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Obnoxious In-Laws

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"The desert canteen is a man's life,
The shoe is a man's eye,
The wife is a man's future,
The son is a man's refuge,
The daughter is a man's salvation,
The daughter-in-law is a man's devil."

A Happily Married couple faces various problems, but none quite like the Sitcom In-Law. A member of one spouse's family (often the wife's in modern Western media; in more traditional and Eastern ones it's the husband's relatives who are the terrors) has an obvious animosity towards their relative's spouse. They hate the person their daughter/sister/son/brother is married to and aren't shy about reaffirming it. While the object of this hate always tries to be nice to them (often at the insistence of their partner/spouse), the in-laws pull out all the stops to ridicule, abuse, and undermine their target, and even try to set up their relative with somebody else, in spite of them being married (as well as the fact that their spouse is still alive... which they are occasionally okay with "fixing".) There are a few reasons why something like this happens:

  1. Most of the time, they just hate the poor guy (or girl in some cases) for no reason other than not being a millionaire (or something like that).
  2. Another common reason is that the spouse is considered to be a step down from a previous relationship — if that's the case, and the ex is still around, the person may be "convinced" to give their ex another chance.
  3. Occasionally, the hate stems from a past incident. For bonus jerk points, it might be relatively minor and/or something that the hero/heroine has long since made up for.
  4. Peer pressure from the friends and relatives of the in-laws, who may despise one partner for some flaw (real or perceived).
  5. Culture clash. Different cultures can have wildly different ideas about gender roles, and what a "good" marriage looks like. This can be particularly difficult because such differences are often part of the reason that the couple like each other in the first place (in particular, differences in ideas about who should get what kind of education).
  6. Unfortunately still rather commonly faced by LGBTQ couples even in otherwise very tolerant societies. There are many people who are tolerant of something until their child gets involved in it.
  7. Generational and cultural differences concerning how to raise children. This can lead to one or more in-laws (usually the groom's mother) being very nice when the couple got married and then turning on the bride seemingly out of nowhere. Unjustified accusations of child abuse can be very difficult to deal with and can even land couples in legal trouble.
  8. Or it could just be some people are... just jerks.

This is a trope that has shifted in the last few centuries. When co-residence with the husband's parents was the practice, the mother-in-law might play the tyrant as the alpha female of the household. But if the marriage was arranged between the parents of the couple, at least grudging acceptance of the spouse would be necessary to maintain family relations. On the other hand, in the modern day, in western cultures choosing your own spouse is the norm, and may even run counter to parental wishes. But it is much easier to move far away and never see them again.

As the page quote indicates, this can be Truth in Television for reasons both good and silly. However, the trope is far more common in fiction than it is in reality. This is probably because although most of us end up with perfectly nice in-laws, everyone is justifiably scared that their in-laws will be this trope.

Such in-laws can also be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing or Devil in Plain Sight if their relative is oblivious to their jerkishness, or insists that they aren't so bad. Sometimes overlaps with Coattail-Riding Relative. See also Evil Matriarch, Love-Obstructing Parents, and Meet the In-Laws. Such characters might express the opinion that Not Blood, Not Family towards their in-laws.

Contrast Best Friends-in-Law.

Example subpages:

Works with their own subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Henny Youngman once quipped "I told my mother-in-law 'My house is your house.' Last week she sold it."

    Comic Books 
  • In Superman, General Sam Lane did not approve of Lois marrying mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent, feeling that he was too much of a wimp, and even threatened to not attend their wedding (although this was more because Lois didn't want him to walk her down the aisle). In all fairness, according to Lois's sister, he's hated all of his daughters' beaus. For the record, he wasn't very fond of Superman either post-Our Worlds at War because he didn't trust aliens.
  • The French comic Les Gendarmes has a strip where a hostage-taker is willing to let all the hostages go in exchange for a cop. Only one person volunteers and walks unflinchingly into the house followed by the admiring looks of onlookers, colleagues, and reporters. Cut to his very angry wife watching at home, fuming that she shouldn't have told him her mother was coming over for dinner that evening.
  • Inverted, lampshaded and averted in The Adventures Of Olivia where Anna Provalone establishes herself by having sex with one of her sons-in-law while cooking, who points out how she's the exception to the trope though it pisses off his wife/ her daughter, Donna when she learns of what they were doing yet Maria thinks it's cute even when her husband gets it on with Anna as innocent fun.
  • Doctor Strange takes this to new levels: Strange's wife Clea is the daughter of his foe Umar and Orini (Dread Dormammu's chief lieutenant and the son of Olnar, the king Umar and Dormammu assassinated when they took over), making two of his most powerful foes and their chief enforcer his mother-in-law, uncle-in-law, and father-in-law, respectively.
  • A common joke in Condorito is his terrible relationship with his mother-in-law Tremebunda and father-in-law Cuasimodo, the parents of his girlfriend Yayita. As the comic is basically a re-telling of all classic Latin American jokes and "chistes de suegras" (mothers-in-law jokes) are pretty common, that's the reason behind it.
  • In Spider-Man, Peter becomes John Jonah Jameson Jr.'s brother-in-law after his aunt marries JJJ's father even as JJJ continues to publish damaging articles about Spider-Man.
  • The Incredible Hulk: General Ross didn't like Bruce Banner from the moment he met him. This dislike got worse when his daughter Betty fell in love with Bruce the minute she saw him, and much, much worse when the world found out Bruce Banner was the Hulk. His vendetta against the Hulk and Bruce got so bad he actually crashed their wedding intending to shoot Bruce. A few months after that, he deliberately tried to kill Bruce again, then there was an incident involving a Puppeteer Parasite which apparently ended with Ross dying, but making amends with Betty (who was starting to go a bit mad herself) in his dying moments. His death didn't stick, and neither did his change of heart.
  • X-Men:
    • Though they have rarely interacted Magneto is still a case of this towards Vision, whom his daughter Wanda aka Scarlet Witch married and loves. His reasons for this dislike are a mixture of Vision being part of the Avengers and simply feeling (much like Quicksilver) that a "robot" is unworthy of his beloved daughter's love and care. However, despite this he is a Doting Grandparent to Wanda and Vision's sons Billy and Tommy.
    • Both Mystique and her wife Destiny have nothing but pure loathing for Gambit, their daughter Rogue's thief husband. A lot of it is just plain old jealousy, since they see Rogue as purely theirs (having found her as a child) and hate that Gambit has taken away so much of her affection and attenion. Another reason is that Gambit massively conflicts Rogue's loyalty to them and adds a complication to their plans for mutantkind, which putting it bluntly don't have their new son-in-law in mind.

    Comic Strips 
  • Inverted in FoxTrot. Andy herself dreads her mother's visits because the whole family absolutely adores her and she feels pushed to the sides, due to her mother being her personal Always Someone Better.
  • Cathy: The titular character's in-laws are absolutely annoying.
  • Baby Blues: Both Darryl and Wanda's parents can veer into this occasionally. Wanda's father, Hugh, doesn't always seem to have the best opinion of Darryl, and one Sunday strip shows Wanda smashing the phone in a fit of rage after a conversation with Darryl's mother, Pauline. Also, while Darryl and Wanda are always happy when the grandparents visit, they are just as happy when they leave, mainly due to them spoiling Zoe, Hammie, and Wren.
  • For Better or for Worse: Mira Sobinski, Deanna’s mother and Michael’s mother in law is an annoying busybody who walks over everyone and bosses them around, to the point where Deanna’s sister moved with her family clear across the country to Halifax and Deanna and Michael eloped (although they did later have a formal wedding). It wasn’t until she berated the couple for having a small apartment while they had just had their second child and Deanna was recovering from a C-Section that her mild-mannered husband Wilf told her to shut up and Michael kicked her out of the house, although she never really apologized or became nicer.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie, in the strip about castles:
    Dixie: Well, the drawbridge is up, the windows are barred, and the fire moat is lit. So how about you and me...
    The dude with a grappling hook (behind her): Hello, daughter! I'm here for a visit! Where's the fridge?

    Fairy Tales 
  • Commonly seen in French fairy tales, where the word for Wicked Stepmother and mother-in-law is the same.
  • In Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty, when the king was away, the queen mother ordered the cook to kill and cook for her dinner both of Sleeping Beauty's children and then Sleeping Beauty herself. When she discovers she was tricked, she fills up a pit with poisonous creatures to throw them in, along with the cook and his family. The king's arrival stops this, and she throws herself in, in a rage. The Brothers Grimm did not include that portion but did include a separate fragment with the mother-in-law trying to eat both the daughter-in-law and the children. It ended midway.
  • In the first edition, The Brothers Grimm had the trouble between the Girl Without Hands and her husband the king be created by her mother-in-law. (In the second edition, it was the Devil who did it, and the mother-in-law saved her.)
  • In "The Twelve Wild Ducks", the stepmother is jealous of her stepson's bride's beauty and tries to have her killed.
  • In The Six Swans, the mother-in-law kidnaps her grandchildren at birth and each time smears the mother's mouth with blood to claim that she killed and ate them. She intends to have the girl burned at the stake for infanticide, taking advantage of her being an Elective Mute. The titular Swans pull a Big Damn Heroes to save their sister and, after the curse is undone, the girl explains what actually happened. The mother-in-law returns the still-living babies and is executed
  • Princess Belle-Etoile plays it straight with the queen mother who is the mother of the king and his brother (Belle-Etoile's paternal grandmother), but averts it with the princess who is Roussette, Brunette, and Blondine's mother (Belle-Etoile's maternal grandmother). Roussette also plays it straight by siding with the queen mother. The queen mother hates her sons' wives and concocts a plan to get rid of her grandchildren. After Brunette dies and the grandchildren are abandoned, she tries to force the king to end his marriage to Blondine. The queen mother, Roussette, and their maid Feintise are punished at the end by being locked in a dungeon and eaten by dogs, while Blondine's mother survives and is reunited with her youngest daughter and grandchildren.

  • Throughout quite a substantial slice of the history of The BBC, there was a (somewhat variably enforced) rule that jokes about Mothers were forbidden as being beyond the pale. Mothers-in-Law, on the other hand, were fair game. Les Dawson built quite a lot of his TV act on complaining about his terrible mother-in-law, as did Jim Davidson in part - the other part, however, was largely composed of feebly-excused straight-up racism, which explains why Dawson is much more fondly remembered.
  • One man once wrote a letter to his daughter's ex-boyfriend. He claims he can't sleep ever since he damaged the relationship. He claims he's writing the letter in hopes the potential son-in-law forgives and forgets. The man said that, when he saw the boy for the first time, he was surprised with the tattoos and the nose ring, but nowadays he doesn't mind that much. He also understands that riding a motorcycle at high speed and without a helmet isn't that dangerous as long as one pays attention to the other vehicles. The man also understands his reaction to the fact the boy never worked was quite inadequate and too extreme and unfair. He's quite convinced many good and able people also must live under bridges and sleeping in parks. He now also understands that the fact his daughter wants to get married at age 17 instead of attending an ivy-league college, is simply an alternative for her education since not everything is taught at books and school. Sometimes he realizes how outdated he could be while meddling in topics of that nature and he recognizes he's wrong. He claims to have been foolish for opposing them and wished to redeem himself by giving his blessings. He even signed his letter as "your future father-in-law". Then he wrote a P.S. congratulating the boy for his lottery winnings.
  • A newly-wed couple is about to go on their expensive cross-Mediterranean honeymoon, which the husband had extensively saved up for a whole year, but unfortunately the naggy, obnoxious and condescending mother-in-law, who despises the husband for no good reason, insists on tagging along. Not only does the MIL repeatedly interrupt the couple's intimate and romantic moments, but she also ruins what could be a potentially fun trip across Lisbon, Casablanca, Milan, Athens, Istanbul, Cairo... and alas, during their last trip in the Middle East, an insulting remark from the mother-in-law ends up offending the local Sultan.
    As per the country's traditions, the three of them must be punished via 100 lashes in the rear, but since the three of them are tourists, the Sultan doesn't want to appear hostile and grants each of them a wish before their punishment.
    The wife goes first, and wishes for a wooden plank to be strapped to her rear during the whipping. It works for a while, but then the plank breaks, so the wife ends up getting a few lashes in.
    Then it's the mother-in-law's turn, who wishes for a metal plate to her rear. The plate doesn't break, and she barely felt the lashes.
    Finally, the husband's turn. Somehow, he requests for two wishes, instead of one. The Sultan said if it's reasonable, sure.
    The husband then make his request, that : 1. he think 100 lashes is child's play, and wanted 500 lashes instead. 2. he would like to have his mother-in-law strapped to his rear.
  • A police recruit is taking a test. One of the questions is "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother-in-law?" He immediately answered, "Call for backup."
  • What's the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted!
  • What's the definition of "mixed feelings"? Watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new car.
  • A man is vacationing in the Middle East with his wife's family. While in Jerusalem, his mother-in-law dies. He goes to the American consulate to arrange for the body to be transported back to the States for burial, where the consul informs him that it would be much cheaper to just bury her in Jerusalem. The man insists that the body be returned to the States. The consul comments that he must love her very much, but the man replies that he once heard of a case where someone buried in Jerusalem rose from the dead three days later, and he didn't want to take that chance.
  • Why is bigamy its own punishment? Two mothers-in-law.
  • An old French joke bordering on Gag Dub translated the Latin quote "Bellaque Matribus Detestata" (the war that mothers hate) as "Belle-Mère Detestée" (hated mother-in-law).
  • A man walking down the street sees a funeral procession walking by with what seems to be half the town following it. Curious, he goes up to the man just behind the coffin to ask what's going on. "I'm burying my mother-in-law." "What did she die of?" "Well, she was visiting us, and all of a sudden my two Rottweilers jumped up and mauled her to death. It was a horrible, agonizing death." "...Are those dogs available to rent by any chance?" The man then sweeps his arm towards the massive crowd behind him and says "Get in line!"
  • There is a joke about a young man who brings home three pretty girls and asks his mother whether she can guess whom he intends to marry. The woman points out the correct one without hesitating, because she can't stand her already.
  • If you've been married more than three times and still have the same in-laws, you might be a redneck.
  • A common In-Law joke is to point out how "Mother-In-Law" can be a perfect anagram of "Woman Hitler".
  • A married couple are arguing, and the wife accuses her husband of hating her family. He says, "That's not true. I like your mother-in-law and father-in-law much better than I like mine!"

  • The Kinks' "Situation Vacant" from Something Else by the Kinks tells the sad tale of a happy couple who get by okay, but his mother-in-law's pushing has him trying to find a better-paying job - he quits the job he has, they have to leave their apartment and skimp and scrape, and his wife leaves him and goes back to mother, who's now happy.
  • New Orleans R&B guy Ernie K. Doe's big hit — "Mother-In-Law"note 
    Mario: Speaking of jive, there's one jive Goomba you've got to look out for. (jump sound effect) I'm talking about my mother-in-law! (bricks breaking sound effect) And I'm not even married! Tell us about it, Ernie K. Doe!
  • Spike Jones's "William Tell Overture" racehorse routine: "Mother-in-Law nagging in the rear!" "Aaaaah-aaaah-aaaah!!" This is clearly after Feetlebaum leaves his position well behind the rear of the pack.
  • In "The 12 Pains of Christmas", the sixth pain is "facing my in-laws". It's sung by a frantic woman panicking over having to make dinner for her in-laws, especially her mother-in-law.
    She's a witch! I hate her!
    • Her husband (who sings the seventh pain about donations to the Salvation Army) is not pleased that she's so focused on the obnoxiousness of her in-laws...because he's equally annoyed by his in-laws.
    Charities, and what do you mean your in-laws!?
  • Brazilian comedian Kaquinho Big Dog had a song saying that if your in-law is suddenly helpful, check if she's drooling or bug-eyed, it might be mad cow disease!
  • Bruce Springsteen: the narrator of "Sherry Darling" agrees to drive his mother-in-law to the unemployment agency every Monday, but still has to endure her constant criticism. While stuck in traffic, he sees carefree girls at the beach, and briefly yearns for the freedom of single life that he used to enjoy. In the end he decides that true love and commitment are worth the hassle.
    Sherry, my love for you is real
    But I didn't count on this package deal
    And baby, this car just ain't big enough for her and me
  • "Gravy (With Some Cyanide)" by John Zacherley is a morbid parody of "Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)" by Dee Dee Sharp that has the singer describe his scheme of using poisoned gravy to kill his in-laws.

  • Greek mythology:
    • According to the account, Demeter takes Persephone away from her husband Hades for one-to-two thirds of each year, originally having been prepared to sacrifice humankind in return for her daughter's remaining unmarried. Demeter is also Hades' older sister.
    • Also, Aphrodite is extremely against this one lady called 'Psyche' who is claimed to be more beautiful than her, siccing her son Eros to curse her to fall in love with a hideous creature, but then Eros fell in love with Psyche instead. Throughout the story, Aphrodite is absolutely against the marriage, either by forbidding Eros to do so or setting up Psyche to do impossible tasks. It only stopped when not only did Psyche complete the tasks, Eros also asked Zeus' help to tell Aphrodite to cut the crap already and let the two get married (in another verion, Aphrodite realizes how miserable her son is without Psyche and relents).

  • This trope is the whole reason behind Romeo and Juliet. If only they had thought to ask their parents they would have learned that her father didn't actually think Romeo was a bad person.
  • The staunch, extremely right-wing, Good Old Boy "moralist" Eduoard Dindon who rudely derides Albin and Georges' lifestyle in La Cage aux folles.
  • My Fair Lady references this during one of Henry Higgins's Misogyny Songs, when he anticipates all the annoyances that romance with a woman could bring.

    Web Video 
  • AirPro Texts: Erin despised her daughter-in-law Rachel, because the latter had given birth to a daughter rather than a son. When Rachel left Tammy with Erin, she started to talk badly about Rachel and when Tammy told her off, she spanked her and locked her in the shed. Tammy messaged her mother crying about it and her father came to pull her out of the house and Rachel and her husband cut Erin out of their lives.
  • Viral Texts: Some stories involve mothers-in-laws meddling in the lives of their offspring's partner. Examples include:
    • Helen demanded her daughter-in-law Carly to make her a cake for her friends. She even went as a far as to steal the cake made for her grandson Christopher's birthday and threw out all the other food made for the party.
    • Mia's mother-in-law Blair demanded that she do chores despite the fact that Mia is working from home.
    • Sharon is a lazy housewife who treats her mother-in-law Beth like dirt and wants to kick her out of the house they're living in.
    • Ali's sister-in-law, Mary, wanted her out of the house she shared with her and her brother because she thought Ali was a shut-in. However, she has them move out; it turned out it was Ali's house.
    • Beth asked Liz to let her move in with her and her husband, claiming she wanted to make it big as a comic artist, which was an excuse she used for 10 years and she didn't improve her art a bit in that time. However, Bob calls her out for being lazy and the couple leaves her to work with her great uncle.
    • Sally bullied her sister-in-law, Jenna, because she thought working from home wasn't real work. Moreover, she decided to switch houses with Jenna as a scheme to make her leave the house. However, Sally changes her mind the next day after finding out the house belonged to Jenna's fiancé; the latter's brother and parents chewed her out for trying to steal the house behind their backs.

    Web Animation 
  • Brazilian website chargesdotcomdotbr has some charges playing this:
    • One features a guy who likes his mother-in-law because she didn't live long enough to know him.
    • One features three fictional cell phone viruses. The first one is the "Witch Caller", which redirects the calls to the caller's mother-in-law.
  • Etra chan saw it!: There are a lot of stories focusing on conflicts with the in-laws. Azami is the most likely antagonist to get this role, and all but guaranteed to be the obnoxious mother-in-law if she's the mother of the protagonist's husband. Akane is usually a sister-in-law instead, but has had the role of mother of the protagonist's wife a few times. While Yuzuriha is the least likely female antagonist to get this role. As for the boys, Hiiragi is most likely to be a father-in-law, with Akamatsu being about evenly split in father-in-law vs brother-in-law roles, while Tachibana is the least common character in this antagonist role. But usually if they are antagonistic as in-laws, they're second to the girls.
  • Refreshing Stories:
  • SparkTales:
    • "Sneaky Croquette Swap with Mean MIL - Guess What?!" Lisa's mother-in-law constantly harassed her over anything and everything, especially over not being able to do housework. When Lisa talked it out with Noah, who asked his mother to stop her surprise visits, the abusive MIL retaliated by inviting the young couple to eat at Noah's family house and sneaking a beetle larva inside Lisa's croquette.
    • "Rejected by MIL at 18: Pregnant and Disowned, Her Fate Turns!": Since Noah's family was prestigious enough for the men in there to become company presidents, his mother harassed his fiancée, Lisa, for being a high-school graduate. Moreover, she claimed that Lisa's "commoner lifestyle" and how "it made the family look bad." When the MIL found out about Lisa's pregnancy, the former chewed the latter out for "tarnishing the family's reputation," demanding Noah divorce her.

  • Dominic Deegan elected not to spend a whole arc on Dominic and Luna's wedding due to both in-story common sense and the fact that it would either have to be dull for weeks or Go Horribly Wrong, so they got married on the spot and sent a spell to tell everyone who might care. This was more or less fine with everyone. The first time elopement was floated, however, Dominic's mother Miranda reacted badly. She's always been awesome, though, and it was her guilt at her own reaction that prompted a minor flashback arc to the hell her parents put Donovan through back when they were affianced. Incredible level of messing with his mind, both with normal guilt-trips and sly insinuations and her illusionist father causing him to semi-constantly hallucinate vividly for days on end. Notably, Miranda gave them a very successful Shut Up, Hannibal! rant which included, "he was looking forward to calling you 'Mom and Dad!'" This was largely because Donovan was orphaned and raised by elves. One of the things this means is he grew up without a surname and took hers when they married because elves weren't going to adopt a human enough to give him their family name.
  • General Protection Fault
    • Ki's father, to Nick. Mr. Oshiro views his potential son-in-law with suspicion and hostility from the moment Nick visits the Oshiro household, suspecting that Nick sees Ki as a trophy. To make matters worse, Mr. Oshiro was less traditional when he was younger, to the point of marrying a Chinese woman, and flies into a rage and assaults Nick with his cane when Nick points out his hypocrisy. It takes his daughter and wife calling him out for him to calm down enough to apologize to Nick, at which point he gradually warms up to Nick. It's also indicated that he wasn't as opposed to Ki seeing Sam, and the disastrous end to her relationship embittered Mr. Oshiro.
    • Downplayed with Sam's parents, back when Ki was dating Sam. She didn't sense any overt hostility but noticed subtle clues that they looked down upon her, and it's indicated that they wanted Sam to break up with her.
  • Girl Genius:
    • In the backstory, both sides of Agatha's family had this going on. Bill's family was the Heterodynes, a band of raving, maniacal nutjobs even by the setting's low standards, and his wife Lucrezia had the Mongfishes, who were also a band of raving, maniacal nutjobs, and longtime rivals to the Heterodynes. Family gatherings were in a different place every year to minimize the "inevitable" loss of life.
    • Speaking of Lucrezia, she did not like her brother in-law, on account of A: Leaving her to die in an exploding lab that one time, and B: Dating her annoying goody two-shoes sister. Decades later, and Lucrezia's more than happy to vent her anger about this on her nephew. By killing him.
      Lucrezia: And I never liked [my sister] either.
      Theo DuMedd: (choking) Really?
      Lucrezia: Really.
  • Kevin & Kell: The eponymous couple's families didn't take their marriage, one between a predator and prey, well at all, due to the natural conflicts between the two groups. While most of their anger was directed at their children for what they perceived as an act of betrayal, the Kindles and the Dewclaws made their disdain for their respective daughter- and son-in-law apparent. Ralph Dewclaw even went so far as to try to eat his brother-in-law Kevin to spare his sister the pain of loving an herbivore (thankfully, Ralph's incompetence enables Kevin to easily thwart his brother-in-law's attempts, sometimes without even trying). It's also implied that Kevin and Kell's families disliked their previous spouses- Angelique is understandable, but the Dewclaws simply thought Randy didn't measure up as a hunter, since they didn't know that he cheated on Kell and fathered an illegitimate child. That said, the in-laws do eventually warm up to the couple, particularly after Kevin and Kell help them at critical moments.
  • Marry My Husband: Ja Ok, Minhwan's mother, is a very controlling, conservative woman. She doesn't give her daughter-in-law any say in the wedding, forces her to take strange remedies to promote bearing a son, and forces her to cook hearty meals for Minhwan when it's difficult to keep up with her own life. In different timelines, Jiwon puts up with Ja Ok's overbearingness, but Sumin takes a more passive-aggressive route.
  • Even mezzacotta characters tell in-laws jokes!
  • Something*Positive: Davan's wife Vanessa has five siblings, who range from nice-but-clingy to petty criminal to actually psychotic. Her father is a loser stage magician, and he hasn't met her mother, who threw Vanessa out of the house for being bisexual.
  • Inverted in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: Glon's mother is more likely to side with his wives than him when a matrimonial problem shows up since he's still kind of immature.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Let's face it, some of us have at least one.
  • Advice columns are rife with stories about people like this — Dear Prudence even printed a compilation of the best/worst stories, the winner/loser of which was the woman who realized that her mother-in-law was poisoning her.
  • There's an entire Reddit support group called Just No Mother-In-Law that helps people deal with their awful mothers/mothers-in-law... where some of the worst stories include kidnapping, arson, assault, involuntary psychiatric holds, emotional/physical incest, killing pets, suicide, murder, and wearing a wedding dress to their son's/daughter's wedding.
  • Previous to the Cultural Revolution, the obnoxious in-law was such a self-perpetuating cycle (new wife/concubine moves into her husband's household; disapproving mother-in-law and/or head wife/other concubine makes life hell for the wife/concubine; wife/concubine becomes most emotionally attached to her own son(s); son becomes old enough to get married; rinse and repeat) in China that it was taken as a matter of fact.
  • While in Western culture, it's considered more proper for a man to take his wife's side in such arguments (a number of Christian scholars insist that a man's primary loyalty is to his immediate family, meaning wife and children, with parents being secondary), things may be reversed in some Asian countries, which place a great emphasis on respect for the elders. Some cultures employ the "plenty of fish in the sea" argument (i.e. "you can always find another wife, but you only have one mother").
  • Empress Kojun, wife of Emperor Hirohito and mother of the Emperor Emeritus Akihito, was reportedly this to her daughter-in-law Empress Michiko; she apparently disapproved of Michiko being born a commoner and thought she was unsuited to marry into the imperial family.
  • Deadly Women has covered its fair share of real-life cases that ended in murder.


Video Example(s):



While Karen is rebooting, Plankton gets a harsh visit from her E.M.I.L.P. (Emergency Mother-In-Law Program)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ObnoxiousInLaws

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