A Look at Badass Moms in TV and Film

Listen, being a mom isn’t easy. Just to get the title you must carry and grow a baby inside of your body for nine months. Then you have to deliver that baby and begin caring for it immediately. The job doesn’t end there. Moms are best known for being caring, considerate, and downright doting at times. While that may not be everyone’s experience, you can’t deny that it’s a stereotype for a reason.

That’s why there’s nothing more enjoyable than watching a mom break those stereotypes. Whether she’s protecting her child and family, or simply rebelling against the age-old assumptions of what a mom should be, when pushed, moms can put up one hell of a fight.

To celebrate their badassery, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite badass moms from TV and Film.

Skyler White (Breaking Bad)

When we met Skyler, she was the kind of mom who would make breakfast every morning. She was overly worried about her son, Walter Jr., and her husband, Walter White. But as her husband began to transform right before her eyes, she changed too. Rather than turn Walt in, which would reveal to their son that his father was a criminal, she leveraged her professional training as an accountant to clean up Walt’s operation. Together, they purchased the car wash where Walt used to work, and there Skyler would become the accountant on record able to launder their money.

But as any Breaking Bad fan knows, Walt was relentless in his thirst for power, leaving Skyler little choice if she wanted to keep her children safe. During a birthday party for Walt, Skyler staged a fake suicide, throwing herself into the pool in front of everyone. Her questionable mental state led the family to place Skyler and Walt’s kids at her sister Marie’s. Her plan worked.

Watch the making of Skyler’s near-drowning experience from Season 5, Episode 4.


Wendy Byrde (Ozark)

It turns out that Wendy Byrde and Skyler White have a lot in common. If it weren’t for them living in completely different stories, we think they could be great friends. Like Skyler, Wendy learned and accepted her husband’s criminal activities. But the difference between these two women is stark. Skyler couldn’t go the distance with Walt... but Wendy surpasses her husband Marty.

That’s because Wendy likes power.

As her husband Marty stayed under the radar desperately finding ways to pay back their debt, Wendy was further solidifying their position in an international criminal enterprise. When Marty disagreed with her, she simply went behind his back. Some may look at this as Wendy endangering her family, but to Wendy the more powerful the Byrde’s could become, the safer they would be. TBD on how that will work out.

In the meantime, here's a look at Wendy exercising her blossoming power over her husband:

Vic McQueen (NOS4A2)

Vic didn’t have the best parents to learn from, so we’ll have to chalk up her badass mothering to pure instinct. When Vic first heard of Charlie Manx, she wanted nothing to do with him. She wasn’t excited about her power, or what having it meant. The fight of her life was now clear, and it was against a supernatural killer on the loose. She simply wanted to have a normal life, and become an artist.

But something changed when Vic became a mother. A fire was set inside of her when Charlie came for Wayne, Vic’s son. After falling into a trap that lands her son in the backseat of Charlie’s Wraith, Vic wastes no time trying to save him. She confirms Lou is alright, takes a gun from her father, hops on a bike, and she’s off.

Now imagine this from Wayne’s point of view: you were just taken by a strange, scary man. Moments later, your mom is on her motorcycle chasing this man’s car down, and shooting a gun directly at him. Oh, and it’s raining. Doesn’t get more badass than that.

Mia Warren (Little Fires Everywhere)

Not all badassery requires criminal activity and supernatural villains. Even in the most mundane of environments, mothers sometimes have to exercise the badass inside. Take Mia Warren, for instance. As a young girl desperate for money to stay in art school, Mia accepted payment in exchange for becoming a couple’s surrogate mother. Slowly she became attached to the baby growing inside of her and made the decision to take off, keeping the baby for herself.

This set the path for a life of hiding and lies that Mia was able to maintain for years, until her and her daughter, Pearl, arrived at Shaker Heights. They took up residence in a home owned by Elena Richardson. As Pearl became enthralled by the Richardson family, Mia accepted a position to look after their home in a quiet power move that allowed her to keep an eye on her daughter.

At another job, Mia met Bebe Chow, a young mother who gave up her daughter in a lapse of judgment. Soon Mia will learn that Bebe’s daughter is not far. In fact, Mia discovers Bebe’s daughter is being adopted by one of Elena’s closest friends. Despite the risks of upsetting Elena, her landlord and boss, Mia proceeds to help Bebe Chow in a legal battle to get her daughter back.

Sometimes it’s the subtlest of moves that are the most badass.

Joyce Byers (Stranger Things)

Joyce is a mom who one day discovers that her son has disappeared. While the viewer knows very well he’s been pulled into the Upside Down, no one is yet aware of such a thing. Relentless, Joyce uses every last bit of her motherly instinct to discover that her son is somewhere unreachable and he can communicate with her through a string of lights.

Yes, everyone thinks she’s crazy. Even the viewers that know she’s actually onto something can get lost in what seems to be a mother falling apart at the seams. But soon Joyce is standing side by side with her friend, Jim Hopper (who also happens to be the town’s chief of police), and they’re crossing over into the Upside Down. It's there that she finds and saves her son's life.

Kate McCallister (Home Alone)

Based on how Kate McCallister treats her son Kevin the night before they take off for their vacation, you may think she’d be happy he missed the flight. But it’s immediately obvious that’s not the case when we watch Kate realize her youngest son is not with them on their flight to Paris.

As soon as her plane touches down in Paris, she heads to book one straight back home to Illinois. But the Christmas holiday and bad weather has her stuck in an airport while her son is alone somewhere across the world. That doesn’t stop her.

She begs and pleads with the airline staff. She haggles with a woman on line to board her flight, offering her jewelry in exchange for her plane ticket. She manages to get two flights — one to Dallas, and then one to Scranton, PA. While she makes it to the same country, she’s still hundreds of miles from her son. Finally, with nothing left to lose, Kate McCallister accepts a ride from a complete stranger. She joins Gus Polinski, played by John Candy, along with his polka band the Kenosha Kickers as they drive cross country in a rented van. An insane move, but it gets her home to her son.

It seems badass mothering comes in all forms. While some are cleaning up after their criminal husbands, others are stepping into supernatural underworlds full of monsters. One thing these moms have taught us, is that stereotypes are made to be broken.

Catch more of Vic McQueen being a badass mom in new episodes of NOS4A2 every Sunday 10/9c.