troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Stage Mom
Behind this child actor is a fame-hungry parent.

"I've always dreamed of becoming an actress. That's not why I'm pushing Olivia to do it. Is it suspicious that I brought that up unprovoked?"
Olivia's mother, Family Guy

Sometimes parents really want their kids to become child stars. However, they tend to interfere in the actual work, causing problems in the very works they want to make their children stars. Often they can help their kids start successful careers, but in fiction, it's very rare.

Similar in theme to an Education Mama, but usually presented as more malicious, as she persecutes other people's children as well as being pushy to the point of insanity with her own. She'll often have self-serving reasons for pushing her kids into showbiz (as demonstrated by the above quote), using them to vicariously experience the fame and fortune that she had dreamed of, and possibly being a failed actress or musician herself. In this case, the trope overlaps with Coattail-Riding Relative. The kid will often turn out to be the worst kind of Former Child Star if she isn't brought into check.

Stage Mom's may also take on a late role, suddenly interfering with a long lost son or daughter's off-screen fame and manipulate said famous kin's exploitable trait (such as being kind and/or aloof to the Stage Mom and his/her agenda), which will near enough always turn on it's head at some point in the story (as good will always triumph over evil etc.) and the Stage Mom will realise what a bad parent they have been, which may or may not be followed by the child doing something to wrap up the plot so that writers don't have to worry about that plot point anymore, such as disowning them, or that they aren't mentioned afterwards. Late Stage Moms are often the result of loose ends involving the Parent and Child.

This is almost Always Female for cultural reasons. A man is expected to earn stuff on their own, and if he and his wife are both pushy stage parents the wife is usually the one on the scene to take the blame (see Shirley Temple). If a dad is the pushy parent, it's more likely to be in sports rather than showbiz, as becoming an athlete is a more socially-acceptable boyhood dream than singing (with the exception of maybe becoming a rock star), dancing, or acting due to the stereotype that such aspirations are effeminate for boys. The "living their childhood dreams through their kids" aspect will often be out in full force in this case.

Not wanting to deal with stage moms is one of the many reasons why Dawson Casting exists.


Fictional examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happened with Kohane's mother in xxxHOLiC, who pushes her young girl to appear on television specials, even when the girl is clearly uncomfortable and only wants her mother's affection.
  • Onpu Segawa's mother Mio, in Ojamajo Doremi, is a milder version of the trope. She does care for Onpu somewhat more than the typical Stage Mom but still pushes her to be an Idol Singer like she used to be and is often out working when she should be with Onpu. When poor Onpu falls into a Convenient Coma after using her power against the rules too frequently, Mio has an Heroic BSOD and blames herself heavily, thinking she pushed Onpu too much towards success and caused her to collapse.
    • Haruka Harukaze, Doremi's Tsundere mother and an ex-pianist who lost her career due to a Game-Breaking Injury, was close to become one. When little Doremi showed some degree of musical talent, she tried to shape her into a good pianist, but Doremi panicked when on-stage and Haruka didn't insist. She felt so guilty about it that when Doremi's little sister Poppu wanted her mom to teach her how to play, it took both her and Doremi's efforts to convince her.
  • Subverted by Miyata's father in Hajime No Ippo. While his son Ichiro took up boxing few after Miyata-san's forceful retirement, it was because of Miyata's own will and not because his dad pressured him to do it, and father and son care for each other very much.
  • In Charisma Doll Kazuma wants Sara to "follow in her footsteps" and have a chance to be a star. Sara doesn't like being a pop idol, because she feels that her androgynous appearance and voice are nothing but a cheap gimmick to get money.
    Sara: Remember this... a kid is not a parent's doll.
  • Sawakita's father in Slam Dunk looks like this a little, but he's actually an aversion since he does truly care for Sawakita himself.
  • In Speed Grapher's first episode, a young would-be ballerina and her stage mom visit the ballet dancer Kazuya Shirogane in his camerino so the girl can show off her dancing skills and become his pupil. Shirogane turns out to be an Euphoric, and ends up breaking the girl's arm while screaming "Not flexible! Not flexible! NOT FLEXIBLE".
  • Hotohori's mother from Fushigi Yuugi.
  • In the hospital arc from Candy Candy, the titular Candy has to deal with the overbearing and bitchy mother of a little girl who's hospitalised in the clinic she works in. Of course, she's one of these. The massive pressure that the lady put on her piano prodigy daughter is what actually drove the kid into illness. Candy befriends the girl, listens to her plea, and then call the mother out on how deeply she had screwed up with the kid's life. Fortunately, the mom does realise how wrong the deal was, asks for her daughter's forgiveness and straightens up her act.
  • Averted with Schneider's father in Captain Tsubasa, since Rudi Schneider is a former player and now coach but his son Karl-Heinz is a soccer player by his own choice and is actually The Ace of the German team.
    • The trope is implied in the case of the Konsawatto family, however, since the three sons are very popular sepak takraw players in their native Thailand and their dad was a former player as well. Mr. Konsawatto tells his kids that, if the Thai team qualifies for the WYC, he'll let them switch from sepak takraw to soccer; they lose to Tsubasa and Co., but he still allows them to keep on playing soccer.

    Comic Books 
  • The original Silk Spectre from Watchmen coached her daughter to take up her profession.
  • Bonnie Jones nee King, Cissie Jones-King aka Arrowette's mother from Young Justice in The DCU, was a superhero stage mother, pushing her daughter into becoming a superhero because of her own frustrated ambitions. In issue #7, this angered Wonder Girl's mother, who has the exact opposite attitude towards her daughter Cassie's heroics. She called out Bonnie on caring more about fame than her daughter's safety, asking whether she even knew that Arrowette had recently taken an arrow through the shoulder. This resulted in a Cat Fight.
    • It was also pointed out around that time that the costume that Bonnie had made for Cissie was more flashy than functional, and didn't protect her very well (several iterations of it were a sparkly, girly mini-dress). Arrowette's costume change to a more sensible one (yes, the bare midriff was more sensible than what she had on before) was supposed to signify that Bonnie had backed off.
    • Nightwing chewed that mom out too (he had showed up at the parents conference for Tim).
    • Although her role in Young Justice is better remembered, Cissie first appeared in the pages of Impulse, where her mother was contrasted with Max Mercury (a wiser, more laid back superhero mentor, who was all about teaching caution and planning to his student). The issue ends with Mercury calling Child Services on Bonnie.
    • When Cissie quit the superhero game, Bonnie was quick to find a new vocation for her: competitive archery. Cissie qualified for the US Olympic team and eventually won gold, after which point her mother started scheduling public appearances like mall openings.
  • The Mark Waid Strange miniseries featured pageant mothers who made deals with a demon so that their daughters would win. As one would expect (and because the demon was a huge cheater who decided he didn't have to adhere to the rules of magic), this backfired horribly. Some readers concurred that everything but the Deal with the Devil is Truth in Television.
  • Striker of Avengers Academy had a mother like this who gave him his drive to be famous.
    • Even worse, at one point in the series, it's revealed that she allowed him to be sexually abused so that he would get cast in a commercial.
  • Henry "The Duke" Duke of The Intimates didn't want to play football (he prefers golf), but his dad made him. He's not so sure he wants to be a superhero either (he's more into space travel), but his dad doesn't want to hear it.
  • One MAD article, showing some children playing sports, points to parents trying to live vicariously through their children.
    • Another article in late 2012 parodied this by giving "guidelines" for paegent moms to follow.
  • The Flash's mother in Tangent Comics loves the limelight, and tries to keep it on her and her daughter any way she can. The Flash, for one, doesn't care much about being a star, but there's no reasoning with a larger-than-life figure like her mom.

    Fan Fic 
  • Jenny Sr. from Misfiled Dreams, as revealed by Jenny Jr. in "Carbon Dreams".

    Films 
  • Gypsy. See "Theatre"
  • In Beaches, there were some stage mothers as well.
  • Violet's mother in the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We don't see her interacting with (or even acknowledging the existence of) the other kids or parents, but she keeps pushing Violet and plays up to a very indifferent Willy.
  • The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom and Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story, two movies about the same real-life Stage Mom. The first one had Holly Hunter playing said mom.
  • Little Miss Sunshine was all over this. Not with the family itself, but when they get to the pagent and see the other contestants and their families.
  • Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray, who, among other things, tries to switch the votes for Miss Teenage Hairspray and before that, attempt to seduce Tracy's dad to get her kicked off.
  • Kim Cattrall's character in Ice Princess, in a rare semi-sympathetic example.
  • Kirstie Alley's character in the black comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous takes it to the biggest extremes, as she's determined to have her daughter Rebecca (played by Denise Richards) win every single contest she's in by sabotaging them. The kid finally ends up dead... when her mom lights up fireworks placed under a swan float she's in.
  • Male example: "Andrew! You've got to be NUMBER ONE! I won't tolerate any losers in this family! WIN, WIN WIN!"
    • While we're on the subject of The Breakfast Club, Brian's parents live vicariously off of his academic achievements.
  • Another male example, but less exaggerated: Troy's father and basketball coach from High School Musical.
  • Erica Sayers of Black Swan, the smothering mother of the main character, who has a lot of issues.
  • Spike's dad in Little Giants is your typical "sports dad" variation; in his words, his son was "bred for football glory." As such, Spike is a merciless Jerk Jock, stronger and faster than any other kid his age. Spike's dad is in tears when his son's team loses at the end.
  • Spanky's mother (Kitty Kelly) in Beginner's Luck.

    Literature 
  • An utterly appalling example in The Godfather: the mother during Tom Hagen's visit to film exec Jack Woltz is clearly pleased that Woltz sexually molested her 12-year-old daughter, apparently because this makes it more likely he'll give the little girl a role in one of his movies.
  • In James Joyce's Dubliners, the short story " A Mother" reads this way today. At the time, given the limited career opportunities for women, it's more an example of an Unbuilt Trope.
  • In Noel Streatfeild's Skating Shoes/White Boots, Lalla's aunt is like this with regards to skating. The other adults in the book spend a lot of time worrying about it.
  • In Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Carmen's mother Diana is an example of this. Diana is a former opera singer who gets throat cancer and can no longer sing. Diana instead ends up living vicariously through Carmen, a violin prodigy. In the end, Diana ends up bribing the judges in a competition(in which the prize is a priceless violin and a concert series) so that Carmen's only worthy opponent doesn't make it past the semifinals.
  • A minor character in The Gates of Sleep is a child chess prodigy, whose father drove him into a breakdown by pushing the kid into more and more public exhibition games.
  • Janet Bunterman in Carl Hiaasen's book Star Island is a stage mom, enabling her daughter's addictions and making her a Child Pop Star at a young age.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spoofed in the Nickelodeon show Roundhouse— the main character had a bitchy rival in a talent or other competition, and in response to his "What do you have that I don't?" she brought out her stage mother.
  • There was one of these as a recurring sketch on Little Britain, she would sabotage other kids' chances and even harm them to get her son even a minor part.
  • Amy Duncan of Good Luck Charlie.
  • An early Law & Order episode, "Aria", shows one of these mothers. Her obsession with living through her children had already driven her older daughter away, and she pushed her younger daughter into porn, hoping that would help her land bigger roles. The younger daughter commits suicide out of despair.
    Patricia Blaine: My mother couldn't decide whether I was Martha Graham or Helen Hayes.
    Phil Cerreta: Who were you?
    Patricia Blaine: I was Patty Blaine. So I got out before I wasn't.
    • A later episode was about a man who killed his son's high school hockey coach over a playing time dispute. He was fixated on his son becoming an elite pro hockey player and wasn't willing to let anyone get in the way of that dream.
    • One Law & Order: SVU episode is about the death of a child prodigy at a prestigious boarding school. Detectives find that her father, who lies about his own academic achievements (namely, that he has any), was a slavedriver who abusively forced his daughters to study day and night. The killer was her roommate, whom she discovered leaving the school at night and partying as a means to rebel against her own stage parents.
  • There's a "What if" episode of Desperate Housewives in which Gabrielle pushes her youngest daughter to become a child star despite her absolutely sucking at it. It ends up with wasting both their lives and her husband and other daughter leaving them
  • All of the mothers on Dance Moms.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Critic," Natalie becomes one of these briefly when her daughter Julie's performance is given a negative review by critic John Hannigan and Natalie becomes obsessed with proving him wrong. Even when she begins to suspect that Hannigan killed his girlfriend Callie Esterhaus during the show, Monk, Stottlemeyer and Disher laugh her off, believing she's taking her obsession to the extreme. This includes the drastic measure of foraging in Hannigan's garbage cans to find something with his bite marks to match to a bitten chocolate strawberry found at the crime scene and getting arrested for trespassing. When Hannigan comes by the station and insults Natalie as "delusional", she flies into a fit of rage and tries to go after him, forcing Monk and Stottlemeyer to restrain her.
  • Kamen Rider Double had a story arc where the Monster of the Week, with power over aging, sells his services to people. One Stage Mom hires him to turn her daughter's rival into an old woman; when the victim's mother finds out, she hires him to do the same to the first woman's daughter as revenge. Of course, the two little girls saw one another as friends, not rivals, and the sight of the two of them huddled together and crying as their mothers shouted at one another triggered a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
    • Interestingly, one of the Stage Moms was played by an actress who showed up as a Victim of the Week in Kamen Rider Kiva a couple of years earlier; her character there was the victim of a Stage Mom who pushed her to play the violin when she didn't want to, and the title character's Blithe Spirit father convinced her to chase her own happiness, resulting in her becoming an Olympic-level archer.
  • An episode of In the Heat of the Night showed a young woman entering a local beauty pageant. Her Rich Bitch mother was so determined that she win that she arranged for someone to drug the girl's chief rival, take nude pictures of her, then threaten to leak the photos to the press unless the girl dropped out of the pageant. The girl was so devastated and traumatized by the entire thing that she killed herself. To make matters worse, the two girls were friends and would have been genuinely happy for each other had the other won. The young woman is so angry and disgusted by her mother's actions that when she does win, she storms off the stage and flings her crown and sash at her mother, snarling, "You wanted it so badly, here it is!", and storms out of the auditorium and presumably out of her mother's life.
  • Dinosaurs had Fran becoming one of these when Baby became a big star in frying pan commercials. It took a calling out from her best friend Monica and her husband Earl as well as a bad dream about Baby as an adult that made her realize what she was doing was wrong.
  • The sports version is invoked and lampshaded on 3rd Rock from the Sun when Dick decides Tommy should play basketball:
    Tommy: Why?
    Dick: Because it's important that you experience the humiliation of adolescent boys at the hands of bitter adults trying to re-write the failures of their youth. It'll be fun!
  • Averted for the most part on Make It Or Break It. Kelly's mom, Kaylie's father, and Lauren's father fit this trope, but the other parents of the main cast are properly supportive without being pushy.
  • Jenna Maroney of 30 Rock had a particularly trashy example. Her mother Verna showed no concern for her safety back when she was filming commercials, forcing her to stand dangerously close to a live alligator. She also used to force Jenna to sing in department stores, so that she could use the distraction to shoplift. Doing so was the one thing Jenna enjoyed about Christmas, and led to her becoming an Attention Whore as an adult.
    • 30 Rock also has Angie Jordan, Tracy Jordan's wife, who has shades of this.
      • That may be because Tracy is a famous man-child, and in one such episode, he complains that her actions make him have to be temporarily mature [[spoiler: to prevent her getting into a catfight with Liz Lemon - which he says he wouldn't do if it were anyone else.
  • Two spectacular examples appear in the Rizzoli & Isles episode "Don't Stop Dancing, Girl" where they become the prime suspects after the mother of rival dancer is murdered.
  • In the Mr. Show episode "Operation Hell on Earth," Bob Odenkirk and David Cross play this to their daughter Superstar after claiming they wouldn't be pushy like their own parents. Their daughter grows up to be disgruntled, eventually hosting a telethon which features others blaming their parents for how they were brought up.
    • In another sketch, a husband and wife with a child in beauty pageants discuss how wrong it is for parents to force their children into pageants; their baby WANTS to do it. Turns out their baby is a fetus and they are participating in the "Pre-Natal Pretties" pageant.
  • An episode of Southland had a woman shoot her son's middle school football coach (in front of some cops, no less) for keeping her boy on the bench.
  • Tom Hanks portrayed himself as this in a Jimmy Kimmel Live! sketch that parodied Toddlers And Tiaras.
  • Daniel Tosh has mocked stage parents who let their children appear in dubious bits on Tosh.0.
  • The Bones episode "The Girl With The Curl" features a child beauty pageant queen as the Victim of the Week, and one of the prime suspects is her mother, who is universally described as one of these. She's not the murderer, but security footage from before the murder shows that the mother was, in fact, overly controlling and abusive.

    Music 
  • "[Antichrist Television Blues]" by Arcade Fire concerns a father pushing his daughter into the limelight so that he doesn't have to "work in a building downtown."
  • "Perfect" by Alanis Morissette is a satire of this trope.
  • NoŽl Coward's "(Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage,) Mrs. Worthington" is addressed to a stage mother whose aspirations are greater than her daughter's potential.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin once asked his father if he was attempting to live vicariously through Calvin to make up for his own failures in life. His father shot back that if he was, he'd be trying a lot harder. Calvin manages to deduce his father's disrespect.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE's Jack Swagger had a Gimmick of an overachieving child with a Stage Dad, now all grown up and determined to find the same success in wrestling. In order to completely cement him as a Dirty Coward, Swagger ran away while Kane beat up his father - and then justified it afterward by saying he felt vindicated for his father being an overbearing Stage Dad.
  • This happened quite often when wrestling promoters had sons. It was desirable to build a promotion around men who would be loyal to you, and family was usually that. The most notorious wrestling stage dad would probably be Fritz Von Erich, given the fate of most of his six sonsnote .
  • Bonnie Blood, ex-wife of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, took increasing control of his career from 1988 on, even to the point where she got control of his stage name in the divorce settlement.
  • The reason WCW put Buff Bagwell's mother Judy on television was because she regularly called WCW executives to agitate on her son's behalf.

    Theater 
  • In Gypsy, Mama Rose obsessively worked her two daughters into her vaudeville acts, highlighting Baby June, who ended up running away and eloping, and downplaying Louise, who ended up becoming more successful than her sister and becoming Gypsy Rose Lee. Mama Rose went as far as to have multiple 10th birthday parties to try to trick her daughters into thinking they were indefinitely 10 years old so she could continue to milk them for all they were worth. The worst part? She was a real person.
  • Mrs. Walker from Once In A Lifetime has elements of this, even though she causes relatively little harm in the course of her championing her daughter Susan.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: Madame Giry becomes one for Meg in Love Never Dies, and resents that the Phantom doesn't appreciate all they've done, including whoring Meg out to other men, to help him attain his success in America because he's still pining for Christine.

    Videogames 
  • Gloria's mother from Psychonauts who screwed her life over by was dumping her at Hagatha's Home For Girls where she was forced to sing, dance and act. ]

    Visual Novels 
  • Morgan Fey, sweet Jesus. Since her power as a channeller is so weak, she was passed over to become head of the Fey family in favor of her younger sister Misty, who was a much stronger medium. This means that her niece Maya is now technically head of the family, and calls all the shots. So naturally, the sane course of action is to... frame Maya for murder so that her eight-year-old daughter Pearl, who Maya declares to be the greatest channeling prodigy the family has yet seen, becomes the head of the clan, thus giving Morgan de facto control for at least the next decade. Only a series of risky gambits by Misty stops this... but it concludes also with Misty's own death. Poor, poor Pearlie.
  • In G-Senjou no Maou, Kanon's mother Ikuko is this.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Shinichi Nomiya is not a parent to our knowledge, but he has this attitude toward Rin Tezuka, the star member of his art club. On Rin's route, he seems to realize that he's nowhere near her or for that matter, Sae's dead husband's level of skill, which he says contributed to his decision to become an art teacher. As a result of seeing Rin's talent, he pushes her to work harder and put her paintings on exhibit, even though she doesn't want to. When she ultimately runs away from the exhibit, Nomiya goes berserk and when Rin comes to him to apologize, declares that Rin does not have what it takes to be an artist.
    • He's implied to have this attitude in general, not only during Rin's route. In Emi's path, Rin is chatting with Hisao and Emi and mentions how she's uncomfortable with Nomiya's attitude towards her artwork...
  • In True Love Junai Monogatari, Ryouko's brother Tadaaki is this. He's not only her caretaker but her manager, as she is the famous Idol Singer "Sonoko Takahashi" as well; in her path, Ryouko explains to the protagonist that Tadaaki has sacrificed almost everything in his life to make sure his sister will be succesful, but is also extremely demanding and has staged a risky Batman Gambit in regards to her career...

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Worm has an example in Bambina, a child-supervillain whose popularity is managed and leveraged by her mother to make money via illicit sponsors.

    Western Animation 
  • Beebee Bluff's mother on Doug was a stage mother for one episode, but at the end, Beebee was able to call her out on it and her mother quickly saw the error of her ways.
  • Helga's parents in Hey Arnold! neglect Helga's needs and shower her sister Olga with attention... but they get to this extreme. Bob is so demanding in regards to Olga's intellectual and artistic talents and puts so much pressure on her that Olga is now a neurotic Fragile Flower who panics horribly at the mere prospect of getting a B grade (despite even her parents believing it's not that big a deal, at least to her face), to the degree that she thinks Helga is the one who has it easier of the two, since Helga can do whatever she wants and their parents won't say anything while Olga always has her parents on her case.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy this trope is lampshaded in the episode, "My Fair Mandy". Grim, disgusted by how tarted up the other contestants were asks "What kind of sad, needy person would do this to them?"
    Mom 1: Remember, this is mommy's big day!
    Mom 2: The bigger you smile, the more beautiful mommy looks!
    Mom 3: Baby, it's time to win mommy's love.
  • Rare man example in The Simpsons where Homer managers Lisa in a talent contest, bullying everybody behind the scenes to get the best for her.
    • A much earlier episode subverted this trope when Homer signed Lisa up for a beauty pageant. Homer didn't do it for any personal glory, but instead because Lisa was feeling insecure about her looks and he thought it would help her self-esteem. And it worked!
    • Played straight in "Smoke on the Daughter" where Marge has Lisa enroll in a ballet class to make her live out Marge's older and failed dream of becoming a ballet dancer. This is particularly lampshaded when Marge describes her vision of "seeing her little Margie dance", much to Lisa's annoyance. Becomes Hilarious in Hindsight or Harsher in Hindsight considering the instructor for Lisa's dance class in earlier episode "The Last Tap Dance in Springfield" bluntly tells her to not to live out her dreams through her child.
  • Susan Dinwittie from What's New, Scooby-Doo? with her former child star kids, Andrew and Mandy, to the point where she secretly becomes a master in robotics so she can control the Mystery Machine remotely, and buy it back cheap from them because it used to belong to the band.
    • What really makes it sad is her third child, The Unfavorite genius engineer who thought she was spending time with him and asking about his projects in a possibly forced attempt to get to know him and have him feel like he was still valued. Nope - she just needed to know how certain things worked. Thankfully Andrew and Mindy agreed their mom had gone way too far, decided they'd never work in show business again and walked off with their brother.
  • In the Family Guy episode (aptly named) "Brian's A Bad Father", Brian becomes one when he meets up with his son Dylan Flannigan and discovers his television connections, he then exploits this (and Dylan's kind nature) to improve his failing writing career in the TV business, but is then found out and disowned by the end of the episode, leading him to be kicked off the writing board, Brian and Dylan reconcile by the end of the episode.

Real Life examples:

    General 
  • Successful entertainers who have children typically wind up getting accused of this if their children follow them into showbiz.

    Acting 
  • Minnie Marx, mother of the Marx Brothers. It was mainly her hard work that ever got them recognition in vaudeville before their breakthrough.
  • One of the earliest (of the modern age) was what inspired The Coogan Act in the US, after Jackie Coogan's parents spent all of the money he had earned through his various acting gigs as a child.
  • Natalie Wood, who starred in the film version of Gypsy, had plenty of real-life preparation for the role due to her own mother, Maria. Natasha, the biography by Suzanne Finstad, reveals some shocking details; for example, that Maria would take a live butterfly and tear its wings off in front of young Natalie in order to make the child cry before scenes that called for it.
    • Similarly, the real life Rose made June cry by telling her their dog died.
  • William Shatner's Star Trek Memories claimed that wife of the actor who played Christopher Pike in the pilot insisted he be shot from certain angles, among other techniques, in order to make him look good. Eventually, Desilu Studios couldn't handle this and stopped using the actor.
  • In Star Trek IV, Sulu (George Takei) was meant to have a chance encounter, while walking around 20th-century San Francisco, with a kid who would turn out to be his ancestor. Unfortunately, the kid who was to play the part had what Shatner described (in Star Trek Movie Memories) as "the most over-the-top stage mom" he had ever encountered, and she ended up making her kid so stressed out that she made it effectively impossible to actually film the scenes.
  • Nearly all of Macaulay Culkin's Hollywood crash-and-burnout can be attributed to his father/manager, Kit Culkin. To give an example, one of the reasons Macaulay was pushed into the horror film The Good Son was Kit's pushing and threatening to withdraw Macaulay from Home Alone 2. Kit's presence on The Good Son wound up forcing the first director to quit. Eventually, studios were turning the kid down for roles specifically because they didn't want to deal with Kit, leading to his retirement from acting at the age of 14. Macaulay has since become estranged from Kit and refuses to speak to him.
    • When auditioning child actors for the Harry Potter movies, producer Chris Columbus interviewed the parents of all of the children being considered for roles and immediately eliminated the children of those who came across as stage parents. He said he did that because of all the problems he had with Kit Culkin while doing the first two Home Alone movies.
  • Judy Garland's mother was this, in addition to being an Abusive Parent. According to Garland's sister, this led to her drug abuse and possibly contributed to her death.
  • Dina and Michael Lohan, parents of Lindsay, are exemplars of the self-serving side of this trope. Dina took Lindsay to nightclubs and let her drink when she was underage, then used her daughter's personal troubles to launch her own career in entertainment, getting herself a reality show on E!. Then, she pushed her younger daughter Ali to enter showbiz as well, causing many people to fear that Ali will end up with as many or more problems thanks to her mother. Michael, meanwhile, blabs about Lindsay to the media every chance he gets, and went on Celebrity Rehab for seemingly no other reason then to get attention and talk about her.
  • In a blog post on SMBC Theater, JP mentioned that, while he and some others were talking about the show in a diner, a 10-year-old girl came over and told them that her mother said to tell them she's an actress. If you don't get why he didn't like that, let's put this into perspective: A woman had told her 10-year-old child to introduce herself to a group of men neither one of them were familiar with, just so the girl might get an acting position.
    • It would have been worse if the mother was familiar with SMBC Theater, since most of the material is not safe for kids. This is why they always have adults kneeling when they have children in the sketches.
  • Drew Barrymore's mother Jaid could be blamed in large part for her daughter's drug and alcohol problems at such a young age. Jaid regularly took young Drew to such adult hangouts like Studio 54 and the China Club. Years later, some time after Drew posed for Playboy, Jaid decided that she wanted to pose nude too!
  • Hilary Duff's parents are said to be the reason why the Lizzie McGuire franchise was cancelled after The Movie.
  • More than one similar accusation has been leveled at Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley Cyrus' father and co-star) in regards to the Hannah Montana franchise. Billy Ray says it's the other way round: that the executives were the ones abusing and restraining Miley. Then again, he's also blamed atheists for the same thing. Billy Ray might just be cuckoo.
  • Thora Birch's father (Jack Birch, a former porn star) has meddled in his daughter's affairs enough that he's caused a hit to her reputation. He reportedly showed up on set during production of the 2007 film Horrified and watched over his daughter while she performed a simulated sex scene with Dean Winters, then in 2010 he reportedly stayed in her dressing room at a stage adaptation of Dracula and tried to micromanage the production. This ended up getting her fired from the play.
    • Thora was also fired from a biopic about the Manson Family girls, and the director specifically blamed her father's interference.
    • Equally distressing, Thora doesn't appear fazed by her dad's behavior, nor is she upset that he has cost her work. After she was fired from Dracula, she said, "My dad is my support, and he is the best support that I ever could have."
  • Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith have been accused of pushing their children into showbiz at too early an age. Their son Jaden is an actor (best known for The Karate Kid remake, which was produced by Will and Jada), while daughter Willow is a singer.
    • Though their children do seem to have some control over their own careers as well, as Willow voluntarily dropped out of the upcoming remake of Annie because touring as a singer took too much out of her, and she "just wanted to be 12" again.
  • This is part of the reason Galactica 1980 did so poorly. Because it was aired during a time-slot that was considered "child friendly", ABC's Standards and Practices demanded that the show include more children. This, of course, brought a large influx of pushy stage moms, "all of whom ought to be locked up", according to executive producer Gary Larsen.
  • Chrisoula Workman, mother of Ariel Winter, was a bad enough case of this that the state revoked her custody over Ariel and put her under the care of her adult sister, the also actress Shanelle Gray .
  • Terri Shields, the mother of Brooke Shields, use to happily admit to being a stage mom. She also didn't seem that bothered by Brooke's nude scenes in Pretty Baby, which were done when Brooke was twelve.
  • The documentary Life After Tomorrow chronicles the lives of the women who played orphans in Annie. A full segment was devoted to talking about the stage moms (and one stage dad); though not all were as horrible as the trope described, some were, and usually her daughter would not continue acting because of it.
  • Heartwarmingly averted with Benedict Cumberbatch, as his parents, both of them actors, encouraged him to pursue a career other than acting because of how hard it was for them financially. A turning point came when they saw a performance of his at University and they agreed that he could be better at it than they ever were.

    Music 
  • Britney Spears' mother Lynne pushed her and her sister Jamie Lynn to become stars. You know how this ended. Britney eventually resumed her career and got her life back together, but she remains under her father's conservatorship.
  • Joe Simpson, father of Jessica and Ashlee.
  • Joe Jackson really, really didn't want his kids to become criminals on the streets of Gary, Indiana. He probably could have found a better way to do this, however. Many of his children have said in interviews that they felt abused by him with hours upon hours of incessant after-school and weekend rehearsals, including being slapped or spanked when they made mistakes and becoming belligerent when they showed interest in activities and hobbies removed from the family performing business. Part of the reason Michael Jackson turned his home into a private amusement park was that he felt (with a good deal of justification) that he had spent his entire childhood performing and doing adult work that now that he had some breathing room with his solo career that he wanted to take some time to make up for it.
    • For worse, he has hinted that he wants to do something similar with Michael's kids...
    • A clear example came in the wake of Michael's death. An interview with him a few days afterwards had him tell a reporter, "We lost one of our biggest stars", along with him repeatedly pitching a record label project he was involved in.
  • The Beach Boys suffered through years of dreadful stage-fathering. Murry Wilson, father of Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, was a mildly successful songwriter/producer who, for their first few years, acted as manager, producer, and publisher to the group. Among other questionable practices and decisions, he allegedly whacked Brian Wilson in the head with a 2x4, causing hearing damage. Celebrities At Their Worst, a collection of, well, you know, features a 10-minute outtake of the elder Wilson guilt-tripping his sons through a recording session for "Help Me, Rhonda".
  • Luis Gallego SŠnchez aka Luisito Rey, father and manager to Mexican singer Luis Miguel. Luisito Rey was a rather populat singer whose career was starting to decline when his oldest son was born, and once he saw that "Luismi" was a Child Prodigy in singing he became this to him, controlling all of his son's early career and allegedly being physically and mentally abusive to him. It was so bad that, in the late 80's, once Luis Miguel reached legal age he told his dad off and fired him; Luisito Rey became so depressed that he died in 1992.
  • The Shaggs, a band comprised of three sisters, came into existence due to a prophecy their father believed that they would form a popular music group. As soon as they were old enough, he pulled them out of school and bought them instruments and lessons, and forced them into gigs and the studio from 1968 until his death in 1975. Despite his efforts, the band would go down in history as legendarily So Bad, It's Good.
  • Taylor Momsen has accused her parents of being this. This may explain her transformation from a teen soap star to a raunchy, scantily-clad rock frontwoman before she turned 18.
  • Pop girl group Destinee & Paris' mother is like this. The main reason they became Destinee & Paris was that their mother suffocated the previous members of their rock band (Ariel and then Sarah, who lasted less than half a year as the Clique Girlz) and they were forced into it after all the bad publicity. (Ariel went on to name her next band NMD — No More Drama — as a Take That.) When the two were featured on the E! reality show The Dance Scene, their mother continuously told everyone around them they weren't ready to perform on the night of the performance despite Laurieann Gibson (choreographer for Lady Gaga) saying they were great. Laurieann dropped them as clients not long after.
  • Quite common in Classical Music:
    • Older Than Radio: A number of well-known classical composers - especially of the "child prodigy" variety - were pushed into playing and composing music from an early age due to their parents' wishes. For example, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister, Maria Anna, toured Europe as little kids playing piano and violin, under the tutelage of their father Leopold, a well-known composer in his own right. Of course, there are also darker examples, like Ludwig van Beethoven's father, who was so obsessed with his son becoming the next Mozart that he beat him if he didn't practice enough. But overall, the "child prodigy" notion has become so ubiquitous in classical music circles that fans are often surprised to find out that some of the greatest composers - such as Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms - didn't start writing music until middle age, and even the so-called "child prodigies", including both Mozart and Beethoven, didn't really hit their stride until at least their late teens.
    • It's fairly common in some musical families to start kids on piano or a stringed instrument at a preschool age, although there usually aren't any expectations of fame and fortune until the kid is in their teens or older. It's ubiquitous enough that if you play one of those instruments, it's harder (but not impossible) to get ahead in your career if you didn't start at a young age, and most music schools are full of pianists and violinists who've been playing almost their entire lives. That's not usually the case with wind players or classical singers, though, as starting young on those often poses physical risks that will hurt your chances for an adult career. And the best examples of this are the poor kids whose parents and teachers pushed them in it anyway.
  • One of the rare positive examples: George M. Cohen, one of the biggest names in vaudeville, was brought into the act as a child by his father (who'd also brought his wife and daughter into his act). He eventually took over the family's show. George once stated that his entire life, he would see his father in the audience whenever he performed, encouraging him.
  • Nick and Aaron Carter's parents, whose behavior wound up having disastrous consequences for Aaron later in his life. At the height of Aaron's career, they blew through his earnings, leaving him saddled with tremendous debt before he turned 18; he cut all business ties to them when he found out what they were doing. Between that and his drug problems, Aaron eventually had to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2013, at the age of 25.

    Sports 
  • Anthony Hamilton, Lewis Hamilton's dad and ex-manager. Lewis admits they're not in speaking terms ever since his dad stopped managing his stuff.
  • Both of NHL hockey player Eric Lindros' parents were like this. Widely expected to be the next great superstar in the early 1990s, both his father (also his agent) and his mother were very vocal as to what they saw as acceptable for their son, including having him hold out from playing for the Quebec Nordiques who had drafted him first overall (the city being too small, French and provincial to properly market their son). This got Lindros' career off on the wrong foot and made him an early pariah with a Jerk Ass reputation. After the Philadelphia Flyers acquired his rights, the Lindros parents continued to attempt to stage-manage his career to the great annoyance of the organization. Eric did go on to become a very good player until his career (and that of his little brother) was cut short by injuries.
    • In a Hilarious in Hindsight moment for Quebec, Lindros' trade to Philadelphia turned them into a playoff contender almost overnight. They went on to win two Stanley Cups as the Colorado Avalanche, the first of which was in their first season in Denver.
  • Tennis seems to love this trope:
    • Australian/Serbian player Jelena Dokic's father/coach Damir was notorious for his aggressive and abusive courtside behaviour when she began playing in major tournaments; he also moved his family back to Serbia from Australia after accusing Australian tennis officials of match-fixing. She eventually managed to break away from him, sacking him as her coach and moving back to/competing for Australia.
    • Mary Pierce's father/coach Jim, who admitted to training her when she was a child by repeatedly serving balls with his full strength at her face, notoriously screamed "kill the bitch!" at her from the audience during a match when she was twelve, and was on the receiving end of a restraining order from her in 1993, after which he got stabbed by her bodyguard.
    • Bernard Tomic's father/coach John was banned from the ATP tour after he assaulted his son's hitting partner Thomas Drouet and has reportedly been verbally and physically abusive to his own son for a long time with Drouet saying that he once saw him punch Bernard in the mouth during practice.
    • German icon Steffi Graf was introduced to the sport by her father, a car-salesman-turned-tennis-coach who later became her manager and kept a tight grip on her schedule. He eventually landed in jail for tax fraud.
    • Plenty of fans would like to see Andy Murray's mother/former coach/now heavily involved in the women's game Judy take a step back.
  • Bill Butterfield was a man whose athletic aspirations were cut short in high school when his girlfriend became pregnant. He then tried to mould both his sons into sports stars in his place, through a strict diet and training regimen, and years of verbal and emotional abuse. His elder son Billy eventually just walked away, leaving his father to focus on younger son Lance, who was eight at the time. Over the years Bill became increasingly controlling, abusive and crazy towards Lance, dictating his life, recording his matches, giving him steroids and eventually beating him daily; Lance eventually snapped and shot him. It's telling that, at Lance's murder trial, it was the prosecution that was booed by the crowd, and, while the defence could field dozens of character witnesses for Lance, including a sworn affidavit by his paternal grandfather that Lance shouldn't be prosecuted, the prosecution could not find a single person who would testify that Bill Butterfield was a good man.
  • Marv Marinovich, father of former NFL player Todd Marinovich. Todd earned the nickname "Robo QB" because he was like a machine — this is because his father engineered him from birth to be the perfect quarterback. In high school and college, there was simply nobody else at his level because his training and diet were so far ahead of the curve. In the NFL, however, he was an infamous bust; Apparently Todd never especially liked football, but didn't dare express that to his obsessed father.

    Other 
  • Wanda Holloway, the woman who inspired The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom and Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story. She asked her brother in law to hire a hitman, who then was supposed to kill the mother of her kid's rival in a cheerleading competition.
  • Watch any show about child pageants. All the moms and more than one dad shown there will be like this, more often than not, to sickening degrees. This is the whole point of the show Toddlers And Tiaras.
    • One particularly sickening example is the story of Kerry Campbell, who gave her eight-year-old daughter Botox injections. When she was found out, she not only defended this practice (claiming it was never too early get your child cosmetic surgery to "get rid of the lines"), but also claimed that other pageant moms practiced this as well. The fact that the story turned out to be fake did nothing to dispel it.
    • One 5-year-old girl named Carley developed an alter-ego called Darla to cope with her mom's pushing.
    • Joel McHale of The Soup fame usually saves his most vicious snark and insults for these particular parents, including, at one point, essentially saying that Cronos, the Titan who ate his children when they were born, was a better parent than one of the parents he featured!
  • George Sampson, the winner of Britain's Got Talent in 2008, should have had a very promising career after his victory in the show. Unfortunately, his career was run into the ground in less than a year, in no small part due to his obnoxious and extremely demanding mother, who was largely responsible for Simon Cowell's company ditching Sampson after they became sick of her. Sampson is making a rebound, however, as he has starred in the 2010 Street Dance.
  • Rose Hovick, mother of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee and actress June Havoc. She became legendary for this trope following Gypsy's 1957 autobiography and the subsequent musical adaptation Gypsy as mentioned above.
  • A common nickname for Kris Jenner (mother of Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian, as well as Kendall and Kylie Jenner) is PMK — short for "Pimp Mama Kris", due to the perception that she forced her daughters into Reality TV stardom and modeling careers as a means of living out her own dreams of fortune and celebrity.
  • Claude Drouet, mother of Child Prodigy poetess Marie Noelle "Minou" Drouet. For worse, Claude was accused of being the real author of Minou's works; while this was ultimately cleared when Minou wrote stuff without her mom being present, the pressure soundly affected the poor little girl


Solomon DivorceThe Parent TropeStandard '50s Father
The SquadetteAlways FemaleStatuesque Stunner
Sins of Our FathersParental IssuesTaking the Kids
The SpymasterVillainsStalker with a Crush

alternative title(s): Stage Mum; Stage Dad; Pushy Stage Parent
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
98701
2