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Pregnancy Does Not Work That Way

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Pregnancy and/or birth, as depicted by fiction. After all, being the way babies form, they've oughta be featured prominently in fiction — and often behave in ways that the Real Life biology of this sort of stuff doesn't behave. This is almost always done on purpose; after all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know how the formation of a baby works.

A sub-index of Artistic License – Biology, Pregnancy Tropes, and Birth Tropes. Overlaps with An Eggcellent Index for animals that lay eggs.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto: Naruto was born the day of the Demon Fox attack. But at the time of the sealing, he is shown without an umbilical stump. That usually doesn't happen until ten days after birth.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer miniseries "Viva Las Buffy", in which our heroine travels to Las Vegas, the villains are two twins joined at the hip: the man's a vampire, the woman's a mortal with deadly aim. One problem: their joining was so minor (both had full limbs and organs), any sane doctor would have separated them at birth — and conjoined twins are identical and not fraternal and would therefore necessarily be of the same sex. This being Buffy (and as such, anything can happen), a wizard probably did it.

    Fan Works 
  • Full Metal Dragon doesn't even have to start before this happens. Jake's mom had an affair while she was still pregnant with him, resulting in two infants. Jake stayed with them while the other child went with his father, Hoenheim of Light. While this is possible (it's called superfetation) it's also ridiculously rare — there have been only ten known human cases.

    Films — Animation 
  • Leo the Lion: Savanna's calves are connected by the tail. This can't happen in real life due to the way animal embryos are formed.
  • The Lion King: A relatively small thing, but none of the cubs in either of the movies seem to be part of a litter. Though lionesses typically have small litters (usually just two or three cubs at a time) and having a single cub is certainly possible, to have all of these cubs being single births is quite bizarre.

  • In Expedition, pregnant Daggerwrists are cannibalistic and are executed by their tribes when their single offspring is born. If you can't do the math, this means that at least two Daggerwrists will die for every one born.
  • There is a Dutch book by A.F.Th. van der Heijden called Het Leven uit Een Dag (Life in a Day). Humans only live one day in the book and can only have sex once, then their reproductive organs will wither away (the woman will get pregnant instantly). Since the humans in that world only get one child, each generation will be half the size of the previous one. Since a new generation only takes a day to grow up and die, humankind would be extinct pretty darn soon.
  • In Nutshell, the unborn protagonist's mother drinks wine while pregnant. Surprisingly, rather than cause birth defects, it just dulls the child's senses for a short amount of time.
  • The Twilight Saga:
    • Vampires don't have any blood in their tissues, so Edward shouldn't be able to get an erection in the first place. Also, Meyer has said that Vampires' cells don't divide, but sperm cells are created by a type of cell division called meiosis, which means that Vampire men shouldn't be able to get women pregnant repeatedly a la Nahuel's father.
    • Meyer stated that the reason female vampires can't get pregnant is that when you become a vampire your body can't change. That goes for male and female... so how do they have sex? Male and females reproductive organs have to be able to "change" in order to have sex and it's unlikely every single vampire was turned when they were having sex or aroused.
    • Vampire venom at one point was stated to replace all fluids in the body, which is why it turns into a sparkly rock-like substance. If you follow that logic, his semen should have been replaced. So the first time they had sex and he orgasmed... she should have become a vampire instead of becoming pregnant.
    • Also, Vampires somehow gain two extra pairs of chromosomes after they change. Yeah.note 
    • It also brings up the question of why Vampires would even need to produce semen if the species can functionally reproduce via biting humans.
  • In The Future of The Ship Who... Killed, humans are Long-Lived and often still active over the age of a hundred. It's common for people to bank sperm or ova, letting them have children later or allowing widows and widowers to have Someone to Remember Him By. Helva goes on some "Stork Runs" with Kira - after the population of the planet of Nekkar is unexpectedly sterilized and its gene banks are destroyed, they take them a cargo of fertilized ova of similar genotypes, kept alive in "ribbons". If most of that sounds fairly plausible... well, it is, but it may not have been at publication in 1966.
    • Helva relates the stored embryos to herself in her titanium life-support shell with the difference being that these will one day leave their cocoons, and jokes that when they leave her hold she's giving birth to thousands at a time.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • No mention is made of estrous cycles; female warriors seem to be able to get pregnant and have kits whenever they feel like it. Real female cats can only get pregnant during their estrous cycles.
    • Cat pregnancies are depicted as longer than they actually are. Birthing is also portrayed as painful, difficult and as prone to complications as human childbirth, as well as very quick, with the kittens coming one right after another and the whole thing lasting less than an hour. In real life, cat births are much easier than human births, a trait common in all quadrupeds — for obvious reasons, the less likely an animal is to die in childbirth or miscarry, the likelier it is that she will pass on her genes in surviving offspring. As such, natural selection has ensured that most mammals can give birth with ease — human childbirth complications are mostly due to our fairly quick shift to full bipedalism causing some drastic rearrangements of our internal anatomy, and because we developed midwives who made it possible for mother and baby to survive some difficult births and pass large-headed genes on. Also, cat births tend to be fairly long — the whole process usually takes up to twelve hours, with the mother having time to thoroughly clean and groom each kitten before the next is born.
  • In The Immortals, a pregnant dragon who's already at the point of having contractions miscarries and the contractions stop. Daine, who's only just learned how to heal mundane animals, has a bout of Power Incontinence and heals her - the dragon's fetus returns to life and the contractions start again, and she flies off to give birth. In live bearing animals, regardless of whether a fetus is alive it still has to leave the womb and contractions continue regardless. Admittedly, this is a dragon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Catastrophe: The sex of the baby can already be seen on the ultrasound, even though it's only been just over a month from the likely conception date (Rob is told by Sharon that she's pregnant thirty-two days after, and goes immediately to London). Fetal genitalia doesn't even develop until around the ninth week, and can't usually be seen until twelve weeks at the earliest. Sharon should only be in the fifth to sixth week at the most.
  • Played for laughs in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finale concert, where a couple of guys dressed as sperm for the number "My Sperm Is Healthy" try to impregnate Rachel Bloom just by smacking against her body.
    Rachel: Oh, they're trying to get me pregnant. They don't know how it works.
  • Eleventh Hour likes to screw up cloning (at least the clones are born as infants and not carbon-copy adults with complete memories). In the first episode, Jacob Hood insists that cloned pregnancies are more dangerous to the mother carrying the clone and that you need the "real scientist" at the birth, when in fact a cloned infant poses no more threat to the mother than an in vitro pregnancy, which is scarcely more risky than a natural one (and in fact the mother's health is only in jeopardy if her own body is incapable of carrying a pregnancy; if the baby is unhealthy it will simply miscarry). Then in a later episode, he makes the claim that clones are born genetically the same age as the original that they were copied from (so even though they look like babies, their genes are actually adult or even geriatric), stating that the telomeres which break off each time a cell replicates are severely shortened. However, scientific research measuring telomere lengths has proved this to be false; the developing embryo somehow "knows" how long its telomeres should be and resets them to this length with the enzyme telomerase.
  • Friends: Rachel is pregnant for at least fifteen months, being already pregnant at Chandler and Monica's wedding (May 15th) and going on maternity leave in August the next year. Not to mention the episode with Emma's first birthday party airing in the fall.
  • Happy Days: One episode features a pregnant beatnik, who passes out due to her pregnancy. While this technically can happen, it is extremely rare unless the woman is anemic, which this woman didn't seem to be.
  • In an in-universe case of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, one episode has a defendant in a rape case mount a defense based on the idea that women can't get pregnant from rape, and therefore, since his victim is pregnant, it proves that it was consensual sex. The main characters know it's complete nonsense (especially given that one of the protagonists is actually a Child by Rape), but the defendant spins the story well enough to deadlock the jury.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The way the Occampans (Kes' race) reproduces makes no real sense. The child can only be delivered standing up (the baby coming from the back), maximizing the chance of mortality from the baby falling to the ground, sex (or at least reproduction) is a very complicated procedure that includes foot massaging, and they only become able to bear children once in their lives. Even if both the men and the women of the species had babies with a 0% mortality rate (and none of those babies die between birth and having their own child) that means they can only maintain their current numbers. The expanded universe explained the first point by saying that twins and triplets are common among the Ocampa, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that they can only give birth while standing up, increasing the chance somebody is going to drop the baby upon delivery. note 

  • Chainmail Bikini: In-Universe, Josh is called on the fact his character can't in fact be half ogre, half dark elf and half human at the same time unless he had three parents. He claims the character does — we cut to an image of a human male in bed with an ogre female and dark elf female. Funnily enough, while that itself is impossible, if the sex ratios were reversed it actually could happen, though it's rare-two fertilized ova can fuse to become what's called a chimera (women can become pregnant by different men if it's within three days). Of course, since this is fantasy, they could just say it's caused by magic too.

    Western Animation 
  • At the end of the Family Guy episode "Quagmire's Quagmire", Quagmire gets a call from his trans male-to-female father saying that she's pregnant. As explored on South Park when Mr. Garrison got a sex change, his father wouldn't be able to carry a child because the surgery wouldn't have given her the organs needed to do so.
  • The Loud House: In "Stall Monitor", Carol Anne the goat gives birth prematurely from spicy food — in real life, spicy food only causes preterm labour if the woman is sensitive to spicy food, which Carol Anne was evidently not as she had no intestinal problems.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: "Truth or Square" has a flashback to SpongeBob in his mother's womb (pictured above). Putting aside that sea sponges reproduce asexually, it also shows his mother with a square belly, SpongeBob able to speak in the womb, and SpongeBob removing his umbilical cord from his belly button to suck it like a straw.