Through the years, we’ve seen plenty of TV babies enter this world—from Lucy’s Little Ricky right up to Jim and Pam’s little bundle of joy, arriving Thursday on NBC’s ‘The Office.’ So to mark the occasion, we’re looking back at the ten most notable births in TV history. Break out the cigars and join us in the waiting room, won’t you?
Most Seminal: ‘I Love Lucy‘ (1953)
Every TV viewer at the time was glued to their sets for the much-anticipated birth of Little Ricky (timed to coincide with star Lucille Ball’s real-life C-section). Of course, this being the demure 1950s, the actual birth took place off-screen; they couldn’t even utter the word “pregnant,” for Pete’s sake. But still, a classic TV moment.
Most Shark-Jumping: ‘Mad About You‘ (1997)
Once upon a time, ‘Mad About You’ was a nice little comedy about a childless Manhattan couple and their yuppie foibles. Then… baby Mabel came. (Complete with wacky Bruce Willis cameo!) Many shows have stumbled going down the baby route—fingers crossed ‘The Office’ doesn’t join them—but ‘Mad About You’ just about fell off a cliff.
Most Controversial: ‘Murphy Brown‘ (1992)
No TV birth roused as much tongue-wagging as single newscaster Murphy Brown’s delivery of baby Avery. We all remember then-Vice President Dan Quayle chiming in on the subject, criticizing the fictional Brown for choosing to raise a child without a father. Ah, simpler times. (What would happen if Quayle saw an episode of, say, ‘Flavor of Love’? Would he just pass right out?)
Most Cliff-Hanging: ‘Friends‘ (2002)
It wasn’t the first ‘Friends’ birth (Ross’s lesbian ex-wife Carol), nor the last (Monica and Chandler’s surrogate mom). But Rachel’s delivery of baby Emma might have been the most memorable. The episode packed in plenty of laughs, including an always-welcome appearance by Chandler’s cackling ex Janice. And it ended on a classic ‘Friends’ cliffhanger, with Joey finding Ross’s ring on the floor and a postpartum Rachel mistaking it for a proposal.
Most Groundbreaking: ‘All in the Family‘ (1975)
Norman Lear’s trailblazing sitcom never pulled any punches, and the birth of Gloria’s son Joey was no exception. Archie, true to form, arrived at the hospital in blackface straight from his lodge’s minstrel show. And the episode featured the first on-camera birth scene in sitcom history, complete with real-time breathing and pushing. A long way from Lucy, huh?
Least Romantic: ‘Sex and the City‘ (2002)
Not that childbirth is ever particularly romantic—but Carrie’s swoon-worthy moonlit carriage ride with the dashing Mr. Big was interrupted when Miranda called to say she’s in labor. Mr. Big made the best of it, though, bribing the carriage driver to hustle uptown so Carrie could get to the hospital in time for the birth of little Brady. Hmmm… maybe it was kinda romantic after all.
Most Harrowing: ‘ER‘ (1995)
This one still gives us the shudders, fifteen years later. First-season episode “Love’s Labor Lost” had Dr. Greene assuring a pregnant woman she’s fine—right before she suffers a seizure in the parking lot. In the gory, nerve-wracking delivery that followed, the baby survived, but the mother didn’t… leaving Dr. Greene—and us—scarred for life.
Ickiest: ‘Malcolm in the Middle‘ (2003)
Kids don’t even want to think about their parents having sex—but that’s nothing compared to having to participate in the aftermath. Eldest son Francis was stuck doing just that, forced to deliver his own baby brother as mom Lois instructed, “Just stick your hands inside Mommy and pull the baby out!” Ewwwww…
Most Messianic: ‘The X-Files‘ (2001)
We should’ve known the birth of Scully’s son William wouldn’t be your typical TV birth: Scully thought she was barren, so the pregnancy was considered some sort of “miracle birth.” Was she secretly implanted with a genetically modified alien-human hybrid? Or was she just concealing a late-night tryst with Mulder? As usual with this show, we were left with more questions than answers.
Most Cheese-tastic: ‘Saved by the Bell‘ (1992)
Our favorite variety of TV birth scene? The good ol’ Trapped in an Elevator routine. And leave it to Zack Morris and the gang to embrace TV cliché to the fullest. Mr. Belding’s very pregnant wife was in an elevator with Zack and leather-jacket-clad tomboy Tori when an earthquake struck, and… oh no! The baby’s coming! Zack talks Tori through the delivery, and gets the baby named after him by a grateful Mr. Belding.
What do you think was the most memorable TV baby birth? Did we miss any of your favorites?