Weekend Roundtable: Worst Movie & TV Moms

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, this might be a good time to praise some of our favorite fictional moms. Problem is, we already did that a couple years ago. Failing that, let’s flip this around and look at some of the most incompetent, meanest, abusive or downright evil mothers from movies or TV.

Shannon Nutt

For the worst movie mom, it’s hard to think of anyone less loving than Angela Lansbury’s Eleanor Iselin in 1962’s ‘The Manchurian Candidate‘. Here’s a woman who is a Communist agent, controls the life and career of her Senator husband, and has hypnotized her son to assassinate a Presidential candidate.

As for the worst TV mom, let’s all take a moment to remember the annoying Lori Grimes from ‘The Walking Dead‘. This woman not only cheated on her husband – while he was in a coma, no less – and left him for dead, but had such horrible parenting skills that she constantly let her son run off by himself and get into a world of trouble. She was also a very, very poor driver. Lori was so beloved that when it came time for her to go, her own son pulled the trigger – and not one fan out there shed a tear.

M. Enois Duarte

The scariest and most memorable portrayal of an evil mom has to go to Anne Ramsey. In the 1980s, she delivered not one, but two awesomely wicked and hilarious performances, first as Mama Fratelli in ‘The Goonies‘ and then as the title character in ‘Throw Momma from the Train‘.

In the classic kids’ adventure flick, she’s the pitbull barking boss of a crime family who unleashes her fugitive sons to capture (and presumably to murder) an innocent band of treasure-hunting kids. How much more evil can one be? On top of that, the woman has the gall to chain her mentally-challenged, physically-deformed son in the basement.

A couple years later, Ramsey followed that with one of the most unpleasant, nastiest and meanest mothers ever in Danny DeVito’s hilarious homage to Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’. The actress’ mannerisms and hoarse voice gave the character the perfect temperament, and made audiences both love her cranky verbal abuse and despise her shamefully overbearing demands. She was a terrific actress, and with two memorable performances, she wins my vote for worst mom ever!

Chris Chiarella (Sound & Vision)

This one was just staring me in the face. It has to be Padme (Natalie Portman) in ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Forgetting of course her unconvincing performance (I’m a dad of twins, and a mom who is set to pop is not nearly as spry as this onscreen Mother of Jedi), after she has just given birth to (SPOILER ALERT!) Luke and Leia, when she’s about to embark upon the adventure of child-rearing… she loses the will to live?!? Granted, a top-notch mechanical mind has diagnosed her postpartum medical condition as such, and I ain’t no Tom Cruise, but this would have been a great time to step up, not check out. Consumed by her own broken heart, she effectively leaves her newborns orphans in a soon-to-become cold, cruel galaxy. And she’s the heroine of the prequel trilogy?

Mike Attebery

Betty Draper is just a wretched mother. Well, she’s a wretched person all around, but boy do I feel bad for her kids. It’s nice to have a parent with enough awareness and wisdom that you can discuss your problems with them and not have the discussion turn back to them and their own troubles and insecurities. But in the world of ‘Mad Men‘, where Don Draper’s first ex-wife is more child than her daughter, Sally, and the ever-changing son, whatsisname, turning to your mother for help will either get you slapped, yelled at, or berated in some way. January Jones isn’t much of an actress, but when it comes to playing an over-privileged, uptight, self-involved maternal nightmare, she nails it.

Luke Hickman

I’m going with the villainous mom from ‘The Goonies‘, Mama Fratelli. Not only is she one of the nastiest women to our protagonist kids – she serves them filthy water, threatens to cut one of their tongues out, has one of the kids’ hands placed near the spinning blades in a blender, etc. – but she’s also a terrible mother to her three sons. She plays favorites with her older two sons, frequently slapping and verbally abusing one over the other. She keeps her disabled child chained up in a dingy basement and completely abandons him while chasing kids and hunting a legendary treasure. Physical and mental child abuse, assault, abandonment and attempted murder – not to mention the murders and crimes that happen off-screen and prior to the narrative. Mama Fratelli is easily one of the worst movie mothers.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I don’t even know where to start with Malory Archer. This barbed-tongued alcoholic squirted her son out on a bar in Tangier. She lied to the kid for thirty-plus years, feigning that Sterling’s father was a fallen war hero when he could’ve been anyone from the head of the KGB to Gene Krupa. Wait, I mean Buddy Rich – you know, the one with the teeth. Malory had her octogenarian, junkie valet raise her son for the first few years of his life before shipping him off to a decade and a half of boarding school.

Over the course of 75 episodes of ‘Archer‘, Malory has tried to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government with a hydrogen bomb, ordered a critical oil pipeline blown up, has had her son and her other employees dismember and scatter the remains of an Italian prime minister, dragged Sterling and company into trying to sell a literal ton of cocaine, and the list keeps going on and on from there.

Josh Zyber

Stepmoms count for this topic too, and nobody knows more about wicked stepmothers than Walt Disney. The studio’s very first feature-length animated film, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs‘, features a doozy in the evil Queen. This woman is so selfish and vain that, upon being told that her young stepdaughter is prettier than she is, orders a Huntsman to take the girl out to the woods, murder her, then cut out her heart and bring it back in a box. Yikes! When the Huntsman can’t go through with this evil deed, the Queen decides to take care of it herself. Donning a disguise as an old hag, she tricks the girl into eating a poisoned apple that sends her into a coma. Yes, she tries to kill an innocent child due to nothing more than petty jealousy. Mothers don’t get much worse than that.

For television, I would like to nominate any mother who has ever exploited a child to participate in a Reality TV show in order to further her own selfish desire to become famous. This includes all the Dance Moms, any of the Real Housewives who have kids, Kate Gosselin, Kris Jenner and more. They’re not just horrible mothers; they’re flat-out horrible people and we should stop giving them the attention they crave.

Tell us your picks for the worst movie and TV moms in the Comments below. Then show your real mom how much you appreciate her on Sunday. Even if you think you have a strained relationship, be grateful you don’t have to deal with any of the nasty women above!


  1. The first one that came to mind for me was Mother Gothel from Rapunzel. She’s such a selfish, manipulating, and condescending bitch. I really wanted to punch her on several occasions.
    My heart breaks for the poor daughter of teen mom Farrah. I feel like her daughter’s been dealt a really shitty hand with such a spotlight seeking media whore for a mom. I actually saw her in person once and her attention seeking vanity was in full effect. There is a part of me that feels sorry for Farrah and wishes that she would get some help.
    This one comes right from home. Casey Anthony became very famous in the worst possible way after all the controversy and lies involving her daughter’s death. The epitome of terrible mother and person.

  2. Chris B

    Amy Ryan’s drug-addled, neglectful mom
    In Gone Baby Gone was awful. The ending of the movie is infuriating because of it.

  3. C.C. 95

    Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People. When her son hugs her and she just sits there motionless, unfeeling…She made you believe a mother could actually NOT love her child.

  4. cardpetree

    Surprised the worst movie Mom ever hasn’t been mentioned. Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.

    • That’s a good one. This discussion wouldn’t be complete without. I must of been six or seven when I first saw it. That haircut scene left quite an impression me.

  5. Hey Luke, Mama Fratelli doesn’t really ‘play favorites with her sons’. It’s quite clear her favorite is Francis. Jake always gets slapped. At one point, Robert Davi even states: ‘You always take his side, mom, you always liked him better than me’. To which Mama replies: ‘That’s right!’. She has the balls to flat out state which son she favors 🙂

  6. William Henley

    In television, my thought is any mother on a Fox comedy show. Lois Griffin on Family guy, Francine Smith on American Dad, Peggy Bundy on Married With Children, Lois on Malcolm In the Middle

    Lois Griffin – belittles her older two kids, smothers the kid who is trying to kill her while completley ignoring the fact that he needs therapy, flirts with the dog,

    Francine Smith – babies teenage son, ignores daughter, gets drunk in front of kids, has no friends,

    Peggy Bundy – thinks only of herself, forgets she has kids half the time, encourages daughter to be a slut (sexual abuse? exploitation of a minor?)

    Lois from Malcolm in the Middle – Bipolar.

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