Playing With / Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe

Basic Trope: A man can't be sure of his paternity the way a mother can of her maternity, and his belief is only as good as her word.
  • Straight: Julianna goes to drink at bars in the evening, and comes back late; when she has a baby nine months later, her husband Helmut wonders whether he's the father.
  • Exaggerated: Helmut finds his wife Julianna talking to a male friend on the phone, and instantly demands of her whether any of their nine children are his.
  • Downplayed: Helmut and Julianna have a polyandrous relationship, and Charily has a few of the same characteristics as Helmut. When the baby is born, it's hard to identify the father, but neither man minds.
  • Justified:
    • Prior to, or without, DNA testing, a man has only the woman's word and any chance resemblance to go by.
    • The setting lacks any access to DNA testing, women frequently have multiple partners, and it's not considered socially acceptable to question a mother's identification of paternity, even when there seems to be evidence to the contrary.
  • Inverted: Julianna's baby obviously does not resemble Helmut, and yet Helmut never questions whether he's the father.
  • Gender-Inverted: Julianna wakes up after a coma, and Helmut tells her that unbeknownst to her, she had been pregnant and this is her daughter — who looks like neither of them. Julianna wonders whether she is the mother.
  • Subverted: Helmut wonders whether he's the father. Julianna told him that he is indeed the father.
  • Double Subverted: Knowing that Julianna has slept with other men, Helmut is still suspicious.
  • Parodied: Chocolate Baby, where white man Helmut asks white woman Julianna whether he's the father.
  • Zig Zagged: Helmut wonders whether the baby's his, has DNA testing done, which confirms it, learns that the lab is sloppy and doubts it again, gets a better lab to confirm, is told by Julianna that she slept with his identical twin, and learns that his twin had in fact been in jail during the time she claimed to have slept with him.
  • Averted:
    • Julianna and Helmut both know that they have only had sex with each other. Therefore, no one other than Helmut could possibly be the father.
    • Julianna and Helmut are shipwrecked for ten months, and the baby is born shortly after they are saved.
  • Enforced: Rule of Funny
  • Lampshaded: "Am I the father?" "Good question."
  • Invoked: Julianna sleeps with other men, not caring what Helmut thinks.
  • Exploited: Julianna becomes pregnant and gets Helmut to marry her.
  • Defied:
    • Julianna only has sex with Helmut.
    • Helmut doesn't care whether he's the baby's biologcal father.
    • Helmut and Julianna have a baby through IVF.
    • Helmut hired a sniper to follow Julianna around and to spy on her; he's on orders to "shoot to kill" if he sees her have sex with another man.
  • Discussed: "Are you sure that Helmut is your baby's father? It sure is hard to tell." "Yes, I'm sure. I've never had sex with anyone else."
  • Conversed: "Think he's the dad?" "It's hard to say."
  • Implied: The baby does not resemble Helmut, but neither Helmut nor Julianna seems to notice this.
  • Deconstructed: The worry that his son might not be his causes Helmut to resent both the boy and Julianna, leading to arguments and a lot of shouting which culminates in Helmut divorcing Julianna. When he dies, Helmut leaves everything he has directly to his second son (who's parentage is confirmed due to absurdly strong familial resemblance) and leaves his first son with nothing.
  • Reconstructed: Helmut and Julianna agree to be open and honest with each-other, to not lie, and to not sleep with other people. They build their relationship on communication, so there is no doubt in anyone's mind whose parents the resulting children are.
  • Played For Laughs: Julianna gives birth to a Chocolate Baby. She knows that Helmut is not the father, but pretends not to know and tries to dodge the question.
  • Played For Drama:
    • The story takes place modern times, but in a fictional setting where DNA testing is illegal.
    • The story takes place in a Medieval Setting (or any other setting where power is hereditary). When King Helmut I dies, his daughter Clarity's ascension to the throne is disputed as his younger brother Quinton believes she is the product of infidelity on Queen Julianna's part (his evidence is that Clarity is a Chocolate Baby and that Julianna spent a suspicious amount of time with her bodyguard Sir Jamal). Quinton gathers a massive army, launches a war to remove the false-heir from the throne, wins, and has Queen Julianna and her daughter beheaded. When DNA evidence is used 200 years later, it is revealed to the surprise of ALL the historians that Clarity actually was the legitimate daughter of King Helmut. Whoops!

Back to Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/PlayingWith/MamasBabyPapasMaybe