Sitcoms have been around for over 70 years, and from the earliest days of the genre, family stories were incredibly common. Sitcoms have almost always revolved around families and their daily lives, regardless of whether the attention was on the adults or the children in the family in question.
As a result of being a television genre bursting with hilarious and relatable family stories, sitcoms have prominently featured mother characters who have been as hilarious as they have been harried, as overbearing as they are loving, and as downright iconic as any other characters in sitcom history. Here, we take a look at 10 of the best.
10 Mrs. Wolowitz
The character of The Big Bang Theory's Mrs. Wolowitz has a special distinction on this list: she's the only sitcom mom listed here who was never actually seen on screen. As Howard's boisterous and larger than life mother, Mrs. Wolowitz was always the source of great hilarity and consternation both, even when all viewers knew of her was the sound of her voice.
Always overbearing, meddling in her son's life, but also babying him, too, Mrs. Wolowitz left a significant mark on the series, which made the loss of voice actress Carol Ann Susi such a difficult fact for the show to incorporate.
9 Ruby Johnson
In its five-season run so far, black-ish matriarch Ruby Johnson has quickly established herself as one of the most over the top and hilarious mothers in sitcom history.
Masterfully played by Jenifer Lewis, Ruby is equal parts hilarious and overprotective mother to her son Dre, meddling and judgmental mother-in-law to her daughter-in-law Rainbow, and somehow both spoiling and harsh grandmother to her many grandchildren. All throughout, Ruby is feisty and fierce, and always a little too open with her personal life.
8 Sophia Petrillo
Speaking of feisty and foul-mouthed mothers, one of the original sitcom moms to shock the world with her behavior and dialogue alike was the iconic Golden Girls matriarch, Sophia Petrillo.
With a smarter mouth and a sharper wit than any of the other girls combined, Estelle Getty's fiery and fresh Sophia was always able to be depended upon to shake things up. Through her judgmental commentary on the other girls' lives, her romantic adventures, and her numerous career endeavors, Sophia always shook things up on the series for the better.
7 Kitty Forman
Red Forman might be more frequently discussed in the grand scheme of all things related to the hit series That '70s Show, but there's no denying that Kitty Forman is just as hilarious and iconic in her own right. Played by the absolutely legendary Debra Jo Rupp, Kitty is the perfect deconstruction of the happy housewife.
With a boisterous laugh and a cheery demeanor that hides a truly sarcastic sense of humor, Kitty lights up every room that she walks into and improves every scene she's in... both with or without the alcohol she frequently consumes.
6 Lisa Landry
As one of the most iconic Black sitcoms of the 1990s, Sister, Sister really launched the career of the Mowry twins, giving them the perfect platform to show their true talents. But the series also featured some real talent in the roles of the parents as well - and no one who's ever seen the series could ever forget Jackée Harry's loud and proud Lisa Landry.
Lisa worked as a fashion designer, and her personality was always even louder than her designs. With an insatiable love of all things fashion, men, and food, Lisa is one of the most memorable moms to come out of sitcoms in the modern age of television.
5 Estelle Costanza
Seinfeld might not spend a lot of time on the families of its misanthropic lead characters, but George Costanza's parents receive the most screentime of them all. And for good reason, when you look at the characters and realize just what hidden gems they really are.
Take, for example, George's mother Estelle, hilariously portrayed by Estelle Harris. To anyone who didn't know her, Estelle Costanza would look like a quiet and compromising housewife. But with her distinctive voice, and her tendency to yell to get her way, it's hard to forget her as soon as you've met her.
4 Christine Campbell
Julia Louis Dreyfus might be best known for her iconic turns on both Seinfeld and Veep, but between these two career-defining roles, she spent five seasons as clueless single mother Christine Campbell on The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Christine always means well, but her perpetual airheadedness and her desire to find a new man almost always get her into trouble. Coupled with her overly codependent relationships with her ex-husband, Richard; her brother, Matthew; and her best friend, Barb, Christine makes a strong case for being the most messed up mother on this list - and that's saying something.
3 Edith Bunker
Whether you think All in the Family is a timeless comedy or has become a dated thing of the past, there's no denying that Edith Bunker has stood the test of time as one of the most adorable, loving, oblivious, and downright hilarious mothers in all of sitcom history.
Edith takes a fair amount of flack from Archie over the series' run, but she often gives just as good as she gets. With that adorably high pitched voice and mild-mannered demeanor, Jean Stapleton's Edith Bunker secured her place in sitcom history from the very first time she appeared onscreen.
2 Marie Barone
Sitcom mothers truly don't get any more meddlesome, overbearing, or judgmental than Doris Roberts' iconic Marie Barone from the long-running, beloved series Everybody Loves Raymond. Marie always acts as though her comments and "help" come from a place of love, but she clearly relishes in exerting her authority and superiority over everyone, especially her daughter-in-law, Debra.
She babies her adult son, Raymond, as though he were still an infant; almost always ignores her older son, Robert; and spends almost the entire series cooking for the family she both loves and loves to infuriate. Whether in mother mode or grandmother mode, Marie Barone is one of the most iconic sitcom mothers of all time.
1 Lucy Ricardo
Sitcom mothers truly don't get any more iconic and hilarious than one of the very first of them all: Lucille Ball's Lucy Ricardo in the beloved, legendary series I Love Lucy. While it took a few seasons for Little Ricky to be introduced, and for Lucy to actually become a sitcom mother, from the moment the baby was introduced in the series, it was clear that not even motherhood would slow down Lucy's zany antics.
With one of the most recognizable voices in sitcom history, and a tendency to embrace the dramatic in order to get her way, Lucy Ricardo is a character at once lovable and annoying, hilarious and heartwarming, and all-around iconic.