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Good Stepmother

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"I marveled at the way she let the boys come to her. I'm not sure I would have had her patience. It didn't happen right away, but I'll never forget how it felt the first time I saw her open her arms and brace herself for a running hug from Beau and Hunter."
Joe Biden on his wife Jill being a stepmother to his sons

The trope that stepmothers are prone to loathe and mistreat their stepchildren can be found in fairy tales and folklore all over the world. So common are Wicked Stepmothers that inverting that trope will make things interesting.

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Cue the Good Stepmother, a woman who ends up making the life of her stepchildren better. Far from plotting to get her stepchildren out of the way to secure the family fortune for herself, she instead acts as a mentor or protector to her stepchildren and shows genuine affection for them. Plots usually feature Good Stepmothers as supporting characters who help their fosterlings (the protagonists) succeed in life and "make their fortune".

To fill this role, the Good Stepmother is exceptionally clever and resourceful. Often there is even something supernatural about her, making her somewhat similar to a Fairy Godmother. This tale type also likes to take elements of the well-known Wicked Stepmother stereotype and turn it on its head—for example, the Good Stepmother is quite frequently an actual witch, but one who uses her powers for the benefit of her stepchildren.

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The stepchildren do not have to be actual children. More typically they are teenagers or young adults. Because of that, the Good Stepmother is not always a Parental Substitute. If the stepmother has children of her own, they will get along well with the children of the first wife, and may form a Sibling Team. Good Stepmothers are also the norm in dom coms which feature a blended family. Often, there will be an episode dealing with how the stepchildren fear their stepmother or expect her to be wicked, and are then proven wrong.

It wouldn't be rare for the Good Stepmother to want to secure a portion of the fortune for herself. In such a case, the fortune might actually be better maintained, and she'll spend her share wisely, not necessarily perfectly.

May overlap with Happily Adopted, which involves an adoptive family, not just a stepmother. May be invoked by the parent deciding to Marry the Nanny or some other person who already has a good relationship with the child. Often Truth in Television. Sounds like but has nothing to do with My Real Daddy.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Death Parade, Yousuke's mother was very abusive and neglectful to him and when she eventually abandoned him and his father, his father remarried and Yousuke's stepmother was a very kind and loving parent in contrast with his real mother. Sadly, Yousuke never accepted her and became depressed to the point of suicide. In fact, in the afterlife, his biggest regret was that he never got the chance to call his loving stepmother "Mom".
  • Averted by Yoko Araide of Detective Conan, who looks after her stepson Tomoaki like he was her own, as per the request of his late mother, who was her friend. Specifically, she asked her to make sure Tomoaki didn't turn out like his father. Yoko kills her husband as revenge for driving her friend into alcoholism, which resulted in her death.
  • Bellemere from One Piece is a Mama Bear who sacrificed her life to protect her adopted daughters Nami and Nojiko. Her name is French for "stepmother."
  • Dad, the Beard Gorilla and I has Tsukasa, who watches the same show as Michiru, and often gives her Sgt. Ruckus merchandise, to the latter's delight. In fact, Tsukasa's bond with Michiru is what brought her closer to Souichi, and the romance between the two adults comes later.
  • Red River (1995): This trope is averted by Kail's mother Queen Henti, who besides loving her own sons was also a good stepmother to the son of the king's previous wife) as well as Kail's other stepbrothers (one is the son of a concubine, another was the child of a royal maid).note 
  • Spy X Family: Yor Briar is a contract killer who marries Loid as a cover for her job. Nevertheless, she loves Loid's little daughter Anya dearly and will go berserk when anyone threatens or upsets her. What she doesn't know is that Anya is Loid's adopted child.

    Comic Books 
  • Batwoman: Colonel Jacob Kane remarries when his daughter(s) are adults. She is really invested in being a part of her child's/niece's life and goes out of her way to be helpful.
  • When Tim Drake's father marries Dana Winters in Robin, she helps Tim and his father to resolve disputes by going out of her way to get Tim's side of the story when his father refuses to allow him to speak for himself and jumps to conclusions and by reminding Jack that he said he was going to spend more time with Tim. She and Tim get along great and she regularly acts as a voice of reason for him with his father but she never becomes very close to Tim due to his age when she becomes a part of the family and her untimely death.
  • Nathan Summers' (Cable) step-mother X-Men Jean Grey who cares for Cable as if he was her own. It was his biological mother Madelyne Pryor who tried to kill her son in Inferno, but before she suffered her breakdown she truly loved her son.
  • Andrea from the comic version of The Walking Dead becomes this to her stepson Carl over time. After the Time Skip the two are fairly affectionate and call each other "mom" and "son" without any problems or issues. Even on her literal death bed, Andrea spends part of what little time she has left to give Carl some good advice.
  • In Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (a modern graphic novel adaptation of Little Women), the March family is blended. In this retelling, Mrs. March is a white single mother of Jo who then meets and marries Mr. March, an African-American widower who is raising his daughter, Meg. They have two more daughters together, Beth and Amy. Like Phineas and Ferb, it's hard to tell they're a blended family since all four refer to both parents as Mom and Dad.
  • W.I.T.C.H. has Irma's stepmother Anna, as they have a very good relationship and Anna doesn't favor her son Chris (Irma's younger half-brother) over Irma. Indeed, the only reason we know she's not Irma's biological mother is that Irma mentioned it during a fight (and was horrified immediately after). They made up soon after.

    Fairy Tales 
  • This seems to be popular in Icelandic fairy tales:
    • "The Horse Gullfaxi and the Sword Gunnfoder" takes a premise that is typical for Wicked Stepmother stories and completely subverts it: A widowed king marries a new wife who is actually a half-troll. Eventually, the new queen's full-troll sister lays a curse on the king's son, Sigurd, which he then succeeds in lifting with the help and advice of his stepmother. In the end, Sigurd rescues his stepmother from being burned at the stake under false accusations of murdering her stepson.
    • In "Hild the Good Stepmother and Princess Ingibjorg", Ingibjorg's (real) mother puts a Dying Curse on her own daughter. Her father's new wife, Hild, befriends Ingibjorg until she reveals the cause of her despondency, and with Hild's resourcefulness, the two eventually lift the curse.

    Fan Works 
  • Batman/Catwoman fics where Bruce and Selina tie the knot will typically make Selina, who is a Friend to All Children in canon, one to Bruce's adopted children and biological son Damian.
  • In Dear Old Dad the Phantom Thieves who had a present father replaced by Shido as their biological parent have this: despite their horrible conception the (step)fathers that Ann and Makoto raised them as their own child and love/loved them, and are the ones that they refer to as their father. Haru however averts this, as this fact factored into her (step)father's behavior and as a result, she no longer holds a grudge for his murder.
  • Not only Selina Kyle, in Earth 27 Lois Lane and Epiphany Graves are also this, making no distinction between their biological and adopted children.
  • In Eight Pieces for Piano, Violet gets on wonderfully with her stepdaughter (previously her pupil) Sarah, so much that the latter quickly begins calling her "Mommy" and that Violet's first concern, when her marriage is on the rocks, is how the situation would affect Sarah.
  • In For The Glory Of Irk, Moira is Dib and Gaz's stepmother and is very caring towards them, not being affected even by the fact that Dib spent a lot of time convinced that she was evil and kept giving her the cold shoulder.
  • A key part of the Castle fic "Of Finding Innocence" is Kate establishing herself as a good stepmother to the young Alexis Castle when Kate Beckett and Richard Castle meet and start dating while Kate is still just a uniformed officer. By the time Alexis is eight, she has taken to calling Kate 'Momma' to distinguish her from her biological mother Meredith, feeling that Kate is more emotionally invested in her life than Meredith.
  • RWBY:
    • at least it was here, Pyrrha's step-mother is a little bit cold to her friends but dotes on Pyrrha and tells her how proud she is of her accomplishments. Sadly, her wife, Pyrrha's biological mother, is cold to everyone, including Pyrrha. Ruby initially mistakes Pyrrha's step-mother for her biological mother, since they're more alike than Pyrrha and her biological mother.
    • Linked in Life and Love: Subverted. Yang is the biological daughter of Raven and Taiyang, and was raised by Summer (who also had a daughter with Tai, Ruby). Yang always loved Summer and even believed she was her biological mother until Summer disappeared, but later revelations change the dynamic a bit. Taiyang was never in a relationship with either Raven or Summer. Raven and Summer were together, and when they wanted a child Taiyang volunteered to be their donor; this produced Yang. Later scientific advancements made Homosexual Reproduction more viable, which produced Ruby. In the middle of all these reveals, Yang mentions she's not Summer's real daughter, but Summer's brother Roman refuses to hear a word of it.
      Roman: I watched her fawn all over Raven during her pregnancy, and turn into a sobbing mess when she first held you the day you were born. Summer loved you more than life itself, and if you start thinking of her as anything less than your mother, then you and I are going to have problems.
    • RWBY: Scars:
      • Summer was Yang's doting step-mom who died when she was ten. Yang didn't even know she was her step-mom until after her death. In contrast, Yang hates her biological mother Raven after meeting her at age seventeen and tells Raven that Summer is her mother, not her.
      • Unbeknownst to Ruby and her sister Yang, Taiyang is actually Ruby's step-father. Her biological father is Yang's uncle Qrow (who Ruby thinks is her Honorary Uncle too). Nevertheless, Taiyang is a loving father to both his kids, but is especially sweet towards his youngest Ruby.
    • White Sheep (RWBY): As in canon, Yang views her stepmother Summer Rose as her real mother, even though she's been dead for years. She still tells stories about how Summer taught her to ride a bike. She absolutely refuses to acknowledge her birth mother Raven as her mother.
  • In The Smeet Series, Lena is a loving and adoring stepmother to Ilk, treating her like her own daughter.
  • In the The Victors Project series: Spindella zigzags this. She has a fairly cold relationship with her stepchildren and doesn't have much visible warmth towards them, but this is partially to limit any harm that might come to them if her resistance activities are exposed and does what she can to save Cecelia's life after she's reaped.

    Film 
  • The Craft: Although they don't interact much on-screen, Jenny and her teenage stepdaughter Sarah are apparently amicable. The fact that Sarah shows concern for Jenny when she and her father disappear in the climax (and has a breakdown when she thinks they've been killed) and that Jenny was absent from the house, indicating she'd gone with her husband to look for Sarah when they believed she'd run off, implies that they care about each other.
  • In The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Helen's love for her 8-year-old stepson Jacob convinces the alien Klatuu that humanity is redeemable after all, which is why he desists from destroying humanity.
  • Discussed in Enchanted: Morgan is fretful about the prospect of getting a stepmother because her only knowledge of them comes from fairy tales like "Snow White" and "Cinderella." However, both her father's initial girlfriend, Nancy, and his new love interest, Giselle, are very friendly and supportive of her.
  • Juno: Juno and her stepmother Brenda clearly care about one another, they do bicker but no more than a normal mother/daughter relationship — with Juno's biological mother being absent from her life, it's pretty clear that Brenda is effectively Juno's mother. Brenda supports Juno through the pregnancy, stays by her side in the delivery room all throughout her labor, and refers to her emphatically as "my kid" when yelling at the doctors to help her.
  • Man of the House (1995) is about a good stepfather who goes out of his way to gain his stepchild's trust and acceptance. In the film, lawyer Jack proposes to Ben's mother some time after her husband ran off with his secretary, disillusioning Ben and making him distrustful of male figures in his life. Through joining the Indian guides (a Boy Scout knockoff) which they initially both find to be dumb and stupid, as well as fighting off a pair of goons who are after Jack's head because he's prosecuting their boss, the two bond as a stepfather and son and Jack is allowed to marry Ben's mother.
  • In Nanny McPhee, Evangeline is the Brown family's scullery maid who settles fights between the children (and is in love with their father). The children and Evangeline talk about why they're acting out and she tries to help. Their father, Cedric Brown, hasn't paid attention to them since their mother died but they don't want a stepmother because of the fairy tales. By the end of the movie, Cedric and Evangeline marry.
  • The Sound of Music: Julie Andrews' character is hired as a governess who develops a dear fondness for the Von Trapp kids. After falling in love with Baron Von Trapp, she is set to become this trope; when they marry and return from their honeymoon, the children call her "Mother."
  • Stepmom is all about a woman trying to bond with her boyfriend's leery children and to make peace with his former wife.
  • In Bonjour tristesse, the stepmother Anne is a good person if quite severe sometimes, and tries to put some order in the very hedonistic lives of Cécile and Raymond. Cécile likes her at first, but soon is so scared about the changes that she'll bring into her life (especially when Anne attempts playing Team Mom), that she manipulates the people around her (Raymond, his old mistress Elsa, and her own Dogged Nice Guy Cyril) into making Anne's life hard so she'll leave. Little does Cécile know that Anne will end up so broken that she'll be Spurned into Suicide instead.
  • The Kingdom of Little Wounds: Ava gets on well with her stepmother Sabine.
  • Salvation Boulevard provides a male example, where protagonist Carl seems to be a better parent to his stepdaughter Angie than her mother Gwen (or at least Angie likes him better than her mom).
  • Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact has another Gender Flipped example with Sergeant Yujiro Haruno, the stepfather to the protagonist, 10-year-old Musashi Haruno, whose biological father died in a space mission years prior to the story. For most of the film, Musashi only pins on his deceased father, despite Yujiro's best efforts to prove himself to be a good father, encouraging Haruno not to give up on his dreams and being supportive over his stepson's ambitions. Towards the end of the film after both father and son thwarted the launch of a city-destroying nuke, Musashi finally accepts Yujiro as a father and embraces his stepdad.

    Literature 
  • Jane Austen used this trope a few times. (It's worth noting that the actual stories never use the word stepmother, which was not in common verbiage at the time; the stepchild tends to refer to the stepmother as their "mother-in-law.")
    • In Emma, the story begins with Emma's childhood governess marrying their neighbor, Captain Weston, who has a grown son from his first marriage. The son, Frank, writes to his stepmother often, and when he visits they are shown to quickly develop a very friendly relationship; they clearly love each other by the end of the book.
    • While he fails to live up to his promise to Take Care of the Kids, John Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility has an otherwise perfectly amiable relationship with his father's second wife, the mother of his three half-sisters. The narrative notes that she has always treated him kindly and he in turn is very respectful toward her.
  • In Blue Willow by Doris Gates, protagonist Janey calls her father's wife "Mom." The book's title comes from Janey's prized possession, a blue willow china plate which belonged to her dead mother, and if not for the existence of the plate it would be easy to think that Mom was Janey's own mother. She loves, teaches, and nurtures the girl throughout the story, and Janey loves her fiercely.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables: Rainbow Valley, the minister's motherless children are told by another child that all stepmothers are wicked, it comes with the role. Nevertheless, the youngest goes to persuade a woman to marry her father because her father is so miserable since she rejected him, and in Rilla of Ingleside, it is clear that she is a perfectly lovely stepmother.
  • While not married yet, Cady from the Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennet has a great relationship with her boyfriend Lon's teenage son, Jupe, who sees her like a Cool Big Sis.
  • In Children of Dune, Irulan is for all intents and purposes Leto and Ghanima's stepmother, being married to their biological father Paul Atreides, and she loves them as if they are her own children. Unfortunately for her, her Stupid Evil sister Wensicia tries to kill the twins, souring her relationship with them.
  • Averted in Dirge for Prester John. When Anglitora comes to meet John, Hagia practically adopts the girl as her own.
  • In Earth's Children, Willomar is a good stepfather. He has a loving relationship with his stepsons, Joharran and Jondalar, though his relationship with Joharran is more one of friendship, due to the fact he was already an adult when Willomar mated their mother, Marthona.
  • Esther Diamond: Dolly from the first book is Duke's girlfriend and not his wife but is shown to be caring towards and protective of his daughter during the little page-time they have together, and promises not to tell her father that she isn't a virgin anymore.
  • In book 5 of Gesta Danorum, the sorceress Kraka, second wife to a Norwegian lord, cooks a meal for both her stepson Erik and her own son Roller but prepares Roller's share with the slaver of a magical snake, which will make him smarter and luckier. But Erik and Roller swap plates and the spell is upon Erik instead. Rather than being angry at Erik, Kraka decides that from now on, Erik should be the leader of the brothers. She also promises that her magic will aid Erik whenever he calls her name and helps him in outwitting King Gotar of Norway. When Gotar's assassins attack Erik in his bed, he calls out his stepmother's name, whereupon a shield happens to fall from the rafters, covering his body and saving his life.
  • Howl's Moving Castle: Living in a world filled with fairy tale tropes and their lampshades and aversions, Sophie's stepmother Fanny shows first antagonistic shades before revelation of her best intentions toward both her own daughter Martha and her stepdaughters Sophie and Lettie. The thing is, she loves her daughters equally, but her judgement is flawed.
    • More specifically: Fanny sends Martha to study magic under a famous teacher but sends Lettie to work in a bakery and Sophie to work in the family-owned hat store. It first appears to be favoritism, but it turns out that she actually believed them to be the best life choices for her daughters: Martha is the youngest child, so she is already destined to have the luckiest and most exciting life, and having magical skills could help her even more; Lettie is popular among guys, so working in a bakery will help her find a husband quickly; and meek, eldest Sophie can have a secure income in the hat store.
    • That said, Martha and Lettie didn't agree with Fanny, causing them to quietly trade places using transformation spells and making her decisions look more antagonistic. Martha is especially eager to call her mom out for trying to decide what is best for each daughter, and also further badmouths her by revealing the issue below.
    • More antagonistic-looking is the revelation that Sophie's hats are extremely popular in the town, and Fanny lives a rich socialite life on Sophie's earnings. But as it turns out, this also was not due to malicious intentions; she genuinely thought that Sophie was happy working in the hat store.
    • And she is also ready to stab Howl with her parasol when she thinks he caused Sophie to turn into an old woman!
  • The Ray Bradbury short story "I Sing the Body Electric": A robot nanny is brought in as a therapist to help children complete the grieving process for their dead mother.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: In "By Hook or by Crook,'' Harriet Parajian helped her husband seek for the missing children from his first marriage and was very kind and welcoming to them afterward. Decades later, she's still on good terms with all three kids and can talk sense into them when things are going badly. Although it turns out her husband is actually their uncle and not their father.
  • Mercy Thompson: The title character is beloved by Jesse, the daughter of her hot werewolf neighbor Adam. Jesse looks up to Mercy like a Cool Big Sis and likes Mercy even more when Adam and Mercy end up dating and then marrying.
  • In the original novel of The Princess Bride, Prince Humperdinck has a stepmother, Queen Bella. He always calls her "Evil Stepmother" (or simply "E.S." for short) because all fairy tale stepmothers are, and he was still a little boy when she married his father, but it's actually an Insult of Endearment. In reality, she's very nice, with the narrative describing her as "the most beloved person in the kingdom," and she and Humperdinck are quite fond of one another. She seems to be one of the only people he trusts, although she disappears from the bulk of the narrative after his engagement to Buttercup.
  • In the Old Icelandic Saga of Bosi and Herraud, the brothers Bosi and Smid are, after their mother's death, raised by their father's magically skilled concubine, Busla. When Bosi incurs King Hring's wrath and awaits his execution, Busla persuades the king to let Bosi live by demonstrating her magic powers and threatening to lay a terrible curse on the king. Later, when Bosi and Smid are hard-pressed in battle against the sorcerous King Harek of Bjarmaland, Busla comes to their aid in the shape of a giant bird, saving her stepsons again at the cost of her own life.
  • When her stepsons Erik and Agnar are killed by king Eystein Beli, Aslaug of The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok weeps a single tear of blood for them (which is a lot, as she never cries). Afterwards, she persuades her biological sons to avenge their stepbrothers and even personally leads an army against Eystein, eventually defeating and killing him.
  • An interesting version is seen in The Silmarillion: Fëanor's stepmother Indis is very decent to him, and his father still seems to favour him over his younger children. Fëanor is still insanely jealous, though. His feelings were arguably justified, if not when they were directed towards Indis: Fëanor's mother suffered Death by Childbirth, but elves can come back to life after spending a certain amount of time in the afterlife. Notably, Fëanor's father is the only elf we ever hear of remarrying.
  • Winnamine is this to Sarai and Dove in Tamora Pierce's Trickster's Duet. Even if they don't always agree, she genuinely has her stepdaughters' best interests in mind.
  • A Tale Of... the Wicked Queen is a Perspective Flip prequel to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It's shown that the Evil Queen (known as "Grimhilde" in future books) started out as a kind and loving stepmother who adored her stepdaughter like she was her biological child. She precisely wanted to avoid being a bad stepmother because she had an abusive father who blamed her for her mother's Death by Childbirth. Eventually, she warped into the evil stepmother. This change was due to a combination of grief after her husband died in war, her craving recognition from her abusive father whose soul is trapped in the Magic Mirror, and a Psycho Serum created by the Odd Sisters. After her death (which is technically a suicide), the Evil Queen returns to her previous doting personality as her soul becomes trapped in the Magic Mirror.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians
    • Percy's second stepfather, Paul Blofis, who is a major improvement over the Wicked Stepfather he had in the first book.
    • When Percy first meets Poseidon's wife, Amphitrite, he gets the impression that she doesn't like him, and can't really blame her, given that he was born from an affair. She seems to warm up to him pretty quickly, however, and Percy cracks that she's turning out to be a much better stepmother than Hera.
    • Played with in the character of Mrs. Chase, Annabeth's stepmother. Annabeth ran away partially because of her stepmother and grew up insisting that she was a Wicked Stepmother. However, when we actually meet her, we find that, while a bit strict, Mrs. Chase appears to care deeply about her stepdaughter, telling Percy that no matter what, she has a home with her family. The relationship is implied to have improved as Annabeth grew older and matured, and there is a theory going around that Annabeth, having been a small child at the time, simply misread fear and worry for her safety as her stepmother being cruel to her.
  • Invoked in Stepson Mityushka by Ilya Litvak. Mityushka's Innocently Insensitive neighbors warn him he can expect nothing but cruelty from his new stepmother, and the woman herself isn't too enthusiastic about marrying a widower with a child. To escape mistreatment, Mityushka decides to be as kind and respectful as possible towards her, and eventually the stepmother comes to genuinely care for him and he for her.
  • Tortall Universe: Purposely averted in the Trickster's Duet. Duchess Winnamine is a Reasonable Authority Figure who does her best to keep her stepdaughters safe, but is terrified they’ll think her interfering makes her a bad stepmother. Eventually, both of them admit that she’s been an excellent mother figure to them.
  • In XL by Scott Brown, Laura Tannenger is just as kind, generous, and caring to her stepson, Will, as she is to her biological son, Drew.
  • In Blue Willow by Doris Gates, Janey's stepmother "Mom" is loving and responsible to Janey. Because Janey calls her Mom, it's easy to forget that she is her stepmother; if it weren't for the fact that the titular blue willow plate is Janey's only possession which belonged to her late birth mother, the step relationship would probably never come up at all.
  • In The Babysitters Club:
    • Mary Anne's widowed father Richard and Dawn's divorced mother Sharon were High-School Sweethearts. They reconnect when Sharon moves back to Stoneybrook with her children after her divorce, and later in the series they marry. Although the stepfamily takes a little time to settle in together, Sharon is a very good stepmother to Mary Anne, who loves her dearly, and Richard is a kindly stepfather to Dawn and Jeff.
    • Not much is shown of Kristy's Disappeared Dad in the series until the book in which he remarries, and he doesn't appear much afterward either. However, the woman he marries is very kind to Kristy and her brothers, who all like her a lot - in fact, it's all but stated that they like her more than they like their dad, who abandoned the family before the books began. They also have an excellent stepfather in Watson, their mother's second husband.
    • In the Little Sister spin-off series, Watson's daughter Karen (the protagonist of that series) seems to be close with her stepfather Seth (her mother's second husband), even confiding in him over her biological parents on occasion. It takes her a little longer to come around on Elizabeth (Kristy's mother), but she eventually does.
  • Lisa of The Hate U Give dotes on Seven, treating him just the same as she does her biological children. It's especially impressive since Seven is the result of Lisa's husband cheating on her. While she does loathe Seven's mother, and occasionally takes shots at her, she never does it when he's within earshot and doesn't hold it against him at all. He refers to her as "Ma" and doesn't correct strangers who assume she's his mother, as he bitterly points out to his biological mother.
  • Played with in Tanith Lee's Red as Blood, a retelling of "Snow White". In this version, the stepdaughter is evil and the stepmother is trying to protect the kingdom.
  • The title character of the children's book Sarah, Plain and Tall is a 19th century Mail-Order Bride, whose husband specifically selects her to be one of these. He has a young son and daughter by his late first wife, and doesn't want them to grow up motherless; they communicate with her by letter for some time before she travels (with her cat, Seal) to live with them and marry their father. By the time they actually become a family they're all quite attached to each other, and it's heavily implied that Sarah will be this for the children.
  • Snow. Glass. Apples. is a short story by Neil Gaiman which retells "Snow White" from the stepmother's point of view. In this iteration, she initially tries to be a good stepmother to the little girl, even telling her that "I'm your new mother" when they meet and trying to bond with her over a snack of apples. Over time, however, she becomes horrified to learn that her stepdaughter is actually a vampire, and when she orders the girl's destruction, it's intended for the good of the kingdom. It ends badly for the stepmother.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kelly, Rick's second wife on American Restoration, is shown to have a good relationship with Tyler, his son from his first marriage.
  • Arrow:
    • Walter Steele cares for Moira's children, Oliver and Thea, and gets along with them. Even after divorcing Moira, he is still willing to help them, as shown when Oliver asked him to help prevent Queen Consolidated from being absorbed by Isabel Rochev at the beginning of Season 2.
    • Felicity Smoak is arguably a better parent to William than his father Oliver Queen (partially because William has less baggage with her than he does with his father, whom he both worries is going to get himself killed and also blames for the death of his mother). They also bond over being a lot alike, both of them geeky and technologically gifted; the flashforwards in Arrow's final seasons show William as the Generation Xerox to Felicity while her biological daughter with Oliver, Mia, is the one to Oliver.
  • On The Brady Bunch, Carol does such a good job raising the boys, the fact that she is their stepmother is never even mentioned beyond the pilot - except in one episode (season 1, #10) when Bobby, after watching Cinderella on TV, and being told to clean out the fireplace, convinces himself that Carol is a Wicked Stepmother. His use of the word "step"mother eventually provokes this reply:
    Carol: The only steps in this house are those (points to staircase), which go right up to your bedroom.
    • Similarly, Mike is an excellent stepfather to the girls, who adore him. The reunion movies show that Marcia even names her own son after him.
  • Charité at War has Margot Sauerbruch, who's closer in age to her stepson Peter than to her husband Ferdinand, but still has a warm relationship with Peter, acting very motherly about him and worrying when he has to return to the front.
  • Audrey Parker is this to Josh in Drake & Josh. Walter is a Gender Flipped version of this to Drake and Megan. However, they do act accordingly given that the kids are troublemakers. (Megan usually gets away scot-free, but in "Tree House," even she gets punished.)
  • In Forever, the episode "The King of Columbus Circle" concludes with Lydia, the illegitimate daughter of the deposed King of Urkesh, meeting her father's wife after his death, with her 'stepmother' expressing joy at the chance to meet her husband's grandchild despite the circumstances.
  • In The Fosters, though generally given a relatively secondary role, Lena fully intends to and does play a positive parental role in her stepson Brandon's life.
  • Invoked in I Married Dora, a short-lived Dom Com in The '80s, in which a widowed father marries his immigrant housekeeper. This keeps her from being deported and allows her to continue taking care of his two children, who love her dearly.
  • Invoked and Played With in the 1981 Chilean Telenovela La Madrastranote  (as well as remakes like the Mexican one), in which a rich woman is falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned in jail for 20 years, and the father of her 3 children told them their mother was dead to avoid the shame. After those years, she was freed and comes back to the house to get revenge on the people who accused her, as well as 'adopt' her children (now adults who don't remember the image of their mother) and marry her husband once again under another name, becoming the "stepmother".
  • In Moesha, Dee, who is Frank's second wife, acts like a mother figure to Moesha and Myles.
  • In The Nanny, Fran becomes the beloved stepmom of the Sheffield children, having gained their love and trust ages before her Relationship Upgrade with their father.
  • In Once Upon a Time, the Evil Queen, who was previously Snow White's evil stepmother, adopts a baby named Henry and raises him as her own. Her love for Henry brings out her redeeming values and plays a large role in her eventual Enemy Mine truce with Snow White and her eventual redemption.
    • In season 7, after Anastasia and Drizella's mother Rapunzel is held captive by Mother Gothel and presumed dead, her husband's second wife Cecilia is a good stepmother to the girls. Unfortunately, when Rapunzel returns, she's pushed by Gothel into killing Cecilia to reunite with her family and is not a good stepmother to Cecilia's daughter Ella.
  • In the last season of Pretty Little Liars, Spencer learns that her mother is actually Mary Drake, meaning Veronica's her stepmother. The two always had a good relationship, and once Spencer gets over the shock, that doesn't change.
  • Raising Hope: Once Jimmy and Sabrina marry, she is this to Jimmy's daughter Hope, whom she eventually adopts. She actually showed maternal instincts for Hope way before she became Jimmy's girlfriend/wife when she saved Hope from a gun-toting mama. Sabrina also tries very hard to make sure Hope has a good childhood.
  • Stargirl gives us Barbara and Pat, stepparents to Courtney (Barbara's daughter) and Mike (Pat's son). Both of them are kind and loving, but not lax, parents; they each work to bond with the other's child, and support them in their school science projects and desperate battles with terrifying villains. We're also shown that both Courtney and Mike are starting to appreciate all the effort. For example, Mike initially tells Pat and Barbara not to show up to his science fair, claiming that no other parent will be there. Then it turns out that everyone else's parents did show up, leaving Mike as the odd kid out - until Barbara shows up, even though she said earlier that she had a meeting at work. Mike is clearly appreciative, and they end up bonding over eating his chocolate volcano. Meanwhile, after Pat tells Courtney how much she has disappointed him by going behind his back and stealing the JSA gear, Courtney clearly doesn't know how to behave with him in front of Barbara and Mike, feeling shame for breaking his trust.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Useful Notes/Jesus' stepfather, St. Joseph, is also the patron saint of fathers and stepfathers. Traditions differ about whether or not he had any biological children himself, so this might be on the basis of stepparenting alone.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • In one legend, Theseus, a son of Poseidon, dives down into the water to retrieve Minos' ring and meets with Amphitrite, who gives him a golden crown. Compared to the way Hera treats her stepkids, that would definitely qualify for this trope.
    • Mythology actually has several men who were fine raising their wives' half-divine children: Amphitryon (Heracles), Tyndareus (Helen and Polydeuces) and Aloeus (Otis and Ephialtes). The latter actually continued raising the kids after their mother's death, and later killed his second wife for causing their deaths.note 

    Video Games 
  • Castlevania 64 flips the usual formula by having Carrie reflect on her own loving stepmother, who even gave her life to save Carrie's, in order to call out Actrise for how pathetic and worthless she is for having sacrificed her own biological daughter to attain immortality. This, and Actrise having sicced Carrie's vampire cousin on her before, make the utter beat-down of the witch that ensues all the more satisfying.
  • In Ballad of Rapunzel, the seventh installment of the Dark Parables series, Rapunzel is the daughter of the King of Floralia by his first wife Violante; diary entries are found written by his second wife, Melanie, expressing her desire to be a good stepmother to the child.
  • In the backstory of the major religion of Dragon Age, the resident Crystal Dragon Jesus Andraste was a Deity of Human Origin. During her mortal life, she was married to an Alamarri warlord, Maferath, by whom she eventually had two daughters; however, he also had three sons by his concubine. After the concubine's death when the boys were quite young, Andraste raised them, and as far as they (and history) were concerned she was their mother.
  • The player character can actually be a good stepparent in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, depending on which NPC they choose for a spouse. Marrying Balimund (the blacksmith in Riften) or Octieve San (an elderly Breton in Solitude) gives the Dragonborn an adult stepchild (Asbjorn or Evette) with whom they can have a cordial, albeit somewhat minimal, relationship.
  • Fire Emblem Fates features a Big, Screwed-Up Family on both sides due to Corrin and Azura having ties to both yet surprisingly not actually being related by blood to anyone except each other. Among these is Mikoto, who is a good stepmother to the Hoshidan Royal family, since she loves Ryoma, Hinoka, Takumi, and Sakura as if they are her own children. (This also includes Azura, though Azura is her niece.) Sumeragi also played a male role to Corrin, since he is not Corrin's actual father, and when Corrin learns the truth, Corrin may say that Sumeragi really was his/her father. The stepfather on the Nohrian side of things, on the other hand...
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Dimitri fondly recalls his stepmother, who is also Edelgard's mother, who raised him alongside his father until he lost his parents in the Tragedy of Duscur. In reality, Dimitri's stepmother is revealed to be the person who actually caused the Tragedy.
  • In Hades, Nyx was forbidden by Hades to speak of Zagreus' true parentage and as a result treats him as one of her children. Even after the latter learns the truth, he admits that Nyx has been nothing but a good mother to him for all his life.
  • Life Is Strange: Before the Storm:
    • The major twist of episode 2 turns out to be that Rose is actually this to Rachel Amber. Sera, the woman she and Chloe saw kissing her father, James, is Rachel's biological mother, whom James divorced and cut out of his and Rachel's life because of her drug habit. James argues that Rose might as well be Rachel's mother, although Rachel herself is more conflicted on the matter.
    • David, Chloe's future stepfather, tries to be this trope (if only for Joyce's sake), but is Doomed by Canon to have a very strained relationship with her by the time of the original game, where he fits much better into the other trope (although not without his redeeming qualities).
  • In Persona 4, Eri Minami, the Temperance Social Link, eventually becomes this to her stepson Yuuta over the course of her Social Link. She admits that she rushed into marrying Yuuta's father, and initially believes that she can't bond with him, but later tries to connect with him. Eventually, after Yuuta knocks the protagonist to the ground for supposedly insulting his mom, Eri starts to see Yuuta for the person he is. At the end of the game, if her Social Link is completed, Eri remarks that the first thing she felt upon the killer being caught is that her son is safe.
  • In The Walking Dead Season 3, Kate is this towards Mariana and Gabriel. Right in the beginning, she tells Jarvi how much she loves them and they will also often refer to her as Mom. She also survived 5 years protecting them from zombie hordes.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Triangle Heart 3 (which gave rise to the Lyrical Nanoha Spin-Off series), Nanoha is Momoko Takamachi's only biological daughter: Kyouya Takamachi is Momoko's husband's illegitimate son from an earlier relationship, while Miyuki Takamachi is, in fact, Kyouya's cousin, who has been given a new identity to protect her from assassins who wiped out her own family. Nonetheless, Momoko cares equally about all three of her children and is shown to be a loving and understanding mother to them. Her loving nature carries over to Lyrical Nanoha, although the only indication that Miyuki and Kyouya aren't siblings is that she calls him "Kyou-chan" instead of using Japanese Sibling Terminology on him.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Despite having left the family for six years following his father's remarriage, Battler Ushiromiya doesn't hold a grudge against his stepmother Kyrie, with whom he gets along fairly well even if they don't really view each other as family. Subverted when we learn that Kyrie had a bitter rivalry with Battler's mother, Asumu, which has festered in envy for years. In private, Kyrie admits that she actually does resent Battler and is only forcing herself to be nice to him, and Episode 7 reveals that she wouldn't have any trouble getting rid of him if he got in the way of her and Rudolf running away with the money.

    Webcomics 
  • Veronica Carter from I'm the Grim Reaper. From what we learn from their dialogue, Chase's real mother was very abusive. Veronica is much kinder and more caring towards him. She even pays for his rent and expensive medicine since he doesn't have a job.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Kell is a loving mother to her stepdaughter Lindesfarne, who accepts her fairly easily, partly because Kell is a vast improvement over Lindesfarne's adoptive mother Angelique. Kevin also loves and cares for his stepson Rudy, even though Rudy initially tries to challenge Kevin for the position of alpha male.
  • In Punderworld, while Hera was obviously pissed when she found out about Artemis, it is implied that the two eventually reconciled in some manner, even allowing Artemis to join the Olympians without complaint. Then again, it was Zeus who explained it, so it probably isn't so simple.

    Web Original 
  • Min-Seong from The Friendly Winter is a boy who lives with his stepmother Seo-Ha. He thinks she's the sweetest and most beautiful woman on the planet.
  • RWBY: Summer Rose, was, by all accounts, as loving to her stepdaughter Yang as she was to her biological daughter Ruby. It was to the point that Yang didn't even find out they weren't biologically related until after Summer's death. Yang continues to hold her in high regard in the present day, referring to her as a "Super Mom" when relating her backstory to Blake.
  • This story from Not Always Legal features one heck of a Mama Bear stepmother. When a drug-addicted acquaintance of her stepson's biological mother decides to break into the house in order to kidnap him, the stepmother responds by breaking both of his arms to protect the boy. His mother, who was completely innocent and horrified by the news, sends her a letter thanking her for being such a good example of this trope.

    Western Animation 
  • Delilah in 101 Dalmatian Street already has a litter of puppies from a previous marriage, before she met Doug and his own litter of puppies, but both of them love each and every pup dearly. The only regular hints that they are a blended family are that Dawkins refers to Doug by name rather than as "Dad," and Dolly mentions to Fergus that she and Dylan are not actually related. The stepmother example for Delilah, however, is specifically shown in "Girls' Day Out", where Delilah quickly steps in to defend Dolly when others, such as Clarissa, Portia, and Spencer, make fun of her at the Animal Spa.
  • In Daria, Brittany's dad married a Trophy Wife only ten years older than Brittany herself. The two enjoy a happy relationship, though Brittany's stepmother is more like a Cool Big Sis to her than a parental figure.
  • Halfway into As Told by Ginger, Lois begins dating a doctor. Carl gets quite attached to Dave easily. His older sister Ginger is a bit more apprehensive at first. She at one point has a fairy-tale Imagine Spot where he is a wicked stepfather, and later Miranda tries to instill worries in her about Dave being her new father. Eventually Ginger does warm up to Dave too. Lois and Dave end up engaged and the finale is about their wedding.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Gender inverted, but Zuko and Azula's stepfather Noren from the post-series comics is much nicer than their evil, megalomaniac, abusive father Ozai.
  • Disenchantment: Since Oona is a parody of an Evil Stepmother, she comes back around and becomes a good one. Despite being an amphibious fish-person who was forced to marry the king in an Arranged Marriage to keep him from destroying her home, she does her best to be a good mother to her stepdaughter Bean. On Bean's wedding night she gives her some sex advice (even though it doesn't help), she often counsels her husband not to bother her too much, she forgives Bean quickly for betraying her for her birth mother (who turned out to be evil), and invites her to come be a pirate with her when she leaves.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, if it weren't for the hyphenated names and mixed accents, you wouldn't even be able to tell that this is a blended family. The phrases "stepchildren" and "stepsiblings" are virtually never used. Neither parent shows any preferences between biological and stepchildren, and that extends to even the shown grandparents treating all the kids equally.
  • In Rugrats, Chuckie initially worries that Kira will be like the stepmother from Cinderella. She's actually quite nice and caring. One episode even has her adopting him legally (and likewise, Chas adopts her daughter Kimi).
  • In Sofia the First, Sofia's mother, Miranda, marries King Roland II and is a kind and loving stepmother to his children, Amber and James. She acknowledges there aren't many stories with good stepmothers, so it drives her to be as good as she can. Roland, meanwhile, is also a kind and loving stepfather to Sofia.

    Real Life 
  • In Bangladeshi culture, widowers with young children are often advised to marry again, as it is perceived a good woman is needed to make the family whole again.
  • Serbian princess Mara Brankovic was a close confidant of her stepson, Sultan Mehmed II, conqueror of Constantinople. Married to his father, Murad II, to secure a political alliance, she chose to remain at the Ottoman court after his death, declining a proposal from the Byzantine Emperor in the process. Mara advised her stepson and acted as a diplomatic agent on his behalf when negotiating with other powers.
  • Margaret of France, the second wife of King Edward I of England, was this to her stepson, Prince Edward (the future King Edward II). The two were reportedly fond of one another (unsurprising, as Edward was only 6 when his mother, Eleanor of Castile, died), and Edward II once gave Margaret a gift of an expensive gold and ruby ring. Margaret was also totally lacking in jealousy, to the point where she named her only daughter Eleanor after her husband's beloved first wife.
  • Countess Teresa Guiccioli acted as a loving mother to her lover Lord Byron's daughter, Allegra, who had never known a stable parental figure. Teresa visited her as she recovered from an illness and gave Allegra her own childhood toys to play with, and persuaded Byron to have Allegra educated at a convent because of her own happy upbringing there. Allegra called her mammina, or mommy.
  • Sarah Bush Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's stepmother, had a close relationship with her stepson and never treated him any differently from her own children. She's also credited for giving Abe his famous sense of humor.
  • Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin's second wife, was close to her stepson, Yakov, who was only a few years younger than her. When Yakov attempted suicide after his father forced him to break up with his fiancée, Nadezhda heard the gunshot and rushed to his side to comfort him, called a doctor, and stopped the bleeding. Stalin, in contrast, remarked, "He can't even shoot straight."
  • The House of Tudor can't help having a number of stepmothers in the ranks, considering how many times Henry VIII was married, and three of them fit this trope:
    • His third wife Jane Seymour (mother of Edward VI) was a kindly stepmother to Henry's daughters Mary and Elizabeth, eventually helping them both to be reinstated to the family circle and even naming Mary as Edward's godmother.
    • Wife #4, Anne of Cleves, wasn't the children's stepmother for long, but she established a good relationship with all three of them which lasted for the rest of her life; she and Henry divorced amicably and became Like Brother and Sister, letting her transfer from this trope to that of Honorary Aunt.
    • The erudite and scholarly Catherine Parr, wife #6, was a Protestant, so she and the very Catholic (and near to her age) Mary didn't exactly share confidences, but she encouraged Mary to pursue the same kind of literary achievements which interested her, and Mary was occasionally on hand to help her in hosting diplomats. By contrast, she was close to Edward and Elizabeth and even became Elizabeth's guardian after Henry's death. She supervised their educations and Edward in particular referred to her as his "dearest mother" in Latin, as well as warmly acquiescing to her marrying his maternal uncle.
  • Margaret Of York was one of her stepdaughter Mary Duchess Of Burgundy's greatest advisors, proving invaluable during the unstable early days of Mary's rule as duchess. Moreover, they were very close, with Mary naming her only daughter, Margaret of Austria, after her stepmother. Margaret was devastated when Mary died in a riding accident at the age of 25 and helped raise her children afterward.
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