You probably know her. You might even be her, especially if you have a son. Mothers who are a bit too... controlling. Often (but certainly not always), they are the mothers of sons, and for whatever reasons can have a bit of trouble cutting the apron strings; as a result, no matter how old the boy (or, for added humor value, man) is, he'll be mothered relentlessly, his mother absolutely smothering him with parental affection... and authority. Using either carrot or stick (sometimes both), his mother will go to any lengths to make sure that, whether he wants to or not, he's not going to be leaving his mother's embrace any time soon. Any attempts on his part will usually result in a passive-aggressive guilt trip for trying to break away and do his own thing. Her poor son, as a result of such domination and badgering, usually ends up a Momma's Boy. For some reason, a lot of these mothers are Jewish. (Although they are also oftentimes Catholic, serving double-duty as a conduit for Catholic Guilt.)
The family where the Beloved Smother lives usually features a Disappeared Dad. The Smother may be a single mother, or the father is a Henpecked Husband; either way, he takes no independent part in raising the child, passing all control to her. The child has no siblings and more often than not is late-born. Bonus points if the Beloved Smother has had trouble getting pregnant or if the child itself has or had some illness to protect from and take care of.
The greatest threat however, as perceived by the Smother, lies in the opposite sex. To a son, she will constantly preach that all women are Gold Diggers who are plotting towards a Divorce Assets Conflict, to a daughter - that All Men Are Perverts who will leave her barefoot and pregnant, literally. Any Love Interest that her son may attract will be immediately regarded as a rival for the son's love by the Beloved Smother, and the woman will be belittled, harassed and spied-on to varying degrees of obsession. (Hell, the Smother might actually have been through it herself.) If her son happens to break free and marry the woman he loves, then that unfortunate woman will find herself coping with the Mother-In-Law From Hell, who will be hyper-critical, dismissive and condemning of everything she does to the point where it may even break the marriage apart if her son doesn't do something to curtail his mother's interference.
In the most favorable depiction, the Beloved Smother genuinely does love her son and wants him to be happy; she just has a little bit of trouble letting him go, and her plot arc usually revolves around the gradual realization that he's his own man and that she needs to cut the apron strings for his own good (and, usually, hers as well), and that his moving away from her doesn't equal that he doesn't love her in return. At worst, she's a Control FreakEvil Matriarch who will stop at nothing — not even murder — to make sure that Mommy's Little Angel remains with her at all costs. For added Squick value, Mommy and Son may be a bit too close in the wrong kinds of ways...
It is rarer for daughters in fiction to have trouble with the Smother, but not unheard of; if the girl is unlucky enough to have a Smother, then things will be much the same (although rather than actively preventing their children from having a life outside of her, a Smother who has a daughter will usually instead start badgering her about why they aren't married and providing her with grandchildren on a constant basis). With daughters, however, the dominance may sometimes have an edge of competition as well, as they tend to view their own daughters as rivals. Smothers of daughters are often ex-Alpha Bitches or cheerleaders who tend to bully and harass their daughters into following their footsteps as a way of living their past glories through their children.
Like most tropes, it's a Truth in Television; Psychiatrist Carl Jung identified this archetype as the Terrible Mother, an over-nurturer who, in smothering her child, ends up stifling them to the point of hampering individuation and personal growth.
When a queen is acting as regent, she often will smother the young king as well, and expect to control the king after he comes of age.
If she actually succeeds in taking control of her children, those characters will end up with Mommy Issues.
May double up with Safety Worst. May overlap with Meddling Parents and Education Mama.
Compare/contrast Overprotective Dad and Fantasy-Forbidding Father. If it's a more action-based series where the offspring being "smothered" is in trouble and the Smother is an Action Mom, see Mama Bear. If the mom was a child star and pushes her kid into stardom, she's a Stage Mom. May lead to Calling the Old Women Out.
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A recent commercial for Taco Bell features a guy who's life is run at least in part by his mother. She is shown to be intrusive in a couple places and makes a lot of suggestions. She also seems to only be able to communicate in run-off sentences. At the end, you discover that the commercial is an advertisement for Taco Bell's "Smother Burrito".
Anime & Manga
By contrast to Patrick Zala, Ezaria Joule from Gundam SEED is this to her son Yzak. Ironically, despite the fact she has similiar beliefs to Patrick, this actually humanizes her, mostly because she does care about her flesh and blood beyond a means to her projected ends.
One Slayers OVA is based around Lina and Naga being hired by a rich, horrifically controlling noblewoman to help her son Jeffrey become a knight. Jeffrey has delusions of being a Knight in Shining Armor, but is immensely sickly and kind of a dip. Insult him, however, and his (masked) mother will crush you with a giant hammer. While yelling about how you dared insult her boy. Ultimately, Jeffrey confronts a local Evil Overlord... his long-lost father, who just couldn't put up with that woman anymore.
Kyo Sohma's mother counts, too, in an even less healthy way. She basically kept him indoors 90% of his life, claiming it was "because he was so cute she didn't want anybody else to see him," constantly checked to make sure the beads that keep him from transforming were still in place, and in general kept up a very forced display of motherly love towards him. This only compounded his issues later on since he could tell even as a child that she was faking and in actuality was terrified of him. Thankfully he got over it.
Later, it's implied that Kyo's mother did genuinely love him, but she only managed to express it through overprotecting him. For worse, she also was mentally/emotionally unstable (and it's all but spelled out that Kyo's Jerk Ass dad was to blame for it), and thus she ended up Driven to Suicide.
In Spirited Away, Yubaba keeps her baby sheltered in a room, telling him he must never leave because of germs, and relentlessly indulges him, producing a Spoiled Brat. When he is transformed into a mouse and his mother does not recognize him, he goes with Chihiro, becoming her friend; on their return, he shows his mother that he can stand on his own and demands that she be nice to Chihiro.
RahXephon: Maya Kamina is well-intentioned but extremely smothering of her son Ayato. Or better said, her nephew, since Ayato's biological mom is her twin sister Quon.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Yui, in a benign sense - it's pretty much a given that if Yui shows up in any NGE work as an actual character (games, fanfic, Episode 26), it's abundantly clear that she wears the pants in the Ikari household and Gendō and Shinji simply follow her lead.
Skip Beat!: A major character's mother is very overprotective to the point that Kuon, as he was called by birth, runs away to Japan and becomes Ren Tsuruga to escape her influence.
Cite this, please? While both parents tended to dote, his father is the especially intense one, and the move to Japan had nothing to do with his mother at all. Pretty much every related issue, in fact, had something to do with his father, even if it was only being part-Japanese. Only his slightly-disordered eating relates to his mother so far; she couldn't cook and made him eat it anyway.
Chi-Chi in Dragon Ball Z ends up as this to Gohan. She mellows out with Goten.
Used many times by cartoonist Will Eisner, to the highest degree imaginable in the story "Mortal Combat" in his graphic novel "Invisible People".
Chas's very domineering (and supernaturally charged) bed-ridden mother in Hellblazer. It's implied that she killed her husband, and Chas is only free of her domination after John kills her familiar. Naturally, his own wife is just as controlling, albeit ambulatory, neater in dress and habit, and a Muggle.
Flash Forward's mother in Doom Patrol. It's telling that he, an irreverent braggart and smart alec, is immediately cowed when he realizes his mom has his phone number. She also corrects his grammar over the phone.
The Batman villain Hush's mother was like this, in addition to having a drunken and abusive father. When, as a child, he tried to kill them by cutting their brakes, his mother not only survived, but the incident made her even more clinging and controlling, demanding her son's constant presence. When he heard Bruce Wayne's parents were killed and he wouldn't have to deal with that, his main thought was "That lucky bastard.".
The title character in Mel Lazarus' Momma could be the poster child mother for this trope.
Jeremy's mom in Zits sometimes these exhibits these tendencies, although whether this is actually how she is or merely how he sees her is typically open to question.
Almost every mother that appears at length in Bloom County fits this trope: Bobbi's mother, Steve's mother, Lola's mother, Opus' mother... (In fact, Opus' mother issues are so severe that one series of strips depicted his imaginary feminine ideal as the embodiment of this trope.)
Grossout's mother from Scare Tactics was definitely one of these.
"Mummy's Boy" was a strip that ran in the British comic Monster Fun (and later Buster). The title character was forced to wear a bonnet and baby clothes and was pushed around in a pram by his overbearing mother, even though he was almost a teenager. Everything Boy wanted to do was "too dangerous", or "for bigger boys". The latest gadgets and games he yearned for were "too sharp" or "too difficult" for him - he was hopelessly swaddled.
Queen Elinor in Brave falls into this at times while wanting the best for her daughter Merida. Merida however does not appreciate that her mother "is in charge of every single day of her life."
Film — Live-action
Arguably, Violet's mother in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). Mother and daughter dress alike (Violet, thankfully, does not wear Mom's slathered-on makeup), and Mom is constantly pushing Violet to compete. That said, Violet seems to enjoy it.
The mom from A Christmas Story. Especially with the younger kid. She wraps him in so many layers for the walk to school, he can't put his arms down. Even his freak out fear-crying doesn't faze her. Plus, the tolerance of his bizarre eating habits. Ralphie gets the smothering too, but to a lesser extent ("You'll shoot your eye out!").
Though she only appears in one scene, Max's mother in Collateral had full control over her son despite being confined to a wheel chair. Memorably, she chastises him for bringing her flowers, only to do an about face when he tells her the flowers are from his "friend" Vincent.
Jack Spade's mother in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, who insists that he put on a sweater before he goes out and fights against men twice her size to protect him. When he goes up against Mr. Big, she shows up with a shotgun to join in. Her son eventually breaks free by locking her in a closet until the fight's over — which pisses her off no end.
Black Queen: You mean, let her choose her own food... her own clothes, make her own decisions. Love her, don't try to possess her?
Helena: That's exactly what I mean
Black Queen:(beat) Absolutely out of the question.
Monster-in-Law pits a Beloved Smother against the woman her son is engaged to. However she gets better after her assistant points out both that she is far worse than her own mother-in-law and that her actions (to make her son happy) are unwarrented: he IS happy.
In Oedipus Wrecks, Woody Allen's segment from the 1989 anthology film New York Stories, Allen's character has one of these. When the mother "permanently" disappears as part of a magic show, he thinks his troubles are over... until she reappears as a giant disembodied head in the New York sky and starts bossing him around for the entire city to hear.
In Now, Voyager, Charlotte Vale's mother is a particularly nasty version of this trope, controlling her daughter and keeping her from being independent through emotional abuse.
The mother of John Candy's policeman character in Only The Lonely, right up to the guilt trips and the relentless tormenting of the son's shy, withdrawn Love Interest. Many of the guilt trips even occurred within her own son's imagination, as he'd guilt-trip himself with vivid fantasies of all the horrible things that might happen to her without him around (inevitably ending with a close-up of her ironically wishing him a good time with whatever he was doing at that moment).
The film, Marty starring Ernest Borgnine also counts as this, as the John Candy version is actually a remake.
Mrs Bates from Psycho who manages to smother Norman throughout the story even though she's dead.
It is actually suggested that the relationship between Norman and his real mother was something of an inversion of this trope, with him being obsessively dependent on and possessive of her despite her wish for him to be more independent, ultimately leading him to murder her and her lover as he did not want to share her.
Hitchcock gives us another nightmare mother in Notorious. Alex's mother not only seems to be instrumental in his Nazi activities, but she responds very badly to his falling for Alicia.
There's an actual movie called Smother. Care to guess what the mother's like?
The mother of Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler's character) in The Waterboy. She eventually realizes that Bobby needs to have his own life, and even helps him get to the big game at the end.
In The Manchurian Candidate war hero Raymond Shaw is dominated by his mother Eleanor to the point where she's able to force him to break up with the girl he's fallen in love with. This winds up central to the plot as being so conditioned to obey his mother leaves him ripe for Soviet brainwashing. His trigger is even a Queen Of Diamonds playing card because it reminds him of his mother. Oh, and Mrs. Shaw is the Communist agent who's feeding him his orders.
The Mexican Mind ScrewSanta Sangre (Holy Blood), directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, is about an armless mother — maimed by her husband after she discovers about his affair — literally taking control of his son's hands and using them to exact vengeance and commit murder, although The Reveal suggests that it is all in the son's mind, the mother not having survived the mutilation.
Vicente's mom in the Colombian Dramedy"Mama, Tomate La Sopa" ("Mom, Drink the Soup"). The main conflict of the story is Vicente trying to get a business on his own and getting the woman he wants, as his mother's smothering nature have impede him from getting anything on his own, which he thinks makes him of no value.
In the movie Heartbreakers, Sigourney Weaver plays a Smother, although quite tame by the rest of the examples on this page. She sincerely doesn't want her daughter's heart to be broken. However, she will con and lie to her daughter to achieve this. But near the end, when she sees that her daughter truly was in love with their last con, the con that the Smother drugged, she comes clean, and lets her daughter live her life.
Gordon/Fester's mother Margaret in The Addams Family. Although to be fair, she's not actually his mother; she just took him in after finding him unconscious and amnesiac many years ago..
Gordon/Fester:(before opening the book, 'The Hurricane') "You were a terrible mother! (laughs) THERE! I SAID IT!!!
Nina's mother in Black Swan who cripples her daughter's development by her overbearing parenting style and interference.
Jessica Lange plays Martha, an Evil Matriarch version of the trope in the movie Hush, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow as her daughter in law Helen. Not only she killed her husband to cover up how she was cheating on him and she aborted her unborn first baby when she learned said baby was a girl and not a boy, but she intends to isolate Helen from everyone even during childbirth (she succeeds) and then kill her so she can have her son Jackson and her baby grandson Kyle all to herself. (She fails).
Awake: Clayton's mother Lillith's over-protective nature is the main reason that he is afraid of telling her about his engagement, as he knows she would never accept Sam. She also tries to get him to drop Jack, his best friend, as his heart surgeon in favor of an acquaintance of hers who is at the top of the field. As it turns out, she was right on both counts.
In the CBC movie Jack, about Canadianpolitician Jack Layton, Olivia is portrayed early in the movie as living with her mother out of tradition; said mother is portrayed as being very picky about who her daughter should date, and very critical of Jack.
Jack: Ten years in civic politics, and I'm not afraid of your mother.
Ther is a mother/daughter version in Sightseers. Carol is not happy to see her thirty-something daughter Tina go off on a holiday with her new boyfriend Chris. In one scene, we see Carol lying in a heap at the foot of the stairs, pressing the button on her panic alarm pendant. When Tina does not reply, Carol gets up and walks off.
Penny Pingleton's mother Prudy treats her like this in Hairspray, forbidding her from watching "The Corny Collins Show" and from visiting Tracy's house.
Frannie Goldsmith has one in The Stand, as does Susan Norton in 'Salem's Lot, John Leandro in The Tommyknockers, there's another in Rage, yet another in his Rose Red TV miniseries, and the crazy-mother stand-in in Misery, not to mention Carrie's own crazy religious fanatic mother.
In The Dead Zone, Frank Dodd's mother is a particularly horrible example. In a flashback, when he had his first erection, she was so appalled that she attached a clothespin to it for hours.
Discworld example with Nanny Ogg. She is very much like this with most of the Ogg family, especially her own sons. Including Jason, the blacksmith who is built like a troll and is the greatest farrier in the world. She also seems incapable of seeing her cat, Greebo, as anything other than a tiny ball of fluff, despite Greebo being the meanest, nastiest creature within several hundred miles of Nanny's house. To her unlucky daughters-in-law, however, she verges on Evil Matriarch.
Granted, most witches are like this with everyone, it's just that most witches don't have kids.
And to be fair, she DOES know that Greebo is as much of a monster as a tom cat can be, even once referring to him as 'a fiend from hell,' but for a witch's cat this is not really a drawback.
Many of Saki's stories, the best probably being "Sredni Vashtar". Interestingly, the Smother is not always the biological mother (in the aforementioned "Sredni Vashtar", it's the protagonist's adult cousin, appointed his guardian).
The books feature, among other iffy mother figures, Lysa Arryn, the widow of Jon II Arryn. She's afraid the same assassins who killed her husband will come after her son Robert aka Robin — so far, so justified. Then you find out she still breast feeds her son. Did we mention he's six? Oh, and she caters to his every whim as well... including his wish to see Tyrion Lannister go flying out a window... and plummet several thousand feet to his death. It eventually comes out that she was the one who killed her husband, so even that justifiable reason for her over-protectiveness isn't actually justified. Hell, she killed Jon because he wanted Robert to be fostered with another lord, and she couldn't stand the thought of her baby going anywhere else...
Cersei Lannister, Queen Regent of Westeros, who's lived her entire life under the proverbial Sword of Damocles in the form of a prophecy that says she'll have three children, they'll each be crowned and die shortly thereafter and she herself will be strangled to death by her own younger brother. It's little wonder she goes into Mama Bear overdrive from that point on, but it looks like she can't fight fate, as everything in the prophecy is starting to come true, right down to her two younger brothers nursing the thought of killing her eventually, and her eldest son Joffrey being killed while her other two kids's survival depends a lot on her....
It's also partially due to this behavior that Joffrey ended up so vicious. Through a combination of obsessively sheltering him from any positive influences, and relentless coddling of his own negative behavior, she ensure that he had the petty stubbornness of a child, with all of her own shortsightedness and cruelty to go with it.
Lady Olenna may seem to mostly be a harmless, if snarktastic, old biddy. Don't let that fool you: she's more than willing to step in and clean her little boy's political messes up for him behind his back when he gets in over his head, even now he's Lord Mace Tyrell with children of his own and (supposedly) the main power in High Garden. Or, do it in front of his face, for that matter (it's not like he'll notice). And, will tell him what an idiot he is (just like his fool of a father, if you hadn't guessed) where anybody can hear. At least she's a fairly benevolent form of the trope... as long as you don't try harming him, his siblings or their kids.
There is actually a book entitled My Beloved Smother. It's a mother-daughter case.
Norman Page's mother in Peyton Place, who controls every aspect of his life and forbids him to spend time with girls. (Her harsh punishments have disturbing sexual connotations as well.) Her overbearing treatment is implied to contribute to Norman's nervous breakdown when he's away from her for the first time, as a soldier in World War II.
The Belgariad has Polgara the Sorceress, who seems to teeter on the edge of this in her relationships with the Heirs of Irongrip, the entire country of Arendia, and just about everybody else who crosses her path. She keeps calling people 'dear' and telling them they're 'good boys'.
Isabel Kabra in The 39 Clues, to the point of threatening to KILL her kids if they won't do what she says.
Naturally enough for a Mama Bear, Molly Weasley has moments of this, particularly with regards to her eldest son Bill's relationship with Fleur Delacour. Unusually for this trope, she gets over her initial doubts about Fleur and the two subsequently get along quite well.
In Codex Alera, Antillus Dorotea is like this to her son, Crassus, to the point of horribly abusing and trying to kill his older half-brother so there's no threat to Crassus' inheritance. She gets better, though how much of that is her and how much of it is being imposed on her is up to interpretation.
In Death: A number of female villains are this, like in the books Memory In Death and Born In Death. At least one of these villains have created Mommy Issues. Squick.
Miss Gentilbelle, to her niece, in Charles Beaumont's Miss Gentilbelle - also adapted by Hammer Films as an episode of the TV horror anthology, Journey To The Unknown.
In Tamora Pierce's novel, Cold Fire , Morrachaine Ladradun is arguably this to her adult son, Ben Ladradun. She meddles with his finances and actively tries to keep him away from his job as a volunteer firefighter. He eventually has had enough and kills her, implied in a brutal way.
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Wu strategist Zhou Yu attempts a Batman Gambit to ensnare rival country Shu's leader Liu Bei into an Arranged Marriage with Sun Shang Xiang, the younger sister of Wu leader Sun Quan, for the sake of reclaiming disputed territory and ultimately killing Liu Bei. The plot falls apart when the Sun siblings' mother, the Empress Dowager, personally takes a liking to Liu Bei and dares any one of her son's men to lay a finger on her prospective son-in-law. (In third-century China, where Confucian ideals of extreme filial piety held sway, even battle-hardened warlords took their aged parents' commands very seriously.)
Greta in Summers at Castle Auburn is very much a smother to Elisandra, and in her desire to see her daughter become queen, she doesn't seem to know anything about Elisandra as a person. This isn't out of malice, Greta simply doesn't look deeper than Elisandra's façade of calm.
The Noob novels have this as Arthéon's backstory and deconstruct the idea of a current-day Geek having such a mother. He was initially interested in sports and other social activities, but his mother would be so vocal about encouraging him that it broke his concentration, giving her the impression he wasn't made for such activities. He ended up having to give them up altogether and turned to activities he could do from home, including playing the MMORPG in which most of the story is set and ending up in the game's top guild before it actually became the top guild. His mother, however, convinced that New Media Are Evil, forced him to stop playing at 8 P.M. every night (he was just turning twenty around then), forcing him to resort to Real Money Trade to keep up with his guildmates. His avatar got banned by Game Masters because of it and the genuine depression that ensued was a wake up call for his mother, who finally decided to get him a new computer and tell him she was okay with him playing. And thanks to the adaptation of a case of Real Life Writes the Plot from the original webseries (the actor playing Arthéon became less available for Season 3), the third novel has her send him to boarding school.
In Susan Dexter's The True Knight, Queen Melcia toward her son. It leads to her executing people who fail to rescue him from Baleful Polymorph and inability to see that being restored to human form was killing him.
The Mark of the Horse Lord: Murna has walled off her real personality in order to protect herself from her mother the Queen's all-consuming love.
Live Action TV
Nora Walker on Brothers and Sisters is this for her sons and daughters alike, as well as the illegitimate children of her late husband - despite the fact that some of them are around 40! She is wholly incapable of not trying to control their lives and will relentlessly stalk escapees into other countries (well, Mexico anyway) because she cannot allow them to be outside the range of her influence. The only exception was her daughter Kitty, who managed to spend several years living in New York because Kitty's passionate political conservatism clashed with Nora's equally passionate liberalism leading to them fighting constantly until Kitty moved away.
Frasier Crane's mother Hester — in Cheers she threatens to kill Diane if she doesn't stop dating her son ("I've got a gun and I'm not afraid to use it!"), and later tries to bribe Sam into stealing Diane back from Frasier.
Also Daphne Moon's horrendous mother, who still seeks to criticise, dominate and exert control from six thousand miles away in Manchester, England. It gets even worse when she moves to Seattle.
On Angel, Phantom Dennis' mother walled him up rather than let him run off & get married. His spirit destroys her ghost.
The show has a mother-daughter variant, where Catherine Madison pressures her daughter to be just like her. When Amy refuses, Catherine uses magic to switch places with her daughter.
See Spike, from the same show. Smothering went sideways into sick, evil-land when newly minted vampire Spike turns his own mother.
Not really evil given that he did it to stop her from dying. (Really a surprisingly heroic thing for a vampire to do) the sick and wrong comes when Spike's mother, who is of course now possessed by a demon, tries to shag him. Yeah, he's got family issues.
She claims she couldn't wait to get rid of him.
Joyce is this, according to Buffy.
Michael Westen's mom Madeleine in Burn Notice, at least in season 1. She eventually becomes a low-action sort of Mama Bear, to the point of standing up to the FBI to protect him. It's a thoroughly suitable retirement for Christine Cagney.
Pike's mum in Dad's Army, who made him wear a scarf whenever he went on parade as a result of his 'croup'. It's implied on several occasions that much of her over-mothering was a desperate attempt to prevent him from being called up to fight in the war.
Most American sitcoms from the late 90's to nowadays have at least one of these:
It seems to be an American thing! Over here we used to read about how American culture is 'Mom (sic) and Apple Pie'. That would be true if it was all about hating Mom! It's on the far side of unlikely that mothers actually are smothers in the proportion that's true of film and TV.
There are British examples. Ronnie Corbett played a middle-aged man still living at home with his under-the-thumb father and overbearing mother in the sitcom Sorry. His mother refuses to accept he is forty-six, and smothers Timothy hopelessly as if he were still a child, despite all his attempts to escape. (She gives Timothy's sister very short shrift, in comparison). Also, witness Hyacinth Bucket's attitude to her rather fey son in Series/Keeping Up Appearances.
There's the mother (Doug's) in The King of Queens, who deviates between this and lying all the time. Deacon's mother-in-law is also overbearing and relentless in her criticisms.
Marie Barone is a master in the art of using food as an emotional manipulation tool. Seriously, this trope could've easily been named The Marie.
Deborah does act just as bad as Marie though. In one story arc she becomes insecure that the kids are transferring their love to a very good babysitter, and sacks her. A long arc across the series shows she is growing, slowly and steadily, into another Marie.
Lois from Malcolm in the Middle... sorta. The 'Beloved' part is questionable, but there is a line of dialog that I don't want to paraphrase stating that he's not escaping her influence for a LONG time.
'When I pick you a wife I'll let her give you your precious space.'
You really think that Lois is bad? Dabney's mother is absolutely horrible. She's conditioned him to be outside of her shower with a towel ready for when she comes out. A lot of their dialogue really cranks up the creepiness-factor, with all of the unresolved sexual tension it sometimes seems they have.
Some dialog between Dabney and Malcolm:
Dabney: I know I'm kind of a mama's boy...
Malcolm: A mama's boy? Dabney, mama's boys are laughing at you, with their mothers!
Carl Winslow of Family Matters accuses Harriet of being like this, which she shoots down with, "Take a long look at me. And a long look at you. Now, which of us looks more likely to smother somebody?"
Al's mom on Home Improvement is said to be one, though she never appears onscreen.
An episode of My So-Called Life has the mother-daughter variant, where Patty is competing with her mother throughout.
Freddie's mom on iCarly. She entirely subverted the type with her eager approval of the first girl to show interest in him...and then whipsawed back to type by saying "..this may never happen again!". He was in eighth grade when this all happened.
She also pulls out a "With a Girl!" stinger, and screamed "Why won't you love my son!" at Carly (his crush). Poor Freddie.
Not to mention that she repeatedly treats him for things that he doesn't need treatment for (in an earlier season she was giving him tick baths because they "grew in [his] leg hair," to which Freddie responds "I don't HAVE leg hair!" In the most recent episode, she tries to CLEAN OUT HIS EARS WHILE HE'S SLEEPING, and when he leaves comes down to where he's now living to offer him a prune pop. She then snaps and screams "MARCH YOURSELF BACK UP TO THAT ROOM, YOUNG MAN!" Freddie denies her.
And wouldn't you know it, in Season 3 Freddie finally has a shot at the girl of his dreams, Carly Shay. Of course, Mrs. Benson has flip flopped her opinion on Carly, thinking she's ruined Freddie's "Boy Chemistry" and doesn't want them together.
Not to mention the fact that she blamed Carly for Freddie getting hurt when he saved her of his own volition, even wishing that she had gotten hit by the truck he'd pushed her out of the way of in "iSaved Your Life".
One episode of The Twilight Zone is about a pair of newlyweds who initially plan on selling the husband's old house where he used to live with his mother. However, when they go back to give the house a last check-over, the wife discovers that the mother's spirit is so strong that the house is being gradually transported back to the time of her husband's childhood. At the end, the mother's ghost appears and tells the wife that it's her son who's unwilling to let go... and he reverts back to the form of a child and tells her to get out. Takes jilting to a whole new level!
One episode of SVU from Season 2 had Margot Kidder star as the Smother to Chad Lowe's unbalanced son. Turns out that not only was she too controlling, she turned the relationship sexual which would have been bad enough, except that Chad Lowe's character was a bit too unbalanced and killed her, then stayed in bed with her very bloodied corpse.
In another episode in Season 5 an overprotective mother who has convinced his older son to kill his younger brother, because she doesn't want them to go into foster care. She claims that she was protecting them, and considers foster care hellish, but wants nothing more than to control their lives.
Olivia's mother doesn't take it to homicidal levels, but she's pretty awful too, being an abusive alcoholic. Olivia once recounted an incident when she wanted to leave home and move in with her boyfriend — her mother flipped out and attacked Olivia while screaming that no one else could have her.
In Season 12, Episode 1, the little girl sends an IM referring to her "smother" explicitly, it is later revealed that her mother and father had lost another little girl 10 years ago and had adopted this one to look, dress, and act just like her, going so far as to get her a nose job and dye her hair
Stephanie Forrester on The Bold And The Beautiful, though only with Ridge, her eldest son. Her smothering affection and desire to control his life has lead to numerous characters suggesting that she's actually in love with her own son. At one point she went as far as to frame Ridge's paternal half brother for a murder Ridge committed - and justifying it.
Ted the lawyer from Scrubs. Many, many times he would be overheard giving lovey-dovey 'I miss you sweetums' talk over the phone. Sounds like he finally found a girl, huh? Nope. It's his MOM. Other dialogue suggests much wrong-ness, like how her feet are cold.
And how they share a bed.
And how they ride on the same bicycle. And it's not a tandem.
Howard Wolowitz's mom in The Big Bang Theory. She seems to genuinely believe that he's still literally a child; she refers to his job as "school" (to be fair, he does work at a university, but still) and when he takes the day off, she asks if she should have someone bring him his homework. Then again, she does know exactly how old he is, as evidenced when she tells Howard that he's almost 30-years-old after his remarks about leaving the nest. It's more that she insists on treating him like a child than her actually believing he still is one.
Bernadette's mother too, which is how she and Howard initially connect during their first date.
Mrs. B on Mommas Boys; when asked to select between two women for her son Jojo to have a final date with, she refused to select either, forcing Jojo to take his mother on the final date.
Donna's mum in Doctor Who. Jackie Tyler could be a bit like this as well, but she was nothing compared to Sylvia Noble, who wanted her to apply for a job she didn't want to improve her chances of getting married, assumed she was playing a silly trick when she disappeared from her wedding, and kept putting her down while she was trying to put her life back together. The season finale, though, made it quite clear that she really did care for Donna.
Becoming a sociopathic killer? Blame being raised by your smothering (adoptive)(?) mother. It's what Sylar realized in Heroes.
Timothy's mother from Soap. When he left the priesthood to marry Corinne, she got extremely upset and attempted to murder Corinne, who she labeled as a whore (Corinne did sleep around a lot, so there's some justification). Later she curses their wedding and eventually has a heart attack on their wedding night.
Eric Forman's mother, Kitty, in That '70s Show. She went into a depression after learning her son had sex.
In That's So Raven, Victor Baxter, the father of Raven's family, is like a male version of this. He repeatedly signs himself and Cory up for father-son whatever classes, which normally turn out bad. He also once opened up a mobile restaurant called "Baxter and Son" because he thought it was what Cory wanted. He apparently forgot that it was HIM that put up the sign.
Eli's deceased mother (to some extent) in Ghost Whisperer. Whatever her behavior was like in life it seem to have amped up since she's discovered her son can communicate with the dead.
Debbie Novotny of Queer as Folk behaved like this not only to her son Michael, but to her son's best friend Brian, and her own younger brother Vic. Come to think of it, she did this to the entire population of Liberty Avenue.
Interestingly, Brian's own mother Joanie is the exact opposite of this and coupled with Brian's father being an abusive alcoholic, it's implied that the only reason Brian didn't turn out more screwed up than he did is because Debbie cared for him when he was a teenager.
Also her taking care of her "sunshine" Justin after he got kicked out home after coming out - not to mention she did quite a bit for Justin and his mom to reconsile.
And her still lingering waryness towards Brian (whom she - as she stated - always suspected to mess up Michael someday) is SOMEWHAT justified considering how much of a Jerk Ass he is. Jerk Ass With A Heart Of Gold but still... All in all Debbie is not so much a Smother but genuinely caring and loving though often a bit too eager in her doting.
Degrassi brings us Mrs. Torres, mother to Drew and Adam Torres. She is the representative of the school board, but those duties come after running Drew's life and lamenting Adam's choices. Well, that's on a nice day, on a mean day she uses the school board's power to help control Drew's life and lament Adam's choices.
Erica Kane of All My Children could sometimes be smothering and overbearing with her daughter Bianca.
Sex and the City's Bunny, mother of Charlotte's first husband Trey. To the point where she saw nothing wrong with barging into their bedroom in the middle of the night to rub Vick's on his chest (he had a cold), or in the morning to wake him up as though he were ten years old instead of thirty-something (gets even worse when you realize that she had to get out of her own bed, leave her place and drive over to their place to do this). Not until she walks in on them having sex does it finally dawn on her how out of line her behavior is.
Characters played by Kyle MacLachlan seem to attract these moms. Orson Hodges's "crazy mother" Gloria from Desperate Housewives was both this and an Evil Matriarch, completely obsessed with controlling her son's life: she guilt-trips him with his father's suicide despite the fact that she killed him ever since he was a teenager, supports Orson's Yandere ex-wife Alma to the point of killing his mistress Monique, and endlessly interfers with his and Bree's married life, specially by telling Bree about Monique specifically to plant doubts in her heart about him, helping Alma rape Orson if it'll mean she can bear his child, and locking Alma away when she gives up and trying to kill Bree herself..
The Swedish sitcom Solsidan has an example of this. The main character Alexander Lövström buys his mothers' house in the first episode and then she just won't let go leading his pregnant girlfriend Anna to become very annoyed at Alexander for not telling her off. She keeps doing this for the entire series at the moment of this edit. This may change if more seasons are produced.
Greg Sanders in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Since he was an only child, his mother became so overprotective she never let him play sports in high school and once took him to the ER for a bloody nose. After he was savagely beaten trying to stop a crime, he was worried at how she would react considering he never told her he transferred from the lab to field work.
And speaking of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, lest we forget ruthless attorney Diana Chase from season six's 'Rashomama'. Basically, the woman was a rabid pit bull in human skin who terrorized her daughter-in-law to be and everyone else, with the exception of her son Adam, whom she doted on. The son in question thinks she's wonderful. Everybody else is scared shitless of her.
This was a running gag with one of Sally Rogers' recurring dates, Herman Glimpshire, on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Mrs. Niggerbaiter sketch in which Cleese plays an adult man who is Minister of Overseas Development, but is still treated like a baby by both his mother and her friend, Mrs. Niggerbaiter. Terry Gilliam commented that the sketch was a satire of many mothers' tendencies to keep belittling their offspring, even when they're already adults.
Samson En Gert: Octaaf who is constantly belittled and domineered by his mother. She claims everything he does right is from her side of the family, while everything he does wrong is from his father's side of the family.
Van Kooten En De Bie: Mother and son Van Putten. Van Putten is a neurotic 40 year old man who, to his frustration, still lives with his mother.
Played for Laughs with Andy Summers's dissonant "Mother," from Synchronicity by The Police. The narrator goes over-the-top insane from his mother's constant phone calls and from every girl he dates ending up becoming his mother, which could mean either that his mother insists on chaperoning all his dates, that she forbids him to date other women at all, or that his Mommy Issues lead him to date only women who resemble her.
Victoria Wood's song "Reincarnation" has this:
I want to be Eileen Gumm, Who calls herself "just a mum". I want to have three big lads, And a husband that I’ve driven nuts. I'll struggle and sacrifice, To make sure they have things nice. I'll give them such good advice, They’ll absolutely hate my guts.
The Blue Öyster Cult's portrayal of Joan Crawford (who has Risen From The Grave to spend her afterlife smothering daughter Christina). Mommy is indeed home...
Mama's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you. Mama wont let anyone dirty get through. Mama's gonna wait up until you get in. Mama will always find out where you've been. Mama's gonna keep baby healthy and clean. Ooooh babe oooh babe ooh babe, You'll always be baby to me.
Taken to a frightening degree in "The Trial" when you consider the double meaning of the line "Why'd he ever have to leave me?"
Sarah Bishop in Dino Attack RPG is somewhat understandably concerned about her daughter being involved with an apocalyptic battle against mutant dinosaurs, but to say she's very protective of Kate would be a major understatement.
Jo Koy has a bit where he discusses his Filipino mother warning him, a grown man, about the dangers of "rupees" (roofies).
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons has, as one of the many magic items, a parody of its Rug of Smothering called a Rug of Mothering, which behaves like this trope.
The Lunar Exalted get various Limit Breaks themed around certain animals. One Compassion-based Limit Break, The Curse of the Mother Hen, means that the Lunar in question will spend at least the next day making sure his companions are all well taken care of. The book illustrates this with Strength-of-Many (a bull-totem Lunar) in war form trying to stuff porridge down a guy's throat.
Also a defining quality of the Yozi Kimbery. Her most well known jouten (an ocean) was based around the symbolism of literally drowning people in her affection. She constantly breeds all manner of creatures that she'll either love obsessively or hate for not returning her affections to the degree that she considers suitable. This also tends to be rather cyclic; it's implied that Kimbery births and loves purely for the sake of having a reason to hate and kill the things she creates that cannot satisfy her desires.
A particularly comprehensive fan interpretation of the maybe-YoziCytherea portrays her this way.
The Glass Menagerie has Amanda Wingfield, a Beloved Smother to her son (she won't let him become a poet and complains about his choice of reading material) and her daughter (she ends up flirting with the young man her daughter likes, even after she invited him to dinner with the express hope that he would fall for and eventually marry the daughter). She's not entirely villainous, though: part of the reason she's so controlling is because the family is desperately poor and she worries that her Shrinking Violet daughter, who is mildly disabled, will never find a job or a husband. Amanda is also a Fallen Princess, having been a stereotypical Southern Belle in her glory days; when the play begins she's reduced to calling the fire escape "the veranda".
Madame Rosepettle in Arthur Kopit's play Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You In The Closet And I'm Feelin' So Sad is a completely over-the-top Large Ham version of this.
The Witch in Into the Woods, who keeps her (forcibly-adopted) daughter Rapunzel locked in a tower in the depths of the forest... to keep her safe and "shielded from the world".
"So, it's come at last. At last it's come, the day I knew would come at last has come, at last. My sonny-boy doesn't need me any longer."
and it only gets more over-the-top from there.
"Fancy funerals are for rich people. I don't want you to spend a cent. Just wait til Mother's Day, wrap me in a flag, and dump me in the river."
Gypsy, along with the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee that it is based on, exemplifies this one.
In Once Upon a Mattress, Queen Aggravain tells her son she wants him to get married, but only to a real princess, and she keeps creating impossible tests for the princesses who want to marry her son so he never has to leave. The King can hardly argue with her, as he can't speak.
One of the main plot points of Leonard Gershe's Butterflies Are Free, in which the mother (played brilliantly by Eileen Heckart, both on stage and in the 1972 film adaptation, for which she won the Oscar) fights desperately against her blind twenty-something son's desire for independence after he moves out. It all works out okay.
FLORINA: Thanks, Fiora. But...I... I have to do it my way. You can handle it out there alone, right? Well I need to make sure that I can, too.
FIORA: Oh... But I worry about you. When we were in training, you used to get so scared...
FLORINA: Yeah, but I'm fine now.
FIORA: Really? But the Caelin Knights are all men, aren't they? I just think of you, all timid and scared among them... So, Florina... You really don't mind it? Didn't they give you a hard time for being a woman? Now if they did, I want you to let me know. Because I will tell them a thing or two...
FLORINA: I-I'm fine. Lady Lyndis took good care of me... And everyone was really nice...
"The you from the future smothered me, to be perfectly honest. You’d pack lunches for me, hold my hand while walkin’ up stairs... You were so busy doing the heavy lifting for me that I turned into a total wimp! Ya wouldn’t even let me fend for myself in the end. So next time, lemme protect YOU!"
The leader of the fighter guild in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is seen as this by the guild, but not without good reason, one of her sons was killed in action and her last son (who isn't actually that good a fighter) is killed later.
Emile from Theresia: Dear Emile is a particularly horrifying example; she forbids her daughter Leanne from talking to anyone or leaving the church she's staying at. When a boy named Sacha tries to talk to her, Emile immediately tries to kill him...and later actually does when Sacha attempts to escape with Leanne.
Borderlands 2: Ellie seems to view Moxxi as one of these. Given how horrible life on Pandora can be, whether or not Moxxi was being too overprotective is up in the air.
Ellie seems quite capable of taking care of herself. They also butt heads more on Ellie dismissing Moxxi's demands that she lose weight and gussy up. Ellie, however, seems to have no problems with her body image and claims to have plenty of male admirers. (One of which being...Scooter)
The computer mother of Broken Age still treats 14-year-old Shay like a toddler; although as she seems to be nothing more than a sophisticated program designed to look after young children it's not really her fault.
Madame Montrois from Paris. Who, despite being six thousand miles away from a son and daughter who have emigrated to America largely to escape, still manages to hover over Mona and Pierre in faraway L.A. Mona's life particularly is blighted in C'est la Vie.
In one Chopping Block strip, Butch offered his mother a pillow with "Happy Smother Day" written on it. His relationship with her is mostly a parody of Psycho, with Norman's timid obedience replaced with not-giving-a-crap.
It was midnight: An hour past curfew. Butch knew he was going to catch hell from Mother when he got home. You'd think fourteen years of being a mummified corpse hidden away in the attack would have shut the bitch up.
Hazel Green from College Roomies from Hell!!!, Mike and Blue's mother, complements this trope with plans, a goon hit squad, torture, hypnotic programming, and explosive implants. Unsurprisingly, she's a major Big Bad in the comic.
Ultra Fast Pony portrays Twilight Sparkle as a somewhat delusional wannabe mother towards Spike. She calls him "my daughter" even though Spike is a male (and a dragon at that). It's implied that she even had Spike castrated. In the episode "For Glorious Mother Equestria", Spike starts going through the dragon equivalent of puberty, Twilight tells him to "stop obeying the laws of nature".
Twilight: Sorry, Applejack, but Spike's gone crazy! And by crazy I mean he's acting normal for a dragon, but crazy for a pony. Which he should be.
Cosmo's mother in The Fairly OddParents. She eventually falls in love with Wanda's father because they both hate the people their children married. Their plans to 'get' each other's kids cause frustration (they love their respective kids) and admiration (they like each other's evil).
Todd from Code Monkeys. Recently, it's become a full-blown Oedipus Complex (as he has implied and outright stated that he is literally having sex with his own mother).
Gazpacho's mother from Chowder, even though we never see her onscreen. Gazpacho always complains about her though- albeit cautiously, since she might hear him.
Morgan La Fey towards her son Mordred in Justice League, especially after he breaks the eternal youth spell. As if the Brother-Sister Incest which lead to his birth hadn't been bad enough.
Myra in regards to the titular Venture Bros. Nothing says motherly love like tying up a pair of pubescent boys and shoving your breasts in their face, screaming "LET MOMMY LOVE YOU". Although it's worth mentioning it was never totally confirmed she was the boys' mother.
"Colonel Bud Manstrong, listen to your mother!". He's clearly somewhere in his forties, but his mother is very much controlling his life. Bonus points for the episode she appears in being a parody of The Manchurian Candidate, with the movie being mentioned by name.
An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had a bird who had been held hostage by Lucius returned to his mother...who immediately ran right back into Lucius' grip when her mother proved way to annoying to deal with.
In an episode of King of the Hill "Lucky's" sister Myrna was like this she was very strict and disciplinary to her children she wouldn't let them watch tv or have sugar and they were very timid and jumpy, upon seeing their behavior Bobby exclaimed "Those boysain't right!".
Early seasons of South Park did this a lot with Shiela Broflovski in a parody of this trope along with plenty of Jewish stereoypes. This was made a major plot point in The Movie.
Archer. Picture Lucille Bluth above if she were not only your mother, but your spy-master as well.
Stewart's mother from Beavis And Butthead, although she means well she is very overprotective of him and treats him as if he were a five year old even though he's around 12.
Ed Gein (in reference to his HEAVY influence on Psycho)
Elizabeth Ann Duncan loved her lawyer son, Frank. She loved him so much that she first tried to kill herself with meds when he tried to move away from home, then hired two men to murder Olga Kupczyk, her former nurse and the woman who dared marry him, take him away from her and be pregnant with Frank's child. After poor Olga suffered a Family-Unfriendly Death(pistol-whipped to almost death, then Buried Alive), Elizabeth was quickly arrested and charged; Frank spent many hours in the courtroom and filed many appeals on her behalf, trying to save her. He failed, and in 8th August 1962 she was executed. Poor boy...
Peter Sellers' mother Peg was so indulgent with her son (to be fair, she had lost her first child shortly after giving birth) that even as a young man, he was used to having her do things for him, much to the fascination of his friends/colleagues. His father Bill by contrast was quiet and meek. Her notable lack of discipline, even when he was bad, is largely seen as a (if not the) key reason Peter was often prone to childish, selfish behavior as an adult. She also was prone to interfering with Peter's love life, including his first two marriages. For all this, he never stopped loving her. He conducted seances to ask her advice after her death, while rejecting undergoing psychological analysis in part because it cast her in a bad light. In the biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, she gets a Historical Villain Upgrade.
Kate Gosselin from Jon And Kate Plus Eight. Her children are too young for this trope to be in full effect, but given time...
Franklin D. Roosevelt's mother was not only this, but also the mother-in-law from hell. When Franklin married Eleanor, she generously bought them a house in New York... and herself the one next door. These were row houses, connected by side doors. Basically, she could and did walk in at any time.
This wasn't quite as bad as it may seem. She pushed her son to take his place in the world, and felt that, given their family's wealth and influence, they had a responsibility to help the less-fortunate, a belief she inculcated in her son.
The mother of Dare Wright, world-famous photographer and author of the Lonely Doll series for children. Legions of blog entries exist on line talking about how "creepy"◊ those books are. People today apparently read them totally differently from how they were seen when originally published in the 1950s. Dare's real life though... we're talking about a mother who slept in the same bed with her daughter every night, throughout her adult life, in the nude. And that's the least of it.
Susie Phillips Lovecraft was this in some ways. She died insane and Lovecraft feared he'd inherited madness. He did not know that her illness was the result of syphilis contracted from HP's traveling salesman father.
Judy Murray is frequently accused of this with regards to tennis player Andy Murray. A lot of his fans seem to think he'll start winning Grand Slams if she stops attending his matches.
The Danish royal sisters Princesses Alix and Dagmar (later Queen Alexandra of England and Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia) were famous for this. Not only did they continue treating their sons like little boys long after they were grown men, married, fathers and rulers of all they surveyed but the sisters completely dominated their daughters - though one of Alexandra's managed to get away, all the way to Norway in fact.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has been accused of this with regard to son Mark. While his twin sister Carol was largely left alone to make her own mistakes (and possibly became a marvellously well-adjusted adult for it), Mark was spoiled and indulged. When he got lost during a trans-Saharan motor rally, for instance, his mother used her influence to get the armed forces of three countries to mount a multi-million pound search and rescue operation that might not have happened to the same extent for anyone else. She also pulled strings to get him exonerated on criminal charges, up to and including his involvement in a madcap coup d'etat in the Seychelles.