5. ER – Chloe gives birth to Baby Susie in “Motherhood” (May 11, 1995)
A lesser TV authority would never have included this on their list. A main character’s sister gives birth and it makes a Top Five list? Who does that? Well, I do, and here’s why. First of all, we’re talking ER season 1, when this show was the greatest program I had ever watched, and not just Law & Order‘s fiercest competition for longest running show and most frequent cast changer. I was OBSESSED with the Chloe/Susan plot line. Check it, Susan is an ER doctor, her sister Chloe, is a junkie. When she turns up pregnant, Susan takes her in but despite her best efforts, Chloe just can’t stay clean. Obviously she gives birth in Susan’s emergency room, in a memorable scene in which she yells for The Beatles “Blackbird” to play as her daughter is being born. Following the birth of Baby Susie, Chloe and Susan’s mother, COOKIE, arrives at the hospital since the plan all along was for Cookie to raise the baby. At the last minute though, bitchy/flaky Cookie (seriously, you can’t trust anyone called Cookie) decides she’s taken care of Chloe long enough and by default, Susan is now the mother of the possible crack baby that was named after her. Important to note: Quentin Tarantino directed this episode.
4. Roseanne – Jackie has Andy out of wedlock in “Labor Day” (March 8, 1994)
Coming in at number four, Roseanne manages to eliminate the sappy emotional swill of the Very Special Birth Episode in exchange for madcap hilarity, sitcom style. I believe Jackie’s surprise pregnancy was written into the show, on account of actress Laurie Metcalf’s real life pregnancy, which explains how her terrifying pregnant belly in the hilarious bathroom scene with Roseanne looks so damn real (and terrifying). Expecting for Jackie to remain in labor for several hours, Roseanne and Jackie hesitate to call Fred, who barely makes it to the hospital in time to see the birth of his child. Remember though, it is a sitcom, and he is required to be in the room, in order to faint at the first sign of anything grotesque. In the final moments, they forgo the usual eight month old baby covered in goo scheme and use the camera instead, giving the audience the newborn’s P.O.V. Just watch:
3. Weeds – Nancy forces doctor to remove baby ASAP in “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (July 20, 2009)
Things start to get a little creepy when Nancy discovers a “birthing room” in her Mexican drug kingpin boyfriend’s house. She’s pregnant, and because she narked out Esteban’s trafficking operation, it’s the only reason she’s still alive. When she realizes that this powerful man is going to force her to have this baby at home OFF THE GRID, and then probably murder her, it’s time to take action. She needs a birth certificate, and witnesses. It’s a matter of life and death. Fortunately, ol’ Andy Botwin is there to save the day (in the General Lee) and rushes Nancy to none other than Dr. Alanis Morissette, who induces labor immediately, after hearing the story of the whackjob drug kingpin baby daddy. When Esteban arrives at the hospital he insists that Nancy leave immediately, it’s too late though, and the nurse presents his son, Stevie Ray Botwin.
2. Murphy Brown – Single working mom, Murphy has a baby boy in “Birth 101” (May 18, 1992)
Much to Vice President Dan Quayle’s chagrin, a fictional unmarried career woman gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on May 18, 1992. In an episode that was both heartwarming and hilarious, the entire news team works together to get this baby born. From Jim’s awkward attempts to take Murphy’s mind off the pain and his total discomfort with the mere thought of her lady parts, to Frank’s idiotic antics and attempts to empathize, Miles inability to focus on anyone but himself (granted, he was shot at while trying to locate Eldin) to Corky’s rush to the pharmacy to refill her prescription to birth control pills, this episode is comedy gold, and a major watercooler moment in television history. Eldin shows up at the last minute (after a jaunt to Maryland for some crabcakes) and the baby is born. The news team comes in for a final congratulations, with Phil in tow (let’s just say this, if I ever have a baby, I hope my favorite bartender is among the first visitors, too) before Murphy holds her son for the first time. “Hi. I see you got a little hat,” she says, before Frank re-enters to tape their first moment together and Murphy begins to sing Carole King’s “Natural Woman” and I start crying.
1. Dallas – Drunk Sue Ellen gives birth to John Ross Ewing III in “John Ewing III Pt.” (April 6, 1979)
It’s a wonder little John Ross isn’t retarded. For the entirety of Sue Ellen’s pregnancy she not only drank, but drank to total blackout most, if not all evenings. She was reeling from the breakup of her most recent affair with Cliff Barnes (the Ewing’s arch-nemisis) and wasn’t even sure if the baby was Cliff’s or her husband J.R.’s (we find out later it is, in fact, J.R.’s). Weeks before the baby was born, J.R. checks Sue Ellen into a sanitarium (rehab would be used today, but hey, it was the 70’s) where she bribes an orderly for booze. Once she’s good and liquored up, she escapes lockdown, steals a car and smashes it right into a telephone pole. She is rushed to the hospital and gives birth to a baby whose life is clearly in danger. Sue Ellen isn’t doing so hot herself, either. Eventually the baby is deemed in good health, but then is kidnapped, before he makes it home to Southfork. Sue Ellen continues drinking and neglects her child until midway through the following season.