Most people argue with their mothers here and there, but deep down, almost everyone loves their mother. Similarly, while our mothers may not like all of our life decisions, they are usually proud of us overall. Unfortunately, not everyone is so fortunate.
This is particularly true when it comes to the mothers of some of our favorite television characters. If a show has a maniacal, neurotic, foul-mouth or otherwise messed up main character, chances are there is an even worse mother that caused such behavior. Here are a few of our favorite terrible television mothers.
Colleen Donaghy from 30 Rock
Sure Jack Donaghy might be a wealthy and successful man these days, but he started out a poor youngster from Boston. Unfortunately, no matter how much he improves himself and how much his mother’s life has improved thanks to his success, Colleen is never happy and continues to blame him for everything that has ever gone wrong in her life — including the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
In one episode, you even learn that Colleen tried to send Jack off to fight in Vietnam, despite the fact that he was only 12 at the time. Every episode that features Colleen reminds us why Jack rarely calls his own mother anything but her first name.
Estelle Costanza from Seinfeld
If you’re a Seinfeld fan, then you know that mere mention of George’s mother is certain to get her critical, yet whiny voice to pop up in your head immediately. Estelle is so terrible, that watching just a few episodes with her immediately makes you realize why George is so neurotic and awkward. Like Colleen Donaghey, she never seems to be happy for her son, even when he’s landed a great job working for the New York Yankees.
Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond
When is a caring, nurturing mom a problem? When she’s also overprotective, judgmental and arrogant like Marie Barone, the title character’s mother. Despite being an ideal housewife who loves her two sons, she is also the main antagonist of the show because she is so controlling, manipulative and just plain rude. She also is known to pick favorites, even between her two sons, completely smothering Ray, while leaving Robert to fend for himself.
To make matters worse, the only person in the family who seems to have the courage to stand up to her is her husband, leaving Ray’s wife Debra to deal with her snide insults.
Endora from Bewitched
Like Marie Barone, Endora provides this show with its main antagonist. Samantha’s mother is what J.K. Rowling would call a “pureblood,” and, like many purebloods in Harry Potter, she loathes non-witches. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what Samantha’s husband Darrin happens to be. As a result, Endora constantly belittles Darrin, constantly calling him “Durwood,” “Darwin,” etc., only using his real name a handful of times throughout the series.
While that would be bad enough, Endora is also constantly trying to prove to Samantha that Darrin is not good enough for her. Of course, she does this by constantly placing spells on him, causing strain between Darrin and Samantha. Eventually the curses are always broken when the two protagonists prove their love for one another yet again.
Betty Draper from Mad Men
Like any typical American housewife of the ’60s, Betty Draper seems like an ideal mother. When you start to take a closer look though, you quickly realize that she is an emotionally immature and petty woman who doesn’t think twice about using her children to manipulate her ex-husband.
While her character is by far the cruelest to Don, she certainly pulls some punches on her children as well. The worst example being when she fires Carla, the nanny the kids grew up with, because she allowed Sally to say goodbye to her friend Glen, who Betty loathes, before they move.
Agnes Skinner from The Simpsons
Seymour Skinner’s mother is one of the cruelest characters on the show, constantly barking orders at him and even going so far as to ground him on one occasion because he didn’t tell her who was at the door. In the beginning of the series, Agnes was never seen, only heard. She was so creepy and terrible that many people expected her to be imaginary, like Norman Bates’ mother in Psycho.
While Agnes is an undoubtedly terrible mother, she is the one person on this list who at least has an excuse to be cruel — we learn in “The Principal and The Pauper,” that the Seymour Skinner known to everyone in town isn’t actually her real son and is an imposter. Strangely, though, Agnes is such a terrible mother that she prefers the imposter because her real son has the guts to stand up to her and make his own decisions. Agnes also hate her real kid because she lost the 1952 Summer Olympics pole vaulting contest when her unborn fetus kicked the bar, making her lose.
Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development
She’s an alcoholic, embezzling, lying adulterer, and one of the greatest characters on the show. While she has a soft-spot for adoption, it seems as though she only adopted Lindsay so she had a woman to critique and she took in Annyong only to make Buster jealous. Yes, her entire parenting method could be attributed to working as hard as possible to make her children completely unstable — a job she failed at when it comes to Michael.
As the entire family tries to buckle down to save money so they can keep their company afloat as it flounders under investigation from the SEC, Lucille continues to embezzle money so she can keep getting facelifts and spa treatments. She’s such a snob that at one point, the narrator of the show accuses her of never having made eye contact with a waiter.
Barbara Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Frank’s gold-digging ex-wife was not only cruel to her husband, but also to her own children, who she has little affection for, particularly Sweet Dee. Barbara constantly criticized Dee from childhood into adulthood. In one scene, she even tells Dee that she shouldn’t eat because she’s getting fat, only so Barbara can steal Dee’s food and feed it to her dog.
In the second season, it was revealed that Barbara lied to the kids and Frank throughout their lives, knowing full well that Bruce Mathis was their actual father. She let everyone think Frank was the father of her children only because he seemed wealthier than Bruce and, in her mind, that meant he would make a better dad. And let’s not forget that she had sex with one of her kid’s friends, Mac, just to make her ex-husband jealous.
Barbara is so evil that when she dies in the third season, the gang reacts to the news by popping open a bottle of champagne.
Liane Cartman from South Park
It’s hard to be a single mother, but that hardly excuses a willingness to pose on the cover of Crack Whore Magazine. In fact, the show has insinuated on occasion that the only way Liane supports her son is through prostitution and dealing drugs. While that’s pretty bad, it’s even worse that Liane has slept with just about every man in town, which made it so hard to guess who Cartman’s real father was. Fortunately, that was all cleared up at the end of “Cartman’s Mother Is Still a Dirty Slut,” when we discovered that his mother actually is actually a hermaphrodite and is really Cartman’s father. The world has yet to learn who Cartman’s actual mother is, so really, that means he has two terrible mothers in his life.
Celia Hodes from Weeds
We’re all sympathetic to Nancy Botwin’s turn to drug dealing after her husband passed away, but when Nancy’s friend Celia also turns to dealing, it’s no longer such a noble act. Celia’s true darkness is revealed in how she cares for her own daughters though.
After sending her oldest daughter is sent off to boarding school in Mexico, Celia quickly begins trying to emotionally destroy her younger daughter, Isabelle, as well. Celia taunts Isabelle about her weight and sexual orientation and even replaces her chocolate stash with laxatives at one point. While selling drugs to support your family can be noble, trying to torture your own kids is just plain cruel.