Film Characters The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film  

Ranker Characters
403 votes 151 voters 5.9k views 26 items

Ageism is a long-standing issue in Hollywood. Luckily, that hasn't stopped actresses from bringing some memorable old ladies to life in the movies. Some of these fictional old ladies are cast in the grandmotherly mode and seem optimistic about the future. A few old lady characters, though, are downright resentful of their age and circumstances. These imaginary women are often brought to life by the greatest actresses of all time, and have only gotten better with age.

What memorable roles will you find on this list of the greatest old lady characters in films? Gloria Swanson earned an Academy Award for her portrayal of the aging actress Norma Desmond in the classic film Sunset Boulevard. The film itself mirrors the way that Hollywood disregards its elder actresses in favor of youth. Dina Byrnes, played by Blythe Danner in the Meet the Parents movies, is another great fictional older woman.

Judi Dench is the go-to actress for old women roles. She has played audience-favorite parts including M in the James Bond series and Philomena Lee in Philomena. Other good roles that are featured on this list include Margo Channing from All About Eve and Ninny Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes.

Which fictional old lady do you think is the best? Vote your favorites up to the top of this list and add any roles that are missing.
list ordered by

1
22 2
Professor Minerva McGonagall is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Harry Potter series

2
21 6
Daisy Werthan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Driving Miss Daisy

3
17 7
Ninny Threadgoode is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Ninny Threadgoode Fried Green Tomatoes

4
21 11
M is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, Quantum of Solace

5
16 10
Norma Desmond is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Sunset Boulevard

6
14 9
Ada Quonsett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
RobLein added Airport

7
17 12
Dame Marjorie "Maude"... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Dame Marjorie "Maude" Chardin Harold and Maude

8
9 5
Queen Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Churchill: The Hollywood Years, The Queen

9
10 7
Ethel Thayer is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
RobLein added On Golden Pond, On Golden Pond

10
9 8
Vivi Abbott Walker is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Vivi Abbott Walker Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

11
8 7
Veta Louise Simmons is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
RobLein added Veta Louise Simmons Harvey

12
7 6
Erica Barry is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Erica Barry Something's Gotta Give

13
4 3
Dina Byrnes is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Dina Byrnes Meet the Parents, Little Fockers, Meet the Fockers

14
4 3
Mrs. Robinson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
The Graduate

15
10 10
Minnie Castevet is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
RobLein added Rosemary's Baby

16
7 7
Sarah Morton is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Swimming Pool

17
3 3
Rosie is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Rosie The Wedding Singer

18
5 6
Margo Channing is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
All About Eve

19
3 5
Magda is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Magda There's Something About Mary

20
5 8
Mathilde Girard is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Mathilde Girard My Old Lady

21
3 6
Philomena Lee is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Philomena

22
2 6
Landlady is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Landlady Kingpin

23
1 5
Violet Weston is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
August: Osage County

24
5 10
Doris Miller is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Doris Miller Hello, My Name Is Doris

25
2 7
Ruth Fowler is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Ruth Fowler In the Bedroom

26
2 7
Julia Lambert is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Old Lady Characters in Film
Julia Lambert Being Julia