She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.
Bears usually won't attack humans — but get between a mother bear and her cub, and she'll tear straight through you
. Threaten her children
, and you are in for a world of hurt. Righteous awesomeness will ensue
, and the heroine reclaims her child with a tearful embrace.
Oftentimes, when a previously perceived meek mother (or My Beloved Smother
) goes into this mode, it's her Crowning Moment of Awesome
. Heaven help you if an Action Mom
or even a Team Mom
invokes this trope. If you think a normal Mama Bear
is scary, hell hath no fury like a Motherly Scientist
with access to One-Man Army
levels of weaponry/technology/money/superpowers to protect her children. It can lead to a Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?
Losing her child may cause a Start of Darkness
into villainy or Anti-Hero
-dom... anything if it will get her revenge
, and not just on her own enemy but on anyone who would inflict this same pain on others.
The Distaff Counterpart
is referred to as Papa Wolf
rather than "Papa Bear". Disneyfication
aside, male bears are notoriously poor parents in the animal kingdom (infanticide among bears is the main reason why mama bears are so protective in the first place), whereas male (and female) wolves will react to their offspring being threatened in a very similar manner to mother bears.
Sometimes overlaps with Apron Matron
and Pregnant Badass
. It can be a cause of Let's Get Dangerous
, showing that the sweet and caring mother figure is dangerous. They may be a Knight Templar Parent
. Provides a simultaneously simple and believable way to switch someone between Badass
and more "cute"
modes without compromising character as either. After all, if It's Personal
then the claws come out.
If an older sibling is the one who takes up the role, s/he is a case of Big Brother Instinct
/ Big Sister Instinct
. For a teacher who behaves like a Mama Bear if their students are threatened, see Badass Teacher
Related to Beware the Nice Ones
and Berserk Button
. See also the non-human counterpart, Monster Is a Mommy
. Not to be confused with Bears Are Bad News
(unless you're dealing with a literal Mama Bear
). The Violently Protective Girlfriend
is a much younger form of this trope that applies when the mate is in danger. Evil characters can use this too; after all, Even Evil Has Loved Ones
. A particular Subtrope is the Badass and Child Duo
which can take the form of a female badass protecting an orphaned, unrelated young child, though male badasses
are more common.
Remember when adding examples that this is a female-only trope. The male equivalent is "Papa Wolves"
so all Spear Counterparts
should be placed there. When Mama Bear
and Papa Wolf
team up, it's a Battle Couple
. Parents in Distress
is the inversion, when Mama needs to be bailed out by the kids.
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- In Ciel The Last Autumn Story Teresa is very concerned about her daughter Yvienne's well-being, and she's got the intimidating physique to back it up.
- Diss Reba McEntire, I dare you; Terri Clark will take your face off
- A literal Mama Bear appears in mothy's "Moonlit Bear", in which the protagonist, Eve (portrayed by Miku), steals two "apples" from a bear, which then proceeds to chase her through the forest. Turns out that the Mama Bear is a human mother after all, and the two "apples" are actually her twin children, whom she is desperate to retrieve. Out of fear as well as her desire to have children of her own since hers are deceased, Eve ends up murdering the "bear".
- Persephone's mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest, refuses to allow any growth of crops until her daughter is returned to her from the Underworld, resulting in many mortal deaths. Made more interesting in that Persephone's kidnapper/husband is also her uncle, Demeter's younger brother Hades.
- King Agamemnon's wife, Queen Clytemnestra, killed him because he had sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to the gods. The fact that Agamemnon was bringing his new mistress Cassandra home from the Trojan War probably did not help his case either. It's worth noting that Clytemnestra and her lover also tried to kill her son (by Agamemnon) Orestes when he was a small child, and treated the remaining daughter Electra poorly (and in some versions, tried to get her killed as well). So she's not the best example of this trope.
- Well, part of her motivation for hating Agamemnon comes from his treatment of her children by her first husband — in order to marry her, he invaded Mycenae, killed her husband, and dashed her baby's brains out against a wall. In front of her. With her father's blessing. So when he killed another one of her children, this time also one of his own, in pursuit of her perfect sister Helen, whose daughter was promised to Orestes by mutual agreement of the fathers, it's not as surprising that she got a little crazy.
- This is about a girl called Cassandra... about her royal suffering... and she's trapped UNDER THE ICE!!!
- There's also the thorny issue of the fact that the only person who says over and over that Clytemnestra treated Elektra poorly is Elektra herself, particularly in the Sophoclean Elektra where she comes off as more than a little unhinged (one can interpret her as being downright psychopathic even). Aside from Orestes and Elektra, it's implied that the remaining daughter Chrysothemis is treated rather well.
- Durga from Hindu Mythology. She is a nurturing mother goddess, but she is also a very powerful warrior. As The Berserker Kali, she takes this to a dangerous extreme.
- Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. According to legend, she regards all the volcanic rocks on the shores of the Big Island to be her children, and will inflict a horrible curse on any tourist who dares to take one of the rocks home with them as a souvenir.
- Primordial Greek god of darkness Nyx, according to Homer, to the extent that Zeus was afraid of incurring her wrath by harming her son, Hypnos.
- Dino Attack RPG has Sarah Bishop. She even got a moment homaging the climax of Aliens. At the same time, however, Sarah Bishop is partially a deconstruction. She is (understandably) concerned about her daughter being in a war zone, but her own Adult Fear made her completely psychotic to the point that many players expressed genuine fear of her. This same thing also broke her psychologically once the war was finally over and she'd realized what she had done.
- Unknown Armies has the Mother archetype. High-level Avatars of the Mother get huge bonuses in combat when they're either defending a child, or pregnant. The phrase "mama bear" even shows up in the rulebook description of their second Avatar channel.
- Munchkin invokes this with the "Mommy" card. When someone is in combat with a weaker monster or one that's been turned into a Baby, you can play this card to summon the monster's mother, who is ten levels higher. And woe is you if the Baby + Mommy combo is applied on a Lv. 20 Plutonium Dragon...
- Dungeons & Dragons
- 1st Edition Monster Manual. When a pair of mated dragons had offspring, any attack on the young dragons caused the father and mother to attack the intruders with a ferocity bonus of +2 to hit and +1/+3 on clawing/biting damage.
- 1st Edition Monster Manual II. If a female cheetah's cubs are threatened, she will attack at a +2 to hit and do +2 Hit Points damage per attack.
- Mayfair Games' 1E Role Aids supplement Lizardmen. When female lizardmen are guarding the eggs in the hatchling pool, they fight as level 3 fighters (instead of their normal level 1), a bonus given them by the lizardman deity Rega.
- The Grey Render◊ is a huge monstrosity with a penchant for "adopting" small creatures of other species (even ones it would normally eat), to whom it will thereafter bring food and protection. And if you dare so much as look at them funny, it will tear you down like the squishy little piece of meat you are and share your body with its protegés.
- Gynosphinxes, the sole female subrace of sphnx, prefers an androsphinx mate, disliking the dimwitted criosphinxes who try to woo them by bribery, and avoiding the vile hieracosphinx who doesn't bother with any pleasantries. Nonetheless, a gynosphinx will defend her cubs to the death, regardless of who the father was.
- Gargantua are gigantic reptilian (usually) beasts found on tropical islands in the Kara-Tur setting. Normally, they shy away from humans, but threaten their offspring and you won't live to regret it.
- The 3rd Edition Splat book Tyrants of the Nine Hells gives a strange example; erinyes and their evolved form, brachina, the only devils who can bear children (other than unique female devils) are said to be fiercely protective of their offspring, raising them in hidden and well-guarded enclaves in parts of Hell that are the most hostile to beings other than devils.
- In GURPS Bestiary, a sidebar makes it very clear why you shouldn't get between a mother animal and her young.
Mothers protecting their young are the fiercest foes on Earth, and probably anywhere else for that matter. Mother animals know no fear, are quick to feel threatened, take offense easily, and will attack viciously, giving no quarter.
- Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (SAGA System) Adventure 3 Fantastic Four: Fantastic Voyages. In the adventure "Wild at Heart", a monster emerges from the earth in a small town and starts destroying the place. If the heroes don't subdue the creature quickly enough, a much larger monster appears and starts searching for the smaller one - it's the smaller monster's mother. If the heroes have hurt its child it will go berserk, trying to destroy anyone and anything it can see.
- Chaosium's supplement All the Worlds' Monsters. Female bears and tigers (if cubs are attacked, fight at +2 to hit) and Elder Daughters of Kali (do double damage to anyone attacking her children).
- The Morrow Project. Female bears and pigs are noted as being especially protective of their young and prone to attack if they are threatened.
- Champions Organization Book The Circle and M.E.T.E., adventure "The Hatching". The M.E.T.E. (Metropolitan Extra Terrestrial Enclave) receives a large spherical object (called Case 39) that was found in a national park. It eventually hatches out an alien Blob-like monster which goes on a rampage. Three months later the alien's mother shows up and tries to rescue its child, and heaven help any superhero that gets in its way.
- Star Fleet Battles. The monsters known as Space Dragons sometimes ravage inhabited worlds. If a ship gets between a Space Dragon mother and its child, the mother will change course, move toward the ship and attack it.
- Encounter Critical supplement Asteroid 1618. Inside the Vanishing Pyramid, the PCs can find eggsacs laid by a Giant Spider. If an eggsac is broken open (from prodding or gunfire) 1-20 baby spiders will emerge and attack the PCs. If PCs kill any of them, the mother spider will smell the babies' blood on the PCs, track them down relentlessly, and ferociously attack them, doing double damage.
- Hollow Earth Expedition main rules sample adventure. When the PCs first arrive in the Hollow Earth, they will encounter a herd of triceratops, including a mother and her child. If the PCs get too close, the mother will charge them, and if they attack the child, she will become enraged.
- Kim from Miss Saigon shoots her own cousin who tries to kill her illegitimate son by an American GI, yelling "I have no other choice, what I must do I will!" as she does so. A lot of people remember the part as a defining moment for Kim, especially with her screaming "YOU WILL NOT TAKE MY CHILD!"
- The interpretation of Umbridge in A Very Potter Sequel likes to consider herself a mama bear In-Universe — ""It's your Mama Umbridge's job to keep her baby bears safe!" However, she doesn't actually fulfill this role and just embarrasses the girls.
- Morgan Fey from Ace Attorney will do anything to take care of her daughter Pearl. More specifically, to make sure Pearl becomes the Kurain master rather than being shunted to the side while Maya takes the position. Not only did she aid a murder and frame Maya for it, she then tried to make Pearl channel the spirit of Dahlia (Pearl had no idea that Dahlia was her dead older half-sister) so Dahlia could murder Maya. We didn't say she was nice.
- In answer, and in a much more heroic example, Morgan's younger sister Misty Fey totes around a sword-cane and swears to do anything necessary to keep her remaining daughter Maya safe (the eldest one, Mia, had been already killed), up to and including Morgan's death, or her own. The latter comes to pass when she deliberately channels Dahlia's murderous spirit so little Pearl won't be able to, and "Dahlia" gets killed while trying and failing to bring her plan about.
- Morgan might be a subversion. For perspective, Pearl is like eight, and heavily sheltered (she's never left the village, for any reason, ever). Also, Morgan wants Pearl to become the master now. So it's pretty clear that Morgan only wants this not because she feels Pearl is particularly deserving, but because Pearl isn't even old enough to be up after dark, meaning she'll be the puppet through which Morgan (who is somewhat bitter over her position as part of the branch family) forces her own agenda upon the family. Not so Mama Bear. Maya, by contrast, is a much more nurturing caretaker while Morgan is imprisoned, encouraging Pearl to have fun and in general be a little girl while she has the opportunity; Pearl, for her part, reveres Maya completely and would probably flip her lid if she knew what her mother was really up to.
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni does this in its first three arcs. In episode 1, Natsuhi Ushiromiya banishes the two remaining servants, the family doctor, and her niece Maria because she suspects them of being murderers and wants to protect her daughter Jessica. This does not end well. She also fights the Golden Witch Beatrice in a duel, although you might call that a subversion: the desire to protect daughter and gun not equal to ability to defeat 1000-year-old sadistic witch. The trope name itself is referenced during the proceedings.
- Hanako Ikezawa's deceased mother in Katawa Shoujo. As she and a little Hanako were trapped in the fatal fire that decimated their house, Mrs. Ikezawa chose to cover her daughter with her own body and burn herself to death rather than letting her die. While Hanako sustained massive physical and mental scars, she still got a second chance at life thanks to her mother's Heroic Sacrifice.