TV Babies: 10 Who Made US Cry
Avery Brown, Murphy Brown
In 1991, Murphy's decision to tackle single motherhood broke the fourth wall, becoming a topic of national debate (well-played, Dan Quayle...oh wait...). But, ironically, it was the show's emphasis on Avery and Murphy's personal life that ultimately took its attention off the issues (via Murphy's fast-paced, sharp-tongued life as a news woman at FYI).
Emma Geller-Green, Friends
Ross and Rachel's relationship was already running on fumes when writers doubled down by introducing a one-night stand-spawned baby into the equation. Not only did the little brat steal Monica's thunder (and her baby name!), her birth inspired maternal pangs in Monica that inspired a move to the 'burbs that ultimately broke up the gang by the show's end.
Little Ricky Ricardo, I Love Lucy
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's decision to write their real-life pregnancy into the series made for a huge ratings splash — 44 million people watched the birth (more than who watched the next day's inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower). But as Little Ricky aged (another real-time story arc), the plotting of the show suffered, particularly when the Ricardos decided to move to the country (conveniently relocating the Mertzes with them). The slower pace of country life may be great for off-screen parents, but it's terrible for city-based sitcoms.
Mabel Buchman, Mad About You
By season 5's end, the neurotic histrionics of Jamie and Paul Buchman were already reaching levels audible only to dogs. Add in a screaming baby? No thanks.
Jerry Garcia Conner, Roseanne
The newborn's Grateful Dead-inspired name pretty much said it all. The writers must have been on drugs to think adding a new character to the dysfunctional Conner family (at the same time as yet another Becky shake-up, no less) was a good idea. It was the same kind of outside-the-box thinking that led them to end the series with one of the most depressing surprise endings in television history.
Cece Halpert, The Office
The heart of The Office's hilarity in its earliest seasons stemmed from Jim and Pam's juvenile hijinks concerning Dwight. So, when Jim and Pam had to grow up to parent Cece, the show lost a little bit of that heart. That same momentum would be lost at the end of the next season when Michael left Dunder-Mifflin's Scranton branch, ushering in the manipulative adult monster Robert California. This particular workplace is no place for adults, it seems.
Nicky and Alex Katsopolis, Full House
Have mercy! It's been a common family sitcom death knell: As the child stars begin to age, producers bring in a new set of youngsters in an attempt to replicate the success of the no-longer-adorable kids. With all due respect to the mop-topped Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen could not be replaced or replicated. Though Full House happily traded on formula for eight seasons, the birth of the Katsopolis twins around the series' midway point revealed that the formula wouldn't work indefinitely.
Why are you looking at a younger version of Mad Men's Pete Campbell instead of a chubby tot? Because even the writers of Joss Whedon's Buffy spin-off realized immediately that giving a child to Angel and Darla was a major misstep. Almost as soon as he came along, Connor was removed from the equation, only to reappear a few episodes later as a teenager. Not only was this headscratcher symptomatic of the too many, too muddled storylines in Angel's later seasons, it was also a blatant attempt to make Angel emotionally accessible when audiences wanted action (just not action between Cordelia and Connor — yuck!).
David and Sam Camden, 7th Heaven
Like a lot of the shows on this list, the Heaven hit an all-time high with the boys' birth, and then things went quickly downhill. The series reached its nadir as older sister Mary announced she, too, was expecting twins. The laws of genetics (a.k.a.the Duggar Code) may have proven this kind of stunt possible, but Heaven's audience members shook their heads in disbelief.
Stevie Ray Botwin, Weeds
Suffice it to say, Weeds was high on antics before lil' Stevie entered the scene, but Nancy's disregard for another human life had a sobering effect, taking her loopy, self-absorbed character foibles from ridiculous to unforgivable.
But, just to prove not all TV babies bring joy to their TV parents and anxiety to viewers, click for two that worked...
The Exceptions: Harrison Morgan, Dexter, and Brady Hobbes, Sex and the City
Though a serial killer with a baby sounds like a storyline suicide mission, we can't fault baby Harrison for Dexter's polarizing last few seasons. That's the fault of deadly writing. As for baby Brady, he succeeded where Friends' Emma didn't — quickly bringing his parents together in a ''Will they or won't they? They will!'' triumph.