"Madonna" comes from the medieval Italian word ma donna, meaning "my lady". It is most commonly associated with The Virgin Mary, a very prominent figure in Christianity and Islam as the mother of Jesus Christ. Since fiction likes to borrow much from the religious culture that it spawns from, there is often Stock Parodies of its most prominent or important characters, like Jesus, Satan, or in this case, Jesus' mother.
The Madonna Archetype character can be any combination of the following:
- Named Mary or a variation of it.
- Always begins as an average, if not modestly righteous individual before encountering the miraculous.
- Is the human of a pairing between a normal person and an abnormal one.
- Mystical Pregnancy.
- Visually accompanied by a Putto meant to represent Jesus.
- Away in a Manger.
- The child produced does or will most definitely become a Messianic Archetype.
- Becomes associated as a sacred figure, if not a symbol of worship to some, and often depicted with a Holy Halo.
- Always beautiful, or suffers from Generic Cuteness at worst.
- Is usually a Proper Lady or Yamato Nadeshiko.
- A tendency towards motherliness and/or being a Team Mom.
- A propensity towards blue and/or white clothing and/or head coverings.
Sister Trope to Messianic Archetype, Moses Archetype and Satanic Archetype. Compare Mother Goddess, Jeanne d'ArchÚtype. See also Divine Date, Madonna-Whore Complex, Passion Play and PietÓ Plagiarism. Not to be confused with the entertainer Madonnanote .
- Historia from Attack on Titan is one the darkest and most disturbing examples. Her name may not be Mary, but she used the fake name of Krista, which was the name of a motherly figure holding a child in a similar manner Mary would hold baby Jesus in the Madonna art style, from a book Frieda gifted to her. She is introduced as a kind-hearted girl possibly in love with Ymir, a Titan shifter. She is a Proper Lady, considered a sacred figure for the wall worshippers and later to most of Eldians once she becomes their queen. She also has a very motherly side, spending most of her time as a queen, watching over the orphans from the Underground city. Historia is referred as a goddess by multiple characters. As an adult, she is expected to become a Breeding Slave for the 50 years old plan in order to save the Paradise Island from genocide, and all of her children would turn in a way into Messianic Archetypes, inheriting the Beast Titan and the Coordinate.
- Broadly speaking, the Priestesses are kind of this in the universe of Fushigi Yuugi. They are young, virginal girls, who save the world by a special relationship with one of The Four Gods. Most memorably, in the OVA, Mayo's arrival has been foretold as being a pregnant virgin who arrives from another world to save this one. (Mayo, however, is most definitely a subversion of the trope, being less saintly Yamato Nadeshiko, and more of an Apocalypse Maiden). She does end up saving the Universe of the Four Gods, with help from Miaka, whose baby she's been given to hold onto, once she realizes the gravity of what she's done.
- Charity (Bouguereau): A common Allegorical Character from The Renaissance and onward is the embodiment of Charity, the highest of virtues and the one that defines the Virgin Mary. Her design is clearly made to evoke imagery of the Virgin Mary, depicted as dressing very modestly (this differs between cultures) as she is breastfeeding multiple putti.
- An old The Avengers arc had the team trying to find and protect the "Celestial Madonna," a woman prophesied to birth the most powerful being in the universe. The Madonna herself turned out to be Mantis.
- In no grave can hold my body down, through implications from their visions, the cult surmises that the goddess has a "mortal beloved". To the surprise of everyone In-Universe and to none of the readers, that person is Chloe, Max still pining for Chloe even though they cannot be together.
- After her granddaughter Azalea is born, Medusa frames Chrona in Child Born of Love as a form of Holy Mother destined to birth children that would bring Witch-kind into a new era of control over the world. What makes this ironic is that she ends up becoming the witch equivalent of the Anti Anti Christ, being their Dark Messiah "the Witch of Destruction" who is very much on the side of their enemies at Shibusen.
- The plot The Terminator centers around Sarah Connor, a normal, unremarkable American girl who is targeted to be killed by the Terminator because her future son John Connor would grow up to be mankind's savior. She eventually ends up conceiving John with Kyle Reese, the very man sent back in time by John himself (compare to how an angel was sent to Mary) to protect her.
- Heidi LaRoc from The Lords of Salem was chosen by the titular Lords of Salem to be the chosen mother of The Antichrist as revenge for her ancestor Reverend Jonathan Hawthrone burning them at the stake. By the end of the film, the modern iterations of the Lords succeed in their mission. The Antichrist is born and Heidi is found possessed and glowing atop the bodies of all of the village's female descendants in a manner that evokes the Virgin Mary.
- Charlie from Legion is the pregnant waitress at the Paradise Falls Diner. When the angels begin invading and start the end of the world, Michael explains to her that her baby is destined to be the savior of mankind. While God had lost faith in humanity and thus sent Michael to kill it before it was born, Michael himself still believes in humanity and decided to protect it instead.
- Star Wars:
- Shmi Skywalker, a strongwilled slave woman who conceived Anakin without a father — in The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon speculates he was conceived by the Force; in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith it appears that Darth Sidious/Palpatine was involved somehow. However she got pregnant, her son Anakin was an immensely powerful young man destined to "bring balance to the Force" — and he did, after falling to the Dark Side, assisting in the Empire's evil as The Dragon, before being brought back to the Light by dying to save his son.
- Rey's mother has shades of this in The Rise of Skywalker. She lived in a desert as a junk trader and gave birth to a child born with extradordinary abilities, who grows to become the saviour of the galaxy and even gets brought back from the dead. The outfit Rey's mother wears is also very similar to how the Virgin Mary is often depicted (a blue cloak with a hood).
- The deuteragonist of Children of Men is Kee, the first pregnant woman in a Childless Dystopia in eighteen years. Given that the baby represents a new hope for humanity, Kee herself has many allusions to the Virgin Mary: Theo realizes she's pregnant in a barn (analogous to a manger), she jokes that she was a Virgin and that she doesn't know who the father is, and when her baby is born people react to it like a religious figure. Theo himself plays the Joseph role by shepherding Kee to safety.
- Babylon A.D.: The Neolite sect planned to invoke this with Aurora, who is a virgin who only got pregnant through their genetic manipulation. They planned to have her be a modern Virgin Mary whose miraculous pregnancy and childbirth would make them the dominant religion.
- The Wiz reinterprets the Good Witch Glinda to resemble the Virgin Mary as she's often depicted in art. Glinda wears a long, sparkling blue robe and matching veil that only reveals a small portion of her hair paired with a crown of stars. She's only ever seen on a starry backdrop surrounded by floating babies that resemble attendant cherubs. These innocent children are the only characters Glinda is even seen on-screen with, adding to her etherealness. Glinda's personality also bears resemblance to the Madonna Archetype, being a very maternal and graceful sort of character.
- Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings is depicted as motherly, has a name which translates to "lady crowned in light" in her language (thus alluding to a halo), and was entrusted with one of the rings of power by a higher being- a great responsibility. Tolkien also stresses her purity, stating that she was "unstained" and "had committed no evil deeds." Some critics debate whether or not Galadriel is truly meant to resemble Mary in any way. Given Tolkien's strong Catholicism, these traits all suggest the parallels are intentional — but we also know that for the same reason, Tolkien had consciously avoided steering too close to Catholic dogmas. So, like we said, critics debate.
- The Vala Varda Elbereth also carries some similarity to Mary, or rather, she is regarded with a similar respect and devotion by the Elves. It's been said that the poem A Elbereth Gilthoniel is the Elven equivalent to the "Hail Mary" prayer.
- On Scrubs, the Christmas Episode features a pregnant teenage girl who's run away from home. She has to be induced, because she has HELLP syndrome. She escapes from the hospital, and goes into labor in a city park, where Turk has come to rest (after having been burned out by all the horrible cases he's seen that night). He delivers the baby, and gets back into the Christmas spirit, with everyone singing Christmas carols together.
- Ugly Betty: Invoked by Wilhelmina in the episode where Christina gives birth (she's a surrogate for Wilhelmina's posthumous child with Bradford). As Christina goes into labor in the middle of a fashion runway, Wilhelmina orders the models, who are wearing very angel-inspired costumes, to surround her and raise their wings for privacy. When the Clean, Pretty Childbirth is over minutes later, Wilhelmina holds her infant son aloft to triumphant music as she's raised on a hydraulic platform and lights focus on her.
- In Final Fantasy VI, the mother of half-Esper main character Terra is a human woman named Madeline, literally Madonna in the original English translation, and the Esper Maduin, a member of a race of magical superbeings created to fight in the ancient War of the Magi. Their daughter, Terra, becomes the first human in a thousand years to be born with the gift of magic — only for the Evil Empire to storm the Other World of the Espers, capturing Maduin and many of his fellow Espers. Madeline dies in the fighting, and the Emperor himself rips Terra from her arms. The game begins when Terra finally breaks free of the Empire's control, and joins the heroic Returners, a link between humans and Espers and the key to defeating the Empire.
- Elisabet Sobeck from Horizon Zero Dawn flip-flops between this and Messianic Archetype, but the story as a whole paints her as this. She is the Greater-Scope Paragon of the story, having been the creator of Project: Zero Dawn - gathering what was left of humanity's greatest minds to create GAIA to restore the Earth after the Faro Plague destroyed it - and ultimately sacrifices herself to save the rest of Zero Dawn's Alpha team. Over nine-hundred years later, after HADES goes rogue and has GAIA destroyed, GAIA's last act was to have Elisabet cloned at the cradle, essentially immaculately conceiving the game's hero Aloy in a long-term gambit to save humanity.
- Hiroko of Shin Megami Tensei II does not appear to be one at first; she's designed after Lilith and the other heroine Beth wears a closer approximation of the traditional outfit. But she gets involved in the plot to rescue a kidnapped little boy, and she is a virgin mother. She was chosen as the surrogate for Aleph, an Artificial Human designed to be the Messiah, invoking this trope.
- Homestuck: Kanaya Maryam's last name is Maryam, the Aramaic (also Hebrew or Arabic) version of the name Mary. She is associated with the zodiac sign Virgo (the virgin). A mother grub (the species responsible for giving birth to new trolls) has given up its role as birth mother to become her lusus. When the start of the Sgrub session kills her lusus, Kanaya acquires the Matriorb, an artifact that can be used to hatch a new mother grub. This makes her responsible for saving the genetic future of trollkind.
- In a rare male example, Greg Universe in Steven Universe represent the Virgin Mary to his son Steven's role as a Messianic Archetype. He happens upon a beautiful otherworldly being (Rose Quartz) whom he then conceives a child with, a miracle in that gems do not reproduce like humans. He would go on to raise Steven without her, helpless to stop Steven from putting himself in danger and ultimately becoming the planet's (and later the known galaxy's) savior. The episode "Three Gems and a Baby" goes on to cement this as it subtly reenacts Away in a Manger in the Nativity with Greg playing the part of both Mary and Joseph.