"I can't tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit."The episode ends with a moral à la Aesop's Fables. Either the last line of the episode summarizes the whole point of the episode, or it leaves the viewer with the issue that the writers want them to ponder. 1950s sitcoms often end on the "Gee, I learned my lesson," type of moral, while Law & Order leaves you pondering. Since some shows seem to contractually require one moral per episode, you often end up with a Broken Aesop. A lot of kids' shows go out of their way for this, especially Disney-animated shows. Writers often call it the "Object Lesson", and write the episode around it. This is particularly noticeable in programs made in the United States during the late 1970s through the early 1990s, as the FCC at the timenote required that all children's television shows have "educational" content, and this was the simplest way to meet its requirements. For times when a lesson is learned through a moral conflict, see Moral Dilemma. In some quarters An Aesop delivered to another character, often a child, directly is referred to as a "You See, Timmy" from the frequent use of that line to deliver the Aesop in the television show Lassie. This definition was put forth originally in the movie Speechless. Variations:
"Perhaps it hasn't one," Alice ventured to remark.
"Tut, tut, child!" said the Duchess. "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it."
"Perhaps it hasn't one," Alice ventured to remark.
"Tut, tut, child!" said the Duchess. "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it."
- Accidental Aesop — The audience reads an Aesop when one wasn't intended (or a different one was intended)
- Aesop Amnesia — When characters learn an Aesop in one episode and have apparently forgotten it by the next one.
- Aesop Collateral Damage — When other characters have to suffer to teach Bob his Aesop.
- Aesop Enforcer — When a character takes (sometimes drastic) action to ensure that another character learns their Aesop.
- Aesoptinum — Applied Phlebotinum that exists solely for the moral.
- Alternate Aesop Interpretation — A meta-trope where the viewer finds a different moral to be more apparent than the one the story actually states.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle — The Tag devoted to some sort of moral.
- Anvilicious — The moral lands on the audience's heads with all the subtlety of an anvil.
- Author Filibuster — The plot comes to a screeching halt while Aesop is delivering his moral.
- Author Tract — The story is only there to be a framing device for the Aesop.
- Broken Aesop — The events of the story undermine or flat-out contradict the moral.
- Captain Obvious Aesop — An Aesop that should be obvious to everyone (e.g. "mass murder is bad") is treated as revolutionary and insightful by other characters.
- Central Theme — The underlying moral theme that the story is about.
- Clueless Aesop — A show mishandles a serious life lesson because a full explanation of the topic is too complex or adult for the audience, language, and tone of the show (e.g. a No Hugging, No Kissing cartoon tries to discuss sexual assault).
- Compressed Vice — A character gains a flaw they never had before simply to learn the Aesop dealing with it.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing — A story meant to demonstrate that X is bad unintentionally makes X look really, really cool.
- Double Aesop — When Alice and Bob learn their lesson in one story.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop — A moral that is unexpected and defies conventional wisdom (but may be good advice nevertheless).
- Fantastic Aesop — A moral which is appropriate for characters in Speculative Fiction (e.g. "Don't raise the dead") but which has no Real Life application without taking it metaphorically.
- Glurge — A story which attempts to make its Aesop more palatable by smothering it in sweetness. The moral is often flimsy or loaded with Unfortunate Implications.
- Golden Moment — The very mawkish summation of the moral seen in old Dom Coms.
- Ignored Aesop — When characters discuss the Aesop in a metacontextual way, usually sabotaging whatever flimsy moral may have existed in the first place.
- A Lesson Learned Too Well — The character learns an Aesop early but doesn't learn when not to apply it.
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop — A disposable character introduced for the sake of the Aesop.
- Lost Aesop — Wait, were we supposed to learn something?
- Monster of the Aesop — When the Monster of the Week eerily coincides with the Aesop.
- Morality Ballad — A moral in song form.
- Karmic Twist Ending — A Twist Ending designed to force a moral.
- Philosophical Parable — A piece of moral philosophy in the form of a story.
- Scare 'Em Straight — Making sure the moral sticks by showing the nightmarish consequences of not obeying it.
- Script Wank — Having a character come right out and say "The lesson to be learned here is..."
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped — Let's face it, some lessons are too important to risk being subtle with the presentation.
- Space Whale Aesop — When the work undermines the moral by showing characters ignoring it and suffering bizarre, illogical, or downright impossible consequences.
- Spoof Aesop — The moral is clearly not meant to be taken seriously.
- Stock Aesops — The old chestnuts (e.g. "Be yourself," "True beauty is on the inside")
- Subverted Suspicion Aesop — A subversion of the Stock Aesop "don't judge a book by its cover," where Alice instinctively dislikes newcomer Bob, is told to calm down and "give him a chance," but ultimately is vindicated when Bob proves to be a scumbag. This happens often enough that it gets its own trope.
- Very Special Episode — The show takes a more serious tone to tackle a more serious issue.
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Animé & Manga
- The main theme running through the ARIA series is that you should enjoy life to its fullest and pay attention to little everyday wonders. It helps when you live on a terraformed planet full of mysteries and are allowed to spend your time rowing a gondola in a beautiful City of Canals, populated by friendly people.
- Attack on Titan - The world is a cruel place, but you can find beauty if you never stop fighting for it.
- The entire tenth episode of Cowboy Bebop consists of each of the members of the Bebop giving An Aesop, which is lampshaded by the use of caption cards reading 'lesson'. The entire concept gets more and more twisted as the episode goes on: Jet starts out with a straight Aesop about how hard work is the only thing that pays off in the end and those who trust in their luck get theirs eventually (after having lost his savings in an attempt to gamble with Faye). Faye follows up with a Family-Unfriendly Aesop about how humans are always playing each other and trusting people is for fools (after it's revealed she was cheating). Ed delivers a Broken Aesop about how, if you see a stranger, you should follow him (after it turns out there's a stowaway poisonous creature on board that's attacking the crew). Finally, Spike finishes it off with the episode's real lesson... Don't leave food in the fridge. The poisonous creature had mutated from a lobster left in the ship's backup refrigerator too long.
- Eureka7: Never give up on being with your loved one.
- Franken Fran: Though there are exceptions, the dominant Aesop to be learned is that death is not something to come back from, especially via science.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Compromise your dreams with what is best for everyone. Roy compromised his dream for power by vowing to use it for others, and being patient about it. May gave up her quest to restore her clan to help save another country. She got both though. Scar compromised his quest for vengeance by just preventing it from happening again in the future. Ed gave up his alchemy, and didn't get his leg back. Al rejected his body because he couldn't fight with it, and when he got it back it was incredibly weak. The only person who didn't compromise was Father. He wanted out of his flask, and didn't balance it with morality, empathy, or just settling for anything less. And he got screwed.
- Spoofed in the legendary Full Metal Panic! rugby episode. Sosuke subjects the Jindai HS rugby team to Training from Hell straight out of Full Metal Jacket, turning them from tea-sipping wimps into violent psychopaths. After watching them (literally) beat the opposing team into a bloody pulp, Sosuke muses "Fighting is always pointless. Their actions have taught me this"...and gets smashed upside the head with Kaname's Paper Fan of Doom as she shouts "Don't go trying to put a neat little conclusion on this!"
- Great Teacher Onizuka shows us that teachers are human beings too. They have feelings and they deserve your respect. They do care about you and are willing to help you if you let them. There are bad teachers but they are the exception and not the rule.
- Gunnm delivers an especially hard-hitting Aesop in volume five: Be a little considerate of people's feelings. Allways treat others with respect, even if you think they are cowardly, selfish jerks. You may not like the result if you don't.
- Despite being mostly comprised of Aespoic-moments, the 32nd episode of the original 1969 series of Himitsu no Akko-chan plays that straight towards the heroine. When the kind-hearted Akko-chan meets a new deaf kid at school, she hurriedly wishes her magic mirror to turn her into a deaf-mute version of herself, enabling her to empathize better with her plea. Her magic mirror takes her literally, taking her speaking voice again too, and refusing to change her back on the premises that, needing a clearly worded wish to act, it can't understand or obey a deaf-mute mistress. Only when Akko-chan, distraught and terminally scared, is starting to resign to her fate, the mirror changes her back on its own accord, moved by her tears and pointing out how her owner has now learned that a disability is nothing to be wished for, and how her new friend was more brave and resourceful than she could think.
- THE iDOLM@STER: Almost every episode gives a lesson to at least one character.
- A recurring Aesop in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is that regardless of how one was born/created one has the ability to choose whether to do good or evil.
- Michiko to Hatchin: Let go of your past.
- Most episodes in Mokke have mild, safe Aesops in the vein of "appreciate your friends," "set goals in life" or "don't cling obsessively to material possessions."
- Monster: Forgive, no matter how horribly you were hurt.
- Ninja Scroll: Delivered by Dakuan, of all people.
Dakuan: ''By the way, I'm very sorry about having lost Kagero. It's unfortunate, but she did had a few moments of living as an ordinary girl and of course, making love with you that is good after all.Jubei: Was that your plan as well, old man?
- In One Piece:
- Aside from the recurring Power Of Friendship theme, the CP9 saga and Robin's backstory has "It doesn't matter how you live your life, you are not evil just for existing" which gets indirectly revisited when it comes time to dive into Ace's backstory as well.
- There are also some surprisingly complicated lessons about racism for a shonen series, especially when Hody Jones is involved, being one of the biggest monsters in the series who has a fierce anti-human sentiment despite humans having never done anything to him. He turned into an extremist and fishman supremacist just by growing up in a racially-charged environment.
- Hereditary and family doesn't matter and family is who you choose.
- It's the Journey That Counts
- Nothing lasts forever; legacies must be passed on if they are to survive, and the old must accept that the world belongs to the next generation.
- At the end of each volume of Oishinbo there are cautionary tales that teach a lesson. At the end of "Japanese Cuisine" there is an Aesop about simple values, at the end of the volume "Sake" there is one about sobriety and at the end of "Ramen and Gyoza" there is one about racism.
- Popotan: Moving away from others is not as hard as it appears because one can still have pleasant memories of old friends, and one should learn to let go of said friends in order to move on in life. It's an overarching theme of the entire series, and Konami (the best friend of Mai, one of the protagonists) puts it into words in both the second and the final episodes.
- Princess Tutu: Don't be afraid of being yourself. Even if you are "only a duck", you don't need to become a "beautiful swan" to be loved.
- The DiC English dub of Sailor Moon often ended with a "Sailor Says" segment.
- Super Gals has the ironclad rules for girls which are general Aesop, mainly circling around: Be Yourself.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Courage and vigor is the power of humankind.
- Always face forwad, never give up, and know that you're awesome.
- Happiness Charge Pretty Cure has quite a few episodes with aesops. One was about the importance of studying, and another was about telling your friends if you are sick before you even get sick (and to dry off after you get hit by water!).
- Umi Monogatari has one that doubles as the central theme of the series. Everyone has darkness in their hearts. That's normal, and we must learn to accept it, not cast it out.
- Seconds: We all make bad decisions that we wish we can take back. But it happens and best we can do is roll with the punches and try to learn from them so they don't happen again. Lightly parodied at the end, where Ray points out that a poster featuring that Aesop has been hanging in his office the entire time. The office that Katie has been going to everyday for the last three years.
- In one Strontium Dog story, Johnny and Wulf search for a target on a planet where the natives, among other things, eat humans. The conditions in which the farmed humans were kept served to illustrate the point that battery farming is bad.
- Many times in the stories of Wilhelm Busch, often against alcohol and mischief. Several stories end with "Und die Moral von der Geschicht..." (and the moral of the story is: ...) There's a reason the German version of this page was named "Die Moral".
- Since A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate is designed like a season of the show, with each chapter an episode, they all end with a character learning something.
- This is lampshaded in Script Fic Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
Calvin: Eh, we gotta have a few of those every once in a while.
- The series in general loves playing with aesops, so one of the few sort of straight examples comes from "Socrates Squared". After having to put up with his duplicate for the episode, Socrates finally learns how obnoxious his personality is. He refuses to give up his pranking ways, however, and one of the characters remarks "Meh. Better than nothing."
- The End of Ends: You can never truly change who you are, and even if you do change, you are who you are and that can’t change.
- The Fifth Act has two:
- By reaching out to others, you can help others change whether you intended to or not.
- Vengeance isn't worth dedicating your life and dreams towards.
- In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, there is at least one in most chapters.
- Most chapters of My Little Unicorn: Magic Is Believing, end with the Grand Ruler giving an Aesop that is tangentially related to the events of the chapter. Unfortunately, the supposed morals are pretty weak and their connection to the main Aesop of "believing" is not very clear. However, these were removed from the retooling, until the Deviant ART version which reinstates most of them.
- Sonic X: Dark Chaos: The system is broken and needs to be replaced by something better. Also, religion is bad.
Film - Animated
- Several lessons are learned by characters in The Book of Life.
- Manolo: Follow your heart.
- Maria: Live life by your own rules.
- Joaquin: You do not have to be exactly what someone else expects of you to be great.
- Xibalba: Cheaters never prosper.
- Carlos and General Posada: Let your children follow their dreams even if they differ from yours.
- La Muerte: Anyone can die. It takes courage to live.
- The Boxtrolls:
- Epic: "Many leaves. One tree."
- The LEGO Movie:
- By deconstructing the trope The Chosen One, this film expertly averts sharply defining the terms ordinary and extraordinary, explaining that everyone has the capacity to be special and creative without a prophecy unfairly singling out those who deserve to be special. This puts it in the regard of how toxic it is to splinter people like this and initiate conflict by saying those who have received status through a magical prophecy are better than others. This is bluntly parodied in that the name of the person who holds the Piece of Resistance is the Special. Not only that, but it also involves the aesop of the burden of this on the individual, as well as Emmet's spontaneous retrieval of the Piece of which he honestly had no idea about being received as undeserved by many of the characters. Despite the fact that this prophecy was meant to be random, and did not discriminate against specific groups of people.
- As everyone's special, it is noted in their potential to be creative that puts people on an equal level, rejecting the idea that people are born with inherent value seeing as we are taught from a young age of how special we are. This sets off the ideal of 'special snowflake' status where we internalise the belief that we are better than others, competing against possible threats that, even if they seem legitimate, are perceived towards our 'perfect' self. It practically explains the unhealthiness of competition, favouring equality and healthy relations with others.
- This film criticises the concept of "special snowflakes" without specifically targeting a particular group of people or even a single character.
- It's pretty obvious with Lord Business, who assumes any genuine or legitimate rejection of his beliefs that he has enforced is an attack on his dream of a perfect world. He even explains during a speech that he was never considered special, instead validating himself through power and control of others which hides his insecurity. This is brought to the surface by Emmet, who tells Business that he has inspired so many people and that he is special too and doesn't need to push back against everyone else whom he assumes to be receiving the special treatment over him (the climactic scene in the Think Tank involving Business' one-sided interaction with Emmet explores this very closely).
- Wyldstyle herself wanted to be the Special, her initial meeting with Emmet involving taking out a lot of her anger on someone she believes didn't deserve the prophecy because he isn't a Master Builder. What we must understand is this involves how she actually wanted to be the Special herself, quoting her prejudice to begin with that someone ordinary received it instead. Of course, this is important in establishing the aesop of the film, because it kickstarted the aesop that everyone is special with the capacity to do great things, creating an equilibrium rather than discrimination between different groups by the end of the film.
- Lord Business is a representation of Finn's father, where the LEGO world is being simulated in real life, who has become so much of a control freak as to define LEGO as a 'highly sophisticated interlocking brick system' (therefore taking it far too seriously) as well as refusing to allow anyone to mess up the perfect construction he has built. Finn is playing out the events of the story through how he perceives his father to act, detailing the aesop of the importance of reaching a middle ground between two set values, and the acceptance of both as long as you don't force them on others. Finn also didn't want to become distant to his father, whom he loved but feared he would never respect if his father continued like this (as seen by his designated role in Finn's story as Lord Business, the villain) and was honestly trying to reach out to him because he wanted to have a proper, loving father-son relationship where they could bond over their interests together.
- Played in Mulan II. Heart Over Duty.
- Penguins of Madagascar:
- "Looks don't matter. It's what you do that counts."
- You do have right to be appreciated... but is right you have to EARN.
- People who love you are your real family. If people who are related to you in blood don't care about you, then they aren't your real family.
- Lampshaded in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, in the following dialog:
SpongeBob: I guess you're right, Plankton. I am just a kid. And you know, I've been through a lot in the last six days, five minutes, twenty-seven-and-a-half seconds, and if I've learned anything during that time, it's that you are who you are. And no amount of mermaid magic, or managerial promotion, or some other third thing can make me any more than what I really am inside: a kid.
Plankton: Very impressive. Now, back against the wall...
SpongeBob: [on microphone] But that's okay! Because I did all the things they said a kid couldn't do! I made it to Shell City, and I beat the cyclops, and I rode the Hasselhoff, and I brought the crown BACK! So, yeah, I'm a kid! And I'm also a goofball, and a wingnut, and a Knucklehead McSpazatron! But most of all, I'm... I'm... I'm... I'm a Goofy Goober! [rock music starts]
Mr. Krabs: Mr. Squidward, front and center! I think we both know who rightfully deserves to wear that manager pin.
- And later subverted in the end of the movie
Squidward: I couldn't agree more, sir.
SpongeBob: Wait a second, everybody. There's something I need to say first. I just don't know how to put it.
Squidward: I think I know what you're going to say. After your life-changing journey, you found that you don't want what you thought you wanted. What you really wanted was inside you all along.
SpongeBob: Are you crazy?! I was just going to say that your fly is down. Manager! This is the greatest day of my liiiiiiife!
- Toy Story 2. The toys watch Al half-crying during an Al's Toy Barn commercial on TV after losing his Woody's Roundup dolls.
Hamm: I guess crime doesn't pay.
Film - Live Action
- Subverted in the Coen Brothers' dark spy comedy Burn After Reading. At the end, the CIA director tries to find a lesson in all that has happened, only to conclude that there is none.
CIA Chief: What did we learn, Palmer?
Subordinate: I don't know, sir.
CIA Chief: I don't fucking know either. I guess we learned not to do it again... Fucked if I know what we did.
- The theme of The Duff seems to be "Don't let labels define you."
- Health Education movies such as The Keg Party.
- Lights of New York has an awkward one: "We want to do right to each other and everyone else. There's no luck in anything else".
- Played in Mean Girls. Be yourself (of course!).
Richard M. Nixon: Always remember: others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.
- This trope is used and then averted in The Onion Movie. Immediately after a pro-West, "violence is not the answer" speech by a former terrorist, the main character goes on to say:
"I think we've all learned a few things in the past 90 minutes. We've learned that Irishmen have huge nipples. We've learned that film-critic intellectuals are a bunch of gaywads. And most of all, we've learned that creeping corporate influence over the news protects us from terrorism."
- The Central Theme of Pay It Forward is that by performing random acts of kindness for complete strangers we are able to change the world for a better.
- Played in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Just because a man is an outlaw doesn't mean he isn't a good person in his own ways.
- The Aesop in Reefer Madness is this: if you smoke marijuana... sorry, "marihuana"... even once, you'll instantly become addicted and as a result you'll go crazy, become a sex-crazed lunatic, and murder your girlfriend in cold blood.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This movie (and by extension the next one) can be seen as being about consequences. Most of the events in this film occur because of Kirk's actions in the past, or reference his cavalier attitude to rules — the entire film would have been averted if Kirk had not been so careless as to have marooned Khan on Ceti Alpha V without doing a complete survey of the planet and the surrounding system. He even acknowledges this when he ruefully admits that he never actually learned the lesson that the Kobayashi Maru test from the beginning of the film was actually trying to teach — instead of accepting some situations for what they were, he merely kept cheating until he was able to get his way. Both Spock and later David die for his hubris. And his refusal to raise the shields despite the fact that Starfleet regulations state that if ANY approaching ship does NOT respond to any communications, you are to RAISE THE SHIELDS. Saavik was cut off by Spock before she quoted the regulation in its entirety; however, the implication is pretty clear. Plus the fact that after the attack, Kirk said to Saavik, "You go right on quoting regulations".
- Star Trek Into Darkness: Listen to your friends and advisers. In order of occurrence;
- If Kirk had listened to Spock and not lied in his report, he would have been able to defend his actions at the inquest instead of being chewed out by Pike, which at the very least would have delayed his demotion long enough for him to still be a captain when Khan attacked.
- If Pike hadn't pulled a Not Now, Kiddo on Kirk at the captain's meeting he would have figured out Khan's plan a few precious seconds earlier, possibly saving the lives of all present.
- If Kirk had listened to Scotty's complaints and let him check the payload of the torpedoes, instead of overruling Scotty so he could pursue his vendetta against Harrison, the frozen super soldiers would have been discovered, undoing everyone's plans.
- Had Kirk not listened to Spock and killed Harrison with the torpedoes, he would have aided Marcus' plan to start a war. Granted, it did end up getting him killed and San Francisco leveled by a starship, but those things might have happened anyway if a war started.
- More importantly, don't let your desire for revenge compromise you, lest you pay the price for it. And good friends and advisers will point this out to you.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939). After Glinda asks Dorothy what she's learned, Dorothy gives one.
If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, l won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there I never really lost it to begin with.[and after Dorothy returns to Kansas] There's no place like home!
- In Animorphs, there are several including War Is Hell, and What Is Evil??.
- The moral of The Brothers Karamazov is to live life, take the good and take the bad and remain true to yourself. There might be other lessons scattered about the book concerning not manipulating others or belief in God, but the big message is to take the ups and downs and keep on. It comes off as bittersweet mostly because of all the events that had to take place for the protagonist to come to this conclusion.
- The Oompa-Loompa songs in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator are usually aesops in rhyming verse, and close out chapters to boot.
- Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy shows that everything can be solved without resorting to violence in a incredibly clever and fascinating way, after all: "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent".
- Galaxy of Fear is Goosebumps IN STAR WARS, but features a pair of orphaned Alderaanian kids who sometimes learn things on the way, many of them a consequence to losing their home and everyone they knew. These are usually pretty quiet and not outright stated.
- Eaten Alive: Even when no one believes you, trust your instincts.
- City of the Dead: If you Never Got to Say Goodbye... that hurts, but it wouldn't really be better if you had. Don't let yourself think they could be brought back. Remember the good times with them.
- The Planet Plague: Dwelling too much on Revenge hurts you - if you're sick negative emotions may make the illness progress faster - it's better to be driven by what you're fighting for.
- The Nightmare Machine: You have to stretch to find a moral, but you could argue that it's "You have to face your fears."
- Ghost of the Jedi has a New Media Is Evil sort of message - just because you're friends with someone over the Internet doesn't mean you really know them - but also that failure happens and it's awful, but you can't mope and stop trying things just because you messed up, however badly.
- Army of Terror might be that it's better not to lie. Kind of stretching, though.
- The Brain Spiders: People change as they grow up, and that's okay. But don't be so eager to seem grown up that you lose track of who you were before, and don't confuse "grown up" with "reckless".
- The Swarm: Careful about which secrets you keep. Also, don't think in black and white; people you think of as enemies may not be all loathsome.
- Spore: Unchecked greed is bad. And it's good to feel like being part of something larger, but it isn't everything.
- The Doomsday Ship: Sometimes even in frantic moments it's better to stop and think.
- Clones: Don't judge too harshly by first impressions.
- The Hunger: Question unexamined traditions. Don't succumb to feeling helpless.
- Goblin Market concludes with a very obvious Aesop:
For there is no friend like a sister...To fetch one if one goes astray,To lift one if one totters down,To strengthen whilst one stands.
- In How Kazir Won His Wife, a sorcerer in the Framing Story identifies the moral of the story he tells as being "not to rely on general principles and routine mechanical methods"
- The second revised ending of The Little Mermaid says that the daughters of the air take more time to earn her souls if children are bad, and less time if they are good.
- The poems "Maxims of Baloo" and "The Law of the Jungle" from Rudyard Kipling's original Jungle Books probably qualify.
- The People of Sparks' underlying theme is basically learning to accept people who are different from you.
- In The Trolls while little ones crop up here and there in Aunt Sally's stories, perhaps the biggest message is also, interestingly, the stealthiest one: be nice to your siblings.
- Subverted in the poem "Twice Times" by A. A. Milne about two bears, one good and one bad who then, for no apparent reason, swapped places. The poem concludes "There may be a Moral, though some say not; I think there's a moral, though I don't know what."
- War and Peace: There are no Magnificent Bastards, only bastards who think themselves magnificent. Told via an entire part just in case you didn't catch it in the plot.
- The moral of Who Moved My Cheese is to watch for signs of change, and be ready to change your actions when change happens around you.
Live Action TV
- The intention of the Afterschool Special, usually coming about in the final act.
- The Aquabats! Super Show! has done this twice:
MC Bat Commander: Maybe you are ready to be a mother, Jimmy. Part of being a parent is knowing when to let your children go.
- At the end of "Mysterious Egg!":
Crash McLarson: Those mummies weren't that scary.MC Bat Commander: You know, that is why we shouldn't judge people or mummies until we get to know them.
- At the end of "Ladyfingers!":
Learning and Growing!
- Followed by:
- The Brady Bunch has this in spades.
- One episode of Boy Meets World plays with the notion of the Aesop: Mister Feeny assigns Corey, Topanga, and Shawn a seemingly impossible task. After trying and failing, the Genre Savvy kids come to the conclusion that Mister Feeney was giving them a Secret Testof Character to teach them a lesson about teamwork. Unfortunately, they were wrong: Mister Feeney was actually trying to teach them a lesson about never giving up, and wants them to complete their seemingly impossible task, and so he sends them back out again.
- The first episode of Community has Prof. Duncan attempting to impart one to Jeff about academic honesty. Jeff, however, feels strongly that community college is not the place to learn anything. Jeff's objection notwithstanding, many episodes end with speeches, tilted-head smiling people, happy music, and reconciliations.
- Even though the show isn't EI-rated, all post-Episode 1 episodes of Crash And Bernstien have at least one. Episode 2's was to not be scared of anything, Episode 3's was that some things in life are hard, Episode 4's was to follow the rules and to tell the truth, and Episode 5's was that fitting in sometimes isn't the best thing to do.
- Doctor Who
- "The Two Doctors" is an allegory about meat-eating, hunting, and butchering, ending with the Doctor announcing to Peri that, "from now on it's a healthy vegetarian diet for both of us!" Writer Robert Holmes was a vegetarian.
- There are some Aesops about inner turmoil in "Vincent and the Doctor" from the Fifth Series. The episode explains that there are differences in how different people deal with depression or anxiety (the Eleventh Doctor is shown to be more resilient than Vincent van Gogh). The Doctor also delivers a particularly touching Aesop at the end, when Amy discovers that their intervention failed to stop Van Gogh from killing himself: "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't always spoil the good things and make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things."
- Every Full House episode ends with a sappy musical score while Bob Saget explains the moral of the story to one of the girls.
- Not only used in virtually every episode of Hannah Montana, but occasionally played with, too, with Miley once asking her dad if he can't just fix the problem instead of trying to teach her a life-lesson.
- Highway To Heaven, the Christian drama starring Michael Landon and Victor French as itinerant workers who help the people they encounter deal with situations using a (though not explicitly stated) Christian solution. Said moral would come usually toward the end of the episode, after which the person gets a chance to apply what he/she learned and/or any villains are defeated.
- Home Improvement frequently had these, and they were usually delivered by the character Wilson, who would dispense advice to help the other characters with the issue of the episode.
- How I Met Your Mother justifies this because a sizable chunk of the premise is Future!Ted lecturing his kids about his mistakes when he was young. However, they're frequently spoof, family-unfriendly, broken, space whale (i.e., "I won't bother telling you not to fight, but don't fight with Uncle Marshall. He's insane."), lost, lampshaded Do Not Do This Cool Thing, or otherwise humorously subverted, usually with Future Ted giving an Aesop, but admitting that in real life, back when the events actually took place, he and his friends didn't learn their lesson right away. However, when one of the characters gives an Aesop in the present, it's more often played straight.
- Katie Morag usually has one at the end of an episode. Justified in that it is a children's show.
- The whole concept gets parodied in a Running Gag on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Every episode ends with the "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?" segment, which ranges from a Spoof Aesop to a complete non sequitur with no relation to morals or lessons whatsoever. On at least one occasion, the "lesson" learned is a Spanish vocabulary word.
- Every episode of My Name Is Earl ever devised concludes with Earl dropping an Aesop on the viewer's head in a voiceover.
- Every episode of Scrubs ends with J.D. reciting the theme of the episode over a musical piece. Often, though not always, an Aesop.
- Vehemently averted in Seinfeld, where the credo is "No hugging! No lessons! No point!"
- Sister Sister is full of these, ranging from the typical (such as stranger danger and the value of wise spending) to the more complex (such as Lisa dealing with her fear that she cannot compare to Ray's dead wife).
- Oft-times used in the Disney show Smart Guy, one particularly creepy example being "Strangers on the Net" in which ten-year-old T.J. meets up with a man from The Internet who later tries to get him to pose for pictures in his underwear, thus teaching us about Internet safety. In about the squickiest way possible. And this was on Disney.
- A great many Star Trek episodes end on an Aesop, sometimes even degenerating into a minor Patrick Stewart Speech. In fact, every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series end on an Aesop, as Roddenberry was apparently obsessed with moralizing everything in the most convoluted way.
- Subverted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when Garak claims that the moral of The Boy Who Cried Wolf was actually "Never tell the same lie twice."
- Strangers with Candy bases its entire premise on parodied Aesops: every episode ends with Jerri learning such lessons as the usefulness of illegal steroids.
- Most of the episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits (1963) were morals about human hubris.
- The Weird Al Show's staff were so annoyed by the fact that they had to shove a moral down children's throats every week, they actually started each episode with the lesson to be learned written on parchment and narrated in a fancy voice. It was then torn in half to start the show.
- For more than three decades starting in the early 1950s, there were a number of Christian anthology dramas populating the airwaves. Each episode was fairly straightforward in formula: An off-screen narrator or on-camera host (always a clergyman, either real or played by an actor) will introduce a story and a situation/dilemma one or more characters are facing, along with a hint of the Christian doctrine that is about to be illustrated. The story unfolds, with the situation reaching its peak as the characters try various ways to resolve the situation; finally out of options, the characters turn to their Bible or a clergyman for advice, and the situation reaches its resolution. The moral would be told in the final act, with the host reviewing the situation and providing both commentary and appropriate Scripture. The best-known of these shows was "This is the Life," a Missouri Lutheran Synod-underwritten program that dated from 1952 (on the old Du Mont network) through syndication in the 1980s; other denominations, including the Catholics, Baptists and Methodists, had their own anthology programs. Save for perhaps rural communities and/or public access stations having old tapes and running them as filler, these Christian anthologies have all but disappeared from the airwaves, with reruns of "This is the Life" last seen in terrestrial syndication in the early 1990s.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place responsibility and loyalty are fairly common themes.
- Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin learns the wrong lesson, if he learned any at all.
Hobbes: Live and don't learn, that's us.
Calvin: I like lessons that aren't applicable later in life.
- And after the Snow Goons arc:
- Hansel and Gretel has a moral quoted in the opening scene by Gretel (to whom Hansel replies that it sounds nice but does nothing to alleviate hunger), which is sung again by the cast at the end:
"Whhen past bearing is our grief,
Then 'tis Heaven will send relief!"
- The Time Of Your Life: The text of the play is prefaced with a moral sermon.
- Rodgers and Hammerstein were fond of presenting Aesops:
- In Oklahoma!, "The Farmer And The Cowman" ends up with Aunt Eller waving a gun at the feuding ensemble and making them repeat this lesson:
"I don't say I'm better than anybody else,
But I'll be damned if I ain't jist as good!"
- The doctor's speech at the graduation in Carousel.
- South Pacific had one in the song "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught."
- In Oklahoma!, "The Farmer And The Cowman" ends up with Aunt Eller waving a gun at the feuding ensemble and making them repeat this lesson:
- Henrik Ibsen is mostly known for not using straight aesops at all, but there are some of them hidden in plain sight:
- Peer Gynt: "To be yourself is to give yourself up, or to walk with the meaning of your maker visible". And when asked what of the ones that never got to know what the intended meaning was: "He is supposed to sense it - and in the lack of sensation, the guy with the hoof has a good bait."
- Brand: On the topic of love over pure willpower, Ibsen does not state it directly, but it is there.
- The Pillars Of Society has probably the plainest aesop in any play written by Ibsen, when the female activist closes the play with this:
The spirit of truth and freedom, that is the pillars of society!
- Aesops are the main collectibles in the Mind Screw Puzzle Game Anti Chamber.
- The Aesop of the Assassin's Creed series is that people should be allowed to choose, and that free will is what makes us human. This is shown with the Assassin's reaction to the Crusades-era Templars plan, and Ezio's speech at the end of Bonfire of the Vanities.
- Followed up more bluntly with Assassin's Creed III, set during the American Revolution, but with more grey thrown in. Connor, half-Mohawk/half-European is idealistic about freedom to the point of naivete, where he doesn't even consider the consequences of his actions. Whereas some of the Templars in this game go beyond your typical mustache twirling villains, and are truly well-meaning people whose methods fall counter to the Assassin's.
- Dark Souls, which not only had a plot, also contained a few morals. Of them all, the most optimistic you'll find is the central mechanic of being an Undead, in that you can die a hundred times but still get back up to try again and achieve success. It's a common theme in videogames in general, but is reinforced plot wise by the fact that others with the Undead curse must always persevere and never lose hope, or they will go Hollow and become a shell of their former selves. This is all unfortunately undercut by the fact that all of your perseverance is in vain, as you are only attempting to prolong what was already long lost. When it's all said and done, Dark Souls is a deliberately bleak game.
- Deus Ex is one giant blizzard of Aesop. No, seriously: Whether it be an itty bitty side mission, a conversation with a random NPC, or the grand scheme of the plot, you are constantly exposed to new aesops. To this day, Deus Ex is still held in high regard for the neutrality it took in these aesops, allowing the player to make their own judgment calls. The main "choice" throughout is to decide whether or not common people can be trusted to make the right decision, or if someone should secretly make those decisions for them. on the final level, choosing to manipulate the public allows you to live. But the only option that gives them the freedom to shape their own opinion requires a Heroic Sacrifice on your part.
- In the Framing Device of Dragon Age II the Seeker Cassandra is trying to find out who is responsible for starting the conflict between the Mages and Templars that threatens to tear the world apart. The message that Varric is trying to get through to her (and by extension the player) is that no one person — not Hawke, not Orsino, not the Arishok, not Meredith, not even Anders — was wholly responsible. It was simply the unfortunate result of a bunch of well meaning people with different ideas of right and wrong being pushed beyond the point of compromise. Moreover, these tensions have been building up for centuries and any possible solution would be both horrific and necessary, with the status quo being just as intolerable. Sometimes there is no Big Bad whose defeat will solve everything.
- Another major Aesop of the game is that prejudice is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you oppress, harass, or treat a group of people as an enemy by default because of what they might do, they WILL become your enemy in truth because you've given them a reason to hate you.
- In-universe example: The Harrowing in the Mage origin of Dragon Age: Origins is designed to teach apprentices who are ready to become full mages that you should never judge anything in the Fade by appearances alone.
- Fallout: New Vegas: The DLC collectively seem to have "don't dwell in the past" as an aesop. All of the primary antagonists are in some way unable to move on past a point in their lives: Elijah's defeat at Helios One, Graham's "execution" by Caesar and his own past, the Think Tank's refusal to cease their experiments, and Ulysses' witnessing the unwitting destruction of the Divide by the Courier. To say nothing of the huge emphasis on using old-world technology to evil ends.
- "Let go of the past" is an aesop the series in general preaches. Several antagonists cling to old values and thus are antagonists:
- The Enclave want to reconstruct the United States and retake their place as the government of a new America. The reality is that their power is in-name-only and really they're just genocidal thugs who want to rule the wasteland because they have a load of fancy technology that they can use to push everyone else around.
- Caesar's Legion is a blatant one. They're made of up a tribe that has defeated and assimilated all of their neighbours, and their leader wants to rebuild a new Roman Empire as faithful as the first one - including all the slavery, misogyny and brutality that made Ancient Rome a rather nasty place to live by modern moral standards.
- The pre-war United States was obsessed with the cultural norms of an idealised utopian version of the 1950's, clinging almost religiously to the past. As a direct result of this obsession, America was a dystopian hellhole under a thin veneer of happiness, where the government actively used mind control and brainwashing to control the populace, political dissenters were sent to concentration camps to be used as test subjects for horrific genetic experiments, safety regulations were virtually nonexistent, and free, independent thought was seen as a menace to be stamped out at all costs. This led to America's downfall, and they dragged the whole world down with them.
- Most of the time, the Brotherhood of Steel is devoted to the Codex, which tells them they are to find and hoard old world technology to keep it out of the hands of those unfit to use it. The West Coast faction of the Brotherhood descend into Knight Templar behavior and may be wiped out by the very people they seek to "protect", while the East Coast tosses the Codex aside in favor of helping people, and prospers. Honor Before Reason's bad, mkay?
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The teaching of tolerance is a big theme in the Mass Effect series but nowhere is it more clear than at the end of "Priority: Rannoch" in Mass Effect 3: A planet is big enough for everyone—just put down your guns, blockheads, and you can share it all in peace.
- Men Of Valor would like you to know that the US marines who fought and died in Vietnam are men of valor, regardless of their race.
- Ogre Battle 64 is about what it truly means to be noble. Will you rule by power alone Yumil, or will you rule based on what is right Magnus, but only if Lawful.
- Persona 3: Live your life to fullest and don't let anything to regret. Also, : Help your friends, that what friends are for.
- The Reconstruction has one that's never explicitly stated, but it's definitely an important part of the ending and Dehl's Character Arc. A single person cannot save the entire world, and if they could, the psychological stress would break them first. So, instead of shooting for over-ambitious goals or lamenting the fact that we can't accomplish them, we should focus on what we can do to make the world a better place.
- In Robopon, the second game's epilogue has everyone you've met giving a different aesop to the point of comedy.
- Sonic the Hedgehog has one in "Sonic and the Black Knight". It ended with Sonic teaching Merlina how life simply works:
Sonic: Merlina, every world has its end. I know that's kind of sad, but... that's why we gotta live life to the fullest in the time we have. At least, that's what I figure.
- The World Ends with You is all about not closing yourself off from other people.
"The world ends with you. If you want to enjoy life, expand your world. You gotta push your horizons out as far as they'll go."
- In A Profile, building on the Family-Unfriendly Aesop of 'Your friends will lie to you directly to your face, so be careful,' it then turns it around and says 'but you should trust them anyway. They're your friends.'
- Dangan Ronpa: Hope cannot exist without despair. Having the courage to face uncertainty is also hope.
- At least two are present in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. The first is that you should always believe in your friendsnote and that it's never too late to repent and start over. In fact, this is a pretty striking contrast between the ends of Meakashi and Tsumihoroboshi. In the first the no attempts at amends are made even when the error is realized while Tsumihoroboshi states the Aesop outright and has the people involved seeking forgiveness.
- Katawa Shoujo: People with disabilities are just that, people. Considering this is a doujin eroge Visual Novel than began on a certain image board this is surprisingly deep.
- Arcs 1 & 3 of Umineko no Naku Koro ni deal directly with one of Aesop's fables, The North Wind and the Sun.
- See The Rant of this The B-Movie Comic strip.
- Parodied in Educomix:
Dave: You've taught us all a valuable lesson! If we ever see evidence for a different religion, we should still treat the people that believe in it as idiots!
- El Goonish Shive: This comic and this one pretty much sum up the aesop for the Death Sentence arc.
- Irregular Webcomic! decide to drop an Aesop about Be Careful What You Wish For in this strip, anviliciously, with links to this AND that page.
- Lady Spectra of Lady Spectra And Sparky is prone to giving lectures.
- Precocious: "Actions have consequences. Who knew?"
- Made into a Super Hero in this comic
- Broken Saints is big on the moral messages, and this is Lampshaded in the credits of Chapter 19, which has a line reading: "today's lesson: strip clubs are bad"
- The Cartoon Show: "Always be creative and let your imagination soar", "the world is a blank canvas and you can make whatever you want on it", "always sign your name after drawing because someone might take it", "when it comes to your imagination, the sky is the limit".
- The Chronicles Of Jaller: Parodied. At the end of "Axon Gets Kidnapped," Axon concedes that "Not all Hero Factorys are stupid lame dumbwads," at which point one shows up wanting to join them. Jaller shoots him on the spot.
- Demo Reel: "Hollywood is a horrible place to be for minorities", "Accentuate the Negative only causes pain" and "try to move on from your abusive past in a healthy way".
- Dusk's Dawn tries to shoehorn one in at the end about not thinking things through.
- Subverted in Look a Vlog.
- The Web show Speed Game, which usually display and comment speedruns, talks about the history of the number Pi in the Pokémon episode.
- From A Caution to the Wise, a story in The Wanderer's Library: ï¿½They ask for a story with a moral; the moral is, ï¿½A caution to the wiseï¿½look elsewhere for your wisdom.ï¿½
- What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? caps off every live recording with what they learned from the night's bizarre news stories, sometimes also veering into Spoof Aesop and Family-Unfriendly Aesop. There are even some recurring aesops, like "No one wants to see your dick," "There's nothing sexy at the Wal-Mart" and "Poop is not a plan."
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues had a valuable virtue in every episode — two children have typical problems involving other kids, so they visit four Talking Animals to have their problems solved with stories from the Book of Virtues.
- Adventure Time has some conventional morals done in really weird ways. For example, "Don't break your promises" is shown by having Finn punished by the royal Gumball Guardians.
- The Aesop's Film Fables cartoons produced by Van Beuren Studios ironically didn't have these at first (they had parody aesops in the silent era shorts and abandoned them altogether by the sound era) but they eventually did start having real aesops in the Burt Gillett era shorts, such as the Toddle Tales and some of the Rainbow Parade shorts. "Spinning Mice" for instance has the moral of "Leave Well Enough Alone".
- Parodied in Animaniacs (repeatedly) with their Wheel of Morality, which would provide a random "moral of the story" for the episode that was usually humorous and always had nothing to do with the episode.
"Wheel of Morality, turn turn turn. Tell us the lesson that we should learn."
- The first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender was pretty notorious about this. Although some of those were along the lines of "Stealing is wrong unless it's from pirates."
- Played straight with Birdz, although they're not heavy-handed since they're often skewed to the avian universe (e.g. Eddie learning the hard way that he should study the map and pack properly during migration season).
- Many episodes of 1980s cartoon Care Bears deliver a moral at the end. Here is a sample.
- "The Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings": Running away from home doesn't solve anything.
- "The Cloud Worm": This episode has a Fantastic Aesop: share the clouds, and don't eat Care-a-lot. The mundane moral is that sharing is a good idea.
- "Concrete Rain": Share the concrete. Don't pave over all the grass.
- "Grumpy's Three Wishes": You can find a way to do anything.
- "The Great Race": Win by pacing yourself and making a steady effort. Cheaters Never Prosper.
- "Birthday Bear's Blues": You can't buy friends. "The only way to make friends is to be one."
- "Order on the Court": The best way to become good at a task is to practice, practice, practice.
- "The Two Princesses": Work together to "get things done" and "still have fun".
- "The Best Way to Make Friends" is to just Be Yourself.
- "Care Bear Town Parade": You shouldn't let your friends down.
- "Caring for Spring": If you help others, they will help you.
- "Fountain of Youth": Growing old has its advantages. You don't want the Fountain of Youth.
- "Treat Heart Baba and the Two Thieves": You can remember anything if you put your mind to it.
- "Care Fair Scare": Don't let something distract you from your friends.
- "The Most Ancient Gift": A gift doesn't need to be expensive. As Grams says, "... it's not how much the gift is worth, it's the amount of caring behind it."
- "The Space Bubbles": The space clown learns, "It's not nice to make fun of other people." Grumpy adds, "It's a totally different thing when you make fun of yourself."
- "Cheer Bear's Chance": Everyone deserves a turn.
- Centurions always had some sort of science lesson at the end.
- Lampshaded in Danny Phantom: when Jazz tries to organize a plan, Danny tells her, with a bored expression on his face, that the plan is to go try and beat up the bad guy, get beaten up yourself, run around for a while trying to fix things, finally beat the bad guy, and go home having learned a lesson about how the world works. Whoopie. This is also a slight breaking of the fourth wall, as it's the basic layout of each show.
- Before he went to Disney, Doug had An Aesop in almost every single episode. You could tell the Aesop after a couple of minutes already, often even before the episode title.
- Although The Fairly OddParents doesn't have many episodes strictly made to teach a moral, there's one where the moral is thrown in the viewers' faces with a case of breaking the fourth wall: "And sometimes the best weapon of all is to say you're sorry." Cue screen where the phrase MORAL OF THE STORY pops up.
- Subverted in Family Guy: While Peter recovers in the hospital, Lois says, "I guess you learned an important lesson." Peter leans back smugly and says, "Nope," at which point the episode ends.
- Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids had a heavy-handed Aesop in every episode, driven home by a song from the Kids themselves. One example: "Dope is for dopes/Drugs are for dummies/And if you mess around with them/That kind of mess isn't funny."
- Played straight but surprisingly subtle in an animated version of Flash Gordon, Flash alludes to men on Earth who "did terrible things in the name of obedience" but does not name names. In the eighties, this was a clear allusion to Nazi Germany and impressively assumes sufficient motivation, intelligence and education of the kids watching that they would either get the point or go find out.
- Parodied in an episode of Futurama. After Fry and Bender drag the Planet Express headquarters along on their joyride in the Planet Express ship, they exit the ship to find the rest of the Planet Express staff, battered and seriously pissed off, waiting for them. Attempting to divert inevitable trouble, Bender says, "And that's how we learned our lesson."
- From another episode:
"It's just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year long, the grasshopper kept burying acorns for winter, while the octopus mooched off his girlfriend and watched TV. But then the winter came, and the grasshopper died, and the octopus ate all his acorns and also he got a race car. Is any of this getting through to you?"
- From another episode:
- The first three seasons of the U.S. Acres animated series contained these. Here are a few examples:
- "Wanted: Wade": Don't break the law.
- "Banana Nose": Everyone has something special about them.
- "Return of Power Pig": Don't spread rumors.
- "Short Story": Little people can do big things, too.
- "Fortune Kooky": Don't believe in superstitions.
- Gargoyles had the episode "Deadly Force", in which Broadway finds Elisa's loaded gun and starts playing Cops 'n' Robbers. Elisa is busy cooking and not paying attention to him when Broadway accidentally pulls the trigger and shoots her in the chest, nearly killing her, showing just how deadly guns can be. Elisa wasn't even healed in the next episode, either. Too bad it turned into the Missing Episode.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) always ends with an Aesop.
- Each installment of The Hive, another Playhouse Disney / Disney Junior show, presents one.
- Jem did this in practically any episode about the Starlight Girls — one of them would do something stupid (anything from stealing to drugs) and have to have An Aesop explained to them. A few featured other characters, such as the one where Roxy got screwed over again and again because she couldn't read.
- JoJo's Circus has the title character yanked away to a stage with a spotlight at the end of each story to talk about the aesop that she learned from what happened in it.
- Roughly 1/3 of all Kim Possible episodes ended on An Aesop (sometimes due to Aesop Amnesia), roughly a third of the episodes ended on a Subverted Aesop, and the remaining thirty took the Aesop and twisted it about as far as possible to create fantastic Aesops, (don't buy mutant toys) Space Whale Aesops, (Eat healthily or your DNA will mutate you into a mini-Hulk) or just outright lampshading them for comedy value.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has one of these about friendship at the end of each episode, usually given in the form of a letter from Twilight Sparkle to Princess Celestia.
Applejack: Dear Princess Celestia, I wanted to share my thoughts with you. [Clears Throat] I didn't learn anythin'! Ha! I was right all along!
- Averted in episodes 1 and 2 (since they're two-parters).
- Literally in the case of "Suited For Success". "If you try to please everypony, you oftentimes end up pleasing nopony — especially yourself", was the moral of an actual Aesop's Fable.note
- While most shows would treat these as throwaway morals, these actually are a plot point in "The Return of Harmony, Part 2": Celestia sends all of them back to Twilight to remind her why she should be fighting for her friends, instead of giving up, packing her bags and leaving Ponyville and Equestria to Discord's mercy. Also, the Aesop of the episode ends up being used in Twilight's Shut Up, Hannibal! speech.
- The Aesop becomes a MacGuffin in "Lesson Zero", where Twlight panics because she doesn't have an Aesop of the Week to report to the Princess.
- Subverted in The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000. The usual "letter to the princess" Aesop-delivery is set up... and then Applejack points out that she knew the aesop already, and didn't need to learn a thing. Then Double Subverted, as she proceeds to explain what it was she was right about all along.
- Inspiration Manifestation: Being a good friend means being honest to them as well.
- Disney Channel's Lilo & Stitch: The Series is another one of those animated kids shows that works by rote, it's usually a lesson about the power of friendship and tolerance and honesty, to the point of being cloyingly cute.
- Nina's Little Fables is a new short program on PBSKids Sprout featuring fables narrated by show hosts Nina and Star. Some of them are actual Aesop's Fables.
- The Proud Family had a tendency to overdo this at times, with some episodes being particularly Anvilicious (most notably the one about how Digital Piracy Is Evil).
- Happened quite often in the early episodes of Recess, though they were never in-your-face about it. Then morals came from time to time later on, and season six became Anvilicious.
- The Rocky and Bullwinkle segment Aesop and Son subverted not only this trope, but the fables themselves. The titular philosopher would tell a parodied version of his story, say the moral, and then Junior would chime in with a second moral, usually a pun off some element of the story.
- Subverted on The Simpsons; at the end of one episode, the family debates what lesson they're meant to learn from the events of the past 22 minutes before finally concluding that it was all "just a bunch of stuff that happened".
- Repeatedly and in many different ways, too. For example, after an episode about not trusting TV Homer judges Willie just because of evil background music, pronouncing "Marge my friend, I haven't learned a thing."
- Or when Apu loses his job, seems to be happy again leading Marge to philosophize: "I guess happiness is wherever you find it" and the episode seems over until they hear Apu sobbing outside.
- The episode where the family house sat for Mr. Burns had what probably amounts to a genuine Aesop, with Marge saying they have everything they need right there and Homer tries to agree but breaks down after doing so, trying to say that being rich isn't that important but stopping and crying that he wants to be rich "Like these guys" as the names of Brooks, Simon and Groening appear on screen.
- At the end of the episode where Homer is an overly mean food critic. At the end after narrowly escaping their murder plot, he says "The important thing is I never got my comeuppance, and never will" followed by "merely" getting beaten up by all of the chefs he insulted.
- South Park often features an Aesop at the end. Many times Kyle starts a speech by saying, "I've learned something today..." The morals are sometimes humorous - though as often as not - these speeches really are didactic.
"Oh goddammit, Kyle! You gave him one of your gay little speeches, didn't you?"
- One of the funnier genuine spoofs of this trope was in "Super Fun Time", in which a completely nonsensical, out-of-left-field moral wound up being preached in the end by the episode's villain.
- Kenny gives one of these speeches at the end of the Big Damn Movie. Because of his parka, we'll never know what he learned.
- Cartman is sometimes opposed to the lesson at hand - and seems intent on disrupting the Aesop delivery.
- In "Chinpokomon," Stan delivers an aesop to Kyle to stop him from bombing Pearl Harbor, saying he shouldn't conform. Kyle uses the aesop to justify going ahead with the bombing, so Stan delivers a second aesop completely contradicting his earlier speech.
- Another subversion is "The Entity", where the kids try to pull their usual "I've learned something today..." Aesop speech, only for it to die out several times when they realize that, no, they actually haven't learned anything this time.
- Defied Trope in Real Life in "201" when the entire Aesop, spoken by three people, was bleeped out by the network prior to airing, which may be some of the saddest irony in the history of the show.
- Spongebob Squarepants had an Aesop in many episodes in the first few seasons, all of them being important lessons to teach children such as facing the consequences of your actions (Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV,No Fred Rides, Squeaky Boots), the grass isn't always greener somewhere else (Nature Pants, Squidville, The Algae is always greener), be yourself (Ripped Pants, Big Pink loser, and again Nature Pants), jumping to conclusions about someone or something can have dire consequences (Sandy's Rocket, Nasty patty,Wormy), not to curse (Sailor Mouth), not to take advantage of your friends (Can you spare a dime, I'm with stupid and to a lesser extent, Prehybernation week), and not to touch things that aren't yours unless instructed (Life of Crime). Later seasons tend to lack these.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars doesn't make you guess - they give you an aesop on-screen at the beginning of every episode.
- Super Friends
- In the 1973-74 season, the Aesops were usually one of three types. Many episodes used all of them.
- Even when you're acting in a good cause, always obey the law.
- Try to solve problems by thinking instead of using brute force. In "Menace of the White Dwarf" this was specifically stated as "Brainpower is superior to brute strength."
- Don't harm the environment.
- In the 1973-74 season, the Aesops were usually one of three types. Many episodes used all of them.
- Taz-Mania often featured the characters saying at the end "What have we learned from this?", and usually concluding that they hadn't learned anything.
- Subverted in Teen Titans:
Beast Boy: So, I guess it is bad to watch too much TV.
Starfire: But, we were only victorious because you watches too much the television.
Raven: So, I guess there really is no lesson.
Cyborg: Yep, it was all completely meaningless.
- The whole point of Thunder Cats. Seriously. This was during the time when cartoons where the scourge of the Earth and were corrupting kids (in the same way that Comic Books did before and Video Games are now ... oh wait!), so the producers sat down and said that every episode must have a moral, and they actually hired a child psychologist to help them write the stories.
- ThunderCats (2011) continues this out of tradition, with a discernible lesson in most of its episodes.
- The Tick also ended most episodes with The Tick turning to Arthur and saying "Arthur, I think we've learned a valuable lesson today," and then expounding semi-incoherently.
- The Weekenders loves Aesops. The episode "Listen Up" subverts their convention two-fold by having Carver (instead of the usual Tino) deliver it, and then having him off-center on screen and fading him out, forcing Carver to cut it short.
- On What It's Like Being Alone, Aesops are usually provided by one-off characters that are on the verge of death. They then die, violently.
- Young Justice episodes often have Aesops about Leadership, Teamwork or Strategy including such gems as:
- "Dropzone": The best strategist isn't always the best leader. Also, always have a clear chain of command.
- "Schooled": No matter how strong you think you are, there's always someone stronger, which is why you need to learn how to kick their ass too.
- "Bereft": Bad things happen when you don't secure your communications.
- "Failsafe": Know who's expendable and who isn't.
- "Secrets" is largely meant to convey the message that secrets, especially bad ones, have a way of coming to light eventually. Artemis, however, refuses to learn that lesson.
- "Usual Suspects": You need to trust your friends to accept you for who you really are.
- "Salvage" deals with addiction and the way it destroys your life and relationships, although instead of literal drug addiction they use the metaphor of being obsessed with finding the original Speedy.
- "Depths": Failure is a greater judge of character than success. Given by a villain to his son for excellent work in terrorism and murder.
- "Satisfaction": Intelligence and resourcefulness are more important than weapons or physical resources.
- Both "Satisfaction" and "Depths" also had a secondary aesop that you shouldn't rely on luck and should be prepared for any contingency. Not that surprising coming from the creator of David Xanatos.
- Remember, kids—now you know. And Knowing Is Half the Battle!
- Common among Spark Plug Entertainment's CGI Mockbuster cartoons.