Older Than Radio, Subtrope of Ethnic Menial Labor, Mammy was born in the Deep South of Antebellum America, but continued to be a presence for a century after the American Civil War and is also "popular" in Cuba. During slavery, she was largely resigned to her enslavement, perhaps even finding Happiness in Slavery. After she gained her freedom, Mammy continued to serve as a menial domestic to whites and continued to aspire to little higher. In her freedom, she may have also moved north, although her position and character are largely unchanged whether she lives in rural Georgia or Chicago.
Physically, Mammy is generally overweight, middle-aged or older, and has no expressed sexuality; a white mistress was supposedly secure that having Mammy about the house was no threat to her husband's fidelity as opposed to a younger, prettier maid. In terms of character, Mammy is poorly educated but has abundant common sense and is competent in her domestic duties. She is servile toward the whites, but may be an Apron Matron toward her own family, or even toward her masters' children if they have placed her in authority over the kids. Her earthy common sense may, if her white masters or employers become sufficiently zany, lead her to become the Only Sane Man of the household and develop some characteristics of a Sassy Black Woman, perhaps even being driven to deliver a Whoopi Epiphany Speech.
Compare Magical Negro and Almighty Janitor. May also be the maid of a Maid and Maiden duo. The white family she works for may fall under Bad Boss or Pointy-Haired Boss, but don't expect the story to call them on it.
The Other Wiki has a page on the archetype here. Given the character's association with Minstrel Shows and racist stereotypes, many people find Unfortunate Implications in it, especially if she expresses Happiness in Slavery or has no other role than to serve white people. However, more complex works may interrogate the type further by making her more well-rounded as a person or showing how she strives to be a positive mother figure in a bad situation.
If the story is set in Texas or California, she might be Hispanic or Native American. In the Northeast, she might be Irish, and in the Midwest Swedish or Norwegian. In stories set in The Raj she might be Indian or Chinese (and more likely than not referred to as Ayah or Amah, respectively). The archetype can also be applied to characters that are simply "black coded": that is, people who are treated in the setting the same way real life black people are.
Not to be mistaken for someone referring to their actual mother as Mammy. "Mammy" and "Mam" are the usual familiar terms for one's mother in Ireland, as well as parts of Wales and the North of England, rather than "Mum" or "Mom". In Mrs. Brown's Boys, for instance, Agnes Brown is always addressed as Mammy or Ma.
- Aunt Jemima from the Quaker Oats Company's brand; was originally a character from Minstrel Shows. Her '80s design nixed the "Mammy" imagery, giving her a natural hairstyle and pearls to insinuate that she is a homemaker. In 2021 Quaker finally retired Aunt Jemima, and rechristened the line after its original parent, the Pearl Milling Company.
- Mrs. Butterworth, the pancake syrup mascot. Since the 70s, she has only been shown as the animated bottle in an attempt to tone down the inherent racism of the stereotype. Of course, this remains somewhat debatable, given the character's consistent portrayal by white actors going all the way back to male comedian Cliff Arquette in the very first (and only live-action) appearance. ConAgra, owners of the brand since 2018, indicate that the bottle design was intended to represent a loving grandmother, but that they understand the problem and will review their branding.
- Ella from Sonic X is apparently supposed to be one but the English dub paints her as Hispanic.
- Hannah from 1987 anime adaptation of Little Women was given a Race Lift from Irish to African-American, and is stylized this way (without Blackface fortunately). The show gives her a bit of a snarky but loving personality, and is terrified of cats.
- South African cartoon strip "Madam and Eve", in which a black maid/housekeeper does not always show the approved degree of respect for her white employer.
- In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, Johanna Smith-Rhodes is married with children and lives in Ankh-Morpork. Well-meaning relatives have provided her with servants, as befits a Woman of Status. all of them are Black Howondalandian and used to service to white people. Johanna's long-standing cook, Dorothea, fits the Mammy stereotype in all respects. Johanna even finds herself cleaning the kitchen one day at Dorothea's implicit request. note
- Parodied in The Campaign, which features an Asian maid who is forced by her boss to talk like this, only occasionally slipping up/dropping it for her regular American accent.
- Beulah from "Leave it to Beulah," a Show Within a Show in the film C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America.
- As shown on the Radio tab, Beulah was a real program about a black housekeeper.
- Bubba's mother (and her mother before her, and so on) from Forrest Gump. At least until Forrest gave her Bubba's share of the Bubba Gump Shrimp company; after that, she hired a white woman to be her "mammy".
- Hattie McDaniel made a career out of playing these kinds of roles, including Malena Burns in Alice Adams, Fidelia in Since You Went Away, Callie in They Died with Their Boots On, and most famously as Mammy in Gone with the Windnote . She's also in Disney's Song of the South. She played a mammy for Shirley Temple's character in The Little Colonel. In Saratoga her character says she'd go after Clark Gable's character if only he were the right color. When asked if she felt degraded taking so many gigs as a domestic, McDaniel replied, "Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn't, I'd make $7 a week being one."
- She also played Beulah on radio and TV.
- The grandmother in Grown Ups.
- The "sassy" maid, Minny Jackson from The Help primarily, but the whole movie is about the black maids.
- Delilah in both film versions of Imitation Of Life, but especially the 1934 original. The 1959 version by Douglas Sirk is in fact a Deconstruction. In both versions she is the best friend of Bea and they raise their children together. Unlike most "mammy" type characters she has her own storyline and character development.
- Gussy from Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
- Annie in It's a Wonderful Life, with a healthy helping of humor and genuine affection toward and from her employers.
- Eulabelle from the B-movie The Horror of Party Beach. She's condescended to by most characters and the hero goes the extra mile by putting on a Southern Gentleman patois exclusively when speaking to her. She's also the only main character with any real personality or charisma, and every time the plot stalls out, it falls to her to go back and give the starter cord another tug. She even figures out how to kill the monsters!
- In Hallelujah! Zeke's mother is actually called Mammy, and she looks and dresses the part. But it's subverted to some extent as she is the mother of a family of poor cotton farmers, not a servant to a white person.
- Inverted in White Man's Burden, which is set in an alternate America where blacks are the dominant ethnic group and whites are the minority. Wealthy businessman Thaddeus Thomas has a white live-in maid who otherwise fits the physical description of being older, overweight, and servile exactly.
- Missouri, Randy Bragg's housekeeper, from Alas, Babylon.
- Big Lannie from the Dorothy Parker short story "Clothe The Naked".
- Ruby from Patricia McCormick's Cut.
- Mammy Jane in Charles W. Chesnutt's The Marrow Of Tradition.
- Castalia from Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All is an examination and subversion. Yes, she's an obese (300 pounds), middle-aged to elderly domestic servant. But, as it turns out, she taught herself to read while still a slave (and reveals this fact while insulting her injured mistress after the plantation house burns down), raises minks, is the female protagonist's lover, and definitely does not qualify for Happiness in Slavery. (She also claims to have been born a princess in Africa, and Lucy relates a story that Castalia told her of her enslavement, though the princess bit is likely Unreliable Narrator.)
- Cook from Old Tin Sorrows is essentially a fantasy-world version of this trope, although she's a half-troll rather than dark-skinned.
- Henrietta "Henny" Beech from Petals on the Wind hits every single cliché, except she's mute.
- Aunt Jemima from The Rapture of the Deep
- Ruth from Summer of My German Soldier.
- Possibly Calpurnia from To Kill a Mockingbird
- Aunt Chloe from Uncle Tom's Cabin
- Deconstructed in Kindred by Octavia Butler. The mammy-esque slave Sarah finds what happiness she can, but beneath that facade is bone-deep rage and pain over a lifetime of servitude in which all but one of her children were sold away from her. It's presented not as surrender but as one of the ways that the plantation slaves weather unendurable horror.
- The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: Mrs Green is one and it's one of the most polarizing elements of the story. Is she a deconstruction because she's supposed to show how out of touch the wealthy white women are from Mrs Green's deprived "ghetto" life, or is she actually a reconstruction because she still forgives them and shows the mammy's caring for upper-class white society along with her extreme competence and domestic servitude?
- An Unkindness of Ghosts: Upper-class women hire Melusine to nanny and tutor their children in preference to a "proper" tutor, solely because she fits the stereotype. She dislikes the work, even though it's less physically demanding than her main job, but puts on a convincing façade nonetheless.
For some reason, people think I'm a motherly type. Because I'm brown and dowdy.
- Nel from Gimme a Break!.
- Florence from The Jeffersons totally subverts the trope: She's thin, works for a black family and is extremely outspoken and sassy, especially toward George.
- Betty Draper of Mad Men grew up raised by her family's black housekeeper and then hired one for her own children.
- Florida from Maude, and, to a lesser extent, her reprise of the role in Good Times.
- The titular Mama from Thats My Mama.
- Nanna, in Mike & Molly is Carl's grandmother who brought him up after his mother went missing. By degrees she becomes everybody's adored - and sometime feared - Nanna.
- Berta in Two and a Half Men is a subversion of the typical Mammy: while she is a competent housekeeper, obese, and full of common sense, she also takes shortcuts, does drugs, and insults the main characters. Oh, and she's white.
- Raj and Dee's mother in What's Happening!!. Could also apply to Shirley.
- Scream Queens (2015) had Ms. Bean, a sorority housekeeper given the nickname "White Mammy", who was ordered to say "I don't know nothing about birthing babies" by sorority president Chanel Oberlin.
- Louanne in Boardwalk Empire, maidservant to the Commodore. He's abusive and racist towards her, and she eventually tries to poison him to death with arsenic. It's also revealed that he had left everything to her in his will, but it's unclear if she knew about that, and Jimmy destroys the will.
- Beloved Belindy from Raggedy Ann, and Dinah in the books.
- This character type was a stock presence in Minstrel Shows, often named "Aunt Jemima", and was frequently performed by a man in Blackface and Incredibly Conspicuous Drag for maximum racist and misogynist mockery. Needless to say, such a portrayal falls extremely far into Dude, Not Funny! territory today.
- The character of Mammy Pleasant in the original stage production of The Cat and the Canary (usually portrayed in blackface), although the character was changed to a white woman for all the major film adaptations.
- Celie from The Colonel's Bequest. The game is set in 1925 on a former plantation.
- Subverted by Lenora "the natural born mama" from Pokémon Black and White. She's not a mammy in profession (she's an archeologist), but definitely by character design, and she's the Team Mom of the Gym Leaders. Part of the reason she drapes her apron (which makes her look rather round) over her back instead in the US release (revealing a slimmer but still much more full bodied figure than the standard Pokemon woman). The apron was also edited out of the anime and the Pokémon Adventures manga in the US. Also may be part of the reason she was the one of the replaced gym leaders in the main story of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, and the only one that can't be battled outside of the World Tournament.
- The aptly named Macha from Chrono Cross, which is odd given the lighter complexion and lack of African features in her son Korcha (her daughter Mel is adopted).
- In Drawn Together, prolonged exposure to Captain Hero's X-ray vision causes Foxxy to develop a brain tumor on her stereotype gland, turning her into a Mammy, which makes her a target for the Bureau of Cartoon Political Correctness.
- Classic Disney Shorts:
- Old Aunt Delilah in the Disney cartoon Figaro and Cleo (voiced by the same actress as Mammy Two-Shoes).
- A Mammy was seen in the Silly Symphony short Three Orphan Kittens and the Pluto the Pup short Pantry Pirate. In Three Orphan Kittens the Mammy is about to throw the kittens out into the cold when the white child she's watching insists that they keep the kittens.
- The unnamed maid— commonly (and erroneously) known as Mammy Two-Shoes— from the Tom and Jerry shorts, voiced by Lillian Randolph. While she's never depicted as being servile towards white people, William Hannah and Joseph Barbera specifically designed her as a housekeep rather than the homeowner, though they quietly shifted to implying the latter as time passed.
- Audrey's housekeeper from Little Audrey. Quite a Fair for Its Day portrayal, since even though she's a bit harsh on Audrey, she plays the role as the Only Sane Man, plus she's always right at the end.