"Cut the crap, Hamlet! My biological clock is ticking, and I want babies now!"A typical plot in a Dom Com, when a middle-aged woman realizes that menopause is right around the corner and that she doesn't have much time left to have children if she hasn't already, or that she won't be able to have more. Given the Law of Inverse Fertility, the harder she tries to become pregnant the less likely she will be to actually get pregnant, but the moment she decides that she doesn't want a baby she will suddenly become pregnant. Common plots involve a woman looking into sperm donation or adoption, or if she is approaching Christmas Cake status, attempting to get married before her 'expiration date.' As in Real Life, the latter is not a good idea and sometimes ends disastrously. She may end up using a Chosen Conception Partner in someone she trusts to have a child. And Heaven help the poor thing if she also has parents who are screaming "I Want Grandkids!" An Older Than Feudalism variant is the woman who wishes for a child and proceeds to have a Wonder Child. See also Mandatory Motherhood.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- An entire story arc of Rosario + Vampire focuses on Mizore's problems because of this. Specifically, her race can only reproduce through her mid-twenties, and was nearly forced into an arranged marriage to preserve her race. Break the Cutie ensues. But she gets better.
- Despite being a teenager, Kokoro from DARLING in the FRANXX is hit by this trope after finding a book on pregnancy and childbirth inside some ruins. She grows increasingly fascinated by the idea of having a child of her own, to the point of nearly forcing herself on her new partner Mitsuru to accomplish that. A significant part of her motivation is her awareness of the fact that, as a Parasite, she's unlikely to live much longer, and she wants to leave behind some sort of legacy.
Films — Live-Action
- This is part of one of Lisa's monologues in My Cousin Vinny, with a beautiful counter from Vinny.
- Inverted in 24 Hour Party People when Tony Wilson expresses great desire to be a father while talking with his first wife.
Tony Wilson: Two words: Body Clock.
- Invoked by Molly's doctor in Look Who's Talking after she gets pregnant with Mikey. That night, she has a dream that turns it into a Literal Metaphor, with her hanging from the minute hand of a clock tower.
- Fatal Attraction: Alex refuses to abort Dan's baby, citing the fact that she already had fertility issues—she assumed that she couldn't get pregnant following a traumatic miscarriage, and her age—36—that it could be the last chance she has to have a baby.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, Trillian gets the urge for a kid some time between So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless thanks to the Guide Mark 2's influence, and so uses sperm donated that Arthur had previously donated to a lab in exchange for money, and then the kid winds up with Arthur since she left the baby at a day-care center and when she came back to pick her up she was a teenager because of the Timey-Wimey Ball.
- In A Brother's Price Eldest Whistler is twenty eight and has time left before menopause, plus her younger sisters have more, but she'd still like to marry and have one child, to see what pregnancy is like for herself. A teacher, Miss Skinner, feels this trope far more strongly, to the point of desperation; another character sighs and calls her addled, saying she should have gone to the cribs long ago. It's noted that not all women get this kind of feeling. Said other character can't stand children.
- Angel: Illyria is revealed in the Angel comic series to have a once-in-a-millennium mating cycle, signaled by Illyria going "into heat".
- Friends had this several times.
- Monica was babycrazy practically from the start, and especially from the first season finale, and it led to the end of her relationship with Richard (played by Tom Selleck) since he didn't want kids. Later seasons saw her and Chandler adopt after they had trouble conceiving, though ironically Courtney Cox really was pregnant when the adoption episodes were filmed.
- Phoebe didn't seem to have these feelings until she served as a surrogate for her brother (a plot necessitated by the actress' real life pregnancy), at which point she started wishing for her own family.
- Rachel's feelings on the subject seemed to be limited to "be married and have a baby before I turn thirty-five", which she did get, in a roundabout way.
- On Sabrina the Teenage Witch, aunt Hilda once had a problem with her biological clock (a literal magical clock) and began a series of desperate measures to try and become pregnant, including randomly choosing a guy off the street to marry. Sabrina eventually offered her own clock as a substitute for Hilda's, but luckily it all worked out in a timely fashion.
- In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit involving a stolen cryotank of embryos Olivia comes face to face with her own anxiety about having children and reveals that she had been turned down by adoption agencies for not having an extended family network. Her partner Elliot offered to help her in whatever way he could... whatever that means.
- Also invoked when a deliberately pregnant teen (the result of a pregnancy pact with friends) taunted middle-aged, childless Olivia, convinced that her disapproval of the girl's choices was only jealousy. She rubbed her swollen belly and chanted mockingly in Olivia's face, "Tick-tock. Tick-tock." Olivia retaliated by rattling off the things that are much more likely to happen to babies with teenage mothers.
- Liz on 30 Rock in "The Baby Show". Tina Fey later made a whole movie about it called Baby Mama.
- Liz, basically constantly, complete with her mom who wants grandkids. She goes through several boyfriends, considers adoption and sperm donation, buys a wedding dress while single....yeah. Two of those things happened in Season 1. (She finds a worthwhile boyfriend in Season 6.)
- Even Jack isn't immune, with his mother pressuring him to get married (again) and have children (and then criticizing every woman he dates). He actually marries Avery Jessup in Season 4, and has a daughter in Season 5...only to spend all of Season 6 with Avery arrested in North Korea, leading to their divorce upon her return.
- Though it wasn't necessarily due to age, one of the lesbian couples on The L Word decided they wanted a child in this sort of plot.
- Actually happens to a man in the backstory of Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, in which Adventurer Archaeologist Andrew Hartford decides his clock is ticking, and so he builds himself a Ridiculously Human Robot teenage son (Mack, who, incidentally, becomes the team's Red Ranger). Being a childrens' show, why he doesn't use his ungodly amounts of money to get a gold-digger wife is never explored, but it at least gets a lampshade:
Andrew: I was too busy with my work to find the right woman.
Mack: Why didn't you make one of those, too!?
- House had a sideplot involving Cuddy trying to get pregnant via sperm donors and fertility treatments. The title character handles this with his usual variance of sensitivity, ranging from agreeing to inject her in the backside with a hormone treatment to actually using her infertility as a vulnerable point to lash out at her. In the end, she adopts.
- From Spin City, Carrie is so desperate to have a baby that she ends up stealing Mike's sperm.
- Also a sideplot on Grey's Anatomy back when Addison Montgomery-Sheppard was still in Seattle.
- One contestant on Travis Stork's season of The Bachelor told him at the first-night party that she was there because "My eggs are rotting." He didn't keep her past that night.
- Dr. Elliott Reid of Scrubs started to feel this way in later seasons.
- Dr. Brennan in Bones had no interest in parenthood during the first few seasons, until towards the end of Season Four, when she decided she wanted to be a mother, and asked Booth to volunteer as a sperm donor. This plotline was interrupted by Booth's brain tumor, and made academic by the end of Season Six, when Booth and Bones conceived a child the old-fashioned way. By the end of the show, they have two kids.
- On Strong Medicine, Dr. Dana Stowe isn't bothered too much by still being single in her mid-to-late thirties, but she is bothered by still being childless—especially since as an OB/GYN and fertility specialist, she knows full well the risks and difficulties of conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy at an older age.
- The titular Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman seems to fear this as well, when she realizes that she still isn't pregnant after several months of her and Sully being Insatiable Newlyweds.
- Subverted in one episode of Warehouse 13. Myka has just found out that her younger sister is pregnant, and everyone expects her to be upset since she hasn't had any children yet. Then, while tracking down a wish-fulfilling artifact, Myka suddenly becomes very pregnant. However, it turns out that it was Pete's wish that caused the pregnancy, because he's the one who really wants to have kids.
- Patricia Dawkins from The Thin Blue Line.
- Parodied on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Betazoid women in middle-age experience "The Phase", which is more a case of My Biological Clock Has Gone To Red Alert, with their sex drive quadrupling (or more) as a result!
- On Adam Ruins Everything, Adam (and an actual researcher on the subject, who herself had all of her children relatively late in life) explain that the reason we're always told that a woman's fertility drops after 35, is that most of the existing data on the topic comes from 16th-century French farmers. More modern data suggests that the decline happens in a woman's mid to late 40's, not 30's. Also, the risk of birth defects doubles after 35- from 0.5% to 1%. His further interview with the researcher expands that it's often a trade-off: women, who have children later in life, tend to be more advanced in their careers and more financially secure; at the same time, they're not as energetic as they were ten years ago, so it may be a little difficult keeping up with kids. It's just something every women has to decide for herself.
- Joan Watson from Elementary never thought much about having children because she had so much going on in her life and she wasn't with anyone. However, after reading confidential material from an old therapist mentioning that she'd make a "good mother" Joan begins rethinking this. She starts looking into adoption afterwards.
- Jenny Lewis' "Just One of the Guys" describes the difficulty of being a childless woman trying to blend in with the men around her. (Yes, this is the one with the video featuring Anne Hathaway, Kristen Stewart, and Brie Larson in drag.) It was literally described by a reviewer for The Atlantic as "an ode to [the] biological clock."
There's only one difference between you and me
When I look at myself, all I can see:
I'm just another lady without a baby
- In Campus Safari Sheanna tries to pressure Darius into marrying her sooner rather than later, despite the fact that they both have over 900 years before they have to worry about anything.
- In Sinfest, Monique's panic attack is explained as this by Slick.
- This is alluded to, in a turn of phrase at least, by Peggy in Grrl Power:
Peggy: Though every once in a while my body starts beggin' for a preggin' and I go all boy crazy.
- Played with in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella comic "Baby COMEBACK". Wonderella gets captured by the supervillains, but all she hears of their monologue is "Baby baby babies babies!" Turns out it's not Wonderella's biological clock or subconscious talking—the villains are just saying "Babies" over and over because Wonderella's mom put them up to it.
- In the Bobbinsverse, Shelley gets pregnant by accident, but decides to keep the baby because her clock is ticking.
- This is running theme for Marge's sister Selma in The Simpsons, who at various points had considered sperm donation, dated several men, had been married several times and took on an iguana as a substitute. She eventually adopted a baby girl named Ling from China.
- Drawn Together had Toot try to get pregnant before she was convinced to try adopting a Nicaraguan baby as a test, which was of course handled with all the good taste the show is (not) known for.
- Sealab 2021: "Chickmate" revolves around Debbie's clock going off. She wakes up screaming "I want a baby!", briefly treats a dolphin like her baby, then starts interviewing all of the males on Sealab to find a suitable father. She eventually gets turned off the idea by coming to the conclusion that the guys are childish enough.
- In a very not funny example, Harley Quinn and the Joker jokingly reference this is Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker in a flashback, only to then laugh at the concept of "the joy of childbirth". The result is an attack against Batman that involves a Mind Rape against Tim Drake that turns him into a mini-Joker and leaves him mentally scarred for life. At the very end of the movie it's also revealed that Harley has two granddaughters named Delia and Deidre Dennis, meaning that at some point she did actually have at least one kid. It is unknown whether the "Dee Dees" are descended from the Joker as well.
- In the DC Comics Crisis Crossover The Joker's Last Laugh, Joker is tricked into believing that he's dying and tries to get Harley pregnant without marrying her. When she figures that out, she is... not happy. (Lots of KA-BOOMs.)
- An episode of Family Guy showed a 37-year old woman, desperate to get pregnant, on a date with an ex-convict.
- In the series finale of Daria, after Mrs. Barch somewhat cornered Mr. O'Neil into proposing to her, she was very vocal about having a short engagement and less than subtle about the reasons why.
Mrs. Barch: We need to get cracking before my eggs dry out.
- Animaniacs: In the song "I'm Nobody's Mama" from the Rita & Runt cartoon "Smitten with Kittens," Rita cites this trope to explain away her reluctant motherly instincts toward the stray kittens who have imprinted on her. A prime example both of Getting Crap Past the Radar and of Artistic License – Biology, since cats don't go through menopause.
- Shari in American Dad! seems to have this; she was quite desperate to get married and yells at her husband Buckle to "Put a baby in me!"
- This is so widely-recognized that some languages have a word for it. For instance, in German, the word is Torschlusspanik — literally "panic at the closing of the gate". It can be used in other situations where an opportunity is coming close to an end, but it's most commonly used for the angst of older women about their ticking biological clocks.
- This trope is normally brought up in relation to women (because, stereotypically, Not Wanting Kids Is Weird for women), but arguably it shouldn't be. While men never entirely lose the ability to produce offspring, sperm production and viability does decline with age, so technically men have a biological clock ticking, too.