No one has a bigger impact on the world than mothers — not just on their children, but also on pop culture. Let’s look at the bad-ass moms who dominated our movies, TV shows and video games in the past year.
Cookie, “Empire” — There has never been a TV mom quite like Cookie. Whether it’s protecting Jamal from his dad’s homophobia or knocking some sense into the cocky Hakeem with a broom, she has made it clear that she’s the one who runs both the family and Empire. She’s not always the best mom, but she’s the mom this cutthroat family needs.
Furiosa, “Mad Max: Fury Road” — She may not have been a true mother, but Furiosa might as well have been one to Immortan Joe’s wives. Furiosa’s compassion in the unforgiving wasteland of “Mad Max” was proof that women in action films can be warriors and nurturers at the same time.
Elizabeth McCord, “Madam Secretary” — Secretary McCord takes the diplomacy of her job and brings it to her personal life. She’s needed it this past season, especially when pictures of her daughter in bed with the president’s son were sold on the Internet to the highest bidder.
Olenna Tyrell, “Game of Thrones” — Do not mess with the Queen of Thorns. Olenna Tyrell has proven she’s a grandma to be reckoned with. Her age hasn’t deterred her from taking charge of House Tyrell and engaging in a deadly feud with Cersei Lannister. Get ready for Tommen and Margaery’s in-laws to have a big final showdown in season six.
Toriel, “Undertale” — Lovingly nicknamed “Goatmom” by fans of Toby Fox’s smash indie hit, Toriel has quickly become one of the most important video game characters ever. Her wonderful charm and love of children masked a dark past filled with loss and regret, culminating in a heartbreaking boss fight that challenged gamers to rethink everything.
Dowager Countess, “Downton Abbey” — The Crawley matriarch always loved being in charge, but spent the final episodes of “Downton Abbey” being forced to recognize that the future of the family and the hospital was in Cora’s hands, not hers. The series ended with her ruminating on life’s constant march to the future, not the past: “If only we had the choice!”
Lori Ann Schmidt, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” — The second season of the Netflix series ended with Kimmy finally meeting her mother and finally getting answers as to why she abandoned her in that bunker. Lori Ann clearly isn’t the mom Kimmy needs her to be, but Lisa Kudrow finds a way to make her a sympathetic figure in spite of her flaws. Hopefully she returns for season 3.
Leia Organa, “The Force Awakens” — It turns out that the Alderaan Princess turned Rebel General is now a mother…to a Sith Lord. It will be interesting to see how the ongoing traumatic relationship between her and Kylo Ren plays out in future films, especially considering what happened to Han Solo.
Joy, “Room” — Being a mom is a tough enough job. Being a mom while imprisoned in a shed and abused by your captor for seven years is a nightmare. Joy manages to support her son even as her world crumbles, and he’s there to return the favor when she needs it most.
Alicia Florrick, “The Good Wife” — It’s fitting that “The Good Wife” ends its seven-season run on Mother’s Day, because Alicia always put family first. (She sacrifices so much for others that she’s only the fourth-best character on her own show, according to our gallery of 27 best “Good Wife” characters.) With the finale, we hope Alicia finally gets to do something for herself.