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Written-In Infirmity

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What do you mean, Brad severed his tendon? Ugh, get the writers in here!
Fan on Twitter: I'm so glad they wrote in Hayden's pregnancy in the storyline cuz they couldn't of [sic] hid it
Hayden Panettiere: Trust me there was no hiding it!
— A discussion about Juliette Barnes's pregnancy in Nashville

Occasionally a show's writers will have to work around a very real physical circumstance involving one of the actors, i.e. a temporary medical complaint. Sometimes the character will be Put on a Bus until the actor recovers, but if they're still able and willing to perform, then the showrunners will either attempt to hide the condition or find a way to work it into the story. You may watch your favorite action series and this week the hero gets kidnapped and needs his spunky sidekick to save the hide the fact that the actor broke his leg. Or the soap opera heroine finds out she's pregnant but doesn't know if the baby is her husband's or her secret lover's, because the actress herself is with child.

A subtrope of Real Life Writes the Plot. See also Reality Subtext. When the character is permanently disabled because the actor is permanently disabled, it's Disabled Character, Disabled Actor. If it's a pregnancy, expect either But I Can't Be Pregnant! or Hide Your Pregnancy. The Logical Extreme is The Character Died with Him when the show's writers have to take into account an actor's death.


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    Game Shows 
  • Legendary Game Show host Bill Cullen was rarely seen walking on camera. This is because of a very noticeable limp, which he got after coming down with polio as a child, and he had it for the rest of his life. To avoid the obvious, Cullen was almost always seen sitting or standing at a podium after being introduced, in lieu of him walking on stage to greet the audience and home viewers; whenever he had to walk (such as offstage), the camera usually cut quickly so viewers would not notice Cullen's limp. It has been speculated that Cullen's physical ailment was the reason why he wasn't asked to host the 1972 revival of The Price Is Right, given plans to upgrade the show and the constant walking that would have been required. And when he was a celebrity partner on various versions of Pyramid or Password, he and his celebrity opponent were shown seated at their desks with their respective contestants, instead of doing the walk-on traditional of both shows.
  • Wheel of Fortune:
    • Host Pat Sajak came down with laryngitis during a week of taping in 1996. On an episode that week, he and Vanna White traded places during the Bonus Round; on another, he used hand signals throughout a round.
    • Contestants who are unable to spin the wheel due to a disability are allowed to bring on a friend or family member to spin for them. Obviously, unless it's a themed week with two-player teams, the "designated spinner" is not allowed to do anything else but spin.
  • Jeopardy!:
    • The 28th season began with host Alex Trebek staying at his podium for the whole game, as opposed to walking out to the podiums to do the contestant interviews. This is because he tore an Achilles tendon during the summer while chasing a would-be burglar out of a hotel room. Similar accommodations happened again for the games following December 21st, 2015, due to Alex undergoing knee replacement surgery.
    • Trebek also did a few episodes with his wrist in a cast after receiving surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.
    • Season 25 had an unusual variant: contestant Priscilla Ball (who was champion on January 16, 2009) was unable to make the taping for her next episode. As a result, she was brought back as co-champion on an episode that aired in April. This happened again in Seasons 36/37 when Zach Newkirk (champion on June 12, 2020) was unable to tape his next episode because of COVID-19 restrictions; he was brought back as co-champ on January 28, 2021, during Ken Jennings' first run as guest host.
    • Originally, the contestants walked up to their podiums as they were introduced. However, in October 1999, there was a week where one of the contestants, Eddie Timanus, was blind; requiring a number of accommodations for him, such as ditching video clues, having category cards in Braille as well as a Braille keyboard to input his name and the question and wager for Final Jeopardy and finally having the contests already at their podiums for the introductions; the last of which would be made a permanent change starting in the 2000-01 season.
  • The Hollywood Squares: Guest celebrities who had physical ailments were invariably placed in one of the three lowest squares. This worked out for Cliff Arquette (aka Charley Weaver), the lower-lefthand celebrity during the original NBC daytime show after he suffered a stroke in 1973 and had to use a wheelchair the rest of his life.
  • Drew Carey taped several episodes of The Price Is Right in Season 37 right after receiving foot surgery. He spent these episodes walking with a cane, also coming up with various methods to keep himself off that foot whenever possible (such as the models carrying him out on the first Item Up for Bids, and/or handling props on the pricing games so he doesn't have to walk over to them). In Season 40, shoulder surgery led to him spending several episodes in a sling.
  • For a few episodes of Family Feud in 1978, host Richard Dawson wore tinted glasses after scratching his eye. (He wore the same glasses while serving as a panelist on Match Game.) Later on, he wore a brace due to injuring his ribs in a car accident, and on one episode, asked contestant coordinator Caryn Lucas to host a question while he went to adjust the brace.

  • José Ferrer had a cast on his right hand in The Caine Mutiny, from a real-life injury, which is only referenced in the film when his character is forced to shake hands left-handed.
  • Harrison Ford has a scar on his chin from a car accident, which is occasionally referenced in films:
    • For Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, they added a scene in which young Indy uses a whip for the first time and accidentally slashes himself across the chin with it to explain Indy's scar.
    • Working Girl has a scene explaining the origin of Harrison Ford's chin scar. He says he'd cut himself shaving.
    • Richard Kimble's limp in the The Fugitive is due to Harrison Ford injuring his knee during filming. He postponed having it treated until filming was complete, correctly surmising that the limp would add tension to the chase scenes and heighten Kimble's vulnerability, as well as seem perfectly logical, given all the running and jumping he was doing.
  • This trope was parodied in Stuck on You, where a conjoined twin wants to be an actor but his brother has stage fright. The film then shows executives trying to work around this, first by incorporating him into the environment, then by putting him in a Blue Screen suit.
  • While filming a chase scene in Se7en, Brad Pitt severed a tendon in his hand and had to wear a cast. A scene was added to the film showing Mills had broken his arm while pursuing John Doe.
  • In the film version of You Can't Take It With You, Lionel Barrymore's arthritis had worsened to the point that he performed his role on crutches. Frank Capra added a few lines of dialogue to explain that the character had sprained his ankle sliding down a banister. In later film roles, Barrymore performed from a wheelchair.
  • Happened when Halle Berry broke her arm while filming Gothika; an injury was duly written in to explain away her plaster cast.
  • Mandalay: Lyle Talbot (aka Love Interest Dr. Burton) had an accident before the film's production began, so the writers had to tweak an In-Universe reason for his head bandage. In the film, his character does that to himself because he's The Alcoholic.
  • Tim Meadows broke his wrist shortly before filming Mean Girls. His cast is explained as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, treatment for which often involves wearing a wrist brace for support when doing repetitive actions such as typing. Many people just forget to take them off sometimes.
  • Mark Hamill was in a car accident shortly after A New Hope was released, and this supposedly explains the nearly morticians-grade makeup job he received on the set of The Star Wars Holiday Special to try and disguise the damage to his face. He spends the first five minutes of The Empire Strikes Back with snow gear covering his face, and then a wampa smacks him, thus giving a reason why Luke has the same scars as Mark. It ended up working out quite well for the character: the injuries had completely healed by Return of the Jedi, and the changes to Hamill's facial structure made him appear much more mature, just like Luke was supposed to be.
  • Psych 2: Lassie Come Home was written specifically so that Timothy Omundson could play a substantial role in it despite still recovering from a stroke. The TV movie has Lassiter in the hospital after surving both being shot and suffering a massive stroke, and makes his convalescence a plot point, as he enlists Shawn and Gus to investigate a possible murder at the hospital.
  • In A League of Their Own, the actresses insisted on performing their own stunts and several were injured filming the baseball scenes, with no attempt made to cover them up as it made them more realistic as having been playing for some time. In a montage, we see one player sporting a ginormous bloody bruise on her thigh that was very much real. Actress Renee Coleman said it took a year for it to fully go away.
  • In the WWII-era film The Train, the main character Labiche, played by Burt Lancaster, is shot in the leg. This was added because Lancaster had injured his knee playing golf, but it serves to make the final scenes of the film even more tense and exciting.
  • Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen: Since Shia LaBeouf injured his arm in a car accident during production, Sam Witwicky injured his arm after Jetfire teleported them into the desert.
  • Horse Feathers: During the filming, Chico Marx was in a car crash that shattered his kneecap. One scene, shot shortly after, has Harpo, trying to kidnap two football players and getting beat up, while Chico sits in a chair and directs him.
  • An in-universe one in State and Main, where the star of the film-within-a-film slices up his forehead in a car crash. It's worked in quite naturally as his character starts the film having returned from putting out a large fire.
  • The Three Stooges faced such a situation when they were about to film You Nazty Spy! when Larry Fine injured his foot just before shooting and had to walk with a noticeable limp. Fortunately, this was perfect for his role as a parody of Josef Goebbels, who himself walked with a limp due to a clubfoot.
  • Doyle Lonnegan's characteristic limp in The Sting was the result of Robert Shaw spraining his ankle during rehearsal.
  • Anne Ramsey was suffering from throat cancer when she played Momma in Throw Momma from the Train. The character's slurred speech was the result of Ramsey's treatments and oral surgery.
  • In Django Unchained, Leonardo DiCaprio cut his hand on broken glass during the filming of a scene. The scene is left in, and also explains why Calvin Candie has a bandage around his hand for the remainder of his scenes.
  • In Young Guns II, Chavez gets stabbed in the arm because Lou Diamond Phillips had a broken arm from an equestrian stunt gone wrong.
  • In Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Judi Dench, due to her failing eyesight, is most often sitting down, and guided by Olivia Colman, who plays her maid, when she does have to walk.
  • In Bend It Like Beckham, main character Jess has a huge scar on her right thigh that's visible whenever she's wearing her football shorts. Parminder Nagra accidentally set the right leg of her pants (which were made of polyester) on fire as a child while helping her mother prepare dinner. Her uncle put out the flames and placed her in the bathtub to begin dousing the injury with cold water (which was good), but then made the mistake of taking her pants off (which was bad). Most of the skin of her thigh came with them, resulting in a substantial scar. The film's director Gurinder Chadha decided not to even try and mask it, instead making it part of Jess's backstory as well, pretty much unchanged except changing the uncle to Jess' big sister and main character Pinky.
  • Neo throws up when the reality of being disconnected from the Matrix sets in. The particular take where he throws up was actually a result of food poisoning Keanu Reeves was enduring during that shoot.
  • Top Gun: Maverick: Val Kilmer invokedreprised his role as Iceman, and his real life battle with throat cancer and inability to speak was written into the film.
  • Santiago Segura's José Luis Torrente character was created as a fat, sleazy ex-cop in 1998. In The Noughties Segura started losing weight because of health concerns, so in the fourth movie (2011) Torrente went to jail, and in the fifth (2014) he was released with a much leaner physique.
  • While filming Das Boot, Jan Fedder lost his footing and was severely injured as he was swept off the set. His role was partly rewritten so that his character was bedridden for a portion of the film.
  • After Stephen Lewis hurt his foot, Holiday on the Buses was rewritten to Blakey a broken big toe.


    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: In the third season, John Lithgow (Dick) broke his leg playing tennis. Dick (who never stands in the episode immediately after the accident) rides a wheelchair down the stairs breaking his leg. This is complicated because Dick had already sprained his ankle in season two. (Most plots revolve around the characters learning about some aspect of life on Earth, like say getting injured.)
  • On 24, Carlos Bernard injured his ankle playing basketball, and hence, his character Tony Almeida hurt his own ankle and started using crutches. Because a season of 24 takes place over the course of a day, Tony was still using crutches long after Carlos Bernard's ankle had healed.
  • All Creatures Great and Small (1978) had lead character James Herriot confined to the vet's surgery for a while after actor Christopher Timothy injured his leg. Conveniently, Herriot had something similar happen to him in the original books after an especially uncooperative carthorse punted him halfway across a farmyard.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: One of the most visible and popular characters was Floyd Lawson, aka "Floyd the Barber". During the series' third season, Howard McNear, the actor who played him, suffered a major stroke, which left him unable to walk. Special accommodations were made to allow McNear to continue his role, usually by having him sit in a chair at the shop or by having him lean against an unseen stand (to make it appear he was working); although there were times his speech was slurred, McNear remained on the show as long as his health continued. Floyd the Barber makes appearances through the end of the 1966-1967 season when failing health no longer allowed McNear to continue; he died in 1969, less than a year after the final show aired.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the second season episode "The Geometry of Shadows", Claudia Christian's real-life broken foot was explained by having her character getting caught in the middle of an alien melee. Contrary to myth, she didn't break it on set; her very real cry of pain during that scene was caused by her landing awkwardly on her already-injured footnote . The following episode, "A Distant Star", managed to work her injury into a minor plot point.
    • Very naturally used in the third season. While filming a fight scene for "Severed Dreams" actor Jerry Doyle broke his wrist. His character, Michael Garibaldi, was originally supposed to end up with an injured leg from that fight. This was quickly changed to match the actor's real-life injury (and in fact, due to the shooting schedule, he does briefly appear with a "leg injury"). To give him more time to heal, he was written completely out of "Sic Transit Vir", which wouldn't have given him a lot of screen time anyway. This, in turn, allowed Zack Allan, Garibaldi's lieutenant, to be fleshed out some.
    • They also came up with an in-universe explanation for Garibaldi's hair thinning out (Jerry Doyle had been balding throughout filming) until he was bald from season four onwards: accidental exposure to exotic substances brought in by a smuggler.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Michael Trucco suffered a major spinal injury in a car crash, resulting in Sam Anders's bullet to the head in mid-late Season 4 and spending the rest of the series in either a hospital bed or a Hybrid tub. Trucco went on to make a near-miraculous full recovery and so Anders was able to become an Action Hero again in the post-series movie The Plan. For the record, his injury was almost the same as that of Christopher Reeve, who didn't recover.
  • An in-universe example happens on The Brady Bunch when Peter is cast as Benedict Arnold in a school play. He grows tired of his classmates jeering him for playing a traitor, so to get out of the play, he fakes a limp and tells the director that he injured his leg. Unfortunately for him, she's delighted to hear that, since Benedict Arnold had a limp in real life and thus it would fit in perfectly.
  • Breaking Bad: RJ Mitte, who plays Walt Jr, has cerebral palsy as does his character. However, Mitte's palsy is far less severe so he had to alter his speech and learn to walk with crutches.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: James Marsters has a scar on his left eyebrow from a mugging. This was written into the canon, with his character Spike getting cut in the same spot while fighting a Chinese Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion. The Expanded Universe explanation for why the scar persisted when vampires normally have a Healing Factor is that the sword she used was blessed by a dragon.
  • CHiPs: Erik Estrada was in a motorcycle accident during one season, so the same thing happened to Ponch. After the accident, Estrada literally shot scenes from his hospital bed.
  • An episode of El Chavo del ocho has Chespirito with a bandaged hand (due to broken fingers). In-universe, Don Ramón mentions that El Chavo broke his fingers last week from playing with his hammer.
  • The first chief medical examiner on The Closer, Dr. Crippen, made several appearances in a wheelchair when James Avery injured his foot.
  • When Stephen Colbert broke his wrist before an episode of The Colbert Report, the next few weeks were full of wrist jokes like Colbert starting WristStrong, which raises awareness for wrist injuries. Colbert's character also became addicted to painkillers and started doing things like filling the empty bottle with water to make "pill juice", crushing pills and putting the dust in his eyeballs. He even had his cast removed on-air and sold it for charity. It raised $17,200. The WristStrong campaign included selling red rubber bracelets, parodying Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong bracelets. As of January 2008, WristStrong raised $171,525 for the Yellow Ribbon Fund.
  • An unusual reversal of this trope happened in Coronation Street. The character Sally Webster had a storyline where she battles breast cancer. Turns out that the actress who plays her, Sally Whittaker, discovered she had breast cancer as a result of researching the storyline for the role. She says that she would never have noticed if the storyline hadn't been given to her, so the show effectively saved her life.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Episodes in the 5th season had to be modified because two of the main actors — Shemar Moore (who plays Derek Morgan) and Matthew Gray Gubler (who plays Spencer Reid) — both suffered significant leg injuries. There was a temporary but noticeable absence of the usual Derek-in-action shots (e.g., kicking down doors, tackling suspects), while the 5th season premiere had Reid get shot in order to explain away his crutches or noticeable limp for most of the season's episodes.
    • An early episode had Jason Gideon forced to stay in HQ after injuring his foot while skydiving... because actor Mandy Patinkin injured his foot while skydiving.
  • The season 8 CSI: NY episode "Crossroads" had Mac Taylor sitting down for most of his scenes. This is because Gary Sinise had torn a leg muscle while filming a fight scene for the previous episode.
  • During the filming of the Polish series Czterej pancerni i pies (Four tank-men and a dog), one of the actors took a nap on the ground and was hit by a truck. Of course, this was a series about war, so a plot where the tank is hit was plausible enough.
  • The eponymous host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah lost his voice in December 2018 and was informed by a doctor that he couldn't speak at all or he would need surgery. He still continued to host the show for those several weeks his throat needed to recover, with the writers coming up with ways to have fun with it without making fun of the potentially life-threatening situation such as by having him use a text-to-speech app to conduct interviews with guests via Siri, or having lines about Noah's childhood as a mixed-race boy growing up in apartheid South Africa be read verbatim by the other show correspondents (invariably white) while Noah himself goofed off behind them.
  • Desperate Housewives :
    • Gale Harold was injured in a motorcycle accident shortly after joining the cast as Susan's new boyfriend. The producers were quick to proclaim that they wouldn't let it interfere with their plans for the couple, and he will be back working on the show as soon as possible. Which apparently meant his character moving from the neighborhood and Susan breaking up with him over the phone.
    • Kathryn Joosten's character was given lung cancer after the actress's long-dormant cancer returned. Naturally, the scene where she emotionally reveals this to Susan is quite a Tearjerker.
  • The Deuce: Inverted with Harvey Wasserman, who is fat in the first season because actor David Krumholtz had gained a large amount of weight due to the side effects of getting his thyroid removed. By the time the second season had begun filming, Krumholtz had dropped the extra weight, leaving his character suddenly rail-thin. The show wrote in that Harvey got a new girlfriend, who forced him to diet between seasons. Harvey is still whining that he wants "real food," but is also heard bragging about losing 94 lbs to colleagues at a party.
  • Doctor Who is enough of a Long Runner that there have been multiple instances of this:
    • William Hartnell was injured in an accident on-set during the recording of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", and was unable to perform in the next episode. The episode was rewritten so that the Doctor was unconscious throughout (with a filmed-from-behind extra doubling for Hartnell) and his role in the episode was divided between other characters.
    • Hartnell again had to be written out of Episode Three of his final serial, "The Tenth Planet", after he sent a telegram to the production team informing them that he was too ill to work. As a result, he collapses (a body double shot from behind) at the start of the episode and remains unconscious throughout. His dialogue was reassigned to other characters, chiefly companion Ben Jackson. It actually made sense in-universe as the First Doctor was supposed to be on his last legs, on the verge of regeneration, and indeed the First Doctor's onscreen frailties mirrored the real-life health problems that were forcing Hartnell to step down from the role. Thankfully, both Hartnell and (in-universe) the First Doctor managed to revive themselves for one last hurrah in Episode Four before regenerating.
    • Frazer Hines's character Jamie McCrimmon had to be temporarily recast with actor Hamish Wilson for Episode 2 of "The Mind Robber" due to Hines having contracted chickenpox. Luckily, the surreal nature of the story allowed an easy script addition (while trapped in the Land of Fiction, the Doctor has to reconstruct Jamie's face from memory but gets it wrong) and the temporary recast.
    • During the filming of the story before "The Pirate Planet" Tom Baker's lip was bitten by a dog, so in-story the Doctor hit his face on the TARDIS console. While not in the show itself, publicity shots for the serial show him making the most of the injury by wearing a sticking plaster for dark skin that stands out on his face, giving the impression of him having a funny skew-whiff moustache.
    • Adric appears slightly ropey at the end of "Castrovalva", not because of the ordeal he suffered at the hands of the Master, but because Matthew Waterhouse had too much to drink the night before and filmed those scenes while suffering from a hangover.
    • In "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel", John Lumic was rewritten into an Evil Cripple when his actor, Roger Lloyd-Pack, broke his leg shortly before filming was set to begin.
    • In "The Time of the Doctor", Matt Smith's final episode, the Eleventh Doctor is seen walking with a cane after a Time Skip because Smith had injured his leg just before filming. This was going to be explained as a stone leg caused by Angel attacks, or a wooden leg caused by another incident, but the scene explaining it was cut. A later spin-off book, Tales of Trenzalore, went with the wooden leg option.
  • EastEnders: Sal is seen walking with a frame during Peggy's funeral, as Anna Karen had a bad fall.
  • Near the end of the fourth season of Everwood Bright is seen wearing a sling for five episodes with the explanation being that he broke his hand in a failed attempt to karate chop a piece of wood in half. In reality, actor Chris Pratt sliced a tendon in his hand while cutting apart frozen elk steaks.
  • George Clooney on ER sprained his ankle prior to filming the Season 3 episode "Whose Appy Now?" Ergo, so his character Doug had one. This resulted in a hilarious Irony as She Is Cast moment when he and Kerry are limping down the hall in tandem and she snaps at him before he explains his predicament. Her limp is the fake one, as Laura Innes is not disabled in Real Life.
  • When Anissa Jones, Buffy on the '60s Dom Com Family Affair, broke her leg, the writers wrote it into the show.
  • On Farscape, Jool gets hit in the eye when an alien explodes and has to wear an eyepatch for a while. Her actress, Tammy MacIntosh, really did injure her eye and couldn't wear a contact lens for a few weeks. The eyepatch covered up the fact that Jool's eyes suddenly didn't match.
  • On Friends, Matt Le Blanc accidentally dislocated his shoulder while filming an episode and had to wear a sling on his arm. This was then turned into a very effective joke about Joey having a bed-jumping mishap.
  • On Ghostwriter, David López, who played Alex, had a broken leg at the start of the episode "Into the Comics". However, this isn't a plot point apart from a few throwaway lines and progressively heals until he's running without any problem in the final act.
  • During the second season of Grimm, Russell Hornsby (Hank Griffin) injured his ankle. The show had Hank being sent on vacation by his coworkers, who push him in his office chair out of the precinct at the beginning of the episode so he never stands. When he returns by the next episode, he's received the same injury while rock climbing.
  • In the first season of the 2000s Hawaii Five-0 reboot, a severe knee injury Scott Caan suffered while filming was written into the show to explain why his character was limping around and using a cane.
  • During production of the first season of Hazel, Don DeFore (who played George Baxter) injured his right hand bad enough that he had to wear a cast for a while. This was written into a few episodes, most notably the color special "What'll We Watch Tonight?" for which they had to refilm the opening sequence; there, they tried to hide his injured hand, but sharp-eyed viewers could still spot it.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Michael Hurst broke his arm while filming the Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Prometheus", which was acknowledged in that episode's Couch Gag. The injury was written into the episode "Cast a Giant Shadow" as a result of "a little torture" to justify his cast in subsequent episodes.
  • Lucille Ball broke her leg in a skiing accident, causing her Heres Lucy character to suffer the same fate for a few episodes.
  • Highlander: This often had to be avoided, as many of the characters were immortals. However, Joe Dawson, like his actor, had lost both legs. Oddly one never thought of Joe as handicapped, he simply had a peculiar walk. This turns into a Plot Point in the Season 4 episode "Brother in Arms" when we discover that Joe lost his legs in Vietnam and was rescued by an Immortal, and he was then inducted into the Watchers. It gets raised in this episode because the Immortal who rescued him faces off against Duncan's friend Charlie DeSalvo.
  • In Hogan's Heroes, Robert Clary (Lebeau) always wore long-sleeved clothes to cover up the serial number he had received in childhood at the concentration camp of Buchenwald.
  • In one episode of House, Hugh Laurie had a black eye he'd gotten while boxing, so they just wrote it into the script that someone had punched House. Given House's personality, it wasn't much of a stretch.
  • On House of Cards (US), Frank Underwood being scalded by coffee (and the subsequent "I despise children" line) was written in after Kevin Spacey accidentally burned his hand during a promotional photoshoot, in which he had to hold a burning American flag.
  • During the filming of the tenth episode of the original Kamen Rider, actor Hiroshi Fujioka (who also portrayed Segata Sanshiro in the Japanese marketing campaign for the Sega Saturn) was thrown from his motorcycle after crashing into a telephone pole, breaking both of his legs. How do you fix up the plot when your main character has just crippled himself? Easy; Create another Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider-2! This was because Fujioka did his own stunts, up to and including wearing the Kamen Rider suit. After this, however, it was required for all tokusatsu program leads to have a separate suit actor for fight scenes to prevent a problem like this from occurring again.
  • David Griffin is a cancer survivor, and he was undergoing treatment during Keeping Up Appearances, and it shows near the end, with Emmet showing visible signs of what's described in-series as "prison pallor".
  • Captain James Deakins of Law & Order: Criminal Intent got Bell's palsy at the same time that his actor Jamey Sheridan did, and wore an eyepatch for a good portion of his appearances.
  • Due to Christian Kane's insistence on doing his own stunts whenever possible (and not always getting them right), his character on Leverage occasionally has to explain away the actor's injuries. In some cases, they don't even bother explaining, such as in "The Inside Job" where he simply shows up with a band-aid on the bridge of his nose.
    • During the opening scene of "The Stork Job" he's sporting a bruised and scraped cheek from a fall while playing football on pavement. Asked about it by one of the other characters, Eliot replies irritably, "How was I supposed to know it was a lesbian bar?"
    • In another instance, Kane hit his head on the edge of a magician's trick box while filming a fight scene in an elevator for "The Top Hat Job." The gash required seventeen stitches and was worked into the later scenes of "The Two Live Crew Job" as the result of Eliot having his face bashed into some metal piping (up to that point in the episode they hid it with hats).
  • Little House on the Prairie: In the spring of 1978, Karl Swenson, who played beloved town founder and mill owner Lars Hanson, became terminally ill, and it took a very noticeable toll on his appearance and energy. At the same time, Michael Landon had commissioned a five-week-long story arc where — building on the 1977-1978 finale — Walnut Grove greatly suffers the ill effects of an economic depression, prompting the Ingalls, Olesons, and Garveys to move to Winoka for a better opportunity. It was decided that, given Swenson's failing health, the character of Mr. Hanson would play a key role in the final part of the episode's story, where he suffers a massive stroke and, bedridden, bitterly concedes the death of his town and wishes for his death. All of Hanson's scenes show him either in bed or — in the final scene — walking and talking with great difficulty. His death — told as happening shortly after the events of the episode — was written in with the expectation he was not coming back. He didn't; at age 70, Swenson died of a heart condition.
    • The 1976 episode "Bunny" focused on Nellie pretending to be paralyzed after falling from a horse that Laura had sold to Mr. Oleson. Shortly before filming began, Alison Arngrim (who played Nellie) broke her arm and rather than wait for the arm to heal (thus delaying production), Arngrim's broken arm was written in as an additional injury.
  • Dana Elcar's character in MacGyver became severely visually impaired from glaucoma when Elcar developed the condition.
  • On Motherland: Fort Salem, Raelle getting sucked into the Mycelium in season 3 was written in due to Taylor Hickson having to recover from a car crash during shooting season. Raelle is absent or has a very reduced presence in several episodes.
  • When Miguel Ferrer of NCIS: Los Angeles fell ill with throat cancer, the writers began a subplot of his character, Assistant Director Owen Granger, falling progressively ill. When his condition got worse, the writers had his character get (non-fatally) injured and requiring hospital bed rest so he could still be in episodes but not having to move around a lot.note  This continued until Ferrer’s death, where it was initially written as having secretly left the hospital but eventually became The Character Died with Him.
  • Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger had Yousuke's arm in a cast after his cockpit exploded, to explain an injury that the actor had suffered while filming a stunt.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Captain Hook is hit by a car and, for a few episodes, can be seen limping. In reality, Hook's actor, Colin O'Donoghue had broken his foot in a skiing accident and the car injury was written in.
  • Michael Zaslow, who played David Renaldi on One Life to Live, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and confined to a wheelchair. The character, who was absent from the show for several years, was given the same diagnosis when he returned. Also a case of The Character Died with Him, as David was written to have passed away in 1998 when Zaslow did.
  • The only Power Ranger that has ever been killed off on the show is Kendrix Morgan after actress Valerie Vernon collapsed on the set of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and was diagnosed with leukemia. (It seems insensitive, but the series takes place on a space station, and there are no Peace Conferences in the Lost Galaxy. And she dies with an epic Heroic Sacrifice.) Her character returns to life in the Grand Finale and, fortunately, the actress recovered — in time to film the Reunion Show, even.
  • Timothy Omundson was riding his bike to the set of Psych when he fell and broke his collarbone. This prompted last minutes rewrites, Buzz being called in to do Lassiter's lines, and Lassiter showing up in a cast and refusing to say what happened. This injury persisted until the end of the season. In a deleted scene, he reveals to the police officers that he had slipped and fallen in his bathtub... which was not what they were asking about.
    • Omundson also writes a blog and tweets in-character for Lassiter. Lassiter had an entry on New Year's resolutions, he mentions "not riding bikes."
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • A very humorous twist on the trope occurred during the first season when Chevy Chase was hospitalized after an injury sustained during one of his pratfalls. Since that was a common running gag used to start the show, he called from his hospital bed and had Gilda Radner move the phone and push it over the desk, thereby completing a long-distance pratfall.
    • In an early sketch in another episode, Guest Host Buck Henry was injured when John Belushi accidentally hit him in the forehead with his sword during a Samurai sketch. During the commercial, Henry's wound was cleaned and bandaged. As an in-joke, all the other cast members from that point on sported similar bandages on their foreheads, and the incident was written into the "Weekend Update" sketch ("Up next: A deranged John Belushi attacks actor Buck Henry on live comedy program!")
  • Seinfeld:
    • When Jerry Seinfeld had laryngitis, his character made a comment about losing his voice after performing a very rowdy set.
    • In another episode, Elaine screams at a barking dog all night. Julia Louis-Dreyfus injured her voice filming that scene, so her character was given the same injury.
  • Robert Guillaume suffered an off-set stroke during the filming of the first season of Sports Night. The writers quickly whipped up a storyline where Guillaume's character Isaac Jaffe fails to show up for an out-of-town business meeting, causing everyone to panic. It turns out that Jaffe was hospitalized after he had suffered a stroke at the airport on the way to said meeting. When Guillaume returned to filming, Jaffe's storyline dealt with how having the stroke had affected his life.
  • When Michael Shanks had to sit out an episode of Stargate SG-1 after having an appendectomy, his character sits the episode out for the same reason. Also, instead of a scripted scene, Shanks got to ad-lib the discussion of his illness with Richard Dean Anderson. ("Can I see the scar?" "...No.")
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax got injured in a ship crash, in order to keep her lying in a cave recovering. Terry Farrell, who played Jadzia, had a skin condition preventing her from spending much time in the sun.
    • Garak suffered from acute claustrophobia. This is because Andrew Robinson suffered from the condition to such a degree that even wearing the Cardassian make-up could be a trial for him. In one two-part episode, Garak spends much of the plot inside a cramped space: unsurprisingly, it's also the episode that reveals he suffers from claustrophobia (although the condition had been hinted at earlier points in the show).
  • Star Trek: Discovery featured a case of a new disabled character being written for an existing actor. Kenneth Mitchell, who had guest-starred in several roles in the first and second seasons, was later diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and began to use a wheelchair. To be able to retain his talents, the producers wrote a wheelchair-using (well, hoverchair-using) character for him in the third season. He wouldn't have been able to reprise his original roles anyway, since all his characters were denizens of the 23rd century and were left behind when Discovery jumped forward in time to the 32nd. Oh, and two of them were dead anyway.
  • Supernatural:
    • When series lead Jared Padalecki injured his wrist in a stunt, the injury was explained by his character being tackled during a fight with a zombie, explaining the presence of a cast for the next four episodes.
    • The next episode filmed features much less of Padalecki's character, Sam, because post-wrist surgery, Padalecki was prescribed painkillers that left him a little loopy.
    • Similarly, when Padalecki injured his shoulder (apparently caused by off-screen shenanigans that involved wrestling with fellow actor Osric Chau) and needed to wear a sling, several episodes involved poking fun at Sam for getting his shoulder injured off-screen in a Noodle Incident between Padalecki's character, Sam, Misha Collins' character, Castiel, and a demon.
  • Constance Marie's wrist injury was written into the latter half of Switched at Birth's first season. In-universe, the injury was caused by signing so much combined with hairstyling and caused conflict between Regina and Daphne because Regina was unable to sign.
  • A rare non-fiction example is Mick Aston, an archaeology professor who co-hosted Time Team. He spent part of one series laid up with a broken leg, but rather than bring in a temporary replacement they simply had him work from home, discussing this episode's dig with Audience Surrogate Tony Robinson over the telephone.
  • Cynthia Watros (Erin on Titus) broke her leg and they wrote the event into the storyline, saying that she stumbled trying to chase a burglar. They even made it into a clever character moment when Papa Titus commented that she hurt herself running after a burglar, instead of running away from him.
  • Pruitt Taylor Vince has pathologic nystagmus, and so do some of the characters he played, e.g. on The X-Files and House.
  • The West Wing:
    • John Spencer, who played chief of staff Leo McGarry, had suffered from heart troubles. When the time came for him to resign from his position in-show, his character had a heart attack. He later wound up being named as a vice presidential nominee in the show's final season, but during the course of filming the final season (during which his character's health and capacity to continue such a grueling campaign schedule was repeatedly questioned by the press), Spencer suffered a fatal heart attack. The first new episode after his death again prominently featured Leo and included some very uncomfortable lines when viewed with the knowledge of what had happened — which even the most shut-in viewer had, as Martin Sheen recorded a touching tribute to Spencer at the start of the episode.
    • Stockard Channing broke her ankle hiking in 2001, so her character was promptly given a similar injury to explain why she was wearing a cast.
    • Martin Sheen has limited movement in his left arm, which is why he puts on his suit coat with that characteristic flipping gesture. In "Two Cathedrals," the younger Jed does it as well (the movement is used to link the two time periods).
  • During the second season of What's Happening!!, Danielle Spencer (Dee) was involved in a serious car accident that led to spinal problems. To accommodate her, she remained seated in many of her subsequent scenes to minimize physical exertion, and her hair was styled to cover up damage to her forehead.
  • During filming of the climactic shooting gallery scene in The Wild Wild West's "The Night of the Avaricious Actuary", Ross Martin broke his leg (which is why he's replaced with a very obvious double in most of said scene). The injury was written into the next episode to be filmed, "The Night of the Juggernaut" (Martin sports a walking cast in this and "The Night of the Kraken", the next episode made).
  • The Wire occasionally references Omar's prominent facial scar, which Michael K. Williams received in a bar fight.
  • Wiseguy. When actor Ken Wahl broke his ankle in an on-set accident, this was written into the arc as the protagonist being hit by a cab (explaining the limp), then subsequently having his leg broken by loan-shark Johnny "Coke Bottles". A Suspiciously Similar Substitute character (OCB agent John Henry Raglin) was then brought in to replace Wahl for the Garment Trade arc.
  • During filming of a basketball episode of Workaholics Adam Devine tore his ACL, resulting in him being written into the hospital. This flowed perfectly with the episode, as it was played off as the result of his taking PCP supplied by Karl.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: In season 3, when Gabrielle broke her ankle trying to imitate Xena's somersaults, Renee O'Connor really did break her ankle during shooting. Then Gabrielle was poisoned by Persians.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Since it's a very physical occupation, bumps, bruises, and injuries that linger the next week tend to get written in as part of the storyline; frequent ones are quad and hamstring injuries, which will be commentated on-air to help explain lesser mobility (the wrestler will also sport medical tape on the injured body part, but on the uninjured leg, so heels can attack it ruthlessly to aid the story while not actually hitting the injured muscle). Also happens out of universe; for example, when Alberto Del Rio was involved in a legitimate bar fight one night and suffered a hideous black eye, the commentators simply remarked that he got it during his match the previous week.
  • Cactus Jack was angry that WCW didn't do anything with him losing his ear in a match with Vader in Germany in 1994.

  • According to a myth, Kryptonite was first introduced because Bud Coulier (the actor playing Superman) had a cold or something like that…

  • Molière, who suffered from a chronic cough, played Harpagon in the premiere of The Miser; Harpagon is mentioned to be plagued by coughing as well.
  • On opening night of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden's 2009 revival of The Barber of Seville, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato fell off the stage and fractured her leg. Rather than cancel the rest of the run, she sang every subsequent performance in a wheelchair and cast — even though Rosina doesn't traditionally have a broken leg, the libretto never says she doesn't either.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic
    • During the filming of his review of Alone in the Dark (2005), Doug Walker developed a throat infection that made him almost inaudible. To compensate, he claimed that the movie was so bad that it had caused him to lose his voice and did his part of the review using a text-to-speech program. It actually came out even funnier.
    • Similarly, when he lost his voice during The Good Son review, he did the entire review with subtitles for the footage and Talking with Signs for himself.
    • Happened again, causing him to postpone an update and instead do a brief sketch in which Ma-ti encounters Doug's character from Ask That Guy with the Glasses (who does not speak for the duration).
  • The Spoony Experiment
    • Noah Antwiler put his injuries to good use; his E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial review was done while he was on painkillers and recovering from dental surgery, making his seeming madness more realistic.
    • He also had to concentrate on doing vlogs and Lets Plays for a few months after suffering a Jones fracture. This was caused by nothing more than setting his foot down wrong, giving him something of a reputation for having fragile bones. Ironically, Spoony's commentary for Kickassia reveals that he was pretty much the only person (including cameraman Rob Walker) who got through the arduous shoot unscathed.
  • Pushing Up Roses didn't sleep well before driving with Paw Dugan to Todd in the Shadows' house to film the Head review. As she didn't want to show her eye bag-heavy face on camera, the trio was shot with their backs at the camera, MST3K-style — and they admitted it worked well.
  • Tim Rogers was sick with COVID-19 while he worked on his Doom retrospective for his Action Button series. He openly acknowledges in the video how both the illness and the time he spent in self-isolation was the foundation for some of the video's more introspective moments.
  • In 2022, Jessie Gender had facial harmonization surgery. In the weeks following it, she wore a fake beard until the swelling went down.

    Western Animation 
  • The Hey Arnold! episode "Gerald's Tonsils" was created when Gerald's voice actor hit puberty. Rather than replace him with another boy (or a grown woman), they simply gave his character tonsillitis to explain the change in voice.

  • In 2008, Jason Momoa was slashed in the face with a broken beer bottle during a nasty bar fight. 140 stitches and one reconstructive surgery later, all that remains is the small scar in the middle of his left eyebrow. It could easily be filled in with makeup, but it's so distinctively badass that it has become the actor's signature feature, and it's present in all his roles.
  • Natalie Dormer has mild Bell's palsy, which is where her famous smirk comes from. Since her smile gives off vibes of a clever woman with a trick or two up her sleeve, she almost always plays these types of characters.

Pregnancy (when it isn't hidden), of course, is the ultimate Written-In Infirmity:

  • When actress Laurel Coppock became pregnant, Toyota commercials (in which she plays Jan the receptionist) didn't bother to hide it. In fact, one even showed off her pregnancy.

  • The Baby Formula took this to its logical extreme. The entire reason the movie exists is that two actress friends of the director became pregnant at the same time and the director commissioned the script to take advantage of this.
  • A Film Within A Film example: In François Truffaut's Day for Night there's a scene where the film crew overviews footage and then they suddenly realize that the (previously unnoticed) pregnancy of an actress will become more and more visible as the shooting progresses. Then they decide to make the character pregnant as well, although some of them complain that the viewers could make some unfortunate assumptions about who is the father of the child.
  • In War of the Worlds (2005), Miranda Otto played the remarried ex-wife of the hero, and nearly backed out as she was pregnant. Steven Spielberg convinced her to stay and worked her pregnancy into the story.
  • In Fido. Carrie-Anne Moss' real-life pregnancy was written into the film, where her character mentions being pregnant, and the husband commenting that he can't afford to pay for another funeral.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season 5 of The 100, actress Ivana Milenkovic (Diyoza) learned she was pregnant shortly after being cast as one of the season's antagonists, and rather than recast, they wrote it into her character.
  • When Jennifer Garner got pregnant, her character on Alias did the same, with the result that Sydney's action scenes had to be cut considerably.
  • Due to Charisma Carpenter's pregnancy, her character Cordelia was mystically impregnated (for the second time!) in Angel's fourth season. And was turned evil, put on a bus, and killed off for real. Ouch. Joss Whedon really went above and beyond on this.
  • Melissa Rauch on The Big Bang Theory:
    • Rauch became pregnant during the ninth season with her character Bernadette becoming pregnant as well. Unfortunately, she miscarried in real life, but Bernadette successfully had her baby.
    • Just before production of eleventh season began, Rauch discovered she was pregnant again. Bernadette again became pregnant as well and the season premiere has her and her husband worrying about having to care for two children. This time, both character and actor had successful pregnancies.
  • The third season of The Blacklist saw star Megan Boone become pregnant; and her character of Elizabeth Keen became pregnant as well. A lot of early drama was whether or not she would give the baby up for adoption.
  • Emily Deschanel of Bones became pregnant during the production of the sixth season. The pregnancy was written into the end of the season as the result of a one-night stand between Booth and Brennan, answering the ongoing Will They or Won't They?. Deschanel was visibly pregnant for the early part of the seventh season and it played a significant role in the personal storylines for the season.
  • Charmed (1998) - Holly Marie Combs was pregnant during Season 6, which was quite amusing as Piper had been pregnant the previous season. There was a long-standing rumor that Chris was going to be revealed as Phoebe's Kid from the Future when real life made him Piper's; However, Word of God said that it was already the plan and Holly's pregnancy was "convenient timing".
  • Cheers:
    • Rhea Perlman became pregnant three times during the show's run. Each time, her character Carla became pregnant as well.
    • The tenth season subplot where Sam and Rebecca attempt to conceive a baby together was intended to work Kirstie Alley's pregnancy into the series. Sadly, Alley miscarried and the subplot was wrapped up with Sam and Rebecca deciding they weren't ready to be parents.
  • The CHiPs episode "Satan's Angels" had a subplot where the Getraers are preparing for the birth of a child. Mrs. Getraer's actress Gwynne Gilford actually was pregnant note  when the episode was shot.
  • In Criminal Minds A.J Cook got pregnant and it was written into the show, with her real-life son playing her on-screen son Henry. When she became pregnant again and Jennifer Love Hewitt was also pregnant, both were written in, though Jennifer left the show because of it.
  • Unusual example in the original run of UK daytime soap Crossroads. Actress Jane Rossington, who played Jill Harvey, became pregnant and this was written into the show. Sadly, she suffered a miscarriage but agreed to be padded up so that the character's pregnancy could continue. Soon after, the actress became pregnant again and this time successfully gave birth - but the character's pregnancy lasted eleven months.
  • Anna Belknap of CSI NY had her first pregnancy hidden, with the storyline of Lindsay going to visit her family in Montana being used when she took off to have the baby. The second pregnancy, in season 5, was written in and led to Lindsay and Danny getting married.
  • DCI Banks: In the second season, DS Annie Cabot becomes pregnant following a one-night stand and goes on maternity leave as a result of actress Andrea Lowe becoming pregnant.
  • Jane Seymour (Actress)'s pregnancy resulted in the title character of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman becoming pregnant as well (though with only one baby rather than the twins she had in Real Life). Perfect timing, as she and beau Sully had just married.
  • Earth 2's final episode saw Devon Adair (Debrah Farentino) collapsing from an unknown illness and being put into cold-sleep until a cure could be developed. Meanwhile, Farentino was pregnant.
  • The Real Life pregnancies of several ER actresses — Ming-Na Wen, Alex Kingston, Sherry Stringfield — resulted in their characters being pregnant too.
  • Meredith Baxter's pregnancy was written into Family Ties but she still had to take several episodes off. The excuse provided for Elyse's mysterious absence was her doctor had ordered her to stay off her feet. The producers tried several approaches for distracting viewers from her absence, including bringing on Geena Davis for a two-episode run.
  • Grayza's outrageously massive (and tattoo-decorated) pregnancy in the Farscape Wrap It Up "The Peacekeeper Wars" was because Rebecca Riggs had decided to have a career break and a child when the show was canceled. Considering that her character had raped the hero in the previous season, this led to much Wild Mass Guessing about the in-canon paternity of the offspring...
  • On Frasier, Jane Leeves' first pregnancy (in 2000) could not be worked into the plot, as it happened at the very beginning of her long-awaited relationship with Niles. Instead, the writers created a plot about her gaining weight uncontrollably and taking a sabbatical at a health retreat to combat the problem.note  Her second pregnancy (in 2003) was however written into the plot, as her character Daphne gave birth in the Grand Finale.
  • On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, this resulted in Janet Hubert-Whitten being fired as Aunt Vivian, as her real-life pregnancy was a violation of her contract. She stayed until the end of Season 3 though, and her pregnancy was incorporated into the storyline. Afterward, the character was recast with Daphne Maxwell Reid.
  • Phoebe in Friends chose to become a surrogate mother for her little brother because Lisa Kudrow became pregnant. This worked well when Kudrow was unable to fly to London where the season finale was being shot; this also the reason why Phoebe was forced to stay behind in New York.
  • Occurs in General Hospital when actress Lynn Herring got pregnant. Like her character, Lucy Coe was single, it was written that she would be the surrogate mother for ex-lover Scott and his dying (of cancer) wife Dominique. Since then, other GH actresses have had their pregnancies written into the story, with actress Sofia Mattson's pregnancy in 2021, being the most recent example.
  • In Gilmore Girls, Melissa McCarthy became pregnant two seasons after Sookie made Jackson get a vasectomy he didn't want after the birth of their second child. Since they couldn't hide it very well, her pregnancy was written into the storyline by revealing that Jackson lied about getting the vasectomy because he didn't want it in the first place and thought Sookie would still be on birth control.
  • On Good Luck Charlie, Leigh-Allyn Baker's pregnancy was written into the storyline by having her character Amy have her fifth child, which causes problems in the family because they are only just getting back to normal after having a fourth unplanned child.
  • During the fourth season of Grimm, actress Claire Coffee (Adelind Schade) became pregnant with her first child. This was particularly amusing because her character, Adelind, had just finished a pregnancy arc. The writers decided to write the pregnancy in, leading the characters to exclaim an exasperated "Again?!" when Adelind reveals her pregnancy.
  • Zoe Hart (Hart of Dixie) became with child in the 2014-2015 season as a result of Rachel Bilson being pregnant for reals.
  • Lisa Lackey on Heroes got pregnant during filming of the first season. The first person she told was Greg Grunberg to ask him for advice because he'd worked with actresses who got pregnant during filming before and she was worried that the producers would freak out. So he ended up making a call to the writers' room on her the exact moment when the writers, brainstorming a storyline for their onscreen relationship, had come up with the idea for her character to be pregnant.
  • Although Kristen Bell's first pregnancy wasn't written into Hou$e of Lie$, her second one was.
  • How I Met Your Mother had an odd example with Alyson Hannigan's second pregnancy. It wasn't hidden, but only because her character Lily was already pregnant. A couple seasons earlier, the show had gone to great lengths to hide her first pregnancy.
  • Lucille Ball became pregnant during her time on I Love Lucy. Her pregnancy was written into the show, at the time considered a risky and controversial move, as they weren't even allowed to say the word "pregnant" on American TV in the 50s (notwithstanding the fact that Mary Kay and Johnny had gotten away with it only a few years earlier). Interesting fact: that show popularized the use of the euphemism "expecting,"note  and the episode in which Lucy gives birth broke the record for viewership up to that point.
  • When Kaitlin Olsen became pregnant, her character Dee from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia also became pregnant. An entire episode was dedicated to the gang trying to find out who got her pregnant; by the end, they stop caring. It was later revealed that she was a surrogate for a Transgender woman and her husband.
  • In Jekyll Fenella Woolgar was cast as one half of a lesbian couple; however, by the time filming started she had a rather noticeable bump. She thought that she'd lose the role but it was no matter to the writers; they just worked it into the plot and it actually spawned quite a few endearing and funny bits. It was joked about on the commentary: 'You just can't cast lesbians these days!'
  • Jeopardy!! makes frequent use of the Clue Crew to deliver video clues in pertinent categories. One use that fit this trope was when Clue Crew member Sarah Whitcomb Foss had her real-life pregnancy worked into a video category on pregnancy that aired on September 18, 2013.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent had Alexandra Eames get pregnant at the same time Kathryn Erbe was. The storyline was that Eames was having a surrogate child for her sister. Another Temporary Substitute, G. Lynn Bishop, was brought in, but unlike Beck, no attempt was made to give her any meaning. It almost seemed like they were writing her to intentionally be disliked, in part because Eames is Goren's Living Emotional Crutch; it was a plot point that he was missing her terribly.
  • Angelique Cabral became pregnant just before the third season of Life in Pieces. Fortunately, it was easy to write her out during her maternity leave since her character had been injured in a fall in the previous season's finale, so she spent the premiere in traction. Also, the very nature of the show note  made it easy to just not feature her during her maternity leave. On top of this, there was also a dream sequence in which her character was pregnant.
  • Baby Jamie on Malcolm in the Middle came to be as a result of Jane Kaczmarek's real-life pregnancy in Season 4. Lois also went to stay with her sister so Jane Kaczmarek could have maternity leave.
  • On Married... with Children, Katey Sagal, the actress who played Peggy, became pregnant, and the show's writers worked it into the storyline by making Peg pregnant, much to Al's chagrin since their two kids were young adults by that point. Most of the plot lines of the sixth season centered around the pregnancy, until Sagal's tragic miscarriage forced the producers to backtrack. The pregnancy was explained as being a dream Al had. The second time Sagal became pregnant, the writers had Peg return to Wanker County to try and reunite her divorced parents, and then set out to find her missing father. When Peg did appear, she was shown sitting in the backseat of a limousine, talking to her family on the phone, or other situations that filmed only the top half of Sagal's body. When Sagal was ready to return to work (thankfully, her pregnancy was successful this time), an entire episode was dedicated to Peg's return.
  • Mary Kay Stearns was the female lead in the very first sitcom on U.S. broadcast TV, Mary Kay And Johnny. She became pregnant in 1948, and after trying (unsuccessfully) to hide it, the producers wrote her pregnancy into the show. In those more conservative times, it helped matters that "Johnny" was her husband both on-screen and in real life. When their son was born, he was written into the show as a character.
  • Midnight Caller: Devon announces she is pregnant at the end of the second season after actress Wendy Kilbourne became pregnant.
  • Season 2 of My Name Is Earl had a storyline where Joy became a surrogate for her estranged half-sister (as well as to get sympathy from the jury in her upcoming trial). This was written in to accommodate Jaime Pressly's real-life pregnancy.
  • While Hayden Panettiere played a pregnant Juliette Barnes on Nashville at the same time as her real-life pregnancy, this could count as a subversion as the writers had already intended for Juliette to become pregnant. The writers had also intended for Juliette to have postpartum depression — and depressingly, in season four Hayden took leave from production to get treatment for that same ailment.
  • In Northern Exposure, Shelly's pregnancy and the birth of her daughter were written in because of Cynthia Geary's real-world pregnancy. (Hard to hide since, as in many examples on the page, Geary was conventionally small and skinny as a Hollywood actress and hence her pregnancy was extremely noticeable.)
  • Before filming began for the 11th season of NYPD Blue, Charlotte Ross got pregnant, which made things difficult since her character Connie McDowell had previously been established as infertile due to complications from a teen pregnancy. The writers got around this with a rather mild retcon, revealing that her doctor previously told her it would be almost impossible for her to get pregnant.
  • In The Office (US), Jenna Fischer's pregnancy was written into the eighth season for her character Pam. It wasn't a big deal since at that point she was already married with one child; she and Jim just decided to have another kid. Ironically, Angela becomes pregnant during the same season as well, but her actress, Angela Kinsey, wasn't actually pregnant in real life. This makes Angela's dig at how Pam's pregnancy is bigger than hers more hilarious, considering Kinsey was only using a prop pillow, while Fischer was already several months pregnant by the season premiere.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Season 3 sees Snow and Charming deciding to have a second child that they could actually experience raising was written into the series to explain Ginnifer Goodwin's real-world pregnancy (by the actor who played Charming, cutely enough).
    • Emilie de Ravin's pregnancy becomes a plot point in Season 5 when Belle and Rumple fear for the safety of their child. Belle gets put under a Sleeping Curse to allow them to make the passage of time vague so she could start appearing with the bump.
  • The Rookie (2018):
    • Angela's surprise pregnancy occurred because actress Alyssa Diaz really was pregnant. This ended up fueling much drama as Angela's kidnapped by drug trafficker La Fiera, with designs on her baby. Her second pregnancy during season five was also written in.
    • Nyla got pregnant unexpectedly in Season 4 because her actress, Mekia Cox, was actually expecting.
  • When Roseanne actress Laurie Metcalf became pregnant, it was originally going to be covered up. Jackie's clothes got looser and looser (which was a huge tip-off as she usually wore form-fitting outfits) and she always seemed to show up carrying something in front of her. However, as Metcalf progressed she got so big it couldn't be hidden any longer. Her pregnancy was written into the show about halfway through her real one.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race UK: Season 1's makeover challenge involved the contestants turning one of their family members into a member of their "drag family," and Divina DeCampo's partner, her sister, was pregnant at the time. Not only was no attempt made at hiding this, but Divina incorporated a fake baby bump into her own outfit so that they'd match. RuPaul dubbed the baby as "the youngest contestant in Drag Race herstory."
  • Saturday Night Live has had a number of women perform on the show while pregnant, both guest hosts and cast members. Some musical guests (such as Cardi B) have appeared on the show while pregnant, but they don't normally appear in sketches so this trope is unnecessary.
    • Ana Gasteyer was the first cast member to become pregnant while on the show. Her pregnancy was worked into a number of sketches, including a commercial for a pregnancy test (despite being pretty far along).
    • Maya Rudolph's first pregnancy was ignored at first as she wasn't very far along before the season finale. The following season, she appeared in one episode before going on maternity leave and played a pregnant woman in one sketch.
    • Tina Fey appeared on the show during both of her pregnancies. She was a cast member during the first one, but working it into the sketches wasn't necessary since her only onscreen appearances were as an anchor on "Weekend Update". She would later host during her second pregnancy which was worked into not only a sketch (which took place in Lamaze class) but her monologue as well (where she and an also pregnant Maya Rudolph sang a dedication to their unborn children).
    • Amy Poehler played a pregnant woman in a few sketches during her pregnancy. She also played a woman who gained a lot of weight due to trying Michael Phelps' diet.
    • While hosting in 2022, Keke Palmer revealed she was pregnant during her monologue. She would play a pregnant woman in a couple of sketches, including a Kenan & Kel reboot (where she says Kel is the father) and a sketch where she gets an ultrasound.
  • Sesame Street: When Sonia Manzano (Maria) became pregnant in 1987, it was not only written into the show but resulted in one of the show's landmark changes, Maria and Luis's marriage. Since an illegitimate pregnancy would hardly have been well received by the target audience's parents, the show-runners gave the two Fix-It Shop owners, who were previously Just Friends, a Relationship Upgrade to have Maria safely married before Manzano's pregnancy would start showing. Her pregnancy was then used to teach young viewers about birth, and eventually, her real daughter Gabriela became Maria and Luis's daughter Gabi, playing the role throughout the first years of her life until a professional child actress replaced her.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: During production of season 4, Nana Visitor (Major Kira) got pregnant with the child of co-star Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir). The writers had already begun a plotline about Keiko O'Brien being pregnant, and so they wrote an episode where a medical emergency forces Dr. Bashir to transplant Keiko's unborn baby into Kira's uterus. There was even a bit of Lampshade Hanging on the subject — in a later episode, an irate Kira tells Bashir that her situation is his fault.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: When Roxann Dawson became pregnant, it was mostly camouflaged and her character B'Elanna Torres wasn't portrayed as pregnant. However, in the two-parter "The Killing Game," where the characters' memories are erased and they're forced to participate in a deadly World War II simulation, her character's character Brigitte is portrayed as pregnant.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • Vaitiare Bandera, who played Sha're, Daniel's wife, in the first few seasons of the show, was heavily pregnant with Michael Shanks' child when it came time to bring the character back. The writers managed to turn the child into a huge plot point for the next couple of seasons.
      • Claudia Black (Vala Mal Doran) also got pregnant around the time of the end of the same season, but it was an unintentional subversion of the trope: they were already planning on a story that involved her getting pregnant so they were happy they wouldn't have to use special effects for it. The character's daughter is very, very evil. However, she got pregnant with her second child just before filming began for the last SG-1 movie Continuum, which the writers had not anticipated. They had to resort to things like having her wear an outsized camouflage jacket and carry a big sci-fi gun in her first scene, to having her sitting and with things obstructing the camera's view of her stomach in most of her other scenes. Since she was actually near the end of her second trimester, neither approach really worked and it's still very noticeable.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, Rachel Luttrell (Teyla Emmagan) became pregnant too. This also got written into the plot and involved her character getting pregnant via her unseen boyfriend and then her later kidnapping by Michael, a Wraith that the Atlantis team made somewhat human against his will. After he was born, Michael kept trying to kidnap them, turning her into a woman in distress instead of her previous Action Girl. Until she kicked his sorry ass off of the central tower of Atlantis and earned her label back.
  • Poppy Montgomery of Without a Trace was a trickier example than most since her character Sam not only was not in a relationship but was implied to be more or less Married to the Job. The writers had Sam conceive from a one-night stand with a bartender, and for the last two seasons of the show, the plot was wrung for drama and Ship Tease.

    Music Video 
  • In Atomic Kitten's video "The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)", Natasha Hamilton was eight months pregnant and no attempt was made to hide it. In fact, the dance moves the girls used were choreographed to accommodate the baby bump.
  • Beyoncé:
    • Zig-zagged when she attended the 2011 MTV Awards wearing a loose-fitting gown. During her performance, she was wearing a boxy pantsuit and cryptically told the audience to "Feel the love growing inside me". At the end of her number, she took off her jacket to officially announce her pregnancy and received a standing ovation.
    • Her video for "Countdown" appeared at first to be hiding her pregnancy with an abundance of shots from her front. And then she turned to the side and started rubbing her belly proudly.
  • In the Dixie Chicks' video for "Landslide", Emily Robison was clearly pregnant and not hiding it during the video shoot.
  • Whitney Houston proudly showed off her pregnant belly in "I'm Every Woman", since the song and video are a celebration of womanhood. Her previous video, "I Will Always Love You", hid her stomach by only filming her from the chest up, but with "I'm Every Woman" she was much further along, so they couldn't hide it even if they wanted to.
  • In "Tight to Death", a duet between Mack-10 and then-wife T-Boz from TLC, her pregnancy is proudly emphasized in the Outlaw Couple-themed music video.
  • "Someday" by Britney Spears is basically a music video to celebrate her pregnancy.
  • Most of Grimes music videos during the Miss Anthropocene era, including "Delete Forever," "IDORU," and the "You Miss Me When I'm Not Around" green screen footage were made when she was visibly pregnant with her son. She also said that she was dissatisfied with the "So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth" video since she was three weeks pregnant while filming it, and felt so sick she had a hard time getting through the shots.