Top 5 Science Fiction Mothers (in Film)

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In celebration of Mother’s Day, I offer to you all my favorite science fiction mothers. There are a few lists of mothers in science fiction, but this will be one of the only lists that narrows things down specifically to heroines who are also mothers (of which there are very few) and who can be found in fim.

I gave myself a few rules for the selection process:

  1. Heroine will be defined as a woman who achieves (or attempts to achieve) physical or intellectual goals either as an equal member in a group, a leader, or on her own.
  2. A mother will be defined as a woman who either gives birth to and participates in the raising of children OR a woman who adopts (de facto or literally) a child and participates in their raising.
  3. They must actually be heroines while being mothers.  It doesn’t count if she was a heroine in her younger days, and then stopped being one when she got pregnant and had kids.  It also doesn’t count if she wallows in despair because she lost manly man, gives birth, and then decides to die (I’m looking at you, Padme Amidala).

Here’s my list:

#5 — Sarah Jane Smith (Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures)

Saves the world a bunch of times?  Check.  Has a genius kid who’s slightly obnoxious, but still lovable?  Check.  Has a wicked super computer?  Check.  Is completely and utterly capable of being a badass while handling the responsibilities of being a parent?  Check.

One of my favorite Sarah Jane moments:  reminding Davros in “Journey’s End” with little more than the tone of her voice that she was there in the beginning, on Skaro — sort of like rubbing salt in an open wound.  There’s a reason Sarah Jane Smith remains a favorite among Whovians.  It’s because she’s awesome.

#4 — Dr. Beverly Crusher (Star Trek:  The Next Generation)

An accomplished doctor on a powerful exploration ship full of menfolk with enormous egos?  Yup.  But she holds her own, telling her Captain what’s what from time to time and resolving all manner of medical anomalies brought aboard by her intrepid crew.  And she has to handle all of that while being the mother of a genius son, Wesley.  Imagine trying to do best by your son while in an official “military” post.  Now imagine trying to handle being separated from your son in an increasingly hostile galaxy.  Yet Crusher handles all of that with extraordinary strength.

#3 — Sharon “Athena” Agathon (Battlestar Galactica)

Not many mothers have to survive the disgusting levels of violence thrown at Sharon Agathon.  Being a cylon, she’s hated by what’s left of the human race, because her people nearly wiped humanity out.  She’s hated so much that she’s kept in a prison for most of her life — where she is beaten and almost raped — and has her half-human/half-cylon baby stolen away from her (supposedly “dead”) by people who think Hera (the baby) will destroy the ragtag fleet of leftover human ships.  But she perseveres, fighting with all her might to save her daughter and her family.  She’s a lot like…

#2 — Sarah Connor (The Terminator Series)

What list of SF moms would leave out Sarah Connor?  With two enormous weights on her shoulders — the looming threat of the sentient robot apocalypse and the responsibility of raising the savior of mankind — she’s  the kind of mother we all can respect.  Sure, she’s not perfect — after all, she’s sort of mental and homicidal — but so is everyone else.  Without her strength and determination, John Connor wouldn’t exist and humanity would be screwed.

#1 — Ellen Ripley (The Aliens Series)

She may not be a “traditional” mom, but she does essentially become a surrogate in Aliens and then a much more creepy mother in Alien Resurrection.  But we’ll focus on Aliens, where Newt Gingrich’s future cousin, who is also named after an amphibian, is taken under the wing by one of the greatest would-be-mothers in the science fiction universe.  And what happens when the greatest female heroine in science fiction becomes a surrogate mother?  This:

I rest my case.

Who would you add to this list and why?


Runner up:  My mom.  She may not be a space ninja or whatever, but she does live in an alternate reality in her head.  Plus, she’s my mom and had to deal with me through my teen years.  Somehow she survived.  Kudos to her.  And happy Mother’s Day.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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