We all grew up watching TV and some characters stood out in our minds more than others. And many of those characters were the moms of our favorite TV shows. So here’s a list of the most memorable and influential mothers that we wish we could chat with in real life. Enjoy going down memory lane!
40. Vivian Banks – Fresh Prince of Belair
Vivian Banks, or “Aunt Viv”, was the vocally talented, understanding, nurturing, trusting, nice and career-minded woman who played Philip’s husband and Will Smith’s aunt.
She was played by Janet Hubert during the first two seasons and then by Daphne Maxwell Reid for the rest of the series. Word on the street is that Hubert didn’t get along with the cast and crew.
39. Skyler White – Breaking Bad
Anna Gunn played the unforgettable Skyler White. As annoying as her character was, you ccan’t help but admire her work. And she won two consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2013 and 2014.
Photo by Steve Snowden/Getty Images
She was the wife of Walter White and mother of Junior and Holly. Skyler loved Walter a lot but as you may remember if you watched the show, their marriage became increasingly strained due to his bizarre behavior, leading to their separation.
The next TV mom is from a modern family comedy.
38. Gloria Delgado-Pritchett – Modern Family
Gloria Pritchett is the fun-loving Colombian wife of Jay (second wife) and mother of Manny and Joe. If you remember anything about her character, it’s her voice.
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
Sofia Vergara was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards for her portrayal of Gloria. She was clearly a big hit on the screen.
37. Murphy Brown – Murphy Brown
Candice Bergen played the role of Murphy Brown, a hard-talking but soft-hearted TV news journalist. She then became pregnant and decided to raise the baby, Avery, as a single mom.
The show’s plot was actually a subject of political controversy during the 1992 American presidential campaign. Vice President Dan Quayle publicly criticizing Murphy’s character for “ignoring the importance of fathers by birthing a child alone.”
Our next TV mom is for all the Sex and the City fans.
36. Miranda Hobbes – Sex in the City
Miranda Hobbes was the hard-working career woman of the show being partner at the Manhattan law firm. But then she got knocked up and her life suddenly became more than just work.
Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images
She struggled with her new role as a working mom. The show really portrayed all the hilarity and suffering of trying to raise a kid in the city. But nonetheless, she always put Brady first.
35. Christine Baskets – Baskets
That’s right, Christine is played by male comedian Louie Anderson. And truth be told, the character is as feminine as can be.
Louie actually loved playing the role, and said that he basically embodied his late mother’s essence. Everything from the voice to the mannerisms are all his real mother’s personality.
Next up, a cartoon mom who’s pretty badass.
34. Lois Griffin – Family Guy
Where would the Griffins be without Lois. She managed to stay put in a house filled with an insane husband, two misfit children, a dog who loves her and a baby that’s always trying to kill her.
Alex Borstein plays the voice of Lois and the character, along with the entire show, was created by Seth MacFarlane. A stay-at-home-mom, Lois fit right in with all the real life moms of the TV screen.
33. Beth Pearson – This Is Us
If we want to talk about strong working moms who will do anything for their kids, we have to mention Beth Pearson, played by Susan Kelechi Watson.
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Beth loves each and every member of her own family as well as her husband Randall’s family, doing the best she can to make everyone feel comfortable. And after seeing Beth try so hard to connect with her foster daughter, Deja, in the second season, it’s too bad she can’t pop out of the screen and give us a hug, too.
Remember All in the Family? Of course you do. Let’s celebrate the mom of the show.
32. Edith Bunker – All in the Family
Who can forget Edith Bunker, the wife and mom on the 1970s sitcom All in the Family. Her character was played by Jean Stapleton. She was the wife of Archie Bunker, mother of Gloria Stivic, mother-in-law of Michael “Meathead” Stivic and eventually the grandmother of Joey Stivic.
Edith was a traditionally submissive house wife of the times but funnily enough, Jean Stapleton was a noted feminist. That shows how good of an actor she was!
31. Lorelai Gilmore – Gilmore Girls
Lorelai Gilmore, played by actress Lauren Graham, was one of the most impressive moms on TV. She’s no regular mom; she’s cool. She’s the best friend to her daughter, Rory. And their relationship is one any mother and daughter would want.
Lorelai always made sure her daughter was happy, educated, and had she needed. She gave great advice about boys, fashion, and food, and knew everything she needed to about pop culture. Every mom can learn from Lorelai.
Our next TV mom is rather the opposite type, but nevertheless memorable.
30. Lucille Bluth – Arrested Development
Lucille Bluth is the matriarch of the Bluth family. She is nowhere near what a good mother should be, but her character left the audience in stitches, unable not to watch her rather non-motherly behavior.
For one, she’s an alcoholic and is rarely seen without a drink in her hand. She also spent time in rehab. Her husband said she was responsible for the family company’s unrespectable endeavors. Lucille lives with her son Buster, who became a neurotic mess due to her coddling. Take Lucille as an example of what motherhood shouldn’t be.
29. Nancy Botwin – Weeds
Mary Louise Parker plays the multi-faceted character Nancy Botwin. She’s a widowed mother who will go to desperate lengths give her kids a comfortable lifestyle.
Before her husband died of a sudden heart attack, Nancy was a PTA soccer mom. But she had to resort to selling marijuana to keep her middle-class lifestyle.
The next TV mom seems to always play the good mom in movies and shows.
28. Nora Walker – Brothers and Sisters
Sally Field plays Nora Walker on the long-running show. She’s the epitome of overbearing, and can’t help but meddle in her kids’ lives. A “helicopter” mom as they say.
Source: Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Sally said when she won the Emmy award for her role: “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamn wars in the first place.”
27. Estelle Harris – Seinfeld
Who can forget the unforgettable Estelle Costanza? With an actor like Estelle Harris, you forget that she’s even playing a role. She is the typical overbearing mother who just has to nitpick at everything and clearly drives George mad.
But at the end of the day, Estelle means well and is only trying to continue raising her middle-aged baby.
The next TV mom is the other mother from This is Us. No, we didn’t forget about her.
26. Rebecca Pearson – This is Us
The lovely Mandy Moore plays Rebecca, a full-time mom who is doing no small task of raising three kids – “The Big Three.” They’re all the same age and have their own problems.
Two of the kids are her biological twins and Randall is adopted. She dreamed of being a singer, but raising three kids didn’t leave much time for that. Overall, Rebecca is a mom that anyone would want and would strive to be like.
25. Norma Arnold – The Wonder Years
Oh, the good ol’ Wonder Years. The show that everyone seemed to grow up with, alongside Kevin and Wayne. And we can’t forget about Norma – the perfect 1950s housewife and stay-at-home mom.
If you remember, Norma wanted more for herself and eventually earned her degree and got a job outside the home. Alley Mills played the character and is now 67, playing a role on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.
Remember Malcom in the Middle? See the next photo for another unforgettable mom.
24. Lois Wilkerson– Malcom in the Middle
Lois was not the most nurturing mom on screen, but nevertheless memorable. She was intelligent, a tad caring but also cruel, arrogant and selfish, and a definite control freak. She was human!
If you remember, her sons called her the “overbearing cruel she-beast”. She was the matriarch of the typical dysfunctional working-class family. And every family needs at least one control freak. Lois was played by the talented Jane Kaczmarek.
23. Tami Taylor- Friday Night Lights
Connie Britton plays the role of Tami Taylor, who’s not only a great mom to her daughters but also a parent to so many other kids in her town of Dillon, Texas.
Tami was tired of being a “trophy” wife to her husband Eric and decided to go back to work as a school guidance counsellor, then principal, and helped tons of students through their issues.
Are you a Sopranos fan? Then you that we can’t forget Mrs. Soprano.
22. Carmela Soprano – The Sopranos
No, we don’t mean Olivia Soprano, who could be an honorable mention in this list. We are talking about Carmela Soprano. If you want to know what a true portrait of a mafia wife looks like, look at Carmela Soprano.
Carmela had real guilt for sacrificing her children’s security for the luxury that Tony’s “career’ provided. But she would also sometimes use her status as a mob-wife to intimidate others.
21. Roseanne Conner – Roseanne
Of course you remember Roseanne, right? How could you forget a character like that with a voice such as hers? The sitcom and Roseanne’s character was loosely based off her real life personality – a bossy, loud, dominant, and somewhat obnoxious mom.
Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Despite Roseanne’s dominating character, she was still a loving wife and mother. Roseanne said about the show and he character: “We built the show around my actual life and my kids. The ‘domestic goddess’, the whole thing.”
Up next, the neurotic and hilarious Modern Family mom.
20. Claire Dunphy – Modern Family
Anyone who watched Modern Family knows that Claire is uptight, bossy, controlling, yet loving and loyal to her husband and kids. She’s a truly relatable 21st century working mom, showing her human obsessive nature, making her one of the funniest TV moms of this generation.
Julie Bowen plays Claire and her role earned her six Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2010–2015), and she won in 2011 and 2012.
19. Elyse Keaton – Family Ties
Remember Family Ties? Meredith Baxter-Birney played Elyse Keaton – a true ‘80s mom with her hair that could easily be the focus of any shampoo commercial.
Did you know that the show was pitched to the network as one about “hip parents, square kids?” Elyse and Steven were supposed to be the main characters, but, the audience loved Alex (Michael J. Fox’s character) so much during the taping of the fourth episode that he became the main hit of the show.
18. Morticia Addams – The Addams Family
Morticia Addams was the sensual matriarch of the strange Addams family show of the 1960s. She always managed to keep her cool with her wacky family’s antics.
Morticia was basically a witch and was slim, extremely pale, with long straight black hair, played by Carolyn Jones. The character was actually created by cartoonist Charles Addams, who based Morticia’s character on his first wife Barbara.
17. Lucy Ricardo – I Love Lucy
The late great Lucille Balle played Lucy Ricardo in the infamous 1950s TV series I Love Lucy. Lucille was nominated for Best Female Star of a Regular Series in 1954.
When Lucy got pregnant in the show with Little Ricky, the network CBS wouldn’t allow the show to use the word “pregnant”, so they had to use the word “expecting” instead.
Are you a fan of Desperate Housewives? You’ll appreciate the next TV mom.
16. Lynette Scavo – Desperate Housewives
Felicity Huffman played Lynette on the much-loved TV show. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005, and was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2005 through 2007.
Source: Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic
And many moms might relate to Lynette for the reason that although they love their children, it’s hard being in the house with them all day.
15. Jill Taylor – Home Improvement
Jill had no easy feat of raising three boys and being the wife to husband Tim, who could be debated as her fourth child that she’s responsible for.
Patricia Richardson was the actor who played Jill and was nominated four times for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress – Comedy Series. She also received two nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy.
Next, leave it to June…
14. June Cleaver – Leave it to Beaver
June Cleaver was the famous archetype of what a nuclear family matriarch was like back in the day in the 1950s. She stayed classy while handling her two sons. And June always stole the show.
In the follow-up series, The New Leave It to Beaver, she found a life for herself outside of the family. She was a member of the city’s council.
13. Kitty Forman – That 70s Show
Kitty Forman, the sweetest and continually smiling mom never let anything break the façade of a put together mom and family.
Debra Jo Rupp played the always quirky character with an unforgettable voice and infectious laugh. She was pretty much the opposite of her counterpart Red Forman, the always angry dad.
If you ever watched Family Matters, then you remember Steve Urkel’s mom.
12. Harriette Winslow – Family Matters
Harriette Winslow was a proud working mother who had her own opinions and wasn’t afraid to voice them. She was even patient enough to deal with Steve Urkel’s constant visits.
Like many mother roles, Harriette was the voice of reason and always managed to mediate conflicts in her family. At first, Jo Marie Payton played the role of Harriette, until Judyanne Elder took the spot.
11. Marie Barone – Everybody Loves Raymond
Marie Barone is the epitome of the mother in law. One that forever competes with her beloved son’s wife and always has to have the last word.
Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic
Doris Roberts played the influential TV mom and unfortunately passed away in 2016 at the age of 90.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, everyone knows the next cartoon TV mom.
10. Marge Simpson – The Simpsons
Marge might just be one of the most memorable and adored TV moms ever. And she’s more than just a scratchy-voiced and blue-haired woman. She kept her family in one piece. With Homer as a husband and Bart as a rowdy kid, it wasn’t an easy task.
Julie Kavner did the voice of Marge. She also did the voice of Marge’s mother and two sisters.
9. Marion Cunningham – Happy Days
Happy Days fan? Then you must remember and love Marion Cunningham, or “Mrs. C.” Marion Ross, who played the role, was nominated for two Emmy awards.
It was hard for people to differentiate the real Marion Ross from her TV character, having basically embodied and lived the character fully.
Next is the other mom from Everybody Loves Raymond, but equally as memorable.
8. Debra Barone – Everybody Loves Raymond
Debra Barone was not one of those stereotypical housewives that watch soap operas all day, that’s for sure. She was one of the most relatable moms on TV as an overworked and stressed mother dealing with her husband and kids.
And we can’t forget the hilarious arguments and issues that she and her mother in law Marie had pretty much every episode. Patricia Heaton played the role of Debra and won two Emmy’s for it.
7. Shirley Partridge – The Partridge Family
This list wouldn’t be complete if Shirley Partridge wasn’t in it. Her character, played by Shirley Jones, was maternal, smart, charismatic, and independent. She was a widowed mother in the musical sitcom.
While Shirley played the mother of Keith Partridge (David Cassidy’s character), she was his step-mother in real life.
We’re getting close to the #1 TV mom. Next is #6. Try to guess who it is.
6. Claire Huxtable – The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad played the role of Claire Huxtable, portraying a new kind of mom in a new era of the 80s. There was a new idea of working mothers. She was a lawyer who kept the family in check. She was one of the first career mothers on TV.
Source: Photo by Christopher Polk/NBC/Getty Images
Clair had a balance between elegance and toughness. She showed the matriarch of the family can hold a serious discussion while also be able to laugh it off.
5. Samantha Stephens – Bewitched
Samantha was one of the best known TV moms from the 60s. She was both a witch and a mom, married to a mortal and mother to two magical children. Although she was trying to lead a normal wife as a witch in a mortal world, she was the most sensible of the characters.
Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha, passed away in 1995.
Next up, she played alongside Tony Danza. Remember her?
4. Angela Bower – Who’s the Boss?
Judith Light played her character so well, it was too easy to forget that she was acting. She played Angela bower, the strong willed and controlling working mom in the sitcom from the late 80s.
Judith Light was actually one of many actresses who auditioned for the role of Angela. She ended up being casted based on her amazing performance. Judith also recently played an amazing role as a mother on the show Transparent.
3. Peggy Bundy – Married with Children
Peggy Bundy is one of the most recognized TV moms ever. The famous wife of infamous Al Bundy and mom to Kelly and Bud was played by Katey Sagal. She was different from all other TV moms.
Peggy was a housewife that never cooked or cleaned, and preferred to buy new clothes instead of washing them. Katey ended up winning a Golden Globe, not for Peggy’s character, but for her role in Sons of Anarchy.
2. Maggie Seaver – Growing Pains
A list of TV moms with Maggie Seaver just wouldn’t make sense. As a mother of four and a wife to a psychiatrist, Maggie chose to go back to work as a reporter and gave her husband Jason some of her responsibilities at home.
Actress Joanna Kerns was best known for this role. Kerns and Alan Thicke had chemistry even from the auditions and it won them both the parts. They became great friends behind the scenes as well. They had a lot in common, being both newly divorced and single parents.
Next up, the best TV mom ever.
1. Carol Brady – The Brady Bunch
The late great Florence Henderson, who died in 2016, played the unforgettable and influential TV mom Carold Brady. She was an icon of mother hood for millions who loved and watched the show.
She was mom to three girls from a previous marriage as well as to her husband’s three boys. A stay-at-home mom who still kept her passions alive. She kept writing, sculpting, singing, organizing PTA meetings, all while she kept her family in order (along with the help of Alice). Carol Brady showed the world a new kind of family. She was a capable mother who could have fun and a laugh at the same time.