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Top 50 Older Women in Fiction - Grandmas Get Thing Done

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)

Full-Injured-Nowi.png


#?
Nowi

Age: 1000
Source: Fire Emblem Awakening

Sure, she looks like a loli, but Nowi is totally a thousand-year-old dragon, so she...

61v20v.jpg

Look there's no time for fancy explanations. She did it. Killed poor President Johnny to try to sneak onto the list. Clear as day. Off to dragon jail with her, now, officers.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Granny-weatherwax-s-cottage-print.jpg


#1
Esmerelda "Granny" Weatherwax

Age: "Dare you ask?" (70s-80s)
Source: Discworld series
Created by: Terry Pratchett

Points: 177, Votes: 6, Highest: Torzelbaum

Also known by the Troll name Aaoograha hoa ("She Who Must Be Avoided"), Dwarf name K'ez'rek d'b'duz ("Go Around the Other Side of the Mountain") and Nac Mac Feegle name The Hag O' Hags ("The High Hag,"), Esme Weatherwax is widely acknowledged as the greatest witch on the Disc. She lived in the village of Bad Ass within the kingdom of Lancre, and took both under her protection, in addition to anywhere else she happened to be. She referred to her personal brand of witchcraft as "headology" rather than magic, in that it mostly consisted simply of knowing things that most people don't know, and the particular knowledge that what people believe becomes what is real for them. She wields a quick temper, a sharp tongue, and a stern gaze, but generally uses them in defense of those who need it, and has faced down many evils be they monstrous, magical, or human.

She also has her own Still and apparently makes a mean triple-distilled white mountain peach brandy.

Lokii said:
Cantankerous fount of practical wisdom. Grandmaster of both witchery and headology. A wonderful character for the ages.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Yeah, after looking over the list and saw Nanny, but not Granny, it was to be expected. I forgot in my first draft, and added her and Nanny after the deadline, which was the reason why they were only at place 8 and 9 - or maybe they are, but I wanted this to make it as low-effort as possible, at that point.

So, thanks for doing the list, Kirin, and for taking my way-too-late lists.

I don't know, if I love Granny more than old Toph, so no idea who would have been number 1. Still, both are great, with Granny being my favourite Discworld character. I'd love to write more, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. Maybe later.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
JWTS thanks to everyone who participated in this list, be it by voting, commenting, or both. It was a very last-minute idea which, combined with work and the holidays, meant I didn't have time for fancy frame stories or super in-depth write-ups, but we still highlighted a massively under-represented demographic. I was definitely introduced to some new cool characters to check out, and I hope you all were too.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
I totally forgot about Granny Weatherwax, though I did read Equal Rites a few years ago and I remember it being good.

BUT, I am shocked that Tenar from the Earthsea series didn't show up at all. I looked over my list last week and when I saw that she hadn't shown up yet I figured she'd land in the top 5 or so. Maybe Earthsea isn't as popular as I thought?

Still, that was a great list and a nice change of pace. Thanks for running it, Kirin!
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Having "Granny" in your character's name is a marked advantage for this list.

There are times when I think about reading Discworld, and then I remember that it's got fifty books and everyone recommends reading them out of order, and I give up before I start.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Here's the full results for the curious, including number of votes and score:

Granny Weatherwax (Dw) 1 6 177
Jessica Fletcher (Msw) 2 6 162
Toph Beifong (Lok) 3 6 156
Captain Dola (Ghibli) 4 5 152
Lucille Bluth (Ad) 5 4 129
Grandma Ben (Bone) 6 4 128
Mallory Archer 7 5 127
Minerva Mcgonnagal (Hp) 8 5 123
Rose Nylund (Gg) 9 5 121
Mom (Futurama) 10 4 120
Yubaba (Ghibli) 11 4 112
Sophia Petrillo (Gg) 12 4 110
Aunt May (Marvel) 13 5 109
Emily Gilmore (Gg) 14 4 107
Violet Crowley (Da) 15 3 102
M (Bond) 16 4 101
Baba Yaga 17 4 96
Mona Simpson 18 4 91
Nanny Ogg (Dw) 19 3 87
Olenna Tyrell (Got) 20 3 81
Impa (Loz) 21 4 79
Kim Shi-Won (Gp) 21 3 79
Dorothy Zbornak (Gg) 23 3 76
Valerie (Pb) 23 3 76
Genkai (Yyh) 25 3 71
Yzma (Eng) 26 2 65
Blanche Devereaux (Gg) 27 2 63
Granny (Looney Tunes) 28 3 62
Cordelia Naismith (Vs) 29 2 60
Laura Roslin (Bg) 29 2 60
Unei (Ff3) 29 2 60
Landlady (Kfh) 32 2 59
Witch Of The West (Oz) 33 2 58
Granny Goodness (Dc) 34 2 55
Moira Rose (Sc) 35 2 54
Tsubone (Hxh) 35 3 54
Oona (Neocab) 35 2 54
Kreia (Kotor 2) 38 2 52
Agnes Skinner (S) 39 3 51
Rover (Eo5) 39 2 51
Madam Mim (Disney) 39 2 51
Alice (Spiritfarer) 42 2 48
Niime (Fe) 43 2 46
Lucille Austero (Ad) 44 2 44
Muriel Bagge (Ctcd) 45 2 43
Colleen Donaghy (30R) 46 2 41
Miss Marple 47 2 40
Renata Flitworth (Dw) 48 2 39
Olivia Gladstone (Ii) 49 2 36
General Leia Organa (Sw) 49 2 36
Marjory (Frock) 1 35
Granny Next (Thursnext) 1 35
Pinako Rockbell (Fma) 2 35
Jeri Blank (Swc) 1 35
Sasara Amiki (Tce2) 1 35
Vivian Bearing (Wit) 1 34
Madame (Ghibli-Kiki) 1 34
Torogai (Moribito) 1 34
Tenar (Earthsea) 1 34
Grendel'S Mother 1 33
Rose Whalen (Vb) 1 33
Slappy Squirrel (Anianiacs) 1 33
Aughra (Darkc) 1 33
Barsa (Ghibli-Kiki) 1 33
Kaoruko Hanasaki (Hcp) 1 33
Lillian Kaushtupper (Uks) 1 33
Nurse (R&J) 1 32
Rose Nadler (Lost) 1 32
Keeper Of The Seeds (Mm) 1 32
Megabaa (Dcoil) 1 32
Summer (Spiritfarer) 1 32
Toriel (Undertale) 1 31
Grandmama (Addams) 1 31
Ishka (Ds9) 1 31
Wynne (Da) 1 31
Royina Ista (Pos) 1 31
Ye Wenije (3Bp) 1 31
Fin Raziel (Willow) 1 31
Ruth Fisher (6Fu) 1 31
The Witch (Itw) 2 31
Granny (Celeste) 1 30
Rafiki (Disney) 1 30
Miss Giddy (Mmfr) 1 30
Joanne (Co) 1 29
Ursula (Disney) 1 29
Otane Goketsuji (Pi) 1 29
Victoria Winslow (Red) 1 29
Maude Chrardin (H&M) 2 29
Helen Parker (Hdr215) 1 29
Molly Grue (Tlu) 1 28
Wendy Oldbag (Aa) 1 28
Frau Blucher (Yf) 1 28
Hisae Kakei (Wdyey) 1 28
Eglantine Price (B&B) 1 28
Mimi Kanassis (Uks) 1 28
Victoria Terpsichore (Cb) 1 28
Mother Abigail (The Stand) 1 27
Marta (Dq8) 1 27
Lin Beifong (Lok) 1 27
Alvina (Ds) 1 27
Kaede (Iy) 2 27
Maytera Marble (Wolfe) 1 27
Teersa (Hzd) 1 26
Elli (Norse) 1 26
Ma Fratelli (Goonies) 1 25
Fraulein Schneider (Cabaret) 1 25
Dr Catherine Halsey (Halo) 1 25
Strega Nona (Depaola) 1 25
Triplets Of Belleville 1 24
Thessaly (Sandman) 1 24
Matriarch Aethyta (Me) 1 24
Kya (Lok) 1 23
Mag Folan (Mcdounagh) 1 23
Nanefua Pizza (Su) 1 22
Theresa Rapual (Black Clover) 1 22
Joyce Messier (De) 1 22
Grandmother (The Witches) 1 21
Bulma (Dbgt) 1 21
Evelyn Harper (2.5Men) 1 21
Queen Ramonda (Marvel) 1 21
Endora (Bewitched) 1 20
Mergo'S Nurse (Bb) 1 20
Lacey Davenport (Db) 1 20
Grandma Arbuckle (Gf) 1 20
Mrs Hudson (Sh) 1 20
Frigga (Marvel) 1 19
Macha (Sots) 1 19
Estelle Costanza (Sf) 1 19
Beatrice Horseman (Bh) 1 19
Lazy Susan (Gf) 1 19
Olivia Weer (Wolfe) 1 18
Queen Of Hearts (Aiw) 1 18
Sakae Jinnouchi (Summerwars) 1 18
Jaya Ballard (Mtg) 1 18
Ursula Iguaran (100Yos) 1 18
Grandma (Loz:Ww) 1 18
Kelly Stowner (Vre) 1 17
Roz (Mi) 1 17
Sarah Blank (Swc) 1 17
Laurie Strode (H2018) 1 16
Guru Andma (Rfa) 1 16
Samara (Me) 1 15
Catherine Martell (Tp) 1 15
Dr Leslie Thompkins (Batman) 1 15
Mirabelle Ervine (Skyrim) 1 14
Vena The Raven-Haired (Dw) 1 14
Ana (Ow) 1 14
Chrisjen Avasarala (Exp) 1 14
Abuela Claudia (Ith) 1 14
Mombi (Oz) 1 13
The Oracle (Matrix) 1 13
Ms Havisham (Ge) 1 13
Georgiou (Stdisco) 1 12
Granny Riddleton (Pl) 1 12
Guinan (Sttng) 1 12
Soos Abuela (Gf) 1 12
Martha Kent (Dc) 1 12
Sothis (Fe) 1 11
Maxine (Hallmark) 1 11
Mrs Hall (Herriot) 1 11
Matoya (Ff) 1 11
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Definitely was an interesting list. Thanks for running it, Kirin (and thanks to your partner for the theme).

After creating my list I realized that I had forgotten about the Goketsuji sisters and their mother from the Power Instinct fighting game series. Glad to see someone remembered them.

Here's my list:
  1. Granny Weatherwax - Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
  2. M - James Bond film series
  3. Rose Whalen - Venture Brothers cartoon
  4. Mom - Futurama cartoon
  5. Grandmama - Addams Family original TV show and live action films
  6. Nanny Ogg - Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
  7. Victoria Winslow - RED film series
  8. Aunt May - films, cartoons and Marvel comics
  9. Mother Abigail - The Stand by Stephen King (novel and 1994 TV mini-series)
  10. Mona Simpson - The Simpsons cartoon
  11. Valerie / Mrs Miracle Max - The Princess Bride film
  12. Miss Flitworth - Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
  13. Granny - Looney Tunes cartoons
  14. Sister Theresa Rapual - Black Clover anime series
  15. Evelyn Harper - Two and a Half Men TV show
  16. Grandma Arbuckle - Garfield comic strip and cartoon
  17. Estelle Costanza - Seinfeld TV show
  18. Sakae Jinnouchi - Summer Wars anime film
  19. Pinako Rockbell - Fullmetal Alchemist (both anime series)
  20. Kaede - Inuyasha anime
  21. Dr Leslie Thompkins - Batman cartoons
  22. Vena the Raven-Haired - The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett and illustrated by Paul Kidby
  23. Genkai - YuYu Hakusho anime series
  24. Martha Kent - movies and DCAU cartoons
  25. Tsubone - Hunter X Hunter anime series by Madhouse
Favorite portrayals:
Aunt May - Rosemary Harris (Raimi movies), June Foray (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon series), Lily Tomlin (Into the Spider-Verse), Sally Field
(Webb/Amazing movies)

Granny - June Foray

Martha Kent - Shelly Fabares (Justice League cartoon series), Swoosie Kurtz (Superman : Doomsday animated movie), Phyllis Thaxter (Superman 78 movie)
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I totally forgot about Granny Weatherwax, though I did read Equal Rites a few years ago and I remember it being good.
If you liked Equal Rites, you REALLY should try out the later Witches novels (and general the later Discworld books), they only get better. Especially Granny in Equal Rites is not really worked out, she is more of a mix of Nanny and Granny in there.

Just a suggestion, of course. But I think you would like the later books.

There are times when I think about reading Discworld, and then I remember that it's got fifty books and everyone recommends reading them out of order, and I give up before I start.
It's not a classical series, more a world that you learn more about with these 50 books. No need to read them in order - actually, starting in the middle is likely a better choice. And you can start ANYWHERE. They are all standalone (except, funnily enough, the second book), and you can choose any single one you want.

Don't think too hard about it, especially in the middle (say, books 10 - 30), you can't really go wrong.
 

Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
This was fun! Thank you, Kirin, for running it.

My list of ladies, which includes a lot of characters from plays and musicals (there are a lot more roles for older women there, IMO!):

RankNameMediaNotes
1Jeri BlankStrangers With CandyTechnically starts the series at 46, but I'm fine stretching it here. Jeri Blank is the high school freshman I learned the most from.
2Vivian BearingWit, by Margaret EdsonA powerful study of a woman coming to terms with death and her career. She's got 4th stage metastatic ovarian cancer and has studied the sonnets of John Donne all her life. Now she's got to reconcile that with actual death.
3Lillian KaushtupperUnbreakable Kimmy SchmidtPerfectly lucid when she has to be, and living it up the rest of the time.
4NurseRomeo and JulietThe iconic confidant to a youthful Juliet, the nurse is never listed at a specific age in the script but often cast as a woman well into middle age.
5Ruth FisherSix Feet UnderThe matriarch of the Fischer family. Still discovering herself throughout the series, she mixes compassion with firm, uncrossable lines beautifully.
6Lucille BluthArrested DevelopmentA sharp satire of the out-of-touch wealthy, but believable enough that you're willing to go along with her self-serving nature.
7JoanneCompanyJoanne has discovered, discarded, and manipulated the value of marraige throughout her life. It's a great lark, as long as it feels great. Here's to the ladies who lunch.
8Mimi KanassisUnbreakable Kimmy SchmidtSniveling desperation at its finest.
9Maytera MarbleThe Book of the Long Sun, Gene WolfeMarble is an amazing human being despite being a robot, and she makes amazingly human decisions.
10Emily GilmoreGilmore GirlsThis series is wonderful for helping all of its characters move beyond stereotypes (despite reveling in those stereotypes stylistically). Emily is especially notable for being three-dimensional and capable of adapting, despite her exterior resistance to the process.
11Fräulein SchneiderCabaretSo What is a jam.
12ThessalyThe Sandman, Neil GaimanTechnically portrays herself as a young adult as a facade when it suits her, but makes no bones about her actual status as a witch who has lived thousands of years. She is old, experienced, and the most effective kind of dangerous.
13Mag FolanThe Beauty Queen of Lenane, by Martin McDounaghFunny and cruel simulatneously, a woman you don't want to cross.
14Lucille AusteroArrested DevelopmentSurprisingly honest and vulnerable, she trusts the bluths to a fault. A serious fault.
15Shi-Won KimThe Great PretenderA great con lady who doesn't care about much but having fun.
16EndoraBewitchedIf you're going to go with "witchy mother in law" you may as well pick the woman who created the archetype.
17Colleen Donaghy30 RockOne of the only people capable of throwing off Jack Donaghy at will. Entitled, unflappable, and unappeasable.
18Olivia WeerPeace, Gene WolfeHard to find a more disturbing aunt.
19Sara BlankStrangers With CandyThis may be a slight stretch on age (She's portrayed as just as old as her stepdaughter Jeri, if not a bit younger), but it's worth it. An amazing foil to Jeri Blank, and a perfect undercut of the June Cleaver mother type.
20The WitchInto the WoodsAmoral and haughty to a fault, she's never wrong about what she says.
21Catherine MartellTwin PeaksI bet she knows a lot about logs, even though she's not a log lady.
22Abuela ClaudiaIn the Heights"Paciencia y Fe" is an incredible musical number and Abuela could be in here for this alone. She's also the emotional core of the show, and Usnavi's main moral support.
23Ms. HavishamGreat ExpectationsIronically, there are hints in this book that Ms. Havisham is only in her late 30s, but she definitely (and very intentionally) presents herself as aged and decrepit!
24MaudeHarold and MaudeOlder folks often want to have fun too. A movie that would never be made today.
25Toph BaifongAvatar: The Legend of KorraStill sassy even at the end of her life, Toph knows who she is and has not problem showing that identity to the world.
 

Issun

Avarice
I almost forgot Granny Weatherwax but fortunately Kirin accidentally jogged my memory. She's pretty great.

Thanks for running this, Kirin!
 

WildcatJF

Mysterious Ghost World
(he / his / him)
This was a fascinating and eye-opening list Kirin! Thank you so much for running it!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Great list. Here's mine.

1. Landlady (Kung Fu Hustle)
2. Gran’ma Ben (Bone)
3. Violet Crowley, the Dowager Countess (Downton Abbey)
4. Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)
5. Mona Simpson (the Simpsons)
6. Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
7. Baba Yaga (fairy tales)
8. Molly Grue (The Last Unicorn) - I never read the book but I saw the movie long ago and I remember it being a sort of sad character who seems like she was supposed to be the heroine princess of an old fairy tale who waited for a prince to save her and it never happened. Fascinating, melancholy character
9. Eleanor Iselin (The Manchurian Candidate) - I actually thought I took her off my list, because looking her up, I think the character might be in her 40s. She always read as older to me, though. Still, great, chilling role from Angela Lansbury
10. Granny Goodness (DC Comics)
11. Sophia Petrillo (The Golden Girls)
12. Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote)
13. Aunt May (Marvel Comics)
14. Lucille "2" Austero (Arrested Development)
15. Madam Mim (The Sword and the Stone)
16. Mrs. Hudson (Sherlock Holmes) - Mostly from the TV series Sherlock. But it is an overall use of the character.
17. Lazy Susan (Gravity Falls) - Mostly because I often quote "Amirite? *thinks carefully* Am I right?"
18. Rose (The Golden Girls)
19. Maude Chrardin (Harold and Maude) - Harold and Maude is a very 60s movie for better and worse but Maude is the best thing about it, an Earthy old woman who is completely in touch with her era.
20. Laurie Strode (Halloween 2018) - It's a shame Halloween Kills is by all accounts not good because I did enjoy the previous film. Jamie Lee Curtis brings her A-game, a sort of aging take on Sarah Connor and one that feels a lot sadder.
21. Granny (Looney Tunes)
22. Tsubone (Hunter x Hunter)
23. Mombi (the Oz books) - Mostly I remember the anime version when I was growing up. She is an interesting character in that and I feel like Tips' story holds up as a trans allegory of escaping toxic parentage to realize who you really are.
24. Soos’ Abuelita (Gravity Falls)
25. Dorothy (The Golden Girls)

And if you would, please take part in the next list, top 50 actors! The deadline is coming!
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
16. Mrs. Hudson (Sherlock Holmes) - Mostly from the TV series Sherlock. But it is an overall use of the character.
Aw, she was one of my last cuts!

Grendel'S Mother 1 33
The very last cut of mine and really wish I had kept her in, bah. Sorry to whomever else listed her!

Anyway, here's mine and I am still mad so many people forgot Yzma:

Yzma -The Emperor's New GrooveIt is absolutely criminal that her song was removed from the movie (yes I know it was written before the plot changed but I don't care):
Mallory Archer -ArcherShe's horrible but I love her
Slappy Squirrel - AnimaniacsA lot of "cranky old lady" tropes rolled into one character, but does so much more and isn't limited by being "old". One of my favourite recurring characters and I'm very bummed she's not in the reboot.
Prof McGonnagel -Harry PotterI still love the "I've always wanted to use that spell" when she awakes the statues right before the final battle. It's adorable.
Ye Wenjie -The Three Body ProblemNot going into too much detail because knowing more about her (both young and old as she's shown in multiple life stages) spoils a lot of the book, but she's incredibly complex and the reason the entire story is occuring.
Rafiki -Lion King Stage MusicalReimagining the character to be a sangoma and effectively requiring it to be played by a South African woman is an exciting change. You can argue that this recruitment strategy is negative or positive and I accept both but personally think this character's reimagining gave lot of opportunities to South African women.
Ursula -The Little MermaidMy favourite character in this movie, hands down.
Hisae Kakei (Shiro's Mom) -What Did you Eat Yesterday MangaOver the series Shiro's mom and Shiro and still guarded but do interact with each other more pleasantly than in the first book. While this list is going on Volume 17 will come out and I think this volume will involve the parents moving into assisted living which is likely to add even more to her character.
Jessica Fletcher -Murder She WroteMystery novels aren't my thing, but my understanding is that she encapsulates tons of the "older lady solving crimes" tropes. I havne't seen this show in years but have so many fond memories of it.
Teersa - Horizon Zero DawnMatriarch Teersa takes the All-Mother and the rules of the Nora seriously, but also has the wisdom to know when to bend the rules. I'm hesitant to call her a stand-in for a mother figure for Aloy because of her rank and lack of interaction with her for so long, but she's definitely an Aunt-like figure.
Dr. Catherine Elizabeth Halsey -HaloIn the main games unless you really dig into things you mainly just learn that she developed Cortana and feels guilt for her involvement in the Spartan program. But she's far more complicated than that, she gave up her adoptive daughter, she can fight like hell and she has incredibly strong beliefs.
Matriarch Aethyta -Mass EffectA fantastic half-Krogan Asari Matriarch bartender.
ME3 Spoilers: She's turns out to be Liara's father, and calls you an "anthropocentric bag of dicks" if you make a fuss about how if she was human she'd be called the mother too
General Organa -Star WarsIt hurts she isn't higher on my list. I know if Carrie Fisher hadn't died there would have been a lot more for the character in the third movie and I wish I could have seen that.
Oona - NeocabNew Life Goal after seeing this character: Be a Quantum Witch.
Queen Mother Ramonda -Black PantherI'm still catching up on the newer Shuri comics but Ramonda has a lot of back room politics stuff going on. Already wonderfully done by Angela Bassett in the movie but the comics give her even more.
Mrs Skinner -the SimpsonsEvery "overbearing cranky old lady" trope rolled into one character. She's not that high on my list because she doesn't often go beyond just those stereotypes but man can she be funny.
Niime -Fire Emblem Binding BladeHer supports with Hugh are fantastic and she does not put up with his shit, it's great.
Ursula Iguarán (100 Years of Solitude)Arguably the moral compass of the novel. While she starts out a young woman she lives to a ridiculously old age and her matriarch role is what I remember the most of.
Alice (Spiritfarer)The ending of her arc is damned heartbreaking. In a game with a lot of highly emotional moments she hit incredibly hard, mainly because I saw similar degradation in older female family members. Oof.
Guru Andma - Ring Fit AdventureA surprising amount of characterization for a fitness game! Seeing her normal stage, corrupted stage and afterlife builds on her a lot and I love it. Also definitely wasn't expecting an older character in an exercise game so lots of points for that.
Samara (Mass Effect)I hate her outfit but love the character. She's such a badass and on such a shocking and upsetting quest.
Mirabelle Ervine (Skyrim)*Pours one out for every woman who has had to do the work of a higher ranking man but never got any credit for it*
Impa (Legend of Zelda)Varies by characterization but I like how much flexibility the character has
Granny Riddleton (Professor Layton series)A goofy recurring character that tracks your lost puzzles for you. Also she sasses Luke which I enjoy.
Mrs Hall (James Herriot book series)While in the newer TV series she's redone to have involvement in the war which required her to be younger (and I like what they'd done with that honestly), the original character has some great moments too: "Oh, yes, everybody likes him. You have to like him. That doesn't mean I have to approve of him, does it?"
 
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