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A rather common plot in sitcoms is for a babysitter or neglectful parent to take the child (or more as sometimes happens) out to the park or somewhere for the day, usually a place where there will be plenty of other children around. Through Finagle's Law or the laws of sitcom universes, the parent will accidentally bring the wrong child home only realising this when it's too late. The rest of the episode will either have the minder trying to find the original baby or else just trying to conceal it from the parents. For obvious reasons this only happens with babies and extremely young toddlers. While it is common for the neglectful babysitter to be both male and female, if it is an actual parent bringing the wrong baby home it will always be the father. Do not confuse with Switched At Birth.


Examples:

Literature

  • Discworld:
    • As a child, Moist von Lipwig was The Nondescript to the point where his mom often came home with the wrong kid.
    • In Jingo, an Ankh-Morpork fisherman and a Klatchian fisherman stumble on the newly-risen island of Leshp at the same time. When the two men realize that they can't lay claim to it for their respective nations unless they get home first, each grabs for his boy's arm and rushes back to his boat ... and then returns, lambasting the other man as a kidnapper, to swap for his own boy.

Live Action TV

 Carey: "I was mad when you came home from the playground with the wrong twins".

Dad: "It was an easy mistake to make".

Carey: "They were girls".

  • In Hope And Faith there's a variation where Faith starts using a baby doll to get an experience of what it feels like to be a mother. She takes the doll to the park and ends up coming home with a real baby. Being Faith she initially thinks the doll came to life.
  • In Coronation Street Rosie Webster took her baby brother Jack to be in a photo shoot and ended up bringing home a girl baby.
  • One episode of Friends had Joey and Chandler worried they'd done this to Ben (they left him on the bus by accident as well) but it turned out to be the right kid in the end.
  • In Good Luck Charlie, the teenage son hits on a girl with an identical baby carriage. Charlie is a girl, but this girl was carrying a boy with her. You can imagine what happened.
  • In an episode of Community, Chang attempts to get on Shirley's good side by picking up her kids and showing he can be a good dad. Too bad he picks up someone else's kids.
  • The Office episode "The Delivery" has a variation of this where Pam, while spending the night in the delivery room, breastfeeds the wrong baby(!)

Western Animation

  • One episode of Rugrats where Tommy and Angelica are staying with Didi's parents has the babies up in the attic but Grandpa Boris rushes outside and brings back in two obviously different children (two boys and much older as well).
  • Inverted in an episode of The Simpsons where Grandpa is meant to babysit Bart and Lisa and goes to the Flanders' house by mistake.
  • An episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter invoke this when he find an Identical Stranger with parents who are science geniuses like him. They swap temporarily and the parents never know the difference (despite the kids looking quite distinct from each other).
  • On the first Family Guy Star Wars special, Peter mentions that he and Lois got halfway home with the afterbirth before going back to the hospital and swapping it out for Meg.

Real Life

  • Charles Schulz, of Peanuts fame, when he was young, was often mistaken for other children, so this was a common occurrence for him. According to the Fiftieth Anniversary Peanuts Collection, Schulz based Charlie Brown's physical appearance on his mental image of himself as The Nondescript.
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