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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.

Contrast Best Friends-in-Law.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Boys over Flowers:
    • Tsukushi's parents would push her to the first rich boy to show interest and even enrolled her into a high-class High School (despite hardly having money for anything else) just to increase the chances. When one of those boys showed up for a visit, her parents considered him a punk until they learned who he was.
    • They're still nothing compared with the Evil Matriarch of a mother that Tsukasa has. She not only treats poor Tsukushi LIKE SHIT but she also psychologically abuses the Hell out of Tsukasa and his sister Tsubaki. In at least one continuity, she drove a guy to suicide in front of Tsukasa, and emotionally blackmailed him with it.
  • Inverted in Horimiya. Hori's entire family considers Miyamura an honorary member of their family, with her mother and little brother having felt that way even before they started dating (and the only reason her father didn't is that he didn't meet Miyamura until right before their Relationship Upgrade). There have even been times where Hori has to remind her family that she's the one dating Miyamura, not them.
  • Inverted in I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying. Kyouko dotes on her daughter-in-law Kaoru, but she goes Demon Head on her son Hajime since he hasn't made her a grandmother and he doesn't have a job (at the time of the scolding).
  • Suzu's sister-in-law Keiko in In This Corner of the World, the only member of the Houjou family who isn't very welcoming towards Suzu after she marries Shuusaku. She's constantly criticizing Suzu for her clumsiness and absent-minded nature. It's also stated that Keiko doesn't get along well with her parents-in-law either, due to her temperament. She later warms up to Suzu over time and admits that she was harsh because she was a bit jealous of Suzu for having a lot more personal freedom and yet choosing to stay with the Houjou family.
  • Little House with an Orange Roof, where the in-laws of Natchi's ex-husband (who oppose her divorcing him and living with Shoutaro), are completely barbaric in how they treat her when she visits. Somehow they think this will result in Natchi wanting to come back and be part of their family...
  • One story told during the Gossipy Hens episode of Paranoia Agent concerns a woman whose life is hell due to her overbearing mother-in-law. When the mother-in-law uses the woman's birthday to demand rice balls, she snaps and tries to kill her — at which point Shonen Bat intervenes and kills the mother-in-law.
  • Mrs. Tanaka from Servant × Service doesn't complain about her daughter-in-law in front of them, but persistently rambles it in front of Saya, a staff of the local welfare office.
  • In The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Ryoko Asakura is often jokingly referred to as an "evil mother-in-law" by some characters, such as Haruhi, due to often acting motherly and protective of Yuki, especially where Kyon is concerned.
  • A Silent Voice has Shouko's mother's in-laws, who force her husband to divorce her...because they don't like having a disabled (in this case, deaf) child as part of the family. Made even worse because the entire reason she's deaf is because of a disease their son gave her, but they blamed Shouko's mother entirely.
  • Zigzagged in Mission: Yozakura Family. Taiyo finds himself with six siblings-in-law after marrying Mutsumi for their mutual safety. They all drive him up a wall by being quirky Bunny Ears Lawyers when he's the Only Sane Man, but they also love him as one of their own (except for Kyoichiro).
  • Averted in If I Could Reach You. Uta and Reiichi's estranged mother has a poor relationship with her children, guilt-tripping Uta for staying with her older brother Reiichi and his wife Kaoru and taking advantage of their kindness, belittling her as someone who can't do anything for herself, and telling Reiichi to shut up when he tries to intercede on Uta's behalf. On the other hand, she gets along well with her daughter-in-law Kaoru, who's her best friend's daughter, and even offers performs an examination on Kaoru's recent leg injury, despite having lost her medical license in Japan (the cause of her estrangement from her children).
  • In I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up, the parents of the main character, Machi Morimoto are this trope, which is not surprising given their personalities. Since they'd pressured Machi to get good grades as a child and want her to marry a successful man as an adult, Machi rebels and decides to "marry" her kohai Hana, resulting in Machi's parents throwing them both out of the house. Mrs. Morimoto later pays Machi a visit, proving rude and dismissive of Hana despite Hana's efforts to be polite to her mother-in-law, and expressing disgust for same-sex relationships. Machi implies that her mother would also be hard on any son-in-law she might have.
  • "Hidden in the Pottery," a short story by Rumiko Takahashi, provided a tragic example of this that acted as a sort of deconstruction on the ways this trope is used for comedy. A woman begins to suspect her recently widowed apartment neighbor murdered her mother-in-law, due to a combination of rumors about the neighbor's abusive behavior and the discovery of a piece of human bone inside a potted plant. The neighbor, Mrs. Tonegawa, was subjected to horrible emotional abuse by her mother-in-law that went well beyond animosity for marrying her son. The older woman would tell everyone her daughter-in-law was a lazy, shiftless do-nothing who would never lift a finger around the house. When Mrs. Tonegawa finally called her mother-in-law out on this, the older woman threw herself out of the apartment and started loudly begging forgiveness as a way to mock her. Mrs. Tonegawa suspected even if they'd met under different circumstances the older woman would've still hated her. The bone fragment belonged to Mr. Tonegawa, who died in the same accident that eventually killed his mom. His wife had a breakdown after her husband's last words were towards his mom, and in a moment of weakness put the bones from his urn into their potted plants (she couldn't stand her husband being buried next to his mother). She changed her mind later on and put the pieces back in the urn, but obviously missed one. All in all, the story shows the toll this type of relationship can have on a person in real life.
  • Fate/Zero: Kiritsugu initially has a perfectly cordial relationship with his father-in-law, Jubstacheit Von Einzbern, because it was a business relation to win the Fourth Holy Grail War. At the war's conclusion, Jubstacheit forbids him from returning to the Einzbern household for "losing" the war, which means he never saw his daughter again.
  • In The Nighthawk Drifts About, Yukako's mother-in-law doesn't necessarily dislike her, but puts pressure on Yukako to have children, thereby contributing to Yukako feeling unhappy about her relationship with Arata.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • Taken Up to Eleven for poor Simon, who winds up with Lordgenome as his father-in-law. Needless to say, their first proper meeting consists of them trying to kill each other (with Simon succeeding, temporarily at least). Later interactions go a tad better; not because they don't still hate one another (they do), but simply because the circumstances leave little room for hashing things out. It's only at the very end, as Lordgenome sacrifices his life for the universe that he shows any sort of genuine approval of Simon... or Nia herself for that matter.
    • Dayakka gets off luckier than Simon, but makes up it in quantity, as he has to contend with three in-laws who don't hate him, but are varying levels of obnoxious; his brother-in-law is an arrogant, overprotective Boisterous Bruiser (and Dayakka's Vitriolic Best Bud), his younger sister-in-law is an annoyingly upbeat Genki Girl who's always around, and his older sister-in-law is a harsh, self-serious taskmaster who throws in with the similarly stoic Rossiu, even as he starts misguidedly Shooting The Dog by turning on Team Dai-Gurren and trying to have Simon executed.

    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.

    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 mattered husband Wilf told her to shut up and Michael kicked her out of the house, although she never really apologized or became nicer.

    Fairy Tales 
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change with the Light]], Ben Reilly's parents both hate Mary Jane Watson and are fairly open about it, especially when Andrew outright threatens Mary Jane if she doesn't stop dating his son. When he finds out about it, Ben is not amused.
  • In the 'In My Eyes' stories latest chapter, Megatron outright says he'll kill Sarah if she doesn't break up with Will.
  • The New Retcons:
    • Wilf and Mira regard the Pattersons, barring April as this, increasingly justified in Elly and John's case as the former goes insane and the latter refuses to do anything about it. Even at the best point in their relationship Mira can muster no more than indifference to her son-in-law Michael. As a result, April's the only one Mira expects to have a relationship with when Deanna's divorce with Michael is finalized.
    • Conversely, the Pattersons (again barring April) view Mira as this, particularly Elly, who feels she's usurping her position in the family.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 fic I'll Be Home for the Holidays the RED Sniper's brother-in-law, Jack Williams, is a thoroughly obnoxious and unpleasant person who gossips about Sniper behind his back and is revealed to have bullied him when they were children. The worst of his Kick the Dog moments comes when he wrecks Sniper's relationship with his father, which is finally beginning to heal, by revealing Sniper's rifle to his father and showing that he isn't a doctor as he was pretending to be. One wonders why Sniper's sister, Lizzie, even married him in the first place.
  • Mr. Satou to Hisao in Lilly Epilogue Family Matters, who doesn't think much of Hisao, Hanako, or Lilly's decision to remain in Japan; he is such a Jerkass that he outrages his older daughter Akira, and eventually, Lilly loses her temper and throws him out of the apartment. Ultimately, however, he relents, apologizes to Lilly, and gives Hisao his approval.
  • In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, the usual dynamic is inverted. Reuben Ashford is continuously vexed by his daughter-in-law Melisande's attempts to replace him as head of the family.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 fanfic Something New, Sophia's adoptive parents absolutely cannot stand Liam due to him being a "thug from Southie." The way they treat their daughter, however, isn't that much better.
    • On the flip side, Sophia gets along relatively well with Liam's mother Colleen.
  • In How the Light Gets In, Laurel's parents hate Dean, her father largely because he thinks Dean isn't good enough for her and recognizes Dean's basically a criminal, while her mother blames Dean for strained her relationship with Laurel is (smoothly ignoring that's her own fault). Dean isn't very fond of them either. However, he adores Laurel's grandmother and his relationship with Sara is dysfunctional but still relatively loving.
    • Completely averted with Laurel, however, who gets along with Sam and the rest of Dean's extended family very well.
  • Where Talent Goes to Die alludes to this trope when Yuuki notes that Mitamura, who's serious to a fault and a stickler for good manners and grammar is trying to be like "the mom of our group," but in practice, ends up as the "mother-in-law." As unflattering as the analogy is, Yuuki actually likes Mitamura, respects her intelligence, and hopes to become friends with her.
    • Downplayed with Kaori's paternal grandmother, who dislikes Kaori's mother. Despite their fundamentally incompatible worldviews- Kaori's grandmother is a highly traditional housewife, while Kaori's mother works outside the home- Kaori's mother treats everyone with respect, so the two women can at least keep things civil.
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton In the alternate ending where Danny chooses Phantasma, Danny would have this kind of relationship with Phanty's father, one of mutual and utter contempt.
  • The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1 has Bizarro say he could forgive the Blue-Kryptonite Men for attempting to wipe his race out if they had started with mothers-in-law.
  • In Doctor Ghemor, I Presume?, Legate Tekeny Ghemor is rather upset to learn his (possible) son is courted by Garak, formerly a ruthless spy and torturer blindly loyal to a man even worse. On Garak's side, he's terrified by the possibility of Ghemor discreetly assassinating him.
    • Then Garak meets his husband's human parents. He immediately takes umbrage at them verbally and emotionally abusing Julian, and they take offense at Garak defending Julian from them.
  • Paul Blofis' parents in The Moments of Paul and Percy are this to Sally Jackson. Sally is horrified when Paul's mother, who is described as the stereotypical mother-in-law, suggests that the family move into the house across from theirs.
  • From day one in La polilla y la mariposa, Alma never liked Anná, disapproving of her relations with her family because of her background and only tolerating her whenever Bruno invited her to visit. When Bruno invites her to stay permanently, it takes Bruno proposing to her and being outvoted by the rest of her family for her to allow it, not even giving them her blessing when they marry. When Bruno leaves, she is quick to blame Anná for it.
  • Deconstructed in Foob’s Paradise: Mira is well intentioned, but her problem is both that she talks without listening and focuses on the wrong issues, such as her daughter’s lack of organization of the kitchen when she’s on the verge of a breakdown from stress. This makes everyone not fully listen to her when she has genuine concerns. After Wilf talks to her about it, Mira starts actually listening and giving legitimate advice.

  • Grug and Gran from The Croods do not get along at all. Their animosity throughout the movie is a Running Gag.
  • Shrek 2 Fiona's father King Harold treats Shrek like utter crap when they first meet, insulting him and even putting a hit out on him. Turns out though, Fiona's marriage to Shrek disrupted a complex plan that Harold made to repay the Fairy Godmother for turning him human in order to marry Fiona's mother decades prior. Eventually, he has a Heel–Face Turn after he sees how strong Fiona's feelings are for Shrek and seeing how low the Fairy Godmother was willing to stoop.
  • Fatty's Tintype Tangle features Fatty Arbuckle being harassed by his domineering mother-in-law, who appears to live with them despite having her own house.
  • The mother-in-law of Julia in Julia Misbehaves is responsible for Julia's marriage falling apart with husband William, possibly due to her prejudices towards her daughter-in-law because she isn't from Old Money like their family.
  • In The Ref, this is played straight with the mother-in-law from hell Rose Chasseur, but subverted with both of her sons' families. Brother and sister-in-law Gary and Connie Chasseur initially seem like classic obnoxious in-laws, but they become slightly sympathetic characters when it turns out they're as fed up with "Mother Rose" as everybody else. Plus, even though the main couple (played by Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) get the Sympathetic P.O.V., it's clear that they could just as easily be considered obnoxious in-laws themselves.
    Gus: (holding a gun to Mrs. Chasseur's head) Nobody move or I'll shoot!
    Connie: Go ahead, kill her.
  • This is basically the plot — as its title implies — of the 2005 movie Monster-in-Law.
  • Eat Drink Man Woman has Madam Liang, who spends almost all of her screen time berating her daughters as burdensome and insulting the men they married. She is visibly elated when her daughter in America gets divorced, and vows to mount the divorce papers over the toilet.
  • Robert De Niro's character Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents and its sequels is this to the Nth degree, trying everything to ruin the life of his daughter's latest fiancé (including shooting him full of Truth Serum and leaving him to deal with the subsequent Mushroom Samba embarrassment) because he's a hyper-paranoid Jerkass. It gets to the point that you wonder why she doesn't say or do anything to stop it, particularly when it's mentioned he does this with every boy she brings home and that he constantly keeps secrets from his own family and never fully trusts them, yet he keeps enforcing his "Circle Of Trust" system as a way to keep them from hiding secrets from him in the first place.
  • An offscreen example in Get Smart. Dalip, The Brute working for KAOS, has a hellish sister-in-law who's constantly undermining his relationship with his wife and trying to break them up, which causes him endless grief at home. Max manages to keep Dalip from killing him by giving him advice on how to keep his wife and her sister from spending too much time together without looking like the bad guy.
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World has Milton Berle hounded by his harridan mother-in-law (Ethel Merman) and hipster-doofus brother-in-law (Dick Shawn). In all fairness, his own wife (Dorothy Provine), faced with the opportunity, shows a desire to flee them all.
  • Fargo has the obnoxiousness of Jerry Lundegaard's father-in-law Wade Gustafson be one of the primary ways that Jerry's Batman Gambit turns into a very dark "Fawlty Towers" Plot.
  • Guess Who features a white man dating a black woman whose father would rather have her dating a fellow African-American.
  • On Over the Top, we have grandfather Jason Cutler, who hates Lincoln and while in the right that Lincoln (a simple trucker and estranged father) cannot provide to Michael in the way that he (a millionaire) can, especially once Michael's mother dies and leaves Lincoln with the kid's custody, still tries to invoke Screw the Rules, I Have Money! (trying to buy Lincoln off, hiring an army of lawyers to try to find a legal loophole to take Michael away from Lincoln), Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! and makes a continuous barrage of Kick the Dog moments (every conversation he has with Lincoln including a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, keeping the letters Lincoln wrote to his family locked away and telling Michael that Lincoln never cared for him and hiring people to kidnap his grandson and rough Lincoln up) on his single-minded quest to keep father and son apart. Even after Lincoln signs off Michael's custody to Cutler, Cutler still flies to Las Vegas and tries to bribe Lincoln into disappearing forever from the Cutlers' sights, apparently because he disliked the fact that Michael disobeyed him to go cheer Lincoln at the arm wrestling competition.
  • In the Soviet comedy Kidnapping, Caucasian Style, one of the kidnappers breaks out into a Middle East-themed song titled "If I Were a Sultan". The song starts with him saying that, if he were a sultan, he'd have three wives, who would do all the housework for him. Eventually, though, he has a realization that this would also mean having three mothers-in-law and comes to the conclusion that, if he were a sultan, then he wouldn't get married at all.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Maddie's sister Rachel doesn't like Tom, to put it nicely. Even before he became a fugitive, she would jump on any flimsy excuse to tell Maddie to divorce him. She becomes so obnoxious that she has to be tied up to a chair to stop her from being a nuisance. Her daughter Jojo on the other hand is a sweetie who loves her "Uncle Tommy" very much, perhaps even more than her mom, since she doesn't seem to particularly care that her aunt and uncle tied her mom to a chair.
  • In Hot Water, Harold Lloyd has to contend with three of 'em. Mother-in-law has "the nerve of a book agent, the disposition of a dyspeptic landlord, and the heart of a traffic cop," older brother-in-law is "so lazy he gets up at four o'clock every morning so he'll have a longer day to loaf," and bratty younger brother-in-law has "a skin you love to touch - with a strap."
  • The French comedy Quest Ce Quon A Fait Au Bon Dieu (Roughly "Lord, what did we do to deserve this?") has the interactions between its various in-laws as the driving source of conflict, as the Verneuil couple have four daughters. The first one marries a Muslim lawyer, the second a Jewish entrepreneur, and the third a Chinese banker. The final daughter Laure is getting married to a Catholic man (to the relief of the parents and the local priest), named Charles... who, it turns out, is black.
    • Oddly enough, the main conflict is the one between the two fathers: a very traditional Catholic upper-middle-class lawyer (equivalent to a WASP) and an equally stuffy ex-military man. Fortunately, towards the end of the movie they both get drunk together and discover they have the same conservative political opinions.
    • The three brothers-in-law can't stand each other at first, but overcome their differences to spy on Charles, capturing what they think is evidence of him cheating (he was actually taking his sister on a tour of Paris). They immediately apologize for their behavior and start getting along with him, culminating in a moment when all four of them show up to the police station to get both fathers out of the drunk tank in time for the wedding and are promptly thrown out.
    • Charles' mother and sister get on splendidly with Laure's mother and sisters and provide much-needed sanity.
  • The Nutty Professor (1996) and its sequel Nutty Professor II: The Klumps show this type of relationship between Cletus Klump and his mother-in-law Ida Mae Jenson. They do nothing but insult each other and threaten to bodily harm each other and there's absolutely no indication that they truly care about each other deep down.
  • Sorry, Wrong Number: Not only is Leona overbearing, but her father is too, managing to outmanoeuvre Henry whenever he tries to make a name for himself.
  • Invoked for some spectacularly Black Comedy at the very end of Ready or Not, when first responders find Grace, drenched in blood and gore and sitting shell-shocked in front of a burning manor, having just survived her new husband's family attempting to sacrifice her to Satan.
    Officer: Jesus Christ, what happened to you?
    Grace: [Wryly lighting up a cigarette] In-laws.
  • A Christmas Carol (1999): During one of the Christmas Past scenes, Mr. Fezziwig sings about a song about a man who wants to marry his beloved Rose, but does not want to marry her uncle and her brother and her sister and her mother and fat-headed cousins "all in rows, rows, rows, rows, rows."

  • 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".

  • In A Brother's Price, Princess Ren is friends with one of her sisters-in-law, Kij Porter, but doesn't like her snobbish mothers-in-law. As her husband (who was a jerk) is dead, and there were never any children, Ren hopes that she won't have much to do with the Porters in the future, when she and her sisters have remarried. (As all sisters in a family marry one husband, and are considered mothers of all the children of that marriage, there's usually lots of mothers-in-law.) Keifer Porter, the princesses' late husband, poisoned their father, making him the worst son-in-law ever.
  • In the Discworld novels, Nanny Ogg is this towards her daughters-in-law, but not her sons-in-law.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's book The Indiscretions Of Archie Englishman Archie Moffam and Hotel Cosmopolis owner Daniel Brewster get into a nasty spat thanks to Culture Clash and Brewster's pride in his hotel. When Archie turns up again having married Brewster's beloved daughter Lucille things get even more awkward and Brewster spends the rest of the book at odds with Archie who keeps trying and failing to make amends. The news of Brewster's impending grandfatherhood at the book's close finally smooths things over between the two men.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Molly and her daughter Ginny don't approve Bill's (Molly's first-born) marriage to Fleur Delacour. At the end, when Bill's battle scars didn't make Fleur like Bill any less, Molly and (presumably) Ginny warmed up to her.
    Ginny: I suppose I'm just going to have to accept that he really is going to marry her.
    Harry: She's all right. (hastily) Ugly, though.
    • Subverted in the seventh book, where Fleur's parents show up and get along with the Weasleys wonderfully.
    • Also Played Straight with the Dursleys, as Vernon Dursley hated magic and everything magic-related thus hated his sister-in-law Lily and her husband James Potter, Harry's dad.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, Rebekah is "vexed" by the wives of Esau. It seems to be mostly because they are Canaanites, and follow Canaanite traditions and customs, worshiping their gods instead of the God of Abraham.
  • Help I Am Being Held Prisoner: One of the bank employees is accused of making excuses to avoid a dinner with his wife's family when he's forced to call and say he's working late. He hotly denies this but is smiling a little bit, in spite of the circumstances, as he hangs up.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, in-laws rarely get along. The best example is Cersei Lannister, who hates her new daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell and the feeling turns out to be mutual. Cersei resents Margaery's growing influence on her son Tommen. Especially since Margaery is trying to make Tommen into a more proactive ruler and encouraging him to think for himself instead of doing everything his mommy tells him. The noble families in Westeros use marriage as a political tool to seal alliances, meaning a lot of the time the in-laws hated each other before the marriage too.
    • Baratheons just have this knack: Stannis has...the whole pack of Florents to deal with. On the plus side, he doesn't have Robert's megaton issues with the crafty Lannisters. On the minus, they're more tooth-grindingly arrogant for no reason and with less financial backing to help ease the pain.
  • One Sherlock Holmes story revolves around a man living a happy life until his wife's sister came to visit and stayed. Once he refused her advances she was a lot worse.
  • Sense and Sensibility: Elinor Dashwood is charmed by Edward Ferrars and likes him a lot. However, she's not pleased to learn that he's the only nice person in his family. His mother, sister Fanny and brother Robert are all completely insufferable jerks.
  • In the seventh book of the The Black Company, the annalist, Murgen, gets married. His mother-in-law, Ki Gota, seems to have been specifically crafted to amplify the horrors of the siege conditions the book takes place under. In the following book, it's noted that her own people refer to her as "the troll" behind her back.
  • Horatio Hornblower has his mother-in-law from his first marriage, Mrs. Mason. When she visits them to help Maria recover from giving birth, Hornblower goes back to the habits he developed to survive under the insane Captain Sawyer from Lieutenant. In his second marriage, his brother-in-law is the Duke of Wellington—while they're only shown speaking once, he needles and out-snarks Hornblower.
  • Demeter is this to Hades in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. She constantly complains to Hades about how he makes her daughter live in the Underworld for half the year, and to Persephone for marrying him in the first place.
    Demeter: I warned you, daughter. This scoundrel Hades is no good. You could've married the god of doctors or the god of lawyers, but noooo. You had to eat the pomegranate.
    • The irony is that Demeter is also Hades' older sister and so is doubly obnoxious.
    • Though they are not married, Athena condemns the romance between her daughter Annabeth and Percy, the son of her rival Poseidon. Even then, Athena is more outright threatening than obnoxious and seems willing (however reluctantly) to at least give Percy a chance. It is unknown what Poseidon thinks of the relationship.
  • In Maeve Binchy's Scarlet Feather, main character Cathy has a hate-filled relationship with her mother-in-law Hannah Mitchell. Mrs. Mitchell cannot stand her for two reasons: she dared to marry her son Neil, and she is the former maid's daughter so not of the same 'class'.
  • In the Aubrey-Maturin series, Mrs Williams is this for Jack Aubrey: greedy, smothering, judgmental, manipulative, and unkind to everyone except her grandchildren.
  • Denth in Warbreaker started a second World War as part of a plot to capture and kill his brother-in-law. Of course, that brother-in-law had previously killed his wife (Denth's sister).
  • Light a Penny Candle has Maureen's mother-in-law, Mrs. Daly, who is dismissive of everything Maureen does and is very possessive of her grandchildren. Subverted with Aisling's mother-in-law Mrs. Murray, who appears like this at first, but turns out to be a lonely old woman.
  • In the 19th-century Ukrainian novella The Kaydash Family by Ivan Nechuy-Levytsky, much of the conflict comes from the conflict between the family's matriarch Marusya Kaydash and her older son's wife Motrya. True to the trope, Marusya constantly criticizes Motrya about her cooking, cleaning, etc. Eventually, things get to the point where Marusya's husband Omel'ko steps in and strikes Motrya for talking back. Previously remaining neutral, Motrya's husband Karp eventually puts his foot down and demands that Omel'ko split his land in half, so he and Motrya can move out and build their own home. After that, Motrya is shown to be much happier, now that she's the woman of her own house. Meanwhile, Marusya switches her attention to her other daughter-in-law Melashka, who is more of a doormat than Motrya was. Eventually, Omel'ko dies of alcoholism, and his younger son Lavrin takes over as the head of the household. There's some conflict between Karp and Lavrin over the land, but Marusya's role is marginalized at this point.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Veronica has an extreme case of Thicker Than Water that causes her to dote on her blood realtives regardless of their morals and act hostile to family members who don't share any blood ties with her. This includes her son's wife.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Addams Family:
    • Brought up in Addams Family Reunion by Morticia: when Gomez asks if she's noticed anything strange about his grandparents, who are visiting, her response is:
      "Now, keep in mind that for me they are still in-laws. Tradition dictates that I must despise them. Regardless of my own personal feelings in the matter."
    • Averted in the same series as Morticia gets along well with Uncle Fester and Gomez is liked by Mama, who are both their in-laws in the film's universe. In the television series, it was the other way around- Fester was Morticia's relative and Mama was Gomez's mother, but the family still got along splendidly.
    • Also averted in the series with Morticia's family the Frumps, who Gomez seems to like and respect, although Played Straight to some degree with her twin sister Ophelia (also played by Caroline Jones) who seems to be eccentric (even for the Addams' standards).
  • All of Samantha's family in Bewitched. With them around, Darrin is often on the receiving end of some curse. In fact, the only one of Sam's relatives who appears to treat Darrin with any kind of respect is Aunt Clara, and even her Inept Mage tendencies still cause the poor guy trouble. Conversely, Samantha had to deal with Darrin's mother Phyllis, who was resentful of Samantha's place in her son's life as well as disliking her family (without knowing what they really were).
  • On Cheers, Frasier's mom Hester outright threatens to murder Diane when she finds she's engaged to her son. She eventually patches things up and they decide to try and get along better from then on, then she attempts to bribe Sam into stealing Diane back once the two of them are out of an earshot.
  • Both sets of parents on Dharma & Greg tend to be intrusive, but Kitty (Greg's Rich Bitch mother) is the one who really fit the stereotype.
  • Katherine's father on Doogie Howser, M.D. hates David for being 15 years older than Katherine and uses every get-together as a chance to remind everyone of this. The fact that he's a successful doctor who clearly loves his family is irrelevant.
  • The Eternal Love: The empress dowager tries to poison her granddaughter-in-law Tan Er/Xiao Tan.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond Ray's mother Marie frequently came across the street to her son's home to make sure things were being run according to her style of housekeeping. She also didn't exactly approve of Debra and wasn't shy about showing it, though in fairness a lot of that could be chalked up to the fact that Marie sees how disdainful and bullying Debra is towards Ray, and wants Ray to realize this as well. Frank—Ray's father—also comes over frequently and tends to eat Ray's food and use his TV whenever he feels like it.
    • Debra's Bourgeois Bohemian parents also find the Barones to be somewhat difficult.
    • And Amy's family all find reasons for not wanting her to marry Robert Barone. Becoming relatives by marriage to Frank and Marie is no small part of it. The fault line between the WASP/Protestant McDougals and the Italian-American Catholic Barones is also a strain on the in-law relationship.
  • Niles Crane from Frasier was like this with Lillith in the first season, because Lillith sniggered at Maris' wedding vows. Considering how much worse Maris proved to be, this would make Niles a bit of a hypocrite.
    • All three Crane men are guilty of behaving this way towards each other's partners. Frasier and Niles have a particularly difficult time hiding their disdain for Martin's girlfriend Sherry. After Martin tells them off for not being welcoming towards someone he cares about Frasier retorts that Martin acted the same way towards every woman his sons brought home.
      Frasier: I mean, since when has any of us ever, from Sherry to Lilith to Maris to Diane, has ever been able to pick one woman that the other two could stand the sight of?
  • Friends: At Monica's wedding her mother wishes that Monica's grandmother was still alive to see it.
    Monica: (points to the congregation) [Grandmother]'s right there.
    Judy: Not that old crow, my mother.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Catelyn to Talisa, initially. In "The Rains of Castamere", she finally seems to warm up to her after overhearing Talisa say that she's going to name her and Robb's child, "Eddard", if it's a boy.
    • Robert used to rub Tywin the wrong way by patting him on the back.
  • Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife does not like her mother-in-law. This is demonstrated by the fact that the ring tone allocated to her on her cell phone is the music from The Twilight Zone.
  • Tim has a somewhat hostile relationship with Jill's mother in Home Improvement, mostly involving him telling mother-in-law jokes on Tool Time and her being annoyed by his buffoonish behavior.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall's mother hates Lily. It probably has something to do with the way Lily ran off on Marshall a couple of months before their wedding (as there was never any contention between them mentioned or shown prior to this). Though Marshall and Lily eventually made up, it would appear Marshall's mother never forgot. She also didn't like that Lily refused to be a "Mrs. Eriksen" by keeping her own name.
  • On Modern Family, Jay tolerates Phil at best. Part of it is Phil tries too hard to get Jay to like him.
    • When Jay met Gloria’s mother she told him to his face she didn’t like him despite admitting there was nothing really wrong with him. Claire laughed at the similarities.
  • Scrubs:
    • Carla believes her brother can only speak Spanish, but he learned English some time ago. He deliberately only speaks English in front of Turk, so that Turk will look like an asshole when protesting he knows the language. After Turk manages to trick him into revealing he's bilingual, he gets no reprimand from his sister. Even after he punches her boyfriend in the face directly in front of her. Similarly, whenever Turk says something bad about Carla's mom, she makes him go to her grave and beg for forgiveness (he often comes back and says "She still hates me").
    • On the other hand, Carla was terrified at how great she and his mom got on, afraid that he was acting out some Oedipal issues. He explains that it's not like that, he was just raised to respect and admire strong, independent women (like his mother), so of course, he would end up with one.
  • There's a Greek sitcom called Seven Deadly Mother-in-Laws running with much success for over three seasons; the author believes the theme is clear. They originally took stereotypical mothers-in-law from various regions of Greece, but it soon extended far beyond the original seven. The show REALLY jumped the shark with the Mother-in-Law from Space...
  • In That '70s Show, Red Forman's mother, Bernice is incredibly obnoxious and rude to everyone, but especially to her daughter-in-law, Kitty. Kitty's own mother is not much better - however, she upsets Kitty more than Red.
  • Of the four main adult characters from Yes, Dear, three of them have an in-law for each: Don (Kim and Christine's father) for Greg, Jenny (Kim and Christine's mother) for Jimmy, and Natalie (Greg's mother) for Kim. Christine doesn't have this problem, though. On the other hand, considering the tension that exists between brothers-in-law Greg and Jimmy, much of the show has this trope as its premise.
  • In The Honeymooners, Ralph dreads the visits of his mother-in-law, because she constantly implies that Alice could've done better than him.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
    • Master Vile (Rita's dad) and Lord Zedd don't get along. Hilariously.
    • Lord Zedd isn't too fond of Rito Revolto (Rita's brother) either. Justified in that Rito's an idiot who constantly gets on Zedd's nerves.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine involves Jadzia Dax trying to impress the matriarch of Worf's family, who does not like the idea of a Trill daughter-in-law. Jadzia's attitude doesn't help.
  • And speaking of Trek, she doesn't become a formal in-law until Nemesis and the subsequent Expanded Universe novels, but Deanna Troi's mother definitely counts.
  • One episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had a plot too similar to the movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Even the way the African-American family found out she was dating a white man was the same. Most of the family warmed up to him quickly (though it was a rocky start), but Will's mother took a while. It should probably be noted that the remade Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (where the characters' races line up with this example) was made nine years after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended production, as opposed to the original where it was a black man marrying a white woman
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore, Richard's mother and Lorelai's paternal grandmother takes this to an art form, being capable of inspiring terror in Emily the second it is announced that she's going to visit. In many ways, it mirrors the relationship between Emily and Lorelai, but Trix and Emily's relationship worsens each time. Her crowning moment would be when Emily discovers a secret letter that Trix wrote to Richard begging him not to marry Emily as she was not suitable for the Gilmore name while she handles Trix's funeral arrangements and will.
    • Emily follows this tradition and is absolutely horrible to Luke, Lorelai's boyfriend and later fiancé. She alienates and degrades him at every opportunity, going as far as to try and set Lorelai up with her ex-boyfriend Christopher in hopes she and Luke would break up. Her plan succeeds but leaves both of them so devastated that Lorelai refuses to talk to her ever again. Emily eventually backs down and accepts them together. Her main object is Lorelai is very much an Uptown Girl to working-class Luke, and Emily thinks he's unworthy to marry into the Gilmore family. (Considering what she suffered from Trix, it's hard to find a bigger hypocrite).
    • Luke views his brother-in-law TJ as this and only tolerates him for his sister Liz's sake. In an aversion, TJ is simply obliviously obnoxious as he does like Luke and treats him like a brother. (Jess flat out can't stand him because he's loud and because he already holds a dim view of his mother's taste in men.)
  • Mild version on CSI Betty Grissom disapproving of Sara marrying her son. Thinks the long-distance aspect isn't good. Fortunately, she settles down and things are improved by the episode's end.
  • Bob Duncan's mother-in-law of Good Luck Charlie thinks he's a pea-brained buffoon who's done a deplorable job of raising his kids.
  • In Life with Derek, Nora's mother Felicia liked her first husband just fine, but doesn't care at all for her current husband George, mostly because she doesn't believe in divorce.
  • An unusual variant occurs on Blossom between her father Nick Russo and her maternal grandfather Buzz Richman. Buzz doesn't really have anything against Nick, but Nick resents him for coming to the Russo house and sponging off them when he visits. The fact that Buzz's daughter abandoned Nick and the kids doesn't exactly help matters.
  • Sylvie's mother in Un gars, une fille loathes Guy, who reminds her of her husband, who was unfaithful.
  • On Sex and the City, Charlotte has to contend with her husband Trey's overbearing mother Bunny, who starts out relatively okay but ultimately tries to interfere in every decision the couple makes.
  • Amen:
    • Reuben's mother, who criticizes everything about Thelma, until the couple finally tells her off.
    • Ernie is like this even though he likes Reuben, due to his overprotective ways.
    • Ernie's own father-in-law was like this to him, cutting his daughter off because he disapproved of her marrying Ernie.
  • According to Jim:
    • Jim's Sitcom Archnemesis is his sister-in-law Dana. However, they don't hate each other that much and do many things together or are sometimes nice to each other.
    • Sometimes, Jim has some big arguments with his brother-in-law and best friend Andy.
    • Jim's youngest daughter, Gracie, is the Sitcom Archnemesis to Andy, her uncle.
    • Inverted with Maggy, the mother-in-law of both Jim and Ryan. They both love her and she loves everyone in her family.
      Jim: You know someone like you is a give. Someone you don't want to argue, but argue for her.
  • In Rodney, Rodney is hated by his father-in-law Carl because he thinks that Rodney is a no-good who has stolen his daughter. On the other hand, Rodney has a good relationship with his sister-in-law Charlie.
  • A tradition of Brazilian comedy series, especially when the son-in-law is deserving. Of note is sitcom Sai de Baixo, where Caco Antibes called his mother-in-law Cassandra 'Cascacu' (a mix between "cascavel", rattlesnake, and surucucu) and frequently hazed her hair, clothes and supposed lewd behavior - and the actor loved to improvise by adding an Actor Allusion to her career or even kiss her!
  • All over the place on The Golden Girls.
    • Sophia was extremely obnoxious to her son Phil's wife. She couldn't even be nice to her at his funeral. It ultimately wasn't that Sophia disliked her, but that she needed someone to redirect the blame to over Phil's cross-dressing. She's also implied to have been no less obnoxious to Dorothy's ex-husband Stan before the divorce than she was after, having never forgiven him for getting Dorothy pregnant at seventeen and cheating on her multiple times after their Shotgun Wedding. The only one of her children's spouses she wasn't obnoxious towards was Gloria's very wealthy husband.
    • Dorothy's ex-mother-in-law was an odd example. She actually liked Dorothy, yet it was Stan whom she didn't like. The only reason she was mean to Dorothy was that if Stan thought she liked Dorothy he'd be around her place all the time asking for money.
    • Blanche's mother-in-law would always introduce her as her son's first wife, while they were still married, and wished on her deathbed for Blanche to have the disease that was killing her. Blanche's only response to hearing that she died was to say that she hoped the old witch went slowly. Blanche herself is implied to be obnoxious to her own unseen son-in-law, derisively referring to him as "the Yankee".
    • Furthermore, Sophia said there was a tradition in Sicily that someone performs when their mother-in-law dies: they're supposed to wear a hair shirt, eat dirt, and pound their head on a rock... anything to keep you from laughing.
  • Inverted on The George Lopez Show; George has issues with his biological mom, but gets along very well with his brother- and father-in-law, although initially, Angie's prominent cardiologist parents weren't too fond of George, feeling that Angie was "slumming it" and should have married somebody much more well-off.
  • On Roseanne, Roseanne and Dan despised Becky's greaser boyfriend Mark. This case is somewhat Justified, as Mark doesn't treat Becky exceptionally well initially, being really selfish and obnoxious. When Mark confronts Roseanne about this, she says she would have treated him like a king if she felt like he'd treated Becky with any kind of respect. Darlene's steady boyfriend David fared quite a bit better. Initially, they dislike David for being Mark's brother and assume he's just like him. However, when they realize he was almost his exact opposite, they warm up, allowing him to live with them to escape his abusive mother; Roseanne even tries to shove David and Darlene back together after they break up.
  • Ethyl to Earl on Dinosaurs. She thinks he's a no-good bum with no ambition.
  • Never shown onscreen, but Roy seems to view his this way on Emergency. She apparently saw him as having the brains to be a doctor but not wanting to do it, settling for paramedic instead.
  • On Martin, Martin's mother note  despises her son's girlfriend (and later, wife) Gina. She believes that Gina is unworthy of her son because she doesn't take care of Martin the same way she does. Gina is a career woman who doesn't have the time or the patience to baby her husband. Mama Payne is a nasty example, too; she regularly and openly threatens to kill her hapless daughter-in-law!
  • Inverted on Last Man Standing. Mike hates Vanessa's sister April because she a) still acts like a teenager even though she's 40 b) always borrows money from them and never pays it back and c) is a terrible influence on the kids (especially Mandy).
  • London's Burning: George ends up punching out both his wife Kelly's brothers at the wedding reception. This sets the tone for every time they're on screen together until Kelly leaves him. (He gets on alright with his sister's hubby though.) And then there's Colin's mum...
  • Growing Pains. Maggie's father hated her husband Jason, despite Jason being the kind of son-in-law you'd order from a catalog and has always been a good husband to Maggie and a good father to their children. His anger stems from the couple running off and eloping 20-something years ago. It's especially bad considering that Maggie's mother adores Jason and Jason's mother and Maggie get along beautifully.
    • Jason himself is this to his mother's new husband.
  • A Different World: Angered by Whitley mistaking her for a maid, Dwayne's mother is relentlessly nasty to Whitley throughout their relationship, despite her repeated, sincere attempts at making amends for this. It gets cranked Up to Eleven after Dwayne and Whitley marry, with her sending them a funeral wreath with a note that says, "Call me when you divorce her", then apparently holding firm to this, as Dwayne mentions that she hangs up on him every time he calls.
  • Murray Goldberg from The Goldbergs didn't get along with his father-in-law at first, though he eventually warms up to him. It's his biological father that he's on poorer terms with, however.
  • In The Munsters Herman has a somewhat conflictive relationship with his father-in-law Sam Dracula "Grandpa", albeit they are often a comedic duo with Grandpa as the Straight Man. He does seem to have a good relationship with his niece-in-law Marilyn who he probably adopted (as she has the Munster surname) but the fact that she's considered strange (as she's a normal human) comes into play in some episodes.
  • Chespirito's characters Los Caquitos a.k.a Chómpiras and Botija are based on The Honeymooners. Chimoltrufia's mother and Botija's mother-in-law has a deep hatred for the latter, which is mutual. Botija's mother also appears in some episodes (also played by Edgar Vivar in drag) and is reveal that Botija comes from a very wealthy family, probably the reason why her mother never accepted Chimoltrufia. Needless to say, both mothers hate each other.
  • Mad About You: Paul's mother constantly takes subtle and not-so-subtle potshots at Jamie. Especially bad as Paul's father adores her, and Jamie's parents (despite their own smothering and manipulative ways) like Paul.
  • In Oshin, Ryuuzo's parents Daigoro and Kiyo detest their daughter-in-law since she's a mere country girl whereas they have a higher standing. Daigoro more or less gives in when Ryuuzo says that he'll marry Oshin but will refuse to have a mistress at the same time, but Kiyo keeps interfering and making Oshin's life harder — especially when she and Ryuuzo are forced to live with them after the 1923 Kanto Earthquake. When Oshin leaves to work in another city and communicates with Ryuuzo through letters, Kiyo hides the correspondence to trick Oshin into thinking that Ryuuzo has ditched her — but the deception is ultimately undone and Ryuuzo is, understandably, furious.
  • On Good Eats, Alton gets caught in the middle of a conflict between his mother and his (now ex) mother-in-law, concerning the "right" way to make chicken and dumplings. He is reluctant to do the recipe, because as soon as he announces it, he gets calls about it from both of them, each wanting him to do it "their" way on his show. (His mother makes them the "Northern" way, where the dumplings are similar to choux-pastry, and his mother-in-law makes them the "Southern" way, where the dumplings are more noodle-like.) To appease them, he makes both types of dumplings, letting the audience decide for themselves which way they'd like to follow along with. (More time is dedicated to the "Southern" way because it takes longer to make from scratch.) When he sits down to eat (with boxing puppets representing his mother and mother-in-law, both of which beat on him earlier in the episode), they start fighting again, this time over which one Alton and his then-wife should spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with.
  • On I Love Lucy, Lucy's kooky mother is utterly awful to Ricky, who hates her just as much in return. She even insists on always calling him "Micky", no matter how many times she's corrected.
  • In the The Big Bang Theory now that they are married, Dr. Hoffstader is this way to Penny. Not that she behaved any better towards Leonard anyway.
    • Lampshaded in the episode where she finds out that Penny and Leonard eloped:
      [Seeing Dr. Hofftader having a friendly chat with Amy]
      Penny: I don't get it, how come she gets along so well with Amy but not me?
      Bernadette: Well Penny, you have to understand that Amy's with Sheldon, whom Leonard's mother loves like a son. While you're with Leonard, whom she...doesn't.
    • Touched on with Howard and Bernadette. Howard was initially worried his Jewish Mother would dislike him marrying a Catholic girl, but she turns out to adore her. Bernadette's parents, specifically her father Mike, are not particularly happy with Howard at first, thinking he was a prank to torture them (she is noticeably much more attractive and sociable than him), but Howard getting a chance to be an astronaut in combination with having Disappeared Dad issues eventually lets Mike warm up to him a little.
  • In Innocent, Tarık's mother Nermin not only dismisses Emel's concerns about his mental health but rags on her for not being an ideal housewife as though it's the source of all his troubles.
  • The Slap has this in the form of Hector's parents, who do not approve of his marriage to his wife Aisha at all for the simple "crime" of her not being Greek, to the point of hijacking their honeymoon to take place in Greece with "family" instead with the not-at-all-subtle implication that if she were Greek, she probably wouldn't think of it as an issue.
  • On 227, Mary and Lester's respective parents actually adore their children-in-law. It's each other they can't stand.
  • There have been several examples of killers having strained relationships with in-laws on Columbo, with the results ranging from someone killing their rich mother-in-law to someone killing someone to keep a secret from their rich mother-in-law.
  • The Red Green Show: During a round of the Possum Lodge Word Game, Red has to get Dalton Humphrey to say the word "wolves", but no matter what he gives as a hint, Dalton's answer is always the same: "My wife's side of the family." At the last second, Red finally catches on and scores a win with the hint "Your wife's side of the family eating."
  • On The Jeffersons, George Jefferson's wife Louise is always at odds with her mother-in-law, Olivia "Mother" Jefferson, due to her constantly putting her down and telling her son George he could have done better in in his choice of wife.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • One of the funniest examples is in Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp. The entire first level has Dirk trying to escape Daphne's mother (who resembles a retired opera star... boy, even her name is Hilda!). She starts chasing Dirk with a rolling pin after she finds out that he let Daphne get kidnapped again. If the player presses the wrong button, Dirk can actually get killed by her! Dirk runs away from her on a horse, but she starts following him on an ox, trying to bash the living daylights out of him while telling him to go rescue Daphne.
    Hilda: DIIIRRRKK!!!
    Dirk: Uh-oh...
    Hilda: Kidnapped?... My Daphne, kidnapped again?!! Idiot! Dummkopf! You! Better! Find! My! Daughter! OR! ELSE! (throws a crate full of chickens at Dirk) COWARD!!! DIRK! I KNOW YOU'RE IN HERE!! I raised a Princess who married a frog!! Dirk! Hold still! You can run boy! But you cannot hide!
    • The level ends with Dirk's mother-in-law hitting a giant snake (that, earlier on, was attacking Dirk), and telling it to "Shut up!" Just see it for yourself here.
  • One level in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 centers on a female pro wrestler who marries the heir to a traditional Japanese inn... only to find his mother does not approve. The level involves said wrestler proving she can be a good inn hostess in order to earn the old woman's approval.
  • Gravedigger Shen in Jade Empire has players deal with a few spirits who are out of their graves in the Necropolis. The first of them is apparently his mother-in-law, and he's especially happy that you put her down for the moment.
  • In Elite Dangerous, the passengers of Wedding Barges will sometimes say "At least I don't have to meet the in-laws" when their starship blows up.
  • Persona 4
    • A nameless housewife apparently doesn't get along with her mother-in-law, who dislikes her cooking. To be fair to the older woman, her daughter-in-law is a terrible cook, although she does improve later in the game.
    • Another woman, who's a bit older, recalls that her mother-in-law was an ill-tempered woman who warned her that if she didn't wear a wedding veil, she'd grow horns. The woman notes to her chagrin that she herself ended up turning out just like her mother-in-law.
  • World of Warcraft has a fairly dark example in Lucille Waycrest's mother. Lady Waycrest doesn't like that her daughter's marrying a mere merchant, so she bitterly complains to her husband on Lucille's wedding day, refuses to attend the wedding, and hires some outlaws to kill her son-in-law.
  • One hilarious scene in Guilty Gear Xrd has straight-laced Ky realizing that, since he's married to Dizzy, and his brash, free-spirited rival Sol is Dizzy's father, that makes Sol his father-in-law. Cue the horrified screaming from both parties.
  • In The Bard's Tale, MacRath jokingly alludes to this trope in reference to the zombies that had taken over his castle, though the eponymous Bard himself fails to pick up on it due to the sheer impenetrability of his accent.
    MacRath: Ah kent it was a bad sign when tha deid began tae rise frae their grae, especially mah mammy in law, it was toogh enaw killin' 'er tha first time!note 
  • Mass Effect: Though circumstances prevent you from experiencing it firsthand, Tali gleefully tells Shepard at one point that her deceased father would've hated him if you romance her. Her wording leaves it a bit unclear if this is because of Shepard being human instead of a quarian, overprotectiveness, or just plain disliking Shepard's personality.
  • Boong-Ga Boong-Ga has the mother-in-law as one of the people you can punish. She even says stock stereotypical mother-in-law lines.
  • In Final Fantasy V, an NPC laments that the meteor that fell near Tycoon didn't land on his mother-in-law instead.

    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.

    Web Comics 
  • Even mezzacotta characters tell in-laws jokes!
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik is about to marry the guest character of the week. His mother crashes the wedding and instantly starts a room-destroying fistfight with the bride, for no apparent reason.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Nicole is at constant odds with Richard's overprotective mother, Jojo, to the point that in Jojo's first appearance, "The Kiss," Nicole and Richard sped off before her bus arrived just so they didn't have to deal with her; thankfully, Jojo entering a new relationship mellows her out. Nicole also doesn't have a high opinion of Richard's biological father Frankie, due to him being an unapologetic con artist who abandoned his family when Richard was young, but puts up with him for Richard's sake. Meanwhile, Nicole's parents, Daniel and Mary, didn't approve of Richard since he didn't meet their impossibly high standards for Nicole, even trying to set up their daughter with another man, which led to Nicole cutting them out of her life for years; again, they've mellowed out thanks to old age, and the end of "The Parents" has them make up with Nicole.
      • It should also be noted that "The Choices" shows that Jojo did attend Nicole and Richard's wedding, while Daniel and Mary did not. Later on, in "The Parents," Daniel and Mary reveal that they had intended to come, but their Literal-Minded nature made them mistake the term "RSVP" for a foreign country, and they missed it.
  • In American Dad!, Francine's Chinese adoptive parents don't have any bad feelings for Stan, however whenever they show up they tend to take over the place.
    Stan: They're loud, they're pushy, they make me feel like a guest in my own house!
    • At the end of the episode, Francine's parents save Stan when the house catches fire, and her father expresses genuine fondness for him (saying that they don't have to worry about Francine's well-being because she married well). Stan's relationship with the Lings is shown to be much better in later episodes.
  • In the Biker Mice from Mars episode "Stone Broke", the main villain Lawrence Limburger tries to get his funding back by adding his superior Lord Camembert's head to Mt. Rushmore and teleporting the whole thing to Camembert's garden. While only Camembert's head makes it there thanks to the actions of the Biker Mice, Camembert still gives Limburger his funding back because the stone head crushed his mother-in-law to death.
  • Bob's Burgers: While it may seem that Bob's dislike of his wife's family is the typical sitcom in-law relationship, and at first it does seem that way, later episodes show that Linda's sister and mother are genuinely unpleasant people that others don't like. Linda, due to a misguided view of loving them, unwilling to be truthful to hurt Gayle's feelings and being oblivious to her mother being emotionally abusive, thinks that Bob is just overreacting and loves them as much as she does.
    • In "Crawlspace", Linda's mother so grates on Bob that he hides from her by pretending to be stuck inside the wall. Hilarity Ensues, but by the end of the episode, they seem to be patching things up. However, later episodes show it did not stick. If anything, Bob hates being around Gloria due to her having No Indoor Voice, no respect for him, and seems okay with inconveniencing Linda for the smallest of things.
    • There are a few episodes where Bob comes into conflict with Linda's neurotic sister Gayle, like in "Art Crawl" where she guilt-trips Bob and Linda into displaying her paintings of animal buttholes in the restaurant, or when she tried to have an affair with Bob in "Dr. Yap" after he mistook her for Linda and kissed her while high on his dentist's anesthetic. It finally came to a boiling point in "Gayle Making Bob Sled" when, after Gayle spent the episode faking her leg injury and forcing Bob to do all sorts of humiliating stuff for her, Bob admits how much he hates Gayle. By the end of the episode it seems they've reconciled when Gayle tries to help Bob to make up for what she did, but they never exactly become friends in later episodes to the point Bob would rather not be around her.
  • In The Cleveland Show, Cleveland's mother Cookie frequently exchanges insults with Donna. Her first appearance implies she was not happy about her initially breaking her son's heart to be with Robert.
  • Elise's parents in Dan Vs. to Chris. Chris, being the Nice Guy he is, tries to win them over, with limited success. Elise, on the other hand, finds their visits stressful because of their treatment of Chris, and Dan tries to convince Chris that his efforts to get them to like him are futile. In "Family Camping Trip" Chris does manage to win over Elise's mother, but her father still seems to hate him, even more so, due to one-upping Elise's ex-boyfriend, who they liked and approved of, who proved to be a coward in the face of danger. Taken Up to Eleven in "Chris". Elise's parents try to goad Dan into killing Chris. Dan refuses to go along with their plans since he doesn't trust people who want to have their own son-in-law killed off. Thankfully, Chris' brother-in-law isn't quite as bad as his parents.
  • The Danny Phantom episode "Prisoners of Love" shows that Maddie Fenton's sister Alicia despises her brother-in-law Jack.
  • The Fairly Oddparents:
    • Mama Cosma is this to Wanda and Big Daddy is this to Cosmo. Strangely, the two bond over the fact they can't stand who their children married, even though you'd think they would hate each other for constantly trying to kill their respective child. For example, after Mama Cosma announces she'd want a camera crew for Wanda's supposed demise then adds a hasty, bad lie about it being to "collect evidence against the perpetrators," Big Daddy says this to her:
      Big Daddy: You're an evil, manipulating shrew. And Big Daddy likes that about you!
    • In "Timmy Turnip", it turns out Timmy's maternal grandparents don't like his father, even continuously referring to him as the "son-in-law that we don't like" and, as a Running Gag, gives him bags full of rabid weasels.
    • "Double-O Schnozmo" introduces Cosmo's titular big brother. Cosmo idolizes Schnozmo due to the latter's claims of being a secret agent with a nemesis named "Dr. Maybe"; Wanda, on the other hand, can clearly see that Schnozmo is just a pathological liar and a con artist, and flat-out doesn't trust him (and not without reason, since he swipes Wanda's earrings twice). For what it's worth, when Wanda informs Schnozmo that Cosmo found out about the lies and is heartbroken, Schnozmo is willing to go along with Wanda and Timmy's plan to make things right, if only for his little brother's sake.
  • Family Guy
    • Peter Griffin's father Francis doesn't like that Peter has married Lois, who is — to quote a sign on their car after their wedding — "a Protestant whore". Lois is very happy when he dies.
    • Lois' father Carter runs away with this trope as far as his relationship with Peter, to the point that he even lied in court when Peter was accused of murdering Lois (in Stewie's simulation). Other points of cruelty include putting out his cigar in his chest, forcing him to eat a pine cone while ostensibly saying it's to help Lois, and forcing him to drink his diabetic blood (and then being absolutely amazed that he actually did it.) Before her death, Lois' Aunt Marguerite was apparently so mean, a visit from her was an Oh, Crap! moment for Peter.
    • Peter usually gets along well with Lois' sister Carol (she being the only one in Lois' family who supported Lois and Peter's relationship), though is implied to loathe all of her previous husbands for their annoying habits. Her current spouse Mayor Adam West is kooky and childlike enough to become Peter's friend, however.
  • In The Flintstones, Wilma's mother is like this with Fred. Though, he does treat her appropriately with equal hostility. In some incarnations, this is because Wilma's family is rich, and they're rather disappointed that Wilma married "beneath" her. However, considering how she shoves aside an airline attendant when disembarking a plane, she's obviously nasty to nearly everyone.
  • Lord Bravery from Freakazoid! was shown to have a less than pleasant relationship with his mother-in-law.
    Lord Bravery: Most people your age die. Why...don'
  • Glenn Martin DDS: Glenn is a successful dentist, but Jackie's rich father hates him for not being rich enough.
  • Cotton Hill from King of the Hill. And Minh's father isn't too fond of Kahn, either. That said, Cotton only barely treats Peggy worse than he treats Hank.
    Cotton: You're not even good enough to be married to my worthless, nothing-of-a-loser son!
  • Some MGM cartoons directed by Tex Avery have brought this up as a Take That! moment, such as in the several "of Tomorrow" cartoons, which featured a Running Gag about detestable features reserved for the mother-in-law, clearly intended to show how unwelcome she is.
  • In Rick and Morty, Rick is treated as a burden by his son-in-law due to being a Mad Scientist who wrangles his grandson Morty (and inevitably the rest of the family) in weird and dangerous misadventures, but for whatever reason Rick's daughter insists on letting him stay in the family. Rick for his part treats Jerry with nothing but contempt due to the fact that Jerry is a dullard who got his daughter pregnant when she was 17. Rick also isn't fond of the fact that Jerry is the father of his grandchildren and that his genes could affect them and turn them into losers. There's also a hint that Jerry is possibly jealous of the amount of time Summer and Morty spend with Rick and that they might view Rick as more of a role model than Jerry. However, unlike most examples, Rick doesn't spend regularly spend any time or effort trying to break his daughter and son-in-law up. While he did orchestrate their temporary separation at one point, that was because he'd overheard Jerry trying to convince the family to turn him over to the Galactic Feds. He's quick to accept it when they get back together later.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Patty and Selma (and their mother to a lesser extent) hate Homer so much they've nonchalantly reacted to his heart attack then proceeded to find Marge a man despite the fact he hadn't died, bought a tombstone with "Homer J. Simpson. We are richer for having lost him.", tried to get him kicked out of town, tried to have a law proposition passed that would make it illegal for him to live in Springfield, and kidnap/torture him (in full-blown Lighter and Softer-ish Saw rip-off style) during the renewal of his vows with Marge (they seriously thought that if they kept him away Marge would just up and go choose another man eventually). This doesn't even include verbal insults. Obviously, this is depending on the episode. In one episode, Selma thanks Homer for helping her get Ling (her Chinese adopted baby), and Marge's mother didn't really get angry and actually said that Patty and Selma were evil. Selma is more often the more civil one and Patty even asked Homer to perform her wedding after he became an ordained minister. Selma is often more polite to Homer whenever Patty is not around and its implied that the only reason she's hostile towards him is because she's jealous that Marge was able to have a healthy marriage with a man, and according to Marge, Homer actually feels sorry for Selma because she has to live with Patty.
    • Agnes Skinner with her son Seymour. She hates Seymour's choice in women, especially Edna Krabappel.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Mary Jane's aunt Anna has nothing but bad things to say about Peter in spite of the fact that Peter was never anything but courteous towards her. She sets out to find fault in every little thing he says/does. At one point she sics The Punisher on him! (Albeit unintentionally. She just happened to believe that Peter had something to do with MJ's disappearance and voiced this concern to Frank and she happened to be Right for the Wrong Reasons: it was Peter's fault, because she was collateral damage to one of his fights as Spidey. But, once again, Anna didn't know that — she's only thinking Peter's to blame for no good reason other than her own immense distrust of him.) "Return of Hydro Man part 1" is when Peter finally gets sick of it and calls her out on it.
  • In one episode of "The Bears' Family Album" segment of The Woody Woodpecker Show, Charlie Bear tried to escape his mother-in-law, who spent the biggest part of the episode nagging him into spring cleaning while all he wanted to do was fishing with a friend. As an unexpected result of his last plan, Charlie met a guard who, once meeting the mother-in-law, decided Charlie had already had enough and let him go while he started to point out irregularities with her car. Charlie and his friend ended the episode laughing at her misfortune with the guard.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: "Game of Flags" shows there's more than a little hostility between Queen Moon's side of the family (the Butterflies, a clan of conniving and foppish nobles) and King River's side of the family (the Johansens, a clan of uncouth barbarian warriors).
  • Rugrats — Charlotte Pickles is this to Stu and Didi Pickles (her husband Drew is Stu's brother). However, Charlotte really isn't outright mean to them or anyone else, though she does often come off as rather snobbish and condescending.
    • Meanwhile Didi's parents, while they take the occasional jab at Stu (as part of their Jewish stereotyping), seem to have a friendly relationship with their son-in-law, and Stu has very few cross words to say about them in turn. Averted entirely with Grandpa Lou, who is close enough to Didi, that she’s comfortable with calling him “Pop”.
  • The Legend of Korra — Toph appears to be this to Bataar Beifong Sr., the husband of her youngest daughter, Suyin (more commonly called "Su" for short). However, Toph doesn't really seem to hate her son-in-law—though she certainly hates it when he tries calling her "mother," which Toph makes extremely clear to him when he tries making small talk with her.
  • Gramma Alice in Big City Greens is this to her ex-daughter-in-law, Nancy, distrusting her for her criminal past. At least one flashback suggests she was like this during Nancy and Bill's marriage as well.
  • F is for Family: Frank's parents-in-law openly despise him, constantly make snide remarks about his lack of success in life, and blame him for getting Sue pregnant so early, forcing her to drop out of college. Frank is happy to give it right back, pointing out their hypocrisy over their estranged son, who's implied to be gay.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: Leader of D.O.O.M. Verminious Snaptrap has a brother-in-law named Larry (who is married to Snaptrap's sister), with Snaptrap's low opinion of him made very apparent by the show's running gag of Snaptrap subjecting Larry to all sorts of abuse.

     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 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ObnoxiousInLaws

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