Mothers From Hell: Top Ten Best Worst Tv Moms.

Kendall Rivers
7 min readJun 17, 2022


We’ve talked about all the best tv mothers before, but I couldn’t leave out tv’s absolute worst mothers who are still somehow lovable, funny and\or dynamic enough to consider the best of the worst. These were moms we would never want to have raised us in real life, but they were so entertaining onscreen that we love ’em anyway despite their many faults. So get ready to countdown ten nasty mommas who made their children’s lives miserable all for our delight.

10. Marion Gilbert & Adele Wayne. A Different World.

Adele and Marion were super loving and protective mothers to Dwayne and Whitley, but sometimes their motherly love could be a bit overbearing, unwanted and certainly embarrassing. They always meant well, of course, but poor Whitley and Dwayne had to suffer nevertheless, and so did anyone else unlucky enough to be in their path when they were ready to throw down. Diahann Carroll’s Marion Gilbert’s entire personality explained Whitley and all her faults so clearly. The casting of Patti LaBelle and Diahann Carroll was a stroke of genius and their chemistry together became iconic. The show was at its comedic best whenever these two came to blows both verbally and physically.

9. Marie Barone. Everybody Loves Raymond.

Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal explained Marie Barone’s entire character with one simple yet perfect statement: Everything she does comes from love. They say that love makes you crazy and that was proven countless times with Marie Barone whose tendency to butt in where she didn’t belong, favor one son overwhelmingly over the other, mercilessly criticize her daughter in law, and basically hold the whole family under her ruling as the obvious Queen (or Dictator, whichever fits best) of the family made her the mother from hell. But at the end of the day, Marie loved her family, especially her two boys to death and ultimately that made her worthwhile…. Well, for the most part. Doris Roberts won four Emmys for her iconic role and it’s easy to see why with every episode.

8. Thelma Harper. Mama’s Family.

Thelma Harper was one tough cookie. You didn’t wanna mess with her, because she took no crap off anybody, especially her family. We all love to laugh at Mama, but I sure wouldn’t want to be in the receiving end of her razor sharp insults or ear drum damaging screaming rants. Far from June Cleaver, Thelma Harper was not exactly the type of mom you would want to come home to if you had a bad day. But what she lacked in typical motherly love, she more than made up for as a Grandmother who got her rebellious grandson Bubba straight after years in Juvenile Detention. Nobody could’ve made Mama Harper as hilarious or as iconic as Vicki Lawrence.

7. Peggy Biggs. Mike & Molly.

Poor Mike and Molly had to deal with the burden of dealing with the hilariously crude, rude and forever cranky Peggy. Peggy wasn’t exactly the most nurturing or friendly person, other than with her “favorite son” Jim the dog, but she sure was hilariously horrible. Poor Molly took the brunt of Peggy’s nastiness, but at the end of the day, Peggy would do anything for her Mikey, and later on would develop a softer albeit still frosty relationship with her daughter in-law proving that deep down a savage beast lies a slightly less savage beast.

6. Peggy Bundy. Married… With Children.

Peggy’s a real special type of mom: One who makes both of my best and best worst mother’s lists. Peggy was the “cool” mom while also the laziest, most incompetent and worst influence mom. Nevertheless she had it in her to be as loving and nurturing as any other mother… You know, when she actually got off the couch and turned off Oprah to do it. No one plays the gold digging, sharp witted couch potato quite like the always amazing Katey Sagal.

5. Evelyn Harper. Two and A Half Men.

As the matriarch of the family, Evelyn certainly ruled with an iron fist. As brutally honest, critical and no nonsense as they come, Evelyn Harper wasn’t exactly the mom you wanted to come to birthdays and holidays, but she was the one that Charlie and Alan got stuck with and caused most of their psychological and emotional flaws. Holland Taylor took the role and ran with it, making Evelyn a classic mother you love to hate and hate to love.

4. Beverly Harris. Roseanne.

Speaking of causing psychological and emotional scars, Roseanne and Jackie’s overbearing mother Bev was very much the bane of Roseanne and Jackie’s existence played with overdramatic, guilt tripping and self absorbed perfection by the great Estelle Harris. You can always count on Bev to butt in where she didn’t belong, play guilt trips on her two daughters ’til they caved and put Jackie down every chance she got, and we’re all grateful for it.

3. Benita “Benny” Lopez. George Lopez.

George Lopez suffered a lot from the pitfalls of life, but no one or thing made him suffer more than his drunken, bitter and wild mother Benita “Benny” Lopez, who had seen her fair share of crap throughout her entire life and had no problem lashing out at any and everyone to cope with it. Benny wasn’t only as lazy and unsupportive a parent as they come, she was also a giant liar who lied about George’s father being dead when he was actually alive, rich and had another family, never told George about his sister who she put up for adoption, and those aren’t the half of it. Despite it all, Benny had that lovably acerbic thing about her that makes her a comedic goldmine.

2. Ida Welker. Malcolm In The Middle.

You know you’re a truly evil person when your own Grandchid despises you. Ida was a truly evil and miserable human being who made everyone, especially her poor daughter Lois miserable. And yet, you can’t help but love whenever she showed up to cause terror. Ida was so powerful that she’d reduce the normally super strong and no nonsense Lois to a vulnerable little girl who can’t stand up to her mother. The only good thing Ida ever did in her whole life was save Dewey from getting hit by a truck losing her leg in the process, but after that she claimed that he now owed her his life, and you just know she’s gonna collect. If anybody was made to play a role it was the amazing late Cloris Leachman who made this hateful old lady so hilarious and entertaining. Ida was one bad momma and grandma and we all love her for it.

  1. Livia Soprano. The Sopranos.

Out of all the comically horrible mothers television has given us, Livia Soprano, the matriarch of the Soprano clan takes the title. At least all the other mothers could say that they never tried to have their children killed. Livia conspired with her brother in law to kill her only son Tony, and even smiled at the idea twice. The woman was as narcissistic, unsympathetic and negative as they come, it’s no wonder her children turned out the way they did and honestly they should’ve turned out even worse. All that said, Livia became one of the all time great tv villains and was played very well by the late Nancy Marchand. Let’s be honest, if I had a mother like Livia I’d probably “whack” a few folks myself.

As much as we all love the tv moms that make us wish they were ours, we owe a lot of entertainment to the tv moms that make us love to hate them and hate to love them. ’Til next time, folks!



Kendall Rivers

Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters.