(Pending rewrite, please see discussion below)
The trope that stepmothers are prone to loathe and mistreat their stepchildren can be found in fairy tales and folklore all over the world. In fact, so common are Evil Stepmothers
that inverting, subverting or defying that trope will make things interesting.
The Good Stepmother is a stepmother who is loving and caring towards her stepchild or -children.
In fairy tales, she may play the role of a mentor or helper that provides important support and advice to her fosterling. As they are so unusual characters, Good Stepmothers are likely to be exceptionally clever and resourceful. Often there is even something supernatural about them, which makes them similar to (though always distinct from) a Fairy Godmother
Good Stepmothers are also the norm in all dom coms
which feature a blended family. Often, there will be an episode dealing with how the stepchildren fear or expect their stepmother to be wicked, and are then proven wrong.
Compare and contrast Happily Adopted
, which involves an adoptive family, not just a stepmother.
- For some reason or other, this seems to be especially popular in Icelandic fairy tales:
- "The Horse Gullfaxi and the Sword Gunnfoder" takes a premise that is typical for Wicked Stepmother stories and completely subverts it: A widowed king marries a new wife who is actually a half-troll. Eventually, the new queen's full-troll sister lays a curse on the king's son, Sigurd, which he then succeeds to lift with the help and advice of his stepmother. In the end, Sigurd rescues his stepmother from being burned at the stake under false accusations of murdering her stepson.
- In "Hild the Good Stepmother and Princess Ingibjorg", Ingibjorg's (real) mother puts a Dying Curse on her own daughter. Her father's new wife, Hild, befriends Ingibjorg until she reveals the cause of her despondency, and with Hild's resourcefulness the two women eventually lift the curse.
- In The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Helen's love for her 8-year-old stepson Jacob convinces the alien Klatuu that humanity is redeemable after all, which is why he desists from destroying humanity.
- Addressed in Enchanted: Morgan is fretful about the prospect of getting a stepmother because her only knowledge of them comes from fairytales like "Snow White" and "Cinderella". However, both her father's initial girlfriend Nancy and new love interest Giselle are very friendly and supportive of her.
- Stepmom is all about a woman trying to bond with her boyfriend's leery children and to make peace with his former wife.
- In Nanny Mcphee, Evangeline is the Brown family's scullery maid who settle's fights between his children. The children and Evangeline talk about why they're acting out and she tries to help. Their father, Cedric Brown, hasn't paid attention to them since their mother died but they don't want a stepmother because of the fairy tales. By the end of the movie Cedric and Evangeline marry.
- When her stepsons Erik and Agnar are killed by king Eystein Beli, Aslaug of The Saga Of Ragnar Lodbrok weeps a single tear of blood for them (which is a lot, as she never cries), and afterwards persuades her biological sons to avenge their stepbrothers. She even personally leads and army against Eystein, which eventually defeats and kills the latter.
- In book 5 of Gesta Danorum, the sorceress Kraka, second wife to a Norwegian lord, cooks a meal for both her stepson Erik and her own son Roller, but prepares Roller's share with the slaver of a magical snake which will make him smarter and luckier. But Erik and Roller swap plates, and the spell is upon Erik instead. Rather than being angry at Erik, Kraka decides that from now on, Erik should be the leader of the brothers. She also promises that her magic will aid Erik whenever he calls her name, and helps him in outwitting King Gotar of Norway. When Gotar's assassins attack Erik in his bed, he calls out his stepmother's name, whereupon a shield happens to fall from the rafters, covering his body and saving his life.
- In the Old Icelandic Saga of Bosi and Herraud, the brothers Bosi and Smid are after their mother's death raised by their father's magically skilled concubine, Busla. When Bosi incurs King Hring's wrath and awaits his execution, Busla persuades the king to let Bosi live by demonstrating her magic powers and threatening to lay a terrible curse on the king. Later, when Bosi and Smid are hard-pressed in battle against the sorcerous King Harek of Bjarmaland, Busla comes to their aid in the shape of a giant bird, saving her stepsons again at the cost of her own life.
- In The Princess Bride (novel only) Prince Humperdinck has a stepmother whom he calls evil, because all fairy tale stepmothers are. In reality she is very nice and the most beloved person in the kingdom (perhaps second only to Buttercup).
- The child protagonist of the children's book My Wicked Stepmother, having grown up with "Wicked Stepmother" tales, is determined to consider his new stepmother wicked, but she's actually a genuinely nice person who tries her hardest to win him over.
- In The Orphan's Tales by Catherynne M. Valente, Magadin becomes her stepmother's favourite and adores her in return.
- In L. M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valley, the minister's motherless children are told by another child that all stepmothers are wicked, it comes with the role. Nevertheless the youngest goes to persuade a woman to marry her father because her father is so miserable since she rejected him. And in Rilla of Ingliside it is clear that she is a perfectly lovely stepmother.
- In Doris Gates' Blue Willow, the stepmother is a good woman with an excellent relationship with the protagonist, Janey.
- In Dirge for Prester John, Hagia practically adopts Anglitora as her own daughter.
- In The Babysitters Club books, this trope was used pretty abundantly; Elizabeth was a good stepmother to Karen and Andrew, Sharon was a good stepmother to Mary Anne, and Carol was, eventually, a good stepmother to Dawn and Jeff.
- In Phineas and Ferb the wife has two children and a stepson, but they act like regular siblings and she treats them as if they're all hers.
- In Rugrats, Chuckie worries that Kira will be like the stepmother from "Cinderella". She's actually quite nice and adopts him.