Though sci-fi celebrates all forms of parents and parenting (corporeal, alien, or otherwise), it is still the mothers who often rule in sci-fi and fantasy TV.
Their presence sets the tone, and often pushes our favorite characters to navigate through less-than-favorable situations. Maybe they come out the better. Maybe worse. But the guest appearance of a character's mother deepens our understanding of that character, more than any flashback a director can hurl at us. The fictional mothers listed below won't be receiving any mother-of-the-year awards, but we wouldn't want them to. Their children's misery is our prime-time entertainment.
Lwaxana Troi ("Star Trek: The Next Generation") - A Betazoid (empathic humanoid species) and the mother to the Enterprise's ship's counselor, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), Lwaxana's appearance aboard the ship was usually a cause for hesitation and frustration for her. Played by the late Majel Roddenberry (wife to "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry), she brought a flirtatious, comedic openness to the role that hasn't been seen since maybe, Andora.
Andora ("Bewitched") - Interfering with the affairs of humans was pretty much off-limits, but Andora loved getting the best of her son-in-law in the series. Her daughter, Samantha, would sometimes put her foot down and try to manage the shenanigans. Still, by and large, Andora did pretty much anything she wanted to do whether invited to or not. Agnes Moorehead's Andora lives on as the archetypal mother-in-law we all love to hate.
Genevieve Teague ("Smallville") - Known to "Smallville" fans as Jason Teague's ("Supernatural's" Jensen Ackles) mom, Genevieve Teague definitely gets the vote for "needs to improve." She's a witch (no, really, she is), and Jane Seymour gave a good performance, despite not having much to do. A convoluted plot about special stones which would, in the end, help forge Clark Kent's Fortress of Solitude didn't do much to help. Not only was the mother and son relationship creepy at times, the writers never gave us much to care about. Essentially, she remains a one-dimensional character whose dream eventually went up in smoke (or meteor rock, as the case might have been).
Eloise Hawking ("Lost") - There's a lot that can be said about not damaging the space time continuum and all that business, but sending your physicist son back in time to get shot and killed by a younger version of yourself? Not cool. Even Doc Brown from "Back to the Future" broke his own time travel rules. She's totally ruthless. A mother who seemingly lacks a maternal instinct.
Evil Queen ("Once Upon a Time") - Beauty and evil go hand in hand in ABC's revival of the adult-spun fairytale. She's a mother with absolutely no qualms when it comes to seeing the machinations of her plans through to the end. Lana Parrilla gives parental guidance a new, horrible meaning, and fans love everything minute of it.