[Bart Simpson sees Principal Skinner in the waiting room of a psychiatrist's office.]
Bart: I don't believe it! Principal Skinner. Well, well, well, I never thought I'd win this easy.
Hmph. This has nothing to do with you, Simpson. I have many, many issues with my beloved smother — mother!
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 Freak Evil 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
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.
open/close all folders
- A recent commercial for Taco Bell features a guy whose 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 Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is this to her son Yzak. Ironically, despite the fact she has similar 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.
- Meshou, Ritsu Sohma's mother in Fruits Basket. She's one of the few Sohma parents who doesn't abuse or neglect their cursed kids, but despite her good intentions she's a Shrinking Violet who apologizes for everything, thus Ritsu ends up just as insecure and prone to ditziness and apologies as his mom.
- 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.
- Furoku Tsukumo, mother of Teen Genius Susumu on Wandaba Style falls into this. She's the Designated Villain of the series because she wants Susumu, who left home to conduct his eco-friendly space experiments, to acknowledge that the 1969 moon landing wasn't faked and to recognize her maternal authority. He is only thirteen, after all.
- 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.
- In a Detective Conan case, Akio's mother was this. So much that she wants to save her beloved Akio from being imprisoned after killing his apparently abusive dad... by locking him in the basement of their home. Akio ends up crossing the Despair Event Horizon since he does want to turn himself in, and it's up to Conan to help him convince his mother to let him atone.
- One episode in Pokémon featured a Pokemon coordinator Timmy, who had issues with his strict and overprotective mother, Mrs. Grimm. She's an Education Mama and has a problem with him entering contests and him interacting with Pokemon, because she herself was forced to give up her Poocheyena when she was younger, and she didn't want her son to experience the heartbreak she went through. Thankfully, she realizes the errors of her ways in the end and becomes less overprotective of Timmy, just as long as he doesn't allow contests to interfere with his studies.
- Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage 3 centers on Maamu, a Tapir who just wants to protect her son Yumeta's happiness by trapping kids in a dream world so they can play with Yumeta forever. It takes every Cure from the series up to that point * to convince her that her methods are having the opposite result.
- Used many times by cartoonist Will Eisner, to the highest degree imaginable in the story "Mortal Combat" in his graphic novel "Invisible People".
- Chas' 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 Comic Book/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.
- This Retail comic strip. The son may also be a Basement-Dweller.
- One origin story for Doctor Octopus had his abusive father killed in an industrial accident, leaving his mother to depend on him. When he grew up, one of his lab assistants was attracted to him, but after his mother found out, tongue-lashed him so severely that he broke off with her without explaining why. Then one Otto comes home to find Mother making out with a man, and...
- De Kiekeboes: Marcel Kiekeboe's mother, Moemoe, is a Manipulative Bastard who will frequently try to make him feel guilty about not doing everything she demands from him. Often results in an All for Nothing resolution or Dude Where Is My Respect.
- Homecoming: Marty thinks Clara gets too nervous about such things as the way he plays with her sons, although he cuts her some slack since she's new to the time period.
- Earth and Sky: Twilight Sparkle edges toward this when it comes to Spike.
Film — Animated
- Mother Gothel in Tangled needs Rapunzel's healing hair to retain her beauty and has successfully scared Rapunzel into staying in the tower for almost two decades.
- The Other Mother in The Film of the Book Coraline.
- 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.
- Polly Cronin, Lizzie's mother in Drop Dead Fred.
- Lionel's mother in Braindead. Even when she turns into a zombie, her son is unable to confront her until the very end.
- Ice Princess. Both the main character's mother and The Rival's mother are forcing their own ambitions upon their daughters. Even the parents of secondary and background characters seem to follow this trope.
- 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.
- The Black Queen in MirrorMask. Her smothering behaviour is why the Rebellious Princess ran away, and used for one hell of a Brainwashed sequence.
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 re-appears as a giant disembodied head in the New York sky and starts bossing him around for the entire city to hear.
- Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a particularly dark example, as the Big Nurse's threat of telling his mom about his sexual escapades in the final part drives him to suicide.
- Mrs. Railton-Bell, Sybil's awful mother in Separate Tables. She tells Sylvia what to do, what to eat, and what to think. She won't let Sybil get a job and she's determined to stop any hint of romance between Sybil and Major Pollock.
- 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 entire point of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot is Stallone's character being humiliated by the presence of his mother.
- Owen's mother from Throw Momma from the Train.
- 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.
- Sam Witwicky's mom in the Transformers movies.
- The Mexican Mind Screw Santa 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.
- Howard Hughes' mother in The Aviator, who caused his Super OCD.
- 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.
- Almost the premise of J. Edgar.
- Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate.
- In the CBC movie Jack, about Canadian politician 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.
Olivia: You should be.
- The premise of the film Guilt Trip.
- Gaylord Focker's mom in Meet the Fockers.
- There 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.
- Rhonda's mother in Muriel's Wedding, though she's a lot more well-meaning about it than many of these examples.
- The Other Mother in Neil Gaiman's Coraline.
- A variation on this character regularly crops up in Stephen King's work.
- 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.
- In C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, a retelling of Cupid and Psyche, Orual, Psyche's sister, raised her since Psyche's mother's death, and is a rather zealous mother figure.
- 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).
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- 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.
- Caroline Compson in The Sound and the Fury is this to her son Jason.
- Kareen to Pat Rin in the Liaden Universe novels.
- 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'.
- Eleanor's mother, and the rest of her godawful family, in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.
- 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.
- In L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill, Jane's grandmother meddled with her mother's life to keep her with her.
- In another series by her, Emily of New Moon, Terry's mother loves her son to the point of hating anything that she feels he might love more, even going so far as to poison his dog.
- Madame Raquin in Thérèse Raquin, though she doesn't really mean to be. But she babies Camille and rules over Thérèse.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill the Reckless, Lady Underhill.
- 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.)
- In C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves, this is one of the dangers of affection.
- Psycho. See film for the adaptation.
- 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.
- Queen Isabel is completely devoted to her children and cares for them all herself in The Kingdom of Little Wounds. She's a terrible caregiver, and this backfires horribly.
- A couple of Rosemary Sutcliff's villainesses crush their offspring along with their enemies:
- Sword at Sunset: King Arthur thinks that his Bastard Bastard Medraut had a creepy, damaging relationship with his mother Ygerna, who conceived and raised him as a weapon against his father.
- 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
- 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...
- Mother from Pink Floyd's The Wall, who has a song devoted to her and this kind of thing.
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?"
- And "OF COURSE Momma's gonna help you build your wall!"
Pink: Mother, does it have to be so... high?
- The Queen in The Decemberists' "The Hazards of Love" tries to have her adopted son William's girlfriend Margaret raped and murdered to prevent her from stealing him.
- Which ends up being a major driving force in his decision to sacrifice his own life to save Margaret. Mothers beware.
- The mother from The Who's Tommy can be interpreted as one. Man, those rock stars have mommy-issues!
- 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 Qedeshah from Vampire: The Requiem, an all female Bloodline that incorporates the scariest aspects of motherhood.
- 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-Yozi Cytherea 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".
- Mae Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie:
"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.
- Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
- 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.
- She might be the eldest sister instead of the mother, but Lady of War Fiora from Fire Emblem 7 shows some Smother traits in her supports with her little sister, Shrinking Violet Florina, whom she had to raise.
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...
FIORA: Oh? Well, I still worry.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, Brady criticises his mother Maribelle for having been this. It's less because he hates her (in fact he adores his mom), and more because he wants to be the one protecting her instead since he comes from a Bad Future where she died and he couldn't save her
"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.
- Another mother-daughter variant — the main character's mother in Quarterlife.
- Zaboo's mom in The Guild. She breast fed him till he was eleven, made him go with her into the ladies' room until he was fifteen, and still gives him baths. You know I'm not kidding.
- Demeter to Persephone in Thalia's Musings. Persephone rebelled by eloping with Hades, to whom she is now Happily Married. But she still spends half the year with Demeter anyway.
- The Nostalgia Critic's abusive mother has made him think she's his world. And while his twin Ask That Guy with the Glasses fantasizes about killing her regularly, he still calls out for her when his usual music doesn't play and freaks him out.
- 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.
- American Dad!: Francine in the episode Iced Iced Babies.
- Agnes Skinner in The Simpsons, the Trope Namer.
- 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.
- Dr. Barber of The Marvelous Misadventuresof Flapjack has a terrifying relationship with his tiny, unseen mother who lives in his dresser drawer.
- 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 boys ain'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.
- An all-too-common problem with Stage Moms. Pressuring your young child into becoming a star in acting/modeling/sports/etc. is a surefire way to get called a horrible parent, and the general stereotype of the pagent circuits assume every performer, no matter what age they are, has at least one parent like this. Sadly, it's not without a grain of truth to it.
- 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.
- Anna Månsdotter, Swedish mother-in-law from Hell who was executed by decapitation after she strangled her daughter-in-law Hannah for apparently catching Anna in Parental Incest with 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.