"Lying is wrong! I'd know that if only I'd paid attention to anything that's ever happened to me before!"
Some characters have a particular trait or mannerism that's come to be viewed as an overall part of them. Maybe they're stingy, or abrasive, or just like using a lot of profanity. Along comes an episode with An Aesop
, and a character learns how good it is to be generous, or friendly, or that they don't need curse words to make themselves known.
Then, two episodes later at the most, they're back to
hoarding their money, snapping at people, or cursing like a sailor. They've just run into Aesop Amnesia.
Aesop Amnesia is a sort of Snap Back
that assures that Status Quo Is God
from a character development point of view. After all, if you change something
about the character that fans find enjoyable or defining about them, they're not going to be happy; and if that character trait provided a valuable foil
for other characters, neither will the writers that come after. (Thus, you're much more likely to run into it on a series where writing duties are handled by a rotating set of writers and guest writers.)
And, of course, it allows the character to learn the same lesson all over again later
In more recent series, this may eventually be lampshaded
, especially if the show has a strong comedy element. In dramatic series, not so much.
A secondary sort is where the same series keeps trying to teach the same moral over and over again. This is slightly different than when the show has a certain theme or Aesop as their underlying premise, but rather where a show with a broad premise just keeps hammering home
that one particular one until the viewer wants to shout "I get it already!"
A standard of cartoons, especially those aimed at fairly young children (or where the writers think anyone under thirty is a dope
). In comic books, this frequently occurs thanks to the Fleeting Demographic Rule
This is Truth in Television
to some extent. People do not always overcome their flaws as quickly as fiction sometimes would like them to. Contrast Epiphany Therapy
, where characters resolve long-standing issues and flaws too
quickly. Compare Ignored Epiphany
, Remember That You Trust Me
and Lost Aesop
. A Sub-Trope of Yo Yo Plot Point
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Gotham City Sirens manages to impressively forget an Aesop on the same page! Harley Quinn has finally decided to stop pining after the Joker, since her experiences with another former sidekick has taught her that the Joker really does not care about those people he works with, and she has seen first-hand how pathetic and depressing such obsessions truly are. She knows he will never change, and for her own good and the good of her friends she should just move on...of course, he still might change... This is, of course, a major part of Harley's characterization, and a testament to how screwed up she is.
- Batman has learned to be more open and caring to his children (especially Nightwing) so often that this might as well be called A Batman Family Aesop. Of course, that will happen with seventy-odd years of having been published. One of the things that really pisses off Batman fans (who have dubbed the phenomenon "Batdickery"), is that since the mid-'90s, Batman's character has been stuck in a cycle that goes 1) Batman acts like a paranoid asshole. 2) Horrible things happen. 3) Batman realizes he shouldn't act like such a paranoid asshole. 4) Batman acts like a paranoid asshole.
- Likewise, Nightwing and Robin (Tim Drake) take turns learning not to be Batman when it comes to their friends and teammates, although Nightwing tends to be better at it: at least he has a few people he can respect, and his entire reason for becoming Nightwing was because he disagreed with Bruce's methods. Tim, on the other hand, has essentially become Batman however.
- It seems every new author wants to write the story where Iceman finally stops being immature. The Human Torch also gets similar treatment. Also from the Fantastic Four, the Thing learns several times over that looking like a monster isn't so bad when your friends still love you. However, this is played more realistically than most other instances of this trope, as the universe keeps trying to prove, in a variety of different ways, that actually, no, having friends who love you even though you're a monster doesn't help all that much, because humans in the Marvel universe are colossal dicks. (Plus, the FF were meant from the start to be a bunch of dysfunctional fuck-ups, so this quality of his was supposed to be a flaw.)
- Spider-Man repeatedly wants to ditch super heroics to be a normal guy with a normal family, only to have it drilled into him again that "Great power equals great responsibility". (Of course, a fair portion of his family's now been retconned out of existence and it's illegal for him to have his power, so it's unclear what the point of his existing is.)
- During Chuck Dixon's Batman and the Outsiders run, Green Arrow frequently hassled Cassandra Cain over her previous Face-Heel Turn, even though it had been established that she had actually been Brainwashed by Deathstroke. G.A. refused to buy that excuse, even though he himself had been in several different JLA stories where the team had their bodies stolen or were otherwise controlled by villains themselves.
- In Green Lantern the Guardians of the Universe once created the Manhunters, a robotic army built to maintain order in the universe. These then went crazy and started slaughtering people, necessitating the creation of the Green Lanterns to replace them. Then, they created the Alpha Lanterns, implanting Green Lanterns with Manhunter programming, and gave them infallible authority over the other Lanterns. Thus far they're shown major Knight Templar tendencies and one of them was possessed by an evil New God, demonstrating they were totally wrong about the whole "incorruptible police force" idea. Turns out they're being controlled by Hank Henshaw. Good job Guardians.
- Pretty much the entire Civil War was this for the Pro-Reg side. The Super Registration Act might have provoked a nuanced, thoughtful, balanced debate....if the entire flipping Marvel Universe hadn't been telling civilians for the past several decades that treating supers/mutants and normals differently was morally wrong, dangerous, pointless, and comparable to segregation and Nazism. Now, suddenly, everybody thinks it's some sort of valid option, just so a fat juicy Conflict Ball could be thrown into the ring. The biggest Face Palm, however, has got to go to Reed Richards, who once spent an entire issue delivering an Aesop to Congress on why a SHRA was a racist, unenforceable, and moronic idea. (And no, he didn't have any character development that showed him changing his mind.) Arguably the biggest irony is that Mark Millar thought he was delivering a balanced view.
- The civilians of the Marvel Universe are infamous for their gullibility every time some villain tries to frame a hero for some crime or another. You'd think after the tenth time the guy robbing a bank in a Spider-Man outfit turned out to be Mysterio or the Chameleon, they'd catch on. You'd be wrong.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan novel Nightmares Are Tragic, Luna experiences some of this, explicitly, right after being purged of the Nightmare at the end. Specifically, she loses a lot of her self-confidence, won in her successful fight from within against the Night Shadow. Justified, as the combination of the drain to her form from the battle and the damage done to her by the Rainbow of Harmony severely weakens her and causes her to lose some of her memories, especially her memories from the time when she was possessed by the Night Shadow.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Kokoa suffers from this at first. In Act I, she's single-mindedly attracted to Dark despite the fact that he's only interested in Mizore, and it's only after Dark explicitly tells her to her face that he has no interest in her, along with the realization that chasing after him has negatively affected her pride, which Kokoa constantly boasts about, that Kokoa realizes her mistake and backs off. Come Act II, she's completely forgotten this lesson and goes so far as to invoke a sacred vampire pact, punishable by death if broken, with Moka in an attempt to have Tsukune to herself; the others even point out how pathetic it is that she didn't seem to learn her lesson in not chasing after boys who are already taken the first time. When Kokoa loses the pact, and subsequently realizes that Tsukune only loves Moka and what she would have taken from him had she won, she finally seems to learn her lesson, and this time, it actually sticks.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- High School Musical is a repeat offender. After every film, all the lessons learned, all of the character growth is completely forgotten and the characters go on to make similar, if not the same, mistakes.
- Disney is often an offender in their Made-for-TV Movie department when said movies have sequels.
- It is particularly exhausting that Sharpay becomes nice by the end of every movie, then becomes mean again in the sequel.
- In many of The Little Rascals short comedies, Alfalfa has a cocky side to him that always lands him into trouble. Despite the number of times his ego is knocked down a few pegs, Alfalfa can't help but return to his old traits.
- National Treasure 2, in regards to the Character Development and romance between Ben and Abigail. Especially in regards to Abigail, who turned into a much worse person than she was in even the beginning of the first movie. Are we supposed to be happy that they got back together at the end? They were also Strangled by the Red String in the first movie, so basically they arbitrarily got together, arbitrarily broke up and arbitrarily got back together again.
- At the end of RoboCop (1987), Alex Murphy's persona reasserts itself and he talks and acts more like a human than a robot. In RoboCop 2, however, he's back to a more stilted robot-like personality for no real reason. Moreover in RoboCop 2 the prime directives that guide his behavior are completely erased from his system. This piece of development is again entirely erased in the third movie with the 3 directives back in place. This one makes sense, however, as after the first and second movies, Robocop/Murphy would have returned to being serviced and maintained by OCP technicians, who would have reinstated his original programming. In 2 and even at the beginning of 3 he's obviously already come some ways from the first movie, being capable of ignoring orders to save his friends, and in the second he seems to be accessing his old memories much easier than in the first.
- By the ends of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Harold had learned to stand up to himself and to lighten up a bit, and Kumar had learned that being irresponsible hurts his friends. Two years later in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Kumar's irresponsibility has driven off his girlfriend, and Harold is still worried about appearances.
- At the end of Osmosis Jones, Frank, the overweight, unhealthy man, as a result of a near-death experience at the hospital thanks to an evil virus the heroes were fighting inside his body, actually vows to stay healthy from that point on. However, by the animated spinoff, Frank's back to his unhealthy ways, and both Osmosis Jones and Drixxenol (a pair of microbes who protect his body) are both carried off from his body by a mosquito bite, and are now living inside someone else once that mosquito bit! Now imagine what will happen if a virus like Thrax went inside his body again, and neither Ozzy nor Drix are there to save him...
- In Spider-Man 2, this happens to J. Jonah Jameson in the course of a single sentence.
Jameson: Spider-Man... was a hero. I just couldn't see it. He was a-
*Realises Spider-Man has stolen back the suit*
Jameson: -a thief! A criminal! He stole my suit! He's a menace to the entire city! I want the wall-crawling arachnid prosecuted! I want him strung up by his web! I want Spider-Man!
- Tear Jerker example in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. McMurphy challenges Nurse Ratched's authority and unfair rules at every turn, becoming something of a hero to the sheepish patients and leading them to explore and regain their own lost individuality...at least until McMurphy attacks Ratched in order to avenge her driving Billy to suicide and is moved to another part of the hospital and lobotomized. The Chief clearly doesn't forget what McMurphy taught him, but all the other patients seem to, and when the film ends, they're all back to behaving as they did before McMurphy arrived.
- In Amos and Andy, the Kingfish's "Get Rich Quick" schemes always fail (and sometimes even end up costing him), but soon (usually in the next episode, and in at least one case, at the end of the same episode), he's got another one. He never learns!
- In Arrested Development, Michael has the habit of using his son George-Michael as an excuse for why he shouldn't move on from his dead wife and start dating again. Someone then tells him to stop hiding behind his son. Michael agrees and decides to move on only to forget the lessons he learned a few episodes later and have to learn it again and again...
- In Roseanne, Jackie and her mother Bev have a strained, broken relationship throughout most of the show, Bev having driven Jackie into therapy with her constant criticisms and insults. But in an episode in one of the later seasons, the two share a teary heart-to-heart and seem to finally resolve their differences and repair their relationship as a mother and daughter. But of course, by their next appearance together, they go back to butting heads.
- Home Improvement:
- Tim Taylor learns that constantly being a male chauvinist is going to cost him. Of course he doesn't learn, that's the premise of the show. Honestly, why does Wilson even bother?
- On the opposite end, Jill also learned several times that Tim's feelings weren't meaningless or baseless just because they were based in masculine behavior, and that she should try to be more understanding. Semi-separate of Tim, she also learned (repeatedly) not to try and psychoanalyze people with her still-amateur psychiatric abilities because she didn't have the experience and complete knowledge necessary to do so (and that she probably shouldn't analyze people she hadn't met yet). Or that she shouldn't meddle in peoples' relationships because she was as likely to cause a breakup as heal any difficulties. None of these stuck.
- After a spine-tingling moral epiphany at the end of the The West Wing episode "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet", neither the President not anyone else keeps the staff revved up with the their collective pledges after the end of the season. They're great human beings already, so this doesn't actually ruin anything — it's just a really huge missed opportunity.
- Seeing how Supernatural is the king of going from bad to worse, this tends to happen a lot. Dean's unwillingness to talk about his problems is a good example. Despite all the emotional trauma Dean has experienced and all the "Chick Flick Moments" he's instigated, by the season 3 finale he still brushes off Sam's attempt at a heartfelt goodbye. Pretty much Truth in Television, and also somewhat justified in that one of the running themes of the show is that brotherhood is more important than anything the world can throw at it. The nature of the relationship never changes because they (Dean especially) actively do not want it to change. The few times it does become more open and adult, it's a sign that something is slightly off.
- Dexter had this problem majorly in Season 6. Supposedly, Dexter learns from Trinity murdering Rita two seasons earlier that becoming too involved with other serial killers can be dangerous for his family. Yet within the space of what is supposed to be about a year, he has all but forgotten this lesson. This leads to his son Harrison getting kidnapped and held at knife point. Other lessons he's forgotten include:
- Be more careful about leaving a trail (Seasons 2, 5, and 6); do not mercifully free your victims (Seasons 1 and 6); Harry was fallible and he should be his own person (every single season).
- A shorter version would be "Listen to Harry and follow the Code." So far every single time Dexter objected to Harry resulted in major trouble, whether immediately or over the course of several seasons.
- Truth in Television, to a point. Some studies have indicated that sociopaths (which Dexter would likely be considered if he existed in Real Life) do have trouble learning from their mistakes, even more than the average person.
- M*A*S*H was king of this trope. Margaret learned at least three times to be kinder and more respectful to her nurses. Charles learned the value of the common man several times. Same for Hawkeye and his womanizing, his drinking, and his disrespect for authority. Though perhaps the crowning moment was when BJ went on a long rant about how it was so easy for him and Hawkeye to sit around, relatively far from the real fighting, considering themselves so high and mighty as they snarked and sneered at the war and complained about how bad they had it, while soldiers were actually fighting and dying on the front lines. By the next episode, they were back to snarking and sneering as usual. The rant in question is one of the only times anyone questions Hawkeye's position that he is morally superior to the Army, which was vital to the status quo. Hawkeye doesn't even get the Aesop in the first place, and seems to chalk the rant up to BJ being hysterical with guilt. Apparently the writers did too.
- And then there's Frank Burns. Every time he's left in command, instead of maintaining the status quo as any temporary military leader should, he tries to institute his own hypocritical rules, which always back-fire on him and end up getting him in hot water when the CO returns. This happens every single time Frank is put in charge.
- Will and Grace used this a lot with all the characters, but mostly Karen and Jack. Karen would often learn that being shallow and nasty to everyone wasn't quite as fun as she usually thought it was, or Jack would learn something similar. The show would occasionally actually have an episode of the characters still having learned their lesson as a We Want Our Jerk Back episode.
- The title character of House seems to inflict Aesop Amnesia on himself. Not only does he avoid learning a lesson, even if he does he announces he doesn't give a crap and continues to be the same Jerk Ass as ever. Though some of his supporting cast seem to have difficulty learning from experience, let alone keeping hold of the episode's message.
- There's an episode in which Wilson says something like "Or you could just let it go," to which House responds "What person who is nothing like me are you talking to?"
- A consistent trope on the earlier seasons of Nip/Tuck, where the character of Dr. Christian Troy would learn how much harm his selfish, reckless lifestyle causes and makes amends by the end of the episode, only to consistently go back to being an ever worse asshole by next week.
- At Black Hole High, the science club seems incapable of remembering that it's a good idea to talk about your issues with each other instead of just assuming the worst and keeping it bottled up, even after talking out your problems turns out to be the cure for: molecular friction; taking on the characteristics of various elements in periodic-table order; attack by anthropomorphic Venus flytrap; and abnormal sponge growth. Also, they seem unable to learn the Aesop "Don't use the bits of weird Pearadyne phlebotinum stored in the school basement in your various get-rich-quick schemes" even after sticking their chips into various things caused: Instant A.I., Just Add Water; a cellphone to gain the power to enforce emoticons on its owner; a radio to receive messages from the future; the common cold to jump species from human to computer to building.
- Entourage spent the first two seasons using Johnny 'Drama' Chase (presented as a Hollywood has-been) as a running gag machine on this trope. Drama would haughtily 'advise' Vince on Hollywood lifestyle, only to have E or Turtle point out how short-lived, illusionary, feeble or otherwise pathetic his acting career was in the 90's. It happened about once an episode. You'd think Drama would learn to keep his trap shut. Similarly, the course of the show has shown that anytime it's Eric vs. Vince in a difference of professional opinion E's almost always proven right. Vince makes few-to-no good decisions on his own. He could make a wrong turn in a cul-de-sac. You'd think that if Vince hadn't learned this by now, at least Drama, Turtle and Ari would remind him that E was right about Matterhorn, QB, Aquaman, Mandy More, Dom, Amanda, and Medellian, where Vince's instincts were way off (except for QB). Let E do your thinking for you Vince, it's his skill, not yours.
- Community ended "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" with the line "Pierce Hawthorne saved the life of Fat Neil, while learning very, very little." Failing to learn from their mistakes is a specialty of basically every character on the show, with Jeff getting special mention for lampshading this tendency of his.
- They used the "The group doesn't work without Pierce" plot in Art of Discourse but still tried to kick him out in Fistfull of Paintballs
- Leave It to Beaver is one of the archetypal examples here. Of particular note is the last episode, which has themes of how fast the children are growing up, counterpointed by hints that they're still as childish as ever, with what may be a clever subversion of the whole deal: It's a Clip Show, allowing them to run through the events of about half a dozen episodes in a row, touching on several morals at once and then ending the series before anybody can forget them again. It was even lampshaded in a TV Land commercial for the show. It explained that the moral of the episode would enter one ear, float around his skull without making contact his brain, and then exit through the other ear.
- Scrubs. It's safe to say that thanks to a combination of this and Flanderization, not one character in Scrubs has any significant or meaningful character development. The most blatant examples:
- Turk learns to see his patients as people instead of emotionally detaching himself. He learns the same lesson twice in two different, unconnected episodes. And still says that, "I work best when I'm emotionally detached".
- Carla's "best moment in medicine" is when the doctors actually listen to her. She spends every other episode pushing her advice on everyone and everything. In one episode, it leads to disaster and she "learns" that in the hospital, the doctors are in charge because they are ultimately responsible for the lives of their patients.
- JD learns that he needs to "grow up", despite the fact that his frustration is caused by stress over how utterly crappy his life has become due to a combination of bad circumstances and no-one giving a damn about him, in one episode. This is the guy who acts like a joking, immature fool in every single episode. In another episode, Turk "teaches" him that trying to become more serious and mature is bad; you should instead never forget your "inner child" and continue to goof off.
- Dr. Cox learns to be gracious and accept help from other people in order to advance professionally. He learns this three times, in three unconnected episodes. And still continues to act like an ass to his boss and make all the wrong moves.
- Got lampshaded with The Todd, who was taught how to behave toward women by a shrink. The Shrink then explains to Carla that without long-term professional help, The Todd will change back to his old self within a week or so.
- Also lampshaded with Carla having to teach Elliot the same lesson twice within a few episodes, and the latter episode actually flashing back to the former.
Elliot: I ... don't recall that conversation.
- 3rd Rock from the Sun
- An episode involved Dick grappling with his overblown ego. Of course, that's one of his primary character traits. At the end of the episode, he stated what he'd learned thus: "There are times for a little humility. Fortunately, that time is now over."
- Played with in the episode where Dick dealt with his insensitivity. He went to Sensitivity Training and it successfully changed him into an ultra-sensitive guy. Only it turned out he was even worse that way and it all backfired, causing him to revert to his old ways before the end of the episode.
- Family Matters was very bad about this:
- Most episodes would have at least one character (usually either Carl or Laura) learning to be nicer to Steve Urkel, then promptly forget it the very next episode.
- In later seasons, Steve Urkel changed from embodying Be Yourself to learning that lesson once per season.
- Eddie tired of living by Carl's rules in Carl's house, so he moved out. Twice. And he got in trouble gambling. Thrice. And almost Once per Episode, Eddie got grounded at the drop of a hat for his latest Aesop violation.
- Throughout the series, Laura would constantly date these no good jerkasses who were clearly taking advantage of her. The corresponding episodes would always end with her learning a lesson about being more discerning of men, only for her to promptly forget it soon after.
- The best example of this was the relationship between Jonathan Kent and Lex Luthor. Despite all of Lex's attempts to show that he wasn't his father, and despite the fact that Jonathan acknowledged this almost every time that he was proven wrong, he was back to blaming Lex for everything that went wrong automatically by the next episode.
- To a lesser extent (and only lesser because he was on the show for less time) this happened with Pete Ross as well, although he was sometimes justified. But then again, Lex never saved Jonathan's life only to have Bo Kent come back and accuse him of random crap.
- Another example of Aesop Amnesia is that all the way up to Season 8, Clark has to repeatedly learn that not everything is his fault, his powers aren't a curse and that he should accept his destiny.
- David on Six Feet Under seems to spend an awful lot of episodes learning that it's okay to be gay. This may be justified somewhat by the realism of the show; you can know something intellectually but it takes some repetition to learn it on an emotional level.
- Everybody Loves Raymond was infested with this. Debra would confront Marie about her hostile behavior, Robert would confront Frank and Marie about their preferential treatment of Ray, Ray and/or Debra would confront Robert about his victim complex, Deborah would confront Ray about his selfish behavior, and other variations. Each time, it was treated as though these issues were finally being brought into the open after decades of repression, and now people were learning their lessons and would finally treat each other right. And each time the characters reverted to their same old neurotic selves straight away, and the audience groaned at the thought that the same issues would be "resolved" next year, and the year after that...
- Of course, nobody seems to listen or care about Robert, so it's somewhat understandable for him to keep griping.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch was built on this trope. Nearly every episode ended with Sabrina learning not to use her magic carelessly, or selfishly, or to do morally questionable things. Which never stopped her from immediately resorting to elaborate and usually disastrous magical solutions to every tiny problem she encountered in her life. For seven seasons. It even gets lampshaded a few times. At one point, Sabrina really was blameless for the week's magical mayhem, since no one had told her the magical item she was using was magical. Zelda still starts lecturing her about using magic responsibly, then immediately apologizes when she realizes that lesson doesn't really apply here.
- Frasier and his brother Niles would constantly forget not to be so competitive, to stay out of other people's business, not to be so snooty etc etc etc. Occasionally the two would come to an epiphany about their behavior, only to change their minds about it in the same conversation. One episode notably lampshades this, in which it's pointed out that Frasier and Niles's issues are so deeply ingrained that they will never overcome them completely.
- Boy Meets World lampshades this in an episode when Eric lands a role on the very similar "Kid Gets Acquainted with Universe," and during rehearsal the Cory/Ben Savage analogue stops when he realizes it's another Rory-learns-a-lesson episode, and starts shouting, "How can I learn so much and still be so stupid?!"
- Seems like Jenny on Gossip Girl has learned the "don't let the queen and her posse change who you are" lesson about five times by now, but it never sticks for more than a few episodes at a time.
- Played with in Seinfeld, as none of the characters ever learned anything in the first place, despite the fact that the plots often gave the viewers implied Aesops based on logic (e.g., don't let the security guard do his job sitting down). In fact, the Finale implies that all four of them have remained exactly the same since the Pilot, nine years earlier. No hugging, no learning.
- Friends: Now Chandler, say it with me: Monica does not love anyone else more than you! Over the series, he thinks she's in love with her 'soulmate' Don, then his best friend, then the 'funniest guy she's ever met' and on three separate occasions, her ex-boyfriend Richard. Every episode ends with Monica promising she's never wanted anyone but him. The most ironic example is the season 5 finale when she tells him 'I've never loved anyone as much as I love you' in reference to Richard. Season 6 finale? Chandler's panicking because he think she's going to leave him and marry Richard. And he still worries when they're Happily Married. Somewhat justified as Chandler's very insecure and Monica's encouragement of him is a key part of the series.
- It's not the only lesson Chandler forgets over and over: The one thing that upsets Joey more than anything is when his best friend lies to him about something important, yet you can count on Chandler lying to Joey about something important once or twice a season.
- Monica's not great herself, having to learn over and over not to be a Super OCD Control Freak. She never actually does, thanks to flanderization.
- Malcolm in the Middle has this sometimes, usually having the kids and Lois work things out and prefer getting along with each other before screwing it up on-screen in favor of Status Quo Is God by the end of the episode. There is at least one circumstance where Malcolm's amnesia takes longer to set in, though: he learns in season six that no, he doesn't get music like Dewey does but that's okay because he's good at other things. Several episodes later, he is upset that he doesn't understand music like Dewey does. Interestingly subverted in that in the latter example he doesn't actually seem to learn a lesson by the end of the episode. Francis also seemed to become a bit more responsible when working at a Dude ranch in New Mexico. However, post Season Six, when he was fired from what was implied to be feeding the funds of the ranch to a food trough rather than an ATM, he seems to have gone back to the delinquent, psychotically irresponsible self, and it is hinted that the only real reason why he got a stable job in the series finale was so he could take entertainment in taunting his mother by lying about remaining unemployed.
- Although the characters go through impressive development, some characters often miss one important point of their hardships: popularity does not equal happiness. And Puck, despite his growing likability, is still Puck.
- How many times has Will learned to give solos out equally? He never seems to learn that part of Rachel is such a drama queen is because he keeps giving her solos!
- Quinn. During season one, she became pregnant, which caused her to fall from the top of the social hierarchy to the bottom. She gradually became more mature and began to reach out and form genuine friendships with people, namely Mercedes. Cue season two... and she's suddenly reverted back to being the shallow social climber she was in the very first episode.
- Rachel learns that it's not all about her and that success depends on the whole club, only to go right back to trying to hog the spotlight and carry the team on her own.
- A particularly disappointing one in Robin Hood. Episode six of series three marks the first time since the season premiere that Robin displays pangs of grief over the death of Marian. This leads to Robin breaking up with Isabella, basing it on a) his duty to the King and England, b) his acknowledgment that he's never going to get the chance to have a normal life, c) the danger that Isabella is in if she's known to be in league with Robin, and d) the fact that he still misses Marian too much. The episode ends with him looking wistfully at a happy family, knowing that it's a future he can never have...only for him to turn around and stare at teammate Kate with a "oh yeah, she's got a crush on me too!" expression on his face, assisted by an uplifting musical cue as Kate smiles at him. It's direct foreshadowing for their hook-up two episodes later, a development that completely undermines all the poignancy of Robin's earlier epiphany. So Robin's Aesop doesn't even last to the end of the episode in which he learns it.
- C.C., Maxwell's business partner on The Nanny suffered this towards the end. Throughout the show's run, she was insanely envious of Maxwell's attraction towards Fran, and in "The Wedding", when Fran and Maxwell finally got hitched, she made one last attempt at cutting between them in the aisle, until Maxwell took her aside and assured her that even though he loves Fran, he'll always appreciate C.C.'s friendship. C.C. finally relented, but in the next episode, "Honeymoon's Overboard", when Fran and Maxwell get lost on their honeymoon, she was utterly indifferent to the fact that Fran had disappeared too:
: I have stuck by Maxwell through sixteen girlfriends and two dead wives. (Everyone looks at her) One dead wife
. I will find Maxwell Sheffield!
Sylvia Fine (Fran's mother): And?...
C.C.: I'll bring him home.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Xander learns that he has worth and should ignore those who say otherwise many, many times. The most egregious is after season 3's "The Zeppo", in which he saves the world by himself and doesn't tell anyone, and at the end of the episode, realizes just how ludicrously feeble and inconsequential Cordelia's insults are in the light of what he just went through.
- Buffy herself seems to learn that she doesn't have to fight alone in quite a few episodes - that in fact, she needs her friends and should let them help her. Not that this stops her from under-appreciating/ignoring them all the way up to the end of Season 7.
- Meanwhile, Angel had Gunn, who failed to learn the dangers of playing with dark powers. He nearly dies after having traded his soul for his battle truck years earlier and the time coming to pay up, but Angel saves him. Later, he fights to free Fred from a deadly slug-thing after Angel uses dark magic to try and find Connor. But still in season 5, he makes a deal with Wolfram and Hart to save his failing brain upgrade, and that time, there's no saving Fred from dying, courtesy of Illyria.
- It's no wonder LazyTown needs a superhero; No matter how many times Sportacus teaches the kids the importance of eating healthy, exercising often and being kind to each other, they always revert back to their unhealthy, lazy, greedy and generally unpleasant ways.
- Nevel in "iPity Nevel". He spends an entire episode learning to be a better person after ending up on the Internet insulting a little girl. At the end of the episode he does the exact same thing.
- "iDate Sam & Freddie" ends with Carly delivering the Aesop to Sam and Freddie that they need to sort out their own problems or they shouldn't date. The very next episode "iCan't Take It" ends with Carly sorting out another Sam and Freddie problem so they can keep dating.
- On Amen, every time Thelma realized that she didn't need the Reverend to make her life complete, or that she could make her own way in the world without depending on him or her father, she went right back to chasing Reverend Gregory and/or being a whiny Daddy's Girl by the next episode. Even worse was her father, Ernie. He would learn to be honest, kind, and to share with others. Then he would go right back to being his old lying, cheating, greedy self. Sometimes this happened in the same episode!
- Modern Family: In the Season 3 premiere, "Dude Ranch", Phil finally gets tired of Jay mistreating him and stands up to him. Despite Jay finally seeming to get it and this being a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Phil, he's immediately back to needing Jay's constant approval by the next episode.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: "Dear Doctor" ends with the captain and Phlox deciding not to give a cure to a dying people they meet because of, well, all the usual justifications given for the prime directive. Later on, in "Observer Effect," an alien race refuses to give *them* the cure that would save their lives. They both cluelessly try to teach the aliens that the Aesop they had supposedly learned is all wrong.
- Over the course of Season 12 of The Amazing Race, Ron learned to control his temper, and not to be so abusive towards his daughter. When they came back for Season 18, Ron seemed to forget all those lessons, and reverted to his old self.
- Marshall from How I Met Your Mother doesn't have Aesop Amnesia so much as Aesop Split Personality. First he learns that it's okay to put his dream of being an environmental lawyer on hold so he can take a high-paying corporate job that will support himself and Lily. Then he learns that, no, he should follow his dreams instead, and quits. Then he learns the first Aesop over again and gets a different corporate job, then he learns the second Aesop again and quits. Then he learns the first Aesop for the third time and gets yet another corporate job, before learning the second Aesop for the third time as well and quitting once again. We'll see if it sticks this time.
- Played with on Merlin. Nearly every single episode Arthur is presented with the aesop "Listen to Merlin, he's usually right", yet the show never fails to have him say something along the lines of "I know you're right, but I'm ignoring it". As of Series 4, this has been upgraded to "You were right, but just this once."
- Lampshaded in the commentary of one episode by the actor playing Arthur.
Bradley James as Arthur: Thank you, Merlin. I won't forget this until I'm out the door.
- Played straight in the Series 4 finale when Arthur finally, unambiguously, realizes that Merlin was right and has been right all along about Agravaine. The very next morning, Merlin has to practically lure him into the clearing with the sword in the stone because, according to Arthur, Merlin's a complete idiot.
- And then again when Merlin finally tells him the truth about being destined to unite the land of Albion. He says "You're making this up." He is making up the part about Bruta foretelling it, but nothing else. When Merlin finally points out that he has no reason to inflate Arthur's ego, Arthur walks off. So we've progressed to. "I can't argue with Merlin."
- Merlin seems to learn his lesson about Self Fulfilling Prophecies in Series 3, but forgets it in Series 5. It comes back to bite him when it makes him directly responsible for Mordred's Face-Heel Turn.
- The Suite Life does this many times when London learns to be nicer and more generous, only to forget it by the next episode.
- The Honeymooners: Ralph and Ed never seem to learn that Ralph's latest Get Rich Quick Scheme is just going to end in failure.
- Haven: Nathan Wuornos constantly forgets that Duke Crocker is not a bad guy anymore and keeps blaming Duke for everything that goes wrong. In season 3, he keeps assuming Duke is going to be a killer. This goes away in season 4.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Major (later Colonel) Kira Nerys never really got the grasp of the idea that no single nation, particularly the Cardassians, is completely evil (or good).
- Later on in the series, she actually starts to take this lesson to heart and even uses her skills from the Bajoran Resistance to help Cardassia resist the Dominion.
- Which actually makes this a very realistic form of the trope, since Kira has been fighting Cardassians ever since she could hold a phaser and personally witnessed the horrors they inflicted on her people. One simple aesop would not make that go away, and it would take multiple tries before she could start letting go.
- Harriet Oleson on Little House on the Prairie keeps doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results each time. In "The Voice of Tinker Jones," she insists that a plaque with her name on it be displayed when she wants to donate a bell to the school. She does the same exact thing "Blind Journey," when she offers to donate money to the blind school. She seems to have forgotten how poorly her selfishness was received.
- Often, Harriet will learn a lesson from the selfish ways she treats the other townspeople, and the episode will finish with her as humbled and apologetic toward another person, or the town as a whole. It's played as sincere, showing the power of community and redemption for Harriet. A few episodes later, she is back to her old ways, mistreating everyone around her.
- The Utopia arc in Charmed Series 7 has the sisters go along with the Avatar's plans to change the grand design, despite the numerous times beforehand they've seen how badly this tends to go.
- Pretty much every time that Phoebe gets a new boyfriend, she learns that she had previously given up on love and needs to learn to believe in it again. Heck, there are two different occasions where her ex-husband Cole sets her up with someone else just to teach her that.
- When Kermit lets Statler and Waldorf host an episode of The Muppet Show, they end up having so much trouble running the show that they promise to never say anything bad about the show again. After the credits, Waldorf mentions he never liked the theme song.
- Jackie from That '70s Show seems to learn to be less shallow and materialistic, not to mention more mature when she starts dating Hyde, but at the same time throughout the entirety of the show she remains having Rich Bitch tendencies, but mainly one-liners Played for Laughs.
- Doctor Who:
- The Expanded Universe often runs into this problem with the First Doctor - as, between the fact that he can't control his TARDIS is a significant plot point, meaning he can't just dash off from a location and reappear, and the fact that all his adventures are written as a clear run-on sequence with a Cliffhanger leading straight into the next adventure and no gaps, the most obvious Time Skip to shoehorn adventures into is before "An Unearthly Child". The result of this is that many pre-series First Doctor expanded universe stories lead to him, in order to justify a departure from total neutrality getting into a confrontation with the Monster of the Week at all, learning the lesson that meddling is sometimes the right thing to do, and/or that Humans Are Special - lessons he then later learns slowly in the TV series itself with the influence of Ian and Barbara and his accidental alteration of history in "The Romans". The only way of avoiding this problem is to treat the series with Broad Strokes and just pretend that there were in-between adventures (finding tiny scene changes to cram extra stories into).
- "Night Terrors" was originally written for the first half of Series 6, while Amy was still using an artificial body unknowingly and Rory was still struggling to live up to the heroism of the Doctor. It got pushed back to the latter half of the season, after Amy had experienced some catastrophic revelations that had left her bitter and dysfunctional and Rory had led an unstoppably badass attack on the people who hurt her - however, all of the 'artificial human' and 'inner hero' Plot Parallel remained in the script, Foreshadowing nothing, and forcing Amy and Rory to ignore all of the character development they went through between the end of Series 6 and the beginning of Series 7A.
- Early in the new Battlestar Galactica, Gaius Baltar went through half a dozen episodes of accepting his vision of Caprica Six as more than a delusion of his own mind before it stuck.
- Alex on The Worst Year of My Life, Again. Every episode, Alex seems to forget how the 'Loop Year' kicked his butt the last time he tried to change anything. By the time of 'School Play', Maddy is sick and tired of giving Alex a You Can't Fight Fate speech over and over, so she records herself saying it and plays it to him.
- The first three years of BIONICLE gave us several character arcs of the Toa learning that only together can they hope to defeat evil. At first they simply didn't like each other, then they got reckless with their power-ups, then they just bickered for the hell of it, before finally realizing that they had already learned this lesson.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Amy Rose seems finally ready to give up her Sonic-chasing days and become her own person at the end of Sonic Adventure. By Sonic Adventure 2, not only was she back in full Sonic-chasing mode, she had in fact gotten worse about it.
- However, it should also be noted that she had decided she should be more independent and not rely on Sonic to rescue her as much anymore, and became a full-on heroic Action Girl at the end of her story. In this area of her Character Development, this trope is averted; she retains her Action Girl qualities and rarely - if ever - plays the damsel in distress again after Sonic Adventure. Granted, the Sonic-chasing thing is still an issue, but at least she kept some of her growth intact.
- And let's not even go into the whiplash-inducing Snap Back Tails went through between Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes.
- Doctor Eggman is more or less completely incapable of retaining knowledge of the fact that Evil Is Not a Toy, despite having unleashed Sealed Evil in a Can only for it to turn on him and require his turning to Sonic for help about a half dozen times by now. He seems to have learned this by Sonic Colors... only to backslide into it by the time of Sonic Lost World.
- Laharl's subsequent appearances in Disgaea put him back to his Tsundere Noble Demon phase of character development, despite the good ending of the first game implying that he's matured past that into a straight, yet stubborn, hero. In Disgaea Infinite, it's incredibly difficult for him to admit that he really cares about his subordinates, despite it being quite clear that he does.
- Namine in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories spent a lot of time as a Shrinking Violet due to the abuse given to her by her legal guardians, Marluxia and Larxene. However, after meeting Sora, she learns to stand up for herself, and this confidence is reflected in Kingdom Hearts II. But then comes the mid-quel... Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, in which, now working for DiZ, Namine is just as soft-spoken and submissive as ever when it comes to dealing with a less-than-kind guardian, and it takes a meeting with Retcon character Xion to influence her to change once more. Namine does have power of memories...maybe she accidentally inflicted Aesop Amnesia on herself?
- A very minor example from 358/2 Days, but Roxas just can't seem to catch on that Paul Reubens shouting "Trick or treat!" is a signal from the universe that it is time to duck. Eventually he tires of it and kicks Lock, Shock, and Barrel's butts...only to fall for the same trick again sometime afterward.
- Ditto for Ariel. She learned absolutely nothing from the first game and deals with Ursula again in Kingdom Hearts II.
- Metal Gear:
- Otacon. Every game he's in ends with him saying "I'm done with crying" yet the next game...HE CRIES. "Oh I'm done crying about Wolf. No, I'm good now" next game: "OMG WAHHHHH! But it's okay, I won't cry anymore". 4th game: "WE NEVER STOOD A CHANCE! WAHHHH. NAOMI WAAAAAH. No, I've got no more tears to cry. NO WAIT I'VE GOT MORE NVM". Mind you most of the stuff he cries about really suck but Christ Otacon, don't lie to yourself!
- Big Boss has had three games so far about killing The Boss, realising killing The Boss was a bad decision, getting over it, building a unit and accepting his title of Big Boss. Metal Gear Solid 3 has him kill The Boss, deeply regret it and implies him taking his new title and building a unit in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops still has him calling himself "Snake" because he isn't comfortable being Big Boss yet, has him build a unit, kill The Boss's "Successor", and telling Campbell that he only feels truly alive when he's in battle and from now on to call him Big Boss, no longer wearing his bandanna.
has him calling himself "Snake" still, killing a version of The Boss that Came Back Wrong
, building a different unit, announcing that she betrayed him, abandoning his bandanna and saying that from now on he is Big Boss.
- Solid Snake's entire character arc is him repeatedly learning the same lesson about his freedom from the battlefield at the end of every game, only to end up back on the battlefield because otherwise you couldn't have a sequel. This was a factor in Hideo Kojima's desire to retire Snake as a character by tying off his ending in Metal Gear Solid 4. To wit: Snake decided at the end of Metal Gear 2 that he was free from the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose. Metal Gear Solid showed him returning to the battlefield (declaring several times that battle was the only thing that made him feel alive) then deciding at the end that he was free of the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose with the person he loved, as he was now liable to drop dead of a heart attack at any time. Metal Gear Solid 2 showed him returning to the battlefield (this time completely willingly, alongside one of the people he loved), and had him say Raiden was now free of the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose with the person he loved. The eventual end of his story in Metal Gear Solid 4 is for him to declare to Otacon that he was now free of the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose, because he is now seriously terminally ill - although when he says he wants to do this alone, Otacon says he should instead do it with the people he loves.
- One of the recurring themes of MGS was how Nuclear Deterrence is a flawed plan. Yet one of the first things Raiden says in Metal Gear Revengeance is that "One sword keeps another in its sheath", aka that Deterrence is a good thing. Perhaps not on the same scale as Nuclear Deterrence but the issue is still there.
- Misfile: Ash needing to learn that as a female, males now view him differently, has been a plot point more than half a dozen times.
- In Sinfest, Slick is aware of the problem.
- Invoked in 8-Bit Theater when Black Mage's realization that he ought to become a real hero as his life of wanton destruction brings him nothing but misery is interrupted by a dumb remark from Fighter.
Black Mage: Hold it, wait... What was I just thinking about? The only thing I can remember is something about wanton destruction. *Stabs fighter* Well, whatever it was, I'm sure this isn't far off the mark.
- In Tales Of MU, Steff is particularly prone to this. After stabbing herself with a knife she knew nothing about until it tore out half her soul, she spent several days resting and scared everyone close to her and almost died. Immediately after she was handed another magic item by Dee, a character who herself needs to learn to stop handing out magic no one but her is familiar with. She was told not to use it without lots of physical and mental preparation, and only then carefully. Her decision? Chug the whole thing the moment she's alone.
- Same for Solange of the Whateley Universe, who still thinks her money can buy her out of anything.
- Probably because she's not been a focus character since Jade beat her, badly. She DID learn not to screw with Team Kimba directly, however. She was given an option on learning that she wasn't a good Queen, but thanks to incidents with Ayla, Murphy, and Loophole, she's now out of the Alphas. Her current Aesop is probably closer to 'how to be sneaky and cruel'. Averted with the Don, who HAS learned said lesson, as well as Hekate. Whateley villains in general get most dangerous the more they get beaten.
- Chou, however, definitely qualifies. How many times has she learned to accept being a girl, accept that the Tao is always right, accept that she has to kill sometimes, accept...She HAS learned how to handle romance, though. Except Molly has some summons that might not be nice...
- From the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the heroic Robotman learned that he can still be human even if he's a Brain in a Jar. Then his original player left, the character was taken over by another player, and the "my God, what have I become" back all over again.
- Even though his behavior led him directly to prison time, Corrupt Corporate Executive Lexington Cargill never seemed to learn that being a billionaire wasn't an automatic Get Out of Jail Free card.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd frequently learns to appreciate his video games rather than complain about them all the time, only to forget about that next episode or sooner. Of course, since the entire premise hinges on him complaining about video games, Status Quo Is God is pretty much mandatory in this case.
- The Nostalgia Critic will never learn that he's worth more than what he thinks he is.
- Until the fourth-year anniversary movie To Boldly Flee. And even that got undone.
- The Critic also spent the entire Moulin Rouge! review learning the nature of Guilty Pleasures, despite having used the term himself several times.
- The Nostalgia Chick will never stop mistreating people, Nella isn't ever going to fully stand up for herself and Dr. Tease won't learn ethics.
- In The Fantastic Favio Bros, LeTony discovers at the end of the first film that alcohol is bad after it nearly kills him and he makes peace with the heroes. In later movies this aesop is completely ignored, as LeTony goes on to try to addict people to more harmful substances and continues drinking. This is justified by Rule of Funny, though, with explicit references to when they made peace.
- In Agents Of Cracked Dan constantly forgets that Swaim is dangerously insane and going along with any plan he comes up with will end badly. Despite this he does remember the previous episodes well enough that he objects to the plans at the start.
- The main reason why the work usually referred to just as Update seems to keep going and going is because the protagonist is incapable of learning anything from previous ordeals or mistakes and does the exact same things again and again.
- Throughout his Let's Play of New Super Mario Bros. 2, Lucky Seven DX is repeatedly taught the lesson "Greed is bad." After around the third time, he starts lampshading it, but gets no closer to actually learning the lesson.
- The Simpsons
- As with all Negative Continuity tropes, The Simpsons uses this one a lot. Often they'll just go ahead and lampshade, and at least one episode ends with Lisa concluding there was no moral to learn "Just some things that happened". With the supporting characters, it's even more pronounced; Barney goes from "clean and sober" to "hopeless alcoholic" depending on the mood of the writer, Mr. Burns has learned to love his fellow man dozens of times, and even though he's learned to stand up for himself in every episode he's a featured player in, Principal Skinner never manages to move out of his mother's house.
- Lampshaded at least once in Mr. Burns's case:
Burns: For me? Bobo? Smithers, I'm so happy. Something amazing has happened, I'm actually happy. Take a note! From now on, I'm only going to be good and kind to everyone.
Smithers: I'm sorry sir, I don't have a pencil.
Burns: Ehh, don't worry, I'm sure I'll remember it.
- In one episode Mr. Burns describes himself as having "characteristic changes of heart". This leads to him befriending Homer and being a good person for much of the episode, then going right back to being evil at the end. As Homer notes, "I guess some people never change. Or, they quickly change and then quickly change back."
- Also lampshaded in "Homer Loves Flanders" where Homer came to genuinely like Ned Flanders. At the end of the episode Bart asks Lisa where the expected last-minute Face-Heel Turn event is that would reset the situation back to status quo. Lisa is stumped. Then comes one last scene with "one week later" caption where Homer suddenly loathes Flanders again, and Bart and Lisa give a content "things are back the way they should be" smile.
- The episode "Bart's Girlfriend" ends with a scene in which Bart falls back into the exact same behavior he just learned to avoid, seconds after making a speech about how much he's learned. Word of God says the writers wanted to do an episode specifically about Bart having an experience which he utterly fails to learn anything from.
- In "Duffless", he also repeatedly failed to learn the lesson "the cupcake is wired up to electricity, and if you touch it you will get a shock". Thereby proving that yes, he was dumber than a hamster.
- Similarly, Family Guy once lampshaded its own tendency to end with Peter describing whatever lesson he had learned by ending an episode with this exchange:
Lois: Well, Peter, I guess you learned a pretty valuable lesson.
- There are at least THREE times that Peter Griffin has learned to love and appreciate his daughter and promptly forgotten it by next episode. Twice it happened before the episode was even over.
- Contrary to what he says in the page quote, in many areas Stan of American Dad! doesn't forget certain Aesops (accepting his gay neighbors, or his ethnic Iranian ones), but like the Peter Griffin example above they have lampshaded his inability to do so in other areas.
Stan: There's something you should know about me by now, Roger. I don't learn lessons.
- It took him 2 episodes to really accept his gay neighbors considering he tried to kidnap their baby from them.
- Another interesting example and partial Lampshade Hanging comes with Roger. One episode ended with him revealing that he didn't really feel like a part of the Smith family, which is why he got insulted when they threw a comedy roast for his birthday (at his request). The others actually get indignant because not only has this issue been dealt with before, but in that episode and others they had repeatedly gone out of their way to please his ever-insane needs and desires. As Hayley pointed out, if he didn't think they cared about him by that point, it was his problem, not theirs. Roger seems to get it then, though who knows if it will stick this time.
- A disproportionate number of episodes in Transformers Animated feature the plot device of Bumblebee being a cocky showoff, going off on his own, and messing the whole thing up in order to learn the value of teamwork and actually telling your leader what's going on. At least once, this has happened two episodes in a row.
- There were also alot of episodes in the first season that revolved around Sari recklessly using her Allspark key and having to learn that Allspark energy is not a toy. Thankfully, she did get much better about this by the time season 2 rolled around.
- Sentinel Prime really should remember that yes, other people have valid ideas and plans and that he should stop being an aft to everyone around him and especially to Optimus Prime. If anything he was more of a Jerk Ass as the show continued, despite a constant barrage of Break the Haughty.
- This is a fine tradition in Transformers, dating back to the original show where Optimus Prime would actually sum up the Aesop of the story to all the Autobots at the end of the story, just in case it wasn't blatantly clear enough. Amusingly, this probably technically makes the Autobots' Aesop Amnesia disobeying orders.
- Just like Animated Bumblebee, Miko from Transformers Prime also has to learn (and forget) a lesson every other episode. Which is: rushing headfirst into trouble can, well, lead to trouble. In fact this has been the basis of so many episodes in the first season, some fans tend to chant "Oh, it's one of those episodes again..." when they see her doing something reckless.
- Ben 10: The sheer number of times Ben has learned lessons about being nicer to Gwen, using the Omnitrix smarter not harder, and respecting other people and promptly discarded them by the next episode is truly staggering.
- The 2nd Lucky Girl episode has Gwen also guilty of this, as the episode opens with her telling Ben, "You should be grateful for what you've got; I only got to be Lucky Girl for a few hours." And later, while they're talking about a new charm she found, we get a flashback to Gwen destroying the other charms of her own volition, while ignoring why she did this: to Be Herself, and also keep them out of Hex's evil hands.
- Ben 10: Alien Force has Kevin Levin. He's constantly looking for a deal, and it's constantly biting him in the rear, usually because he trusts his old partner Argit despite the many times the latter has screwed him over.
- Ben 10: Omniverse has Ben forgetting that he needs the help of his friends and family to be the hero he is, not to mention avoiding letting his fame go to his head. His new partner Rook calls him out on this, though.
- Teen Titans
- Beast Boy learned several times not to be such a goof-off. It never quite took, at least completely. Same for Cyborg learning to accept not being human anymore.
- Oddly enough, the rest of the team seemed pretty good about avoiding Aesop Amnesia. When Raven and Starfire learned to respect one another's differences, it stuck with them through the rest of the series.
- Even more oddly, the last time the series dealt with Cyborg's humanity this trope was actually inverted. Cyborg goes Machine Worship too hard and has a Superpower Meltdown, requiring him to learn the opposite lesson. Poor guy just can't win.
- Robin still struggled with not being a Jerkass throughout the series. He was trained by Batman so it isn't surprising he would default to Jerkass. Robin finally ended up throwing away the Jerkass Ball (mostly) for good after the episode "Haunted".
- The Powerpuff Girls have it pretty bad, but then, they are portrayed as being in kindergarten, so it might be understandable that they don't always remember the lessons they've learned very well.
- How many times did Darkwing Duck learn to put aside his pride and get serious/ask for help/play well with others/etc.? Probably about once an episode.
- Similarly, in DuckTales, Fenton Crackshell kept learning that it wasn't his mechanized battle suit that truly made him a hero, but his determination, brains, and spirit. He still put that sucker on at the earliest opportunity every episode, though. (Well, wouldn't you if you had one?)
- And Huey, Dewey, and Louie never quite got the message "playing pranks on your [parent equivalent] to get something out of them will only backfire in the worst way, and isn't very nice besides".
- It was done a bit better with Uncle Scrooge, however. While he remained very cheap throughout the series, he was willing to at least put the safety of his family ahead of money (although not always their comfort). (He did still have a number of episodes in each of which he learned anew not to be so stingy, however.) Partially justified in that Scrooge's primary focus has been making money, finding treasures, and pinching pennies since at least his late teens; it's probably hardwired by now.
- The members of the Sushi Pack frequently have to relearn Aesops about being a team. Like every other episode frequently.
- Kuzco on The Emperor's New School has "learned" again and again (and again) that it's not all about him.
- This show is a particularly absurd example. It's a series based off of the movie, where Kuzco spends the entire time learning that he isn't the center of the universe, and by the end, has become a genuinely nice person who treats other people as equals. Cue the series, where he has apparently forgotten all of the events of the movie and once again has to "learn" that the world doesn't revolve around him. Multiple times.
- He seems to have gotten better by the sequel movie, Kronk's new Groove where he mentions he loves being the spotlight in the beginning, but it's time for him to step aside. And then he makes another appearance by the end, where he's actually trying to help Kronk, who was an antagonist for most of the first movie and the series.
- Slightly justified in that the opening scenes of Emperor's New Groove show Kuzco having been spoiled since he was in diapers. He's literally having to rewrite the habits of years. note
- In Thomas and Friends, after the 5th season, Thomas and Duncan become especially prone to this. In fact, Thomas's character up to the 5th season was built on Aesops from past experiences in the earlier seasons. Suddenly, when season 6 debuted, he was a perfect schoolboy type. With the debut of season 8, he seemingly forgot every lesson he ever learned.note It's even worse when he forgets the Aesop of patience by the very episode after he learned it. James is quite bad for this too, but it may be justified considering his personality.
- Any episode of Spongebob Squarepants that focuses on Mr. Krabs' incredible greed. I guess that love (of money in this case) conquers all.
- On The Magic School Bus, Janet seems to have relearned to not be such a snotty brat in just about every episode she appeared in.
- Kim Possible
- The Chained Heat episode "Bonding" showed Kim and Bonnie getting handcuffed together and learning more about one another in the process. Kim learns about Bonnie's family life, specifically her two sisters who belittle her at every opportunity. By the end of the episode, the two are getting along somewhat better, though by Bonnie's next appearance, she's just as shallow and mean as ever.
- Many, many times Ron learned the lesson about being yourself, and then promptly forgot about it. Actually lampshaded one time by Kim in "Ron Millionaire" where she mentions that he has a tendency towards this. It doesn't help.
- Kim learns that her brothers can be helpful and not just nuisances at least twice, and to disregard peer pressure from Bonnie a good few times.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Bloo swings around between extreme Jerk Ass and Jerk with a Heart of Gold and virtually every time he finally realizes how life is much more fun if you're not consumed by childish egoism, he is reset back by the beginning of the next episode, or, worse, flanderized into an even greater jerk then before.
- King of the Hill runs on this trope.
- Unless you're an actual calculator, you've probably lost count of the number of times Hank has learned to accept Bobby's athletic limitations and appreciate his other skills. Maybe it's genetic, as Hank has earned the grudging respect of his father, Cotton, on several occasions, and that never sticks, either.
- Not to mention that no matter how many times Hank learns to loosen up, this still happens a lot:
Bobby: Hey Dad, guess what! I joined the (insert incredibly effeminate and/or gay and/or non-traditional activity here)!
- Hank also constantly forgets that Bobby is good at some sports, like shooting, football, and wrestling.
- Can we get a count of how many times Bill's gotten over his depression and found something meaningful in his life, including another woman, only to have it completely forgotten by the next episode?
- Kahn and Minh quite frequently learn to respect their redneck neighbors and then forget.
- More quintessential to the trope is perhaps Buck Strickland, who consistently fails to learn that his illegal schemes will always put his business at risk. Strangely, however, Hank for some reason doesn't even get an Aesop that his boss is an amoral bastard and that he'll always get in trouble for trying to clean up after Buck's mess.
- In Hank's case, a number of episodes imply that Hank is fully aware of how bad Buck is, but sticks around out of a misplaced sense of gratitude and loyalty and/or an equally misplaced hope that Buck might at some point revert back to the hard-working man he was when Hank first met him (which he nearly did in one episode); both are played as Hank's having found a better father in Buck than he had in Cotton.
- The numerous examples where Peggy should have learned that her perceived abilities and appearance don't match up to reality. At times, she learns to accept her limitations, but goes right back to her old self in the next episode.
- In Season 4, the Running Gag of Nancy and John Redcorn's affair ends when they finally begin feeling bad about betraying Dale's trust (which is an incredibly rare commodity) and part ways amicably. Then in Season 11, Redcorn attempts to restart the affair, and though Nancy is temptednote , she ultimately stands by her man.
- Xiaolin Showdown had a couple of Stock Aesops, all of which were repeatedly learned and forgotten. A sampling includes "Don't futz around with the Shen Gong Wu for frivolous reasons", "Don't screw over your teammates", "Stop being jerks to each other". And while not really an Aesop, it was still rather glaring how they never learned that yes, even Jack Spicer can come up with a winning plan every so often, so don't just automatically shrug off what he's doing because he's a loser.
- In a first-season episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Chameleon begins a crime spree dressed as the eponymous hero. J. Jonah Jameson, being who he is, immediately prints a story in the Bugle declaring him a criminal; of course, by the end of the episode, the Chameleon is revealed to be the criminal and Jameson is forced to print a retraction, something he had apparently never had to do before. In the second season, Venom also begins committing crimes and general violence while impersonating Spidey. Jameson soon ends up at the police station, demanding to know why Captain Stacy hasn't begun efforts to arrest Spider-Man yet. While calmly explaining his evidence saying that Spidey was not responsible doesn't work, Stacy simply calls him out on this:
Captain Stacy: This isn't the first time the Bugle got it wrong when a copycat dressed up as the webslinger. Now do you really want to embarrass yourself and your paper... again?
- The above version of Jameson nails the comics Jameson perfectly in that regard. In the comics he'll accuse Spider-Man of either being in cahoots with the current villain or BEING the current villain, as well as fall for the copycat Spidey routine time and time again, and he never learns and keeps doing it, even brushing off those who try to remind him what happened last time he did that.
- The Fairly OddParents: Timmy's had to learn not to act like a Jerk Ass ("A Wish Too Far!", "Power Pals", "Fairy Idol", "The Jerkinators"), his parents' rules are for the best ("Ruled Out", "Channel Chasers") and there are worse alternatives to Vicky ("Totally Spaced Out", "Vicky Gets Fired") several times. If you count episodes with a Fantastic Aesop, add "time travel is bad" ("Father Time", "Twistory") and "make sure magic gadgets only work for you" ("Deja Vu", "Presto Change-O"). Furthermore, most of the episodes' plots wouldn't even be possible if he actually bothered to remember the dozens, if not hundreds, of times he's learned to be careful what he wishes for or to listen to Wanda's warnings of the potential consequences.
- In one movie, Timmy states that he secretly wished for the entire earth to not age. It took 50 years for them to find out what had happened. Apparently after those 50 years he had gained absolutely nothing of value; no knowledge, no experience. All that time he didn't even bother to wish to find out if and how he would be caught so as to avoid it. He still doesn't bother to add two bits of sense into any wish.
- No matter how many times Harold from Total Drama Island manages to save the day at the last minute with some special skill that only he has, future episodes will always have the other characters, especially Duncan, proclaiming that he's useless and should not be listened to/trusted to do any sort of task.
- Astonishingly, the episode where Harold is treated the worst in this regard comes immediately after the one where he single-handedly saves everyone from drowning!
- Brandy from Brandy & Mr. Whiskers was probably the epitome of this trope. If I recall correctly, almost all of the episodes were about her either learning to care about others for a change or just care about Mr. Whiskers.
- South Park:
- While lessons the boys learn tend to stick ("Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride," for example), the same does not apply to the adults. No matter how many times Randy or Sheila learn lessons about actually listening to their children and respecting their wishes ("Bloody Mary" and The Movie, for example), they're back to publicly humiliating Stan and Kyle by the next episode.
- This would also apply to Cartman, except he is a sociopath and one of the symptoms of a sociopath is a general inability to learn lessons at all.
- The boys also frequently "learn lessons" about blaming their behavior on external influences, such as in The Movie. The trope is lampshaded to Hell and back in "Butt Out" (where they blame the tobacco company for making them smoke) by Kyle, who suggests that they come clean instead of letting things spiral out of control. Stan makes two such "I learned something today" speeches in a single episode. In "Chimpokomon", the kids are brainwashed by the Japanese into attacking the US. When the parents figure out how to snap the kids out of it, Kyle decides to go through with the attack. So Stan gives a "learned something" speech about the evils of blindly following the crowd. Kyle agrees and claims that, since all the kids refuse to attack, he still has to do it in order to prove his independence. Stan immediately does a speech saying the exact opposite of the first speech, completely confusing Kyle.
- They also never seem to realize that whenever they (Cartman in particular) get involved with a Get Rich Quick Scheme (for whatever reason), things end badly such as the "Pandemic" Two-Part Episode, where they are wrongfully sent to Peru after they start a pan-flute band.
- Silly Symphonies that followed up Three Little Pigs showed that Fiddler and Fiefer still played while Practical worked, and they generally blew off the Big Bad Wolf as a Harmless Villain.
- The cartoon of 101 Dalmatians had this for no less a personage than Cruella de Vil. For the Yet Another Christmas Carol episode, we had a tour through her Freudian Excuse, and at the end she's being a genuinely nice person. It lasts until the beginning of the next episode because, well, she's the primary villain and Status Quo Is God.
- Maryoku Yummy, being a series for preschoolers, tends to fall into this a lot. Every other episode, Hadagi has to learn not be a big jerk, Ooka has to learn to be more responsible, and Shika has to learn that Maryoku is just right and stop fighting it already.
- Sometimes happens on Arthur, but usually it's lampshaded with one character pointing out to the offender early on that they've learned this lesson before, while the offender tries to justify how the situations are different.
- ThunderCats (2011)
- In the episode "Song of the Petalars," young Lilliputian Emrick (questing to restore his people to their homeland) impulsively confronts a bird so large he's outmatched and protagonist Lion-O must save him. Lion-O complains of his teenaged stupidity. Later, Lion-O (questing to save his people and their homeland), in his teenaged stupidity, impulsively leads his ThunderCats to confront enemy forces so large he's outmatched and a Deus ex Machina must save them. When Lion-O attempts yet another Leeroy Jenkins in "Old Friends," his new mentor Panthro quickly loses his patience.
- In "The Pit", Pumyra is distrustful of Lion-O until he nearly gives his life to save her. In "The Curse of Ratilla", Pumyra is distrustful of Lion-O until he nearly gives his life to save her. In "Birth of the Blades", Pumyra is — get this — distrustful of Lion-O until — get this — he nearly gives his life to save her. Of course, knowing what we know now, this may well be justified.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
- The Cutie Mark Crusaders have a pretty bad case of this. The lesson "You can't make your cutie mark appear; you just have to wait for it" gets pounded into them pretty much every time they get their own episode, but they never seem to remember it. Done most egregiously in "The Cutie Pox", where Apple Bloom states the aesop herself, only to declare that she's waited long enough roughly ten seconds later.
- By season 3 this has mostly stopped, as they learn to enjoy their friendship just on its own merits, and it becomes clear that their attempts to earn cutie marks are just so they can hang out together.
- The Mane Six are also quick to forget their weekly lessons. Fluttershy has learned and forgotten how to be confident at least once, Rarity has learned and forgotten how to be down-to-earth at least twice, Rainbow Dash has learned and forgotten how not to be inconsiderate a few times, Applejack has forgotten not to let pride get the best of her, and Twilight Sparkle has learned several times not to be an obsessive Control Freak. Between the first and second seasons, the entire Mane Six and Princess Celestia forgot that the Elements of Harmony are powered by getting along, and aren't just a point-and-shoot Fantastic Nuke, and at one point The Power of Friendship is forgotten about period as Celestia invokes This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself as a Secret Test of Character. The only lessons that stay learned are by the citizens of Ponyville at large, as they have learned to accept Zecora and Princess Luna.
- Applejack did, in fact, dial back on the pride permanently. In "The Super-Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", she has no problem accepting her friends' help. At the end of the episode, she even explicitly points out that she knew that already. In "Apple Family Reunion", she actually plans for and goes to them for help.
- They do also play around with Fluttershy's usual lesson to be braver and stand up for herself at least. One episode had her become too assertive until she was a pushy, forceful bully, needing her to learn there's a middle ground between doormat and asshole. When the group was later charged with reforming Discord, she figured out very early on that attempting to be assertive and forceful with Discord to make him behave would never take, and in fact the real solution was to be gentle, friendly and patient; basically inverting her usual lesson.
- In "Leap of Faith" the Flim-Flam brothers return and are once again scamming ponies. EVERYONE falls for it, despite being revealed as scammers in the previous episode. Especially the fact that Granny Smith is the main character who falls for their second scam, though she was the among the first characters in the previous episode to accuse them of being shifty.
- At least once a season, there'll be an episode to teach Spike his place in the group, which considering his status as Butt Monkey, might be needed.
- Goof Troop
- In the third episode, "Axed By Addition", Pete realizes that he has been a terrible father to his son, PJ, while he thinks PJ is sick and dying and spends the majority of the episode trying to apologize and ask for forgiveness for his mistreatment... then the doctors call him back, tell him PJ wasn't really sick, and he's right back to his abusive self for the rest of the series.
- Max Goof has had to learn the lesson, "Your dad is awesome and you are lucky to have him even if he is weird and embarrassing" multiple times, most obviously in both movies.
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
- Every single episode focusing on Zipper has the team dismiss him due to his small size/strength, which makes him leave, only for everyone else to realize what an asset he actually was and fully accept him at the end.
- The "team ostracizes a character, so they leave, only for everyone else to miss them and want them back" plot point actually happens multiple times to every member of the Rangers except for Chip. In fact it's often Chip who's complaining that Dale's too stupid/Monterey Jack's too hot-headed/Gadget's too scatter-brained/etc. that makes whoever it is leave.
- Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness has a particular issue with Po never learning humility, passiveness, forethought, basically any aesop that could lead to things being better for him.
- Candace of Phineas and Ferb has learned to have fun with life in every episode that's ever focused on her.
- Early on in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) the turtles learn the dangers of becoming overconfident. From then on, they end up becoming cocky again multiple times. However, when this happens Splinter is usually quick to humble them again, or they suffer the consequences of it in battle. This helps to make it feel like a realistic character flaw instead of shoddy writing.
- Several episodes have repeatedly focused on Raphael attempting to control his anger issues. Something goes wrong because he generally can't control his temper, he realizes how much of a problem it can be, and then another episode puts him back at square one.
- The babies of Rugrats get tricked by Angelina pretty much every episode and yet keep believing almost everything she says.
- Well, sure. They're babies.
- Yet another Disney example - the Disney Junior short series Nina Needs To Go!, which is basically Potty Emergency: The Series, will always end with Nina saying "That will never happen again because now I know - don't wait to go!" But then, it happens again in another scenario.
- In Sabrina: The Animated Series instead of solving her problems on her own, she goes to the Spooky Jar (A Cookie Jar that contains a genie-like entity who is actually a Jerkass Genie) to solves her's problems, only to create much much worse problems in their places. Despite this, she still uses it every episode.
- In Miss BG every episode usually deals with BG lying/telling tall tales, which in turn causes a massive problem amongst her friends and family, does she ever learn her lesson for good? haha no.
- On Timothy Goes to School, this is generally averted. When the kids learned a lesson on the show, it tended to stick. For example, in "Fritz in the Mess Fairy," Fritz realized that there was no mess fairy and he needed to clean up after himself. Him being messy was never shown as an issue again in the series, despite the story's Here We Go Again ending with Fritz having made another mess with the cleaning supplies in the process of cleaning Timothy's seashells. In "Small Change," Nora learns to accept and even like change and she is never shown having an issue with it again. And if Lilly still sometimes forgets things, it can be forgiven, as it's difficult for her, and she does try hard and sometimes succeeds.
- It's not uncommon in bad debates to encounter people who repeat the same arguments after they've already been soundly disproven. This can lead to hilarity on online forums. An argument will be made and refuted soundly on one page, only for it to be made again, often by the same person, a page or two later. Particularly egregious trolls will do this openly, going so far as to quote the debunking of their nonsense and respond with the exact same nonsense, often word for word.
- Anyone who attends any twelve-step recovery program for any significant length of time (six months or more) will hear dozens of life stories about people falling for the same addictions and abusive relationships over and over again, and will hear about people falling off the wagon repeatedly. Addiction is like that.
- It isn't so much that people forget the aesop, it's more like it's extremely hard to change their ways; if someone's behavior becomes too extreme and then they 'learn their lesson', there's a good chance they'll repeat the behavior even though they know the danger, because it's in total opposition to their personality to not do it because if someone has an addictive personality, it's in their nature to be addicted to something.
- Many smokers who know cigarettes are bad still smoke regardless despite the warnings, many even after getting lung cancer may STILL smoke. Cigarettes are that terrifyingly addictive.
- People that manipulate others invoke the trope to get what they want. If they're called out on their bad behavior, they promise to change and to never do it again, only to do it again anyway later on.
- A person wakes up from a nightmare about something from the internet only to look up what caused his nightmare on the internet.
- As stated earlier, this trope is a telling sign of a sociopath.
I'm sorry but what did I just read??