Panicky Expectant Father
"My goodness! My gracious!When the Delivery Guy is the father of the baby, and has been preparing for this for the last nine months, he's often every bit as unprepared when the time comes as some random guy would be, and usually a lot less calm. Sometimes he's overprepared, so that he's still reading his checklist while his wife is having a Screaming Birth, sometimes his mind just goes blank at the thought he's going to be a father. On being told by his partner that the baby is coming, he will often charge off immediately to the hospital only to return a few seconds later to collect said pregnant partner. A comedy trope. When they finally get to the hospital, expect the wife to have to push said husband in to the building in the wheelchair, instead of the other way around, since by this point he's likely fainted, hit his head, or possibly fell down the stairs in a panic. A fairly modern trope, as older works generally assume the father will have as little as possible to do with the birth—possibly because if he was there, he'd only be flapping around like a headless chicken. In fact, up until the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was considered "unconventional" for a man to be present during the time woman's in labor (at least in the United States), so they were basically flat-out banned from most delivery rooms—although an obvious exception would be if the medical professional delivering the baby was a man. Once the baby is born, various celebratory traditions, including handing out cigars and/or buying A Round of Drinks for the House. Frequently, said father is given something ostensibly helpful to do, with boiling water and finding clean sheets being a fairly common task, or he's shown pacing outside the delivery room, often smoking like a chimney. The increasing number of cigarette stubs may be a way to indicate the progress without having to actually show the woman in labor.
When will this day be done?
Will it be a girl
Or will I have a son?"
When will this day be done?
Will it be a girl
Or will I have a son?"
— Dexter's Dad, Dexter's Laboratory
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Anime & Manga
- Minato in Naruto. In his case, he's got very good reasons to panic: his wife Kushina is the host of the Kyuubi, and childbirth is the moment in which the seal containing said Sealed Evil in a Can is at its weakest; if it ever broke, Kushina would die and the Kyuubi would be unleashed. And it happened. Sort of.
- Reed Richards was acting a little like this when awaiting his first child's birth (compounded by feared complications caused by Sue's exposure to cosmic radiation and all that), but he had nothing on the guy whose wife was in the next ward, who fainted upon being informed he was now the father of twins.
- Gaston Lagaffe does the chain-smoking-while-pacing-round-and-round version when waiting for his turtles to hatch.
- Fantasio does the same thing when Gaston is in the hospital after swallowing the prize from a box of candy.
- Tobias Knopp in one story by Wilhelm Busch, when his daughter is born.
- Luke Cage gets hit with this in The Pulse when his girlfriend Jessica Jones goes into labor while he's on the other side of town.
- The Second Try: Shinji displays this in chapter "bear", especially in his last pregnancy log where he expresses his worries and doubts about having to take care of the delivery by himself despite learning all he could on the subject, and when he rushes Asuka to the hospital when her contractions begin. During the delivery proper however, he does his best to keep his panic in check and make sure that both mother and baby are all right.
- A common feature (but usually played for drama) in many, many, many, many, many Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfics in which Zuko becomes a father.
- In this Fallout: New Vegas fic, Arcade and Veronica (who are both gay) sleep together after getting very, very drunk. Pregnancy ensues. To say Arcade becomes a Panicky Expectant Father is putting it mildly.
- In Spy & Pyro, a Team Fortress 2 fan film, Spy and Pyro end up having a child, at which point Spy is seen nervously pacing outside the hospital smoking far too many cigarettes.
- Downplayed version of this in The Lion King Fan Fic Pride Lands: Generations, where expectant father Dhahabu does pace nervously outside the birthing den (after somewhat frantically trying to get in earlier to see his mate—justified by having found their den empty with birthing blood in it) but in the end patiently waiting until the first cub's birth is announced, then falling asleep until the whole thing is over.
- Subverted in Chapter 13 of the Superjail! fic Extended Stay. The Warden, for the most part, tries to stay calm while his love, the Mistress, is in preterm labor the same day they're getting married. He even sends Jailbot and NOVA to find a doctor for them.
- Mass Effect's Crucible'' has Garrus as the very panicking father since Shepard is not only go into a premature labor but also gets kidnapped right at that moment.
- Adam's father in Good Omens is kinda like this. Lampshaded, even: "A man with 'expectant father' written all over him." (So of course, they swap his child with the infant Antichrist...)
- Garion loses his mind during Ce'Nedra's first labor. He gets sent away to make himself useful. By the time she gives birth, he's chopped several cords of wood and is considering how much wood he could get if he destroyed the woodshed...
- His brain doesn't shut down when the second birth is immanent, but he still gets the assignment of taking his son out of the royal apartments and to the other end of the Citadel. Apparently Poledra doesn't believe in taking chances.
- Johnny Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn goes out, gets drunk, runs home to mother and fails to show up for his work as a school janitor; the pipes freeze and the school is flooded, and, naturally, Johnny loses his job (and the already poor family's only source of income). Also qualifies as an Epic Fail.
- Hemingway's "In Our Time" plays this as darkly as possible: the expectant father kills himself "offscreen" during a complicated labour. The doctor and his son only realise this when the birth is finally over.
- Ephraim Kishon once wrote a play about three of them (all named Kohn), and confessed having been this too.
- Warrior Cats:
- Berrynose who tries to rush his mate off to the nursery when he finds out that she's pregnant.
- Deconstructed with Clear Sky and Storm in ''The Sun Trail. In fact, his constant worrying for her caused her to leave him.
- Sam Vimes, of all people, shows signs of this in Night Watch, not helped by the fact that it's a tricky birth. But given the cultural setting, the midwife is quite firm about keeping him well out of the way.
- Could be more than the midwife's wishes at work. It might be as much Sybil taking some pity on him and letting him off the hook to go do something more useful than fretting over her to pass the time. Sybil had already made it quite clear, with gentle tact, that he was not required on this particular case. It had been, he had to admit, a bit of a relief. Sam's generally not so good at handling things he can't control, which seems to be why, even as Commander, he does a lot of hands-on police work.
- While it takes place far earlier than the birth, Dag's reaction when he realizes Fawn is pregnant in The Sharing Knife: Horizon contains more than a hint of this trope (that he was learning medicine making at this point and had seen some nasty prenatal complications already did not help).
Arkady: Almost all apprentices go through a phase where they're convinced they're coming down with every new disease they've just learned about. I thought you were going to be the notable exception. I suppose I didn't think it through quite far enough.
- Discussed in The Wheel of Time, when some women are talking obliquely in front of Rand about how useless men are in childbirth, claiming that they always faint. Rand, a sheepherder, immediately reminisces about the time he had to reach into a ewe's womb to turn around a birthing lamb. The series ends before any of his children are actually born, though.
- When narrating the first time she gave birth in her Mémoires, Laure Junot actually speaks very little of her own experience and more of her husband having a complete fit of panic and having to be comforted by the First Consul in person.
Live Action TV
- Averted in How I Met Your Mother. Marshall only panicked when Lily was in labor because he was stuck in Atlantic City and thought he'd miss the birth. Ted remained calm for both Lily and for The Mother.
- Del Boy Trotter over the birth of Damien in Only Fools and Horses seventh season finale "Three Men, a Woman, and a Baby".
- When Carol goes into labour with Ben, Ross is all over the place. It's not only played for comedy in terms of a first-time dad, but but also with Joey as a foil. Joey accidentally becomes the random stranger that helps a woman with no support get through her labour, so by the time Carol's labour progresses, Joey's "been there, done that" attitude is displayed in stark contrast to Ross's frenzied behavior.
- Subverted or averted with later pregnancies as the show lets the characters build on their experiences with previous births (Carol's, Phoebe's, etc.) so that they handle future births much more calmly. At least, until the final birth of the show: when Erica goes into labour, Monica is the one thrown into the role of this trope.
- In Good Luck Charlie, Bob Duncan is actually fairly nervous during the birth of his fifth child, Toby. Sort of justified in that he managed to drive his car into the kitchen, his daughter's car is out of gas, and they're trying to drive the hospital in an ice cream truck.
- In Bones, Hodgins completely loses it. Both times.
Hodgins: Okay, uh—baby! Baby! BABY!
- Turk, at the birth of Isabella in Scrubs, eventually ends up trapped in an ice machine. The other births have been aversions or subversions: JD is too concerned with the realization he needs to break up with Kim to panic too much at the birth of Sam. Dr Cox seems to have been fairly calm about the birth of Jack (probably because he didn't know the baby was his), and when Jennifer is born, we only see his concern about people associating her birth with Laverne's death.
- Steve, at the birth of his unnamed child in Coupling.
- Ricky in I Love Lucy.
- Lost subverted this. In the flashbacks (flashforwards?) we see Jin running around buying gifts for a newborn baby, which we assume is his and Sun's child in the future. Turns out that Jin is actually buying a gift for the newborn child of his boss's client in the past and he is actually dead in the future and does not see his child being born, except he's not really dead.
- Rob Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show.
- In Full House when Rebecca starts having contractions, Jesse declares he's "not going to be like one of those jerks who panics when his wife goes into labor" and calmly goes to help her pack... by pulling an entire rack of formal wear from the closet. Even after that he's still calm and Becky even plays along before revealing she'd already packed a bag.
- Vinton on Mama's Family: He totaled his truck and Mama's car all in his attempt to go to the hospital, forgetting the pregnant Naomi.
- An Argentinian Comedy-Soap called Carita Del Angel (I probably got the name wrong) parodied this. One of the main characters is expecting his second child in a waiting room, showing all symptoms of a Panicky Expectant Father. He gets in a conversation with another man who looks positively bored. He explains that he was just as excited with his first two children. After that, he got used to it. The one he was waiting there was his 11th.
- Subverted in an episode of Firefly where one of Inara's friends goes into labor while the crew is there to help fend off the father of her baby. The actual father of the baby isn't around, and Mal... reacts.
Mal: Oh — it's starting. Okay. It's starting! No one panic, it's gonna be fine!Simon: I got this one, Captain.
- However, Simon is somewhat nervous as he helps deliver the baby, but then he says that it's the first time he's done so and handles it about as well as he can. Inara helps him and says she's never done that either. River says that it's her first time too.
- Played with on the American version of The Office. Pam is in the late stages of a rare-for-TV normally progressing labor, and wants to hold out on going to the hospital until midnight so their crappy health insurance can't stiff them out of a day's worth of medical care. After spending months going through all the preparations and diapering everything from footballs to cats, Jim is ready to go now and can't understand why everyone in the office isn't helping him convince her.
- Subverted on Doctor Who:In the village dreamworld, The Doctor and Rory start freaking out when a pregnant Amy starts screaming and holding her belly. She then reveals that she was faking the Doctor out in retaliation for him calling Leadworth dull.
The Doctor: You're a doctor, help her!Rory: You're a doctor!The Doctor: It's okay, we're a doctor. (Puts out a hand to catch the falling baby)
- Also, when Amy thought she was pregnant (turned out it was a false alarm) and decided not to tell her husband Rory, he berated her, saying "I'm a nurse, I'm good with babies," averting this trope. However, when Amy does have a baby when she's been kidnapped, Rory is somewhat emotional, partly because of the shock of suddenly being a parent, partly because his wife had been kidnapped, and partly because who he thought was his wife had been a copy the entire nine months.
- In Frasier, when Daphne enters labor in a veterinarian's office, Niles attempts to calm her by getting her to focus on her breathing exercises. Unfortunately, his 'breathing exercises' turn into a hyperventilating panic attack and he faints.
- The Cosby Show:
- John Ritter memorably played one of these.
- Elvin when Sondra was about to deliver. She was cool as a cucumber throughout most of the ordeal with the occasional bout of pain. Elvin screeches "Contraction!" when Sondra was in pain and needed to breathe in a paper bag.
- Devon (AKA Captain Awesome) in Chuck is way more freaked out by Ellie's pregnancy than she is. The kicker is, both of them are doctors, so he really should know better. When they are finally at the hospital, she calmly tells him to leave the room to collect himself before returning.
- One skit from the very first episode of Saturday Night Live was Bee Hospital, with the entire skit being a bunch of worried bee dads buzzing around in the waiting room awaiting the births of their children.
- Surprisingly averted in Farscape, when John Crichton is just about as calm as it is possible to be when the love of his life is giving birth in the middle of a battle. He's still terrified, but not nearly to the extreme you'd expect.
- The lads on The Young Ones freak out when Vyvyan apparently goes into labor (it's just gas), with Mike fleeing the room and Neil calling for boiling towels and clean water.
- Danny, to a point, on CSI NY. He doesn't get completely out of control, but is still apparently going over things in his head.
Danny: What if it's twins? I mean, you've seen Lindsay, she's huge!
- Call the Midwife has used this occasionally; given the time period, they're all exiled to the hallway where they have little to do except wear a hole in the carpet. That, or go down the pub.
- In Hannah Montana, with a radio host being informed that his wife is in labour.
"My baby's having a wife! I mean, my bife's having a waby!"
- The Doctor at Large episode "Mother and Father Doing Well" brings back the character of Huw Evans from Doctor in the House as an expectant father whose medical knowledge has given him a laundry list of reasons to worry about the birth itself. After getting into a shouting match with a whole waiting room of panicky expectant fathers, he is wheeled into the delivery room on a gurney—and faints immediately and has to be wheeled back out.
- Largely subverted in Adam-12 episode "Log 93: Baby," which has Reed gotten most of his wife's birthing day organized, although he forgot to put on his uniform's socks and some clerical mistakes at the hospital are frustrating him.
- Tom Branson when his daughter is born during season three of Downton Abbey. Though it's not so much the birth itself that causes it but rather the fact that Sybil isn't doing well and there are two doctors standing around arguing as to whether or not she as eclampsia and if so what to do. Turns out she does have eclampsia - and dies from it. So he was rather justified in panicking.
Stand Up Comedy
- Bill Cosby had a bit in his act about how he panics when his wife gives birth.
- A character in Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel gets an entire solo about this. Unfortunately, it leads him to worry about money so much, he becomes a mugger and is fatally stabbed on his own knife.
- Mr. Buchanan in Street Scene is under a nervous strain because his wife is about to give birth.
- Very common in the Distaff Counterpart Harvest Moon games—usually, during the "child born" scene, the Player Character's husband is off worrying. Some of them have only a normal worry, but others are so panicky, they'll get told by the Delivery Guy or gal: "Honestly, I'm more worried about you!"
- Ken Masters shows some traits in the Street Fighter IV series. Good thing that his wife and the soon-to-be-mom, Eliza, is much Closer to Earth - not to mention, baby!Mel is only born in Super SSIFIV!.
- Deliberately averted with the birth of Mordred in Arthur, King of Time and Space. The News Post below this comic was the Trope Namer.
- And the aversion is taken further with the birth of Galahad.
- Archipelago's Mikel when his pregnant wife stands up too fast.
Mikel: Sit down, sit down but slowly! We don't want to jostle the baby.
Deliza: I'm okay Mikel, you can relax.
Mikel: You know the doctor said sudden falls could be dangerous this close to birth.
Deliza: Sitting down usually doesn't count as a 'sudden fall'.
- Fred Flintstone in The Flintstones, during the birth of Pebbles, headed to the hospital without Wilma.
(On the phone) "Hello, this is Fred Hospital, I'm taking my wife to the Flintstone!"
- Dexter's dad in the "Laboretto" episodes of Dexter's Laboratory detailing Dexter's birth and development.
- Goofy is portrayed as such a father in the Disney short about parenting.
- Drawn Together parodied the sitcom cliche of the father running off and leaving the mother behind.
- 101 Dalmatians (both versions) portrays anxious expectant fathers of both the human and canine variety. In the animated version, Roger is acting exactly like this trope, pacing around the room and smoking, when the "children" are actually puppies and Pongo's similarly pacing. In the live action version Roger's waiting on his own child.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic shows the end result of this trope in "Baby Cakes". Mr. Cake introduces his twin foals to the Mane Six while sporting a faceful of stubble, an undone bow tie, and his mane and cap in disarray.
- Arnold's father, Miles, in Hey Arnold! was this—although it's understandable, given that he and Arnold's mother, Stella, were in the jungle, and far from any doctors or hospitals.
- One episode of Budgie The Little Helicopter features the Fairweathers, who are trapped by a blizzard waiting for rescue from Budgie so he can take them to the hospital, where Mrs Fairweather will give birth. Mr Fairweather is portrayed as extremely nervous and constantly worried.