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Infertility Angst

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A character is rendered unable to reproduce.

This trope has been Nuked
Proposed By:
PistolsAtDawn on Aug 29th 2017 at 11:55:01 AM
Last Edited By:
tioseafj on Jun 21st 2018 at 6:53:42 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

A character is unable to have children, rendered infertile. Most common as a source of drama for female characters who are unable to become pregnant, although it can also happen to male characters.

See also Immortal Procreation Clause (when a long lived or immortal race can't reproduce or reproduces very rarely), Sterility Plague (if it happens to everyone), and Law of Inverse Fertility (The more you want to have kids the less you are likely to). If they're not as infertile as they thought its But I Can't Be Pregnant!, and Mystical Pregnancy if it happens through supernatural means.

This is Crippling Castration if it happens via accidental or intentional removal of the genitals. Keep in mind it doesn't count if there's no drama- the castrated character has to specifically mention being sterile or wishing they could have children.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Izumi Curtis attempted to use human transmutation to resurrect her stillborn son. Some of her internal organs were removed as a result, and she was rendered infertile.
  • Quint Nakajima from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS was mentioned to be infertile (it's implied to be due to injuries she sustained on the job as an Enforcer), so she and her husband went the adoption route instead. Though by a twist of fate, her daughters are biologically her children due to being cloned from her DNA.
  • Misako from Kodomo no Omocha. After she realized she couldn't conceive, she decided to "live life to the maximum" by becoming a full-on Cloudcuckoolander and doing whatever comes to mind. She also adopts a baby she finds in a park.

     Comic Books 
  • In Green Arrow, Black Canary eventually found out that she would be unable to have any children following injuries sustained during The Longbow Hunters story arc. It was implied that she might have regained it after a dip in the Lazarus Pit, but this was never explicitly confirmed and that story arc seems to have been dropped completely after the reboot.
  • Y: The Last Man:
    • Dr. Mann is left infertile after her illegal cloning experiment in which she was trying to give birth to a clone of herself.
    • 335 is stabbed through the stomach during a fight, irreparably damaging her womb.

     Film 

    Literature 
  • In The Cityborn, Yvelle's whole motivation to join the Free is because the City Provosts ordered her sterilized while she was pregnant (which, needless to say, caused a miscarriage). And then her first mission is to kidnap a child from a high-Tier hospital ... and kill any other child in the ward that tested positive for the same genetic traits.

     Live Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Daenerys is told she'll never again be able to bear children after she sacrifices her unborn son to save her husband's life. She later claims her dragons are the only children she'll ever have.
  • Scully from The X-Files becomes infertile as a result of the aliens' experimentation on her during her abduction early in the shows' run. Later on, however, she becomes pregnant, anyway, though how it could happen remains an acknowledged mystery to this day.
  • In Doctor Who, Amy reveals that whatever procedure she went through during her time held captive on Demons Run, rendered her sterile. Her first child, Melody Pond, is also her last child.
  • Robin from How I Met Your Mother is told she's infertile after a Pregnancy Scare. She claims to be fine with it as she doesn't want to have children, but it obviously causes her much angst.

    Religion 
  • Sarai/Sarah from The Bible is infertile until God blesses her with a child at the age of 90.

    Theatre 
  • In Into the Woods, as punishment for looting her garden, the witch places a curse on the baker's father that renders both him and his son (whom his wife was pregnant with at the time) permanently infertile.

    Video Games 
  • In The Witcher, the titular witchers are rendered infertile from the young age as a result of all the mutagenic substances they ingest over the course of their training. Geralt, the main protagonist, laments about this fact and keeps looking for a possible way to undo this wherever he travels.

    Webcomics 
  • In Drowtales, Quain'tana Val'Sarghress sustained a serious injury years before the story began that left her barren, which was a huge problem when her chosen heir ended up becoming possessed by a demon and no longer able to inherit the clan. She eventually resorted to stealing her other daughter's child, Ariel, to have a blood related heir in case she fell in battle.

     Web Original 

Feedback: 19 replies

Aug 29th 2017 at 12:15:25 PM

This is Crippling Castration if it happens via accidental or intentional removal of the genitals.

Aug 29th 2017 at 1:04:51 PM

Mystical Pregnancy is when a supposedly infertile woman becomes pregnant, anyway, through supernatural means.

  • Scully from The X Files becomes infertile as a result of the aliens' experimentation on her during her abduction early in the shows' run. Later on, however, she becomes pregnant, anyway, though how it could happen remains an acknowledged mystery to this day.

Aug 29th 2017 at 4:09:00 PM

  • In Green Arrow, Black Canary eventually found out that she would be unable to have any children following injuries sustained during The Longbow Hunters story arc. It was implied that she might have regained it after a dip in the Lazarus Pit, but this was never explicitly confirmed and that story arc seems to have been dropped completely after the reboot.

  • In Up, the montage at the beginning implies as strongly as they could in a kids' movie that Ellie learned she was infertile after a miscarriage.

  • In Drowtales, Quain'tana Val'Sarghress sustained a serious injury years before the story began that left her barren, which was a huge problem when her chosen heir ended up becoming possessed by a demon and no longer able to inherit the clan. She eventually resorted to stealing her other daughter's child, Ariel, to have a blood related heir in case she fell in battle.

Aug 29th 2017 at 5:00:23 PM

Theatre

  • In Into The Woods, as punishment for looting her garden, the witch places a curse on the baker's father that renders both him and his son (whom his wife was pregnant with at the time) permanently infertile.

Aug 29th 2017 at 10:42:56 PM

  • Quint Nakajima from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers was mentioned to be infertile (it's implied to be due to injuries she sustained on the job as an Enforcer), so she and her husband went the adoption route instead. Though by a twist of fate, her daughters are biologically her children due to being cloned from her DNA.

Aug 30th 2017 at 5:57:31 AM

Live Action TV

  • In Doctor Who, Amy reveals that whatever procedure she went through during her time held captive on Demons Run, rendered her sterile. Her first child, Melody Pond, is also her last child.

Aug 30th 2017 at 7:18:51 AM

Live Action Television

  • Robin from How I Met Your Mother is told she's infertile after a Pregnancy Scare. She claims to be fine with it as she doesn't want to have children, but it obviously causes her much angst.

Aug 30th 2017 at 8:11:03 AM

Live Action Television

  • One of the big plot points from the first season of Extant was the mystery of how astronaut Molly Woods could be pregnant when she'd a.) been in space on a solo mission for over a year, and b.) been rendered infertile by a miscarriage she suffered in a car crash that killed her former boyfriend and unborn child.

Aug 30th 2017 at 9:08:48 AM

Most of these examples are covered under The Law Of Inverse Fertility, which covers examples of infertile people having or wanting kids.

If this is about a specific plot line, that needs to be specified, because right now it's "character can't have kids." Technically, this example below is valid, and it really shouldn't be.

  • Not having genitalia means you can't have children, so that unfortunately dooms our protagonist to sterility in Frosty The Snowman.

Aug 30th 2017 at 9:23:36 AM

^ im not really sure. some of these arent covered by The Law Of Inverse Fertility, such as Natasha from Avengers- she gives no indication of wanting children specifically, but feels upset that she was forcibly sterilized because the choice was taken away from her. Likewise the Robin from HIMYM, doesnt want children but still feels angst when she discovers she cant.

I would maybe add that it has to be explicitly mentioned that the character can't have children, not just inferred, like Frosty. So, if frosty mentioned that he wishes he could be a human man so he could have children, that would count.

So Varys from Go T doesnt count

Aug 30th 2017 at 9:17:17 AM

Not sure this could be tropable as is, maybe something like Infertility Angst?

Aug 30th 2017 at 9:39:55 AM

How about Infertility Drama, cause some of these liek the Drowtales example arent exactly angst, that ones more about continueing the Heir Club For Men

updated the description

Aug 30th 2017 at 10:25:02 AM

Literature: In The Cityborn, Yvelle's whole motivation to join the Free is because the City Provosts ordered her sterilized while she was pregnant (which, needless to say, caused a miscarriage). And then her first mission is to kidnap a child from a high-Tier hospital ... and kill any other child in the ward that tested positive for the same genetic traits.

Aug 30th 2017 at 10:34:16 AM

  • In The Witcher, the titular witchers are rendered infertile from the young age as a result of all the mutagenic substances they ingest over the course of their training. Geralt, the main protagonist, laments about this fact and keeps looking for a possible way to undo this wherever he travels.

Aug 30th 2017 at 1:30:34 PM

If there's a drama / angst / whatever requirement, that needs to be reflected in the Laconic.

Sep 20th 2017 at 5:50:02 AM

Isn't this a Sub Trope to the listed tropes? Law Of Inverse Fertility also involves those who get pregnant even though they don't want to. Not everyone will angst over the infertility caused by a Sterility Plague or the Immortal Procreation Clause.

Sep 20th 2017 at 6:11:22 AM

^true dat. i changed it to "see also"

Jun 21st 2018 at 6:53:42 AM

They didn't add the example of Friends with Monica and Chandler.

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