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Pregnancy Scare

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Yeah, I was foolish and wild
She was classic and regal
We we're fresh outta school
Both barely legal
We were young and on fire
And just couldn't wait
Six weeks in
She was three weeks late
— "Two Pink Lines", Eric Church

A couple has had sex. They enjoyed it. There was an afterglow. In the heat of the moment, nobody considered condoms or birth control. Or maybe they did but were in a bit of a hurry. Or maybe there was a condom (see But We Used a Condom!).

Regardless, the woman announces her period is late, or starts every morning greeting John. Note that there are many reasons a period may be late or absent, ranging from menopause to diet or exercise programs to stress to health issues of various sorts, to just being late. But in this trope, she always jumps straight to "I'm pregnant".

She tells the guy who — in this trope — is almost never happy or ready to deal with this revelation that he may be about to be a father. They worry, they fret — separately or together — about what to do, and whether to consider abortion, adoption, keeping the baby, and what it will mean for their relationship in any of these instances. They agonize over the implications and whether they're ready to be parents. Will they be good ones? All the what ifs!

Then there's a pregnancy test — which comes up negative (or perhaps it was all some kind of huge misunderstanding). They are usually relieved, although there's sometimes a bittersweet mélange of disappointment that there will be no unexpected blessed event.

If she's actually pregnant, it's not a scare; that's another trope altogether.

Often occurs after a one-night stand or between two people not in a relationship. The version where it's the man who is freaking out about it is common too.

On many occasions, when there's a pregnancy scare, it leads to discussion about the guy getting a vasectomy. But the vasectomy episode is another plot completely.

Relational Troping:


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  • There was a series of ads for pregnancy tests which had three sets of couples:
    • couple who want a baby and she's pregnant: YAY!
    • couple who want a baby and she's not pregnant: AWW!
    • couple who don't want a baby and she's not pregnant: WHEW!
    • The "couple who don't want a baby and she is pregnant" version was never included in the ad.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Great Snake's Bride: After Miyo and Daija spend some time together at a cave Daija was hibernating in, Miyo discovers that her period is late and thinks she has gotten pregnant from the encounter. When she tells Daija, he points out that they did nothing more than make out; Miyo thinks that Daija's supernatural powers can make her pregnant from just that, but Daija explains that he has no such ability. The missed period is because she had little food to eat throughout the winter.
  • GTO: The Early Years:
    • Makoto (pictured) has one when a girl he hooked up with tells him she's pregnant. He really doesn't want to get married and become a father, but everyone around him is supportive of him doing so. It gets to the point that they run away while the Onibaku are fighting off her father's men, only to find out she's not actually pregnant. They stay together anyway.
    • In Chapter 209, Nagisa goes to the hospital when her period is a few days late, and after Ryuji and his friends see her there they draw the obvious conclusion. She tries to tell them the truth, but they get carried away talking about parenthood and baby names. At the end of the chapter, she finds out she's not pregnant, but doesn't tell Ryuji until the next chapter, when he's already started remodeling their bus to get ready for the baby.
  • Horimiya: After Hori and Miyamura get into a fight and stop talking to each other for a few days, Hori texts Miyamura that her period's late. Miyamura gets so shocked that he spits apple juice on Ishikawa. Hori then sends him another text clarifying that she's joking.
  • In This Corner of the World: Suzu experiences a loss of appetite, which initially makes she and her husband Shuusaku assume that she's gotten pregnant. She comes back from the doctor diagnosed as not with child, since stress and a bad diet due to wartime is preventing her from getting her period. Her sister-in-law Keiko makes her eat a very skimpy meal (a small bowl of plain rice) to make up for the extra she had eaten the day before (her family isn't cruel, just being realistic in the face of wartime food shortages).

    Comic Books 
  • Silver Sable and the Wild Pack: Happened to Silver Sable. She thought she was pregnant after sleeping with her ex-husband and starting making plans to retire from the adventuring business. It turned out to be a glitch in her cycle and her doctor pointed out this was probably for the best as the reckless actions she had taken while she thought she was pregnant indicated she really wasn't ready to be a mother.

    Fan Works 
  • Miraculous: Marinette's Predicament: Marinette becomes ill, having various stomach pains and vomiting, leading to Adrien humoring the idea that she is pregnant again. This is later confirmed to just be a bug, four pregnancy tests and a visit to the doctor confirming this.
  • Love Can Surprise You At Any Time In Your Life: Pre-canon, Leela was worried she was pregnant while dating Sean. She wasn't, just stressed, and came away thinking she might not be able to get pregnant from a human (thinking she was an alien at the time). It's implied Sean's relief about this was a major red flag for their relationship, but also what made Leela realize she actually wants kids with the right person.
  • In the Mob Psycho 100 gender swap fanfic Nothing Breaks Like a Heart Mob(female) and Serizawa have one in chapter 22. Despite being on birth control this is a very real possibility for them as Mob was never good about taking it at the exact same time each day and due to her powers, her periods are never regular.
  • Predator and Prey: After being raped by Alejandro, Bridgette fears she may have conceived his child (or contracted an STD) when she returns to the Aftermath. Thankfully, a trip to the doctor confirms everything is fine, and Bridgette will not have a Child by Rape.

  • In Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the protagonist's girlfriend reveals to him that she missed her last two periods. His excitement is underwhelming which earns him a slap in the face. Later we learn that the girlfriend made her pregnancy up just to observe his reaction.
  • In Grease, Rizzo and Kenickie's pregnancy scare is a major subplot. In this case, it averts But We Used a Condom!, because Kenickie broke the condom while putting it on, and they do it anyway.
  • Look Both Ways (2022): The plots diverge based on Natalie feeling unwell and taking a pregnancy test after her hookup with Gabe. In the Austin reality, she's actually pregnant, but in the Los Angeles reality it was because of food poisoning.
  • In Preacher's Kid, Angie manages to get positive results on two pregnancy tests
  • Into the Forest: Nell is relieved over getting her period after having unprotected sex with Eli, making her think that Devlin has gotten her pregnant. Ultimately, it's revealed that she somehow "messed up" the tests.
  • In The Meddler 2015, Lori panics at possibly being pregnant so her mother Marnie buys her a pregnancy test. It comes back positive as do several other tests Lori takes. Turns out Marnie accidentally bought ovulation tests.
  • Somebody I Used to Know: Cassidy relates that she and Sean got engaged partly because they thought she'd gotten pregnant, though it turned out not to be the case, but they never talked about it later.

  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's novel Barrayar, Dru is very afraid that she's pregnant after sleeping with Lt. Koudelka. She doesn't tell him about it but acts so nervous that he becomes convinced that he had been mistaken about her consent and had raped her.
  • Happens to Tibby in the fourth The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book, after a condom accident. Though it wouldn't have been quite so bad if she hadn't been juggling multiple Idiot Balls during the whole thing. Without waiting for any indication that she was actually pregnant, she freaked out over the exact timing of when her period is due (is it one month after the last one began or after the last one ended?) and broke up with her boyfriend out of fear of the pregnancy.
  • To Sail Beyond the Sunset: Happens to one of Maureen's daughters when her then-boyfriend refused to stop after the condom broke. She's not pregnant, her period shows up two days later, but it's still a valid concern — the daughter in question had been refusing to admit she was sexually active, so Maureen hadn't been able to give her any sex ed, and the pre-World War I era wasn't exactly accepting of unmarried mothers.
  • Lovely Assistant by Geoph Essex: Blink and you'll miss it (it's just one paragraph in a long book). Jenny specifically notes a minor pregnancy scare before coming to the conclusion that she probably can't even menstruate anymore, now that she's a reaper.
  • Stim: Chloe loses her contraceptive pills during the second earthquake in Kaleidoscope. When she suffers nausea, she worries it's morning sickness. At first she thinks it might be the product of her Shower of Love with Angelo, until he tells her he had his tubes tied, meaning the baby must be Robert's. Then she goes to the doctor's for a pregnancy test, which comes back negative.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Misfits: Seth finds a used pregnancy test — positive — and freaks out because he thinks he's gotten Kelly pregnant. He hasn't. Curtis has gotten himself pregnant in a Sex Shifting mishap.
  • Used on Switch (a short-lived sitcom in which husband and wife swap bodies); after something over a month, the husband in the wife's body has not yet had a period, and they worry that he's pregnant. He goes to the gynecologist's office and hears all sorts of horror stories about how painful giving birth is. Turns out he's just overstressed, which causes irregular periods.
  • On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai has a sudden craving for fresh fruit which hadn't happened since she was pregnant with Rory. She starts to think she might be pregnant by Luke but later finds out she is not. He never finds out about the scare.
  • In Bones, Cam panics when she finds a positive pregnancy test in the lab's bathroom, considering that her teenage daughter had recently used it. She interrogates Brennan — not guilty — and realizes that it was Angela's. Who got a false positive, naturally.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • In the episode ACDC, Rosa thinks she might be pregnant. She and Holt use it as an excuse to cut the dinner party short, although they keep the possible pregnancy a secret until Rosa can take a test.
    • In the Opening Episode of Season 7, Amy is worried that she had missed her period and might be pregnant. It turns out to be a false alarm — she got her period later and the test came out negative — but she and Jake discuss trying to have children sooner than planned because they were secretly disappointed the test had come out negative.
  • In Plain Sight: Mary hopes that her pregnancy will turn out to be this, even after the positive test. The doctor then gently reminds her that she'd have to be seriously ill to get a false positive.
  • Saturday Night Live parodied pregnancy test commercials with a one-night-stand couple who really didn't want to be pregnant. Here it is on Hulu: [1]
  • Part of a story arc in an episode of Roseanne between Dan and Roseanne. The scare ends up convincing them they actually do want to try for a fourth child.
  • The The Golden Girls episode "The End of the Curse", Blanche believes that she's pregnant and spends the first part of the episode trying to work out who the father might be, when in fact she's entering menopause.
  • On Grimm, Juliette has to have sex with Nick to restore his powers, but she has to do so while transformed into Adalind. Afterward, she starts having headaches and stomach pains and Rosalee suggests she might be pregnant. It's not so much the possibility of a pregnancy that worries Juliette, but the chance that the baby would have some connection to Adalind. It later turns out she's not pregnant. Instead, the ritual turned her into a Hexenbiest.
  • M*A*S*H. A subplot of "What's Up Doc?" has Margaret believing she's pregnant after having spent R&R in Tokyo with Penobscott, which upsets her because a pregnancy would be the end of her career, not to mention that she and Donald are having problems and really shouldn't be starting a family in that situation. For confirmation, Hawkeye borrows Radar's female bunny for Margaret's pregnancy test, which results turn up negative; apparently, Margaret was simply having gallbladder problems.
  • In the That '70s Show episode "The Pill", Jackie has a pregnancy scare. Donna starts taking the titular contraceptive, so the same thing wouldn't happen to her.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Robin is convinced that she is pregnant with Barney's child after she's late and "I'm never late!" In one of the most heart-wrenching mood swings, she finds out that, not only is she not pregnant, but she can never have kids.
  • ER did this with Doug and Carol. True to form after they learned that she wasn't pregnant, they realized that they were disappointed rather than relieved.
  • Happens to Emily on Adam Ruins Everything. The test comes up positive, and she has a baby after the Time Skip before Adam reveals that that's just one possible timeline, and the test comes up negative.
  • General Hospital's Laura had this after being raped by Luke, realizing that she was experiencing morning sickness and had missed her period. It turned out to be due to stress from her ordeal.
  • In The Rookie, Nolan's girlfriend takes a home pregnancy test and it comes up positive. She makes a doctor's appointment to get a definitive confirmation and tells him. He's supportive (already being a father from his first marriage) and tells her they'll get through it together. He's anxious throughout the episode about being a cop and having a child at his age and gets even more anxious when his sergeant tells him about how hellish it was for him to go through the same thing. At the end of the episode, the girlfriend tells Nolan that it was a false positive but that she does want children. He expresses his reluctance to be a father at this point in his life and suggests they wait. Given her age, she tells him that it's pretty much a "now or never" situation. They realize they can't come to an agreement on this and decide to break up.
  • Scrubs: Dr. Cox and Jordan think she might have gotten pregnant again and sweat out the test. It comes back negative, and Jordan comments how this actually makes her a little sad, only belatedly noticing that Cox has vanished. Cut to him ecstatically running down the middle of the street in traffic, still in his pajamas, yelling "IT CAME BACK BLUE! SHE'S NOT PREGNANT!"
  • Briefly mentioned in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Staircase Implementation." After Leonard has, another, loud argument with Sheldon, he goes across the hall into Penny's apartment and tells her the story of how he moved in with Sheldon when he had just started at Cal-Tech seven years before, and how after a miscalculation with some rocket fuel, Sheldon decided not to rat him out for destroying the elevator. When Leonard asks Penny what she was doing seven years before, she says she was still in high school deciding her future and wanting to change the world, cut to a Flashback where she and her boyfriend are looking at a pregnancy test, and she squeals with glee when the result is negative.
  • In Young Sheldon, Georgie and his girlfriend Jana go through this, with Jana thinking she's pregnant and Georgie panicking over the possible changes this will have on him. The test comes back negative, with Georgie being relieved that he didn't have to marry Jana, with that last part deeply upsetting her.
  • The Mick: Mickey fakes this on Sabrina to insure she doesn't really get pregnant, after learning she's not using birth control of any kind with her boyfriend. It works, though not before her boyfriend chivalrously offers to marry her when they think she's actually pregnant.
  • You Me Her: Izzy has one briefly because her period's (which is usually "like clockwork") a little late, though she soon turns out to not really be pregnant. However, it makes Izzy realize that she'd like a baby someday, as she's a bit disappointed about this.

  • Two Pink Lines by Eric Church has two barely legal teens having a summer fling, and when she is late, they go to a store and pretty much the rest of the song is the guy's thoughts during the long three-minute wait for the test to finish.

  • Played for Laughs in this Fall On Me, where the female character lies about it to scare the male character out of his hiccups.
  • Lore Olympus: After waking up from a nightmare in which she’s pregnant, Persephone freaks out, worrying that Apollo may have impregnated her. Fortunately, her test results are negative.
  • In the "Anne's Pregnant?" arc of S.S.D.D. Anne throws up at work the day after discussing the possibility of marriage with Richard. She takes a pregnancy test and while waiting both she and Richard are freaking out and thinking about how their lives could change. Then when the test is complete Anne asks Richard what he'd do if, hypothetically, she were pregnant, and after he faints and babbles about taking care of her she tells him the test was negative.
  • Happens to Erika Moen, as shown in this Oh Joy Sex Toy comic strip. After her husband assumes that she's ovulating, she tells him that she's due for her period soon. After finding out that her period was running late, she worries that she may be pregnant, but she ends up getting her period six days later.

    Web Video 
  • Pokemon Pals: Misty has one of these after hooking up with someone she met at a bar.
  • Sam & Mickey:
    • "The Wedding" ends with Yasmin claiming to be pregnant with Ken's baby. In "Baby Shower", it turns out she was just feeling gassy.
    • The Real Housewives of Toys R Us episode #2 has Barbie and Mrs. Potato Head worry that Barbie will have another baby soon, since after making out with Ken in an elevator, she appears to start developing Morning Sickness, Wacky Cravings, and Breast Expansion. Fortunately, when Barbie takes a pregnancy test (endorsed by herself), it turns up negative.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: "I Married Marge": Marge thinks she might be pregnant. While she goes out to have a pregnancy test in the hospital Homer tells Bart and Lisa about the time Bart was born. After this Flashback Episode comes to an end Marge returns home to inform Homer that she is not pregnant after all, causing them both to do a high five.
  • This is exploited by Hermes Conrad's wife LaBarbara in the Futurama episode "The Six Million Dollar Mon". When Hermes is depressed over getting fired, LaBarbara tells him that she is pregnant and that he isn't the father. After her husband panics, she assures him that she isn't pregnant and only said so to help him realize that losing his job isn't so bad when compared to an unexpected pregnancy.
  • In a gender reversal played for laughs, the finale of Hanna-Barbera's Where's Huddles? (a summer primetime show from 1970) had Ed's neighbor and Rhinos center Bubba McCoy getting an exam and is mistaken to be pregnant.
  • In one episode of Close Enough, Emily thinks she's pregnant after she and Josh are caught in a Primal Scene in their car, causing the two to freak out as they have neither the time or money to have another child. The tests turn out negative, leading to the main plot of the episode where Josh contemplates getting a vasectomy.
  • Family Guy:
    • The episode "Sibling Rivalry" opens with Lois having one. After the test turns out negative, she orders Peter to get a vasectomy, kicking off the rest of the plot.
    • The episode "Peter's Daughter" involves Meg believing she's pregnant, and having a Shotgun Wedding to her boyfriend. She gets her period on her wedding day, and tells her fiance she's not pregnant after all, and he runs off, never to be seen or heard from again.


Wade Buys a Pregnancy Test

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PregnancyTestPlot

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