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15 Ways TV Shows Handled Actor Pregnancies Ranked From Super Harmless To Super Problematic

Some of these would've just been better off writing the baby into the show.

Getting pregnant is a natural part of life for many people. But when an actor gets pregnant while playing a character who isn't meant to be pregnant, TV show writers have to develop a creative way to incorporate the pregnancy into the show (or decide not to) to keep the flow going.

Whitley from "A Different World" saying "I am pregnant. Touchdown!"
NBC / Via giphy.com

Sometimes, they come up with super creative ways or even simple ways that work for both the TV character and the pregnant actor. But sometimes, those attempts to hide a pregnancy either fall short or are just plain out bad.

CBS / Via giphy.com

So, here are 15 ways TV shows hid an actor's pregnancy from super well to super terrible.

1. First, When Lisa Kudrow got pregnant during Season 4 of Friends, the writers decided to include her pregnancy in the show. Phoebe soon became a surrogate for her brother, Frank, and Alice.

Phoebe being pregnant and then giving birth from "Friends"
NBC

Lisa recalled her experience with being pregnant on set and how the cast even included her baby in their pre-show ritual. 

She said, "The six of us would do a huddle backstage and just say, 'All right, have a good show, love you love you love you love you.' And when I was pregnant, then they would say, 'Have a great show, love you love you — love you, little Julian!' Cause we knew it was a boy and that was his name." She added, "So sweet, they included my little fetus in the huddle." 

Thoughts: This was probably one of the better and more creative ways of handling a cast member's pregnancy, IMO. It wasn't super far-fetched to the point where it didn't feel like something Phoebe wouldn't have done. Well, being your brother's surrogate most likely isn't something that's done too often, but it wasn't far-fetched for Phoebe. 

Grade: A+

2. In Season 2 of Grey's Anatomy, Chandra Wilson's pregnancy was written into the show. Not only did they include her pregnancy, but they also gave us the scene with George and Bailey which is one of the most iconic scenes in the entire series.

Addison and Georgie helping Bailey give birth
ABC

Thoughts: Shonda Rhimes not only added Wilson's pregnancy into the show, but she also did it in a wonderful way that gave us one of the best moments in all 17 seasons! Brava!  

Grade: A+

3. When Jessica Capshaw from Grey's Anatomy was pregnant during Season 7, instead of writing it into the show, they sent Arizona off to do some work in Africa, which ultimately led to her and Callie breaking up.

Arizona breaking up with Callie in an airport in "Grey's Anatomy"
ABC

They also shot her scenes mainly from the chest up and even had a body double if they needed any full-body shots of her. In 2012, Capshaw became pregnant again, and Grey's Anatomy just decided to use some classic techniques (oversize scrubs) to hide it. 

Thoughts: This break-up was totally heart-shattering, but it was definitely a creative way to go about things. Seeing as, when I first watched this season years ago, I had no idea Jessica was pregnant, I'd say they did a pretty brilliant job at keeping it under wraps. 

Grade: A

4. Alyson Hannigan was pregnant during Season 4 of How I Met Your Mother, but instead of writing it into the show, they had her character participate in a hot dog eating contest where she ate 29 hot dogs, and her baby bump served as her food baby.

Lily holding her stomach after an eating contest in "How I Met Your Mother"
CBS

The second time she got pregnant, they wrote it into the show by making her character Lily also pregnant. 

Thoughts: I'd say this was a pretty creative way to hide a pregnancy. It definitely gives off "hiding in plain sight" vibes which worked in their favor. HIMYM was totally thinking out of the box for this one, and it was a storyline that truly matched with the character. 

Grade: A

5. During Season 3 of Desperate Housewives, Marcia Cross became pregnant with twins and was put on bed rest by her doctor. Since she couldn't travel to set, the showrunners just packed up the set and filmed in her house.

Marcia Cross from "Desperate Housewives"
Abc / ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

Two episodes were filmed there, and it was totally allowed because she could finish the season while also following the doctor's orders. 

Thoughts: IMO, they went about this in a super creative way, and it isn't something I've heard of being done in other shows.  

Grade: A

6. Holly Marie Combs was pregnant during Season 6 of Charmed, and instead of using any gimmicks, they simply decided to write it into the show.

Phoebe and Paige visiting Piper while she's pregnant in the hospital in "Charmed"
The CW/ The WB

This is where she had Chris, her second son, in the series. The season even had a six-month time jump halfway into the season to help fit with Combs' pregnancy. 

Thoughts: This is a super standard way of writing an actor's pregnancy into the storyline, and TBH, I see nothing wrong with it. It works and doesn't feel random, given Piper's character and her relationship with Leo. 

Grade: A-

7. Kerry Washington, who played Olivia Pope on Scandal, was pregnant during Season 3, which resulted in her baby bump being hidden behind large objects like oversized purses and strategically placed lamps.

Olivia Pope standing behind a lamp
ABC

The season was also cut short by a few episodes to accommodate her pregnancy. Instead of 22 episodes, Season 3 only had 18. When she got pregnant again during Season 6, the show again cut the season short a few episodes.

Thoughts: It was kinda obvious, but they did a decent job. It also makes complete sense as to why they didn't write either of her pregnancies into the storyline because a child would've completely changed the dynamic of Olivia Pope. 

Grade: B

8. When Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex and the City got pregnant, the show simply shortened the season.

Carrie Bradshaw walking down the street
HBO

The fifth season was shortened from 13 episodes to just eight. On top of that, she also wore more oversized shirts to cover up her baby bump better.

Thoughts: Carrie Bradshaw was known for her glamorous style, so it didn't really align with the character to have ever wear baggy tank tops and skinny jeans. Although, I will say that not writing her pregnancy into the storyline fit super well with the character because Carrie wasn't known as someone who settles down, so it wouldn't have been authentic. 

Grade: B

9. In Season 5 of New Girl, when Zooey Deschanel got pregnant, they added Megan Fox as a temporary new character while Deschanel went on maternity leave.

Jessica in a court room and sitting on her bed and Megan Fox in "New Girl"
Fox

Liz Meriwether, the show's creator, spoke about having Deschannal work while being pregnant during an interview with the Hollywood Reporter

"Obviously, she was very pregnant. There are things you just can’t do, so our solution was putting her on the scooter," she said. "Zooey was so game to keep shooting, and we did try to make it fun for her. I think the scooter is a little bit of a wink to that. You would think that we could come up with a better way of doing it, but she’s still hiding behind plants." 

Thoughts: The show took another classic route with attempting to hide actor's pregnancies, and that was by having the character get injured. Zoey's character, Jessica, fell down a flight of stairs breaking many bones resulting in her having to stay in bed or ride around on an electric scooter. Later, she was summoned for jury duty and disappeared for a while. This didn't seem too far-fetched and fit in well with the show. 

Grade: B-

10. On Friends, when Courteney Cox got pregnant during the final season, it wasn't written into her storyline as Monica was infertile, but they hid her baby bump as best they could.

Monica and Chandler visiting their surrogate, Erica in the hospital in "Friends"
Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection

They attempted to conceal her baby bump by layering outfits with jackets and dressing Monica in flowy shirts, but it was still pretty noticeable.

Thoughts: It would've made sense to hide her baby bump better, especially because, during Season 10, Chandler and her were going through their journey with not being able to conceive a child. But looking at certain shots from the show, you could tell she was pregnant during the time. 

Grade: C+

11. Julie Bowen was actually pregnant with twins during the very first episode of Modern Family. They didn't use any over-the-top tactics to hide her pregnancy either.

Julie Bowen in "Modern Family"
ABC

When talking about being pregnant, Bowen said, "I was pregnant with twins, and I kept thinking they weren't going to hire me," she explained to People magazine. "They kept bringing me in over and over and sort of staring at my humungous belly, and I thought,' I'm never getting this job.'" 

Thoughts: No fancy gimmicks or odd storylines; they simply used the "Cover-up baby bump with big objects" tactic. They used large pillows, cereal boxes, and even laundry baskets, and while in some shots, you can still see her baby bump, they did a pretty good job.  

Grade: C

12. When Ellen Pompeo from Grey's Anatomy was pregnant in Season 6, they decided not to write it into the show. Instead, she rested in bed for a few episodes after having surgery from giving her father part of her liver.

Meredith's dad in bed after his surgery and Lexie visiting Meredith after surgery in "Grey's Anatomy"
ABC

Ellen only took four weeks off for maternity leave before returning to work to continue playing Dr. Meredith Grey. 

Thoughts: This is a classic, fool-proof trick that many TV shows have used in the past to hide pregnancies. This isn't a terrible way of handling a pregnancy, but given Meredith's relationship with her father and her seemingly not liking him that much, it was somewhat random for her to give him part of her liver. But hey, it evens out because she did it to be a good sister to Lexie.  

Grade: C

13. When January Jones from Mad Men became pregnant, the writer's decided to go with the old "Let's make her overweight" trick. The show focused on Betty's obsession with her weight gain when she was diagnosed with a tumor on her thyroid that later turns out to be benign in Season 5.

January Jones in "Mad Men"
AMC

Jones was dressed in a fat suit during these scenes and also had prosthetic makeup to make her appear bigger.

This plot was met with a lot of criticism from both critics and fans of the show. 

Thoughts: Despite this being another show that used this tired storyline, it seemed to fit her character's characteristics pretty well since Betty always lived to impossible standards, including her constantly trying to stay thin to please her husband. I'll give props to January Jones, though, because she did an excellent job. 

Grade: D-

14. When Jane Leeves' from Frasier was pregnant during Season 8, the show decided to tap into Hollywood's longest-running, unfunny joke by making her character Daphne get sent to fat camp.

Jane Leeves in "Frasier"
NBC

Her character became obsessed with food and then ending up going to a weight loss spa and ends up losing 9 pounds and 12 ounces, which was the weight of Leeves baby IRL. 

Leeves told Working Mother magazine that, “During my first pregnancy, they put me in a fat suit and gave Daphne a weight problem, which was great. But those suits weigh a ton, and eventually, you’re like, ‘I can’t put this on anymore.’ But I worked through both pregnancies. Literally, I had my second baby the day after we shot an episode.”

Thoughts: This isn't the first show that thought they were clever and funny with the never-ending fat jokes, and it probably won't be the last, sadly. I'm ready to retire this overused storyline. Please enough! 

Grade: D-

15. And finally, the writers and producers of Melrose Place didn't add Hunter Tylo's baby to the show. Instead, they fired her.

Hunter Tylo
Maureen Donaldson / Getty Images

She never even got to be on the show because she announced she was pregnant one month after being hired to appear on the show. Of course, Tylo sued the producers, and she won the case, earning nearly $5 million

Tylo told CNN that she filed the lawsuit on behalf of all pregnant women and how she was proud she stood up for herself. "They never dreamed I would challenge them -- never. Believe me, no woman in this business wants to challenge a producer in this business. You can be blackballed very easily," she said outside of court back in 1997.

Thoughts: This is truly probably the worst way I've seen a TV show deal with an actor's pregnancy. 

Grade: F

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