Created By: mr.whim on June 16, 2014 Last Edited By: mr.whim on July 1, 2014
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Aesop Enforcer

A character who forces another character into a life-changing lesson. (Hats?)

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I don't care who I have to turn into a teapot, you'll learn the meaning of love!

"All you've caused is pain and strife, so now you're doomed to live a dog's life! A dog you'll be, with fur and fleas, until you do 100 good DEEEEDS!"

You're a Beauty turned into a Beast because you refuse to see inner beauty. Or you're The Protagonist approaching one of your event horizons, when you get a Wonderful Plot to show why you need to stay the way you are. Or you're a Jerk Ass who gets a Karmic Transformation, becoming what you hate, or a Baleful Polymorph that puts you at the mercy of your victims. Or maybe you've just been shoved into a Public Service Announcement. And behind it all there's someone making darn sure that you learn your lesson, or suffer for your hubris. Sorry, but you're under the heel of an Aesop Enforcer.

When there's a character that needs to be taught a lesson, sometimes another character doesn't wait for karma to take its toll. The Aesop Enforcer purposefully and forcefully inflicts some sort of change in order for the subject to learn An Aesop, usually sticking around to watch the subject's behavior or even inform them of their progress towards redemption.

In straight examples, the Enforcer will be supernatural in some way. Mundane Aesop Enforcers run the risk of having their plan backfire, possibly getting An Aesop of their own once the subject realizes they're being manipulated, or takes their lesson to the extreme.

Subtrope of Mentors.


Examples

Comic Books
  • New Mutants had Emma Frost and Dani Moonstar team up to show Prodigy a possible future where the mental blocks on his powers are removed, allowing him to keep all the knowledge his powers absorb from others. He becomes a genocidal dictator, creating a utopia at the cost of thousands of lives, including all the X-Men. After seeing this telepathic illusion, Prodigy decides to keep his mental blocks in place. Considering that neither Dani nor Emma have any ability to predict the future, one has to wonder where the hell they were pulling this Wonderful Plot from.
    • After M-Day, Prodigy lost his powers entirely, but the Stepford Cuckoos were able to unlock all the knowledge he had forgotten. He has yet to pursue global domination, further discrediting Emma and Dani trying to enforce Ignorance Is Bliss. note 

Fairy Tales
  • Beauty and the Beast and its retellings usually have this as a staple, with a powerful magician cursing the selfish prince into his beastly form. The rose serves as a living hourglass of the Enforcer's Aesop in the Disney movie.

Live-Action TV
  • One Hundred Deeds For Eddie Mcdowd. The Drifter. The titular Eddie McDowd is a Bully and a Jerk Ass about to pass the Moral Event Horizon whom the Drifter turns into a dog. The Drifter explains that Eddie must perform 100 good deeds in order to be changed back into a human. In the meantime, only one person can understand him- the last boy he bullied. On top of this, Eddie's entire family vanishes from the face of the earth until he can complete his deeds. At the end of most episodes, the Drifter appears to inform Eddie that he's accomplished a good deed and how many he has remaining.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch constantly found herself victim to one of these, usually her aunts Helda and Zelda. Some of them bordered on Scare 'Em Straight or outright Mind Rape, usually for the sake of mundane and petty lessons. They've occasionally become this trope for mortals as well.
  • In the The Saint episode "The Golden Journey", Simon Templar encounters his friend's beautiful, rich and very spoilt fiancee Belinda. He sets her up for a life-changing lesson by stealing her money and possessions, leaving her no choice but to undertake a long journey with him on foot. After encountering many hardships on the way, she learns that there are more important things than money, and becomes much more pleasant.

Film - Animated
  • Brother Bear. Sitka, the main character Kenai's brother. Kenai gets Sitka killed due to his obsessive bear hunting, causing Kenai to hunt down the same bear again to kill it in vengeance. Sitka's spirit appears in the form of an eagle, and transforms Kenai into a bear as punishment. Once Kenai has learned his lesson, Sitka appears again to change him back. Kenai insists on staying a bear to protect Koda, the son of the bear he killed.
  • The Witch in Brave is this to both Merida and Mor'du. The transformation is flipped with Merida, transforming her family members instead of her, while Mor'du was played straight. Considering how Mor'du's story wound up (murdering his family, most of his kingdom, and allegedly dozens of others), she either thought that granting Merida's request would release Mor'du and end well for her, or just didn't care.

Film - Live Action
  • It's a Wonderful Life. Clarence the Guardian Angel grants George Bailey's unintentional wish, showing him an Alternate Universe in which George never been born. After seeing tragedy after tragedy due to him not being alive, George recants his wish, wanting to live. He is returned to his own world, filled with a renewed vigor for life.
  • Morozko aka Jack Frost. Father Mushroom inflicts Ivan with the appearance of a Werebear when Ivan refuses to bow out of respect. Ivan assumes that all he has to do is a good deed to restore himself, but a watchful Father Mushroom waits until he shows true selflessness to change him back.

Web Original
  • The Wizard of the Spells R Us story cycle is often this, forcing or tricking transformations on people to teach them valuable life lessons. This is when he's not just punishing them, or screwing with people's lives For the Lulz, of course.

Western Animation
  • The Magic Man from Adventure Time is a parody of this type, in that the Aesop is usually just an excuse and he just loves screwing around with people. In his first appearance, he turns Finn and other characters into body parts until they learned their lesson, and although they learn about working together, the real lesson was to realize what a big Jerkass Magic Man is. He plays it a bit more straight in the episode "Food Chain", where he transforms Finn and Jake into birds, plants and caterpillars so that Finn would learn about the importance of the food chain.
  • In the Fairly OddParents episode "The Boy Who Would Be Queen", Timmy makes a disparaging remark about never wishing to be a girl, which Wanda creatively interprets as exactly that. Timmy decides he can use this to his advantage, but wishes for Cosmo and Wanda to switch genders. They have no choice but to grant his wish, making Timmy the Enforcer after Wanda's attempt to force one on him.
  • Gargoyles
    • The mystical island of Avalon. Anyone who tries to leave is never sent where they want to go, but where they need to be.
    • Queen Titania in the non-canon third season, showing Goliath a world in which he's a human, not a gargoyle. He is married and has children with Elisa Maza, who is a staunch gargoyle hater. Goliath tries to find his old clan to figure out what's happening, only for them all to be killed before Titania reveals the deception. At least she did it for a better reason than Puck.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • The infamous episode "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" deals with this. When Rainbow Dash starts acting a bit too arrogant about saving the day, the title character shows up and starts to outdo her at every turn. It turns out that the Mare Do Well is the other five ponies, who concocted this scheme to teach Rainbow Dash a lesson about humility. Whether this plan was justified or too cruel remains the subject of debate and let's just leave it at that.
    • Also Played With in the episode "Lesson Zero". Realizing she hasn't got her usual Aesop to give to Princess Celestia for her weekly report, Twilight Sparkle goes insane fearing repercussions. She then goesaround looking for any dilemmas between other ponies (and later trying to cause it) in order to enforce An Aesop for her report. Naturally the chaos she causes only leads to one concerning her work zeal.
  • South Park. Cartman starts a crusade against gingers, causing the other boys to use makeup and hair dye on him in his sleep to convince him he's become a ginger. The plan backfires when Cartman starts a "ginger power" movement, and nearly has the other boys publicly executed for not being ginger. Until Kyle quietly confesses to him that he's not really ginger, leaving him aghast in front of a mob of children he's riled into hating non-gingers.
  • Tiny Toons. In one short, Shirley Loon gives Dizzy Devil a Karmic Transformation into a bug to force him to realize the value of All Creatures Great and Small. It doesn't last.

Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • June 16, 2014
    lakingsif
    Guessing the title comes from German, but how many people does it make sense to? He Who Drops Anvils is what first springs to mind, in line with this wiki's Anvilicious. The Moral Teacher, perhaps?
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
    Uh... This is someone who teaches an aesop to an In Universe character, right? Out Of Universe it's, like, the "Sonic Sez" segments in old Sonic cartoons...

    And does it have to be limited to "supernatural intervention"?
  • June 16, 2014
    mr.whim
    Aesop is German, but Arbiter is plain old Latin->English. Other words I considered were things like Judge, Supervisor, or Officer, but I went for alliteration. I don't think He Who Drops Anvils is quite the right descriptor, or The Moral Teacher- it's more forceful. Something like Compulsory Anvil, or Trapped By The Anvil.

    It doesn't have to be supernatural, it just tends to be, based on most of the examples I've found. And the difference between this trope and a Out Of Universe Sonic Sez segment is that the person meant to be learning the Aesop isn't being forced into the situation by any means. ...Unless Sonic somehow leapt out of the screen to punish any who did not heed his Sezing by transforming them into hedgehogs until they've learned their lesson...?
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ "Unless Sonic somehow leapt out of the screen to punish any who did not heed his Sezing by transforming them into hedgehogs until they've learned their lesson...?"

    That's what I meant by supernatural you know...

    You have it reversed, Aesop is Latin (Greek, actually) and Arbiter is German.
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
    And if you don't get it yet: Sonic Sez is him directly talking to the audience.
  • June 16, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^^&^^ Etymology of "arbiter" in Wiktionary: Old French arbitre, from Latin arbiter ("a witness, judge, literally one who goes to see").

    And Aesop was a Greek poet.
  • June 16, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Aesop Enforcer sounds slightly more accurate to me.
  • June 16, 2014
    mr.whim
    Agreed
  • June 17, 2014
    Arivne
    • Deleted the lines inadvertently copied from the Sandbox page ("%% Please don't remove the lines immediately above and below this. Or this line itself, for that matter").
    • Examples section formatting
    • De-Red Linked (Mc Dowd).
    • Namespaced work name(s).
    • Corrected spelling (publically).
  • June 17, 2014
    Psi001
    • Sabrina The Teenage Witch constantly found herself victim to one of these, usually her aunts Helda and Zelda. Some of these trances border as Scare Em Straight or outright Mind Rape, usually for the sake of rather mundane and petty lessons. They've occasionally bullied mortals with them as well.
  • June 17, 2014
    lakingsif
    The title now is alliterative: alliteration is the sound, so as Aesop is pronounced "Ee-sop", Enforcer works better than Arbiter. (I know German, Arbiter is at least also German.)
  • June 17, 2014
    MaxWest
    The infamous My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" deals with this. When Rainbow Dash starts acting a bit too arrogant about saving the day, the title character shows up and starts to outdo her at every turn. It turns out that the Mare Do Well is the other five ponies, who concocted this scheme to teach Rainbow Dash a lesson about humility. Whether this plan was justified or too cruel remains the subject of debate and let's just leave it at that.
  • June 25, 2014
    DAN004
    Subtrope of Men Tors.

    • Arguably, the Witch in Bra Ve is this, to both Merida and Mordu.

    Maybe someone can explain it better than I do.
  • June 25, 2014
    Psi001
    ^^ Also Played With in the episode "Lesson Zero", when realizing she hasn't got her usual Aesop to give to Princess Celestia for her weekly report, Twilight Sparkle goes insane fearing about repercussions, going around looking for any dilemmas between other ponies (and later trying to cause it) in order to enforce An Aesop for her report. Naturally the chaos she causes only leads to one concerning her work zeal.
  • June 26, 2014
    Snicka
  • June 27, 2014
    SKJAM
    Web Original
    • The Wizard of the Spells R Us story cycle is often this, forcing or tricking transformations on people to teach them valuable life lessons. This is when he's not just punishing them, or screwing with people's lives For The Lulz, of course.
  • June 28, 2014
    TonyG
    The Magic Man from Adventure Time is a parody of this type, in that the Aesop is usually just an excuse and he just loves screwing around with people. In his first appearance, he turns Finn and other characters into body parts until they learned their lesson, and although they learn about working together, the real lesson was to realize what a big Jerkass Magic Man is. He plays it a bit more straight in the episode "Food Chain", where he transforms Finn and Jake into birds, plants and caterpillars so that Finn would learn about the importance of the food chain.
  • June 28, 2014
    yisfidri
    Live Action TV
    • In the The Saint episode "The Golden Journey", Simon Templar encounters his friend's beautiful, rich and very spoilt fiancee Belinda. He sets her up for a life-changing lesson by stealing her money and possessions, leaving her no choice but to undertake a long journey with him on foot. After encountering many hardships on the way, she learns that there are more important things than money, and becomes much more pleasant.
  • June 30, 2014
    yisfidri
    Edited in the most recent examples and the Men Tors subtrope
  • July 1, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ You do understand, that Mentors is one word? DAN only wrote it as two because he's too lazy to use curly brackets to create Wiki Words (I really hope he'd stop doing that precisely because of the risk of it being misunderstood like this).
  • July 1, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 1, 2014
    mr.whim
    ^^Wiki Words fixed.
  • July 1, 2014
    yisfidri
    ^^^ I didn't, but I do now. Thank you for the heads up.

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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=jwyriedi0bjruteclkt1u8jw&trope=AesopEnforcer