Missing Mom

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/WoodenRoseMissingMother_4718.jpg

"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. And if the Missing Mom is never mentioned, then the character likely belongs to a Single Line of Descent.

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. For the inverse, see Missing Child.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batgirl (2000): 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... at least until she's forced to kill Shiva herself. She got better.
  • 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. Original Sin later revealed that she abandoned him because she was hit with a major case of Post-Natal Depression that drove her to nearly kill him. She was so horrified of the actions that she ran away. 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. (Note that this is in addition to being an orphan; his dad's dead, his mom just isn't part of the story.)
  • In Gotham City Garage, Barbara and Kara Gordon's mother died when they were very young. Kara barely remembers her.
  • 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.
  • Rush's mom in Mallard Fillmore is this, having divorced his dad because he named their son after Rush Limbaugh behind her back.
  • 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.
  • In Violine, Violine's mom turns out to be missing and Marushka, the woman who adopted her, turns out to have lied about being her mother.
  • In Zodiac Starforce, Emma's mother is implied to be one of the casualties of the girls' battles with Cimmeria.
  • Kenton's mother in White Sand is absent, presumably having returned to the Darkside after bearing Praxton a child.

    Fairy Tales 

    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.
  • A Crown of Stars:
    • Shinji and Asuka lost their mothers when they were barely four. When Daniel tells both pilots he can bring them back and promises to do so, they agree to trust him and go with him.
    • Misato's mother passed away twenty years earlier before the beginning of the story, when she was a teenager. When she was told her mother had returned too, she demanded to go to see her right away.
    • Hikari's mother was also missing due to SEELE. When she got her back, she barely could believe it.
  • Advice and Trust:
    • After their First Kiss Shinji tells Asuka his mother died when he was four. Astonished, Asuka reveals her mother died when she was four, too.
    • Later Rei reveals to them that she grew up without a mother.
    • Hikari's mother is also missing although she felt her when she was stuck inside her Eva.
  • The Child of Love: In chapter 2 Shinji convince Misato to tell him why Asuka dreams about her mother. Misato tells him about Kyoko, her madness, her suicide… how she hang a doll she thought was Asuka together with her… and Shinji feels he can understand her at last because he also lost his mother.
  • Children of an Elder God: Shinji and Asuka's mothers died when they were little children, although Asuka was taken in by a foster mother.
  • Doing It Right This Time: Shinji and Asuka's mothers died when they were children and Rei never knew hers. After returning to the past they know what happened to them, and they try talk to them when they are inside their robots.
  • 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.
  • Evangelion 303: During a conversation Shinji reveals to Asuka that her mother died when he was a little kid and he barely remember her. Given Asuka's reaction to his history and her own backstory in the original series, her mother also may be dead.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Shinji, Asuka and Misato lost their mothers when they were kids. After a while Shinji finally gets over Yui's death. However, Asuka gets her mother back.
  • HERZ: A good number of Shinji and Asuka’s traumas are rooted in having lost their mothers when they were four. In chapter 2 Asuka notes the irony that their mothers were always with them when they piloted their Evas.
  • Higher Learning: Asuka and Shinji's mothers died when they were very young. Their teacher Kaoru also lost her mother and grandmother when he was a child, before the beginning of the history.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Shinji and Asuka lost their mothers due to contact experiments with Evangelion Units. Ten years later Shinji found out his mother was the cause of his kryptonian DNA, and Asuka found out during her stay in Paradise Island that her mother got forced to undergo that experiment.
  • The One I Love Is: In chapter 9, Asuka reveals Shinji her mother was dead. Shocked, Shinji realizes she is just like him.
  • Scar Tissue: In several scenes Shinji and Asuka argue how their mothers left them, and wonder about their motives. Both children are quite bitter about it.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka's mother dying when she was barely four is the main cause of her pain and her angry, bitter behaviour. Later she finds out Shinji's mother is dead, too.
  • 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.
  • From the Gensokyo 20XX series, we have Reimu's mother, Reiko. Aside from the sidestories, she generally didn't appear until about Life in Gensokyo Village and remained present through 20XXIII to about 20XXIV, when she died. In the sidestory, The Woman Whose Hair Smelled of Violets, Reimu mentions that, when her training was finished, her mother went away and left her to take over her duties.
  • In The Ultimate Evil, it's revealed that the mother of the eight Demon Sorcerers disappeared shortly after they reached their full powers and started their conquest of the Earth. It's merely stated that she has probably hidden herself away for the past millennium, horrified at what she birthed.
  • Why Am I Crying reveals that Diamond Tiara's mother was killed in train accident (while she was pregnant!), Scootaloo's mother walked out on her, and Apple Bloom's is implied to have died giving birth to her.
    • The former was jossed by the episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark", which shows that Diamond's mother is alive and well.
  • In The God Squad:
    • Their mother, when Luna was barely a few months old, abandoned them with their older brother Tydal, the gruff God of the Sea and God of War. Luckily, Tydal turned out to be a great father and his wife stepped in a surrogate mother. Still, they reference from time to time that they were abandoned... and they never call Tydal's wife 'mom'.
    • Cadence was also abandoned, with Celestia raising her.
  • In Thousand Shinji, the mothers of Shinji, Asuka, Rei, Touji Hikari... and all his classmates are dead. Shinji suspects that it's not a coincidence, and when he finds out that their mothers were taken from them by SEELE, he's both appalled and homicidally furious.
  • Quicken: Taylor’s mother Annette died several months before the beginning of the story. Her death comes into play when Emma wants to prove who she is to Taylor, and reminds her of their talks after Annette's death.
  • The Second Try: Shinji and Asuka lost their mothers when they were four. When they return to the past and have the chance to talk to their mothers for first time after so many years, it's a very emotional moment for them.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide:
    • Both Shinji and Asuka lost their mothers when they were barely four. In chapter 8 they bond over their loss.
    • Keiko revealed Asuka that her mother died when she was a little child.
  • In Once More with Feeling Shinji and Asuka’s mothers died when they were barely four. After going back to the past Shinji knows what really happened to his mother, but Asuka is still unaware of it.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 and live-action remake, which reveals her to be dead and still honoured in the family.
    • Brother Bear: The bear Kenai killed as revenge for killing his older brother is actually Koda's mother.
    • 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.)
    • 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.
    • Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove lacks in the parental department as well.
    • Enchanted: Morgan's mother left. We had the explanation, and it was significant. Prince Edward has a missing mom too, hence his stepmother.
    • The Fox and the Hound: Tod's mother is shot during the opening scene.
    • 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.
    • 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.)
    • 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.
    • 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 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.)
    • Meet the Robinsons: Lewis' mother left him in an orphanage. His desire to discover her drives most of the story.
    • Li Shang from Mulan has no mother.
    • See the Literature section for Peter Pan.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Penny from The Rescuers is an orphan. (Except in one of the book adaptations, where she is Medusa's daughter and pretends to be an orphan in the hope of being adopted into safety.)
    • In Sleeping Beauty while Aurora's mother survives the movie, Prince Phillip's mother is never seen nor mentioned.
    • Snow White is taken care of by her step-mother. It is unclear what happened to her parents. However a Disney storybook based on the movie hints that her parents died; her mother suffered Death by Childbirth like in the original fairy tale, and the father was poisoned by the queen.
    • 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.
  • 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 disappeared on the night of her daughter Saoirse's birth. As a result, Saoirse's father Conor has become wistful and distant and her brother Ben blames her for their mother's "death". In the end, she becomes this permanently since as a selkie, she must go across the sea with the other fairies to their homeland, though she's still able to bid her family goodbye.
  • 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 in the film. However, it has been confirmed that she left San Angel when Captain Mondragon was killed.
    • Word of God confirmed that Maria's mother divorced her father and moved to Spain.
  • Mia of Meth Head is an interesting case in which we see the missing mom without the daughter. She lost her daughter because of her drug use but she tried to keep an eye on her by watching her daughter's web site.
  • The Land Before Time: Littlefoot's mother is killed by the sharptooth. Cera's mother also mysteriously vanishes after the Great Earthshake and is neither seen or mentioned at the end of the movie or in any of the sequels.
  • 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.
  • In Adventures in Zambezia, Kai's mother was killed by Budzo, which is the main reason that his father, Tendai, doesn't want him to go to Zambezia.

    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.
  • 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 & 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 Geek Charming, Dylan's mother passed away when she was 8.
  • 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.
  • 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 a rarely portrayed instance of the mother leaving the family, wherein the mother Joanna leaves her son Billy with his father and her husband, Ted. This movie is more even-keeled than most films featuring Parental Abandonment as it shows Ted initially being a workaholic executive who didn't have much involvement with the home-life or the raising of their son while Joanna, a struggling house-wife, experiences the need to find herself and asks for a divorce. The film focuses on the re-adjustment of Ted's life, where he learns to raise Billy on his own and they develop a close father-son rapport. A year and a half later, Joanna returns to take Billy back but Ted refuses and a custody battle ensues. Joanna is awarded custody on the assumption that a child is best raised by the mother but, despite wanting Billy, she realizes that her son's true home is with Ted and decides not to take custody away from him.
  • 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 Star Wars 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).
  • In Into the Woods, by the end of the play everyone's mother is dead.
  • Neither Bill & Ted films mention the titular dudes' biological mothers. Seeing as Missy was married to Bill's dad in the first and then Ted's dad in the second, it's pretty obvious that they're either dead or simply not around.
  • Noni's father walked out on his pregnant teenage wife and Kaz's mother is not mentioned once in Beyond The Lights.
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop has this in a somewhat new direction: said missing mom was an illegal immigrant who only married the titular character long enough to gain citizenship and have a daughter before she took off.
  • Mrs. Hill in The North Avenue Irregulars.
  • In Twins, Julius and Vincent are Designer Babies who were Separated at Birth and never knew their mother. Julius was informed that his mother died in childbirth. Vincent believed his mother abandoned him. Of course they are reunited by the end.
  • In Mädchen in Uniform, Manuela's missing mother plays a pivotal part in her attraction to her female teacher, in whom she sees a surrogate mother as well as a lover.
  • Savannah's mother in Sunday School Musical died a few months before the events of the film. It's left the relationship between her and her pastor father more than a bit strained.
  • The Boy 2015 has an example in the form of Ted's mother. She left with one of the guests at the hotel.
  • Free Willy: Jesse was abandoned by his mother when he was only six, which informs much of his character and why he bonds with a six-ton whale. The first sequel reveals that she had another son as well before having the courtesy of dying and leaving his older half-brother as his only family.
  • Dear White People: Troy's father plays a large role in the film, but his mother is unmentioned and never seen.
  • Almost everyone in Pirates of the Caribbean. Elizabeth Swann was raised by a doting father; her mother is mentioned once in a throwaway line which establishes that she is dead. Will Turner's Disappeared Dad is a major plot point; his mother is mentioned once in a throwaway line which establishes that she is dead. Jack Sparrow's father is a powerful and respected pirate; his mother is shown once, as a Shrunken Head, establishing that she is dead. Angelica Teach's father is the main villain of the fourth film; her mother is mentioned once in a throwaway line which establishes that she is Latina and dead. Carina Smyth's father is Captain Hector Barbossa; her mother's name was Margaret, and she is dead. Elizabeth is the only named female character who has a child and is still alive.
  • In the Name of the King: Farmer's mother was killed in a massacre, and he became lost. Peasants took him in afterward.

    Literature 
  • 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."
  • 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 the Alisa Selezneva series by Kir Bulychev, Alisa nominally has both parents, but only her father is actually present.
  • in And I Darken, Lada and Radu's mother, Princess Vasilisa, only about fifteen when she gives birth to Lada, begs to be released back to her family, and their father Vlad disgustedly allows it, telling Lada that she has no mother but her country. Already before she left she seemed a nonentity in her children's lives, leaving their nurse to do most of the raising.
    • Mehmed, being the third son of the sultan, has a nonrelationship with his father and mother. His mother, though heavily invested in his life, is alien to him.
    Huma: And you may call me Mother.
  • 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.
  • Annals of the Western Shore
    • One of the first things 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.
  • Jane Austen's record of heroines' mothers includes:
  • 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.
  • In Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie, the main character's mother left when she was three.
  • 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.
  • 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 books of Dale Brown Bradley McLanahan's mother Wendy McLanahan is dead because she was killed by an enemy of his parents.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Charmed Life (first book of the Chrestomanci series), Cat and Gwendolen's parents are killed.
  • The City of Ember has a double load. Lina Mayfleet's mom died when her younger sister Poppy was born. But her friend Doon Harrow's mom is never mentioned in the series with no explanation whatsoever. Many fans' favorite excuse is that she died when Doon was young.
  • In Coiling Dragon, everyone is told that Linley's mother died when his brother was born. Learning the truth behind her death, and exacting his revenge, drives the story's plot for a time.
  • 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.
  • Chichikov's in Dead Souls.
  • In Detectives in Togas, Caius' mother is dead, so his sister has to care for the household instead.
  • Melodía's unnamed mother in The Dinosaur Lords died in childbirth while bearing Melodía's sister Montse, ten years before the start of the story.
  • In Discworld, the inept wizzard Rincewind claims he was so unloved as a child that his mother ran away before he was born. This may explain not only his gloomy existential pessimism, but also a life in which he has played havoc with the smooth running of time and causality. Meanwhile the not-quite-twin-brothers Lobsang Ludd and Jeremy Clockson had to deal with apparently being orphans - their mother turns out to be no less than the anthropomorphic personification of Time itself and she had no other option than to be an apparently absent parent.
    • 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.
  • Evelyn Johnson-Eaton to her son, Four in the Divergent series. In Four: A Divergent Collection, it's presented in the traditional "my kind mother is gone", but by the time of the main series, after Four discovered that Evelyn disappeared on purpose, he's much more bitter and prefers for her to stay that way. No longer so, after the events of Allegiant.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Queen: One of Trava's main goals is finding her mother.
  • In Drawing A Blank, Carlton's mother died of cancer well before the events of the book. Since then, his step-mother left the family due to emotional neglect from his father.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Earthsea:
    • Ged's mother died less than a year after he was born.
    • In the short story "Dragonfly", the title character's mother died in childbirth. She was also a dragon in human form.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • First Light: Thea's mother died when she was a baby. She was raised by her aunt.
  • 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.
  • Ana's mother in The Glimpse died when she was little.
  • 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.
  • Pip in Great Expectations lost his mother and was left to be raised by his older sister and her husband.
  • In Guild Hunter Elena's mother suicided when she was young while Raphael's had been Sleeping for centuries, at least until the third book.
  • 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 wrong."
    • 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.
  • The Heroes of Olympus: Piper McLean has no idea who her mother is — because she's actually the goddess Aphrodite, who didn't tell her father because she knew Tristan McLean wouldn't be able to handle the revelation of her identity.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Bryan Miranda's The Journey to Atlantis, one of the character's mother, Stacie, died in a drowning accident.
  • 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 Lightning, by Dean Koontz, Laura's mother dies giving birth to her.
  • In Les Misérables, Cosette's biological father abandons her mother, Fantine, forcing Fantine into poverty. Their dire circumstances lead Fantine to arrange for her daughter Cosette to live with an inn-keeping family in the country in an effort to provide Cosette with a better life, unaware that they'll force Cosette into Cinderella Circumstances. Their demands for money force Fantine into selling her hair and teeth and then, finally, entering into prostitution to pay the inn-keepers for housing her daughter. As a result, Fantine eventually dies 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 Mufaros Beautiful Daughters, Manyara and Nyasha have a father, but no mother is ever mentioned.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Good God, Tamora Pierce, you don't let us down.
    • Tortall Universe:
      • Alanna's mom 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.
  • 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.
  • Rabble Starkey Emotionally, Veronica and Gunther's mother was not around. She is eventually hospitalized for a number of months due to her mental illness.
    • In the backstory, Rabble's was raised by her grandmother since Sweet Ho, at 14, was unable to do so.
  • Sometimes done in Redwall, including with villains. Ferahgo the Assassin and Verdauga Greeneyes both have children, but no mates, and Sixclaw's wife dies in childbirth.
  • 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.
  • Brandon Sanderson: Common in many of his works.
    • Elantris: Raoden's mother is dead and rarely mentioned, serving to highlight his antagonism with his father.
    • Mistborn: Elend Venture's mother is never mentioned, though she was presumably noble. It's clear the marriage was just a political alliance of convenience, so Elend's father never shed a tear over her loss.
    • Warbreaker: Vivenna and Siri's mother is dead, which is part of the reason their father switches them in the first place. Vivenna reminds him of his wife, and he can't bring himself to send her on what he sees as a suicide mission. So he sent his youngest instead.
    • The Stormlight Archive: Shallan's mother died when she was young, while Adolin and Renarin's died approximately ten years ago. Shallan's case is complicated by the fact that Shallan herself killed her in self-defense, and then her father took the blame. Adolin and Renarin's situation appears to be more normal, but it is difficult to get an exact read because their father lost all memories of her due to a curse he accepted in grief.
    • Alcatraz Series: Alcatraz's mother is understandably absent; it's why he's in the foster care system. Subverted. She was there all along, disguised as a social worker who spent all her time telling Alcatraz he was worthless.
  • The Secret Garden: Mary's mother passed her off to the servants right after she was born to keep her quiet and out of the way, and never so much as looked at her since.
  • 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.
  • Seeker Bears:
    • Kallik's mother Nisa dies early in the first book trying to save her cubs from orcas.
    • Toklo's mother abandoned him after his sickly brother Tobi died.
  • A Taste of Honey:
    • Aqib's mother died giving birth to him. He muses on how this allows him to always imagine her as a consoling presence whenever he needs it.
    • Played With in the case of Femysade and Lucretia. Femysade leaves her family to live and study with the Ashëans in the Ashëan Enclave, so technically, they know where she is, but since she leaves when Lucretia is six years old, never returns in flesh and appears only for brief talks by hologram once in a while, she is very much absent from her daughter's life.
  • Sho Shan Y La Dama Oscura In the trilogy, if the mom was a good mother, she's probably dead or was going to die in some point of the story. If she's still alive, she's a My Beloved Smother.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jon Snow is raised in by his father Ned Stark alongside his half-siblings as Ned's illegitimate son, never being told who his mother is while growing up. At least three different possible mothers have been brought up by characters in story. The most popular theory is that Jon's mother is Lyanna Stark, the younger sister of Ned Stark (making Jon Ned's nephew) and his biological father is Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar died in battle before Jon was born while Lyanna (Ned's younger sister) died after giving birth to him and she asks Ned to make a promise to her. After this, Ned brings Jon home with him, raises and loves Jon as his own son, and protects him from the fatal wrath of the Baratheon regime by hiding his real parentage by claiming him as his own illegitimate son because King Robert Baratheon wanted anyone with Targaryen blood dead.
    • 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.
  • 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 Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, why the harpist is setting out to search.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.) To be completely accurate she left Raoul on the doorstep of the man she thought was the father but wasn't, (it's complicated). The man was understandably confused but fortunately the actual father showed up shortly thereafter and took charge of Raoul.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Vampire Academy, Janine Hathaway doesn't see much of her daughter, Rose until Frostbite, as she abandoned her to be raised in the Academy when Rose was two-years-old.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Elena Bothari-Jesek in The Warrior's Apprentice 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Jackie's unnamed mother in We Can't Rewind died in a car accident with a Drunk Driver. In a somewhat unusual treatment for this trope, his father Don admits to feeling a bit guilty for not mourning her death more, since their little six-year-old son Jackie was heartbroken over it.
  • 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.
  • 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 The Witchlands, Vivia's and Merik's mother jumped off a bridge when the latter was seven.
  • 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 Zeroes, Mob was raised by her father, who refuses to tell her anything about her mother.
  • Santa Olivia: Loup's mother dies in her childhood.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7th Heaven: Oldest daughter (of the original family) Mary has a son with her husband; then promptly abandons son and husband (much played for drama, as her parents strongly oppose to this). Induced plot point since by this time, the actress who portrayed Mary (Jessica Biel) had left the show, but the show still wanted to portray her husband and son every now and then. Subverted in the end, as the plot had her (off-screen) reconcile with her husband and even become pregnant with him again.
  • 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.
  • The Adventures of Shirley Holmes: One important motive for Shirley Holmes is to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance. And she does, eventually.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • George-Michael's mom in Arrested Development. It's implied (if not out and out stated) that she died of ovarian cancer.
  • On The A-Team, Murdock's mother died when he was five (his father is never mentioned) and Face is an orphan.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Beyond: Willa's mother died when she was still a baby.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Brady Bunch: There was a Missing Mom in the backstory before Mike married Carol.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow's mom is alive, but she's never around. Except that one episode when she tried to burn Willow at the stake, so maybe not such a helpful influence (however, at the time, she was Brainwashed and Crazy, along with most of the other adults in town, including Buffy's own mother).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Courtship of Eddie's Father: Eddie's mother died, hence the reason for the title.
  • Daredevil: Matt Murdock's father died not fixing a fight he was supposed to take a dive in, but his mom's absence is never really explained. The closest a nun comes is telling Stick that "that's a whole other story".
  • Doctor Who:
    • Rory Williams' mother is the only parent of a main companion, up to the end of series 9, never to appear in the new series. She's mentioned only once, in "The Rebel Flesh" (Rory says: "My mum's a massive fan of Dusty Springfield."), and never again, not even in the two episodes in which Rory's dad Brian guest-starred.
    • 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.
  • Faking It: Lauren's mom apparently died sometime in the past, since she mentions enjoying Christmas partly due to fond memories of spending the holiday together with her.
  • Frasier Crane's mother was dead at the start of the series but had appeared on Cheers.
  • Free Spirit: Gene, Jessie, and Robb Harper have no mother, due to their parents getting a divorce.
  • 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.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jon Snow grew up as the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, never knowing who his mother is or if she is even alive. Ned promises Jon they will talk about his mother some day when they reunite, but they never see each other again as Ned is executed before they are able to reunite. When King Robert Baratheon pushes Ned for the identity of Jon's mother, Ned claims she is a woman called "Wylla." However, Stannis Baratheon is quite skeptical that Jon Snow was the result of a one-night stand, noting that it wasn't Ned Stark's style. In season 6, it's revealed that Jon's mother is Ned's sister, Lyanna Stark, who died after giving birth to him and passing her infant son into the care of her brother. Ned claimed his nephew Jon as his own son and had to hide Jon's mother's true identity to protect Jon from Robert Baratheon as Robert would kill Jon if he knew Jon's true parentage.
    • Tyrion Lannister's mother died giving birth to him, causing his father and sister to resent him.
    • Similar to Tyrion, Daenerys was raised by her brother because her mother died giving birth to her.
    • Lyanna Stark's mother is nowhere to be seen in the flashbacks.
  • Two Ghostwriter team members have missing moms. Lenni's mom died when she was little and Rob only lives with his dad.
  • 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.
  • Gossip Girl: 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.
  • Sean's mother on Grounded for Life.
  • 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.
  • 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. For the first 18 months of her life, Claire was raised by her Missing Mom, Meredith Gordon, until a fire happened. As a result, Nathan Petrelli, Claire's Disappeared Dad, and Meredith, Claire's Missing Mom, were told their baby daughter perished in this fire and they believed Claire died. However, her father's parents, Angela and Arthur Petrelli, knew she survived the fire and let Nathan and Meredith believe their daughter died. Angela and Arthur made arrangements for their granddaughter to be adopted by an agent in their company, Noah Bennet. Claire was lovingly raised by her adoptive parents, Noah and Sandra Bannet, and she reconnected with her birth parents, Nathan and Meredith, ultimately resulting in Claire having two fathers and two mothers.
  • In Hey Dad..!, Martin Kelly is a widower. In the first episodes, this is sometimes mentioned; later, not so much.
  • Buddy's mother/Mr. Ernst's ex-wife on Hey Dude!.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • JAG: Mac's mother left when she was a kid. They eventually reunited, but it didn't go well.
  • Carrie's mother on The King of Queens.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Darken Rahl's mother never appears, though his father mentioned "the queen" one time in a flashback. It isn't clear if she died prior to the events of the series.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Make Room For Daddy: The 1956-1957 season fits this trope, as Danny Thomas' original costar Jean Hagen left the show after the end of the third season and her character was McLeaned.
  • 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).
  • The premise of My Two Dads.
  • This is a Discussed Trope in Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the episode featuring Eegah!. Crow and Tom are confused as to why the main heroine only has a father and Joel explains that, back during the time the movie was made, divorce was a taboo topic still, so to allow a father to be a swinging bachelor and still dispense wisdom for the younger characters, this trope was used.
  • 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".
  • The Nanny: Sara Sheffield died before the show started in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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 she is revealed in the the penultimate episode of season 1.
  • 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's body died of Alzheimer's in 1981 (Finch considers his father's mind to have succumbed to the disease several years earlier), but the whereabouts of their mothers (And everyone else's mothers, for that matter) are never mentioned.
  • Power Rangers
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pushing Daisies:
    • Ned: Missing, then back, then gone for good.
    • Chuck: Missing...it 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.
  • 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.
  • The Rifleman: Mark's mother and Lucas' wife died due to disease leaving Lucas to care for his son alone. It comes up frequently in the various episodes whether from Lucas reminiscing, Mark asking a question, or another character bringing it up in someway.
  • The first two seasons of Round the Twist has this apply to 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).
  • 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.
  • Sanford and Son: Lamont's deceased mother Elizabeth, who Fred is always claiming he's "coming to join" during his fake heart attacks.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Elaine's mother on Seinfeld is never mentioned and presumably dead.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tessa from Suburgatory.
  • 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.
  • Teen Wolf: Mrs. Stilinski, who died several years before the show.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Samantha's mother on Who's the Boss?.
  • Young Dracula: Vlad and Ingrid's mother ran off with a werewolf, and Jonathon's mother left because of van Helsing's vampire obsession.

    Music 
  • 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.
  • Sufjan Stevens was a baby when his mother Carrie, who struggled with mental illness and substance abuse problems, walked out on the family. He spent a few summers with her and her second husband, but after that marriage also dissolved, she was rarely in contact and her whereabouts were often unknown. He has quite a few songs, notably "Romulus" and most of the album Carrie & Lowell, that center around her and the pain caused by her absence.

    Pinballs 
  • 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. Bear seems to be raising them all and in one episode remembers taking care of Treelo when he was a baby. It is never, ever talked about, though.
  • Parodied by The Muppet Show: Gonzo says that he was born two years after his mother died. No word on whether this is Bizarre Alien Biology or Blatant Lies.

    Radio 
  • 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.

    Theater 
  • 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;
  • In the musical Violet, the title character's mother died when she was young.
  • In the musical version of The Light Princess, Althea, the eponymous princess, and her love interest, Prince Digby, both lose their mothers when they are children. Their very opposite reactions to their grief are what cause most of the conflict in the show.

    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.
  • 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 the girls from Gen 1 got married and had 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 killed...by her own son Julius, possessed by the god Loptyr.
    • Thracia 776: Aside from Leif and Nanna's mothers, there's 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 Fates, many characters have missing moms. To be specific, the Avatar's mother Mikoto was seen as the ruling Queen of Hoshido but died protecting him/her as early as Chapter 5, causing his/her draconic powers to awaken. It's later revealed that the rest of the Hoshido siblings are born from the previous Queen, making the Avatar Mikoto's only child, though she was their Parental Substitute and mother figure. In the case of the Nohr siblings, they each have separate mothers who died fighting over Garon (save for Xander's mother Queen Katerina, who died when he was a little boy), making them half-siblings. Azura's own mother, Lady Arete, became Garon's second Queen but died defending the kingdom and was resurrected to serve Anankos in the third route.
  • 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.
    • Additionally, Aerith and her mother Ifalna were experimented on for years, and Ifalna was so physically weakened that when the two managed to escape, Ifalna collapsed and barely managed to entrust her to Elmyra before dying.
  • 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.
      • Possible question answer: Malon looks like a Hylian, not a Gerudo, so she'd likely be ostracized for looking like old enemies/frequent victims... and leaving Malon behind with her father to grow up in a farm instead of being taken to the tribe so she'd be raised to be a desert bandit is probably the most responsible and sensible thing Malon's mother could do that wouldn't invite retaliation from the tribe if she tried leaving the Gerudo behind for the sake of her family instead.
    • This plays into the plot, albeit in a very minor way, in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In Zelda's journal in Hyrule Castle, one of the entries talks about her mother, who suddenly passed away when she was a very young girl. This deprived Zelda of not only her parent, but her teacher, as the queen was able to use the royal blood's divine power and was to instruct Zelda how to awaken it. In a way, her death is one of the biggest reasons that Zelda failed to awaken it in time and it lead to the destruction of the world.
  • 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 mother, is found dead midway through the first chapter with a Drago fang through her heart. The rest of the game following this point chronicles Lucas's adolescence as he tries to come to terms with the loss of his Mother and move on from his grief over her death.
  • 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.
  • In a variation, Sagani, your boreal dwarf party member in Pillars of Eternity, is the Missing Mom to her three children. It's part of her people's traditions that the women are the hunters, and so those women that have had children draw straws to go looking for the reincarnations of their village elders. Sagani drew the short straw, has now been away from home on her quest for five years, and complains that her youngest probably won't even know her by the time she gets home.
  • Jeera and Zariah from Tak and the Power of Juju just only lived with their Fat Bastard of a father.
  • Edna, the main character of Edna & Harvey: The Breakout doesn’t seem to have a mother, a fact that is important to the plot but never brought up or explained.
  • Leah's mother Adria in Diablo III is mentioned to have died when Leah was very young, only for her to turn up alive in Act II hell-bent on getting her hands on the Black Soulstone and trapping the last two Lords of Hell in it. Unfortunately, the truth about Adria is much more horrible than Leah could ever imagine — she had Leah with the Dark Wanderer for the sole purpose of using her as a vessel to bring about her master Diablo's rebirth as the Prime Evil, which she does in by far the cruelest betrayal in the entire series.

    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 B.S.O.D., 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, Jinxie'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.
  • In Asagao Academy Normal Boots Club, Hana's mother died when she was eight. This deeply affected her father and the family's finances.

    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:  Yang's biological mother, Raven Branwen, disappeared shortly after Yang was born.  Summer Rose stepped in to help Yang's father, adopting Yang as her own and eventually having another daughter, Ruby.  Then Summer disappeared as well when Ruby was a toddler.  While Summer is presumed dead, Raven is very much alive, but doesn't care enough to return.  Her brother, Qrow (who is a much larger presence in the girls' lives) says she has an odd morality.  He later confronts Raven that she doesn't seem to care in the slightest what her daughter is going through.  Raven retorts that she saved Yang's life once; that's more than she'd give most people.

    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 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.
  • 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 mentioned, but volumes are spoken about the extent of her absence when Sparadrap, being a Manchild, 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.
  • Four of the eight main characters in Critical Role lost their mothers at some point in their backstories: Scanlan's mother was killed by goblins when he was young, Vex and Vax's mom died in a dragon attack, and Keyleth's mother vanished while on her druidic quest. In addition, there's been no mention made of Grog's mother, Pike seems to have been raised by her grandfather, and Percy's entire family was murdered several years before he joined the party. Even Trinket lost his mother to poachers before being adopted by Vex. Really, the only member of Vox Machina who doesn't fit this trope to some degree is Tiberius.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • On Adventure Time, only Marceline's father and her surrogate father Simon Petrikov are ever seen, with her mother only having appeared in a flashback in the "Stakes" arc. 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.
  • 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.)
  • On American Dad!, Hayley mentions that Jeff's mother walked out on him before he was born. Stan is understandably confused.
  • In Arthur, Archie Vanderloo is a single father to twins Ansel and Angie. It is never stated what happened to their mother.
  • Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, the Hanna-Barbera father and son duo. But where is the mother of the family?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The 2006 revival of Biker Mice from Mars reveals in the three-part episode "Once Upon a Time on Earth" that Stoker has a daughter named Spitfire, but her mother is nowhere to be seen and isn't even mentioned.
  • Nutsy from Blinky Bill happens to have a dead mother, as she reveals it in the Mother's Day episode.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • Bob's mother was not mentioned at all until the seventh season, when it is revealed that she died when Bob was very young.
    • Also, Jimmy Pesto is a single father.
  • 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.
  • In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Gadget's Disappeared Dad is stated to be "lost" and "never coming back", possibly implying death. Her mother, on the other hand, is never mentioned.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • On Doc McStuffins, the Jack-in-the-Boxes Big Jack and Little Jack are a father-and-son team, but there's no mother.
  • Doug:
    • Patti Mayonnaise's mother is revealed to have died in a car accident when Patti was nine. (This is also the reason why Patti's father is in a wheelchair.) Patti visits her mother's grave in one episode. At the end of the series, her father gets married a second time, to Ms. Krystal.
    • Willy White's mom has also never been shown in the series, but since his dad (who was the mayor of Bluffington for most of the Nickelodeon series) has mentioned her in various episodes, she's not too far away.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • In the first episode ("Don't Give Up The Ship"), Huey, Dewey and Louie's guardianship is passed from their Uncle Donald to their Great Uncle Scrooge. Their mother and father aren't mentioned.
    • In the third episode, ("Three Ducks of the Condor"), Mrs. Beakley and her granddaughter Webbigail Vandequack are introduced. It's never explained what happened to Webby's mother and father.
  • DuckTales (2017): Della Duck, Donald Duck's twin sister and the mother of Huey, Dewey and Louie, disappeared shortly after the triplets' birth, leaving Donald to raise them. What exactly happened to her is unknown, and it's one of the driving plot elements of the series.
  • 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. Wanda's mom was also mentioned in "Blondas Have More Fun".
  • The Future Is Wild animated series. It was suspected by fans that C.G.'s mother died, leaving her husband to look after their Daughter by himself, before C.G. left for her mission and meet Ethan, Emily, Luis and Squibby, though how she died is up to interpretations. In anyway, how C.G.'s mother died might explain why C.G.'s father is overprotective and strict of his Daughter.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Goof Troop never justifies the absence Max Goof's mother. She is simply absent without explanation. (Most fans believe that she is dead, but the oft-cited quote "up there amongst the stars" is spurious.)
  • 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".
  • Gravity Falls: Wendy Corduroy is the oldest of four children, and while we see her father Manly Dan often enough, her mother has never appeared. Word of God is she's dead.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Jonny Quest. Jonny's mother is absent because she's dead. Hadji's mother isn't mentioned at all.
    • 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.
  • On KaBlam!, June's dad has appeared in one episode and one of the tie-in comics in Nickelodeon Magazine, however there was never an appearance or mention of her mother.
  • Kid vs. Kat: Coop & Molly Burtonburger's Mother is never seen or heard of. What happened to her is unknown.
  • 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.
  • The Lion Guard: Beshte's mother never shows up, nor is she mentioned, even in the episodes featuring Beshte's dad.
  • In Littlest Pet Shop (2012), Blythe's mother is never seen and isn't even talked about before the fourth season. Had the show been renewed for a fifth, it would've delved more into what happened to her.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • 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 Cratchit role, with a young daughter named Pricilla standing in for Tiny Tim. Though Petunia Pig is a safe assumption to be the mother, she is not seen or mentioned in either cartoon. Contrast with 1979's Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol, where Petunia does portray Porky/Bob Cratchit's wife, but doesn't have any speaking lines (and Tiny Tim is played by Tweety.)
    • Sylvester the Cat and his son star in the Robert McKimson-directed cartoons where Sylvester mistakes Hippety Hopper the kangaroo as a giant mouse. No mom seen, none mentioned.
  • In Martha Speaks, Carolina's mother is absent without explanation.
  • 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.
  • In Mike, Lu & Og, Lu's father Wendel is a major recurring character, but her mother is never seen or mentioned.
  • 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.
  • Literally in Miraculous Ladybug: Adrien's mother disappeared about a year before the series begins, with no explanation. He also says that his father, Gabriel, was a "different man" before she vanished, while now the two have a very strained relationship. The question of what happened to her is implied to plot important, especially since she seems to have a connection to the Peacock Miraculous.
    • Chloe is a spoiled daddy's girl, but her mom has never been mentioned. Sabrina too, for that matter.
  • Moonbeam City: Both Pizzaz and Chrysalis are missing their mothers. As is Dazzle (maybe). Chrysalis' father, Blade, implies that his wife is dead with, "Your mother would be so proud", while Pizzaz's mother is simply not seen or mentioned in any way by anyone in her family, even regarding Pizzaz's upbringing or her father's impending death.
    • Dazzle states directly to Chrysalis that his mother died when he was a child, but knowing Dazzle's love of false embellishment, it's possible that he was only saying it for self-absorbed dramatic purpose.
    • Also, given that Chrysalis' father, Blade, is himself a Cloud Cuckoolander, her mother might still be around. Though Chrysalis fails to disagree with his implication, so she may actually be gone.
  • 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.
  • Oban 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 title character of the Jamal the Funny Frog shorts from Oh Yeah! Cartoons has a father and a younger sister, but no mother.
  • Pelswick has a single father who is occasionally shown dating. There is no mention of what happened to the mother.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Regular Show only showed Mr. Maellard 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.
  • 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 Melinda 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.
  • 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 . . .
  • 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 episode "Walking Big And Tall" implies that 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • It's later confirmed that yes, Trixie IS the mother. She also turns out to be the Big Bad. Have fun with that one, Speed/Trixie shippers...
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, 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).
  • 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.
  • On Steven Universe, Steven's mother, Rose Quartz, suffered a supernaturally Death by Childbirth, giving up her physical form to bring him into the world. She comes up enough to count as a Posthumous Character. Both the Fryman and Pizza families seem to have a single father with no mother mentioned except for a Deleted Scene mentioning Mrs. Fryman.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Lion-O and Tygra in ThunderCats (2011) had king Claudus for a dad. Lion-O's biological mother—Tygra's adoptive mother—died giving birth to the former.
  • In Timothy Goes to School, Claude and the Franks appear not to have mothers.
  • In Tom and Jerry, Spike the bulldog has a son but his mate is nowhere to be seen.
  • 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.
  • 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...turns out not so.
    • Hell their father ,Rusty's, isn't even mentioned at all. Although you can argue that like Johnny Quest she died at a young age.
  • The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald character Franklin's father is a scientist named Dr. Quizzical, but absolutely no mention is made of his mother.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Xiaolin Showdown, Kimiko's father appears, but her mother was never seen or mentioned and it's unknown what happened to her. There's also Omi, who is an orphan.
  • Keo from Yakkity Yak only lived with his dad.


Alternative Title(s): Missing Mum

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MissingMom