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Stern Nun
aka: Mother Penguin
A character type of stern, usually elderly nun, who acts as a Stern Teacher at a Catholic school (possibly even a Sadist Teacher at a Boarding School of Horrors variety) but may (or may not) be looked back upon with some affection. A Discredited Trope nowadays, since a good many teachers at Catholic schools are now laypeople- not to mention that after about The Seventies or so, any teachers beating students would not go over well with parents or administrators, whether those teachers have taken vows or not- but at one time occasionally Truth in Television.

The strictness that was their halmark was partly due to the nuns applying the same standards to their students that nuns were expected to hold themselves to, and also partly because Catholic schools both then and now were occasionally used as reform schools for problem children.

See also Stern Teacher.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Dee from Fake was raised in an Orphanage of Love by one of these. He even calls her "Penguin" out of affection (and to rile her up), and encourages the other kids to do so as well.

Comic Books
  • This trope played a part in the origin of Alpha Flight's Aurora / Jeanne-Marie Beaubier. The not-so-fond memories kind.

Film
  • The Penguin from The Blues Brothers
  • The reverend mother for much of the first Sister Act movie.
  • Sister Aloysius in Doubt is basically an example of showing this character type as having Hidden Depths
  • Rosalind Russel's character in The Trouble With Angels was one of these character types. (But a lot nicer than most. She's firm, because you have to be with adolescents or they'll walk right over you, but never mean.)

Literature
  • Sister Edgar has this reputation in Don DeLillo's Underworld. She stopped hitting her students when the majority of them became black and Latin, though, because her conscience wouldn't allow her to beat someone who didn't look like her.
  • Although they were nurses, not teachers, the nuns at the hospital in Angela's Ashes fit the trope perfectly.
  • The Mother Superior in Bless Me Father

Live-Action Television

Newspaper Comics

Theatre
  • Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You by Christopher Durang.
  • The popular "interactive play" Late Night Catechism is based upon this trope.
  • In the musical remake of Sister Act, reverend mother once again takes up this role.

Western Animation


Sadist TeacherSchool TeachersScary Librarian
Senior Sleep CycleEldersStronger with Age
Stepford SmilerCharacters as DeviceStern Teacher
Standard '50s FatherDead Horse TropeSubverted Suspicion Aesop

alternative title(s): Mother Penguin
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