My Beloved Smother

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I have some issues with my beloved smother -- mother!!
Principal Seymour Skinner, The Simpsons

Mothers who are a bit too... controlling. Usually (but not always), they are the mothers of sons, and for whatever reasons can have a bit of trouble cutting the apron strings; as a result, no matter how old the boy (or, for added humor value, man) is, he'll be mothered relentlessly, his mother absolutely smothering him with parental affection... and authority. Using either carrot or stick, his mother will go to any lengths to make sure that, whether he wants to or not, he's not going to be leaving his mother's embrace any time soon. Any attempts on his part will usually result in a passive-aggressive guilt trip for trying to break away and do his own thing. Her poor son, as a result of such domination and badgering, usually ends up a Momma's Boy. For some reason, a lot of these mothers are Jewish. (Although they are also oftentimes Catholic, serving double-duty as a conduit for Catholic Guilt.)

Any Love Interest that her son may attract will be immediately regarded as a threat and a rival for the son's love by the Beloved Smother, and the woman will be belittled, harassed and spied-on to varying degrees of obsession. If her son happens to break free and marry the woman he loves, then that unfortunate woman will find herself coping with the Mother-In-Law From Hell, who will be hyper-critical, dismissive and condemning of everything she does to the point where it may even break the marriage apart if her son doesn't do something to curtail his mother's interference.

In the most favorable depiction, the Beloved Smother genuinely does love her son and wants him to be happy; she just has a little bit of trouble letting him go, and her plot arc usually revolves around the gradual realization that he's his own man and that she needs to cut the apron strings for his own good (and, usually, hers as well), and that his moving away from her doesn't equal that he doesn't love her in return. At worst, she's a Control Freak Evil Matriarch who will stop at nothing -- not even murder—to make sure that Mommy's Little Angel remains with her at all costs. For added Squick value, Mommy and Son may be a bit too close in the wrong kinds of ways...

It is rarer for daughters in fiction to have trouble with the Smother, but not unheard of; if the girl is unlucky enough to have a Smother, then things will be much the same (although rather than actively preventing their children from having a life outside of her, a Smother who has a daughter will usually instead start badgering her about why they aren't married and providing her with grandchildren on a constant basis). With daughters, however, the dominance may sometimes have an edge of competition as well, as they tend to view their own daughters as rivals. Smothers of daughters are often ex-Alpha Bitches or cheerleaders who tend to bully and harass their daughters into following their footsteps as a way of living their past glories through their children.

Like most tropes, it's a Truth in Television; Psychiatrist Carl Jung identified this archetype as the Terrible Mother, an over-nurturer who, in smothering her child, ends up stifling them to the point of hampering individuation and personal growth.

When a queen is acting as regent, she often will smother the young king as well, and expect to control the king after he comes of age.

If she actually succeeds in taking control of her children, those characters will end up with Mommy Issues.

May double up with Safety Worst. May overlap with Meddling Parents.

Compare/contrast Overprotective Dad and Fantasy-Forbidding Father. If it's a more action based series where the offspring being "smothered" is in trouble and the Smother is an Action Mom, see Mama Bear. If the mom was a child star and pushes her kid into stardom, she's a Stage Mom.

Examples of My Beloved Smother include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • By contrast to Patrick Zala, Ezaria Joule from Gundam Seed is this to her son Yzak. Ironically, despite the fact she has similiar beliefs to Patrick, this actually humanizes her, mostly because she does care about her flesh and blood beyond a means to her projected ends.
  • One Slayers OVA is based around Lina and Naga being hired by a rich, horrifically controlling noblewoman to help her son Jeffrey become a knight. Jeffrey has delusions of being a Knight in Shining Armor, but is immensely sickly and kind of a dip. Insult him, however, and his (masked) mother will crush you with a giant hammer. While yelling about how you dared insult her boy. Ultimately, Jeffrey confronts a local Evil Overlord... his long-lost father, who just couldn't put up with that woman anymore.
  • Meshou, Ritsu Sohma's mother in Fruits Basket. She's one of the few Sohma parents who doesn't abuse or neglect their cursed kids, but despite her good intentions she's a Shrinking Violet who apologizes for everything, thus Ritsu ends up just as insecure and prone to ditziness and apologies as his mom.
    • Kyo Sohma's mother counts, too, in an even less healthy way. She basically kept him indoors 90% of his life, claiming it was "because he was so cute she didn't want anybody else to see him," constantly checked to make sure the beads that keep him from transforming were still in place, and in general kept up a very forced display of motherly love towards him. This only compounded his issues later on since he could tell even as a child that she was faking and in actuality was terrified of him. Thankfully {{ Character Development got over it}}.
  • In Spirited Away, Yubaba keeps her baby sheltered in a room, telling him he must never leave because of germs, and relentlessly indulges him, producing a Spoiled Brat. When he is transformed into a mouse and his mother does not recognize him, he goes with Chihiro, becoming her friend, and on their return, shows his mother that he can stand on his own and demands that she be nice to Chihiro.
  • RahXephon: Maya Kamina is well-intentioned but extremely smothering of her son Ayato. Or better said, her nephew, since Ayato's biological mom is her twin sister Quon.
  • Furoku Tsukumo, mother of Teen Genius Susumu on Wandaba Style falls into this. She's the Designated Villain of the series because she wants Susumu, who left home to conduct his eco-friendly space experiments, to acknowledge that the 1969 moon landing wasn't faked and to recognize her maternal authority. He is only thirteen, after all.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Yui, in a benign sense - it's pretty much a given that if Yui shows up in any NGE work as an actual character (games, fanfic, Episode 26), it's abundantly clear that she wears the pants in the Ikari household and Gendō and Shinji simply follow her lead.
  • Skip Beat!: Ren's mother is very overprotective to the point that Kuon, as he was called by birth, runs away to Japan and becomes Ren Tsuraga to escape her influence
  • Chichi in Dragonball Z ends up as this to Gohan. She mellows out a bit with Goten.
  • In a Detective Conan case, Akio's mother was this. So much that she wants to save her beloved Akio from being imprisoned after killing his apparently abusive dad... by locking him in the basement of their home. Akio ends up crossing the Despair Event Horizon since he does want to turn himself in, and it's up to Conan to help him convince his mother to let him atone.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Used many times by cartoonist Will Eisner, to the highest degree imaginable in the story "Mortal Combat" in his graphic novel "Invisible People".
  • Chas's very domineering (and supernaturally charged) bed-ridden mother in Hellblazer. It's implied that she killed her husband, and Chas is only free of her domination after John kills her familiar. Naturally, his own wife is just as controlling, albeit ambulatory, neater in dress and habit, and a Muggle.
  • Flash Forward's mother in Doom Patrol. It's telling that he, an irreverent braggart and smart alec, is immediately cowed when he realizes his mom has his phone number. She also corrects his grammar over the phone.
  • The Batman villain Hush's mother was like this, in addition to having a drunken and abusive father. When, as a child, he attempted to kill them by cutting their brakes, his mother not only survived, but the incident made her even more clinging and controlling, demanding her son's constant presence. When he heard Bruce Wayne's parents were killed and he wouldn't have to deal with that, his main thought was "That lucky bastard.".
  • The title character in Mel Lazarus' Momma could be the poster child mother for this trope.
  • Jeremy's mom in Zits sometimes these exhibits these tendencies, although whether this is actually how she is or merely how he sees her is typically open to question.
  • Almost every mother that appears at length in Bloom County fits this trope: Bobbi's mother, Steve's mother, Lola's mother, Opus' mother... (In fact, Opus' mother issues are so severe that one series of strips depicted his imaginary feminine ideal as the embodiment of this trope.)
  • Grossout's mother from Scare Tactics was definitely one of these.
  • "Mummy's Boy" was a strip that ran in the British comic Monster Fun (and later Buster). The title character was forced to wear a bonnet and baby clothes and was pushed around in a pram by his overbearing mother, even though he was almost a teenager. Everything Boy wanted to do was "too dangerous", or "for bigger boys". The latest gadgets and games he yearned for were "too sharp" or "too difficult" for him - he was hopelessly swaddled.


Film -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • Mother Gothel in Tangled, who needs Rapunzel's healing hair to retain her beauty and has successfully scared Rapunzel for almost two decades into staying in the tower.
    • Somewhat subverted by the fact that Gothel is not Rapunzel's birth mother and that her original reason for taking her as a child was her life-restoring hair.
  • The Other Mother in The Film of the Book Coraline.


Film -- Live-action[edit | hide]

  • Arguably, Violet's mother in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005 version). Mother and daughter dress alike (Violet, thankfully, does not wear Mom's slathered-on makeup), and Mom is constantly pushing Violet to compete.
    • To be fair, Violet seems to enjoy it.
  • The mom from A Christmas Story. Especially with the younger kid. She wraps him in so many layers for the walk to school, he can't put his arms down. Even his freak out fear-crying doesn't faze her. Plus, the tolerance of his bizarre eating habits. Ralphie gets the smothering too, but to a lesser extent ("You'll shoot your eye out!").
  • Though she only appears in one scene, Max's mother in Collateral had full control over her son despite being confined to a wheel chair. Memorably, she chastises him for bringing her flowers, only to do an about face when he tells her the flowers are from his "friend" Vincent.
  • Polly Cronin, Lizzie's mother in Drop Dead Fred.
  • Lionel's mother in Braindead. Even when she turns into a zombie, her son is unable to confront her until the very end.
  • Ice Princess. Both the main character's mother and The Rival's mother are forcing their own ambitions upon their daughters. Even the parents of secondary and background characters seem to follow this trope.
  • Jack Spade's mother in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, who insists that he put on a sweater before he goes out and fights against men twice her size to protect him. When he goes up against Mr. Big, she shows up with a shotgun to join in. Her son eventually breaks free by locking her in a closet until the fight's over—which pisses her off no end.
  • The Black Queen in Mirror Mask. Her smothering behaviour is why the Rebellious Princess ran away, and used for one hell of a Brainwashed sequence.

Black Queen: You mean, let her choose her own food... her own clothes, make her own decisions. Love her, don't try to possess her?
Helena: That's exactly what I mean
Black Queen: (Beat) Absolutely out of the question.

  • Monster-in-Law pits a Beloved Smother played by Jane Fonda against the woman her son is engaged to, played by Jennifer Lopez. However she gets better after her assistant points out both that she is far worse than her own mother-in-law and that her actions (to make her son happy) are unwarrented: he IS happy.
  • In Oedipus Wrecks, Woody Allen's segment from the 1989 anthology film New York Stories, Allen's character has one of these. When the mother "permanently" disappears as part of a magic show, he thinks his troubles are over... until she reappears as a giant disembodied head in the New York sky and starts bossing him around for the entire city to hear.
  • Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a particularly dark example, as the Big Nurse's threat of telling his mom about his sexual escapades in the final part drives him to suicide
    • To be fair, we don't see or hear his mother in the story; we only know that Billy is terrified of her finding out about his sex life. We don't know why - perhaps she really is smothering, but then perhaps Nurse Ratched has been spreading lies and false insinuations about her.
  • There's a Smother in Nice Girls Don't Explode.
  • In Now Voyager, Charlotte Vale's mother is a particularly nasty version of this trope, controlling her daughter and keeping her from being independent through emotional abuse.
  • The mother of John Candy's policeman character in Only The Lonely, right up to the guilt trips and the relentless tormenting of the son's shy, withdrawn Love Interest. Many of the guilt trips even occurred within her own son's imagination, as he'd guilt-trip himself with vivid fantasies of all the horrible things that might happen to her without him around (inevitably ending with a close-up of her ironically wishing him a good time with whatever he was doing at that moment).
    • The film, Marty starring Ernest Borgnine also counts as this, as the John Candy version is actually a remake.
  • Mrs Bates from Psycho who manages to smother Norman throughout the story even though she's dead.
    • It is actually suggested that the relationship between Norman and his real mother was something of an inversion of this trope, with him being obsessively dependent on and possessive of her despite her wish for him to be more independent, ultimately leading him to murder her and her lover as he did not want to share her.
  • Hitchcock gives us another nightmare mother in Notorious. Alex's mother not only seems to be instrumental in his Nazi activities, but she responds very badly to his falling for Alicia.
  • There's an actual movie called Smother. Care to guess what the mother's like?
  • Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
  • Owen's mother from Throw Momma from the Train.
  • The mother of Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler's character) in The Waterboy. She eventually realizes that Bobby needs to have his own life, and even helps him get to the big game at the end.
  • In The Manchurian Candidate Raymond Shaw, a war hero, is dominated by his mother Eleanor to the point where she's able to force him to break up with the girl he's fallen in love with. This winds up central to the plot as being so conditioned to obey his mother leaves him ripe for Soviet brainwashing. His trigger is even a Queen Of Diamonds playing card because it reminds him of his mother. Oh, and his mother is the Communist agent who's feeding him his orders.
  • Sam Witwicky's mom in the Transformers movies.
  • The Mexican Mind Screw Santa Sangre (Holy Blood), directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, is about an armless mother—maimed by her husband after she discovers about his affair—literally taking control of his son's hands and using them to exact vengeance and commit murder, although The Reveal suggests that it is all in the son's mind, the mother not having survived the mutilation.
  • The mother of Vicente in the colombian comedy (it's actually drama) film "Mama, Tomate La Sopa". The main conflict of the story is Vicente trying to get a business on his own and getting the woman he wants, as his mother's smothering nature have impede him from getting anything on his own, which he thinks makes him of no value.
  • In the movie Heartbreakers, Sigourney Weaver plays a Smother, although quite tame by the rest of the examples on this page. She sincerely doesn't want her daughter's heart to be broken. However, she will con and lie to her daughter to achieve this. But near the end, when she sees that her daughter truly was in love with their last con, the con that the Smother drugged, she comes clean, and lets her daughter live her life.
  • Howard Hughes' mother in The Aviator, who caused his Super OCD.
  • Gordon/Fester's mother in The Addams Family. Although to be fair, she's not actually his mother.

Gordon/Fester: (before opening the book, 'The Hurricane') "You were a terrible mother! (laughs) THERE! I SAID IT!!!

  • Nina's mother in Black Swan who cripples her daughter's development by her overbearing parenting style and interference.
  • Jessica Lange plays Martha, a Complete Monster and Evil Matriarch version of the trope in the movie Hush, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow as her daughter in law Helen. Not only she killed her husband to cover up how she was cheating on him and she aborted her unborn first baby when she learned said baby was a girl and not a boy, but she intends to isolate Helen from everyone even during childbirth and then kill her so she can have her son Jackson and her baby grandson Kyle all to herself.
  • Awake: Clayton's mother Lillith's over-protective nature is the main reason that he is afraid of telling her about his engagement, as he knows she would never accept Sam. She also tries to get him to drop Jack, his best friend, as his heart surgeon in favor of an acquaintance of hers who is at the top of the field. As it turns out, she was right on both counts.
  • Almost the premise of J. Edgar.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Other Mother in Neil Gaiman's Coraline.
  • A variation on this character regularly crops up in Stephen King's work.
  • Discworld example with Nanny Ogg. She is very much like this with most of the Ogg family, especially her own sons. Including Jason, the blacksmith who is built like a troll and is the greatest farrier in the world. She also seems incapable of seeing her cat, Greebo, as anything other than a tiny ball of fluff, despite Greebo being the meanest, nastiest creature within several hundred miles of Nanny's house. To her unlucky daughters-in-law, however, she verges on Evil Matriarch.
    • Granted, most witches are like this with everyone, it's just that most witches don't have kids.
    • And to be fair, she DOES know that Greebo is as much of a monster as a tom cat can be, even once referring to him as 'a fiend from hell,' but for a witch's cat this is not really a drawback.
  • In CS Lewis's Till We Have Faces, a retelling of Cupid and Psyche, Orual, Psyche's sister, raised her since their mother's death, and is a rather zealous mother figure.
  • Many of Saki's stories, the best probably being "Sredni Vashtar". Interestingly, the Smother is not always the biological mother (in the aforementioned "Sredni Vashtar", it's the protagonist's adult cousin, appointed his guardian).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire features, among other iffy mother figures, Lysa Arryn, the widow of Jon II Arryn. She's afraid the same assassins who killed her husband will come after her son—so far, so justified. Then you find out she still breast feeds her son. Did we mention he's six? Oh, and she caters to his every whim as well... including his wish to see Tyrion Lannister go flying out a window... and plummet several thousand feet to his death.
    • Not to mention that it eventually comes out that she was the one who killed her husband, so even that justifiable reason for her over-protectiveness isn't actually justified. Hell, she killed Jon because he wanted Robert to be fostered with another lord, and she couldn't stand the thought of her baby going anywhere else...
    • Then there's Cersei Lannister, Queen Regent of Westeros, who's lived her entire life under the proverbial Sword of Damocles in the form of a prophecy that says she'll have three children, they'll each be crowned and die shortly thereafter and she herself will be strangled to death by her own younger brother. It's little wonder she goes into Mama Bear overdrive from that point on, but it looks like she can't fight fate, as everything in the prophecy is starting to come true, right down to her two younger brothers nursing the thought of killing her eventually, and her eldest son Joffrey being killed while her other two kids's survival depends a lot on her....
  • Caroline Compson in The Sound and the Fury is this to her son Jason.
  • Kareen to Pat Rin in the Liaden Universe novels.
  • There is actually a book entitled My Beloved Smother. It's a mother-daughter case.
  • Norman Page's mother in Peyton Place, who controls every aspect of his life and forbids him to spend time with girls. (Her harsh punishments have disturbing sexual connotations as well.) Her overbearing treatment is implied to contribute to Norman's nervous breakdown when he's away from her for the first time, as a soldier in World War Two.
  • Polgara the Sorceress seems to teeter on the edge of this in her relationships with the Heirs of Irongrip, the entire country of Arendia, and just about everybody else who crosses her path. She keeps calling people 'dear' and telling them they're 'good boys'.
  • Eleanor's mother, and the rest of her godawful family, in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.
  • Isabel Kabra in The 39 Clues, to the point of threatening to KILL her kids if they won't do what she says.
  • Naturally enough for a Mama Bear, Molly Weasley has moments of this, particularly with regards to her eldest son Bill's relationship with Fleur Delacour. Unusually for this trope, she gets over her initial doubts about Fleur and the two subsequently get along quite well.
  • Antillus Dorotea is like this to her son, Crassus, to the point of horribly abusing and trying to kill his older half-brother so there's no threat to Crassus' inheritance. She gets better, though how much of that is her and how much of it is being imposed on her is up to interpretation.
  • In Death: A number of female villains are this, like in the books Memory In Death and Born In Death. At least one of these villains have created Mommy Issues. Squick.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill, Jane's grandmother meddled with her mother's life to keep her with her.
    • In another series by her, Emily of New Moon, Terry's mother loves her son to the point of hating anything that she feels he might love more, even going so far as to poison his dog.
  • Madame Raquin in Therese Raquin, though she doesn't really mean to be. But she babies Camille and rules over Thérèse.
  • In PG Wodehouse's Jill the Reckless, Lady Underhill.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Mother And Son IS the trope.
  • On Angel, Phantom Dennis's mother walled him up rather than let him run off & get married. His spirit destroys her ghost.
  • Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development with her youngest son, Buster.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a mother-daughter variant, where Catherine Madison pressures her daughter to be just like her. When Amy refuses, Catherine uses magic to switch places with her daughter.
    • See Spike, from the same show. Smothering went sideways into sick, evil-land when newly minted vampire Spike turns his own mother.
      • Not really evil given that he did it to stop her from dying. (Really a surprisingly heroic thing for a vampire to do) the sick and wrong comes when Spike's mother, who is of course now possessed by a demon, tries to shag him. Yeah, he's got family issues.
      • She claims she couldn't wait to get rid of him.
  • Michael Westen's mom Madeleine in Burn Notice, at least in season 1. She eventually becomes a low-action sort of Mama Bear, to the point of standing up to the FBI to protect him. It's a thoroughly suitable retirement for Christine Cagney.
  • Pike's mum in Dads Army, who made him wear a scarf whenever he went on parade as a result of his 'croup'. It's implied on several occasions that much of her over-mothering was a desperate attempt to prevent him from being called up to fight in the war.
  • Jon and Kate Plus Eight: Kate Gosselin.
  • Most American sitcoms from the late 90's to nowadays have at least one of these:
    • It seems to be an American thing! Over here we used to read about how American culture is 'Mom (sic) and Apple Pie'. That would be true if it was all about hating Mom! It's on the far side of unlikely that mothers actually are smothers in the proportion that's true of film and TV.
    • There's the mother in The King of Queens, who deviates between this and lying all the time.
    • George and Jerry's moms from Seinfeld.
    • Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond
      • Marie scares me so much that I have decided that once married, I will move somewhere that requires my in-laws to take a train, plane, and boat(in that order) to get to me.
        • Seriously, this trope could've easily been named The Marie.
    • Lois from Malcolm in the Middle... sorta. The 'Beloved' part is questionable, but there is a line of dialog that I don't want to paraphrase stating that he's not escaping her influence for a LONG time.
      • 'When I pick you a wife I'll let her give you your precious space.'
      • You really think that Lois is bad? Dabney's mother is absolutely horrible. She's conditioned him to be outside of her shower with a towel ready for when she comes out. A lot of their dialogue really cranks up the creepiness-factor, with all of the unresolved sexual tension it sometimes seems they have.
        • I remember some dialog between Dabney and Malcolm:

Dabney: I know I'm kind of a mama's boy...
Malcolm: A mama's boy? Dabney, mama's boys are laughing at you, with their mothers!

        • Let's not forget Stevie's mom. 'Stevie! Stevie! Stevie! Stevie! Stevie! Stevie!!
    • Carl Winslow of Family Matters accuses Harriet of being like this, which she shoots down with, "Take a long look at me. And a long look at you. Now, which of us looks more likely to smother somebody?"
    • Al's mom on Home Improvement is said to be one, though she never appears onscreen.
  • An episode of My So-Called Life has the mother-daughter variant, where Patty is competing with her mother throughout.
  • Freddie's mom on iCarly. She entirely subverted the type with her eager approval of the first girl to show interest in him...and then whipsawed back to type by saying "..this may never happen again!". He was in eighth grade when this all happened.
    • She also pulls out a "With a Girl!" stinger, and screamed "Why won't you love my son!" at Carly (his crush). Poor Freddie.
      • Not to mention that she repeatedly treats him for things that he doesn't need treatment for (in an earlier season she was giving him tick baths because they "grew in [his] leg hair," to which Freddie responds "I don't HAVE leg hair!" In the most recent episode, she tries to CLEAN OUT HIS EARS WHILE HE'S SLEEPING, and when he leaves comes down to where he's now living to offer him a prune pop. She then snaps and screams "MARCH YOURSELF BACK UP TO THAT ROOM, YOUNG MAN!" Freddie denies her.
      • And wouldn't you know it, in Season 3 Freddie finally has a shot at the girl of his dreams, Carly Shay. Of course, Mrs. Benson has flip flopped her opinion on Carly, thinking she's ruined Freddie's "Boy Chemistry" and doesn't want them together.
      • Not to mention the fact that she blamed Carly for Freddy getting hurt when he saved her of his own volition, even wishing that she had gotten hit by the truck he'd pushed her out of the way of in "iSaved Your Life".
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone is about a pair of newlyweds who initially plan on selling the husband's old house where he used to live with his mother. However, when they go back to give the house a last check-over, the wife discovers that the mother's spirit is so strong that the house is being gradually transported back to the time of her husband's childhood. At the end, the mother's ghost appears and tells the wife that it's her son who's unwilling to let go...and he reverts back to the form of a child and tells her to get out. Takes jilting to a whole new level!
  • Shows up frequently in Law and Order and Law and Order Special Victims Unit. In the former, they're usually the parent of the perp (and occasional accomplice). In the latter, they're 50/50 perp's mother/victim's mother. Law and Order: Criminal Intent actually had an episode titled "Smother", who killed her son's pregnant fiancée.
    • One episode of SVU from Season 2 had Margot Kidder star as the Smother to Chad Lowe's unbalanced son. Turns out that not only was she too controlling, she turned the relationship sexual which would have been bad enough, except that Chad Lowe's character was a bit too unbalanced and killed her, then stayed in bed with her very bloodied corpse.
      • In another episode in Season 5 an overprotective mother who has convinced his older son to kill his younger brother, because she doesn't want them to go into foster care. She claims that she was protecting them, and considers foster care hellish, but wants nothing more than to control their lives.
    • Olivia's mother doesn't take it to homicidal levels, but she's pretty awful too, being an abusive alcoholic. Olivia once recounted an incident when she wanted to leave home and move in with her boyfriend—her mother flipped out and attacked Olivia while screaming that no one else could have her. That's not even the worst of it: she had lied to Olivia her entire life about Olivia being a Child by Rape to keep her from looking for her father. Olivia's entire Freudian Excuse and all of the issues that came with it were a total fabrication her mother created to keep her to herself. And Olivia only learned the truth after her mother and the father she never knew were both dead.
    • In Season 12, Episode 1, the little girl sends an IM referring to her "smother" explicitly, it is later revealed that her mother and father had lost another little girl 10 years ago and had adopted this one to look, dress, and act just like her, going so far as to get her a nose job and dye her hair
  • Stephanie Forrester on The Bold And The Beautiful, though only with Ridge, her eldest son. Her smothering affection and desire to control his life has lead to numerous characters suggesting that she's actually in love with her own son. At one point she went as far as to frame Ridge's paternal half brother for a murder Ridge committed - and justifying it.
  • Ted the lawyer from Scrubs. Many, many times he would be overheard giving lovey-dovey 'I miss you sweetums' talk over the phone. Sounds like he finally found a girl, huh? Nope. It's his MOM. Other dialogue suggests much wrong-ness, like how her feet are cold.
    • And how they share a bed.
      • And how they ride on the same bicycle. And it's not a tandem.
    • And that's not to mention this rare appearance of J.D.'s mother...
  • Howard Wolowitz's mom in The Big Bang Theory. She seems to genuinely believe he is still literally a child; she refers to his job as "school" (to be fair, he does work at a university, but still) and, when he takes the day off, asks if she should have someone take him his homework.
  • Jack Donaghy's mother in 30 Rock.
  • Rhoda's mother Ida, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (and later Rhoda).
  • Mrs. B on Mommas Boys; when asked to select between two women for her son Jojo to have a final date with, she refused to select either, forcing Jojo to take his mother on the final date.
  • Donna's mum in Doctor Who. Jackie Tyler could be a bit like this as well, but she was nothing compared to Sylvia Noble, who wanted her to apply for a job she didn't want to improve her chances of getting married, assumed she was playing a silly trick when she disappeared from her wedding, and kept putting her down while she was trying to put her life back together. The season finale, though, made it quite clear that she really did care for Donna.
  • Becoming a sociopathic killer? Blame being raised by your smothering (adoptive)(?) mother. It's what Sylar realized in Heroes.
  • Heylia in Weeds.
  • Eric Forman's mother, Kitty, in That '70s Show. She went into a depression after learning her son had sex.
  • In That's So Raven, Victor Baxter, the father of Raven's family, is like a male version of this. He repeatedly signs he and Cory up for father-son whatever classes, which normally turn out bad. He also once opened up a mobile restaurant called "Baxter and Son" because he thought it was what Cory wanted. He apparently forgot that it was HIM that put up the sign.
  • Eli's deceased mother (to some extent) in Ghost Whisperer. Whatever her behavior was like in life it seem to have amped up since she's discovered her son can communicate with the dead.
  • Hoyt's mother in True Blood.
  • Mama Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati.
  • Debbie Novotny of Queer as Folk behaved like this not only to her son Michael, but to her son's best friend Brian, and her own younger brother Vic. Come to think of it, she did this to the entire population of Liberty Avenue.
    • Interestingly, Brian's own mother Joanie is the exact opposite of this and coupled with Brian's father being an abusive alcoholic, it's implied that the only reason Brian didn't turn out more screwed up than he did is because Debbie cared for him when he was a teenager.
    • Also her taking care of her "sunshine" Justin after he got kicked out home after coming out - not to mention she did quite a bit for Justin and his mom to reconsile.
    • And her still lingering waryness towards Brian (whom she - as she stated - always suspected to mess up Michael someday) is SOMEWHAT justified considering how much of a Jerkass he is. Jerkass With a Heart of Gold but still... All in all Debbie is not so much a Smother but genuinely caring and loving though often a bit too eager in her doting.
  • Degrassi brings us Mrs. Torres, mother to Drew and Adam Torres. She is the representative of the school board, but those duties come after running Drew's life and lamenting Adam's choices. Well, that's on a nice day, on a mean day she uses the school board's power to help control Drew's life and lament Adam's choices.
  • Erica Kane of All My Children could sometimes be smothering and overbearing with her daughter Bianca.
  • Sex and the City's Bunny, mother of Charlotte's first husband Trey. To the point where she saw nothing wrong with barging into their bedroom in the middle of the night to rub Vick's on his chest (he had a cold), or in the morning to wake him up as though he were ten years old instead of thirty-something(gets even worse when you realize that she had to get out of her own bed, leave her place and drive over to their place to do this). Not until she walks in on them having sex does it finally dawn on her how out of line her behavior is.
  • Characters played by Kyle MacLachlan seem to attract these moms. Orson Hodges's "crazy mother" Gloria from Desperate Housewives was both this and an Evil Matriarch, completely obsessed with controlling his son's life: she guilt-trips him with his father's suicide even when she killed him since he was a teenager, supports Orson's Yandere ex-wife Alma to the point of killing his mistress Monique, and endlessly interfers with his and Bree's married life, specially by telling Bree about Monique specifically to plant doubts in her heart about him, heling Alma rape Orson if it'll mean she can bear his child, and locking Alma away when she gives up and trying to kill Bree herself..
  • The Swedish sitcom Solsidan has an example of this. The main character Alexander Lövström buys his mothers' house in the first episode and then she just won't let go leading his pregnant girlfriend Anna to become very annoyed at Alexander for not telling her off. She keeps doing this for the entire series at the moment of this edit. This may change if more seasons are produced.
  • Greg Sanders in CSI. Since he was an only child, his mother became so overprotective she never let him play sports in high school and once took him to the ER for a bloody nose. After he was savagely beaten trying to stop a crime, he was worried at how she would react considering he never told her he transferred from the lab to field work.
    • And speaking of CSI, lest we forget ruthless attorney Diana Chase from season six's 'Rashomama'. Basically, the woman was a rabid pit bull in human skin who terrorized her daughter-in-law to be and everyone else, with the exception of her son Adam, whom she doted on. The son in question thinks she's wonderful. Everybody else is scared shitless of her.
  • This was a running gag with one of Sally Rogers' recurring dates, Herman Glimpshire, on The Dick Van Dyke Show.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Played for Laughs with Andy Summers's dissonant "Mother," from Synchronicity by The Police. The narrator goes over-the-top insane from his mother's constant phone calls and from every girl he dates ending up becoming his mother, which could mean either that his mother insists on chaperoning all his dates, that she forbids him to date other women at all, or that his Mommy Issues lead him to date only women who resemble her.


Rock Opera[edit | hide]

Mama's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
Mama wont let anyone dirty get through.
Mama's gonna wait up until you get in.
Mama will always find out where you've been.
Mama's gonna keep baby healthy and clean.
Ooooh babe oooh babe ooh babe,
You'll always be baby to me.

  • The Queen in The Decemberists' "The Hazards of Love" tries to have her adopted son William's girlfriend Margaret raped and murdered to prevent her from stealing him.
    • Which ends up being a major driving force in his decision to sacrifice his own life to save Margaret. Mothers beware.
  • The mother from The Who's Tommy can be interpreted as one. Man, those rock stars have mommy-issues!


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons has, as one of the many magic items, a parody of its Rug of Smothering called a Rug of Mothering, which behaves like this trope.
  • The Qedeshah from Vampire: The Requiem, an all female Bloodline that incorporates the scariest aspects of motherhood.
  • The Lunar Exalted get various Limit Breaks themed around certain animals. One Compassion-based Limit Break, The Curse of the Mother Hen, means that the Lunar in question will spend at least the next day making sure his companions are all well taken care of. The book illustrates this with Strength-of-Many (a bull-totem Lunar) in war form trying to stuff porridge down a guy's throat.
    • Also a defining quality of the Yozi Kimbery. Her most well known jouten (an ocean) was based around the symbolism of literally drowning people in her affection. She constantly breeds all manner of creatures that she'll either love obsessively or hate for not returning her affections to the degree that she considers suitable. This also tends to be rather cyclic; it's implied that Kimbery births and loves purely for the sake of having a reason to hate and kill the things she creates that cannot satisfy her desires.
    • A particularly comprehensive fan interpretation of the maybe-Yozi Cytherea portrays her this way.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The Glass Menagerie has Amanda Wingfield, a Beloved Smother to her son (she won't let him become a poet and complains about his choice of reading material) and her daughter (she ends up flirting with the young man her daughter likes, even after she invited him to dinner with the express hope that he would fall for and eventually marry the daughter). She's not entirely villainous, though: part of the reason she's so controlling is because the family is desperately poor and she worries that her Shrinking Violet daughter, who is mildly disabled, will never find a job or a husband. Amanda is also a Fallen Princess, having been a stereotypical Southern belle in her glory days; when the play begins she's reduced to calling the fire escape "the veranda".
  • Madame Rosepettle in Arthur Kopit's play Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You In The Closet And I'm Feelin' So Sad is a completely over-the-top Large Ham version of this.
  • The Witch in Into the Woods, who keeps her (forcibly-adopted) daughter Rapunzel locked in a tower in the depths of the forest... to keep her safe and "shielded from the world".
  • Shows up in the play Bye Bye, Birdie:

"So, it's come at last. At last it's come, the day I knew would come at last has come, at last. My sonny-boy doesn't need me any longer."

and it only gets more over-the-top from there.
  • Gypsy, along with the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee that it is based on, exemplifies this one.
  • In Once Upon a Mattress, Queen Aggravain tells her son she wants him to get married, but only to a real princess, and she keeps creating impossible tests for the princesses who want to marry her son so he never has to leave. The King can hardly argue with her, as he can't speak.
  • Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
  • One of the main plot points of Leonard Gershe's Butterflies Are Free, in which the mother (played brilliantly by Eileen Heckart, both on stage and in the 1972 film adaptation, for which she won the Oscar) fights desperately against her blind twenty-something son's desire for independence after he moves out. It all works out okay.


Video Games[edit | hide]

FLORINA: Thanks, Fiora. But...I... I have to do it my way. You can handle it out there alone, right? Well I need to make sure that I can, too.
FIORA: Oh... But I worry about you. When we were in training, you used to get so scared...
FLORINA: Yeah, but I'm fine now.
FIORA: Really? But the Caelin Knights are all men, aren't they? I just think of you, all timid and scared among them... So, Florina... You really don't mind it? Didn't they give you a hard time for being a woman? Now if they did, I want you to let me know. Because I will tell them a thing or two...
FLORINA: I-I'm fine. Lady Lyndis took good care of me... And everyone was really nice...
FIORA: Oh? Well, I still worry.

  • The leader of the fighter guild in Elder Scrolls Oblivion is seen as this by the guild, but not without good reason, one of her sons was killed in action and her last son (who isn't actually that good a fighter) is killed later.
  • Emile from Theresia Dear Emile is a particularly horrifying example; she forbids her daughter from talking to anyone or leaving the church she's staying at. When a boy named Sacha tries to talk to her daughter, Emile immediately tries to kill him...and later actually does when Sacha attempts to escape with Leanne.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

It was midnight: An hour past curfew. Butch knew he was going to catch hell from Mother when he got home. You'd think fourteen years of being a mummified corpse hidden away in the attack would have shut the bitch up.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Another mother-daughter variant—the main character's mother in Quarterlife.
  • Zaboo's mom in The Guild. She breast fed him till he was eleven, made him go with her into the ladies' room until he was fifteen, and still gives him baths. You know I'm not kidding.
  • Demeter to Persephone in Thalia's Musings. Persephone rebelled by eloping with Hades, to whom she is now Happily Married. But she still spends half the year with Demeter anyway.
  • The Nostalgia Critic's abusive mother has made him think she's his world. And while his twin Ask That Guy With The Glasses fantasizes about killing her regularly, he still calls out for her when his usual music doesn't play and freaks him out.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • American Dad: Francine in the episode Iced Iced Babies.
  • Agnes Skinner in The Simpsons, the Trope Namer.
  • Cosmo's mother in The Fairly OddParents. She eventually falls in love with Wanda's father because they both hate the people their children married. Their plans to 'get' each other's kids cause frustration (they love their respective kids) and admiration (they like each other's evil).
  • Todd from Code Monkeys. Recently, it's become a full-blown Oedipus Complex (as he has implied and outright stated that he is literally having sex with his own mother).
  • Gazpacho's mother from Chowder, even though we never see her onscreen. Gazpacho always complains about her though- albeit cautiously, since she might hear him.
  • Morgan La Fey towards her son Mordred in Justice League Unlimited, especially after he breaks the eternal youth spell. As if the Brother-Sister Incest which lead to his birth hadn't been bad enough.
  • Myra in regards to the titular Venture Bros. Nothing says motherly love like tying up a pair of pubescent boys and shoving your breasts in their face, screaming "LET MOMMY LOVE YOU". Although it's worth mentioning it was never totally confirmed she was the boys' mother.
    • "Colonel Bud Manstrong, listen to your mother!". Bonus points for the episode she appears in being a parody of The Manchurian Candidate, with the movie being mentioned by name.
  • Dr. Barber of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack has a terrifying relationship with his tiny, unseen mother who lives in his dresser drawer.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had a bird who had been held hostage by Lucius returned to his mother...who immediately ran right back into Lucius' grip when her mother proved way to annoying to deal with.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill "Lucky's" sister Myrna was like this she was very strict and disciplinary to her children she wouldn't let them watch tv or have sugar and they were very timid and jumpy, upon seeing their behavior Bobby exclaimed "Those boys ain't right!".
  • Early seasons of South Park did this a lot with Shiela Broflovski in a parody of this trope along with plenty of Jewish stereoypes.
  • Archer. Picture Lucille Bluth above if she were not only your mother, but your spy-master as well.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Ed Gein (in reference to his HEAVY influence on Psycho)
  • Elizabeth Ann Duncan loved her lawyer son, Frank. She loved him so much that she first tried to kill herself with meds when he tried to move away from home, then hired two men to murder Olga Kupczyk, her former nurse and the woman who dared marry him, take him away from her and be pregnant with Frank's child. After poor Olga suffered a Family-Unfriendly Death (pistol-whipped to almost death, then Buried Alive), Elizabeth was quickly arrested and charged; Frank spent many hours in the courtroom and filed many appeals on her behalf, trying to save her. He failed, and in 8 August 1962 she was executed. Poor boy...
  • Peter Sellers' mother Peg was so indulgent with her son (to be fair, she had lost her first child shortly after giving birth) that even as a young man, he was used to having her do things for him, much to the fascination of his friends/colleagues. His father Bill by contrast was quiet and meek. Her notable lack of discipline, even when he was bad, is largely seen as a (if not the) key reason Peter was often prone to childish, selfish behavior as an adult. She also was prone to interfering with Peter's love life, including his first two marriages. For all this, he never stopped loving her. He conducted seances to ask her advice after her death, while rejecting undergoing psychological analysis in part because it cast her in a bad light. In the biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, she gets a Historical Villain Upgrade.
  • Kate Gosselin from Jon and Kate Plus Eight. Her children are too young for this trope to be in full effect, but given time...
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt's mother was not only this, but also the mother-in-law from hell. When Franklin married Eleanor, she generously bought them a house in New York... and herself the one next door. These were row houses, connected by side doors. Basically, she could and did walk in at any time.
  • Anna Månsdotter, Swedish mother-in-law from Hell who was executed by decapitation after she strangled her daughter-in-law Hannah for apparently catching Anna in Parental Incest with her son.
  • The mother of Dare Wright, world-famous photographer and author of the Lonely Doll series for children. Legions of blog entries exist on line talking about how "creepy" those books are. People today apparently read them totally differently from how they were seen when originally published in the 1950s. Dare's real life though... we're talking about a mother who slept in the same bed with her daughter every night, throughout her adult life, in the nude. And that's the least of it.
  • Susie Phillips Lovecraft was this in some ways. She died insane and Lovecraft feared he'd inherited madness. He did not know that her illness was the result of syphilis contracted from HP's traveling salesman father.
  • Judy Murray is frequently accused of this with regards to tennis player Andy Murray. A lot of his fans seem to think he'll start winning Grand Slams if she stops attending his matches.