The Best and Worst Mothers on Television

When you hear the word “mother” the first thing that tends to come to mind is someone who is loving, caring, and protective. While they’re far from perfect, the best mothers show their children the love and encouragement that they need in their lives.

With Mother’s Day on the horizon we thought we’d honor the best mothers on television, as well as touch base on the mothers that could do so much better with their children.

Here are some of the best and worst mothers on television right now:

Donna Smoak (Arrow)

AR318A_0107b
The CW
While Donna has been far from perfect when it came to raising Felicity, the one thing she’s always put first is Felicity’s happiness and well-being. Whether it was working long hours or being there for her daughter during what’s been a rough year, Donna has shown that there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for Felicity. -Alyssa

Emma Swan (Once Upon A Time)

ABC
ABC
Emma didn’t know how to be a mother when she first got to Storybrooke. All she knew was that she had to look out for Henry. And thanks to him, to his love, Emma found family, she found hope, she found love. And Henry? He found out what it was like to be the most important person in someone’s life. -Lizzie

Regina Mills (Once Upon A Time)

ABC
ABC
Regina has always loved Henry more than anything else. She just didn’t always know how to show it. And yet, that doesn’t make her a bad mother. It makes her a great one. She was, after all, willing to change, to be better, just because her son expected her to. Because he needed her. What else can you ask? -Lizzie

Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones)

HBO
HBO
She’s a horrible, horrible person, but she’s a good mother. Sure, she let Joffrey grow up into a little tyrant, but that’s because she gave him too much, not too little. The only thing Cersei cares about more than herself, are her kids. Not even Jamie gets that honor. So, yes, you can be a bad person and a good mother. Cersei is proof of that. -Lizzie

Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)

Chapter Thirteen
The CW
While Jane was thrust into unexpected motherhood, she’s been doing it the right way. From the moment she held Mateo in her arms she was in love. She has fought hard and tirelessly to ensure that her son has the best life possible. And that’s really all one can ask for from a mother. -Alyssa

Christy and Bonnie (Mom)

CBS
CBS
Both Christy and Bonnie have done really bad shit. They’ve both messed up. Badly. And not once, either, but repeatedly. And yet, despite that, they show that it’s not about how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you get back up. Oh, and about love. It’s also about that. -Lizzie

Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

The CW
The CW
Lorelai wasn’t just Rory’s mom, she was her best friend, her teacher, her family, her everything. And though, in the end, Rory had to grow up, Lorelai gave her all the tools to go out into the world and kick ass. She did it by loving her, but telling her that she could do anything, by putting her first. She was basically the mother we all wanted to have, and always dreamed of becoming. -Lizzie

Jocelyn Fairchild (Shadowhunters)

maxim-roy-shadowhunters
Freeform
When it comes to love and sacrifice, Jocelyn has ensured from the moment her daughter Clary was born that she was safe. While she might not have been the perfect mother, she’s always put Clary’s well-being first. There’s no doubting the love and encouragement that Jocelyn has for her daughter. -Alyssa

Topanga Matthews (Girl Meets World)

Disney Channel
Disney Channel
A mom should be loving and encouraging of their children especially during the difficult phase known as adolescence. From the beginning we’ve seen Topanga love and care for her daughter Riley, as well as her son Auggie. She is loving, protective, honest, and inspiring to her children; a role model. And that’s something they’ll thank her for one day. -Alyssa

Claire Dunphy (Modern Family)

ABC
ABC
She’s hilarious. Plus, she basically gave up her career to be a full-time parent to Haley, Alex and Luke. Best thing about that? She never threw it in their faces, and she never made it seem like she was giving up everything to be with them. Even when she chose to go back to work, Claire’s choices were always hers. And we can appreciate that. -Lizzie

Cat Grant (Supergirl)

"Worlds Finest" -- Kara gains a new ally when the lightning-fast superhero The Flash suddenly appears from an alternate universe and helps Kara battle Siobhan, aka Silver Banshee, and Livewire in exchange for her help in finding a way to return him home, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, March 28 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Calista Flockhart Photo: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.
CBS
While Cat has been far from a perfect mother, she’s always shone that she has both of her sons’ best interest and protection at heart. We saw her reach out and make amends with her estranged son, Adam, and we saw how everything that she’s ever done — even if not the best decision — was made out of love. -Alyssa

THE WORST

Zelena (Once Upon A Time)

ONCE UPON A TIME - "Sisters" - Now that Hades and Zelena are reunited, Hades tells Zelena that he wants a future with her outside of the Underworld. All she needs to do is heal his heart with True Love's Kiss so they can leave the Underworld and trap the heroes there for eternity. When Regina overhears of this plan, she enlists Cora's help to find a way to separate Zelena from Hades. However, Cora reveals a family secret that could change Regina and Zelena's lives forever. Meanwhile, David finally meets James, only to realize that his twin is determined to seek revenge on him for stealing the life he could have had, on "Once Upon a Time," SUNDAY, APRIL 24 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Jack Rowand) REBECCA MADER
ABC
She seems to be trying lately, but when you basically rape a man, get pregnant to spite your sister, and essentially only want the baby because you feel like she’s the only thing that can love you, you don’t exactly get mother of the year awards. -Lizzie

Lori-Anne Schmidt (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

Netflix
Netflix
For someone who lost her daughter for 15 years, Lori-Anne doesn’t seem to be the mothering type. Even before Kimmy’s abduction, she was never the mother that she truly needed, as we saw when Kimmy confronted her mommy issues in therapy and in person with Lori-Anne. -Alyssa

Claire Haas (Quantico)

ABC
ABC
While there’s no denying that Claire loves her son Caleb, she’s sure done a poor way of showing it. For Claire it’s all about her public persona as she’s vying for the vice presidential bid. A good mother would be able to gauge what’s more important in this situation: her son or her career? -Alyssa

Dorothy Walker (Jessica Jones)

Netflix
Netflix
When it comes to how-not-to-parent, Dorothy ranks high on that list. Not only was she a controlling stage mother that exploited her daughter Trish for her childhood fame, but she went as far as to force bulimia on her child. Child abuse does not constitute love especially when its being utilized for one’s own selfish needs. -Alyssa

Norma Bates (Bates Motel)

A&E
A&E
I mean, she turned her son into the most famous psycho killer in movie history, so she should be like, at the top of the list. It’s hard to achieve the perfect mix of manipulation and overprotectiveness to make that happen, but Norma is a master at both. She’s also really, really ….well, creepy. There I said it. -Lizzie

Maryse Lightwood (Shadowhunters)

SHADOW HUNTERS - "Morning Star" - Time is running out for the Shadowhunters to stop Valentine in "Morning Star," the season finale of "Shadowhunters," airing TUESDAY, APRIL 5 (9:00 - 10:00 p.m. EDT) on Freeform. (Freeform/John Medland) NICOLA CORREIA DAMUDE
Freeform
From the moment she stepped on screen, Maryse has shown that her reputation means more to her than her children. This is especially true for Isabelle, whom Maryse looked down upon numerous times for her independent choices. While Maryse no doubt loves her children, the way she shows it could use some serious work. -Alyssa

Maya Lewis (Scandal)

ABC
ABC
She’s basically a terrorist, who made money by selling government secrets. She also went on what amounted to a killing-spree, just to teach her daughter a lesson very fucked up lesson. Because, yeah, that’s what good mothers do? We’d rather you stayed away, Mama Pope. -Lizzie

We’re wishing a happy Mother’s Day to all the fictional and real mothers in the world.

(With additional writing by Assistant TV Editor Lizzie.)

Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor, DC Comics Writer

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. TV and Sports Editor. I write about DC television, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and more. You can reach Alyssa at alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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