Overbearing, screechy, critical, oftentimes a little racist — television has made extra light of having an unfit mother for decades. And it's made some of our favorite shows all the better. And all to the benefit of viewers.
So while you take in the hooting, hollering, and fat-shaming done by 10 of TV's worst matriarchs (and a couple of mothers-in-law, too), let's be sure to reflect on the tenderness of our own Mommies Dearest. In no particular order, here are the TV moms we heart to hate.
Principal Skinner’s Mom on The Simpsons
This salty Springfielder has been around since 1990, first appearing in “The Telltale Head” – the eighth episode of The Simpsons’ first season. She’s the mother (sort of) of principal Seymour Skinner, but has let him know he’ll never be principal of the line. She's voiced by Tress MacNeille, who is also behind just about every other random woman on The Simpsons, Futurama, and way more shows.
Best Quote: "The county is threatening to take my Seymour away. Oh, we had another fight over the inflatable bath pillow. I kept screeching and screeching at him, but..."
Jack Donaghy’s Mom on 30 Rock
Maybe one of the best television characters ever, Colleen Donaghy planned to circle the globe in her coffin rocket after death and couldn’t say no to a man capable of driving at night. She’s the harsh, Irish-Catholic mother of “Jackie,” whom she loves, but "not in a queer way." Played by the fabulous entertainer Elaine Stritch, Colleen usually had one simple question: “What are you, Italian?”
Best Quote: "Patricia Goodband, whose sister runs the Friday night bingo game at Our Lady of Reluctant Integration in Waltham ... turns out last week that the game was won by Anne O'Connor, who mentioned that her niece, Nancy Donovan, got divorced and was running around with a hotshot in New York City who pours scotch like a woman."
Everyone’s Mom on Arrested Development
The rolling eyes and super-pursed lips – nobody could have played Lucille Bluth better than Jessica Walter. Lucille is a more caring mother than most, and even gave Annyong some money to see a Star War. She loves all her children equally … except she doesn’t care for Gob, and she has one word for Lindsay: sleeves. She’s also fun at restaurants. When asked if she wants her Ike and Tina Tuna as platter or plate, she’ll answer, “I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.”
Best Quote: “Oh, she thinks I'm too critical. That's another fault of hers.”
Dennis and Dee Reynolds' Mom on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Played by Fatal Attraction star Anne Archer, Barbara Reynolds is your typical gold-digger with the rich-bitch pantsuit and purse dog. She’s usually hopped up on amphetamines, and has scolded her husband, Frank Reynolds, for “standing up for immigrants!” She loves her son, but believes her daughter Dee to be a mistake – even though Dennis and Dee are twins. Frank originally lied to the gang about Barbara dying of a botched neck-lift, only for her to actually (spoiler alert) die of a botched neck-lift.
Best Quote: “I mean, look at your skin, Deandra. Christ, there is a sun in Philadelphia.”
Samantha Stephens’ Mom on Bewitched
One of television’s original side-eye queens, Endora’s role on Bewitched was as the quintessential pain-in-the-ass mother-in-law. The redheaded Agnes Moorehead was cast as poor husband/human Darrin Stephens’ major adversary, and she went on to wear over 1,000 pounds of eye shadow over eight seasons. She was also bad with names, often calling her daughter's husband “Derwood.”
Best Quote: “I'll try to remember your name if you promise never to call me ‘Mom.’”
Read on for more of the worst TV moms ever.
Daphne Moon’s Mom on Frasier
Gertrude is Daphne’s long unseen mother, calling on occasion from Manchester, England, to chastise the Cranes' beloved health care provider's life choices. She breaks the mold from Maris when she (Millicent Martin) shows up in the season-seven finale for Daphne’s wedding. She met Mr. Moon at a soccer riot, bore about 100 kids, and later went on to terrorize the people of Seattle.
Best Quote: "Daphne, dear, I finally figured out what's wrong with your outfit. It's made for a smaller woman."
George Costanza’s Mom on Seinfeld
Of this list, Estelle Costanza might be the loudest — an achievement, considering. She's never heard of merlot, she loves Lloyd Braun, and there's no way she's giving up her Waterpik. When Mr. Steinbrenner shares news of her son George's death after complimenting him on burning the midnight oil, the perfectly cast Estelle Harris asks, "Are you sure you're talking about George?" When her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Susan, says she loves George very much, her question is, "May I ask why?" Well, she's just curious!
Best Quote: "I go out for a quart of milk, I come home, and find my son treating his body like it was an amusement park."
Ross and Monica Geller’s Mom on Friends
She tells loving but embarrassing stories about her paleontologist son, Ross, yet is overly critical of her formerly heavyset daughter Monica. She lets Monica know spaghetti is an ... easy ... dish to make for her visit, and there wasn't any money left for Monica and Chandler's wedding (although there might have been if Jack Geller hadn't thought it was a good idea to sell ice over the internet). Judy is played by Christina Pickles, who was pretty much cast as the same character in The Wedding Singer.
Best Quote: "Here, Monica, you can finish off these pies. There was no room in the fridge."
Grace Adler’s Mom on Will & Grace
Mommy Adler is portrayed by one of the most famous "this type of mothers" – a.k.a. Debbie Reynolds. She can't be upstaged, especially with the Schenectady Players. When Grace insists something is unfair, she'll say, "Well neither is my cottage cheese ass" – which is her answer to everything. She also invented the Adler family "Told You So" dance, and in her house, always light a match after poopy-doops.
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Best Quote: "Hello, dear! You look so beautiful. Why do you have to cock it up with that hair?"
Jenna Maroney’s Mom on 30 Rock
“Because, unlike Jenna, my mother never used my beauty pageant winnings to buy her married boyfriend a motorcycle,” may be the best line (delivered by Liz Lemon) to describe Jenna’s Florida-based mother, Verna. But she’s not a bad mom. Jenna even said herself, “Could a bad mother raise a daughter who was engaged to a congressman when she was 16?” Played by the late, great Jan Hooks, Verna had it all … and the meat, too.
Best Quote: "It's at a fancy restaurant, so wear something nice, like a pair of white jeans with a Dan Marino jersey."