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Missing Mom

And the good guy doesn't have a mommy, 'cause his mommy died.
Zoe, Baby Blues

A subtrope of Parental Abandonment: The mother of a character or characters is missing or absent.

Perhaps she died. Perhaps she left and there's bitterness involved. Perhaps she's a Damsel in Distress. Regardless of what happened—and regardless of whether or not the viewers find out what happened—Dad seems to have raised his children on his own or with help from a mom-substitute.

Missing Moms are often considered more unusual than missing fathers and are more likely to have their absence explicitly explained. This might be because a man can technically leave his baby-mama at any time after knocking her up (or she can leave him)—it's even possible for him to never find out he's a father. But a woman carrying a child to term and giving birth, then disappearing, is rarer, especially if it was by her own choice, since it contradicts the Closer to Earth image most cultures have of women. If it was Death by Childbirth that disposed of the mother, this is usually mentioned because it adds an extra touch of tragedy to the character's life.

However, the flip-side is that if both parents are absent, the character is far more likely to be obsessed with his or her lost father. Characters who have lost both parents often do not mention the lost mother at all. Missing Moms in general are likely to get a brief mention as to what happened to them, but are far less likely to turn up again in the story and/or be a driving force behind a hero's adventures.

Missing Moms are almost always remembered in a positive light, unlike Disappeared Dads (although see First Father Wins). Expect the father to wax poetic about the times they shared, and to tell a female hero "You look so much like your mother." Death by Childbirth can be a cause of this. By contrast, if the Missing Mom is alive and willingly abandoned her child, she will probably be portrayed as worse than an absentee dadnote . This beatification can also lead the way to a Wicked Stepmother, if the father remarries, or a child's Tell Me About My Mother. If the mother is dead, the surviving spouse is almost obligated to have a Happier Home Movie about her, such as a wedding video or one with the hero as a baby.

Combine with Disappeared Dad, and you get Parental Abandonment.


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  • Slayers: The queen of Seyruun and mother of Amelia and her older sister Gracia was murdered by an assassin that was after the latter princess. Gracia killed said assassin very messily, was extremely traumatized due to that, and left to learn of the world the next day under a nom de guerre, "Naga the Serpent", and would eventually meet Lina, among other things. From the scant number of times this is mentioned, Amelia is still rather sensitive about it.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Radical Edward/Françoise has no mother. She's nearly a case of Parental Abandonment as well, because her father forgot her in an orphanage for several years and seems not entirely sure his child is a girl, or even what her name is. Which is why it's so sad when she leaves the Bebop, because Jet was a far better father for her than her real dad.
  • Even though Naruto's mother, Kushina Uzumaki, is dead, she was never even mentioned until very late in the series. This is because she was the previous container for the Kyubii. After Naruto was born, it escaped after an attack by Tobi, and Kushina had to seal it in her son's body at the cost of her (and her husband Minato's) life. He shares her surname, though.
    • Also, lots of characters like Neji, Hinata, Shino, etc., are shown to have fathers but no mothers. Hinata's mom was seen once in the anime in a picture, but not much more is mentioned.
  • Victorian Romance Emma, Richard Jones (William's father) has a portrait of his wife hanging in their mansion, but she is never mentioned except in recollections. In the second season, her whereabouts are revealed, along with an explanation.
  • Although much ado is made about the whereabouts of Negi's father in Mahou Sensei Negima!, no mention is ever made of his mother until rather late in the story. In chapter 252 we learn her name: Princess Arika of Old Ostia. (And in 258 Rakan confirms it.) It also turns out that there is a decent reason that no one told Negi who his mother is: a Government Conspiracy framed her for genocide and tried to have her executed, and now they might be targeting Negi. Who was safely hidden until he started poking around, looking for information about his parents...
    • Also, Anya's mother was turned into stone in the incident where Negi's hometown was destroyed. Alongside many other people.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has more than a few examples:
    • The Elric brothers' mother, Trisha, is dead, so—after they tried to rectify the situation by attempting to bring her back to life through alchemy, with disastrous results—both basically become the parent to the other. Edward is also hostile to any mention of his father.
    • Winry Rockbell was raised by her grandmother Pinako after both parents were killed by Scar during the Ishval War.
    • Scar's parents were killed by Kimblee when he attacked the area where Scar lived.
    • Riza's mother presumably died when she was young, leaving her with her mentally-unstable father.
    • Nina Tucker's mother was killed, though she thinks that her mother abandoned her. More precisely, Shou Tucker turned his own wife into a chimera, and she died shortly afterwards.
    • Mustang's birth parents died when he was a young child. He was raised by one Madame Christmas. Who is actually his biological aunt.
    • The homunculi have a father, but no mother. This is first addressed by Pride when he mentions that he never knew what it was like to have a mother until he was adopted by Mrs. Bradley.
    • Wrath in the 2003 anime. He rejects Izumi as his mother when he eventually meets her and loses his surrogate mother, Sloth, near the end of the series. In The Movie, he and Izumi are ultimately Together in Death.
  • Brock's mother Lola in Pokémon was said to have left their family (or died in the American translation), but later returned.
    • Jessie's mom, Miyamoto, went missing on an expedition to find Mew. She never returned.
    • Team Rocket's Meowth is a rare case in that he can actually talk about his Parental Abandonment. Flashbacks show that Meowth's first memories were of being alone, with no family or friends.
    • Misty, Tracey, Iris, Cilan, and Clemont and Bonnie all having a Missing Mom as well.
  • Quint, the mother of Subaru and Ginga Nakajima in Lyrical Nanoha, was an Action Mom who was killed during a secret mission. Her death didn't seem to affect them in a negative way, and they remember her quite fondly. Nanoha is much more notable for missing men, though Nanoha herself has a father that her Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever counterpart didn't (he was killed while in his bodyguard work while his wife Momoko was still pregnant with Nanoha).
  • Nadeshiko in Card Captor Sakura died when Sakura was three years old. Like in the Nanoha example, there doesn't seem to be any negative repercussions and her presence can still be felt in the series...sometimes literally, since she visits her family every so often as a ghost.
  • In Lucky Star, Konata's Ill Girl mother Kanata died when Konata was very young, forcing her Otaku father to raise her on his own. An episode has her visiting her family as a ghost...which causes much terror for Konata and her father when she secretly joins in on a picture. Hilarity Ensues, in a genuine way.
  • Ranma ½ has a boatload of missing mothers:
    • The Tendo sisters' mother died when they were little, which especially affected Akane (and apparently Nabiki in the manga); Kasumi got a Promotion to Parent (or at least, homemaker) and Soun appears to have never gotten over it. (The Tendos' ongoing grief is played remarkably straight for a comedy series.)
    • Ranma left to train with his father at such a very young age that until his mom Nodoka showed up to visit he'd forgotten he ever had one.
    • Shampoo's father was seen a time or two in the manga, but never her mother, and she is otherwise raised by her great-grandmother.
    • Both of Ryoga Hibiki's parents are never around due to an improbably bad sense of direction and we never meet them. Different from the Ranma ½ norm because they're all alive and aware of the others' existence and would spend more time together under better circumstances.
    • Mousse's mother is never mentioned in the manga and only briefly in the anime.
    • The Kuno siblings' mother and Ukyo's mother are never seen or even mentioned.
  • InuYasha has three as well:
    • Inu-Yasha's mother is rarely mentioned except as part of his tragic backstory. She was a human noble-woman who died when Inuyasha was a child which effectively orphaned him as his father was already dead.
    • Miroku's father and grandfather are confirmed dead and he was raised by a monk called Mushin. However, his mother is never mentioned at all.
    • Sango had a close relationship with her father before he died, but her mother is never mentioned.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, Ryuunosuke Fujinami is about the only main character with this. Everyone else has a mother, even if they only show up in rare occasions (Sakura's Gonkish mother, Jariten's obsessive firefighter mother, etc) or don't get paid much attention (Shinobu's parents). It's never made clear whether her mother, Masako Fujinami, died in childbirth or if she was driven off by Mr. Fujinami's whacked-out obsession with having a son to carry on the family tea shop. Nobody knows what she looked like- not even the Fujinamis themselves; Mr. Fujinami hired lots of women to pose for pictures with him and baby Ryuunosuke after Masako left, and took so many that even he doesn't remember which of them is Ryuunosuke's real mother and which are fakes.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has every single child (and most of the adults) motherless, even the peripheral schoolmates. We know the story behind the central characters', and we're shown enough to guess the reason (it isn't pretty).
  • Sho Fukamachi's father in Guyver is a single father; Sho's mother died years before. He does a good job raising Sho and even gets in on the action until he gets turned into a Zoanoid that nearly kills Sho, forcing the catatonic Guyver to kill his own father in one of the most shocking twists in anime.
  • Wagaya no Oinari-sama. gives us Noboru and Tooru Nakagami, whose mother died soon after Tooru was born. She is seen mainly in photos and flashbacks, but her ghost appears in episode five to visit with Tooru for a short time before having to return to the afterlife.
  • Let's examine Sailor Moon. Rei and Hotaru both have living fathers and never-seen dead mothers; this is a plot point in the case of the latter, and in the manga and live-action series the first alienated herself from her dad because of how coldly he treated her mother. Setsuna may not even have parents, but she's called "Daughter of Cronos" at least once; that's a father, if taken literally, but also no mother. Neither Haruka nor Michiru ever reference parents; although they do have a mysterious benefactor, this is generally theorized to be Setsuna, sometimes jokingly referring to how her ability to see the future could be used in the stock market.
    • This is used in Naoko Takeuchi's earlier work, The Cherry Project, in which Chieri's mother died in a plane crash and all she has left is her dopey if well-meaning dad. This was used again in Sailor Moon, with Makoto's parents both dying in a plane crash.
  • In FLCL, Naota's mother is briefly mentioned when Amaro is discussing Kamon's (Naota's Dad's) personal history. She died.
    • Having no apparent mother relationship aside of this brief mention may have been intentionally significant to the plot. Consider the fact that Naota grew up in a totally male environment (his grandfather, father, and older brother) and most of the relationship problems he has in the show are with women.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch's mother Marianne "The Flash" Lamperouge was murdered in specially messy and suspicious circumstances which also left Lelouch's sister Nunally blinded and crippled. One of Lelouch's leitmotives for his "revolution" is to find out the truth behind Marianne's death.
    • Eventually it's revealed that she isn't actually dead, having body surfed into someone else. Turning this from a case of Missing Mom to flat out Parental Abandonment. When Lelouch finds out, he gets pissed, really pissed. Enough to end up a Self-Made Orphan.
    • Played straight with the never-mentioned variety when it comes to Suzaku's mother, who is never touched upon. His dead father is the main tragic plot-point behind his story, because Suzaku killed him.
  • In two of the three Captain Tsubasa anime series, Roberto Hongo lost his mother very tragically. In Captain Tsubasa J, she abandoned him in a convent to work and later die of illness; in Road to 2002, she was a factory worker who died in a work accident.
    • In the WYC manga, Brazilian star player Carlos Santana was abandoned by his mother as a baby, since she was a teenager and couldn't raise him. In the end of the Japanese Cup, she actually appears and begs him for forgiveness, and Santana not only hugs her tearfully and accepts, he actually takes her to live with him in Spain to rekindle their relationship.
    • Misaki's parents are divorced and he lives/travels with his dad. At some point his mom reappears and asks him to live with her instead of going abroad, but Taro decides not to take it when he learns that she has remarried and even has a daughter with her new husband. However, when said daughter begs him to re-meet with their mom, Taro accepts and reconciles with her.
  • The whole plot behind the 1000 leagues to find Mother TV series. The melodramatic journey of 11-year-old Marco in search of his estranged mother Anna, who was working in South America, traumatized hundreds of Latin-American 80's children.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Aiko Senou lives with her divorced father, the cab driver Kenji; her mother, a nurse named Atsuko, lives in Osaka, and they were estranged for a long time. Kenji and Atsuko get back together much later.
    • Her classmate and local Ill Girl Shiori Nakayama is mentioned to have lost her mother when she was young, therefore her father is very overprotective.
  • Yes! Pretty Cure 5 spent an episode on Urara's deceased mother and how Urara feels about her.
  • Tenchi Masaki's mother from Tenchi Muyo! Both the first movie and the third OVA series focus on his relationship with her; the OVA deconstructs the trope by revealing that she was...kind of a bitch.
  • Juri Katou from Digimon Tamers: her biological mother died of illness when she was very young and she never quite got over it, after being told that it was her "destiny" by her father (who also never quite got over it). She has a good-hearted and caring stepmother, but poor Juri is simply too screwed up to connect with the second Mrs. Katou emotionally, despite actually trying to do so and having no ill will towards her.
  • In Digimon Savers, Touma's mother was hit by a truck on their way to a summer festival and died. Oddly enough, the mother of Touma's Ill Girl half-sister Relena also died, apparently in childbirth.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi's mother Kotoko is dead and Tamaki's French mother Anne sophie is currently forbidden from seeing him by his strict grandmother. Though later his father manages to turn the tables.
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, Bu-ling's mother died some time before the start of the show; her father is alive, but she and her younger siblings ended up with full Parental Abandonment because he left to practice martial arts. Zakuro is a case of Parental Abandonment from the start.
  • In Pretear, Himeno's mother died when Himeno was a child, leading to her being raised by her father Kaoru alone — as a result, she is pretty good in martial arts, but finds it difficult to behave like a lady, which becomes a problem after her father marries a rich widow with two daughters. (Yes, this plot is from "Cinderella", lampshaded in the manga by Yayoi.)
    • In the manga, this is expanded: Mrs. Awayuki fell victim to Death by Childbirth, and Kaoru keeps it from Himeno to not cause her psychological damage. She actually learns that from her stepmother Natsue.
  • In Blood+, Saya and Diva's biological mother is only briefly mentioned, and only appears in corpse form. Though Saya ends up with a replacement or two for their biological father, who is never mentioned in the context of the story, neither of the girls ends up with another mother figure (unless you count Julia).
    • Later, Diva pretty much becomes a Missing Mom to her twin girls. The babies are adopted by Kai after Saya kills Diva and enters a thirty-year hibernation.
  • Renton from Eureka Seven has no mother to speak of. In addition, Renton's replacement mother figure and older sister, Diane, is gone by the beginning of the series, which directly and indirectly causes angst for several members of the main cast.
    • Holland's mother fell victim to Death by Childbirth.
    • Renton's and Eureka's son Ao also has this problem - mostly because Time Travel is screwing him over. An interesting subversion of this trope; while Eureka is prominently mentioned, no one seems to really care about who Ao's father least at first.
  • None of the four protagonists from the various Zoids anime have mothers; in fact, their mothers are never mentioned at all. It's particularly noteworthy with Van from Chaotic Century/Guardian Force; his father is an oft-mentioned decorated war hero, but his mother's existence is never even hinted at.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo Kurosaki's mother Masaki died during a hollow attack when he was nearly nine years old, making Ichigo and Karin perpetual frowners and Yuzu a homemaker. Yhwach's purge of impure Quincies stole her power just as she engaged the Grand Fisher in battle, leaving her defenceless against a hollow she should have curb-stomped.
    • Uryuu Ishida's mother Kanae is a complete mystery until her introduction in the final arc. The pure-blood Ishida family employed the impure servant Kanae Katagiri until she and Ryuuken Marry for Love. Yhwach's purge also killed Kanae but, while the Grand Fisher ensured Masaki's death was quick, the power theft left Kanae comatose for three months until she died.
  • In G Gundam, Domon's mother Mikino was shot by the government when trying to protect his brother. It's also full Parental Abandonment, since the same incident led to his father being arrested and sentenced to a cryogenic state. Reversed later, when Dr. Kasshu is cleared of his supposed "crimes" (he was framed) and returns: he's shown as a good person who encourages and even helps Domon to fight against the true Big Bad.
    • Domon's close friend Chibodee Crocket is also an example. His mom disappeared during a riot caused by terrorists dressed as clowns and is strongly hinted to be dead after that. Chibodee never fully got over it, and the flashback shows that he loved his mother very much.
  • In Soul Eater there are a number of these.
    • Despite the fact that Maka's parents’ divorce is mentioned, and Maka's estrangement from her father is a plot point, Maka's mother doesn't appear in the anime. The manga has even less information, not even showing that she and Maka are in contact.
    • This is lampshaded in Death The Kid's case as people point out that his existence implies his father had a wife, but they and the audience have no idea who this is.
      • Shinigami is a Truly Single Parent to Kid, in a manner (creating and raising a child for a single purpose) which makes for a weird contrast with Medusa.
    • Black* Star is a case of Parental Abandonment: his family was wiped out for being dangerous psychopaths, and he was raised by the school.
    • Tsubaki and Soul Eater, by contrast, seem to have practically normal families, albeit ones they don't have much contact with. Even though Soul dislikes his Embarrassing Last Name, this seems to be down more to his issues with individuality than suggestion of a troubled history with his parents.
  • Tamaki's mother in Bamboo Blade. The fact that she practiced kendo and taught it to her daughter is a major plot point.
  • In Kaiba, Popo's mother was separated from him at a young age, saying that they'd be reunited if he became great. This serves as a drive for his efforts to overthrow the government.
  • A major plot point of Bunny Drop is that the whereabouts of six year-old Rin's mother are unknown. As the series progresses, her guardian Daikichi eventually tracks down and confronts her. Rin's very young mother, Masako, struggled between taking care of Rin and her career as a manga-ka and eventually chose career. Though rather immature, she does clearly care for Rin, as evidenced by her request Rin use Daikichi's surname upon entering school to help cut down on any teasing she may catch from their names being different.
  • Cutey Honey, being a Ridiculously Human Robot, is understandable in her lack of a mother in her later incarnations (Flash, Re). However, in the original (and by extension, New), she was created partially as a Replacement Goldfish for her "father" Doctor Kisaragi's dead daughter. The good doctor's wife is never mentioned.
  • Arika's reason for joining Garderobe Academy in Mai-Otome is to find out what happened to her mother, Lena Sayers. Near the end of the main series, she finds her dead body in a jar.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Marik's mother died giving birth to him and was raised by his strict father, whom he later killed when he became possessed by the Millennium Rod.
    • Jounouchi's mother left home with Shizuka after she divorced Jou's dad, and they've barely had contact. Until Shizuka's operation, where they more or less make amends.
    • Pharaoh Atem Yami's mother is not shown in the anime, but is (supposedly) shown holding him next to Pharaoh Akhnamkhanon (Yami's father) in the manga.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, neither Goku nor Vegeta's mothers are ever brought up or shown, although Goku's may have died in childbirth which may be the reason why his father initially resented him; if not, both are likely to have perished when Frieza blew up their home planet.
    • Likewise Broly's mother isn't shown either.
    • None of the pure Saiyans' mothers are ever mentioned, in fact only a handful of Saiyan women are ever seen or heard of, and those are in the first Bardock special.
  • Yoshimori Sumimura's mother in Kekkaishi is never seen by the audience properly, not even when she showed up again briefly in the manga (only to leave again immediately). Also a subversion—she's clearly the one that Yoshimori inherited his powers from, as his father is a house-husband who works from home. Yoshimori and his brothers are generally shown to be craving her approval and attention while she's off doing whatever it is that she does. In other words, her role is that of the Disappeared Dad.
  • In One Piece, Luffy's mother hasn't been shown yet and it's unknown whether she's still even alive. Ace reveals that he took his mother's maiden name Portgas as his own since he refuses to acknowledge his father's side of the family and he states that he "owes her a great debt." It's unknown as of yet whether Luffy knows/remembers his mother, especially given his response to hearing about his father was "I have a dad?". But his family has a tendency to pop out of the woodwork at the most unexpected times.
    • In an SBS Oda stated she's probably alive, but he hasn't decided if she'll actually make an appearance.
    • In a more traditional case, Robin's mother Olvia left Robin as a young child to go and continue her late husband's very risky work in archeology, causing her to be shunned. Robin is only given a brief time to reunite with Olvia before all the archeologists are killed in a Buster Call by the World Government.
    • Ace's aforementioned mother, Portgas D. Rouge, was introduced in the story immediately prior to Ace's execution. There it was revealed that to prevent Ace from being found by the government (who sought him out because of his father), Rouge managed to delay giving birth and remained pregnant for twenty months to protect her son. An act that ultimately killed her.
    • Other Straw Hats hit by the Missing Mom are Usopp and Nami. The death of Usopp's mother by illness started him on his tendency for lying. Nami's (adoptive) mother Bellemere sacrificed herself to save her and her sister Nojiko.
      • Actually, no Straw Hats are known for sure to have a mom who's still alive, while a few of them (Luffy and Usopp) still have their fathers and some infamous ones of those indeed.
  • Fruits Basket, just...Fruits Basket. Notable cases include Tohru (her mom died in an accident), Momiji (his mentally-unstable mother rejected him after finding out about the curse), Arisa (her mother left the family and married another man), and Kyou (his mom committed suicide).
  • Kotoko's mother is dead at the start of Itazura Na Kiss and she lives with just her father until they lose their home, and she gets sort of adopted/taken over by Naoki's mother.
  • Guts of Berserk had two. The first of them died as Guts was being born, and his adoptive mother, Sys, was an Ill Girl who died of plague before Guts's eyes just several years after she took him from his mother's lifeless body. To make matters even worse, Gambino, Sys's lover and Guts's adoptive father, blamed him for her death and was abusive toward him, resulting in one hell of a horrific childhood for him.
  • Kouji Kabuto, the original Idiot Hero of Mazinger Z and most of its related continuities has grandfather Juuzo (Killed Off for Real, often in the first episode of any given series) and a father named Kenzou (who effectively abandoned him and his Tagalong Kid brother, but they later reconcile and later dies, at least in Great Mazinger). . . but it wasn't until Shin Mazinger (made thirty years after the original) that we get to meet his mother, Tsubasa Nishikiori, a lady who is more or less responsible for all of the traits that make Kouji a Bad Ass. In the original anime, though, she died in a laboratory experiment gone wrong.
    • Most of the young characters of the Mazinger trilogy are motherless: Sayaka -Kouji's Love Interest- and her father live alone, and it is often assumed her mother died -or left-; Tetsuya and Jun from Great Mazinger are both orphans and adopted by Kenzo; the parents of Duke and Maria from UFO Robo Grendizer got murdered and Hikaru and her little brother are raised by their father since their mother died.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai. Taro's mother dies in the backstory just before the series begins. Oddly enough she's very rarely mentioned during the series itself.
  • Jeanie's mom in Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair.
  • In the manga, Quatre Raberba Winner of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing loses his mother twice. First, Ill Girl Katherine Winner dies in childbirth, having chosen to bear a child naturally despite knowing that pregnancy was so dangerous she was guaranteed not to survive. Quatre's father Zayeed then lets him believe he is just replaceable offspring grown in a laboratory to be an heir (like his sisters), so he won't be traumatised and blame himself for Katherine's death; he dies without revealing the truth. This is just one of Quatre's many, many issues.
    • The sequel novel Frozen Teardrop does it thrice over: for Heero (his parents were Hitman with a Heart Odin Lowe and OZ spy Aoi Clark, who raised Heero in his very early years alongside her Second Love and husband; when they both died, Odin Lowe took little Heero back in), Treize (his mother Angelina went completely mad after her husband Ein Yuy was horribly killed and she was kidnapped by her family, who never approved of their marriage. She and her other son/Treize's former Number Two Vingt died in the crossfire when the real Heero Yuy was assassinated), and Duo II (his adoptive mother Hilde Scheibaker died some time before the story began, leaving her husband "Father" Duo Maxwell to raise the kid alone).
  • The death of Kei Enjouji's mother Hotaru in Kizuna is an extremely important plot point, since she leaves behind a letter in which she reveals the secret behind Enjouji's heritage: he is actually the Heroic Bastard of Hotaru's former lover, the Yakuza boss Takeshi Sagano.
  • Numerous examples in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, to the point that the fact that title character has a mother at all is called out as distinctive. Mami lost hers in a car crash (alongside her father). Homura is, well, Homura. Kyouko, well, let's not go there.
  • Ur from Fairy Tail to her daughter Ultear, though it wasn't intentional. She took said daughter to some scientist tam because Ultear was an Ill Girl in serious risk, but they kidnapped her instead and told Ur she was dead.
  • In Happy Yarou Wedding, Yuuhi grew up without a mother and had a very lonely childhood. When he starts working as a nanny to Shouta, whose mom is also dead, he sees too much of his own past in him and becomes determined to be the perfect parent to Shouta.
  • In Tsukigasa, Azuma's mother dies when he's quite young, leading to his Creepy Uncle raping him because of his resemblance to her.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia mentions three mothers among the Ancient Nations: Ancient Greece (Modern Greece's mother), Ancient Egyot (Modern Egypt's), and Ancient Brittannia (England and his siblings's). The three are pretty much stated to be dead due to obvious reasons; specially in the case of Ancient Greece, since her son is shown in her ruins and recalling her with quite the affectionate nostalgia. In the CD dramas, it's mentioned that Ancient Greece became the Byzantine Empire after Rome's death...and she died at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, whom we know as Turkey.
  • Happens a lot in Omamori Himari. Both of Yuuto's parents are dead, as are all of Shizuku's relatives. Himari's mother died either in childbirth or shortly after. Lizlet never had relatives to begin with. Rinko and Kuesu's mothers are alive, but have virtually no presence in the story.
  • In Gundam 00, Setsuna F. Seiei lost his mother when he was no older than 10. More exactly, when he was a Brainwashed and Crazy Child Soldier under the name of Soran Ibrahim, he killed her under the orders of his leader, Ali Al-Saachez. One of the reasons why he gets platonically close to Princess Marina is because she looks a LOT like his dead mom.
    • Similarly, the conflict between Sergei and Andrei Smirnov comes from the death of Andrei's Action Mom Holly, whom he never forgave his father for. It ends up in horrible tragedy, as Andrei kills Sergei believing him to be a traitor; once he realizes what he has done with help of his adoptive sister Marie, he becomes The Atoner, and goes through Redemption Equals Death in The Movie.
  • The death of Flit Asuno's mother happens right at the start of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, and it's vital to the plot: Mrs. Asuno, in her last moments, handed young Flit the design for a mobile suit: the Gundam that he would later build.
  • In the Ace Attorney manga's "Turnabout From Heaven" case, the defendant, Diana Wheatley, says she was visited by the spirit of her mother, who was killed in an auto accident 16 years ago and promised to give her a necklace when she turned 20. It turns out that her dead supposed birth mother was actually her stepmother, because the birth certificates were altered, and that her actual mother was working for her father in disguise.
  • In Haikara San Ga Tooru, both Benio and Shinobu lost their mothers early in their lives. Same goes to Ranmaru, which is why Benio befriended him. Then we learn that Shinobu's mother, a German woman, was forced away from Japan due to her heritage and married a Russian count, having a son named Sasha...aka Larissa's dead husband.
  • The death of Jintan's Ill Girl mother Touko was pretty important in anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day.
  • In Lady, Sarah's mother Frances died when she was a little girl. Her dad George married a Japanese woman named Misuzu, who'd become the mother of main character Lynn...and later she died too, with her death kicking off the plot since Lynn must stay in England with George and Sarah from then on.
  • In Medaka Box, Medaka's mother died right after her birth. Not from childbirth complications, she just happened to have a heart attack after the baby was born. Medaka claims she didn't feel sad upon learning about this, and merely thought that her mother had served her purpose in life and died. Which ends up being creepily accurate, since her birth was all a plot by her uncle to breed the perfect wife. Averts the part about the mother being looked on fondly though, since apparently she was best known for being something of a bitch.
  • Love Lucky: Kirari's mother abandoned her.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Kaoru's mother is so missing that she doesn't get mentioned at all. Her father not being a part of the story is explained and is actually plot relevant: He was drafted into the army and then killed, leaving Kaoru to try to handle the family business alone. In fact, the mother of every other cast member whose parentage is discussed at all is deceased, as are most of their fathers. In the (Watsuki-disowned Seishouhen OAV Kaoru exlains to Kenshin that Mrs. Kamiya died of illness when she was very young; she adds that the very day she died her father immediately came back to handling the dojo, and she resented him for refusing to grieve for his dead wife.
    • In the filler Shimabara arc, the death of Shougo and Sayo's mom is very important: it was an Heroic Sacrifice from Mr. Mutou to make sure that her children would safely escape from their Doomed Hometown with their uncle. The kids even see her being shot to death in the seashore.
  • In Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Shizuku's mother is barely home. She spends most of her time at work instead of with her unemployed husband and children.
    • Haru's case is even worse. His parents selfishly sought after his intelligence when he was little. When his father kicked him out, she didn't try to convince her ex-husband to let him stay. She didn't even take him in afterwards. Instead, she let her sister-in-law have him.
  • Made into a huge Tear Jerker in one of the GeGeGe no Kitaro series. A widowed man consults Kitaro to help his emotionless boy of a son, and it turns out the boy became emotionless after having witnessed his mother's death as she was ran over by a truck while riding towards him. Ever since then the poor kid has constant guilt-driven flashbacks of the terrible event, and it's only with the help of Kitaro and his mother's spirit that he can get over his trauma and start properly living again.
  • The Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? anime never made this clear, but the manga stated Chino's mom died when she was younger.

  • Cassandra Cain's mother passed her to her father literally at birth, who in turn shot the midwife dead and took the infant to be trained as the ultimate assassin in isolation from spoken language. Given that said mother became known as Lady Shiva, it is hard to imagine that her influence would have helped...and the kid seemed to have turned out emotionally together enough to run away from home rather than kill...again.
  • Batwoman lost her mother in a hostage situation when she was a kid. She also lost her twin sister...or so she thought.
  • Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, was raised entirely by his father (this turned into Parental Abandonment when the guy was murdered in the first issue of Matt's series). His mother went completely unmentioned for over twenty years before finally showing up out of the blue; turns out that she abandoned her child to become a nun. Darkdevil, Daredevil's Legacy Character in Spider-Girl, also has a missing mom and a dead dad. It's implied that Mom is still in jail for killing her abusive father. At least, that's what Darkdevil hopes.
  • In The DCU, Roy Harper once broke an illusory world by asking about his mother — she's so comprehensively missing that the illusion couldn't summon anything from his mind to fill in the details.
  • Since there are Loads and Loads of Characters in X-Men, the following are only a few examples. Elizabeth Howlett committed suicide after her son killed Thomas Logan. Katherine Summers was killed by D'ken of the Shi'ar empire. Rogue's biological mother would Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence when Rogue was a small child, leaving her traumatized and in the care of her strict aunt. Edie Eisenhardt would be killed in a concentration camp, leading to Magneto's Start of Darkness. His wife Magda fled into the wilderness after giving birth, continuing the pattern. Nightcrawler was probably better off not being raised by his real mother, Mystique.
  • Peppermint Patty from Peanuts is raised only by her father, and it's hinted that her mom is dead. (When Marcie asks her why she can't stay with her mother when her father is out of town, Patty simply says: "I don't have a mother, Marcie!")
  • The children in Baldo are cared for by their father and great-aunt, after having lost their mother in a car accident.
  • Brian Fies' Whatever happened to the World of Tomorrow is more about the world at large than the unnamed main characters, but the fact that the son's mother is never ever mentioned stands out like a sore thumb when it's heavily implied his father is serving in WWII - so who is taking care of the teenaged or pre-teen kid?
  • Kate Bishop's mother died some time before Young Avengers started. So did Teddy's, though he didn't know it for years, and then the woman who raised him burned to death in front of him.
  • Happens to both of the heroes in Quantum and Woody. Quantum's parents went through a divorce after an auto accident, and she happily left after securing a huge alimony payment. Woody's mother divorced out of an abusive relationship and became an impoverished drug addict, emotionally absent as she left Woody to fend for himself.
  • In Spider-Man Peter has full Parental Abandonment. His best friend Harry's mom also died when he was quite young, which is a pity, since his father Norman isn't exactly Father of the Year material.
  • Jessica Jones parents and little brother were killed in the car crash that gave Jessica her powers. She was adopted into a loving family(the mother had been adopted herself at a similar age), but except for flashbacks, she isn't seen in Alias. Her adoptive parents both finally make a real-time appearance in The Pulse.
  • In Seconds, Katie talks to her father on the phone, but her mom is never mentioned. It's implied she died from an unspecified illness.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The mothers of the title characters of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Cinderella" have no role other than dying to leave their respective daughter to the Wicked Stepmother.
    • In the earliest version published by The Brothers Grimm, Snow White has no step-mother - the horrific treatment she receives comes directly from her own biological mother. Ditto for Hansel and Gretel. It's likely that such stories wound up axing the real mother and putting a step-mother in their place because the concept of a mother conspiring against her own children came to be seen as too disturbing.
  • In Tsarevich Petr and the Wizard, the mother is the object of The Quest.

    Fan Works 
  • Kanin of The Tainted Grimoire has never known who her mother is or anything about her, except the fact that she's a Viera, though has at least once expressed the desire too.
  • The Missing Mom issue for the Smurfs in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf is explained with The Plague killing off all the parents in Papa Smurf's generation of Smurfs, including Empath's mother.
  • In Dead of Night, Vesser's selkie mother was emotionally distant with him. According to him, she could never decide if she wanted him around or not, so she spent most of her time in the ocean, leaving him in the care of a guy she enchanted into looking after him. When the story starts, she'd also been murdered under extremely suspicious circumstances...
  • In chapter 8 of Bait and Switch (STO) Captain Kanril Eleya and Lieutenant Commander Reshek Gaarra are talking about their families, and Gaarra mentions that his mother died when he was two. He was raised by his father and a paternal aunt.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney Animated Canon movies love this trope:
    • Aladdin: Aladdin's mother, who appears in the original story, was going to be in the movie as well, but was dropped early on. In the third movie he mentions that his mother died when he was a kid. The Sultan's wife is mentioned as being deceased. In one of the direct-to-TV princess movies, it is shown that the Sultan spends a great deal of time with his wife's stallion, Sahara, indicating that she died quite recently.
    • Bambi: The eponymous character's mother is killed by hunters.
    • Beauty and the Beast: There is no mention of what happened to Maurice's wife. Not so in the stage musical, which reveals her to be dead and still honoured in the family.
    • In The Great Mouse Detective, Olivia is trying to get Basil to help her find her father. He says "Surely your mother knows where he is" and she says "I don't have a mother." The implication is that Mom is dead.
    • Cinderella: The main character's mother is deceased. The Prince's mother is also absent. One of the sequels confirms that she's dead, and that the King loved her very much. (However, in many non-Disney adaptations, the Queen is still alive.)
    • Enchanted: Morgan's mother left. We had the explanation, and it was significant. Prince Edward has a missing mom too, hence his stepmother.
    • The Goofy Movies and Goof Troop indicate Max Goof's mother is dead. The movies disposed of PJ's mom, Peg. She's not seen or even mentioned.
    • The Little Mermaid: No mention is made of Ariel's mother, or what became of her. (Ariel's Beginning is about her: she's called Athena. Ariel's love of music comes from her mother, who died in a hit-and-run with a pirate ship. Since that event, King Triton banned music from Atlantica in grief, so Ariel's Beginning is about how the music was brought back.)
    • The title character of Pocahontas also has a dead mother and receives a necklace in memory of her. According to Wikipedia, though it's not outright stated in the film, the mother's spirit is the source of the Dramatic Wind that follows the heroine throughout.
    • See the Literature section for Peter Pan.
    • The Fox and the Hound: Tod's mother is shot during the opening scene.
    • Meet the Robinsons: Lewis' mother left him in an orphanage. His desire to discover her drives most of the story.
    • Snow White is taken care of by her step-mother. It is unclear what happened to her parents.
    • Mowgli from The Jungle Book is a feral child raised by...wolves. Since he was found abandoned in a wrecked boat, it can be assumed his parents are deceased.
    • Penny from The Rescuers is an orphan.
    • Quasimodo's Roma mother in The Hunchback of Notre Dame is kicked down a flight of stone stairs and cracks her head open while trying to save her baby son from Frollo. His father was arrested, so one can assume she's dead. (Considering Quasimodo has fair skin, he may not be their biological son; on the other hand, he may be Roma and have the fair skin as part of his deformity. In any case, it still counts.)
    • Tarzan's loving mother and father are killed by a leopard. And there is no mother for Jane Porter, who's been raised by her father.
    • Kuzco from The Emperors New Groove lacks in the parental department as well.
    • The female eponymous character from Lilo & Stitch lives with her older sister. Apparently their parents died recently, as she remembers things they used to say. Given her explanation ("It was raining, and they went for a drive"), we can assume they died in a car accident.
    • The Princess and the Frog: Charlotte just lives with her father and there's no mention of a mother. Averted with Tiana, though, who has her mother and a dad who was hinted to have died in World War I during the Time Skip.
    • Dinosaur:
      • Aladar is separated from his mother when his egg is unexpectedly taken away from her nest by a hungry Oviraptor while his mother was trying to protect said nest from the Carnotaurus. The Oviraptor then takes the egg into a nearby forest where it proceeds to crack it open and eat the fetus inside, but loses the egg to another Oviraptor. While the two Oviraptors begin to fight over the egg, Aladar's egg rolls off a ledge and into a nearby river where it is then picked up by a passing Pterodactyl. The Pterodactyl then flies the egg all the way to Lemur Island (home to Aladar's eventual foster family of lemurs) and leaves it there, where he will eventually hatch and be adopted. It's implied that his biological mother was either killed by the Carnotaurus (who also smashed her other eggs) or was among the many dinosaurs that was killed by the meteorite.
      • Inverted with Baylene however. She, despite being one of the oldest dinosaurs in the film, actually lost her spouse, as well of all of her siblings and her descendants to the meteorite, therefore making her the last surviving Brachiosaurus on Earth. Also, Plio, the lemur girl that adopts Aladar, despite her father being the chief of the lemur clan, actually doesn't have a mother as well. Inverted with Plio herself, where even though she already has a daughter named Suri, she actually doesn't have a husband.
    • Brother Bear: The bear Kenai killed as revenge for killing his older brother is actually Koda's mother.
    • Atlantis The Lost Empire: Kida's mother, the former queen of Atlantis, is sacrificed by the Mother Crystal as an attempt to save the eponymous lost city from a tidal wave at the very beginning of the film. Unfortunately, she cannot save her kingdom, and as a result she is pronounced dead once Atlantis ends up underwater. Kida actually loses her father later on to internal bleeding, therefore making her The High Queen.
    • Li Shang from Mulan has no mother.
    • In Sleeping Beauty while Aurora's mother survives the movie, Prince Phillip's mother is never seen nor mentioned.
  • Finding Nemo: Nemo's mother is missing because she was killed by a barracuda, along with all of Nemo's unhatched siblings.
  • There is no mention of Remy's mother in Ratatouille. Early production art shows that she was intended to be a character (named Desiree), but was dropped to allow greater focus upon the father-son relationship between Django and Remy.
  • There is no mention of Mindy's mother in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. King Neptune appears to be a single parent.
  • In Kung Fu Panda we see the eponymous panda and his father, and no mother. And we don't even get to know what happened to her! According to The Art of Kung Fu Panda, the directors originally intended to put Po's mother into the story, but decided in the end that it distracted from the main story and wasn't very interesting. The fact they didn't want to make Po seem special for having a goose father, and that they wanted to play silly buggers with the audience about the Oblivious Adoption may also have had something to do with it.
  • It's finally revealed in Kung Fu Panda 2 that both of Po's biological parents were seemingly killed by Lord Shen during his attempted genocide of the panda species. The Sequel Hook at the end shows that Po's dad survived, but it's implied that his mother pulled a Heroic Sacrifice to save Po and is most likely dead.
  • In Over the Hedge, the absence of Ozzie's mate and Heather's mother is never addressed.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Flint's mother dies when he was young. Although this was an important plot point; she encouraged him to pursue his scientific dreams and his dad never understood him. His mom was essentially their translator.
  • In Epic MK moves in with her father because her mother passed away. It becomes the source of where most of MK's and her dad's dramatic moments come from.
  • Song Of The Sea has Bronagh, who just happens to be a selkie. note 
  • In The Boxtrolls, Eggs' is never seen. Averted with Winnie, but Lady Portley-Rind isn't involved with the main plot.
  • The Book Of Life:
    • Played with in regards to Manolo's mother Carmen. She dies before the events of the film, and it is never explained why, but she still becomes a supporting character due to the nature of the setting. Manolo meets her in the Land of the Remembered, and she accompanies him on his journey.
    • Joaquin's mother is never mentioned or seen.
    • Nor is Maria's.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Armageddon begins with a Missing Mom as Harry Tasker raises his daughter Grace with a bunch of oil rig roughnecks, but it turns to an adult-onset Parental Abandonment as Harry dies saving the earth from a giant meteor the size of Texas. We find out from Grace that mom left.
  • One of the main plot threads of Korean film ''Punch is the teenaged protagonist Wan-deuk reuniting with his mother, who abandoned him when he was a baby. Although she's clearly ashamed about it, the film never really explains why she left. Apparently she just couldn't get along with Wan-deuk's father.
  • In As It Is In Heaven Daniel and Lena both have lost their parents at a young age.
  • Dickie Roberts Former Child Star: Dickie's mother abandoned him once he lost stardom.
  • In Pretty in Pink, Andie's mom abandoned Andie and her dad sometime before the movie started. The two of them coming to terms with it is addressed.
  • Ella Enchanted: As a partial send-up of Cinderella, Ella also lost her mother and ended up with a Wicked Stepmother.
  • Independence Day: Russell Case is raising his kids alone. By a comment he makes, she probably died of a chronic illness, possibly the same one his child suffers from.
  • Jersey Girl: The title character's mother (played by Jennifer Lopez) dies early on in the film.
  • Sleepless In Seattle: Jonah's mother died more or less recently, which prompts him to find his dad a new wife and himself a new mother.
  • In The Film of the Book for The Spiderwick Chronicles, the children's mother is a rare case of a Missing Mom who is physically present but absent in the motherly duties thing. She was so fixated on doing everything the way they "agreed" they would in therapy, and refused to discuss anything else. She did get better, though.
  • Stardust: Tristan Thorn's mother is missing. She's a Damsel in Distress on the other side of the wall. She is a rare example of the type of Missing Mom who is rescued and returns for the Happy Ending.
  • Juno has this, but the eponymous character has a stepmother, who she has a pretty close bond with, as the film continues.
  • The Land Before Time: Littlefoot's mother is killed by the sharptooth.
  • 28 Days Later
    • Hannah's mother is deceased, though whether this is before or after the eponymous period of devastation is unclear. Jim's parents commit suicide together some time before he wakes from his coma, realising somewhat what's happening, and though Jim is an adult this is presumably part of why he bonds so well with the much older Frank.
    • According to Word of God Selena had to kill her entire family in one afternoon. No wonder she's so cold.
  • Underdog: Shoeshine's human family has a Missing Mom. It takes two thirds of the movie before someone mentions she died.
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Unlike all of the other children, Violet Beauregarde's mother is not shown, only her father. She does speak a brief line, but she is offscreen and difficult to see.
  • In Hancock, Aaron's mother died shortly after his birth, but he has a stepmom who may as well be his mother since she's known him from his infancy.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Marni, Shilo's mother, who died before the movie began, and the missing mother(s) of the three Largo children.
  • In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood must raise his son and daughter alone, trying to atone for his past solely on the memory of his late wife.
  • Fly Away Home begins with the heroine's mother dying in a car crash.
  • This is the plot of Grace Is Gone. The mother died in Iraq, and the father tries to explain this to kids.
  • This is Susan's fate in The Parent Trap.
  • In Spaceballs, princess Vespa has (naturally) no mother.
  • The heroine of Whale Rider has no mother.
  • In The Sound of Music there is no mother in the Vonn Trapp family. Captain Von Trapp is explicitly referred to as a widower.
  • In Forward, Gardemarines, one of the heroes is a bastard, whose mother, a poor woman, died in childbirth — and thus his father, a rich count, hates him.
  • In Hound Dog, Lewellen also has no mother.
  • Jackie Chan in Drunken Master also seems to have no mother.
  • Amélie also features an eponymous heroine who is motherless. Her death is explained at the beginning of the movie.
  • The child protagonists of Millions lost their mother before the events of the film.
  • In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Bridget's mother is dead, presumably having committed suicide because of mental instability. Her funeral is shown briefly when the characters are introduced. Later, after Bridget gets it on with her soccer coach, she cries and wishes her mom was still alive to talk things over with.
    • This is explored a bit more in the sequel, when she visits her grandmother and has a nightmare about her mother abandoning her. Apparently there had been one last chance for them to get her to get help for her mental problems, but the only way to convince her to do so was if her mother lied that she was alright. Bridget's grandmother confessed that she was unable to lie to her daughter about it.
  • In Batman Begins, while both Bruce's parents die, he spends the rest of the movie obsessed only with whether or not his father would be proud of him. Mother is not mentioned after her death, and while she does appear on film, she's not cast as a speaking part.
  • From the western comedy Support Your Local Sheriff:
    Mayor Perkins: I wanted you to meet my daughter, Sheriff. She's a good cook, a mighty fine looking girl. Takes after her dear, departed mother.
    Jason McCullough: Mother died, huh?
    Mayor Perkins: Nope, she just departed.
  • In Letters to Juliet, Sophie's mom "left" when she was nine.
  • It is discussed in How to Train Your Dragon that Hiccup's mother passed away before the events of the movie. In the sequel, however, she turns out to be alive.
  • More like missing foster mom, but we never actually see Robert's wife in Mystery Team.
  • Polly's mother is never mentioned in the two early animated Polly Pocket movies but her absence is a plot point in "Pollyworld". Polly's father would remarry. Lorelei, Polly's stepmother-to-be, planned to send her into a boarding school out of jealousy and tricked Polly's father into thinking it'd be good for Polly. Fortunately, he saw Lorelei's true colors on time to call off the engagement.
  • Marian has been dead for years at the start of Princess of Thieves. Her absence is one of the reasons Gwyn grows up such a tomboy.
  • Kramer Vs Kramer features the rare instance of actually showing the mom leave the family. The movie's a little more evenly keeled then most films featuring Parental Abandonment as it shows the father at first being a career-obsessed yuppy who was little concerned with her needs or family life. The movie still doesn't excuse her for walking out on her son so she can have some "me" time.
  • Lilli's mother dies at her birth in Snow White: A Tale of Terror.
  • In Holiday, Linda and Julia's mother died some time after giving birth to their brother, Ned.
  • Luke Skywalker in StarWars is far more curious about his long dead (supposedly) father than his mother. Hell, he doesn't even ask about her - on screen - until the third film, and then it's only because he's getting ready to break the news to Leia that they're siblings.
  • In a World...: Lake Bell's father is either a widower or divorced; we don't hear much about her mom.
  • Dave's mother left the family two years ago in Off The Black, which has apparently crushed the spirit of David's father, and leaves David and his sister adrift.
  • Sandra Brody by the Janjira reactor breach in Godzilla (2014).

  • House of the Scorpion: Esperanza Mendoza, María and Emilia's mother. While she did have a good reason to flee Opium, it is shown that she is more interested in her political activism than she is in her own children. The death of her family members seem to be more of a inconvenience to her than a tragedy.
  • Good God, Tamora Pierce you don't let us down.
    • Tortall Universe:
      • Alanna's mum in Song of the Lioness suffered Death by Childbirth, which turned their father into an emotionally Disappeared Dad. She gets a Parental Substitute for dad, but not mom.
      • The death of Daine's mother shortly before The Immortals briefly turns her into a Wild Child and forces her to leave Galla. Much of Wild Magic is about Daine struggling with her grief. Fortunately, Sarra became a minor goddess, so they meet again in the fourth book and they can visit on certain holidays.
      • Keladry in Protector of the Small is a subversion. Her mother Ilane is alive and well and they keep up a regular correspondence while Kel is training away from home.
      • Daughter of the Lioness doesn't kill off Alanna, but Aly suffers from When You Coming Home, Dad? syndrome.
      • In Provost's Dog, Ilony Cooper writes a diary in which she knows perfectly well she has "lung rot" (probably TB) and she will die soon, several years before Beka starts her own diary.
    • Each of the four main protagonists in Circle of Magic suffers Parental Abandonment of one or both parents. In Tris' case it's emotional, since her family disowned her. Briar doesn't know who his dad was, but he's not terribly interested either since it was his mother who raised him and her murder by a thief that affected his young life the most. Daja's entire family died by shipwreck, and Sandry lost mom and dad in a smallpox plague.
  • The title character of Peter Pan is a runaway, but when he gets Wendy and her brothers to come with him to Neverland, he tries to fit Wendy into the role of the Missing Mom for the Lost Boys. This is also true in The Movie.
  • Harry Potter
    • Harry's mother Lily, who died along with his father in a pair of Heroic Sacrifices.
    • Luna's mother died when she was 9 years old. She was then raised by her father alone. "She did like to experiment, and one of her spells went badly".
    • Also, at the end of the last book, Teddy Lupin suffers from the trope when his parents die in battle.
    • And Voldemort's mother Merope, who suffered Death by Childbirth. Significantly, she could have saved herself with magic, but was apparently so distraught over her husband's abandonment that she chose to simply leave her son in an orphanage. To be fair, this was more a case of her being destitute and heartbroken and running to an orphanage as it was known as a safe place for mothers and children and then dying in childbirth than choosing to leave.
    • Hagrid's mother, a giantess, left him when he was three. Hagrid mentions her death casually, as he hardly even remembers her.
    • Neville's mother (and father) are technically still alive, but certainly the poor woman was in no condition to raise her son after having been tortured into insanity by Barty Crouch Jr. and the Lestranges.
  • In The Baby-Sitters Club, Mary Anne's mother died of cancer when she was very little. She left a letter to Mary Anne that she was to have received on her sixteenth birthday.
  • The title character of The Dresden Files lost his mother to Death by Childbirth apparently; it later emerged that she was murdered when she happened to be giving birth. He then became a full Parental Abandonment case when his father died some years later.
    • Thomas Raith's mother ran away from his father, leaving Thomas behind when he was five years old the same woman who later married Harry's father and gave birth to him as mentioned above.
  • Nancy Drew is famously being raised by her attorney father and housekeeper Hannah Gruen. Mom died when Nancy was three — presumably too young to remember her, as she's rarely mentioned and never in detail.
  • Pip in Great Expectations lost his mother and was left to be raised by his older sister and her husband.
  • In Animorphs, Marco's mom is presumed dead, and his father is torn apart by grief. Initially, Marco was reluctant to get involved in the fight against the Yeerks, knowing that his father would never recover if he died as well. Unfortunately, The Call knew where he lived, and his mother wasn't dead; she was a Controller.
  • The Vicomte De Bragelonne: Raoul de Bragelonne grew up without a mother, since he's the result of a one night stand and she left him with his dad as soon as it was convenient. (She had her reasons, but still.)
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard has a bad case of this. ( She died.) Also, his father abandoned his family when he was even younger, making his background a full blown case of Parental Abandonment.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Jon Snow is raised in his father's home as a bastard, never being told who his mother is while growing up. At least three different possible mothers have been brought up by characters in story. There's also a very popular fan theory that says it's not just his mother who's identity is unknown...
    • The death of Joanna Lannister while giving birth to her youngest son, the dwarf Tyrion. This completely wrecks the Big Screwed-Up Family's balance.
      • Daenerys' mother died giving birth to her.
  • Vlad Taltos of the Dragaera series was raised by his father and his paternal grandfather. He has no memories of his mother, has no idea how old he was when she disappeared and doesn't know if she died or left his father, because his father keeps changing stories and avoiding talking about her altogether.
  • Brutus in Conn Iggulden's Emperor series was abandoned by his mother after his father died. However they establish some form of relationship once he's an adult.
  • Elena Bothari-Jesek from Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga stories is an especially tragic case: Miles and Elena go looking for Elena's Missing Mom totally unaware of the Awful Truth that her father raped her mother. And when they finally do find her Mom she rejects Elena as an abomination and shoots her father dead.
    • Discussed in the later book A Civil Campaign. In the context of explaining why she doesn't want to marry yet, Kareen Koudelka says:
    "Why else do all the stories end when the Count's daughter gets married? Hasn't that ever struck you as a bit sinister? I mean, have you ever read a folk tale where the Princess's mother gets to do anything but die young? I've never been able to figure out if that's supposed to be a warning, or an instruction."
    • Ironically, Kareen herself is named after Emperor Gregor's Missing Mom who was killed in a palace coup when he was five.
  • The heroine in The Secret Life Of Bees has what might as well be the type specimen for the realistic fiction subtrope. Her father never speaks of her missing mom, he practically ignores her, and she assumes that mommy must have been amazing. However, Lily is also wracked with angst because according to her clearest memory of her mother, Lily accidentally shot her dead.
  • The heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird grows up with father (and brother), but her mother is dead.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien has many young-made full or half-orphans, by death or separation:
    • The Silmarillion: Fëanor's mother died when he was young; that, and his father's subsequent remarriage, seemed to have unhinged him quite a bit. When Fëanor and his sons leave the Undying Lands, his wife does not go with them, abandoning all her sons. Túrin's separation from his mother at a relatively early age didn't do him much good either. Elrond and Elros were separated from parents and raised by an enemy. In a break from Tolkien's usual love of full family histories, we have Curufin's son Celebrimbor (who made the Three Elven Rings) whose mother is never mentioned at all.
    • The Lord of the Rings: Boromir and Faramir lost their mother at a young age; Éomer and Éowyn's parents died young as well; and Frodo lost both of his parents to a boating accident. Legolas and Gimli's mothers are never mentioned.
  • In the Alisa Selezneva series by Kir Bulychev, Alisa nominally has both parents, but only her father is actually present.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Charmed Life, Cat and Gwendolen's parents are killed.
  • In Chris Roberson's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Ravens novel Dawn of War II, a Space Marine squad happens on two boys, who are searching for their mother; Sergeant Thaddeus at first thought she had abandoned them, and then realized that she could have been searching for them and been caught in the tyranid attack. When the boys realize that she is almost certainly dead, they are eager for Revenge; Thaddeus tells them to leave the fighting to the Marines, but they might be Blood Ravens one day, and they want to be, so they can fight.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Christopher, an eccentric boy, is raised by his father because his mother has died. Or so he's been told, and the fact she hadn't is a major plot point.
  • The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is a double load. Lina Mayfleet has a missing mom that died when her younger sister Poppy was born and a Disappeared Dad that died shortly after the mother. But her friend Doon Harrow has a missing mom that has no explanation whatsoever. Many fans' favorite excuse is that she died when Doon was young.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Rand's mother Kari died when he was a baby, and it is later revealed that she is not his real mother and Tam is not his real father, and his real parents are also dead. Later Perrin loses his whole family in a Trolloc attack and Elayne's mother is presumed killed by Rahvin. We also get to know in book 10 that Aviendha has lost her mother. There might be more even more examples, but considering that the series has more than a thousand named characters and the setting is quasi-medieval, this may not be a very prevalent trope in Wo T after all. Elayne's mother's death is also a major plot point.
  • Lyra, the heroine of The Golden Compass, has no mother and a mostly absent father-figure, Uncle Asriel ( actually her father). Later we find out that her mother is Mrs. Coulter, the main villain of the book.
  • John Taylor, the main character of the Nightside series of Urban Fantasy/Gothic Noir novels, was raised by his father because his mother is Lilith. His mom coming back is actually a plot that spreads over several books.
  • Rincewind claims that his mother left him before he was born.
    • The mother of Tomjon, heir to the throne of Verence I, is absent without explanation in Wyrd Sisters. The witches do make a point to recite "may she rest in peace" when she's mentioned, so presumably she died, but precisely how or when is unstated.
  • Alfie Atkins mother is never mentioned in the books. Her absence is not mentioned either. Alfie seems to have a completely normal kid's life, with friends, cousins, and a loving father. Just no mother. When Moral Guardians and other curious people wanted to know where she is, the author replied: "Maybe she's dead. Maybe the parents are divorced. Maybe she's in the laundry room. It's up to the reader."
  • In The Belgariad, Poledra let her husband Belgarath think she had died in childbirth while he was away for...some reason. Her daughters Polgara and Beldaran, and the god Aldur, knew the truth. Belgarath only found out over three thousand years later.
  • Gunilla Bergström, author of the popular Swedish Alfons Åberg books, is often asked where Alfons's mom is (Alfons appears to be living alone with his dad). Her answer is...anti-climatic: Alfons's mom is absent from the books because Bergström has never written a story that required her presence.
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Helion is a Truly Single Parent, but he emancipated a partial, Galatea, to help him raise his son. After four centuries, she divorced him and eventually descended into the sea to merge with the minds there.
  • In the books of Dale Brown Bradley McLanahan's mother Wendy McLanahan is dead because she was killed by an enemy of his parents.
  • Jane Austen's record of heroines' mothers includes:
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, both of Christine's parents are dead. However, the father is discussed in great detail and features in prominently in the flashback sequences of Raoul's and Christine's childhood; there is even a visit to his grave note  and an "I Want" Song about it in the musical. Christine's mother is never mentioned once; she has a Parental Substitute in Mama Valerius anyway, whom Raoul even refers to as her "adoptive mother."
  • In the Strange Angels series, Dru's mom is dead and she was left by her father with her grandmother who also died. Her mother was killed by the Vampire Sergej and her Grandmother died of natural causes
  • In Laura Leander, the heroine starts the series with both parents missing: her mother presumably drowned when she was five and her dad disappeared about a year ago. However, rescuing her dad is relatively straightforward, (he was "only" held captive by the Big Bad) and from then on, she fits this trope. Until she manages to rescue her mother from some realm between life and death, at the price of abandoning all her powers.
  • In Spell Fall, the heroine's mother also drowned when she was little, presumably by accident (she was blind). Actually, she was killed by Hawk and his people. Her soul lives in the giant tree, which makes it so important to stop Hawk later on. And, boy, did Hawk pay for this.
  • In Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie, the main character's mother left when she was three.
  • In Detectives in Togas, Caius' mother is dead, so his sister has to care for the household instead.
  • Chichikov's in Dead Souls.
  • In Everworld, Senna's mother dropped her off with her biological father when she was a child and disappeared (literally). It turns out she's living in Everworld-Egypt.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, all of the Prosperoes' mothers are gone. This is particularly important for Miranda, since it allows the question of who, exactly, her mother was to be open.
  • In Les Misérables, Cosette's biological father abandons her mother, Fantine, forcing Fantine into poverty and leading her to arrange for Cosette to live with an innkeeping family in the country, unaware that they force Cosette into Cinderella Circumstances. Their demands for money force Fantine into selling her hair and teeth and then finally entering into prostitution and dying from tuberculosis. Fortunately, Cosette's full Parental Abandonment doesn't last for long- she's rescued by The Hero, Jean Valjean, who raises her with great love as his own daughter and teaches her to revere her mother as a kind of angel, without traumatizing her with the sadder details of Fantine's downfall.
  • In Death: Eve's mother is missing and her fate has not been elaborated on. She appears in New York To Dallas, reveals what she is, and gets killed off. Roarke's non-biological mother has not been seen since she left.
  • Common in Brandon Sanderson's books as well. In Elantris, Raoden; in Mistborn, Elend Venture; in Warbreaker, Vivenna and Siri; and in The Stormlight Archive, Shallan, Adolin, and Renarin. There's quite a few absent moms here.
    • Alcatraz's mother too, subverted, she was there all along disguised as a social worker.
  • In White as Snow, Arpazia's mother died when she was born. In addition, Arpazia herself is such a non-presence in Coira's life that Coira thinks her real mother is dead and Arpazia is a stepmother.
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, why the harpist is setting out to search.
  • In A Brother's Price, the Whistler mothers are all in another city selling horses for all of the early events of the book, so their children have to fend for themselves. Which wouldn't be a big deal if Eldest, who's twenty-eight, and the ten elder sisters hadn't gone out, which again wouldn't have been as big a deal if Corelle hadn't taken the middle sisters to pay court to the Brindles as Heria went out patrolling their borders, leaving no one older than twelve in charge.
  • In the first novel of the Outlander Leander series, Leander makes a single passing mention of his mother in the entire book when he wishes his ears were like his father's instead of his mother's. She never makes an appearance and it isn't explained where she is, although it's made clear his father raised him. Oddly, his mention can be taken as being bitter towards his mother because he also says he likes his ears; he just wishes that he didn't get them from her.
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Draw One in the Dark, Tom's mother divorced his father and left, to marry and raise a different family. After the first year, she didn't even send Tom a birthday card. When his father calls her in vain hopes that he might find Tom there, she barely remembers him.
  • In Summers at Castle Auburn, Corie's mother hasn't been seen or heard from since Corie was a toddler. Only unlike many of the examples of this trope, Corie doesn't particularly mind and never thinks of her mother.
  • In Lightning, by Dean Koontz, Laura's mother dies giving birth to her.
  • In Bryan Miranda's The Journey to Atlantis, one of the character's mother, Stacie, died in a drowning accident.
  • In George Selden's The Genie of Sutton Place the main character's mother died when he was small and he was given a rather unorthodox upbringing by his father. After his father died as well, he was sent to live with a more straitlaced aunt.
  • First Light: Thea's mother died when she was a baby. She was raised by her aunt.
  • When Gregor's mom gets the plague in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, she spends most of the rest of the series recuperating in the Underland.
  • Sometimes done in Literature/Redwall, including with villians. Ferahgo the Assasin and Verdauga Greeneyes both have children, but no mates, and Sixclaw's wife dies in childbirth.
  • Annals Of The Western Shore
    • One of the first thing Orrec tells us in Gifts is that his mother Melle is dead. We don't find out how or why until much later.
    • Memer's mother in Voices died during a sickness about a year after giving birth to her daughter.
  • Ana's mother in The Glimpse died when she was little.

    Live Action TV 
  • Teen Wolf: Mrs. Stilinski, who died several years before the show.
  • The Brady Bunch: There was a Missing Mom in the backstory before Mike married Carol.
  • The Courtship of Eddie's Father: Eddie's mother died, hence the reason for the title.
  • Diff'rent Strokes: Another dead mother.
  • Family Affair: Another dead mother.
  • My Three Sons: Another dead mother.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: Yet another dead mother.
  • Smart Guy: Ditto with the above examples.
  • Sanford and Son: Lamont's deceased mother Elizabeth, who Fred is always claiming he's "coming to join" during his fake heart attacks.
  • Make Room For Daddy: The 1956-1957 season fits this trope, as Danny Thomas' original co-star Jean Hagen, left the show after the end of the third season and her character was McLeaned.
  • Step by Step: Frank Lambert's wife abandoned him and their three children (J.T., Al, and Brendan). Although it is implied that she is still very much alive, she disappeared to parts unknown and has no contact with her children, leaving step-mother Carol Foster to fill the void.
  • Little House on the Prairie: In the 1981-1982 season opener, where the Olesens adopt Nancy (an orphan with a severe behavior disorder), Nancy gives a sob story about being abandoned by her mother. In truth, her mother suffered from a condition today known as preecclampsia, and died while giving birth to Nancy. (Since Nancy's biological father was unknown — remember, the series is set in the 1800s, more than 100 years before the advent of DNA testing — she was sent to an orphanage.) Her unstable life and frequent moving to different orphanages resulted in her behavior problems and "missing mom" story, which she maintained for years until — of all people — series anti-hero Mrs. Olesen (her adopted mother) made her come to terms with the truth.
  • JAG: Mac's mother left when she was a kid. They eventually reunited, but it didn't go well.
  • iCarly: Carly's mother has never been mentioned; the likely choices are her completely abandoning her children (as their father has been deployed in the military since before the show started), being insane, locked up, or dead. Sam's mother is something of a psychologically absent type.
  • Heroes:
    • Hiro Nakamura's mother Ishi is absent. We find out she's dead later on, and that it completely shattered Hiro's father Kaito. Further, in the novel Saving Charlie, we find out that Kaito being devastated by Ishi's loss is why he's so emotionless and hard now. When the adult Hiro gets his memories reverted to that of his 10-year-old self, he visits his dead mother via Time Travel: Ishi turns out to have been a healer, who uses her powers to heal Hiro's memories and give him the MacGuffin.
    • Played with in the case of Claire Bennet, who had a Missing Mom and a Disappeared Dad in her backstory, but she was adopted by HRG and his wife Sandra, who love her as if she was their own. Claire now knows who they are, though, and so do any viewers who have seen all of Season 1.
  • Orphan Black: Sarah, before the events of the show started. She disappeared for a whole year and left Kira with Mrs. S.
    • Sarah and Helena's surrogate mom, until the penultimate episode of season 1.
  • Privileged: Megan and Lily's mother ran out on the family when they were little, sparking the father's alcoholism and Megan's Promotion to Parent status. History repeats itself when Shelby returns, only to con Megan's boyfriend out of quite a significant (to her if not to Will) sum of money and run off once again
  • Psych: Shawn Spencer's mother is absent, but we find out from a bitter remark on Henry's part that she left.
    • In the pilot, when Shawn sees his father for the first time in years, he makes a caustic comment about helping his mother through the divorce.
      • In the season two finale, Shawn opens Henry's front door at the very end and simply says, "Mom." So it looks like she's not so missing after all.
      • During this time we also find out that, contrary to what Shawn thought, She did actually leave them; it wasn't his dad that initiated the breakup.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Seriously averted, since all guys except of Raj have some sort of mommy issue, although different in each case. Sheldon's father is dead, Howard's left his wife and son long ago and Leonard's wasn't shown (yet). Both of Raj's parents were shown.
  • Chuck: Mama Bartowski left her husband and children for unknown reasons years before the series started. But it looks like we'll finally get to find out more about her next season. As it turns out, she's spent numerous years undercover as part of a mission to stop a dangerous arms dealer.
    • In an inversion, Sarah Walker is a missing daughter, having severed all contact with her mother after delivering an orphaned infant heiress to her care in order to protect them both from a rogue CIA agent immediately before the series began. Since Sarah appeared to have spent more time in the care of her father and grandmother growing up, it's uncertain how much contact she had with her mother prior to then and whether or not she also plays the trope straight. Five years later, Sarah reconnects with her mother and the girl raised as her half-sister after killing the rogue agent attempting to track them down.
    • No mention is made at all of Vivian Volkoff's mother, even though her very complicated daddy issues (see the entry under Disappeared Dad) play a major role in the ongoing plot of the second half of season four.
  • Pushing Daisies:
    • Ned: Missing, then back, then gone for good.
    • Chuck: seems that way, doesn't it? Or maybe not, as Aunt Lily confesses on a holistic drug trip that she's really Chuck's mother.
  • Starman: We know Jenny Hayden freaked out shortly after birthing her half-alien child and ran off, leaving the title character to Walk The Earth raising his son alone. The show's premise was built on this.
  • In Doctor Who, Clara Oswald is a rather prominent example of this trope. While she's cheery and optimistic on the surface, her introverted personality often hides the fact that she misses her mother very much, and that her mother's death had traumatised her quite a bit. It's implied that her "big kid" traits and overprotectiveness of children are her way of coping with what she perceives as Survivor Guilt. Part of the story arc of her friendship with the Eleventh Doctor focuses on her slowly starting to come to terms with her mother's passing and becoming a more self-confident and less shut-in young lady.
    • And come to think of it, what happened to Rory's mom?
  • Averted in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Yes, Maria's parents (Alan and Chrissie) are divorced because her Mum ran off with the judo instructor, and yes, Maria lives with her Dad, but Chrissie is a Drop-In Character and is only absent in one story: the same one Alan doesn't appear in.
  • Full House: yet another dead mother. The reason why Jesse (said mother's younger brother) and Joey (Danny's best friend) moved in with the Tanners was to help Danny with the three girls.
    • Jesse later gets married and Aunt Becky becomes a mother figure to the Tanner girls.
    • The sitcom the Olsen Twins were in some years after Full House, Two of a Kind, also had a rarely-mentioned dead mother, partially replaced by a recently-hired hip babysitter to take care of the (pre-)teen girly stuff professor dad obviously can't deal with. Several of their earlier movies also have a dead mother.
  • A card of narration before the first scene of the short-lived Citizenship Marriage-based sitcom I Married Dora explained that the mother had been on a plane that mysteriously vanished. This editor doesn't recall the exact phrasing, but it was pretty clear even to a child that they were hanging a lampshade on the device.
  • In the TV series of The Naked Brothers Band, the mother is dead despite the fact that The Movie (which was actually a cute indie film...) had them address the camera operator as "Mom".
  • Supernatural: The Winchester boys' mother died when Dean was four and Sam was six months old, killed by the Yellow-Eyed Demon. They have issues aplenty regarding her death and what happened to their childhood and lives because of it.
  • In the TV western Bonanza, Ben Cartwright has three sons- Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe- by three different wives, and all of the mothers died within a few years of their son's births.
  • Veronica Mars' mother ran off before the show began, when Keith lost his job as sheriff. Veronica ends up tracking her mom down and forcing her to enter rehab, and then she returns later in the season to restart her relationship with Keith...only she's still on the booze, so Veronica forces her to leave before she ruins things for Keith again.
  • In NUMB3RS, Don and Charlie's mom died a few years prior to the show. Definitely a case of adult-onset Missing Mom. Her death is mentioned repeatedly, appropriate given how recently it happened. She makes an appearance in Charlie and Alan's dreams in the season 2 episode Hotshot.
  • Hannah Montana: Miley and Jackson's mother died a while ago, prompting Miley to become upset with Robby Ray when he wants to go out with another woman.
  • Teen dramas tend to adore this, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager is no exception.
    • Ben's mom is dead before the series starts. His dad later marries an ex-prostitute. Needless to say, it takes Ben some time to warm up to her.
    • Madison's mom is dead before the series starts as well. She has a stepmom, but the two aren't particularly close due to Madison resenting how "soon" her dad remarried after mom's death. The two eventually do attempt to find some common ground.
    • Adrian's mom also applies to a certain degree. While she is alive and there for Adrian, her job as a flight attendant takes her away for long periods of time.
  • Young Dracula: Vlad and Ingrid's mother ran off with a werewolf, and Jonathon's mother left because of van Helsing's vampire obsession.
  • Babylon 5: Ivanova's mother died when she was a child. Garibaldi mentioned that it was just him and his Dad when he described his birthday tradition. Delenn's mother joined a Minbari convent when she was a child. Franklin and Sheridan's mothers were alive, but only their fathers appeared on screen. G'Kar and Londo mention significant memories of their fathers, but not their mothers.
  • Alias: Sydney's mother is gone and everyone thinks that she died in a car accident. It's later revealed that she was a deep cover Soviet agent sent to spy on Syd's American Spy father and that the car accident happened when she was being pursued by Federal Agents. And she's not dead. It gets more convoluted from there.
  • In The 10th Kingdom, this is rather masterfully pulled off. Virginia finds out her mother is alive, and is actually pretty much the person responsible for her and her father getting pulled into the plot. She already knew that her mother had left, but she didn't know that she'd wound up as a wicked step-mother in a parallel fairy-tale world. This leads to a rather realistic rant after she finds out.
  • One important motive for Shirley Holmes is to solve the mystery of her Mother's disappearance. And she does, eventually.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, Lee's mother is presumed dead when the Cylons attack. She is later shown to have been an alcoholic and bipolar, therefore having strained relationships with her sons.
    • Likewise, Kara Thrace's mother was so abusive that she once broke all of Kara's fingers by slamming her hand repeatedly in a door. She later refused to congratulate Kara's graduation, focusing on her mistakes instead. This made Kara so angry that she never went to see her mother as she was dying of lung cancer.
  • Star Trek loves this:
    • Riker has a father, but no mother.
    • Geordi's mother dies in the series, as does the mother of Alexander.
    • Jake Sisko's mother was killed by the Borg.
    • Ezri has a very bad relationship with her mother.
    • Ziyal's mother died when she was 13.
    • Kathryn Janeway appears to be raised by her father alone.
    • Nog's uncle is part of the main cast. His father regularly appears and his grandmother even appears in a couple of episodes. His mother, however, never does. Apparently, she abandoned him and his father shortly after Nog's birth having helped her father clean out Rom's finances.
    • Garak's father is introduced during the course of the show, but his mother isn't. It is once mentioned that his father had regularly told him that he wished he had killed Garak's mother before Garak was born, but her status (alive or dead) is never revealed.
    • Sisko's father appears in the show, but his mother is a complicated case. He both has a Missing Mom and he doesn't. an alien possessed a human woman long enough to ensure she married Sisko's father and gave birth to Sisko then depossessed her. The depossessed mother, having never loved Sisko's father, fled and died somewhere in Australia years before Sisko ever learned that the woman who raised him was his (deceased) step-mother not his biological mother. Then he meets the alien who was responsible for arranging his birth and she's sort of his mother as well as a result. So, that's two counts of Missing Mom for Sisko (a dead biological mother he never knew and a dead step-mother who's therefore never appeared in the show) and one case of an alien mother-by-design who actually does appear in the final series of the show.
  • LOST is famous for the characters having Daddy Issues, but there are some missing Moms to be had, too:
    • Walt's mother dies mysteriously just before the crash.
    • Locke's mother gives him up for adoption. Later, his foster mother dies.
    • Jin's mother, a prostitute, leaves him with one possible father, and only shows up to blackmail his Ojou wife Sun.
    • Sawyer's mother is killed in front of him (by his father) when he's very young.
    • Claire leaves Aaron to follow her dead father into the jungle, and intended to give him up for adoption before the plane crashed. Claire's own mother is in a coma for several years before the crash.
    • Kate's mother gives her up to the police, more than once.
    • Ben's mother dies in childbirth.
    • Shannon's mother is dead, and her stepmother cuts her off after her father dies.
  • The first two seasons of Round the Twist have this the case for the Twist kids. The circumstances of their mother dying are never mentioned in the series (then again, there likely isn't time with all the weirdness going on).
  • Willow's mom is alive, but never around. Except that one episode when she tried to burn Willow at the stake, so maybe not such a helpful influence. (To be fair, she was Brainwashed and Crazy at the time, along with most of the other adults in town.)
  • Kurt on Glee. This seems to have been quite affecting for him and his dad as his dad is quite depressed and brings her up often while Kurt at one point talks about opening all the drawers in her old room just to smell her perfume again.
  • In the pilot episode of Bones, Brennan tells Booth that her parents disappeared when she was fifteen. In the season one finale, they discover that Brennan's mother is one of the Jane Does in Limbo at the Jeffersonian.
  • The eponymous character of Sabrina the Teenage Witch is prevented from seeing her mother by witch law (her mother is mortal) and if she sees her, the mother will turn into a ball of wax. Roxie's mother is also later revealed to have been in prison for years though the two patch things up. The aunts' mother Lydia and her Parental Favoritism is also a plot point in a few episodes but she doesn't actually appear until the fourth season.
  • NCIS: We never meet or hear about Tony or Gibbs' mothers until season 7, when we found out they died. NCIS is bad about this. We know so much about Tony, Gibbs and Ziva's fathers, but where are any of their mothers?
  • The Nanny: Sara Sheffield died before the show started in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
  • In Castle, Meredith—Richard's ex-wife and Alexis' mother—lives in Los Angeles to further her acting career, meaning she's not around. Played with in that, as much as Richard and Alexis care for her, they're kind of glad she's missing—she's flighty, irresponsible (even more so than Richard), and ditzy, with the kind of obnoxiously-shallow personality that grates after a while.
  • In China Beach, KC Koloski is a missing mom for most of the time as far as her daughter Karen is concerned. There are references to a few visits in infancy, but Karen was mostly raised by a Vietnamese nanny until her mother got her onto one of the last choppers out of Saigon and sent her to the U.S. to live with KC's old friend (and former john) Boonie.
  • Two Ghostwriter team members have missing moms. Lenni's mom died when she was little and Rob only lives with his dad.
  • The main characters' mother in Charmed was drowned by a Warlock when they were very young. Prue saw her die, Phoebe was too young to remember her at all, and Paige never knew her since she was raised by Muggle Foster Parents. They meet her in the past and some episodes feature her as a Spirit Advisor, though.
  • On M*A*S*H, it's eventually established that Hawkeye's mother died when he was ten (although, in one of several continuity errors on the show, an early episode has him mention her as if she were alive).
  • Being Human ultimately subverts this in the second season, when Annie is helping out a medium with his show and her mother attends to try to communicate with her daughter's ghost. The mother later converses with Annie, with the medium speaking on Annie's behalf, and cries because she was unable to protect her daughter. An earlier episode said that Annie and her fiancé moved away at some point, so presumably Annie's mom wasn't involved in her life very much since then.
  • Power Rangers Turbo: Justin's mother died before he debuted in The Movie, and it's implied that his relationship with his father also enters When You Coming Home, Dad? and Parental Abandonment territory at times.
    • The fate, as well as the identity, of Rita Repulsa's mother are a mystery to this day.
  • Played hilariously on The Amanda Show in Moody's Point. Moody's mom disappeared in a hot air balloon, and it's presented as a case of Never Found the Body that was quite traumatizing—however, we then cut to Moody's mom several times, floating above the scenes and calling down to the other characters for help.
  • Smallville pushes this to a logical extreme. Out of all seventeen main characters over ten seasons, only three (Pete, Jason, and Whitney) definitely have their mothers around and they are all minor. Jason's is an Evil Matriarch to boot. Lois was 6 when Ella Lane passed away. Moira Sullivan was voluntarily institutionalized to protect Chloe. Lilian Luthor died when Lex was 13. Lana's parents were killed in the first meteor shower. Laura Queen died with her husband in a plane crash caused by Lionel Luthor. Jimmy never met his mother. Faora (Davis' mother) is trapped in the Phantom Zone, not that he misses her. Pamela (Tess' birth mother) died of cancer seasons before Tess was even introduced. The deaths of Lara-El and Alura-El (Kara's mother) on Krypton should also probably be mentioned. An interesting side-effect is that due to their missing moms, the three most important girls in Clark's life (Chloe, Lana and Lois) have all looked upon Martha as a mother figure.
  • Punky Brewster, anyone? Her mom abandoned her during a shopping trip and she wound up living alone with her dog Brandon in an empty apartment until she was discovered by Henry Warnimont.
  • Abed on Community is revealed to have one. Her absence for an annual Christmas event causes a mental breakdown where in he sees everything as claymation.
  • Poor Chuck Bass. The first eighteen years of his life he thought his mother died giving birth to him (something he blamed himself for, mostly because his father blamed him for it). Then a woman shows up who claims to be his mother saying she didn't want him so she gave him up and demanded he be told she was dead so he'd never try to find her. After being in his life for about a month she cons him out of his hotel and plays a part in him losing the love of his life. Whether or not she actually is his mother is never explained. Her last episode of the show hinted that she was but the writers have since refuted it on twitter.
  • George-Michael's mom in Arrested Development. It's implied (if not out and out stated) that she died of ovarian cancer.
  • Explored thoroughly in Single Father when Rita dies and the mini-series follows the lives of her children and husband in the wake of her death.
  • Home and Away has had a few:
    • Sally, Steven, Frank, Lynn and Carly were all fostered (Lynn, at least, subverts this before leaving)
    • As were Ric, Cassie and Jai.
    • Martha's main tenure was in between the two actresses who played her mother.
    • Charlie's mother died before her tenure started. Ruby was led to believe this too, until the truth came out.
    • April and Bianca's mother lives in Italy.
    • In an odd twist, some of the fan favourites are parents who outlasted their kids' stay on the show. Miles may or may not qualify, given that Rabbit was actually a ghost.
  • Samantha's mother on Whos The Boss.
  • The premise of My Two Dads.
  • Frasier Crane's mother was dead at the start of the series but had appeared on Cheers.
  • Elaine's mother on Seinfeld is never mentioned and presumably dead.
  • Carrie's mother on The King of Queens.
  • Buddy's mother/Mr. Ernst's ex-wife on Hey Dude.
  • Sean's mother on Grounded For Life.
  • Tessa from Suburgatory.
  • Yoko/Yellow Buster from Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, whose mother disappeared into the subspace thirteen years ago. Hiromu lost both parents the same way, but his arc focuses more on his father.
  • On The A-Team, Murdock's mother died when he was five (his father is never mentioned) and Face is an orphan.
  • On The Closer / Major Crimes, there's sixteen-year-old Rusty. Months before he first appears in The Closer series finale, his mother and her boyfriend dropped Rusty off at the zoo and said they'd pick him up in a couple of hours, and never came back. Eventually Captain Raydor takes Rusty in, and the police manage to track down his mother. She promises to come back if they send her money so that she can buy a bus ticket. They do, but when they go to pick her up at the bus station, she doesn't turn up.
  • When Kryten's farewell party on Red Dwarf enters the "maudlin drunk" stage, the crew start sobbing about never having had mothers...
    Rimmer: Well, you can all have mine. Everyone else did.
  • In Hey Dad..!, Martin Kelly is a widower. In the first episodes, this is sometimes mentioned; later, not so much.
  • Free Spirit: Gene, Jessie, and Robb Harper have no mother, due to their parents getting a divorce.
  • The parentage of the various members of Team Machine in Person of Interest are rarely mentioned, and when they are, it's always the father that is discussed. We know that Shaw's father died in a car accident when she was young, and Finch's father was last seen in a nursing home being treated for severe dementia back in 1981, but the whereabouts of their mothers (And everyone else's mothers, for that matter) are never mentioned.

    Multiple Media 
  • Two are known of in Noob:
    • Sparadrap can get quite talkative about his family in the webseries version, which lets us know he has a younger brother who's Ystos in-game, a father and a grandmother. The father is apparently a priest and the novels mention that the brothers were raised by their grandmother, whose surname indicates that she's indeed their paternal grandmother. The mother is simply not mentionned, but volumes are spoken about the extent of her absence when Sparadrap, being a Man Child, calls for his grandmother in moments where I Want My Mommy would be expected.
    • The woman who was Tenshirock's wife and Judge Dead's mother, whose death is heavily implied to be linked to some mental condition she had. That notably enabled the father among the two to diagnose the same condition in one of his guildmates.

  • Two out of four Beatles had this problem. John Lennon's mother more or less abandoned him when he was about five, leaving him to be raised by his aunt; they later reconnected, but when he was seventeen she was hit by a bus. Paul McCartney's mother died of cancer when he was fourteen. "Let It Be" was inspired by Paul's loss ("When I find myself in times of trouble / Mother Mary comes to me"), and "Julia" was inspired by John's (during his solo career, he also wrote "Mother" and "My Mummy's Dead").
  • Madonna's mother died when she was very young. Her song "Promise To Try" from Like A Prayer, which was played during a scene from the documentary film Truth Or Dare, is about her coming to terms with her mother's absence in her life. In the video for "Oh Father", the absence of the mother also affects the father's relationship, resulting in domestic abuse in one scene where the actor playing him roughly scolds the little girl playing the young Madonna for wearing her mother's clothes and jewelry.

  • Happens to both Trixie and Victoria in the backstory for WHO dunnit. Trixie's mother died giving birth to her, leaving her to be raised by Tex. Victoria's mother died during her youth, and she grew up in a boarding school as a result.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Based on the evidence available, certainly true for Treelo on Bear in the Big Blue House, almost certainly true for all of the other main kid characters on the show. It is never, ever talked about.
  • In Revolting People Sam Oliphant raised his three children by himself. He seems to have been rather vague as to what happened to their mother, apparently telling Joshua that she was kidnapped by razor-beaked terripins and became Queen of the Sea People. Actually, she's shacked up with a Scotswoman called Agnes.

  • In the Russian theater play An Ordinary Miracle by E. Shwartz, the mother of the heroine (who is a princess) died when said princess was "seven minutes old".
    • Same in Naked King (again the princess) and The Shadow (both the princess and Annunciata).
  • In Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (and thus, in the adaptation My Fair Lady), Elisa has no contact at all with her mother.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba's mother dies while giving birth to Elphaba's sister Nessarose. In the book the musical is based on, she STILL dies in childbirth, except it's with Elphie and Nessa's brother Shell.(He didn't make it into the stage adaptation.)
  • Shakespeare is full of missing moms: Ophelia and Laertes of Hamlet, Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia of King Lear; and Jessica of The Merchant of Venice all have fathers (Polonius, Lear, and Shylock respectively), but no mention is ever made of their mothers.
    Thy mother was a piece of virtue, and
    She said thou wast my daughter;

    Video Games 
  • Ashley's mom in Another Code disappeared ten years prior to the game's start and it's only until 2/3s of the way into the game that she finds out what happened to her. She wound up getting murdered.
  • Both played straight and inverted in Chrono Trigger: Marle's mom died when she was young. But Crono has a missing dad and nothing is mentioned of him. Both of Lucca's parents are alive and well.
  • Almost all main characters in the Fire Emblem series have mothers dead or unmentioned but fathers extant - e.g. Roy, Eirika and Ephraim, Ike, and so forth. (To be fair, their fathers don't languish long, either.)
    • Of the main characters, Ike and Mist's mother Elena actually has plot significance, including her death. She died while trying to recover Lehran's Medallion from her husband Greil, as the relic turned him into a mindless berserker that slaughtered everything that crossed his path. Elena was one of the few persons able to wield said Medallion without going nuts, but when she tried to get it from Greil, she died. By the time he learns of this, his father was already dead as well.
    • Eliwood has the distinction of being the only Fire Emblem lord whose mother, Eleanora, is alive, well, and visible. but in exchange, it's his father who dies.
    • The absence of the mothers of Roy and Lilina gets around having to decide upon a canon pairing for either his or her father Lyn, in any of these cases. Ninian or Fiora, in the case of Roy. Florina or Farina, in the case of Lilina.
    • The death of Joshua's mother is an important plot point in Eirika's path. She is Ismaire, the Queen of Jehanna, who is murdered by General Caellach when she tries to keep him from shattering the Stone of Jehanna.
    • Several cases happen in Seisen no Keifu and Thracia 776.
    • Seisen Gen 1: The wives of the bad guys aren't seen, and a good part of Lord Arvis's backstory is centered in regards to his mother Cigyun, who left him after his dad Viktor is Spurned Into Suicide...and succumbs to Death by Childbirth while giving birth to her daughter with Prince Kurth, Deirdre. And to make things worse, Deirdre becomes a Missing Mom to Seliph when she's Brainwashed and Crazy into marrying Arvis himself; Ethlyn is killed in the Yied Massacre alongside her husband Quan; and Ares's mother Grahnye dies in the brutal occupation of Lester.
    • Seisen Gen 2: If you got the girls from Gen 1 to get married and have kids, almost all of them except for Edain become Missing Moms. Ayra disappears after Belhalla and it's not clear if she still lives or not, though the Oosawa manga says she did kick the bucket; Ferry is crowned as the Queen of Silesse since Lewyn is gone and his mother Rahna is dead, but dies of illness a little before Gen 2 kicks off; Tailto is pretty much taken hostage by her family alongside Tinny and so abused by her sister-in-law that she falls victim to Death by Despair (and if she isn't married, her sister Ethnia follows the same role to her kids); Sylvia leaves her kids in an orphanage and disappears; Raquesis is at first by Nanna's side, but later she disappears in the Yied Desert when trying to visit her son Delmud, though she`s implied to be still alive; and finally Briggid is rendered amnesiac and lost after Belhalla, reappearing in Thracia as the still amnesiac Evayle. As corollary, Deirdre is revealed to have been her own son Julius, possessed by the god Loptyr.
    • Thracia 776: Aside from Leif and Nanna's mothers, we have Mareeta's mother, who fell to Death by Childbirth; Misha's mom Deet'var, who was an enemy slain by Sigurd's troops; Sara's mother, who died of grief some time after Sara's birth since Manfroy killed her husband in front of her; Saias's mother Liza, once a Magic Knight at the service of Saias's father aka the aforementioned Arvis, who died protecting him from the Loptyr sect; and, ultimately, Karin's conversation with Ced alludes to Queen Ferry's recent death.
    • In Awakening, all the first generation female characters who had children become missing mothers in the Bad Future. And there is also the Avatar's own mother, who ran away with him/her to protect her child from the Grimleal sect, but what happened to her afterwards isn't clear.
  • In the early 90's Nintendo Power comics published to promote Star Fox, it is revealed that Fox McCloud's mother Vixy was killed by a car bomb Andross had intended for his father James, only for Vixy to get in the car instead.
  • In Advance Wars, Sonja's mother is implied to have died before the events of the first game, and none of the other COs (save Sasha and Colin) mention their parents. Also, Sonja and her father Kanbei are the only COs with a parent/child relationship.
  • In the Half-Life series, Alyx Vance's mother, Azian, died during the Black Mesa Incident, and she was raised by her father, Eli. Eli was clearly devastated by his wife's death, and has a picture of her in whatever space is currently serving as his office. Alyx was very young when Azian died, but she still gets indignant when Big Bad Dr. Breen mentions her.
  • Sonia from Mega Man Star Force lost her mom due to a disease and becomes a famous celebrity to cope with her mom's death.
  • Final Fantasy X has this one is spades.
    • Rikku's mother is never mentioned outside of one unlockable scene, where it is revealed that she was killed years ago by a rampaging machina.
    • Seymour Guado, the game's Dragon (or at least The Dragon's Dragon), is parentless, and not entirely by accident. The death of his mother serves as his Freudian Excuse.
    • Tidus, lost both his parents in one swoop. When he was a child, his father became one of the disappeared variety, which caused his mother to die of grief. For years afterward he never forgave his father for it.
    • Yuna's situation is similar, if reversed. Her mother was killed by the Big Bad's monster suit, which prompted her father to go on a suicidal mission to destroy it, and thus make the world a better place for his daughter. This greatly influences Yuna, who follows in his footsteps.
  • Like X, Final Fantasy XIII is flooded with this; almost every single main character, as well as the entire villainous force, has some kind of issue with their mother.
  • Tifa Lockhart of Final Fantasy VII also has this issue. Her mother died when she was very young. So depressed she was that Tifa went on a dangerous trek to Mt. Nibel (with Cloud accompanying her) in the hopes that she would see her mother again. It didn't work.
  • Princess Zelda fits the trope, as she is never seen as having a mother. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time gave her a father, and she usually has a mother figure in the form of her nursemaid/protector Impa, but never a mother. And Link is never shown as having any parents at all (though he occasionally has other relatives).
    • Not completely true. While Link's parents are never shown, the Great Deku Tree mentions in Ocarina of Time that Link was left in Kokiri forest by his mother as she tried to escape a war that ended before the game's beginning. She promptly dies after leaving Link in the GDT's care.
    • Link also has a younger sister in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Unless she is biologically unrelated, this would imply that WW Link must have known his parents for a short while in his childhood, despite their later absence.
    • Zelda's (or rather, Tetra's) deceased mother is seen as a portrait in Wind Waker (But you can only access the room containing this portrait once, so most people miss it). She looks similar to the Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, except for donning a very short hair-cut and even darker hair.
    • This trope runs rampant in the N64 games especially. In Ocarina of Time, besides Link and Zelda, Malon and Ruto both have fathers but no mothers. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask continues the "present father absent mother" trend with the Deku princess, the baby Goron, and Pamela (from the Music Box House). This tendency's inverted with Anju: she lives and works with her mother and grandmother, but her father disappeared years before. Cremia and Romani are orphans who have to fend for themselves.
      • The baby Goron may be justified as the Gorons seem to be a One-Gender Race.
      • If you have Link talk to Talon while wearing the Gerudo mask, he'll comment that the mask resembles Malon's mother. Given that a Gossip stone says that the Gerudo warriors go elsewhere to find boyfriends (presumably for getting pregnant to carry on their civilization), fans hold the idea that Malon's mother was a Gerudo. Though if that's the case, it does raise the question of why Malon was left with her dad, instead of taken to the Gerudo Valley.
  • Kingdom Hearts is big on Invisible Parents / Parental Abandonment in general. Sora's mother gets a line from offscreen in the first game, and Riku mentions his to confirm that he'll risk never seeing them again if it means finding other worlds. Kairi is a true orphan, given that her home world was ruined and she ended up living with the mayor of Destiny Islands. It's quite likely The Heartless, Maleficent or Xehanort killed her parents (and grandmother) when they attacked Radiant Garden.
  • World of Mana 2, the hero has a Missing Mom and a Disappeared Dad She become a tree and die short after meeting the hero and his dad was dead already
  • Aside from the eponymous protagonist of Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, whose past has no details (probably on purpose), Kaya Daidouji, the game's Damsel in Distress has an established (though offscreen and dying) father and an uncle, but no mention of her mother is ever made.
  • Lloyd Irving of Tales of Symphonia's mother was turned into a monster and died long ago, killed by Kratos, who turns out to be Lloyd's birth father. It was because of the aforementioned "turned into a monster" thing, a mercy killing/protecting Lloyd from the rampaging monster.
  • In Mother 3, Hinawa, Lucas's mom, is found dead midway through the first chapter with a Drago fang through her heart.
  • Amelia Croft in the Tomb Raider: Legend arc. At the end of Underworld, Lara finds that her mom is now a zombie. And her dad was disappeared/killed by the Big Bad.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • Throughout Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser Jr. went after Mario under the belief that Princess Peach is his mother . At the end of the game, Bowser tries to tell his son something about Princess Peach, but Junior beats him to the punch: "I know, she's not really my mama." He then drops the issue and focuses on his desire to fight Mario again.
    • In Super Mario Galaxy we find out that Rosalina's mother is dead in Chapter 7 of the storybook.
  • Both of the heroes in Dark Chronicle have missing moms. Max has a major subplot about finding his mother. Monica's is simply never mentioned. Max does eventually find his mom, but since she came from another time period, she cannot stay with him and her husband Gerald.
  • Apparently, if you're going to be a mom in the Jak and Daxter series, you will at some point in your child's youth drop completely out of their life, probably through death, and will only be mentioned once in a while.
  • In Overlord II, Rose left the Witch-boy in Nordburg in order to help Florian Greenheart establish his Empire from behind the scenes, believing that the latter will at least bring some semblance order to the world. She attempted to drive her son away from evil initially from behind the scenes, but by the end accepts him as Necessarily Evil. Overall she doesn't show much love to her son, but she does have one motherly act near the end: After defeating Florian and exploding him into ooze all over, she orders him to clean it all up himself.
  • Psychonauts: Sasha Nein's mother died when he was still a baby. Being a psychic he thought it would be a good idea to read his father's mind to find out what his mother was like. Child-traumatizing ensued.
  • Mothers really don't fare well in Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na. Tatsuya and Feena lost their mothers before the events of the game (at around the same time, no less), and Jin and Natsuki's mother is off training somewhere during the events of the game.
  • Fallout 3 has them in spades:
    • The Player, Harden Simms, Amata, Angela Staley, Sarah Lyons, Brian Wilks, Sydney, Derek Pacion
    • The Player's situation is particularly interesting in that his/her mother suffered Death by Childbirth...and is never seen. (A nice trick that allows you to make your character look however you want even if they don't match the Caucasian dad: they take after their mother.)
  • In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, protagonist Matthew's mother, Jenna, is nowhere to be found. Particularly notable because she was one of the protagonists of the previous game in the series.
    • She is at least said to be in a city that the player doesn't visit. Tyrell and Karis' mothers aren't even named.
      • Karis however does make references to her parents in the plural sense, so her mother is at least implied to be present in her life even if the player doesn't know who she is.
  • The absence of Fei Fong Wong's mother in Xenogears has a significant impact on his current state, especially as she was absent long before she died due to being possessed by an entity that inflicted horrifying torture on him as a boy leading him to develop multiple personality disorder. Learning of her final act - wresting control over her own body to save his life by sacrificing hers - goes some way to healing his disorder.
  • Every single Final Fantasy playable character that somehow manages to retain one parent for the whole game always, without fail, retains the father, which means that every character in the series suffers from this if they don't fall under the broader Parental Abandonment and/or Deceased Parents Are the Best. Perhaps hardest hit is Garnet of Final Fantasy IX, who turns out to be an orphan, gets adopted, and sees her adopted mother die in front of her, thus missing twice as many moms as most Final Fantasy characters.
  • The Halloween Hack: Jeff's mom is shown in Magicant and is seen leaving Prof. Andonuts in a flashback, explaining why she's not seen in Earthbound.
  • Bella Goth of The Sims franchise was revealed to have gone missing in The Sims 2 during an alien abduction shortly after the birth of her second child, Alexander.
  • Jun Kazama of Tekken, mother of Jin Kazama. She held Ogre back from assaulting his son and then vanished, causing Jin to think that Ogre murdered her. Word of God, however, say that she's gone missing instead of officially dead. In story canon, Jin's father Kazuya Mishima returned, but Jun so far has never popped herself up, unless it's hints of her appearance or mentions or non-canon games like Tag Tournament.
  • After Soul Calibur 4, Sophitia Alexandra becomes this trope for her children Patroklos and Pyrrha. Their interpretation differed as well, Patroklos thinks Sophitia is dead, while Pyrrha thinks she's just missing.

    Visual Novels 
  • In CLANNAD, Tomoya Okazaki lost his mother when he was young, and the grief caused his father to become an alcoholic bum in the process.
    • In After Story, the main character works to keep it from repeating with Ushio after getting a wake-up-call. That's because Nagisa, Ushio's mother, died in childbirth.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, the reason no one's seen Battler in such a long time is because he left his family after his mother Asumu died six years ago. Kyrie is his stepmother. Later it turns out that Asumu isn't his biological mother at all. Learning that sends Battler into a Heroic BSOD, and Ange snaps him out of it in a Heroic Sacrifice. In EP8, it's revealed that Battler's real mother is in fact Kyrie.
  • Mia and Maya's mother, Misty Fey, in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games. Disappeared after the DL-6 incident, leaving Maya and Mia alone. She was ultimately killed in the last case of Trials & Tribulations, while trying to protect poor Maya from a trap prepared by Misty's sister, Morgan..
    • Pearl's mother, Morgan, becomes a Missing Mom after being imprisoned in the second case of Justice for All. She's also the mother of Dahlia and Iris.
      • From the same series, although their respective fathers are key characters to the plot and backstory, neither Franziska's nor Edgeworth's mothers are ever even mentioned. The fandom's explanation for this is that they're either dead or were not connected to law.
      • Kay Faraday has a similar problem. After her father is murdered she says she "went to live with her mom's family" in another town, which indicates either a death or a divorce. Someone on the writing staff had serious mom issues.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney also had this, although we didn't even know his mom was missing until it's revealed that she's Lamiroir/Thalassa Gramarye. Trucy's mother Thalassa disappeared, presumed dead, when Trucy was young. Also secretly Lamiroir! Yeah, that's not contrived at all...
    • In Dual Destinies, Jinxy's mother died when she was little, and her daughter explains how the sight of her mother's favorite flower is enough to give her courage. The final case also centers around the death of Athena's mother, Metis Cykes, who was stabbed to death when Athena was a pre-teen...and to spare Athena from being accused of killing her, Simon Blackquill went Taking the Heat for her and spent seven years in prison.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, a few characters have lost their mothers.
    • Hanako Ikezawa lost her mother in the same fire in which her father was killed and she received her scars, because Mrs. Ikezawa shielded her from the flames at the cost of her own life.
    • Shizune Hakamichi's mother does not appear in game, even when Hisao visits her home on her route, and is generally assumed to be dead.
    • In a milder case, Lilly Satou's mother lives abroad and she's mentioned, but is never seen.
  • In Dangan Ronpa, Sayaka Maizono's mother is said to have died when the chara was a kid.

    Web Animation 
  • Cub's mother in Happy Tree Friends. Some fans speculate that it is her grave Pop and Cub are visiting in "Can't Stop Coffin" (meaning that she is not affected by the Negative Continuity which keeps destroying and resurrecting the other characters in a never-ending cycle). The production team seem divided as to whether she is actually dead, or simply left Pop in disgust at his terrible parenting (ironically abandoning Cub with him).
  • In Red vs. Blue we find out Allison was this to Carolina.
  • RWBY has both Ruby's mom, Summer Rose, and Yang Xiao Long's mom.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Both Generator and Heyoka, in the Whateley Universe. Generator's mom died when she was 11, and Generator hasn't physically aged since then.
  • Played for horror in the creepypasta "My Fear of Water."
  • Cracked examines this its article "Why Every '80s Sitcom Decided to Kill Off the Mom."
  • One of the ongoing story arcs in Demo Reel is what happened to Donnie's dead mom.
  • In Worm, Taylor's mother died two and a half years before the story began because she was driving while on her cell phone.
  • In Chrono Hustle Jack grew up not knowing who either of his parents are, although he has since learned that his mother was a Greek Goddess, although he still doesn't know her identity. Also no mention is made of Mary's mother, only her father.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender could practically have its own entry!
    • Aang had Monk Gyatso as father figure (and has the spirit of Roku, plus King Bumi as current day father figures), but there was no indication of a mother in his Back Story to date.
      • During the opening of his fourth chakra in "The Guru", Aang confronts his guilt about abandoning his people a century before and there is a woman shown sitting to the right of Monk Gyatso. She doesn't look like Avatar Yengchen, so most fans who noticed it assume she is in fact Aang's mother.
    • Katara and Sokka begin with a Missing Mom, but end up as a Parental Abandonment case as their father leaves to fight the Fire Nation, leaving Gran-Gran Kanna to raise them instead.
    • Toph is a forced inversion. Her parents were both present, but emotionally and supportively absent. They were overprotective to the point of the outside world not knowing that Toph existed. And they left her caretaking to servants, so they never realized until the Avatar showed up that she was a master earthbender. Upon finding this out, seeing that their child was not only not helpless but able to hold her own against much bigger, older and seemingly stronger opponents, Mr. Bei Fong reacted by tightening the yoke of overprotectiveness. His wife did nothing but go along with it, which resulted in Toph abandoning them and running away.
    • Teo, the son of the Mad Scientist occupying the Northern Air Temple is also missing his mother, killed in the same natural disaster that left him a paraplegic.
    • Zuko and Azula are a variant on the theme, because although their mother Princess Ursa left, Azula fits the trope played straight, as Lord Ozai's favored child. Ozai disfigured and banished Zuko, leaving him to be raised by surrogate father figure Iroh.
      • Let's be fair here: Ursa didn't leave exactly, she was exiled for saving Zuko's life.
    • Jet is a straight Parental Abandonment case, and this would appear to be the case for his entire treehouse-dwelling group of freedom fighters.
    • Princess Yue of the Northern Water Tribe had a mother once: we see her in Flash Back. By the time Team Avatar arrives at the North Pole, though, she is nowhere to be found.
    • Iroh's wife, the mother of his son Lu Ten is never mentioned. But it's a safe assumption she's dead as Lu Ten's death is regarded as the end of Iroh's bloodline.
    • The sequel, The Legend of Korra, offers a new bunch of Missing Moms. Mako and Bolin's parents were killed, while Asami's mother died when she was young at the hands of Firebenders. Averted with Korra herself, though.
  • Winx Club has this: Stella's mom divorced with her father, Musa's mom was a very famous singer who died when she was a little girl (and she terribly misses her), and for Roxy, her mother is revealed to be Morgana, the Queen of Fairies. That explains how she gets her powers.
  • Jonny Quest's mother is absent, presumably dead.
    • The first TOS episode states that Jonny's mom died — from what is unknown.
    • The first of the two 90's TV movies (Jonny's Golden Quest) that preceded Real Adventures revealed that Dr. Zin killed Jonny's mom, although it has since been filed under the Canon Discontinuity heading.
      • According to comic-book side story (drawn and written by Wendy Pini of ElfQuest fame back in the mid 80s) she died of illness (presumably cancer).
      • Apparently the details of her disappearance in Jonny Quest The Real Adventures would have been dealt with in the third season. The one that never happened.
    • Whereas Jessie Bannon's mother, Jezebel Jade, is alive and well. And named Jezebel.
      • In The Real Adventures, Jessie's mom is an archeologist named Estelle who is estranged from Race.
  • Legend Of The Dragon: Played with, as the twins Ang and Ling are a Parental Abandonment case. Both parents are dead, and they end up being raised by Master Chin. It then turns out that their mother, believed dead, is alive with a case of amnesia. And finally, inverted, because the twins' father really is dead.
  • Ōban Star-Racers: Eva goes from a kid with a Missing Mom to a complete Parental Abandonment case as Don Wei abandons her to boarding school after the death of her mother. The series ends with a revert back to Missing Mom as Don Wei realizes Molly is his child and tries to do better as a father.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • An example that's pretty extreme: their Missing Mom doesn't exist. No woman necessary! Professor Utonium mixed them up out of pure phlebotinum.
    • The Rowdy Ruff Boys are the identical example. No woman necessary! Mojo Jojo, lacking Chemical X, made his phlebotinum out of...more mundane and disgusting substances. If you interpret it differently, it could be argued that their mother is Mojo Jojo. Or the toilet.
    • The Professor tried to get them a mother figure. It didn't end well.
    • An issue of the comic book had the girls excitedly discussing what kind of mommy they'd want and who'd be right for the Professor and the Prof couldn't get a word in edgewise. At the story's end, they tell the Professor to not rush at finding a mom for them.
  • Rocket Power: The first Mrs. Raymundo Rocket was finally revealed to have died in one of their telemovies very late in the run. Ray re-married, but the series ended practically immediately afterwards (as in, there was one full regular episode with the new wife as stepmom).
  • Rugrats: Chuckie's mom Melina long went unmentioned, until the Mother's Day episode, which all but said that she was an Ill Girl who died at some point when he was a months-old baby. Chuckie and his father are seen visiting her grave in a later episode; shortly after, Chuckie's dad remarried and his new wife, Kira, adopted Chuckie.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer's mother Mona left to become a political activist, and was on the run from the law until the events of the 19th-season episode "Mona Leaves-A"...which killed her off. Right after she and Homer have a fight and before Homer could apologize to her.
    • Krusty's mother is not mentioned, not even in the flashback of his boyhood in "Like Father, Like Clown". The new episode, "Clown In the Dumps", shows she died when he was a kid.
    • A few one-time children have been shown or mentioned to have fathers, but not mothers: Samantha Stanky, Allison Taylor, Shelby, Spud, and Colin.
  • In the original Transformers Generation 1 cartoon, no mention is ever made of Spike's mother.
  • Averted with Sari Sumdac of Transformers Animated. It looks at first like she has one of these, but it later turns out that she's a Half-Human Hybrid Robot Girl, part human and part Cybertronian. The human part comes from the male Isaac Sumdac, and the cybertronian part doesn't come from gender-based sexual reproduction, so no female was actually involved in her production.
    • In an official bio, it is blatantly stated the she was adopted, it is likely this is what Sumdac told everyone to explain him randomly having a baby one day.
  • Ben 10: In both the original and Alien Force shows, Ben's mother generally does not appear. In Race Against Time, the Live Action Movie, she actually appears full body. We see her hands washing dishes in Ben 10: Alien Force, but other than that, she's mostly absent.
    • We see more than her hands. We see the rest of her when she and her husband found out about Ben going alien.
  • Code Lyoko has two. Antea Hopper, Aelita's mother, was kidnapped by the "Men in Black" some time before the series timeline. Her fate remains uncertain. Sissi's mother is never seen or mentioned at all. Word of God states that she is alive, but living away from Sissi and her father.
    • Averted by Jeremie's mother. She is the only Lyoko Warrior parent who remains unseen at the end of the series, but she is mentioned just enough for us to know that she is not this trope.
  • In The Venture Bros., the mother of Hank and Dean was unknown until the second season when it was revealed that it might be Myra Brandish, Dr. Venture's former bodyguard who fell in love with him and went insane.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Gosalyn is adopted by only a father (who is Darkwing). Gosalyn has no surrogate mother because, obviously, Darkwing isn't married. As far as her actual mother, it's mentioned that her grandfather was her last living relative, so her parents died at some point before he did.
  • On Danny Phantom, everyone seems to have two parents except for Valerie, who is explicitly shown living alone with her father. Her mother's whereabouts are never mentioned.
  • In Tom and Jerry, Spike the bulldog has a son but his mate is nowhere to be seen.
  • Pretty much everyone in Defenders of the Earth — King Features' answer to the JLA that teams up Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician and his sidekick Lothar along with their children Rick, Jedda, K'Shin & Lothar Jr — suffered from this. Rick is orphaned in the very first episode when his mother, assumed to be but never named as Dale Arden, dies resisting Ming's mind probes. Though they somehow manage to rescue her essence to power the Defenders' super computer, she is never mentioned again nor are Flash or Rick ever shown interacting with the computer as though it held emotional value for them. Jedda's mother is never mentioned at all, nor is LJ's (though one might presume that the absent women were Diana and Karma, their father's respective lovers from the source comics), while K'Shin was an orphan adopted by Mandrake.
  • There's actually quite a few on The Fairly OddParents. Wanda, Chester, Wendell (Dr. Bender's son), and Trixie have no mothers onscreen despite their fathers appearing. Trixie mentioned her mother in her first appearance, but she has never appeared on screen, even when all the parents in Dimmsdale meet, leading some fans to believe this was a retcon.
  • The mother of the protagonists of Street Sharks is never seen and her absence is hardly mentioned at all. All that is known is that she gave their father a watch for his birthday, which he valued greatly (implying that she was dead).
  • Kid vs. Kat: Coop & Molly Burtonburger's Mother is never seen or heard of, it is most likely that she is dead or divorced
  • On Invader Zim, Dib and Gaz have a father, world-famous scientist Professor Membrane, but no mother is ever mentioned. Word of God says that before the show was cancelled, the creators were considering an episode where Dib finds out he is an Artificial Human, which may indicate he has no mother. Where Gaz is supposed to have come from in this scenario is unknown. The fandom seems fairly divided on the issue; some give them a mother (usually a dead Mary Sue), some make them experiments (Dib is usually said to be a clone of his father), and some try to reconcile the two theories.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, no explanation is ever given for what happened to Ferb's biological mother (or Phineas and Candace's biological father, for that matter). Their happy blended family makes this something of a non-issue, however.
  • Porky Pig had a daughter in two Looney Tunes projects: In 2003's My Generation G-G-G-Gap, he has a Bratty Teenage Daughter named Peta, and in 2006's Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, he plays the Bob Cratchett role, with a young daughter named Pricilla standing in for Tiny Tim. Neither of them has any mention of a mother.
  • Gorillaz's Murdoc Niccals was a Doorstop Baby, abandoned at his father's house. According to him; "Oddly, everyone knew who my father was, but no-one quite knew who my mother was. Although there were a lot of vivid suggestions." The most prevalent rumour is that she was an inmate at "the Belphegor Sanatorium for the sick, the needy, and the incredibly bored".
  • Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, the Hanna-Barbera father and son duo. But where is the mother of the family?
  • In The Mighty B!, Penny seems to be living alone with her dad. We've never seen Gwen's mom either, but since Gwen has five younger siblings, including one who's still an infant, one suspects that she can't be that far away.
  • Virgil's mother on Static Shock died when he was little. He tried to save her in a Time Travel episode but wasn't successful. Another episode deals with the family preparing a memorial service in her honor. We see that Virgil still has trouble dealing with her death. By the end of the episode, he seems to have come to terms with it, and we see that the entire story's narration was him telling it to her.
  • ReBoot completely ignores the mother of Dot and Enzo Matrix. Their father gets a small mention in season 2 and comes back as a self-aware null in season 4, but no mention of the mother at all. Then again, their father is the only parental figure to appear in this show, so everyone else is missing their mothers as well.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Beezy only has his father, Lucius. He's still a step up from Jimmy and Heloise, who have no parents at all.
  • Goof Troop: What happened to Mrs. Goof? Well, in the entire series only one line ever refers to her, saying that she 'is up there amongst the stars'. This strongly implies that she is dead, and since she never appears or is mentioned even in flashbacks, it likely happened when Max was very young. This would make Goofy a widower. Goofy. That's almost heartbreaking, when you think about it.
  • Nutsy from Blinky Bill happens to have a dead mother, as she reveals it in the mother's day episode.
  • Mr. Chan in The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan appears to be a single father, as no mention is ever made of the childrens' mother. Popular fan theory is that he's a widower. (Not that farfetched, actually: Charlie Chan actually is a widower in the original books.)
  • Sylvester the Cat and his son in the Robert McKimson-directed WB cartoons where Sylvester mistakes Hippety Hopper the kangaroo as a giant mouse. No mom seen, none mentioned.
  • Reggie Bullnerd from ChalkZone basically is seen with his father in the second, third, and fourth seasons. The whereabouts of his mother is still unknown. Since she's been mentioned a few times, she probably isn't too far away.
  • Jeera and Zariah from Tak and the Power of Juju just only lived with their Fat Bastard of a father.
  • Keo from Yakkity Yak only lived with his dad.
  • Regular Show only showed Mr. Mallard as Pops' father, his mom is unknown as well. Although, Skips vs. Technology showed us a flashback of what appears to be a younger version of Pops' parents.
  • On Daria, Brittany was raised by her father and stepmother, a Trophy Wife with whom she seems to have a sisterly relationship. According to a tie-in book, Brittany's mom left the family to move to Hollywood ("where people are relatively sane") shortly after the birth of Brittany's little brother Brian.
  • In Sponge Bob Square Pants, Mr. Krabs' wife and Pearl's mother is never seen but sometimes mentioned; she may either be dead or divorced. It is also possible that Mr. Krabs was never married and just adopted Pearl (which would make a lot more sense).
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters takes place at a monster boarding school, so parents don't usually make an appearance. Of the main characters, Headmaster Gromble's mother is seen (he's a Momma's Boy), and both of Oblina's parents are introduced. Krumm mentions having both parents but Horvak seems to be the only one who lives nearby (unless his mother doesn't work on the mold farm.) Ickis' father Slickis means well, but is often too busy to attend to his son's needs and Slickis' wife is never shown. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the characters have Parental Issues.
  • Lion-O and Tygra in Thunder Cats 2011 had king Claudus for a dad. Lion-O's biological mother—Tygra's adoptive mother—died giving birth to the former.
  • Speed Racer: The Next Generation: Speed and X's mother is never seen or really brought up, though the smart money is on her being Trixie.
  • In Herself The Elf, the protagonist's father is mentioned (the elf king who died recently) but nothing about her mother or whether she had one at all. Similarly, on the antagonist side we have an evil King Thorn and his daughter the wicked Creeping Ivy but no mention of a mother.
  • Arnold's mother Stella and his father Miles are missing on Hey Arnold!.
  • On American Dad!, Hayley mentions that Jeff's mother walked out on him before he was born. Stan is understandably confused.
  • Averted partially in The Spectacular Spider Man: Peter's parents are still dead, but Harry's mom is alive, unlike in most other continuities. Word Of Greg Weisman says that it just seemed odd to him for all of the ¡Three Amigos! to be from single-parent families. It might as well be in here too, since Harry's mom seems to be emotionally distant.
  • On Batman: The Brave and the Bold, aside from Batman himself, Black Canary I died rescuing people from a fire when Black Canary II was a child, asking her teammate Wildcat to take care of her daughter.
  • Julie Kane's mother (who apparently had her with Abraham Kane) is nowhere to be seen in Motorcity. Also Tennie lives with her father and her mother is absent.
  • Wildfire: Sara's mother died within one year of marriage because of a curse cast by Diabolyn. Sara and her father left Dar Shan so the curse won't reach them.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Back when Fred was believed to be Mayor Jones' son, he believed his mother passed away when he was little. Mayor Jones had a picture of some woman in an ad to further the masquerade. And then Judy Reeves (and Brad Chiles) appears . . .
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan both Ilana and Lance's mothers are absent. Unlike his Disappeared Dad, Lance's mother is never brought up. During a Whole Episode Flashback, we see a woman who might be Ilana's mother, although this is unanswered.
  • On Adventure Time, only Marceline's father and her surrogate father Simon Petrikov are ever seen, with her mother only having been mentioned in a single line of dialog. Considering that the immortality of all the others is the only reason they're even on the show, this is justified.
    • While Finn eventually met his Disappeared Dad, his mother has still only been seen in an Alternate Universe.
    • Unlike the other two, Flame Princess' mother has never even been mentioned, not even after she usurps her father's throne, and she even has older and younger siblings to further complicate matters.
  • Word of God says that on Grojband, Trina and Corey were adopted by their single father who favors them equally, and there was no mother.
  • Caleb of "W.I.T.C.H." starts the series an orphan, only for his father to reappear halfway through season 1 and his mother to turn up as the Big Bad of season 2.
  • In Jakers! The Adventures Of Piggley Winks, Ferny's mom is missing. It's eventually revealed that she's sadly passed away, although it's unknown how.
  • On Doc McStuffins, the Jack-in-the-Boxes Big Jack and Little Jack are a father-and-son team, but there's no mother.
  • On Mike the Knight - Journey to Dragon Mountain, Mike's dragon companion, Squirt, discovers both his missing mom and his Disappeared Dad, and has a baby sister hatch as well from an Egg MacGuffin.

Disappeared DadParental IssuesParental Betrayal
Mama BearThe Parent TropeMommy Issues
Lost Orphaned RoyaltyOrphaned IndexOrphanage of Fear
Miss KittyAlways FemaleMistress and Servant Boy
Fun with AcronymsOverdosed TropesTaking You with Me
Missed the CallCharacters as DeviceMission Control
Mishmash MuseumAdded Alliterative AppealMister Muffykins
Wooden RoseImageSource/Web ComicsThe Wotch

alternative title(s): Missing Mum
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