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Mandatory Motherhood

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"Woman's greatest duty is to produce a son."

We have a character who, while fertile, very much does not want children. But society, or the law, or destiny, will not let her get away with that easily.

Maybe there's a problem in the Heir Club for Men and she doesn't want to be involved but, since she's married to the fella needing the heir, she can't readily escape it. Or perhaps she herself is a powerful leader who needs to give birth to a successor lest chaos follow her death. Or she's in a society that's gone through a Societal Disruption, which is urging every fertile woman to repopulate the species; but she has desires or concerns more important to her than the species.

Maybe she's been prophesied to be the mother of the Chosen One or a Messianic Archetype, but she wants to Screw Destiny anyway. Or she's prophesied to be the mother of The End of the World as We Know It and is desperate to Screw Destiny.

Maybe having babies is considered a civic duty, like a man's serving in warfare. Or perhaps she's part of a Breeding Cult, and bearing as many children as possible is considered her divinely-ordained role.

Or maybe she's already pregnant with the kid she adamantly doesn't want but has had abortion forbidden to her for legal, moral or health reasons.

Whatever. She would rather not have children, but the law or the universe is doing its best to stop her, demanding she has children or else. (There must be a serious "or else" involved.) The law and the universe generally win these fights, but it still can be interesting to watch it go down.

Also, despite the name, this trope is not limited to female characters; male characters may also be coerced into fatherhood. Sometimes if they end up having children, merely seeing the kid makes them realize the "error" in their beliefs.

Contrast Convenient Miscarriage and Tragic Stillbirth, which is, of course, are on the opposite end of the Law of Inverse Fertility. If the character is merely experiencing social pressure to have children but can still say no, she's on the receiving end of Not Wanting Kids Is Weird. Sub-Trope of Chosen Conception Partner. Frequently overlaps with Baby Factory.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Yuki-onna of Rosario + Vampire are required to marry at seventeen and start producing children immediately, due to the fact that the average Yuki-onna hits menopause before hitting thirty, leaving very little time for them to produce the next generation of a race that can't afford to have anyone not contribute to the long-term survival of the species. Mizore doesn't want to participate... at least, not with the guy her family picked for her (she makes it QUITE clear that she is willing to go through with this tradition using Tsukune instead).
  • In Elfen Lied, Lucy, being the "queen bee" of the Diclonius race, is the only one capable of actually birthing fertile Diclonii if she reproduces, as opposed to the sterile Silphelit drones that all Diclonii can create. The Big Bad fully intends to use her to bring about the rise of their species. Lucy, however, ultimately decides that she has no interest in that and that she'd much rather see her species wiped out. Being Lucy, she succeeds. Likely adding to her distaste for this role is the fact that the Big Bad's chosen partner for her is her own half-brother, the product of the villain capturing and raping Lucy's long-lost mother, who it is also revealed, was against Lucy's father abandoning her, and never stopped looking for her. To sum up his offer - her as an incestuous birthing machine in the plans of a lunatic who invaded her home, got the boy she loves shot, and raped her mother to the point she ended her life- and all on a mistaken basis. Yeah. In the field of pushing the thought, 'You Must Birth My Heirs', he really didn't sell this one well.
  • Attempted to be invoked in 7 Seeds. The shelters that were left with provisions for the characters do not contain any form of contraceptives since the creators of the 7 Seeds project want them to repopulate the world. Hence Team Autumn has banned any kind of sex that results in pregnancy in their group. Not that this stopped Ryusei and Kurumi.
  • Implicit for the Emaan in Super Dimension Century Orguss, since their Bizarre Alien Biology means all females become incurably sterile at the age of eighteen. Also means that they are forced to be a species of Absurdly Youthful Mothers.
    • Although they don't specifically have to do this, as their species isn't any population danger at the moment. It just means that if a female Emaan wants to be a mother their window for doing so is very short.
  • In Blue Exorcist Shura's ancestor made a pact with a demon that she and all of her descendants would be required to give birth to a child before they turned 30 (because the same pact also cursed them to die when they turn 30). Shura refuses to have a child, but the demon is trying to force the issue.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, it turns out that Rize Kamishiro escaped her fate as a Breeding Slave and has never stopped running. That doesn't stop her half-brother from declaring his intention to find her, marry her, and force her to birth a ridiculous number of children.

    Comic Books 
  • In ElfQuest, nature decides when two elves are ready to have a child, and the elves aren't allowed to protest. This turns into a mate or get really sick situation for several elves, most prominently Dewshine, who hates the mate that was chosen for her by destiny. But since Babies Make Everything Better, she loves her child regardless. This trope gets twisted later — nature seems to consider genetics and population when deciding which two elves are to reproduce. The Gliders, for example, have an inversion forced upon them: none of them had been able to conceive aside from Winnowill via magic in centuries, despite very much wanting to have children among them, due to locking themselves in a mountain fortress with limited space. The Go-Backs, on the other hand, have an amazingly short lifespan because of their warring with trolls and living in harsh conditions and breed like any other mammals; when the Wolfriders mention Recognition, Kahvi is surprised that they still bother with that. As with most things, the Wolfriders have the ideal balance, as they reproduce often enough to maintain a cycle of life and death, but still have Recognition and only breed genetically superior children. Except for Pike, who was his father's first attempt at Healer-induced conception outside of Recognition.

    Comic Strips 
  • One of the reasons Anthony is so despised in the For Better or for Worse fandom is the implied subtext that it was he who pressured his wife Thérèse into having a child that she didn't want by agreeing to be the primary caregiver, then reneging on the agreement just as Thérèse was going through postpartum depression. The reader is explicitly meant to see Thérèse as an unnatural monster for not wanting children in the first place (to the point where she wholesale abandons child, husband and all not much later) and Anthony as the poor put-upon hubby who 'tries to love' his wife despite her refusal to make them a "real family".

    Fan Works 
  • This is ubiquitous in Shipping fic. The happy couple will have kids, even if neither of them would ever want them in their canon personality and even if neither of them has a womb. There's no such thing as contraception, and miscarriages only happen when Deus Angst Machina decrees it. And if abortion exists, we're generally treated to a tedious speech about how Good Girls Avoid Abortion — sometimes right away, sometimes after a few equally tedious scenes where they pretend to consider it. If the character isn't a "good girl" to begin with, she generally becomes one in short order thanks to Deliver Us from Evil.
  • In Ghosts of Evangelion Asuka didn't want to have children and neither she nor Shinji thought they were parent material. However, they raised their daughter when Asuka got pregnant.
  • The Ikaris has an implied example. Due to three billion people dying in Second Impact, numerous countries implemented laws to loosen marriage conditions and discourage divorce to encourage family development and birthrates. Japan apparently never bothered to repeal them, due to being too busy trusting shadowy agencies to build giant robots to fight off alien monsters. Asuka angrily dubs Japan "the Las Vegas of Asia".
  • The Second Try, by the same author, has a much straighter example that drives the entire plot. The fact that the female character in question (also Asuka) definitely didn't want kids is a source of much angst early on, especially because she didn't have the option of safe abortion.
  • The Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfiction A Year of Surprises has this seriously adhered to. When a nation goes through a period of prosperity, they go into heat and must have a baby (yes, even the men). If they try to resist it, they just get worse and worse, until they have sex with the closest person. If they try to abort the child, they just go into heat again until they actually give birth. By the time the story takes place, most of the nations just seem to view it as a necessary annoyance to put up with.
  • Discussed in the For Better or for Worse fanfic The New Retcons, where Elly Patterson highly resents her brother and sister-in-law for not wanting children and deciding not to have them. She herself did not want kids but felt that she had to have them anyway. This was also why she lied and told everyone Georgia was infertile, cause to her that was the only 'acceptable' reason to avoid motherhood.
    • In more minor examples, and overlapping with Heir Club for Men, Carleen and Weed are constantly pressured to have a kid, and Therese's father never spoke to her again after she had gotten a tubal, since that meant she could not give him the grandson he demanded.
  • As part of Sasuke's promotion to Chunin in First Try Series, Tsunade ordered him to conceive some children through artificial insemination so if he dies, the Sharingan won't die with him.
  • In A Crown of Stars, Shinji and Asuka didn't plan on having children, but when Shinji got her pregnant, they decided to become parents.
  • The Child of Love: When Shinji gets Asuka pregnant they have the baby even though they’re socially inept teenagers -and Asuka didn't want to become a mother- because they don’t want their child to go through the same pain that they did.
  • The Triptych Continuum side-story "Anchor Foal: A Romantic Cringe Comedy" plays with this. Because Fluttershy was essential to reforming Discord through her ability to sincerely befriend him, Celestia is naturally afraid that when Fluttershy dies, Discord will go back to his old ways, seeing as how he doesn't look like making any new friends of his own. So, she decides that for the good of Equestria, Fluttershy must have at least one foal, who will hopefully serve as an "anchor" to further tether Discord into staying reformed. The thing is, Fluttershy would probably like to have foals, it's just that she's too terminally shy to have a hope of getting them. So, Celestia enlists Fleur de Lis to go to Ponyville and, essentially, teach Fluttershy to pick up stallions. Or mares, if her tastes run that way; a magical spell that enables female/female Homosexual Reproduction is a canon element of this 'verse.
  • In the My Little Pony fic Eternal, there needs to be ten specific unicorns at all times or else the world will become unbalanced. This means if one unicorn is killed, another needs to have a foal to stop the world from turning to chaos.
  • The Line Is Not Broken: A teenage Tsunade ended up pregnant through a drunken one-night stand with Jiraya. Despite being unable to handle a child, she refused to abort because she felt that it was sinful to kill a Senju child when her clan was dying. Instead, she gave Minato up to adoption without Minato knowing of his parentage.
  • In the Naruto fic The Losses We Share (and Those We Don't), both Hanabi and Konohamaru do want children. but they have difficulties conceiving and staying pregnant. Within the span of three years, they have ten miscarriages and a stillbirth. This puts an extra toll of Hanabi because she's the heir of her clan and needs a successor. Eventually, Hanabi ends up giving birth to a daughter.
  • Clans with bloodline limits in Son of the Sannin often place a lot of pressure on those who inherit those abilities to have children and pass it on to the next generation. Mei metions at one point after having gotten pregnant with her first child how her parents would constantly pester her to settle down and have kids since she was the only one of her siblings to have both of their abilities (this despite the fact that the entire reason it took her so long to get married was because she was busy leading the Kirigakure Liberation Movement).
  • In Glee Reprise, Rachel's feeling pressured by the press and her Broadway friends to have a baby with Jesse, as they are unaware that she's all but infertile.
  • Daily Equestria Life with Monster Girl: Virtually no female centaur will voluntarily have sex with a male centaur, but each generation bullies the next into it because the centaur race must be preserved.
  • Vow of Nudity: Fiora's native clan in the barrens has a yearly mating ceremony where all young adults partner up to procreate the next generation of the village. Fiora herself desperately doesn't want to participate, and part of her origin story involves trying to find a way out of it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: It's implied that President Snow expects Katniss Everdeen to bear Peeta's children as a means of being able to control her.
  • Hell Comes to Frogtown has the rare both-gender version, with protagonist Sam Hell one of the last fertile men coerced into both signing over his reproductive organs to Med Tech and rescuing a handful of fertile women from the titular Frogtown.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four. Made hard for the protagonist as you must not derive pleasure from it and the women are literally trained to lie back and think of the party. Artificial insemination (or artsem in Newspeak) is recommended.
  • The Lovers has a similar situation for the population of the Haijac Union, though without artificial insemination and with both men and women trained from birth to not take any pleasure in sex (though they're also supposed to love their "daily duty") and the marriage arranged by the local gapt (whose role is a mix of priest and political commissar). It's openly stated that the only legally valid reasons for divorce, and thus not having children, are space travel (because the man would spend years or decades under cryogenic sleep and the age difference would become too great) and sterility... And the latter carries the risk of execution for the sterile one, as they'd be blamed for their "unreal thinking" making them sterile.
  • Camilla in Darkover Landfall: After being stuck on a Lost Colony, she gets pregnant thanks to Applied Phlebotinum and can't talk the doctor into giving her an abortion. She goes on to have a brood of children, and she doesn't seem to be happy about it. This ends up being a policy for all Darkovan women (particularly the Comyn). Later, Rohana Ardais also admits that she never wanted children, but had to have them. Later, a reaction to this trope occurs in the form of the Sisterhood of the Sword, and its successor, the Order of the Renunciates; the vows of the latter order include "to bear children only in my own time and season," and not play the Heir Club for Men game. Of course as Rohanna Ardais also points out, freedom to choose is no guarantee against making the wrong choice.
  • Zigzagged in S.L. Viehl's Blade Dancer: Jory and Kol must Mate or Die; he wants kids, she doesn't. Jory is not pregnant by the end of the book, but is at very least well on her way to changing her mind.
  • Kris in the Catteni series by Anne McCaffrey. It's a Lost Colony situation in which everyone has to breed, but Kris is involved in an Interspecies Romance and is apathetic on having kids (and definitely against cheating), even if her alien boyfriend doesn't mind. She then gets injured and winds up drinking to dull the pain to the point of blacking out and having sex with other humans. Twice.
  • In the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, every Liaden is required to have one temporary Arranged Marriage and produce a child to be their heir, to whom he or she is a legal single parent. They can foster the kid to be raised by someone else, but Everyone. Must. Have. One. (The Liadens nearly went extinct due to a Planet Eater species.)
  • Roger and Cecilia Checkerfield from The Company Novels didn't want kids, and Roger got a vasectomy. Too bad that Roger was employed by Dr. Zeus, who forced him to adopt one of their scientific projects as his own son.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell at Sealey Head, Ysabo is told the reason she must submit to the Arranged Marriage is to have a child; her mother and grandmother are baffled by her resistance since she must have one.
  • In Diane Duane's The Tale of the Five series, the entire human race is bisexual and both gay and poly marriages are common, but the Goddess requires that everyone must have at least one child at some point before they marry.
  • Lucia and Ben of Devil's Due would have liked to have officially started dating and having sex on their own recognizance and then decided for themselves, rather than having her be kidnapped while she's passed out due to anthrax poisoning and scientifically raped/artificially inseminated with Ben's sperm by the Cross Society.
  • In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, the Republic of Gilead has an entire caste of women (the Handmaids) whose sole function is to breed. Abortion and birth control for any woman are outlawed and punishable by the death penalty. Part of the logic for this is that there seems to be some sort of Sterility Plague (possibly related to widespread environmental degradation). In the afterword, the Sterility Plague is theorized to be mumps.
  • Subverted in Ursula Vernon's Black Dogs, where a character is raped for the sake of producing a powerful heir, but she aborts the zygote and to ensure that it never happens again she sterilizes herself.
  • The Iron Star has a thief who does not want to be a housewife or a mother or any kind of family woman. A Goddess overrules her (but the husband the goddess chose for her agrees to make life luxurious for her).
  • The Doctor Who novel The Eyeless takes place on a world where 99% of the population has been wiped out. The couple of hundred remaining survivors have worked out a plan for how many children each woman must have in order for the species to survive long term — and the loss of just a few children or potential parents could be devastating. The repopulation attempt is presented as an unfair, but necessary process, as it really is the only way their race is going to stay alive. At least one of the main characters, Alsa, is understandably upset about it, and her unwillingness to be a birthing machine for the rest of her life shows.
  • This is sometimes touched upon in Warrior Cats. The series has a large death rate where Anyone Can Die. Winter (or "leafbare" as its called) alone is very dangerous, nevermind predators and fight injuries. As a result, cats are encouraged to breed in order to make sure there's always enough warriors in the Clans. In one book, Bluestar's Prophecy, the title character is good with kits and raises her nephew after her sister's death but has no interest in having any of her own, Although it doesn't work out this way in the end. Naturally one of the Clan elders tells her she needs to "live her own life" now that her sister's son is grown. Because in order to live your own life, you have to have and raise children.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga plays with this. While there was always an element of Mandatory Motherhood for Vor women due to their low population, it was nevertheless understood and frequently referenced that many women might not want to have children, if only because, given the levels of technology available, it was a life-threatening risk every time. With the introduction of the uterine replicator into Barrayaran society, however, the concept of a woman who doesn't want children is erased, because the culturally acceptable 'excuse' for it is no longer valid. This has further effects because with this new technology the Traditionalist political party won't be able to shove the new Empress into a maternity ward; she can breed an heir and still be a dominant force in the politics of the empire. Lady Vorkosigan herself has a fierce devotion to the galactic reproductive technology itself as a delayed action social time bomb; a few decades of gender selection of offspring results in an acute shortage of eligible brides, and the girls and their families are able to pick and choose from the bachelors available. A man expecting the traditional child gestation that left Miles himself teratogenically crippled finds it nigh impossible to get hitched.
  • Alluded to in Terry Pratchett's Nation. It's not clear exactly how old Daphne is, but her own culture certainly considers her a child; the people of the Nation, however, have pretty much a response of 'what do you mean you've not had a kid yet?'
  • In Bumped by Megan McCafferty, teenage girls are paid lots of money to be "surrogates" after a virus makes everyone over 18 infertile. They are not allowed to keep their baby and even take medication so they will not form any attachments to the baby. Motherhood is glorified and even schools are encouraged to have as many pregnant teens as possible.
  • Princess Varencienne is married to Valraven to provide him with an heir in The Chronicles of Magravandias. She pretty much hates being a mother and refuses to have more children unless their son dies.
  • Arpazia in White as Snow bears a child after the king rapes her. Being his legal wife, she is expected to have more children, boys in particular. She, perhaps understandably, ignores her daughter completely.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: A Mandatory Fatherhood variant shows up in An'desha's backstory. As a teen, he showed no interest in courting any of the women in his clan, so his family started trying to push him into courting one of the shaych men and adopting kids. His refusal to do that (because he'd already sensed the Mage Gift stirring, meaning he would have to leave the Clans) is called selfishness.
  • In A Brother's Price, it's all very well if a woman doesn't want to get pregnant. She's generally got plenty of other sisters with whom to continue the bloodline. It's also considered nothing noteworthy if she finds small children annoying. Men, on the other hand, are rare and have to marry, are seriously looked down on if they turn out to be infertile, and are expected to do the softer sides of childrearing. A husband or brother who doesn't tend crying children is not well liked.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • Katniss Everdeen really doesn't want to get married and have children, mainly because she's petrified of the thought of being a mother whose children end up drawn in the reaping. In Catching Fire she is horrified when she realizes that President Snow is likely to insist that she and Peeta have children and that those children will probably end up in the Games due to rigged reapings. She finds it especially wretched since whether to marry or not and to have children or not is one of the few genuine freedoms people in the districts normally have.
    • It is implied that Peeta shares this fear as well, though once there are no more Hunger Games he really wants to have kids.
    • In Mockingjay she does eventually become a mother of her own free will. Though it takes a war that overthrows the government and ends the Games and even with that it still takes fifteen years of Peeta wanting children badly before she agrees.
  • Dragons in the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms world are required to take a mate and raise two young dragons. More is OK, but you have to produce two. (At least, the good-aligned dragons require this. So far, the readers haven't seen much of the evil ones.) Justified by the small population of dragons; without this rule, dragons would risk extinction.
  • Somewhat self-imposed by the Thulls in The Belgariad. Angarak priests won't sacrifice a pregnant woman (it messes up their quota), so Thullish ladies try to remain in that state as much as possible.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Starfog", Graydal, believing her ship has slipped through to another universe and can't return, regrets that they did not come with an equal number of men and women and observes that they will have to avoid the more settled planets where Population Control means not all women bear children. The Jacavarrie concludes that they have evolved a compulsive need to reproduce.
  • In Andre Norton's Dread Companion, in the end, Kilda is told bluntly at the end that an unattached woman in a small colony with five unattached men is unsettling; she must make her choice and settle down to a life of husband and children.
  • In Island in the Sea of Time, Marian Alston had two kids prior to the Event, and lost custody of both of them because she was a lesbian. She wasn't too keen on having more. Her post-Event lover Swindapa, on the other hand, REALLY wanted kids (motherhood is very important to her people.) Because Marian loved 'Dapa, she lets her adopt two orphans that they find during their English campaign (even though one of them is obviously the child of a Coast Guard officer who defected.)
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: It's revealed in Fire Star that Liz didn't plan on having children. But she did, and she's the best at her job.
  • Shahar Arameri in The Inheritance Trilogy has children not because she wants to, but first to show her devotion to Itempas, her godly lover, and later on because the religion she's become a high ranking member of requires that she pop out more babies. She's a disinterested mother at best, and turns to Offing the Offspring at worst.
  • It's stated that this happens in Anthem.
  • The graduates of the Schools in Anna Carey's Eve are forced to spend all their time pregnant with six or more fetuses each time.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Parenthood is the general expectation for ruling nobles in Westeros, the culture being driven by the Heir Club for Men. Most don't have much problem with it; a Rare Male Example to the contrary is Tyrion, who has a great deal of pressure put on him by his father to impregnate his new Stark bride, Sansa, so as to solidify the Lannister claim on the North. It's not so much the prospect of fatherhood per se that puts Tyrion off, but the fact that he would more or less need to rape his wife to get there. "When do you suppose she will be more fertile," he quips bitterly, "before or after we tell her that we had her brother killed?"
  • In The Giver, a portion of the female population of the dystopian Community is designated as Birthmothers at age 12 and artificially inseminated, producing three children to be immediately turned over to Nurturers, before joining the normal population as Laborers. All other postpubescents take medications which kill any sexual or reproductive desire.
  • Katsa from Graceling Realm is told even by well-meaning friends that she will eventually want children and marriage even though she pointedly does not. Ultimately averted though, as she's never forced into marriage or motherhood and ends the series childless and happy.
  • In World War Z, Russia suffers truly horrendous casualties in fighting off the Zombie Apocalypse. As a result, once peace is mostly returned, the women of the country are rounded up and turned into Baby Factories, with their only purpose in life being to get pregnant as often as possible so Russia can be repopulated as quickly as possible. They have no privacy, few possessions, the fathers of their children are random men, and the children are taken away as soon as they are weaned so the mothers can be impregnated again.
  • In Seveneves, the titular Seven Eves are women who ride out the apocalypse on a space station without any men. They feel obligated to artificially impregnate themselves in order to continue the human race.
  • In The Priory of the Orange Tree, the Berethnet Queen of Inys will always have one child, and that child will be the daughter who succeeds her to the throne. Sabran, the current queen, starts the book at twenty-eight and still resisting marriage and motherhood. She even tried to commission an alchemist for an elixir of life so she could avoid the risk of pregnancy entirely, thanks to her recurring nightmares about dying in childbirth and her emotional fear of being forgotten and unloved. She does finally marry and become pregnant, but her husband is killed and she loses both her pregnancy and her ability to carry a child in a dragon attack.
  • Randall Garrett's notorious The Queen Bee has a group of shipwrecked men on a deserted world decide to turn the three women with them into broodmares to try to found a colony (as required by law) despite the long odds against such a small seed population succeeding, odds that only get longer when the number of women is reduced to one lobotomized woman. In response, Joanna Russ wrote We Who Are About To, in which a woman in a similar situation reacts by killing all of them — Poul Anderson's Eve Times Four, in which the apparently identical situation turns out to be an unsuccessful hoax by a guy who just wanted a harem, was probably written in response as well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Devious Maids: All of the important female characters have children. Marisol has an adopted son, Eddie, because her husband left her; Zoila has Valentina; Carmen, who is the least domestic of the characters and has no interest in having kids, has a teenage daughter, Daniela, who she gave to her cousin to raise; Genevieve has Remi; Rosie has Miguel; Adrian and Evelyn had a son who died by being hit by a car when he was young, a loss they've never gotten over (and they later foster); Spence and Peri have Tucker. When Rosie fights with Lucinda about Lucinda spanking Miguel in Season 2, she tells Lucinda she has no right to judge as she doesn't have kids. Lucinda is devastated and calls it a very cruel thing to say. She's ultimately revealed to have had a daughter, but her father Kenneth forced her to give her up for adoption.
  • Gabrielle Solis from Desperate Housewives openly refused to have children for several seasons, then struggled with the idea and couldn't conceive, but finally gave birth to Juanita and later Celia between seasons. From that point all the leading characters of the show are moms.
    • An earlier example is Lynnette, who made very clear to her husband Tom that she did not want any children. The first time we meet her she has four kids.
    • In the last season, Julie becomes pregnant and faces an incredible pressure from her family to keep and raise the baby, even when she's been very clear since the beginning that she plans to give the baby up for adoption.
  • On Lost, Claire Littleton, left pregnant after her boyfriend walks out on her, plans to give the baby up for adoption, but a fortune teller advises her to take flight 815, which ends up stranding her on the island, where there are no adoption agencies.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), a civilian approaches Doc Cottle looking for an abortion, since she's pregnant out of wedlock and her home colony has taboos against it. But since the entire human race is now small enough to fit in a football stadium, President Roslin makes a tough call: outlawing abortions but allowing any expectant mothers to bring their child to be adopted, no questions asked.
  • In the series Deadly Women, the episode "Deadly Women Who Kill Their Own" related the story of Marie Noe, who killed all TEN of her children because she truly did not want children, but her priest said having her tubes tied would be a mortal sin. She was only caught, at age 70, when she confessed to the killings.
  • The Blacklist has a particularly twisted and horrifying example — all of the children offered by the Cyprus Adoption Agency — which specialises in offering genetically "ideal" infants to wealthy clients- are actually bred by dozens of abducted women (who fit various genetic profiles), held captive and unconscious at a fertility clinic while impregnated via artificial insemination; they are kept drugged throughout the entire pregnancy, through childbirth and beyond until it comes round to their turn again. The head of the adoption agency is the father of every single child, who wants to leave a "legacy", though the other members do it for profit (and possibly fear). In this case, it's not that they don't want the child — at least one does (who wakes up by accident, escapes, and is murdered), its that they don't even know they are mothers in the first place.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • As in the books with Tyrion Lannister, which confirms that yes, Sansa really isn't interested in bearing the Imp's children. She also spends a fair bit of time terrified of bearing Joffrey's children after she comes of age.
    • Just as Tyrion is pressed into marrying Sansa, his sister Queen Cersei is pressed into marrying another noble, Loras. He's from a house she hates, and even if he wasn't, Cersei has only just gotten rid of her previous unloved husband and is aghast at the prospect of getting another one. Not helping the case is her ruthless father Tywin, who's discussing his daughter's prospective marriage in terms of livestock husbandry.
  • House of the Dragon touches on this in the first episode. When Rhaenyra Targaryen laments that she does not want to go through something painful as a pregnancy, her mother Queen Aemma counsels her that "our battlefield is on the childbed". Rhaenyra herself is not averse to having children, however, considering that she ends up starting a family of five children as an adult.
  • Supergirl (2015): Pleasantly subverted when Maggie tells Alex that she doesn't want kids. Alex *really* does, and they break up over it, but neither party is presented as being unreasonable or wrong. The split is heart-breaking for both of them, but they part ways maturely and amicably after realizing they just don't see eye-to-eye on what their future together looks like.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Bearing children is considered the greatest female virtue in the Greater Nazi Reich. When Juliana defects to the GNR in Season 2, she is told by a doctor performing an inspection who's specialized in "racial science" (among other things, measuring her skull and skin tone) that she has an injury which may render her infertile and endanger her chances for a visa. Juliana later becomes close with a Stepford Smiler among the Nazi elite who has had problems becoming pregnant. She fears her social position may be endangered because her husband has started to move on.
  • As in the book, The Handmaid's Tale forces all Handmaids to bear a child for high-ranking Commanders and their Wives, and birth control is illegal.
  • An Alfred Hitchcock Presents story has a woman take a drug that shows her a future where she is bedridden and continually pregnant. A doctor in our time has accidentally invented a virus that kills all men; the surviving women set up a society where some women are designated as breeders. After she returns to our time, she kills the doctor to prevent this future, only to find his research will be carried on by his son, who of course bears the same name.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, mankind is ordered to "be fruitful and multiply," which has traditionally been seen as a command to have children if at all possible. The Patriarchs and Matriarchs, for example, went through a lot knowing that God's plans relied on them producing the Jewish people, as did Moses' parents in the wake of Pharaoh's decree.
    • Onan was killed by God for refusing to have a child with Tamar, his dead brother's wife, as per the laws of levirate marriage (in short, he was required to marry his brother's wife and their first son would be his brother's, to continue on his brother's family line). Of course, he told her he would (thus avoiding public shaming and being cast out of his family) and then performed coitus interruptus to prevent it.note 
    • It should be noted that, under OT law, while there is Mandatory Fatherhood, there is no Mandatory Motherhood; a man is obligated to marry and produce children if he can, but a woman is free not to marry, or, by extension, have children. However, there were two very good reasons to have children. Having children was a mark of prestige, and secondly, your children were supposed to take care of you in your old age. If you hadn't had children, you would've been out of luck in your golden years.
    • In Deuteronomy 25:5-6, if a woman's husband dies without leaving her any child, and if the husband has an unmarried brother living nearby, then the brother must marry the widow and father a child through her so that her dead husband's name would not be blotted out from Israel with the first child (ideally a son) that is sired. (In the Book of Ruth, this law extends to even the husband's living male relatives from his own family line.) If the husband's brother refuses to marry her, verses 7 to 10 says that he must be brought before the elders of the city, and if he still declares that he isn't going to marry her, then the widow may pull off his sandal, spit in his face, and say, “So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” And that man's house from then on will be referred to as "the house of the unsandaled man."
    • And then Paul, writing in the New Testament, subverted the blazes out of it by sayingnote  it was fine for men and women not to marry, or marry, as they chose (though if "not", they were to abstain from sex). This could be because he expected the world to end within the next few decades ("time is short"), making populating the earth pointless; another interpretation (since the world didn't end) is that he was predicting the future persecution that the church would face at the hands of Rome, and an I Have Your Wife situation could make it that much more difficult for a person to choose to be a faithful martyr rather than to forsake Christianity. A third theory is that he is simply supporting other early Christians who chose celibacy as an act of devotion.
    • While the above was aimed at the Christian population in general, Paul plays it straight later on in his writings to Timothy. He saysnote  that a man is not fit to run a church unless (among other traits) he first has experience running a family. The contradiction is possibly due to the fact that the epistle in question was written by someone else in the following century and attributed to Paul. Alternatively, it could be seen as an instruction that, while singlehood is fine for lay members of the congregation, marriage and fatherhood is mandatory for one who wants a position of authority.
    • Some sects of the Abrahamic religions view it as their moral duty to have as many children as possible to provide endless soldiers for God. This was at least part of the reason that Old Testament Israel was known for having many children: the bloodline had to continue in order for God's promise to Abraham that the Savior of the world would be born from his seed to be fulfilled. The flip side of this is that, since Christianity is based solely on one's belief and not on one's parentage, most modern denominations of Christianity are much more lax and only subject to the same Not Wanting Kids Is Weird feelings of their culture at large, rather than insisting that all members bear children (though of course there are a couple like that; Christian denominations are diverse, and drawing generalizations about 2.4 billion people can get dicey).
    • In the Book of Genesis, Sarah gives her maidservant Hagar permission to sleep with Abraham and bear children on her behalf. That seems like a somewhat strange thing to do from the viewpoint of modern audiences, but she did it because she'd been infertile for many years and was approaching (or possibly going through) menopause. The Code of Hammurabi stated that if a wife could not bear children, she was to get one of her slaves to do it for her, as the primary purpose of marriage back then wasn't so much love and companionship as producing a legitimate heir, strengthening sociopolitical alliances, economic reasons, etc. She was just doing her duty under that code.

  • The first 17 of William Shakespeare's sonnets revolve around persuading a man that this applies to him.
    Dear my love, you know,
    You had a father: let your son say so.
  • In T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland, invoked. Two women in a bar — one complaining about her pregnancies; the other's response:
    What you get married for if you don't want children?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted:
    • Terrestrials are strongly encouraged to marry and have babies regardless of sexual orientation since theirs is the only sort of Exaltation that's hereditary. That said, in the Realm, a Terrestrial's obligation to breed is done as soon as they have produced two children. (Note that, on all other counts, male and female Terrestrials are socially and politically equal.)
    • Inverted with the Abyssals, who suffer divine (or at least infernal) punishment if they procreate. The Neverborn created them to get rid of all those pesky living creatures, damn it, not to go around making new ones! There's a twist, though: if the child is with their Lunar Mate, the Neverborn can cry about it all they want, but they can't do a damn thing.
  • A sore point for many fans of Werewolf: The Apocalypse is how werewolves are expected to marry kinfolk (humans who carry the recessive shapeshifter gene) and hopefully make werewolf babies, since lycanthropy is passed through plain old sexual reproduction in this game, regardless of whether or not either one has other plans. It's treated like Arranged Marriage at best and flat-out rape at worst. While it is possible for a Black Fury to reach a leadership position without having borne at least one child, few will take such seriously without a high-Glory Battle Scar to explain the lack of a working womb.
  • Pathfinder: The Gnolls are Heinous Hyena-like Beast Men who practice Slavery and worship a Goddess of Evil. Females who haven't either given birth or been chosen as priestesses by 15 are sacrificed to appease their goddess.

  • In Twelfth Night, one argument used on Olivia.
    Lady, you are the cruel'st she alive
    If you will lead these graces to the grave
    And leave the world no copy.
  • In Much Ado About Nothing one argument used by Benedick on himself.
    No! The world must be peopled. When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.
  • In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo laments that Rosalind neglects her duty in this, cutting off her beauty from all posterity.
  • In All's Well That Ends Well, Parolles tells Helena that preserving virginity neglects this duty, which could produce ten virgins from losing hers.
  • In the Mrs. Hawking play series, the title character has no desire for marriage or children whatsoever. But we learn in the first installment that she was at one point miserably pregnant with a baby she continually wished would just go away. When she finally bore the stillborn child, her husband was devastated and she became wracked with guilt that it was her fault it had died. To this day, she still dislikes hearing or saying the name Gabriel, the name her husband wanted to give the boy.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Genealogy of the Holy War, the fourth game in the series, every last female character recruited in the first half of the game has two kids if she falls in love with someone. One boy and one girl each, no exceptions. And it's a massive Generation Xerox for classes depending on who the fathers are.
    • Likewise, in Fire Emblem: Awakening all the females recruited in the first half (with the exception of Anna), and Cherche in the second half, if they fall in love and marry, will have one child in the future, possibly two if they marry Chrom or the Avatar. And in Chrom's case, it's Mandatory Fatherhood (with him moreso, in fact, for plot reasons he has to marry by a certain chapter in order for him to father Lucina, and if none of his prospective brides are available he'll marry a nameless NPC).
    • However, in Fire Emblem Fates, the only one who has Mandatory Motherhood is Azura (and female Corrin), otherwise, it's Mandatory Fatherhood.
  • While not strictly mandated, the Quarian race of aliens in Mass Effect, forced to live on an enormous fleet of mostly hand-me-down starships after having been exiled from their homeworld by their own robotic creations, and this trope may or may not be in effect depending on the state of the fleet. The Quarian Flotilla will occasionally be put into a state of overpopulation so they have incentives to have fewer children, and when they are underpopulated they will start giving things like tax breaks and other rewards to people who have multiple children. Fewer births are the norm though.
  • Papers, Please: Anyone employed by the communist regime, including your player character, is expected to maintain a large and healthy family. If all your other family members die due to sickness or starvation, your game ends.
  • There is a prompt to "Do your part in repopulating species" from Half-Life 2. However, this was a short time after a sterility field had gone down, so this is not so much an obligation to reproduce, so much as an announcement that people are finally free to make babies again.
  • Any straight couple that engages in "woohoo" in The Sims Medieval may produce a baby. Unlike in other Sims games, there is no way to prevent this. Supposedly this is a justified example since birth control hasn't been invented yet, but birth control was used at least since the Roman Empire was in powernote .
  • Enforced by the Crusader Kings games. As the goal of the game is to keep your dynasty in power over hundreds of years, someone will need to bear your character's children each generation to carry on their legacy.

    Visual Novels 
  • Long Live the Queen:
    • Enforced with nobility, all of whom are expected to have children to inherit their titles; most of them tend to have a lot of children as a result. The player character Elodie gets this in particular, since she's the crown princess. Even if she ends up with a female companion, she may either sleep with an unseen man or use her Lumen magic to impregnate herself. One of her aunt Lucille's plans to get her daughter Charlotte on the throne is to make Elodie infertile.
    • Elodie's father Joslyn is a gender-inverted example; Elodie is his only child and she can't inherit his titles since she's the crown princess, so he's being pressured to remarry despite being rather averse to the idea. The player character can influence this, but generally he remains devoted to his late wife. It does help that he has several nieces and nephews to whom he could presumably leave his titles.
    • Deconstructed with Adair's mother Cayleigh; she was pressured into marriage and motherhood at a young age due to the need for an heir to her titles, but passed away in childbirth. Some of her surviving family members got into nasty arguments over who was to blame for her death, and her son Adair has the potential to be assassinated halfway through the game since he's now the only heir left.
    • Brin is a lesbian with no interest in men, but depending on the player character's choices, she can adopt her brother Banion's son or marry Elodie's father. If the player forces her to marry an Ixionite and passes the relevant skill check, Elodie will take her aside and explain that Brin needs an heir but doesn't necessarily need to stay married once she has one, which is enough to satisfy Brin (and keep her and her brother from being furious at you).
  • The space colony of Talaam in Our Personal Space doesn't even try to be subtle about its attempts to enforce this, even going so far as to mainly bring in young couples as settlers in the hope that they'll reproduce and boost the newly founded colony's population. The protagonist even notes, much to her chagrin, that they brought a very limited supply of birth control, but plenty of pregnancy tests.

    Web Comics 
  • In Freefall, Florence regards it as a duty since there are only 14 of her species. This precludes Interspecies Romance — she can't ask Winston to support puppies not his own. Though when Doctor Bowman actually offers to implant her with one of the extra Bowman's Wolf embryos left over from the initial experiments, she declines, on the grounds that she isn't in a situation where she could properly care for a child at that time.
  • My Life at War: Dhuvalia has a 'must have children if you are fertile/virile' policy due to the influence of worshiping a fertility goddess as their Top God. While their religion doesn't restrict science, it sees 'fertility' as a virtue; being gay isn't a crime if one can lie back and think of Dhuvalia or agree to artificial insemination, but refusing to sire any children is.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the "Space Race" two-parter on Archer, mutineers take over the Horizon space station and hold Lana captive by posing as the mutinees and hiring ISIS so that they can colonize Mars and use her for breeding. (They also try to capture Pam, Malory, and Cheryl but fail.) This plan, in reality, would cause horrible birth defects due to the ungodly amounts of incest, but the mutineers clearly aren't right in the head.

Alternative Title(s): Childfree Is Not Allowed, You Must Breed, Reluctant Flower Pot, Mandatory Fatherhood