An episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog about the importance of reserving 911 for emergencies is broken by Sonic using two robots attempting to kill him as an example of what NOT to waste 911's time with. Sonic can defeat them fairly easily, but "don't call 911 if you think you can probably handle the life threatening situation" isn't nearly so great a message for helpless kids.
Another Sonic Sez segment focuses on the dangers of alcohol after an episode in which Sonic orders a beer in a Wild West restaurant. Yet another has Sonic give a message about not playing in the street as he stands in the middle of the street.
One episode in Allen Gregory has Allen hold a play in school that is extremely racist to Hispanics, which naturally gets Allen booed off the stage until a Hispanic student gets on stage and explains why racist views presented are wrong, which gets the kid cheered. Allen is forced by his teacher, Gina, to go to the people and apologize for the racist remarks, but he is met with cheers and applause instead because they thought the Hispanic student's speech was a part of the act. Allen rolls with it and learns nothing from his actions, frustrating Gina.
All Grown Up! tries to teach its viewers about karma. To quote Dil: "Karma is this cool eastern philosophy that says if you do good things, good things happen to you. And if you do bad things, bad things happen. And I for one believe in it." They proceed to focus mostly on the bad side of the equation, by having Angelica take advantage of Susie's broken answering machine to win a singing audition... and find a zit on her face the day after the auditions. You're probably thinking "That's a bit too much." Well, that's not all. After all is said and done, she decides to let Susie perform in her place, even though she had never auditioned at all. This forum post goes into detail about this. At the end of the episode we get this exchange between Angelica and Charlotte.
Charlotte: Okay there was no making that thing look good. Don't worry, I'll make an appointment with my dermatologist.
Angelica: Wait, you can go to a doctor for this? Karma has nothing to do with it? You can't get this from being a bad person?
Charlotte: Of course not. Where did you get an idea like that?
In the episode "Stannie Get Your Gun", while waving a gun around and firing (what she thinks are blanks) at random, Hayley accidentally shoots Stan in the neck, paralyzing him. Out of grief, she supports Stan's decision to sing pro-gun songs at rallies. After seeing how depressed Hayley is, Stan realizes that Hayley would never intentionally harm him, and thus the gun must be at fault. He becomes anti-gun until near the end of the episode when he is shot in the spine again, healing him. At no point in the episode is it brought up that Hayley acted incredibly irresponsibly by firing a gun while pointing it at people, even if she thought it was loaded with blanks.
Nor is it brought up that Stan was at fault for mistakenly putting an actual bullet in the gun amongst the blanks. Hayley could've killed the man playing as the robber rather than simply paralyze Stan and this is never brought up, the blame is either placed on Hayley or the gun.
In the episode "The American Dad After School Special" Stan disapproves of Steve's girlfriend Debbie due to her being fat. Francine and Hayley berate him for it, pointing out that he himself is somewhat overweight resulting in Stan to become anorexic and hallucinatoric. The episode doesn't present many more options than "approving of overweights" and "disapproving of overweights will result in self-destructive extremism.".
No to mention that Debbie serves as a regular target for fat jokes from there on.
"Francine and the Feline" has a very broken one as well. Arthur and Francine argue over the idea of whether cats and dogs can get along well or not, with Arthur going to great lengths to keep Pal away from Francine's cat, Nemo. The Aesop comes in place at the very end and proves it really is possible, and it does a good job of showing it. The "broken" part of this comes in when the entire point of this episode is thrown out the window so they can pull a Cats Are Mean and have an antagonist in the episodes where Pal and Kate can talk. In short, they retroactively wasted a perfectly good moral.
Baby Looney Tunes has an episode where the kids go apple-picking, and Melissa insists on her picking method to the others. They decide things with an apple-picking race, which ends in a tie, the moral being "accept everyone's way of doing things". The problem is that Mellissa learned her apple-picking method from the farmer, turning the moral into "accept everyone's way of doing things even if it goes against what the authority figure says".
In the Ghostfreak two-parter, tries to do an Aesop about teamwork. Unfortunately, this fails when The Hero is armed with one of the most powerful artifacts in the universe; try as they might, Gwen and Max reallydon't compare. It's like Tien and Yamcha trying to teach teamwork to Super Saiyan Goku. Also, at the beginning of Part 2 ("Be Afraid of The Dark"), Gwen tells Ben "We don't need your help". Frankly, the story makes it seem like she's jealous of the Omnitrix, and having sidekick issues. Max has a lesser case, but, not being ten, he knows when to shut up and get on with things. At the end of the second episode, Ben ends up learning his aesop about teamwork after... he uses his Omnitrix to save Gwen and Max's asses as they plummet from space to Earth.
She is also guilty of a Broken Aesop in the opposite direction. The first season episode "Lucky Girl" revolves around her becoming a superhero based on a magical charm she finds. After losing it and finding out that the Big Bad of the episode possesses many similar charms to augment his magical power, she opts to destroy them rather than use them herself, justifying it as a decision to "just be me". Unfortunately, this Aesop is broken for two reasons. First, her stance on not relying on such power tends to be overshadowed when her cousin keeps using that Omnitrix thingy, especially since she benefits from it as much as everyone else. Second, what does she do in later episodes? She readopts the persona briefly after finding an even better charm. Then she learns that she is capable of using magic, and (with a few tools stolen from one villain) starts regularly using it herself. In fact, in the future-based episodes, she carries and uses the exact same charms that she destroyed in that first episode! It seems those powers are just too cool to pass up after all.
The best way to interpret it is they realized how broken the aesop was from the first episode and chose to just pretend the lesson wasn't there, from then on destroying the charms only to keep them out of the hands of the bad guys and getting them in the future when she'd be strong enough to protect them.
In the Bratz cartoons, the main characters constantly tell the one-shot characters that they should follow their own unique sense of style... right after they give them a makeover or get done gawking at the villains' untrendy Limited Wardrobe.
The moral of the entire series is "if we work together, we can save the planet", but in every episode, working together fails and the Planeteers always end up calling Captain Planet to deal with the problem for them. Mitigated somewhat by the ending tag of each episode, telling the viewers how they can personally help save the planet (without the Captain's help).
Captain Planet also has a problem with a broken Aesop regarding green technology. We're told that relying on fossil fuels and nuclear power is badwrong and instead should be using such things as solar power. But the only ones who have solar power in the energy densities required are the Planeteers (their craft actually flies on the power generated by solar panels). So... why aren't they giving this technology away, if it will help? So the Aesop is: "Use green technology, but never actually give it to anyone who would benefit."
In Danny Phantom, Vlad is treated as in the wrong for thinking of his imperfect clones of Danny as cannon fodder. However, Vlad is the only one to feel sad when the unfinished perfect clone is killed.
Dinosaur Train continually enforces the Aesop that birds are dinosaurs. In the episode "Dinosaur Camouflage", Buddy explicitly states that a bird is not a dinosaur.
Oldest Dragon: Never forget the code of the dragon. Do not battle if you can avoid it. If you must fight, do not injure. Never intentionally harm another.
This gives the message that one shouldn't jump into battles for the sake of fighting, don't be a bully, etc... yet the Oldest Dragon also tells Billy that he should never injure his opponents during battle. This is absurd, especially in Billy's case, as he is fighting against the Shadow Warriors, the members of an evil syndicate. He can't afford not to injure these guys. If the Oldest Dragon told him not to kill them, it'd be a different story. It's just an out-of-place message in a Merchandise-Driven action cartoon. And if that wasn't enough, while the Oldest Dragon tells Billy the above quote, he hands him a sword. Billy Lee is told never to harm his opponents while being handed a sword. The Oldest Dragon who knows exactly how huge a threat the Shadow Warriors are is telling his pupil who he just named a Dragon Master NOT to harm them as he hands him a sword. Which. Is. Meant. To. Injure.
Dragon Booster tried this with the episode "The Mouth that Roared", a blatant The Boy Who Cried Wolf story. Except the boy in question is Lance Penn, who aside from occasionally being immature, is probably one of the most moral characters in the whole series and has never shown a habit of lying. And he never lies in the episode either, he's telling people about a black-market gear dealer who in fact does exist—it's just that the guy is good at hiding and never shows up when Lance brings people to see (he's even smart enough to call the police the second he finds out!). So, in one episode we get Police Are UselessandPeople Over Ten Are Useless.
How useless are they? Instead of scoping the area thoroughly for evidence, they just hunker down wherever Lance was hanging out and wait a few minutes. If the guy doesn't show up, the kid must have been lying! despite the fact that one of the racers is using gear that must have come off the black market and this kid says he saw a black market guy, he must be lying!
Though the first big one of the series was in "Pride of the Hero". It starts with Artha's ego yet again getting over-inflated. Then we see Fan-Favorite Anti-Villain Moordryd suddenly stopping Wraith Dragons after what looked like a fight with his Big Bad father. While we admit it seems a bit abrupt for a Heel-Face Turn, at least Artha's getting called out for the fact that the main reason he doesn't trust Moordryd is because he's jealous. In order to make a point, and possibly because he sense the good in him, Beau then lets Moordryd get on his back, shocking Artha into admitting that maybe there is good in Moordryd...only for Moordryd to whip out an Artifact of Doom and spill his whole evil plan.
It's a Wishful Life deserves more attention. Putting aside the outright Family-Unfriendly Aesop that everyone's lives would be better without Timmy, the lesson is to do good deeds regardless of whether the person you serve expresses gratitude. The problem is that Timmy wasn't simply not getting any thanks but was always punishedfor arbitrary complaints the servees had with his good deeds.
The TV Movie Channel Chasers was about Timmy learning that there's nothing bad about growing up and learning to enjoy his fairy god parents while he can... come The Secret Wish and we learn he wished nobody would age 50 years ago so he'd never lose them, even making sure they'd not remember it.
There's also the common moral of of how Timmy's parents love him and do a lot for him, and he should show respect to that. Yet, when his parents aren't forgetting Timmy exists or going on frivolous nights out using his college fund, they're making not-so-subtle implications that he has nothing going for him and is weighing them down or should have been a girl (what's worse, the show implies at times that their asinine assessments aren't that off the mark).
One commonly-found Broken Aesop is parodied — that of the strong, empowered woman with an important job who's unfulfilled without a man. It features one such character meeting a man who says "In the next ninety minutes I'll show you that all your problems can be solved by my penis."
Brian's cousin Jasper, a flaming, Camp Gay talking dog that wants to screw a guy who doesn't speak English and doesn't know what's going on, is not only the worst example, but comes from one of the worst episodes showing this. You see, Mayor West makes gay marriage illegal in Quahog, just about the time that Jasper wants to marry his boyfriend. So in the end, Brian takes the mayor hostage at gunpoint and forces him to overturn the law. Surprising nobody, Brian faces no consequences for doing this, coming off as "It's perfectly OK for you to commit acts of terrorism, as long as it's to fix a law you think is wrong." It's at this point that certain people will point out that Mayor West only made the law to distract the public from an even dumber scandal, completely missing the fact that what Brian did was still an unambiguous act of terrorism and the stupidity of the victim does not make the actions of the terrorist justified.
There's also the "Legalize Weed" episode, in which they unsuccessfully tried to juggle the "legalizing weed will have no negative consequences on society" aesop with "stoners are morons" jokes. For example, the scene where Brian states that ever since legalizing weed worker productivity is up over 100% doesn't really fare so well since only a scene away we get Peter being so stoned all the time that he can't even set up a flashback gag and instead shows a Long List of all the celebrities he hates (such as Carlos Mencia, Eve Plumb, Paul Tsongas, Amy Winehouse, Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg, Chris Martin, and all of Chris Martin's ancestors).
There's also the infamous "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" episode, which has fairly good Aesops of "Fundamentalism and willful ignorance in religion can be dangerous" and "Sometimes religion doesn't have all the answers to mankind's unanswered questions," but, sadly, the reason why the episode is so hated is because of the more prominent broken Aesops of "Believing in God is a waste of time, especially if you're from a family that treats you like crap and your life sucks," and "Atheists know what they're talking about when they say that there is no God and no reason to follow religion." Thank goodness "Jerome is the New Black" and "Livin' On a Prayer" made up for those Aesops by calling Brian out on his B.S. and defusing religious fundamentalism without attacking the religion, respectively.
Oddly enough loads of atheists found that episode offensive as Brian fails to give any good reasons and comes across as a massive jerk, basically saying Meg not standing up to her perception of beauty proves God doesn't exist.
Perhaps the worst example, once you think about it, would be "New Kidney in Town". In this episode Peter's kidney fails and Brian offers to donate a kidney to Peter, except because Brian is a dog it would kill him. This is suppposed to show the bond between Peter and Brian when Brian offers to give his life for Peter. However, a missing kidney is not fatal (you wouldn't be able to drink a lot, but you would get by, though the doctor said that since Brian had dog-sized kidneys, he would need both of them for Peter and Brian would die from not having both his kidneys), Peter would need to be on dialysis (not pleasant, but plenty do it IRL) but would otherwise live a normal enough life. Of course, Peter wouldn't be able to rely on dialysis because he kept doing stupid things that would kill him without a kidney. So Peter would rather choose to allow his best friend to die for him then to stop doing recklessly stupid things for fun. So the Aesop goes from "Sometimes you have to do make major sacrifices for someone you love" to "Sometimes you need to make a Stupid Sacrifice for someone who has clearly proven he is too much of a selfish Jerk Ass to deserve it". If this wasn't bad enough, it's far worse if you know anything about kidney donations. Any of Peter's family, despite not being compatible, could have signed up to be part of a daisy chain where they agree to donate a kidney to someone else if Peter gets a kidney (in fact, Lois was notified that she was compatible with a different kidney-transplant patient, but she declined). This would have effectively gotten Peter a kidney almost as fast as Brian's own surgery could be arranged, which means every single member of the main cast would rather let Brian die then donate their own kidney, which for them would be a safe procedure with essentially no long term side effects.
The What If? episode "Meet the Quagmires", wherein Peter goes back in time to the 80's and screws around rather than go out with Lois as he originally did. In addition to Lois now being married to Quagmire and Peter being happily married to Molly Ringwald, this somehow results in a world wherein Al Gore became the US President in 2000 and effectively turned the country into a utopia before his first term ended. Naturally, the episode ends with Peter restoring the status quo, leaving us with the Aesop that one person's marginal improvement in happiness is more important than the happiness of millions of other people.
Then there's all those episodes about other characters teaching Meg to "be true to herself" and "love herself." With her being Meg and all, it's a pretty transparent aesop.
And then there's the episode where Meg openly accepts being the Griffin family Butt Monkey because when she confronts the rest of the family on what awful people they are, the entire family falls apart, and this is supposed to show how strong, mature, and stable she is for being able to endure the abusive hell she lives in for their sake... except for the part where all that abuse has driven her to become an obsessive, mall-garbage-eating stalker, starved for even the barest minimum of positive attention.
Futurama's Into The Wild Green Yonder uses this trope as well as a Green Aesop. The feministas, who are "right," are over-the-top Straw Feminists who fit every "girly" stereotype in the book, right down to their pink camos. Of course, they're against manly men doing manly stuff and discriminating against women. Futurama uses satire and parody so often, this is quite intentional.
"Amazon Women in the Mood" seems to be attempting some kind of justification for men's existence amidst all the abhorrent behavior showcased and mentioned throughout the episode, but all it turns out to be is "for having sex with", rather than countering the episode's depiction of them with any positive character aspectsnote Kif doesn't count because he's not human, or a robot designed by humans. Oh, and getting raped by an amazon is funny.
In Galactik Football's second season, Rocket is banned from playing and leaves the team to play in a one-on-one game called Netherball, becoming a much more aggressive player the longer he plays. The Aesop is rammed down our throats by every "good" character — playing as a team is good, playing for yourself is selfish. Rocket eventually returns to the team, and in his first match back the opposing captain (Lurr, who was one of the main proponents of the whole "teamwork is good" mantra) plays a game that's like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs is playing all the positions in baseball. Then in their next match, their opponents all leave the field save for their ace player, who proceeds to run rings around the protagonist team and score three goals in a row. It's only when Rocket draws upon his experiences playing Netherball and decides to do it all himself that the heroes score a goal.
In an episode of Galaxy Trio, a subterranean race is wreaking havoc on the surface world. After the Trio beat them, it turns out that they are actually the original natives of the planet, forced underground by the colonists from space. The solution? Send them to live on the sun instead with no mention of reparations, which their physiology conveniently favors!
The US Acres cartoon "Gort Goes Good" has a "people can change" moral, completely subverted in that Gort's Heel-Face Turn was just a ruse. Despite this, Orson still proclaims that it's possible for people to change for the better, but his case isn't looking too strong. It's worth noting that Orson was the only character that honestly believed that Gort had gone good in the first place, and Orson's Aesop was just an example of his rampant optimism.
The french cartoon Grisou had a problem with using a reset button powered by Failure Is the Only Option that consistently clashed two contradictory aesops. Being a young dragon Grisou (whose name is french for an underground gas explosion) dreams of being a fireman and stopping fires instead of starting them as his proud father keeps reminding them is his role in life. The aesop here is to believe in yourself and anything is possible, as week after week he gets a different job and gains instant fame as he succeeds at it beyond expectation... only to literally burn it all away as his happiness makes him lose control of his fire breath and he singes everyone involved, ruining his job and delivering the counter-aesop don't try to be something you're not as you will only destroy your life in the process. Great lesson for kids!
Jackie: You see Jade? Slow and steady wins the race.
Jade: But you're using the rabbit talisman to get super-speed? I'm getting mixed messages here!
Kim Possible has "Twin Factor" where Kim describes a mind control chip as "ferociously unethical". Later, she uses it on her brothers while babysitting.
The morality of mind control goes right out the window when Kim's own father brainwashes her. Or the previous episode where Shego having her Morality Dialswitched to good is a... um, good thing.
"Low Budget" includes the discovery that Kim's favorite brand, Club Banana, is an offshoot of (and sells similar wares to) Smarty Mart, the Walmartexpy she looked down on. This doesn't affect her adherence to the latest Club Banana fashions at all. Smarty Mart's boots are black, Club Banana's are onyx. There's a difference!
In that particular episode, Kim isn't portrayed as a role model. Assuming that she's an Anti Rolemodel, the asoep ends up being something like "Teenage girls are hypocritical stubborns. Don't bother change them".
In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Checkers", Lilo is sick of her older sister/guardian Nani's constant bitching over her strange, mundane hobbies, and being belittled by Mertle and her Girl Posse. The experiment of the week is #029 (dubbed Checkers), who can be used as a crown that grants its wearer, essentially, a form of mind control over everyone who sees them. Lilo uses this to make everybody treat her with respect. It ends up horribly for everyone involved, concluding with the message that power corrupts. However, the main instances of corruption are performed by Mertle without any instruction from Lilo (or even informing Lilo until it's too late), making the message instead "don't give your subordinates any autonomy or they'll ruin things", the exact opposite of the intended message.
An episode of Martha Speaks introduces the character of Bob (an Angry Guard Dog with the habit of chasing after and/or barking at everything in sight). Bob attacks Martha and Helen throughout the episode while Bob's owner calls him a "bad dog". Then, at the end of the episode, Bob's owner starts calling him a "good dog" and Bob suddenly starts acting nice. Now, this could've been a good lesson about how calling someone names can make them angry and take out their anger on others. Just one tiny little problem. Bob was never shown being nice throughout the entire episode. Not once.
At the end of "Martha's Steamed!", Helen asks Martha if she learned something from all. Martha believes it's you couldn't jump to conclusions and a very hot dog can get very thirsty. Helen says the lesson was you shouldn't go eat food everywhere you see because it will lead to trouble. Martha, of course, misses the point and tries to reach for something in a trash can, only to fall in.
Martha: Trouble? Eating is no trouble at all. (falls into the trash can) Uh, help!
In the Maryoku Yummy episode "Flip, Flop, and Float," Maryoku gets sick and is ordered to rest, but continually gets out of bed to help her friends, despite the fact that they keep telling her they'll be fine. Each time, she causes them trouble and just gets more and more sick. It looks like the moral of the story will be "when you're sick, stay in bed," (this is a show for preschoolers, after all) but at the end, Maryoku admonishes her friends for not telling her how much trouble she was causing for them, and the moral becomes "don't be afraid to hurt people's feelings when there's something important to tell them." Because heaven forbid Maryoku should actually be the one to learn a lesson.
One episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) involves Orko being assigned to make the palace garden bloom again. After several catastrophic failures, he heads out to find help, and in doing so unwittingly unleashes the Sealed Evil in a CanMonster of the Week. Once the crisis is averted (with help from a newly arriving hero), Orko admits in the final scene that tending a garden is too much for him, and Man-At-Arms turns this into An Aesop: knowing what you can and can't do is a sign of maturity. One line of dialogue later, He-Man adds that if you try your hardest, you can accomplish anything. A Stock Aesop that effortlessly contradicts the entirety of the episode's plot up to that point, including the already-delivered moral? Bad form.
The first cartoon show had another Broken Aesop, in an episode where a tribe of primitive beings manages to steal He-Man's sword and Man-At-Arms's laser blaster. After the tribe nearly kill themselves by misusing the weapons, the heroes deliver a canned speech on the dangers of weapons. The beings respond by throwing the sword and laser into a lava pit! Of course, our heroes have them back by the start of the next episode... The Aesop apparently being "weapons are bad things, unless the right people have them".
And another one for He-Man. The moral at the end of the episode was that violence solved nothing—this from a guy who wields a great big sword. In that very episode, He-Man dukes it out with a wizard and a demon, and two dragons have at it. The good guys win, of course.
In "The Defection", there the whole thing about people not changing their ways and someone defecting from evil and people don't trust her but she actually does want to change and etcetera and so forth. Except at the beginning of the episode she says that she was once good and was just lured over to the side of evil. So, no, people can't change.
In "Eye of the Beholder", He-Man joins forces with giant insect people and there's the aesop about not judging people by their appearance. Then after a Disney Death, his insect ally returns, having "evolved" into a more human form. So don't judge people by their appearance, because they may actually just be normal looking people who are primitive.
Early in "Disappearing Dragons", Orko's curiosity gets the better of him when he sees the treasure cache of the great dragon Granamyr. He opens a magic bottle and a hand pops out, pulls him in, and beats him up. The episode plot involves dragons being kidnapped to fight against each other for the entertainment of a powerful group of humanoids. At the end of the episode, Orko asks for a reward (or at least some recognition) for his part in saving the dragons. Granamyr's response is to uncap the bottle again, leaving Orko to get pulled in and smacked around again. As Orko gets beat up offscreen (and you hear him saying "OW! Stop! Let me out you big bully!"), He-Man jokes with Granamyr about how handy it would be if he had that bottle, not only condoning the act but basically stating he'd like to open a (literal) can of whoop-ass on Orko. And then the moral He-Man tells us in the very next scene? "There are no dragons in your world, but there are animals, and hurting or teasing an animal is no way to have fun." But apparently the nonhuman comic relief is fair game! Thus handily combining Broken Aesop with Take That, Scrappy!, depending on your feelings towards Orko.
Cartoons of the 1980s in general tended to be bad about this, given the difference in writing standards and what was considered acceptable content for younger viewers at the time.
The French show Michel Vaillant (Heroes on Hot Wheels in the US) had an episode in which the eponymous Michel and his family racing team compete in a special exhibition race showcasing environmentally friendly fuels/transportation technologies. The resident baddies try to cheat by using higher performing regular gas. It's animated as thick, sooty, jet-black smoke and causes bystanders to notice by making their eyes water. You know, the same fuel used by the Vaillants and everybody else in all other episodes...
Many Christmas specials that aims to educate about the true meaning of Christmas makes the mistake of somehow giving the main character what they wanted at the end. Unfortunately, by doing so the writers ends up reconstructing the "be nice for cool presents and not for unselfish reasons" morale that they intended to discourage in first place.
In the episode "The Fugitive Flowers" in My Little Pony And Friends, while the ponies do explicitly state that the reason they believed the Flories (mobile sapient invasive weeds) were good and the Crabnasties were bad is because the Crabnasties are ugly and the Flories are pretty, one can't ignore the Fridge Logic that the Crabnasties really didn't make themselves come off as "good guys" even ignoring that they're ugly-looking Giant Enemy Crabs. The Crabnasties make themselves known to the ponies by ripping a swathe of destruction through Dream Valley; cutting down or tearing up trees, flipping over boulders, ripping up plants and generally making a mess. When the ponies complain, the Crabnasties brush them off and wander away, still tearing the place apart as they go. If they had apologised for the destruction and explained that they are police officers out to stop the Flories, who drain the life from the earth and create deserts wherever they go, they could have elicited enough understanding to prevent the ponies from assuming "Flories Good, Crabnasties Bad".
In the generally infamous "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", the moral imparted by the Mane 6 on Rainbow Dash at the end of the episode is that humility is necessary in the wake of great success. Not only did the other five ponies brag about their own contributions to Mare-Do-Well's achievements in front of Rainbow Dash, it still took all of them working in a team to just barely outdo her, which is pretty damn impressive.
"A Friend In Deed" aims to teach that you can't force someone to be your friend, and that if someone doesn't want you hanging around them all the time, you should give them their space. The problem is that Pinkie doesn't leave him alone until she figures out what she needs to do to endear herself to him.
The most contentious by far seems to be emerging via the Season 3 finale. The episode was about the characters' cutie marks getting switched by accident, and how you will be unhappy if you let something tell you what your destiny should be instead of finding it yourself. That's all well and good, except that Princess Celestia rewards Twilight Sparkle by unilaterally transforming her into an alicorn and making her into a princess, all while singing about how this had been her plan for Twilight since she was a child and never once asking her if this is what she actually wants. The episode pairs this with a message about finding your own destiny instead of having one handed to you, without a shred of irony or self-awareness.
All that stuff about teamwork, accepting your friends for who they are, and sharing special bonds sounds a little hollow with the reveal that Celestia had an ulterior motive in urging Twilight to make friends all along, and Princess Twilight could apparently use the Elements of Harmony by herself.
"Rainbow Falls" presents Rainbow Dash with the choice of competing with the Ponyville team, who are terrible but counting on her, or the Cloudsdale team, who are great flyers but have been retconned into jerks. The intended Aesop is that one should be loyal to one's friends in the face of temptation, but the episode never addresses the fact that Rainbow Dash never feels comfortable talking to said friends about her problem. In fact, Twilight Sparkle, the only pony who notices that RD has been practicing with the other team, confronts Rainbow with hostility and guilt rather than support. Ultimately, the show's Aesop is closer to "Silently sacrificing is better than communication, since your friends will abandon you at the slightest hint of betrayal."
The season 4 finale, much like the season 3 finale, has a lot to say about choice and being patient until you decide what role you're going to take in life, but Twilight's cutie mark was on the Tree of Harmony before she was even born and Celestia decided to take her on as a private student the day she got it. Twilight is The Chosen One, with an illustrious destiny with powerful places and artifacts that already have her personal logo stamped on them to point out that they're hers. She says it's her choice, but everything connected to her is implied to be foreordained.
In the Pound Puppies (2010) episode "The Really Weird Dog", Squirt holds a grudge against Rover the alligator despite his friendliness to the rest of the team. Naturally, the episode ends with Squirt coming around and helping to save Rover, making it a nice episode on racism — okay, Fantastic Racism, but racism nonetheless — except that there are two other episodes that season in which the entire team shows prejudice against cats ("Catcalls") and coyotes ("Rebel Without a Collar").
Redakai has several clumsy morals in it, one of which is their mishandled Green Aesop. In one episode, the heroes Team Stax are trying to protect a large tree in the middle of a forest in a slightly arid land. One of them, Maya, does this by hurling a huge fire tornado at the bad guys who are standing right next to the tree. She is then congratulated for taking the initiative in saving "nature". "Save the forest, throw fire everywhere?"
Another one seems to be "Attacking civilians and cheating are okay when you're the "Good Guys" and nobody is looking".
The Regular Show episode "Think Positive": if you don't yell at people, then you'll destroy everything around you. This is especially damning since Benson, the character the episode focused on, refuses to get anger management, and after this episode, continues to act like a prick towards Mordecai and Rigby.
The end of the episode "Make Room For Lisa" has Lisa learning the lesson that she needs to go easier on Homer and not be such a nag, because he puts himself out to make her happy by doing things with her that he doesn't enjoy but she does. Fair enough by itself — except that this moral comes at the end of an episode where Homer has been behaving in a genuinely thoughtless, inconsiderate and — even by Homer's recent standards — incredibly Jerkass fashion towards Lisa throughout the entire episode, all of which has caused her so much stress over the episode that she has developed stomach ulcers. This includes giving away her room to a cell phone company to be used as the control room of a cell phone tower installed in the house to compensate for his destruction of the Bill of Rights. As a result, "go easy on your loved ones, because they really do love you" thus seems to become "put up with any amount of unreasonable crap from your loved ones, because they sometimes do things you like to do but they don't".
Kirk and Luane Van Houten's divorce in "A Milhouse Divided" was all just one big aesop about Homer needing to respect his wife, which is what Kirk tells Homer after losing his home, his job, and his car. But the way losing Luanne caused those was utterly contrived: he lost his home because he apparently got absolutely nothing in the divorce settlement, he was fired for being single, and his car was stolen by a woman he met on the rebound (which was his fault, but was more general incompetence as he was dumb enough to hand over his keys to someone he just met while waiting in a bar).
In the controversial episode "Homer's Enemy", Word of God said they wanted to show that a real person could not survive in the show's universe, except they did it by making Homer look worse than he really was in order to make Frank Grimes look better. What's worse is that Frank's breakdown and death, which were supposed caused by Homer, was really his own fault. Homer had offered to make amends with Frank, but he didn't want anything to do with it, and he immediately put everything into destroying Homer. It doesn't help that they made Frank's life excessively miserable before he even met Homer, and the circumstances surrounding Homer's attempts to make amends hit Frank in exactly the wrong way to get the right point across.
Parodied in Million Dollar Abie: Lisa wants Grandpa to set the bulls free instead of hurting them, but the bulls hurt other people when they get set free.
The episode The Cartridge Family presents the stock aesop of "guns are bad and gun owners are stupid violent nincompoops". Lisa even gets on her soapbox to preach about the Second Amendment being "irrelevant in today's society". Then, the second Homer users his gun recklessly in front of the NRA, they suddenly switch personalities from 'guns are unconditionally awesome' to 'guns are dangerous tools that need to be treated with respect'. Then at the end the NRA gets a Big Damn Heroes moment. This all happens without abandoning the "guns are bad" aesop. The episode ends with Homer asking Marge to get rid of his gun for him. She then decides she likes the way she looks holding it and keeps it. It's like the episode took both an anti-gun and pro-gun aesop and bungled them both.
The utterly schizoid delivering of aesops in the episode is partly linked to the fact that the writers themselves were divided on the issue of gun ownership. They then tried to show the issue of guns in a neutral way...and coming out with that. Word of God says if you take anything out of it, it's that reckless people (like Homer) shouldn't own guns.
Done subtly (and likely intentionally) in "Itchy and Scratchy versus Marge". At first it seemed that Marge's crusade against cartoon violence was justified, especially when she was successful, getting the studio to stop doing it after the town supported her, and ultimately getting children to stop watching too much television. Unfortunately, after she refused to support another far more ridiculous protest against Michelangelo's David (Claiming, justifiably, that It's Not Porn, It's Art) she was called out on this, claiming she opposed one type of freedom of expression but supported another, and she couldn't defend herself. (In short, Marge was forced to admit to doing an ugly thing that rigid Moral Guardians are frequently accused of: Censorship. The show may have had a true Aesop, but it was not the one that Marge was trying to covey at all.)
Sonic Sat AM, despite being known for its refreshing lack of preachiness, has a broken Family-Unfriendly Aesop in the episode "Game Guy." In this episode, the heroes meet a strange freedom fighter called Ari. Although Sonic wants to trust him, Sally wants to err on the side of caution. Eventually Ari leads Sonic into one of Robotnik's traps in exchange for the freedom of his own teammates. When it becomes apparent to Ari that Robotnik has no intention of honoring his end of the deal, he "proves" himself trustworthy by freeing Sonic from the trap, sacrificing himself in the process. At the end of the episode Sonic gently chides Sally for not being trusting enough, and Sally admits she was wrong despite the fact that everything that happened in the episode proved that she was right.
"The F-Word" is about the attempts of the kids to get the word "fag" to be allowed if it's not used as a hateful slur against gay people. This is heavily undermined by the fact that a few seasons previous, "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" ended with the Aesop that white people can't know what it's like to hear racial slurs even when they aren't used in a deliberately hateful context and should respect that.
And "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" itself seems to contradict the Aesops of The Movie (people overreact over offensive language) and "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" (offenses to racial minorities shouldn't be considered any worse than those done to white people). Its Aesop is also broken over the fact that Randy actually was not being racist; even the black cameraman thought the word on Wheel of Fortune was the N-word.
SpongeBob SquarePants with Ditchin'. The moral of the story is stay in school. Just one small problem... Spongebob had the best day of his life after ditching boating school to go hang out with Patrick. He got to meet Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy (again) to get his MM & BB origins comic book autographed, gets free ice cream for the rest of his life, got to go jellyfishing, and bested Sandy at badminton. So the moral is don't skip school, but if you do, you will have the best day of your life?
From Spongebob's perspective, it's not broken at all: yes, it seems like the best day of his life at first, but he'll supposedly slip into a lifetime of vice. The fact that he spent the entire episode making tiny excuses and small justifications that added up to hours of tardiness only reinforced the idea in his mind. Obviously still broken from our perspective because he ran back to school before anything bad could (permanently) happen.
Any kid's show that teaches kids not to skip school by having the main characters play hooky, only to have a horrible time, and find out later that their school had some kind of special event that they missed out on. Leaving aside that schools don't really have one-day, unannounced circuses or carnivals in the first place, they're telling kids to go to school because if you do, maybe you won't have to learn anything.
Not to mention that kids who are prone to do this probably will prefer some inconvenience to sitting in school anyway, and will rationalize any mishaps away with "but at least we're not at school". Also, this aesop ignores any legitimate reasons children may have for skipping school, like bullying or motivation problems.
However, let's not forget the fact that Spongebob nearly died in the episode and only survived through sheer willpower to get the bathroom key to Mrs. Puff.
Parodied in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). After Leonardo is told by Splinter that there aren't right or wrong decsions, only choices, Leo learns that he was made the leader of the group because he asked. Leo then asks if Michelangelo could have been the leader.
Splinter: No, that would have been wrong.
Another example is when they have to deal with Stockman.
Splinter: The first rule of being a ninja is to do no harm, unless you plan to do harm then do lots of harm!
The episode "Troq", is an Anvilicious message about racism. Sadly, it's somewhat undermined because the episode involves them committing genocide against a robotic race, on the word of a known racist. Sure they almost caused some severe Collateral Damage, but you could make an argument that they're trying to protect their species at all costs.
Lampshaded at the end of "Episode 257-494"
Robin: Well, I guess this whole experience proves it really is bad to watch too much TV.
Starfire: But truthfully, we only prevailed because Beast Boy watches too much the television.
Raven: So there really isn't a lesson here.
In the Thunderbirds episode "Atlantic Inferno", Jeff leaves confident son Scott in charge of International Rescue - cue 'bad decisions', Jeff's ire, and an apparent Aesop of "being in charge is more difficult than it looks". However, Scott makes sensible decisions based on expert advice. Jeff unreasonably censures Scott without listening to the evidence, leaving Scott unable to function. The Aesop sadly becomes "adults are always right, even when they are wrong".
Done intentionally with Kid Hero Lion-O in the ThunderCats (2011) episode "Song of the Petalars" where he ignores his own lecturing of young friend Emrick (for impulsively attacking a large enemy that outmatched him) in favor of pulling a Leeroy Jenkins and leading his Thundercats to a confrontation with an entire army that degenerates into a Last Stand until a Deus ex Machina saves them. Lion-O justifies this course of action in a Rousing Speech by culturally misinterpreting and breaking yet another Aesop: his friend Emrick's assertion that It's the Journey That Counts, and the good we do is what matters most. However, Lion-O's mangling of the Aesop is presented in a convincingly heroic fashion. He isn't called on his behavior until the next episode, and even then only obliquely, which leaves "Petalars" itself prone to the Alternate Aesop Interpretation: "Retreat is cowardice."
It's even worse because at the start of the episode Lion-O has the right idea of fleeing and living to fight another day rather than facing immediate defeat and certain death, while Tygra gives him endless grief about this. Later when Lion-O changes his mind they are (sure enough) almost wiped out. The lesson seems to be "Lion-O is always wrong. It doesn't matter why." This is by no means the only episode to do this.
The TV special Totally Minnie has Minnie Mouse giving a nerdy guy dating advice and an excessive makeover, but ends with a Be Yourself aesop.
In the Trollz story arc where the girls turn evil, Ruby worries that her meanness has influenced them into becoming mean. Obsidian tells her that if she sets a bad example, she can change it by setting a good one. It seems okay... until Ruby cleans up her act and it fails because Simon's magic was too strong. A Space Whale Broken Aesop, if you will.
Ultimate Spider-Man focuses on Spider-Man having to learn sense of responsability and teamwork, with Nick Fury as The Mentor. Both very respectable aesops, but it's quite hard to not sympathetize with his tendencies to work alone when his teammates are mostly obnoxious Jerkasses who forcefully insert themselves in his life, constantly mock or insult him (despite the fact he often ends up as the Only Sane Man) and, in Nova's case, outright insult his best friend Harry Osborn. Then you have those times where Spidey himself dabbles in being a Jerk Ass and an idiot that leaves you feeling that the criticisms of his teammates are not unjustified. As the for the responsability aspect, not only does it feel unnecessary since the whole Spider-Man origin (confirmed to be the same in this version) was supposed to be about Spidey learning responsibility of his own, but Fury, being an Anti-Hero with several Create Your Own Villain in his backstory, leaving no personal space to his recruit (he sets up security cameras in Spidey's house) and willing to break his promises, hardly appears as a suitable authority figure.
Demonstrated beautifully in the episoded titled Not A Toy, when Spidey loses Captain America's shield:
Agent Coulson: But you've all learned some valuable tactical lessons, right?
Spidey: Let's see - know your fight, our powers are only one tool in the toolbox...
Agent Coulson: No! I mean about touching things that don't belong to you.
Spidey: Oh, yeah. Because you might accidentally stop a madman from taking over the world.
Wolverine and the X-Men showcased Cyclops grieving over the disappearance of his Designated Love Interest Jean Grey (who was actually introduced giving him a hard time about sucker-punching Wolverine in a fit of jealousy and then blows a kiss to his rival) and being annoyed at Professor Xavier demoting him while promoting Wolverine to leader. The series seemed to initially pitch the idea that Cyclops had to learn to let go of his resentments and move on with his life, including but no limited to hooking up with his then comic current girlfriend Emma Frost. 26 episodes later... he ended up back together with Jean anyway after waiting for the odds to change in his favor. Great moral for the kids - don't learn to move on from the loss of your loved ones, just sit around being depressed in the hopes that they'll eventually come back to you.
There's also an episode where he goes out on his own to track down what happened to Jean and, eventually, needs to call for backup, resulting in Logan chewing him out on working as a team...despite the fact that in many episodes of the show, Logan himself strikes out on his own for personal crusades, more than any other character. This is the kind of message you'd normally expect Cyclops to beat into Logan's head, not the other way around, but the show decided to switch their roles around for...reasons.
Then there's the fact that Cyclops spent the whole series being mentally and emotionally unstable if not outright legally insane and none of the X-Men, his so called friends, his so called family, ever try to help him. At the start of the series they pretty much left him to waste and rot away in a run down rat infested motel for no real reason and even after he gets back on the team they still pretty much leave him to his own devices despite the fact that he clearly needed professional psychiatric help, even if he was being more anti-social than usual. The only member who did offer him help was Emma Frost and, well, that didn't turn out so well. So the message here seems to be that it's okay to abandon your friends, no matter how much they may be suffering, if they're inconvenient to you, regardless of how long you've known them, regardless of whether or not they're practically family, simply because you can't be bothered to help them.