Moms are the best. They care for us, they support us, they make our doctor’s appointments for us when we’re too nervous to call ourselves. The world would descend into chaos without mothers, basically. And the wonderful thing is that every mom is different! There are fun moms, strict moms, irresponsible moms, quirky moms, and more. All kinds of moms, basically. And every real-life mom archetype has a TV counterpart, showing the joys of motherhood.
There are so many amazing TV moms out there. As much as we love our IRL mamas, we kinda wish we were part of some iconic TV families. Led by iconic TV matriarchs, naturally. Whether it’s Mother’s Day or just a random day in the middle of winter, it’s always appropriate to celebrate mothers. So without further ado here are our favorite TV moms of all time!
17. Claire Dunphy, Modern Family
Claire (Julie Bowen) is the ultimate when it comes to strong motherhood. She has a firm hand without being overbearing and in the end, her kids respect the discipline. And, c’mon, someone has to be the boss when your husband is as goofy as Phil (Ty Burrell)! She may be a little uptight at times, but when you have three kids and a household to run, you can’t let things slip. She’s a do-it-all mom too. Claire did the stay-at-home-mom thing for a while, and then she went back to work when her kids got a little older. She has embraced her identity as a “mother” fully, but she retains her sense of self all along the way. Nothing shakes Claire Dunphy, making her one of the toughest moms on TV.
16. June Cleaver, Leave it to beaver
When you think of suburban motherhood, you think of June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsly). She is the ideal of 1950s doting motherhood. She is completely dedicated to her life as a wife and mother, as many moms on TV were back in the day. And that’s not a bad thing! She derives joy from supporting her family, doing needlepoint, and decorating some gorgeous cakes. June is a prime example of a stay-at-home mom that puts in the work and loves what she does. Sure, most families aren’t like that today — divorce is at an all-time high and many households can’t afford to have one partner stay at home. But it’s fun to look at this idealized version of motherhood and be reminded of a simpler time.
15. Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Leslie (Amy Poehler) is on this list in large part due to her incredible feat being a mom to triplets. I can’t think of anything more exhausting. On top of being a supermom to three crazy toddlers, Leslie runs a government agency and finds time to be the best friend you’ve ever had. Built on pure determination and waffles, Leslie is the GOAT when it comes to work/life balance and killing it at both. She takes the fierce loyalty she has for her friends and family and multiplies it by about a million when it comes to her husband and kids. She’s a power mom, probably the future President, and most importantly, never afraid to show that parenthood hard, but oh so worth it.
14. Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights
If you judged moms by how great their hair is, no one would beat Tami Taylor (Connie Britton). Unfortunately, we don’t judge it like that. But fortunately, Tami’s a great mom who happens to have amazing hair. Being the wife of a football coach and the mother of a bratty teen girl is not easy. But give Tami a glass of wine and a little bit of attitude and she gets it DONE. She also became the high school counselor, and then principal, proving she’s great at taking care of kids that aren’t even her own!
13. Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It takes a whole lotta mom to have the slayer as your daughter. Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) was always a caring and loving mother, but the relationship with her daughter Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) only grew deeper when she learned about her secret life (After the initial shock, of course). Most moms would probably commit their child to a mental hospital if they were talking about vampires and monsters. It caused a bit of rift between them at first, but Joyce eventually accepted the darker parts of her daughter. And even when she couldn’t physically protect her, she always emotionally made Buffy feel safe. We can’t think of a better quality in a mom.
12. Roseanne Conner, Roseanne
No matter how you feel about the Roseanne reboot, there’s no denying that Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) is one of the greatest blue-collar TV moms ever. She was undeniably real. While we love the TV moms that are sweet and supportive, we relate a little better to the ones that yell at their kids and have a not-so-perfect life. Roseanne didn’t take any crap from her kids but fully gave them the freedom to be themselves. As long as they didn’t drop out of school or get arrested. The Conner family unapologetically struggled with money, the way many households do, and that certainly informed Roseanne’s parenting style. Basically: we don’t have the money for you to screw up, so just be good kids, okay? She’s real and honest to a fault. And totally reminds us of our moms.
11. Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown
Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) was a new type of TV mom during her time: a single one. After working so hard on her career she becomes pregnant by her ex, who doesn’t want to be a parent so she decides to raise the child on her own. Her struggles with parenthood as she juggles her high-profile career still ring true today. “Having it all” — whatever “all” is — is hard. But, like Murphy showed us, it’s also so fulfilling. You don’t need to be a wife to be a mother, you just need to have a child you love.
10. Maggie Seaver, Growing Pains
Maggie (Joanna Kerns) flipped traditional “motherhood” on it’s head in this classic sitcom. While she spent the majority of her kids’ childhood staying home and caring for them, as they grown older she decides she wants fulfillment outside of the home. So she goes back to work as a journalist, leaving her husband to do his psychologist work from home so he can be there for the kids. She’s strong, independent, and totally her own woman – all while still loving her family and her husband dearly. Sure, it’s all sorts of idealistic, but it’s that rose-colored view of moms “having it all” that makes us all feel that it’s not so impossible.
9. Kristina Braverman, Parenthood
Kristina (Monica Potter) starts off on Parenthood as a bit overbearing, and, to be honest, a little annoying. She was a typical soccer mom, living in her big suburban house and taking care of her kids and husband. And then her life began to change, one big event at a time, until she became one of the most well-rounded mothers ever on TV. Her cancer diagnosis, her son’s Asperger’s treatment and the craziness of the Braverman family as a whole is enough to break anyone. But instead of breaking Kristina became stronger. She’s a pillar of strength for others even when she seems to need it the most. Kristina is a true fighter, and she fights for her family more than anything. Having that kind of leader in a household is pretty amazing.
8. Vivian Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
It takes a strong woman to be a good mother to three kids. It takes an even stronger woman to take in her nephew and treat him like one of her own. But that’s exactly what Vivian (Daphne Maxwell Reid) did. When Will (Will Smith) came to stay with her to get away from his dangerous neighborhood, she didn’t bat an eye. She took him in and treated him like he was her kid — arguments and all! Vivian is a firecracker, and as much as she loves and supports her kids she’ll never let them get away with just anything. Her kids, and nephew, all turned out for the better because of her influence in their lives.
7. Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
How Marge (Julie Kavner) stays so calm we will never know. She has crazy kids, a ridiculous husband, and lives in one of the zaniest TV towns on the planet. But somehow she still manages to keep it together for everyone around her. She’s the voice of reason, and sometimes it seems the only one with a brain. Marge controls her household with ease and does her damnedest to keep her family out of trouble. Her moral center is admirable, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t rub off on her son or husband!
6. Morticia Addams, The Addams Family
No mother on TV praised individuality like Morticia (Carolyn Jones). The gothic-chic mom of three is all about embracing one’s true self. Her kids want to do creepy experiments in the bathroom? Sure, go for it! Want to wear all black forever? No problem! She’s ultra-accepting of anything her kids do and supports all of their endeavors while still keeping them in check. Plus, Morticia’s kind of sexy! Her slinky black dresses and sultry attitude is total MILF material. That’s right, we said it!
5. Claire Huxtable, The Cosby Show
Claire (Phylicia Rashad) is not only an amazing TV mom but also one who broke barriers. Black motherhood on TV was a limited landscape for a very long time. And when there was representation it wasn’t always positive. But then Claire came along with her fine lawyer self and flipped the script. She raised her kids with a firm hand while having a demanding career and still managing to find time to have fun with her man. She’s basically the master at multi-tasking. Claire showed a different side to motherhood on television and provided much-needed representation to an entire community. And for that, she’ll always be a great TV mom.
4. Jane Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
Jane (Gina Rodriguez) fell into motherhood on a crazy, accidental mistake. She was artificially inseminated with her boss/former crush’s sperm in an OB/GYN switch-up! Yeah, y’all, Jane the Virgin is deliciously crazy. But, I digress. Jane embraced motherhood the same way she does everything in life: with high amounts of organization, a little anxiety, and the motivation to be the very best at it. Most women would crumble in her circumstances, or give the child up. But Jane stuck it out and now has an adorable, smart little boy to call her own. She’s one of our favorite young moms who didn’t let having an unplanned kid “ruin her life” like some think it may do. She let it enhance her life, and for that, she’s our hero.
3. Beverly Goldberg, The Goldbergs
There is no greater smother mother than Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covery). She is obsessed with her kids. They are her entire life and she has absolutely no shame about it. And that’s what makes her a great mom: her unabashed commitment to her family. There’s a reason she’s called the “smother”: because she does not let those kids breath! As annoying as that may sound, we’d be pretty into it. It’s nice to know that there is always someone out there that has your back no matter what.
2. Carol Brady, The Brady Bunch
This is the story, about a lovely lady who raised a whole lotta kids. Carol (Florence Henderson) found the love of her life, but there was a catch: he had three sons. And she had three daughters. Their blended household gave the Brady’s six kids to keep track of. We can barely keep track of our keys over here, but okay Carol, you do the damn thing. She treated her stepsons like they were her own flesh and blood every step of the way. There was no weirdness, no awkward faux-motherly behavior. She was a mom to all of the kids through and through. And, in a lot of ways, she was America’s mom when The Brady Bunch was the biggest thing on TV!
1. Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
Don’t we all wish Lorelai (Lauren Graham) was our mom?! Lorelai got pregnant with Rory (Alexis Bledel) at 16, and instead of letting it define her life and go with what her parents wanted, she worked her butt off to make something of herself for her daughter. And since she had her daughter so young, she’s a super cool mom. She and Rory swap clothes, jokes, and quips like it’s nothing. They love all the same junk foods and junk movies and we’re just a little jealous of Lorelai’s pop culture knowledge. She had to work hard to make sure her daughter has every opportunity – but it pays off! The girl gets into Harvard and Yale. We’re kind of wondering if Lorelai is adopting! Share Pin Tweet