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Villainous Mother-Son Duo

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"A boy's best friend is his mother."
Norman Bates, Psycho

Mothers and sons are supposed to be loving and supportive of one-another. Sons turn to their mothers for comfort, advice, and guidance and their mothers provide it, together with constructive criticism, telling them when they've done something right and warning them when they're falling into error! Well, not these two.

This is a case when a villainous case of My Beloved Smother uses her son as a pawn and an accomplice to further her own ambitions. Maybe he's a Manchurian Agent whom she aims to get into a position of power so that she can wield power with him as her puppet or maybe she just treats him as a standard Mook in her criminal plans. Or maybe he's her Dragon. The son himself may be a weak-willed and not particularly evil individual who goes along with his mothers twisted machinations out of a sense of loyalty to her, combined with love and fear or maybe he's a willing participant. In some cases he's a Dragon with an Agenda whose snarkiness towards his mother indicates that he's planning on becoming The Starscream and maybe even a Self-Made Orphan! Or he may pull a Heel–Face Turn. As for the mother, domineering as she is, she may absolutely dote over her son or verbally abuse him and put him down at every turn. Or a mixture of both. In any case, Villainous Incest is all too frequently a subtext here, making this a particularly squicky trope and a frequent source of Nightmare Fuel. It also commonly overlaps with Extremely Protective Child, when the son will do anything to protect his mother.


Overlaps with The Family That Slays Together.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, a relatively new Shichibukai member, "Whitebeard Jr.", is assisted by his mother. He's strong yet dumb, while she manages him and basically uses him as a tool to gain profit.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, there's the thug J. Geil and his mother, Enya Geil. Both are under employ of Big Bad DIO, and Enya is especially angry at the heroes for defeating her son.

    Comic Books 

  • In Deadly Nightshade, Poison Ivy's idea of family bonding is letting her son participate to her eco-terrorism campaign. Note that the preteen boy is a willing and enthusiastic accomplice, something that the boy's father really doesn't like. Besides that, they're shown to have nothing but a loving, healthy relationship.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Robots, Corrupt Corporate Executive Ratchet at first appears to be the Big Bad but it turns out that he's just a puppet of his mother, Madame Gasket. She makes the plans and he carries them out. She's harsh on her son but seems to genuinely love him and he reciprocates it.
  • In Shrek 2, the Fairy Godmother is the Big Bad and intends for her son, Prince Charming to marry Princess Fiona and become king so that she can rule the Land of Far-Far-Away with him as her stooge. While she's a doting mother and he's a Spoiled Brat, they're a rare mutually respectful example of this trope.
  • Fire and Ice: Nekron and his mother Queen Juliana jointly rule the Kingdom of the North and plot to Take Over the World. However, Nekron is clearly the superior party, and is not amused by Juliana offering him a captured female slave in the expectation that he'll give her a grandchild.
  • The Princess and the Goblin: The Goblin race is being led by Prince Froglip and his mother the Goblin Queen. Froglip aims to conquer the humans in large part to make his Brawn Hilda of a goblin mama proud. The Queen in turn is genuinely loving and extremely doting towards her son, constantly praising Froglip and supporting him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Addams Family featured Abigail and Gordon Craven, a mother and son team of grifters, loan sharks and scam artists, who seek to defraud the Addamses and steal their vast fortune by passing Gordon off as long lost family member Fester, who Gordon happens to bear a very strong resemblance to. Gordon mostly acts as Abigail's enforcer, and she is very controlling and even abusive to him at times, but despite him starting to identify with and even genuinely love the Addams clan, he stays loyal to his mother, up until the point Abigail orders the Cold-Blooded Torture of family matriarch Morticia. Gordon then pulls a Heel–Face Turn, helping free Morticia and putting a stop to Abigail's schemes. It is later revealed that Gordon isn't even Abigail's real son — he's actually Fester Addams, whom Abigail discovered years ago shipwrecked in the Bermuda Triangle, suffering from amnesia.
  • Psycho: Unbuilt Trope. It appears that Norman Bates and his (unseen) mother are running a Hell Hotel together, although Norman is horrified when he finds that his mother murdered Marion Crane and covers up her crime by disposing of Marion's body. In the climax it's revealed that "mother" is actually an evil Split Personality of Norman, created after killing his mother many years ago and suppressing the guilt by fooling his psyche to think she is still alive and not just a preserved skeleton. The real woman actually encouraged Norman to be more independent. However, later sequels retcon this, showing that although Norman and Norma were not actively in league together, she *did* play a large part in his Freudian Excuse.
  • Searching: Downplayed. Detective Rosemary Vick's son stalked, catfished, attacked, and - they thought - killed Margot. When he told her, Vick volunteered for the investigation and manipulated an ex-con into falsely confessing, then probably killed him so that David might never know the truth about his daughter's murder. However, Vick is shown to feel genuinely remorseful, completely Trapped in Villainy and to only want to protect her son, while Robert — if we can trust Vick — apparently feels the same.
  • Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger . Zenobia is an evil sorceress who is the main villain of the movie. Her son Rafi assists her in her evil plots, including trying to assassinate Sinbad at the beginning of the film and attempting to kill the sage Malanthius near the end. It's made clear that both Zenobia and Rafi love each other as mother and son.
  • Sleepwalkers. Mary Brady and her son Charles Brady are Voluntary Shapeshifter monsters who perform Vampiric Draining of Life Energy from female human virgins. They work together to obtain victims so they can feed.
  • Bad Boys for Life has the Aretas family, with Isabel calling the shots and Armando answering to her.

  • In Death: Madeline Bullock, the main antagonist of Born In Death, is a particularly nasty version. She uses her son Chase as the muscle in her infant trafficking operation, having Chase kill off her targets. She's likewise been sexually abusing Chase since his childhood. Eve Dallas outright accuses her of intentionally corrupting him for her own benefit.
  • Perhaps the most iconic and horrifying example of this is The Manchurian Candidate in which Manipulative Bitch extraordinaire, Senator Eleanor Iselin has her son brainwashed into becoming an assassin by Chinese Communists so that she can use him to kill all of her husband's rivals for the presidency. Her husband's of the henpecked variety so if he were President, she'd still presumably be the one wearing the trousers and therefore President in all but name, making Eleanor an example of Lady Macbeth as well. Fortunately her son, Raymond Shaw is ultimately able to break free of her mind-control. There's a definite Incest Subtext between them which is made very obvious in the films and outright confirmed in the book. Eleanor was sexually abused by her own father, making her an arguable Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Queen Cersei Lannister is a very ambitious and cunning woman who holds her children very dearly particularly with her eldest son, Joffrey, who has shown signs of being a narcissist and sociopath. After Joffrey becomes King of Westeros, Cersei doesn't care about the abuses that her son made during his reign as long as he holds in the Iron Throne regardless what their opponents say about his parentage and her incestuous affair with her twin brother, Jaime. When Joffrey was poisoned during his wedding, she becomes very paranoid of the people around her to the point of attempting to control her youngest son, Tommen, after he becomes king only to be very disappointed that he's nothing like his abusive older brother.
  • Redwall: In Taggerung, Antigra is obsessed with the idea of her son Gruven being the titular Taggerung (a prophesied warrior meant to be The Ace). Unfortunately, Gruven is an utter dumbass lacking the wit, strength and skill to be even a competent vermin leader (and would have no drive at all if it wasn't for his mother's ambitions).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "Alien Hunter," Kathy Bates plays a vicious alien hunter named Charlotte. She's assisted by her Igor-like son Ned.
  • Bates Motel plays with this. As the whole series serves as a Start of Darkness for Norman Bates, his unusually codependent relationship with his mother Norma is the main focus. However, while the Bates become embroiled in several illegal activities in the town in order to survive, Norman's real Corrupter is his Split Personality "Mother", especially following Norma's death.
  • Blood Ties: Lavena O'Connor the main antagonist of "Deadly Departed". When her son Magnus was in his teens, Lavena used black magic to corrupt him into a "killing machine", renting him out to perform brutal assassinations to pay for her lifestyle and business. Following Magnus being arrested, Lavena forced him to perform a ritual that would bar his soul from the afterlife, and then used his spirit to carry on killing those who took him away from her. Magnus is even thankful to Vicki at the end for freeing him from his evil mother.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Jimmy Darmody teams up with his (very young) mother Gillian in their plot to take over Atlantic City from Nucky Thompson in season 2. The Darmody family history is very sordid and tragic. Gillian was pimped out as an innocent teenage girl to the Commodore by Nucky, resulting in Jimmy's conception. Gillian herself would later initiate a sexual encounter with Jimmy during a drunken night at his college. To complete the entire Oedipal drama, Gillian eggs him on to kill both the Commodore, Jimmy's biological father, as well as Nucky, Jimmy's adopted father figure.
  • Criminal Minds has had one true set in the case of the imprisoned Truckstop Killer and the son she rediscovers and manipulates into killing her "enemies", and one son who believes his crimes are going to get his White-Dwarf Starlet mother back into the limelight and prove himself to her, while she's actually been dead (and a mummified corpse in his house) for years.
  • I, Claudius gives us Livia, a Machiavellian Roman matriarch who marries the Emperor Augustus, whom she intends to kill in order to put her son, Tiberius on the throne. Decades later, Agrippina tries the same gambit with her husband the Emperor Claudius and her son Nero. Sadly, Truth in Television in the latter case.
  • Law & Order and its spinoffs have many examples:
    • The Law & Order episode "Venom", is about a pair of mother-son con artists, and murderers, who married wealthy people for their money and then killed each other's spouses in order to inherit the money. The son's wife forgives him and still intends to defend him, but he refuses to turn against his mother, even after it turns out she abused him. (This is a theme with the Law And Orders.)
    • In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Diamond Dogs", Logan and Barek search for a mother-son duo of jewelry-store thieves.
    • In the Lawand Order Special Victims Unit episode "Pique" there's a variant. Mother and son Grace and Jason Mayberry don't kill or commit crime together, but Grace raped Jason from the age of present day, which drove him to rape and kill other women he was attracted to. Grace covers up for him, but only, it seems, out of concern for what might happen to her or her reputation.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Dr. Clayton Forrester was sometimes visited by his overbearing mother Pearl, until his sidekick TV's Frank was Put on a Bus and then replaced by Pearl in season 7. After Clayton himself was written out of the show, she took over full-time as the main villain until the Revival, which featured Clayton's daughter (and Pearl's granddaughter) Kinga.
  • The Nightmare Fuel-packed 1998 TV series of Oliver Twist makes posthumous character in the book, Agnes Leeford, a case of Greater-Scope Villain who was determined to murder her husband and claim his vast fortune. She was reluctantly assisted in her plans by her sniveling son, Edward, better known as Monks, whom she treated with utter contempt. After she died of alcoholism, Edward, under the pseudonym of Monks tried to finish what she started by trying to get his stepfather's fortune. Ultimately he does a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue features Queen Bansheera and her weak-minded son Olympius whom she treats with utter disdain due to his repeated failures to defeat the Rangers. Olympius starts off as quite a sinister demon baby called Impus who absorbs the Star Power of Diabolico after the latter's destruction and becomes the grown demon Olympius who was powerful enough to singlehandedly curbstomp all of the Rangers and could change shape but in his first episode he falls into a pool of water, causing him to lose most of his powers. He's largely disdained as a result by his fellow demons and spends most of the series trying to gain his mother's approval, to little avail.
  • Resurrection Ertugrul: Downplayed with Mahperi Hatun and Giyaseddin. While the former certainly holds a grudge against Ertugrul and has her own agenda for dethroning Sultan Alaeddin, the latter only acts hostile toward Ertugrul after his father dies, not knowing that Sadettin was the one who administered the murder or that his mother had conspired against the sultan. Not only that, but both of them reform after being offered shelter in the Kayi grounds.
  • Magnificent Century: Kösem: Played with Halime and her children. Nominally, her goal is to make her son Mustafa a sultan, however, he is unable to help her in any way because of his mental illness and even when he becomes a ruler, he's basically her puppet. Halime is instead helped by her daughter princess Dilruba and Dilruba's husband Davud pasha.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Arthurian Legend: Morgana le Fay is often depicted as the mother of Mordred, raising him to kill King Arthur and usurp his throne in revenge on Arthur's father for killing her father and seducing her mother (and in some versions, she and Arthur are siblings!).

    Video Games 
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Enkidu consistently refers to Tiamat as his "mother", alluding to the fact that he's actually Kingu, Tiamat's son and consort, using the hero's body. She ultimately discards him once she's freed and replaced with the Lahmu, prompting him to rebel in the finale by turning into the Chains of Heaven to temporarily bind her, buying the heroes valuable time.
  • In Sable's Grimoire: Man and Elf, the dark elf Meave and her son Hagan are partners in crime. Hagan is just a child and doesn’t want to do bad things or hurt anybody, but he goes along with his mother’s schemes out of a desire to please her. Meave doesn’t care what Hagan wants and will Mind Control him if he objects to her commands even slightly.
  • Wild ARMs 1 takes this to a rather disturbing level. Zeikfried revives Mother out of a sense of loyalty and duty towards her but quickly rethinks this decision when she reveals she intends to destroy him as well the world. Zeikfried then betrays her by helping the heroes get the Tear Drop back and urging them to destroy her as soon as possible. But then the game brings in the Nightmare Fuel by having Mother eat him alive and take over his body. The penultimate boss is the two of them fused as one entity.
    • Wild Arms Million Memories does the same but greatly tones it down. This time Zeikfried openly betrays Mother with the final chapter opening with him and Rudy fighting to take her down, and a huge argument between mother and son.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: In "The Eggbaby", Terry contends with a family of thieves, Ma Mayhem and her two sons, Carl and Slim, as they commit a series of robberies involving valuable jewels that Ma Mayhem claims were originally hers before her former husband left her and their sons. Ma also claims at one point that she does love her sons, but will often berate and slap them for their stupidity and/or incompetence throughout the episode. Which makes for a somewhat amusing contrast to Terry, and ostensibly Bruce, as Terry was forced to act like a father to the titular Eggbaby for a class assignment (and ultimately proves him to be a pretty good parent at that) that he had to carry with him throughout the entire episode. While Bruce, the stern hardass he can be, not only serves as Terry's father figure and mentor, he will go to incredible lengths to protect Terry, even at the potential cost of his own life.
  • In Futurama, Corrupt Corporate Executive Mom is almost always accompanied by her three sons Walt, Larry, and Igner. She's also one hell of an Abusive Parent, constantly slapping her sons for every mistake they make, and treating them more like her personal Evil Minions rather than being her own children most of the time.


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