"Old Aunt Susie just came back With the child and the child is black."f
— Cole Porter, "Well, Did You Evah?"
No, this article is not about chocolate candies shaped like human babies. Nor is it about the result ofcuring a bad case of constipation.
Two parents, who are the same race or species, are having a child. Except when the child is born, it visibly does not resemble either of the parents.
Usually implies adultery on the woman's part. Even before DNA testing, this can resolve the question of Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe. If she's the main character, expect her to either have been raped, or not know why she had a child that doesn't look like its father. In very old stories, the theory of "maternal impression" may be used to explained it — either seriously, or as a way of bamboozling the putative father.
The most well-known subtype of this is a white couple that gives birth to a black child. The title comes from a scene in the movie Life where the (white) warden of an all-black prison sees his illegitimate grandson for the first time, and is revolted to see that the kid is ethnically mixed. However, this trope can also be played for laughs when the father has no idea the kid isn't his when it's clear to everyone else.
As these are sure to be Three Month Old Newborns, expect the race to be completely obvious from birth, even though a black newborn's skin tone usually takes a while to darken.
In Real Life if the parents are purely white the children will be white, making it justified to doubt her faithfulness... but if the parent are of mixed race, then their hidden recessive genes can come out to the point of having a fair child. Sometimes the infant's parents are of different races, while sometimes both parents are themselves mixed race.note In one instance in the Netherlands, a white couple who underwent IVF found themselves the parents of a black infant because the lab hadn't sanitized its equipment adequately after performing an IVF procedure for a black couple. However, the old wives' tale of a white parent and a light-skinned black parent (possibly passing as white) giving birth to a dark-skinned baby is extremely improbable in real life, due to the genetics involved.
Compare Oblivious Adoption, which tends to be more innocent. If it's not a plot point, it's likely Hollywood Genetics at work.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
Vision of Escaflowne has a variation of this: while Prince Chid is supposedly the son of an interracial couple between Marlene and the Duke of Fried, even complete strangers pick up on the fact that the very Anglo-Saxon Chid has no physical resemblance to the father. It's then quickly revealed that not only is Chid's real father actually Allen, but that the Duke of Fried knows this despite his vocal insistence that Chid is his own son.
Becomes a recurring plot point in Gosickwhere the queen fell in love with the alchemist Leviathan, an African man. The birth of their child and the subsequent murder by a cuckolded king play a major role.
In an issue of Teen Titans, Red Panzer reveals that he's ashamed of his dark skin, because he was raised by a die-hard Nazi father. At first, his father suspected that his wife had been unfaithful. The truth, which Red Panzer thought was worse, was that his mother had black ancestors.
Averted in the case of Marvel super villains the Mandrill and Nekra. The former was a black child born to white parents, while the latter was a white child born to black parents, but this was due to nuclear genetic tampering and not infidelity. That didn't prevent them from being outcasts from their families and from society in general.
After the (not so) pious Helene (by Wilhelm Busch) marries rich fat guy Schmöck (whose name doesn't coincidentally sound like shmuck), she bears twins who look very much like her lover (and cousin) Franz.
In Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Boomerang's Imagine Spot that accompanies a dinner with his girlfriend shows him getting married to her with Dormammu as his best man. When it shows him raising their children, it's very clear that Dormammu is the father.
ThisWarrior Cats fanfiction. In it, Squirrelflight has been cheating on her mate Brambleclaw with his blue-eyed half-brother, Hawkfrost. When she has kittens, one of them has blue eyes. However, this indicates some artistic license as ALL kittens have blue eyes at birth, and it takes them at least six months for them to turn a different color. Even then, just blue eyes shouldn't be a clear indicator, nor can fur color. A litter of three kittens can have three different-colored pairs of eyes and three different pelts. Cats are also superfecund: any given litter can have more than one father.
Some fan art◊ of The Legend of Korra plays with this. Toddler Korra happily announces to her parents that she can bend, then demonstrates Firebending to her Water Tribe parents. Her father casts a suspicious glance at his wife who is sweating and smiling nervously.
In Earth and Sky, it's shown that ponies of any type can be born to any parents, though it's more common for the kids to be the same type as one or both of their parents. In the case of Pinkie and Caramel, an Earth pony couple, both of their daughters are Pegasi.
In The New Retcons, Anthony figures out that James Allen can't be his son because a pale blonde (Elizabeth) and a pale redhead (himself) can't produce a tan brunette. Turns out when he threw a fit upon finding out Elizabeth wasn't a virgin on their wedding night, he drove her straight into Warren Blackwood's arms, leading directly to James's conception.
Toyed with in the AU one-shot Naruto fic Red Hair, in which Naruto (who apparently never learned about his parents in this universe, as the story was written before canon had him discovering their identities) is quite surprised when his youngest is born with, you guessed it, red hair. He thankfully never once thinks that Hinata cheated on him, as it is evident that the child has his eyes, but does wonder where the hair came from, briefly considering that the Kyuubi's chakra may have caused it. Tsunade quickly clears it up when she tells him the girl is the spitting image of his mother Kushina, whom he immediately names the child after.
In Me, Myself & Irene, Jim Carrey's character Charlie Bailygates goes into denial when his wife gives birth to black non-identical triplets. Only gets more funny as the boys grow up and becoming stereotypical (albeit genius) big, black men. And he's just a scrawny white dude. Nonetheless he and his "sons" love each other dearly.
To drive Charlie's obliviousness home even further, one of the sons is even named "Shonte Jr" after his natural father.
Done in The Brothers Solomon where we are led to believe that one of the brother's sperm was used to impregnate the surrogate mother but as it turns out the baby was actually her black boyfriend's, but they were so clueless they didn't care.
In Angelitos Negros, an old Mexican movie, a white couple has a little girl... and she looks black. I don't remember the details very well, but the wife accuses the husband of being of black ancestry and is going to leave but... cue revelation. The black woman whom she thought to be her nanny was, in fact, her actual mother. After lots of melodrama the woman realizes what a dick she has been the whole film to her family and they all have a happy ending.
The Naked Gun 33 1/3 had this at the very end of the movie, where Frank's wife gives birth to a black baby...or so it appears. As Frank is chasing his black partner Nordburg through the hospital, it turns out they were in the wrong delivery room, and the chief comes out of a separate room with Frank's actual wife and child (Cue OJ Simpson joke).
In the 1994 Drew Barrymore film Boys on the Side, Drew's character finds out she's pregnant while on the run for killing her abusive boyfriend. Her new police officer boyfriend has fallen in love with her and is there when the baby is born...a black baby, from her cheating on her then-boyfriend.
In an recent Russian movie, roughly translated into English as "Stop Fooling Around", this trope is invoked with a white Siberian couple having a black son. It is immediately explained, though, that the mother's father was an American WWII sailor, resulting in a black grandson.
In the Ron Howard film Parenthood, ne'er do well son Tom Hulce comes home and his family is shocked — shocked! — to see his son Cool, because he's Black.
Bait-and-switched in The Constant Gardener. The protagonist's wife has an ambiguous relationship with her black coworker throughout the film, and after she goes into labour we see her nursing a black baby. Turns out she miscarried, and is looking after the child of a single teenage mother on the same ward who's dying of TB.
Hilariously subverted in Due Date. Ethan continuously hints at his suspicions of Peter's wife cheating on him with his Black Best Friend, Darryl. Towards the end of the film, Peter walks into a delivery room and stares in horror at a newborn black baby; thankfully, he just walked in the wrong room.
In Life the Superintendent's daughter, Mae Rose, gives birth to a very obviously not white child. This leads to a hilarious scene where the Superintendent lines the prisoners up and compares the baby to each of them, trying to root out the father.
In Stilyagi, the father of Polly's son John is not Mel, but a nameless visiting black man from America.
In Superman Returns Superman is upset to learn that Lois Lane has had a son with her fiance. Then the kid starts tossing furniture around.
A rare fatherless version, in Secrets and Lies the mother finally meets the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was 15, she is very surprised to see that she is black. At first she is sure it is a mistake as she would have remembered sleeping with a black man, then she DOES figure it out evidently she was raped by an unseen assailant, she had assumed her white boyfriend was the father.
In the German low-brow comedy Erkan und Stefan, Stefan imagines walking through a park with the sexy woman he met, and their children. But then he notices (what, only now?) that the baby in the buggy looks just like his Heterosexual Life Partner Erkan. Complete with his trademark moustache.
Skin is based on the true story of Sandra Laing, a dark-skinned girl born to white South African parents during apartheid (see Real Life, below). The film makes the point that both black and white South Africans usually have more mixed heritage than they usually admit, making racial classification far from simple. Interestingly, her father is never portrayed as questioning whether she's his daughter, but essentially disowns her when she marries a black man.
In the comedy Crazy Boys in Spain (Les Charlots Font l'Espagne), the Charlots tried to help a white boy locate his parents at a camping site. The boy kept asking for chocolate. 4 minutes later his black parents showed up. No explanation was given.
In one urban legend, a white couple's black firstborn is explained by the husband, at his bachelor party, having had unprotected sex with a prostitute whose previous customer had been a black man.
There is a joke about a chocolate baby, but manages to up the ante.
Son: Father, you and Mom are white, but I am black. Why is that so?
Father: Son, that was such a wild time, just be happy you don't bark.
A similar one, between an African shepherd and an European priest:
Shepherd: Father, I have an urgent problem to discuss with you.
Priest: Yes, my son?
Shepherd: See, my wife just gave birth to a completely white baby. You're the only white man around here!
Priest: Let's not jump to conclusions, my son. It might be a simple coincidence, an accident of nature. See, for example: all of your sheep are white, but the last one born is black!
This classic joke: An old man on his deathbed is surrounded by his family: His wife of many years, and his three sons, two of which are strong, handsome men, the third which is somewhat scrawny. As the man is breathing his last, he asks the sons to leave the room so he can talk privately to his wife. "My dear," he says, "I do not wish to pass from this world with any doubt, please tell me, for this has vexed me for many years, my third son, so unlike the other two, is he really mine? Do not lie to me as I lay dying!" The wife takes a deep breath. "I swear to you, he is truly yours." And, with that, the man dies satisfied. The wife breathes a sigh of relief. "Thank God he didn't ask about the other two!"
Another classic: A prince spots a humble peasant toiling in the fields and notices a startling resemblance between them.
Prince: "Say, did your mother ever work at the palace?"
A traveling salesman walks up to an old farmhouse, where several sheep are wandering around outside. A little girl is sitting on the porch. She looks up at him and asks, "Are you my da-a-a-a-a-addy?"
A woman gave birth to a black boy while her husband was away. She writes him:
"My dear. I gave birth to a boy. However, I had lactation problems, so the baby was nursed by an Ethiopian. You won't believe it, but the baby turned black."
The husband is amazed. He writes to his mum about that. Soon after, he receives a reply
"Dear son. When you were born, I, likewise, had lactation problems, and you were nursed by a cow, but it wasn't until now that you grew horns."
There is a joke about a woman who gave birth to a red haired boy, with no one in the family having that hair color. The doctor is kind enough to help her, so he questions her husband about the frequency of his sexual life... which turns out to be low enough for him to blame it on rust.
Played straight, but with inverted colors in the ancient Greek romance Aethiopica by Heliodorus of Emesa (c. 3rd century AD): Queen Persinna of Ethiopia, wife to King Hydaspes, gives birth to a white daughter. Fearing that she will be accused of adultery, Persinna gives the girl (who is called Chariclea) away. The narratives follows Chariclea's turbulent life until, after many adventures, it is revealed that Chariclea is, in fact, the perfect image of a picture of Andromeda that her mother had been looking at while she conceived, and so Chariclea really is Hydaspes' daughter with "maternal impression" explaining her looks.
Arthurian legends, collected and written into a novel by Chrétien de Troyes, explain that Sir Yvain has a half-brother from a previous marriage when his own father took a dark-skinned Moor as a wife in Spain. Demonstrating just how shockingly little provincial Europeans knew about genetics when interacting with people from other races... Yvain's brother has checkerboard-colored skin, with alternating light and dark patches. (Ironically, such things have been known to happen in real life, with mosaicism and genes that are only partially expressed, but they are extremely rare, and in any case it is clear that these northern Europeans who had rarely seen a Moor except on the battlefield honestly believed that this would be the result of a mixed coupling).
In The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, the antihero's mother spends a lot of time praying fervently with the local minister. The child resembles said minister; the author attributes it to maternal impression, but in a manner that suggests his tongue is in cheek.
In explaining the Red-Headed Stepchild idea, the backstory of The Prisoner of Zenda also falls into Chocolate Baby. In the 18th century, the prince of Ruritania visited England and met the beautiful wife of a certain English nobleman. The two men fought a duel, the prince leaving the country with serious wounds and the Englishman later dying of a chill. Some months later, the wife gave birth to a red-headed child and it wasn't much of a mystery who his real father was. Thus, it's been an embarrassment to their family since then whenever someone is born with red hair.
In the short story "Désirée's Baby" by Kate Chopin, a foundling girl who appears to be white marries, and has a baby who's obviously mixed. After her husband turns her out, Désirée apparently kills herself and the child. At the end of the story, it's revealed—in a letter written by his mother—that the husband is the one who's mixed. He burns the letter to protect his good name.
In Passing, Nella Larson's exploration of black women who engage in or resist passing themselves off as white, the fear passing women have of giving birth to children who could not pass comes up in conversation.
Jewel in As I Lay Dying is red-haired and noticeably taller than his father and brothers. It's revealed that he was the lovechild of his mother and the local minister.
In A.B. Guthrie's novel The Big Sky, Boone's wife gives birth to a red-headed baby, which makes him think she cheated on him with his red-haired friend. In a rage he kills his friend, beats up and abandons his wife, and goes back home to Kentucky... where he finds out that red hair runs in his family. Whoops.
Used in one of the Outlander books in which Claire saves a white (also possibly married) woman's abandoned child. As a doctor, she's able to identify (despite the child being recently born) that the father was black, and strongly suspects it might have been why the child was abandoned, the setting of the novel being the mid-18th century.
Variant in A Song of Ice and Fire: King Robert Baratheon has black hair. Queen Cersei is blonde. All three of their children are blonde. It's explained that every other time Robert sired a child (illegitimately), the child had black hair, leading to the discovery that the royal kids aren't his. They were fathered by her twinbrother, Jaime.
In Morpho eugenia by A. S. Byatt (filmed as Angels and Insects), a brown-haired man married to a blonde woman has lots of blonde children that resemble their mother remarkably much and him not at all. It's not until he finds her in bed with her brother that he really sees the oddness of this.
The Conqueror books do this with eye colours - Chagatai, Ogedai, and Tolui all have the same golden eyes as their father, Genghis Khan, but Jochi, the eldest brother, has brown eyes. The fact that Borte fell pregnant with him around the time of her kidnapping doesn't help matters, and Chagatai takes great pleasure in telling everybody that Jochi is a 'Tartar bastard'.
In The Sacrifice of Tamar, Tamar's grandchild is born with dark skin. Her Orthodox Jewish son is filled with righteous wrath, believing his wife cheated on him; the daughter-in-law can only cry and deny it. Then Tamar confesses to her son that he was conceived when she was raped by a black man. She never told anyone, because she had made love to her husband that same night and always hoped the baby was his.
Warrior Cats: Even before it was revealed that Jayfeather, Hollyleaf, and Lionblaze are the kittens of Leafpool and Crowfeather, everyone already knew it. None of them look anything like Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw, except for the eye color of both Squirrelflight and Hollyleaf. Squirrelflight is a ginger cat with green eyes. Brambleclaw is a brown cat with amber eyes. Jayfeather is a gray cat with blue eyes, Hollyleaf is a black cat with green eyes, and Lionblaze is a golden brown cat with amber eyes. Crowfeather is a black/gray cat with blue eyes. Leafpool is a brown cat with amber eyes. Three guesses who Jayfeather, Hollyleaf, and Lionblaze's real parents are...
There are also Oakheart and Crookedstar. They're both brown, and their parents, Shellheart and Rainflower, are gray.
In Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky, Clair, the wife of a man, Hugh, from a very upper-crust white family gives birth to a daughter that has caramel skin. The husband's family (except the grandmother) immediately disowns the child and the husband accuses the wife of cheating and leaves her for a short time, even though a DNA test proves that he is the father. It turns out that the husband's family supposedly has black ancestry due to the rumor that the man's grandmother had an affair with her (half) black groundskeeper and became pregnant. When her son was born, he had white features and she promptly passes him off as her husband's child. The grandfather reveals the secret of the alleged affair to his son and he reconciles with his wife and daughter.
Wicked: Elphaba's green skin is a testament to her father not being her mother's husband (although in this case potions, rather than genetics, are to blame).
A rare example of a central character intentionally cheating on her (white) husband with a man of a different race comes from Andrea Levy's most popular novel, Small Island. Also notable in that Despite his racist beliefs, her husband Bernard wants to keep the baby and raise him together.
The original Forrest Gump novel ended with Jenny giving birth to one of these, lying to Forrest that it's his, and he's stupid enough to believe it. In the film the son is white and obviously Forrest's.
In the book Waiting For June the white character is pregnant and everyone assumes her best friend, who is black, is the father, especially when the baby comes out black but it turns out that the father is Native American and the mother is half black.
In the book version of The Help it's revealed that Constantine, an old maid that raised Skeeter, was half-white and half-black. Thus when she gave birth to a white child, she eventually had to abandon her, because people kept assuming she'd either kidnapped her or was just the babysitter. Years later, the child returns and completely upsets people when they realize the truth.
One of the hadith's has a follower of Mohammed complain to him about his wife giving birth to a black child. Mohammed reminds him that he had no complaints when his red camels gave birth to a gray one.
In a weird variation, one character from Larry Niven's A Gift From Earth was treated like the Chocolate Baby despite having been fathered by a Crew man on a Crew woman, because the man who fathered him had had testes transplants from an organ-banked Colonist.
In the epic, Jerusalem Delivered, Clorinda is described as pale skinned, despite the fact that both of her parents are Ethiopians. Apparently, her mother's excessive praying to an icon of St. George caused this (as well as her exception martial skills).
Featured in the back story of Tanis Half-Elven from the Dragon Lance series. His elvish mother and her husband had been ambushed by human mercenaries who murdered her husband and raped her. Her royal brother-in-law was horrified when she gave birth to the clearly half-human Tanis, but still raised him as if he were family even though he constantly faced prejudice for being half-human among the generally xenophobic Qualinesti elves.
Discussed in Good Soldier Svejk by Yaroslav Hasek. (Since it's set in 1914, Svejk has some odd ideas about how heredity works.)
A medico who used to go to The Chalice once told us that it's not quite as simple as all that. A half-breed like that [1/4 Ethiopian, 3/4 Czech] brings half-breeds into the world again and they can't be distinguished from white people. But suddenly in a later generation a negro turns up. Imagine the catastrophe! You might get married to a young lady. The filly is quite white and suddenly she gives birth to a negro baby. And if before her ninth month she went without you to the Variety Theatre to watch wrestling where a negro was performing, I think the whole thing would give you something to think about.
Toyed with in Like Water for Chocolate: Tita's Fiery Redhead sister Gertrudis runs off with a Revolutionary soldier named Juan... and their firstborn son is dark-skinned which neither of his parents is, so Juan believes Gertrudis is cheating on him. Tita clears this up via showing him some letters that explain the truth: Gertrudis's biological father is an unnamed black man whom Mama Elenawasn't allowed to marry, and had a years-long affair with instead. Therefore the "chocolate baby" looks like his maternal grandfather rather than either of his parents — save for his blue-green eyes, inherited from Gertrudis.
How I Met Your Mother: Barney's mother never married, and is implied to have been fairly... outgoing in her fertile years, resulting in Barney being white and his half-brother, James, being black. When Mrs. Stinson gives her two sons a name, "Sam," and an address, the two brothers naturally go on a quest to meet one of their fathers. When they meet Sam, they discover he's black, meaning he's James's dad, not Barney's. Nevertheless, Barney fails to make the biological connection and assumes Sam is his father, too!
On My Name Is Earl, Joy's second child, Earl Jr., was black, despite Joy and Earl both being white (Joy's first child, Dodge, was conceived before they met so he was always treated as not being Earl's biological son). Earl was too shocked at first to really get upset and Joy tried to explain that Earl might have had a "repressed Black gene" in his lineage from his great-grandmother. Earl doesn't really believe it, and asks the doctor to confirm his suspicions (which the doctor does, in no uncertain terms.)
A later episode had Joy explain to her parents that Earl Jr. was 'reverse albinism' "You know how two black people can have an albino child..."
The trope was then sent up in the cliffhanger of the final episode, when everyone thinking that Earl Jr. was Darnell's child, a DNA test reveals he's not the father either. And in a twist of fate, it turned out Earl was the father of Dodge, conceived at a Halloween party (wearing a costume and mask) and Earl was blind drunk.
On Desperate Housewives, the Hispanic couple Gabby and Carlos had their Asian maid as a surrogate, but the baby turned out to be black. It turned out there had been an embryo mix up and the child wasn't related to them at all.
Played realistically on an episode of ER where Benton delivers a teenage girl's baby. The grandparents suspected that the father might be black and are relieved to see a white baby, but Benton warns the girl that it's not so obvious at first.
It eventually devolves into a fairly transparent ploy to keep the pure-white baby from his horrible racist grandparents.
On Sophie, the titular character is devastated when her boyfriend Rick leaves her for her best friend Melissa, especially since Sophie is pregnant with what they all thought was Rick's baby. It turns out Rick wasn't the only one cheating when Sophie gives birth to a black baby. The father is a black man named Andre whom Sophie had a one night stand with.
In the Season 8 Law & Order episode "Blood", a baby is given up for adoption by her parents because she's black, really really really dark-skinned, and the parents are evidently white, although it eventually turns out that the father is also black, but so light-skinned that he's been passing for white his entire life, and the man's social-climbing ex-wife killed the second wife, who was trying to reclaim the baby, to keep the secret from getting out so that she wouldn't have to live with the social stigma of having been married to a black man and having borne a son by him, a son who would therefore also be considered black by the one-drop rule and so would presumably have a miserable life from that point onward. Whew.
A bit for Artistic License - Biology here — while two mixed-race parents can definitely have a baby darker than either of them, the new wife here was Swedish.
Referenced in an Ashes to Ashes episode — a suspect's alibi rests on his having been there when the police came to break up the domestic dispute resulting from one of these.
Done on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where Gul Dukat leads a Pah-Wraith cult, which includes a pregnant woman and her husband. She gives birth to an obviously half-Cardassian baby, and everyone believes Dukat when he says it's a miracle...at least, until they find out he doesn't intend to commit suicide with the rest of them.
The Cold Case episode "Libertyville" plays with this trope as the victim is a black man passing for white who marries a white woman and has a daughter. However, this is not why he was killed. The daughter has white features. She and her mother meet their black relatives during the Medley Exit.
Done implicitly due to actor selection in Power Rangers Mystic Force. Udonna, who looks Irish, has a son with Leanbow, who looks Spanish. The kid, Bowen, looks Arabian, with skin about eight shades darker than either of theirs - a shade fairly close to that of his parents' close friend Daggeron. No comment is made on this matter.
Waynetta Slob in Harry Enfield and Chums feels that she's failing to keep up with the other families in the neighbourhood as she lacks a 'Brown Baby'. So Wayne gets one for her... Waynetta takes out a separation. Wayne then gets a black girlfriend (played by Naomi Campbell), who gives birth to a brown baby that the Slobs adopt after getting back together. In short, it's a very rare gender reversal example of this trope!
Nip/Tuck: Christian assumes that the baby Gina is carrying is his. Big shock when the baby is born and he is black. Very black.
Glee - In the first episode, Caucasian Rachel has two dads, one white, one black. She doesn't know which is her genetic father. Justified when her fathers were actually cast; they were played by the white Jeff Goldblum and the light-skinned, mixed-race Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Also referenced when seemingly pregnant, white Terri talks to her sister.
Terri: If I tell you something, do you promise not to tell anyone?
Kendra: Oh my god. Is the baby black?
Probably an Actor Allusion — the actress who plays Terri also played Gina in the Nip/Tuck example above and both shows were created by Ryan Murphy.
Invoked on Whose Line Is It Anyway? - one game involves enacting generic soap-opera scenes, but as Funny Animals, and one session specifically invokes this trope, describing the child of a bull (Brad Sherwood) and a cow (Ryan Stiles) as "something unexpected". Colin Mochrie, saddled with this role, squeezes out from between Ryan's thighs... and baas.
"You've been sleeping with Carl!... after the Rams game?!... He's covered in WOOL you HARLOT!!!"
In the Lifetime series Any Day Now, main character Renee had an aunt who was half-white and had married a white man. In the present day, Renee had to meet up with her cousin and the man's wife was shown as a little taken aback to see this lily-white man and black woman being cousins.
Invoked in Californication. One of Hank's one-night stands insists he got her pregnant right up until the baby is born...which is when she (finally) remembers having sex with a hot black Starbucks barista around the same time as her dalliance with Hank.
In the series 2 finale of Sea Change, Trudi gives birth to a Vietnamese baby, after everyone had spent half a year thinking that the father was Jack, who is white. This winds up being better, because Jack is the ex-husband of Trudi's sister, and it sidesteps the squickiness of Jack's children having a half-sibling who is also their cousin.
In an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rob becomes convinced that their baby, Richie, somehow became switched with someone else's baby at the hospital. He contacts the other people and invites them to their house to discuss the issue. When they come in, they're a black couple with a black kid ... and they think it's pretty funny.
So did the audience; they laughed so long and hard that the normally single-take scenes featured a very noticeable cut where the audience's reaction suddenly drops off. They tried re-shooting, but once the big reveal was out, the follow-ups just weren't as significant.
In the US version of Shameless Liam Gallaghar is a very dark skinned baby. Everyone assumes that the mother had sex with a black man during one of her drunken episodes. Frank Gallaghar treats the baby with the same care (or lack of) as his other children and it's never an issue for anyone. When tests are finally done it is revealed that Frank is actually the father. His grandmother supposedly had an affair with a black man.
Subverted in the second series final of Kath and Kim. When Kim's baby, who none of the main cast have seen yet, is brought in, she's Indian. Cue flashback to seven episodes earlier when Kim tried to seduce an Indian waiter the night she got back together with Brett. Then a nurse comes in and apologizes for the mix-up.
Done on Blue Heelers. The woman, a high school teacher, claims that her baby is a result of recessive genes, as her grandmother was Maori. Neither her husband, the hospital staff or the police are fooled, and it's soon confirmed that she's been having an affair with an Aboriginal student.
On Sisters, Teddy's note short for "Theodora" fiance Dr. Sorenson has an ex-girlfriend who is pregnant with "his" baby. When the baby comes out, it's part-Asian. Dr. Sorenson is relieved, and doesn't hold a grudge.
In the miniseries adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, society wife DeDe has cheated on her husband, Beauchamp, with a Chinese grocery boy — and gotten pregnant. Though she goes to great lengths to keep the secret, she breaks down and confesses to a friend during a visit to an art gallery that she's got good reason to fear that the betrayal will be obvious once everyone sees the baby. The friend assumes this means the baby will be brown, but DeDe, increasingly upset, says no, it won't be brown. When the friend asks what color the baby will be, DeDe, now too upset to speak, points at a nearby painting — a solid yellow canvas.
A recurring sketch on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In involved the Farkel Family — a huge family of rhymingly named red-headed, glasses-wearing children belonging to the dark-haired Fanny Farkel and her oblivious, equally dark-haired husband Frank (Jo Anne Worley and Dan Rowan). The entire family is introduced to visitors one after another along with their trusted friend and neighbor, the red-headed, glasses-wearing Fred (Dick Martin), who complements Frank on his "fine-looking family."
On The Practice, a woman was accused of murdering her husband. Her neighbor alibied her, and she was acquitted. This trope comes in because the woman was nine months pregnant and insisted on going through the trial even when she was in labor. She would not take a plea deal. She was white, as was her dead husband. The neighbor who alibied her was African-American. The acquittal happened just before she was rushed to the hospital, where she delivered a dark-skinned baby.
One episode of Too Cute focused on a family of Siberians: proud white and gray-furred parents Maksim and Solomeya... and their litter of black-and-white kittens, whom the narrator notes look more like the handsome black tom next door.
On Switched at Birth, one of the main characters is abandoned by her father in her early childhood because of this trope—the Latina mother can't explain to the Latino father why they have a pale-skinned, red-haired, blue-eyed baby. (It turns out that she was switched at birth with another baby, who grows up dark and busty in a houseful of pale, waifish redheads. Her parents explained away her strange coloring as a sudden recurrence of the family's Italian heritage.)
A variation in Roots. When Kunta Kinte finds Fanta as an adult, she refuses to have sex with him since she is her master's bedmate and any children she has have to be brown (indicating that they are the product of a mixed race couple.)
A sketch on Chappelle's Show has Dave quitting his job after Oprah announces him to be the father of her child. She apologizes when the baby turns out to look just like Dr. Phil.
Cue Dave saying "Stedman, we gonna get this bitch."
In the BBC series Call the Midwife, there's a classic case with the heartwarming twist that the husband accepts what happened and dotes on his newborn son even though the kid couldn't be any more obviously unrelated to him.
Played straight in a Series 3 episode where a mother knows her child is not her husband's but a black man. When her husband finds out he is angry and the baby is put up for adoption. To make matters worse, the traumatised woman has to lie that the baby was stillborn.
In Living Color! had a recurring skit called the "The Dysfunctional Home Show". One episode featured the wedding of the pregnant (white) daughter and her black groom. During the ceremony, she goes into labor and gives birth to a white baby. When the angry groom demands to know why the baby is white, every white man — including the priest — bolts from the room.
Thrilla Killa Klown: "Ass Dan’s kids look just like Ass Dan! And my two kids look just like Ass Dan!" [gets a confused look for a second]
On Arrested Development, Michael meets a white and black gay couple who gave their sperm to a white woman who would act as a surrogate for them. They say they mixed sperm from each of them together because they don't want to know which of them is the father. Michael looks at them incredulously, obviously thinking that the presence or absence of this trope, when the time comes, will give it away.
Discussed in a "Six Million Dollar Man & Bionic Woman" sketch on The Benny Hill Show: Steve asks Jamie if she cheated on him because neither of them have red hair but their kid has bright red hair. She blames rust from their bionic parts.
This occurs at the end of The Strangerhood for Dutchmiller and Catherine. Their kid looks disturbingly like Dr. Chalmers, the only African-American in the cast.
The calypso song "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)", popularized by Harry Belafonte, contains a mini-story about a Jamaican man who goes with his wife to the hospital, but when the baby is born, its eyes are blue - meaning it's not his child.
The song by Mecano Hijo de la Luna tells the sad story of a Gypsy woman who prays to the moon for a husband. The moon says she will have a Gypsy husband, but that she must sacrifice her firstborn child to the moon. When the child is born, it is entirely white, like an albino - not cinnamon-colored like either of its parents. The father thinks he has been tricked, and stabs his wife to death, and abandons the baby on the hillside. The moon happily adopts the baby.
The narrator of The Who's "Substitute": "I look all white, but my dad was black".
In Ray Stevens' "Fred", the title dog (whom Ray treats as a human friend) brings home a female dog who is pregnant. In the final verse, Fred gets hit by a car just before the female dog gives birth. Ray then remarks, "Now old Fred's gone and I'm kinda glad / 'Cause if he were here now he'd sure be mad / 'Cause ain't one of them pups looks anything like him."
Steely Dan's "Haitian Divorce": "it changed, it grew, and everybody knew." This after a "divorce" which just consisted of the wife flying down to Haiti and partying for a few days.
The Sonora Santanera's "Capullo y Sorullo" tell the story of a marriage, the eponymous Capullo(the wife) Sorullo(the husband) who are very very white, and very very blonde("like butter") and have 9 children, eight are blond like them, but the ninth end up being black. Played for Laughs, as when Sorullo eventually asks to Capullo about it, turns out the black kid was the only one that was his.
"Lil' Nigga Ain't Mine" by Jaheim is about a "vanilla" baby. The baby is described as a light-skinned, light-eyed, redhead baby. Both Jaheim and his girlfriend are dark skinned.
This American Life had an episode called Slow To React, which featured a mixed-race man who had been born to a white girl who got pregnant in high school, she quickly married her white boyfriend, never mentioning that she'd also been sleeping with a black classmate. When the baby was born, he seemed light-skinned enough that she figured she was in the clear. Over the next few months, his skin darkened, but by then, everyone was used to thinking of him as white. Even when it became painfully obvious, no one wanted to say it out loud. He was in college before he really admitted to himself that he was part black.
William Shakespeare uses this one in Titus Andronicus, in which the empress Tamora gives birth to a black child, the son of Magnificent Bastard Aaron the Moor rather than Tamora's husband Saturninus. Tamora's sons (by her first husband) want the baby killed, but Aaron prevents them from doing so. Then he kills the midwife to make sure no one knows what happens and lies to the emperor that the baby was stillborn.
An old Venezuelan play, Salto Atras, plays with this: The baby from the marriage between a very white upper-class girl and her very white and German husband is born dark-skinned. The girl swears that she didn't commit adultery, so her stiff and comically bigoted parents try to dispose of the baby and find a whiter one to replace him before her husband finds out, while they try to discover if there are any "dark secrets" in the family tree who can explain this happening. They couldn't make the switcheroo, but when the husband meets the baby he is delighted. Turns out that his grandmother was a Sassy Black Woman from the coastal town of Barlovento who was imported to Germany by his grandfather out of love, so the baby reminded him of the mulatto relatives his in-laws haven't met yet.
In one production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the adult bear costumes were brown, but Baby Bear's costume was white. When Papa Bear asked, "Who's been sleeping in my bed?", a man in the audience said, "Well might he ask."
Apparently Truth in Television: An episode of Maury featured a white woman who cheated on her (also white) husband with a black man, had his baby, and passed it off as her husband's. The boy was clearly mixed-race, but her husband was fully convinced he was his son and was devastated by the obvious DNA test results. You kind of feel sorry for the guy when he breaks down crying, even if you can't help but wonder how this got past him in the first place.
There was another episode where two white parents had two very dark-skinned black children. Since the woman had cheated around the time of their pregnancy they were afraid that they were both unsure of the father. However it turns out her husband was their father, as the segment ends with Maury telling the audience how not everything is what it seems.
Can happen in The Sims 2 (responsible for The Strangerhood above) even if you've ensured the skin color of both parents, supervised the.... conception... and played that family to full term. It's a bug, but still funny.
Another possible cause is user-made custom skintones that have been modified to abide by the game's genetics system, but were assigned weird values.
Sims 2 is really horrible at determining genetics with integrity. This is why some stickler-for-detail storytellers have resorted to using Sim PE to retcon pre-created children's histories, rather than play the family out the recommended way.
The Sims 3 is a little better at mixing genes of parents together, since it operates on either-or range sliders rather than an either-or default skintone assignment. Meaning, two parents of the same range slider can have a child that is the average of slide values on that same slider. Hair color, however, operates on a Lamarck Was Right basis. And is also prone to weird bugs.
In-universe in Knights of the Old Republic II, The Handmaiden is this to other Echani, since her species have little variation in appearance and she takes after her non-Echani mother, who was not married to her father. This makes her stand out like a sore thumb next to her (essentially identical) sisters, even though the game itself uses the same model for all of them, and when questioned about this The Handmaiden expresses surprise since non-Echani rarely tend to notice.
ThisLoading Artist manages to make it literal and inappropriate.
In one of the Something Positive 1930s strips (this one, to be exact), where black midwife Hetty is delivering a white girl's illegitimate baby, and the girl's parents freak out when it's a black child, blaming her for "getting the black all over that baby" when she delivered it. As she replied: "Woman, I pull 'em out. I don't put 'em in."
In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures , Abel is revealed to be an extreme complicated version of this in his side comic. Specifically, Abel is born with wings, something that is not at all unheard of in the setting but is unusual and indicates that his parents couldn't really have had them. He and his mom receive large amounts of flack over this from everyone but his father steadfastly believes that she was faithful. As part of The Reveal Abel finds out that his dad is a shapeshifter who killed his mom's real husband and has been impersonating him since before Abel was born. Abel's wings and other oddities are part of his race's Shapeshifter Default Form.
A sort-of example in Vinci and Arty; Vinci is a raccoon. His parents are chihuahuas. Arty assumes Vinci must have been adopted, but it turns out both his parents had "recessive raccoon genes" from further back, so Vinci is "a pureblooded raccoon, but I could have registered as a pureblooded chihuahua".
Implied in The Kenny Chronicles with Death Golden-her parents are baboons and she's a lemming. Her name comes from the heart attack she gave her "dad".
In this case, it's because Samus is part Metroid. The bigger question is: what is she doing with Mega Man?
In Pokémon-X, it's indicated that Brendan gets his white hair from Mailman Joe.
Justified in Schlock Mercenary with the backstory of Dr. Edward Bunnigus. Because her parents were of questionable breeding and intelligence, eugenics laws mandated that they have genetically-tailored children instead of natural. As a result, their daughter is black, but they don't seem to mind.
Plague and Treachery on the Oregon Trail contained an adulterous woman who tells her husband that their son isn't black, he just has Melanism. It turns out he really does. However, he's still not the husband's son.
Parodied in The Nostalgia Chick with the "Baby Daddy Surprise" doll. The commercial has Dan exclaim that the dark-skinned baby doll in Elisa's arms isn't his child, then storm off to tattle on her.
Lindsay: (offscreen) With Baby Daddy Surprise, it's always a surprise!
One Rage Comic has a woman having a black child. She tries to explain, but her husband-white as a snowdrift, by the way-is ecstatic because he thinks his son's "Gonna be an All-Star!"
During The Runaway Guys' Wii Party series, they play a minigame involving rocking babies to sleep. Jon ends up with a baby with noticeably darker skin than his Mii, leading to a lot of jokes along these lines:
"I'm going to have a hard time explaining this one to my girlfriend..."
Done in a somewhat literal way as a gag in the Warner Bros. cartoon Porky's Poppa (1938), where Porky, "delivering" swaddled bottles of milk from a cow, discreetly overlooks the chocolate one.
Joseph Gribble on King of the Hill, who has obvious Native American features despite both his parents supposedly being white. His "father" Dale, usually an overly-suspicious nut, is completely oblivious to the fact that his wife has been cheating with her "massage therapist" John Redcorn for the majority of their marriage. When Peggy learns of the affair (one of the last people to do so, told by Hank, who'd up to this point assumed she'd been aware all along but, like everyone else, was keeping quiet), she mentions Nancy claiming that Dale's grandmother was Jamaican.
A Robot Chicken sketch features the Potato Heads in the delivery room. She gives birth to a carrot. After an awkward moment of silence, Mr. Potato Head looks at her, horrified, and spouts "You... whore!"
A particularly warped version turns up on Family Guy, in which Brian is thought to have impregnated Carter Pewterschmidt's prize-winning greyhound — but when the puppies are born, they all look like Ted Turner. This is Hilarious in Hindsight since TBS and [adult swim] now syndicate Family Guy, but did not at the time of the original airing.
Similarly, an episode of South Park has the boys trying to crossbreed Cartman's pig with Kyle's elephant so they'll get pig-sized elephants. When the pig finally gives birth... "Hey. It kinda looks like Mr. Garrison."
In Batman Beyond Mary and Warren McGinnis, both redheads, have two black-haired sons. A popular fan theory is that this is the reason for their divorce. An odd example, because while he is the father, "Epilogue," an episode of Justice League Unlimited, reveals that Warren McGinnis's reproductive DNA was overwritten with Bruce Wayne's without anybody's knowledge in an attempt to produce another Batman, making Terry and Matt Bruce's genetic sons despite being conceived by Warren.
This actually wasn't even intended—the creators eventually realized how implausible the family was and performed an Author's Saving Throw.
Mumble from Happy Feet not only was born without the ability to sing like the other penguins (it's the main reason he tap-dances instead), but was also born with blue eyes, something real penguins do not have (even his own parents both have Brown Eyes).
Notably the cause of this was environmental, not genetic - Mumble's egg was dropped by his father. This also makes it an example where the father is responsible.
Vaguely implied in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, of all shows: Cup Cake (earth pony) gives birth to a unicorn and a pegasus. Her husband Carrot Cake (also earth pony) gives an explanation involving far-back genetics and a relative who isn't even related by blood. Once he finishes the explanation he gives the audience a nervous Aside Glance and says, "That makes sense, right?"
Rocko's Modern Life had this as a background joke. Near the end of the series, Philbert (a turtle) and his (cat) wife had several children....one of whom looked like Philbert's cow friend Heiffer. Although it still came out of an egg.
Given that Heiffer is a steer, it's not likely he performed the deed the proper way.
In Moral Orel, Clay and Bloberta Puppington are brunettes. Their older son Orel is also brunette. The younger son Shapey? Blond. That was an early hint that Shapey's real father was Coach Stopframe. Note that this is the only one to be confirmed as this trope: it's hinted that Block Posabule and Lunchbox Hymentact were also Chocolate Babies (via their own non-matching hair colors) but never confirmed.
Often comes up on talk shows, where a black or part-black man will insist a light-skinned child can't be his. Usually, he'll get a reminder that this isn't the case, especially right after birth.
This 2002 news story tells of a mix-up at an IVF clinic that resulted in a white couple receiving black twins - Switched Before Birth?
As a real life example, there have been incidents in which couples have given birth to twins: one white, one black.
There's a historical anecdote about a white upper class woman who lived in West India in the 17th century. She gave birth to a black child that died shortly after birth - people put the blame on her drinking too much chocolate during her pregnancy. (So it was a real Chocolate Baby then.) Nobody ever suspected that the black male slave serving the chocolate to her bedroom might have had something to do with it.
There was a special on cheaters on Discovery Health channel and there was a Chinese-American woman who was married to a Chinese-American man. However, they had trouble having children. She began having an affair with a black man and her husband did not find out until she had a dark skinned baby.
A downplayed inversion of the trope almost led to tragedy, when a blonde blue-eyed daughter of Romani parents was taken from them by Irish authorities under the assumption that they couldn't possibly have a blonde child, which combined with the hype following the Maria case above (and likely some underlying stereotypes about the Romani) to assume she had been kidnapped. It took a DNA test to convince them that yes, the girl was indeed their daughter.
For years, actress Eva Longoria believed herself to be adopted because she has black hair, dark brown eyes, and olive skin while all of her sisters have blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin.