostered an environment where her boys could become men in their own way, and that didn’t mean becoming clones of Tim the Tool Man Taylor.
8. Claire Huxtable – The Cosby Show
It’s hard to imagine any television mom who was more of a force both in and outside of the home than Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad).
In The Cosby Show, Claire was every bit Cliff’s equal and life partner. A successful lawyer and outspoken feminist, she was articulate, strong willed, and treated her husband and children with honesty and respect.
When it came to her children, Claire was the matriarch and master of the family. She never demanded respect, but boy did she earn it. She spoke the truth, stood her ground, and never tried to be her kids’ best friend. Claire was there to teach them how to become competent, respectful adults, and that sometimes meant telling them no. And we will always love her for teaching her children (and us) how to respect and be respected, particularly as a woman.
7. Aunt May – Spider-Man
Apart from Marisa Tomei’s Spider-Man: Homecoming May, Aunt May has always been the “elderly” aunt who took on parenting duties following the death of Peter Parker’s parents when he was a boy. Together with Uncle Ben, May helped raise one of the greatest teen superheroes of our generation. But unlike Alfred caring for the heir to a billion-dollar corporation or Jonathan and Martha Kent parenting an alien superman, the Parkers were just trying to raise a normal kid in the suburbs of New York.
While Uncle Ben’s death was instrumental in helping Peter Parker become the “Incredible” Spider-Man, May’s practical and gentle touch inspired the “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-Man. Ben may have given Peter the famous words about power and responsibility, but it was Aunt May was his moral compass and reminder of what he was fighting for: home.
People can grow up in a house, an apartment, a trailer, or move a lot. They can stay in one place their entire life or move around a lot. But as I’ve learned from my own grandmother, home is not the where but the who.
6. Marilla Cuthbert – Anne of Green Gables
In L.M. (Maud) Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Marilla Cuthbert and her older brother Matthew run a small farm called Green Gables in the fictional town of Avonlea on Price Edward Island. When the physical duties of the farm became too strenuous for the middle-aged pair, they decided to adopt a boy to help out around the farm. Due to a mistake at the orphanage, what they got instead was a girl.
Enter high-spirited, always-dramatic Anne Shirley.
Marilla wasn’t a great mother to start because, well, she had no desire to even be a mom. What I think we all respect about her though, is that Marilla grew into the role and learned as she went. No mom is perfect or fully equipped at the start, but instead of giving up or throwing in the towel, Marilla stayed a mom because she learned to love the wild, imperfect, yet beautiful child in her care. Anne was no easy child to raise, but rather than suppress or tame Anne’s imagination, as previous foster parents had done, Marilla embraced Anne for who she was. She never let Anne run wild, but instead channeled and focused Anne’s best energies to empower her to become her best self.
5. Kala – Tarzan (1999)
The magic makers at Disney Animation have given us several memorable moms, which is noteworthy considering how many Disney films have no mom or an absentee mom in the story. The moms of Dumbo and Bambi nearly made this list, for obvious reasons, and if we want to split into the Pixar library, Queen Elinor from Brave is definitely worth a mention.
In 1999’s Tarzan, Kala is a mom who has lost her firstborn son, and the tragedy of her backstory mirrors Tarzan’s own following the death of his parents. She knows Tarzan will never replace the child she lost. However, that doesn’t stop her from loving this adopted son from another world. In the early parts of the story, Kala brings Tarzan into the tribe and stands by him even when others won’t. She raises him as her own and would give absolutely everything to protect him. Tarzan is story that deals with the merging of families, the power of adoption, the intrinsic value of life, and the special bond that exists between a mother and son that goes beyond blood.
4. Mrs. Weasley – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I mean, who wouldn’t want Molly Weasely for a mom, ugly knit Christmas sweaters and all? Come one.
What we love about the entire Weasley family, especially Mrs. Weasley, is that they never ask or expect their children to be anything other than Weasley. They aren’t wealthy. They aren’t elite. They aren’t really that cool by most traditional wizarding standards, but they don’t have to be. They are kind, modest, and caring, and these are things the world (and Harry Potter) desperately need.
Nothing about the Burrow or life with the Weasley’s, is cold or unwelcoming. They are as kind and hospitable as any family could be, which is why they become a second home and family for Harry Potter. With the Weasleys, Harry found a family and a best friend, and so did we. They more than just the family he needed. They were also the family he wanted, and Mrs. Weasely was one of the first to help him transition into the wizarding world without treating him like a celebrity. She just treated him like one of her sons, who needed a little help and love along the way.
3. M’Lynn Eatenton – Steel Magnolias
M’Lynn Eatenton, played to perfection by Sally Field, gave us a garden of mom emotions in her relationship with daughter Shelby (Julia Roberts). From the joys of marriage to the uncertainty of new motherhood and tragedy of losing a daughter, M’Lynn experienced every tear, cheer, and frustration imaginable, and did so with brutal honesty, transparency, and a strength no man could match. Not only did she give everything for her daughter (including a kidney), M’Lynn allowed Shelby to make her own choices, even when she knew they were dangerous. So what do you do when your children exert their independence and make choices you don’t agree with? You love them anyway. And M’Lynn showed just how fierce a mother’s love can be.
Soft and beautiful as a flower. Strong as steel. What better way to describe the women of this film, especially moms.
2. Ellen Ripley – Aliens
Amidst the alien carnage and iconic Bill Paxton one-liners, it’s easy to forget that, at its core, Aliens is a story about mothers. Following Ripley’s escape from the first alien in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), she drifted in space in cryofreeze for fifty-seven years! By the time she is rescued, her own daughter has died and life as she knew it has passed away. This is the Ripley we meet when Aliens begins.
In this story, Ripley and a group of colonial marines return to the planet where Ripley’s original crew encountered the first xenomorph. As expected, all hell breaks loose when they must discover an entire swarm of xenomorphs birthed from an alien queen. Here, Ripley finds the only survivor of the planet’s colony, a little girl by the name of Newt.
In a lot of ways, Aliens reminds us that our world, as much as we’d like it to be, is not always safe for our children. They will face dangers we cannot shelter them from forever. But at the very least, parents (and mothers) exist to protect their children from the monsters of this world until they are able to protect and defend themselves. And what better way to climax the film than with a showdown between the mother Ripley has become and the ultimate mother of evil, the alien queen who gave birth to the monsters of this universe.
Aliens is more than just a terrific sci-fi action thriller. It’s really smart writing with incredible stakes, a ton of heart, and an even better heroine than what we had seen before.
1. Elastigirl aka Helen Parr – The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2
Not only is The Incredibles one of the best animated films of ever made, it gave us a perfect metaphor for moms in the superhero Elastigirl. Every power created for to the members of the Parr family fits their personality and archetype perfectly. Dash, the overly energetic boy on overdrive is blessed with superspeed. Violet, the socially awkward teenage girl who feels invisible at times, can turn invisible. Jack Jack is the baby with unknown, untapped potential. And the dad of the family is truly Mr. Incredible, the super strong powerhouse of the home.
And then there’s Elastigirl, who possesses arguably the most fitting power known to moms around the world.
Moms bend, stretch, and balance more responsibilities than anyone, and they do so with an elasticity and flexibility that can only be described as superhuman. In all of her powers, however, Helen Parr also has to contend with the developing gifts of her own children.
Elastigirl teaches Dash and Violet how to manage their own strengths and weaknesses. While initially hesitant to let her children unleash their untrained powers, when the time comes, she has to trust that she’s prepared, equipped, and empowered them as best she could.
What better gift can a mom give her children than to identify their strengths, train them for success, trust them to do the right thing, and ultimately release them to do it. Helen Parr does all this and more.
These are just a few of the fictional moms I’ve fallen in love with over the years, and they’re all fantastic, however, even they pale in comparison to the ultimate hero in my life, my own mom, who deserves every public shout-out, thank you, and lunch date I can spare. Love you, mom! Now and always.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading. Show some love to your mom or moms this week, and if you have a favorite fictional mom you feel was left out, I’d love to hear about it.
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Until Today, Storytellers