TV marriages and deaths always shock viewers, but episodes that feature pregnancies and births might be even more dramatic. With a nine-month ticking time bomb, there are an array of complications and conflicts for all characters to navigate. But not all TV pregnancies are created equal!
These take the cake for the biggest television pregnancies in history. While some of them were just Hollywood magic, others were caused by actresses’ actual baby bumps. And in a few other cases, shows completely hid the fact that their stars were expecting — without anyone knowing…
1. Friends: When star Lisa Kudrow said she was expecting, the Friends staff included it in the most Phoebe fashion possible: ultimately, they explained it with a storyline in which she serves as a surrogate mother.
2. The X-Files: After Gillian Anderson developed a baby bump between seasons, some TV execs wanted to recast Agent Dana Scully. Instead, X-Files writers worked it into the storyline, in an arc where aliens abduct Scully and inseminate her.
3. Married…With Children: This sitcom inserted Katey Sagal’s real-life pregnancy into a few episodes, but then had to make a sudden pivot when the actress sadly had a miscarriage. The show wrote off her character’s pregnancy as a bad dream.
4. I Love Lucy: For a program that broke so many barriers, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Lucy was the first TV show to feature a pregnant main character. Of course, characters weren’t allowed to say the word “pregnancy” or even sleep in the same bed.
5. Murphy Brown: In a historic TV moment, the journalist character got pregnant out of wedlock and chose to raise the child on her own. Conservative critics viewed it as an attack on fathers and called for its cancellation. Vice President Dan Quayle even criticized the show in a speech!
6. Parks and Recreation: Leslie Knope became pregnant with triplets, but Amy Poehler had a bun in the oven even earlier. After wrapping the second season, producers had to immediately shoot some season three episodes to stay ahead of Poehler’s baby bump.
7. Sex and the City: After a few seasons of Miranda bouncing around various relationships, writers wanted to radically alter her lifestyle. They achieved this with a surprise pregnancy from her boyfriend Steve, whom she later marries.
8. How I Met Your Mother: During Alyson Hannigan’s first pregnancy, directors hid her belly with an array of tricks. However, they did use it to their advantage for a scene where Lily partakes in a hot dog eating contest.
Twitter / Steve Lira
9. The Mindy Project: Series creator and star Mindy Kaling thought up the show’s pregnancy storyline for prime comedic material. Both characters involved, Mindy and Danny, are OB/GYNs — definitely not who you’d expect to have a birth control slip-up.
10. Seinfeld: The “show about nothing” apparently had nothing to say about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ pregnancy because they totally ignored it in the show. As she got closer to the due date, the crew hid her belly with boxes and used more close-up shots.
11. The Office: When Jenna Fischer learned she was pregnant before season 8, the writers rolled with it. By that point, Jim and Pam were already married with a daughter, so why not add another tiny Dunder-Mifflinite?
12. The Office: However, not all Scranton pregnancies were pushed right in front of the camera. When Angela Kinsey was expecting, the masterminds behind The Office did everything they could to hide it, even if their scheme entailed fancy ice sculptures.
13. Bones: Writers had to fast-forward their long-term plans after Emily Deschanel announced she was expecting. To account for her appearance, they made Brennan and Booth get together earlier than originally planned.
14. The Walking Dead: Conceiving a child during a zombie apocalypse is dramatic enough on its own. But this AMC series ramped up the stakes by having Lori Grimes get pregnant and not know who the father was.
15. Breaking Bad: Showrunner Vince Gilligan pulled out a number of props and fancy shots to hide Betsy Brandt’s growing belly. But when her onscreen sister Skyler White was supposed to be pregnant, the crew used her as a body double for close-ups.
16. Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Actress Melissa Fumero hid her pregnant belly initially, but later it became a plot device when her character went undercover as an expecting prison inmate.
17. Game of Thrones: There’s a lot of fantasy on the HBO series based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling books. Along with the dragons and White Walkers, Emilia Clarke’s season 1 pregnancy was pure fiction.
18. Scandal: Costume designers worked overtime to hide Kerry Washington’s real-life bump on Scandal. During those nine months, Olivia Pope wore a lot of long coats and stood in front of many conveniently placed objects.
19. Desperate Housewives: Bree Van de Kamp memorably faked her own pregnancy so she could raise her teenage daughter’s child. Marcia Cross found out she was expecting in real life, so the writers devised this plot to explain her appearance.
20. Alias: Going into the fifth and final season, this hit show couldn’t afford to take much time off for star Jennifer Garner’s pregnancy. Instead, they made her character give birth to a daughter, Isabelle, who became a recurring character.
Even when not televised, celebrity birth announcements tend to be pretty exciting. Take Meghan Markle. Although it’s customary for Kensington Palace to make any formal announcement of a royal pregnancy, Prince Harry clearly couldn’t keep the cat in the bag. He snapped this happy picture of the Duchess and her bump in November.
2. Beyoncé: To announce the coming of twins, Rumi and Sir Carter, back in 2017 Queen Bey broke the news as only she could do — flower wall, lingerie, veil, and an out-and-proud baby bump. Her Instagram simply read: “We have been blessed two times over.”
Beyoncé / Instagram
3. Russell Brand: While brushing up on all the latest tips on new daddy duties, the comedian just couldn’t contain the big news any longer. Brand posted this pic to Instagram in 2016 to announce the coming of his firstborn, a little girl named Mabel.
4. Cardi B: In classic Cardi fashion, this hot tamale made her baby announcement by making a big entrance. When booked to perform on SNL, she showed up in a skin-tight white dress that left no mistaking — this little mama had a bun in the oven.
5. Justin Timberlake: Even though all of Hollywood was well aware of Jessica Biel’s baby bump, she and JT didn’t confirm the pregnancy until Justin posted this sweet belly peck to Instagram in January of 2015. Just a few months later, baby Silas arrived.
6. Ellie Kemper: Isn’t it every talk show host’s dream to have a celebrity pregnancy announcement on their show? Well, Jimmy Fallon happened to be that lucky guy when The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star broke the news of her rising belly in 2016.
7. Gabrielle Union: Fans were over-the-moon to see photos of this new little family. Union and NBA legend Dwayne Wade have been very candid about their infertility issues, but thanks to a surrogate, Kaavia James was welcomed into the world in November of 2018!
8. Alanis Morissette: Pink and blue surprise cakes can go ahead and sit down. To announce baby Onyx Solace to the world, this Canadian songstress wrote and created a whole animated music video! That is one super special lullaby.
9. Tyra Banks: No one saw this coming. The leading lady of smize truly caught everyone off guard when she announced the arrival of her son York via surrogate. Unfortunately, shortly after the birth, her and long-term boyfriend Erik Asla broke up.
10. Ryan Lochte: Of course an underwater belly smooch is the only logical way for an Olympic swimmer to announce he’s expecting a child. Lochte and then-fiance Kayla Rae welcomed in son Caiden Zane in 2017, and something tells us this kid is going to be a natural in the water.
11. Michael Phelps: Not to be outdone by Lochte, Phelps and his wife decided they also needed a pool to help break the news of their offspring. In 2016 the couple gave birth to son Boomer. Now just imagine how cool this kid’s pool parties will be.
12. Angelina Jolie: Brangelina’s announcement of their twins was really more of a big slip thanks to Jack Black. When interviewing together for Kung Fu Panda, Black pointed at Angelina’s belly and said, “she’ll have as much as the Brady Bunch after these!” Whoops.
13. Blac Chyna: Did you know there was a pregnancy emoji? Well apparently, there is. One with pink hair even, which is exactly how Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian chose to announce the coming of the newest Kardashian, a little girl named Dream.
14. Olivia Wilde: We’ve all seen the baby bump reveal photos, but Wilde made hers extra-especially cute by making her son Otis a guest star. A few months later, baby Daisy Josephine arrived to meet one very excited big brother.
15. Jessica Alba: Honor and Haven, Alba’s two daughters, gathered for this snap to reveal the arrival of their little brother. Sticking with the “H” tradition, baby Hayes arrived just in time for New Year’s Eve, making the countdown balloons all the more fitting.
16. Naya Rivera: To announce her firstborn with then-husband Ryan Dorsey, this Glee star went with a classic nursery riddle. Rivera gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2015. Unfortunately, her marriage didn’t do as well, and a divorce was finalized in 2018.
17. Ciara: To celebrate her birthday in 2016, Ciara decided to share some big news with the world. Her and hubby Russell Wilson were expecting their firstborn, a baby girl named Sienna Princess Wilson. Now, we just can’t wait to see that cute first one, two step video.
18. Ayesha Curry: To announce baby number three, this court-side mom decided to let her swag do the talking for her. The Curry’s later welcomed in son Canon, their first boy. Rounding out at five, this little family is now a full lineup.
19. Kelly Rowland: What’s the best part about having a baby? Baby shoes, of course! Well, maybe not the best part, but still, Kelly knows what up. The ex-Destiny’s Child singer posted this pic to clue everyone in to her upcoming single. That baby sure has some big shoes to fill.
20. Kylie Jenner: Despite living most of her life in front of the spotlight, the youngest Kardashian chose to keep her pregnancy completely private. In fact, Kylie didn’t even announce the arrival of baby Stormi on Instagram until 3 days after her birth.