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One Bad Mother

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Have you noticed that the word "mother" is a common villain name? Maybe it's ironic, maybe it's symbolic, maybe it overlaps with the Hive Queen, but writers seem to think it's a scary word.

This can also be known as:

  • An Evil Matriarch of some sort (similar to "queen")
  • A twisted version of a "mother" (spreading The Virus and considering the victims her "children," for example)

See also Almighty Mom, Monster Is a Mommy, Mother of a Thousand Young.

Has nothing to do with Abusive Parents. Usually. Also may or may not have to do with Your Mom.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Un-Mother on Inuyasha, though only in the dub. In Japanese, she's the mythological creature mu onna, which translates into "nothing woman". While the mu onna is the ghost of a mother, the word is not in her title.
  • Magi: Labyrinth of Magic: The leader of that children pirate crew, Aum Madaura, kidnapped children and used her magic tool "Holy Mother Halo Fan" to make them think she's their mother. In reality she did not care about the children and only saw them as tools for taking over the world by becoming the "mother" of the world's future leaders.
  • One Piece has the aptly named "Big Mom", real name: Charlotte Linlin, one of the top 4 pirates in the world who are known as the "Four Emperors". She's an insane, ruthless and terrifying glutton who rules her very own nation. She also has 85 children.
  • In The Promised Neverland, the apparent Orphanage of Love where the protagonists live is actually one of several People Farms, and their "Mother/Mama" (real name Isabella) is complicit in handing them over to be eaten by demons. She and the other Mothers remains somewhat sympathetic, however, since they do this for their own survival and do seem to love their charges, if in a twisted way. Also, each Mother has to produce a child to qualify, meaning that Isabella is Ray's biological mother, too.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What? has "Mother", the name Kumoko uses to refer to the kaiju-sized Queen Taratect who birthed her and later tries to kill her.

    Board Games 
  • The Mother in Risk 2210 is a supercomputer that nukes entire continents. Not a villain, but very scary.

    Comic Books 
  • A variation: Granny Goodness from The DCU.
  • Ma Dalton from Lucky Luke.
  • A storyline in Green Lantern Corps introduced the progenitor of Mongul's infamous Black Mercy plants, whom the Lanterns name "Mother Mercy." Subverted as Mother Mercy is actually good: she isn't happy about Mongul using her children the way he does, helps the Lanterns defeat him, and is even inducted into the Corps herself.
  • Kamandi: At Earth's End featured Mother Machine (or Machine Mother), a supercomputer who kept Kamandi alive and sent him to kill Superman. It's eventually revealed that her program is an insane copy of Kamandi's biological mother's mind... which doesn't make sense, since the computer apparently caused the apocalypse decades before his birth.
  • Mothergod was the villain in a Crisis Crossover from Valiant Comics.
  • Motherbank from Sci-Spy.
  • The Big Bad of the second Young Avengers series is a shapeshifting, extra-dimensional parasite named Mother. She generally takes the form of Teddy's dead mom, and acts like a sweet, doting parent who just wants to eat their child's soul and take over their dimension. Worse, she can brainwash other parents and adults into following her every command.
  • In Birds of Prey, Black Canary spent time being trained by Lady Shiva's former mentor, a cruel martial arts master called Mother. When she left she took one of Mother's other students, a young girl named Sin, and adopted her. Notably, Sin chose to call Dinah "Sister," since the word "Mother" had bad connotations for her.
  • The Big Bad of Batman and Robin Eternal is known as "Mother." She creates child soldiers by subjecting them to mind-shattering trauma and rebuilding them in her own image, having survived something similar herself and decided that Misery Builds Character.
  • The Boys: Averted with Mother's Milk, a Scary Black Man and one of the heroes. His name comes from the fact that he has to periodically drink his mother's breast milk to survive, let alone be a super.
  • One of the villains in Blood Syndicate is an old woman affiliated with System who uses the codename Mom.

    Films — Animation 
  • Mother Gothel from Tangled, who abducted Rapunzel as a baby to maintain access to her immortality-granting hair and emotionally manipulates her.
  • The Other Mother, from Coraline, is basically the perfect mother to whatever kid wanders into her magical pocket dimension. Or so she would like you to believe.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien film series:
    • The ship computer in Alien was known as MU-THR 182 or MU-TH-UR 6000. It wasn't the villain, but was programmed by the Weyland-Yutani Company (who we all know are evil). If anything, Ash turned out to be a villain.
    • Alien: Resurrection is set much later and "Mother" has been replaced with a new OS, "Father." This trope is played with when someone takes over the computer and a female voice announces to the evil scientist "Father's dead, asshole."
  • Mother from Psycho — if not the Trope Maker, then definitely a popularizer.
  • Animal Mother from Full Metal Jacket is presumably an example of the Curse Cut Short version.
  • In the Dan Aykroyd comedy Doctor Detroit, where the ruthless drug dealer was called "Mom."
  • Ma Fratelli from The Goonies.
  • The villains of Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980) are known, respectively, as the Mother of Sighs and the Mother of Darkness. The villain of the third film, Mother of Tears, should be obvious.
  • Ma-Ma, the evil drug lord in control of the city slum that Dredd takes place in. Played with in that it's a shortened form of her real full name, Madeline Madrigal.
  • A tagline of Malavita: "Michelle Pfeiffer is One Bad Mother".
  • Little Shop of Horrors has Audrey II (who, despite the feminine name, is male...or as male as a giant human-devouring plant creature can be); in his Villain Song, he proudly declares himself a "mean green mother from outer space" (although, as with Full Metal Jacket above, it's likely a Curse Cut Short).
  • I Am Mother: Mother is an android who raises a human infant in a remote facility, but Daughter starts to figure out that she may have ulterior motives. Mother is in fact an artificial intelligence Hive Mind which sees humans as flawed, having resolved to wipe them out and create better humans from scratch.

  • A good guy example in the musclebound female Marine codenamed "Mother" in the Matthew Reilly novel Ice Station. A hint, it's not because she's a maternal figure... though she is one anyway.
  • Another "ship's computer" in Remnants. She's not really evil, but she is insane after untold years of loneliness after her creators, the Shipwrights, inexplicably abandoned her. She's hundreds of square miles and practically a massive Genius Loci (able to create artificial environments, mindless constructs of people and monsters, etc.) The series also features the "Children," a species whom the Shipwrights designed in order to maintain her; they worship Mother as a god, but are only recently trying to reconquer her interior after being exiled for some reason.
  • The Other Mother from Coraline.
  • The Anita Blake series has an ubervampire called "Marmee Noir." Anita dubs her "Mommie Dearest."
  • Discworld:
    • Ma Lilywhite in Hogfather. Her son Medium Dave is a hardened criminal, and her anger remains his worst nightmare years after her death. Based on Mr. Brown the lockpick's testimony, this is entirely warranted: he considers her scarier than Mr. Teatime.
    • It's invoked by Nanny Ogg in Lords and Ladies. Specifically, "there's a reason they call Nature a Mother." At the time she's also comparing Granny to said Mother, while musing that Granny is actually all three of The Hecate Sisters at once.
  • The entity called "Mother" in Revival, by Stephen King.
  • The Mother of Flies in the Ferals Series, real name Cynthia Davenport.
  • Doctor Mother from Worm, the head of Cauldron, an organization that uses Super Serums to create parahumans.
  • Mr. Pendanski from Holes takes the nickname of "Mom" and is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, acting nice to all the campers to pretend to be better than the rest of the camp's staff. His true nature shows when he insults and belittles Zero.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Shelly Winters played the villain "Ma Parker" on the 1960s Batman (1966) series.
    • Who was based on the real life Ma Barker who Winters would also play in a movie.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Mother Bezoar in "Bad Eggs".
  • Doctor Who:
  • In the Lost episode "Across the Sea", we meet the island's previous protector, known only as Mother. As the writers acknowledge, her bad parenting 2,000 years before the events of the series has led to pretty much everything bad that ever happened on the island.
  • Luke Cage: "Mama" Mabel was The Queenpin of Harlem back in the day, and she was several different flavors of scary.
  • Once Upon a Time, being the great adapter of Disney, has its own version of Mother Gothel. In this case, "Mother" turns out to be the inherited title for the leader of her grove of tree nymphs. Her own mother, Mother Flora, was much nicer.
  • Pushing Daisies has the Norwegians' high-tech van called Mother. They're not villainous per se, but are definitely antagonistic.
  • The Mother of All in Supernatural is the progenitor of all monster races, and resides in Purgatory, the afterlife where all monster souls go to prey on each other for eternity. She eventually returns to Earth to protect her young by making everyone on the planet one of her children. To make the point even more obvious to Sam and Dean, she transforms into their deceased mother Mary Winchester to mess with them.
  • Ultraman Decker concludes with Decker facing the most powerful monster of the show, and progenitor of the Sphere invasion that lasts the entire series, called Mother Spheresaurus.

  • Danzig's "Mother", a sarcastic Take That! about the PMRC.
  • Pink Floyd also did a song about "Mother". Shudder.
  • "Ma Baker" by Boney M, which was based on Ma Barker, though it played up the fictional accounts that she was the ringleader of the Barker-Karpis gang.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Blackbirds RPG: The Allmother is a malevolent Deity of Human Origin who seeks to Kill and Replace everyone with "orphans," monstrous doppelgangers who all possess her personality and act how she would want that person to act. Her name references her My Beloved Smother tendencies as a massive Control Freak, as well as her innumerable "children," the Orphans. Ironically she isn't an actual mother, and is noted to have been infertile when she was human, joining the Oligarchs specifically because she wouldn't be able to forge any direct blood ties to the throne.
  • The Qedeshah, a bloodline of vampires from Vampire: The Requiem, is imbued with a strong mothering instinct. Members of the bloodline with high Humanity and willpower tend to be kind and caring, but as one of these slides down the Humanity scale, they start to resemble this trope more and more. It doesn't help that they have trouble siring their own children, with all male versions dying in a very unpleasant manner. And you had better hope you don't hurt one of their "children"...
  • Grandmother, the Big Bad from Orpheus, who is an ancient force of Oblivion bent on consuming all of existence. The name actually comes from a misinterpretation of the words "Grand Maw."

  • In A Hatful of Rain, Mother is a (male) drug dealer, whereas Father is just Johnny's dad.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Elizabeth Avery from lonelygirl15 is usually referred to as simply "Bree's Mom."
  • The SCP Foundation: SCP-597, referred to as "The Mother" by those it enslaves — well, at first, anyway.
  • A Very Potter Sequel has Umbridge commonly refer to herself as "Momma" since she wants to view the students as her children. The fact that she believes in the toughest of tough love and is Ax-Crazy to boot makes this a very bad thing.
  • The never-seen but always-referenced State, the laws of which loom over the plot of AJCO, is referred to as 'Mother' by the characters that hail from it.
  • The eponymous Fluttermama, of the Tumblr blog Ask Fluttermama, is the Pattycakes version of Fluttershy. Infantilism fetish and Mind Rape are involved.

    Western Animation 
  • Mom in Futurama. One of the closest things the series has to a Big Bad, she's a chain-smoking, foulmouthed Corrupt Corporate Executive to the extreme, although she disguises her nasty, Lean and Mean self both literally and figuratively with a kindly public persona and a fat suit that gives her a matronly build. Her company, MomCorp, is the progenitor of every single robot in the world, making her immensely rich and powerful; one episode reveals that she has a remote control that can cause all of those robots to go on a world-conquering rampage at, quite literally, the flick of a switch. She's also a literal mother to three kowtowing sons, and treats them absolutely horribly.
  • Mother Mae-Eye from the Teen Titans animated series.
  • M.U.T.H.E.R., the crazy EarthBound (1994)-style master-computer in the bunker from The Venture Bros..
  • Ma Beagle from DuckTales (1987).
  • Ma Mayhem from the "Eggbaby" episode of Batman Beyond.
  • Ma Vreedle in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. For one thing, she actually HAS eyes in the back of her head.
  • Mother Talzin from Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the leader of the Nightsisters, a clan of amazonian witches, and the biological mother of Darth Maul, who is a very powerful and extremely dangerous witch.
  • In Archer Dreamland Sterling's wicked mother Malory plays a crime boss who is not related to him, but is instead actually named "Mother".
  • The original idea for Steven Universe had the Crystal Gems come from another dimension (as opposed to space), having been sent to protect the Earth by a being called "Mother." Eventually it would be revealed that the monsters were actually being sent by Mother, who had changed her mind and now wanted to wipe out humanity.
  • Mama Binturong in The Lion Guard. She is first seen as a mob boss figure with porcupine henchmen who hoards tuliza flowers. After Bunga wilts her stash with his stink, she wants revenge. She shows up at the Tree of Life after the group of Makucha, Chuluun and Ora and takes control of the group when their plans fail. She tries to bluff her way in to the tree by saying she’s hurt but her bluff gets called. Later, she calls in more animals (the porcupines, Makucha’s leap and Ora’s Komodo dragon group) to provide a big army for the final battle. Kion ultimately uses his roar to blow all of them far away-but not before Mama gets several more face fulls of Bunga-stink during various fights.

    Real Life 
  • Maurice "Mom" Boucher of the Hell's Angels. Yes, he's a man, but making fun of gangsters for their name is usually not a good idea.
  • Ma Barker and the Barker Gang. In reality, it's more likely that J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI made up the idea that she was the mastermind to excuse killing her in the crossfire of a shoot-out against the gang.