Wednesday, May 13, 2015

19 Fictional Mothers We Wish Were Our Own

Fiction is full of wonderful characters, including parental figures. Today we wanted to shine a spotlight on our favorite maternal figures across the world of fandom. There might be minor spoilers, so proceed with caution!

Sarah Munson

My mom is my favorite person, and because of her, I love finding other awesome moms. It makes me especially happy to come across such mothers in fiction. Though many stories involve appalling or absent parents (sometimes both), and I’ve been guilty of writing such parents into my own stories, in honor of Mother’s Day, I want to talk about a few fictional moms I consider marvelous.

Frigga (Marvel's Thor films)

Not only is she the majestic queen of Asgard, Frigga is a magnificent mother. She’s clearly close with both her sons, and has a unique bond with each. With Thor, she is proud of him and encourages his strengths, while gently guiding him around weaknesses. She will do anything for him, and consistently looks out for his best interests. 

It’s Frigga’s relationship with her younger son, Loki, though, which I especially love. Thor follows in his father’s footsteps but Loki doesn’t fit that mold. Rather than being disappointed with her nontraditional son, Frigga bonds closely with him, teaching and supporting him. She understands him when no one else does, and even when he doesn’t understand himself. Her love runs so deep that even after Loki has committed terrible treason, Frigga insists he be shown mercy. It also strikes me that Loki shows a genuine love for his mother. To me, this means that Frigga’s care made a true impact on her conflicted son. He may be misguided, but his mother’s love remains true, and he can never run from it completely. Frigga isn’t afraid to put Loki in his place, but she also insists on seeing his best and showing him love. I wish there were more scenes featuring Frigga and both her sons. I love how although she is a strong and serene queen, she shows real affection for each of her children.

I sincerely believe Frigga is the kind of woman who would rather be a mother than queen. 

Molly Weasley (The Harry Potter series)

The Harry Potter stories are filled with examples proving how strong a mother’s love can be. But the mother I most connected with is Molly Weasley. From the start, we see how generous and kindhearted she is. She often has too much stress and too few resources to work with, but as soon as she discovers Harry’s sad, unloved situation, she takes him in as one of her own. 

What her home lacks in possessions and prestige, Molly makes up for with affection and hospitality. She sacrifices for her loved ones without a second thought, freely lavishing her love, support and guidance on her children. From her worrying to her helpfulness, being Molly Weasley’s child means never being neglected. (And always receiving a knit Christmas sweater.) As sweet and warm as Molly is, though, she’s also a tough cookie. Her kids know not to mess with their mom, or they just might get a Howler sent their way. And if anyone dares to mess with her kids, Molly Weasley can be more ferocious than a mama bear… Just ask Bellatrix Lestrange. If I were to live with any fictional mother, Molly Weasley would be one of the first I’d pick for sure.

Mirriam Neal

Melissa McCall (Teen Wolf)

Of all the mothers on television, Melissa McCall has got to be my favorite. I was surprised, when my sister and I tentatively began Teen Wolf (I started the pilot, but twenty minutes in I thought ‘I have to show this to the babysis’) I was shocked – in the best way – to discover that the parents played a large role. Scott McCall is the main character, but his mom is frequently the star of the show. Not only does she love him and work to support and keep him safe, but once she realizes that he’s no longer a boy but a werewolf, she takes it in stride and accepts it (after a bit of a freak-out). Not only does she accept that, but she deeply cares for his best friend, Stiles, like he was another son. She’s a strong character, encouraging Scott and Stiles to do what’s right and not only that, but helping them do it. She gets angry at them when they’re idiots, holds them when they’re frightened, and puts herself in the middle of danger in order to save others. She’s not a passive character – she’s an involved, loving, totally awesome character who I would love no matter what show she was in. Teen Wolf may get a lot of things wrong – but it gets parents right, and that’s huge.

 Anna Catherine

Winifred Banks (Mary Poppins)

Mrs. Banks isn't usually looked upon as example of motherhood, but delve deeper into her character and you will find how much she cares for her children. She is looking towards how future England will treat her children, as made evident in the song, "Sister Suffragette." (Our daughters' daughters will adore us / And they'll sing in grateful chorus / Well done, Sister Suffragette!) You also have to remember that during this time, it was the custom for parents to hire nannies for their children so that they would not have to worry about them. Most parents would simply leave everything to their children's caretakers, but Mrs. Banks rises above that. She is genuinely worried about her children when she has to hire nanny after nanny, and is very proud when they begin behaving better after Mary Poppins leaves.

Emily (Toy Story 1, 2 & 3)

We don't see much of Andy's mom in the Toy Story trilogy, or do we? Disney has confirmed that Andy's mom is in fact Emily, Jessie's old owner! While Emily certainly broke our hearts when she abandoned Jessie, we have to remember that people grow up and change interests. Also, if Jessie hadn't been taken away, Woody probably never would have gotten back home in Toy Story 2. Andy's mom was also a single mother who worked hard to see that her children had the best in life. She encouraged her child's fun-loving and playful attitude when she took videos of Andy as he played with his toys. Andy proves that he will be a great father one day because of this when he unashamedly plays with Bonnie in her front yard.

Lily (Cinderella)

Cinderella's mother (who is often called Lily, I have found) is the epitome of wonderful mothers. She loves to play with her child and she teaches Ella the most important lessons in life. She encourages Ella's creative and playful mind and doesn't trample on Ella's belief that she can speak to animals. Even with Lily's dying breath she thinks first of her child. She tells Ella as she dies the main focus of all the lessons she has ever taught Ella: have courage and be kind, something that Ella takes to heart all the days of her life.

Jenna Blake Morris

Mary Winchester (Supernatural)

On initial consideration (and initial episodes), Mary Winchester doesn't seem all that important as a mom. Don't get me wrong, it's clear she has her value--but it seems to be more as a plot device, as a cause to kick-start the Winchester guys into hunting, than as a maternal figure.

And that's just plain tragic. Because as it turns out, Mary's a stellar mom. First, she turns her back on her family's way of life so she can raise her kids in a healthy, normal environment--give them the kind of blissfully ignorant, apple-pie life she's never gotten to enjoy. And when it turns out "normal" doesn't exist in the Winchester lexicon, she ducks and rolls with those proverbial punches. In the end, she'll do anything to protect her boys--whether that's rushing a yellow-eyed intruder to save an infant Sam, taking on a poltergeist to save a grown-up Sam, or busting out her hunter skills to defend two weirdos claiming to be her adult sons from the future. Stay-at-home moms are so underrated.

Rica Wiersema

Mrs. Incredible (The Incredibles)

There are a lot of things that make The Incredibles a phenomenal movie to watch, but one of the film’s best features is its portrayal of a traditional family. Whereas the majority of Disney protagonists have lost one or both parents (as listed extensively by the comedians of Studio C), The Incredibles dares to bring the struggles of a married couple and their children to the forefront of what would otherwise have been merely another average superhero movie. And of all the characters in the film there is one that stands above the rest: Helen Parr (aka: Mrs. Incredible), known in her single years as the vigilante Elastigirl.

First of all, what sets Helen apart is her actual superpower: stretchiness. Initially it doesn’t seem like a very impressive ability, until you step back and realize that the powers of various supers in the movies are related directly to the characters and their personality flaws. Mr. Incredible generally believes himself to be invincible and charges into conflict without qualms, so he has super-strength. Lucius (Frozone) is relaxed and “cool” in almost any situation, so his chill exterior has been taken to the next level with ice powers. Dash is quick-witted and brash in his decision-making, so he has super-speed. Violet is shy and defensive, so she can become invisible but also create impenetrable forcefields. There’s even a genius theory that all super-babies start out with multiple powers as Jack-Jack did, because his own personality hasn’t developed far enough for one power to be selected. (If I had to guess, I think he’ll eventually have a phobia of solitude/abandonment after his near-kidnapping as a toddler - and that will lead to his ability to multiply himself and create multiple decoys. After all, his name is Jack-Jack).

But I digress. My point is that Helen is flexible, both literally and figuratively. She knows how to take a hit and she knows how to rebound, adapting to any situation as necessary even if it means getting her hands a little dirty — which is one of the best traits a mother could possibly have.

For another thing, unlike her dreamer husband, Helen is always consumed with dogged enthusiasm for the present. Whether she’s in her prime as a crime-fighter or changing dirty diapers as a stay-at-home mother, she knows the value of her work (even if it has made her feel like the years are piling on; she’s only human, after all).

She isn’t concerned with what others might think (and she’ll have words with anyone who looks down on homemaking as anti-feminist, especially according to a deleted scene on the DVD).

But at the end of the day, more than any of her other roles as a wife or a superhero, Helen is a mother through and through. She may use all her training and composure to keep her children as safe as humanly possible, but even if all training and protocols fail, her instincts take over and — in a scene that still gives me goosebumps to this very day — she’ll dive in the path of danger and lay down her life without hesitation to ensure her family’s safety.

Helen’s elastic arms never truly leave Bob or her children: she can let them wander freely without being controlling, but once they reach a certain limit and start making unwise choices, she can immediately snap them back again, even if she does get a little tangled in the process. The Incredible family would be disunited and bitter — perhaps not even a family at all — without a certain snug rubber band tying them together.

Sky Destrian

Shmi Skywalker (Star Wars)

If you want the personification of selflessness, look no further than Shmi Skywalker from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The mother of Anakin Skywalker, Shmi had been a slave since she was young. She found out she was pregnant with Anakin, but he had no father; instead, Anakin had been conceived by the Force.

As Anakin grew older, the two became extremely close. Despite being a single mother and a slave, Shmi raised Anakin the best she could. 

Even though she was afraid of losing him, Shmi let Anakin go with Qui-Gon Jinn to become a Jedi. The next time we see her, in Attack of the Clones, she has been kidnapped by Tusken raiders. Anakin finds her (spoiler, highlight to read) just in time for her to die in his arms.

It’s safe to say that the reason Anakin was a good person was because of his mom. When she died, it began his descent into the dark side. Losing her and Padme, is what broke him. But thanks to Shmi, Anakin felt loved. In this post, I find it well worth it to honor the sacrifices Shmi made for her son and the way she inspires us all to love deeply.

Natalie Prior (Divergent)

In Divergent, it’s a post-apocalyptic world with six factions. When you turn 16, you have to choose. Will you stay, or will you go?

We follow the sacrificial theme with Natalie Prior, the mother of Tris from Divergent. She’s there from the start of the movie (and book) as she cuts Tris’ hair just before the Choosing Ceremony, which decides what faction Tris will live in permanently. Later, Natalie tells Tris that no matter what Tris chooses, she will be proud of her.

Tris makes her choice, which takes her to the Dauntless faction and away from her family in the Abnegation faction. There’s a complication here: Tris is Divergent. It means she doesn’t fit into one of the narrowly defined faction boxes. She is not just selfless, kind, smart, honest, or brave, she is all of these things. Because of this, the people in charge can’t control her, and Tris keeps this as a secret.

Tris doesn’t see her mom until later in the movie, when Natalie meets her secretly to tell Tris something: she knows Tris is Divergent. She implies that she knows more about being Divergent than Tris thought she did, and tells Tris to be careful. She’s gone before Tris can ask any more questions.

As part of the villain’s evil plan, thousands of brainwashed Dauntless soldiers invade Tris’s old faction, Abnegation. Tris goes to help, but it’s found out that she’s Divergent, which means she is immune to the mind control. The people in charge are about to kill her… until someone shoots them. Who could it be except… Natalie Prior.

Tris discovers that her mother used to also be Dauntless. They fight their way through the city side by side. (spoiler, highlight to read) In a firefight, Natalie gets struck by a bullet and dies in an alleyway. She doesn’t get a touching farewell speech. Instead, it’s implied that a sacrificial death for her daughter is what Natalie would have wanted.

Natalie’s blend of selflessness, bravery, and her child is truly inspiring. You don’t have to be just selfless or brave, you can be both. Thanks to Natalie Prior for showing us how.

The She-Wolves (Sarah and Jaime)

Adri Betarrini (River of Time by Lisa T. Bergren)

Sarah and I have agreed we both admire the mother of the Betarrini sisters for the same reasons. Adri Betarrin is strong. Her husband died in a car accident, which left her to raise her two strong-willed daughters. While at times she can feel distant to her daughters, everything she does it for them. She continues her work as an archaeologist in order to provide for her family. However while she is strong, she never loses her softness. She's deeply kind and caring, helping her daughters with whatever 14th century Italy throws their way. She gives her daughters advice through the hard times and good times. She's also flexible. Time-traveling seven hundred years in the past? No big deal for Adri Betarrini. As long as she has her family and the resources to keep them safe, she's fine. In addition, she's loyal to and passionate about what she cares for, whether it's her archaeologist work, her family, or her beliefs. She fights for what she cares about and she fights with a giant staff, which is just kick-butt awesome. Overall, Adri is a strong, loyal mother who sets a good example for her daughters in every aspect of her life. She's a refreshing character to read about in a YA genre where the protagonist usually doesn't have any parents or any decent ones.

Jaime Heller

Belladonna Took (The Hobbit)

From Gandalf we learn that Belladonna Took is special, different than other hobbits when he utters to Bilbo: “To think I should have lived to be goodmoringed by Belladonna Took’s son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!” While Tolkien never went deep into who Belladonna was—aside from being considered a remarkable daughter of Old Took—we can see her reflection in her son, Bilbo. Someone had to teach Bilbo to be the adventurous hobbit he was, and the Bagginses are never considered very adventurous (until Bilbo and Frodo “ruined” the name). It’s the Tooks who are always off getting into trouble or doing something quite unexpected. It’s even suggested Belladonna herself had her own adventures. Gandalf knows this; he remembers Belladonna fondly and that her son has become too comfortable in his hobbit-life in Bag End. Thus, Gandalf nudges him out the door and hopes Belladonna has rubbed off on her son. I believe Belladonna allowed Bilbo to run all over the Shire as a boy, getting dirty and getting into trouble. I think her “remarkableness” is seen through the legacy she left with Bilbo (and later passed to Frodo). The entire reason Bilbo joins the Erebor quest and continues with it is because of his Tookish bloodline, which he inherited from his mother. 

Valka (How To Train Your Dragon 2):

Valka might not seem like the best mother at first glance. She did “abandon” her family for almost twenty years in favor of raising dragons (who can blame her though?) However, as the story of Valka unfolds I see something special in her, especially in her position as mother. She made a difficult choice leaving Hiccup—who was only a baby. But she couldn’t bring herself to kill a dragon—and didn’t agree with Berk’s policy on dragons—thus, she felt her family would be safer without her around. In addition, when she is reunited with Hiccup everything she does it out of love and for his protection. There is sadness, loneliness even, in her eyes when she reveals to him that she is his mother. She knows what she’s done and she feels for him, for the pain. She was hurt too in her decision. She left her child, she left the life she knew, and she left the world of human contact. But she still loves her family and cares for them and wants them to be safe and protected. In addition to being the mother of Hiccup, she’s the mother of all those dragons, and she wants them to be just as safe. It’s for this reason she “kidnaps” Hiccup and takes him to the Dragon Sanctuary. She knows—even before she knows he’s her son—that he will help her dragons. Her actions as a mother are about protection, kindness, and care. Despite her choices, she is still an admirable mother and one with dragons!

Amanda Horn

Laura Barton (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Good mothers (or parents in general) are hard to find in stories and fiction these days, but I think Laura Barton from the MCU is an exceptional example of one. She’s kind and loving and she knows who she is. She’s smart and observant (She notices something between Bruce and Natasha when she’d barely just met Bruce.). It’s too early to know how her children will turn out (they seem to be wonderful right now), but she and Clint are raising them the best they know how, with love and guidance. Laura knows how to take care of herself and her children. Being married to an Avenger, she has to, but she also has her own qualities of bravery and courage. She's not weak. She’s a mother, in the best and most honest sense of the word.

Andrea Wiesner

Margaret March, (Little Women)

Ah yes, the beloved mother of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. I always looked up to her because of her inner strength, and how she raised her daughters. Each was so different... Jo being the most like her, but she met each where they were. Beth was painfully shy, so she taught her at home. Jo had a temper, which she soothed. And when Jo felt 'trapped' and needed to go away, she not only acknowledged her daughter's feelings, but arranged for her to stay with a friend. And she was equally helpful with Meg and Amy, though I can't think of specifics right now.

She was not only awesome in these normal ways, but she raised her girls on her own while her husband was off at war. And she took care of the poor in her community, which was a great example to her children. And the really cool thing? Louisa May Alcott based Marmee on her own dear mother, Abigail May "Abba" Alcott!

Beverly Crusher (Star Trek: the Next Generation)

Another mother I have always looked up to is Dr. Crusher. I don't know what it is about the ones I'm mentioning today, but Beverly had to raise her child by herself too... because her beloved husband died when their son was around 5 years old. But she did a super job of raising Wesley! He turned out just like her... intelligent, caring, and having a strong sense of doing what's right. I always loved their relationship... they had been through a lot, and it showed in a beautiful way. Beverly always thought of him above herself, and tried to do right by him. And following her example, he would do anything for her when she was in danger.

Not only was she always there for her son, but she was always there for her friends. And she still reserved time for things like dance, theatre, and exercise... time for herself. I think that is important for mothers too... for them to take down time, alone time, and have a social life. Just because they give up so much for us, doesn't mean they should lose themselves in the process!

Ashes Tahg

Marilla Cuthbert (Anne of Green Gables)

Growing up, I doubt I would have ever listed Marilla Cuthbert as one of my favorite fictional mothers. I found her mean, and far too strict (and I was more like Anne than I ever would admit).
But as an olderish person, and having read all of the Anne books, I think I cherish Marilla almost as dearly as Anne herself.

Yes, Marilla is strict, and showing her love for the sparky little ball of red hair that tumbled so unexpectedly into her life was difficult. 
But, Marilla was just what Anne needed.

Anne, with her big imagination, and even bigger flair for the comical dramatics, needed her adoptive mother figure dearly.

Marilla Cuthbert was exactly what Anne Shirley needed to keep her grounded in reality. 

And she wasn't strict beyond reason, she gave Anne room to blossom and grow, and always supported those big dreams Anne dreamed up.

When Anne needed her, whether as a shoulder to cry on, a tether to keep her rational, or as someone to simply stand behind her, Marilla was there, in her own way. 

As the story progresses, Marilla and Anne's growing and changing relationship with each other was always an under current to the story, and while often overlooked, I think that's just how Marilla would've liked it.

No nonsense, no sticky emotions.

Just practical understanding. 

Sarah Rogers (Marvel comics)

Not too much is known about Mrs. Rogers, except for the legacy she left in her own son. Steve Rogers is a man who respects women and knows how to treat them in a way that both empowers them and protects them (one of my favorite things about Steve is that, if I'm honest). He takes no foul play, and has a strong moral compass that often sets him aside. Steve is loyal, honest, and the sort of guy you can trust and depend on.

While children have been proven to take after their father, personality wise, it is the mother who helps form who they will be in their future.

Sarah Rogers was Irish-American, and (headcanon ahead!!) I like to think it was her own outlook on the bright, shiny America that made Steve view the country the way he does. He wanted to preserve his own mother's view on the country and he wanted to make it reality.

The facts are, Steve Rogers is a son to be proud of. Loyal, Honest, Kind, Respectful, Dedicated, Thoughful, and just a good guy. And it doesn't take much imagination or head canon to think of what sort of woman rocked his cradle. 

Regina Mills (Once Upon A Time)

Like everyone else (I think?) I started out thinking Regina was entirely despicable. How could she do all those terrible things and still give Henry such a happy face? And by no means is she pardoned from her actions, but I think her story is different than most. She didn't change Henry (not long term, anyway), and she didn't win in the way we expected.

Rather, Henry changed her. And it's a reminder that 'Mothers are people too'.

The Regina who we first met was far from a nice person almost any way you looked at it... unless it involved Henry. Yeah, maybe even that relationship had problems, but when you break it down, Regina truly did love Henry. She cared so much for his well being and his happiness, and while her love might have been tainted with selfishness as well, she didn't want Henry to be unhappy. 

And so, she gave him up. You may say, 'was kinda forced to because Emma wasn't about to give up', or 'she hasnt really given him up,' but let's not bandy words here. She could keep Henry locked and chained up if she really wanted just to keep him and not keep his happiness).

And Henry still loves her.

You never stop loving your mom...even if your real mom does cool things like stakeouts and dating pirates (can we take a moment to reflect that both of the mom figures in Henry's life are paired with criminals? What is this?).

Henry changed Regina, and Regina loved him--loves him--dearly for it.

Sometimes, our moms need us just as much as we need them.


"What makes mothers all that they are 
Might as well ask, 'What makes a star?' 
Ask your heart to tell you her worth 
Your heart will say, 'Heaven on earth'"

-- Peter Pan

Do you agree with our choices? Disagree? Who are your favorite fictional mothers?


  1. I just remembered another AWESOME fictional mother this morning - CHICHA! (Pacha's wife from "The Emperor's New Groove." The first-ever pregnant Disney character definitely deserves a shout-out!

    1. Actually just screamed because I can't believe we forgot Chicha! :O XD