Gothel had a magical plant, grown when a drop of sunlight hit the earth. Gothel used this flower as her personal fountain of youth to keep herself young for centuries. The pregnant Queen of a nearby kingdom was near death and had her guards search for this magical plant to heal her. They find it and the Queen heals, soon giving birth to Rapunzel. The flower's magical abilities transferred to Rapunzel's glowing hair.
Gothel acquired Rapunzel as a child, stealing her from the royal nursery and hiding her in an inaccessible tower deep in the forest. Gothel lies to Rapunzel about the outside world and everyone in it being mean and selfish, making Rapunzel wary of ever leaving her protection. Later, when Rapunzel is 18 years old, she asks her to shows her the stars to find out what they mean. Mother Gothel denies it because she calls the world a cruel place.
Rapunzel asks Mother Gother to buy her some paint so she can get her way from the tower for three days. It works. Then she forces a thief named Flynn to show her the stars, however they end up in a pub of thugs. Mother Gothel returns to the tower and is horrified to find Rapunzel missing. She steals a dagger then she sees Maximus the horse on her way, she finds that Flynn could be the culprit.
She goes to the pub and flirts with the tiny pub thug, then threatens him. She later hires two thugs, the Stabbington brothers to find Flynn and Rapunzel, taking advantage of the fact that they want revenge on Flynn for betraying them. She finds Rapunzel and then decides to teach her a lesson. She takes her to give Flynn the crown. She secretly has the Stabbington brothers kidnap Rapunzel. Mother Gothel fakes the rescue attempt by knocking out the brothers.
Back at the tower, Rapunzel sees the stars and sees her family. She realizes she is the lost princess. She tells Mother Gothel that she will never use her hair again. Mother Gothel tells Rapunzel that Flynn is going to be hanged for his crimes. Flynn gets away easily, goes to the tower then inside, he finds her chained and gagged. Mothel Gothel stabs Flynn in the back, then she tries to take Rapunzel away. But Rapunzel fights back. She breaks the gag and promises if Mother Gothel lets her heal Flynn, she will stay in the tower forever. Mother Gothel lets her do so. But Flynn, believing Rapunzel deserves her freedom, cuts her hair and Mother Gothel ages. Pascal the chameleon, angry with Mother Gothel for her evil intentions, deliberately trips Mother Gothel by pulling Rapunzel's cut hair and she falls from the tower to her death, turning into dust when she hits the ground.
The character is voiced by television actress and singer Donna Murphy.
Like many Disney villains, she has her own song in the movie, called "Mother Knows Best".
Mother Gothel in German means 'godmother' which she is to Rapunzel. However, Rapunzel believes her to be her real mother.
Mother Gothel is similar to Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame insofar as she wanted her abducted child to stay in the tower and she lies that the outside world is wicked for her own goals. Frollo wanted his adopted child Quasimodo to stay in the bell tower and he lied about the outside world being wicked by singing "Out There" for his own goals. Their children disobey their masters though. Both villains fall to their death from the high towers.
She is the first villain to age to death, and the second one we see age from young to old with the first one being Queen Grimhilde.