Evil Matriarch

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"When Your Nemesis Is Your Mom: Fighting with your mom can be awkward. Will she know your weaknesses? If you win can you still go home for Thanksgiving? Just do your best in battle and remember that your mom will kill you if she gets the chance..."
Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? By Chelsea Cain and Marc Mohan

A mother is one of the most central figures that a character can have growing up, and her influence can have an impact on that character even as an adult. If the character is lucky, that mother will be a loving one, and if he or she is really lucky, she'll be an Action Mom who can kick ass and take names if the character is ever threatened.

But if the character is really unlucky and isn't suffering from Parental Abandonment, the character's mother will be an Evil Matriarch and chances are, she will make that character's life a living hell.

The Evil Matriarch comes in two forms:

The first variety, usually used in the Dom Com, is usually the mother of one of the two parents on the show who comes to visit every so often, and someone on the cast dreads it. Usually (though not always) this variety of Evil Matriarch is a Meddling Parents, often to an irrational extreme. Classically, this is a Mother-in-Law situation, but from time to time, the kids themselves, or even the child of the mother is the one that dreads it. In some cases, everyone hates the Evil Matriarch, like in Malcolm in the Middle where everyone dreads Lois's mother coming to visit. In other cases, her visit is appreciated by everyone but the daughter or son of the Evil Matriarch, like in Family Ties, where the matriarch is evil because her daughter feels she can't live up to mom's perfection. Expect this variety of Evil Matriarch to have Power Hair and other Fashionable Evil.

The second variety of Evil Matriarch, which shows up in more dramatic media, is even worse: she is truly evil in a traditional sense, and is one of the worst villains one can face, especially if one of the Heroes or Love Interests is one of her children (or if she's married into his or her family as a stepmother). Many such Evil Matriarchs are completely convinced that they, and only they, know what's best for their children, and can be very controlling, Manipulative Bastard, and perfectly willing to do anything they deem necessary for their children's sake, no matter how evil or destructive it may be. The most vicious examples of this variety of Evil Matriarch despise their children (or at least the one they've singled out as The Unfavorite) and are often physically or emotionally abusive towards them, and many of them are not above Offing the Offspring.

If she's not entirely human, then expect her to be a Hive Queen. If she is also the Queen, expect its time for God Save Us From the Queen.

The Spear Counterpart of this character type is Archnemesis Dad. The inversion is Antagonistic Offspring. See Abusive Parents and Parental Neglect for the more mundane versions. See Offing the Offspring and/or Self-Made Orphan for what this might lead to if the kids fight back. If it's not your mother but her replacement who's making your life a living Hell, see Wicked Stepmother.

Examples of Evil Matriarch include:


Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Sohma Ren, Akito's mother, from Fruits Basket. She's probably one of the worst fictional parents ever.
    • There's also Yuki and Ayame's mother, who had no qualms about abandoning/selling and totally ignoring them respectively. In a flashback, it was revealed that she and her husband were off "living it up" with the money and status they got from Yuki being Akito's companion - while Yuki was deathly ill. Unlike others of her ilk, she's hinted in the manga to have started to get better, after Ayame completely owns her at the parent conference.
  • Precia Testarossa is the definitive Evil Matriarch, and in the TV series takes things to Complete Monster levels. Look at what she does to and how she feels towards her daughter Fate.
  • Kageyama Hiroko (the Countess Werdenberg) from the anime Gilgamesh, despite that she is apparently intended as a tragic and sympathetic character.
  • Kagura's mother, Shinzen Tennozou, in Speed Grapher. Not only does she constantly belittle and starve her daughter, she even goes out of her way to show that thanks to her Screw the Rules, I Have Money mentality, there is virtually nothing anybody can do to help, until Saiga shows up (and even then, he has it HARD).
    • In this case, it's more like screw the savior, I have money.
  • Jane in a certain anime version of Tarzan, Jungle King Tar-chan. I vaguely remember her description and attitude: Jane is a former model who turned into a bloated cow after marrying Tarzan. She is lazy, gluttonous, and brutal. Fully willing to unleash hell on Tarzan's groin when he steps out of line. One unconfirmed rumor is where she kills and eats a woman who showed interest in Tarzan.
  • Kaede Domyoji from Hana Yori Dango puts the family corporate behemoth before everything, including her children's potential happiness ("There is no place for ridiculous emotions like [love] in the Domyoji Group.") She neglects her son for years (which is implied to be the source of his semi-sociopathic fits of violence) until he gets involved with the Plucky Girl heroine, after which she devotes herself wholeheartedly to sabotaging the relationship by using her massive wealth and connections to blackmail and destroy everyone the heroine holds dear, an exercise she already previously done with Tsukasa's older sister Tsubaki. When Tsukasa ends up in the hospital with amnesia, she doesn't even display any concern and merely exults in the fact that this will harm his relationship with his girlfriend.
  • Tamaki's grandmother in Ouran High School Host Club looks down on him because he can't live up to her restrictively high standards for her family, and even forbids him from seeing his mother. Oh, and Tamaki is currently the heir because his grandmother basically bought him, as Tamaki's mother would quickly die in a life of poverty.
    • She may be worse in the anime. To her, Tamaki is nothing but a tool to marry off to the Tonaire family so that they can produce a legitimate heir. This doesn't bother Tamaki in the slightest, as he knows his grandmother despises him and already has dreams beyond the Suoh corporation.
  • Duchess Martine Gabrielle de Polignac is written like this in Rose of Versailles.
  • In Soul Eater, Medusa is this to Crona.
  • Oryou Sonozaki in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Head of the Sonozaki Family (A Yakuza of some sort). Subverted, she is a Jerkass to her granddaughters, but is responsible for far, far less than she's suspected of. Shion's not convinced though.
  • From Wandaba Style, Furoku Tsutsumo, mother of Teen Genius Susumu, will go to any length to make her son admit that she is right and he wrong when it comes to space travel (she believes in furthering scientific achievement at any cost while he would rather try to find a way to launch a rocket that's environmentally friendly). Over the course of the series, she fakes a moon landing and makes it look like Susumu did it, blackmails his pilots into coming to the moon with her while neglecting to mention that there isn't a return trip, and nearly refuses to accept her sons truce when he comes to rescue them.
  • Gyokumen Koushu from Saiyuki took her biological daughter Lirin and gave her up to scientific experimentation in order to try and revive her locked away lover Gyumaoh. She also took her stepson and experimented on him to make him Brainwashed and Crazy. Also Gojyo's half-mother abused and tried to kill him as a child, forcing his own older brother to kill her.
  • Certain fan theories regarding Neon Genesis Evangelion peg Yui Ikari as one of these, based largely on the fact that End Of Evangelion has a short flashback towards the end that reveals she knew, to some degree, what would happen to her after the Contact Experiment, but seemingly didn't know just how far off the rails Gendo would go to get her back, if the fact that Unit 01 bites Gendo's head off is any indication. This also means that she possibly knew what was going to happen to Toji and her son and how broken they'd be by the end.
  • Karin's grandmother can come off like this at times, but, given that she's a vampire who spends long periods of time isolated from society (to sleep) and has an INTENSE distrust of humanity...
  • Code Geass gives us Marianne vi Britannia, Lelouch and Nunnally's mother, whom they revered as a saint while never knowing that she had the same ambitions as their father the Emperor. One sidestory novel has a scene in which the Emperor's bodyguard Bismarck witnesses Marianne interacting with her kids and is stunned when he sees that her face is completely devoid of motherly love.
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Sloth is the failed resurrection of the Elric brother's mother, Trisha.
  • Hotohori's mother from Fushigi Yuugi.


Ballads[edit | hide]

Of her young bairn she?ll neer be lighter,
Nor in her bower to shine the brighter.
But she shall die and turn to clay,
And you shall wed another may.

  • In Child Ballad The Lass of Roch Royal, the mother turns away her son's lover and his baby, although they will (and do) die in the cold weather.
  • Virtually every fairytale with a stepmother fits this. If the child's biological father isn't dead already, the stepmother is usually able to either hide everything from him or cow him into submission.
  • Both of the mothers in The Drowned Lovers (traditional, but most recently arranged and performed by Kate Rusby) fit this trope, and both succeed in killing their children by their malice.

Comic Book[edit | hide]

  • Jesse Custer's grandmother from Preacher (Comic Book) is this trope taken to ludicrous and horrific extremes. She keeps her family imprisoned on a backwoods hellhole farm with the help of her degenerate and perverted henchmen, locks her grandson in a coffin underwater for weeks, and, of, course, tries to have her daughter killed.
  • Mutant terrorist Mystique. She really does love her children, but Nightcrawler's the only one she hasn't stabbed or shot. Though to be fair, one of her kids was a Complete Monster but another was just trying to get Mystique out of jail only for Mystique to breakout and stick a knife in her gut for taking too long. Yes, really does love her children.
  • Damian Wanye's mother Talia has fallen here lately, taking control of her son's nervous system to kill his older brother/mentor Dick Grayson and then revealing to Damian that she had begun cloning him when it became clear to her that he was no longer doing what she wanted him to do. When Damian asked her why she couldn't love him for who he was (showing a rare hint of Woobie-ism), Talia replied "No. I'm too much of a perfectionist" and declared him an enemy of the House of a Ghul, where he spent at least the first three quarters of his life. Oh, and he's ten. She told her ten year old son that along with "I'm cloning you" in the span of about five minutes in Batman & Robin issue 12.
  • The Pride in Runaways is made up of six pairs of Archnemesis Dads and Evil Matriarchs. Interestingly, The Pride honestly believe that they are doing the best they can for their children: by destroying the world and allowing the Gibborim to remake it, they will handing their children paradise. With one exception the kids don't agree, and their interference ultimately leads to the deaths of all The Pride's members.
  • Cheshire of Teen Titans was responsible for giving birth to Roy Harper's daughter Lian. Over the years it's been up for debate as to whether or not Cheshire has been capable of genuine love for her daughter. Roy has made it clear he's raising Lian because he does not believe Cheshire can be trusted, and any possibility of getting in contact with her has been shot down. Black Canary once told one of Lian's babysitters that if her mom showed up, to lock the door and scream for Superman or any other hero in the vicinity. Finally, in Villains United, Cheshire conceived a replacement child by Catman, when Lian's welfare was held over her head to ensure her cooperation with the Secret Six. It's now entirely debatable as to whether or not any love Cheshire has for any of her children is just as a means to keep hold over their fathers, a superhero with connections to the Teen Titans and the Justice League of America, and a supervillain who is considered once of the deadliest trackers in the world.

Fanfic[edit | hide]

  • Kyoko Zepplin Soryu from Nobody Dies Is most certainly this; one of her main goals in life seems to be the prevention of Asuka's ever developing the delusion that she's actually a worthwhile individual.
  • Ponies Make War has Queen Terra, Celestia and Luna's sociopathic mother.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Disney loves these, and plays them straight, usually as stepmothers. The Evil Queen, The Wicked Stepmother (Lady Tremaine), Zira, Queen Narissa, Mother Gothel...and these are just the animated ones.
    • And in the film Dumbo, the oldest cow elephant that constantly pesters the titular character is literally named, "The Matriarch." (in real life, elephant herds are actually led by an elderly cow elephant called a matriarch)
  • Eleanor Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate.
  • Hydia from My Little Pony the Movie
  • Norman Bates' mother from Psycho.
  • Marietta Fortune in Wild At Heart is a particularly deranged example.
  • Babylon A.D.: The High Priestess of the Neolite sect destroys the convent where Aurora was brought up in with a missile strike, presumably to destroy evidence of her past that would obscure her status as a modern 'miracle'.
  • The mother in Hush.
  • Combine this with Yandere and One-Winged Angel and you get the Other Mother from Coraline.
  • Mama Fratelli in The Goonies. She's the head of a family of criminals including two of her sons.
  • Queen Bavmorda in Willow is not only a bad queen but a bad mother.
  • Rose Chasseur in dark Christmas comedy The Ref is the first type. She is SUCH a massive bitch on wheels that even the hardened criminal played by Denis Leary is appalled at how mean she is, and her own grandchildren take delight in helping said hardened criminal tie her to a chair.
  • Mary Jones, the mother in Precious. She allows her husband to rape their daughter, impregnating her twice. The firstborn child has Down's Syndrome and she sends that child to live with the grandmother. She receives welfare, but only spends it on herself, and puts on this wonderful mother routine when the social worker comes for visits. Even worse still, Mary physically, verbally, emotionally, and also sexually abuses Precious and eventually physically abuses the 2nd baby that Precious gives birth to.
  • In the 2004 movie adaptation of The Punisher, the Big Bad's wife is this. When one of her sons dies at Castle's hand, she is the first who insists on bloody revenge on Castle's entire family, to which her husband asks if she's sure before issuing the order.
  • Madea of Antwone Fisher to her foster children, to a terrifying degree.
  • Helen Jorgenson, Sandra Dee's mom in A Summer Place, is a frigid, bigoted, social-climbing, husband-and-daughter-hating bitch. Her mother seems, from what little we see of her, to be every bit as bad.
  • Serial killer Jacob Goodnight's mother in See no Evil was insane and extremely religious person, who raised him through abuse to be a "Hand of God".
  • Janine in the Australian family crime drama Animal Kingdom.

Give us a kiss.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Feudalism example: Queen Athaliah from The Bible, who executed all of her dead son Ahaziah's children (and her own grandchildren) to forcefully take over the Kingdom of Judah, ruling it with a hand of iron. Only baby Jehoash survived, thanks to his aunt Jehosheba and his great-uncle, High Priest Jehoiada; six years later, Jehoiada was able to capture and execute the treacherous Athaliah and crown Jehoash, the rightful king.
    • Even before that, her mother Jezebel.
  • Olivia Foxworth, the terrifying grandmother from VC Andrews's Flowers in the Attic. She convinces her daughter to hide her four children in the attic of the family mansion in order to avoid being erased from the family line of inheritance. The children are starved, beaten and terrorized by the grandmother, and eventually neglected. It later emerges that Grandmother, in combination with her daughter schemed to kill the children by poisoning their food with arsenic. She is somewhat redeemed in one of the sequels, although this may be partial Canon Discontinuity because it was completed by the ghostwriter who succeeded Andrews after her death.
    • A lot of V. C. Andrews' stories contain this (Olivia Logan, Lillian Cutler).
  • Eleanor Iselin in Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate. Having waaay too much political ambition, she manipulates and discards men, including her neurotic, brainwashed son without hesitation.
  • Regan Hamleigh in The Pillars of the Earth. A kind of Lady Macbeth type, she manipulates husband and son into doing her will.
  • Livia from Robert Graves' I, Claudius is the Evil Matriarch ramped up to x1000. She poisons/murders no less than 6 family members (including her husband, Emperor Augustus) in her scheme to set up her son as the next Emperor of Rome. (And she doesn't even do it just for him, she also does it as part of a scheme to become deified after her death, and thus become an immortal goddess, to escape punishment in the afterlife for her crimes.)
  • In the prequels to the Dune series, Duke Leto Atreides' mother, Helena, is generally a thorn in the side of the Atreides household, and hatches a plot to kill her husband, the Old Duke Paulus. She is eventually exiled to the Sisters in Isolation to spend the rest of her life.
  • The Ancestress from Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds. A former imperial concubine, she plans to use her as-yet unconceived great-grandsons as pawns to overthrow the current dynasty and restore the one of which she had been the power behind the throne.
  • Queen Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. Many of her villainous deeds stem from protecting her children, but mostly from her ruthlessness and ambition.
  • Gisella from S. M. Peters's Whitechapel Gods, who is little seen but for her effect upon Missy. Ran a brothel, taking in girls from the street that she personally mentally abused (to the point Missy hears Gisella's voice in her head denigrating her all the time), but subcontracted some more mental and physical abuse to John Scared, primary antagonist, nicknamed the "hobgoblin man" by the girls. Gisella would force the girls to drink something akin to a date-rape drug, so when Scared came by to properly "train" the girls, they experienced it as some kind of horrific nightmare from which they couldn't escape.
  • Discworld example: Nanny Ogg is not very evil, but she rules over the entire Ogg clan (a massive family whose family tree is described as being closer to a mangrove thicket). She's quite benign and verges on My Beloved Smother for most of her family... except for her daughters-in-law, who cook for Nanny Ogg, clean for Nanny Ogg, and pray to the gods that Nanny Ogg doesn't come home from a vacation and find the slightest thing out of order. Famously, Nanny Ogg has never learned or has remembered the names of any of her daughters-in-law.
  • Also from Terry Pratchett is the person to whom the quote at the page's top refers to. Daphne's grandmother from Nation is exactly as described. Among her quirks are keeping track of just how many people have to die before Daphne's father becomes king of England. When Daphne learns that all those people did, in fact, die the first question out of her mouth is wondering if her grandmother did anything crazy.
  • In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter, Walburga Black, Sirius Black's mother, is heavily implied to be an Evil Matriarch. Sirius is known to exaggerate however her portrayal through her portrait doesn't paint a very good picture of her.
    • Narcissa Malfoy first appears to be this. Later books reveal that she's much more of a loving mother than she appears.
  • Mapleshade from Warrior Cats. What drove her to evil was when, after she was exiled from ThunderClan for having a RiverClan mate, her kits drowned in the river. Her mate blames her for this, and she ends up getting exiled from RiverClan as well.
  • Not quite a matriarch, but it's hard not to think of Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha, "who eats broken bottles and turns into a werewolf on the full moon."
    • Nearly all PG Wodehouse aunts are like this, but a character who fits the trope more exactly is Lady Julia Fish in the Blandings Castle novel Heavy Weather, who despises (though she loves) her son Ronnie and tries to break his engagement to chorus-girl Sue Brown.
  • Grinny, in the children's book of the same name by Nicholas Fisk. She's a great-aunt, not a grandmother, and comes across as a Cool Old Lady, but the children hate and fear her anyway because there's something frighteningly off about her. And how come they've never heard of her?
  • The grandmother in L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill manipulated her beloved daughter Robin into leaving her husband and taking her daughter, Jane, with her. She doesn't really like any of her other children, runs Robin's life, and does everything in her power to make Jane feel worthless.
    • And Mrs. Kent from the Emily books - Mrs. Kent who loves her son Teddy obsessively, bitterly hating anything that Teddy loves. This includes his friends, his art, and his dog (which she may have even poisoned.) Apparently she's kind and gentle to Teddy, but outright strange to everyone else (well, she has a Freudian Excuse).
  • The Second Wife from Auntie An-mei's childhood in The Joy Luck Club. Let's see, she got the First Wife addicted to opium, leaving her a shell of herself in constant religious agony, rules Third Wife like a puppet, had her husband rape an innocent guest to get him his Fourth Wife, and then arranged for a Fifth Wife whose greatest purpose would be to make Second Wife look better. And when Fourth Wife had a son, Second Wife claimed him for her own.
  • Beth Jarrett, from the novel/TheFilmofTheBook Ordinary People. While her motivations are made a bit clearer in the novel (she explicitly says that she isn't able to forgive her youngest son Conrad for the messiness of his suicide attempt, believing that the sight of all that blood was meant to kill her, too), the movie keeps it vaguer, merely implying that the death of her favorite son has left her unable to love anyone. This, coupled with the fact that she's portrayed by a Playing Against Type Mary Tyler Moore, makes her come across as a lot more evil.
  • Michael Wenton-Weakes's mother in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, at least according to Michael.

Michael usually referred to his mother as an old battleaxe, but if she was fairly to be compared to a battleaxe it would only be to an exquisitely crafted, beautifully balanced battleaxe, with an elegant minimum of fine engraving which stopped just short of its gleaming razored edge. One swipe from such an instrument and you wouldn't even know you'd been hit until you tried to look at your watch a bit later and discovered that your arm wasn't on.

    • In fact, Lady Wenton-Weakes is simply the opposite of a Beloved Smother; she thinks Michael has been horribly spoiled by his father, and hopes that selling his magazine to someone who might actually make something of it may encourage him to grow up a little.
  • The Mouse Queen in The Nutcracker, who is is pretty much responsible for... well, just about everything.
  • Played straight in a Diana Wynne Jones book, Dogsbody'. Kathleen lives with her uncle, his family, and her evil step aunt who works her like a dog, verbally abuses her and threatens to kill her dog on a regular basis.
    • This is also used in Jones' Aunt Maria (also titled Black Maria). While Aunt Maria seems like the sweet lady who runs the local ladies gatherings, she's actually a Complete Monster who attempts to groom the narrator, Mig, as an heir. Along the way, she turns Mig's brother into a wolf, brainwashes their mother to not notice said brother's disappearance and act as the housekeeper, has Mig eventually sent to be locked up with the town "orphans" (another one of her plots - they're actually the children of the townsfolk who Maria is trying to control), and eventually it is revealed that she turned her own daughter into a wolf after they had an argument. And the daughter was killed when Maria tried to get Mig's brother shot in a wolf hunt.
    • Then in Fire and Hemlock, there's Laurel, depicted as a youngish Evil Matriarch who dominates everyone in the extended family based in the mansion where Polly met Tom Lynn. (Tom included; she's said to be his ex-wife.) She's actually the Queen of the Fairies. Which doesn't lessen this trope one bit. Diana Wynne Jones likes this type of character a lot; even if they could change you into a rabbit, their terrifying power usually derives from the ability to sweetly and serenely put you in the wrong, no matter how sure you were that you had right on your side.
  • Oonagh of The Sevenwaters Trilogy, formerly an evil stepmother, becomes this once she has a son and granddaughter to manipulate.
  • The 39 Clues: Isabel. freaking. Kabra.
  • Female Drow from Salvatore's Dark Elf trilogy are apparently all like this, exemplified by Drizzt's mother Malice Do'Urden. She's introduced ready to be delivered of Drizzt, immediately whereafter she attempts to sacrifice him to her evil goddess. Then It Got Worse.
  • Carrie's mother Margaret White. A religious fanatic who fiercely abhors everything even slightly related to femininity and sexuality, and who sees her psychic daughter as nothing but an abomination and a shameful reminder of that one dreadful time when her husband had his way with her.
  • Subverted in Coraline. Her mother seems like a Jerkass at first, but that's only until Coraline meets her Other Mother...
  • Played straight in Jo Walton's Among Others.
  • Geleth Pa'Dar in the Star Trek novel The Never-Ending Sacrifice. A product of the traditional Cardassia, where life was a struggle for survival on a starving planet, she is utterly ruthless and quite unrepentant about it. At one point, she suggests with total ease and in full seriousness that her son should have her grandson killed. Said grandson, Rugal, ends up in an ongoing battle of wills with Geleth after coming to live in the family home. Finally, she dies of old age - after sharing her secrets with Rugal on her deathbed. Said secrets involve, among other things, casually having an innocent man arrested and executed on false charges.
    • In Star Trek: Forged in Fire, Lady of the House Moj'ih would rather kill her albino baby than allow his condition to bring shame to the family. Of course, she is following Klingon custom here; the Honor Before Reason nature of her culture blunts the individual evil to some extent. She still fits the trope though.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Ta'a Chume, the queen of the Hapes Cluster, who assassinates her own sons so that Isolder would take the throne. Then she plans to seduce her future daughter-in-law's brother and kill him. Then after her son finds another woman and Leia marries Han, she tries to kill granddaughter and great-granddaughter because the former and her boyfriend (a.k.a. the latter's father) are Jedi.[1] Jacen Mind Rapes her, ending her tyranny. Guess who becomes a Sith in a few years?
  • The empress Tatrini Malagash in Chronicles of Magravandias is respected and feared by all of her sons (not to mention The Empire at large), especially knowing she only has ambitions for one of her younger sons, Bayard. The rest of them know themselves to be expendable if they get in her way without the resources to fight her.
  • The Silver Queen, Yambu, was the Big Bad of the first two volumes of the Books of Swords. Among her other acts, she sold her only child, Ariane, into sex slavery. She would have killed her, but for unfavorable auguries.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development.
  • Stephanie Forrester from the Bold And The Beautiful is a clear example of this trope, having spent 22 years trying to drive Brooke Logan out of her family after Brooke married both her husband and later two of her sons. Her worst crimes include hiring a man to make Brooke look like an unfit parent who eventually ended up raping Brooke (though to be fair, Stephanie had no idea what the man was capable of) and attempting to poison another woman who was pregnant with her son's child, thus making her guilty of attempted murder of her own grandchild.
  • Once Lorelai Gilmore reluctantly re-opens relations with her mother, Emily Gilmore is quickly revealed not only as a near-definitional example of Type 1 (oh, how Lorelai and Rory dread those family dinners!) but as strong shadings of Type 2, as well.
    • Vengeance is gained when Emily's Type 1 mother-in-law visits.
    • Note that Emily is often portrayed sympathetically. Though manipulative, she does really want what's best for her family, and much (though not all) of her and Lorelai's strained relationship comes due to either personality clashes or Values Dissonance.
  • Shirl Hennessey in the Australian 1994-5 TV mini-series Janus (based on real-life criminal Kath Pettingill; known as Granny Evil, head of a notorious Melbourne criminal family).
  • Angela Petrelli from Heroes. All her actions have shady motivations and she's not above using her children if the end justified the means (even considering killing one son at one point).
    • In light of the events of V3, however, it's difficult to figure out if Angela was always such a Cold Hard Bitch, or became one after she found out that her husband had been mind-controlling her for years, mind-raping her into going along with the aforementioned (narrowly averted) Offing the Offspring.
  • Christine Jones from Home and Away certainly falls into Type 2. She has invaded her daughter's privacy, invaded the privacy of her daughter's teacher, attempted to use her daughter Melody as an example of Miles' apparent corruption of schoolkids (by way of Spring Awakening), Taken out an AVO against Geoff, ignored the fact that Melody was raped, institutionalized Melody after her rapist died, withdrew her daughter from the subsequent counseling (causing a nasty case of anorexia), attempted an exorcism, and then kidnapped Melody. Parent of the Year award right there.
  • An episode of Lois and Clark featured the mother of a deceased criminal known as "Bad Brain Johnson". To try and get her attention, her unfavourite second son built a fully functional mind control machine, to offer her the whole world as a gift. Not only was he met with equal disdain as usual, but not even the machine at full power could force her to tell her son she loved him.
  • Erica Noughton, Julia's mother on Nip Tuck: witty, intelligent, and a hell of a great person to have a drink with—unless you happen to be her daughter. It's heavily implied that her criticism and emotional absence are responsible for Julia's extreme insecurity.
  • Rome's Atia of the Julii is another ancient Evil Matriarch. She uses sex to get what she wants, verbally abuses her children and everyone around her, arranges the murder of her daughter's ex-husband (whom her daughter still loved), and sabotages her uncle's romance. (Oddly enough, some of these actions might have been prompted by a sincere desire to help her family, but her motivations are, for the most part, selfish.)
    • Servilia, from that same series, isn't exactly a paragon of virtue either.
  • Roseanne's mom from Roseanne started out as an Evil Matriarch, but eventually turned into The Ditz as she became a Recurring Character.
  • Barbara Eden (best known for I Dream of Jeannie) played the Evil Matriarch of the Spellman Clan in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, whose appearances were usually preceded by something unexpectedly (insofar as the word can be applied in this show) freezing in anticipation of her icy demeanor. Elizabeth Montgomery, had she still been alive, might have been a more natural choice, as her character's mother on Bewitched (played by Agnes Moorehead) is archetypal of the Evil Matriarch.
  • Sons of Anarchy features Gemma Teller Morrow, who supplies her son's junkie ex-wife with heroin (in order to damage her health or kill her, keeping her away from the new baby), smashes a skateboard into the face of a girl she suspects is sleeping with her husband, and just generally manipulates people all over the place.
  • Livia Soprano from The Sopranos takes pleasure in tormenting people around her, especially her son Tony. She even tries to Offing the Offspring him once.
  • Charlie and Alan's mother in Two and A Half Men (as well as one of Charlie's girlfriends, much to everyone else's amusement and horror).
  • George Lopez's grandmother, both on the TV show and in real life.
  • The Wire gives us De'londa Brice, who forces her son to become a drug dealer to support her decadent lifestyle.
  • Pops a lot in Hispanic Soap Operas as the typical castrating mother of the male lead, but the best and biggest one in malevolence is Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de Lobos. For her, "Family Name" comes before everything (including fortune and love), and because of that she is not shy in committing murder, lying barefaced and manipulating everything and everyone around her. She even has an Eyepatch of Power who makes her look more sinister (and the patch is a plot point in itself)!
  • Jack Donaghy's mother Colleen on Thirty Rock. He once told her that "there are terrorist cells more nurturing than you."
  • Marie in Everybody Loves Raymond" basically embodies this trope, having moved across the street from her son's family, and constantly dropping by.
    • Actually, it was Raymond and Debra who moved across the street from Marie and Frank, as revealed in a Flash Back episode. Of course, Raymond spent the entire episode trying to convince Debra not to do it, but gave up in the end. Debra regrets not listening to Raymond.
  • On Lost, Jacob and MIB are fraternal twins raised on the island by "Mother" played by Allison Janney. She actually killed their real mother, a shipwrecked pregnant woman, right after they were born. She then lies to them about their being nothing across the sea and stops any attempt by MIB to leave, including killing all the shipwrecked castaways helping him. All so that either Jacob or MIB can take over being guardian of the island.
    • Also, Eloise Hawking pushes Her son, Daniel Faraday, to study time travel then to go to the Island, knowing that when he finally gets there and travels back in time, she'll shoot him dead.
  • Queen Mab, the ruler of The Fair Folk in the 1998 Merlin series, especially towards the title character.
  • As mentioned in Literature, Livia Drusilla, magnificently played by Sian Phillips in the miniseries I, Claudius.
  • CSI is fond of this trope, from an episode in the first season where a mother literally drowns her daughter on a carnival ride, and in the episode 'Forever', where a mother convinces her daughter and boyfriend to commit suicide.
  • Genevieve Teague of Season 4 of Smallville, to her son, Jason, whom she controlled through a mix of psychological torture and financial abuse, so thoroughly ruining his self-esteem that he can barely function without her. She's also the season's Big Bad, and Distaff Counterpart to Abusive Parent & Archnemesis Dad, Lionel Luthor.
  • Mags Bennett in season two of Justified controls all the marijuana operations in Harlan County and while she seems like a nice woman she is actually Affably Evil
    • If you grow pot without her permission, she will send her sons to force you to put your foot in a bear trap
    • If you do something to hurt her business, she will have a nice chat with you and then give you some of her poisoned moonshine
    • If one of her sons does something stupid that might expose the murders they committed, she will settle for personally breaking his hand with a hammer
  • The mother of the Peacock family (Ma Barker meets Deliverance) in the X-Files episode "Home".
  • Played with in Up All Night episode named "Parents". Reagen dreads a visit from her mother, and is annoyed by her. Also, Reagen's mother is proud of how she brought up Reagen and even writes a book about it, which annoys Reagen even more. Averted by the end of the episode, because Reagen's mother realizes what she was doing wrong after she has a Heart to heart talk with Reagen and becomes more supportive.
  • Arguably, Gillian Darmody from Boardwalk Empire.
  • Desperate Housewives has several examples of bad parenting, but Gloria Hodge and Barbara Orlofsky really tie for the first place. The former went to awful lenghts to make her son remarry his ex-wife, even planning his rape and attempting to kill Bree. The latter's alcoholism and cruel behavior turned her son Eddie into a serial killer.
  • Regina's mother in Once Upon a Time. She has no qualms about putting a child at risk (by causing child Snow's horse to run away) to promote her agenda for her daughter's life, and when Regina wants to actually choose her own husband, Mom kills the man her daughter loves, then Mom strongarms her into marrying a man she's not interested in just because he's King.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Bernarda Alba from García Lorca's play La Casa de Bernarda Alba ("The House of Bernarda Alba"). Even in the 1930, when all the values this woman embodied were still living in the deepest of Spain's countryside, she still managed to come as too oppressive, coldhearted, cruel, and smothering (and not only for her old maid), to the point of killing her youngest daughter, Adela, and then happily claiming "My daughter, she dies a virgin!".
  • In an earlier adaptation of this period in history, the titular character from G.F. Händel's 1709 opera Agrippina is similarly preoccupied with securing the throne for her son Nero. Expertly manipulating everyone around her, she manages to maneuver around a number of setbacks - such as her husband, the emperor Claudius, surviving the shipwreck that was supposed to have killed him - at the expense of the only morally upright character in the entire piece. In contrast to the other Roman examples listed here, the opera's happy ending allows for Agrippina's scheming to be played for (admittedly pretty nasty) comedy.
  • The Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. She uses the Wounded Gazelle Gambit to engage Tamino to kill Sarastro, ostensibly because Sarastro has kidnapped her daughter Pamina. When that fails, she goes to Pamina herself and tells her to murder Sarastro, or forever be disowned. She doesn't even try to help her daughter escape.
  • Fastrada in Pippin.
  • The Oresteia. This is the play where a woman and her boyfriend plot to kill her husband, and then her children kill them.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Hilda from Fire Emblem 4. Tortures her sister in law Tiltyu AND her daughter Tinny for good measure ( and if Tiltyu dies childless, she tortures her other sister in law Ethnia and her daughter Linda), and while she keeps saying it's to punish traitors, deep down, she just enjoys torturing for the heck of it. The result becomes obvious. Tiltyu (or Ethnia) becomes extremely broken and cries everyday until she dies from sickness, and Tinny (or Linda) ends up as a Shrinking Violet. And then, Hilda keeps pressuring her blood daughter and local Dark Magical Girl Ishtar to marry her boyfriend Julius, the Imperial Prince of Grandbell, just so she can get more links and power from the Emperor. And in Fire Emblem 5, it's revealed that even her husband Blume does not support child hunts... but she supports it wholeheartedly But she makes the fatal mistake of underestimating Arthur ( or Amid)... and even Tinny herself ( or Linda)
    • Succeeding Hilda would be Sonia from the 7th game. While just evil, manipulative and haughtily trying to appease Nergal that she is human (though it goes otherwise, You Can't Fight Fate), she just have to hammer it down by completely screwing Nino out, by raising her with full of hate, she would've killed her if it wasn't for Nergal's order. And then when Nino asks for truth, Sonia completely demeans her and reveals that she killed Nino's birth family. To hammer it down worse... Sonia plays a very big part in Nergal's plan on screwing up the Black Fangs, including the deaths of the Reed family, which is what Nino could consider the closest as blood family. If there's an Evil Matriarch in Fire Emblem, they'd surely target the cheeriest, genkiest victim, indeed.
  • Duminuss in Super Robot Wars OG Gaiden. Forcing her children that dedicate their lives to her to MERGE with her despite their own wishes, and later dismissed them as just mere pawns that she can throw away any time...
  • Morgan Fey in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All. Pearl's mother and Maya's Evil Aunt.
  • SHODAN from the System Shock franchise (pictured above) obsesses over power. She plans to rule the whole planet in the worst dictatorship possible: The extermination of all human life.
  • Queen Zeal of Chrono Trigger isn't evil just towards the world at large; she shows nothing but contempt for her children, using them as tools to acquire further power and disposing of them when they're no longer needed.
    • She wasn't always like this; it's implied that a combination of her husband's death and the malevolent power of Lavos is what corrupted her.
  • Variation with Benezia in Mass Effect, as she is eventually revealed to be indoctrinated by Sovereign.
    • Benezia actually earns triple points for this: Not only is she an evil (alright, convincingly mind-controlled) matriarch, but she is actually called Matriarch Benezia (it's her official title); is a literal mother to one of the main characters (who she tries to kill, still not of her free will); and is even caught conducting mind control and breeding experiments on an insectoid race (which, if successful, would have made her a literal Hive Queen).
    • However, her final words to her daughter Liara after having her mind cleared subverts this, saying that she's always been proud of her.
  • Dorothy in Galerians is of the "so evil, she abuses her own loyal children" variety.
  • Sofia Lamb. SOFIA FUCKING LAMB. Watching her heroic daughter Eleanor kill her in all endings (except the "Good" ending) was glorious.
  • Various "Big Bad" characters from Touhou have shades of this, since the setting has an Fundamentally Female Cast. Eirin treats her disciple Reisen like, um, dirt (mostly Played for Laughs); Yuyuko is quite eccentric much to Youmu's woe. Yukari uses Reimu and Kanako uses Sanae, respectively, in their proxy conflict for supremacy over Gensokyo.
  • Queen Brahne from Final Fantasy IX.
    • Sorceress Edea from Final Fantasy VIII. She's actually under Ultimecia's control all those times.
    • Jenova might be an example of this.
  • Flemeth in Dragon Age is a subversion, she may be Morrigan's mother and be rather evil in the grand scheme of things, but she and Morrigan don't really like each other and fully expect to come to blows one day.
    • Although given one of the lines (from when Morrigan first joins the party), Morrigan does seem to care about Flemeth, at least a little.
      • Until she learns that she was only born for the sole purpose of being sacrificed as the primary component of a magic ritual that extends Flemths lifetime by another couple of decades. Just like every other of Flemeths daughters before her.
  • Fallout: New Vegas gives us the Affably Evil and matronly Jeannie May Crawford, mayor of the town of Novac who sells the pregnant wife of Craig Boone, one of the town's guardian snipers, into slavery with Caesar's Legion and even gave the Legion information concerning how to sneak past Boone while he was on duty to take his wife. It's implied Crawford did so because Carla, Boone's wife, made it clear she was unhappy with the small town of Novac and wanted to return to New Vegas, where she and her husband had met. Boone will give the player a quest that, if it ends the 'right' way, results in Jeannie May getting one heck of a Boom! Headshot! from Boone while standing right next to the Courier.
  • The Binding of Isaac has Isaac's mother, who one day has an epiphany from God (likely due to watching too much Christian broadcasting) and decides to sacrifice her son to the lord. It's implied that she's done this before with other children.
  • Silent Hill seems to have a thing for this trope. Dahlia Gillespie and Margaret Holloway could very well be friends with Sofia Lamb, considering their willingless to torture, abuse and sacrifice their own daughters in ways that makes the devil shiver. By far, the least worst mother in the series is Walter Sullivan's mother, who had the decency of just abandoning him in an apartment, rather than sacrificing him to some God of Evil, Eldritch Abomination, The Devil or Whatever the hell the Order worships.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Hazel Green in CRFH: her children refer to her as 'The Dragon', and she lives up to the name, having them followed by her private agents, using brainwashing, blackmail and intimidation to manipulate them, and having her daughter's would-be boyfriend (and roommate of her eldest biological son) kidnapped and implanting an explosive tracking device on him.
  • Every mother that appears, or is even mentioned, in the web comic Ugly Hill, is one of these - often taken to ludicrous and downright scary extremes. One almost wonders if the author has some Freudian Excuse for this... or maybe it just comes down to the fact that every character in the comic is a literal monster.
  • Hannelore's mother in Questionable Content. Her visit is pretty much this trope non-stop.
  • Deconstructed in Corner Alley 13, wherein drow society is revealed to be so backstabbingly treacherous (the Klingon Promotion being their standard method of electing new leaders) that even the nicest of matriarchs are forced to become vicious tyrants to keep their positions and their heads. The villain of the first arc turns out to be quite sympathetic because of this.
  • Destania and Cyra, Dan's mother and grandmother from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures show signs of being Complete Monsters at some point in their history. They do however, care for their family.
  • In Homestuck, Nanna Egbert and Grandpa Harley were raised by Betty Crocker after Grandpa accidentally killed her husband. This sort of thing is exactly why babies should not be allowed to dual-wield flintlock pistols. She apparently wasn't very kind to either of them, and was even harsher on Nanna when Grandpa ran away to explore the world. It turns out that she was the former empress of Alternia, and was a Complete Monster to boot.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Omaroch's mother is the demonic Grand Duchess who wishes to unite the bickering demon hordes under one banner and use the demons' combined strength to enslave other races. The two clash as Omaroch wishes to keep his non-demonic friends safe even if it means opposing his mother.
  • Santeria Decuir in The Gungan Council, a former Sith and the High Priestess of the Nightsisters. Also leads one of the largest families to every appear on the site.
  • From the Evillious Chronicles, by Mothy: PRIM FREAKIN' MARLON.
  • The mother of The Nostalgia Critic and Ask That Guy With The Glasses, who seems to prefer the manipulative Why Did You Make Me Hit You? kind of abuse to the more physical kind.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Thomas Jefferson's father died before he was old enough to run the family plantation, and the years he spent waiting for his overbearing mother to turn it over to him are probably what turned him toward Enlightenment ideas about property rights.
  • Catherine de' Medici, the widow of Henry II of France. The "Spider Queen of France", she acted as the puppemistress for her three sons who reigned as kings one after one. She managed to drive France in turmoil because of a religious civil war she initiated.
  • Date Masamune's mother, reportedly. She is pretty normal to other people, but towards Masamune, after plucking his eye out due to smallpox, she comes of as a complete bitch that tried to poison him when he was young, because he happened to be The Unfavorite. It's no wonder Masamune grew up to be that much of a wild, unpredictable, ruthless young warlord.
  • The Emperor Irene of the Byzantine Empire (that was "emperor" not "empress" - she insisted). She served as regent for her son. But when he grew up and tried to assert the power of emperor, she had his eyes gouged out. Among other very mean things.
  • This is part of the stereotype of the Jewish grandmother/mother-in-law. She dotes, spoils and fawns over her grandchildren, nags and overcontrols her son, and treats her daughter in law like garbage.
  • Princess Sophie of Bavaria, later Archduchess Sophie of Austria, is often portrayed this way in media, since she was the mother of Emperor Franz Joseph and the mother-in-law of Elisabeth of Bavaria aka "Sisi". The more pro-Sissi the media is, the more malevolent Sophie will be (Elisabeth, anyone?).
  • Dave Pelzer was severely abused by his mother. It was considered one of the worst cases of child abuse ever seen by the social workers who rescued him. ( Stupidly, they only took Dave away...) While one of Dave's brothers and his grandmother say that Dave's book was an outright lie, Dave's younger brother Richard supports him. Because once Dave was gone...Richard became the new scapegoat and said that their mother had abused him too. While it wasn't as serious as Dave's (Dave was told to eat soiled diapers and burned over the oven), Richard was still abused by being held upside down and beaten upside the head in the front door of their house while his friend watched and despite this, people still didn't think something was up?!
  • Ben Kingsley has stated that he based the character of Don Logan in Sexy Beast on the most evil person he had ever met... his grandmother.
  • Adeline Yen Mah was subjected to this via her stepmother Jeanne Virginie Prosperi. It seems that most of the family considered poor Adeline bad luck and treated her badly, but the stepmother hated on all of the children who weren't her only, giving them obvious preferential treatment. The kids couldn't even read their father's will until she died (two years after he did).
  • Type 2: Theresa Cross Knorr
  • In the Amazon, Canela mothers actually demand their sons don't masturbate. This is because when a Canela boy comes of age, he will for much of his life be spent sleeping with women in exchange for goods that he brings home to his family, and the adhesion of the foreskin to the glans marks him as a virgin worthy of extra payment. It sounds like it's straight out of a hentai, but it's true.
  • SNL Darrell Hammond's mother physically and emotionally abused him throughout his childhood which led to his later alcohol and cocaine addiction and cutting himself. In his memoirs "God, If you're not up there I'm f**ked" he reveals when he was three his mother cut his tongue with a knife.
  1. An aside: Technically, Tenel Ka lets Jacen use her fleet in exchange for an heir. But male prostitution for females is common in myth, and these are Troy Denning books.