"The desert canteen is a man's life,
The shoe is a man's eye,
The wife is a man's future,
The son is a man's refuge,
The daughter is a man's salvation,
The daughter-in-law is a man's devil."A Happily Married couple faces various problems, but none quite like the Sitcom In-Law. A member the spouse's family (often the wife's in modern Western media; in more traditional and Eastern ones it's the husband's relatives who are the terrors) has an obvious animosity towards their relative's spouse. They hate the person their daughter/sister/son/brother is married to and aren't shy about reaffirming it. While the object of this hate always tries to be nice to them (often at the insistence of their partner/spouse), the in-laws pull out all the stops to ridicule, abuse and undermine their target, and even try to set up their relative with somebody else, in spite of them being married (as well as the fact that their spouse is still alive. There are a few reasons why something like this happens:
- Most of the time, they just hate the poor guy (or girl in some cases) for no reason other than not being a millionaire (or something like that).
- Another common reason is that the spouse is considered to be a step down from a previous relationship—if that's the case, and the ex is still around, the person may be convinced to give their ex another chance.
- Occasionally, the hate stems from a past incident that the hero/heroine has long since made up for.
- Or it could just be some people are...just jerks.
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Anime & Manga
- Hana Yori Dango:
- Tsukushi's parents would push her to the first rich boy to show interest and even enrolled her into a high-class High School (despite hardly having money for anything else) just to increase the chances. When one of those boys showed up for a visit, her parents considered him a punk until they learned who he was.
- They're still nothing compared with the Evil Matriarch of a mother that Tsukasa has. She not only treats poor Tsukushi LIKE SHIT, but she also psychologically abuses the Hell out of Tsukasa and his sister Tsubaki. In at least one continuity, she drove a guy to suicide in front of Tsukasa, and emotionally blackmailed him with it.
- Inverted in I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying. Kyouko dotes on her daughter-in-law Kaoru, but she goes Demon Head on her son Hajime since he hasn't made her a grandmother and he doesn't have a job (at the time of the scolding).
- Little House with an Orange Roof, where the in-laws of Natchi's ex-husband (who oppose her divorcing him and living with Shoutaro), are completely barbaric in how they treat her when she visits. Somehow they think this will result in Natchi wanting to come back and be part of their family...
- One story told during the Gossipy Hens episode of Paranoia Agent concerns a woman whose life is hell due to her overbearing mother-in-law. When the mother-in-law uses the woman's birthday to demand rice balls, she snaps and tries to kill her — at which point Shonen Bat intervenes and kills the mother-in-law.
- Mrs Tanaka from Servant × Service doesn't complain about her daughter-in-law in front of them, but persistently rambles it in front of Saya, a staff of the local welfare office.
- In The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki-chan, Ryoko Asakura is often jokingly referred to as an "evil mother in law" by some characters, such as Haruhi, due to often acting motherly and protective of Yuki, especially where Kyon is concerned.
- Inverted in FoxTrot. Andy herself dreads her mother's visits because the whole family absolutely adores her and she feels pushed to the sides, due to her mother being her personal Always Someone Better.
- Cathy's in-laws are absolutely annoying.
- In Superman, General Sam Lane did not approve of Lois marrying mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent, feeling that he was too much of a wimp, and even threatened to not attend their wedding. In all fairness, according to Lois's sister, he's hated all of his daughters' beaus. For the record, he wasn't very fond of Superman either because he didn't trust aliens.
- The French comic Les Gendarmes has a strip where a hostage taker is willing to let all the hostages go in exchange for a cop. Only one volunteers, and walks unflinchinly into the house followed by the admiring looks of onlookers and colleagues and reporters. Cut to his very angry wife watching at home, fuming that she shouldn't have told him her mother was coming over for dinner that evening.
- Inverted, lampshaded and averted in The Adventures Of Olivia where Anna Provalone establishes herself by having sex with one of her son-in-laws while cooking, who points out how she's the exception to the trope though it pisses off his wife/ her daughter, Donna when she learns of what they were doing yet Maria thinks it's cute even when her husband gets it on with Anna as innocent fun.
- Doctor Strange takes this to new levels: Strange's wife Clea is the daughter of his foe Umar, making her and her brother Dread Dormammu his mother-in-law and uncle-in-law respectively.
- In Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty, when the king was away, the queen mother ordered the cook to kill and cook for her dinner both of Sleeping Beauty's children and then Sleeping Beauty herself. When she discovers she was tricked, she fills up a pit with poisonous creatures to throw them in, along with the cook and his family. The king's arrival stops this, and she throws herself in, in a rage. The Brothers Grimm did not include that portion, but did include a separate fragment with the mother-in-law trying to eat both the daughter-in-law and the children. It ended midway.
- In the first edition, The Brothers Grimm had the trouble between the Girl Without Hands and her husband the king be created by her mother-in-law. (In the second edition, it was the Devil who did it, and the mother in law saved her.)
- In "The Twelve Wild Ducks", the stepmother is jealous of her stepson's bride's beauty and tries to have her killed.
- In The Six Swans, the mother-in-law kidnaps her grandchildren at birth and smears the mother's mouth with blood to claim that she killed and ate them.
- Princess Belle-Etoile plays it straight with the queen mother who is the mother of the king and his brother (Belle-Etoile's paternal grandmother), but averts it with the princess who is Roussette, Brunette, and Blondine's mother (Belle-Etoile's maternal grandmother). Roussette also plays it straight by siding with the queen mother. The queen mother hates her sons' wives and concocts a plan to get rid of her grandchildren. After Brunette dies and the grandchildren are abandoned, she tries to force the king to end his marriage to Blondine. The queen mother, Roussette, and their maid Feintise are punished at the end by being locked in a dungeon and eaten by dogs, while Blondine's mother survives and is reunited with her youngest daughter and grandchildren.
- Women aren't immune to this trope either, as the title character of Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change with the Light will tell you. Ben Reilly's parents both hate Mary Jane Watson and are fairly open about it, especially when Andrew becomes an Overprotective Dad and outright threatens Mary Jane if she doesn't stop dating his son. When he finds out about it, Ben is not amused.
- In the 'In My Eyes' stories latest chapter, Megatron outright says he'll kill Sarah if she doesn't break up with Will.
- The New Retcons:
- Wilf and Mira regard the Pattersons, barring April as this, increasingly justified in Elly and John's case as the former goes insane and the latter refuses to do anything about it. Even at the best point in their relationship Mira can muster no more than indifference to her son-in-law Michael. As a result, April's the only one Mira expects to have a relationship with when Deanna's divorce with Michael is finalized.
- Conversely, the Pattersons (again barring April) view Mira as this, particularly Elly, who feels she's usurping her position in the family.
- In the Team Fortress 2 fic I'll Be Home for the Holidays the RED Sniper's brother-in-law, Jack Williams, is a thoroughly obnoxious and unpleasant person who gossips about Sniper behind his back and is revealed to have bullied him when they were children. The worst of his Kick the Dog moments comes when he wrecks Sniper's relationship with his father, which is finally beginning to heal, by revealing Sniper's rifle to his father and showing that he isn't a doctor as he was pretending to be. One wonders why Sniper's sister, Lizzie, even married him in the first place.
- Mr. Satou to Hisao in Lilly Epilogue Family Matters, who doesn't think much of Hisao, Hanako, or Lilly's decision to remain in Japan; he is such a Jerkass that he outrages his older daughter Akira, and eventually, Lilly loses her temper and throws him out of the apartment. Ultimately, however, he relents, apologizes to Lilly and gives Hisao his approval.
- In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, the usual dynamic is inverted. Reuben Ashford is continuously vexed by his daughter-in-law Melisande's attempts to replace him as head of the family.
- In the Team Fortress 2 fanfic Kidfic, Sophia's adoptive parents absolutely cannot stand Liam due to him being a "thug from Southie." The way they treat their daughter, however, isn't that much better.
- On the flip side, Sophia gets along relatively well with Liam's mother Colleen.
- In How the Light Gets In, Laurel's parents hate Dean, her father largely because he thinks Dean isn't good enough for her and recognizes Dean's basically a criminal, while her mother blames Dean for strained her relationship with Laurel is (smoothly ignoring that's her own fault). Dean isn't very fond of them either. However, he adores Laurel's grandmother and his relationship with Sara is dysfunctional but still relatively loving.
- Completely averted with Laurel however, who gets along with Sam and the rest of Dean's extended family very well.
Films — Live-Action
- Fatty's Tintype Tangle features Fatty Arbuckle being harassed by his domineering mother-in-law, who appears to live with them despite having her own house.
- The mother-in-law of Julia in Julia Misbehaves is responsible for Julia's marriage falling apart with husband William, possibly due to her prejudices towards her daughter-in-law because she isn't from Old Money like their family.
- In The Ref, this is played straight with the mother-in-law from hell Rose Chasseur, but subverted with both of her sons' families. Brother and sister-in-law Gary and Connie Chasseur initially seem like classic obnoxious in-laws, but they become slightly sympathetic characters when it turns out they're as fed up with "Mother Rose" as everybody else. Plus, even though the main couple played by Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis get the Sympathetic P.O.V., it's clear that they could just as easily be considered obnoxious in-laws themselves.
Gus: (holding a gun to Mrs. Chasseur's head) Nobody move or I'll shoot!
Connie: Go ahead, kill her.
- This is basically the plot of the 2005 movie Monster-in-Law.
- Eat Drink Man Woman has Madam Liang, who spends almost all of her screen time berating her daughters as burdensome and insulting the men they married. She is visibly elated when her daughter in America gets divorced, and vows to mount the divorce papers over the toilet.
- Robert De Niro's character Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents and its sequels is this to the Nth degree, trying everything to ruin the life of his daughter's latest fiancé (including shooting him full of Truth Serum and leaving him to deal with the subsequent Mushroom Samba embarrassment) because he's a hyper-paranoid Jerkass. It gets to the point that you wonder why she doesn't say or do anything to stop it, particularly when it's mentioned he does this with every boy she brings home and that he constantly keeps secrets from his own family and never fully trusts them, yet he keeps enforcing his "Circle Of Trust" system as a way to keep them from hiding secrets from him in the first place.
- An offscreen example in Get Smart. Dalip, The Brute working for KAOS, has a hellish sister-in-law who's constantly undermining his relationship with his wife and trying to break them up, which causes him endless grief at home. Max manages to keep Dalip from killing him by giving him advice on how to keep his wife and her sister from spending too much time together without looking like the bad guy.
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World has Milton Berle hounded by his harridan mother-in-law (Ethel Merman) and hipster-doofus brother-in-law (Dick Shawn). In all fairness, his own wife (Dorothy Provine), faced with the opportunity, shows a desire to flee them all.
- Fargo has the obnoxiousness of Jerry Lundegaard's father-in-law Wade Gustafson be one of the primary ways that Jerry's Batman Gambit turns into a very dark "Fawlty Towers" Plot.
- Guess Who features a white man dating a black woman whose father would rather have her dating a fellow African-American.
- On Over the Top, we have grandfather Jason Cutler, who hates Lincoln and while in the right that Lincoln (a simple trucker and estranged father) cannot provide to Michael in the way that he (a millionaire) can, especially once Michael's mother dies and leaves Lincoln with the kid's custody, still tries to invoke Screw the Rules, I Have Money! (trying to buy Lincoln off, hiring an army of lawyers to try to find a legal loophole to take Michael away from Lincoln), Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! and makes a continuous barrage of Kick the Dog moments (every conversation he has with Lincoln including a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, keeping the letters Lincoln wrote to his family locked away and telling Michael that Lincoln never cared for him and hiring people to kidnap his grandson and rough Lincoln up) on his single-minded quest to keep father and son apart. Even after Lincoln signs off Michael's custody to Cutler, Cutler still flies to Las Vegas and tries to bribe Lincoln into disappearing forever from the Cutlers' sights, apparently because he disliked the fact that Michael disobeyed him to go cheer Lincoln at the arm wrestling competition.
- One man once wrote a letter to his daughter's ex-boyfriend. He claims he can't sleep ever since he damaged the relationship. He claims he's writing the letter in hopes the potential son-in-law forgives and forgets. The man said that, when he saw the boy for the first time, he was surprised with the tattoos and the nose ring, but nowadays he doesn't mind that much. He also understands that riding a motorcycle in high speed and without a helmet isn't that dangerous as long as one pays attention to the other vehicles. The man also understands his reaction to the fact the boy never worked was quite inadequate and too extreme and unfair. He's quite convinced many good and able people also must live under bridges and sleeping in parks. He now also understands that the fact his daughter wants to get married at age 17 instead of attending an ivy-league college, is simply an alternative for her education, since not everything is taught at books and school. Sometimes he realizes how outdated he could be while meddling in topics of those nature and he recognizes he's wrong. He claims to have been foolish for opposing them and wished to redeem himself by giving his blessings. He even signed his letter as "your future father-in-law". Then he wrote a P.S. congratulating the boy for his lottery winnings.
- A police recruit is taking a test. One of the questions is "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother-in-law?" He immediately answered "Call for backup."
- What's the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted!
- What's the definition of "mixed feelings"? Watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new car.
- A man is vacationing in the Middle East with his wife's family. While in Jerusalem, his mother-in-law dies. He goes to the American consulate to arrange for the body to be transported back to the States for burial, where the consul informs him that it would be much cheaper to just bury her in Jerusalem. The man insists that the body be returned to the States. The consul comments that he must love her very much, but the man replies that he once heard of a case where someone buried in Jerusalem rose from the dead three days later, and he didn't want to take that chance.
- Why is bigamy its own punishment? Two mother-in-laws.
- An old French joke bordering on Gag Dub translated the Latin quote "Bellaque Matribus Detestata" (the war that mothers hate) as "Belle-Mère Detestée" (hated mother-in-Law).
- A man walking down the street sees a funeral procession walking by with what seems to be half the town following it. Curious, he goes up to the man just behind the coffin to ask what's going on. "I'm burying my mother-in-law." "What did she die of?" "Well, she was visiting us, and all of a sudden my two Rottweilers jumped up and mauled her to death. It was a horrible, agonizing death." "...Are those dogs available to rent by any chance?" The man then sweeps his arm towards the massive crowd behind him and says "Get in line!"
- There is a joke about a young man who brings home three pretty girls, and asks his mother whether she can guess whom he intends to marry. The woman points out the correct one without hesitating, because she can't stand her already.
- Did you know you can re-arrange the letters in "mother-in-law" and get "woman Hitler"?
- In A Brother's Price, Princess Ren is friends with one of her sisters-in-law, Kij Porter, but doesn't like her snobbish mothers-in-law. As her husband (who was a jerk) is dead, and there were never any children, Ren hopes that she won't have much to do with the Porters in the future, when she and her sisters have remarried. (As all sisters in a family marry one husband, and are considered mothers of all the children of that marriage, there's usually lots of mothers-in-law.) Keifer Porter, the princesses' late husband, poisoned their father, making him the worst son-in-law ever.
- In the Discworld novels, Nanny Ogg is this towards her daughters-in-law, but not her sons-in-law.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Molly and her daughter Ginny don't approve Bill's (Molly's first-born) marriage to Fleur Delacour. In the end, when Bill's battle scars didn't make Fleur like Bill any less, Molly and (presumably) Ginny warmed up to her.
Ginny: I suppose I'm just going to have to accept that he really is going to marry her.
Harry: She's all right. (hastily) Ugly, though.
- Subverted in the seventh book, where Fleur's parents show up and get along with the Weasleys wonderfully.
- Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, Rebekah is "vexed" by the wives of Esau. It seems to be mostly because they are Canaanites, and follow Canaanite traditions and customs, worshiping their gods instead of the God of Abraham.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, in-laws rarely get along. The best example is Cersei Lannister, who hates her new daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell and the feeling turns out to be mutual. Cersei resents Margaery's growing influence on her son Tommen. Especially since Margaery is trying to make Tommen into a more proactive ruler and encouraging him to think for himself instead of doing everything his mommy tells him. The noble families in Westeros use marriage as a political tool to seal alliances, meaning a lot of the time the in-laws hated each other before the marriage too.
- Baratheons just have this knack: Stannis has... the whole pack of Florents to deal with. On the plus-side, he doesn't have Robert's megaton issues with the crafty Lannisters. On the minus, they're more tooth-grindingly arrogant for no reason and with less financial backing to help ease the pain.
- One Sherlock Holmes story revolves around a man living a happy life until his wife's sister came to visit and stayed. Once he refused her advances she was a lot worse.
- Sense and Sensibility: Elinor Dashwood is charmed by Edward Ferrars and likes him a lot. However, she's not pleased to learn that he's the only nice person in his family. His mother, sister Fanny and brother Robert are all completely insufferable jerks.
- In the seventh book of the The Black Company, the annalist, Murgen, gets married. His mother-in-law, Ki Gota, seems to have been specifically crafted to amplify the horrors of the siege conditions the book takes place under. In the following book, it's noted that her own people refer to her as "the troll" behind her back.
- Horatio Hornblower has his mother-in-law from his first marriage, Mrs. Mason. When she visits them to help Maria recover from giving birth, Hornblower goes back to the habits he developed to survive under the insane Captain Sawyer from Lieutenant. In his second marriage, his brother-in-law is the Duke of Wellington—while they're only shown speaking once, he needles and out-snarks Hornblower.
- Demeter is this to Hades in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. She constantly complains to Hades about how he makes her daughter live in the Underworld for half the year, and to Persephone for marrying him in the first place.
Demeter: I warned you, daughter. This scoundrel Hades is no good. You could've married the god of doctors or the god of lawyers, but noooo. You had to eat the pomegranate.
- The irony is that Demeter is also Hades' older sister and so is doubly obnoxious.
- Though they are not married, Athena condemns the romance between her daughter Annabeth and Percy, the son of her rival Poseidon. Even then, Athena is more outright threatening then obnoxious and seems willing (however reluctantly) to at least give Percy a chance. It is unknown what Poseidon thinks of the relationship.
- In Maeve Binchy's Scarlet Feather, main character Cathy has a hate-filled relationship with her mother-in-law Hannah Mitchell. Mrs. Mitchell cannot stand her for two reasons: she dared to marry her son Neil, and she is the former maid's daughter so not of the same 'class'.
- Denth in Warbreaker started a second World War as part of a plot to capture and kill his brother-in-law. Of course, that brother-in-law had previously killed his wife (Denth's sister).
- Light A Penny Candle has Maureen's mother-in-law, Mrs Daly, who is dismissive of everything Maureen does, and is very possessive of her grandchildren. Subverted with Aisling's mother-in-law Mrs Murray, who appears like this at first, but turns out to be a lonely old woman.
- The Addams Family:
- Brought up in Addams Family Reunion by Morticia: when Gomez asks if she's noticed anything strange about his grandparents, who are visiting, her response is:
"Now, keep in mind that for me they are still in-laws. Tradition dictates that I must despise them. Regardless of my own personal feelings in the matter."
- Averted in the same series as Morticia gets along well with Uncle Fester and Gomez is liked by Mama, who are both their in-laws in the film's universe. In the television series it was the other way around- Fester was Morticia's relative and Mama was Gomez's mother, but the family still got along splendidly.
- Brought up in Addams Family Reunion by Morticia: when Gomez asks if she's noticed anything strange about his grandparents, who are visiting, her response is:
- All of Samantha's family in Bewitched. Poor Darin is often on the recieving end of some curse. In fact, the only one of Sam's relatives who appears to treat Darrin with any kind of respect is Aunt Clara, and even her Inept Mage tendencies still causes him trouble.
- On Cheers, Frasier's mom Hester outright threatens to murder Diane when she finds she's engaged to her son. She eventually patches things up and they decide to try and get along better from then on, then she attempts to bribe Sam into stealing Diane back once the two of them are out of an earshot.
- Both sets of parents on Dharma & Greg tend to be intrusive, but Kitty (Greg's Rich Bitch mother) is the one who really fit the stereotype.
- Everybody Loves Raymond Ray's mother, Marie, frequently came across the street to her son's home to make sure things were being run according to her style of housekeeping. She also didn't exactly approve of Debra, and wasn't shy about showing it, though in fairness a lot of that could be chalked up to the fact that Marie sees how disdainful and bullying Debra is towards Ray, and wants Ray to realize this as well. Frank—Ray's father—also comes over frequently, and tends to eat Ray's food and use his TV whenever he feels like it.
- Debra's Bourgeois Bohemian parents also find the Barones to be somewhat difficult.
- And Amy's family all find reasons for not wanting her to marry Robert Barone. Becoming relatives by marriage to Frank and Marie is no small part of it. The fault line between the WASP/Protestant McDougals and the Italian-American Catholic Barones is also a strain on the in-law relationship.
- Niles Crane from Frasier was like this with Lillith in the first season, because Lillith sniggered at Maris' wedding vows. Considering how much worse Maris proved to be, this would make Niles a bit of a hypocrite.
- Game of Thrones:
- Catelyn to Talisa, initially. In "The Rains of Castamere", she finally seems to warm up to her after overhearing Talisa say that she's going to name her and Robb's child, "Eddard", if it's a boy.
- Robert used to rub Tywin the wrong way by patting him on the back.
- Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife does not like her mother-in-law. This is demonstrated by the fact that the ring tone allocated to her on her cell phone is the music from The Twilight Zone.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall's mother hates Lily. It probably has something to do with the way Lily ran off on Marshall a couple of months before their wedding (as there was never any contention between them mentioned or shown prior to this). Though Marshall and Lily eventually made up, it would appear Marshall's mother never forgot. She also didn't like that Lily refused to be a "Mrs. Eriksen" by keeping her own name.
- Carla believes her brother can only speak Spanish, but he learned English some time ago. He deliberately only speaks English in front of Turk, so that Turk will look like an asshole when protesting he knows the language. After Turk manages to trick him into revealing he's bilingual, he gets no reprimand from his sister. Even after he punches her boyfriend in the face directly in front of her. Similarly, whenever Turk says something bad about Carla's mom, she makes him go to her grave and beg for forgiveness (he often comes back and says "She still hates me").
- On the other hand, Carla was terrified at how great she and his mom got on, afraid that he was acting out some Oedipal issues. He explains that it's not like that, he was just raised to respect and admire strong, independent women (like his mother), so of course he would end up with one.
- There's a Greek sitcom called Seven Deadly Mother-in-Laws running with much success for over three seasons; the author believes the theme is clear. They originally took stereotypical mother-in-laws from various regions of Greece, but it soon extended far beyond the original seven. The show REALLY jumped the shark with the Mother-in-Law from Space...
- In That '70s Show, Red Forman's mother, Bernice is incredibly obnoxious and rude to everyone, but especially to her daughter-in-law, Kitty. Kitty's own mother is not much better - however, she upsets Kitty more than Red.
- Of the four main adult characters from Yes, Dear, three of them have an in-law for each: Don (Kim and Christine's father) for Greg, Jenny (Kim and Christine's mother) for Jimmy, and Natalie (Greg's mother) for Kim. Christine doesn't have this problem, though. On the other hand, considering the tension that exists between brothers-in-law Greg and Jimmy, much of the show has this trope as its premise.
- In The Honeymooners, Ralph dreads the visits of his mother-in-law, because she constantly implies that Alice could've done better than him.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
- Master Vile (Rita's dad) and Lord Zedd don't get along. Hilariously.
- Lord Zedd isn't too fond of Rito Revolto (Rita's brother) either.
- An episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine involves Jadzia Dax trying to impress the matriarch of Worf's family, who does not like the idea of a Trill daughter-in-law. Jadzia's attitude doesn't help.
- And speaking of Trek, she doesn't become a formal in-law until Nemesis and the subsequent Expanded Universe novels, but Deanna Troi's mother definitely counts.
- One episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had a plot too similar to the movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Even the way the African-American family found out she was dating a white man was the same. Most of the family warmed up to him quickly (though it was a rocky start), but Will's mother took a while. It should probably be noted that the remade Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (where the characters' races line up with this example) was made nine years after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended production, as opposed to the original where it was a black man marrying a white woman
- Gilmore Girls:
- Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore, Richard's mother and Lorelai's paternal grandmother takes this to an art form, being capable of inspiring terror in Emily the second it is announced that she's going to visit. In many ways, it mirrors the relationship between Emily and Lorelai, but Trix and Emily's relationship worsens each time. Her crowning moment would be when Emily discovers a secret letter that Trix wrote to Richard begging him not to marry Emily as she was not suitable for the Gilmore name while she handles Trix's funeral arrangements and will.
- Emily follows this tradition and is absolutely horrible to Luke, Lorelai's boyfriend and later fiancé. She alienates and degrades him at every opportunity, going as far to try and set Lorelai up with her ex-boyfriend Christopher in hopes she and Luke would break up. Her plan succeeds but leaves both of them so devestated that Lorelai refuses to talk her ever again. Emily eventually backs down and accepts them together. Her main object is Lorelai is very much an Uptown Girl to working class Luke, and Emily thinks he's unworthy to marry into the Gilmore family. (Considering what she suffered with Trix, its hard to find a bigger hypocrite).
- Luke views his brother-in-law TJ as this and only tolerates him for his sister Liz's sake. In an aversion, TJ is simply obliviously obnoxious as he does like Luke and treats him like a brother. (Jess flat out can't stand him because he's loud and because he already holds a dim view of his mother's taste in men.)
- Mild version on CSI Betty Grissom disapproving of Sara marrying her son. Thinks the long distance aspect isn't good. Fortunately, she settles down and things are improved by the episode's end.
- Bob Duncan's mother-in-law of Good Luck Charlie thinks he's a pea-brained buffoon who's done a deplorable job of raising his kids.
- In Life With Derek, Nora's mother Felicia liked her first husband just fine, but doesn't care at all for her current husband George, mostly because she doesn't believe in divorce.
- An unusual variant occurs on Blossom between her father Nick Russo and her maternal grandfather Buzz Richman. Buzz doesn't really have anything against Nick, but Nick resents him for coming to the Russo house and sponging off them when he visits. The fact that Buzz's daughter abandoned Nick and the kids doesn't exactly help matters.
- Sylvie's mother in Un Gars Une Fille loathes Guy, who reminds her of her husband, who was unfaithful.
- On Sex and the City, Charlotte has to contend with her husband Trey's overbearing mother Bunny, who starts out relatively okay, but ultimately tries to interfere in every decision the couple makes.
- Reuben's mother, who criticizes everything about Thelma, until the couple finally tells her off.
- Ernie is like this even though he likes Reuben, due to his overprotective ways.
- Ernie's own father-in-law was like this to him, cutting his daughter off because he disapproved of her marrying Ernie.
- According to Jim:
- Jim's Sitcom Archnemesis is his sister-in-law Dana. However, they don't hate each other that much and do many things together or are sometimes nice to each other.
- Sometimes, Jim has some big arguments with his brother-in-law and best friend Andy.
- Jim's youngest daughter, Gracie, is the Sitcom Archnemesis to Andy, her uncle.
- Inverted with Maggy, the mother-in-law of both Jim and Ryan. They both love her and she loves everyone in her family.
Jim: You know someone like you is a give. Someone you don't want to argue, but argue for her.
- In Rodney, Rodney is hated by his father-in-law Carl because he thinks that Rodney is a no-good who has stolen his daughter. On the other hand, Rodney has a good relationship with his sister-in-law Charlie.
- A tradition of Brazilian comedy series, specially when the son-in-law is deserving. Of note is sitcom Sai de Baixo, where Caco Antibes called his mother-in-law Cassandra 'Cascacu' (a mix between "cascavel", rattlesnake, and surucucu) and frequently hazed her hair, clothes and supposed lewd behavior - and the actor loved to improvise by adding an Actor Allusion to her career or even kiss her!
- All over the place on The Golden Girls.
- Sophia was extremely obnoxious to her son Phil's wife. She couldn't even be nice to her at his funeral. It ultimately wasn't that Sophia disliked her, but that she needed someone to redirect the blame to over Phil's crossdressing. She's also implied to have been no less obnoxious to Dorothy's ex-husband Stan before the divorce than she was after, having never forgiven him for getting Dorothy pregnant at seventeen and cheating on her multiple times after their Shotgun Wedding. The only one of her children's spouses she wasn't obnoxious to was Gloria's very wealthy husband.
- Dorothy's ex-mother-in-law was an odd example. She actually liked Dorothy, yet it was Stan whom she didn't like. The only reason she was mean to Dorothy was because if Stan thought she liked Dorothy he'd be around her place all the time asking for money.
- Blanche's mother-in-law would always introduce her as her son's first wife, while they were still married, and wished on her deathbed for Blanche to have the disease that was killing her. Blanche's only response to hearing that she died was to say that she hoped the old witch went slowly. Blanche herself is implied to be obnoxious to her own unseen son-in-law, derisively referring to him as "the Yankee".
- Furthermore, Sophia said there was a tradition in Sicily that someone performs when their mother-in-law dies: they're supposed to wear a hair shirt, eat dirt, and pound their head on a rock... anything to keep you from laughing.
- Inverted on The George Lopez Show; George has issues with his biological mom, but gets along very well with his brother- and father-in-law, although initially, Angie's prominent cardiologist parents weren't too fond of George, feeling that Angie was "slumming it" and should have married somebody much more well-off.
- On Roseanne, Roseanne and Dan despised Becky's greaser boyfriend Mark. This case is somewhat Justified, as Mark doesn't treat Becky exceptionally well initially, being really selfish and obnoxious. When Mark confronts Roseanne about this, she says she would have treated him like a king if she felt like he'd treated Becky with any kind of respect. Darlene's steady boyfriend David fared quite a bit better. Initially they dislike David for being Mark's brother and assume he's just like him. However, when they realize he was almost his exact opposite, they warm up, allowing him to live with them to escape his abusive mother; Roseanne even tries to shove David and Darlene back together after they break up.
- Ethyl to Earl on Dinosaurs. She thinks he's a no good bum with no ambition.
- Never shown onscreen, but Roy seems to view his this way on Emergency!. She apparently saw him as having the brains to be a doctor but not wanting to do it, settling for paramedic instead.
- On Martin, Martin's mother note despises her son's girlfriend (and later, wife) Gina. She believes that Gina is unworthy of her son because she doesn't take care of Martin the same way she does. Gina is a career woman who doesn't have the time or the patience to baby her husband. Mama Payne is a nasty example, too; she regularly and openly threatens to kill her hapless daughter-in-law!
- Inverted on Last Man Standing. Mike hates Vanessa's sister April because she a) still acts like a teenager even though she's 40 b) always borrows money from them and never pays it back and c) is a terrible influence on the kids (especially Mandy).
- London's Burning: George ends up punching out both his wife Kelly's brothers at the wedding reception. This sets the tone for every time they're on screen together until Kelly leaves him. (He gets on alright with his sister's hubby though.) And then there's Colin's mum...
- Growing Pains. Maggie's father hated her husband Jason, despite Jason being the kind of son-in-law you'd order from a catalog and has always been a good husband to Maggie and a good father to their children. His anger stems from the couple running off and eloping 20-something years ago. It's especially bad considering that Maggie's mother adores Jason and Jason's mother and Maggie get along beautifully.
- Jason himself is this to his mother's new husband.
- A Different World: Angered by Whitley mistaking her for a maid, Dwayne's mother is relentlessly nasty to Whitley throughout their relationship, despite her repeated, sincere attempts at making amends for this. It gets cranked Up to Eleven after Dwayne and Whitley marry, with her sending them a funeral wreath with a note that says, "Call me when you divorce her", then apparently holding firm to this, as Dwayne mentions that she hangs up on him everytime he calls.
- Murray Goldberg from The Goldbergs didn't get along with his father-in-law at first, though he eventually warms up to him. It's his biological father that he's on poorer terms with, however.
- The Kinks' "Situation Vacant" from Something Else by the Kinks tells the sad tale of a happy couple who get by okay, but his mother-in-law's pushing has him trying to find a better-paying job - he quits the job he has, they have to leave their apartment and skimp and scrape, and his wife leaves him and goes back to mother, who's now happy.
- New Orleans R&B guy Ernie K. Doe's big hit — "Mother-In-Law".
- Spike Jones's "William Tell Overture" racehorse routine: "Mother-in-Law nagging in the rear!" "Aaaaah-aaaah-aaaah!!" This is clearly after Feetlebaum leaves his position well behind the rear of the pack.
- In "The 12 Pains of Christmas", the sixth pain is "facing my in-laws". It's sung by a frantic woman panicking over having to make dinner for her mother-in-law.
She's a witch! I hate her!
Donations, and what do you mean your in-laws!?
- Her husband (who sings the seventh pain about donations to the Salvation Army) is not pleased that she's so focused on the obnoxiousness of her in-laws...because he's equally annoyed by his in-laws.
- Brazilian comedian Kaquinho Big Dog had a song saying that if your in-law is suddenly helpful, check if she's drooling or bug-eyed, it might be mad cow disease!
- Greek mythology. According to the account, Demeter takes Persephone away from her husband Hades for one-to-two thirds of each year, originally having been prepared to sacrifice humankind in return for her daughter's remaining unmarried. Demeter is also Hades' older sister.
- Also, Aphrodite is extremely against this one lady called 'Psyche' who is claimed to be more beautiful than her, siccing her son Eros to curse her to fall in love with a hideous creature, but then Eros fell in love with Psyche instead. Throughout the story, Aphrodite is absolutely against the marriage, either by forbidding Eros to do so or setting up Psyche to do impossible tasks. It only stopped when not only did Psyche complete the tasks, Eros also asked Zeus' help to tell Aphrodite to cut the crap already and let the two get married.
- This trope is the whole reason behind Romeo and Juliet. If only they had thought to ask their parents they would have learned that her father didn't actually think Romeo was a bad person.
- The staunch, extremely right-wing, Good Old Boy "moralist" Eduoard Dindon who rudely derides Albin and Georges' lifestyle in La Cage aux Folles.
- One of the funniest examples is in Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp. The entire first level has Dirk trying to escape Daphne's mother (who resembles a retired opera star... boy, even her name is Hilda!). She starts chasing Dirk with a rolling pin after she finds out that he let Daphne get kidnapped again. If the player presses the wrong button, Dirk can actually get killed by her! Dirk runs away from her on a horse, but she starts following him on an ox, trying to bash the living daylights out of him while telling him to go rescue Daphne.
Hilda: Kidnapped?... My Daphne, kidnapped again?!! Idiot! Dummkopf! You! Better! Find! My! Daughter! OR! ELSE! (throws a crate full of chickens at Dirk) COWARD!!! DIRK! I KNOW YOU'RE IN HERE!! I raised a Princess who married a frog!! Dirk! Hold still! You can run boy! But you cannot hide!
- The level ends with Dirk's mother-in-law hitting a giant snake (that, earlier on, was attacking Dirk), and telling it to "Shut up!" Just see it for yourself here.
- One level in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 centers on a female pro wrestler who marries the heir to a traditional Japanese inn... only to find his mother does not approve. The level involves said wrestler proving she can be a good inn hostess in order to earn the old woman's approval.
- Gravedigger Shen in Jade Empire has players deal with a few spirits who are out of their graves in the Necropolis. The first of them is apparently his mother-in-law, and he's especially happy that you put her down for the moment.
- In Elite: Dangerous, the passengers of Wedding Barges will sometimes say "At least I don't have to meet the in-laws" when their starship blows up.
- Even mezzacotta characters tell in-laws jokes!
- Dominic Deegan elected not to spend a whole arc on Dominic and Luna's wedding due to both in-story common sense and the fact that it would either have to be dull for weeks or Go Horribly Wrong, so they got married on the spot and sent a spell to tell everyone who might care. This was more or less fine with everyone. The first time elopement was floated, however, Dominic's mother Miranda reacted badly. She's always been awesome, though, and it was her guilt at her own reaction that prompted a minor flashback arc to the hell her parents put Donovan through back when they were affianced. Incredible level of messing with his mind, both with normal guilt-trips and sly insinuations and her illusionist father causing him to semi-constantly hallucinate vividly for days on end. Notably, Miranda gave them a very successful Shut Up, Hannibal! rant which included, "he was looking forward to calling you 'Mom and Dad!'" This was largely because Donovan was orphaned and raised by elves. One of the things this means is he grew up without a surname and took hers when they married, because elves weren't going to adopt a human enough to give him their family name.
- What's New? with Phil and Dixie, in the strip about castles:
Dixie: Well, the drawbridge is up, the windows are barred, and the fire moat is lit. So how about you and me...The dude with a grappling hook (behind her): Hello, daughter! I'm here for a visit! Where's the fridge?
- Inverted in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: Glon's mother is more likely to side with his wives than him when a matrimonial problem shows up, since he's still kind of immature.
- In one episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik is about to marry the guest character of the week. His mother crashes the wedding and instantly starts a room-destroying fist fight with the bride, for no apparent reason.
- In American Dad!, Francine's Chinese adoptive parents don't have any bad feelings for Stan, however whenever they show up they tend to take over the place.
Stan: They're loud, they're pushy, they make me feel like a guest in my own house!
- At the end of the episode, Francine's parents save Stan when the house catches fire, and her father expresses genuine fondness for him (saying that they don't have to worry about Francine's well-being because she married well). Stan's relationship with the Lings is shown to be much better in later episodes.
- In the Biker Mice from Mars episode "Stone Broke", the main villain Lawrence Limburger tries to get his funding back by adding his superior Lord Camembert's head to Mt. Rushmore and teleporting the whole thing to Camembert's garden. While only Camembert's head makes it there thanks to the actions of the Biker Mice, Camembert still gives Limburger his funding back because the stone head crushed his mother-in-law to death.
- Linda's mother in the second episode of Bob's Burgers so grates on Bob that he hides from her by pretending to be stuck inside the wall. Hilarity Ensues, but by the end of the episode they seem to be patching things up.
- In The Cleveland Show, Cleveland's mother Cookie frequently exchanges insults with Donna. Her first appearance implies she was not happy about her initially breaking her son's heart to be with Robert.
- Grug and Gran from The Croods do not get along at all. Their animosity throughout the movie is a Running Gag.
- Elise's parents in Dan Vs. to Chris. Chris being the Nice Guy he is tries to win them over, with limited success. Elise on the other hand finds their visits stressful because of their treatment of Chris, and Dan tries to convince Chris that his efforts to get them to like him are futile. In "Family Camping Trip" Chris does manage to win over Elise's mother, but her father still seems to hate him, even more so, due to one-upping Elise's ex-boyfriend who proved to be a coward in the face of danger. Taken Up to Eleven in "Chris". Elise' parents try to goad Dan into killing Chris. Dan refuses to go along with their plans since he doesn't trust people who want to have their own son-in-law killed off. Thankfully, Chris' brother-in-law isn't quite as bad as his parents.
- The Fairly Oddparents:
- Mama Cosma is this to Wanda and Big Daddy is this to Cosmo.
- In "Timmy Turnip", it turns out that Timmy's mom's parents don't like his dad, even continuously referring to him as the "son-in-law that we don't like" and, as a Running Gag, gives him bags full of rabid wesels.
- Family Guy
- Peter Griffin's father, Francis doesn't like that Peter has married a woman, Lois, who is Protestant. Lois is very happy when he dies.
- Lois' father, Carter, runs away with this trope as far as his relationship with Peter, to the point that he even lied in court when Peter was accused of murdering Lois (in Stewie's simulation). Other points of cruelty include putting out his cigar in his chest, forcing him to eat a pine cone while ostensibly saying it's to help Lois and forcing him to drink his diabetic blood (and then being absolutely amazed that he actually did it.) Before her death, Lois' Aunt Marguerite was apparently so mean, a visit from her was an Oh, Crap! moment for Peter.
- Peter usually gets along well with Lois' sister Carol (she being the only one in Lois' family who supported Lois and Peter's relationship), though is implied to loathe all of her previous husbands for their annoying habits. Her current spouse, Mayor Adam West is kooky and childlike enough to become Peter's friend however.
- In The Flintstones, Wilma's mother is like this with Fred. Though, he does treat her appropriately with equal hostility. In some incarnations, this is because Wilma's family is rich, and they're rather disappointed that Wilma married "beneath" her.
- Cotton Hill from King of the Hill. And Minh's father isn't too fond of Kahn. That said, Cotton only barely treats Peggy worse than he treats Hank.
"You're not even worthy to be married to my worthless, nothing-of-a-loser son."
- Some MGM cartoons directed by Tex Avery have brought this up as a Take That! moment, such as in the several "of Tomorrow" cartoons, which featured a Running Gag about detestable features reserved for the mother-in-law, clearly intended to show how unwelcome she is.
- In Rick and Morty, Rick is treated as a burden by his son-in-law due to being a Mad Scientist who wrangles his grandson Morty (and inevitably the rest of the family) in weird and dangerous misadventures, but for whatever reason Rick's daughter insists on letting him stay in the family. Rick for his part treats Jerry with nothing but contempt due to the fact that Jerry is a dullard who got his daughter pregnant when she was 17. Rick also isn't fond of the fact that Jerry is the father of his grandchildren and that his genes could affect them and turn them into losers. There's also a hint that Jerry is possibly jealous of the amount of time Summer and Morty spend with Rick and that they might view Rick as more of a role model than Jerry. However, unlike most examples, Rick never attempts outright to try and break his daughter and son-in-law up. In one episode, he even books them a couples therapy to help fix their marriage.
- The Simpsons:
- Patty and Selma (and their mother to a lesser extent) hate Homer so much they've nonchalantly reacted to his heart attack then proceeded to find Marge a man despite the fact he hadn't died, bought a tombstone with "Homer J. Simpson. We are richer for having lost him.", tried to get him kicked out of town, and kidnap/torture him (in full-blown Lighter and Softer-ish Saw rip-off style) during his renewal of his vows with Marge (they seriously thought that if they kept him away Marge would just up and go choose another man eventually). This doesn't even include the verbal insults. Obviously, this is depending on the episode. In one episode, Selma thanks Homer for helping her get Ling (her Chinese adopted baby), and Marge's mother didn't really get angry and actually said that Patty and Selma were evil. Selma is more often the more civil one and Patty even asked Homer to perform her wedding after he became an ordained minister.
- Agnes Skinner with his son Seymour. She hates Seymour's choice in women, especially Edna Krabappel.
- In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Mary Jane's aunt Anna has nothing but bad things to say about Peter in spite of the fact that Peter was never anything but courteous towards her. She sets out to find fault in every little thing he says/does. At one point she sics The Punisher on him! (Albeit unintentionally. She just happened to believe that Peter had something to do with MJ's disappearance and voiced this concern to Frank and she happened to be Right for the Wrong Reasons: it was Peter's fault, because she was collateral damage to one of his fights as Spidey. But, once again, Anna didn't knew that—she's only thinking Peter's to blame for no good reason other that her own immense distrust of him.) "Return of Hydro Man part 1" is when Peter finally gets sick of it and calls her out on it.
- In one episode of "The Bears' Family Album" segment of The Woody Woodpecker Show, Charlie Bear tried to escape his mother-in-law, who spent the biggest part of the episode nagging him into spring cleaning while all he wanted to do was fishing with a friend. As an unexpected result of his last plan, Charlie met a guard who, once meeting the mother-in-law, decided Charlie had already had enough and let him go while he started to point out irregularities with her car. Charlie and his friend ended the episode laughing at her misfortune with the guard.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: "Game of Flags" shows there's more than a little hostility between Queen Moon's side of the family (the Butterflies, a clan of conniving and foppish nobles) and King River's side of the family (the Johansens, a clan of uncouth barbarian warriors).
- Lets face it, some of us have, at least, one.
- Advice columns are rife with stories about people like this—Dear Prudence even printed a compilation of the best/worst stories, the winner/loser of which was the woman who realized that her mother-in-law was poisoning her.
- There's an entire Reddit support group called Just No Mother-In-Law that helps people deal with their awful mothers/mother-in-laws ... where some of the worst stories include suicide, attempted suicide, attempted murder of adults and children, kidnapping, arson, assault, involuntary psychiatric holds, killing pets, emotional/physical incest, and wearing a wedding dress to their son's/daughter's wedding.
- Previous to the Cultural Revolution, the obnoxious in-law was such a self-perpetuating cycle (new wife/concubine moves into her husband's household; disapproving mother-in-law and/or head wife/other concubine makes life hell for the wife/concubine; wife/concubine becomes most emotionally attached to her own son(s); son becomes old enough to get married; rinse and repeat) in China that it was taken as a matter of fact.