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Too Many Babies

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Who knew you could overdose on fertility pills?
A woman gives birth to multiple babies at the same time. Now she, with help from her husband, has to figure out how the heck to deal with this many kids at once. Hilarity Ensues.

Often the defining feature of works that it appears in for the simple reason of plausibility. Babies are a lot of work, and anyone who has this many (all at once) is pretty much going to have to center a great deal of her life around them. While this seems sure to make the parents a little high-strung and frustrated with their baby-centered lives, quite often Babies Make Everything Better anyway, despite the extremity of the situation. It can be the center of a plot, or simply a brief tongue-in-cheek gag.

Pregnancy with multiples is more challenging than pregnancy with twins or a single baby. If the work acknowledges this, the difficulty begins before the babies' birth. The mother may feel stretched to her limit as her belly swells to preposterous size and her body's metabolism does extra work to gestate each fetus. More importantly, the pregnancy is prone to complications and risks that may need medical attention or lead to hospitalization. And because the babies are likely to be born early, there may be Premature Birth Drama when they arrive. Understandably, the work may gloss over all that in favor of skipping straight to the Cuteness Overload that a bunch of babies embody.

This trope came to prominence because of the relatively high chance of multiple births in the early days of in-vitro technology. This was due to the procedure (no longer practiced by most above-board facilities) of implanting multiple embryos under the assumption that only one would actually take. While this is the extreme version of the trope, more down-to-earth works of fiction can still play this up with twins.

This is usually the result of a Surprise Multiple Birth. Contrast Explosive Breeder, a character or creature for whom a huge litter of babies is normal. Compare and contrast Massive Numbered Siblings, when there's a large number of children but they were born one (sometimes two) at a time.

If a sight gag is made out of the many babies forming a conglomeration that looks like a flood or a tidal wave, see Wave of Babies.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • This is the basic premise of Go! Go! Itsutsugo Land, a series about a set of 5 year-old quintuplets and the various misadventures of their daily lives.
  • One Piece: Subverted with Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin - she gave birth at least once a year for 42 years, resulting in a total of 85 children (including at least eight sets of twins, two sets of triplets, a set of quadruplets, a set of quintuplets and a set of decuplets), but apparently never had any trouble with any of them, aside from most of them growing up to be just as unpleasant as their mother. It helps that's she's extremely wealthy due to being a pirate empress.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • One of Daria Fandom VIP Roger E. "The Angst Guy" Moore's works, Quinnts, splits the title character's sister, Quinn, into a set of, appropriately enough, quints, who each embody an aspect of the canon Quinn's personality (bossy, hedonistic, rambunctious, psuedo-intellectual and attention-seeking, respectively). Predictably, their version of Daria is a complete emotional wreck.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Raising Arizona has this as a set-up: Herbert's ill-conceived plan to have a child with his wife involves kidnapping one of the Arizona Quints, reasoning that the parents wouldn't mind losing just one — they might even be thankful! (He gets the idea from reading an interview with the father, who had jokingly commented that "We've got more than we can handle!") Of course Mr. and Mrs. Arizona are horrified when they discover one of their babies is gone.
  • Quints, a Disney Channel Original movie about a teenage girl who gets five younger siblings at one shot and has to take care of them.
  • Half A Dozen Babies, about a couple that have sextuplets.
  • The titular miracle in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) involves Betty Hutton's character giving birth to sextuplets.
  • An unusual variant on this trope in Italian film Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Adelina has the babies one at a time, the regular way. The problem is that she has to pop out a baby every fifteen months, because she is facing imprisonment for selling contraband cigarettes, and being pregnant or nursing keeps her out of jail. It works for a while but as time passes the steadily increasing size of her lower-class family starts presenting problems.

  • Dorries Book by Marilyn Sachs is about a child whose mother's second pregnancy unexpectedly results in triplets.
  • The Nursery Rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe...and had so many children, she didn't know what to do!
  • Sister of the Quints, a young adult novel which may have inspired the above-mentioned Disney Channel movie, as it has essentially the same plot.
  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians: Missis, the mother Dalmatian, has fifteen puppies at once. Consequently, her owners have to take in a stray adult female, Perdita, who serves as a wet-nurse for some of the pups. Averted in the Disney film adaptations, where Perdita is the sole mother and proves perfectly capable of feeding all fifteen on her own.
  • "Too Many Daves" by Dr. Seuss:
    Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
    Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?

    Live-Action TV 
  • A whole spate of Reality TV shows involved finding Truth in Television examples of this trope and filming it, the most well-known example probably being Jon & Kate Plus Eight. Shows in this vein seem to be waning in popularity thanks to Nadya "Octomom" Sulemain (who actually has fourteen children), whose irresponsible invocation of this trope has caused the viewing public to strongly question the morality and motives of anyone who would decide to have this many children, let alone try to get a Reality TV show for it.
  • Quintuplets starred Andy Richter as the father of a set of teenage quints.
  • Several episodes during Season 2 of Grey's Anatomy are centered around a mom who chose to keep all 5 of her babies, even though the doctors had recommended she have 1 or 2 of the fetuses terminated.
  • When Leslie finds out on Parks and Recreation that she is pregnant with triplets, her husband Ben, who is an accountant, has a panic attack at the prospect of having to pay for the upbringing of three children.
  • Friends: In season four Phoebe acts as a surrogate for her half-brother and his much older wife. She's implanted with five embryos and eventually learns that three of them have successfully attached. Frank and Alice insist they'll try to make it work but Phoebe still feels guilty and offers to help them raise some money to cover their expenses. Several seasons later Frank admits that he and Alice are exhausted from having to take care of three kids. He tries to ask Phoebe to take one of the triplets off their hands but when pushed he can't bring himself to give any of them up.
  • This Is Us: Rebecca gives birth to triplets in the first episode. Two of the babies are born healthy, but the third is a Tragic Stillbirth. Because Rebecca and Jack are already committed to raising three children, they adopt another baby who was orphaned.

  • The narrator of the Spike Jones song "Ya Wanna Buy a Bunny?" bought two pet bunnies and got a hard lesson in the facts of life.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Drizzt Do'Urden, the drow of Forgotten Realms fame, was almost killed at birth because he was the third son born into his family, according to the R.A. Salvatore novel "Homeland." The Chaotic Evil and matriarchal drow were fine with having many daughters, but any more than two sons had to be sacrificed to Lloth. Drizzt survived because one of his older brothers killed the other to improve his own standing.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Van Beuren Studios cartoon short "Frozen Frolics", a delivery stork delivers a batch of at least 43 baby penguins to a visibly worried father penguin.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Apu and Manjula get octuplets after she starts taking fertility treatments to increase the chance of pregnancy. We later find out that this wasn't the fault of the doctor they saw several people had been slipping Manjula fertility drugs without her knowledge. Later on the same episode, nine babies are born to a couple living in Shelbyville.
    • This also applies to Cletus and Brandine Spuckler, who have far more children, even before season 8.
    • Holidays of Future Past shows that each of Apu and Manjula's children also had a set of octuplets.
  • In the series finale of Chowder, Chowder and Panini are married and have 50 babies, including 20 in one day. They are sort of like rabbits, after all...
  • The original Oswald the Lucky Rabbit pilot, "Poor Papa", has this, where a stork delivers way too many babies to him and his wife. This carries over to his appearance in Epic Mickey, where he and his girlfriend have spawned numerous offspring since his imprisonment.
    • The same plot is reused in the Mickey Mouse short "Mickey's Nightmare", which as the title suggests, is All Just a Dream.
    • Ditto "Porky's Romance", which was a parody of the aforementioned "Mickey's Nightmare".
  • A 1935 Merrie Melodies cartoon (directed by Friz Freleng), "The Merry Old Soul", has Old King Cole marry The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe. Hilarity Ensues when he tries to take care of all those kids.
  • In one Bad Future episode of Captain Planet, Linka is shown living in a deeply impoverished town with over half a dozen kids...all fathered by Wheeler.
  • Bloo tells a phony story in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends to their next door neighbour about how he and Frankie are not only married, but have 64 children as well. Frankie is not particularly happy about this lie, and to make matters worse, Bloo asks her "What were their names again?"...
  • Happens in an Imagine Spot in the Arthur episode, "Arthur's Baby", when Buster asks him what would happen if his expecting mom had more than one baby.
  • The Rupert episode "Rupert in Timeland" featured Rupert Bear and Podgy Pig flashing forward through various future stages of their lives because of an accident that happened while trying to help Father Time fix his machine. One of the futures they end up going to has Podgy becoming the father of an alarming amount of children.
  • Every Dog's Guide to the Playground (NFB of Canada, dir. Les Drew, 1991) closes with a very pregnant Honey going into labor, causing her husband Bernard to faint. The family dog, Wally, then packs everyone into a child's wagon, and wheels them to a hospital. There, a waiting Bernard receives his wailing children fresh from the delivery room. All 32 of them. He sounds rather displeased at this development.

    Real Life 
  • The Ur-Example is probably the case of the Dionne quintuplets, born in Canada in 1934. A tragic case, they were removed from their parents' custody and exploited as a government-operated tourist attraction.
  • For a darker deconstruction of this, many cultures view the birth of twins as a bad omen, which may lead to them being killed shortly after birth.
  • Then there's Nadya Suleman, the "Octomom," so called because of a dead-straight example of the "in vitro Gone Horribly Right" version resulting in the second set of surviving octuplets in US history (and first set where all members survived longer than a week.) Normally that many are not implanted, but she has said that the alternative was that the unused embryos would be destroyed. This adds to the six kids she had already, those not at once.
    • In order to not look completely crazy she claimed to have only implanted 6 left-over embryos (of which 2 then split into twins) because she didn't want any of her babies to die. She was lying on both fronts: the doctor implanted 12 embryos. And she insisted on fresh embryos for each of her IVF-cycles, so there are still some of her embryos left in the freezer. The doctor eventually lost his license and board certification, as implanting so many embryos at once was unquestionably malpractice.
  • However, she's not within a light-year of the record, set in the 1700s: Feodor Vassilyev's wife and the 69 children she had over her lifetime laugh at Suleman's measly 14. If each of the 67 who survived infancy had two kids each (that's on the far low end for that era), Feodor likely has 70,000 descendants by this point.
  • Even for a single pregnancy, Suleman was outdone by Malian woman Halima Cisse, who denies any fertility treatments, and had nine in May 2021. She'd expected seven, which would also fit the trope, but was surprised by two more at delivery. As of January 2023, all nine babies are still alive and reportedly doing well. This family is now the official Guinness record holder for "most children delivered at a single birth to survive".
  • While 19 Kids and Counting isn't exactly this trope (she obviously didn't have all 19 kids at once), she does have 2 sets of twins.