A given female cast member is gay and has entered in a long-term relationship with another (cisgendernote the opposite of transgender) woman. At some point their biological clock will go off, and a pregnancy storyline will begin, since they want "biological" kids.
A great deal of attention will be paid to what is an easy and minor part of the process: the lesbian couple's quest to find sperm. Sperm banks and adoption will almost never be seriously discussed. The TV lesbians will instead try to get sperm from the men in their life, be he a close friend, in-law, or random passerby and a truly improbable number will even opt for an "old-fashioned" impregnation with the sperm donor. If one can't be found, expect the lesbian couple go to increasingly unlikely, embarrassing, and even illegal ends to acquire one.
Expect some variation on a joke involving turkey basters.
See this article and this follow-up for a more a detailed analysis and examples. This trope is Truth in Television for some lesbians but not all of them.
A Sister Trope of Has Two Mommies. May lead to Homosexual Reproduction.
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Anime and Manga
Vandread has a curious variation on this: set in the far future, the male and female crew of a colonization mission got into a dispute and split up, resulting in one planet in the system populated entirely by males, the other entirely by females. Generations later, both planets rely on genetic engineering to reproduce. For the all-female planet Majere, their social structure is still based on a sort of echo of the male/female family unit: two women pair off, and they have their egg cells spliced together in a lab, and the resulting embryo is implanted in one of them who carries the fetus to term. So while the lesbian characters *do* want to "get pregnant" on the show, many times they just do this with each other, skipping the "we need a sperm donor" step. The weird thing is that their entire society is sort of passively lesbian, so strictly speaking, characters who never paired off but remained single throughout the series were possibly an inversion of this trope.
Of course, the series plot involves a crew from all-male planet getting stuck with a crew from all-female planet. Teenaged girl Dita becomes infatuated with male teenager Hibiki, though she doesn't specifically want to do this to breed. On the other hand, in what might fit this trope in a weird way, female pilot Jura spends most of the series trying to seduce Hibiki. Jura is in a committed lesbian relationship with fellow pilot Barnette, who is upset that she's doing this, but then Jura explains that she is only trying to seduce Hibiki for the specific purpose of using him as a sperm donor: her logic being that if she's the first woman from her planet in generations to conceive a child with a male, it will make her a global celebrity. This may be complicated by the fact that the two crews only recently found out they're the same species, and all of them including Jura seem to only understand what reproduction-through-intercourse entails in a very academic level (to the point that Jura asks Hibiki for "what she needs" to have a baby, in such a way that its not clear if she knows what "sperm" is...)
In the X-Men books, Mystique and Destiny were lovers for more than half a century, but during periods when they were for various reasons separated, both had children fathered by transient male partners. Mystique certainly has abandoned her sons Kurt Wagner (aka Nightcrawler) and Graydon Creed with a degree of callousness, the former to save her own life from a lynch mob, the latter because at puberty he disappointingly turned out to be not a mutant. Mystique and Destiny eventually became a happy nuclear family with their adopted daughter Rogue (who however subverts the trope because she no longer was a baby when Raven and Irene adopted her).
In the Marvel Comics 2 universe, Felicia Hardy (formerly the Black Cat) lives with a woman called Diana and her daughter Felicity (fathered by Felicia's ex-husband Flash Thompson); however Felicity was apparently already a teenager when Felicia fell in love with Diana.
So far averted with Karolina and Xavin of the Runaways.
In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, there is the lesbian couple of Hazel and Foxglove. Hazel became pregnant in A Game of You after a bicurious one-night-stand with a gay friend, was shown pregnant in the mini-series Death: The High Cost of Living and strikes a deal with Death in Death: The Time of Your Life to save the life of her son Alvie.
In the Gail Simone run on Wonder Woman, specifically The Circle: all the women of the Amazon society of Themyscira are reincarnations of women who were murdered in their previous lives, many of whom were mothers, but since they now exist under the Immortal Procreation Clause the desire for children reaches such extremes that several women carried wooden dolls called whittle babies, one woman experienced a break from reality and started believing that the doll was her literal baby, and Hippolyta's personal guards look upon her having Diana after literal divine intervention as a curse that would lead to Amazon society being ripped apart by envy (an envy the eponymous Circle's leader is none too subtly implied to harbour) and resolve to solve the problem by murdering the infant Diana.
Really, within seconds of the lesbian couple in The Broken Hearts Club entering onscreen you can guess what their "drama" will be.
This formed part of the plot impetus for the film Under the Tuscan Sun. The protagonist's friends had booked a tour of Italy, but gave the tickets to her when their artificial insemination was successful.
The film I Can't Think Straight ends with Leyla informing Tala that they must have children. It seems to be some kind of compromise she struck with her very traditional parents when she came out.
The mockumentary The Baby Formula about two lesbians who actually get pregnant through stem cell research.
Fun fact: The movie was filmed during both actresses' actual pregnancies.
The villains of Pink Flamingos kidnap women, impregnate them, and sell the babies to lesbians.
Leslea Newman's short story Mothers of Invention deals with this, with a bit of a subversion—the narrator herself is pretty ambivalent about having children at all, and mostly goes along with it to please her partner.
Live Action TV
If These Walls Could Talk 2. In the segment 2000, Fran (Sharon Stone) and Kal (Ellen DeGeneres) decide to have a baby together. A turkey baster is involved.
Two examples that exist on opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism when it comes to the custody aspect are What Makes a Family and Two Mothers for Zachary respectively, the latter being based on a real life case.
A chapter of textbook example of this trope is played straight in ER with Dr. Kerry Weaver and her firefighter girlfriend complete with custody battles, melodrama and death.
In NYPD Blue, Det. Abbey Sullivan and her partner got Det. Greg Medevoy to donate his sperm.
Played with in The Wire: while her partner Cheryl avidly wanted a baby, Kima was initially unenthusiastic, and the baby is one of the many things that ends up coming between the two. The idea of being a mother eventually grows on her, and she ends up getting more involved in their son's life in season five.
In an episode of Without a Trace, an unknowing pair of women assumed to be a lesbian couple finally receiving a baby to adopt have said baby taken away from them as it was the missing person of that episode - they didn't kidnap it, they were just caught up in a conspiracy.
Unsurprisingly in a show with a Cast Full of Gay, The L Word covered this topic, but with only one of the many couples - Tina and Bette. When Helena is introduced, she bonds with Tina over motherhood, but her children are Put on a Bus after season two.
The token lesbians in the US version of Queer as Folk decide to have a baby; naturally they select their friend, gay Heroic Sociopath Brian, to be the biological father.
Which seems a bit less insane once you think about that that part of the plot was based on the British version, where Brian's counterpart is more of a nymphomaniac Man Child than Jerkass Brian.
Later, in the third season, said token lesbians (Lindsay and Melanie) decide to have another child together. They select another friend, Michael, to be the baby's biological father, and, in a remarkably strange way of going about it, Lindsay actually uses a turkey baster to impregnate Melanie.
So far this has been averted with Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow, despite having been in two long term relationships. Though in a subtle version of this trope, Willow and Tara became a kind of "adoptive parents" towards Dawn, even after Buffy came back from the dead. Later Dawn even comments that she sees Willow as her mom.
It's brought up again in Season 8, when a run in with Willow's ex-boyfriend Oz shows that he now has a child. Willow is upset; Oz assumes it's because of this trope and tells her there are ways for her to have a child. She reveals that her anger has nothing to do with him having a child but rather that he's allowed to have a normal future, while she can't when she is one of the top people in the Slayer organization and a sorceress supreme with much inner-darkness.
Appeared to be the only reason to include Carol's partner Susan in Friends.
Averted in Friends, as Susan fell in love with Carol independently of her getting pregnant by her then-husband.
The HBO series Bored to Death features a storyline about a lesbian couple who hit up one the male main characters for sperm in a coffee shop. Like you do. When he obliges, they turn around and sell his sperm on the black market to all the other lesbians in the neighborhood, all of whom are also desperate to reproduce.
This seems to be the catalyst for the breakup between Caitlin and Alicia on the cancelled Sex and the City clone Cashmere Mafia.
Played with in FlashForward where Janice, a lesbian, quite bluntly says she does not want kids, but is pregnant in her vision of the future.
Played straight later, however, when after getting shot, she becomes obsessed with getting pregnant to the point of sleeping with her male best friend Dimitri to conceive the baby on time (there was a sort of deadline... yeah, it's a bit confusing). Moreover, said best friend is actually in a committed relationship... that he doesn't seem to remember when offering to impregnate Janice.
Puppets Who Kill had a woman who seduced Buttons and brought him back to her apartment for what he assumed to be sex. Instead, she and her girlfriend hooked his crotch up to a vacuum-like device they had built to suck out his sperm. Naturally this process was purposely very painful in order to play up the other stereotype about lesbians.
Grey's Anatomy: The conflict between Callie and Arizona, eventually involving a breakup, hit this trope right on its head.
Not necessarily. Callie has shown a desire to have children from the beginning. When she was with George, before she was shown to have interest in women, she made this clear. Arizona, who was introduced as a lesbian and a pediatric surgeon was completely against the idea, eventually agreeing because it was what Callie wanted. Callie's pregnancy was an unplanned consequence of a one night stand with her best friend during her temporary split with Arizona.
In the very black sitcom Nighty Night, psycho Julia Davies, while not being lesbian, is so fixated on handsome doctor Angus Deayton that once she gets hold of his sperm sample (a story in itself), she is so dead set on being inseminated with his child that even after it has been spilt over some British hospital food she is not deterred from having the whole unspeakable mess inserted into her.
The only recurring lesbian couple in How I Met Your Mother are an example of this trope. But on the other hand, everyone wants kids on this show... except Robin, of course (and she can't have any anyway).
Referenced in QI episode "Holidays", when Rob Brydon jokes that "a family runaround with an excellent safety record" would be a much better slang word for lesbian than "dyke."note Despite having Britain's two most prominent lesbian comics (Sandi Toksvig—the female Stephen Fry—and Sue Perkins) as regulars in recent series, this stereotype—to the series' credit!—is not referenced when they've shown up.
In New Girl, the recurring lesbian couple (and the only lesbians on the show) are the only ones to get pregnant, though their pregnancy does alert the rest of the female cast to their biological clock as well.
Addressed in a rather unusual way in the otherwise LGBT shot Metrosexuality. Cindy, Max's sister who's a lesbian, is framed as your usual baby-crazed lesbian whereas her girlfriend Doris, while happy with the kids, never really intended to have kids. When Cindy complains that now their life is quite boring, Doris points out that Cindy was the one to want kids, not her, partially because she feared that it would happen.
Dykes To Watch Out For deals with this as but as it is Cast Full of Gay there are many characters who don't want kids, and indeed the fact that Toni and Clarice want a conventional life with kids does irk the uber-principled Mo.
There is also her ex-girlfriend Harriet who becomes pregnant through sperm donation while single, and later Ginger (and later Lois, who had earlier said that she has the maternal instincts of a doorknob) dates Jasmine who has a transgendered son.
Lois' quote is straight from the author herself in The Indelible Alison Bechdel, and she's gone on record as saying this is exactly why Toni is the hardest to write for.
When Toni was pregnant with Raffi, other characters commented:
"It used to be being a lesbian got you out of having to have kids. Now ever since my mama saw lesbian mothers on Oprah, I've been up to my eyeballs in clippings about sperm banks"
Actually lampshaded in a museum scene that has an endangered exhibit of Mo herself with the title "Childless North American Lesbian (dykus undomesticus)".
In another similarly Cast Full of Gay comic strip Chelsea Boys a lesbian couple asks Nathan to donate sperm but despite him being gay they for some reason want to conceive "naturally" with actual sex, which is achieved with viagra, a gay porn playing, a Brad Pitt mask and the other partner pegging him.
Played strangely in Moon Over June: Summer has had herself artificially inseminated, but did it solely to satisfy her pregnancy fetish, and doesn't appear to have thought the consequences through fully. As Hatsuki points out, since Summer Does Not Like Men to the extreme there's at least a 50% risk she'll resent the child as soon as it's born; Summer is in denial and insists, despite being a gynecologist, that "She'll be a girl if I want her to be one hard enough." Meanwhile, Hatsuki has just discovered that she is also pregnant, but in her case it's unexpected, apparently caused by sexual contact with a girl who'd just had sex with a man rather than the more direct method, and Word of God is that she finds pregnancy frightening. She winds up keeping it in order to be able to work in pregnancy fetish videos, and after the kids (both girls) are born Summer and Hatsuki raise their respective offspring together.
Shortpacked! has an odd version due to its sci-fi elements: Leslie and Robin decide to have kids, and consult Joe about some form of Homosexual Reproduction. He devises a way that can make a man's sperm carry one of their DNA to impregnate the other. (He may have gotten this idea fromJustice League Unlimited.) He notes that while they could certainly do this "the fun way," they could also just have whatever man they choose donate sperm. (The usual turkey baster joke is replaced by a Super Soaker.) The couple asks their gay friend Ethan.
American Dad! had an episode about gay adoption that featured homosexuals of both genders wanting kids. However, the episode's climax involved Stan kidnapping two children from their lesbian mothers.
He also kidnapped the male couple's child. The lesbian couple try to get him to give her back by showing that gay couples can have a loving normal family.
Played straight, if very much for laughs, in Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. Dana and Kirsten, the show's token lesbian couple, announce their plans to conceive in the pilot episode, and every one of their stories in subsequent episodes revolves around wacky sperm-seeking hijinks, pregnancy, and motherhood. The stereotype is tweaked a little bit, though, as it is clear that Dana really isn't all that into the whole "motherhood" thing.
Kirsten: I can't wait to nurse!
Dana: I can't wait till your boobs get bigger.
Pretty much every other lesbian who appears on Rick and Steve has or is trying to conceive a baby. In one early episode, Kirstin pretends to be a gay man so she can hook up with a gay guy through the internet and steal his sperm. Her hookup turns out to be... another lesbian also seeking sperm. And on the gay cruise episode, all the lesbians onboard are there for the lamaze classes, while all the guys are there to party and hook up. This shouldn't be too surprising, though, since Rick and Steve is built around turning ridiculous gay stereotypes Up to Eleven.