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One of the lesser known risks of pregnancy.

It seems to be a law of TV and film land, that any hostage situation will include at least one heavily pregnant woman. This can either be used to show how inhuman the hostage takers are by having them treat her callously, or to show them to be not as bad as they seem by having them treat her with compassion. Almost invariably the woman will go into labor, and give birth to a healthy baby with the help of a nearby know-it-all kid, med-school dropout or, if they're really lucky, an off-duty nurse. Or maybe even one of the hostage takers. The Panicky Expectant Father will rarely be held hostage with her, and may even be with the police constantly telling them "My Wife's in there!".

Either way, expect her to be the first one let go if the authorities arrange the release of some hostages as a sign of good faith, although most hostage takers known it's usually not in their favor to have such a possibly high maintenance hostage.

Alternatively, expect the hostage takers to end up in a world of hurt for pressing the Berserk Button of the Pregnant Badass.

Examples: (expect spoilers)

Comic Books

  • Kang tries to do this with Jessica Jones in Young Avengers, and learns that it's a bad idea to threaten a pregnant woman with superpowers when she kicks the BFG out of his hands and points it at him.
    • Sounds like Jessica Jones went from Pregnant Hostage to Pregnant Badass in one swing!
  • In the second issue of the 2011 series of Suicide Squad, it is revealed that the MacGuffin the Squad is sent into the stadium to retrieve is a preganant woman. Although, this being Suicide Squad, all is not as it seems.



  • Die Hard plays with it. Shortly after Hans and his crew take over, they're informed by Holly that one of the hostages is pregnant. Hans rolls his eyes until Holly clarifies that she's not due for a few weeks, but just needs something more comfortable to sit on. He's willing to oblige, to a point.
    • Mostly because he's planning on killing them all anyway.
  • In The Way of the Gun, Ryan Philippe and Benicio del Toro kidnap a heavily pregnant Juliette Lewis.
  • Double Team
  • John Q
  • Inside Man
  • In Hold-Up, the bank robber Grimm takes, among other people, a pregnant woman with a baby carriage hostage. Turns out that she's one of his accomplices, the pregnancy is faked to smuggle the money out of the bank in her false belly, and there isn't a baby in the carriage but even more money.
  • Inverted in 5 Branded Women where a pregnant Partisan captures a German hostage.
  • Delta Force gives us an Arab hijacker who swears the Germans didn't kill enough Jews in World War II, pummels a sailor nearly to death with a chair's armrest, and flies off the handle when he sees an abandoned ring with Hebrew script on it, yet orders some hostages to vacate their seats so a pregnant hostage can recline. He even has the other hostages give up their pillows for her. Aaaawwwww.....


  • In The Sacred Art of Stealing, this trope is used to hint that the bank robbers aren't the bad guys. They immediately set free any hostage who is pregnant or has a heart condition.
  • In Camber of Culdi, one of the fifty human hostages taken after a Deryni lord is murdered is a pregnant woman. Cathan MacRorie pleads for their release and is offered the chance to take one of them; he first chooses the pregnant woman, only to be asked if he wants her or her baby. Cathan tries to argue, then chooses to take a teenaged boy instead. The woman gives birth in captivity and is later hanged like the rest of the hostages.
  • She is the main female lead and not Obviously Pregnant, but nonetheless this happens in The Lesser Kindred.

Live Action TV

  • In the Diagnosis Murder episode "Baby Boom, a kidnapper strapped with explosives holds a class full of pregnant women hostage.
  • A pregnant bank teller was one of the hostages in the Flashpoint episode "Who's George?"
    • This happened again in the later episode "Aisle 13."
    • And again in "Remote Control".
  • In an episode of FX the Series, the villain put a gun to a pregnant woman's stomach. Subverted since the woman wasn't pregnant and was really The Mole giving information from the outside after being released.
  • Happens in an episode of House.
  • In the Power Rangers Time Force finale, the pregnant hostage is the reason for Nadira's Heel Face Turn. The stress apparently sends the woman into labor, and Trip convinces/forces Nadira to help her give birth. Her amazement leads her to question her father's hatred of humans, and she attempts to protect a (different) baby from one of her father's attacks. The realization that he could have killed his daughter is what leads to Big Bad Ransik's Heel Face Turn.
  • Happened at least twice on Law and Order SVU. One was a 12-year-old girl with religiously- inspired Stockholm Syndrome... that is, until the week's Cult Colony Cloudcuckoolander Big Bad says a Blasphemous Boast that earns him a couple of pistol slugs straight to Hell.
  • In CSI New York, the season finale had Mac involved in a hostage situation in a bank. The first person he convinces the man to release is pregnant.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Teyla gets kidnapped while pregnant. The same kidnapper, after losing her once and coming back for the baby, ends up taking another pregnant woman hostage while doing so.
  • The "Derailed" episode of Criminal Minds had a pregnant hostage. An interesting twist though, as she was only a few weeks pregnant at the time and on her way to have an abortion. The events of the episode seem to point toward her changing her mind.
  • This happens in the Medium episode "Joe Day Afternoon".
  • One Touched By an Angel episode had a bank heist where the robber ordered the pregnant bank teller to go into the safe-deposit area to grab a valuable item. Then a gas leak explosion traps her in there and he orders the other hostages to help him dig her out. It turns out he's her husband and the father of her baby - they were desperate for money and planned it together.
  • Janis Hawk in the finale of Flash Forward 2009.
  • In the "Backscatter" episode of Numb3rs, one of the hostages was pregnant.
  • Castle: in "Cops and Robbers" one of the bank tellers in the bank that Castle and his mother are unlucky enough to be in when it gets held up is pregnant. She doesn't go into labour or have any kind of risky pregnancy from what we see, however. Castle does use her pregnancy as an excuse to go to a couch by the windows, however, ostensibly to get her pillows to sit up on but actually because he has a message he wants to get to the cops outside.
  • My Name Is Earl: In "Randy in Charge (...of Our Days and Our Nights)", Earl has to point out to Frank that the very pregnant Joy makes the perfect hostage for a hostage situation.
  • Unknown to her, Amaka is pregnant when she's held hostage by the baby's father in Tinsel.


  • "Children's Story" by Slick Rick details how the delinquent young man on the run from the law "grabbed a pregnant lady and pulled out the automatic". He lets her go unharmed, however, because he felt guilty.

Real Life

  • One of the assembled Spanish deputies taken as hostage at the failed 1981 coup was indeed a pregnant women. She was also the first one to be released and able to tell what exactly was going on in the Cortes.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Quebecois Web Original Tete a claques had this as the main subject of one of its sketches. Played entirely for comedy. Both the cops and the criminal assume the woman is pregnant, she's just fat. She gets offended at being called pregnant despite her numerous protests, and proceeds to slug the criminal before beating up the cops.
  • Used hilariously in Hostage, Zachary Quinto, turns a hostage woman into a lifetime relationship, even through multiple pregnancies, and an affair.