Although nearly everybody has a mother, decent moms are hard to come by in pop culture. From books, to movies, to television shows, mothers are too often showcased as wicked or domineering – if they’re present at all. And while we love our orphaned heroes, there are a few noteworthy moms we just have to highlight in honor of Mother’s Day.

Here, in no particular order, are our top ten inspirational mothers in film:

1. Sarabi (The Lion King)

lion king

Sarabi may not be as famous as her mischievous cub Simba, or her husband the legendary father-figure King Mufasa, but this lioness is one of the strongest mothers in children’s film. Voiced gracefully by actress Madge Sinclair, the matriarch is proud, noble, and fiercely protective of her family. From her tender banter with young Simba, to her willingness to resist the evil usurper Scar, to her vulnerability and emotional honesty in front of her sisters and children, Sarabi is an inspiring mom in a Disney canon mostly devoid of maternal influence.

2. Queen Elinor (Brave)


But Sarabi certinaly isn’t the only Disney mom worthy of recognition! We fell in love with Queen Elinor from Brave. As strong and spirited (though not as wild) as her red-headed daughter Merida, Elinor is highly relatable as she tries to manage the rough waters of her only daughter’s coming-of-age. And while the pair has a rocky relationship for much of the film, a new and beautiful side of the Queen emerges once she’s cast under a magical spell and unable to care for her family the way she wants to.

In the final minutes of Brave, Merida is attacked by an evil bear called Mor’du. Queen Elinor, at this point cursed into the form of a bear, rushes to protect her. What follows is gut-wrenching. The audience knows Elinor has no chance; she’s too small, and Mor’du is too fierce, but Elinor doesn’t back down. She will never stop fighting to protect her child; she’s a momma bear through-and-through.

3. Helen Parr (The Incredibles)


Helen Parr (a.k.a. Elastigirl) is the true hero of The Incredibles. We first meet her during an interview where she toes the line of the strong working woman who refuses to settle down and leave the crime fighting to the men. Yet, when love, children, and a new social order arrive, forcing her into the home, she proves to be as adaptable and "flexible" as her husband is not.  For all her capabilities, one thing she can't do is provide every answer for her exceptional children who are growing up in a world of fear and questions. All she can do is trust them to make the right choices and be there as an example when all seems lost. Helen is allowed one moment of panic in The Incredibles, but as soon as another woman reminds her of her true identity, she returns to being the unstoppable force for good she’s always been.

4. Abigail (“Marmee”) March (Little Women)