The Handmaid's Tale Wiki
The Handmaid's Tale Wiki
It's time to get out in the street and fight, not just play house.

Holly disapproves her daughter's political indifference[1].

Holly Maddox is a character in The Handmaid's Tale. Before the rise of the Gilead, she was a staunch second-wave feminist and women's rights activist. As in the novel, it is still unknown if she is alive.

June Osborne's mother is mostly depicted as in the novel. Her real name is stated as Holly Maddox [1][2]; it is unclear if she temporarily changed her last name to that of her daughter ("Osborne"). She is portrayed by Cherry Jones.

Holly is first mentioned in The Other Side, though she does not appear until Baggage. Her involvement still remains minimal during and after the Gilead takeover. She is a medical professional who performs birth control procedures, such as vasectomies or abortions[1] [3]. It is unknown if she's alive in present time.


Early years[]

In June's childhood, her mom takes her to a Take Back the Night rally, where women toss papers scribbled with the names of their rapists into a blaze. She supports and encourages the victims.[1].

Before Gilead[]

June goes to Holly's house to pick up a mixer where she runs into a group of her mom's friends. Holly shows her a scar from a bottle thrown by furious protesters at the abortion clinic where she works. June tells the group what she does for a living. Everyone seems to be impressed but her mom[1].

June's mom asks her if she likes the job at the publishing place. She says she does. Her mom tells her that she sacrificed for her and that she's settling. She asks about Luke and tells June that she doesn't think she should marry him. Her mom tells her that she thinks its a mistake[1].

Hannah’s christening ceremony is attended by Luke, godmother Moira, and grandmother Holly, who warns June against using religion to make decisions[4].

Holly performs a vasectomy on an old friend, Mr. Whitford, a few years after such procedures were made illegal [3].

After the takeover[]

In the Red Center, Aunt Lydia shows June, Moira and other handmaids a propagandist slideshow. One of the pictures is of Holly working in the Colonies. After the slideshow, June reflects that her mother was right, that she always knew women's rights would be threatened [1]. It is unknown if Holly is still alive, but she most likely died due to the pollution and diseases while working there.

Bruce Miller, creator and showrunner of the television series, stated in 2019 that Holly's character could appear in a future season and that he hopes to give "all the characters in the series" a proper conclusion to their storyline. As a matter of fact, while development for season 4 was underway, the writers considered a scenario in which Holly was pushed to her death during June's capture and interrogation, which would have served as June's breaking point. However, the scenario itself was written with Beth and Sienna, two of Commander Lawrence's former Marthas, being executed and the use of Hannah as collateral. Miller also hopes to dedicate an entire flashback episode to Holly that would showcase her capture and/or her attempt to flee a forming Gilead and has hinted that a potential episode would tie directly into the first three episodes of the series (season one).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Episode 2.3, "Baggage"
  2. Dr. Yates in Heroic
  3. 3.0 3.1 Episode 1.7, "The Other Side'"
  4. Episode 3.4, "God Bless the Child"