Arguably, Chris Parker in Adventures in Babysitting. OK, she's the babysitter, not the mom, and two of the kids aren't that much younger than Chris herself. Still, a suburban teen takes on several inner-city gang members to defend her charges while in the way to help her best friend. Successfully. With verbal intimidation alone.
Chris:[grabs the Lords of Hell gang leader's knife and points it at him] Don't Fuck with the babysitter!
Pictured on the main page: Ellen Ripley of the Alien series was always a competent character with a decent survival instinct. Threaten her quasi-adoptee girl Newt and then, well, she's duct-taping weapons together to make a BFG, single-handedly invading the aliens' nest and strapping into a Power Loader to take on the Alien Queen in the mother of all catfights. Say it with us: "Get away from her, you bitch!" And considering that Ripley had killed a number of the Queen's offspring as well, it qualifies as a Mama Bear Showdown.
Elaine Miller in Almost Famous, when she's on the phone with Russell Hammond, the rock guitarist whose band her son William is touring with:
Elaine: If you break his spirit, harm him in any way, keep him from his chosen profession which is law - something you may not value, but I do - you will meet the voice on the other end of this telephone and it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?
Russell: Uh, yes, ma'am.
Elaine is based on Cameron Crowe's mother, who apparently had conversations like this with rock stars in Real Life.
Animal Kingdom contains an evil example in the shape of Janine, grandmotherly matriarch of the criminal Cody family and fiercely protective of her sons to the extent that she arranges for her grandson Joshua to be killed after he threatens to testify against them.
Amy. Her entire election campaign is driven by this trope. She runs for PTA president because Gwendolyn, the current president, got Jane terminated from the soccer team. After a series of personal blows, she decides it's not worth pursuing the election just to make a point until Gwendolyn puts drugs in her daughter's locker, framing her as a drug addict and resulting in her getting kicked off all extracurricular activities. Then she pulls herself to together to beat Gwendolyn.
Carla. She may be a neglectful mother, but she will do anything to protect her son. She also invoked this trope to motivate Amy into not quitting.
"This is about standing up to the bitch that hurt your little girl! Now, are you gonna sit here and let Gwendolyn get away with this shit? Don't do it, Amy... You are gonna rise up like a small, little white Apollo Creed and you are gonna look at Gwendolyn and you are gonna say, 'You can do what you want to me, I don’t care, throw it at me, but you fucked with my daughter, and now I have to fight you. I will fight you in the playground. I will fight you in the cafeteria. I will even fight you in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s. But I will have justice for my little girl, because I am a fucking mom and we protect our young.' So get up off this couch, turn off 12 Years a Slave and let’s body slam this bitch."
"I would literally die for them right now."
Baghban features a grandmother who beats up a sexual predator and threatens to tear his eyes out if he ever touches her granddaughter again.
Barbarian: Essentially why the Mother kills people. She's incredibly protective of people who stumble into her tunnels, thinking of them as her children, and is willing to go to any length to keep them safe from other people and to keep them from escaping.
Martha Kent provides a touching, non-violent variation in a flashBack in Man of Steel. Clark is having a Sensory Overload at school and hides in a closet, using Heat Vision on the doorknob when the teacher tries to open it. Martha comes into the school and instead of trying to force her son out, she soothes him telling him to focus solely on her voice and “make the world small”. Clark soon calms down, and opens the closet to hug his mom. Martha, in addition to helping Clark manage his powers also made sure a Brightburn situation was thoroughly avoided.
In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Martha Wayne is depicted as this along with her husband Thomas being a Papa Wolf, as she attempted to wrest the gun away from the mugger that killed Thomas and would kill her to protect Bruce.
In Birds of Prey (2020), Harley Quinn, Black Canary, Renee Montoya and Huntress all have a Mama Bear instinct towards Cassandra Cain, whom Black Mask is after. Harley in particular goes on several One-Woman Army rampages against goons to protect her.
Crosses into Becoming the Mask in Big Mommas House 2, where FBI agent Malcolm ends up going against orders because of his promises to the Fuller children he made as Big Momma.
The Blind Side: "You threaten my son, you threaten me. You so much as cross into downtown, you will be sorry. I'm in a prayer group with the D.A., I'm a member of the NRA, and I'm always packin'."
The makers of Chang, a 1927 documentary about life in Thailand, staged most of the action for the cameras—a common tactic for documentaries of the day. In one scene they separated a mother elephant from her cub, and tied up the cub to the raised hut that was part of the set. The mama elephant was released offscreen, and as the filmmakers anticipated, it charged in and freed its cub. What they didn't anticpate was the mama elephant then proceeding to tear the hut to pieces.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow: This 1981 made-for-TV chiller has Jocelyn Brando (yep, Marlon's sister) as Gentle Giant Bubba's mother - loving, protective, and lots more badass than his tormentors.
In Dracula Untold, Mirena stands up to defend her son Ingeras when he is threatened by the Turks.
Lady Jessica in Dune (2021) (just like the book) is a pretty damn badass Action Mom with a deadly Compelling Voice. Jessica's maternal connection to her son Paul is so strong she feels his pain from another room when the Reverend Mother is testing him. A few Harkonnen Mooks and even Stilgar of the Fremen learn first hand, Jess doesn't mess around when it comes to her boy's safety. Paul naturally returns the favor, as when the aforementioned Harkonnen soldiers make rapey comments about Jessica while they are captured, Paul says he'll kill them both before they lay a finger on his ma.
If a character played by Jodie Foster has a child or a teenager in her care — do not threaten them! Movies like Flightplan (2005) (where her little daughter is abducted and petty much erased by a bunch of terrorists playing a Gambit Roulette) and Panic Room (where she and her teenage daughter, also Delicate and Sickly, have to protect themselves thee dangerous delinquents searching for something in their apartment's panic room) should make that very, very clear.
The Vietnamese movie Furie is basically Gender-InvertedTaken meets John Wick. The main character Hai Phuong is an ex-gangster who will stop at nothing to get her little girl back. As the child-trafficking gang would soon know, just because the furious mother doesn't have a gun doesn't mean she can't wreck her way through half of the country with just her bare hands and feet (and lots and lots of broken bottles).
Do NOT steal Mothra's egg and/or try to harm her larvae. She will unleash her rage upon you....Yes, even if you happen to be Godzilla. Mothra lost the fight. But she bought enough time for her larvae to hatch. Said larvae then proceed to hand Godzilla one of his few defeats ever by wrapping him up in silk.
This also happens in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. in the Millennium era (with Kiryu backing her and her babies up). Though Mothra was still roasted alive by Godzilla.
Aside from GMK, Mothra has defeated Godzilla in every film they've been antagonists. Usually with help from her larvae or another monster like Battra, but in vs The Sea Monster she easily sends Godzilla tumbling with one smack of her wing. Being a protector of the Earth and its people (when they're not stealing her eggs or Shobujin), she'll take on any threat to defend them and humanity.
In Godzilla (2014), when the Female Muto realizes her nest has been blown up she immediately ditches the fight with Godzilla, and when she sees Ford nearby she puts two and two together and relentlessly chases him.
The British Kaiju film, Gorgo features a 200-foot tall monster that's nearly indestructible to all of man's weapons such as the military, bombs, fire, and electrocution, and is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge all over Great Britain. Why? Because her child has been captured and is on display as a sideshow attraction at a circus for people to laugh at.
Grizzly Rage: A literal example. Four teens accidentally hit and kill a cub with their car and than stupidly go into the woods, where the mother bear that seeks revenge lives.
Kate McCallister from the first two Home Alone movies. When she finds out that she left Kevin at home in the first movie, she made it her mission to get back home to her son no matter what. In the second movie, she was furious with the hotel staff for losing Kevin and was willing to wander the streets of New York City at night to find her son. She reassured Peter that she would be fine, saying that “the way I’m feeling right now, no mugger or murderer would dare mess with me.”
Despite not being Kevin's mother, the Pigeon Lady from the sequel has the same behavior towards him as Kate. She even stands up to Harry and Marv for trying to kill Kevin, even yelling "Let him go!" as she douses the burglars with birdseeds causing the pigeons to attack them.
May, the young mother played by Shu Qi in Home Sweet Home (2005), who goes through hell and back when her son gets kidnapped by an insane woman masquerading as a monster from an urban legend.
Son: "Mom, would you abandon me?"
May: "Of course not, not even if you abandoned me."
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey had a very literal use of the trope with Chance trying to "fish" with Sassy's help. The fish ended up getting close to some bear cubs. Chance, instead of giving up his fish, decided to scare away the bear cubs. The bear cubs then turned tail and fled from Chance's barking, and climbed up a tree screaming for their mother. Sure enough, while Chance was bragging about his victory, their mother approached Chance, not too happy with him for what he did and fully ready to kill him for it. Chance was just barely warned before he just barely fled.
Amusingly, the cubs were black bears while the "mother" was a grizzly bear.
Hunting Scenes from Bavaria: At the start of the film, Abram's mother Barbara is fiercely protective of her son's reputation as well as her own. However, later events force her to cut ties with him for their own safety.
Raksha in The Jungle Book (2016) to her adopted son Mowgli. She openly defies Shere Khan in his first appearance, calling him a "burnt beast", which visibly angers him. And later, she leads the wolves to stand against Shere Khan and manages to save Bagheera from him.
In Kate, the titular character kidnaps a young girl, Ani, initially intending to use her as bait to draw out her uncle, a Yakuza boss whom she believes had her irreversibly poisoned. However, upon learning that members of Ani's family plan to have her killed as part of an internal power struggle, she instead decides to become her protector. God help anyone who stands in her way.
Getting her entire wedding party ambushed and blown away by Bill and his assassins was bad enough. Getting the ever-loving crap beaten out of her by the assassins, followed by a bullet in the head from Bill himself, was bad enough. But when the Bride finally gets out of her coma after four years and discovers that the child that she was carrying is gone (and apparently dead), she decides to... well ...Kill Bill.
Also, The Bride may be a Dark Action Girl, but she does not like it when children (like Nikki and the ultimately alive BB) or teenagers (like Gogo or the young yakuza boy she spares) are caught in violent affairs. And she won't hesitate to say it.
Kindergarten Cop: Principal Schlowski isn't happy about Detective Kimble going undercover as a teacher at her school and informs him that if at any point she thinks her students are in danger she'll blow his cover by telling the parents who he really is.
Schlowski: They'll yank their kids out of this school so fast we'd have to close, and don't you think I won't if I feel my children are in any danger.
The premise of The Last House on the Left is about a group of people who get trapped inside a house with a Papa Wolf and a Mama Bear after they brutalize and rape the couple's daughter. Three guesses as to what happens next.
In Lights Out (2016), it is Sophie seeing Diana trying to kill Rebecca in front of her that breaks Diana's control of her.
This was the point of The Long Kiss Goodnight, where Geena Davis plays an ordinary, suburban homemaker/schoolteacher...until an escaped convict threatens her husband and child. Then it suddenly turns out that she's a former assassin with Easy Amnesia, and she proceeds to kick his ass seven ways to Sunday. Towards the end of the movie, she's taking on a terrorist-organization-backed-by-CIA single-handedly to save her daughter.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park combines this with Papa Wolf, showing that the mated T. rex couple are fiercely protective of their offspring; the human protagonists quickly note in a frightened tone that this completely debunks a widely-held theory that the species would abandon their young quickly after they were hatched.
In the third film, the alpha Velociraptor ordered her pack to hunt down the protagonists after one of them stole her eggs.
Non-action-movie version: In the 1938 Yiddish film Mamele (Little Mother), Khavkhe (Molly Picon) takes care of her whole family. A gangster, Max Katz, recruits her brother into a burglary gang, and courts her sister (with the intention of turning her into a prostitute). Khavkhe manages to pickpocket Katz's gun, and makes him write a letter breaking up with the sister. ("You may be a Katz (cat), but you'll leave here as a kitten.")
Mad Max: Fury Road: In an attempt to find redemption (and revenge), Imperator Furiosa betrays her master, Immortan Joe, and attempts to rescue his five Wives from his clutches to help them find a better life. God have mercy on anyone who tries to harm them or return them to Joe while on the way, for she will have none.
Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel can be very nonchalant when it comes to most events, but if there's one that triggers her, it's the explicit threat against minors as she becomes enraged when the Skrull Talos threatens her "niece" Monica. Also in the climax when, ironically, Talos's innocent daughter and wife are taken by the Kree, Carol is distraught and goes Unstoppable Rage against her former allies. She also guides the Skrulls through space to a safer place. In Endgame, Carol saves the teenage Peter Parker and is uncharacteristically friendly to him.
Aunt May fully showcases her Mama Bear credentials in Spider-Man: No Way Home when she helps her beloved nephew Peter fight off Norman Osborn aka Green Goblin, despite lacking any superpowers and only armed with a pipe. While May does (in a massive Tear Jerker) die thanks to getting mortally wounded by the Goblin Gilder, it's not before getting her nephew back on his feet and urging him not to despair or give up his attempt to cure the villains, saying that with great power comes great responsibility.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness provides a villainous example with Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch. She loves her sons Billy and Tommy with every fiber of her being, and after the events of WandaVision where she has to wake up every day without them as well as her husband Vision, while dreaming of her Alternate Selves' lives with their families every night, she was eventually pushed over the deep end, not helped by the corrupting influence of the Darkhold. Now for the sake of being a mother to her sons again, Wanda will summon super demons, cut through armies of wizards and The Illuminati like a hot knife through butter, fight Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme and yes, even sacrifice a teenage girl for the sake of getting her multiverse-hopping power so she can Kill and Replace the Wanda of Earth-838. Subverted ultimately though, as when face to face with Billy and Tommy again and seeing the utter terror her own sons have of her, Wanda has a Heel Realization at how far she's fallen and destroys Wundagore Castle along with herself as a last act of redemption. A traditional example is Earth-838 Wanda, an innocent woman just protecting her children from her twisted Alternate Self.
Evelyn in The Mummy Returns: Don't kidnap her son, or she'll even come back from the dead to kick your ass.
In Mother (2009), Yoon Do-joon's unnamed mother fights tooth and nail to save him from a criminal conviction.
Murder on the Orient Express (1974): Linda Arden, a.k.a Mrs. Hubbard, masterminded Ratchett's murder to avenge her granddaughter, who he kidnapped and murdered, and her daughter, who in her grief gave birth to a stillborn child which also killed her.
In The Night Clerk (2020), Bart's mother protects him from police harassment when he's accused of a murder with no solid evidence. Even when the police obtain a search warrant, she tries to stop them from touching his things.
Old People: When Ella can't find Noah, she goes ballistic on her father and any other old person she finds, demanding to know where he is. He was hiding in the attic on Aike's orders.
Mercedes from Pan's Labyrinth, considering the fact Ofelia's Delicate and Sickly mother is too weakened from her very difficult pregnancy to really be there for her daughter. Mercedes is really the only one throughout the movie who is consistently kind to Ofelia and goes Mama Bear on Vidal:
Mercedes: Motherfucker... Don't you dare touch the girl. You won't be the first pig I've gutted!
And even better when Captain Vidal is mortally injured after having done the same to poor Ofelia, and Mercedes tells him that she'll make sure his newborn son will never have memories of his evil and now dead father.
One of the first breakout films for the Lifetime Channel in its early years is a movie called Not Without My Daughter. It's a film Based on a True Story about a woman, Betty Mahmoody, who marries a man from Iran and decides to spend her life with him in his country. She quickly discovers the harsh and brutal treatment women, especially wives, endure as part of their culture. She has a daughter with him and after she sees how the already abusive husband plans to raise her with no rights, she decides to take her daughter and escape from him back to the United States.
Chung-sook from Parasite despite her crimes cherishes her children and as a former Olympic hammer thrower she will mess you up if you hurt them. This is seen in the violent ending where after the Ax-Crazy Geun-sae stabs her daughter Ki-jung, Chung-sook in response takes him down with the barbeque spike in revenge.
In Peppermint, An attack on Riley North's family results in both her husband and daughter's death, driving her to seek revenge, while occasionally having visions of her little girl at various points. Riley's protective streak is used against her by Diego Garcia towards the end of the film to lure her out of hiding, when he threatens to kill a homeless girl if Riley doesn't come forward.
Mi-sun from Pieta, who shows up at the beginning of the film claiming to be Kang-do's mother, is a dark take on this trope. She is incredibly protective Kang-do, willing to chew out random people who give him a hard time despite barely knowing him. She puts herself through a whole lot of grief, including being raped by Kang-do who she secretly hates, in order to get revenge for her real son who was harmed by Kang-do.
Plan B (2021): When Sunny tells her mom she'd been trying to get the Plan B pill, which the pharmacist would not give her, rather than be mad, her mom immediately goes there and browbeats him into doing it with a single Death Glare.
A 2018 Thai horror movie The Pool involves the protagonist trapped in a drained swimming pool with a crocodile which becomes a lot more aggressive after giving birth to a clutch of eggs.
When Mrs. Unsworth from the 1994 film Priest discovers that her husband has been sexually abusing their 14-year-old daughter Lisa, she attacks him in a blind rage and chases him out of the house at knifepoint, alternately screaming abuse at him and tearfully apologising to Lisa all the while.
Raising Arizona: Even though she and her husband stole their "son", Edwina "Ed" McDunnough gets mighty protective of him when the evil bounty hunter comes for him.
"Give me that baby, you warthog from Hell!"
The Revenant features a literal example. Hugh Glass is hunting alone when he stumbles on a pair of bear cubs, and then he hears an angry bellow behind him. What follows is perhaps the most brutally realistic depiction of a bear attack ever put to film, and while Glass eventually wins the ensuing struggle by shooting her in the neck and stabbing her repeatedly, his injuries are macabre.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: Little John's wife Fanny insists on being part of the plan to rescue prisoners from being executed by the Sheriff because one of them is their young son Wulf. Little John tries to object but Fanny and Robin overrule him.
Little John: You gone bleedin' cracked, girl? You'd get hurt! Fanny: I've given birth to eight babies, don't you talk to me about getting hurt, you big ox! Anyway, I'm not gonna just sit here and let one of 'em die, am I?
In Salt, the reason why Evelyn Salt abandoned her mission and faked the Russian Prime Minister's death was so she could save her husband. But once Orlov had her husband killed, she decides to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to hunt down every other Russian agent who was involved.
A flashback in the movie Seasons Of The Heart shows the main character/narrator grabbing a shotgun and charging a pack of wolves while barefoot in a nightgown to prevent them from tearing up the graves of her recently-deceased daughters.
Jasmine, the aging lioness in Secondhand Lions, might be getting old and a little bit sickly. She might not be too much to look at any more. But put one hand on her human "cub" Walter, and you are in for a world of pain, even if the strain is too much for her heart.
Twice in Seventh Son - Tom's mother reveals that she's a witch in order to fight the evil witches who are attacking her hometown and her daughter. Then Alice's mother Bony Lizzie attacks her queen Malkin when Malkin tries to kill Alice for being a traitor. Both of them die for their troubles.
Rose De Silva is willing to go to hell and back to get her mentally troubled daughter Sharon back in the film version of Silent Hill. Along the way, Rose finds that Sharon didn't have mental problems, she was all that was left of a 30 year old woman's innocence, and she was being called back to Silent Hill.
Sorceress: The twins' mother not only refuses to tell their father which was born first so he can't sacrifice his firstborn, but stabs him with a magical spear after he's wounded her, resulting in him being banished for twenty years, before dying of her injury, after putting the twins in a peasant's safekeeping. By doing so she saves them both from him.
In Stag, the guests really compound their folly when they decide that the best way to ensure Serena's cooperation is to threaten her son. Never underestimate the protective instincts of a Single Mom Stripper.
In Suffragette, Maud evolves into a Mama Bear during the movie. At first, she just keeps her head down and tries not to get in trouble. Over the course of her Character Development, when her husband gives their son up for adoption without her consent, they have to forcibly drag her away from her son, and close to the end of the film, she rescues a fellow laundress (who is still a child) from the hellish workplace. She just walks in, takes the girl's hand and leads her to the house of a fellow suffragette, where she more or less demands that they give the girl a job. It's not only the working conditions that are awful, the boss is seen molesting the girl, and is not even ashamed that Maud has witnessed it - he's implied to have raped Maud, too, when she was that age.
Surf Nazis Must Die has a mother avenging the death of her son against the eponymous Surf Nazis.
The Terminator: Sarah Connor. Saving the world from nuclear annihilation is considered an incidental bonus to saving her son from the machine sent back to kill him. This gets cranked up to eleven in the series.
Thirst (2015): The alien monster is speculated by the cast to be a female because it built a nest in a cave. When Roth kills her baby, which was feeding on one of the campers at the time, she isn't pleased upon finding out.
In the 95's version of Village of the Damned, the school teacher Jill refuses to give up on her son David aka one of the creepy children and keeps protecting him no matter what. Both Jill's love for him and the death of his "twin" are the big factors in David becoming the White Sheep of the group and both mother and son's survival.
In the film Underworld: Awakening, Selene now has a daughter named Eve. Selene first meets her daughter when she is awakened by Eve when the latter damages her cryogenic chamber, having been frozen in it for 12 years, carrying Eve to full term while sedated. Though at first Selene seems cold towards her daughter, when Eve's life is threatened by the Lycans/other vampires, this mother will go to any length to protect her daughter. Selene is the ultimate mom fighting Lyacans, protecting her daughter, all while trying to figure out Michael's whereabouts. Michael is held in the same Cryogenic lab as Selene and their daughter Eve. If Selene gets punched, she will think nothing of it, but if anyone touches Eve... it's their funeral.
In Warcraft (2016), when one of the orcs threatens Draka's newborn son, she proceeds to jump on him and rip his throat out with her teeth.
Women Is Losers: Celina is very protective of her son Christian, leaving her parents' home when her dad threatens him and later her husband when he's injured as a result of his negligence, both of them also serving as her Rage-Breaking Point.