In honor of Mother’s Day, I give you a “top ten” list of mothers in science fiction who passed muster in my own book as nurturing life coaches and fearless protectors; in other words, moms who could kiss your boo-boos, make you and your friends a snack, give you a pep talk and lift a car if you were trapped inside. Bear in mind that those listed are influenced by my personal viewing history, so by no means is this the end-all, be-all. With that being said, here’s my top ten picks, in no particular order:
1) Maureen Robinson (June Carter) – Lost in Space
Well, okay, there is a particular order in this case. The trailblazer of all sci-fi mothers, Maureen represents one of the first mothers in space, and also one of the first “mother with a career” role models of TV, so she gets to be first on my list. Mother of three (Will, Penny and Judy) and devoted wife of Professor John Robinson, Maureen was a biochemist, but we rarely ever saw her scientific side. We more often saw Maureen performing housekeeping chores, laundry and gardening in and around the Jupiter 2. Despite this stereotypical “housewife” treatment of her character, she was a strong woman who was ever vigilant of her children and willing to sacrifice herself to save them on more than one occasion.
2) Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) – Torchwood
Gwen, a Cardiff Police Constable, was recruited by Torchwood 3: the group who stands watch over the Cardiff riff in the space-time continuum, and tracks down aliens who pass through it to Earth. Gwen has a strong sense of duty to protect the public, and an even stronger sense of protection over her family, drawing the line in the sand when alien threats happen to cross that boundary into her family life.
3) Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) – Star Trek: Next Generation
Dr. Crusher was the consummate professional as the Chief Medical Officer on the Enterprise. She has those keen mother senses, often being the one to detect that something wasn’t quite right—on the ship and with her son, Wesley, who she raised alone since the death of her husband when Wesley was five years old. She put his needs and her profession in front of pursuing any personal relationships.
4) Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) – Continuum
In a futuristic jail break, Citi Protective Services (CPS) Protector Kiera Cameron is separated from her husband and son when she is thrown back in time with a group of Liber8 terrorists. Faced with her new reality and the people she loves don’t exist yet, she joins the Vancouver Police to help hunt down these fugitives with some pretty kickin’ gear that she had with her during the time jump. The one thing that keeps her going is the memory of her young son, Sam, who she desperately misses and will do anything to see again.
5) Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) – Dr. Who
Fiercely protective of her grown daughter, and extremely spunky, Jackie Tyler even slaps Dr. Who in the face when questioning his relationship with her daughter, and, in a true “protective mother” role, continues to be wary of the Doctor’s intentions as he spends a lot of time with her in that little blue box. But, as with most people, the Doctor’s charm starts to melt in a bit, tempering Jackie’s initial anger into more of a mild contempt throughout their relationship. She keeps him in check, joking with him in a slightly threatening tone, saying things like: “I’ll show you where this ankle is going” and “If we end up on Mars, I’m going to kill you.” If I were Rose Tyler, I’d fear Jackie’s anger much worse than a few hundred Daleks.
6) Sara Connor (Linda Hamilton) – Terminator 2
Talk about a comeback from young, scared and naïve to a lean, mean fighting machine! Sara Connor is one mother you really don’t want to mess with! She endured the previous 15 or so years of her life in and out of mental facilities, all the while knowing and preparing for the danger that may return. She spends the time focusing and physically training for the day when she emerges from the mental hospital ready to fulfill her primary purpose: to protect her son, who is destined to be a leader of men in the future war against machines.
7) Sarah Manning (Tatiana Malany) – Orphan Black
Speaking of survivor moms, here’s another Sarah who will do what it takes to survive on the run, and to recover her kidnapped daughter while she is running from a myriad of people trying to hunt her down. She’s not your standard mom role model, but she can “channel the mother bear within” with the best of them if her daughter is threatened, and really does care about giving her daughter a better life than the one she’s led. As an example, she involved her 7-year-old in a shoplifting diversion to get them some food; however, she explained soon after that “we don’t do that unless we have to,” still caring that her daughter understands the various shades of gray between right and wrong.
8) Elastagirl/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) – The Incredibles
I love Helen Parr (a.k.a. Elastagirl), who finds herself being wife, mother and superhero when her gifted children stow away in her plane as she follows her husband to a remote island. Instead of finding him dealing with a mid-life crisis, they discover a greater danger that they must all work together to defeat. She’s able to rescue her husband, come up with an escape plan and protect her kids while coaching them to develop their skills and their self-confidence. Elastagirl gets two enthusiastic thumbs up!
Although the next two on my list were not mothers, they filled strong mother roles, and I felt that they both deserved a spot on this list:
9) Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) – StarTrek: Voyager
After a freak wormhole incident, the crew of Voyager find themselves flung to a far corner of the universe, about 70 light-years away from Earth, along with a renegade Maquis ship that they were pursuing. Captain Janeway is successful in blending the two antagonistic crews by first boldly appointing the Maquis captain as her first officer, and nurturing each crewmember’s talents to get home. Maquis and Starfleet learn to live together and work toward a common goal under her strong leadership skills. Janeway also rescues a human-borg woman, Seven of Nine, who was separated from her hive, and rehabilitates her back into human life. During their time together, she develops a strong mother-daughter bond with Seven.
10) Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) – Battlestar Galactica
When Caprica is destroyed by the Cylons, Laura Roslin, originally Secretary of Education, is found to be the highest ranking official still living, and she is sworn in as the president of the survivors (she was 43rd in line of succession to the office). She immediately assembles all of the ships capable of jump drive and convinces the military to abandon their plans of a retaliatory attack in favor of escape. Despite her quiet battle with breast cancer, Laura is transformed from a soft-spoken pacifist to a formidable and often ruthless leader who will do whatever it takes to assure the survival of her people. She sees them through to the “promised land,” only to die when they get there, her purpose fulfilled.
Let’s give all of these women a great big SciFi4Me shout-out on Mother’s Day!