On television, as in real life, there are many different kinds of moms. Some moms are funny (like I Love Lucy‘s eponymous Lucy Ricardo), others are experts at work-life balance (like The Cosby Show‘s Clair Huxtable); some talk to you like a best friend (such as Gilmore Girls Lorelai Gilmore), while others are less traditional (like The Addams Family‘s spooky matriarch Morticia Addams), and some are down for a stiff drink at any hour of the day (such as Arrested Development‘s Lucille Bluth). In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve condensed some outstanding quotes and scenes from a wide range of fictional TV moms into sentence-length life lessons that everyone can learn from. These pearls of wisdom prove that (TV) mothers do know best.
Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) from Stranger Things
Lesson: Trust your gut.
When her youngest son Will mysteriously disappears from their home in the show’s first episode, Joyce is prepared to do anything to get him back. After the police investigation comes to a dead-end and the rest of the town has resigned itself to believe he’s gone, Joyce channels her frustration and grief into a passionate quest to find her son. When the lights in her home begin to act up, she believes she’s discovered a way to talk to him. In one of the most memorable scenes from Stranger Things’ breakout debut season, Joyce strings Christmas lights along her living room wall accompanied by letters of the alphabet which she encourages her missing son to use so she can decrypt the message he’s been trying to send her all season–and it works.
Despite the odds, she knew her son was still out there trying to communicate with her, and she didn’t care how crazy others thought she might be. “Maybe I’m out of my mind,” she explains in a mid-season episode, “but God help me, I will keep these lights up until the day I die if I think there’s a chance Will is still out there!” Joyce knew in her heart that Will was still alive and she was willing to turn her life upside down (figuratively and literally) to get him back. The main takeaway from Joyce’s season one storyline is that momtuition is real and it saves lives!
Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams) from Black Lightning
Lesson: You don’t need to be a superhero to be a superhero.
As a neuroscientist with a Ph.D. and an M.D. Lynn Pierce can help her superhero husband and their superhero daughters understand their genetically enhanced bodies and is relied upon to patch Team Lightning up after big fights. But the thing that makes her the family’s MVP is that as the only non-superhero in her family, it falls to her to remind them of their humanity when their hero complexes cloud their judgment and endanger their lives. Lynn is profoundly compassionate and knows that even though her family members have extraordinary powers, they are all still human. On the show, her wisdom both centers and strengthens her family. In one scene, she explains to her youngest daughter that fear isn’t a sign of weakness, but a necessary instinct for self-preservation.
Linda Belcher (John Roberts) from Bob’s Burgers
Lesson: Embrace the randomness of the universe.
In the season six episode “Sliding Bobs” the Belcher children learn that their father Bob’s “thick, luxurious, Tom Selleck-ian” mustache was the thing that first drew Linda to him. They begin speculating about how their parents’ meet-cute wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t have that mustache. Tina, ever the romantic and believer in fate, freaks out when she realizes that without such a small detail her parents would never have gotten married, and she and her siblings wouldn’t have been born. Upon seeing her daughter’s despair set in, Linda finds a way to spin the chaos of the universe into something exciting. “Everything is random,” Linda explains, “but that’s what makes life so wonderful. […] Sometimes all the crap in the universe lines up, like that night I met your father. Everything lined up, and it came out Belcher. How beautiful is that?” Not only is this a perfect mom moment, but it is also an essential lesson in the power of perspective-shifting for anyone of any age to deploy when the universe seems unbearably chaotic.