Brought Home the Wrong Kid
A rather common plot in sitcoms is for a babysitter or neglectful parent to take the child (or more as sometimes happens) out to the park or somewhere for the day, usually a place where there will be plenty of other children around. Through Finagle's Law
or the laws of sitcom universes, the parent will accidentally bring the wrong child home only realising this when it's too late. The rest of the episode will either have the minder trying to find the original baby or else just trying to conceal it from the parents. For obvious reasons this only happens with babies and extremely young toddlers. While it is common for the neglectful babysitter to be either male or female, if it is an actual parent bringing the wrong baby home it is always the father. Do not confuse with Switched at Birth
- As a child, Moist von Lipwig was The Nondescript to the point where his mother often came home with the wrong kid.
- In Jingo, an Ankh-Morpork fisherman and a Klatchian fisherman stumble on the newly-risen island of Leshp at the same time. When the two men realize that they can't lay claim to it for their respective nations unless they get home first, each grabs for his boy's arm and rushes back to his boat ... and then returns, lambasting the other man as a kidnapper, to swap for his own boy.
- The main plot complication in Good Omens is kicked off when an intentional two-child switcheroo turns into an unintentional three-child switcheroo.
- The plot of the Robert Munsch book Alligator Baby is spawned by a little girl's parents accidentally taking a baby alligator home instead of the child the mom gave birth to.
- From The Suite Life of Zack and Cody Carey gives us this little anecdote.
Carey: "I was mad when you came home from the playground with the wrong twins".
Dad: "It was an easy mistake to make".
Carey: "They were girls".
- In Hope And Faith there's a variation where Faith starts using a baby doll to get an experience of what it feels like to be a mother. She takes the doll to the park and ends up coming home with a real baby. Being Faith she initially thinks the doll came to life.
- In Coronation Street Rosie Webster took her baby brother Jack to be in a photo shoot and ended up bringing home a girl baby.
- In one episode of Friends , Joey and Chandler worry they've done this to Ben (they left him on the bus by accident as well) but it turns out to be the right kid in the end.
- Actually, it ends up being a Double Subversion. After Ross cradles the baby after the audience has been convinced the baby seemingly is Ben, the diaper the baby is wearing reveals a "Property of State Department" stamp on it.
- In Good Luck Charlie, the teenage son hits on a girl with an identical baby carriage. Charlie is a girl, but this girl was carrying a boy with her. You can imagine what happened.
- In an episode of Community, Chang attempts to get on Shirley's good side by picking up her kids and showing he can be a good dad. Too bad he picks up someone else's kids.
- The Office episode "The Delivery" has a variation of this where Pam, while spending the night in the delivery room, breastfeeds the wrong baby(!)
- Scrubs went one step beyond this, with a fantasy where Turk somehow mixed up his (imaginary) son with a pumpkin. Which he and Carla then proceed to raise as their own. After 21 years, they finally reunite with him only for him to be hit by a bus. Also, the pumpkin baby dies.
- A legendary Dick Van Dyke Show episode had Rob convinced that he and Laura had brought home the wrong baby based on the numerous in hospital confusions of Laura with a Mrs. Peters. Rob goes so far as to call the Peters and ask them over to discuss the possibility. the Peters turn out to be black leading to one of the longest laughs in TV history.
Rob(weakly): "Why didn't you tell me?"
Mr. Peters: "And miss the look on your face?"
- In an episode of Baby Daddy, Bonnie is on a date with another child's grandfather and brings the wrong stroller home after things don't go well (she's flustered and both strollers had blankets over them so the children could sleep).
- In a Halloween episode of Family Matters Waldo takes Richie trick-or-treating and comes home with the wrong kid who was wearing the same Spider-Man costume as Richie.
- One episode of Rugrats where Tommy and Angelica are staying with Didi's parents has the babies up in the attic but Grandpa Boris rushes outside and brings back in two obviously different children (two boys and much older as well).
- The episode, "Toy Palace" has Tommy and Chuckie switch themselves with a baby doll and a monkey doll so they can stay in the Toy Palace overnight. Stu and Chaz don't even notice their kids are gone until after they arrive home.
- In a Flintstones where Fred was supposed to be watching baby Pebbles, he and a fellow poker player each grab up the wrong infant when they see their wives pass by, heading home; naturally the men aren't there. The incident is rather brief, but somehow Fred grabs the wrong kid, a very loud crying boy, twice, as he frantically deals with child and an angry Wilma.
- Inverted in an episode of The Simpsons where Grandpa is meant to babysit Bart and Lisa and goes to the Flanders' house by mistake.
- An episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter invoke this when he find an Identical Stranger with parents who are science geniuses like him. They swap temporarily and the parents never know the difference (despite the kids looking quite distinct from each other).
- On the first Family Guy Star Wars special, Peter mentions that he and Lois got halfway home with the afterbirth before going back to the hospital and swapping it out for Meg.
- Subverted in the cartoon, "Going Up" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "What Makes Toons Tick". Baby Plucky switches himself with Baby Babs so his mother will take her home with her instead of him and he can stay at the mall and play with the elevator controls. Mrs. Duck realizes she brought the wrong baby to her car after she buckles Baby Babs into Baby Plucky's car seat.
- Moral Orel had a family actually move with the wrong kid. The other family got their kid back (but didn't switch) about half a season or a whole season away, depending on how you look at it.
- Charles Schulz, of Peanuts fame, when he was young, was often mistaken for other children, so this was a common occurrence for him. According to the Fiftieth Anniversary Peanuts Collection, Schulz based Charlie Brown's physical appearance on his mental image of himself as The Nondescript.