When you think of TV and movie mothers, are there certain scenes that stand out in your mind?
We’ve counted down what we think are the most memorable moments involving television and movie moms.
20. Leigh Anne Tuohy (
In this scene, Leigh Anne realizes just how different her family’s life has been than that of the boy who’s now living with her family -- and what a powerful and difficult responsibility she’s taken on.
19. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) in The Graduate
Mrs. Robinson, a “cougar” before the term was even invented, titillates and discombobulates Benjamin Braddock, who is a contemporary of her daughter Elaine, in this famous scene.
18. Marge Simpson (
Get it, Marge. Wait. We’re not the only ones who dance around the house with our kids even though we know we look completely silly, right? Right?
17. Zelma Bullock (
In this scene, Zelma was mighty suspicious of Ike Turner when he arrived at the Bullock home to approach her about allowing her daughter Anna Mae -- later to be known as Tina Turner -- to sing with his band. Given what we would learn about the relationship between Tina and Ike, she was right to be wary.
16. Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) of
Carol always doled out wisdom to her kids, and she was especially fond of saying “If you take a joke too far, somebody could get hurt.” No, really, she was!
15. Elaine Miller (Frances McDormand) in Almost Famous
Elaine, a college professor, is just trying to keep her kids safe from the things she thinks are dangerous to them -- but in this scene that some parents of teen girls might find painfully familiar, she meets resistance from her teenaged daughter.
14. Jane Jetson (
In this scene, an exhausted Jane Jetson, who must constantly deal with the antics of her husband George, son Elroy and daughter Judy, puts on her morning mask to take a video phone call at home (40 years before
13. Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) on The Golden Girls
One of the most difficult parent-child moments is when a child who is a mother herself, realizes that she must provide care for her own aging parents. In this affecting scene, Sophia receives some sad news from her daughter, Dorothy, and the two talk about a difficult subject.
12. Cersei Lannister (
As war rages outside the castle walls, Cersei, the queen mother in residence at King’s Landing, spars verbally with a nervous and relatively defenseless Sansa Stark, who is unhappily engaged to marry Cersei’s son, King Joffrey.
11. Lena Younger (Claudia McNeil) in A Raisin in the Sun
In this dramatic scene, Lena memorably lectures her daughter, Beneatha, about not judging people -- and about love of and for family.
10. Lois Griffin (
Oh, we’ve all been there, Lois. We really, really have.
9. Faye Dunaway (Joan Crawford) in Mommie Dearest
Hey, we said “memorable,” not “happy,” right? Go ahead, yell it out: “I told you. NO WIRE HANGERS EVER!” To be fair, we don’t care for wire hangers either.
8. Suyuan Woo (Kieu Chinh) in The Joy Luck Club
One thing that can be difficult for children to understand is that their parents had lives before the children were born -- and that the parents can understand their children’s disappointments. In this segment from The Joy Luck Club, June is humiliated and thinks her mother doesn’t understand, but Suyuan shows that she knows what her daughter is feeling.
7. Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) in the One Day at a Time episode "Pressure"
In this scene, Ann learns that her 18-year-old daughter, Barbara, is trying to decide whether or not to have sex. Ann sits down with Barbara and tries to help her make the decision with a little common sense and a lot of love.
6. M'Lynn Eatenton (
M’Lynn wants for her daughter, Shelby, what every mother wants for her children: For them to have full, successful lives. When (spoiler alert!) Shelby’s life is cut short, M’Lynn is understandably devastated. In this famous scene at a cemetery, she laments that she gets to go on living while her daughter doesn’t.
5. Lorelai Gilmore (
This is kind of a cheat, because Lorelai Gilmore doesn’t say a whole lot in this scene, but just a snippet of Rory’s graduation-speech tribute to her mom is enough to touch anyone who doesn’t have a cold, dead heart. You don’t have a cold, dead heart, do you?
4. Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) in Imitation of Life
Has there ever been a more giving, selfless mother on celluloid than Imitation of Life’s Annie? In this scene, she has an emotional moment with her daughter, Sarah Jane, who has been passing for white and trying to avoid the obviously black Annie.
3. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Sarah Connor is the fictional patron saint of moms who would do anything to protect their children. In this scene, she takes on a cyborg assassin that is after her son, John. Also, her biceps are amazing.
2. Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) in Mildred Pierce
In this scene, Mildred realizes to her dismay that her daughter, Veda, is dishonest and greedy and she tries to teach the young woman a lesson. It’s not going to end well for them. And yes, Joan Crawford is the only person on this list who appears both as a character and an actress (see No. 9).
1. Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) in The Cosby Show episode “Off too see The Wretched”
In this episode, young Vanessa Huxtable and her friends decide to see a concert in another state -- without telling their parents. The reaction of her mom, Claire, is one for the ages.