Someone in a relationship deliberately causes a pregnancy without their partner's consent, usually by lying about or sabotaging birth control, in order to bind their partner to them. The character's motivations run the gamut from understandable to reprehensible: Sometimes they're just clingy and/or desperate to get hitchedor have a child; other times they feel the relationship is on the rocks and believe that babies make everything better. In accordance with the law of inverse fertility, attempting this even once will invariably result in pregnancy, with all attendant drama.
A variation involves a woman faking a pregnancy with the intention of faking a convenient miscarriage after the wedding, or actually being pregnant but lying about who the father is. Can lead to a shotgun wedding, or a very special episode about abortion or adoption, but more often drama or hilarity ensues, depending on what sort of show we're dealing with.
While it's usually made clear that this is a cheap, sneaky thing to do, rarely is it pointed out that it's actually a form of spouse and/or child abuse.
The character doing this is usually female, often a teenage girl, because of gender stereotypes that say all women are desperate to get married and have babies while all men flee commitment as long as they can (also a measure of truth in television, as in most modern nations a woman with enough money can escape an unplanned pregnancy via emergency contraception or abortion, whereas a man cannot legally end a pregnancy without the agreement of his partner). Because of this, female characters who are disliked by their male partner's friends or family may be suspected of planning to use this trope even if there's no evidence of any such thing. When a male character does this to a wife or girlfriend it's more likely to be portrayed as the domestic abuse it actually is; when a female character does this to a male, it's more often played for laughs or as an Aesop about getting over fears of commitment.
The most common example of this (poking a hole in a condom with a pin) is a mild example of artistic license; it's possible, but much harder to do (at least without the partner noticing) than it looks on TV. Condoms are designed so that failure is usually obvious. Most of the time, using a condom with even a small hole will result in the whole thing shredding apart under use.
See also Fake Pregnancy. Not to be mistaken for Baby Boomers.
In the manga version of Kare Kano, Souichiro Arima's birth mother Ryouko does this to squeeze child support money out of his father, Reiji, because she knows Reiji is the son of a rich doctor. (what she doesn't know is that Reiji is illegitimate, much younger than his father's legitimate children, and actively hated by all of them except Souji, the eldest). She leaves Soichiro to die soon after finding this out, but Soichiro is saved by the arrival of his father and ends up being adopted soon after by his aunt and uncle.
In the anime version of School Days, Kotonoha is convinced Sekai did this to Makoto and cuts open Sekai's belly to "make sure" after murderingher. Is this what actually happened? The show's ambiguous on it: Sekai has a fairly strong claim in regards to pregnancy itself, but it's left up in the air whether she deliberately pulled the trope, or this is just Teen Pregnancy without the baby trap itself behind. (Some fans speculate that Sekai might be under the effects of psychological pregnancy, too)
Subverted hilariously early in Tenchi Muyo!, when Ryoko implies that her ship's egg is actually her and Tenchi's. Tenchi's family and even Sasami are actually happy for them (though obviously not Aeka), totally ignoring Tenchi's denials. The egg quickly hatches and is revealed to be the cabbit-like Ryo-Ohki, but some swear they still see a resemblance to Tenchi.
In the sequel to ½ Prince Lan's brother pokes a hole in a condom to force Lolidragon to marry him when she's hesitant to commit.
In The Sandman, Shakespeare's wife implies she did this to Will and Will seems to think his eldest daughter is planning the same for her boyfriend.
It's been Retconned that Spawn's widow Wanda purposely stopped taking her birth control pills in hopes that a baby would change Al. He ends up punching her in the stomach, killing the baby as well as all speculation that Cyan is his daughter.
In X-Factor, Rahne, who is very Protestant and pregnant with a mutant-Wolf God hybrid baby, lets ex-boyfriend Rictor assume that he's the father of her baby after returning to find him about to get busy with Shatterstar.
The retelling of Batman's tryst with Talia in the New 52 plays along these lines; Talia spikes Bruce's drink with something before they get to it, and the morning after tells him that their son will be a worthy successor to the two of them.
In Viper Ginny was pregnant with her married lover's baby and tried to convince Harry that it was his, despite the pesky little fact that he was (a) no longer in a relationship with her and (b) a virgin.
Attempted in The Associate on a non-existent man who was, when he appeared, a crossdressing woman.
One weird example: In the movie French Twist, a lesbian asks her girlfriend's husband to get her pregnant. The film then picks up again after she's had the baby, and ends with the four of them (lesbian, girlfriend, husband and baby) living together happily.
The original release also has the husband being seduced by a guy. This was left out of the American release, for obvious reasons.
Another weird example: in the movie A Home At The End Of The World a gay man named Johnathan is attempting to get his best friend, a straight woman named Clare, pregnant so they can both raise the baby together. When Johnathan's old boyfriend Bobby enters their life and also begins a sexual relationship with Clare, it obviously creates huge discourse within the trio. When Johnathan has finally had enough a threatens to leave them both, Clare reveals that she's pregnant, although she doesn't mention who the father is. This causes both Bobby and Johnathan to put aside their differences and they all raise the baby together as a family unit.
In Drop Dead Fred, the reason Lizzie's mother was so cruel to her was because she used this trick to try and save her marriage. When it didn't work, she placed the blame squarely on her daughter's shoulders.
Though it's a recurring point in An Officer and a Gentleman, the movie also tries something different: Lynette only claims to be pregnant so that Sid stays in a relationship with her. She spills the beans when he resigns from the military to be with her, which she didn't want. One has to wonder when she would have confessed her lack of pregnancy otherwise.
When Julianne Moore's character gets pregnant in Nine Months, her boyfriend and his best friend ponder the possibility of her using this trope, as he's much happier in their childless, unmarried relationship than she is.
Subverted in the film Watch It; Ellen, who had been happily seeing Rick until he started acting like a jerk toward her, tells Rick she's pregnant and is keeping the baby. However, it turns out to be a practical joke she and John (his roommate) cooked up to get Rick to grow up and be a man.
At the start of 8 Mile, Rabbit says his girlfriend might be pregnant. She later says she just said that in an effort to make him stay.
Big Daddy features a rare Gender Flip variant: through a clerical mix-up, the protagonist Sonny Koufax becomes the legal guardian for a small child, but rather than attempt to amend the situation decides to adopt the child in hopes that this will help fix his failing relationship with his girlfriend. One of his friends explicitly compares the situation to a woman who attempts to get pregnant in hopes of fixing a failing marriage.
Used by Drefan Rahl's mother with Darken Rahl. Her theory was that if she could give birth to a magically gifted child and heir, Darken Rahl would shower her with riches and status. When Drefan was born and found to be non-gifted, his mother began to realize that her new son was now a liability and that her master plan was probably not the smartest thing she'd ever done. Before Darken Rahl found out about the child, she brought him to a remote monastery to be raised by monks and, in perpetual fear of the infinitely creative ways Darken Rahl would end her life if she were found, poisoned herself. Drefan turned out like his father.
However, one case that deals with the aftermath of this is Sisters Found, where one of the lead characters had been adopted for just this reason. When it wasn't enough for the adoptive father to stay, the adoptive mother became an alcoholic and resented the hell out of her daughter. To make things worse, said daughter later finds out that she was the only one of identical triplets to be given up - one of the other two had a medical problem and the cost of hospital bills was such that it was either give up one child or lose them all when Social Services saw they couldn't support their family. Not surprisingly, she has major commitment/abandonment issues.
In The Secret Love Child, the hero either sabotages the condom or simply chooses not to tell the heroine that it broke. Naturally, she gets pregnant. Naturally, they get together and it is All Very Romantic. Luckily she apparently really really wanted to have babies.
In Gone with the Wind, the novel at least, Scarlett kicks herself for not thinking of this as a means of marrying Ashley after someone tells her about Rhett refusing to marry a girl he "ruined". The sequel "Scarlett" refers to this when Rhett gets into a similar situation, leading him to hastily divorce Scarlett and marry the other woman, not wanting a repeat of the scandal that drove him out of town years before.
From Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure: Arabella, acting on the advice of her friends, uses this ploy to get Jude Fawley to marry her. It works but, oddly enough, she forgets about the baby till Jude reminds her months later. She just makes up a miscarriage and he believes her. At first.
Though she's certainly not above doing it, it's a bit more ambiguous than that, since she tells her friends (to whom she has no reason to lie) that she genuinely thought herself pregnant. It gets weirder though when eight years later, after they've divorced, she tells him that they did indeed have a child together, born after they were separated, and could he please look after the kid now?
A male example: in Morality Meat by James Tiptree Jr., a woman gets pregnant because her boyfriend pokes holes in the condoms. She found out about it after she heard him tell a friend to "keep his women a little bit pregnant". Classy.
In Jennifer Crusie's Welcome to Temptation, this happens TWICE. The main male character (many years before the book starts) marries his girlfriend at the time who becomes pregnant after lying to him about using birth control. A minor main character also marries a girlfriend who claims she's pregnant (also many years earlier), despite being in love with someone else. As the book puts it, "Eleven months later, sure enough, she had a baby."
Also used in What a Lady Wants. Armand first gets June pregnant, then when that child dies he brings home his orphaned niece so she wouldn't leave. Then there's Stormy, who poked holes in the condoms so Armand would marry her, who didn't know he had a secret vasectomy years before.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, this is speculated by Dumbledore to be the reason Merope Gaunt stops giving Tom Riddle Sr. love potions. She did it in the hope that he had really fallen in love with her, or would at least stay for the sake of the child she was pregnant with. Turns out he did neither.
It's also speculated that this was the reason the Muggles of Tom Riddle Sr.'s village used to explain why he inexplicably abandoned his previous girlfriend and ran off with a poor girl who lived in a shack - that Merope lied to him that she was pregnant with his child.
In Brave Story we eventually learn that Wataru's mom faked a pregnancy to get her ex (who was already in a relationship with another woman) to marry her. He does, but it doesn't end well.
In the second book of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, a girl that Kostos slept with does this in order to guilt him into marrying her. In the fourth book, it's revealed that she faked the pregnancy.
In Kill Time or Die Trying, a girl claims to be pregnant with Kevin's child, and the group plot to steal a sample of her urine for a home pregnancy test. Successfully..
In Accelerando Mannfred Macx's girlfriend rapes him to have his child and force him to be what she sees as a responsible adult. Ultimately subverted; while she does have a daughter, and Mannfred does what he can to be a part of her life, he continues his lifestyle as before.
Carla tries to do this in Scrubs. Later she and Turk have an open and honest discussion in which they agree they both want to have kids ... after which he starts slipping her contraceptives when she's asleep.
This is completely inverted with Jordan, who actually lies to Perry and claims the baby isn't his, because they both have feelings for each other and she wants to make sure their relationship is based on real attraction rather than an obligation to do the right thing. They get together anyway, and he bonds with the baby before finding out he's the biological father.
Also inverted with Kim, who leaves the hospital and fakes a miscarriage rather than have J.D. feel trapped into a relationship. Then he finds out the truth and decides he wants to be with her, then he changes his mind but can't tell her, then he finally breaks off the relationship while she's giving birth.
A variation in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "4x4". An aging non-prostitute tries to get herself pregnant by a client who rejected her as too old, via some semen in one of his used condoms. This being CSI, it ends badly for her.
Every daytime soap ever, and nine tenths of every hispanic telenovelas made. Often coupled with (in)Convenient Miscarriage. One version even had the man being the one to poke the hole in the condom so that he could "do the right thing" and marry his girlfriend, while several others have had the woman damaging her diaphragm rather than the condom.
On Desperate Housewives, this is how Orson ended up married to his first wife. Then after he divorced her and remarried, she raped him in order to get pregnant and trap him again.
Inverted in the case of Edie, who convinced Carlos to stay with her by promising she'd have a baby with him, but continued secretly taking birth control.
For a bit of irony, before the incident with Edie, Carlos managed to get Gabrielle pregnant by sabotaging her birth control, then blaming it on his deceased mother. He wanted children, and she didn't. It ends badly for everyone involved.
In Weeds there's a rare male case; Silas Botwin does this to Meghan to keep her from going away to college. Apparently he thought this would lead to them becoming Happily Married. It does not go well.
Later, Nancy does it to Esteban. This was less about maintaining a relationship than as self-defense against murder.
Seska, of Star Trek: Voyager, uses her pregnancy to manipulate both Chakotay and the Kazon Culluh, telling both of them the child was theirs in order to get what she wants. It's Culluh's, and Seska's manipulations end when she's mortally wounded in an explosion, and Culluh escapes with his son.
In Smallville, there's a male example in which Lex Luthor does this to Lana Lang. It's even more of a dick move than most because the baby isn't real; he's been slipping her hormones to make her think she's pregnant, likely intending to play the Convenient Miscarriage card on her after the wedding.
Not to mention that the doctor who reveals this to Lana accuses her of trying this on Lex. Admittedly it would make more sense that way to an outsider...
Terri on Glee discovers she's suffered a hysterical pregnancy and continues to lie to her husband about it in order to keep him. Meanwhile Quinn discovers she's pregnant and lies to her boyfriend Finn by telling him it's his When in actuality it's his best friend Puck's and she and Finn haven't even had sex. The two stories then merge when Terri contacts Quinn and tries to secretly take the baby. Needless to say, both relationships ended when the truth came out.
An episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air features a woman trying to do this to Carlton, who's too embarrassed to admit he never actually slept with her and thus goes along with pretending the kid was his.
A woman tries this in an episode of Monk. In a twist, she isn't actually pregnant, although her receptionist is. The woman used the receptionist's urine to get a positive pregnancy test for the trap. Regardless, it doesn't end well.
Sophie, Mark's baby-desperate (ex?) wife on Peep Show tries to trap Mark and/or his roommate Jez this way.
In How I Met Your Mother season 2, Lily considered doing this to prevent Marshall from falling for Chloe. The alternative is called "Chloe's accident".
When Lilly left him, Marshall laments that he should have 'knocked her up when he had the chance'.
In L.A. Law, a woman sues a rich Basketball player for child support. It was implied that she insisted that the man use the condom she provided when they had sex, and she had intentionally damaged the condom to produce a child, all for the money. When the man requested that she give him sole custody of the child, she got big 'money eyes' and quoted a price of five million dollars. The Basketball player's lawyers warned him that the agreement was non-enforceable, and she could well come back for more money in the future.
On The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Adrian plans to try this on Ben in an attempt to save their marriage since they only got married because Adrian was pregnant, and their relationship started to deteriorate after their daughter was stillborn. Since things were great when she was pregnant, she seems to think another baby will fix things. Ultimately, she gives up on the plan when her doctor talks her out of it and when Ben finds out her plan, keeps rejecting her advances, and finally confronts her about it. Though it seems he was willing to go along with it and genuinely sad when she really "wanted out".
In The Office, Kelly told Ryan she was pregnant to get him to agree to go out with her again. Immediate cut to Kelly silently shaking her head at the camera.
Ryan: You lied about being pregnant.
Kelly: Right. So?
Ryan: You really don't understand why that might make me kind of angry?
Ryan: We are never getting back together.
Kelly: (whining) Why not?
Subverted in Coupling: Susan tells Steve, "don't worry about it" when he asks about whether they're using contraception. He later learns in an infertility specialist's office that unbeknownst to him, they've been "trying" for six months without success. Of course, Susan later discovers that she is pregnant, in what is debatable either playing it straight or a double subversion.
Used a couple of times in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. In one episode, the wife sabotaged her husband's condoms and secretly gave him some fertility drugs to boost his sperm count in order to impregnate her boss. She did this because she had planned on blackmailing her boss at a later date into giving her some money so she could buy a farm and a horse.
Another episode was about a woman who got pregnant by her then rich boyfriend. She chose to keep the baby despite the fact that she knew that the baby was deformed. The boyfriend would lost all his money, however.
Emily later does the same thing when Daniel decides to call off the wedding because he realized that he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend. It shows how far into Revenge Before Reason Emily has slipped. When Daniel finds out the truth, he takes it very badly and shoots Emily.
Boston Legal came up with a pretty good, if extremely far fetched argument for a court-ordered abortion, possibly inspired by one of the real life examples below. A woman gave her boyfriend oral sex (to which he "barely consented"), then spat the semen into a cup and used it to impregnate herself and didn't tell him until she knew it worked. The man argued that he was tricked into impregnating the woman, and additionally it imposed a dilemma upon him, as he was known to be outspoken on the issue of absentee black fathers and would have to choose between being a hypocrite or help raise a baby he didn't want. The judge admitted that the case was compelling, but not quite enough to warrant the extreme measure of ordering the woman to undergo an abortion.
Stacey attempts this in Gavin and Stacey; they're already married, but were living a long distance apart, and she wanted him to move to Wales to live with her. To make it worse, she's been trying to get pregnant for a year without his knowledge.
This happened to Mork on an episode of Mork and Mindy. The woman was trying to extort child-support hush money from Mork, and poor Mork was too naive to know that Earth women don't get pregnant if you don't have sex with them.
Early in Single Father, Rita mentions to Sarah that she wants another baby and intends to have one without talking to her partner about it. Sarah expresses shock, but it's revealed at the end of the series that Sarah purposely got pregnant by Dave and didn't intend to tell him.
"Stupid Marriage" by The Specials is a song about a young woman who does this:
He wanted to be something but she knows he never will
She's got him where she wanted and forgot to take her pill
And he thinks that she'll be happy when she's hanging out the nappies
If that's a happy marriage I'd prefer to be unhappy
Soon as I broke away and I'm feeling happy, you try to trap me
You say you're pregnant and guess who's the daddy?
Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", quoted above is about this. Namely, all the "Billie Jeans" his older brothers had to deal with when they were together in the Jackson 5.
The song is ambiguous, though, open to the Alternate Character Interpretation that the singer actually is the father trying to dodge the consequences of his actions. "People always told me, be careful what you do..."
Dr. Dre 2001 had a track with comedian Eddie Griffin ranting about this:
Tell the kid! "Mama was a ho. I was weak and pussy. I had you to keep the nigga. It didn't work out".
Referenced in the the early '70s song Stick-Up by The Honey Cones:
I'll set a tender trap
He'll be unaware
I'll wear a smile down the aisle
'Cause he's the father of my child
Done many, many times. The most obvious recent one is Kane doing this to Lita, though he was as much trying to gain an heir for himself as to keep her around. Terri Runnels and Stephanie McMahon (kayfabe) each faked a pregnancy to try and trap Val Venis and Triple H, respectively. It didn't really end well for any of these examples.
Stephanie's false pregnancy was found out in a most ingenious way though - Linda discovered that Steph's "doctor" was actually some infomercial host, and showed Triple H the evidence a few minutes before the trap would have been sprung.
He tricked me into marrying him. He told me he was pregnant.
In "Marry The Man Today" from Guys and Dolls, Sarah suggests this as one way to keep a husband from straying:
Sarah: Have a baby. Adelaide: Have two! Sarah: Six! Adelaide: Nine! Sarah: Stop!
In CLANNAD, in Kappei's path, Kappei is borderline suicidal after learning his leg has to be amputated. His girlfriend Ryou, desperate to give him a reason to live, lies about being pregnant with his child. Kappei sees through it right away, though, since he and Ryou have never had sex (Ryou had somehow forgotten this minor detail when putting the plan together). Nonetheless, that she would go to such lengths impresses on him the fact that she truly loves him and would feel terrible if he died, so he begins to turn his attitude around.
A self imposed example in Grisaia No Rakuen. Unable to pick just one girl to commit himself to, Yuuji decides that he'll marry the first one that gets pregnant but doesn't tell them. However, four of the five use birth control. When they're finally told what's going on when the last girl does get pregnant, they ruin the plan by planning to get pregnant themselves.
This story tells of a man who had his girlfriend try this on him. Unfortunately for her, he had gotten a vasectomy.
Parodied in the 5 Second Films video "The One". A guy and girl are about to do the deed, and she asks him if he's sure that she's the one for him. He reassures her, and is then shown poking holes in his condom while whispering that he's gonna make her "the one". Still quite creepy.
In one episode of American Dad! Stan and Francine do this to another couple, sabotaging their birth control in the hope that it would make them slow down from their extreme-sports and alcohol-binging lifestyle so that Stan and Francine could keep up with them.
In an episode of King of the Hill, Donna mentions on her blog that she wants a baby, then jokes that she might conveniently "forget" to take her birth control pill before a date.
In a separate episode, Bobby pranks Luanne by replacing her birth control with mints. The change was obvious, but Luanne, and Bobby's parents, tired of the pranking, convince Bobby that the birth control just stopped working, and she would immediately become pregnant, with him as the father, forcing him to "marry" her.
In a recent case in Texas, a man was required to pay child support after his girlfriend performed oral sex on him and then inseminated herself with the gathered sperm after he left.
Similarly, in 2013 Kansas started a lawsuit to make a sperm donor pay for child-support when the woman he'd donated to requested financial assistance from the State. Interestingly, this is being done solely by the State, over the objections of all involved parties, and declaring a signed contract null-and-void in the process due to the phrasing of its sperm donor laws.
Does happen in Real Life, tragically more often with abusive couples who believe that a baby will force their partner to stay. Sadly, they're sometimes right, especially when their partner would have financial troubles or lose custody of the child if they left. Worse still, some women will deliberately get pregnant to get Child Support off of the man, since it tends to also qualify her for other forms of government assistance (assuming she's not too wealthy). While laws are slowly becoming more gender neutral, the man will probably lose anyway if the girl was someone he just had a fling with, and so this is exploited by some women. The CDC's 2010 Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that approximately 4.8% of women and 8.7% of men had a sexual partner who tried to get them pregnant or get pregnant against their will.
Possibly related to this, there is an increasing number of men who have chosen to get vasectomies in their early twenties. Since the childfree are still something of an Acceptable Target, many doctors will outright refuse to perform them under the belief that the man will always change his mind.
It's not easy for a woman who hasn't had children to convince a doctor to permanently sterilise her either. Many doctors are very insistent that everyone really wants babies, even if they don't know it.
Unfortunately common in the Visual Kei and Japanese rock/metal scene and with hosts, where fangirls and mitsu (women paying hosts/musicians for sex) have found out that under Japanese law, they have 100 percent rights to the child (even if the father actually wants the child and/or the mother is abusive), can often force a Shotgun Wedding to the artist or at the very least demand ongoing child support payments (which often itself forces a wedding and short marriage, if the man was dependent on them to begin with), and because many men in Japan, including hosts and musicians, prefer condomless sex in the first place. Smarter cisgender men who work as hosts/do mitsu/sleep around do keep their own condoms and use them, or get vasectomies, for this very reason.
There are times that some of the women on Maury seem this way. Although, instead of convincing the man to marry them, they usually seem to just want to extract child support out of them, since more than a few basically say they want nothing to do with him except for a check every month.