Television has become a part of our cultural history and as we look back at our favorite grandmas to grace the small screen it's like traveling through our childhood to the present day. Just as our actual grandmothers were a warm and wonderful part of growing up, the TV grandmas that entertained us with laughs and poignant feels are ingrained in our memories. Here are 10 TV grandmas from the past through the present that remind us of the importance of a grandmother's love and wisdom.
1. Granny, The Beverly Hillbillies (1962)
When country bumpkins hit the jackpot by striking oil and try to blend into the high society of Beverly Hills the culture clash that follows is a riot! But Granny is definitely no joke as one of the spunkiest grandmas of Television. The Beverly Hillbillies' Granny could whip up a tasty possum and never take her eyes of Jethro and Elly May while she did it. Granny may have been rough around the edges, but she was full of love.
2. Thelma Harper, Mama's Family (1983)
Thelma could keep all the Harpers in line—Bubba, Vinton, Aurora and Naomi. And they didn't dare back talk, because a hand was on its way to bop them upside the head before it escaped their mouth. Vikki Lawrence's hilarious portrayal of Thelma Harper was spun off a Carol Burnett Show sketch where Thelma and her spinster sister Fran (who would later play Blanche on "The Golden Girls", a show with four grandmas we love!) open their home to Thelma's just divorced son Vinton who is left an incompetent single dad to his teenage son and daughter. Thelma may have been cranky, and she didn't take any lip, but she's one of the funniest and most loving grandmas ever on primetime television. We love that this loyal and supportive grandmother always had her family's back and never let anyone mess with her family...except her.
3. Mona Robinson, Who's the Boss (1984)
Mona was a dynamo who electrified every room she walked into. When retired baseball player Tony Micelli accepts a job as her daughter Angela's housekeeper, Mona becomes an adopted grandmother to Tony's adorable daughter Samantha Micelli, in addition to Angela's son, Johnathon. Mona is the liberated, straight talking grandmother we all wish we could've gone to when we had a predicament that required a no-nonsense answer. Mona was as encouraging as she was bold; making her a grandma you could tell anything to without being afraid to hold back.
4. Sophia Petrillo, The Golden Girls (1985)
In a cast of four hilarious comediennes, Sophia (played by the incomparable Estelle Getty) took the cake. When her nursing home goes up in flames the feisty octogenarian ends up living with her daughter Dorothy and her daughter's two friends. The women in turn get a mother figure they never had, since Sophia never minds her own business. Sophia is that amazing grandmother that always has a story about how much worse it was in her day to make you feel better when you're down and who is never afraid to say what everyone is thinking but no one has the guts to say out loud.
5. Estelle Winslow, Family Matters (1989)
Mother Winslow enters the scene when she becomes a widow and moves in with her son Carl and his family. With a heart as big as her updo, Mother Winslow is the typical sweet grandma you imagine every lucky family has: cardigans, big glasses, and the ability to fix anything with asimple heart-to-heart and a great homemade meal. Not only does she always stick up for her own grandbabies, she even has a soft spot for the Winslow's suspender-wearing, nerdy neighbor the rest of the family tries to avoid, Steve Urkel!
6. Mother, Absolutely Fabulous (1992)
It's hard not to be fond of June Whitfield the sweet and somewhat absent minded grandmother to Saffron in the over the top British hit comedy, Ab Fab. Her grandmother is the only one in the family that Saffy can count on to be responsible (when she can remember what she is supposed to be doing, that is) since her mother Edina and her mother's best friend Patsy are living out an extended adolescence that knows no bounds in selfishness. Plus, in her increasing senility she's become a kleptomaniac, which makes her hilariously awesome.
7. Marie Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond (1996)
Queen Marie is the typical Italian grandmother, always cooking, always cleaning, and always budding into her children's lives. Since her eldest son lives with her and her younger son Ray is right next door, Marie is in heaven, she never has to go far to exert her loving control over their lives and diets. While Ray's wife gets fed up with Marie criticizing her household for not being clean enough or her food for not being made from scratch, Marie is the kind of grandmother most of us wish we had, always ready to stuff us with delicious food and take our side whenever our parents annoyed us.
8. Emily Gilmore, Gilmore Girls (2000)
Emily Gilmore was on the outs with her daughter Lorelai for years — but when her divorced daughter moves back to town with her teenage daughter Rory, the grandmother tries to mend things and get back into her granddaughter's life. Rory's grandmother may be an aloof high society woman, but she won't hesitate to step in and take control if someone wrongs her family. She's the tough kind of grandmother that you are thankful to have in your corner when the going gets rough.
9. Martha Rodgers, Castle (2009)
It's easy to love the dramatic and fun Broadway actress grandmother, Martha Rodgers on Castle. Martha can be a doting maternal figure to her granddaughter Alexis (whose own mother is too preoccupied to ever be there for her) and keep her famous playboy writer son in check, all while enjoying a waning career as a Broadway star, dressing fabulously and having a social life that puts most thirty-something socialites to shame.
10. Martha Levinson, Downton Abbey (2010)
Played by the legendary Shirley MacLaine, Martha Levinson is a quirky and vibrant grandmother that spices things up in the stuffy Crawly family. Outspoken and not afraid to speak her mind, Martha is ahead of her time. In the England of Downtown Abbey women are supposed to be demure and unambitious, not savvy and opinionated. Martha is a feisty example for her grandchildren of a woman that defies the conventions of her time and refuses to be held back by society's oppressive standards. That alone makes her a kick ass woman and a grandmother to look up to.
From the primetime shows of the 1960's to hit series still on the air today, grandmothers have become some of the most beloved characters in pop culture. Whether it's the indulgent grandmothers always baking something delicious in the oven, the funny grandmas constantly cracking us up with a story or the tough grandmas we can go to when we need to call in the big guns, the television grandmothers on our list would have been amazing to have in our own families. And even though we didn't grow up with them in our homes, or right next door, we will always have them in our memories and in our hearts.