Women Are Delicate. Children Are Innocent. A pregnant woman combines these two ideas in one to create a woman whose condition rates as so vulnerable, so precious, that you never want to see anything bad happening to her.
But... what's happening? She got hurt! Worse, she's injured in a way that threatens her fetus's life! How much more brutal can a story get?
Often used to add drama and show how ruthless the bad guys are. In most societies a pregnant woman is, for good reason, treated with courtesy and concern. She's carrying the life of another, innocent human being: protecting women like her is something we have to do, in order for our species to survive. Seeing a pregnant woman at the receiving end of violence is especially shocking for most viewers/readers.
Often turns out all right in the end, as both audiences and creators frequently find it unpalatable to play this trope through to the end.
Supertrope to Pregnant Hostage. May involve a Maternity Crisis if the child chooses that exact moment to come into the world, or alternatively a Convenient Miscarriage if child is lost as a result. Often the intersection of Would Hurt a Child and Would Hit a Girl. Overlaps with Pregnant Badass if the pregnant woman is an Action Girl who extracts herself from the peril.
A pregnant (not that this was known at the time) Casca is raped by the demon Femto after his creation. This drives Casca insane and corrupts the fetus into a demonic-like grotesque.
Emperor Ganishka's demon soldiers are created by dumping heavily pregnant women into an enormous artificial womb that radiates the woman full of demonic energy. The now-demonic fetus rips its way out of the uterus and joins the others.
In Vinland Saga, Arneis (a slave) is secretly pregnant with her master Ketil's child. When her former husband comes to take her back - slaying several guards of the farm in the process - and she tries to escape with him, Ketil does not take it well. Just before her punishment, she reveals to him she is pregnant with his child; his response is to suspect that the child isn't his, and beat her half to death. And not only half, as she dies shortly after.
The pilot of Cowboy Bebop had a heavily pregnant woman on the run with a man wanted for drug smuggling, with the police in hot pursuit. The belly turns out to be a huge bundle of pills.
In Sky Doll, the main character, a love doll named Noa has a very graphic hallucination when she is pregnant and her womb rips out. But it's all in a dream... or is it?
Played with at the end of Taking Lives, the character played by Angelina Jolie is pregnant and gets stabbed in the belly, only to reveal the pregnancy was fake and the corner stone of an elaborate scheme to catch the killer.
In Thursday, Casey has a flashback as to what it was that finally helped him decide to turn his life around from being a drug dealer: during a busted deal, his partner Nick repeatedly shoots an eight-month pregnant woman in the stomach, killing both the woman and the fetus.
In Gangs of New York, Jenny's baby was cut out of her after she got pregnant from Bill the Butcher, leaving a big nasty scar on her body and her traumatized
A sixteen year old girl in The Rite was raped and impregnated by her father, causing a demon to posses her. During her exorcisms, the demon causes her body to do very disturbing and unnatural things. She is later sent to the hospital where both she and the fetus are killed by the demon.
Jigsaw's wife in Saw IV lost their unborn son due to a door violently smashed against her belly. This was the Start of Darkness for him.
In Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, the Predalien is completely indiscriminate in its victims, invading a maternity ward in the town's hospital and implanting pregnant women with its own xenomorph embryos.
In the French horror movie Inside, a pregnant woman is attacked by a stranger who wants to steal her baby. With scissors. During Christmas Eve.
In Curse of Chucky, a pre- doll transformation Charles Lee Ray is seen stabbing a pregnant woman to cripple her unborn daughter after she rejected his advances.
In the first Warlock movie, the Warlock threatens to kill a priest's pregnant wife along with the child she's carrying to get the information he wants. Presumably subverted because the priest ultimately caves in to the Warlock's demands, although we don't get to see if he did leave them unharmed.
Blade's origin story from the Blade Trilogy involved his mother being attacked by a vampire when she was heavily pregnant, causing her to die on an operating table and the boy turning into a human-vampire hybrid. Blade swore to find the vampire who killed her to avenge her death. Near the end, Blade discovers that his mother is still alive after the vampire in question turned her, and it was actually Deacon Frost, the bad guy he had been pursuing the entire film.
In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith a heavily pregnant Padmé goes gallivanting off to Mustafar after Anakin after Obi-Wan tells her Anakin has fallen to the dark side. When Obi-Wan turns up, having stowed away on Padmé's ship, Anakin Force chokes her. Padmé starts dying afterwards, forcing medical droids to induce labor and deliver Luke and Leia.
At the beginning of The Sharing Knife, protagonist Fawn has left her home to avoid being shamed for her unwed pregnancy. Then an Eldritch Abomination ground-rips (tears the life-force out of) her unborn child. Things do get better for her, but she has one hell of a woobie-fied start.
In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, while Katniss wasn't actually pregnant, Peeta manages to enrage the capitol citizens by claiming that she was right before the 75th Games started, trying to invoke this trope.
Alys Vorpatril, while pregnant with the baby Ivan Vorpatril, is stranded in besieged city held by a pretender desperately looking for distinguished hostages like Alys.
Cordelia is attacked with a poisonous gas while pregnant. The aftereffects of the treatment that saved her life drive most of her son's life: Miles, the protagonist of most of the books, was dwarfed and crippled by the effects.
Carla Cassidy's Pregnesia: Amnesiac widowed heroine, Good Samaritan hero, bad guys after the baby.
This is teased with Elayne in The Wheel of Time, who gets impregnated in the ninth book. Thanks to a prophetic viewing, she is convinced her children can't be harmed and gets into trouble several times, finally coming to her senses after a particular wound runs dangerously close to her womb. Then things get brutal: during the climax of the last book, she runs afoul of a minor villain from previous books who intends to cut out her unborn twins and use magic to keep them alive until they can be offered to the Big Bad. He promises to rape her afterward. A timely plot device saves the day, however.
In the second episode of the short-lived 2000 ABC series Wonderland, a pregnant doctor gets stabbed in the stomach with a syringe by a mental patient.
Played with in Desperate Housewives. A pregnant Bree gets stabbed in the belly. However, no blood appears because it's a fake belly. But it does threaten to uncover the truth.
In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Friday's Child", a usurper named Ma'ab kills Aka'ar, the Teer (tribal king), in an attempted coup. He then demands Aka'ar's pregnant wife Eleen and her unborn son killed, as the unborn son is the true heir of succession, and Kirk, Spock and McCoy have to go on the run with Eleen to keep her safe.
In "The Darkness and the Light" a Serial Killer targets the surviving members of Kira's old Bajoran resistance cell, eventually luring the very pregnant Kira to his hideout, stunning her, and then attempting to cut Kirayoshi out of her (the intent was to save the innocent baby and take revenge on Kira). She manages to turn the tables and shoot him.
The NCISChristmas Episode "Newborn King" had the team defending a very pregnant Marine from mercenaries trying to get the baby, due to it being, if male, the only surviving heir to an Afghan tribe. (She'd fallen in love with the previous heir, who was later killed by the Taliban.) A Maternity Crisis ensues and Gibbs ends up delivering the baby in a gas station while Ziva fights off the mercs in the next room.
Game of Thrones: A pregnant character is stabbed multiple times in the belly at one point, leading to the death of both her and her child. For bonus points, the character is a Canon Foreigner,note who might be pregnant but is in any case still alive so the producers only added the pregnancy storyline for drama and gore points.
Stargate Atlantis: As Teyla neared the end of her pregnancy, Micheal kidnapped her to use her son as a testbed for his human-wraith hybrids. One Alternate Universe shows that had he finished his experiments, he would have created an army that would have effectively taken over the Pegasus Galaxy, but Teyla never saw it. In the proper time, the team manages to save Teyla and her baby.
Amy is once kidnapped while pregnant because the Silence's boss thinks that her unborn child could be a Time Lord. Not to mention all of the situations she ends up getting into with the Doctor, including her husband dying. Something like ten times.
In the episode "Amy's Choice", one fake version of Amy is pregnant and trapped in a small town with aliens disguised as the elderly (again) ready to disintegrate everyone, but mostly her family. To get away, she drives a van into a cottage. And her husband dies. Three times. In one episode.
In Grimm, one of Sgt. Wu's Filipino friends gets attacked by an aswang, which nearly kills her fetus while she was sleeping. Nick and Hank were able to resolve the situation and save her again from the monster.
When Lita was carrying Kane's baby, they ended the angle when Gene Snitsky knocked Kane into Lita which made her fall off the apron of the ring, losing the baby.
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