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Archer has a complex relationship with his mother, Malory. Their sometimes difficult relationship is often alluded to and occasionally a rare bit of light is shone directly on it. Listed on this page are examples of insights into their troubled relationship.

Season 2[]

Placebo Effect[]

Malory flicks through a photo album in Placebo Effect (s2e9) as Archer embarks on his rampage of revenge against the Irish mobsters responsible for him receiving fake chemo drugs for his breast cancer. She confides in Ray that she can't imagine life without Archer, in spite of hardly ever being present or involved in his life, nor having a single photo of the two of them together.

Malory: "...I mean, was I there for every single rectial and la crosse game? No. "Is our adult relationship perfect? No. But I just can't even imagine life without my precious Sterling."
Ray: "And have you ever told him that?"
Malory: "What are you kidding? No!"
Ray: "Wow. Really? My mama told me how much she loved me all the time."
Malory: "Exactly - look how you turned out..."
Ray: "Er, with high self esteem?"

Continuing to reminisce later in the episode, this time in Cyril's presence, she muses out loud:

Cyril: "Are you not listening to me?"
Malory: "Well obviously God! How is there not one picture of us together?"

Notably, Malory is absent from Archer's Christening, national lacrosse championship and graduation photos, with Woodhouse attending all of these keystone events. She lacks the basic self awareness to realise that it is due to her personality and all-consuming career as a spymaster which lead to her having next to no relationship with Archer. That she cannot bring herself to tell him how much he means to her is a sign of her inability to deal with the emotional responsibility of being a parent. It is perhaps labouring the point, but if she didn't have to be present at his birth she probably wouldn't have been.

Season 3[]

Skin Game[]

During their dinner date in Skin Game (s3e11), Archer reveals to Katya (and the audience) how he really feels about his relationship with his mother. In a rare moment of self-awareness Archer gives an explicit description - with almost psychoanalytic detail - of what Katya represents both to himself and Malory. To him she is the love of his life and liberator from Malory's overbearing personality - which is exactly why Malory hates her, or anyone who comes close to fulfilling the role of Archer's soul mate. He suggests that Malory feels no one is as deserving of Archer's love as 'mother', hinting at a destructive co-dependence on both their parts. Archer describes himself as being psychologically imprisoned by his mother's inability to let him form a healthy relationship with anyone, as she becomes jealous of his romantic partners and undermines his relationships.

Katya: "Does she hate what I am?"
Archer: "What you are meaning the one woman who can free her child from the psychological prison she spent a lifetime erecting" [rare flash of self-awareness]
Katya: "No, no darling, I meaning cyborg"
Archer: "She'd hate you no matter what you are"
Katya: "Because I did not ask to be this way"
Archer: "Chu, me either, vis a vis mother"

Later on in the episode, Lana reinforces the suggestion that Archer has mother issues directly, by referring to the founding father of psychoanalysis and his well-known (but poorly understood) thesis in the same clever joke:

Lana:  "I think if you're looking for insight into why Archer is Archer, you need to jump in a time machine and then go have a threesome with Oedipus and Signmund Freud."

Drift Problem[]

In Drift Problem (s3e7), a younger Malory is seen holding the ping pong paddle which becomes a lifetime fixation for him - almost like a perverse comfort blanket. In the cutaway scene, she is about to punish Archer for "losing" his bicycle which was a birthday present from her. However, it turns out to have been Malory who "stole" the bike to teach Archer a lesson for leaving it unattended, so his punishment was actually brought about by Malory's warped attempt to teach him a lesson. Archer was devastated by the cruel theft of his birthday present by his own mother - a bicycle which he still remembers the specification of - and seemingly never got over it. Rather than returning it to reinforce the lesson positively so that he might rectify his behaviour, Malory withholds it and reinforces him negatively so he never learns the lesson to look after expensive gifts. (This withholding behaviour is a characteristic of Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development).

Space Race Pt 2[]

At the end of season 3 finale Space Race: Part II (s3e13), Archer successfully contains himself after Barry challenges him to a robot duel and threatens his masculinity by stating he has a problem with his vagina. In a rare (possibly singular) moment of iso and tang influenced motherly pride Malory says:

Malory: "Sterling - and I know I may not say this very often - "
Archer: "Or ever..."
Malory: "Well, congratulations, you ruined it. But I'm still very proud of you."
Archer: " Owww"
[Slap across the face]
Malory: "Ass."

Archer anticipates a compliment from Malory yet sarcastically mocks her for never acknowledging or rewarding him for acts of selflessness, or maturity - a trend which likely occurred throughout his life resulting in him acting so selfishly. With his new found self-awareness behind him, Archer then insists on "landing" the space ship on their return to Earth. Having crash landed it, he is incapable of accepting responsibility. This leads to the suspicion that Archer knows his behaviour is inconsiderate, it's just that, knowing he faces neither reward nor punishment, he just doesn't care.

Season 4[]

Un Chien Tangerine[]

In Un Chien Tangerine (s4e10), we learn that Malory once took her beloved Afghan hound Duchess on a carriage ride through Central Park for her (the dog's) birthday, while Archer stayed home scrubbing the soot from the fireplace. Archer claims his mother never forgot the dog's birthday, implying that she forgot his, and Lana assumed he hated dogs since it was her opinion that Malory loved Duchess more than him.

Lana: "I thought you hated dogs"
Archer: "I love dogs Lana...except mother's dog. I hated that dog."
Lana: "Because she loved it more than you?"
Archer: "Ha ha, very funny. Although she never forgot the dog's birthday"

Season 6[]

Reignition Sequence[]

In Reignition Sequence (s6e10), Archer and Lana conspire not to tell Malory that they are dating again since she can't stand to see him happy.

Lana: This time...
Archer:'s really kinda good, right?
Lana: No Archer, it's great...somehow. I can't remember when I was this happy
Archer: You recently gave birth to a child...
Lana: Shit! Right! But besides that - this is the happiest I've been in a while.
Archer: Which obviously is why we can't tell mother we are dating again...
Lana: Obvious
Archer: ...because she'd try to break us up somehow. She can't stand for me to be in a relationship. I think it actually causes her physical pain.
Lana: You realise your relationship with Malory isn't a huge selling point?

As the remainder of the core group are debating how to get Archer and Lana to split up due to how annoying they are as a couple (and not so that Cyril can get her back), Cheryl drops this line after Malory leaves:

Cheryl: Why don't we just tell her they're dating? She'll make them so crazy they'll break up on their own!

Krieger suggests they find a woman with more of a connection with Archer:

Krieger: Or, better yet, a woman with a powerful psychological hold over Archer.
Cyril: Please tell me you don't mean his mother.
Krieger: What?!
Cheryl: Yeah because even for us that's -
Krieger: I'm not talking about Miss Archer!