Pregnancy may be a cause for celebration, but if the expectant mother happens to be the star of a major TV show, it can also be a cause for creativity.
We’ve already looked back at the many ways TV shows hid stars’ pregnancies, so now let’s shift our focus to a different option — the many times TV shows have leaned into real-life pregnancies, putting a bun in their characters’ ovens as well.
And it should go without saying, but we’re about to discuss storylines from 20+ TV shows, dating all the way back to the 1950s. So consider this a big ol’ SPOILER ALERT. If you don’t want to know about characters who got pregnant on shows that you may or may not have watched, you might want to turn back now.
Scroll down to read about 25 times actresses’ pregnancies were written into TV shows, resulting in their characters also getting pregnant, then drop a comment with your thoughts. Did you know about all of these? (And do you have any more to add to the list?)
IVANA MILICEVIC, THE 100
Charmaine Diyoza was supposed to die at the end of this sci-fi drama’s fifth season, but when Milicevic became pregnant in real life, showrunner Jason Rothenberg chose to have her character follow suit — a twist that kept Diyoza alive well into the final season. As Milicevic told TVLine, “My son coming into this world gave me three years of awesome work on an awesome show.”
JENNIFER GARNER, ALIAS
The fifth and final season of this ABC spy drama found Sydney Bristow with child to accomodate Garner’s own high-profile pregnancy.
CHARISMA CARPENTER, ANGEL
Carpenter’s pregnancy was hidden from view in the show’s fourth season… until it wasn’t, as Cordelia eventually gave life to Jasmine aka “The Blessed Devourer” (played by Gina Torres).
(It’s worth noting that we’ve since learned — through brave testimony from Carpenter — that this pregnancy led to friction with series creator Joss Whedon, allegedly leading him to write her out of the show entirely.)
EMILY DESCHANEL, BONES
Deschanel went through two pregnancies during her time playing Temperance “Bones” Brennan, both of which were written into the show, hence the arrivals of Booth and Bones’ kids in the later seasons.
CHELSEA PERETTI, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
The Nine-Nine writers used Peretti’s real-life pregnancy to launch a paternity mystery in Season 4, with Boyle’s cousin Milton (played by Ryan Phillippe) ultimately being revealed as the father of Gina’s baby.
HOLLY MARIE COMBS, CHARMED
Piper Halliwell’s second son came by way of Combs’ first real-life pregnancy. It was revealed midway through Season 6 that Chris (played by Drew Fuller), who traveled from the future to help the Charmed Ones, was actually Piper’s grown-up son.
MELONIE DIAZ, CHARMED (REBOOT)
The writers of The CW’s Charmed reboot got especially creative in explaining Diaz’s sudden baby bump: Her character received a visit from a future version of herself. To protect her future baby from an impending evil, Mel offered up her present-day uterus as a safe haven. And just like magic… pregnant!
LISA KUDROW, FRIENDS
Rather than work around Kudrow’s pregnancy in the show’s fourth season, the writers decided to make Phoebe a surrogate for her brother and his wife, resulting in one of the most memorable pregnancy storylines in sitcom history.
MELISSA MCCARTHY, GILMORE GIRLS
McCarthy’s first pregnancy was written into the WB-turned-CW dramedy’s final season, blessing Sookie St. James with a baby of her own.
RACHEL BILSON, HART OF DIXIE
Bilson’s real-life pregnancy made for an exciting twist in the CW drama’s final season, which also found her character expecting a baby with boyfriend-turned-husband Wade (played by Wilson Bethel).
ALYSON HANNIGAN, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Hannigan gave birth to two children during the CBS comedy’s run, but only her second pregnancy was written into the show, with Lily and Marshall welcoming baby Marvin in Season 7.
LUCILLE BALL, I LOVE LUCY
The earliest example on our list is also one of the most meta. The reason Lucy and Ricky (played by Desi Arnaz) welcomed Little Ricky in Season 2 was because Ball and Arnaz, a married couple in real life, were also expecting.
KATEY SAGAL, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN
Sagal’s real-life pregnancy was written into the show’s sixth season, but when the actress tragically suffered a miscarriage, the writers tweaked things so that Peg’s pregnancy could be explained away as a dream her husband Al (Ed O’Neill) was having.
HAYDEN PANETTIERE, NASHVILLE
The birth of Juliette’s baby in the country music drama’s third season came just a few months after Panettiere became a mother in real life.
JENNA FISCHER, THE OFFICE
When Pam and Angela (Angela Kinsey) both found themselves pregnant in Season 8, only one of them was playing pretend — Fischer was actually with child during Pam’s second pregnancy.
GINNIFER GOODWIN, ONCE UPON A TIME
In a turn of events fit for a real-life fairytale, Snow White’s pregnancy was written into the ABC drama’s third season because Goodwin was expecting her first child with husband and co-star Josh Dallas (aka Prince Charming).
BETHANY JOY LENZ, ONE TREE HILL
Haley’s second pregnancy came as a surprise to viewers at the end of Season 7, but Lenz wasn’t exactly shocked by her character’s big twist, considering she was also expecting.
CATERINA SCORSONE, PRIVATE PRACTICE AND GREY’S ANATOMY
Here’s a first for our list: Scorsone has had two real-life pregnancies written into two separate shows as the same character — first on Private Practice in Season 5, then on Grey’s Anatomy in Season 16.
CANDICE KING, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
Before Jo (played by Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) was murdered on her wedding day, the Gemini coven cast a spell to protect the babies in her womb, magically transporting them into Caroline’s (King) uterus — which worked out nicely, as King was pregnant at the time.
MOLLY RINGWALD, THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER
This ABC Family drama began with the unexpected pregnancy of Ringwald’s on-screen daughter (Shailene Woodley), but Ringwald eventually followed suit in Season 2 when both she and her character became pregnant.
CYNTHIA NIXON, SEX AND THE CITY
Though the writers chose not to incorporate Sarah Jessica Parker’s pregnancy into the show, the same can’t be said for Nixon’s, as Miranda Hobbes also welcomed a baby with then-boyfriend Steve (David Eigenberg).
RACHEL GRIFFITHS, SIX FEET UNDER
Griffiths was eighth months pregnant in real life when her character gave birth in the show’s fifth season.
AMERICA FERRERA, SUPERSTORE
When the Superstore actress became pregnant for the first time during Season 3, the NBC comedy’s writers celebrated… by also making her character pregnant. (You’re welcome, Parker.)