Many of us grew up watching Peg Bundy chide Al, or Lucille Bluth infuriate Jason Bateman’s Michael. Indeed, there are some TV characters that will forever stand out as cultural icons of motherhood. So in the list below we’ve gathered up 20 of our favorites from over the years and checked in on what they’re up to now.
20. Phylicia Rashad (Clair Huxtable) – The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad stole many a scene on The Cosby Show as Clair Huxtable, who was both a high-powered lawyer and a strict, loving mother. But while her co-star Bill Cosby went on to be disgraced by rape allegations, Rashad has enjoyed a successful Broadway career. And with her role in A Raisin in the Sun, she became the first black actress to earn a Best Actress award at the Tonys.
19. Patricia Heaton (Debra Barone) – Everybody Loves Raymond
Patricia Heaton played Debra Barone, the wife of Raymond Barone on the long-running hit Everybody Loves Raymond. What’s more, she earned seven Emmy nominations for the role, winning twice. Heaton has subsequently gone on to star as another mother on the popular ABC show The Middle. She also has her own cooking series, Patricia Heaton Parties, on The Food Network.
18. Katey Sagal (Peg Bundy) – Married… with Children
Peg Bundy will forever be remembered for her sarcastic swipes at husband Al, as well as her big red hair. Katey Sagal got her big break playing the sassy mom on the crass Married… with Children, which ran from 1987 to 1997. And she later went on to win a Golden Globe for her performance on the show Sons of Anarchy. What many don’t know, though, is that she’s also a singer with two solo albums to her name.
17. Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor) – Home Improvement
Patricia Richardson played the feminist wife of bungling Tim Allen on the family sitcom Home Improvement. Moreover, her portrayal of Jill Taylor earned her four Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nods. These days, Richardson serves on the board of the Screen Actors Guild and devotes much of her time to raising awareness of PSP syndrome. And, much to fans’ delight, she still found time to pop up on Allen’s new show Last Man Standing in 2015.
16. Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth) – Arrested Development
Who didn’t love the martini-swilling matriarch of the Bluth family? Indeed, Jessica Walter’s portrayal of Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development was adored by fans across the world. And currently Walter can be found voicing yet another cocktail-loving mom, as Malory Archer on the FX adult cartoon Archer.
15. Jane Kaczmarek (Lois Wilkerson) – Malcolm in the Middle
Jane Kaczmarek played the mom on the madcap Malcolm in the Middle from 2000 to 2006. Furthermore, she was nominated for three Golden Globes and seven Emmys for her brilliant portrayal of Lois. Since Malcolm ended, Kaczmarek has guest starred on numerous shows, including the The Big Bang Theory, Wilfred, The Comeback and The Middle. Sadly, though, in 2009 she and fellow actor Bradley Whitford announced that they were divorcing after 17 years of marriage.
14. Roseanne Barr (Roseanne Conner) – Roseanne
Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997 and was groundbreaking for its portrayal of a working class family. Roseanne Barr was the show’s creator and star and it won her both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. And she subsequently entered national politics, campaigning to become the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2012. Barr lost, however, and instead ran on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. She was also diagnosed with glaucoma in 2015 and, as a result, now relies on medical marijuana for relief.
13. Lauren Graham (Lorelei Gilmore) – Gilmore Girls
Lauren Graham played everyone’s favorite single mom and coffee enthusiast, Lorelei Gilmore in Gilmore Girls. And after the show, Graham went on to play yet another mom in Parenthood until that series ended in 2015. She has since reprised her role as Lorelei in the 2016 reboot of Gilmore Girls; in November 2016, meanwhile, she published the memoir: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between).
12. Judith Light (Angela Bower) – Who’s the Boss?
From 1984 to 1992 Judith Light played Angela Bower, the career woman and single mother who hires a male housekeeper (Tony Danza) on Who’s the Boss?. After the show ended, then, Light went on to have a busy TV and film career, and she currently stars as Shelly Pfefferman on Transparent. What’s more, she’s received both Emmy and Golden Globe nods for her performance on the hit Amazon show.
11. Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano) – The Sopranos
Edie Falco will forever be remembered as the long-suffering wife of Jersey mobster Tony Soprano on The Sopranos. She played Carmela Soprano on the HBO smash hit from 1999 to 2007, winning three Emmys and two Golden Globes as a result. Falco subsequently starred in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie, and in 2016 she teamed up with Louis CK to play Sylvia Wittel on his new show Horace and Pete.
10. Debra Jo Rupp (Kitty Forman) – That ’70s Show
Debra Jo Rupp played Kitty Forman, the lovable, spaced-out mom of Topher Grace on That ’70s Show, which ran from 1998 to 2006. More recently, though, she portrayed Dr. Ruth Westheimer in the 2012 off-Broadway production of Becoming Dr. Ruth. And she also keeps busy with TV guest appearances, popping up on the likes of Law and Order: SVU and As the World Turns.
9. Felicity Huffman (Lynette Scavo) – Desperate Housewives
Desperate Housewives viewers adored Felicity Huffman’s portrayal of Lynette Scavo, the frazzled mom willing to do anything for her family. And after winning an Emmy for the role, Huffman went on to further film and stage success. Indeed, in 2016 she was nominated for another Emmy for her role in the ABC drama American Crime. She also has a high-profile marriage to actor William H. Macy, with whom she has two kids.
8. Joanna Kerns (Maggie Seaver) – Growing Pains
While playing Maggie Seaver, Joanna Kerns starred alongside the late Alan Thicke in the wholesome family sitcom Growing Pains. When the show ended in 1992, though, Kerns moved into directing, working on numerous programs, including ER and Dawson’s Creek. Her most memorable recent on-screen appearance, meanwhile, was as Katherine Heigl’s mom in 2007’s Knocked Up. And when Thicke died at the end of 2016, Kerns penned an emotional tribute to the actor.
7. Meredith Baxter (Elyse Keaton) – Family Ties
On Family Ties Meredith Baxter played Elyse Keaton – the liberal mother of four kids, one of whom was played by Michael J. Fox. Since the show ended, though, Baxter has been in the spotlight more for her personal life: she came out as a lesbian in 2009 and, two years later, also released a memoir revealing that her ex-husband had abused her for years. She subsequently discussed the book during a moving appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
6. Connie Britton (Tami Taylor) – Friday Night Lights
Connie Britton played the wife of Coach Taylor and mother of Julie Taylor on the critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights, receiving two Emmy nominations as a result. Since then, Britton has enjoyed an extremely successful television career, garnering further Emmy nods for American Horror Story and her current role as Rayna James on Nashville. She also appeared in the hit mini-series American Crime Story.
4. Carol Potter (Cindy Walsh) – Beverly Hills, 90210
In Beverly Hills, 90210, it seemed as if Brandon and Brenda Walsh’s mom Cindy always had the answers. Indeed, Cindy, played by Carol Potter, was a rather down-to-earth antidote to life in the fast lane. After the show ended, then, Potter went on to make guest appearances on shows such as NYPD Blue, and she additionally won big for a charity in The Weakest Link’s “TV Moms” episode. The Harvard grad now also works as a family therapist in LA.
3. Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley) – Downton Abbey
On Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern captured America’s hearts with her loving yet regal portrayal of Cora Crawley – the elegant mother to the three Grantham heiresses. McGovern was the Countess of Grantham until the show ended in 2015, and in 2017 she’ll appear on the big screen alongside Liam Neeson and Patrick Wilson in the thriller The Commuter.
2. Lori Loughlin (Becky Katsopolis) – Full House
Lori Loughlin played the sharp-witted wife of Jesse (John Stamos) on the long-running show Full House. As Becky, she was the mother of twins Nicholas and Alexander, not to mention a a mother figure to DJ and the other girls. More recently, though, Loughlin has starred in two reboots – 90210 and Fuller House. And, interestingly, she’s married to fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli of the Mossimo brand.
1. Reba McEntire (Reba Nell Hart) – Reba
Reba McEntire is best known as a country singer, but many also have fond memories of her popular sitcom Reba. In it McEntire played the single mom of a pregnant teen daughter, and the show developed a huge following between 2001 and 2007. And fans of that series will be happy to hear that McEntire is planning a return to the small screen with a new ABC drama in development, in which she’ll play a smalltown sheriff.