The 10 Worst Mothers on Television (But We Still Love Them)

With Mother's Day weekend here, it's easy to realize how great your mom is compared to some of these ladies of the small screen

As Mother's Day arrives, you may find yourself lovingly recalling all that Mom has sacrificed for her family -- and maybe even her few missteps along the way. (Granting you permission for that perm in the '80s, perhaps?)

But take heart: At least she's not like these 10 fictional moms, who berate, manipulate and lie to their loved ones, often all in the name of love. But because no child's relationship with her mother is on good terms all the time, each of these 10 women gained a fan following, largely because they represent a gray area of life that in some twisted way, we all can relate to.


Roseanne Connor (Played by Roseanne Barr on 'Roseanne')

 Worst TV Moms

The Kobal Collection / Carsey-Werner/Wind Dancer Prod

She may have been crass, demanding and a bit unforgiving, but Roseanne was always laughing -- of course, often at the expense of her family. It was all well and good though, as her family often were the ones laughing right along with her. Roseanne told it to her family -- and the audience -- straight, which everyone found refreshing, leading the series to consistently rank in the top 20 shows for eight of its nine seasons, according to Nielsen ratings.

Peg Bundy (Played by Katey Sagal on 'Married With Children')

Peg Bundy- Worst TV Moms


Spending money, eating bon bons, and feeling entitled to a life of leisure, Peggy Bundy acted like a Real Housewife -- except she was from a (fictional) middle class Illinois suburb. She gave her husband (Ed O'Neill) a hard time for his meager earnings as a women's shoe salesman, and served as the worst kind of role model for her daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) and son Bud (David Faustino). Even so, the woman still managed to be likeable, mainly as the deliverer of some of the show's more biting lines that we all at some point fantasized saying to our own family members.

Marie Barone (Played by Doris Roberts on 'Everybody Loves Raymond')

 Worst TV Moms

Ron Jaffe/CBS

An undermining control freak, Marie Barone clearly favored her younger son Raymond (Ray Romano) over her first-born, Robert (Brad Garrett). That doesn't mean she loved any one child more than the other, however, just that she preferred the company of her son who had moved out (and on) with his own family. Everybody but Marie recognized that her commentary came with undertones of disapproval, which is what made the character so funny: Everybody knows -- and loves -- a mother or mother-in-law just like Marie.

Betty Draper (Played by January Jones on 'Mad Men')

 Worst TV Moms

Courtesy of AMC

She slaps her 10-year-old daughter -- hard -- for cutting her hair, but she treks into New York City to find her daughter's petulant friend, who ran away from home to hide the fact she didn't get into Julliard. Betty Draper is the mom everyone loves to hate, but there is something sympathetic about the character. Maybe its because her husband cheated on her; maybe its because her daughter is poised to become just as sharp-tongued as her mother, but this is one bad mom who pulls at the heart strings.

Lindsay Funke (Played by Portia de Rossi on 'Arrested Development')

 Worst TV Moms

Courtesy of FOX

Lindsay claims she is nothing like her mother Lucille (Jessica Walter) but she might even be worse: At least when it comes to Bluth family matriarch Lucille, there is nothing ulterior about her motives. Self-serving and self-centered, Lindsay only interacts with her daughter, Maeby (Alia Shawkat), in order to further her own agenda; otherwise, she barely knows Maeby exists. Of course, some of the show's more heartwarming moments are between Lindsay and her brother Michael (Jason Bateman), who often makes similar (however, way more well-intentioned) mistakes with his own son.

Lily Van der Woodsen (Played by Kelly Rutherford on 'Gossip Girl')

 Worst TV Moms


Gorgeous and rich with a checkered past, Lily van der Woodsen was married and divorced three times, including to one man who was the father of her daughter's boyfriend. (She later divorced him because, well, the couple hit a rough patch.) She often kept secrets from her family, such as the son she gave up for adoption -- and the fact that she was institutionalized for it in the name of “protecting” her family. A good intention for sure, but you'd think she'd learn from her mistakes after a while!

Sophia Petrillo (Played by Estelle Getty on 'The Golden Girls')

 Worst TV Moms

Fotos International/Getty Images

She may look small and frail, but her mouth was anything but. Prone to making cracks at her daughter's (and her daughter's friends') expense, Sophia Petrillo also had a funny fondness for discussing the state of her digestive system -- to a room full of people. As her daughter Dorothy (Bea Arthur) would say, “Oh, Ma!”

Nancy Botwin (Played by Mary-Louise Parker on 'Weeds')

 Worst TV Moms

Peter Iovino/SHOWTIME

The slogan may be “drug free is the way to be,” but for Weeds' Nancy, the leader of a drug cartel is the way to be -- for her family's sake! After finding mixed success selling pot to support her family after her husband suddenly dies, Nancy rises to the upper echelons of an international drug ring that burdens the very family she is trying to support. We all have to make hard choices in life, but thankfully, not often ones like this.

Riley Parks (Played by Jennifer Love Hewitt on 'The Client List')

 Worst TV Moms

Courtesy of Lifetime

Sure, she's a prostitute, but in TV land it is for the benefit of her kids. After her husband mysteriously up and leaves her (most unbelievably because what sane man would leave Jennifer Love Hewitt?), Riley unwittingly takes a job at a spa that works out (and in) all sorts of kinks. After realizing the money to be had in such a profession, Riley keeps the gig in order to provide for her family in a time of need, putting in place one of the show's central struggles in morality. Not since Pretty Woman has an audience found themselves rooting for a call girl to find her happily ever after.

Felice Martin (Played by Katherine Cannon on 'Beverly Hills, 90210')

 Worst TV Moms

Courtesy of FOX

The mother of the prim and proper Donna (Tori Spelling), Felice Martin often boldly criticized her daughter's taste in men, even once offering one of Donna's less-affluent paramours $10,000 to stop dating her daughter. (He didn't go for it.) In the end though, Felice played a key part in getting the show's star-crossed lovers, David (Brian Austin Green) and Donna back together, which ultimately led to the couple getting married, and the end of the storied show.

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