Sunday is Mother’s Day in the United States and so we’re taking the time to come up with our list of the top five fictional moms. From literature to cartoons, there have been many moms throughout, but some stand head and shoulders above the others–and we’re here to celebrate them.
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5) Xiomara Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
CONTROVERSIAL OPINION: It is my firm belief that Jane the Virgin accomplishes in the character of Xiomara what Gilmore Girls tried to do with Lorelai. Xo accidentally got pregnant with Jane as a free-spirited teenager and has done her best to raise her on her own — albeit with the help of her own mother, Alba (who is also amazing) — and has a best friends-esque bond with her far more grounded and meticulous daughter. However, while I always felt that Lorelai strayed too far across the “best friends” line, which undercut her ability to actually parent, Xiomara rides that line well, and it feels authentic and earned every time she’s had to step out of the role of Jane’s friend to just be her mom.
4) Kristina Braverman, Parenthood
It is really difficult for me to pick a single favorite mom from Parenthood (Lauren Graham, if you were going to be on this list, it would’ve been as Sarah Braverman), but for me, Kristina edges out the others. Not only is she a tireless advocate for her autistic son, Max, as well as a loving and supportive mom to her daughters, but Kristina works hard to establish an identity for herself outside of her kids and has to balance her dreams with her responsibility to her family, which I really appreciate. Sure, she screws up a few times over the course of the series (it would be really dull if she always made the right choices in a series about parenting), but taken as a whole, Kristina one of my favorite characters on the show.
3) Marmee, Little Women
Marmee is quite possibly my favorite mom in all of classic literature. Yes, reflecting on her endless patience and wisdom and kindness now, she does seem a little unrealistic, but I think that’s what I love about her. She may not be the type of mom any of us can actually be, but she is the type of mom we can always aspire to. As a mother of girls myself, I deeply appreciate how she meets each of her daughters on their own terms, and relates to them through the lens of their individual strengths and weaknesses and struggles.
2) Lagertha, Vikings
Vikings is kind of weird when it comes to its female characters, in that for the most part, it really misses the mark — but then there is Lagertha, who is like a warrior Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way. Not only is she amazing as a shieldmaiden and leader, but she loves her kids deeply and fiercely. And although her daughter didn’t live to adulthood (R.I.P. Gyda), her interactions with her now-grown son Bjorn continue to be some of my absolute favorite moments on the show.
1) Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights has some of the best character work I’ve ever seen on TV, and no character shines brighter than Tami Taylor. Not only is her marriage to Coach Eric beautifully grounded and realistic, but the way she parents her kids (mostly her teen daughter, Julie) feels incredibly authentic. I really love how honest the show is in showing the struggles of raising a teenage girl, and how while Tami is clearly doing her best and is an amazing mom, she and Julie still have the tension you’d expect between a strong-willed mother-daughter pair.
5) Helen Parr / Elastigirl, The Incredibles
Most of us consider our moms to be superheroes, but not all of us are lucky enough to have an actual hero for a mom. Helen is an amazing mom, helping her kids learn how to handle their abilities while still coping with the normal things all kids and teens deal with. Not to mention, she teamed up with her kids to take on a super villain and save their dad.
4) Catelyn Stark, Game of Thrones
Catelyn is a no-nonsense mother, effective strategist, and an excellent advisor to both her husband and son. Her children are her world and she will do everything she can to protect them. Which, in the case of the books her desire to protect and extract revenge even goes beyond death when she’s reincarnated as Lady Stoneheart. In this new persona, she goes on a revenge crusade to kill anyone who was involved in the murder of her husband and son.
3) Beth Pearson, This is Us
This is Us is the new Parenthood so it’s only fitting that the moms on the new show are as nuanced and amazing as the Parenthood moms. Beth is a rockstar mom to her two girls, an incredible partner to her husband Randall, and she’s usually the voice of reason when things start getting out of control. She takes most things in stride, including when Randall’s birth father shows up unexpectedly or when his brother camps out in their basement. She’s strong and capable and the show would have a gaping hole if she wasn’t there.
2) Melissa McCall, Teen Wolf
By now you should all be familiar enough with my love of this ridiculous supernatural MTV show. But despite the fact that I admit it is absolutely, utterly ridiculous the parents on this show are beyond amazing. Melissa is the mother of Scott McCall, the pack’s alpha werewolf and when she becomes aware of her son’s unique situation she ends up taking on the role of “Pack Mom”, caring for all of the kids just as fiercely as she does Scott.
1) Molly Weasley, Harry Potter
Was there any doubt that Molly Weasley would be my number one fictional mom? This fiery red -head not only fought against Voldemort in two different wars but she raised 7 incredible children who all went on to do amazing things in addition to battling Voldemort and saving the Wizarding World. It takes a special kind of mom to raise a crew of opinionated, strong-willed, mischevious kids. Kids who eventually grow up to be curse breakers, dragon tamers, joke shop owners, quidditch players, and aurors in addition to welcoming the chosen one into her family.
5) Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
One doesn’t really look at the Simpsons for role models, but Marge is definitely the glue that holds this dysfunctional family together. She is the constant balancing weight for the hare-brained and short-sighted Homer, who is so self-involved and dim-witted that he is incapable of more than brief spurts of compassion, so the weight of parenting their three children falls squarely on Marge. She understands their passions and their differences, and when they need a parent, she is always there.
4) Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Being the mom of the one girl in all the world who can stand against the forces of darkness is definitely something that can keep you up all night worrying, and Joyce did her fair share. She and Buffy clashed more than once about her focus, Joyce wanting her to prioritize school and Buffy fighting to keep her secret identity a secret, but over the years they learned how to manage Buffy’s cosmic responsibilities as a family. Joyce was not only Buffy’s mother, but the mother figure for all of Buffy’s friends as well, serving as a parent to the entire Scooby Gang. As a result, her death is the most resonant death on the entire show, and the episode that handles it is one of the show’s strongest–and most gut-wrenching.
3) Morticia Addams, The Addams Family
The Addams family may not be a typical family, but there is no doubt that it is built on a strong foundation of love. Morticia and Gomez have a love that rivals any sweeping romance, and their adoration extends to their children. They support their kids in everything, protecting them fiercely and teaching them valuable lessons along the way. And even when their youngest sprouts cheery blonde curls and radiates suburban baby-blue nursery vibes strong enough to transform his entire room, they don’t allow it to change the way they treat him, teaching a valuable lesson about acceptance.
2) Alba Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
Alba Villanueva, or simply Abuela, is a mother figure not only to her daughter Xiomara, but also in part to Jane as well. The Villanueva women are closely knit and Abuela’s lessons about life and love are carried close to the heart by all of them. She is often shown as the more traditional and religious foil to her more modern-minded daughter, Xiomara, and their differences, while often fiercely defended, are never enough to shatter their bonds. As Jane becomes a mother herself, Abuela’s lessons have continued to resonate.
1) Linda Belcher, Bob’s Burgers
Bob’s Burgers, to my mind, is one of the greatest currently-airing shows on television, and it is all thanks to the quirky and delightful Belcher family. This ragtag group of weirdos is a strong family shown time and time again to support one another and to be, at their core, solid and healthy. Linda is wonderfully weird, full of puns and bursting to the seams with enthusiasm, always ready to help her children put on an impromptu musical or go on an adventure. She is always supportive of their interests and understanding of their quirks. Things may not always go as planned, but she’ll always find a way to put a positive spin on it.