The magic pregnancy is a staple science fiction and fantasy fiction. Whether it's the impending birth of a savior, the coming of some form of Antichrist, or some kind of experiment, speculative fiction has been the home of a lot of ridiculous stories of pregnancy and birth. Here are the most absurd ones.
Last week, Witches of East End premiered on Lifetime, and it gave us Joanna, a witch cursed with immortality and perpetual motherhood. Not just the kind of perpetual motherhood where she always has children, but the kind where she's cursed to birth, raise, and watch the deaths of the exact same two girls over and over again. Which would probably take the sting out of their deaths, especially since it's implied that they aren't exactly ignorant about their multiple lives, what with the mother needing to cast a spell them to forget about being witches. Anyway, the second the girls die, Joanna is immediately nine-months pregnant. Like, inflating balloon insta-pregnant.
In honor of the Witches of East End's second episode airing tonight, here are the rest of fiction's silly mystical pregnancies.
Spoilers below. Seriously.
Bella Swan, Twilight
Right, let's just get this one out of the way. Human-vampire hybrid baby? Check. Accelerated pregnancy? Check. Drinking blood from a sippy cup to nourish said rapidly growing hybrid fetus? ...Check. Plus, the use of vampire fangs to cut the baby out in an emergency C-Section.
Tiffany, Bride of Chucky
Even in a series about a serial killer whose soul is trapped in a doll following a voodoo spell, some things just go beyond the pale. Bride of Chucky went hard into the dark comedy and parody realm, putting Jennifer Tilly's Tiffany into a bride doll, which Chucky marries—and then the two dolls have sex on their wedding night. And at the end of the movie, the doll has apparently been incubating a fast-growing, not-showing pregnancy, since she gives birth. The doll. Gives. Birth.
Twice. Cordelia had a crazy magical pregnancy twice. In the first season, Cordelia wakes up heavily pregnant with septuplet demonspawn. After the father is killed with a tank of liquid nitrogen, the babies just vanish.
That was one episode, but a generous chunk of season four was devoted to another one. This time, Cordelia had her consciousness submerged by a higher being called Jasmine. Jasmine, as Cordelia, seduced Connor so that she could get pregnant with herself. Pregnant with herself. The team eventually realizes Cordelia's possessed, but by then Jasmine/Cordelia's on the run with Connor. There's a ritual (there's always a ritual), Jasmine manifests, and Cordelia's comatose.
Gwen Cooper, Torchwood
Torchwood was never one to shy away from the ridiculous. They did alien sex-pollen in the second episode, so it's not exactly a surprise that they went the alien-impregnation route in the second season. In "Something Borrowed," Gwen is bitten by a male shapeshifting alien, and wakes up heavily pregnant on her wedding day. She's determined to go through with the wedding, even as the biological mother of the baby shows up, impersonates members of the wedding party, eats the DJ, and tries to kill her. But all's well that ends well, as Torchwood's able to defeat the mother and drug the wedding guests into forgetting this even happened. Yeesh, are we sure the alien whose biology requires a host to incubate its children is worse than the people who willfully endanger a group and then drug them?
Amy Pond, Doctor Who
Let's turn to Torchwood's mother show for a moment. Like Cordelia, this happened to Amy twice. She's got a baby who was a) stolen from her b) sort of Time Lordy (we guess) c) turned out to be a time traveler that she'd met as an adult before she was pregnant with her and d) turned out to also have been her best friend growing up.
And in "Amy's Choice," Amy, Rory, and the Doctor find themselves switching between two realities. In one, they're drifting in a dead TARDIS and, in the other, Rory and Amy have left the Doctor five years earlier and are happily living in Leadworth. Well, "happily," Rory's got some very unfortunate hair going on. In the Leadworth reality, Amy's heavily pregnant and goes into labor while fighting off an invasion in Leadworth. Turns out both realities are illusions created by the Dream Lord, and Amy was never really pregnant—just believed she was and had to experience it.
The Alien Franchise
The face-hugger to chestburster reproductive cycle is one of the most iconic parts of this series. Alien 3 has, as a major plot point, Ripley carrying the embryo of a xenomorph Queen. It means that other aliens won't kill her, for fear of hurting the Queen. It also means that Weyland-Yutani wants the Queen to make biological weapons out of it.
All of that is incorporated into Alien Resurrection. Clone Ripley is, as a result of carrying that embryo, part Alien, with magic powers and strengths. And the Queen picked up a womb from Ripley. It has a human-alien hybrid that likes Ripley as a mom better, so it kills the Queen. Yeah, pregnancy's universally awful in the Alien series.
Elizabeth Shaw, Prometheus
This is going here rather than being included in the general Alien section for a couple of reasons. First, its use of pregnancy is that much more blatant. And second, we're still not sure where this movie fits with the others. Prequel? Spinoff? Reboot?
Dr. Shaw is an archaeologist, deeply religious, and, the film takes great pains to tell us, sterile. But not for long! Once her husband drinks something handed to her by a robot who has contaminated it with black goo from the alien world they're on, she's suddenly not sterile anymore. No, instead she's pregnant! She, rightly, worries about that, so she removes it herself using an automated medical device that does not know what it's doing and is not capable of performing female-specific surgery. She pulls the squid-creature out of her body and staples herself shut.
Too bad all that didn't kill it, since it's huge and angry at the end of the movie.
Xena and Gabrielle, Xena: Warrior Princess
In season two, Gabrielle has a pretty standard mystical pregnancy. Evil cult, dark god, rapid pregnancy (two days!), etc. The child, Hope, becomes an antagonist for a while, ultimately having her own mystical pregnancy. She carries Ares' child and gives birth to that child, the Destroyer.
Where Gabrielle's baby is mystical of the evil persuasion, Xena's is the savior. Bear with us, this one's complicated: Xena is crucified, and is resurrected by a mystic named Eli and the villainess-turned-literal-angel Callisto. The resurrection leaves Xena pregnant with a reincarnated Callisto. This freaks the Olympian gods right out, since the child ("Eve," because, of course Just beat us over the head with that allusion) is prophesied to destroy them and usher in Christianity. Eve and her mother are parted by Ares. When Xena finds her again, she saves Eve by having her baptized, which also grants her the ability to kill the gods. Which she mostly does, with the help of God and the Archangel Michael. Welcome to Xena: Have You Heard the Good Word of Jesus Christ?
Look, it's a witch stealing a fetus and transferring it to a cow. What else can be said?
Vala Mal Doran, Stargate SG-1
Vala is taken to the Ori galaxy and impregnated against her will with another antichrist-style baby called the Orici. She's a human with Ori-knowledge and superhuman abilities, basically to get around the fact that Ori aren't allowed to directly use their powers to take over the galaxy. She's also literally a plot device, as executive producer Robert Cooper explained:
I felt that Adria's relationship with Vala was created as much to give Vala a justification, I guess, for becoming who she was. I guess it was more about Vala for us, writing, than it was about Adria. It created an arc for Vala.
When we first looked at bringing Vala onto the team, we looked at her character and said, "Well, why do you like Vala? Why is she even interesting?" It's because she's a bit of a rogue. She's outside the box. She's not a "team player." And if you want to bring her in and make her part of the team, how do you do that and still preserve the essence of who the character is? And the way that we chose to do that was to make Adria, her daughter — make Vala in some way responsible for what is going on and give her the motivation to participate in being a hero.
Yep, no other way to give a female character development. Just pregnancy and children.
Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation
In "The Child," Deanna Troi is apparently impregnated by a floating ball of light. She wakes up pregnant and gives birth 36 hours later. Within a day of that, he's physiologically four years old. Eventually, he says he's the cause of the danger of the week, and dies. He turns into the same floating ball, and telepathically tells Troi that he was a life-force curious about her people, so he decided to experience being born and growing up as one of them. First of all: he didn't do that, since he rapidly aged. Second of all: no thought to the excruciating mental scarring that it would give Troi? No, not by him OR the writers.
Trip Tucker, Enterprise
Staying with Star Trek, Trip "plays a pebble game" with a female Xyrillian that leads to him carrying around an emryo of hers for the episode. Also, it causes him to grow new nipples, eat a lot, and become paranoid. And to add insult to injury, the crew then has to explain to a ship full of Klingons why they need to find the Xyrillians. You do have to love these alien species capable of using humans for reproduction.
Beatrice Mitchell, Haven
Beatrice Mitchell has an alternate personality, a beautiful woman who can mesmerize men. This personality, Helen, has sex with men and has a baby a few days later. The rapid growth is fed by the "life force" of the fathers, who die when Helen holds her baby for the first time. Beatrice adopts Helen's two babies AND volunteers to be locked in a lighthouse to protect men from Helen.
Phoebe, Piper, and Leo, Charmed
Charmed wins the award for "overuse of mystical pregnancy trope." It just does. Phoebe marries the Source of All Evil and apparently carries his child. Yes, it's another antichrist child. Just drink every time this happens. But, it turns out it isn't the child of a Charmed one and the Source of All Evil, it's actually the evil Seer's child, who had to be incubated by Phoebe... because. The Seer magically steals it back into herself, but then she's killed, and that's the end of that story.
Piper's husband Leo is a White Lighter (and later an Elder), essentially a powerful Guardian Angel with a number of powers. Their first child is Wyatt, who is so powerful he makes her indestructible while she's pregnant. She's now self-healing and surrounded by a force field. And this child is simultaneously the Chosen One (he's destined to wield Excalibur) and a future evil overlord. We know the latter, because his younger brother travels back in time to stop that.
The younger son is Chris, who, in the process of saving his older brother from evil, breaks up his parents before he's conceived. And so he has the truly disturbing task of making sure they have sex before he ceases to be.
As for Leo, during both pregnancies, he's magicked into taking on the symptoms. The first time, it's a classic "walk a mile in the other's shoes" situation. In another, sand that makes nightmares come to life leaves Leo pregnant.
Anita Sarkeesian on Tropes vs. Women breaks down this trope and the problems with it. First, as she points out, it singles out women by their biology. Second, it takes a natural process and terrorizes women with it. It singles out women for being female. Third, so often it's a subplot where, once it's over, the fallout is completely ignored.
Add to her analysis that it basically seems to imply that writers can't figure out how to deal with women without thinking of them as mothers or mothers-to-be.
Honorable Mentions: These are the other mystical pregnancies that didn't quite rate as ridiculous enough to get their own entries:
Rosemary's Baby: The prototypical Antichrist baby.
X-Files: After everything Scully goes through with the magic pregnancy, she carts it off to a adoptive home.
Battlestar Galactica: In order to have a human-cylon hybrid, it must be conceived in love.
Fringe: Science to accelerate the pregnancy
Game of Thrones: Whatever it is that Daenerys had, which died but was apparently something weird. And Melisandre's evil shadow creatures.