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Pregnant teen-620x414

Well... MTV here I come...

Jenna: I can't believe it Alli, I'm pregnant...and I'm a teenager. I'm a...

Alli: ...pregnant teenager?

A stock plot. The pregnancy of a young girl is a problem in the story as long as she hasn't finished her education, maturation of body and mind and isn't in a stable relationship. The actual age at which the pregnancy isn't an "issue" anymore therefore varies according to these factors.

This trope is Newer Than They Think: sure, it's Older Than Steam, but it hasn't hardly been universal throughout human history. Once upon a time, adulthood was determined solely by physical maturity: a girl who had had her first period was considered a weddable adult, regardless of how many years she had lived thus far. Men were judged by slightly different standards; Native American boys were considered "men" after they made their first kill, for instance, because proving you could hunt was a sufficient economic standard of maturity. In other words, there was no such thing as "teen pregnancy" because there was no such thing as "teen"—either you were a child or an adult, no in-between.

...Okay, let's rephrase that, because obviously you could be a teenager back then (being between the ages of 13 and 19). But the thing about no-in-between stands. That phase of life—perhaps better described as "adolescence"—is when you have reached physical maturity but not economic maturity; when you could conceive a baby but would have trouble putting food on the table if you did.[1] The nearer you get to the present day, the longer this period of adolescence gets, due to increasing health standards (and thus quicker onset of puberty) on one side and increasingly complicated education standards on the other. [2] Most places won't hire you full-time until you're 18; many want a college education, meaning you'll be 21 before you can draw a meaningful paycheck. Average age of first menstruation in American girls (according to The Other Wiki)? 12.

Usually the result of adolescents fooling around without protection or not fully understanding the biology and mechanics at work, though in particularly dark works, it may be the result of rape. Oddly, the latter is, if anything, more likely to make the pregnant girl a target for Alpha Bitches, unless she was one and the rape was karmic justice. Another big part of this trope is becoming pregnant the moment a girl loses her virginity, this keeping her sympathetic and implying that she was a good girl who had to be talked into sex. Sometimes she doesn't even know she's pregnant.

The typical fictional teenager generally tries to hide her pregnancy from her parents for as long as possible, which never actually equates to "when she starts looking visibly pregnant". This may ultimately result in a Prom Baby. When hiding it from others besides the parents see Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism.

Since Status Quo Is God, most earlier works will have the young mother suffer a Convenient Miscarriage or else put it up for adoption (if this is a soap opera, you can count on the child returning to find his or her real parents as soon as he or she reaches adulthood, which usually takes about ten years). This latter plot can even affect shows that don't have long enough runs to see the teenage mother grow up, as an adult character can be revealed to have given up a child for adoption as a teenager.

More recently, abortions are occasionally a solution, although this is still rare. Even more recently, there's been a trend toward keeping and raising the baby, although this is hardly exclusive to very recent works.

Sadly Truth in Television, to many, many girls. This has recently become MTV's primary show content.

Examples of Teen Pregnancy include:


Anime and Manga

  • Brutally played straight in Bokurano. A girl who's Hot for Teacher gets led into a trap and gang raped by his friends, getting her pregnant. (This had to be Bowdlerized in the anime, where she doesn't get raped but her asshole teacher/boyfriend stil screws her over badly and gets her rep totally smeared.) She then unknowingly signed her life away when she agreed to pilot a Humongous Mecha, as it drains her life energy entirely once she uses it. Unfortunately, that means her baby also dies. She goes on a rampage, killing those who raped her, and almost kills her teacher when she is stopped by her sister, whom he was dating and she protects him. It is later revealed that her baby counted to the number of pilots piloting the mech, meaning the group was one short -- and if the baby had been called to pilot, they all would have been doomed.
  • The manga Akkan Baby is about this. It's the farthest thing from an angst-fest though.
  • Induced via the dub in Digimon Tamers. In the original Japanese, Ruki's mother Rumiko was sixteen when she had her, which isn't insanely outrageous in Japan due to Values Dissonance. In the dub, since they bump up Ruki's age without aging up her mother, Rumiko had her at thirteen.
  • In Bitter Virgin, Hinako was abused by her stepfather and got pregnant twice. She had a miscarriage the first time, then gave the second child into adoption so he could have a better life.
  • Pokémon: As revealed in an early novelization, Delia Ketchum is 28. Her son Ash is 10.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Nadeshiko Kinomoto married her teacher at the age of 16, and was 17 when Touya was born.
  • Utilized in the 3rd Fushigi Yuugi OVA. Miaka (age 18) is married to Taka Tsukunami Tamahome reincarnated, and she is 3 months pregnant with her first child. The baby is transferred out of her body and into that of a 16-year-old named Mayo Sakaki, who wants Taka all for herself. It is the Shinzaho needed to summon Suzaku and save the Universe of the Four Gods. Furthermore, it was subconsciously given to Mayo by Miaka, not stolen by Mayo, even though it seems that way at first.
  • In Sakende Yaruze Shino and Misao think they want to have kids at 17. When Misao does get pregnant, she leaves Shino so as not to wreck his future, not telling him about it and giving birth to Nakaya alone. 17 years later Nakaya and his girlfriend have a pregnancy scare, but luckily for Nakaya she was just a little late.
  • This happens to Ed's friend and possible love interest Rose in the first Fullmetal Alchemist series. She's implied to have been raped, and her kid was born from that. She's seen with her son the second time we see her; she apparently adopts two kids later on.
  • Martine Gabrielle aka the future Madame de Polignac in Rose of Versailles was 14 when she had her daughter Rosalie, some years before the story starts.
  • Sana's birth mother Keiko in Kodomo no Omocha was just 14 when she had her kid.
  • A big, big plot point in Darling in the FRANXX. In a world where children are Artificial Humans, a teenage girl named Kokoro learns about pregnancy and reproduction and decides that she wants to be a mother. She and her Love Interest Mitsuru conceive after Their First Time, and their daughter Ai becomes the first human child born in Papa-knows-how-many years.
  • Hanamaru Kindergarten Anzu's mother Sakura was still in high school when she got pregnant with Anzu.

Comics

  • In Batman supporting character Stephanie Brown, also known as the Spoiler, realized she was pregnant during the Cataclysm storyline, and was temporarily Put on a Bus until the kid was born. She decided to Give Him a Normal Life and give the kid up for adoption, and even asked Robin not to tell her the gender of the kid so she wouldn't get attached.
    • Irony perhaps? A character named Spoiler not wanting to know the gender?

Fan Fiction

  • If Sakura of Naruto Veangance Revelaitons is the same age as she was in the Naruto canon, then this happens to her. Twice, even.
  • Lisa in Lisa Is Pregnant is said to be older than in The Simpsons, since Maggie is old enough to talk, but is unlikely to be much older, and thus would presumably fall into this trope.
  • This Percy Jackson and The Olympians fanfiction, called Nine Months. The main character is a sixteen-year-old demigod daughter of Artemis who's pregnant with triplets.
    • Fridge Logic: Artemis is the virgin goddess. She doesn't have ANY children of her own, and her equivalent of a cabin full of unwanted, illegitimate children is a band of immortal, eternally teenage virgin girls who volunteered for the job.
  • More than one Kim Possible Fics have Kim having Shego's child/children before Prom. She can do anything.
  • Towards the end of Fullmeatal Alchemist: Forever Edward and Winry's daughter, Amy, is impregnated by her childhood friend, Maes Mustang. Did I mention that she is twelve?
  • This is the premise of the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Iris. Although, it's a slight variation, as the characters involved are considered adults in the Fire Nation despite being seventeen. The stigma comes from the fact that their kid would be illegitimate.
  • This sappy Star Wars fanfic: Forever In My Heart, actually has a very explicit sex scene at the beginning, but turns out to be a relatively good read. And seeing from this site, Ahsoka getting "preggers" is pretty popular.
  • Some Voltron: Legendary Defender fics saddle Pidge with this, usually with Lance as the father. It's more common with Keith, though.
  • The Neon Genesis Evangelion fic The Child of Love has Asuka getting pregnant with Shinji's child at fourteen.
  • In How I Became Yours, fourteen-year-old Katara is knocked up by sixteen-year-old Zuko, before he ditches her to marry Mai. She ends up miscarrying the baby when Mai sends her a basket of poisoned fruit. Azula, too, is still only 17 when she gets pregnant with her and Sokka's daughter Miracle. Finally, Aang and Toph's two kids appear in the epilogue being around the same age as Miracle and Zuko and Katara's children, implying the pair were no older than 15 when they got married and their children were born.

Film

  • Juno carries to term while arranging an adoption for her child. In a Gender Flip of the "first time" variation, Paulie Bleeker was the one losing his virginity.
    • There's also Jenny, Juno, which features a more comic version of a Korean teenage couple working through the girl's pregnancy, despite serious disapproval from parents on both sides (the girl's older sister even suggests that they send to baby to their other sister in the USA - who was pregnant at about the same time - so that the other sister could claim to have had twins).
  • That was also the plot of The Snapper, a 1992 movie by Stephen Frears set in working-class Ireland.
  • The central character of Saved became pregnant after her first time with her (soon-to-be-ex) boyfriend because she thought that having sex would cure him of his homosexuality. Of course, nearly everybody in the movie is a fundamentalist Christian, so it's no miracle that the girl didn't know what to expect.
  • In Sugar and Spice, Diane Weston (Marley Shelton) is a popular high school cheerleader whose life revolves around her boyfriend Jack (James Marsden) and cheerleading, as she is the captain of her school's "A-Squad". However, when Diane becomes pregnant by Jack, her life falls apart as her parents disown her. She moves in with Jack, and the two quickly get jobs, but Diane quickly realizes that Jack lacks the financial skills to provide for her and their child. Diane confides to her fellow cheerleaders about her problems and the group come up with a way for Diane to make the money she needs: robbing banks.
  • Gertrude Baniszewski told her ward Sylvia Likens in An American Crime (based on the true crime) that she had her oldest daughter Paula at a young age. Paula herself gets pregnant by her cheating boyfriend (though somehow doesn't show after months have passed). Gertrude is unable to deal with the thought that Paula made the same mistake she did, leading her to blame poor Sylvia and ultimately torture her to death.
  • The B-plot of Peacock deals with Cillian Murphy's character negotiating with the mother of his child, a teenage prostitute played by Ellen Page, in her third movie on this page.

Literature

  • That Was Then, This Is Now
  • A Girl Like Me
  • Slam, with the slight variation of being told from the (also) 16-year old father's point of view
  • Annie's Baby
  • Love, Fifteen
  • The Bad Mother's Handbook
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones the baby was stillborn, the couple breaks up for a few months and then get back together. At the epilogue, they've been married for three years.
  • Push by Sapphire: The main character actually has two children, one when she was 13 and another when she was 16.
  • Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen.
  • Don't Think Twice by Ruth Pennebaker
  • The Color Purple
  • Bumped by Megan McCafferty, where only teens can get pregnant due to a virus making adults infertile. Teens are paid big bucks to be surrogates for couples. It creates a never-ending cycle, because the teen girls have all their kids for other people and when they are mature enough to have kids, they can't so they hire surrogates...and so on.
  • Diana from Gone gets pregnant by Caine when she's fourteen, leading to her Heel Face Turn.

Live Action TV

  • Pretty much the A plot in The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
  • Degrassi Junior High: Spike got pregnant with Emma in the first season-they weren't messing around-and had her in between seasons. Yes, that was on Degrassi Junior High.
    • Degrassi the Next Generation had Manny get pregnant in high school and have an abortion. Unsurprisingly, this two-part episode didn't air in the US on the first run.
      • Later, Liberty gets pregnant and carries the baby to term, though she puts it up for adoption after breaking up with the father (who was perfectly willing to take responsibility, but it ended up leading him to have a breakdown.)
        • Mia was an unwed teenage mother on the show, earning her the nickname 'Mamma Mia'.
    • Degrassi has covered every option for a pregnant teen. They began with Manny's controversial abortion, moved onto Liberty dealing with giving up her baby for adoption, and then they show the trials of model/teen mother Mia Jones in later seasons who kept her child. Emma has also dealt with a pregnancy scare, and Anya tries to get pregnant to keep her Muslim boyfriend Sav from inevitably leaving her for his arranged wife. Degrassi is like a pamphlet. They cover all the bases.
        • And now Jenna's had her baby (and providing the page quote). She gives him up after attempting to raise him.
      • That's not getting into Degrassi High, where Erica and Tessa both got pregnant. Both got abortions. The only difference is that Tessa's baby daddy is Joey Jeremiah. In some instances, Erica's pregnancy created a minor What Happened to the Mouse?, as the second part of the episode was not broadcast (I assume that the bit about Liz subsequently harrassing her would be a bit harder to cut).
  • Danielle van de Kamp on Desperate Housewives got pregnant, got shipped away to have the baby, and her mother pretended to be pregnant so as to keep the baby within the family.
  • Sam Beckett leaped into a pregnant girl and almost had the baby himself, despite not having the proper plumbing.
  • Hot in Cleveland had an episode revealing that Joy had given a child up for adoption when she was a teenager.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210, Adriana gets pregnant, can't have an abortion when she goes because it's too late, wants to keep it but eventually puts it up for adoption. Harry also didn't know that his high school sweetheart had a kid and put it up for adoption until he moved back to LA.
  • Grange Hill was the first British soap opera to tackle this in 1991.
  • Coronation Street also tackled the subject with Sarah-Louise Platt getting pregnant.
  • Eastenders has done this several times -Disa O'Brien, Sonia Jackson and Demi Miller to name but a few.
    • It even managed a twofer: Vicky Fowler, whose mother was 16 years older than her, became pregnant herself at the same age
  • Gilmore Girls - Lorelei got pregnant at 16 and had Rory, and the main plot of the show is about their relationship as two girls living alone together without a very big age gap.
  • A past plot on Neighbours was about a teenage girl who got pregnant and wanted to put it up for adoption, but the child's father wanted custody. They eventually get back together and decide to keep the baby.
  • Quinn on Glee, which ends up as a major problem for her as not only is she president of the school's celibacy club but has never had sex with her boyfriend The father is actually his best friend, Puck.
  • Izzie on Grey's Anatomy had a daughter at sixteen and gave her up for adoption.
  • A running gag on The Steve Harvey Show as never-seen character Tameka is in Cedric's third-period health class, has two children, and is always available to assist with child-rearing questions.
  • Trudy in The Tribe is a teen mother After the End.
    • Zandra, Salene and eventually Amber also get pregnant on this show (although Salene miscarries and Zandra dies before her baby is born ), which is weird because these four are the four original older female mall rats.
  • Private Practice, as if it didn't already have enough drama, has quite a few of these the biggest one being Sam and Naomi's daughter Maya's teen pregnancy, which includes getting married to the father of the baby.
  • The premise of the MTV reality show Sixteen and Pregnant.
  • Reba opens with this issue in the characters' mind, though not the only issue.
  • Jal in Skins, although she aborts it.
  • An episode of Masters of Horror directed by John Carpenter has a teenage girl get raped by an alien and has to go have it aborted. Her father (Ron Perlman) and brothers attempt to stop it and in the end, the baby alien ends up saving her life by killing her father.
  • Justin Suarez from Ugly Betty is the result of this. Hilda had him in her senior year of high school after getting pregnant at the prom.
  • The premise of several Lifetime Movies of the Week : "Fifteen and Pregnant", "Too Young To Be A Dad", and "Mom at Sixteen".
  • Used several times (unsurprisingly) on 7th Heaven. Most notably averted, however, when the Camdens' daughter Mary turns up preggers, but she denies having had sex when confronted by her parents. It was a clerical error at the doctor's. The real pregnant person was Mary's mom Annie, pregnant with the Camden twins.
  • Both Katherine and Isobel from The Vampire Diaries gave birth to daughters as teenagers who were given up for adoption (although, as noted in the article above, teenage pregnancy as a concept did not really exist when Katherine gave birth to her daughter in 1490). In her case the scandal is because she's not married.
  • The protagonist of Life Unexpected is a 16 year old girl that was never successfully adopted that seeks emancipation. She reunites her birth parents to obtain signatures for the emancipation but a judge instead makes them her legal wards after deeming she is unfit to be emancipated. In the series' present the girl's father is just a friend of the girl's mother as she has a fiance of her own.
  • Call the Midwife

Music

  • Madonna's song "Papa Don't Preach" is about a teenage girl who wants to keep her baby and confronts her father about it.
  • "Brenda's Got a Baby" by Tupac Shakur (Tear Jerker alert!)
  • Implied in the song "Run Joey Run".

Newspaper Comics

  • Lisa in Funky Winkerbean got pregnant and gave the baby, a son, up for adoption way back when, back before the first time skip.
    • Before she died, Lisa was able to reunite with her son, revealed to be Darin Fairgood.

Theater

Video Games

  • Teenager Katarin is pregnant with Duane's child in Final Fantasy VI... an odd rarity in video games as a matter of Getting Crap Past the Radar because of their ages.
  • Heather from Silent Hill 3 is pregnant... for some reason, carrying an unborn god inside her womb. And she does not look like a pregnant woman at all.
  • While not mentioned directly, in the fourth Ace Attorney game, we know from near the beginning that Apollo was abandoned as a baby and we later find out his mother is Thalassa Gramarye. If you work out the ages, she would have been 17 when she fell - probably part of the reason her controlling father made her give him up.

Western Animation

  • Family Guy: Meg has a pregnancy scare in the episode "Peter's Daughter".
    • And then there's the song "Prom Night Dumpster Baby".

Real Life

  • Although this is a very common occurance in real life, a famous example is Melissa Drexler aka "Prom Mom".

Notes

  1. And let's not even start with the necessary emotional maturity, as it's not and has never been a prerequisite to conception. Sadly.
  2. it could also have something to do with the norm, in the West at least, of mom, dad and kids living together in their own little unit- when the whole tribe or extended family lives almost as a single household, a very young Mom isn't going to be expected to be exclusively in charge of her family most of the time. Of course, modern teen moms also tend to depend on a lot of help from their own mothers- it's just not approved of socially so much these days
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