Behold! The magic wand to solve all your life's problems!note We're kidding. Really. No, really.
A baby can improve the situation and solve everyone's problems just by turning up. At least, according to this trope.
Babies mend broken relationships, restore someone's faith in life, and can even stop wars. Even the obligatory Screaming Birth won't put onlookers (or the mother) off pondering the magnificence of life — not even onlookers who are normally so easily squicked out that the messiness of childbirth should have rendered them comatose. All angst is dissolved with their first cry, all the problems in their parents' lives melt away with one glimpse into those Innocent Blue Eyes, the world's problems seem insignificant next to their first dirty nappy...
The positive side of this trope is that it embraces the joyful new beginning that a baby represents. Here is a brand new person, on her way to all of the wonderful experiences that come with being alive. Her chubby-faced cuteness and innocence light up the room, and even the Knight in Sour Armor cannot help but smile back when she flashes her toothless grin at him. She is freshness and newness incarnate, not to mention a chance to start over, try again, and perhaps avoid some of the mistakes of the past.
The negative side of this trope is that it makes childbearing (and child-raising) look far more simple and convenient than you find it in Real Life. The inconveniences of having a baby are usually downplayed or glossed over, and even previously irresponsible parents will be instantly willing and able to step up and take responsibility for the newborn. In short, it makes a baby seem like nothing but magic and wonder, when in reality she is sleep-deprivation, a complete disruption of the normal routine, and a whole lot of work.
This trope can be Truth in Television. For some couples, a baby is indeed the answer to their problem — because their problem is that they don't have any children. For others who are struggling, their intention to have children someday forces them to work together and sort their problems out. There are also many stories of seemingly-unlikely mothers and fathers who take to parenthood like ducks to water and (even if they were shocked or dismayed to learn of the pregnancy at first) now wouldn't have it any other way.
However, the fact remains that Real Life babies are expensive, life-long responsibilities — the very opposite of something that will simplify your life and make fewer problems (a fact that most Deconstructions of this trope are quick to point out). Babies are not epiphany therapists and definitely not magicians. In fact, pregnant women and mothers with young children are more likely to become victims of domestic violence, especially in situations where the pregnancy/young family forces them to depend on the father or on their family with no freedom to leave. Providing babies/toddlers with nutrition, education/stimulation, and everything else they need simply to thrive, grow, and not have major psychological issues or setbacks (much less absolute optimal levels of all of the above to make sure they have a chance at being highly educated/capable) is often beyond the financial reach of many people, and may be absolutely impossible to do well under conditions like war or famine. Then there's the problem of healthcare for both the mother if she experiences complications and/or a child with major physical or intellectual or emotional disabilities needing care for those, which becomes either impossible in less developed societies (leading to such things as Death by Childbirth and challenged children being abandoned/forced to beg or be slaves) or possible but at extreme financial and sometimes relational costs in the First World. Then there are some couples that are not equipped to have children, from anything from physical or mental reasons (and no, those mental reasons can't always be fixed via therapy) to simply having existing lives that have no room for children and no desire to quit or cut back on their career or lifestyle to be a "proper" parent.
A character impervious to the cuteness of babies is frequently a Child Hater. See also Children Raise You, where the situation is less idealistic (though with much the same outcome) and the caretaker is not the child's biological parent.
Compare The Baby Trap, which is when a character who believes in this trope attempts to invoke it without the knowledge and/or consent of their partner. See Babies, Babies Everywhere for related tropes.
Polar opposite of Children Are a Waste.
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Used with an extra dose of anvils in Vandread. An alien computer virus infects the entire ship when the crew attempts to open a Lost Technology data storage, rendering the ship defenseless as enemy forces approach. It also leaves our hero, his love interest and a woman in labor stuck in an elevator. Some of the crew patch the comm-system into the elevator so they can give advice to the kids trying to play midwife, and when the baby is born, its first cry echoes through the ship... causing the virus to instantly dissolve. It was actually a defense program to prevent the wrong people from getting their hands on the information in the data-storage, and the 'password' was a baby's first cry. The creator of the time capsule stated that any culture that still sees children born, greeting the world with a cry of sheer life, is worthy of being preserved.
Played pretty straight in episode 7 of Sailor Moon R (episode 53 overall), where the Cardian is sent in to attack babies and one of the mothers takes the brunt of an attack meant for her son. The baby, unfortunately has no one to take care of him, so Mamoru, being the good guy that he is, volunteers. Usagi decides to help and the two of them even hold hands when they dance for joy when the little baby begins to walk and talks for the first time. At the time, Mamoru had amnesia and didn't remember anything about loving Usagi. In fact, he clearly found her kind of strange and unpleasant. This one is slightly more excusable since they were just babysitting, and since they weren't sole caretakers of the little one long enough it didn't have time to stop being fun and become reality.
In Black Butler, Madam Red marries a man who she does not love because her sister married her beloved. However, when she becomes pregnant, she tells us in a inner monologue that she begins to feel she can really love her husband. When she loses the child in a accident and goes crazy because another woman had an abortion, she begins killing all those expecting mothers who wish to be rid of their children. At the end of it, she expects Ciel to sympathize with her because in her view any woman that doesn't want a child must be a shallow tart undeserving of any sympathy.
In Sakende Yaruze! Shino and Misao think this when they are 17. After actually getting pregnant Misao seems to change her mind a little as she leaves Shino so that having a family will not get in the way of his career.
Played with in Fairy Tail. There are no signs of anyone having a kid anytime soon, but in a flashback bonus chapter they show how Natsu came to acquire Happy, which was by finding an egg in the forest that the cat(?) then hatched out of. Moment before Happy's hatching everyone was fighting, but the moment he appeared everyone stopped fighting and cheered up. For this reason, Natsu named the cat 'Happy'.
Played with as well in the Sword Fiend filler arc of Bleach, where Hisagi's Ax-Crazy zanpakutou, Kazeshini, has continued to hunt his owner remorselessly even though Muramasa's control over him was excised. He uses guerilla tactics in a very clear effort to kill his owner (rather than wanting to fight him head-on), until he kills one of the Sword Fiends who tries to kill him. Said sword fiend had just killed a father with a newborn baby, who imprints on Kazeshini and quickly becomes his Morality Pet.
Played utterly straight in ElfQuest. Even when the characters really didn't want a child (as is the case with Dewshine and Tyldak), the baby is still treated as a small miracle. Later on in the comic, Dewshine is seen absolutely beside herself with joy because her lifemate, Scouter, has made another girl pregnant. Several healers, including Leetah and Rain, have made it practically their life's work to increase the tribe's fertility. Leetah's sister Shenshen is one of her village's most respected members because she's a midwife. Lord Voll forces an entire tribe to bend to his will just so he can see the chief's children; later Winnowill, the Big Bad, uses one of the kids both as Human Shield against the tribe and as motivation for her human pets, who understood elves to be basically sterile. Nonna and Adar, two humans, lead lonely and meaningless lives because they're barren, and are only shown to be truly happy once they've adopted three young orphans. Krim is willing to sacrifice her own life during the war until she finds out she's pregnant. Tyleet adopts a human baby who gets abandoned by his parents. And so on and so forth. The in-story justification for this, at least for the elves, is that elves have long lives and extremely low fertility, so every birth is celebrated no matter how strange the circumstances. As a further touch, almost every elven birth is caused by Recognition, a magical way to ensure that the child is specially gifted as a consequence of that particular genetic union. Of course, none of this stuff explains why the trope is implied to the relatively primitive humans present in the setting.
An undercurrent in the general Fables storyline. When Snow White and Bigby's seven children are born, it's treated as a miracle amongst the Fables community. As revealed in Peter and Max, the wicked Max Piper made all Earth-based Fables sterile during his revenge on his brother in the 1920's. The only other birth, Beast and Beauty's recent newborn, is celebrated while shrouded in omens (Frau Totenkinder knits a baby outfit with six limbs). Abortion is forbidden, though Frau Totenkinder owns a chain of abortion clinics to keep her magic powers fully fueled.
Tons and tons of fanfiction.
A well done version of this trope shows up in The Second Try, a Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic. The couple, Asuka and Shinji in a post-Third Impact world didn't want to initially be parents due to their own parental issues and had to work through those first, as well as make lots of preparations for the birth. And even after birth, they still had to work through being parents without any help, made mistakes, got messy and had problems. Ultimately, though, their child turned out be a wonderful and fulfilling addition to their lives.
In chapter 4 of Expecting the Unexpected a magically-pregnant Harry and Draco Malfoy were having a rather vicious argument in the hospital wing when Madame Pomfrey broadcast the baby's heartbeat and they both immediately settled down into a sort of sappy astonishment, forgetting all about the fight. And when he told Mrs. Weasley the news she wrote "A new baby, a new life, to end a year of great sadness and loss is what our family needs, Harry."
In another Death Note fanfic Mama, Original Character Karol appears to believe in this, being of the class that actually wants and has tried having a baby. Except that she can't.After a series of miscarriages and seeing her employer doing so well with her own pregnancy despite the implications that she doesn't really want the baby, Karol snaps, goes out and shoots her employer and her husband in their own home and kidnaps their infant son, using the aforementioned beliefs to justify her crime. For her part she does genuinely try to be a good mother to him while they're on the run, but it doesn't last. Oh, and the baby would grow up to be L.
The center plot in Delivering Milo, a deconstruction of this trope from the point of view of the baby of all people. Milo is afraid to be born because he can sense his mother's trepidation at becoming a mother. Her father left her and she's not sure if she's prepared to be a parent herself. She's afraid of people leaving her and self-fufills that belief into action. Enter Elmore Dahl, a sort of guardian angel meant to show Milo around Earth to convince him that being born is the best thing ever, only he's too busy reliving his life on earth to really do his job. Turns out, Elmore is Milo's grandfather and basically the reason he's having trouble being born.Hijinks Ensue.
Lampshaded in Rachel Getting Married. The family is having a heated argument which Rachel ends by telling everyone that she's pregnant, and attention instantly focuses on the baby and nobody is fighting anymore. Kim says it's "not fair" for her to pull out the baby card as if that makes everything better.
This is how Georgy Girl ends. It's kind of a head-scratcher.
Played with in Knocked Up, in which the male lead transforms from a lazy stoner slob into hubby material during his partner's pregnancy, despite the fact that he got her pregnant after a one-night stand. It does manage to execute this trope relatively well in that neither the pregnancy nor birth of his child automatically make Ben's relationship with Alison any better: he has to work really hardto get the happy ending and it takes him a while to figure out how to actually achieve this and get the other parent on board. Unfortunately the fact that much of this Character Development happens in a quick third-act Montage blunts this somewhat.
Nine Months is enough time to make Hugh Grant realize that he really wants to be a daddy, despite having no previous inclinations in that direction. Playing the baby card wasn't exactly an unqualified success though, since some viewers were more concerned about Grant's elderly cat than the baby.
In What a Girl Wants, Libby says the only comfort she had after being sent away was learning she was pregnant with Daphne. Also, Daphne's existence is what causes Libby to reunite with the father, Henry, and his choosing her over Manipulative Bitch Glynnis.
Occurs in a short made by the legendary Laurel and Hardy. After a bitter argument between Oliver Hardy and his wife, Stan Laurel convinces him that a baby in their home will bring some harmony to their marriage. Without even consulting his wife, Hardy immediately goes out to an orphanage and adopts a baby. In the meantime, his wife has walked out on him and Hardy (along with Laurel and baby) comes home to find a lawyer serving him with divorce papers. Hilarity Ensues as Laurel and Hardy are left to take care of the baby by themselves.
Heavily implied in Away We Go. The movie ends before the birth but the basically-unrelated-to-the-rest-of-the-movie ending seems to be heading that way.
Played straight, then subverted. After having a string of marital problems culminating in an argument where Mary threatens to leave her husband John, he tells her to go ahead and do it. Mary then tells him that she's pregnant, and John suddenly apologizes and promises to be a better husband and a good father. Subverted in that a few years later John's lapsed back into his old habits and proves to be completely useless at helping to raise the children. And things only get worse when the younger daughter dies in an accident.
Pretty much the point of the end of the movie Parenthood.
At least one father who's a regular ne'er-do-well never really mends his ways, and ends up abandoning his son (whose mother has already abandoned them both) to his own father while fleeing from shady creditors, though it's implied at the end that the kid's grandfather may be attempting something of a do-over by parenting his grandson.
Also the point of Three Men And A Baby, though in an unusual way (mainly by bringing the three men together).
As soon as her baby is placed in Jenna's arms in Waitress, she finds the strength to tell off her abusive husband. This may be a bit of early-onset Mama Bear. Although the trope is played with, if not subverted, in that the baby normally 'fixes' the relationship by bringing the couple together and easing their tensions; here, the relationship is fixed when the woman tells her abusive husband it's over and she wants a divorce.
This belief makes up the main plot of Raising Arizona. The main couple feel that their relationship is incomplete without a child, but the woman is sterile and the man in an ex-con, which ruins their chances of adopting a baby. They decide that they will steal a baby instead. They decide to return the baby after learning that it won't magically make them more mature and well-adjusted people, but they decide to work through their problems and stay together anyway, and it's suggested that they eventually get their act together and have Babies Ever After.
Reconstructed in the Spanish film Adiós, Cigüeña, Adiós which actually does play all of the difficulties of Teen Pregnancy pretty straight; the beginning even has a prolonged sequence in which we hear a newborn's obnoxious crying played over a lullabye with somewhat depressing lyrics about the woes of a mother's love life, and the teens in the story are living in the rather straight-laced Catholic Spain of the early 1970s which makes their situation even more difficult. That said, much of the comedy in this Dramedy comes from presenting as a grand adventure the efforts of the youngsters' friends to conceal the pregnancy and bring the baby to birth without the grown-ups finding out about it, and the final scene actually has a choir singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah as everyone celebrates the child's birth. And oh yeah—there's a sequel about what they do with the baby after that.
In Courtship Rite, in the end, with the maran-Kaiel family bitterly divided over the question of Oelita vs. Kathein, and divorce beginning to look like a possibility, Gaet uses the babies born by the two women and fathered by maran-Kaiel men to help defuse the tension and remind everyone how much they love each other.
Children of Men may be filmdom's ultimate example of this trope. Every human being on earth has somehow been rendered sterile; with no hope for any future, humankind has descended into fascism and pointless conflicts. Then, out of nowhere, an ordinary woman named Kee gives birth, in the heart of a conflict zone. Her platonic guardian Theo manages to get to her, and starts to lead her to (possible) safety, right through the middle of a battle. The newborn begins to cry- a sound that hasn't been heard by anybody for 18 years. Both soldiers and rebels stop fighting and stand in stunned silence, as the couple passes by with the baby. Some pray, kneel, or reach to touch the little one. In the midst of massive destruction, chaos and despair, hope for the world has been reborn.
Averted in Adopting Terror where the adoption of Mona puts a fair amount of strain on Tim and Cheryl's marriage.
Old example: In the fairytale "Pride Punished", a husband's brutal campaign of humiliation against his "proud" wife (she *gasp* called him out on his table manners) is only called off when she bears him twin sons.
Bella herself admits that she doesn't like babies but two seconds after discovering she is pregnant decides that she wants nothing more than to have Edward's perfect, sparkly, gorgeous baby. Bella and Edward have an unrealistically good marriage (all two days of it) before the pregnancy is discovered and the baby grows up so fast that there is no period of dirty diapers, crying, or spoon feeding. It also plays this straight in the following ways and cements Nessie as Fixer Sue:
Nessie instantly patches the relationship between Bella and her new sister-in-law Rosalie, who spent the last three books despising the girl and is pretty much the only Cullen vampire who didn't adore Bella from day one.
Nessie is also the perfect soul mate of Bella's own lovelorn suitor Jacob, who is immediately smitten with the child and totally drops whatever feelings he may have had for Bella. His relationship with Edward is thus completely mended, with Edward even calling Jacob his "son" and giving his blessing.
Nessie is also also the bridge between the vampires and the wolf pack, since Jacob imprints on her. Therefore, the two clans become allies, even more so than when Jacob was pining for Bella since he actually imprints on Nessie and the shapeshifters are forbidden from harming any shapeshifter's imprint.
Nessie is also also also the catalyst for Bella becoming a vampire, which gives Bella the ability to use her new-and-improved mental shield to protect everyone on her side of the fight with the Volturi, so the Volturi cannot harm them. Thus the battle for which vampires have been gathering from all over the globe ends in a polite discussion before everyone goes home.
Invoked in Homesick: My Own Story where an eleven-year-old girl thinks that adopting a baby would improve her parents' marriage and keep her adopted older brother from feeling left out.
Invoked in The Thorn Birds, when Meggie believes that children will salvage her relationship with Luke and bring him home from the cane fields, and then averted when it does not go according to plan at all. And it doesn't go any better with her second child, who is the son of Meggie and Father Ralph. Not only does he not make everything better, he unwittingly spites Meggie by, instead of being a human piece of Ralph to carry on, he opts to become a priest, the thing that most angers Meggie about Ralph in the first place. And then he dies, leaving her with Luke's daughter, whom she has treated as horribly as she was treated by her mother. Babies pretty much make everything much, much worse.
Invoked and then averted in Gone with the Wind. When Scarlett learns she's pregnant again, for the first time ever, she's happy about it and sees the pregnancy as a chance for her and Rhett to reconcile. Similarly, despite numerous warnings not to have another child or it could cost her her life, Melanie gets pregnant anyway, believing she'll prove all her doctors wrong. Instead, Scarlett miscarries after another argument with Rhett and the resulting strain contributes to the end of the marriage, Melanie miscarries and dies.
Averted on a global scale by one of the stories in Stanislaw Lem's Cyberiad, which tells how a potential war (over the romance between members of the ruling families) was won bloodlessly - by filling the enemy planet with babies, fired out a of a network of baby cannon. The planet capitulated due to the stresses of a world full of babies. Although as this left the couple able to get together, maybe it's played straight as well...
Torn apart in Such A Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess. A pedophile is let out of jail on a reduced sentence and suggests to his wife they have another child. She agrees, not because she wants a baby, but because he does, and she thinks it would be a wonderful symbol of their family starting over. Their fifteen-year-old daughter Meredith, one of her father's victims, is understandably horrified. Her narration later also references how foolish, but common, this idea is for 'girls like her.' (See Quotes page, it's long.)
In Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise by Mikhail Akhmanov and Christopher Nicholas Gilmore, the titular space trader gets a new wife (he literally buys her from a convent on a religious world), and they fall in love fairly quickly. After months of traveling (subjective time) the stars and seeing many planets, she decides that she wants to give him a baby, something only one other woman has done before - his very first wife on Earth 20,000 years ago. Despite his arguments (perfectly valid) about the problems of having a fetus develop in a low-gravity environment and the lonely life he or she would have aboard the ship, she still wants a baby. Finally, she comes up with a solution - French drops her off on a planet where native women have prophetic powers that allow them to choose their soulmate (this would keep French's wife from cheating), and she has a son that will grow up and get married on the planet. She would then return to the ship decades later from her timeframe but only months for French. The problem ignored by the author is that this means that French himself never even meets his son until decades later, so she's not really giving him a child. French mentions that there are whole groups of women he likes to call the Frenetic Mothers. Their only goal in life is to bear as many babies as possible. Who the fathers are doesn't really matter. They are the driving force behind human colonization of the galaxy, urging planetary governments to build colony ships whenever population density warrants Population Control.
In the epilogue of Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, the birth of a daughter helps repair Harry and Grace Bannerman's strained marriage. It's justified in that they've already had several sons whose only problem is being too perfect.
Played with in the final book of The Hunger Games trilogy, where it's less "Babies Make Everything Better" and more "Everything's Better, so let's have Babies," or "Babies Make Life Slightly More Bearable." Early on in the series, Katniss makes it clear that she has no interest in bringing children into a world where they have any chance of winding up fighting to the death in the eponymous Hunger Games. The epilogue indicates that she thinks the world has improved enough that having kids could be worth it. That said, it still took the violent destruction of the tyrannical regime that ran the games and fifteen years on top of that for Peeta to convince her to have children. And they don't really make everything better either: the epilogue makes very clear that Katniss is still traumatized and afraid that all good things will be taken from her, even though she has children now.
In Terra by Mitch Benn, the Bradburys are a couple who always argue about everything. One of their shrinking number of friends suggests having a baby would help. Instead, having a baby just gives them new things to argue about.
She was indeed bringing love and harmony to her family, but her parents were too busy arguing to notice.
During Through Alien Eyes Juna's father mentions that his family and his wife's family were at odds thanks to racism. Both sides became more civil with Juna's birth. It comes up with Juna's child too - when she contacts the father he's angry with her but softens when she says it's a girl. In that case it's ultimately averted, though, as he is unmoveably against her having the child or raising it as she wants it to be raised.
A Christmas episode sees an unplanned pregnancy and labor restore the cast's faith in life (and in Turk's case, God), Dr. Cox and Jordan bond (albeit rather cynically) over the birth of a friend's child, and formerly child-indifferent Elliot becomes a cooing puddle of mush - but in another episode, J.D. wonders who the hell managed to romanticize childbirth. Later episodes address the fact that Carla, a responsible woman who really wanted to be a mum, still had to deal with postpartum depression.
One story arc involved J.D. getting Sacred Heart's urologist Dr. Kim Briggs pregnant, after having only dated for a very short time (the pregnancy was also caused by non-penetrative sex). Kim accepts a job in Washington, tells J.D. she miscarried, and the two end the relationship. It's later revealed that she lied. Kim and J.D. reunite for a while, but ultimately they end the relationship, remaining friends for the sake of their son Sam.
Also, after Kim shows J.D. a video of their son, he realizes how much of Sam's life he's missing by living a 40 minute drive away and decides to move into the area on the spot. After that, J.D. and Turk have to face the realization that they can't see one another every day, as Turk has a family of his own.
Crichton and Aeryn's baby certainly gives Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars a warm and fluffy ending, as well as bringing Aeryn's "humanity" to fruition. "All of a sudden, three's not such a scary number."
Played straight and subverted on Heroes with Matt Parkman. Straight example: he leaves his wife, Janice, for a multitude of reasons, mostly because she's been cheating on him, and he thinks that the child she's about to bear isn't his. It is, and the baby ends up bringing the two back together after Daphne's death. Subversion: his vision of his marriage to Daphne in the future involved them having a kid together. However, their relationship is still shown to have some issues, despite that.
Wendy is trying to make things work with Jax because of Abel but it's hard going. Since she wasn't seen in the opening episode of the second season things may not have worked out. Also care of Abel seems to largely be falling to Gemma.
In season three, when Tera gets pregnant she decides to have an abortion since it is going to complicate an already messy situation with Jax. Having the baby in Charming also means that she will be more or less locked into staying involved with the Sons. She ends up not having the abortion for other reasons and when Jax finds out he is overjoyed. Neither really expects for things to get better because of the baby.
Word of God state that the financial difficulties of having an extremely sick baby (Jax's older brother) that caused John Teller to start dealing in illegal firearms and resulted in corrupting the club into what it is in the present. When the baby still died, John became depressed and alienated from Gemma and ultimately ended up dead.
Det. Vera tries to invoke this trope on Cold Case by attempting to adopt a baby to fix his rocky marriage. It doesn't work: the adoption is denied and he and his wife eventually divorce.
Subverted with cruel elegance on Mad Men. Having exiled Don to the couch earlier on, Betty Draper finds out that she's pregnant again at the end of the second season. Their marriage does seem to improve for a while, but eventually things fall apart after (1) Betty starts falling for another man (Henry Francis, an adviser to Governor Nelson Rockefeller) and (2) she finds out who Don really is. Fourteen months after Betty finds out about her pregnancy, she's flying out to Nevada (with Henry and baby Eugene) to file for divorce.
Beautifully subverted on Outrageous Fortune. Loretta, who is twisted and spiteful of just about everything before getting pregnant, gives birth (in an equally beautiful subversion of another aspect of this trope, where Van is the only one with her and visibly freaked out but still helping her), names the baby, and breastfeeds at least once and doesn't change a bit. She does undergo a radical change in the following season but, if anything, she only gets more evil, and there are other obvious reasons. Specifically, the influence of her grandmother, Rita, and her desire to go after the then-boy now-old man Rita had an affair with.
Variation on How I Met Your Mother. Extreme bachelor Barney hates the idea that his brother and wingman is getting married, right up until he finds out he's going to be an uncle.
Subverted on Dollhouse, in Epitaph Two, Sierra is raising her son by Victor, and Victor is off being a Tech-head for a cause. The baby did not make anything better. The one bright spot is that they might have been reunited in the end after Victor/Tony throws away the tech to be a father to T and, presumably, a husband to Sierra/Priya.
Averted on The Wire. Kima's girlfriend wants a baby, and Kima reluctantly goes along with it. The baby ends up making their relationship significantly worse, and they eventually break up because of it.
Sort of invoked in the first episode of Battlestar Galactica, where a single birth shows there is still hope for mankind. Takes a darker turn in Season 2 when the religious lobby (led by the Quorum member from Gemenon) and genuine concerns about population cause President Roslin (after a lot of wrestling with herself, as she seems to have been liberal on the subject before the Destruction of the Colonies) outlaws abortion, a controversial decision that cost her some of her political popularity.
Degrassi The Next Generation usually inverts this: Manny and Liberty's pregnancies made everything worse. Especially Liberty's. Mia doesn't have any problem having a daughter, though, to the point of Mary Sue territory. (Although both Mia and Spike from teh original Degrassi High series have pretty supportive families). And Emma thought she was pregnant, but Alternative Character Interpretation has it that she faked the pregnancy so Sean would stay with her.
Deconstructed in an where a couple trying to get pregnant only increased their frustrations on each other, leading the husband to sleep with another woman though he realized his mistake and remained loyal to his wife. And his adultery led to the woman he slept with to become pregnant. Once his already suspicious wife found out, things only got worse.
Also deconstructed with Jules and Sam. On her first day of work after finding out, they decided that everything will be fine and no one needed to know yet. But throughout the episode, both of them were having minor freakouts such as Sam calling Jules just to check up on her and Jules quietly panicking when Sam got close to a man holding C-4. They decide to tell the team by the end of the episode.
This trope was implicit in the resolution of one episode of 30 Rock. Liz plots to adopt the baby of a woman she finds working the night shift in a bakery, and works to gain the mother's trust by giving her a job on TGS to "gauge the interests of young people." Pete calls her out on this manipulative behavior, saying that he freaked out several times whenever his wife got pregnant, but always came back. When the boyfriend does end up coming back, Pete's position is vindicated. From the audience perspective, though, whether either of these two are fit to be parents is a legitimate question considering how naive and overly romantic they are.
This is subverted on an episode of CSI: Miami. The carjacking and near-fatal beating of a pregnant woman was orchestrated by her husband who believed that Children Are a Waste. He wanted to preserve his 'perfect marriage' by causing a miscarriage, however he used a Psycho for Hire and his wife almost died.
In 16 and Pregnant, this trope is usually proven false, with pregnancies causing breakups and dropping out of school.
Skylar is pregnant when Walt is diagnosed with cancer, and his drug operation is motivated by the hope of providing a future for his family. When his child is born, Skylar wants to separate as she has noticed Walt's behavior and figured out what he has been doing.
On the other hand, Breaking Bad has never missed an opportunity to give a Family-Unfriendly Aesop, so the aversion of this trope is coupled with Skyler and Walt's eventual rapprochement by way of her becoming his money launderer. So...babies won't make everything better, but joining each other in a life of crime will. Except it didn't. By Season 5, after realizing that Walt murdered Gus, Skyler is terrified of her husband, finally seeing the monster he's become and almost everything he says, including the lines meant to be loving, has a hint of emotional manipulation behind it. Now Skyler is only trying to get the kids as far away from him as possible.
Played with, but ultimately averted in The Office, where Michael's discovery of Jan's pregnancy brings him back together with her after their messy, domestic-violence induced breakup. Ultimately averted in that the baby was not Michael's (it was an artificial insemination from a donor), and Jan told Michael that from the beginning, but it took until the baby was born for that fact to really sink in for him, then he stopped associating with Jan permanently.
Played straight in The X-Files episode The Postmodern Prometheus, even though the babies are...monstrous...
Averted with Baby William, even though Scully really wanted to be a mother. Having a baby made her and Mulder's lives a million times more complicated. She finds out she's pregnant at possibly the worst time in the series and things do not get much better from there. Her pregnancy is complicated by various health issues. The baby turns out to be a human/alien hybrid and essential in the conspiracy she and Mulder have been uncovering for the last eight years. As a result, those around her either want to kill the baby or kidnap and then kill him. There are several attempts on his life before and after his birth. She ends up giving him up for adoption to an anonymous family to protect him.
Subverted in Six Feet Under: Nate and Lisa's relationship is at least as rocky after having a baby as before, and Nate actually breaks up with Brenda after getting her all knocked up.
A version on One Life to Live, when a woman suggests to her husband that they adopt another baby in addition to the child they adopted several years ago. Although she initially tries to play her idea as simply feeling ready for another child, the husband forces her to confront her real motives—their marriage is in trouble and she thinks another baby will solve their problems.
JAG: In general, for every new child Bud and Harriet gets, the better everything gets for them.
The Maury show uses the inversion of this trope pretty frequently. There will be episodes where a bunch of teenage girls act like they can become a great mother and how they have what it takes to raise a baby. Cue a reality check when the girls are sent somewhere to raise a baby for a few days and come to the realization on how hard babies make everything in life.
A variant on My Name Is Earl. Joy becomes pregnant for the second time, and Earl is excited to be a father. Problem is, he's not the father; Joy had an affair with Darnell, and the truth came out 9 months later. Earl is (understandably) crushed, and plans to leave Joy. He really has nowhere to go, so he heads back to his parents' house, intending to live there permanently and forget all about Joy, the kids, and the affair. Earl's dad convinces him to go back, if only for Dodge and Earl Jr., and Earl realizes his dad's right. He goes back to his family and does his best to provide for them (even if that usually involves stealing.) Until the day Joy divorces Earl while he's hospitalizedto be with Darnell.
The series finale twists everything around. Joy's first son is actually Earl's from a one-night stand at a masked Halloween party, while her second son is not Darnell's.
Painfully subverted in Downton Abbey: both Sybil and Matthew die on the day their children are born.
Averted in Princess Returning Pearl series 3, when the birth of his child by Zhi Hua does not make the situation better for Yong Qi at all. Played straight with his children by Xiao Yan Zi.
In season 5 of The New Adventures of Old Christine, Old Christine and Richard mention they decided to have Richie to save their marriage. Obviously it didn't work, as they were divorced by the time the series began (less than 10 years later), but they still remained good friends. They discuss this because they planned to have another baby together because Old Christine was jealous that New Christine (Richard's new girlfriend) was having a baby, though they realized that having a baby for the wrong reasons was a very bad idea.
Friends: Monica and Chandler's Happily Ever After in the finale is when they finally watch their children being born. Justified as they'd longed for children for years, fought very hard to get them and are both mature characters who are totally prepared and capable of raising a family together. Plus they were already Happily Married, so its not that children were fixing their marriage, just giving them what they'd always wanted.
In every episode of Elmos World, after asking Mr. Noodle and some children a question relating to the episode's subject, Elmo always asks a baby the same question. More often than not, the baby does nothing in response. In one episode, the entire subject was babies.
Averted by After Forever's concept album, Invisible Circles. Two lovers argue at the beginning, the man focused on his career while the woman believes a child can mend the growing rift between them. It doesn't, and their daughter grows up to be neglected by her mother, abused by her father, and only finding solace in cyberspace.
Subverted in the Ancient Bards concept album Soulless Child. A man and woman with a forbidden romance ("you're not of my kind" - it's not explained what this means in context) secretly conceive a child together, vowing to show the world once they're ready that they can be a happy, loving family. Unfortunately, the child gets sick and dies in infancy and the parents go insane. The mother recovers and eventually becomes an Action Girl sorceress; the father becomes an Evil Sorcerer who raises the child from the dead. As the title implies, this doesn't go well.
Subverted in Doonesbury; though the birth of their daughter reunited Mike and J.J., their relationship was as unstable as ever and eventually ended in divorce.
And it looks like Delilah and Laurence's marriage is heading straight long into this trope in Mary Worth. This isn't the first time the comic has pulled this plot.
Anne Geddes ' entire work supports this trope. She shows babies as adorably cute beings.
Viciously subverted in A Streetcar Named Desire - Stella's first and only stand against her animalistic husband is interrupted by her going into labor, reinforcing her dependence on Stanley. The baby makes nothing better - he's more likely to be another victim of Stanley's idea of domestic bliss. In the movie, after Stanley sends Stella's sister, Blanche, to an insane asylum (after he raped her), Stella eventually snaps and calls him out. The baby still didn't make anything better.
Subverted in Steel Magnolias. In a scene that doesn't appear in the film, Shelby pretty much admits that she's having a baby, even though it's dangerous for her as a diabetic, because she hopes it will improve her marriage. It just leads to her death.
Defied in Saturday's Children. Bobby, trapped in a unhappy marriage of her own making, is told by her married sister to have a baby because that's what women do to keep their husbands. Bobby talks it over with her father, who tries to advise her against it. Ultimately, she broaches the idea to her husband, then angrily breaks down and says she won't trap him that way.
In William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Paula brings the newborn princess out of the prison where her mother is, in attempt to reason with the king. The king's heart is not softened. In fact, he orders the baby abandoned in another kingdom.
Referenced in one dancer's monologue in the song "At The Ballet" from A Chorus Line: "I was born to save their marriage. But when my father came to pick me and my mother up at the hospital, he said: 'Well, I thought this was going to help, but I guess not.' A few months later he left and never came back."
Toyed with, but dismissed in Cabaret. After Sally goes through with an abortion, she reminds Cliff that they aren't really in love and even if they tried to be good parents, their relationship would fall apart. Cliff insists that he'd never leave her if there was a baby involved, and she retorts, "To hold us together, you mean. A lot of pressure for an infant, don't you think?"
Axe Cop. Oh, lord, where to begin...the seven-year-old author went through a phase where he thought babies were amazing, and threw them into the comic everywhere, from the Bobblehead Baby Beach Battle episode to the flashback to Axe Cop's childhood, when his mom fed him nothing but candy canes and babies—and yes, he's the good guy. There's even a recurring character, Uni-Baby, who has a wish-granting unicorn horn, as well as a tank-stroller that fires her poop as a cannon.
Avatar: The Last Airbender did the "childbirth reinforces belief in life" thing, snapping Aang out of his gloom by having him see a baby born. Sokka, on the other hand, is disgusted by the whole affair.
The Sequel SeriesThe Legend of Korra subverts the trope. While the birth is treated as a heartwarming affair, it has no major impact, good or ill, on the problems at hand. The episode in question ends on a bittersweet note.
Marge's third pregnancy ruined Homer's plans for a dream job and future happiness, forcing him to take up work at the power plant again, and he made it no secret that he was miserable about the whole thing. What brought him out of his depression? Maggie's birth. Proving that Tropes Are Not Bad, this manages to be a doozy of a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming! The episode kicks off with Bart and Lisa noticing that Maggie has no baby pictures. At the end, Homer explains that they are where he needs them the most. Cut to his station at the power plant, decorated with pictures of Maggie. Mr. Burns put up a plaque reading "Don't Forget - You're Here Forever" when Homer was re-hired. The photos block out bits and pieces of this sign so it reads, "Do It For Her."
It was doubly subverted in episode "I Married_Marge", where Marge was afraid she was pregnant again. The kids react with delight upon learning they'll have another brother or sister; Homer responds by telling them a new baby isn't all fun and games and tells them the story of Bart's conception and the resulting pregnancy and birth. In the end, Bart's birth made everything better: Homer gets a job, saves his marriage, and tells off his sisters-in-law. Then it was triply subverted when Marge returned from the Doctor.
Homer: [gathers the kids into his lap] You know, son, the day you were born, I received the greatest gift a man could have. As the years went by, your mother and I were blessed twice more. And not a day goes by that we don't thank God for all three of you.
Marge: Homer, I'm not pregnant!
Homer: [gets up, the kids on his lap falling to the floor] Yeah! Whoa! Excellent, Marge!
Marge: Yes! [they high five]
This trope was also averted in a portion of an episode that depicted how Homer lost his hair: whenever Marge announced that she was pregnant, Homer would rip out a handful of hair from his scalp and run upstairs screaming.
The Fairly Oddparents: Once Poof was born, this trope started appearing. His very laughter causes good things to happen, and in "Wishology" his smile turns The Darkness into The Kindness. Poof is also literally magical and the first of his kind born in thousands of years.
Stan and Francine meet a young, wild couple who just want to have fun partying and doing extreme activities, stating that they don't want kids for years. When Stan and Francine can't keep up with their lifestyle, they mess with their birth control, which causes the wife to become pregnant. This ends with the couple divorcing and breaking things off with Stan and Francine.
On the other hand, the baby made everything better for Stan and Francine.
Mentioned almost by name in "Season's Beatings."
Jeff: Sometimes I feel broken inside, and having a baby fixes everything!
Of course, the baby they adopt turns out to be the Antichrist.
Played hilariously straight in an episode of Adventure Time. Two spiders are having marital troubles and constantly arguing. When the wife appears to be furious with the husband, then in pain . . . as she gives birth to about a million babies, by raining them in the air. After realizing they're parents, they kiss and make up, implying things will be better from now (although Finn is freaked out by the baby spiders). AV Club noted the implications of the ending.
Happens again in the season 6 opener. The Lich tries to kill everyone (his standard M.O.) and Finn defeats him by turning the Lich into a giant baby (It Makes Sense in Context...kinda.) The scene then cuts to Mr. Pig and Tree Trunks who recently got married.
Tree Trunks: Mr. Pig, I think we should get a di—(loud noise outside)
(Mr. Pig and Tree Trunks go outside to see that someone left the giant Lich-baby on their doorstep)
Played sadly straight in an article from The Atlantic that says child-centered marriages will save marriage in America - sadly because both it's unlikely that children will turn a struggling relationship into a healthy one, and it's not stated what actually happens to these marriages when the kids eventually grow up and the parents no longer have to stay together for the sake of the kids.
Nick Hornby said that he and his wife had a child as a celebration of having gotten over difficulties in their marriage. With the additional stress of having a very autistic child 'the sticking plasters over the wounds peeled off, showing that the scars had not healed but had festered.'
David Simon's nonfiction book about Baltimore's open-air drug markets, The Corner, features a particularly bad ending to this sort of thing: Young man who 'made it out' (via college/ROTC) makes a neighborhood girl pregnant, decides to "do the right thing" (even though everyone- including the mother- tells him he doesn't have to). Both become addicted to drugs, man ends up specializing in stealing copper piping from under occupied houses to sell as "scrap" for drug money. Both man and woman blame the other for their predicament.
There is a field of clinical psychology known as family therapy. It's pretty much what it sounds like: members of a family are treated individually and as a group in order to resolve their issues. Many of the families that end up there seem to hold the belief that having children will help solve their relationship issues, when having children in a strained relationship will often just exacerbate problems. So, to put it simply: No, Babies will NOT make everything better.
As noted above, this isn't always true in real life. Imagine an annoying child, but smaller and weaker, that constantly cries, screams, and wets the crib. This is why some people consider abortion and abandonment to actually be the only way to escape. It's very complicated.
Often severely averted in the Japanese Visual Kei scene. Due to the distaste many male artists in the scene have for using condoms, there's a lot of accidental pregnancies, and very rarely is the result good - usually, the man has to leave his band and give up on his dreams, embittering him toward his wife and child, and on occasion, some women who are "honey women" will engage in The Baby Trap with precisely this as a goal - to force the father into taking care of her and the child, or into at least some sort of ongoing relationship. This results in the children often being the afterthought of uncaring parents (or, in the case of bandmen who still stay active, an absent father entirely due to work if not due to leaving the relationship) and relationships that are often prime breeding grounds for Domestic Abuse due to the resentment on both sides of the relationship.
And finally, none of this yet factors in how this affects the child. The terrible and very real instances of people who end up wishing that they had never been born are perhaps the most potent inversions of all.