The 10 Worst Moms in Television History

Principal Skinner's mom? One of the best worst moms ever.
Principal Skinner's mom? One of the best worst moms ever. Courtesy of Fox
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.


Agnes Skinner
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..."

Colleen Donaghy
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."

Lucille Bluth
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.”

click to enlarge Ever wonder why Dennis and Dee are who they are? - S_BUKLEY / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Ever wonder why Dennis and Dee are who they are?
s_bukley /
Barbara Reynolds
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.
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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.