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Fake Pregnancy

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"Oh, don't worry about me. It's just that I'm going to have a baby."
Roxie Hart, coming up with a publicity stunt on the spot, Chicago

A female character lies about being pregnant. This can be done for a variety of reasons: perhaps the character is trying to get her boyfriend not to break up with her due to a misguided belief that Babies Make Everything Better; perhaps (conversely) she is trying to scare her boyfriend off; perhaps she is trying to get another character to give her unofficial child support. This could also be done as part of a Family Relationship Switcheroo (in which, for example, a daughter gets pregnant out of wedlock, and her mother fakes a pregnancy in an effort to pass the baby off as her own, rather than her daughter's). In historical dramas, this might also be done to stave off a capital sentence, as it used to be forbidden in Europe to put a pregnant woman to death.

A variant is when one character claims this on behalf of another female character, who is then forced to play along or expose the charade.

This can be an example of The Baby Trap. Pillow Pregnancy is a sub-trope. Daddy DNA Test can be related. Needless to say, this trope can carry the Unfortunate Implications of presenting women as manipulative liars.

For other variations on faking medical situations, see Playing Sick and Obfuscating Disability.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!: Played for Laughs in Episode 7 of the first TV series; Nyarko claims that she's pregnant with Mahiro's child the very next morning, and can even be seen doing Lamaze breathing exercises in the background (note that they haven't even had sex to begin with, she's lying about that too). To Mahiro's annoyance, everyone believes it, including his level-headed friend Yoichi and his own mother, though in her case it might have just been I Want Grandkids. When Hasta believes it and runs off crying, Mahiro quietly mutters "Well, maybe it's okay for him to believe it..."
  • School Days: Kotonoha claims Sekai was faking her pregnancy in a bid to make Makoto choose her. After she kills Sekai, she literally cuts Sekai open to check, and says she was right. It's unclear if Sekai was indeed faking it, really was pregnant and just wasn't far enough along for a fetus to be visible, or was just mistaken about being pregnant.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Early on, Lum shouts that she's pregnant while Ataru is trying to talk to Shinobu on the telephone. This is a deliberate attempt to disrupt the conversation and make Shinobu give up on Ataru. Later on, Lum pulls the same stunt when her hated ex-boyfriend Rei comes to reclaim her and Ataru was more than happy to let him have her if she didn't say anything.
  • In an example that crosses over with Miss Conception from Yakitate!! Japan, Kai Suwabara, after his last defeat versus Kazuma, decides that he needs to go on a trip to find himself and rededicate himself to breadmaking (It Makes Sense in Context). Monica Adenauer, his girlfriend, fakes a pregnancy in order to guilt him into staying with her. It's clear from Kai's internal monologue that a) they didn't do anything that could result in pregnancy, and b) he knows so little about female anatomy that he believes her anyway. The finale reveals he did eventually figure things out, in time to actually conceive a child with Monica.

    Comic Books 
  • Inverted in Spider-Man's backstory. Shortly before Mary and Richard died, they infiltrated a criminal operation posing as a hospital with a cover story about Mary being pregnant. However, this cover story was chosen to conceal from the CIA the fact that Mary was actually pregnant with Teresa. So yes, Spidey's mother faked a fake pregnancy.

    Fan Works 
  • The Blooming Lily: Rita does this as part of a Family Relationship Switcheroo to hide Leni's pregnancy.
  • "False Smiles" features a variation of this where even the mother didn't know she was lying; Faith has a late period and assumes that she is pregnant after her one-night stand with Xander, but the reader later learns that Whistler faked the later pregnancy test so that Faith and Xander would bond enough to avoid Faith making her crucial mistakes such as staking the deputy mayor.
  • The oneshot My Fluttering Heart revolves around this. Flurry Heart is Shining and Chrysalis' daughter, not Shining and Cadance's. After accidentally killing Chrysalis, Shining finds the infant and takes her home. Cadance fakes being pregnant and "gives birth" a month or two afterwards. The short pregnancy is explained by her being an alicorn (and everyone buys it because no alicorn has been pregnant before).
  • In Persephone, Astrid claims to be pregnant at her and Hiccup's trial to buy both of them more time.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: In the sequel Picking up the Pieces, Night Blade's brother Deep Blade mentions that some of his past lovers have tried this in order to get him to marry them via The Baby Trap. After finding out, Sergeant Summer Nights says she’ll be looking into these claims since attempted line theft is a crime.

    Film 
  • 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.
  • In Baby Mama, Angie is hired to be Kate's surrogate. Angie thinks the pregnancy doesn't take, but fakes pregnancy symptoms and begins wearing a false tummy so she can get money and lodging out of Kate when her boyfriend kicks her out. And then subverted when she goes for an ultrasound and discovers she really is pregnant, although she thinks the baby isn't Kate's but her own by her ex.
  • Fatal Attraction: A possible interpretation of Alex's claim to pregnancy, as she never actually provides any objective evidence of it. Her Stalker with a Crush obsession with the alleged babydaddy gives her ample reason for such a ruse as well.
  • In the movie version of the play I am a Camera, Sally Bowles plans to abort the baby but Chris offers to marry her despite not being the Father, however after Chris gives her the money, Sally changes her mind but the next realises she miscalculated her dates so was never pregnant to begin with.
  • In Identity, Ginny confesses to her new husband that she lied about being pregnant immediately before he is murdered.
  • The entire plot of the Lindsay Lohan film Labor Pains (2009). The main character lies about being pregnant so she won't be fired from her job.
  • In Jackie Chan's Legend of the Drunken Master, the protagonist's stepmother seemingly fakes being pregnant to distract her husband from punishing her and her stepson. Then comes a Brick Joke where she really is pregnant by the end.
  • In Norbit, Rasputia fakes being pregnant to keep the titular character from leaving her. This doesn't last, because when ordering Norbit to get her an alcoholic beverage, she dismisses her earlier announcement as just gas before farting at him.
  • In Oscar (1967), Colette tells her father she is pregnant so that he will let her marry someone.
  • In Oscar (1991), Lisa lies to her father about being pregnant so he will allow her to marry her boyfriend.
  • In Raise the Red Lantern, Songlian fakes a pregnancy as a part of her power games with Master Chen's other wives. That she's faking it is discovered in an aversion of No Periods, Period.
  • Revenge of the Bridesmaids: Gold Digger Caitlyn lies to everyone except her mother that she’s pregnant with Tony’s baby from their one-night stand so he’ll marry her.
  • In The Room (2003), Lisa tells Johnny she's pregnant and one scene later, confesses she made it up "to make things interesting". Like many things in this movie, this subplot is never mentioned again.
  • In Saw VI, one of the women on a trap hurriedly fakes a pregnancy so that another man might spare her and kill others.
  • In Soapdish Montana claims to be pregnant with Jeffery's baby so she can get some publicity of her own. Ariel and Rose reveal (on live television, no less) that Montana is really a man named Milton, making the 'pregnancy' this trope.
  • In Taking Lives, Illeana Scott appears to be pregnant with Martin Asher's children until it was later revealed that Asher is, in fact, James Costa. Costa would then stab Scott's belly with a pair of scissors, apparently killing their children, only for Scott to fight back and stab Costa in the chest. Scott would then reveal to Costa that her "pregnancy" was a trap to lure him.
  • In The Wedding Singer, Julia's mother tells her she should consider a fake pregnancy to get her fiancé Glenn to set the wedding date. Julia is very much not on board.

    Literature 
  • Subverted in The Age of Innocence, May does this to Ellen, her husband's love interest, to drive her away. It turns out she really is pregnant, but she does not know at the time.
  • Ghosts In The Yew by Blake Hausladen. A woman claims to be pregnant to explain her massive weight gain over the winter, and to elicit special treatment. It's a little unclear if she knows she's not telling the truth or if she honestly doesn't know how pregnancy works. (She hasn't had sex with her husband or any other man in over a year.)
  • A variant in The Hunger Games in which it's the guy who lies: when forced back into the Arena, Peeta decides to play up his and Katniss's Star-Crossed Lovers schtick by announcing that she's pregnant, in order to increase sympathy from the Capitol residents.
  • In part 1 of Jude the Obscure, Arabella tells Jude that she is pregnant in order to persuade him to marry her. After the wedding, she tells him that she isn't actually pregnant. She insists that it was an honest mistake, but Jude and one of Arabella's friends are rather skeptical.
  • A character in the Kinsey Millhone novel "D" is for Deadbeat does this, hiding some jewels underneath a fake belly. Kinsey figures it out after finding tampons in the woman's purse.
  • In Shanghai Girls, Pearl does this in order to cover up for her pregnant sister May, who, though married, has never slept with her husband (who is only 14 and mentally challenged) from an Arranged Marriage. She manages to keep this secret even while living in a dormitory with several other women.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: When Sally visits a gynecologist for the first time all the other women there are pregnant, and in order to fit in she claims she's pregnant too — which comes as a shock to her boyfriend since they've never had sex.
  • All My Children: An Li claimed to be pregnant to hang on to husband Brian before her friend Terrence browbeat her into telling the truth, telling her that was not the kind of cruel, deceitful person who would do something like this.
  • Used every which way in a two-part Arrested Development storyline in which Michael Bluth's ex-fling Maggie Lizer not only pulls this on Michael to try and win him back but also lies to two cops who have contracted her as a surrogate mother for their son and pawns the surrogacy off on a client so they can sue a local restaurant for causing the client's supposed "obesity." And then in The Stinger Maggie apparently learns she's actually pregnant thanks to one last romp with Michael in the preceding episode.
  • On Awkward., Eva pretends to be pregnant in order to get Matty to stay with her and even shows him (and Jenna and Sadie, who are skeptical) a positive pregnancy test, which it turns out that she bribed someone who was actually pregnant (with diamond earrings she stole from Matty's mother) to use their test.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210:
    • In the original series, Valerie, the show's resident Alpha Bitch, faked a pregnancy to extort money from her married lover, in season 7. Ultimately, this was added to a long list of things that no one (especially Kelly) ever lets her forget.
    • In season 2 of the reboot series, Dixon's ex-girlfriend Sasha also lied about being pregnant to hold Dixon down, though this was discovered to be false by Dixon's mother Debbie.
  • On The Big C, Cathy wants to adopt a child before she dies of cancer, meeting a nice young couple and is ready to pay for their childbirth and the adoption. When she "wins" (really, steals) a car from a charity auction, Cathy drives it to the couple's hotel as a surprise present. However, through the room's window, she sees the couple drinking and smoking with the woman quite clearly not pregnant. She drives them to the woods, kicks the woman in her fake gut, and berates them for pulling this massive scam on her, eventually forcing them to strip to their underwear and run off at gunpoint.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation: Holly J., then running for student body president, convinced her best friend Anya to fake a pregnancy with Sav's child so that Sav (the other candidate in the race) would drop out. The plan backfired on Holly J. when Sav uses it to his advantage to win the election.
  • In Desperate Housewives, Bree van de Kamp did this as part of a Family Relationship Switcheroo to hide her teenage daughter's pregnancy.
  • Friends: The first two episodes of season eight has Phoebe pretend to be pregnant to take the heat off of Rachel, who is actually the one who is pregnant.
  • General and I: Consort Zhang pretends to be pregnant because she hopes Sima Hong will make her queen.
  • On the The George Lopez Show, Angie and George think they're going to have another baby, but it turns out to be a false alarm. However, with Carmen going off to college George has a bit of "empty nest syndrome" and really wants the baby, so Angie initially keeps this from him, hoping that she can get pregnant quickly. George eventually figures this out.
  • The Glamorous Imperial Concubine has a by-proxy example. Xiang Yun decides to pretend Fu Ya is pregnant and convinces a doctor to go along with her story. Lian Cheng doesn't believe it at first and kills the doctor for lying to him, but then he decides it's true without asking Fu Ya.
  • Terrie on Glee. She thought she was really pregnant and told her husband Will. But when she found out she really wasn't, she feared he would leave her, since their marriage was rocky anyways. She lied about being pregnant for months with the intent of eventually adopting his student's baby.
  • In Graceland, Paige is looking for a drug dealer who has gone into hiding. She puts on a fake pregnancy belly and approaches the drug dealer's mother pretending to be the guy's pregnant girlfriend. The mother is not happy with the situation but reluctantly tells her where her son is hiding.
  • In Home and Away, when Reese discovered that Kirsty and Kane had got married, he yelled at them to give him a reason why their marriage should not be split up (Reese hated Kane). Kirsty yells at Reese that she is pregnant — a lie that she then has to maintain after Kane tells her how happy he is. Kirsty then later has to fake a miscarriage and then discovers later that she is genuinely pregnant.
  • House of the Dragon: Early in Season 1, Daemon Targaryen says his paramour Mysaria is pregnant, and so the reason he steals a dragon egg is to put it in the baby's cradle per the custom for trueborn Targaryen children. She's not, though. A follow-on effect is that Mysaria not actually being pregnant means she won't later miscarry while being sent back to Lys at Viserys's command, as she does in the book. The source material has unrealistically high rates of pregnancy disasters, so removing one instance makes it incrementally Lighter and Softer, as well as less repetitive. It also makes Viserys look like less of a jerk (and Daemon more of one).
  • Played for Drama in Kingdom (2019): The Queen isn't actually pregnant, but has been pretending to be so in order to swindle Prince Lee-Chang out of his claim to the throne (he's the son of a concubine, so the Queen's "legitimate" son with the late King would be the rightful heir). In order to keep up the masquerade, The Queen has been been taking in pregnant commoners who are down on their luck and housing and feeding them, so that at least one boy may be born and raised as a false prince. After the baby is born, the real mother is killed to keep the secret.
  • The King's Woman: After she's demoted Lady Chu pretends to be pregnant in an attempt to regain her lost rank.
  • Used on at least one episode of Law & Order. When a wealthy couple's teenage daughter is murdered shortly before their older daughter's wedding to an equally wealthy man, the detectives and attorneys eventually unravel the Family Relationship Switcheroo. Their older daughter got pregnant as a teenager. The whole family moved to Brazil for a year, then returned claiming that the new baby was actually the mother's. When the baby reached her teen years, she learned the truth and threatened to reveal it, which would have ruined the upcoming wedding, so the mother murdered the (grand)daughter to hush it up.
  • Magnificent Century: Hurrem claims she's pregnant with Süleyman's child to avoid being sent away from the palace. It turns out she actually is pregnant with Mehmet, though she didn't know it at the time, making it an Accidental Truth and a subversion.
  • M*A*S*H. This was the subject of an episode that was ultimately never filmed, as at the time it was considered too risqué. The episode, entitled "Hawkeye on the Double," had Hawkeye seeing two different nurses behind each of their backs, and when the two found out about each other, they planned on getting back at him by both pretending to be pregnant with his child and pressuring him into choosing which one of them to marry. The script for the episode is available as a special feature on DVD.
    • Played for Laughs in one episode where Klinger puts on a fake baby bump. He explains that he doesn't really expect anyone to buy it; rather, he's pretending to think it will work in hopes that someone will think that only a crazy person would expect it to work. Naturally, it fails.
  • A variation on The Mysteries of Laura. When a fertility doctor is murdered, Laura and her ex-husband go undercover as a couple where a sonogram shows Laura is pregnant. Given she hasn't been with a man in months, she knows something is up and swiftly figures this is a massive con. The clinic makes rich couples think they're expecting, charge them for expensive "treatments" and then a drug that mimics miscarriage. The killer was a husband whose wife nearly had a breakdown after several "miscarriages." He reveals he figured it out as he's a film editor and on the third go-around, realized the "ultrasound" was the exact same footage as the previous two "pregnancies."
  • On Nashville after Peggy told Teddy that she was pregnant, he proposed to her. Shortly before the wedding Peggy miscarried and was afraid that Teddy would back out of the marriage. She kept acting like she was still pregnant and after the wedding, she faked a miscarriage. Teddy did not find out until Peggy was murdered.
  • The Night Of The Bloodbeast episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has Crow pretending to have been impregnated by the film's titular creature, so the others will wait on him, relieve him of his chores on the SOL, and give him a baby shower. After being forced to admit the ruse, he goes off on a lengthy rant about how "easy" pregnant women have it.
  • Kelly in The Office (US) does this in an effort to get back together with Ryan after he breaks up with her to move to New York at the end of season 3.
  • Penelope attempts this on Reign so she wouldn't fall out of favor with King Henry, but Queen Catherine quickly gets rid of her.
  • On Revenge it was revealed that Victoria got Conrad to marry her by faking a pregnancy as part of a Baby Trap. After the wedding, she faked a miscarriage. In the present, Emily uses the same tactic when it looks like Daniel is going to back out of their upcoming marriage. She was planning to fake her own death right after the wedding but her plan backfired and an outraged Daniel shot her.
  • The Rise of Phoenixes: Discussed when Ning Yi suggests Zhi Wei escapes execution by claiming to be pregnant. Averted, though, since she doesn't go along with it.
  • In an episode Rules of Engagement, Audrey is Mistaken for Pregnant following a poorly phrased remark at work. Finding she enjoys the attention, she then fakes being pregnant while she attempts to become pregnant for real.
  • In an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael a trans woman was on and claimed to be pregnant.
  • That '90s Show: In the pilot episode, the guys are mistaken for customers picking up a pre-paid beer keg at a local liquor store. Unfortunately, they forget to ask for a tap, and it falls on 15-year-old Leia (the new girl, whom the owner doesn't know) to pick one up. To make her look more believably "adult", the kids stick a pillow under her sundress. The shop owner sees through the ruse after Leia's "pregnancy bump" slides down to her legs.
  • Velvet: A cornerstone of Cristina's revenge plan against Alberto.
  • In an episode of Welcome Back, Kotter a girl is constantly teased for being easy by the sweathogs, who all boast of having slept with her. She claims to be pregnant by one of them, forcing them to each admit that they never had sex with her.
  • What Would You Do? played with this scenario. Onlookers watch as a young woman buys a positive pregnancy test from a pregnant woman, and then uses it to pressure her boyfriend into marriage, saying how excited she is to start a family with him.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A Luann storyline from June and July 2020 had Ann Eiffel planning to pull this on her boyfriend Tom (Tiffany's dad) just in case he didn't propose to her during a vacation they were on. However, her plan fell apart when Tiffany, who was house-sitting, found her ultrasound in an envelope marked to Tom, forcing Ann to go along with it despite getting the proposal. She got caught when Tiffany discovered that the ultrasound was of her estranged son, Les, who had a copy in his possession.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Stephanie McMahon has done this to Triple H in a Kayfabe plotline. It was the catalyst for their kayfabe divorce. Of course, to any wrestling fan, that's when the irony sets in as long after they "divorced", Stephanie and Hunter started dating for real, got married, and yes, Stephanie really did get pregnant.

    Theatre 
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: The theatrical Trope Codifier.
    Maggie: I've got life in me, Big Daddy!
  • In Chicago (both the theatre and film versions), Roxie Hart fakes a pregnancy in order to gain public attention and sympathy leading up to her murder trial. She does this in part because Illinois executes its first woman during her incarceration and she suddenly fears for her life, believing that a jury won't give the death penalty to an allegedly pregnant woman. (The other part is she is a relentless Attention Whore.)
  • In Oscar, Collette lies to her father about being pregnant so he will allow her to marry her boyfriend.

[[folder:Video Games]]

  • In Assassins Creed IV, Anne Bonny and Mary Read are sentenced to execution for piracy and use this as a delaying tactic. The in-game literature notes that this was a common strategy for women in this time period though both were telling the truth and Read suffered Death by Childbirth afterwards (both in real life and in the game).
  • Catherine has Katherine claim to be pregnant as a Secret Test of Character for her boyfriend Vincent after she realizes he cheated on her. In a variation, she honestly believed she was pregnant at least initially, but still only told him the truth after she'd known she wasn't for a while.
  • Left on Read: When the protagonist's crush announces her pregnancy, he'll be understandably surprised, but she only did it for an April Fool's prank.
  • Legend of Mana, in a minor quest, had a female penguin imply to her pirate boyfriend, who was about to go to sea for an extended period of time, that she had an egg. At the end of the quest, she says she was misunderstood and was only musing about the possibility of having an egg. Then, when he's out of earshot, she admits that she lied the second time and Just Wanted Her Beloved To Be Happy.

    Web Original 
  • Joey from Youtube channel The Anime Man does a gender inverted version. On a fan request, he prank-calls his girlfriend Aki and tells her with a dry voice that he's pregnant. She gives him a Flat "What" and hangs up on him, causing him to laugh.
  • One Cracked article (here) consists of an informal social experiment, in which the author set up a fictional dating profile for a thoroughly repellent, morally bankrupt (but very attractive) woman and observes how many men will overlook her numerous very obvious character flaws nevertheless. The fictional woman repeatedly alludes to lying to men about being pregnant, for various reasons.

    Western Animation 
  • In Archer, Uta the assassin desperately wants to be pregnant, to the point where she begins to believe she actually is pregnant and even wears a prosthetic pregnancy belly to assist in her delusion.
  • Bojack Horseman: when Diane, ghostwriter for Sextina Aquafina's tweets, accidentally tweets that 'Sextina' is getting an abortion, Sextina, along with her agent Princess Carolyn, decide to spin this to her advantage and she becomes the face of the pro-choice movement, culminating in her getting a fake abortion live on television (which, to her credit, was quite educational and done tastefully). Then Sextina gets pregnant for real, decides to keep it, and quietly retires to have her baby.
  • On The Cleveland Show, Donna and Cleveland decide to have a baby. However, Cleveland eventually discovers he had a vasectomy while drunk a while back, but can't break the news to Donna. Donna eventually finds out and pretends to be pregnant to mess with him. She won't admit to lying until he admits to lying about the vasectomy; Cleveland finds out and won't give in until Donna admits she's not pregnant, and the two basically spend nine months carrying on a battle of wills.
  • In King of the Hill, a prank war between (preteen) Bobby and Luann has him replace her birth control pills with candy. She immediately figures this out but takes advantage of his ignorance about sex to claim that women have to take the pill every day or they automatically get pregnant, meaning that he's now the father of her child. Hank and Peggy even get involved and throw a fake Shotgun Wedding.


 
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Bre is faking a pregnancy, but her fake pregnant stomach pad causes quite a few problems.

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