Just a over a year ago I did an article talking about memorable moments involving the death of a sitcom character, usually sudden and unexpected. And more recently I did an article on surgeries on sitcoms, but left one very large surgery that virtually every sitcom has done.
Today I decided to look at when out favorite shows present birth episodes. Oh, you know the one’s. There are a million cliche’s surrounding this TV trope. Having the baby in an odd place (back of cab, etc). Having members of the family absent. Baby delivered by character with NO qualifications or training. The birth is quick and results in a clean baby. On and on. Even other stuff like the baby shower and Lamaze Class has been done to death but that’s another list my friends.
I am going to try to focus on the birth episodes involving a major character, if I focus on minor characters or one shot episodes we could literally be here all day. So for once, no Seinfeld on this list. Anyway lets’s go over some of my favorites.
All in the Family
I am starting with this one for the simple reason that it really is the first one. The birth of Gloria and Mike’s baby was televisions’ firs birth. I never understood why networks were so nervous about showing these things, I mean their natural part of life. So while I was no fan of this show I respect for the ground it broke, this included. We get cliche stuff like Gloria getting stuck in a phone booth calling the hospital, and Archie dressed in black face (long story). The birth scene is pretty realistic (for the 70’s anyway) and in the end baby Joey was born.
Ah, why should the fact that Ron Howard wasn’t on the series anymore keep them from doing a touching episode about Richie’s baby being born? How did this work? Fonzie. I honestly don’t remember the episode and could find very little about it.
Mary Tyler Moore
There was a running gag on this show that Mary always threw the worst parties. Once Johnny Carson showed up, but there was a blackout so no one could see him! In another episode Geroegette ends up going into labor and delivering the baby at one of Mary’s parties. With, of course, Mary playing the role of midwife while Lou delivers the baby girl. Oh those wacky 70’s.
One of the best, plain and simple. Oh OK, there is some cliche here. It was an 80’s show after all. Elyse goes into labor on live television (Cliche), Steven is nowhere around (Cliche), and has to race to get there in time to see his son born (cliche again). What makes this episode one of the best then? After Andy is born we get a sweet scene where Alex, Mallory, and Jennifer come in to see him. Steven announces that it’s a boy, and Alex’s reaction is pure classic. Michael J.Fox really knows how to sell a moment.
It’s not the best video but it watchable here
The Cosby Show
One of the only decent episodes to come out of the fifth season was the one where Sondra and Elvin have their twins. While it’s a good episode which hits all the usual things, I did have a few gripes with it. One, there is a scene where Grandpa Huxtable challenges Cliff to be a better grandparet that pisss me off. Two, the B story about Theo and his friends. Did this episode really need a B story? Third, the running gag about Cliff being in the way. But gripes aside it’s a very sweet episode, the best part being the little dialogue between Sondra and Cliff toward the end. I have heard it was not rehearsed and is quite possibly one of the best father/daughter moments in the series.
This is also on YouTube here
Maggie finally gave birth to Chrissy in an episode that was oddly centered on Ben. It was an ok episode though not one of the most memorable. If you ever wondered where they got the name Chrissy, Ben becomes friends with a man named Chris who is dying. Yeah, I know. Lame. The one gag I did love was when Maggie goes into labor. Right in the middle of the opening credits! Growing Pains was one of those series which knew full well it was a sitcom, and would very often play around with that. This is also an example of another cliche surrounding childbirth episodes. Having the mother go into labor at the WORST time. The reason I am not talking to much about that is because I already kind of discussed it elsewhere. Heck, even Star Trek-TNG couldn’t resist that when Worf had to deliver Keiko’s baby.
This episode….is not so bad. But with all do apologies to Rose Tyler, I have to repeat what I stated awhile back. Why the hell is Buddy in this episode?? He serves no purpose, but I already ranted on how he was overused that season. At least the creators were smart the next year and tried to introduce new characters rather than overuse an existing one (though Jack was boring as hell). Anyway, to the episode. It’s the cliche that will never die, having a baby in an elevator. But I rewatched it and the episode is pretty good. It was a strong season ender and great way to end Christine’s arc for that season. I really only have one complaint…which I have said enough about. I do love on thing, Christine has her baby in the elevator with no medical help and when she comes out the baby and the elevator are perfectly clean!! Only on TV my friends.
Saved By The Bell
Ah, speaking of old cliche’s. This episode has two cliche’s for the price of one. An earthquake traps Mr.Belding, his wife, and Zack in an elevator. Did I mention that Mrs.Belding was very pregnant? Zack of course delivers the baby and Mr.Belding names the baby after him (gag!)
What is it with giving birth in an elevator anyway? Benson couldn’t resist this one either. I rather like this episode where Benson’s secretary Denise gives birth while stuck with Benson and the Governor. Didi Conn is not the most popular name out there, and is more known probably for her voiceover stuff or Grease, but she can be damn funny as she shows in this episode.
Ok I am done listing elevator episodes so besides the three I just mentioned this also happened on All in the Family, Welcome Back, Kotter, Doogie Howser, Punky Brewster, and The Nanny.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air
This one tries to cram a million cliche’s into one episode. We have Vivian grouchy as she is very overdue. We have her going into labor with only Ashley to drive her. We have Will and Uncle Phil getting stuck in an elevator en route. It’s a little over the top even for this show, but in the end we get the scene of Vivian with the baby as the family gathers.
You can see it here
Yeah, this episode is actually pretty good. By the way there is a sub trope to these kind of episodes that I have ignored and this is the perfect time to bring it up. Often when the mother is pregnant, they will give the father appendicitis at the same time! Don’t as me why, but they did it with Mac and Quon Le on Night Court and they do it here. Jesse has to have surgery which means Danny has to be Rebecca’s coach. I actually liked that though, Danny doesn’t act like a total goof which make their scenes work. The actual childbirth scene is played a litle to much for laughs, but when it’s over we get the sweet scene where the two twin boys are doing fine (what is with these shows and twins anyway??). My one gripe of the episode? When Rebecca goes into labor it’s right in the middle of Michelle’s birthday party. That just seems real contrived even for this show.
Honest to god I almost forgot about this one entirely. Then I remembered there was a baby that last year, so we must have had an episode where Kate gave birth. Well the only copy I found on YouTube had a German translator so I wasn’t going to sit through it. I scrolled through and the episode is mostly ALF preparing himself by watching re-runs of the Dick Van Dyke show. He stresses himself out so much he is exhausted, and sleeps through the whole delivery of Baby Eric. I guess it makes sense, showing that on Alf would not have fit in with the tone of the series so they take the “I Love Lucy” approach and do it when we’re not looking. We never even see Kate holding him! To be fair ALF feels bad he slept through it until Willie explains that isn’t the important thing.
By the way this “missing the child being born” thing has happened other times like on Cheers when Frasier misses the birth of his son when Lilith has Frederick, or on Perfect Strangers when Larry is hanging off a hot air balloon and misses Jennifer giving birth BY HERSELF inside the same balloon. Yeah Perfect Strangers was a weird show. By the way if you’re wondering why I didn’t mention Carla on Cheers it’s because she gives birth between episodes.
Ah, ratings stunts. I love them! On Empty Nest Carol finally gave birth in an episode a barely remember. Since it happened in the same hospital Nurses is set in, they had Harry Weston deliver Gina’s baby in the subsequent episode of that show. Cute stunt to bad the episodes, and teh series themselves, have been forgotten.
This series was awful with cliche’s, so yes as you may guess indeed Mama did in fact help deliver Naomi’s baby girl. It’s a real corny and over the top episode, but this is Mama’s Family we’re talking about. To be fair it happens off screen, as if even the creators didn’t expect us to buy that one.
I don’t remember. I know Crystal had her baby in an episode where Roseanne’s whining caused her to miss it and Dan had to coach. In another episode Jackie had her baby but for the life of me I don’t remember that one at all. I guess it involved Roseanne trying to keep the news from Jackie’s fiancee.
Ok my friends, we need to talk about this one. To be fair, there is very little cliche here. Unless you count having the mother scream her head off as a cliche. Murphy as a character was short tempered with very little patience. How would she handle childbirth? Exactly how you would imagine. Screaming at people and threatening them! Yeah, I’ve always been a little torn about this episode. I mean there is that classic scene where she is screaming about how awful Men did this to her while throttling Frank and Miles. Isn’t that a little bit much? True after the baby is born the episode ends with that sweet scene where Murphy sings to the baby. The amazing thing for me is that when it aired I expected this to be a TV classic. Instead it;s kind of faded away and maybe that’s because the broad humor of the show kills the sentiment it was going for.
Couldn’t find a clip of the yelling but did fine one for the sweet ending here
There is simply no way to do this list and not have this series on here. This show had three childbirth episodes (well, four if you count the final episode). The amazing part? They were all really good! The first was when Ross’s son was born. We get a cliche when Ross and Susan are stuck in a closet, and some nice character moments between Monica and Chandler. The second was Phoebe giving birth to her brother’s kids. It’s a really well done episode except for the lame Happy Days gag they stuck in there. And of course we also had the episode where Rachel gave birth which was also real well done though they take a whole quarter pf the episode setting up the cliffhanger ending which is annoying. However the pregnancy scene has one of the funniest lines in any Friends episode. I covered all of these in depth in my episode guide so will spare you. But if you include the series finale when Monica and Chandler get their two kids that makes a lot of babies for one series!
Here is a clip of Rachel having Emma, tell me this isn’t laugh out loud funny!
I like this one because while it embraces the cliche it does do a few things different. Heidi goes into labor in the back of Tim’s car, and they end up in a gas station. Tim has to deliver the baby (of course) but the reason it works is because Wilson is coaching him on the phone, Wilson is a trained midwife so this seems logical. Yeah it’s unrealistic but the episode works because it doesn’t get to carried away with itself. And Tom Poston guest stars and he is always hilarious.
But rather than talk about it why not show you here
Mad About You
This could have been one of the best childbirth episodes ever. No kidding, is so well done on so many levels. Helen Hunt is a pro and it shows in this one. Carol Burnett has a hilarious scene as Jamie’s mother. So what is wrong with it? For some reason we get this B story where Paul can’t get back into the hospital. He runs into Bruce Willis who helps Paul back to the delivery room by climbing through ducts a la Die Hard and…you stopped reading haven’t you? To be fair if you can overlook that nonsense there is some very beautiful stuff in this episode. To bad the series went to hell right after.
Quick clip of the ending of the episode here
There is a classic episode where Frasier, Niles, and Martin are in cab when the driver goes into labOr. However I was sticking to main characters. Roz goes into labor in the middle of one Frasier and Nile’s parties. We miss most of the delivery as we cut to her holding the baby. And Daphne ended up giving birth in a vet office. It’s a long story it involves Eddie eating the engagement ring and Niles hyperventilating.
Everybody Loves Raymond
So there was one episode involving showing Debra going into labor with Ally. The problem? The episode sucks! First, Debra is a witch when pregnant (what a shock). It is clear that the creators had no idea what to do with this, so we get a long scene where Debra thinks she is about to deliver in the back of Robert’s police car. But she doesn’t it was just contractions. Even worst we get this bit about Debra not wanting Marie anywhere near the delivery, which is not only real mean but out of sync with the continuity of the series (Debra didn’t hate Marie yet). They try to be sweet but the episode reeks of fail.
King of Queens/Webster
Sadly not every sitcom character has an easy time. Monica and Chandler on Friends had a real hard time conceiving. Maude had an abortion when she decided she was to old to be pregnant. Darlene’s baby almost died on Roseanne. The worst possible case happened on Married..With Children. I am not even going to discuss that one, look it up if your curious.
On King of Queens, Carrie becomes pregnant and the episode is about Doug overworking himself to save money. It ends sadly when we discover Carrie suffered a miscarriage. It’s a sad event but does happen so it’s only fair that TV shows it once in awhile. But while King of Queens dealt with with softly, another show tacked the same subject much more bluntly. This was on Webster, which when it tackled serious stuff did it all the way. Katherine is pregnant and not having the easiest time when she miscarries in a very blunt scene. Webster had initially not wanted the baby, so blames himself afterward. Powerful stuff in that episode that I never forgot. I won’t link to it but it is on YouTube if you’re curious. As for King of Queens, Doug and Carrie keep trying and do get a baby and an adopted child in the series final episode.
I originally left off Pam from The Office because I never saw that episode. Thank heavens for YouTube. So I watched this episode…and remembered why I hated this series. It gets on my nerves. Of course by this point Pam and Jim were married. It’s a typical Office episode with the interviews and Dwight’s antics. I am glad that Steve Carel was still around for this episode because he is really funny. Pam is in active labor but refuses to go to the hospital until midnight because of the insurance. Weird, and stupid, but ok. Turns out she is real scared. But the baby girl is born and she refuses to breast feed. I would complain but Friends did that too. The episode is nice especially the scenes between Jim and Pam before the birth and after. The two are adorable and I guess that’s good enough. The coolest part of the episode? Harold Ramis directed part 2. What?
Wanted to end on a more happy note, so let’s discuss all the babies on this series. First we had Jordan early on in the show giving birth to a son. She denied that Perry was the father at first but did tell him and he accepted the role. Later she would give birth to a daughter the same day that Laverne passed away. The baby girl’s initials are J.D., now that’s funny. But the episode I think most remember is when Carla finally gave birth. It was bittersweet because it was a long road for her to get pregnant. It’s done with the usual Scrubs gags but even this show can’t avoid cliche as Turk nearly misses it. Of course J.D. also gets his baby born in an episode where his girlfriend gives birth to his son. Later on J.D. would leave the hospital to be with them.
A lot of babies left off from Little Ricky on I Love Lucy to Tabitha on Bewitched to Jamie Malcolm in the Middle. But I think I have gone on enough. I leave you with this scene from another episode of Scrubs which totally calls out how romanticized having a baby is.
So, did I miss any? Comment and let me know. These episodes are always events and for the most part, never fail.