Created By: ParadiscaCorbasi on December 4, 2011 Last Edited By: Antigone3 on February 21, 2015
Troped

Pregnancy Scare - Launching Soon

A woman worries she is pregnant - she is not.

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Trope
How Did We Miss This One?? I just scrolled through the entire Pregnancy Tropes listing and found nothing matching this trope.

A couple has had sex, maybe even their first time, consummating the relationship. They enjoyed it. There was afterglow. In the heat of the moment, nobody considered condoms or birth control. Or maybe they did but were in a bit of a hurry.

Then the woman announces her period is late, or starts every morning greeting John. Note that there are many reasons a period may be late or absent, ranging from menopause to diet or exercise programs to health issues of various sorts. But in this trope, she always jumps straight to "I'm pregnant".

She tells the guy who — in this trope — is almost never happy or ready to deal with this revelation that he may be about to be a father. They worry, they fret — separately or together — about what to do, and whether to consider abortion, adoption, keeping the baby, and what it will mean for their relationship in any of these instances. They agonize over the implications and whether they're ready to be parents. Will they be good ones? All the what ifs!

Then there's a pregnancy test — which comes up negative (or perhaps it was all some kind of huge misunderstanding). They are usually relieved, although there's sometimes a bittersweet melange of disappointment that there will be no unexpected blessed event.

If she's actually pregnant, it's not a scare; that's another trope altogether.

Often occurs after a one-night stand or between two people not in a relationship. The version where it's the man who is freaking out about it is common too. Yes, the woman is the one pregnant (notice that "the couple is pregnant" is not a literal statement, it's a colloquialism; it's not uncommon for a husband or wife to say "we're pregnant" even though it's quite obvious that the female is the one doing the gestating), but the man's reaction to the possibility of becoming a father is often part of this trope.

On many occasions, when there's a pregnancy scare, it leads to discussion about the guy getting a vasectomy. But the vasectomy episode is another plot completely.

Relational Troping:

Up for Grabs


Examples:

Advertising
  • Several years ago there was a series of ads for pregnancy tests which had three sets of couples:
    • couple who want a baby and she's pregnant: YAY!
    • couple who want a baby and she's not pregnant: AWW!
    • couple who don't want a baby and she's not pregnant: WHEW!
    • The "couple who don't want a baby and she is pregnant" version was never included in the ad.

Comic Books
  • Happened to Silver Sable in the Marvel Universe during her own short-lived series. She thought she was pregnant after sleeping with her ex-husand and starting making plans to retire from the adventuring business. It turned out to be a glitch in her cycle and her doctor pointed out this was probably for the best as the reckless actions she had taken while she thought she was pregnant indicated she really wasn't ready to be a mother.

Film
  • In Grease, Rizzo and Kenickie's pregnancy scare is a major subplot.

Literature
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar, Dru is very afraid that she's pregnant after sleeping with Lt. Koudelka. She doesn't tell him about it, but acts so nervous that he becomes convinced that he had been mistaken about her consent and had raped her.
  • Happens to Tibby in the fourth Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants book, after a condom accident. Though it wouldn't have been quite so bad if she hadn't been juggling multiple Idiot Balls during the whole thing. Without waiting for any indication that she was actually pregnant, she freaked out over the exact timing of when her period is due (is it one month after the last one began or after the last one ended?), and broke up with her boyfriend out of fear of the pregnancy.
  • To Sail Beyond the Sunset: Happens to one of Maureen's daughters when her then-boyfriend refused to stop after the condom broke. She's not pregnant, her period shows up two days later, but it's still a valid concern — the daughter in question had been refusing to admit she was sexually active, so Maureen hadn't been able to give her any sex ed, and the pre-World War I era wasn't exactly accepting of unmarried mothers.

Live-Action TV
  • Misfits: Seth finds a used pregnancy test — positive — and freaks out because he thinks he's gotten Kelly pregnant. He hasn't. Curtis has gotten his other-sex-self pregnant.
  • Used on Switch (a short-lived sitcom in which husband and wife swap bodies); after something over a month, the husband in the wife's body has not yet had a period, and they worry that he's pregnant. He goes to the gynaecologist's office and hears all sorts of horror stories about how painful giving birth is. Turns out he's just overstressed, which causes irregular periods.
  • On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai has a sudden craving for fresh fruit which hadn't happened since she was pregnant with Rory. She starts to think she might be pregnant by Luke but later finds out she is not. He never finds out about the scare.
  • In Bones, Cam panics when she finds a positive pregnancy test in the lab's bathroom, considering that her teenage daughter had recently used it. She interrogates Brennan—not guilty—and realizes that it was Angela's. Who got a false positive, naturally.
  • In Plain Sight: Mary hopes that her pregnancy will turn out to be this, even after the positive test. The doctor then gently reminds her that she'd have to be seriously ill to get a false positive.
  • Saturday Night Live parodied pregnancy test commercials with a one-night-stand couple who really didn't want to be pregnant. Here it is on Hulu: [1]
  • Part of a story arc in an episode of Roseanne between Dan and Roseanne. The scare ends up convincing them they actually do want to try for a fourth child.
  • The Golden Girls episode "The End of the Curse", Blanche believes that she's pregnant and spends the first part of the episode trying to work out who the father might be, when in fact she's entering menopause.
  • On Grimm, Juliette has to have sex with Nick to restore his powers, but she has to do so while transformed into Adalind. Afterwards, she starts having headaches and stomach pains and Rosalee suggests she might be pregnant. It's not so much the possibility of pregnancy that worries Juliette, but the chance that the baby would have some connection to Adalind. It later turns out she's not pregnant. Instead, the ritual turned her into a Hexenbiest.
  • M*A*S*H. A subplot of "What's Up Doc?" has Margaret believing she's pregnant after having spent R&R in Tokyo with Penobscott, and worries that giving birth will result in an automatic discharge. For confirmation, Hawkeye borrows Radar's female bunny for Margaret's pregnancy, which results turn up negative; apparently, Margaret was simply having gallbladder problems.
  • In the That '70s Show episode "The Pill", Jackie has a pregnancy scare. Donna starts taking the titular contraceptive, so the same thing wouldn't happen to her.

Web Comics
  • Played for Laughs in this Fall On Me, where the female character lies about it to scare the male character out of his hiccups.
  • In the "Anne's Pregnant?" arc of S.S.D.D Anne throws up at work the day after discussing the possibility of marriage with Richard. She takes a pregnancy test and while waiting both she and Richard are freaking out and thinking about how their lives could change. Then when the test is complete Anne asks Richard what he'd do if, hypothetically, she were pregnant, and after he faints and babbles about taking care of her she tells him the test was negative.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: "I Married Marge": Marge thinks she might be pregnant. While she goes out to have a pregnancy test in the hospital Homer tells Bart and Lisa about the time Bart was born. After this Flashback Episode comes to an end Marge returns home to inform Homer that she is not pregnant after all, causing them both to do a high five.
Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • December 4, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Related to Miss Conception.
  • December 4, 2011
    foxley
    Happens to Jade and Brent in PvP.
  • December 5, 2011
    Sackett
    Often a sense of disappointment mixed in with the relief when they discover it's just a scare.
  • December 5, 2011
    SKJAM
    Used on Switch (a short-lived sitcom in which husband and wife swap bodies); after something over a month, the husband in the wife's body has not yet had a period, and they worry that he's pregnant. He goes to the gynecologist's office and hears all sorts of horror stories about how painful giving birth is. Turns out he's just overstressed, which causes irregular periods.
  • December 5, 2011
    Falco
    TV:
    • In S Li DE, Eva thinks she's pregnant from her one night stand with married man.

  • December 5, 2011
    nargles78

  • December 6, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • Several years ago there was a series of ads for pregnancy tests which had three sets of couples:
      • couple who want a baby and she's pregnant: YAY!
      • couple who want a baby and she's not pregnant: AWW!
      • couple who don't want a baby and she's not pregnant: YAY! (<--that'd be this trope)
    The "couple who don't want a baby and she is pregnant" version was never seen.
  • December 6, 2011
    RedneckRocker
    On many occasions, when there's a pregnancy scare, it leads to discussion about the guy getting a vasectomy. But the vasectomy episode is another plot completely.
  • December 6, 2011
    cityofmist
    Just happened to Barney and Robin in How I Met Your Mother. (I know in an actual article you wouldn't spoiler the name of the show, but I figure that since it was literally yesterday the episode aired it might be a good idea to do it here.)
  • December 10, 2011
    nargles78
    • Part of a story arc in an episode of Roseanne between Dan and Roseanne. The scare ends up convincing them they actually do want to try for a fourth child.
  • December 11, 2011
    Koveras
    The current laconic bugs me. A couple can't be pregnant, only the female half thereof. Unless it's a lesbian couple, but that's a different trope.
  • December 11, 2011
    Falco
    Actually fair point. Often occurs after a one-night stand or between two people not in a relationship. Remove any references to a couple imo.
  • December 11, 2011
    Duncan
    Saturday Night Live parodied pregnancy test commercials with a one-night-stand couple who really didn't want to be pregnant. Here it is on Hulu: [1]
  • December 11, 2011
    Sackett
    ^^ Except version where it's the man that is freaking out about it is common to.

    Yes, the woman is the one pregnant (I don't hold with the couple is pregnant thing), but the man's reaction to the possibility of becoming a father is often part of this trope.
  • December 11, 2011
    Falco
    Ok then don't limit it to just couples.
  • December 11, 2011
    Goldfritha
    Literature
    • In Lois Mc Master Bujold's Barrayar, Dru is very afraid that she's pregnant after sleeping with Lt. Koudelka. She doesn't tell him about it, but acts so nervous that he becomes convinced that he had been mistaken about her consent and had raped her.
  • December 11, 2011
    foxley
    • Happened to Silver Sable in the Marvel Universe during her own short-lived series. She thought she was pregnant after sleeping with her ex-husand and starting making plans to retire from the adventuring business. It turned out to be a glitch in her cycle and her doctor pointed out this was probably for the best as the reckless actions she had taken while she thought she was pregnant indicated she really wasn't ready to be a mother.
  • December 11, 2011
    sliz225
    In Bones, Cam panics when she finds a positive pregnancy test in the lab's bathroom, considering that her teenage daughter had recently used it. She interrogates Brennan--not guilty--and realizes that it was Angela's. Who got a false positive, naturally. In Plain Sight: Mary hopes that her pregnancy will turn out to be this, even after the positive test. The doctor then gently reminds her that she'd have to be seriously ill to get a false positive.
  • December 12, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    "The couple is pregnant" is not a literal statement; it's a colloquialism. It's not uncommon for a husband or wife to say "we're pregnant" even though it's quite obvious that the female is the one doing the gestating.

  • December 12, 2011
    nargles78
    • On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai has a sudden craving for fresh fruit which hadn't happened since she was pregnant with Rory. She starts to think she might be pregnant by Luke but later finds out she is not. He never finds out about the scare.
  • December 12, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: Marge thinking she might be pregnant leads to a Flash Back episode of Bart being born.
  • December 16, 2011
    SavvyAngel
  • December 23, 2011
    TBeholder
    this title made me trying to remember the species where both sexes can be pregnent.
  • December 27, 2011
    atheywa
    You might want to add that Marge thought she was pregnant with a forth child because usually it's a big deal because there are no kids around. Are we ready to launch this?
  • December 30, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Looks good to me.
  • December 31, 2011
    AlexSora89
    Ditto. If this becomes a trope (and I hope), I'm gonna add it to my own contributor's page.
  • January 20, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Needs to be relaunched, the page doesn't seem to exist.
  • November 7, 2013
    NoriMori
    Happens to Tibby in the fourth Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants book, after a condom accident. What mostly makes it a scare is how she handles it, which is how she has handled things in the past (like Bailey) — by avoiding the subject entirely, and anything associated with it, including things that could help. Without even remotely knowing if she's actually pregnant, she breaks up with her boyfriend, frets about when she's supposed to get her period — a month after the last one ended or a month after the last one started?? (instead of, you know, looking it up). She was holding several dozen Idiot Balls in that particular subplot — if she'd just stopped to actually think for two seconds right after it happened she could've at least considered looking into the morning-after pill (I don't know when exactly the story is set so I don't know if they would've been accessible to her; but they would've been at the time the book was published).
  • January 20, 2014
    randomsurfer
    bump becaue I just Red Linked it in another ykttw.
  • January 20, 2014
    DAN004
    What I'm confused is: If the wife has missed period, how come she's not pregnant? o.O
  • February 6, 2015
    Dalillama
    ^ There's loads of possible reasons, relating to diet, hormones, general state of health, particular state of health ,etc.

  • February 7, 2015
    lexicon
    A few of these are Zero Context Examples. In some of the examples she hasn't even missed a period.
  • February 7, 2015
    Dalillama
    ^ Yes, they are. Anyone who can provide context is welcome to, but I don't know any of them.
  • February 7, 2015
    BKelly95
    Live Action Television
    • On Grimm, Juliette has to have sex with Nick to restore his powers, but she has to do so while transformed into Adalind. Afterwards, she starts having headaches and stomach pains and Rosalee suggests she might be pregnant. It's not so much the possibility of pregnancy that worries Juliette, but the chance that the baby would have some connection to Adalind. It later turns out she's not pregnant. Instead, the ritual turned her into a Hexenbiest.
  • February 7, 2015
    zarpaulus
    • The "Anne's Pregnant?" arc of SSDD turns out this way. But not until after she takes advantage of the situation to see how Richard would react if she actually were expecting.
  • February 7, 2015
    lexicon
    If no one can provide context they should be deleted before this is launched.
  • February 7, 2015
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Live Action TV
    • MASH. A subplot of "What's Up Doc?" has Margaret believing she's pregnant after having spent R&R in Tokyo with Penobscott, and worries that giving birth will result in an automatic discharge. For confirmation, Hawkeye borrows Radar's female bunny for Margaret's pregnancy, which results turn up negative; apparently, Margaret was simply having galbladder problems.
  • February 7, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • An arc on The George Lopez Show has Angie thinking he might be pregnant. She wasn't, but she lied to George that she was so he wouldn't be depressed about missing Carmen, who had left for college.
  • February 8, 2015
    Dalillama
    I think the S.S.D.D. and George Lopez show examples need a bit more context as well. I went ahead and pulled the ZC Es from the draft until/unless more context is provided.

  • February 8, 2015
    lexicon
    ZCE: In Grease, Rizzo and Kenickie's pregnancy scare is a major subplot.

    If it's true anyone who's seen Grease can easily give it context.
  • February 9, 2015
    Antigone3
    Does the description need a bit about other reasons for missed periods, since the question came up in the comments?
  • February 9, 2015
    Aquila89
    In the That70s Show episode "The Pill", Jackie has a pregnancy scare. Donna starts taking the titular contraceptive, so the same thing wouldn't happen to her.
  • February 9, 2015
    Antigone3
    I checked The Other Wiki, but they're not saying when the Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants novels are set. Unless someone knows for a fact they're set after the development of the morning-after pill, that entry should probably be edited.
  • February 9, 2015
    zarpaulus
    Webcomics Expanded SSDD example: In the "Anne's Pregnant?" arc Anne throws up at work the day after discussing the possibility of marriage with Richard. She takes a pregnancy test and while waiting both she and Richard are freaking out and thinking about how their lives could change. Then when the test is complete Anne asks Richard what he'd do if, hypothetically, she were pregnant, and after he faints and babbles about taking care of her she tells him the test was negative.
  • February 10, 2015
    Dalillama
    ^^ There's plenty of places in the States where it's effectively not available now. (I assume it's set in the States)
  • February 10, 2015
    Antigone3
    Suggested rephrasing of the Traveling Pants example:

    • Happens to Tibby in the fourth Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants book, after a condom accident. Though it wouldn't have been quite so bad if she hadn't been juggling multiple Idiot Balls during the whole thing. Without waiting for any indication that she was actually pregnant, she freaked out over the exact timing of when her period is due (is it one month after the last one began or after the last one ended?), and broke up with her boyfriend out of fear of the pregnancy.

    (Dalillama, the Wikipedia synopsis sounds like it's set in the US, but never comes out and says so.)
  • February 16, 2015
    Antigone3
    Will launch on Wednesday. If anyone can give more context for the Grease example, post now or it's getting blanked out.
  • February 21, 2015
    eroock
    Film:
    • In Birdman, the protagonist's girlfriend reveals to him that she missed her last two periods. His excitement is underwhelming which earns him a slap in the face. Later we learn that the girlfriend made her pregnancy up just to observe his reaction.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=2dhtsciv9xh1rk4qzcw9hwjp&trope=DiscardedYKTTW