The 14 Most Iconic Screen Mams And Daughters Of All Time

It's Mother's Day on March 26th, so to celebrate all things maternal Vicki Notaro lists the weirdest and most wonderful mammies and daughters ever seen on screen.

1 Emily, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore

Name a more iconic trio. I’ll wait. No, seriously, is there any generational trifecta more deadly than the Gilmore Girls? Emily is the terrifying yet lovable matriarch we all secretly want to be (especially in shopping malls), Lorelai is the trademark cool mom and Rory the perfect daughter – even in the recent Netflix reboot when she’s lost her way in her early thirties, she’s still pretty much a dream. We all see ourselves in one of the characters, and hey, it’s okay if you relate to Lorelai (or even Emily!) nowadays instead of Rory when you watch the original series. Generation, schmeneration.

2 Regina George and her ma

The inspiration for many a gif since the release of Mean Girls, Regina’s “I’m a cool mom” mom (played wonderfully by Amy Poehler) has become pretty iconic despite her role being tiny. The character works because we all know what it’s like to be mortified by your mother, and we all also fear one day turning in to a pink Juicy Couture tracksuit-wearing, stiff boobed oul wan that still wants to hang out with the teenagers. Shudder.

3 The gals from Terms of Endearment

It’s often dismissed as an old weepie, but the 1980s maternal melodrama starring Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine is as relevant today in terms of mother/daughter relationships. They rarely agree and often fight, but Aurora and Emma have each other’s backs no matter what – until the bitter end. SOB! If you want to become dehydrated from crying, watch this one with your mother in a Beaches/Stepmom marathon and give her an extra tight squeeze.

4 Kris Jenner and Ko

The momager with the mostest not only forged million (billion?) dollar careers for all five of her daughters, but also coined the term we now use to describe her mothering and business acumen combined. Kris might not be the star of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but she’s the driving force behind it all, and has been fierce entertaining throughout. She has no problems playing favourites with Kim, and she’s been widely derided for allowing her younger children too much freedom, but they all absolutely adore her – when they’re not cringing or rolling their eyes, that is. Dare we call Kris the gasest bitch on reality TV?

5 M’Lynn and Shelby in Steel Magnolias

Another sobfest, this film based on a play is set in America’s deep south and focuses on a group of women connected by family and friendship. A young Julia Roberts plays Shelby and we meet her first on her wedding day, learning quickly she lives with serious diabetes, something her mam M’Lynn (Sally Field) frets about endlessly. But Shelby’s desire to be a mother herself against medical advice is the one thing that truly threatens their relationship, with tragic consequences.

6 Mrs Brown and Cathy

Made all the more strange by the fact that Mrs Brown is played by Brendan O’Carroll and Cathy is played by his real-life wife, Jennifer Gibney, you can’t deny that Agnes’ relationship with her only daughter is pretty special. She’s not exactly an average Irish mammy, but she’s pretty close considering she’s played by a man in natural beige tights…

7 The Little Women gang

Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel has been adapted countless times for the big and little screen, but the best one is surely the Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder star vehicle, also featuring a young Kirsten Dunst and Claire Danes. Poor oul’ Mrs March (or Marmie) has been tasked with raising her four girls pretty much all on her lonesome in post Civil-War America, and there’s plenty of tragedy and trauma to boot, but their strong relationship is what gets them through the tough times.

8 Carrie and Margaret White

This pair are iconic for more negative reasons than most – it’s Margaret’s systematic abuse of her only child coupled with bullying at school that leads poor Carrie to channel her telekinetic powers for evil vengeance in Stephen King’s novel and movie. Just goes to show Margaret, perhaps forcing extreme religious beliefs and practices on your daughter, and trying to control her every move, ain’t a good idea in the long run.

9 Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Both screen icons in their own rights with incredible, high profile achievements in performing and writing, their recent deaths one after the other shook Hollywood, and the world. But it was the rare insight in to their often rocky yet incredibly close relationship offered in the documentary Bright Lights that moved audiences to tears and ensured they’ll always be remembered both together and apart. Sob.

10 The Flax family

The combination of Cher and Winona Ryder as a mother/daughter duo is enough to make this list, particularly because they wear matching pink outfits in Mermaids. But the fact that Cher’s character is a somewhat unconventional single mother to Charlotte and Kate (Christina Ricci) only adds to their impressive dynamic. Dare you to watch this and not get the Shoop Shoop song stuck in your head for days.

11 Merida and Queen Elinor

Most classic animated films focus on a young girl’s relationship with her father and various handsome princes – in fact, mothers and stepmothers are often villains, like in Snow White and Tangled, or have passed away, as in Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid. Brave is special because at the crux of it is the relationship between reluctant princess Merida and her stern mum Queen Elinor. The Queen only wants what’s best and proper for her wayward girl, but as the two butt heads, magic takes over and forces them to understand one another. Oh yeah, and in the middle of all of that, Elinor is turned in to a bear.

12 The Freaky Friday Body Switchers

So you might worry you’re turning in to your ma more and more with every year that passes, but what about actually ending up in her body – and her in yours? That’s what happens to Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Anna (Lindsay Lohan) comedy in this screwball remake. The 1976 original is great, but LiLo elevates the role with her early Noughties realness.

13 Catelyn Stark and her girls

Possibly the mam with the goriest screen death ever, Game Of Thrones’ Queen of the North was an absolute bad ass until (spoiler alert!) she was duped, double-crossed and murdered at the Red Wedding. However, her beloved daughters Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) seem to have inherited her strength, wisdom and ability to spot a chancer a mile off. They’re out-lasting many of the male characters in the show with the biggest body count on telly, and are both burgeoning feminist icons. Yeow!

14 Leslie Mann, Maude and Iris Apatow

She plays a harassed mum-of-two with a struggling marriage in Knocked Up and This Is 40, but what makes Leslie Mann’s turn as Debbie in both films even more lovely is the fact that the kids playing her on-screen daughters are her own children with director Judd Apatow. They’re the cut of their mam, have her comic timing and now at 19 and 14 respectively, Maude and Iris have grown up in to gorgeous and talented young women.

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s March issue. Our April issue on shelves now! 

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