Sure, there’s plenty of dads out there who are save the day, but today is Mother’s Day, and we wanted to take a few minutes and come up with a list of some of our favorite mothers from the big and small screens. Some are the leads, while others are the linchpins that keep everything from falling apart (just like most moms are in the real world).
Joyce Summers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Confronted with all of her daughter’s supernatural enemies, boyfriends, and besties, Joyce never blinked. She’s dusted her fair share of the denizens of Sunnydale, and when a bonus daughter appeared during season 5, she handled it with the same grace we’d come to know and love. When she fought her last battle against cancer, it’s something that moved everyone to tears. Portrayed by Kristine Sutherland (with a nod to the film’s original mom of Candy Clark). Memorable quote – “Screw you. I want candy.”
Vuvalini (The Many Mothers), Mad Max: Fury Road – When a group of women who largely perform their own stunts and kick ass so much that they produce women like Furiosa. Played by Megan Gale, Melissa Jaffer, Melita Jurisic, Gillian Jones, Joy Smithers, Antoinette Kellermann, and Christina Koch.
Elaine Miller, Amost Famous – More of the classic film mothers, she could churn out a lecture to make the best of dads proud, but her willingness to support her son’s dream of following the band to become a journalist moves the sternest of us to sniffles. Her words of wisdom, “In Carl Jung’s opinion, we all have a sixth sense – intuition. When you meet someone and you suddenly feel like you can’t live without them. This could be the memory of a past love from the collective unconscious. Or it could just be hormones.” Played by Frances McDormand.
Mrs. Gump, Forrest Gump – So, she’s played by Sally Field, who could basically be listed at least a half-dozen times over. In the end we know, even if Forrest never did, how much she did and sacrificed so that he could stay in school. Her advice to young Forrest is something that always said it all, “Vacation’s when you go somewhere… and you never come back”.
Lagertha, Vikings – If you haven’t watched the History Channel’s first scripted drama, you need to go binge-watch it at your earliest opportunity. Lagertha is the warrior queen (with an emphasis on warrior) who has born four children (though two were stillborn), kept the kingdom of Kattegat intact, and killed pretty much all of those who have ever crossed her. Played by Katheryn Winnick. Quote to bring on the tears, “I knew you would come my love. Enjoy Valhalla, you deserve it. But do not forget me. Haunt me. Do not leave me.”
Martha Kent, Smallville – Pa Kent still gets a whole lot of credit in the Superman mythos, even though he almost always dies fairly early on. It’s Martha that forms the moral compass for Clark/Superman, and nearly every time he has something to talk through, he’ll fly home for the quick chat. Plus let’s forget, she found a random alien emerging from a cornfield and decided on the spot to take him on as her own. There’s been a number of solid Marthas, but Annette O’Toole is the one that our hearts always go back to. However let’s not forget Virginia Carroll, Phyllis Thaxter, Diane Lane, Frances Morris, and K. Callan.
Pamela Vorhees, Friday the 13th – Ok, she might seem like a strange one for this list, but let’s recall for a moment that the killer in the first film isn’t Jason, it’s mom. Poor Jason had drowned while at camp because the counselors who were supposed to be watching over the swimmers were off fooling around. Pam takes it into her own hands to make sure no other parents have to go through the same experience as she had. Yea, I know there was a few Pams over the years, including the ’09 remake, but let’s just pretend those never happened, ok? So this one goes to Betsy Palmer.
Molly Weasley, Harry Potter – Molly, with all her children (and husband) to look out for and she managed to keep their house rolling with little to nothing. She did it with such aplomb that Fiona Gallagher could learn volumes from her. When her son Fred died, it set her on a death match to face off against Bellatrix and there was no question who was going to wind up in a body bag. She stepped up without a blink to take LeStrange’s full attack and batted her into dust. Her duelling challenge? Not my daughter, you bitch! She and Ripley could hang out and tell war stories. Played by Julie Walters.
Moya, Farscape – Yea, so she’s not a character in the traditional sense, but any fans of Farscape will go to the mat pointing out that Moya and Talon were both very much living characters and part of the show’s narrative. Moya is a living ship, and she would put herself into any amount of danger to protect her crew. She never had the sendoff that the other classic ships ever got, and that’s a hardcore shame.
Lily Potter, Harry Potter – Putting herself between He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named and her infant son and standing as his last line of defense. She holds a special place in our hearts. She’s kind of like George Kirk, was only in the story for a few moments, but her actions changed everything. As Professor Snape said it best, “Always.” Played by Geraldine Somerville.
Dr. Beverly Crusher, Star Trek: The Next Generation – A professional-career single mother who managed to raise a son that wound up to be one of the ship’s smartest crewmembers (after his mom of course). She was such a significant member of the crew that when they dropped her in favor of a replacement doctor for a season, the fans threw a fit until the replacement was cut and they brought Beverly back into the fold. At least she didn’t get killed off by a tar monster like happened with Tasha Yar. Played by Gates McFadden.
Amanda Grayson, Star Trek – The adage “behind every great man is a women smiling and shaking her head” holds most true of Amanda. Between her full Vulcan husband Sarek and son Spock, she kept them both grounded in their humanity as much as their characters would allow. Whenever they became too blinded to their devotion to pure logic, she would present the logic of listening to their hearts for the answers. Played by Jane Wyatt, Majel Barrett, and Cynthis Blaise.
Lady Jessica Atreides, Dune – She holds together an imperial house, raises the savior of Dune, and is part of a generations-old eugenics program. Jessica ever gets the credit she deserves in her role in the first book of the Frank Herbert franchise. Played in the ’84 David Lynch version by Francesca Annis, her stylings, poise under constant threat of assassination, and her sense of duty and politics would make her a great counterpoint for Cersei Lannister. For a quote about her rather than by her, the Reverend Mother once said, “What can I say about Jessica? Given the opportunity, she would attempt Voice on God.”
Sarah Conor, The Terminator franchise – Probably second only to Ripley in her ability to kick ass and chew bubble gum (and she never did seem to have any bubble gum). She kept her son John alive through repeated Terminator attacks and made sure he’d be ready to lead the humans in their counter-attack against Skynet. Played variously by Linda Hamilton, Lena Headey, and Emilia Clarke. Best quote – “There are 215 bones in the human body. That’s one.”
Ellen Ripley, The Alien francise – Sure, she didn’t make it back for Amanda’s birthday, but when the fur started to fly on LV-426, she took young Newt under her wing and went toe to toe with the Alien Queen – “get away from her, you BITCH!”. Played by Sigourney Weaver.
Honorable mentions go as well to Mary from E.T., Sharon Agathon and Cally Henderson/Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica, The Alien Queen from Aliens, Ellen Brody from Jaws, Dorothea Fields from 20th Century Women, and about a zillion others. In the end, they’re all strong women in their various ways. Strong female characters are every bit as inspiring as their male counterparts, and the more Ripleys, Crushers, and Conors we have the better off we are.
Those are just a few of our favorites (but by no means all), who have we missed that are some of your favorites?