Favorite Fictional Moms
The journey to becoming a mom is as unique as the children born around the world every day.
Some moms dreamed about being moms as little girls. Many moms inherited their responsibilities unplanned or unexpectedly. Some moms tried for years to have children. Some were never able to. That didn't stop them from loving and caring for children in their life who needed a mother's love.
There are step moms, foster moms, and single moms; grandmas, great grandmas, and mother-in-laws.
Moms are some of the most selfless, hard-working, and caring people on the planet, deserving of our respect, honor, and gratitude.
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 mothers are some of our greatest heroes and treasures:
10. M – Skyfall
Not all Bond movies are created equal, but Judi Dench, in typical Dame Judi Dench fashion, brought gravitas to even the 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 most complete and nuanced films in the Bond franchise, the battle between James 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 by exploring their complicated relationship with the closet thing they have to a mom, M.
In her time as the head of MI:6, 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 was never 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 effective killers. But in Skyfall, we see that Bond has become attached to someone he feigns disregard for, like most other women in his life. We know that this is a mask he puts up, armor, so to speak, to shield him from the consequences and soul shattering pain of his profession.
So what do the writers do?
They threaten to take away the one consistent relationship Bond has in his life.
How far is Bond willing to go to protect the woman, imperfect as she may be, who made him who he is? And 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.
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 managed 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. 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, supported her home, 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 fostered an environment where her boys could become strong, confident, respectable men without having to become mere 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 life partner. A successful lawyer and dedicated mom, she was strong willed and caring.
When it came to her children, Claire was the true matriarch 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 others and earn respect in return.
7. Aunt May – Spider-Man
Apart from Marisa Tomei’s MCU May Parker, 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 a generation. But unlike Alfred caring for the heir to a billion-dollar corporation or Jonathan and Martha Kent parenting an alien superman, the Ben and May Parker did the best they could 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 probably inspired the “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-Man. Ben may have given Peter the famous advice about power and responsibility, but it was Aunt May who became his moral compass and reminder of what he was fighting for: home.
People can grow up in a house, an apartment, a trailer, or on the road. 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 always where but 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 become too strenuous for the middle-aged pair, they decide to adopt a boy to help out around the farm. But following a mistake at the orphanage, what they get instead is a girl.
Enter high-spirited, ever-dramatic Anne Shirley.
Marilla isn'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 grows into the role.
No mom is perfect or fully equipped at the start of their child's life, but instead of giving up or throwing in the towel, Marilla stays a mom because she learns to love the wild, imperfect, yet beautiful child in her care.
Anne is no easy child to raise, but rather than suppress or tame Anne’s imagination, as previous foster parents had done, Marilla embraces Anne for who she is. She never lets Anne run wild, but instead channels and focuses Anne’s best energies to help her become of Anne of Green Gables, Avonlea, and more.
5. Kala – Tarzan (1999)
The magic makers at Disney Animation have given us several memorable moms, which is noteworthy considering how many Disney characters have no mom or an absentee mom in their story. The moms of Dumbo and Bambi nearly made this list, for obvious reasons, and if we want to jump into the Pixar library, Queen Elinor from Brave is worth mention.
In 1999’s Tarzan, however, 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's lost. However, that doesn’t stop her from loving her adopted son from another world.
In the early parts of the film, 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
Let's be honest. Who wouldn’t want Molly Weasely for a mom, ugly knit Christmas sweaters and all?
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 a Weasley.
They aren’t wealthy. They aren’t elite. They aren’t really that cool by most traditional standards, but they don’t have to be. They are kind, modest, and caring, and these are things the world (and Harry Potter) desperately needs.
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 finds a family and a best friend, and so do we. They are more than just the family he needs. They are also the family he wants, and Mrs. Weasely is one of the first to help him transition into his new world without treating him like a celebrity. She just treats him like any regular boy and one of her sons, who needs just as much 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 motherly 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 experiences every tear, cheer, and frustration imaginable, and does so with brutal honesty, transparency, and a strength few could match. Not only does she give everything for her daughter (including a kidney), M’Lynn allows Shelby to make her own choices, even when she knows they are dangerous.
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 shows 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, and most moms for that matter.
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 the life she once knew has passed her by. 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 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 caring for Newt, Ripley discovers, as we all must, 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 anticipate or even imagine. 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 iconic heroine we've never forgotten.
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.
And 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, making her my favorite fictional mom and one of the best to show us how it's done.
These are just a few of the fictional moms I’ve fallen in love with over the years. They’re all fantastic, however, even they pale in comparison to my own mom, who deserves every 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 and all 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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