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Pregnant Hostage

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One of the lesser-known risks of pregnancy.

It seems to be a law of TV and film land, that any hostage situation will include at least one heavily pregnant woman. This can either be used to show how inhuman the hostage-takers are by having them use her as greater leverage or to show them in a better light by having them treat her with compassion. If she's more than eight months, she'll probably go into labor, and give birth to a healthy baby with the help of a nearby know-it-all kid, med-school dropout or, if they're really lucky, an off-duty nurse. Or maybe even one of the hostage takers. The Panicky Expectant Father will rarely be held hostage with her, and may even be with the police, constantly telling them, "My wife's in there!"

Either way, expect her to be the first one let go if the authorities arrange the release of some hostages as a sign of good faith, and additionally most hostage-takers know it's usually not in their favor to have such a possibly high maintenance hostage.

Sub-Trope of Imperiled in Pregnancy.

Examples: (expect spoilers)

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    Anime and Manga 
  • A particularly nasty version happens in Air Gear, where the kidnapper of the Pregnant Badass Rika Noyamano is her ex-boyfriend and the baby's father, Sora Takeuchi, who goes as far as brainwashing poor Rika to force her to fight the protagonists.
  • In Fairy Tail, Jackal gives Lucy a Sadistic Choice over whose life she should save — an old councilor she's been assigned to bodyguard or a pregnant bystander — or else both will die via explosion. The panicking councilor rants that of course his own life is more important since killing him might trigger a dangerous superweapon. Thankfully, Natsu manages to save both hostages (and giving the councilor a well-deserved clobbering for good measure).

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in 5 Branded Women where a pregnant Partisan captures a German hostage.
  • The Delta Force gives us an Arab hijacker who swears the Germans didn't kill enough Jews in World War II, pummels a sailor nearly to death with a chair's armrest, and flies off the handle when he sees an abandoned ring with Hebrew script on it, yet orders some hostages to vacate their seats so a pregnant hostage can recline. He even has the other hostages give up their pillows for her. Aaaawwwww.....
  • Die Hard plays with it. Shortly after Hans and his crew take over, they're informed by Holly that one of the hostages is pregnant. Hans rolls his eyes until Holly clarifies that she's not due for a few weeks, but just needs something more comfortable to sit on. He's willing to oblige, to a point.
    • Mostly because he's planning on killing them all anyway, and just needs to keep them docile until then.
  • Double Team: Things become personal when Stavros kidnaps Quinn's pregnant wife after his own lover and child were killed in an assassination attempt that went awry.
  • In Heist (2015), one of the passengers on the bus when it is hijacked is Pauline, a heavily pregnant young woman. She and a young boy are the ones let off the bus in exchange for it being allowed to refuel. Ultimately subverted as it turns out that Pauline is Vaughn's sister and the pregnancy was fake. She uses the pregnancy belly to smuggled the cash off the bus.
  • In Hold-up, the bank robber Grimm takes, among other people, a pregnant woman with a baby carriage hostage. Turns out that she's one of his accomplices, the pregnancy is faked to smuggle the money out of the bank in her fake belly, and there isn't a baby in the carriage but even more money.
  • In Inside Man, one of the hostages taken by the bank robbers and shuffled between rooms is a pregnant woman.
  • John Q.: When John takes the ER hostage, one of the hostages is a woman named Miriam who is pregnant with her first child.
  • In Lethal Weapon 4, Wah Sing Ku and his Mooks force Riggs and Murtaugh to stand down in a Mexican Standoff by dropping their guns, but taking Lorna and Rianne and holding them (and their pregnant bellies) at knifepoint.
  • Played with in Mad Max: Fury Road, as the central plot features Max driving an oil-rig where two of the group of five runaway women are pregnant, and they end up becoming his captors after he first threatens them with a gun and forces them to help him drive the rig. The women are the Breeding Slaves of the Big Bad, meaning they're carrying his sons. This makes his soldiers reluctant to hurt them.
  • Vigilante Diaries: When Andreas reveals to the Vigilante that he has taken Jade hostage, he also reveals that she is heavily pregnant. this comes a surprise to the vigilante who has not seen her in months, and the audience, who has only seen from the chest up on screens up till this point.
  • In Vile, Tayler is pregnant with Nick’s child, and the characters debate for a few minutes if she should still be tortured and risk harming the baby. She makes the decision to only harm her upper body, so that she can still contribute without directly harming the child.
  • In The Way of the Gun, Ryan Philippe and Benicio del Toro kidnap a heavily pregnant Juliette Lewis. She's acting as surrogate mother to the man paying the ransom, having been impregnated with his child.

  • In Camber of Culdi, one of the fifty human hostages taken after a Deryni lord is murdered is a pregnant woman. Cathan MacRorie pleads for their release and is offered the chance to take one of them; he first chooses the pregnant woman, only to be asked if he wants her or her baby. Cathan tries to argue, then chooses to take a teenaged boy instead. The woman gives birth in captivity and is later hanged like the rest of the hostages.
  • Done somewhat differently in Discworld, in The Fifth Elephant, when the diplomatic carriage carrying the Ankh Morpork delegation to Bonk is ambushed by bandits in the pass. Sybil is briefly held hostage as a bargaining chip, but at this point, Sam Vimes has no idea that Sybil is pregnant, and frankly, Sybil is a bit of a Pregnant Badass about it, keeping her calm and ducking so her husband can shoot the bandit holding her, with a weapon she doesn't even know he has. She's actually trying (not for the first time) to get his attention long enough to gently break the news to him just before the ambush.
  • The Dresden Files: In Grave Peril, the Nightmare abducts Michael's heavily pregnant wife Charity. The stress and trauma of her rescue cause her to go into labour.
  • Poor, poor 15-year-old Diana Ladris from FEAR. No one bothers trying to bail her out (or rather, they couldn't if they tried), either. And she's left to give birth in a scorching hot, pitch-black mine with two psychopaths who like to torture her. Fans of the character were reasonably miffed.
  • In Steven Gould's Helm, the post-climactic confrontation involves the desperate son of the villain choosing a pregnant girl from among 20 hostages and holding a dagger to her throat. But she's very pregnant—so much so that her water breaks during the showdown, startling the bad guy into a human reaction that momentarily shakes up his screw-em-all villainy.
  • She is the main female lead and not obviously pregnant, but nonetheless this happens in The Lesser Kindred.
  • In The Sacred Art of Stealing, this trope is used to hint that the bank robbers aren't the bad guys. They immediately set free any hostage who is pregnant or has a heart condition.
  • Six of Crows: Alys, briefly, in Crooked Kingdom. In this case, it's not the wife who matters; Jan has made very clear how much he cares for his new heir, with Alys being a means to that end.
  • Breezepelt does this to Poppyfrost, a heavily pregnant she-cat, in Warrior Cats and even threatens to kill her to frame Jayfeather. Surprisingly, it's not Poppyfrost's mate who saves her but Jayfeather and a deceased Honeyfern, who was Poppyfrost's sister. In the last book of the Dawn of the Clans prequel series, a rogue named Slash takes the pregnant she-cat Star Flower hostage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Castle: In "Cops and Robbers" one of the bank tellers in the bank that Castle and his mother are unlucky enough to be in when it gets held up is pregnant. She doesn't go into labor or have any kind of risky pregnancy from what we see, however. Castle does use her pregnancy as an excuse to go to a couch by the windows, however, ostensibly to get her pillows to sit up on but actually because he has a message he wants to get to the cops outside.
  • The "Derailed" episode of Criminal Minds had a pregnant hostage. An interesting twist though, as she was only a few weeks pregnant at the time and on her way to have an abortion. The events of the episode seem to point toward her changing her mind.
  • In CSI: NY, the season 5 finale had Mac involved in a hostage situation in a bank. The first person he convinces the man to release is pregnant.
  • In The Dead Zone, Sarah is kidnapped during the early stages of pregnancy. This isn't revealed to the audience (or her family) until after she is rescued, though.
  • In the TV Movie Of The Week Deliver Them From Evil: The Taking Of Alta View (Based on a True Story) has a man taking a maternity ward hostage (seeking vengeance against a doctor). Mercifully, only one patient is present, though she does fit the trope.
  • In the Diagnosis: Murder episode "Baby Boom," a kidnapper strapped with explosives holds a class full of pregnant women hostage.
  • Enforced and Invoked in Doctor Who, when Amy was abducted by the Silence and forced to give birth in their custody for the exact reason that she was pregnant. Specifically, her baby was conceived in the Time Vortex and thus has the ability to regenerate like a Time Lord.
  • Janis Hawk in the finale of FlashForward (2009).
  • A pregnant bank teller was one of the hostages in the Flashpoint episode "Who's George?"
    • This happened again in the later episode "Aisle 13."
    • And again in "Remote Control."
  • The Full Monty (2023): Yvonne, Guy's fiancée, when she enters the welfare office. It's there where the truth about Guy's deception comes out, from her engagement ring being made of paste to Guy claiming he had a stag party in Budapest.
  • In an episode of F/X: The Series, the villain put a gun to a pregnant woman's stomach. Subverted since the woman wasn't pregnant and was really The Mole giving information from the outside after being released.
  • Happens in an episode of House.
  • Justified: Jamie Berglund in "The Life Inside." When Raylan and Tim storm the hideout, he holds a gun to her belly and threatens to shoot.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has a few examples:
  • Invoked by the Leverage team when they get locked inside a patent office with the aid of a device for expectant fathers to "share the pain." Of course, this being Leverage, there is no actual hostage situation.
  • This happens in the Medium episode "Joe Day Afternoon."
  • Motive: Det. Mazur is briefly held hostage when a woman brings a bomb into the squad room in "The Dead Hand." Angie—who is the only one to know Mazur is pregnant—comes up with a plausible reason for her to be one of the first hostages released without divulging her pregnancy.
  • My Name Is Earl: In "Randy in Charge (...of Our Days and Our Nights)," Earl has to point out to Frank that the very pregnant Joy makes the perfect hostage for a hostage situation.
  • In the "Backscatter" episode of NUMB3RS, one of the hostages was pregnant.
  • In the Power Rangers Time Force finale, the pregnant hostage is the reason for Nadira's Heel–Face Turn. The stress apparently sends the woman into labor, and Trip convinces/forces Nadira to help her give birth. Her amazement leads her to question her father's hatred of humans, and she attempts to protect a (different) baby from one of her father's attacks. The realization that he could have killed his daughter is what leads to Big Bad Ransik's Heel–Face Turn.
  • In an episode of Riptide (1984-1986), a young woman is kidnapped for ransom just after she learns that she's pregnant.The kidnapper is the father of her unborn child.
  • Used in the '70's TV series The Rookies. The pregnant hostage was played by Tyne Daly, who, at that time, was married to series star Georg Stanford Brown.
  • Sanctuary: In season 3 the team pretends to be bank robbers and hold everyone hostage because one person is carrying an Abnormal parasite. One hostage is believed to be the host but instead is revealed to be pregnant. Later she is the first hostage released.
  • Zigzagged in Snowpiercer. When Layton decides to steal the engine and depart on the Pirate Train, Zarah chooses to stay behind on the main train depsite Wilford's presence to have all the medical care she and the baby need, counting on the leverage that a pregnancy gives aboard Snowpiercer to ensure her own safety from Wilford. It is Layton who takes Miss Audrey hostage to make sure Wilford won't harm Zarah or any other passenger. However, when the Pirate Train comes back and attacks the Great Ark Train, Wilford does summon Zarah to Big Alice's engine car as a deterrent against Layton attacking him directly. And it backfires!
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Teyla gets kidnapped while pregnant. Unusually for this trope, Teyla doesn't escape the hostage situation until after the baby is born (by design).
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "The Hostages," a woman is kidnapped and held hostage shortly after finding she's pregnant. To make matters worse, she's already lost one baby, so she needs to be extra careful this time around.
  • Unknown to her, Amaka is pregnant when she's held hostage by the baby's father in Tinsel.
  • One Touched by an Angel episode had a bank heist where the robber ordered the pregnant bank teller to go into the safe-deposit area to grab a valuable item. Then a gas leak explosion traps her in there and he orders the other hostages to help him dig her out. It turns out he's her husband and the father of her baby - they were desperate for money and planned it together.
  • During Waterloo Road: When Bolton holds Grantly and his class hostage in their classroom, this trope in invoked when among the students being held hostage is pregnant teen Jade. She is quickly let go along with fellow student Kacey who helps her out of the building.
  • Whiplash: In "Act of Courage", while on his way to testify at the trial of a killer bushranger, Cobb stops at a way station run by a widow with a young son. To prevent him from testifying, a gang arrives and holds Cobb, along with the widow, the boy, and Cobb's passengers, a man and his pregnant wife.

  • "Children's Story" by Slick Rick details how the delinquent young man on the run from the law "grabbed a pregnant lady and pulled out the automatic". He lets her go unharmed, however, because he felt guilty.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dick Tracy: In a 1979 arc, a very pregnant Tess Tracy is kidnapped (along with Vitamin Flintheart) by aspiring punk rocker Bony and his girlfriend Claudine.
  • Modesty Blaise: In "The Aristo", Modesty and Willie are rescued by a freighter after their plane crashes at sea. When the ship is attacked by Ruthless Modern Pirates, Modesty arranges for herself and the captain's pregnant wife Jo to be taken hostage by the pirates: with Modesty persuading the pirates that Jo is a noblewoman worth a lot in ransom to prevent the pirates from harming her.

    Video Games 
  • In the Dragon Age II DLC "Legacy", it's revealed that the Grey Wardens used Hawke's mother (pregnant with Hawke at the time) as this to force her husband Malcolm to reinforce the wards on Corypheus' prison to keep the Darkspawn Magister from escaping. Though the Grey Wardens kept their word and returned Leandra Hawke unharmed, Hawke is understandably furious that they threatened both their mother's and their own lives, so much so that the Grey Wardens using Blood Magic again in Dragon Age: Inquisition becomes a Berserk Button for the Champion no matter what Hawke's personality is.

  • Salvo from Archipelago was already doing his best up to that point to define himself as a Jerkass. Taking Deliza hostage (see the page picture) is a final proof of his crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
  • The Order of the Stick: Played with. A group of ninjas tries to take Kazumi Kato hostage while she's heavily pregnant, but, as she points out, pregnant or not she's still a soldier and has lost none of her combat training. She does still get captured, but only after kicking the asses of all the ninjas and having to be distracted by several fully armored samurai.

    Web Originals 
  • Used hilariously in Hostage, Zachary Quinto, turns a hostage woman into a lifetime relationship, even through multiple pregnancies, and an affair.
  • Quebecois Web Original ''Tete a claques'' had this as the main subject of one of its sketches. Played entirely for comedy. Both the cops and the criminal assume the woman is pregnant; she's just fat. She gets offended at being called pregnant despite her numerous protests and proceeds to slug the criminal before beating up the cops.

    Real Life 
  • Saint Felicity was heavily pregnant while her group was held captive during the Roman persecution of Christians. She feared being separated from her group and executed alone later because pregnant women could not be executed, but did give birth shortly before.
  • One of the assembled Spanish deputies taken as hostage at the failed 1981 coup was indeed a pregnant woman. She was also the first one to be released and able to tell what exactly was going on in the Cortes.
  • Subverted in the Air France 139 hijacking in 1976. While the terrorists had landed the plane in Libya to refuel, one of the hostages claimed she was pregnant and that she feared she would suffer a miscarriage as a result of the scorching Saharan heat. Even though she was actually lying, it paid off, and they released her.
  • Scott Peterson tried to throw this out as a red herring in the days leading up to his arrest, speculating that perhaps burglars had been surprised by Laci Peterson and had taken her hostage. Even the woman he was having an affair with called him out on how ridiculous that was when he brought it up, saying burglars would have to be insane to take a woman who was obviously in late-term pregnancy hostage. It didn't fly with the jury when his attorney tried it either.
  • Among the injured in the 2006 Seattle Jewish Federation shooting was Dayna Klein, five months pregnant at the time. After shooting Klein in the arm, he cornered her in her office and held her at gunpoint. Klein put him on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, who was able to talk him down without further incident. He surrendered to police shortly thereafter, and Klein and others were taken to the hospital and given medical attention.
  • The Alta View incident, in which a vengeful man took a maternity ward hostage. Fortunately, there was only one patient present, and even more luckily, she wasn't harmed.
  • When the Iranian embassy in London was taken over by Arab terrorists in 1980, one of the hostages, embassy secretary Hiyech Sanei Kanji, was with child. She was released along with a Pakistani tourist named Ali Guil Ghanzafar on the third day in exchange for a promise from the BBC to broadcast the terrorists' demands.