I have nothing but the utmost respect for working mothers because my mom was a special education teacher when she became pregnant with my younger sister. After her maternity leave was up, she immediately went right back to work.
For actresses, it’s even more dire because not only do they have to work long hours, but they have to go through a huge rigmarole with things like camera tricks and constantly holding up props like a laundry basket in order to hide their ever-burgeoning baby bump on set. That is until the executive producers and their team of writers can come up with a plausible storyline to send their characters off for a bit so they can enjoy maternity leave.
Some unlucky actresses, such as Dana Plato from the late ‘70s ABC show Diff’rent Strokes (whose story is explained in the list below), lost their jobs due to their impending bundle of joy, although other actresses such as soap star Hunter Tylo successfully sued the producers that dared to fire her because she was welcoming a child into the world.
Either way, the following list shows that being a working mother in Hollywood can be incredibly difficult and isn’t all sunshine and roses.
20 Ellen Pompeo Said Bye-Bye To 'Grey's Anatomy'
Business Insider notes that when Grey’s Anatomy actress Ellen Pompeo became pregnant during the filming for the sixth season, the executive producer decided against writing it in and made her hide it.
Sharp-eyed fans noticed that she was pretty much filmed in close-up shots. In order to accommodate the actress’s maternity leave, the showrunner decided to write Meredith off for a bit, by saying that she had to donate a part of her liver to her estranged father. Can you say awkward writing?
19 Isla Fisher Did A Disappearing Act From 'Now You See Me 2'
Isla Fisher appeared in the 2013 film Now You See Me as a stage magician named Henley Reeves that’s part of the group known as the Four Horseman. Her mission was to evade Interpol after they steal from a rich old man named Arthur Tressler.
Refinery 29 noted that Fisher didn’t appear in the sequel Now You See Me 2 because she was pregnant at the time they were going to start filming. Instead, they replaced her character by saying she left the Horseman because Henley broke up with her ex-boyfriend J. Daniel Atlas. The sequel introduced another female character named Lula May instead, played by Lizzy Caplan as the new Fourth Horseman.
18 Charisma Carpenter Written Out In A Not-So-Angelic Way From 'Angel'
During the heyday of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, everyone worshipped at the shrine of Joss Whedon, but he made a giant faux pas when it came to the character of Cordelia Chase. In the fourth season of the latter show, she gets possessed and winds up getting pregnant. Her character is then killed off.
The Telegraph reports that the actress Charisma Carpenter confirmed in a 2009 interview at DaragonCon that her relationship with Whedon was strained after she announced her pregnancy. Cordelia was then axed because Whedon was allegedly annoyed that her pregnancy "ruined" the previous plans he had for the character...
17 Zooey Deschanel Left 'New Girl' For Maternity Leave
Even though Zooey Deschanel is the star of the sitcom New Girl, the writers had to come up with a way to hide her real-life pregnancy during filming for the fifth season.
In the show, Business Insider writes that they explained away Deschanel’s maternity leave by having her character Jess get badly injured and confined to her bed for a portion of the episodes. Then, when Jess was recovered, she was called into jury duty and picked to be on a trial for a couple of weeks. Jess was also replaced as a tenant by Megan Fox’s character Regan until Deschanel was able to return to work.
16 Hilary Duff's Pregnancy Cost Her The Role In 'Bonnie And Clyde'
Everyone that grew up in the '00s remembers Hillary Duff from her time as Lizzie McGuire on the Disney Channel, but she attempted to step out of the goodie-two-shoes stereotype by appearing as Bonnie Parker in a film called The Story of Bonnie and Clyde.
It was not to be, as she discovered she was pregnant and was allegedly fired from the role of Bonnie. Although The Hollywood Reporter writes that the producers denied the allegations and claimed it was due to “scheduling issues.” Don’t feel too bad for Duff though — Cinema Blend adds that she was supposedly paid $100,000 to walk away from the role.
15 January Jones Got The Short End Of The Stick In 'Mad Men'
January Jones admitted to Collider in an interview that when she found out that shooting for season five of Mad Men was going to be pushed back a bit, and she knew she was pregnant, she let showrunner Matthew Weiner know about her upcoming bundle of joy before they went into the writer’s room to plot out the season.
In an attempt to hide her pregnancy, Jones’s character Betty had an arc where she gained weight due to emotional distress. After Jones gave birth, she still had to sit through almost seven hours of prosthetics application in order to see the character arc reach its conclusion for that season.
14 Jamie Lynn Spears Had No Choice But To Leave 'Zoey 101' And Become A Mom
The Daily Mail reported that Nickelodeon decided to cancel their hit television show Zoey 101 after the star Jamie Lynn Spears (aka: Britney Spears’ little sister) discovered that she was pregnant at the tender age of 16. However, Hello Giggles adds that Spears admitted she was in shock when she found out the news that she was going to be a mother and was hurt by some of the rude things people were saying online. But in the end, she decided she had to buck up and mature ASAP for the sake of her child.
13 Helen McCrory Almost Terrified 'Harry Potter' Fans As Bellatrix
It seems inconceivable that anyone other than Helena Bonham-Carter could bring the notorious Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange (nee Black) to life in the Harry Potter film franchise. But Hollywood.com points out that the role originally went to Helen McCrory.
Unfortunately for McCrory, she discovered she was pregnant and had to decline the role, which is how we got Bonham-Carter in the series. McCrory did make her Harry Potter debut as Narcissa Malfoy (the sister of Bellatrix) and also wound up playing an evil witch in the now-defunct Showtime series Penny....
12 Megan Boone's Character Faked Her Death In 'The Blacklist'
When The Blacklist actress Megan Boone announced that she was pregnant, the showrunners (Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath) decided to use it as an excuse to hit fans of the show right in the feels.
Boone’s character Liz Keen also becomes pregnant, but she winds up dying in childbirth —much to the cries of the devoted fans. The plot twist doesn’t stop there, though, as Entertainment Weekly writes that the show eventually revealed Liz faked her death in order to get away from James Spader’s character, Raymond Reddington, who was a criminal mastermind.
11 Jane Leeves Left 'Frasier' To Head To A Spa
Business Insider notes that the television show Frasier came up with a pretty ludicrous way of keeping star Jane Leeves’ pregnancy as subtle as they could during the filming of season five...
Her character Daphne was given a storyline where she was struggling to adjust to being married and started eating a lot more in order to cope with the new stress in her life. Leeves’ maternity leave was explained as Daphne going to the spa. This, of course, led to plenty of jokes when she returned with her old figure after the actress’s daughter was born.
10 Hunter Tylo Sued Against Her Firing From 'Melrose Place'
The Washington Post reports that soap opera star Hunter Tylo was slated to appear as a beautiful temptress named Taylor McBride on the original Melrose Place, but she was fired and never appeared on the show after discovering that she was pregnant with her third child.
Tylo successfully sued Spelling Entertainment Group and Spelling Television Inc. by pointing out clever camera angles and body doubles could have allowed her to work on the show. She was awarded almost $5 million dollars by a Los Angeles jury in 1997.
9 Janet Hubert-Whitten's Aunt Viv Was Replaced
The Daily Mail notes that Janet Hubert-Whitten became famous for playing Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for the first three seasons, but she was let go after allegedly violating her contract by becoming pregnant. This is why actress Daphne Reid replaced her in the role for the fourth season.
To add insult to injury, US Magazine adds that Whitten also revealed in an interview that another reason why she doesn’t like Will Smith is due to the fact that he didn’t help her or their other cast mates get a raise while filming The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
8 Lisa Bonet's Pregnancy Clashed With Plans For A Different World
The Mary Sue writes that former The Cosby Show star Lisa Bonet revealed in an interview that even though Bill Cosby didn’t assault her, the two butted heads because he was upset that she appeared in a sex scene with Mickey Rourke in the film Angel Heart. She also appeared nude on a magazine cover in order to promote the movie.
Her Different World co-star Debbie Allen adds that Bonet’s character was written off of the show and eventually fired in 1991 for “creative differences” because Cosby was supposedly mad she got pregnant. Much like Joss Whedon with Charisma Carpenter, Cosby felt that Bonet’s pregnancy messed up the plans he came up with for the character.
7 Poor Gillian Anderson Had To Pretend To Be Abducted In 'The X-Files'
Vulture points out that The X-Files showrunner Chris Carter (and the rest of the writers) made the decision to hide Gillian Anderson’s baby bump during the second season, despite the fact that some of the studio executives wanted to re-cast the role.
When the actress hit the later stages of pregnancy, they wrote an abduction storyline for her character Dana Scully. Her real-life pregnancy inspired the show’s mythology, as it was revealed in later seasons that Scully gave birth when she was abducted and also wound up having a miraculous pregnancy thanks to the aliens tinkering with her body...
6 Helen George Had An Emotional Departure From 'Call The Midwife'
The Sun notes that Helen George’s character, Nurse Trixie, had an emotional goodbye from the hit television series Call The Midwife after she learned that she was pregnant, and the showrunner couldn’t hide her baby bump any longer.
Nurse Trixie left the show during an arc when she spiraled back into alcoholism and hit rock-bottom after breaking up with her boyfriend Christopher. She realized that she needed to seek help, and decided to receive six months of treatment. Not to worry though, George hopes to be back on the show after her maternity leave is over.
5 Jennie McAlpine Is Taking A Leave Of Absence From 'Coronation Street'
Mirror notes that Coronation Street actress Jennie McAlpine recently admitted to interviewer Lorraine Kelly that she only had a few weeks of filming left on the show before she left for maternity leave.
McAlpine, who is pregnant with her second child, hints that her character Fiz Brown is going to be replaced by Maureen Lipman’s character Evelyn while she is recuperating from childbirth. The Coronation Street star did reassure fans that there’s a good chance that Fiz will be back once her maternity leave is over, since “she hasn’t read any scripts yet where the character is killed off.”
4 Julia Louis-Dreyfus Was Given A Vacation From 'Seinfeld'
Entertainment Weekly writes that Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus discovered that she was pregnant during the third season of the show. In an attempt to hide her growing baby bump, the actress started to constantly hold boxes in her arms and wear long, thick coats that effectively disguised her waistline.
When Dreyfus was on maternity leave during the beginning of the fourth season, the writers explained Elaine’s absence by claiming that she suddenly decided to go on vacation with her psychotherapist boyfriend.
3 Katey Sagal Became A Voice On The Phone In 'Married... With Children'
The Chicago Tribune notes that Married... With Children decided to write actress Katey Sagal’s first pregnancy into the show, although they wound up turning it into a weird dream after the actress had an emergency C-section and a stillborn birth.
Due to the stillbirth of her first child, the writers made the decision to ignore Sagal’s later two pregnancies that occurred on the show and wrote her character Peggy off by claiming she was traveling the world to reunite with her parents. In some episodes, Peg only appeared as a literal voice on the phone. Can we say awkward?
2 Roxy Shahidi Left 'Emmerdale' To Become A Mom
OK! Reports that Emmerdale star Roxy Shahidi discovered she was pregnant with her first child in 2017, and the writers of the show had to come up with a way to explain her character Leyla’s absence while the actress took her maternity leave.
It was decided that Leyla was going to tell her former flame David that she regretted jilting him at the alter and that she’s still in love with him, which would prompt a confrontation with David’s wife Tracey. This then would lead to Shahidi’s character leaving the village for a bit.
1 NBC Fired Dana Plato From 'Diff'rent Strokes'
Cheat Sheet points out that Diff’rent Strokes star Dana Plato was a huge hit as the adorably wholesome Kimberly Drummond and fans of the series absolutely adored her. When Plato announced to NBC that she was pregnant, the producers fired her, although she did make a few cameo appearances during the show’s final season in 1986.
After Diff’rent Strokes, Biography writes that Plato struggled to find other roles and a series of personal tragedies led to a long battle with addiction. She tragically passed away in 1999.
Sources: Telegraph, Washington Post, Capital Xtra, Cheat Sheet, Hollywood.com, Business Insider, EW, Vulture, The Sun, The Mirror, OK, Refinery 29, The Hollywood Reporter, Cinema Blend, Collider, The Daily Mail, Hello Giggles, US Magazine, The Mary Sue, The Chicago Tribune, Wikipedia, Biography