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Missing Mom / Film

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Animated

  • Disney Animated Canon movies love this trope:
    • Aladdin: Aladdin's mother, who appears in the original story, was going to be in the movie as well, but was dropped early on. In the third movie he mentions that his mother died when he was a kid. The Sultan's wife is mentioned as being deceased. In one of the direct-to-TV princess movies, it is shown that the Sultan spends a great deal of time with his wife's stallion, Sahara, indicating that she died quite recently.
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    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Kida's mother, the former queen of Atlantis, is sacrificed by the Mother Crystal as an attempt to save the eponymous lost city from a tidal wave at the very beginning of the film. Unfortunately, she cannot save her kingdom, and as a result she is pronounced dead once Atlantis ends up underwater. Kida actually loses her father later on to internal bleeding, therefore making her The High Queen.
    • Bambi: The eponymous character's mother is killed by hunters.
    • Beauty and the Beast: There is no mention of what happened to Maurice's wife. Not so in the stage musical and live-action remake, which reveals her to be dead and still honoured in the family.
    • Brother Bear: The bear Kenai killed as revenge for killing his older brother is actually Koda's mother.
    • The titular Chicken Little suffers from this. As evidenced by Buck looking at the family picture in despair, it's implied that she died long before the film.
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    • Cinderella: The main character's mother is deceased. The Prince's mother is also absent. One of the sequels confirms that she's dead, and that the King loved her very much. (However, in many non-Disney adaptations, the Queen is still alive.)
    • Dinosaur:
      • Aladar is separated from his mother when his egg is unexpectedly taken away from her nest by a hungry Oviraptor while his mother was trying to protect said nest from the Carnotaurus. The Oviraptor then takes the egg into a nearby forest where it proceeds to crack it open and eat the fetus inside, but loses the egg to another Oviraptor. While the two Oviraptors begin to fight over the egg, Aladar's egg rolls off a ledge and into a nearby river where it is then picked up by a passing Pterodactyl. The Pterodactyl then flies the egg all the way to Lemur Island (home to Aladar's eventual foster family of lemurs) and leaves it there, where he will eventually hatch and be adopted. It's implied that his biological mother was either killed by the Carnotaurus (who also smashed her other eggs) or was among the many dinosaurs that was killed by the meteorite.
      • Inverted with Baylene however. She, despite being one of the oldest dinosaurs in the film, actually lost her spouse, as well of all of her siblings and her descendants to the meteorite, therefore making her the last surviving Brachiosaurus on Earth. Also, Plio, the lemur girl that adopts Aladar, despite her father being the chief of the lemur clan, actually doesn't have a mother as well. Inverted with Plio herself, where even though she already has a daughter named Suri, she actually doesn't have a husband.
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    • Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove lacks in the parental department as well.
    • Enchanted: Morgan's mother left. We had the explanation, and it was significant. Prince Edward has a missing mom too, hence his stepmother.
    • The Fox and the Hound: Tod's mother is shot during the opening scene.
    • In The Great Mouse Detective, Olivia is trying to get Basil to help her find her father. He says "Surely your mother knows where he is" and she says "I don't have a mother." The implication is that Mom is dead.
    • Quasimodo's Roma mother in The Hunchback of Notre Dame is kicked down a flight of stone stairs and cracks her head open while trying to save her baby son from Frollo. His father was arrested, so one can assume she's dead. (Considering Quasimodo has fair skin, he may not be their biological son; on the other hand, he may be Roma and have the fair skin as part of his deformity. In any case, it still counts.)
    • The Little Mermaid: No mention is made of Ariel's mother, or what became of her. (Ariel's Beginning is about her: she's called Athena. Ariel's love of music comes from her mother, who died in a hit-and-run with a pirate ship. Since that event, King Triton banned music from Atlantica in grief, so Ariel's Beginning is about how the music was brought back.)
    • Meet the Robinsons: Lewis' mother left him in an orphanage. His desire to discover her drives most of the story.
    • Li Shang from Mulan has no mother ever mentioned, though she could theoretically be alive offscreen.
    • See Literature for Peter Pan.
    • The title character of Pocahontas also has a dead mother and receives a necklace in memory of her. According to Wikipedia, though it's not outright stated in the film, the mother's spirit is the source of the Dramatic Wind that follows the heroine throughout.
    • The Princess and the Frog: Charlotte just lives with her father and there's no mention of a mother. Averted with Tiana, though, who has her mother and a dad who was hinted to have died in World War I during the Time Skip.
    • In Sleeping Beauty while Aurora's mother survives the movie, Prince Phillip's mother is never seen nor mentioned.
    • Snow White is taken care of by her step-mother. It is unclear what happened to her parents. However a Disney storybook based on the movie hints that her parents died; her mother suffered Death by Childbirth like in the original fairy tale, and the father was poisoned by the queen.
    • Lampshaded in Ralph Breaks the Internet when the Disney Princesses quiz Vanellope to see if she's truly a princess as well:
    Jasmine: Do you have daddy issues?
    Vanellope: I don’t even have a mom!
    Jasmine, Ariel, Pocahontas, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Elsa & Anna: (Excitedly while posing) Neither do we]]!
  • Finding Nemo: Nemo's mother was killed by a barracuda, along with all of Nemo's unhatched siblings.
  • There is no mention of Remy's mother in Ratatouille. Early production art shows that she was intended to be a character (named Desiree), but was dropped to allow greater focus upon the father-son relationship between Django and Remy.
  • There is no mention of Mindy's mother in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. King Neptune appears to be a single parent.
  • In Kung Fu Panda we see the eponymous panda and his father, and no mother. And we don't even get to know what happened to her. According to The Art of Kung Fu Panda, the directors originally intended to put Po's mother into the story, but decided in the end that it distracted from the main story and wasn't very interesting. The fact they didn't want to make Po seem special for having a goose father, and that they wanted to play silly buggers with the audience about the Oblivious Adoption may also have had something to do with it. It's finally revealed in Kung Fu Panda 2 that both of Po's biological parents were seemingly killed by Lord Shen during his attempted genocide of the panda species. The Sequel Hook at the end shows that Po's dad survived, but it's implied that his mother pulled a Heroic Sacrifice to save Po and is most likely dead.
  • In Over the Hedge, the absence of Ozzie's mate and Heather's mother is never addressed.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Flint's mother dies when he was young. Although this was an important plot point; she encouraged him to pursue his scientific dreams and his dad never understood him. His mom was essentially their translator.
  • In Epic MK moves in with her father because her mother passed away. It becomes the source of where most of MK's and her dad's dramatic moments come from.
  • Song of the Sea has Bronagh, who disappeared on the night of her daughter Saoirse's birth. As a result, Saoirse's father Conor has become wistful and distant and her brother Ben blames her for their mother's "death". In the end, she becomes this permanently since as a selkie, she must go across the sea with the other fairies to their homeland, though she's still able to bid her family goodbye.
  • In The Boxtrolls, Eggs' is never seen. Averted with Winnie, but Lady Portley-Rind isn't involved with the main plot.
  • The Book of Life:
    • Played with in regards to Manolo's mother Carmen. She dies before the events of the film, and it is never explained why, but she still becomes a supporting character due to the nature of the setting. Manolo meets her in the Land of the Remembered, and she accompanies him on his journey.
    • Joaquin's mother is never mentioned or seen in the film. However, it has been confirmed that she left San Angel when Captain Mondragon was killed.
    • Word of God confirmed that Maria's mother divorced her father and moved to Spain.
  • Mia of Meth Head is an interesting case in which we see the missing mom without the daughter. She lost her daughter because of her drug use but she tried to keep an eye on her by watching her daughter's web site.
  • The Land Before Time: Littlefoot's mother is killed by the sharptooth. Cera's mother also mysteriously vanishes after the Great Earthshake and is neither seen nor mentioned at the end of the movie or in any of the sequels.
  • It is discussed in How to Train Your Dragon that Hiccup's mother passed away before the events of the movie. In the sequel, however, she turns out to be alive. Everyone had just assumed she was dead because she was last seen being carried off by a dragon (which she ultimately tamed long before her son ever did).
  • In Adventures in Zambezia, Kai's mother was killed by Budzo, which is the main reason that his father, Tendai, doesn't want him to go to Zambezia.
  • Polly's mother is never mentioned in the two early animated Polly Pocket movies, but her absence is a plot point in "Pollyworld". Polly's father would remarry. Lorelei, Polly's stepmother-to-be, planned to send her Off to Boarding School out of jealousy and tricked Polly's father into thinking it'd be good for Polly. Fortunately, he saw Lorelei's true colors on time to call off the engagement.
  • In Little Angels: The Brightest Christmas, Only the family's father is present, and the mother's whereabouts are never explained.

Live-Action

  • Armageddon begins with a Missing Mom as Harry Tasker raises his daughter Grace with a bunch of oil rig roughnecks, but it turns to an adult-onset Parental Abandonment as Harry dies saving the earth from a giant meteor the size of Texas. We find out from Grace that mom left.
  • Aquaman (2018): Atlanna is this to both Arthur and Orm, and it is very clear that her absence left deep scars in both of them. Orm, whose father also died when he was young, took it worse than Arthur, who at least had a loving and emotionally stable father in his life.
  • One of the main plot threads of Korean film Punch is the teenaged protagonist Wan-deuk reuniting with his mother, who abandoned him when he was a baby. Although she's clearly ashamed about it, the film never really explains why she left. Apparently she just couldn't get along with Wan-deuk's father.
  • In As It Is In Heaven Daniel and Lena both have lost their parents at a young age.
  • Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star: Dickie's mother abandoned him once he lost stardom.
  • In Pretty in Pink, Andie's mom abandoned Andie and her dad sometime before the movie started. The two of them coming to terms with it is addressed.
  • Ella Enchanted: As a partial send-up of Cinderella, Ella also lost her mother and ended up with a Wicked Stepmother.
  • Independence Day: Russell Case is raising his kids alone. By a comment he makes, she probably died of a chronic illness, possibly the same one his child suffers from.
  • Into the Forest: Nell and Eva's mother apparently died sometime prior to the events of the film. She's only seen in home videos from years before (though the last don't seem that long ago). It's possibly implied in the last film that she's sick, and if so this probably wasn't too long prior to her death.
  • Jersey Girl: The title character's mother (played by Jennifer Lopez) dies early on in the film.
  • Sleepless in Seattle: Jonah's mother died more or less recently, which prompts him to find his dad a new wife and himself a new mother.
  • In The Film of the Book for The Spiderwick Chronicles, the children's mother is a rare case of a Missing Mom who is physically present but absent in the motherly duties thing. She was so fixated on doing everything the way they "agreed" they would in therapy, and refused to discuss anything else. She did get better, though.
  • Stardust: Tristan Thorn's mother is missing. She's a Damsel in Distress on the other side of the wall. She is a rare example of the type of Missing Mom who is rescued and returns for the Happy Ending.
  • Juno: The eponymous character's biological mother walked out of her life following the parents' divorce, and barely has contact with her. Luckily, Juno also has a stepmother she's pretty close with.
  • 28 Days Later:
    • Hannah's mother is deceased, though whether this is before or after the eponymous period of devastation is unclear. Jim's parents commit suicide together some time before he wakes from his coma, realising somewhat what's happening, and though Jim is an adult this is presumably part of why he bonds so well with the much older Frank.
    • According to Word of God Selena had to kill her entire family in one afternoon. No wonder she's so cold.
  • Underdog: Shoeshine's human family has a Missing Mom. It takes two thirds of the movie before someone mentions she died.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Unlike all of the other children, Violet Beauregarde's mother is not shown, only her father. She does speak a brief line, but she is off-screen and difficult to see. In the remake she instead has a Disappeared Dad and it's Willy Wonka himself who has the missing mom (he was raised by his candy-hating, dentist father).
  • In Hancock, Aaron's mother died shortly after his birth, but he has a stepmom who may as well be his mother since she's known him from his infancy.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Marni, Shilo's mother, who died before the movie began, and the missing mother(s) of the three Largo children.
  • In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood must raise his son and daughter alone, trying to atone for his past solely on the memory of his late wife.
  • Fly Away Home begins with the heroine's mother dying in a car crash.
  • This is the plot of Grace Is Gone. The mother died in Iraq, and the father tries to explain this to kids.
  • This is Susan's fate in The Parent Trap (1961), while her twin Sharon has a Disappeared Dad, due to their parents' Solomon Divorce. Once they find each other, their goal is to reunite their parents and make their family complete again.
  • This is Hallie's fate in The Parent Trap (1998), while her twin Annie has a Disappeared Dad, due to their parents' Solomon Divorce. Once they find each other, their goal is to reunite their parents and make their family complete again.
  • In Spaceballs, princess Vespa has (naturally) no mother.
  • The heroine of Whale Rider has no mother.
  • In The Sound of Music there is no mother in the von Trapp family. Captain von Trapp is explicitly referred to as a widower, setting the stage for Maria to become the children's new mother figure and eventually the Captain's second wife. Truth in Television: Agathe von Trapp died of scarlet fever four years before Maria entered the household.
  • In Forward, Gardemarines, one of the heroes is a bastard, whose mother, a poor woman, died in childbirth — and thus his father, a rich count, hates him.
  • In Geek Charming, Dylan's mother passed away when she was 8.
  • In Hound Dog, Lewellen also has no mother.
  • Jackie Chan in Drunken Master also seems to have no mother.
  • Amélie also features an eponymous heroine who is motherless. Her death is explained at the beginning of the movie.
  • The child protagonists of Millions lost their mother before the events of the film.
  • In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Bridget's mother is dead, presumably having committed suicide because of mental instability. Her funeral is shown briefly when the characters are introduced. Later, after Bridget gets it on with her soccer coach, she cries and wishes her mom was still alive to talk things over with.
    • This is explored a bit more in the sequel, when she visits her grandmother and has a nightmare about her mother abandoning her. Apparently there had been one last chance for them to get her to get help for her mental problems, but the only way to convince her to do so was if her mother lied that she was alright. Bridget's grandmother confessed that she was unable to lie to her daughter about it.
  • In Batman Begins, while both Bruce's parents die, he spends the rest of the movie obsessed only with whether or not his father would be proud of him. Mother is not mentioned after her death, and while she does appear on film, she's not cast as a speaking part.
  • From the western comedy Support Your Local Sheriff:
    Mayor Perkins: I wanted you to meet my daughter, Sheriff. She's a good cook, a mighty fine looking girl. Takes after her dear, departed mother.
    Jason McCullough: Mother died, huh?
    Mayor Perkins: Nope, she just departed.
  • In Letters to Juliet, Sophie's mom "left" when she was nine.
  • More like missing foster mom, but we never actually see Robert's wife in Mystery Team.
  • Marian has been dead for years at the start of Princess of Thieves. Her absence is one of the reasons Gwyn grows up such a tomboy.
  • Kramer vs. Kramer features a rarely portrayed instance of the mother leaving the family, wherein the mother Joanna leaves her son Billy with his father and her husband, Ted. This movie is more even-keeled than most films featuring Parental Abandonment as it shows Ted initially being a workaholic executive who didn't have much involvement with the home-life or the raising of their son while Joanna, a struggling house-wife, experiences the need to find herself and asks for a divorce. The film focuses on the re-adjustment of Ted's life, where he learns to raise Billy on his own and they develop a close father-son rapport. A year and a half later, Joanna returns to take Billy back but Ted refuses and a custody battle ensues. Joanna is awarded custody on the assumption that a child is best raised by the mother but, despite wanting Billy, she realizes that her son's true home is with Ted and decides not to take custody away from him.
  • Lilli's mother dies at her birth in Snow White: A Tale of Terror.
  • In Holiday, Linda and Julia's mother died some time after giving birth to their brother, Ned.
  • Luke Skywalker in Star Wars is far more curious about his long dead (supposedly) father than his mother. Hell, he doesn't even ask about her - on screen - until the third film, and then it's only because he's getting ready to break the news to Leia that they're siblings.
  • In a World......: Lake Bell's father is either a widower or divorced; we don't hear much about her mom.
  • Dave's mother left the family two years ago in Off The Black, which has apparently crushed the spirit of David's father, and leaves David and his sister adrift.
  • Sandra Brody by the Janjira reactor breach in Godzilla (2014).
  • In Into the Woods, by the end of the play everyone's mother is dead.
  • Neither Bill & Ted films mention the titular dudes' biological mothers. Seeing as Missy was married to Bill's dad in the first and then Ted's dad in the second, it's pretty obvious that they're either dead or simply not around.
  • Gender inverted AND played straight in Beyond The Lights. Noni's father didn't bother sticking around after getting her then-teenage mother pregnant (per Macy, he "didn't give a shit" about her). Meanwhile, Kaz's mother is not mentioned once in the entire film (Word of God says that she left him and his father when he was seven).
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop has this in a somewhat new direction: said missing mom was an illegal immigrant who only married the titular character long enough to gain citizenship and have a daughter before she took off.
  • Mrs. Hill in The North Avenue Irregulars.
  • In Twins, Julius and Vincent are Designer Babies who were Separated at Birth and never knew their mother. Julius was informed that his mother died in childbirth. Vincent believed his mother abandoned him. Of course they are reunited by the end.
  • In Mädchen in Uniform, Manuela's missing mother plays a pivotal part in her attraction to her female teacher, in whom she sees a surrogate mother as well as a lover.
  • Savannah's mother in Sunday School Musical died a few months before the events of the film. It's left the relationship between her and her pastor father more than a bit strained.
  • The Boy (2015) has an example in the form of Ted's mother. She left with one of the guests at the hotel.
  • Free Willy: Jesse was abandoned by his mother when he was only six, which informs much of his character and why he bonds with a six-ton whale. The first sequel reveals that she had another son as well before having the courtesy of dying and leaving his older half-brother as his only family.
  • Dear White People: Troy's father plays a large role in the film, but his mother is unmentioned and never seen.
  • Almost everyone in Pirates of the Caribbean. Elizabeth Swann was raised by a doting father; her mother is mentioned once in a throwaway line which establishes that she is dead. Will Turner's Disappeared Dad is a major plot point; his mother is mentioned once in a throwaway line which establishes that she is dead. Jack Sparrow's father is a powerful and respected pirate; his mother is shown once, as a Shrunken Head, establishing that she is dead. Angelica Teach's father is the main villain of the fourth film; her mother is mentioned once in a throwaway line which establishes that she is Latina and dead. Carina Smyth's father is Captain Hector Barbossa; her mother's name was Margaret, and she is dead. Elizabeth is the only named female character who has a child and is still alive.
  • In the Name of the King: Farmer's mother was killed in a massacre, and he became lost. Peasants took him in afterward.
  • Tragedy Girls: Neither Sadie nor Jordan have a mother around. Sadie's mother is never even mentioned, but Jordan's is stated to have died when he was young. Courtesy of Sadie and her friend McKayla, in fact. It's never confirmed whether or not Sadie's mother is even dead, or how she died if she is, but since it's established that the girls have been killing since they were children, you kind of have to wonder...
  • Friends with Benefits: Dylan's mother left his father 10 years before the movie.
  • Mythica: Dagen's mother hung herself when he was a little boy to escape the life of a sex slave, and Marek's died giving birth to her.
  • Black Panther: Killmonger's mother isn't even so much as mentioned outside of being an American woman his father, N'Jobu, fell in love with. Word of God on the commentary is that she was in prison, died there not long after N'Jobu was killed, and in fact, the plan N'Jobu and Zuri were going over at the start of the film was to break her out.
  • Star Trek: Insurrection: Artim lives with only his father Sojef. His mother is not mentioned or seen. The novelization says she died shortly after he was born.
  • In Written on the Wind, Kyle and Marylee's mother died prior to the events of the story. Their father mentions something about an operation.
  • Casper: Kat's mother Amelia died before the start of the film; her father Dr. Harvey's longing to find his wife's ghost is what motivates his career as a ghost therapist and sets the whole plot in motion. Casper's mom might also have been this when he was alive, as he only mentions her once in passing, and says that he became a ghost when he died "so my dad wouldn't be lonely."
  • Shelter: Zach and Jeanne's mother. Everyone speaks of her in the past tense, implying that she is dead. It is also more or less stated that she burned out taking care of her addicted husband and her children.
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Leta's mother died giving birth to her. She was also Yusuf Kama's mother, so he has this too.
  • Tomb Raider (2018): Lara's dad disappeared, and that's a big part of the film. Where her mother is, however, never gets a mention.
  • When Worlds Collide: Joyce Hendron's mother is never mentioned.
  • Voyage of the Unicorn: Alan is a widower, struggling after the loss of his wife with two daughters.
  • Your Highness: Fabious and Thadeous's mother died sometime in the past. Isabel mentions having lost her father and brothers, but what happened with her mother is not revealed (she was probably also killed though).
  • Dragonslayer: We never find out what became of Valerian's mother in the film-she's not even mentioned. In the novelization, she was sacrificed to the dragon in the past (changing the "only virgins" idea).
  • In Killer Diller (2004), Vernon's mother is dead. Wesley tells people that his is, too, but the truth is that she walked out on him.
  • Warm Bodies: Julie's mother was infected and zombified at some point prior to the events of the film. Her father still doesn't appear to have gotten over it. This drives his hatred of zombies and belief things never get better.
  • Fast Color: Ruth left Lila with her mother Bo, feeling unable to care for her as a result of her unstable abilities and drug addiction, the former of which nearly killed Lila. Lila doesn't remember Ruth at all, since this was when she had been an infant.
  • Leave No Trace: In one scene Tom asks Will about her mother/his wife, who is implied to have died before Tom could get to know her.
  • Scanner Cop: Sam was adopted after his dad died. There's no mention of his mom though (or any other family).
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