Television and celebrities are fickle. For many actors, the way they look is key to their success in the industry. When women get on a successful program this may also mean that they delay other personal plans, such as having a child, as this would impact their professional lives, and ‘body of work’. For those with long runs on successful series or who really want to start a family, they may not be willing to wait for the series finale of their television show. This is when things get interesting.
Many shows simply choose to ignore the baby bump, making it a season where a character spends a lot of time sitting behind a desk, carrying a gargantuan purse, or even have the baby belly digitally removed before the episodes air. Other shows decide that their character having a baby isn’t such a bad idea, and let art imitate real life, particularly when the character is instrumental to the show. Understandably this is much easier for the actors, who get to look pregnant both on and off screen. Some actors have even planned their own pregnancies to coincide with their characters', just to make life easier. Here are 20 TV pregnancies that were so impossible to hide, they were displayed for all to see, and written into the show.
20 Bones - Emily Deschanel
Many fans of the show Bones speculate that it was Emily Deschanel’s real-life pregnancies that propelled main characters into one another’s arms, or at the very least sped up the process. During season seven Deschanel was pregnant and they decided to write it into the plot, eventually leading to the couple getting married on screen, solidifying the will-they won’t-they aspect of the show into the duo as a bonafide couple. Because Brennan and Booth were married the second time Deschanel was expecting, the producers decided to roll with it avoiding the usual pregnancy masking that goes on during a lot of series.
19 Friends - Lisa Kudrow
If you were ever suspicious about why they wrote in the plot line of Phoebe being a surrogate mother to her half-brother Frank and his wife, you probably suspected that they decided to write in Lisa Kudrow’s real life pregnancy in season four of the hit show. While most series focus on minimizing a pregnancy during the filming process, Friends went in the exact opposite direction and even padded Kudrow’s already pregnant belly to make it look like she was having triplets, and not a singleton son. Jennifer Aniston’s pregnancy on the show, much like the numerous false pregnancy rumours in the tabloids, was just fiction.
18 Angel - Charisma Carpenter
One could argue that Charisma Carpenter’s pregnancy was not good for her professional path. In fact, it led to a bizarre plot line on the floundering series Angel, and her being written off the show completely. On the show the mystical pregnancy, which happened when Cordelia (who was Angel’s love interest at the time) became pregnant with Angel’s son Connor’s baby, yeah, we’re confused too. The pregnancy led to Cordelia being possessed, going into a coma, and never returning as a series regular. This pregnancy was likely best left off the screen entirely while Cordelia wore loose shirts or something instead.
17 Brooklyn 99 - Chelsea Peretti
Brooklyn 99 had already had some successes hiding pregnancies in the show when Melissa Fumero became pregnant but decided that they’d make Chelsea Peretti’s pregnancy a reality on screen. Peretti’s character Gina announced her pregnancy to her Brooklyn 99 co-workers in the middle of season four and, on the season finale, revealed that the father was one of Boyle’s cousins, played by 1990’s heart-throb Ryan Phillipe. Unrelated to the pregnancy Peretti has since announced that she will no longer be a regular on the show and is moving on in motherhood and other job opportunities.
16 The Office - Jenna Fischer
Jenna Fischer’s character Pam Beasley was pregnant twice during the series The Office, with the first pregnancy being just on air, and the second lining up nicely for the season eight plot. While Fischer was able to display her real-life baby bump on air, in the name of comedy the show decided to make Angela pregnant in the same season (although actor Angela Kinsey was not pregnant at the time). Both Angela and Pam had an entertaining mommy war rivalry and ended up both naming their sons the exact same name – Phillip. Off air, Jenna Fischer gave birth to a little girl.
15 Married With Children - Katey Sagal
This is the saddest example of a pregnancy being written into a show. During season six of the hit television show Married…With Children, actor Katey Sagal discovered she was pregnant. The producers decided to write it into the show, because what could be more ‘Peg’ Bundy than the bed bound slacker mom eating bonbons in bed. When Segal’s real life experience ended in a sad way that wasn't expected, the show producers knew that it would be difficult for the actor to cope with her character having a newborn on the show, so out of respect for the grieving mother they made the entire pregnancy a dream sequence writing it completely off the show.
14 Vampire Diaries - Candice King
Actors playing teens are rarely teenagers in real life. This means what is going on in their real lives is often quite different than the trials of adolescents on screen. When Candice King was expecting, the show series decided they’d make the teen vampire a mom on the show. This became another strange pregnancy plot line where suspension of disbelief and forgetting just about any knowledge you have of vampire folklore is necessary in order to accept this thin plot line. The pregnancy was written in when teen Caroline became surrogate mom of twins for her former teacher Alaric and his girlfriend. Teen vamp Caroline eventually went on to raise the babies as her own.
13 Sex And The City - Cynthia Nixon
While the show producers knew that it wouldn’t make sense to make Carrie pregnant in Sex and the City, hiding her baby bump during a short series, and a bunch of umbrellas as accessories, they knew that pregnancy could be an interesting turn in the life of lawyer Miranda Hobbs. Nixon’s pregnancy became a part of the show when Miranda became pregnant with ex Steve after some pity encounters. This one-off romp eventually ends in the birth for their child and leads Miranda and Steve slowly towards the path of parenthood and partnership with each other.
12 The Secret Life Of The American Teenager - Molly Ringwald
The whole premise of the show stems around Amy (Shailene Woodley) who becomes pregnant after her first time, and what happens in the months to come. Amy’s mom, played by Molly Ringwald, became pregnant with twins in real life, leading writers to make mom Anne also experience an unplanned pregnancy, in a matter of months after her own daughter gives birth. This intense drama added to the show wasn’t intended and was carefully coordinated to the second season because of Ringwald, but it fit the spirit of the show quite nicely.
11 The X-Files - Gillian Anderson
It’s frustrating to know how many actors have their jobs placed in jeopardy because of pregnancy. Gillian Anderson was one of these people when she became pregnant during the very first season of the series. Thankfully show creator Chris Carter wanted to keep Gillian on as agent Scully and made sure this didn’t upset her chances of becoming a key player in the show. The camera work managed to hide her belly until the very end of the first season when it was revealed in all its true glory. Unfortunately, this also began an unfortunate trend in X-Files where Agent Scully became pregnant against her will on numerous occasions.
10 Desperate Housewives - Marcia Cross
This is one of the most fun ways that a show wrote a pregnancy into the script. During season three of Desperate Housewives, Marcia Cross became pregnant with twins. This pregnancy had several complications and led to her being put on bed rest. In order to protect her daughter’s pristine image Bree (Cross) fakes her own pregnancy to cover up her daughter’s. This allows the grandmother to raise her grandchild as her own without raising the suspicions of those around her. This plot line showed that there is nothing that these ferocious moms wouldn’t do to better the lives of their children, plus it made for some sensationally buzz-worthy TV.
9 How I Met Your Mother - Alyson Hannigan
The first time Alyson Hannigan was pregnant on the hit comedy How I Met Your Mother, the stars didn’t align for the characters in a season where both Hannigan and co-star Cobie Smulders hid their pregnancies and took staggered maternity leaves. The second time, it lined up perfectly with the plot line of Lily and Marshall having their second child, and no belly stuffing was required for the actor. Both Lily and Alyson gave birth at around the same time. The only difference was, wait for it, that Hannigan gave birth to a little girl, while Lily and Marshall had a little boy.
8 Once Upon A Time - Ginnifer Goodwin
Those who say that fairy tales can’t come true clearly haven’t watched the show Once Upon A Time. Ginnifer Goodwin who played Snow White on the show fell in love with the actor playing Prince Charming and the two ended up tying the knot off screen. In serendipitous timing Snow White and Charming became pregnant at the exact same time as Goodwin did, making filming a breeze. On set the couple’s son was named Prince Neal; in real life they had a baby boy named Oliver. Although Oliver has aged at a regular rate, Prince Neal remained a baby on the show for seasons, as time and reality in fairy tales is different than reality.
7 Alias - Jennifer Garner
It’s hard to be a super spy and a mom, and apparently the glamour of spy life loses some of its luster when fantasy becomes the reality of spy Sydney Bristow balancing work and a kid. When Jennifer Garner became pregnant with her first child with then-husband Ben Affleck, they decided to make it a part of the show. To add drama to the pregnancy, Sydney believes the father of her daughter has died when, spoiler alert, it turns out he’s just faked his own demise. The birth of Violet also marked the end of the series as the show didn’t make it past season five, and we never got to learn about spy work and toddlers, darn!
6 Nashville - Hayden Panettiere
Hayden Panettiere plays Juliette on Nashville, has fought against all odds to make it big, and wasn’t going to let anything get in her way. When Panettiere confirmed her pregnancy to E! News her fiancé boasted, “She's going to be more than an amazing mother." After this announcement not many people were surprised that character Juliette became pregnant in season three of the show. When the pregnancy was written in everyone tuned in to see how Juliette would cope with pregnancy and motherhood, and to find out who the father was.
5 Private Practice - Caterina Scorsone
Simultaneously scripted pregnancy allowed everyone’s favourite troubled doctor Amelia and actor Caterina Scorsone to have babies without having to worry about fancy camera work or costuming to cover up a baby bump. Scorsone even timed her public pregnancy announcement to happen on the exact same day as viewers learned details of Dr. Amelia Sheperd’s TV pregnancy. Scorsone said, “I’m starting to show now. Everybody on set has been pretty sweet and is offering me fruit. This year Amelia — who had been sober — fell off the wagon after her friend died. She hit rock bottom, had an intervention and went to recover. So, this news is on the heels of that.”
4 One Tree Hill - Bethany Joy Lenz
Haley Scott from One Tree Hill revealed she was pregnant with baby number two during the season finale of season seven. In reality Bethany Joy Lenz announced that she was expecting her first child with her then husband Michael Galeotti. Fans didn’t know if the timing of this was just a happy coincidence or one that writers crafted to match up with Bethany and her expanding family to make things easier for the sake of filming. Bethany gave birth to her daughter, Maria Rose Galeotti in February 2011.
3 Accidentally On Purpose - Jenna Elfman
When starring in a show about getting pregnant by accident Jenna Elfman decided to give getting pregnant a try in reality. Elfman told The Early Show, "I have a baby in my tummy, but a real one, not just for my TV show." Elfman was pregnant with her second child during the one season run of the show Accidentally on Purpose and said, "My character is pregnant the whole first season, so I said it's a good time to have another baby because we won't have to hide it."
2 Hart of Dixie - Rachel Bilson
When Rachel Bilson announced her pregnancy in May (just after the conclusion of season three of Hart of Dixie) fans everywhere wanted to know whether or not Zoe would be shopping for maternity clothes. The series went forward with Zoe expecting Wade’s baby with the short 10-episode season chronicling the entire pregnancy and having those watching confirm all suspicions that Wade and Zoe were completely wrong for each other. Unfortunately, fans of the show didn’t get to see whether parenthood suited Zoe since the show was cancelled at the end of season four.
1 Six Feet Under - Rachel Griffiths
Brenda Chenowith was one of the most complicated and arguably hated characters on the HBO series Six Feet Under. On screen tensions aside actor Rachel Griffiths was thrilled that her second pregnancy was written into the last season of the series. To cope with the demands of pregnancy and 14-hour days on set Griffiths said, “I'm doing prenatal yoga. I also hike with my boy. We only go about 100 meters, but it takes an hour—a perfect pace when nine months pregnant. We stop and look at the flowers and pick up rocks. I do things like that to [go] against the modern pace that we're all juggling.”