An unexpected pregnancy is one of the biggest ways to throw both the narrative and a (usually female, but sometimes not - which makes things even more shocking) character's life for a loop. It can occur under many different circumstances, be it the result of a fling, an affair, a long-term relationship, or even supernatural influence.
Often, the pregnancy occurs at quite an inconvenient time. The woman may not be financially or emotionally prepared to raise a child, and may not be on great terms with the father, if he's even still around. She may consider an abortion, but it's not likely she'll go through with it (and if she does, it'll just lead to more drama). If she's unmarried, she'll likely have to throw together a quick wedding on top of rushing to prepare for a new baby. A story involving a Teen Pregnancy will almost always have the pregnancy be unplanned due to the tendency for hormones to take precedence over preparation.
However, the pregnancy can also be treated as a blessing, especially if the woman wanted to become pregnant but thought she was infertile, or if the pregnancy brings her close to her true love. This pregnancy will often occur later in a story, as it's less likely to provide tension. However, there's no telling that the pregnancy will be seen as a blessing once the child is born.
Obviously, this is Truth in Television - in the United States, close to half of all pregnancies are unplanned, though the number has decreased over the years thanks to increased awareness of birth control.
There may be unmarked spoilers below.
- The Baby Trap: Surprise, your lover tricked you into being a father!
- But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Surprise, your biological differences didn't damper your fertility!
- But We Used a Condom!: Surprise, your condom broke!
- Deliver Us from Evil: Surprise, you're a pregnant villainess!
- Late Pregnancy Realization: Surprise, you've been pregnant for over 3 months (or you're giving birth right now)!
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Surprise, you became pregnant even though you didn't want to!
- New Child Left Behind: Surprise, you're pregnant while the father's at war!
- One-Night-Stand Pregnancy: Surprise, your short-term fling has long-term consequences!
- Shotgun Wedding: Surprise, you're pregnant! Now you have to get married quickly!
- Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Surprise, the animal you thought was male is pregnant!
- Wedding-Enhanced Fertility: Surprise, you're pregnant right after the wedding!
- Dead Leaves: Pandy starts getting morning sickness on the train, and doesn't know what's wrong with her. The doctor quickly clears up the situation and loudly boasts it to the train.
Doctor: "Looks like SOMEONE'S a little bit PREGNANT!"
- Even Though I'm a Former Noble and Single Mother: The titular noblewoman and adventurer Shirley realized she was pregnant shortly after escaping the castle dungeons and started getting nausea in the mornings, then started counting back to her last period. The story then follows how she adapts to mothering her twin daughters.
- Itazura Na Kiss: Satomi gets knocked up by her boyfriend and after a bit of drama they get married.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diavolo was a victim of it; he didn't even know his daughter Trish existed for fifteen years.
- Ouran High School Host Club: It's implied that Kotoko's pregnancy with Haruhi wasn't planned, as she and Ryouji had a Shotgun Wedding upon finding out.
- Patlabor: When Mikiyasu Shinshi goes off to quell the unrest in Patlabor Movie 2, Tamiko begs him not to go, and reveals that she's carrying his second child.
- Albedo: Erma Felna EDF: Erma finds out after she's starting to have weird dreams and after a medical checkout. Her friend Toki is not amused after she finds out.
- Amazing Fantasy: Mary Jane and Peter didn't discover Mary Jane's pregnancy until after they signed their divorce papers.
- Zelda has a shocking unexpected pregnancy in the Blood and Spirit section of Bound Destinies Trilogy.
- Denial in Action: Starscream is completely unaware that he is pregnant until he gives birth.
- Dreaming of Sunshine: Around Chapter 100, Yoshino learns that she's expecting a third child.
- Empathy: In Honey Lemon's talk with Jill, it's implied that she's not on good terms with her parents and that she was an unwanted pregnancy.
- In Extended Stay, the Mistress and the Superjail crew find out she's pregnant just when Ultraprison is about to leave. This one is justified since she hasn't been far enough along to exhibit any symptoms.
- In Freedom's Limits, Madavi's first pregnancy comes as a complete shock and definitely wasn't planned. She doesn't even realise she's pregnant until another woman points out the symptoms. Smador is shocked too, to the point of But You Can't Be Pregnant!, as he thought he'd been careful not to sleep with Madavi when she was in heat. He then realises that humans are physically different from orcs in that regard, which hadn't occurred to him before. To be fair, they're both pretty young and naïve; Madavi's only around fourteen/fifteen and Smador is implied to be around the same age. Madavi doesn't want to abort the pregnancy but she knows her employers probably won't look kindly on her bearing a half-human half-orc child, so she leaves her job and moves in with Smador, who lives in a small cave in the forest. Her life is a lot less comfortable and secure, but she and Smador are determined to make the best of it and be good parents.
- Halkegenia Online: Morigana tells a physician that her periods are relatively light and she had a contraceptive insert in her body. Cue realization that said contraceptive was in her human body and it has been around two months since she had sex.
- The Second Try: Due to her mess of insecurities, Asuka flipped out when she discovered she was pregnant and had tried to hide it from Shinji; she even stopped eating in a misguided attempt to induce a miscarriage. Shinji found out anyways; a rat got into their trash while he was taking it out and he found a positive pregnancy test Asuka tried to hide. To say he was surprised would have been an understatement. Incidentally, Asuka avoids the usual markings of trope as what tipped her off to her condition was missing one of her periods.
- In the Star Trek (2009) fanfic Safe and Sound we find out early on that Uhura is pregnant with Spock's child. She and the senior officers find out when the computer scans her and informs everyone (the biggest reactions come from Kirk and Scotty, the former spitting his mouthful of water into McCoy's face and the latter falling off his chair). This one is justified in that she was only one month along (before she would have noticed the missed period and before morning sickness came into play) and she and Spock didn't take precautions because of a certain incident which happens to Vulcans every seven years.
- In the post-series Friends fic "This Charming Life", Monica is surprised to learn that she's pregnant a few months after she, Chandler and the twins move into their new house, with Chandler being the first to put the pieces together (justified as Monica acknowledges that she didn't want to believe she was pregnant and then be told that she wasn't). She eventually gives birth to her and Chandler's son, William Charles Bing ('Charles' naturally coming from his paternal grandfather).
- Triptych Continuum: As insinuated in Tricks of the Trade Show, Sweetie Belle, Rarity's sister, as Rarity learns from her dad:
"We weren't..." An even longer pause. "...expecting Sweetie." Very awkwardly, "Took us a while before we got you, and we kind of thought — you were gonna be it. Sweetie was..." Stopped.
She understood the hesitancy: a father who wasn't comfortable with discussing birth, because it might lead into his child considering the activities between her parents which led to pregnancy. Rarity had an excellent imagination, and thus when matters of self-preservation arose, knew just when she had to shut it down.
- In Unexpected Surprise, Ladybug and Chat Noir have sex once and she falls pregnant. What makes it particularly twisted is that 1) neither know each other's secret identities, 2) they soon break up due to Ladybug loving another, 3) they both have to give up their Miraculouses a few days later and 4) Adrien moves to USA at the same time. The result is that, after a six year long absence, he returns to discover there is a girl about whom three people know she is the daughter of Ladybug and Chat Noir, but the only one to have figured out she is the daughter of Marinette and Adrien is Gabriel.
- Us and Them: After getting married, Aeris and Sephiroth had intended to wait before having children, but Aeris misread the instructions on the birth control and wound up getting pregnant anyway.
- In Shrek the Third, Fiona becomes pregnant and Shrek must prepare for fatherhood. It's implied this wasn't planned on their part as Shrek said he didn't want children when Fiona first mentioned the idea of having a family.
- Dragonlance: It's eventually revealed that Kitiara unwittingly became pregnant as a result of a one-night stand with Sturm covered in Darkness & Light, resulting in the birth of their son, Steel Brightblade.
- Fifty Shades of Grey: Played for Drama in Fifty Shades Freed. Ana unexpectedly gets pregnant after forgetting her depo provera shot. She's not too upset about it after getting over the initial shock, though it still causes a fair bit of drama due to Christian not taking it well.
- Claire's pregnancy with Bree in Outlander is certainly unexpected. The realization of it shocks Claire, on the eve of Culloden when she attempts to insist staying with Jamie in the 18th century (and dying with him there, as they both know Jamie will die, whether in the battle or by execution). Although Jamie had known for weeks (or months), Claire did not know she was pregnant (or was unwilling to admit it to herself) until Jamie pointed it out to her.
- The Silerian Trilogy: Elelar, who though she was barren, gets unexpectedly pregnant, to her astonishment.
- In Breaking Dawn, the last book of the Twilight series, Bella gets pregnant with her vampire husband's child. The reason that it's an unexpected pregnancy is that A) she gets pregnant the very first time that they ever have sex and B) the series (and the author) up until this point heavily implied that vampires can't have children. In fact, earlier in the series Edward lamented that he couldn't give Bella kids. Besides which, the pregnancy is incredibly dangerous and completely upends Bella's plans for her future. She never even considers an abortion, although more than half of her supernatural family (including her husband and her best friend) try to convince her to terminate the pregnancy.
- All in the Family: Gloria was one, as revealed in "Gloria's Shock" when Mike remarks that most pregnancies are the result of the couple forgetting to take a trip to the drugstore, and Archie and Edith exchange knowing glances. All things considered, Gloria takes this news very well, even joking that she was a "surprise package".
- Burden of Truth: Joanna unexpectedly gets pregnant by Billy in Season 3, and she struggles whether she's cut out for the responsibility or wants to have a child (mostly due to issues with her childhood). However, after much intense soul-searching, Joanna decides to have the baby.
- Cable Girls: In the middle of season 2, Lidia finds out she is pregnant with Carlos's child.
- Community: Shirley becomes pregnant in Season 2 after a brief (and memory-wiped) fling with Chang.
- El Chavo del ocho: During an episode, after La Chilindrina provokes Don Ramón by saying he never makes half-baked mistakes, he uses her as a proof as to how he can make a mistake and how it can be half-baked (obviously alluding to her height).
Don Ramón: It's true, everyone makes mistakes. The problem is when that mistake calls you daddy.
- Doctor Who: Amy Pond had no idea she was pregnant, even after having done the deed on or after her wedding night. The baby also turns out to have Time Lord DNA.
- Downton Abbey:
- At the end of Series 1, Cora Crawley and Robert are both shocked when Cora finds herself pregnant, sixteen years after giving birth to Lady Sybil. However, tragedy strikes when O'Brien, mistakenly thinking she is about to be sacked, maliciously plants a bar of soap on the floor next to Cora's bath-tub, which causes her to slip and miscarry the baby.
- Following a night of passion with Michael Gregson mid-way through Series 4, Edit discovers she's pregnant. With Michael seemingly vanished into thin air, so traumatised is Edith that she makes an appointment at a Back-Alley Doctor for an illegal termination. However, once at the clinic, she can't bring herself to go through with it.
- The housemaid Ethel has an affair with Major Bryant that results in Ethel's termination and an unexpected pregnancy. Her illegitimate son is born halfway through Series 2.
- Charlie was definitely surprised to find he got Ronnie Mitchell pregnant. She turned up at his door, sporting a baby bump. The two look like they may have a potential spark.
- Denise is horrified to discover she's pregnant. Initally she believes the father to be Fatboy. It's actually Phil Mitchell after a drunken one night stand. Denise later gives the baby up for adoption.
- Kim arrived back on the Square pregnant much to her sister, Denise's surprise. She later found out she's pregnant again after thinking her sickness was due to food poisoning.
- Game of Thrones: Halfway through Season 7, it's revealed that Cersei's pregnant with a fifth child, despite the obvious inferral in seasons past that everybody, including Cersei herself, figured she was past her childbearing years.
- Girls: Hannah finds herself pregnant in the last season after she gets herself checked for a UTI.
- The Gifted: Lorna's second Freak Out of the pilot episode stems from this when Strucker shows her her medical records, revealing that she's expecting a child, which is a complete shock to her.
- The Golden Girls: Dorothy became pregnant in high school after sleeping with Stan, leading to a Shotgun Wedding.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Kathy and Elliot's youngest was unexpectedly conceived while they were separated and in their forties.
- Lucifer (2016): Dr. Linda Martin is visibly surprised upon finding out that she is pregnant, because the father is Amenadiel, an angel.
- Mad Men: At the end of season one, Peggy gives birth, much to her surprise.
- Madam Secretary: Daisy becomes pregnant towards the end of season three after a casual relationship with a guy from the Budget branch who turned out to be an undercover CIA agent investigating arms trafficking and was Killed to Uphold the Masquerade. She had mentioned wanting to have a baby earlier in the season, but the man she was dating at the time (Dalton's cybersecurity czar) moved away to work in Silicon Valley.
- Mr. Robot: Sharon's pregnancy was unplanned, though both she and Scott were happy about it.
- My Mad Fat Diary:
- Chloe gets pregnant in Series 1 by her P.E. teacher.
- In Series 2, Rae's mom Linda becomes pregnant, which she initially mistakes for menopause.
- Pandora: Jax gets suddenly pregnant and is taken aback as she uses birth control, as does her boyfriend. It turns out to be a mystical pregnancy, so it's really surprising.
- Reign: Mary's one night stand with Francis results in pregnancy. She's afraid it'll ruin her family name, but can't bring herself to get an abortion, and she takes a long time before she reveals her pregnancy to her friends. Her family does disown her for it.
- The Rookie (2018): Angela's pregnancy by Wesley was unplanned, with her at first keeping it secret due to fearing this might stop her becoming detective.
- Schitt's Creek: Jocelyn believes she's going through menopause, but is really pregnant with her second child.
- Superstore: Double subverted with Amy's second pregnancy. She originally has a pregnancy scare, but her test comes up negative. Then in a later episode, she learns that those tests were recalled for false negatives, and she is pregnant. Worse yet, it's her ex-husband's baby, from a brief fling they had before splitting for good.
- Y: The Last Man (2021): Christine abruptly finds out she's pregnant after the pandemic with heavy bleeding she mistakes for a miscarriage. It's even more impactful than usual as this may be one of the few pregnancies since all cis men's deaths in it-especially if she's having a boy.
- Set up and then ultimately averted in "Two Pink Lines" by Eric Church. The narrator is anxious over whether or not his girl is pregnant; when she turns out not to be, she ends up leaving.
- "The Day That She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)" by Wade Hayes. The narrator's lover reveals that she's pregnant with another man's child and ends up running away in shame before he can get a chance to even confront her about it (and the third verse reveals that he would have been okay with it).
- If/Then: Elizabeth becomes pregnant in both the Liz and Beth timelines. In the Liz timeline, she becomes pregnant after sleeping with her boyfriend Josh, and she goes on to marry him and keep the baby, as well as have another one down the line. In the Beth timeline, she has a One-Night-Stand Pregnancy after impulsively sleeping with her best friend Lucas, but in this case she gets an abortion.
- Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories: The youngest of Axel's five siblings is called "Axident," implying he was an accident.
- Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass: Rainbow Park reveals that she never meant to have Buck. It might explain some of his angst.
- Lorelai: It's made pretty clear that Bethany was an accident. Lorelai outright states that John would never have stayed if Miranda hadn't gotten pregnant. There's also the following (possible) dialogue between Lorelai and her mom.
- In Melody, depending on player choice, the title character can fall pregnant by the end of the story, preventing her from going on tour and kneecapping her musical career.
- Ennui GO!: A rare non-sexual example. In "Mood Swings", Max asks why Darcy is pregnant instead of Tanya as the three previously planned back in "Options"; Tanya explains that, when carrying the "applicator", Izzy tripped and went inside Darcy instead.
- The titular version of Scootaloo in Motherly Scootaloo got pregnant after her first time when she was only thirteen, as she didn't know much about sex and pregnancy beforehand.
- Hatchetfield: As proud as Linda is of being a mother, she's also pretty quick to cop to the fact that none of her children were actually wanted or planned and she doesn't actually seem to love them very much except as status symbols. (And it turns out that two of them were especially unplanned because they're not Gerald's.)
- Kruggsmash: The easy assumption about the size of Bunion's gut is that they are simply a Big Eater, but in fact the hermaphroditic snail person is pregnant, and gives birth to a clutch of eggs after the first round.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: It's implied in the montage in "The Choices" that Richard and Nicole conceived Gumball accidentally, as they learn of the news at a doctor's office and hug each other lovingly, then get an Oh, Crap! look in their eyes. They get married after learning of that fact.
- BoJack Horseman:
- BoJack was the result of a One-Night-Stand Pregnancy between the socialite heiress Beatrice and the street smart bad boy Butterscotch, which threw a wrench in the plans for Beatrice to marry another heir and merge their fathers' businesses. Beatrice and Butterscotch idealize their marriage at first, but it quickly turns sour and they resent and abuse BoJack as a result.
- The cliffhanger of "Love And/Or Marriage" has Diane learn that she's pregnant with Mr. Peanutbutter's offspring. The next episode is about the issues surrounding her abortion.
- Princess Carolyn is pregnant at the beginning of "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run," but has a miscarriage. She doesn't tell her boyfriend Ralph because she felt embarrassed to get pregnant on accident. They decide to start trying for a baby on purpose instead.
- A later episode, "The Amelia Earhart Story," reveals that Princess Carolyn had an accidental pregnancy at age eighteen while working as a maid for a wealthy family and sleeping with their son. However, she had a miscarriage, which meant she couldn't join the wealthy family, much to her mother's displeasure.
- F is for Family: None of the Murphy's children were intentional pregnancies. In the Season 2 finale, Frank and Sue conceive a fourth child due to Smokey Greenwood having poked holes in random condoms, and the next two seasons follow Sue's pregnancy.
- An episode of Futurama has Kif being pregnant. The reason? He touched Leela without his gloves on after his girlfriend Amy induced romantic feelings in him, which according to his Bizarre Alien Biology means Leela impregnated him.
Kif: No glove, no love.
- In King of the Hill, Didi becoming pregnant with G.H. after a broken condom was a shock due to the age of his parents (she was 40 and he was in his 70s or 80s), and and put a strain on Cotton's already limited pension. It was also upsetting to Hank and Peggy, who were trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. Hank felt inadequate due to his elderly father being more fertile than he was. It didn't help that Cotton wore several condoms at a time, which actually makes them more likely to break.
Cotton: I didn't plan on bustin' through my weenie shield and having this little fella! (beat) And I can't deny him anything!
- In The Powerpuff Girls, the trio meet a new neighbor named Robin. When they introduce her to Professor Utonium and say he made them by accident (via Chemical X), she assures him that it's nothing to worry about... as she innocently says she was an "accident, too". The professor's surprised response hints that she was an unplanned pregnancy.
- South Park: In "Nobody Got Cereal?" Marvin Marsh rather grossly explains to his grandson Stan that Stan's dad Randy was an unplanned pregnancy.
I didn't think I'd have grandkids. I didn't even want children. That's why I always came on Gram Gram's tits. But then, one night, I'm having sex with your grandma, and she sticks her finger in my ass. She had sometimes licked my ass before, but this was the first time she used her finger, and I came inside her like that. I pulled out and your grandma was like "Did you just come in me?", and I was like "Well, you stuck your finger in my ass." And that's basically why you're here, Billy.