A Lesson Learned Too Well
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."
A person is taught a lesson
and takes it to heart very well—too
well, as it turns out. There are two variants:
- - The person takes it to heart so well that the lesson is applied even to his or her own detriment (even the teacher may notice).
- - The person applies the lesson to the teacher's detriment.
It can also be both. This trope can even go into Gone Horribly Right
This can result from a few things:
- - Accidental Aesop—there was An Aesop being taught, but the recipient learned the wrong one.
- - The recipient learned the intended message, but it was the teachers who didn't think about the Aesop enough.
- - The recipient disagrees with the Aesop and through its application, Shoots The Message.
- In Irredeemable, one of the Plutonian's many foster parents teaches him not to use his powers for personal gain. As such, he never tells his foster father that his foster mother had cancer until it was far too late because it would have been a personal gain.
- Spider-Man gets told as Peter Parker that "with great power comes great responsibility." Cue years later, where his family and friends never get any personal time, because he can't let go of his mission to protect the general public by stopping super-villains.
- In Fluttershys Night Out, a teenaged (and very innocent, even by her own later standards) Fluttershy is seduced and abandoned by a smooth-talking stallion. One obvious moral? "Don't trust strangers." As we know from the series, a few years later when Twilight Sparkle meets her, Flutershy is terrified of strangers, and well on the way to becoming the Equestrian equivalent of a crazy cat lady.
- Harry's New Home has Snape telling Harry he should be careful and not trust Dumbledore because whether good intentions or not Dumbledore is responsible for Harry getting placed in an abusive home. Harry takes his advice and starts to fear Dumbledore more than he does Voldemort to Snape's horror.
- The Green Hornet movie starts with young Britt Reid getting in a fight at school trying to defend a kid from bullies. His father angrily tells him that if he couldn't do it right he might as well not bother. A few years later, Britt is now a womanizing, aimless, parasitic party animal with no moral sense whatsoever. Way to go, Mr. Reid.
- Monstrous Regiment: Jackrum thinks he's convinced Blouse that a heroic frontal assault on the enemy fortress is not only suicide, but useless suicide (their squad is literally all that's left of their country's army). So Blouse goes to make a speech on how they will not be attacking the fortress (with Jackrum grinning all the while), but infiltrating it disguised as washerwomen (the grin disappears).
- More nuanced Stranger Danger Aesops tend to be aware of this as a danger. The Berenstain Bears book about Stranger Danger had the entire later part of the plot being about Sister having learned the lesson too well.
- One of the criticisms levelled at the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye was that youths in churches that greatly vetted the book went from teens who didn't date to adults who didn't marry.
- A Clockwork Orange has a program that makes violent offenders sick at the thought of committing violence, leaving them helpless against their attackers.
- "Clever Hans"/"Prudent Hans" by the Brothers Grimm: Every time Hans gets something, he carries it home wrong, and his mother tells him how he should have done it. He then applies the lesson to the next thing he brings home. (For instance, he brings home a knife in his sleeve; his mother tells him he should have put it in his pocket; he brings home a goat in his pocket; his mother tells him he should have led it home by a string; he drags home a piece of bacon by a string; and so forth.)
- In StarCraft, Infested Kerrigan is told by Protoss general Tassadar that as long as she'll be predictable, she'll be her worst enemy. Later on, she tells another Protoss brass that the learned her lesson, and uses it against them.
- In an episode of American Dad! Francine tries to get Stan to stand up to his boss and say "no," but the message doesn't click in until the end...when his boss has been critically wounded and he tells Stan to get him some help. Then Stan says "no" and refuses to get help, no matter how much Francine tells him that this time it's OK to do what he says.
- During the long voyage of the RLS Legacy in Disney's Treasure Planet, John Silver teaches young Jim Hawkins how to tie secure knots. After the film's climax, John Silver, intending to escape, ties a longboat in place with a slipknot. Jim Hawkins redoes the knot with a proper hitch, which would thwart Silver's escape. "I taught ye too well," Silver muses.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode, "Putting Your Hoof Down", Fluttershy takes an assertiveness seminar and ends up crossing the line to outright aggressive and ends up having a My God, What Have I Done? moment after she viciously insults Rarity and Pinkie and they run off crying. Luckily, by the end of the story, she shows that she has learned that one can learn to stop being a pushover without pushing others over.
- In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Walking Small", Plankton teaches SpongeBob to be more assertive. SpongeBob takes the assertiveness lessons too far and becomes such a Jerkass that he drives everyone away - which was Plankton's plan all along, so that he could bulldoze everything and build a larger Chum Bucket. SpongeBob then counters by being "aggressively nice" and bringing everyone back, foiling Plankton's plan.
- Several episodes of Moral Orel have Orel taking what an authority figure says to its "logical conclusion" and doing something bizarre.
- The South Park episode "Chickenpox" has Kyle stay over at Kenny's house and later ask his father why some people are so poor. Gerald (who just got in a fight with Kenny's father) explains that the world runs on a hierarchy of "gods and clods". Kyle later comes up with a plan to improve society by eliminating all the "clods" (Kyle's family is Jewish). This does cause Gerald to have a My God, What Have I Done? moment, however.
- There's a Grossology episode where Abby and Ty help Lab Rat get over his germophobia, only for him to turn into The Pigpen at the end.
- In "The Old Man and the Lisa" from The Simpsons, Mr. Burns goes bankrupt and winds up in the retirement home. He turns to Lisa for help in rebuilding his empire, and she teaches him about recycling on the condition that he'd only do good, socially responsible things. Mr. Burns eventually manages to make a new business out of recycling, to the point where he makes a recycling plant where one of the main features is the Burns Omni-net, an animal catching device inspired by how fish could get caught in six-pack rings. He slaughters the captured animals into slurry, claiming, "It's made from 100% recycled animals!"
- A DuckTales story has Scrooge impress on his three grandnephews the importance of making real money (he saw them running a lemonade stand and was dismayed at the feeble revenue it created). He is transported into the future, where he sees the three have taken his lesson to heart, making piles of money in every cheating, crooked way possible. When he returns, he encourages the boys to make real money honestly.
- The marxist intellectual Theodor Adorno (of the Frankfurt school) agitated during the years around 1968 and repeatedly told his followers - mostly German students - to criticize everyone and everything and trust no authorities. (Ironically, by this way he became kind of an authority himself.) And then, some guy discovered: In 1934, Adorno had written a text in an official newspaper of the Hitler Youth and spoken well about HY leader von Schirach, and Goebbels. This lead to lot of protests against Adorno, and some people claim it helped cause his death shortly after in 1969.