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The female version of The Don. Despite organized crime being an expectedly misogynistic world in which traditional gender roles are often mercilessly enforced, some works of fiction are showcasing women as the leaders of crime syndicates in their own right.

Expect her leadership to be challenged by men who believe women should Stay in the Kitchen, which is fairly common due to the violence inherent to this position.

Since she isn't supposed to elicit endearment nor pity but fear and deference, a woman in this position is almost always more cunning, violent, demanding and cutthroat than her male counterparts to justify and defend her position, which is precarious by definition. Likewise, she will often be unapologetically callous towards other women as well, especially towards housewives and prostitutes whom she often sees as weak and pathetic or as competitors if they're younger and/or prettier than her. Also expect her to be called "Ma" or "Mama" when she grows older and/or her children are part of the gang.

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Depending on how dark and realistic the show is intended to be, she will either be Friend to All Children in order to show a more humane side of her or she will simply show no mercy towards kids, sometimes not even her own. Usually, this character avoids conspicuous promiscuity since she must always be on her guard and sex puts her in a vulnerable position. Thus, she's either a skilled seductress who only uses sex as a weapon to control whomever she sleeps with or a pragmatic Black Widow who kills her lovers once she doesn't need them anymore. Or a complete Asexual in some cases.

May also be a Dragon Lady when the setting involves the The Yakuza or Triads and Tongs. She may also be a woman formerly affiliated with the organization before taking over, such as the Lady Macbeth, Dark Mistress, Daddy's Little Villain or Mafia Princess — in those cases, there may be overlap with Never a Self-Made Woman. In thrillers it may overlap with the Sleazy Politician or Corrupt Corporate Executive.

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Not to be confused with Gayngster, which is a male homosexual gangster.

This trope is actually Truth in Television but a very sporadic one for the reasons cited above.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Jack features the leader of a gang of kidnappers, who is also a loving mother to her son. Right before she is arrested, Black Jack changes her face so that her son never finds out.
  • Black Lagoon: Balalaika, an ex-Spetsnaz soldier, is the female leader of the Russian mafia group Hotel Moscow and the single most powerful and feared person in Roanapur.
  • In Kara no Kyoukai: During the ten-year Time Skip between the main body of the novel and the Mirai Fukuin epilogue, Shiki Ryougi goes from Mafia Princess to mafia queen by inheriting her father's Ryougi Group. This is a rather predictable development since Shiki was groomed as his successor almost from birth, despite having an older brother, because unlike him, she has manifested the family trait of having Multi-Gendered Split Personalities, which has traditionally marked the true heirs of the Ryougi. And although her male personality "died" due to a brain injury she sustained at the age of 16, she instead gained the ability to kill literally anything. By the time she inherited the Group, she molded her presence into something both perfectly regal and utterly terrifying — at least to those in her debt, like Mitsuru Kamekura, from whose perspective we see her in Mirai Fukuin.
  • Noir: Silvana "Intoccabile" Greone is summoned from Sicily by the American mafia to take over the leadership of the local mob after Kirika and Mireille assassinate the previous caporegime. It is never made clear why Silvana is held in such high esteem by the Family ("Intoccabile" literally means "untouchable"), but she immediately goes on to prove her credentials by mercilessly cleansing the mob of traitorous members, taking out those who ordered the hit on the old boss, and going after his assassins.
  • One Piece: "Big Mom" Charlotte Linlin is equal parts this and a pirate captain. As one of the "Four Emperors" (4 strongest pirate crews), her influence spreads to multiple islands, including those that she claimed as her own (that are forced to give her a supply of sweets every month in exchange of her protection). She also puts her many children on Arranged Marriage with powerful people/families in order to strengthen her group's connection. She's also a big name in the "underworld", with many big-name acquaintances (including the president of the world's newspaper company) under her name.
  • Madame Boss is the founder of Team Rocket and Giovanni's mother. She only appears in a Drama CD.

    Comic Books 
  • In DC Comics:
    • In Batman: Dark Victory, Sofia "Giganta" Falcone is the new head of Gotham's crime families, following the death of her father Carmine Falcone at the end of The Long Halloween.
    • In Batman Eternal, Selina Kyle (Catwoman) is revealed to be the daughter of Rex "The Lion" Calabrese, who was Gotham's top mob boss before Carmine Falcone, leading to a story arc in Catwoman where she hangs up the cat costume to be the head of the Calabrese crime family.
    • In the Superman comic by Brian Michael Bendis, Marisol Leone is the secret boss of the Invisible Mafia.
    • Robin Series: Lynx was essentially running the Ghost Dragons long before King Snake died, and took over Gotham's powerful China Town gang with glee once her hated boss was murdered by his son.
    • Wonder Woman:
      • Wonder Woman (1942): The rather brutal Yellow Mask Gang, which conducts its business internationally, is run by the Faux Affably Evil Tirza.
      • Wonder Woman (1987): After crime lord Tony Sazia's death his widow Julianna takes over his enterprises, and decides to take over all the organized crime in Boston in a bloody gang war.
  • In Marvel Comics:
    • Black Cat became one under Dan Slott in his run of Spider-Man. During Superior Spider-Man, she was in the middle of a robbery when Spider-Man (who was actually Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker's body) attacked her without warning, leaving her beaten and wrapped in his webbing for the police to arrest. This left Felicia totally shocked and furious at not only her lover's perceived betrayal but at the loss of all of her personal belongings and criminal contacts. Swearing revenge on him, she becomes a crime boss and genuine villain carving a criminal empire of her own and becoming a major antagonist for Spider-Man and Silk... until Nick Spencer took over Spider-Man and she came back to her old Classy Cat-Burglar act.
    • In the Iron Man Giuletta Nefaria, aka "Madame Masque", became the leader of the Maggia, the No Celebrities Were Harmed Captain Ersatz version of The Mafia.
    • In The Punisher comics, Ma Gnucci is the boss of the Gnucci Crime Family.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Aftermath of the Games universe, the human Changelings are an infamous mafia that specializes in fake IDs led by the human version of Chrysalis. She's interested in the Equestrian Magic seeping into the Human World because she knows that being able to harvest it and learning how to control it before the Equestrians make official First Contact with the Humans will allow her mob to dominate the criminal underworld.
  • Roman's Empire: Violet Kincaid is the main mob boss in Vale and controls organized crime for quite some time before Roman stepped up his game.
  • Vale's Underground:
    • Cinder is portrayed as a mob boss and she absolutely dominates every other mob boss in the city even if only unofficially. She was a former Mafia Princess before her mother, Salem, raised her to be a mobster in her own right.
    • Raven Branwen also counts. She works with her brother, but she's the one working on the ground. Qrow needs to keep his hands clean publicly.
    • Salem is a former mob boss and Cinder's predecessor.
    • Vale's Underground (rewrite): Cinder is now officially the prevailing mob boss in Vale with everyone working under her as her underbosses. Sienna Khan plays a similar role since she the leader of the White Fang.

    Film 
  • In Animal Kingdom, grandmother Janine's sons and grandsons do all the dirty work, but they are completely under her thumb and clearly answer to her, as she is a strategist.
  • Irinia in The Con is On. Her cruelty and sadism make her The Dreaded throughout the underworld. When Harry and Peter lose the money from one of her drug deals, they flee to another continent, and even then know that is only buying them time to rectify their mistake.
  • In Dredd, Madeline "Ma-Ma" Madrigal, a former prostitute turned drug lord and criminal kingpin who is the sole supplier of Slo-Mo, a new and addictive drug. She rules over Peach Trees compound with an iron fist.
  • After Ghost Dog from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai finds out that the mafia family he's been serving as an assassin has put a hit out on him after his latest job, Ghost Dog kills the higher-ups in the Family, secretly hoping that Louie, the mobster he reported directly to and who saved his life years earlier will wind up becoming either the new boss of what is left of the Family or starting a new one where he is the boss. Instead the old Don's daughter takes over, with Louie implied to be her Number Two.
  • In Kill Bill, O-Ren Ishii has been using the skills she learned as part of Bill's gang to take over The Yakuza in Japan and has become the "Queen of the Japanese underworld" before The Bride comes after her.
  • In the Star Wars universe, there are many female organized crime bosses, particularly among the Hutts:
    • Gardulla Besadii the Elder is one of the Hutt bosses and member of the Hutt Council, which is essentially the Hutt version of "the Commission" that once ruled over The Mafia.
    • In Solo, Lady Proxima is a Grindalid crime boss operating in Corellia and the leader of the White Worms, formed by orphaned young Corellians. By the end of the film, Qi'ra, a former White Worm, becomes the leader of the Crimson Dawn syndicate after she betrays her master Dryden Vos. However, she's Vos was just a figurehead and public face and so Qi'ra is still subservient to Darth Maul.
    • Maz Kanata is a somewhat heroic example. She aids the heroes in their quest, but she also has a reputation as a "pirate queen" and owns a castle that serves as safe haven for smugglers.
  • In the movie Traffic, Helena Ayala goes from a pampered socialite who's genuinely clueless about the true nature of her husband's business — he's a drug lord — to the epitome of this — she takes over his organization while he's in prison, and has the chief witness against him killed to ensure his freedom.

    Literature 
  • Masquerade of the Red Death: Alicia Varney runs a huge underworld empire in addition to her "legitimate" businesses.
  • Kolkhis of Britomart in Doctrine of Labyrinths runs a crime syndicate and had Mildmay (one of the protagonists and her former protege/lover) doing assassinations for her as a teenager.
  • In one of her adventures, Phryne Fisher discovers that a ruthless local drug lord is actually an upper-class housewife.
  • Corta of Shadows of the Limelight heads a crime family and is considered one of the top three most powerful criminals in her city.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Awkward.: Becca was the cunning, ambitious, and manipulative leader of the "Asian Mafia" that ran her school from the shadows, with the power to do outrageous things like getting a student sent to a different state. Then, after Becca's repeated attempts to destroy Ming, Ming stood up to her in such a way that she became the new leader of the Asian Mafia.
  • The Burmese gang in Barry is led by the intimidating and forceful Esther. Her Establishing Character Moment is stabbing her own hand with a straight face.
  • Eleanor Guthrie of Black Sails. She technically represents her father Richard, but in practice, she has total control over the island of New Providence and controls which pirates get to sell their goods and to whom.
  • During an episode in the first season of Burn Notice called "Broken Rules", Michael is asked to break up a Protection Racket that is terrorizing Miami's "Little Havana". He's mildly surprised to learn that the head of the extortionists is a ruthless woman that the other gangsters call "Concha". Michael snarkily comments on how progressive the whole thing is.
  • Caprica: In the last episode of the series, the Guatrau of the Ha'la'tha mob on Caprica is replaced by his daughter, who has him killed as a peace offering to Joseph Adama, whose son William inadvertently became collateral when the Guatrau put a hit out on him. In return, Joseph promises his loyalty to the new Guatrau, avoiding a civil war within the Ha'la'tha.
  • Several in Netflix's The Defenders series:
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • Madame Gao, leader of the Triads and Tongs of Hell's Kitchen, runs a heroin dealing operation as a partner to Wilson Fisk. She's later revealed in Iron Fist (2017) as a leader of The Hand.
      • Vanessa Marianna wants to think of herself as this in season 3, insisting on having a more active role in Fisk's affairs after she returns to New York. However, her first action, ordering the murder of Ray Nadeem, instead ends up undoing Fisk's whole operation.
    • Luke Cage (2016): Mariah Dillard is a councilwoman from Harlem, and ends up becoming leader of the Stokes crime family's gun-running business after killing her cousin Cottonmouth. In season 2, she fully embraces her role as a crime boss by ditching the Dillard surname after Bushmaster insults her by regularly using her maiden name.
      • When Mariah and Cottonmouth were kids, their grandmother "Mama" Mabel Stokes ran the family with her husband Buggy and his brother Pete. Buggy was killed in the course of assassinating his business partner Quincy McIver (Bushmaster's father) in exchange for the Italians leaving the Stokes alone, while Pete was later killed by Cottonmouth on Mama Mabel's orders for regularly molesting Mariah and siring Tilda in the process.
      • Also seen in season 2 is Rosalie Carbone, leader of the Carbone crime family. Her father was the mob boss who tried to drive the Stokes out of Harlem in the 1970s, and Luke has to negotiate a truce between her, the Puerto Ricans and the Koreans after they begin fighting each other for control of Mariah's turf following her incarceration. Rosalie later reappears in the third season of Daredevil as one of the crime bosses that Fisk is extorting protection money from.
    • Iron Fist (2017): Besides Madame Gao, there's Sherry Yang in season 2, wife to Yangshi-Gonshi boss Hi-Qing Yang. Sherry steps up as the Yangshi-Gonshi's boss after Davos murders her husband.
  • Gotham has Fish Mooney, a glamorous and intimidating crime boss initially working for Carmine Falcone but who later climbs up the ranks over the organized crime of Gotham.
  • Grand Hotel: Teresa Williams is the head of the criminal organization that Santiago owns money to, and she installed Mateo in the hotel to act as a liaison between them.
  • Guiding Light's Carmen Santos, who quickly proves herself to be as ruthless as her male counterparts.
  • Jane the Virgin's Big Bad is cruel and manipulative drug kingpin Sin Rostro, who is eventually revealed to be Rose, the Solanos' stepmother.
  • The Big Bad of Season 2 of Justified is Mags Bennett, the reigning head of the Bennett crime family, an older woman who bullies, manipulates, and outsmarts every member of her family.
    • Her adopted daughter, Loretta, returns and seems to be taking over Mags' position by buying up land in Harlan County, although she works alone for now.
  • In Lois & Clark, Bill Church Sr., the head of the Intergang, marries a seemingly Brainless Beauty blonde named Mindy. By the end of the episode, he and his son both find themselves in jail, thanks to her, and she puts herself in charge of the organization. Her next appearance starts with her pulling a Board to Death moment on her rivals.
  • Orange Is the New Black:
    • Befitting an all-women prison, all gang leaders are (of course) female.
    • Red is a sympathetic figure who runs the illegal smuggling operations, having run her Big, Screwed-Up Family's crimes on the outside.
    • Red's Evil Counterpart, Vee, is also this on both the inside and outside. She adopts children solely so they can act as drug runners for her, deals with all the money, has many corrupt cops on her payroll, and kills anyone who steps out of line.
    • Piper herself becomes this (reluctantly) to the White Power Group in Season 4 over her underwear empire, though she later turns her back on it after being punished by the Dominicans.
  • Queen of the South, being an adaptation of the above-mentioned La Reina del Sur, details the rise of Teresa Mendoza from a mere money-changer to the "queenpin" of cocaine. The series also features two other mafia queens - Camilia Vargas, Teresa's nemesis for the first three seasons, and Oksana Volkova, one of Teresa's allies.
  • Rake: After the death of her abusive husband, the otherwise timid Kirsty Corolla takes over his loan shark operations, and proves herself to be just as ruthless, though less vicious or chaotic, when necessary.
  • Episode 2 of Sherlock features General Shang, the female leader of the Black Lotus Triad.
  • Strike Back, Vendetta. Arianna Demachi starts out as the Dark Mistress (or wife, rather) to an Albanian crime lord, then takes over his organization when he's killed, even killing her own son when he tries to intervene.

    Music 
  • Boney M's "Ma Baker" was based on sensationalised news reports of Kate "Ma" Barker being the ringleader of her crime syndicate during The Prohibition.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Blades in the Dark has several notable mafia queens, such as Lyssa, a disgraced noble who took over the leadership of the Crows gang by murdering her old boss; Mylera Klev, a master swordswoman who runs the Red Sashes martial arts academy as a front for one of the largest drug rings in town; and Djera Maha, an Iruvian honey trader who is also secretly the leader of one of the two largest crime syndicates of Duskwall.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto III:
    • Catalina, the Big Bad of the game. She's the absolute leader of a large drug cartel based on Liberty City, wielding resources that even Salvatore Leone can only dream of. Her organization traffics tons of drugs on ships and is extremely armed.
    • Asuka Kasen. She's the leader of the Yazuka, after all.
  • In the Nyakuza Metro DLC from A Hat in Time has The Empress, who is the leader of the Nyankuza.
  • In Overwatch, the Deadlock Gang is a gang of Outlaws in the American Southwest who traffic in weapons and military hardware. In the present day, they are led by one of the founders, Elizabeth Ashe.
  • In the Saints Row franchise, in the second and third game, the Boss of the Saints, the character that the player controls, can be this if they decide to make them a woman.
  • Shadowrun Returns: Kindly Cheng is the Yellow Lotus's Straw Sandal — district manager — in Heoi and is the player character primary employer and fixer. In the expansions, her superior also ends up dying during the events of the endgame, leaving Cheng to take his place.
  • Tales from the Borderlands has Vallory, also known as the Queenpin and the Godmother of Crime. She's the leader of a local crime gang on Pandora, has her reasons for searching for the Gortys project, and is also August's mother. She's Large and in Charge and quite scary when you cross her, but isn't unreasonable and negotiates a rather favorable deal for Fiona and Rhys to continue on their search for the Vault of the Traveler. She even hires Mordecai and Brick to capture Athena, made easier because they had their own reasons for capturing her.
  • Yachie Kicchou and Saki Kurokoma from Touhou Kikeijuu ~ Wily Beast and Weakest Creature each lead one of the four groups that fight for dominance in the Beast Realm. Both are even described as kumichou, the term for yakuza bosses in Japan. Of the two of them, Yachie is more mafia-like, a charismatic schemer with a power to remove people's will to fight back against her. Bonus point for being a literal Dragon Lady. Saki acts more like a thug, as she and her group value physical strength, but don't really think things through. The leaders of the other two groups may also qualify (what with the series' Improbably Female Cast), but since they don't appear in the game we don't know much about them.
  • Yakuza 2: Yayoi Dojima took over as Interim Chairman of the Dojima family between her husband's death and her son's ascension to the office. The fact that she, as a woman and not a sworn member of the family, took over would make her remarkable enough, but she also manages to keep the unruly family together by sheer force of personality. Even old street monsters like Majima and Kashiwagi show her nothing but deference and respect.
  • Due to the Purely Aesthetic Gender nature of player avatars in Town of Salem, a player choosing a female avatar may very well end up as the Godfather role.
  • Aria T'Loak in Mass Effect 2 is the ruler of the Wretched Hive Omega. While not referred to by any official title, she has the entire crime life on Omega in her pocket and shows many of the mannerisms associated with this trope. She's also big on keeping the (relative) peace in Omega. The third game shows that her power seems to extend beyond Omega, as she's capable of bypassing Citadel customs simply by calling up the Asari Councilor and she can potentially end up controlling three of the biggest PMCs of the galaxy.
    Aria: I'm the Boss, CEO, Queen if you're feeling dramatic. It doesn't matter. Omega has no titled ruler and only one rule - Don't. Fuck. With Aria. (smiles)
  • In Watch Dogs: Legion, we got Mary "Bloody Mary" Kelley who takes this role as the feared Queenpin of Clan Kelley and a rather vicious one at that as the slaves that she kept and regularly abuse in her household can attest. That's not even mentioning various illegal businesses that her gang participates in such as Human Trafficking, Organ Theft, Drug trade and Cybercrimes.

     Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Lil' Miss Malachite is the head of an organized crime syndicate in Mistral. She is implied to be rather connected since she can get information on most people's whereabouts in exchange for compensation. Her gang's presence is signified by having a spider tattoo somewhere on your body, and Cinder notices that everyone in the bar that Lil' Miss resides has the spider tattoo.

    Webcomics 
  • Schlock Mercenary: Joanna Shephard ends up running Haven Hive, with her retired-mercenary son as her primary enforcer, after the previous leadership gets removed.

    Western Animation 
  • Ducktales: In both the 1987 original show and the 2017 reboot, the leader of the Beagle Boys is Ma Beagle, who is both the matriarch of the syndicate and the Boys' actual mother.
  • The Lion Guard: Mama Binturong is a binturong who terrorizes the jungle with her porcupine henchmen mafia-style, collecting all the tuliza flowers for herself. Since the tuliza is a flower which calms the mind when consumed, she's essentially running the G-rated version of a drug cartel.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force has Ma Vreedle, the leader of the Vreedle criminal family.

    Real Life 
  • Moll Cutpurse, a woman who ran organised crime in London - in the age of William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I. She specialised in gambling, prostitution, and - especially - in providing "male escorts" for older women with money and inattentive husbands.
  • Fredericka "Mother" Mandelbaum was a 19th century New Yorker fence who has been so successful in trading stolen goods that she soon graduated to financing (and profiting from) other major crime operations, such as burglaries and bank robberies. Later on, she ran an actual school for young pickpockets and conmen (shutting it down when she got wind that the police infiltrated it) and had dealings with the infamous political machine of Tammany Hall. Her organization was only shut down when the Pinkertons got involved.
  • Jemeker Thompson-Hairston, an American, who rose to the top of the cocaine trade during the peak of the 1980s crack epidemic in the United States. She was based in "South Central" Los Angeles and had cocaine distributors, working for her, in multiple cities of the United States. She was the subject of the 8th episode of the first season of Gangsters: America's Most Evil in A&E.
  • Griselda Blanco, a major Colombian drug lord based in Miami who was instrumental in the cocaine trade during the Escobar era.
  • Averted with the American Mafia, as it still remains a male-only criminal society. To get inducted, one has to be of full Italian descent and trace their lineage back to Italy. Females are usually associates or stay as mistresses of made men.


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