Broken Aesop / Western Animation

"That's right, kids. Don't call 911 if you're being attacked by people who want to kill or kidnap you. Only call for important things, like if your cable goes out and you can't watch The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. That's what's important!"

The field of Western Animation has many morals at the end of the episode, and many writers who think they can half-ass it. While it's not the cause of all the Broken Aesops here, it's certainly connected to a lot of them.

This list of examples is in alphabetical order, so please add your example in the proper place. Thanks!

  • 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 seems to break its own Aesop about the dangers of alcohol because in an episode, Sonic was seen ordering a beer in a Wild West-style restaurant. However, Sonic ordered a root beer, avoiding any actual alcoholic beverages in a place that was implied to have them due to the theme of the setting, so the aesop was never broken.
    • Probably the most egregious example is a Sez that attempts to teach kids not to get into cars with strangers. Would be great, except for one problem: the "strangers" trying to lure Tails into the car were Scratch and Grounder - you know, the main antagonists since the show's beginning​?! Seriously, did the writers even pay attention to what they were writing?
  • 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?
    Angelica: Dil, you're a dead man.
  • American Dad!:
    • 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 with the blanks, or handing a loaded gun (blanks or no blanks) to someone without telling them. Hayley could've killed the man playing as the robber rather than simply paralyzing 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 becoming anorexic and hallucinatoric. The episode doesn't present many more options than "approving of overweight people" and "disapproving of overweight people will result in self-destructive extremism.".
      • No to mention that Debbie serves as a regular target for fat jokes from there on.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force does this a lot, but given the less-than-serious nature of the show, it's all completely Played for Laughs. "Universal Remonster", for example, has Frylock spend most of the episode discussing how too much TV is bad for you. Then at the end of the episode, he buys a new HD plasma screen TV. This gets lampshaded by Meatwad.
    Meatwad: I thought you said TV was bad.
    Frylock: It is... but we f**king need it.
  • In Arthur
    • The episode "Arthur's Big Hit", where Arthur hits D.W. when she breaks his model airplane. She runs crying to their parents, and the rest of the episode is spent rubbing Arthur's nose in it, with the intended message of "violence is never the answer". There are a couple of problems with this:
      • Arthur learns his lesson when Binky hits him, and his parents treat Binky hitting Arthur as suitable punishment for Arthur hitting his sister, so it's apparently okay to hit someone to teach them why hitting is wrong. On top of this, Binky hits Arthur to impress his Jerk Ass friends and it has nothing to do with punishing Arthur, but Arthur hit D.W. as a direct consequence of her behavior.
      • D.W. never actually learns anything. She finishes the episode still blaming Arthur for building a model airplane that couldn't fly, indicating that she still has no idea what she did wrong, but she apologizes anyway. Thing is, she only apologizes because Arthur hit her, so violence actually was the answer.
    • "Francine and the Feline" has Arthur and Francine arguing 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 use Nemo as an antagonist in the episodes where Pal and Kate can talk. In short, they retroactively wasted a perfectly good moral. The fact that Arthur has friends who are cats of the humanoid, sapient variety is not brought up either.
  • One episode of Avengers, Assemble! had Hawkeye try to confront the Hulk on his selfish, hoarding, rude behavior. But throughout the episode he's portrayed as a selfish and childish crybaby. In fact, not once does anyone side with Hawkeye despite the fact that his grievances with Hulk are actually quite reasonable. So basically the moral of the episode is, let Hulk get away with everything, or get smashed.
  • Ben 10:
    • 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 really don'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.
  • Several episodes of the satirical African-American cartoon The Boondocks carry the message of "black people shouldn't be acting like foolish caricatures of themselves". Some episodes even lambasted the BET TV network for perpetuating this. Despite this, most of the comedy in The Boondocks is reliant upon over-the-top stereotypes of ghetto black people.
  • Invoked in one episode of Brandy & Mr. Whiskers. Whiskers had just gotten over his Compressed Vice of video game addiction and decides that the lesson is that there's more to life than staring at a screen for hours on end. He and Brandy, remembering they are ratings-dependent cartoon characters, very quickly try to claim that television is exempt from that statement before the viewer switches them off.
  • 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.
  • Captain Planet
    • 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). Sure, calling Captain Planet is "all their powers combined", but if combining their powers is all it takes, why isn't regular teamwork enough?
    • 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."
  • The true star of A Charlie Brown Christmas is Charlie Brown's sad little Christmas tree, which serves as a metaphor for the true meaning of Christmas, in contrast to the glitzy Aluminum Christmas Trees everyone else buys, which are a metaphor for crazed holiday materialism. By the end of the film, Charlie Brown's friends come around to appreciating his perspective — and his tree. Yet the climax of the film nevertheless features everyone happily decorating Charlie Brown's sad tree until it rather magically comes to resemble as more "proper" one, decked out in glitzy decorations. This is presented as a happy ending though it undermines the anti-materialism message by ultimately presenting Charlie Brown's tree as something that needed to be "fixed" by conforming with materialistic standards.
  • 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.
  • Happened once or twice in Dexter's Laboratory. Plot of these episodes is that Dexter does something that bothers Dee Dee or hurts her feelings, and in turn he has to make up for it after being stricken with guilt for what he'd done. That would all be okay if it weren't for one thing: Dee Dee is constantly disregarding Dexter's feelings, and the show never calls her out. The result is Dex becoming Unintentionally Sympathetic while Dee Dee becomes the opposite.
  • All three plots we see in Dorbees: Making Decisions have the "Making the right decisions" moral broken in some way.
    • Jack and Mary Jane: The right decision was meant to be for them to stay in school, but considering the teacher was giving them bad information(he says the sum of the sides of a triangle is 90 degrees; in reality, the sum of the angles is 180 degrees) and the school flat out tries to kill them as soon as they step out of the classroom (nothing is done to establish that this system could tell the difference between kids intending to leave school and kids leaving the class for a legitimate reason, like to go to the nurse or the bathroom), staying in that school probably wouldn't be the best decision either.
    • Otto and Dig: The right decision was meant for Dig to be honest, which he ultimately telling Otto that he can't possibly make someone as ugly as him look good, despite being the best clothing shop in town, and that Otto would be better off sticking to Scandinavian clothes rather than trying to integrate into the local fashion. There's being honest, and then there's being unnecessarily blunt.
    • Mr. Poe and Yogul: Mr. Poe saves Yogul from Dr. Dairy's death trap by pressing a button to free him, ignoring the other two buttons which are labeled "Push for World Peace" and "Push to End World Hunger". Even if there was a reason why Mr. Poe couldn't press all three, pressing either of the other two could have saved millions of lives, making them better decisions than just freeing Yogul.
  • In Double Dragon, this is what the Oldest Dragon tells Billy in the first episode "The Shadow Falls":
    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.
    • There was also the guns are bad episode. The city bans every kind of unlicensed handgun. The Shadow Master increases production of his illegal handguns, since there is now a greater market; resident criminals buy weapons from him illegally and go on a rampage. When regular citizens find that they can't even buy licensed weapons, unless they're in law enforcement, they start buying them illegally to protect themselves. The police prove unable to stop the wave of crooks or shut down the Shadow Master's operations. The moral comes across less 'guns are bad' than it does 'crooks are already willing to break the law, and will get weapons. You need to be able to defend yourself.', which falls into a decidedly pro-legalized-gun talking point. Bonus points for no grey areas between 'no legal guns at all' and 'no restrictions on guns.'
  • Dragon Booster had a big one 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 jealously is the main reason he doesn't trust Moordryd. 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.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • "The Time Travelers Pig" teaches Dipper that sometimes, you have to sacrifice your needs for your sister's happiness in this case, Mabel. Except that when Mabel loses Waddles to help Dipper impress Wendy, she ended up fighting with Dipper over the time machine hoping to return to the timeline where she wins back Waddles and upon failing to do so, ended up having a month long Heroic B.S.O.D. where she beats her head on a totem pole.
    • "The Love God" attempts to give a moral about not meddling with people's relationships, which is undermined by everything ending up better for all parties involved after Mabel uses a love potion to force two people together. She learned the aforementioned lesson while trying to reverse the effects of the potion (or at least force a break up, given that Gravity Falls: Journal 3 revealed that the potion's effects were temporary), and ultimately decided not to since the results of her tampering were good in the end.
    • "Roadside Attraction" has an aesop about not being a pickup artist. On paper, Dipper tries being one to help take his mind off of Wendy, flirts with a number of girls at different tourist attractions, then gets called out for it when they all meet up at the final spot and find out what he's been doing. In practice, however, all Dipper is shown doing is having friendly conversations with them and asking for numbers and e-mails to keep in touch, with the girls not really having any reason to expecting hearing from him again. It instead makes the episode come off as implying that so much as interacting with someone of the opposite sex is automatically seen as trying to be in a relationship with them.
  • The Fairly OddParents! is notorious for this. From the It's a Wonderful Life subversion episode to Timmy in A Fairly Odd Christmas where Timmy is put on the Naughty List because he is too generous.
    • 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 punished for arbitrary complaints the servees had with his good deeds. Such as cleaning his father's yard not realizing that it was "Worst Yard Day" or his friend throwing away the state of the art computer his friend wanted because it just became obsolete.
      • And to go with the 'everyone's lives would be better without Timmy' lesson, Timmy sees that everyone is living amazing lives if he'd never existed and decides to let that continue by allowing himself to be removed from reality. It turns out this was a test and by accepting that he passed. However they never explicitly say that what he saw wasn't true, the only clear thing is that he was under observation while being non-existent. Which makes it look like his reward for choosing non-existence is to then choose to exist.
    • 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.
    • A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! ends with Timmy keeping his fairy godparents after he agrees to only use them for good... completely destroying the film's lesson of Timmy needing to learn to grow up.
    • 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).
  • Family Guy:
    • 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. Made even worse when in the deleted scene it is revealed that his boyfriend doesn't even know he is getting married to Jasper.
    • 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 just 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). And when he mentions that crime is down it is made quite clear that it is down because everyone is too stoned to get off the couch.
    • Family Guy in general has a tendency to trip up its many morals of tolerance with its love of stereotype humor. In addition to the above examples we have "Quagmire's Dad". The writers touted Ida as the face of transsexual tolerance. Given the reaction to the episode and subsequent treatment of her, it's a wonder they still stick to their guns about her.
    • 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.
      • Especially dumb in a cartoon where God and Jesus have actually interacted with the main characters.
    • 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 supposed 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 than 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 than donate their own kidney, which for them would be a safe procedure with essentially no long term side effects.
    • 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:
  • 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. At the very end, after Wade causes a problem with his panic, Orson grudgingly admits that some people never change.
  • The French cartoon Grisù 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!
  • The Groovenians anviliciously espouses the morals of not trampling on artistic expression. The problem is that it equates any form of making the self-admitted hipster protagonists take responsibility and pay their dues with not caring about their artistry. One wonders whether the creator of the cartoon being a career artist has anything to do with it, though no one wonders why the pilot never got picked up.
  • The 2014 NBC holiday special How Murray Saved Christmas has some good messages about teamwork and doing your part for the community. These are undercut with jokes about sweatshop labor and kids being brats.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures:
    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!
  • The episode "Like Father Like Son" from Kaijudo has the moral that kids don't always end up like their parents, and can make the right choices and become better people. Despite nearly dying multiple times, getting kidnapped and held hostage, and pretty much being dragged through he- err, the Fire Civilization, Carny still becomes a recurring villain after running back to his scumbag of a father.
    • And in a later ep, Ray's father turns out to be a duel master. Oops.
  • 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 note . Or the previous episode where Shego having her Morality Dial switched 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 Walmart expy which she belittled. This doesn't affect her adherence to the latest Club Banana fashions at all. Smarty Mart's boots are black, and 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-Role Model, the aesop ends up being something like "Teenage girls are hypocritical and stubborn. Don't bother trying to change them".
  • King of the Hill: The show often teaches that hard work isn't always glamorous, but it's always the proper and admirable way to get results. In "Business is Picking Up," Bobby job shadows under a man who cleans up animal waste for a living. He enjoys this so much that he thinks about setting up his own sort of business involving vomit clean-ups, but some of the other characters seen are squicked at either of the cleanup jobs. The show-wide aesop is broken when Bobby is portrayed as being in the wrong for wanting to do dirty work, even if it's an honest job and said animal waste cleaner is shown to make big cash off of his jobnote , because other people would hate him for it to the point that they might beat him up. This is conveyed to Bobby by the animal waste-cleaner staging a lie to him about it. The aesop of the episode is less "Hard work has great payoffs" and more "Having a job involves work... and making sure enough people like you" mixed in with "Kids should follow after their parents." Adding to the inconsistency, five episodes later the show goes back to emphasizing the work and ignoring popularity when Bobby and Joseph are more respected by their fellow students for bumming off the streets (which is shown as a cheap and unfair way to get money) than for having an honest job.
  • 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 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.
  • Masters of the Universe:
    • Pretty much the whole episode "The Courage of Adam", also from the 2003 series. It implies that Adam is useless and really needs his alter ego form to be of any use. It also contradicts many subsequent lessons, about being yourself. Adam is never allowed to develop his own, more realistic character. What we see instead is an instant of little-effort, power-gain transformation.
    • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): 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 "Pawns of the Gamemaster" He-Man throws his sword and disarms the titular villain. The episode plays the villain as a cheating coward for not being willing to take He-Man on hand-to-hand. Which is supposed to be a fair fight, despite one of them being a well-trained but mortal man while the other is, as the intro reminds the viewer every time, "The most powerful man in the universe!"
    • 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.
  • Michel Vaillant 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.
    • Subverted in The Town Santa Forgot, where the Spoiled Brat Jeremy Creek doesn't get all the presents he wants, but does gets to ride with Santa Claus... helping to deliver presents to other kids. Which he finds he enjoys more than getting the presents he wanted in the first place.
  • In the episode "The Fugitive Flowers" in My Little Pony 'n 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".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has An Aesop Once per Episode. They are generally solid, but...
    • In the episode "Swarm of the Century", the lesson is that you should always listen to your friends, even if what they say doesn't make sense. Pinkie has the solution to the problem, but she just demands that everyone help her without telling them how or why, and when another method almost works, she screws it up by not listening to them. It's a better illustration of how important it is to explain yourself properly if you want to get your ideas across to others.
    • "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. There's a somewhat mitigating factor in that the Aesop is more accurately expressed as "friends don't have to constantly spend time together", but the entire episode hinges on how Pinkie refuses to stop spending time with Cranky no matter how much it annoys and upsets him, and only by doing this does she solve his problem so they can be friends who never speak to each other again.
    • In "One Bad Apple", the Cutie Mark Crusaders learn the Aesop that when being bullied, instead of retaliating they should tell an adult like Applejack who can handle the situation better. This is enforced at the end of the episode when Babs Seed scares off two bullies by threatening to tell their parents. The problem here is that the adult Applejack is also present, and she doesn't do anything... and also, the bullies suffer an indirect humorous retaliation as Babs's intimidation causes them to fall into some mud. So an adult actually fails to do anything while deserved physical retaliation is shown as a satisfying thing.
    • "Games Ponies Play" has the team traveling to the Crystal Empire and setting up festivities to impress a games inspector so she'll decide to let the empire host the ponies' version of the Olympics. They end up getting the wrong person, while the actual inspector has a terrible time. At the end, the two meet and the pony mistaken for the inspector talks about how amazing the empire is. The inspector decides that the empire will host the games, because every other place she visited went out of their way to impress her, while she was told of how great the empire was from a regular pony. The problem is, the only reason the other pony has such a glowing impression of the empire is because she experienced all of the things they had been planning to do for the inspector, undercutting any message about being sincere.
    • A minor one in "Just for Sidekicks" where Zecora swipes a gem from Spike and gives it away because "there's no worse mojo than Dragon greed". While that's true and Spike is doing a poor and thoughtless job, he's not motivated by mere greed; he's working to earn a cup of gems, something that's thrown around like candy in Equestria, to bake a cake. While the end moral of "don't half-ass your responsibilities" is solid, Zecora essentially stole from a kid to teach him that doing odd jobs to earn some cash for a specific purpose is wrong.
    • "Secret of My Excess" shows us that dragons grow in proportion to their greed, and it's implied that Spike has remained a baby dragon since Twilight's childhood because he's been her servant since he hatched. He becomes a literal monster because he's milking Ponyville for presents and it's supposed to illustrate how being selfish and greedy is bad, but the episode begins with Rarity, who has entire boxes full of gemstones and whose cutie mark is based on gem-finding, batting her eyes at Spike to convince him to give her the fire ruby instead of eating it. So greed is bad, and using social situations to extract gifts is bad, but both are fine as long as you only imply what you want, even if that means using someone's unrequited affection against them. Also not helping matters are other episodes such as "The Best Night Ever" and "Putting Your Hoof Down" which have Rarity and Pinkie Pie milking favors and freebies out of others and depicting it as clever shenanigans. So asking for hand-outs is bad if you're not a pony? Or not a girl? Or not Spike?
    • "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 episode's Aesop is closer to "Silently sacrificing is better than communication, since your friends will abandon you at the slightest hint of betrayal."
    • "Princess Spike": Spike learns that it's wrong to use his connection to Twilight to make himself feel important by handling her appointments while she's asleep, and then abusing that authority to enjoy a bunch of indulgent perks. The episode illustrates this by having a bunch of orders Spike gave on Twilight's behalf cause a chain reaction that ruins a major diplomatic event, but Spike arranged all of those events according to his original orders to not let anything disturb her rest. The actual selfish ones go completely unmentioned and with no negative repercussions whatsoever, meaning even if he had only been responsible with his duties, everything would have gone to pieces regardless.
    • In general, of lot of the You Are Better Than You Think You Are Aesops involving Spike are broken when Status Quo Is God means he goes right back to being the Butt-Monkey afterwards. This stands out especially after Twilight's coronation, because Twilight is shown taking breaks while Spike picks up her slack so she can unwind. The repeated messages about Spike being a worthy and valuable person who makes worthy and valuable contributions fall flat because his relationship to Twilight Sparkle is clearly subservient, and anything he does to reward himself is presented as selfish.
    • "A Hearth's Warming Tail" has a pony version of A Christmas Carol which presents a Space Whale Aesop and then breaks it. The Scrooge expy of the story isn't confronted with the idea of her own lonely death at the end, she finds out that the folk story of togetherness driving away the monsters of endless winter is completely and literally true, and celebrating on Hearthswarming Eve is more or less an elaborate ritual that keeps them from returning: if she erases the day from the calendar, they'll return. This convinces her, and the pony hearing the story, about the true meaning of the holiday being about showing love for your friends, but the true meaning is not getting killed by monster-driven winter. It undercuts the idea of sincerely celebrating your friends and family to have all of pony-kind being forced to celebrate on a specific day, lest their civilization be destroyed.
  • Nina Needs to Go. The moral is that you shouldn't wait to go to the bathroom. However, children can instead misinterpret the moral as "You should wait until the very last second before going because if you do, your Nana will swoop in and take you on an exciting journey to the bathroom." It doesn't help that despite what Nina says about her not waiting to go anymore at the end of each short, she holds it in until the last second again the very next one.
  • 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 Simpsons:
    • 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 "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 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 and 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 she advocated an ugly thing that rigid Moral Guardians are frequently accused of advocating: Censorship. The show may have had a true Aesop, but it was not the one that Marge was trying to covey at all.)
      • Complicating the message further is that the Moral Guardians are actually shown to have a pretty good point. Itchy and Scratchy is a very trashy show that does indeed inspire violence in children, and the people who make it are shown to be Corrupt Corporate Executives who believe that kids just want to see blood. Thus, the moral becomes that "Though censorship, even in small amounts, may lead to obnoxious Moral Guardians trying to restrict great art for stupid reasons, no censorship whatsoever leads to hucksters flooding the media with televised junk food — there isn't an easy solution and all actions have consequences."
      • It's important to keep in mind that it was Maggie, a baby and thus more impressionable than Bart, Lisa, and their friends, who inspired Marge's crusade. At no point during the episode are any older Springfield children shown to act on any violent impulses from watching Itchy and Scratchy, nor is the middle ground of restricting viewership to an older audience and not letting Maggie watch it ever considered.
    • "Barthood" is an episode that covers Bart's life, from 6 years old to him being a young adult. Many recurring themes throughout the episode include Lisa always overshadowing him, and Homer being a bad father. When Bart blows up on Lisa about him always one-upping him in everything, Lisa retorts that he can't blame her for everything wrong in his life and him to get over his shitty life to move on and become a successful artist. He shouldn't hold a grudge and pick at every success she has. The aesop is solid, but it breaks because a) Homer frequently compared Lisa to Bart and always treated her better (though this isn't her fault), and b) Lisa constantly showed him up for no reason, with some of them being on purpose. To compound things, there are quite a handful of episodes where Bart is succeeding at life, but Lisa will grow jealous/resentful and the episode will end with Bart giving up what he loves to make her happy. So while Bart's terrible lot in life is her fault, Lisa still ruined chances for him, and was insensitive towards all his problems. He's right to blame her for some of his problems, and he is right to hold a grudge because she never accepts fault for her behavior.
      • To drive this home further, the final part of the episode shows that Bart was able to become a successful artist and bike shop owner, moving past his grudge against Lisa in order to succeed... Except he was able to succeed after he essentially cut her out of his life and avoided her. So he succeeded even with the grudge, and getting away from her not only helped him, but would later go on to help repair their relationship.
    • "Lisa the Vegetarian" promotes the Aesop of "Don't push your beliefs on others just because you don't like their beliefs. Be tolerant of others." Unfortunately, this Aesop is delivered by Apu, who tells Lisa that he's been secretly selling people tofu dogs instead of the hotdogs they actually payed for, showing that he doesn't actually practice what he preaches as he is essentially forcing his beliefs on his customers.
    • In "Bart the Fink", Krusty gets into trouble because he committed tax fraud, but since the IRS is the Designated Villain, his decision to commit insurance fraud at the end of the episode in order to end his tax woes is seen as a good thing. Notably, at no point in the episode does anyone tell him "Well, you should have paid your taxes." The closest Krusty comes to realizing this was when he initially refuses to return, saying "I learned that I don't need money to be happy." He does, however, learn not to commit tax fraud, as the later episode "The Trouble with Trillions" shows him filing his tax returns... and expressing frustration that he waited until the last possible moment to do so.
  • Sonic SatAM has the episode "Game Guy", where 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, despite the fact that what happened in the episode proved that she was right.
  • In South Park:
    • "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.
  • SpacePOP's girl power themes and general message is undermined by the fact that the princesses fail to rescue their parents and make little headway against Geela for a majority of the series. Chamberlin also destroys the Fog-O-Nator machine by complete accident when the group was forced to escape without getting a chance to attack it, and suggests a self-destruct button when the girls' ideas to stop Geela's communication center wouldn't work or would take too long.
  • 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.
      • Taking that into account, "Ditchin'" was probably intended as an inversion of this aesop.
    • 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.
  • Steven Universe: "Say Uncle" had a lesson about not hating or attacking others simply because they are different or have different views, which is shown by the Gems being in the wrong for attacking Uncle Grandpa as he's explained to be just trying to help Steven activate his shield. The problem is that by "helping," he was firing a number of weapons at Steven and on his debut he also sank a ship that might have killed or dangered at least Lars and Sadienote . The message is weakened because the other Gems had enough reason to believe Uncle Grandpa was a genuine threat and not just a weird Reality Warper, especially considering how Steven is a little brother figure to all three of them.
  • Parodied in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). After Leonardo is told by Splinter that there aren't right or wrong decisions, 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!
  • Teen Titans:
    • 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.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • "Finally A Lesson" refutes the argument that the Titans should teach more life lessons and does this by having Robin teach the other Titans how to buy and maintain rental property, with the joke being "it's boring". This makes the episode very difficult to take seriously as financial advice. Problem is, the show has taught lessons in the past, and oftentimes not very good ones, a trait that still carries over to later episodes. It'd probably make more sense if it was a suggestion like "either teach good lessons or don't teach any at all", but as the suggestion was merely about morals in general, the point of this episode becomes one of these.
    • "Let's Get Serious" has the lesson that the show should not become Darker and Edgier. It does this by showing that by doing so, it would end up looking incredibly stupid. Let that sink in for a moment.
    • "The Return of Slade" is a giant Take That, Audience! aimed at people who think the show doesn't hold up to the standards of the original series—and, by extension that only kids should be watching cartoons. Problem is, Raven, who delivers the Aesop is shown to be a fan of a My Little Pony-esque cartoon— meaning that even though she calls out Beast Boy and Cyborg for liking childish things, she has no problem doing so herself.
  • 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 Thunder Cats 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 "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.
    (Agent Coulson's eyebrow visibly twitches.)
    Spidey: And... you're welcome?
  • Parodied and lampshaded in Wander over Yonder. Lord Hater has his henchmen make a Aesop-heavy propaganda cartoon for him, but due to being a Vanity Project with poor production values and bad writing, the messages end up being contradicted at every turn. For instance, Cartoon-Wander declares that the lesson is friendship can redeem anyone, only for Cartoon-Sylvia to point out that in the cartoon Lord Hater only pretended to get redeemed by friendship as part of his evil plan. Eventually a completely unrelated Aesop about bike safety gets sloppily thrown in because that's the only moral the cartoon wouldn't break.
  • A couple of episodes of W.I.T.C.H. ended with one of the girls' parents learning an aesop about how they should trust their children, right after the girls pull off a Zany Scheme to keep anyone from finding out the truth.
  • 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.