"That's what moms are like — if you mess with their babies, they're gonna bite you back.
Bears usually won't attack humans — but get between a mother bear and her cub, and she'll tear straight through you
. Apparently, the same rule applies to human parents. Threaten their husband/wife, child, boyfriend/girlfriend, friends, cat, etc.
, and you are in for a world of hurt. Never harm someone's loved one — whatever the goal, it's not worth the consequences. Losing their loved one may cause a drastic Start of Darkness
into villainy or Anti-Hero
-dom... anything if it will get their revenge
. And not just on their own enemy but on anyone who would inflict this same pain on others. Of course, it's not always dark — sometimes, righteous awesomeness ensues
, and the hero reclaims their child/whatever with a tearful embrace.
Oftentimes, when a previously perceived meek mother goes into this mode, it's her Crowning Moment of Awesome
. Heaven help you if an Action Mom
invokes this trope. And 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?
Men who exhibit Mama Bear tendencies are referred to as "Papa Wolves"
rather than "Papa Bears" — Disney aside, male bears are notoriously poor parents in the animal kingdom (in fact, 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. Due to the Double Standard
, however, there are some differences.
While Mama Bear moments are usually treated as awesome, they're also... well, scary
. Even the children Mama Bear is protecting are often scared by it. Sometimes this is even highlighted by the children starting to cry after the moment is over and the danger gone — which, of course, turns Mama Bear back into the Apron Matron
. Papa Wolf
incidents, on the other hand, receive standing ovation from the kids, and comments like: "You were so cool, Dad!" Notice how most Mama Bears are mothers of main characters, while Papa Wolves tend to be main characters themselves.
When invoked by a woman, this trope is occasionally criticized as sexist
against both sexes. This trope is also known as the Uterus of Justice, because it often seems that only a child in danger can turn a woman into a badass (other than being scorned, and revealing fury like which hell hath none
), and only a woman (and never
a man, the dick) can care enough about a child to be driven all the way from mild-mannered to badass just by seeing them threatened.
Sometimes overlaps with Apron Matron
. Can be a cause of Let's Get Dangerous
, showing that the sweet and caring mother figure is dangerous. 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
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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- Diss Reba Mc Entire, 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, who 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.
- However, 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.
- And was also having an affair.
- 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
- Rose Is Rose played this trope completely straight with a Sunday strip, featuring Rose transformed into a "Mama Bear" to symbolize her overprotective nature before she meets Pasquale's new babysitter. However, Rose relaxes when she opens the door she finds that the prospective sitter is apparently a Mama Bear as well.
- 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 (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.
- Mayfair Games' 1E Role Aids supplement Lizardmen. When female lizardmen are guarding the eggs in the hatchling pool, they fight at 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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!"
- Umbridge in a A Very Potter Sequel...in a very different sense of this trope...
- "It's your Mama Umbridge's job to keep her baby bears safe!"