TV moms are the glue that hold the medium together. Every great show in history had a memorable mom. From Mary Tyler Moore’s Laura Petrie to Bonnie Franklin’s Ann Romano to Allison Janney’s Bonnie Plunkett, sitcom moms trace the evolution of society and what it means to be a mom.
It’s pretty much impossible to get people to agree on their favorite TV mom, but there are a few who are so important their influence cannot be denied. TV may have changed over the years, but great mothers are timeless and unforgettable. With that in mind, here’s our list of the best sitcom moms in TV history.
10 MARGE SIMPSON - THE SIMPSONS
It takes a truly special woman to be married to Homer Simpson and mom to Bart Simpson. No matter how frustrated she is with Homer, or exhausted with Bart, Marge never loses sight of how much she loves them.
Despite how full of nonsense The Simpsons is, Marge is the grounding force of Springfield. She's essentially the straight woman of the series, which makes her more important than all of the funniest recurring characters. Simply put, there's no way Springfield or The Simpsons works without Marge.
9 CLAIRE DUNPHY - MODERN FAMILY
TV is packed with moms who think they know better than everyone else in the family. Where Julie Bowen shines as Claire Dunphy is in her repeatedly humorous reminders that she doesn't actually have all the answers.
On Modern Family, those moments often come in the form of embarrassing and fearless physical comedy from Bowen. Her chemistry with Ty Burrell’s Phil is so easy and relaxed that viewers can easily buy that this is a real family who just continually find themselves swept up in shenanigans.
8 RAINBOW JOHNSON - BLACKISH
As Anthony Anderson's Dre spirals into his weekly craziness, he needs a partner who can not only pull him back to reality, but also draw us into the madness too.
Tracee Ellis Ross’ Bow is the supportive mom who wants her kids to have everything she didn't, but she's also the absurdly healthy mom who keeps up with all the trends. When her two ideals collide, especially against whatever Dre wants, it leads to hilarious consequences and comedy gold for Ross.
7 ELYSE KEATON - FAMILY TIES
Alex P. Keaton may have been the star of Family Ties, but he wouldn’t have had the freedom to be the conservative preppie he was without the open minds of his liberal, hippie parents. Elyse Keaton was a folk rock, ‘60s flower child who probably never thought she’d have a Reagan-loving teenager. However, her ideals allowed her to give her children all the space they needed to be whoever they wanted.
She may have disagreed with Alex on political issues and not liked Mallory’s materialistic ways, but they never doubted how much she loved them, or that she would be there when they needed her.
6 SOPHIA PETRILLO - THE GOLDEN GIRLS
Though The Golden Girls is firmly an ensemble series, there's definitely something special about the relationship between Sophia and Dorothy. They obviously love each other, but it's not a touchy, feely, overly emotional relationship. Although, we would advise you not to hurt Dorothy in any way, because Sophia will come after you.
Sophia is the mom who never lets her kid wallow in disappointments and failures. She's the one telling Dorothy (and Blanche and Rose) no one cares if you're sad, get up and try again.
5 EDITH BUNKER - ALL IN THE FAMILY
There's no question that All in the Family is all about Archie Bunker. However, none of Archie's caustic, racist behavior is even a little tolerable without Edith. She's the heart and soul of the family, and humanizes Archie so we can see there is more to him.
Yes, much of the show's humor is uncomfortable to watch in modern times, but Edith never loses her magic. Frankly, the series was never really the same without her. This is all due to Jean Stapleton's grounded portrayal of a woman who just loves her family and wants to take care of them.
4 BEVERLY GOLDBERG - THE GOLDBERGS
It's safe to say there's no mom on TV more unapologetically involved in her children's lives than Beverly Goldberg. Each episode starts with one or more of the kids coming up with a plan and trying to pull it off without mom. Of course, Beverly can't let that happen so she storms right in, takes over and either makes things better or worse.
Wendi McLendon-Covey is consistently one of the funniest performers on TV. There are no wasted moments when she's on screen. She gets every laugh available, then finds a few more we didn't even know were there. She's the perfect '80s mom with a modern twist.
3 LUCY RICARDO - I LOVE LUCY
As the greatest comedian in the history of television, Lucille Ball was a groundbreaking performer. When her pregnancy was written into I Love Lucy, America literally stopped to watch the birth of little Ricky.
While a lot of shows will lose something when a baby enters the story, Ball found new areas to explore in her unique Lucy way. Episodes where Lucy isn't ready to send him to pre-school, she gets on stage to help him with stage fright or ends up raising chickens are classics that revolve around her as a mother.
2 CAROL BRADY - THE BRADY BUNCH
Carol Brady is Hollywood's version of the perfect mom. She’s available with the perfect advice for every problem, seemingly doesn't really punish her kids and always has dinner ready. If you grew up without a mom, you wanted her to be yours.
A character that perfect can easily get boring, but Florence Henderson did something special, where viewers always knew there was more to Carol than meets the eye. In the hands of another actress, we may not have been as interested in that character for as long as we have been.
1 CLAIRE HUXTABLE - THE COSBY SHOW
Until Claire Huxtable came along, there was a huge part of America that had a certain idea of what a black mother was. Then Claire showed up with her graceful style and intellectual takedowns, and we all immediately loved her.
She was a modern mom who worked, was highly involved in her kids’ lives and still had time to always look gorgeous. She's the standard for current day TV moms, and without Phylicia Rashad’s influential performance we wouldn’t have Claire Dunphy, Rainbow Johnson, Jessica Huang, and Penelope Alvarez.