"I wanted to marry her when I saw the moonlight shining... off the barrel of her father's shotgun!"
— Ali Hakim, Oklahoma
Uh-oh. Did you just have a one-night stand with the Farmer's Daughter
? Whoops, didn't quite turn out like you figured, eh? Her old man found out, and now you and Daisy Mae are standing in an altar at a rural church, with your petulant in-laws pointing a nice long (and loaded) shotgun at your back. There's no escape. No Big Damn Heroes
are going to rush in and rescue you in a dramatic overblown fashion
. You've made this bed and now you're going to lie in it
. For the rest of your life.
Oh well, at least Daisy Mae is somewhat
pretty... for a girl with only one tooth.
The traditional Shotgun Wedding (replete with gun-toting relatives) is a common staple of comedies set in rural, "hillbilly" areas
. Any big-city fellers
who wander into such areas had best be discreet about any "minglin'" they do with the local womenfolk, lest they find themselves being forced to stay a lot longer than they had intended. And God help them if the farmer's daughter suddenly gets knocked up in that one-night stand. They may be shot before
they get dragged to the altar. Female main characters must also take care when journeying into these kinds of areas, lest an affair forces them to stay as well.
Sometimes mutual attraction isn't even required before our hero or heroine winds up frog-marched to the chapel. One of the local boys or girls may take a shine to a traveling protagonist and attempt a forced marriage at gunpoint. In cases like these, the Big Damn Heroes
are much more likely to jump in and save the day
. But if you got into this situation by sowing your wild oats a little too freely, then you're pretty much on your own.
Nowadays, a "shotgun wedding" seldom involves actual firearms; the phrase is a euphemistic way to refer to any marriage that occurs upon learning that the bride is pregnant
. (When characters in older media talk about "having" to get married, this is what they mean.) The parents may not be incensed nor the prospective groom unwilling, but there is still a sense of compulsion involved, since the couple may not have married so soon — or at all — if not for the unexpected pregnancy. In most jurisdictions, if an actual shotgun is
involved, the unwilling groom can have the marriage annulled for reasons of duress.
This kind of activity was a lot more common back when
there was more of a stigma attached to unmarried parents, especially an unwed mother. In this day and age a main character can remain in good graces without marrying the girl as long as he provides for her and the child. However, this is still Truth in Television
for more socially conservative parts of the world.
If the wedding effectively happened when the groom (or bride) wasn't looking, it's an Accidental Marriage
This is a subtrope of Altar the Speed
. May end in Babies Ever After
. Invoking this trope is usually the purpose of The Baby Trap
. Also compare and contrast Captive Date
, where one side of a romantic evening would rather not be there, but isn't allowed to leave.
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Examples of Shotgun Weddings (with actual guns):
Anime and Manga
- The trope is more universal than you'd think. One notable episode of Maison Ikkoku finds Godai (in a daydream sequence) facing the father of his sometime girlfriend Kozue over his shotgun. Granted it was a dream sequence, and he was just thinking of kissing her, and her daddy was a pretty clean cut (if overly protective) salaryman. Everything else matched.
- Kamisama Kiss has Mizuki trying to do this to Nanami. He doesn't succeed and is nearly killed by Nanami's bodyguard and familiar, Tomoe.
- This happens to Nagasumi in My Bride Is a Mermaid, when he's accidentally splashes liquid on Lunar and transforms her legs into her fish tail. He helps to dry her off, but just as he's finishing up, Lunar's papa bursts in and the only thing he sees is Nagasumi touching his daughter's butt. Before Nagasumi even gets a chance to explain, he's hauled off and forced to undergo a wedding to marry Lunar or he will be killed right on the spot. When a girl's father is the Terminator, you cannot say no.
Collectible Card Games
- The image above is from the Doomtown card of the same name. (It's possible to get a divorce, though.)
- Preacher has a very dark version of this, subverted in that the couple was a happy one- it was her evil, religiously-psychotic family that forced them to get married, and kept them under lock and key.
- In Scare Tactics, Jake Ketchum (a.k.a. Fang) was on the run from a shotgun wedding to a ghoul (intended to unite the two feuding clans) when he got captured by R-Complex. We later learn his fiancee committed suicide after being jilted at the altar. It turns out Jake had nothing to do with it. She was just tired of living life in the state she was. Her suicide note made it clear he wasn't at fault.
- In The Brown Bear of the Green Glen, John leaves behind a pregnant woman during his quest. She comes after him after she gives birth to a son, using magic to find the father.
- While Bleach's Orihime was was held captive by the Espada, she and Ulquorra gained a following due to their... "unique" dynamic. Which lead to this little number.
- Emma's Plan features a variant where Hermione's mother tricked Harry, who loved Hermione but thought she loved Ron, into a shotgun proposal by arranging for her husband to find them in bed together.
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ends with this being deliberately invoked by the brides. Their fathers have come to rescue them from their captors (unaware that they've fallen in love with them), and hear a baby crying in the cabin (actually the daughter of the only married couple). When asked whose the child is, all the girls respond, "Mine!"—leaving the fathers no choice but to "force" all the couples to marry.
- Black Cat White Cat has one with machine guns and hand grenades.
- In the Civil War movie Ride With The Devil, the hero, Dutchy, saves the girlfriend of his dead best friend. They take refuge in a somewhat friendly house to recover from their wounds. When they come back, surprise! She's had a baby. Surprise number two: the rather friendly owner of the house, after some rumbling, comes back with a priest and A GUN and declares, "I won't tolerate this in my own house any longer!" Bonus point for the hero having declared more than once that he will never marry anyone.
- Pootie Tang has the title character held at gunpoint by the Sheriff for sleeping with his daughter. Trucky rescues Pootie at the wedding and the Sheriff turns his gun on Trucky.
- In Ride 'Em Cowboy, Willoughby (Lou Costello) is on the run from Indians who want to force him into a "bow-and-arrow wedding" with an Indian maiden he had an Accidental Marriage to.
- Not a traditional one, but Honey Swanson is forced to marry gangster Tony Snow at gunpoint in A Song Is Born.
- One occurs in the Sherlock Holmes short story "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist". Unusually in that case it was the bride who was being forced a gunpoint - and gagged for good measure.
- One of these occurs at the end of The Blackstone Commentaries, but it's treated as a happy ending since the man wanted to be with the women he knocked up, but after discovering she was pregnant (and not telling him) she broke up with him because she wanted to spare him this trope and because of her own commitment issues. When he encounters her, now visibly pregnant, several months later he realizes what's going on and rushes off to tell her family, who were also unaware she was pregnant, and they show up the next morning complete with shotguns for the wedding.
- In Married... with Children, Al Bundy's wedding to Peg was a literal shotgun wedding, with Peg's hillbilly Dad toting the gun. Followed by another literal shotgun wedding, when Al and Peg renew their vows.
- Could be an example of a "Both" incident, since in some explanations the wedding was because Peg was pregnant with Kelly.
- To add insult to injury during their vow renewal Peggy's dad reveals that the gun was never loaded the first time he had it at Al's back.
- One episode of The Dukes of Hazzard had Daisy nearly becoming forcibly hitched in a Shotgun Wedding.
- A Tales from the Crypt episode had a man (Ed Begley, Jr.) finding himself forcibly engaged to the grotesque daughter of a creepy hillbilly clan (the daughter and the parents were played by Tim Curry).
- In the first-season Quantum Leap episode "Star-Crossed," Al quips, "Nice little intimate shotgun wedding — twelve-gauge, I think it was." It was in regards to the professor Sam's leaped into and the student he's involved with.
- Benny Hill once did a Country & Western song parody that included the immortal lyric "The wedding wasn't legal, the shotgun wasn't loaded."
- In the third season The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Concrete Overcoat Affair, Part I", Napoleon Solo, thinking he is being pursued by THRUSH minions, hides underneath Pia Monteri's bed. After he is discovered under the bed, Grandmomma Monteri comes into the bedroom with a shotgun, and tells Pia to go to the closet and get Grandmomma's old wedding dress, and tells Solo that she's sending for the parish priest.
- In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will and Carlton spin an increasingly outrageous tale involving an assassin, a trailer park, and this trope. It turns out to be a Tall Tale to distract Jazz from their card game.
- Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley had a two-part Cross Over about Richie and Fonzie facing one of these... ... and being forced to marry the titular girls!
- Triumphantly subverted in the TV movie Something for a Lonely Man. The intended bridegroom, on being asked "Do you take this woman ...?" grabs the shotgun, throws it away, asks the minister to repeat the question, and proudly answers "I do".
- Formed the set-up of a prank on Scare Tactics.
Live Comedy Shows
- Harry Enfield started one of his comedy routines as Stavros (a Greek kebab-shop owner) by telling the audience, "I just got back from a wedding," then ostentatiously putting a double-barreled twelve-bore back in its cupboard.
- The Jeff Dunham character Bubba J got married this way.
Jeff: So did you propose?
Bubba J: Naw, her daddy did. I was s'ppsed to pick her up at 7. I got there at 7:30. Her dad was waiting for me on the porch... with his shotgun... and he said, "Guess who else is late!"
Bubba J: I'm glad you all get it, someone had to explain it to me! I still don't get it!
- This MAD cover from 1966 inverts the classic scenario.
- One cartoon Charles Addams did for The New Yorker depicts a white explorer amidst a tribe of Pygmies, undergoing a blowgun wedding.
- Chad Morgan's aptly titled "Shotgun Wedding," as seen in the page quotes. The groom does try to run... and gets buckshot in the ass for his trouble.
- Deathbed by Relient K, as seen in the page quotes.
- Great Big Sea's "Hit the Ground and Run" describes a young man trying to escape such circumstances.
- Some of the more humorous versions of "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" (about a woman awaiting her lover's return) include a verse about her keeping a marriage license. Some also include a verse about what her father is doing in the meantime:
And in the house, her father keeps a shotgun;
He keeps it in the Springtime, and in the month of May, (Hey! Hey!)
And if you ask him why the heck he keeps it,
He keeps it for her lover who is far, far away...
Far away! (Far away!) Far away! (Far away!)
Oh, he keeps it for her lover who is far, far away.
- Heavily implied to be the desired outcome of the narrator in Billy Idol's "White Wedding":
Hey, little sister, what have you done?
Hey, little sister, who's the only one? ...
Hey, little sister, shotgun.
It's a nice day to start again.
It's a nice day for a white wedding.
- There is a US Marine Corps and US Army marching cadence with a verse that goes:
The wedding was
a formal one
her daddy had
a white shotgun
- In the musical Oklahoma!!, Ali Hakim, the traveling salesman, gets forced into this with Ado Annie after merely flirting with her, prompting the rant of a song "It's a Scandal!". He has to work hard to get Will to take her off his hands (thanks to a previous promise made by Ado Annie's father), and then, once he's gotten himself free, he falls headlong into the trope again, and does end up married, prompting the page quote.
- In Fallout 2, in the town of Modoc, it's possible to, erm... get busy with either the daughter or the son of a farmer, regardless of gender. In either case, the father finds out and will force the player to get married to the pseudo-love interest by brandishing a shotgun. It's possible to talk your way out of a heterosexual tryst with a high enough Speech skill by claiming to be a doctor examining your lover, but a homosexual match-up guarantees a wedding. Of course, you can then turn around and sell your spouse into slavery, or, if you're particularly well connected, pimp him/her out for spare change. And if you really want to get rid of him/her, you can bribe a priest with an alcoholic beverage to get an official divorce, or sell them to the Slaver's Guild, or get a machine to suck their brain out. It's a tough post-apocalyptic world.
- For extra cruelty, regardless of how you get rid of your spouse, you can return to your former father-in-law and claim their child has died; the shock of these news gives him a fatal heart attack.
- Hitman: Blood Money contains a level where your target is the groom and his father, and you are hired by the bride, other than all of the guards carrying shotguns around 47 can use one for the assassinations.
- More a case of "Shotguns AT A Wedding". They were already married, the shotguns are just there for cliché reasons.
- Parodied in Summer/Shiny Day. After his sexual act with Otome and Karen is exposed to the entire Katou's family, Makoto is allowed to court them but not before being beaten up. For an extra bonus, the ending is named "Son in-law's Ritual".
- Played with in Guilty Gear Xrd with Elphelt, a marriage-obsessed Love Freak: her One-Hit KO attack has her fire a magic bullet from her rifle that forces her opponent to fall in love with her. She affectionately refers to this attack as a "Magnum Wedding".
- On The Fairly Oddparents, Princess Mandie finally captures Mark and forces him to marry her.
Priest: Do you take Mandie to be your wife?
Mark: Uh... (sees ten rayguns pointed at his head) ...kinda.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Meg tells her parents that she's pregnant, though she's wrong. Peter immediately grabs a shotgun and stalks over to her boyfriend's house to force him to marry her. In response to Meg's protests?
Peter: I just wanna talk to him. I just wanna talk to him. I just wanna shoot him. I just wanna talk to him.
- Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood was going to end with a shotgun wedding of the Wolf to Grandma (officiated by a caricature Tex) followed by a house full of wolf/human kids, but Moral Guardians nixed the idea of cartoon bestiality.
- The Simpsons episode "Simpson Tall Tales" that retold the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn parodied this trope up and down. Huck (played by Nelson) falls down and Becky (played by Lisa) helps him up, but then her father Judge Thatcher (Homer) sees them holding hands and forces Huck to marry her, at shotgunpoint of course. At the wedding, Marge talks wistfully about their shotgun wedding, at which point we hear a Dramatic Gun Cock and the camera pans over to show Grampa holding a shotgun at her back. She angrily points out that they've been married for years and he can put down the gun... and the second he does, she is out the door. There was also, in addition to the bride and groom figurines atop the cake, a father wielding a shotgun.
Examples of "Marrying the Girl You Knocked Up:"
Anime and Manga
- It's implied in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha manga that this is why Chrono and Amy got married. "We didn't have much choice." It's noted in both manga and anime that the Time/Space Administration Bureau actually encourages in-office romances leading to marriage; it results in the next generation of mages loyal to the TSAB.
- In an example of Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends, the end of Maison Ikkoku has Mitaka discover that "she" is pregnant. After a previous drunken night with Asuna he assumes that he got her pregnant, and vows to marry her to set things right. After he proposes and everything is set in stone, she decides on a dog's name for the new... puppy. Her dog had actually been the one knocked up by his dog.
- In Nana, the titular character marries the Bishounen band leader she cheated on her boyfriend with, after she told him she was pregnant.
- In Tsukigasa extras, it's mentioned that the middle-aged Toubee will be marrying an 18 year old girl because he got her pregnant. His son, who is older than his new mother, is particularly shocked by the news.
- Discussed in Summer Wars—Natsuki told her great-grandma she had a boyfriend, so she invites her friend Kenji to a large family gathering as her "fiancé." Since they're both pretty young, one of the uncles naturally begins blatantly asking if the two have had sex, since he expects this trope to be in play.
- Somewhat the case of Sand Chronicles with Ann's dad Masahiro and Kaede. After finding out she's pregnant, the latter first wants to break off their relationship so the former doesn't have to worry about them, but Ann convinces her he loves her enough to not leave her side, and so they decide to marry quickly before the child is born.
- In Aquaman comics, Tempest (the hero formerly known as Aqualad) was very clear that he wasn't marrying Dolphin just because she was pregnant, but because they were in love, despite Arsenal's insistence on calling it a "harpoon-gun wedding".
- Kyon's parents in Kyon Big Damn Hero. Not only because it was a Teen Surprise Pregnancy but, due to the circumstances of the birth (it was during the Watanagashi festival ceremony), some villagers considered Kyon as a representation of his mother's sins.
- The Total Drama story, Legacy has a downplayed example. Lindsay and her longtime boyfriend Tyler had begun to discuss marriage when an unplanned pregnancy forced the issue.
- The Superjail! fanfic Extended Stay has the Warden proposing to the Mistress a mere six months after they find out she's pregnant. Two months later, they get married, only for her to go into labor just after the priest pronounces them man and wife.
- A Brief History of Equestria: Strongly implied to be the case with Hurricane and Clover, given that their first born foal was born remarkably healthy for being born "premature".
- TRON-universe Fanon uses this to explain the very short period (less than 3 years) between the ending of the first film, Sam's birth, and Jordan Canas-Flynn's death, since that degree of careless behavior would be perfectly in character for Flynn Sr. prior to the coup.
- In Blood Quill Consequences Lavender Brown's father forced her and Dennis Creevey into a wandpoint wedding at the Ministry of Magic.
- This, although subverted, and Arranged Marriage, occurs in Kiryuuin Chronicles with Ragyou's marriage to her abusive husband, while she pregnant (by someone else) with Satsuki.
- The Good Shepherd: Edward (Matt Damon) gets Clover (Angelina Jolie) pregnant the first time they have sex which is also the night of the day they meet. Her brother tells him "I know you will do as expected". He does, despite being in love with another woman. He then leaves a week after the wedding for six years to fight in World War II and after returning, becomes a workaholic in the newly established CIA, rarely seeing her. The marriage ends in divorce.
- The Graduate: Mrs. Robinson says this is why she entered her loveless marriage.
- Sixteen Candles: It is strongly implied that "missing her period" is the reason that the protagonist's sister Ginny is rushing to the altar with her beau, despite the two families having hilariously little in common. Of course, she gets her period on the day of the wedding.
- Pretty heavily implied to be the reason Ruth and Bob married in She Devil. Twist in that it was his parents that insisted.
- Invoked in Animal House, when Clorette introduces Pinto to her father as "the boy who molested me last month", then adds "we have to get married".
- Variant: Flashman didn't impregnate his wife-to-be, but he did take her virginity. This being Victorian
England Scotland, that was more than enough.
- In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie is aware that one of the women who throws stones at unwed mother Johanna gave birth three months after her wedding. She saw the wedding party head for the church with the bride's father holding tight to the groom's arm. She figures that Johanna's problem was not having any male relatives who could force the boy to marry her. The omniscient narrator reveals that the boy did want to marry Johanna, but his parents told him not to.
- The novel Kéraban le têtu by Jules Verne also has something like this: Kéraban marries a girl just to pacify his family, thinking that the marriage would be invalid anyway since he already has a wife.
- Amusingly inverted in Empire of Ivory: Captain Thomas Reily, upon discovering he has got a woman of reasonably good family with child, promptly tried to insist on 'Making Things Right', being an Officer and a Gentleman from the Napoleonic-Era Royal Navy and all. Captain Catherine Harcourt (Aerial Corps), for her part, turned the initial offer down flat and only consented after getting fed a sob story about entailed properties leaving the guy's nieces impoverished without a close male right-born heir to inherit. Of course Reily's original expectation that Harcourt would resign her commission and abandon Lily probably did not help.
- In Stephen King's novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption Red did that, then killed his wife; that's why he was imprisoned.
- In Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies, in the Back Story, part of the reason Nanny Ogg was nervous at her first wedding was that there was a chance Jason (her eldest) might be a guest.
- In Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child, Eff later deduces why her sister Rennie had eloped just before her sister Diana's wedding, despite all the distress around — because she worked out when Rennie's first child was born.
- Jude Fawley in Jude The Obscure marries the girl he didn't knock up but thought he did. He later divorces her. And then he marries her again, because he'd promised (possibly - she'd got him to be very drunk.)
- Subverted in The Masterharper of Pern, Robinton impregnates Silvina and offers to espouse her. She turns him down.
- In The Bible, if a man slept with a woman who was not betrothed to someone else, and someone found out, he legally was required to pay her father (or nearest male relative if her father was dead) the customary bride price and take her as his wife. He could not divorce her, no matter what. Note that this also applied to some cases where the woman was raped, not seduced. This was to provide for any child they may have conceived (a very real possibility in an era with no condoms, Pill, diaphragms, etc.) and to protect the reputation of the woman's family (it also protected the woman, who would be considered Defiled Forever, ensuring that someone would be able to support her).
- Note that this law bound only the man; the woman could refuse to marry him.
- This is the reason why Barabara Larssen and Sam Yeager got married in the first place in the great metropolis of Chugwater, Wyoming. It is also the reason she ended up staying with him once she found out her husband wasn't actually dead.
- A modern implied variant in One Day where Dex and Sylvie only really seem to get married because she is pregnant.
- The Maeve Binchy book Silver Wedding was about the life of a couple whose 25th anniversary was approaching. Flashbacks to their younger days revealed that everyone assumed their wedding was one of these, given that they had not been dating long and the ceremony was very rapidly planned and carried out. However, the trope appeared to be averted when the woman did not give birth 9 months after the wedding and their behavior was attributed to simply being madly in love and wanting to marry as soon as possible. Until a family friend recalled trying to visit the couple shortly after their wedding and being turned away because the wife wasn't feeling well. She suddenly realizes that the woman must have miscarried, meaning that the trope was played straight after all.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Robb Stark ends up sleeping with Jeyne Westerling in a moment of weakness. Because she is the daughter of a minor noble, and in Westerosi culture a girl who is not a virgin is considered unmarriable, he marries her to preserve her honour. Problem is, he's already betrothed to another woman, and this decision ends up being his Tragic Mistake.
- This is what happened to Anatole in War and Peace: While travelling, he had something going on with a Polish farmer girl, which her father found out about, and there went his freedom. Well, technically anyways.
- In 1634: The Baltic War, Eddie Cantrell (USE native) has fallen in love with Anne Cathrine, the King's daughter. They have several days of mutually pleasurable sexual relations. He is terrified when he is re-captured and read a long list of charges for his sexual relations with her. However, he is overjoyed when he finds this trope applies, because she also loves him, and, in fact, the "shotgun wedding" was the desired outcome from Anna, the King and the King's other sons.
- Ambiguous example in Harry Potter: Tonks and Lupin have a Relationship Upgrade around June (apparently after drawn-out romantic tension off-screen), get married rather suddenly in July and have a son in April. That might be too early to even realize if Tonks was pregnant, but it was either this or Teddy must have been conceived on their wedding night. Didn't matter too much in the end, both Tonks and Lupin died before Teddy was even one year old.
- In the third season finale of Happy Endings, Jane and Alex's older sister Brooke (who had never been seen before this episode) is getting married, and everyone remarks on how soon it is. While it seems clear that Elliot and Brooke do actually love each other, it comes out at the wedding that Brooke is pregnant, and wanted to get married before that was obvious. She even refers to it as 'my shotgun wedding.'
- In Absolutely Fabulous, Saffy's father pretty much admits this was why he married Eddie. He later turned out to be gay.
- Subverted in Bones. In Booth's backstory, he tried to do this with the girl he got pregnant, but she turned him down.
- In The Wire this is part of Jimmy McNulty's backstory: he dropped out of college and married his girlfriend Elena when she got pregnant.
- Subverted in CSI: New York. Danny gets Lindsay pregnant and offers to marry her. She declines, stating that she won't marry him yet because 1. she wants to marry him for the right reason and 2. being wheeled up the aisle looks spectacularly bad.
- Double-subverted when he takes her to the city clerk's office for a surprise wedding and she accepts there.
- This, as it turns out, is why Frank and Marie Barone got married in the backstory of Everybody Loves Raymond. When Robert found out, it became another point of contention against his younger brother Ray: "You were conceived legitimately. You win again."
- The Golden Girls had this happen to Dorothy in her backstory. The pilot had this exchange between her and Rose:
Rose: You had a blowgun wedding!?!
Dorothy: If you live in the Amazon, Rose. In Queens it's called shotgun.
- Averted in the pilot of Providence, where the main character is called back home to Rhode Island to attend her pregnant sister's wedding. But the wedding doesn't happen because the mom dies instead. And then comes back as a ghost to hold conversations with Sydney.
- A somewhat unusual example in The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Ben and Amy, who get married with fake IDs, even though Ben isn't the father of the baby and no one thinks they have to get married. Of course, since it was with fake IDs, the marriage is invalid. A more typical example is used with Ben and Adrian, though neither felt "forced" into it... at the time.
- The backstory to One Tree Hill: after impregnating first Karen and then Deb, Dan married the latter.
- Averted in the backstory to Grounded For Life: it's revealed that the parents got married only after the birth of their first child, apparently to make the point that they didn't have to marry.
- Danger: UXB. One of the sappers marries a Really Gets Around girl when he gets her pregnant. Unfortunately an earlier occasion involves a couple who hadn't had time to get married; when the sapper is killed she's stuck with pregnancy and no chance of getting government benefits to support herself.
- The Big Bang Theory had this in an Imagine Spot. Penny sees herself marrying Leonard and when asked "do you take this man" responds "it's too late to say no so..." with The Reveal that she's heavily pregnant. Once the daydream is over she muses she has to stop at the drug store.
- On Cheers, this is why Carla married Nick...and Eddie. In the final season, Carla's daughter ends up marrying her ex-cop boyfriend for the same reason. It's also revealed this is why Norm and Vera got married, but she was lying and didn't tell him the truth until afterward.
- Subverted in Gilmore Girls when Lorelai refuses to marry Christopher after getting pregnant with Rory.
- Played straight when Christopher marries Sherry.
- Inverted—Darlene proposes to her boyfriend, David, and only tells him she's pregnant after he says yes.
- In one episode it comes out that Bev was already pregnant with Roseanne when she got married; she and Roseanne's father had always lied about their anniversary, and Bev was hurt and ashamed when the truth came out. During Darlene's wedding someone quips that shotgun weddings have actually become something of a family tradition.
- Played with on Happy Days: When Chachi asks for Mrs. Cunningham's permission to ask Joanie to marry him, he says "I have to marry her.' Mrs. C freaks out, taking "have to" in the traditional way; but Chachi explains he "has to" because he loves her so much.
- Billy Idol's song "White Wedding" was reportedly written to show his displeasure at his sister for having married the man who impregnated her (although he denies this, saying it was the inspiration, but he wasn't upset). Ironically, the sister and her husband are still happily married, whereas Idol and his then-girlfriend (who starred with him as the "bride" in the video), broke up in 1990.
- The Who's "A Legal Matter" is about a guy who refuses to do this.
- Bruce Springsteen: "Then I got Mary pregnant, and man, that was all she wrote..."
- One Mint Julep- Whether it was sung by The Clovers, Ray Charles, Ray Ellington or the various other people that performed it (and inverted in the case of a woman singing the song), the song tells about how one mint julep lead to this, egged on by the girl's father!
- Alluded to in the country hit "I Don't Want To Have To Marry You", performed by Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius.
- The Dixie Chicks lampshaded the stereotypes of their people in their humorous song "White Trash Wedding," with the refrain "I shouldn't be wearin' white and you can't afford no ring" concluding with "Say 'I do' and kiss me quick, baby's on its way!"
- The traditional Scottish folksong "The Royal Forester" is a pretty horrible one. The girl was raped, and when she reports it to the King, his ruling is "Now if he be a married man, then hanged he shall be/And if he be a single man, he shall marry thee". And then the final verse tells us "This couple they got married, they live in Huntly town/She's the Earl of Airdie's daughter, and he's the blacksmith's son". How to get ahead in society?
- Sir Harry and Lady Larkin in Once Upon a Mattress want to get married before she starts showing (or so the song "In A Little While" implies). Of course, as no one can marry before the prince finds a bride, Hilarity Ensues.
- In Vanities, Kathy's boyfriend Gary cheats on her and ends up impregnating and marrying that girl.
- Kiss Me Kate: Implied by the original lyrics to "I Hate Men", in which Katherine admits "Of course, I'm awfully glad that Mother had to marry Father, but I hate men". Bowdlerized for the movie.
- In Cheap Thrills, Bethany believes that her parents only got married because her dad got her mom pregnant, and one of her greatest fears is getting pregnant and winding up in a loveless marriage like theirs. Later, Erik decides that he should marry Pam after he gets her pregnant.
- In the comic Critters Online, a monthly comic, Frieda McVixen finds out she is pregnant. Near the end of the storyline, her boyfriend, Fred 'WANTS'' to marry Frieda despite the fact it was stress that caused her false pregnancy.
- In Sabrina Online, this was Thomas's plan after he finds out that Amy is pregnant. He really does propose and they're looking forward to it, but forget to actually get married before she has the baby. They go through with it after the baby is born.
- In The Simpsons, Homer and the very pregnant Marge are married in a chapel named Shotgun Pete's.
- Subverted in the Canadian cartoon Kevin Spencer when the title character's parents voluntarily decide to get married after Kevin is conceived, mostly to get additional welfare benefits. This doesn't stop them from cheating on each other throughout their marriage.
- The controversial case of Matthew Koso and Crystal Guyer put this trope at odds with age-of-consent laws: having knocked Guyer up when she was 13 and he was 21, Koso decided to "do the right thing" by marrying her in Kansas with the reluctant consent of her parents. He still ended up spending 15 months in prison in Nebraska for statutory rape, however...
- Arguably, what some considered pregnant, 17-year-old Bristol Palin's engagement to be in spite of the press releases.
- Considering they called off the engagement after the election...
- This is a fairly common event in the Palin family. Sarah was already pregnant with Track when she married Todd. Sarah's parents were pregnant with her oldest brother when they married. And Track's now wife was already pregnant when they married.
- Probably the reason why William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway.note
- Inversion. Sometimes the shotgun was pointed in the other direction. It was not unknown for a dowryless couple who wished to get married to preempt matchmaking negotiations by engaging in "marital activities" and then announcing it to force people's hand.
- Sex columnist Dan Savage's parents got married like this. They were pregnant with Savage's oldest brother, and quickly planned a wedding—even borrowing a dress—so that his mother could walk down the aisle before the baby bump started to show.
- R&B singer Brandy married her baby's father while pregnant, then got divorced about a year later. Many cynics believe she did it solely to avoid the stigma of having a baby out of wedlock.
- Similar situation with Solange Knowles, although she's never had the popularity of Brandy.
- An old lawyer joke inverts this: a big-city lawyer sleeps with a country girl and gets her pregnant. He decides to do the honorable thing and proposes to her. She turns him down, saying that her family decided that they'd rather have a bastard in the family than a lawyer.
- Good old Rodrigo Borgia, later known as Pope Alexander VI inverted it. He knocked women up, but being a cleric he could not get married to them. So what to do in order to have his children legitimized (just in case he would turn one of them into a cleric)? Married the mothers of his children off, sometimes before, often enough after they got pregnant. Since the child would officially count as the mother's husband's child. Not that it kept him from being a doting parent (compared to his time).
- John Lennon married his first wife, Cynthia, as a result of him getting her pregnant. Not that he didn't love her (at least then), but they both felt that her pregnancy basically forced the issue.
- Ramsay Mac Donald's parents evidently wanted this to happen, but it backfired; either they broke it off or (and this is more likely) the mother's mother regarded the father as unsuitable. (This was a common trick in northeast Scotland at the time; about a quarter of births were out of wedlock.)
Examples involving both:
- In one story in Tales from the Crypt, a traveling salesman woos a southern lady who he believes to be an heiress, only to dump her when he discovers that her family lives in a trailer park. The girl's grandmother, furious that he used her granddaughter and abandoned her while she was pregnant, lures him back and gets the rest of the family to force him to marry her. The twist is that the man died just prior to the wedding and the grandmother used magic to keep him alive. As he goes to confront her, we get all sorts of fun descriptions of what happens to his body as it rots. Oh, and it's fine because the girl drowned herself in the lake, so he gets to marry her zombified corpse.
- In The Stainless Steel Rat series the protagonist's fiancee threatens him with a Hand Cannon - while on her last trimester.
- A bit of explanation: Angelina was a homicidal sociopath whom Jim tracked down and caught. She was then "re-socialized", her sociopathic tendencies were removed, and Jim started dating her. However, get her agitated enough, and they resurface. Plus all the hormones that go with being pregnant (with twins). Of course, both of them are criminals, so as soon as their names are entered into the database, they have to run as every single cop on their planet is after them. Hmm, maybe they should have waited after all.
- The video for the Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" concludes with a shot of the lead singer marrying a very pregnant woman at gunpoint.
- The Russell Crowe/Great Big Sea song "Hit the Ground and Run" is all about this trope, complete with a stereotypical hillbilly family and a drunken one-night stand.
- Played With on King of the Hill. Lucky gets Luanne pregnant, but refuses to marry her because he failed to pass a self-imposed Engagement Challenge to prove that he was worthy of it. It seems that this is a tradition in his family, and no one ever passes the challenge; instead they get married when the girl's father forces them to. He eventually agrees to propose to Luanne, but only if Hank stands behind him with a gun while he does it. (He agrees, but refuses to turn the safety off.)
- In another episode, an Escalating War between Bobby and Luanne leads to Luanne convincing Bobby that he got her pregnant when he messed with her birth control pulls; Hank (who's in on the prank) tells Bobby he has to marry her. Hank and his friends then arrange a fake wedding for Bobby and Luanne...and then prank Luanne back by claiming that they accidentally got a real minister and what do you know, legally you can't get a divorce until at least a year after the wedding.
Other Shotgun Weddings:
Anime and Manga
- The foundation of My Bride Is a Mermaid. Since Sun broke the mermaid code of secrecy by rescuing a drowning Nagasumi, which is punishable by death (the human's or the mermaid's), Sun uses the loophole that there's no problem if he's family and gets informally engaged. Played like a traditional Shotgun Wedding at first, with Sun showing up and asking Nagasumi to "take responsibility for what happened..."
- It nearly happens again later on, when a Not What It Looks Like moment causes Lunar's father to think that she and Nagasumi have been getting it on.
- When Ranma from Ranma 1/2 mistakenly believes that Akane has been turned into a duck, he's forced into marrying this duck by Akane's family. They proceed with the ceremony until the real Akane shows up, seconds before it was finalized.
- They try again at the very end of the manga, although by then both sides were far more willing to let it happen. Then the Status Quo reasserted its divinity one last time.
- In the Studio Ghibli film The Cat Returns, Haru saves the life of the crown prince of the Cat Kingdom, Prince Lune, and the rest of the court decides to offer the prince's hand (paw?) in marriage... and it turns out they won't take no for an answer!
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi has a Heroic BSOD after Nodoka confesses to him. He starts thinking "If this goes beyond just a confession, as a British gentleman, I'd have to take responsibility!" Cue Imagine Spot of their wedding.
- Valvrave the Liberator has this suggested after Haruto loses control and, under extreme influence from the Valvrave, rapes Saki. He proposes marriage in order to "take responsibility" for what he did, a significant gesture considering his obvious feelings for Shoko. Saki turns him down, despite her own feelings for him.
- Narrowly averted in one Archie comic (seen here): Betty's father finds out that she and Archie are at a motel together, and walks in on them when Betty is wearing nothing but a blanket. It was actually an example of Hanging Our Clothes to Dry, but Betty's father was more than willing to drag them off to a wedding chapel before it gets straightened out.
- A variation of this trope is found in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Papa Smurf & Mama Smurfette", in that Papa Smurf forces his little Smurfs to marry him to Smurfette under the threat of being exiled from the Smurf Village.
- One of the Jeeves and Wooster books (it was also dramatized in the TV series of the same name) had Bertie and Pauline Stoker, who was engaged to friend Chuffy, spending a night in an inn. There was no sex, and Bertie even slept in the car. However, when her father found out, he assumed that there had been sex, and decided to kidnap Bertie for a Shotgun Wedding. As always, Jeeves found a way out.
- Stuff like this happens a lot in the Jeeves and Wooster stories. In one, Bertie plans to get out of yet another accidental engagement by pretending to be already engaged and hiring a woman to pose as his fiancee. After the first problem is taken care of the fake fiancee turns around and threatens to sue him for Breach of Promise if he doesn't marry her because that's what he just said he would do in front of witnesses. Of course it just turns out to be a scam, as she and her sleazy uncle would be "willing" to settle out of court for a few thousand pounds, just to save him the embarrassment of a trial.
- Harry Flashman is forced to wed Elspeth by her uncle after the dimwitted young Scotswoman blabs to her sister about what she and "dear Mr. Flashman" have been up to. To his credit, the otherwise complete cad Flashman does develop an unusual fondness for her, even before the wedding.
- In Warriors, Crowfeather must get his Clan to trust him again after he had a romance with a cat from a rival Clan. His solution? Sleep with a random she-cat (Nightcloud) and get a bunch of pureblood kits, of course! Fans have nicknamed this ship...Shotgunshipping.
- In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, George Wickham is forced to marry Lydia Bennet after living with her unchaperoned for two weeks. The "shotgun" in this case takes the form of a substantial bribe on the part of Wickham's Arch-Enemy Mr. Darcy, for the sake of making Lydia's sister happy.
- Averted in Owlsight, when Darian muses that none of his Hawkbrother "relatives" would care what he gets up to with a new friend because they're both of age. In his home village, even if nothing went on the girl's male relatives would be hunting him down while her mother organized the wedding.
- In Honor's Paradox, book six of the Chronicles of the Kencyrath series by P.C. Hodgell, Jame and Prid are pretty much forced to marry — at least, in the "given no choice and no time to consider" kind of sense. It's not due to pregnancy (they're both women, after all).
- Played With in 1632. Alex Mackay and Julie Sims were planning on getting married anyway, but then Alex gets Julie pregnant. They themselves seemed unsure of what to do, but fortunately Gustavus Adolphus (king of Sweden) steps in, declares that he won't tolerate bastardy among his officers, and personally marches them down to the local bridal shop.
- A variation in A.B. Guthrie's The Way West: a married man who seduces a single girl subsequently pressures her to marry another man and pretend the baby is his. She does marry, but not until she has told the prospective groom everything and made sure he's OK with it.
- In The Soldier Son Epiny deliberately runs away in the night with Spink to force her parents' hand.
- The Rolling Stones' "Dear Doctor" concerns a young man who's due to marry a "bow-legged sow" very much against his will. He's rescued when he finds a note from the would-be bride informing him that she's found someone else.
- Panic! at the Disco. One of their songs, "Time to Dance", has these words literally in the song.
Give me envy, give me malice, give me your attention
Give me envy, give me malice, baby, give me a break
When I say, "shotgun" you say, "wedding"
"Shotgun," "wedding," "shotgun," "wedding"
- The reggae classic "Sweet and Dandy" by Toots & The Maytals doesn't come right out and say that the wedding it depicts is a shotgun wedding, but the first two verses imply that the bride and groom might be marrying against their will (she cries, he mopes, their elders scold them).
- In Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, you can get the Princess Seraphine on your party if you choose to help her escape from her arranged marriage to a barbarian tribal leader. If you do so, then you later get a mission in which Seraphine is kidnapped by her father, and you have to take another mission to rescue her from being forced to go through with the marriage. A mission titled "Shotgun Wedding", to be precise.
- The plot of Super Paper Mario is set off by one of these when Count Bleck kidnaps Princess Peach and forces her to marry Bowser. Of course, Bowser is immensely happy with this reversal of fortune, but considering that the union also triggers The End of the World as We Know It, no one else seems to be wishing them a happy honeymoon.
- In The Passing, Nick may mention this if he manages to cr0wn the witch dressed up like a bride.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Beezy has to be dragged to the altar with a ball and chain for his Arranged Marriage to the Weevil Princess, with Big Damn Heroes subverted twice. It turns out the Princess runs off with the weevil's greatest warrior at the last second.
- Parodied on The Powerpuff Girls, where Professor Utonium, through a series of misadventures, almost gets married to Fuzzy Lumpkins.
- In one episode of The Real Ghostbusters, Egon in equal parts falls in love with and is forcibly charmed by a pretty Southern girl. When he kisses her (despite Slimer's warning's), he finds out that not only is she a ghost, but she has two very large hillbilly brothers who are determined to see a wedding between the two (it's a kid's show, so they catch them before the full seduction takes place).
- The Tiny Toon Adventures direct-to-video How I Spent My Summer Vacation had a bit where Buster is being dragged to the altar by a trio of country-fried alligator girls who intend to have him for the wedding feast. Each of them wants him, and their father decides all three will get him. Buster protests "I can't marry all three of them, that's bigamy!" Daddy's response is: "No, that's big o' me!" Yeah, Buster uses the wrong term, but "polygamy" wouldn't have worked as well for a pun.
- It worked when Groucho Marx did it.
- Everything worked when Groucho did it.
- Parodied in the ChalkZone episode "My Big Fat Chalk Wedding"- Bobbie Sue, a six-year-old girl who appears to be from the south, develops a crush on Rudy after he helps her fix her art project, as they made it together "like a mommy and a daddy". When she gets to class, she starts drawing her ideal wedding to Rudy on the blackboard, drawing her, her parents, her brother, and the rest of her family. Before she can get to Rudy, her teacher comes in and erases the drawings into ChalkZone. Later, Rudy and Snap are in ChalkZone when chalk!Bobbie Sue and her family force Rudy into a shotgun wedding (without the shotgun) with Bobbie Sue because they made an art project together "like a mommy and a daddy". And her chalk!dad even asks Rudy "what his intentions were".