• Joel Ryan

10 Best Fictional Mothers

Image via 20th Century Fox

Moms are some of the most selfless, hard-working, and caring people on the planet, deserving of our love 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 most underrated but no less unappreciated heroes:

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 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 former agent. And what better way to link two brothers than by exploring the complicated relationship each has with the closet thing they have to a mom. M.

OO agents were never supposed to form attachments. That’s what made them such effective killers. But in Skyfall, Bond also has become attached to someone he feigns disregard for, like most women in his life. Of course, we know that this is a mask used like armor to shield him from the consequences of his profession. However, the question explored in Skyfall is: how far is Bond willing to go to protect the woman, imperfect as she may be, who made him who he is? How far is Silva willing to go to get revenge on the mother who he feel sold him out?

M is probably one of the few who understands the cost of what her agents must endure for queen and country. She’s certainly not afraid to send her agents into the fray, perhaps unto death. However, while M needs them to be the best at what they do, she’s also not beyond attempting to preserve what little light they have in a world built on darkness and shadows. Sadly, in the later goal, M was always destined to fail.

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. Jill 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 gargantuan mistakes. Jill supported Tim in his goals, took care of her family, and always spoke well of her husband in front of their sons, a unique trait for sitcom mothers in the Married with Children era.

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 of Peter Parker, who took on parenting duties following the death of Peter’s parents. Together with Uncle Ben, May raised one of the greatest superheroes of a generation. But unlike Alfred caring for the orphaned heir to a billion-dollar corporation or Jonathan and Martha Kent parenting an alien superman, Ben and May Parker did the best they could to raise a normal kid in the normal 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.

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 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 has 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 chastise or suppress 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 plenty memorable moms, which is noteworthy considering how many Disney characters have no mom or an absentee mom in their story. 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's lost. However, that doesn’t stop her from loving her adopted son.

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

The Weasley’s 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. They are more than just the family he wants. They are also the family he needs, 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 motherly love along the way.

3. M’Lynn Eatenton – Steel Magnolias

In Steel Magnolias M’Lynn Eatenton (Sally Fields) 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.

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?

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 drifts 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 colony, a little girl named 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 defend themselves.

And what better way to climax the film than with a showdown between the mother Ripley has become and the ultimate mother, the alien queen.

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 high-speed boy wonder. Violet, the awkward teenage girl who feels invisible. Jack Jack, the baby with unknown, untapped potential. And Mr. Incredible, the super-strong leader of the home.

And then there’s Elastigirl, who possesses arguably the most fitting power known to moms.


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.

Elastigirl teaches Dash and Violet how to manage their own strengths and weaknesses. While hesitant to let her children unleash their untrained powers, when the time comes, she has to trust that she’s prepared them as best she could.

And what better gift can a mom give her children than to identify their strengths, train them for life, and trust them to do the right thing. 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.


Anyway, 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.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading. As always, if you liked this post, hit the heart icon below, share it, or subscribe for updates and to be one of the first to know when new content is posted.

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Now get back to writing!


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