We all love our own moms, but there is something special about being greeted every week by our favorite TV moms.
Back in the early days of TV, the moms were perfection, showing audiences that you can have wonderful children, a husband that adores you and still make the best pot roast in town. But as TV shows changed over the years, so did the moms who run the households.
We were introduced to moms who make mistakes, are genuinely hilarious and sometimes care more about themselves than the kids. The moms looked a lot more like the moms who we know and love at home, and not just a caricature of what a mom “should” be.
That’s why we rounded up a list of some of the most iconic TV moms to show up on our television sets. Not all of these moms are great moms, but they redefined the way we watched motherhood on the small screen.
Let’s just say, these women aren’t your average 1950s TV moms.
No one comes close to the matriarch of the Huxtable household. Clair had it all: a funny and loving husband and a fantastic career. Seriously, how many TV moms back then worked a full time job – let alone being a lawyer – and had a family who adored her? Despite what happened to the show’s creator, “The Cosby Show” still goes down as one of the best family sitcoms, ever. It also helped that Phylicia Rashad played Clair with equal parts warmth and fierceness. We bow down to you, Clair Huxtable.
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It’s not an easy job trying to get two families to become one, but Carol Brady made it look easy (well, she did have a little help from Alice). “The Brady Bunch” gave the world so many memorable moments, and it was all glued together thanks to Florence Henderson’s Carol Brady.
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Up until Lorelai Gilmore showed up on our TV screens with her smart and witty daughter Rory, TV hadn’t really seen a show with a single mom trying to figure out this thing called life. “Gilmore Girls” is a beloved show to so many fans, and much of that comes from what an amazing character Lorelai is. Just like her daughter, she is witty and sharp, but she’s also vulnerable, not afraid to make a mistake, which is incredibly relatable. Long live Stars Hallow!
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When most housewives on TV shows were prim, proper and always available to help their husband and children, Peggy Bundy from “Married … With Children” was the complete opposite, and that’s why so many fans of the show loved her. Peg was rude, crass, lazy and a little bit selfish, but that’s what made her so endearing and iconic all these years later. Bonus points for having the best hair, too.
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Fans of FOX’s “Bob’s Burgers” know just how incredible and hilarious Linda Belcher is, but for those who haven’t watched the cartoon series, let us fill you in. Linda’s whole life is about the burger joint she and her husband run, along with her hilarious children Tina, Gene and Louise. Linda fiercely protects her family, but she’s also a free spirit who makes up random songs that make zero sense and lovingly annoys her family to no end. As far as animated moms go, Linda is one of the best.
Photo via FOX.
It takes a special kind of woman to deal with Tony Soprano, and Carmela Soprano did it all with style and grace. While Carmela rarely talked about her husband’s role in the mafia, you could tell she was fighting an internal struggle between what is good and bad. Actress Edie Falco played Carmela with such love and passion that she was so much more than a mob boss’s wife. In a way, Carmela was the original “Real Housewife of New Jersey” before the show even existed.
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When it comes to TV moms who royally screw up all the time and put their children’s lives in danger, Nancy Botwin from “Weeds” takes the cake. When “Weeds” first starts out, Nancy is a widowed suburban mom who decides to sell marijuana to the neighborhood dads, but once Nancy gets a taste of the big bucks, there is no turning back. Played by the brilliant Mary-Louise Parker, Nancy’s intention all along was to keep food on the table for her two boys, but she learns that too much power can be too much of a good thing.
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It’s easy to forget that Selina Meyer, the first woman vice president of the United States, on HBO’s “Veep” is a mom, and honestly, we think that she forgets she is, too. Selina only has one daughter, Catherine, and she never has time for her because she’s too busy running for president and dealing with her dysfunctional staff. Selina is probably one of the worst mothers on this list, but she’s played so perfectly by Julia Louis-Dreyfus that Selina’s narcissism comes off as charming and funny. Plus, no other mom on this list can brag about working in the Oval Office.
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If Carmela Soprano gets an award for dealing with her mobster husband, then Edith Bunker should win an even bigger award for being married to Archie Bunker. Despite Archie being incredibly rude and hot-headed throughout the entire run of “All in the Family,” Edith was the one person who could calm her husband down and talk back to him. Jean Stapleton played Edith with such love and warmth, and who can forget the iconic opening of the show with Edith and Archie singing and playing piano? Such a classic.
Rainbow Johnson from “Black-ish” is a breath of fresh air when it comes to moms on TV in the modern age. Rainbow is practically a modern version of Clair Huxtable from “The Cosby Show,” but watching Rainbow navigate what it means to be an African-American mother in this moment in time is amazing to watch. “Black-ish” has never been shy about confronting awkward or painful conversations, and Tracee Ellis Ross plays the role with so much heart and soul.
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No other mom on the list has been rocking the same hairdo for the past 30 years, and for that, we applaud you, Marge Simpson. Being the voice of reason for the Simpson family is a tough job, but when you have Homer and Bart living together under the same roof, someone has to do it. Marge is easily one of the most recognizable TV moms of all time and we hope she doesn’t go anywhere anytime soon.
Photo via FOX.
If we were to give an award for TV mom with the best laugh, Kitty Forman would win the prize. Hailing from “That ’70s Show,” Kitty is just happy to be surrounded by her kids and their friends, even if they’re secretly making fun of her. And just like any mom of the 1970s, she loved to have a glass (or two) of wine.
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We did think about including Daenerys Targaryen, aka the mother of dragons from “Game of Thrones,” on this list, but if any mother from the HBO smash series should be included on this list, it should be Lady Catelyn Stark. After a war breaks loose in Westeros, where “Game of Thrones” takes place, Catelyn will do anything to have her five children reunited with her.
(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
When we met the moms on this list, they were already moms, which is why Mindy Lahiri from “The Mindy Project” is included. Lahiri is basically the alter ego to the show’s creator Mindy Kaling, and viewers of the show got to watch Mindy go from a hot mess express who drunkenly rides a bike into a swimming pool, to being a semi-functioning single mom to baby Leo. Mindy is living the ultimate TV rom-com fantasy and we love it.
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All of the moms on our list have been fictional characters, but reality TV is a huge part of the TV landscape, so we had to include at least once “Real Housewife.” And who better than Teresa Giudice, one of the original cast members from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” and resident table flipper at dinner parties? Giudice may have ended herself up in the clinker, but her story line on much of the show has been her four daughters who run the household. Giudice may not be the best mom out there, but there is no doubt that she loves her daughters, even the hilarious and difficult Melania (who once called her dad an “old troll”).
(Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Did we miss any of your favorite TV moms? Let us know in the comments below.
This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.