A moment of silence for all of the fictional mothers that had to die in the name of tragic back story and character development.— @Snape on Mother's Day 2015
This is something my daughters have noticed. It seems like every movie we show them: the mother is dead, sick or missing.
- Frozen. The mum's dead.
- Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. The mum's dead.
- Finding Nemo. Mum's killed.
- Despicable Me. Mum's dead.
- Lilo & Stitch. Dead mum.
- Big Hero 6. No Mum.
- My Neighbor Totoro. Mum's sick.
- Epic. No mum.
- How to train your dragon. Mum's dead.
- Annie. No mum.
- Harry Potter. Mum's dead.
- Star Wars (a new hope). Mum's dead.
- Star Wars (clone wars) Mum dies. Horribly.
- Bambi. Bye mum.
- Spider man. No mum.
- Batman. Mum killed.
- Superman. Mum exploded.
- The Little Mermaid. Dead mum.
- Aladdin. No mum.
- Beauty and the Beast. Mumless.
- Cinderella. Evil stepmum.
- Enchanted. No mum.
- Ella Enchanted. No mum.
- Snow White. No mum.
So it's a common device... but why?
- Because it's a horrible thing -- and good writing involves making horrible things happen to adorable characters.
- Because it removes a safety net from the character: they can never run to their mother for help. (Mums are expected to be awesome)
- Because it's improper to show an imperfect mother. The dad can be a bad father (who learns) but women have to be perfect. Better dead than imperfect.
- Because writers don't know how to portray a mother. Writers write based on cliché and trope. There's no trove of mother tropes to fall back on, so it's easiest to remove the mother entirely.
A few rare films where there is a mum:
- Toy Story. There's a mum. (Not for the toys though)
- Tangled. Mum lives. (Not an active character)
- Brave. Mum is a bear. A fantastic mum.
- How to train your dragon 2. <spoiler>Mum was alive all along! (And she is awesome!)</spoiler>