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Womb Horror

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Usually, motherhood is seen as something nurturing and life-giving, something to look forward to. Babies Make Everything Better, after all. Except in this case: This is when things get bad, creepy, or downright terrifying. Like its counterparts Eye Scream and Body Horror, this trope is dependent on the Primal Fear of things going wrong with a pregnancy, taken to disturbing levels.

It's painful, traumatic, bloody, and potentially life-threatening. Babies may turn into grotesque monsters, which is common in works about fearing parenthood. This trope often carries supernatural elements, with women carrying literal devil-spawn or a Half-Human Hybrid, as somewhat of the evil version of a Mystical Pregnancy—most often, this supernatural baby is a Child by Rape. Rape scenarios are common even without the supernatural, however. Another theme that may occur is abortion or miscarriage. The imagery may also be entirely metaphorical, with references to wombs and pregnancy rather than anything explicit.

Super-Trope to Traumatic C-Section. Sister Trope to Imperiled in Pregnancy, where the horror isn't so much the pregnancy itself as what might happen during it.

This often makes use of Parasitic Horror, Psychosexual Horror, and Rape as Drama. Can overlap with Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong, Womb Level, Spawn Broodling, Chest Burster, Abortion Fallout Drama, and Breeding Slave. Fetus Terrible is a specific example of this. See also Baby Factory, Bizarre Baby Boom, and Medical Rape and Impregnate.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • Guts and Casca's unborn child is corrupted in the womb when Griffith, a Demon of Human Origin, brutally rapes Casca. After she miscarries the demonic fetus, it suddenly teleports away.
    • Trolls are seen to reproduce by raping human women, who are eaten alive by the fetus. Like other Qliphoth inhabitants, Trolls are formed in part from the darkest elements of humanity's collective subconscious.
    • The Kushan Empire uses demonic soldiers called Daka as shock troops. These are obtained by plunging pregnant women into vats of demonic essence, corrupting the fetus so it quickly grows and eats its way out of the mother's womb.
  • Goblin Slayer: Goblins reproduce by capturing the young women who enter their lairs and using them as Breeding Slaves for the rest of their lives, assuming they don't die from the treatment before that.
  • In Uzumaki, the pregnant women in Kurozucho give birth to children who want to go back into the womb, prompting a doctor at the hospital to oblige by performing what could be described as a reverse c-section.

    Comic Books 
  • Habibi: Dodola's pregnancy seems to be healthy and normal. However, she is pregnant by the sultan who holds her captive. She feels totally imprisoned, and regards her pregnant body with disgust. In her imagination, the child appears as a monster, like his father.
  • Lady Death: During the "Deathpocalypse event, female antagonist Atrocity becomes an Explosive Breeder variant of the Mook Maker, serving as the mother to a very literally infinite army of demons sired by Insurrectus. The result is that she becomes obscenely pregnant, dwarfed by an immensely gravid belly many times bigger than she herself is even as endless newborn demons, many of them at least'' as large as a man, pour from her hidden birth canal like water from a faucet. Being that Atrocity and Insurrectus are both demons, they take the whole thing quite casually, and Atrocity even seems to feel genuine maternal pride for her fecundity and her endless offspring — the horror is one part Body Horror and one part the carnage that ensues as her hordes of children start slaughtering their way across the world.

    Fan Works 
  • Princess of the Blacks: Comes up with regard to the black magic of Tiamat. As befits her title of "Mother of Monsters", Tiamat requires her female followers to literally give birth to the chimeric monstrosities they create through her magic.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise are meant to invoke this in conjunction with rape horror, in particular their life cycle consisting of involuntary fertilization from a facehugger leading to a Chest Burster. This intent was confirmed by screenwriter Dan O' Bannon in the Alien Saga documentary.
  • The Astronaut's Wife: Shortly after her astronaut husband returns from a dangerous mission, Jillian becomes pregnant. Spencer's increasingly-strange behavior leads her to think that the man who came back from space isn't entirely human anymore — and by implication, neither are the twins inside her.
  • BrainDead: In the climax, Lionel's zombie mother assumes a One-Winged Angel form and drags Lionel back into her womb, forcing him to fight his way out.
  • The eponymous Brood from The Brood are a group of monstrous Humanoid Abominations that are born from a psychoplasmically-induced external womb growing from Nola. These creatures are connected to Nola on an empathetic level, acting out her desires in the form of murdering people that enrage her and kidnapping her daughter Candice when her father tries taking full custody of her.
  • The Director's Cut of The Butterfly Effect has a scene towards the end where Evan strangles himself as a fetus in the womb of his mother so he would never be born to cause harm to the ones he loved. It's rather played for drama than horror though. Watch the scene here.
  • Deadtime Stories: Volume 2: In "On Sabbath Hill", Professor Weaver's pregnant mistress is Driven to Suicide when he callously abandons her. Afterwards, he is haunted by her Vengeful Ghost, who looks like a decaying corpse. Eventually, he sees her rotting body give birth to their monstrous child.
  • Evolution (2015): The reason why the Town with a Dark Secret has a population made up only of adult women and young boys turns out to be because the women are actually Sea Monsters who surgically implant their biological offspring into abducted boys they have deceived into thinking of them as their mothers. Those who suffer a Death by Childbirth are simply discarded into the sea. Precisely why they would use boys as surrogate mothers is presumably due to just Rule of Scary.
  • The Fly (1986): Because it's likely that Seth impregnates Veronica after his DNA has already been merged with the fly (due to his Slow Transformation having an enhanced libido as a side effect), she understandably worries what effect this could have on the child and tries to have it aborted. During a Nightmare Sequence, she gives birth to a giant maggot. The sad thing? When Seth finds out about her intentions, he's upset because there is a chance that the child was conceived before he had his Teleporter Accident, in which case it would be both fully human and the last remnant of the man he once was. The audience never learns which situation applies due to the film ending right after Veronica mercy kills Seth, leaving it to the 1989 sequel The Fly II to reveal it is indeed an Uneven Hybrid.
  • The first half of Good Manners is this. Wealthy woman Ana is pregnant and hires protagonist Clara to take care of the soon-to-be-born child. Ana experiences terrible cramping and sleepwalks during full moon nights, craving flesh to the point of killing and eating a cat, which Clara ultimately connects to the baby. Ana gruesomely dies giving birth to a werewolf, thus starting the second act of the movie.
  • Horrific: In Terror Vision, the giant floating eyeball impregnates Rita and Jane to create an invasion force for its species.
  • The Alien knock-off Inseminoid features a woman getting impregnated by an alien while excavating an ancient civilization and giving birth to mutant children.
  • Inside is an extremely gory French horror film about a pregnant woman being stalked by an insane woman who wants to cut up her stomach and take her child. The insane woman succeeds at the end.
  • At the climax of Men, the supernatural male presence who has menacing Harper through out the film suddenly repeatedly swells up in pregnancy before he proceeds to give birth to the different versions of himself she has encountered through the film through increasingly strange and horrifying orifices.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child has the main protagonist getting pregnant and Freddy Krueger attempting to possess the baby.
  • Pan's Labyrinth: Ofelia's mother Carmen has a complicated pregnancy and suffers a bloody near-miscarriage. This inspires Ofelia to seek the Mandrake root to heal her. This magical plant-fetus is Ugly Cute and, at least to Ofelia, not horrifying. Things go wrong when Vidal finds and destroys the Mandrake: it seems to injure Carmen and force her into early labor.
  • Prometheus: Shaw gets a helping of this after sleeping with her black oil-infected husband, culminating in her desperately trying to override an automated surgical unit to abort the fast-growing alien Fetus Terrible before it can tear its way out of her.
  • Rosemary's Baby, in which Rosemary's pregnancy becomes a nightmare as she fears she is carrying the spawn of Satan.
  • Species II: The male astronaut infected with alien DNA impregnates human women with hybrid fetuses... which gestate and are born in just two minutes. The end result is rather like a Chest Burster, though lower on the torso and coupled with belly inflation.
  • Barbara Eden is pregnant with what turns out to be an invasive alien baby in the 1974 made-for-TV movie The Stranger Within. The first signs that something is amiss.... 1.) Her husband had a vasectomy three years ago, and she has not been unfaithful. 2.) The fetus is fully developed and birth is imminent, even though she is only five months along, and 3.) X-rays show that the baby has two hearts.
  • Tales from the Hood 2: In "Good Golly", Audrey tells Golly Gee that she loves him and expresses her desire to simply stay with him. Months later, Audrey is ready to give birth and tells the owner of the museum that she wishes to go to a hospital for the delivery for the sake of the child but the owner says that he would not be able to explain the situation. Multiple golliwog dolls then burst out of her stomach. As more Gollys are born, Audrey dies.
  • The 1989 post-apocalyptic horror film The Terror Within has a race of mutants known as gargoyles capturing and impregnating human women.
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1: Human Bella gets impregnated by vampire Edward, and the Dhampir fetus starts slowly killing her. After she dies from the pregnancy and/or emergency non-medical C-section, Edward gives her an Emergency Transformation into a vampire to save her life.
  • Xtro infamously features a woman in a cabin getting Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong and then giving birth to a full-grown man.

  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: Implied with Yeine's mother, who famously crossed her legs in an attempt not to give birth and who later had to be prevented from killing her. It's revealed to be because she acquiesced to a Leonine Contract with the gods to make Yeine a vessel for the dead goddess Enefa's soul, and later had a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • One of The Malloreon's darker moments has the protagonists find a demonic cult waiting for a grotesquely, impossibly pregnant woman to deliver. Whatever Team Mom Polgara the Sorceress does with them isn't described, but is strongly implied to involve Mercy Killing the mother and driving an unborn Human-Demon Hybrid back to Hell.
  • In Graham Masterton's The Manitou, the Indian medicine-man Misquamacus chooses to re-enter the world as a monstrous foetus attached to an external womb on the back of a human host.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: At the climax of volume 3, Ophelia Salvadori casts a "grand aria" to create a Pocket Dimension out of her own womb that allows her to endlessly birth chimeras by trial and error in pursuit of the "perfect being" once sought by her succubus foremothers, with her own body becoming part of the structure.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In A Game of Thrones, Daenerys has a run-in with some Blood Magic, which causes her to give birth to a stillborn deformed winged reptilian fetus.
  • In the Trickster's Duet, Daine of The Immortals is a Voluntary Shapeshifter and changed shapes while pregnant. Fortunately her unborn child changed shapes with her. Unfortunately it kept changing, forcing her to spend the last months of her pregnancy changing her lower body from shape to shape to keep up. Daine's baby continued this even after being born, forcing her and her husband to carry it between them in a sheet rather than holding it as at any moment it could become a porcupine or a hippopotamus. Eventually they brought it to Daine's goddess mother who told it to choose a species and a sex and hold to that for five years - it chose human and female, and was finally named.
  • Roulette in Wild Cards apparently had this happen to her. She was infected with the Wild Card virus while pregnant. She became an Ace with the power to produce toxin vagina secretions, making sex with her quite risky (hence the name). Her still-developing fetus, on the other hand... well, let's just say that the reason she became an assassin for the Big Bad of her story arc was that he was a telepath who promised to remove the memories of what she gave birth to.
  • The Wayfarer Redemption:
    • The series begins with Gorgrael, a Fetus Terrible, eating his way out of his mother's womb to save himself as she's dying of exposure to the extreme northern cold.
    • The sequel series The Darkglass Mountain Trilogy has the story of SummerStar, an Icarii Enchanter who attempted to befriend the Skraelings. A particular Skraeling was kind to her at first, but suddenly attacked and raped her. She fell pregnant and gave birth to a relatively normal Lealfast child... And then became pregnant again. Turns out Skraelings literally mate for life, continuing to give birth until they die. SummerStar gave birth to over two hundred children before she died.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Boys (2019), when Homelander talks to Vogelbaum about Rebecca Butcher, who disappeared after being raped by Homelander, Voglebaum mentions that she was rushed to their facility, but the baby used its Heat Vision and Super-Strength to claw its way out. It's not true, and Homelander takes Billy Butcher, Rebecca's husband, to the house where she is raising their son, and whose location he "squeezed out" of Voglebaum.
  • Fringe: The episode "The Same Old Story" opens with a hook-up ending in a pregnancy that is well along before the woman can get a few steps away from the motel. She doesn't survive, even after being brought to the hospital.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Pro-Life", a sheltered, heavily pregnant teenage girl runs away from her deeply religious relatives to request an abortion at a local clinic. An armed stand-off ensues when her father and brothers show up to take her back so she can deliver her child. Then at the end, it's revealed that she was literally impregnated by a demon, who shows up purely to collect his demon spawn.
  • The X-Files: In "Home", Mrs. Peacock gives birth to a horrifically disfigured and deformed baby that is later buried alive by the Peacock brothers. Agents Mulder and Scully are both extremely uneasy during the autopsy. The baby's face is distorted, and its legs are bent out of shape.
    Scully: Imagine all a woman's hopes and dreams for her child and then nature turns so cruel. What must a mother go through?
    Mulder: Apparently not much in this case if she just threw it out with the trash.
  • Throughout the first season of Riget, Dr. Judith Petersen is undergoing an eerily fast-paced pregnancy, where the fetus is growing more than three times as fast as it is supposed to. At the end of the season, she attempts to have an abortion, only for it to fail to terminate the by-now supernaturally oversized fetus, it instead ends up kickstarting her giving birth to something that has the head of an adult man.

  • The Chilean Hip-Hop group Tiro de Gracia has a crude song called "Viaje sin Rumbo"note  about a guy who's an Addled Addict and has a couple who always has sex. Then he got sick and was diagnosed with AIDS, he told it to his girl and she didn't care, then they had sex and got pregnant (and infected). The last part is about she goes in the middle of her pregnancy and wanted to do an abortion, dying with the baby. Of all the song, the final lines are the creepiest of all:
    "Muere en las manos de un falso doctor, el olor a la putrefaction de los tres es nuestra leccion"note 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder:
    • Lamashtu, the Mother of Monsters, is basically the Goddess of womb horror, and both blesses her followers and curses her enemies with horrific, monstrous offspring. Female worshippers derive much honor from their monstrous births, and it's mentioned in some lore that female clerics often use variants of Summon Magic that cause the creature to manifest inside their womb and then need to be birthed. Abdominal scars from self-inflicted C-sections or the monstrous baby tearing its way out are badges of honor; the more scars, the higher the priestess will be in the church's rank. Lamashtu herself is depicted as a heavily pregnant three-eyed jackal-headed woman whose belly is covered in scars from such unnatural births. One adventure even revolves around a band of gnoll Lamashtu cultists who honor their goddess by selling slaves who have been magically impregnated — including the men — with half-gnoll or otherwise monstrous babies using dark magic.
    • Tieflings descended from the Qlippoth are called the Motherless because they tend to be so mutated that the strain of birthing them kills the mother, with some even going so far as to rip their way out of their mother's belly rather than wait to be born.
  • Warhammer: The winds of Chaos blowing from the polar vortexes can cause spontaneous in-utero mutations, causing the child born part beast. These children are often exposed, abandoned in the forest for fear they are cursed by the Ruinous Powers. This curse is, unfortunately, all too real and the resulting spawn grow up to be Chaos-enslaved, civilization-hating Beastmen, the first target of whom is usually its parents.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Daemonculaba was an attempt at mass-producing Chaos Space Marines, involving taking female Breeding Slaves and mutating them so their wombs could accommodate an adolescent human and his growing into a seven-foot-tall Astartes, who was reborn without skin. If the newborn was deemed acceptable, skin from other slaves was grafted onto him, if not, he was rejected into the sewers, where some survived as the Unfleshed (who somehow resisted falling into Chaos and instead still venerate the God-Emperor).

    Video Games 
  • The Binding of Isaac has tons of this stuff - it is, after all, a game about a small child and his apparently psychotic mother.
    • Among the enemies you'll meet in her basement are creepy blood-stained floating fetuses that emit a shrill scream when they see you and can even teleport behind your back. All the more disturbing that they, as well as many, many others, are supposed to be Isaac's mutilated brothers and sisters.
    • And once you beat the game for the first time, you get access to The Womb, which is literally a whole level in Isaac's mother's insides. Almost anything you'll see there falls under this trope, but the most prominent part is the deformed-looking naked humanoids tethered to the walls by their umbilical cords, constantly trying to break free. It's best you don't let them succeed.
    • And, of course, there's the final boss of The Womb. A giant heart that summons enemies is more or less normal by the standards of this game, but after some playthroughs it grows vestigial limbs and a head, turning into some kind of baby/organ hybrid.
    • Unlockable Player Character Tainted Lillith, aka "the Harlot" (the Tainted version of Lillith, who has themes of birth to a much less Squicky extent) has a special ability that allows her to violently birth her ravenous, bullet-force-tears-spewing, tiefling child, Gello, through a never-healing Caesarian incision as an attack, and whip it back inside of herself for next time. Complete with cartoon whip-crack sound effect.
  • One of the nightmares Vincent faces in Catherine is a giant amalgamated horror in the shape of a baby known as "The Child". It's covered in Volcanic Veins as if still developing in the womb, and chases after Vincent, wanting to play with his "daddy". It represents Vincent's fear of losing his freedom as a bachelor and having to settle down when learning that Katherine might be pregnant. He later experiences another nightmare in the form of "The Child With A Chainsaw", where the baby transforms and reveals grotesque rusted robot parts, including a sharp pinching claw for a left hand and a chainsaw for a right. It represents Vincent's fear that the child might not even be his, which means that Katherine is cheating on him just as much as he might be cheating on her.
  • Dante's Inferno begins with Dante being sent to Limbo before making his way deeper into Hell. Limbo contains enemies in the form of demonic unbaptized babies who spawn out of fiery furnaces shaped like a woman's enlarged birth canal.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • The broodmothers fit this trope to a T. Being forcibly impregnated by grotesque monsters, eventually giving birth to legions of them? Check. Bloating up to a deformed, grotesque monster in the process? Check. Being associated with motherhood due to their name? Check.
    • While not as obviously horrific as the above example, this is part of what makes Morrigan's proposed ritual so disturbing; she wants to become pregnant by a male warden (either the player character or Alistair) so that the baby will have the soul of an old god - the Archdemon before it got The Blight. While there are benefits for the player to go along with this (namely, it means that the warden can kill the Archdemon without dying), but the uncertain nature of what this baby could become is presented as a major con.
  • In Drakengard, during ending D, The Watchers descend upon the world after Manah is killed. They look like giant babies with fully formed teeth. They are led by the Queen Beast, who resembles a giant woman. Near the end of this ending, she appears to become pregnant and her womb swells to an unnaturally large size.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, the main villain Sephiroth is eventually revealed to have had a rather unsettling gestation. In an attempt to create to ultimate Super-Soldier, his scientist parents, while pregnant with him, allowed him to be injected with the cells of Jenova, an extraterrestrial life-form that crashed into the planet millennia ago. Afterwards, his mother was haunted by visions of her son's future atrocities before having her baby taken away at birth. When the adult Sephiroth discovers his origins, he goes insane, identifies Jenova as his "mother", decides to destroy the world, and starts by burning down Cloud and Tifa's hometown.
  • Mother Chef: The Musical!: After Mother Chef eats all the food, the game suddenly cuts to a black screen, where the player can only hear the sounds of a woman giving birth.
  • The playable teaser of the now-cancelled Silent Hills involved some pregnancy-based horror such as the talking fetus in the bathroom.
  • In Sonic Dreams Collection, the second-to-last stage of Sonic Movie Maker is initially set in what looks like some giant creature's stomach, until you fall down in a hole and come out... revealing it was Rouge the Bat's uterus.

    Visual Novels 
  • The theme of the Urashima Woman from Spirit Hunter: NG, a spirit who appears in the form of a pregnant woman. It's revealed that she was killed after childbirth by her midwife and had her baby stolen; she roams the lake searching for her child, and kills those who can't tell her where he is (or those who throw rocks into the lake, as she interprets it as an attack on the dead fetuses that were dumped there). After she's pacified, it's implied that the midwife filled her swollen stomach with rocks to weigh her down when she was thrown into the lake.

  • Drowtales: It turns out that a type of faulty demonic seed that's been distributed to members of the Sharen clan causes this. Effects range from the mother miscarrying early in the pregnancy, to giving birth to a horribly deformed baby, or at worst the baby ripping out her stomach and leading her possessed body around.
  • Monster Pulse is a Mon series with the twist that the monsters are people's body parts disembodied and mutated into a monster whose abilities derive from that part's function. A member of the clandestine organization responsible for this is paranoid about such a thing happening to her and has a nightmare of her womb turning into a monster.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation's SCP-231-7 is the last survivor of seven pregnant women extracted from an Apocalypse Cult. Her predecessors underwent progressively more catastrophic [DATA EXPUNGED] upon dying or giving birth, such that the Foundation projects that #7 could kick off the Apocalypse. Whatever procedure they use to keep her from delivering, even members of an organization Conditioned to Accept Horror routinely volunteer to have their memories wiped of the experience.
    • Anything related to Sarkicism. Case in point, one of its patron saints is said to be constantly inseminated and birthing horrid monsters by the prophet of the religion.
  • In Tales from Cherryshrub, Mississippi, a nameless woman is given a potion by a shady man as a remedy for her barrenness. What he doesn't mention is that she would be giving birth to a spawn of an ancient Eldritch Abomination who enlisted her cult with gestating different women so she could rule over the known universe.

    Web Videos 
  • One of the nightmarish scenes at the end of the "Sex Survey Results" video of Lasagna Cat features a scene of a woman giving birth into a toilet. She proclaims in Polish that she gave birth to "A human curse", and that if she asks for grace, she won't get it, only having her soul "swallowed and vomited and swallowed again". Looking into the toilet reveals the baby is wearing Jon Arbuckle's shirt.

    Western Animation