"I can't tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit." "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."
The episode ends with a moral à laAesop'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. 1950ssitcoms 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 time required that all children's television shows have "educational" content, and this was the simplest way to meet its requirements.
In an American Dom Com, the point where the Aesop is delivered is often referred to by writers as the Golden Moment.
For the lesson told or repeated in a separate segment during The Tag, see And Knowing Is Half the Battle.
For times when the story's lesson is delivered via Phlebotinum, see Aesoptinum.
For times when the show hits you over the head with the lesson, see Anvilicious or Script Wank.
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.
Accidental Aesop - when people read an Aesop which wasn't intended (or is different from the one intended)
Aesop Amnesia - when characters have chronic trouble sticking with the Aesops.
By the way, in literary circleseverywhere outside of this wiki, An Aesop is properly known as a moral. The original Aesop was a Greek slave of the 6th century BC. A collection of allegorical tales (including "The Tortoise and the Hare", "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", and others) attributed to him have survived to the present day and are known as Aesop's Fables.
Ironically, Aesop probably doesn't deserve the dubious honor of having this trope named after him. In their original forms these stories likely did not end with heavy-hitting moral anvils. The listeners (for Aesop would have been an oral storyteller) were probably left to sort out the meaning for themselves; the one-liner morals (such as "slow and steady wins the race") were likely tacked on by modern compilers.
Also see: Central Theme, And Knowing Is Half the Battle.
An Aesop is among the Tropes Of Legend.
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Animé & Manga
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."
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.
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.
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.
Monster: Forgive, no matter how horribly you were hurt.
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.
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.
Super Gals has the ironclad rules for girls which are general Aesop, mainly circling around: Be Yourself.
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 English dub of Sailor Moon often ended with a "Sailor Says" segment.
Spoofed in the legendary Full Metal Panic rugby episode. At the end of the episode, Sosuke muses that violence is never the answer; Chidori smashes him upside the head with herPaper Fan of Doom, shouting "Don't go trying to put a neat little conclusion on this!" She's pissed because Sosuke's the one responsible for the violence in the first place, turning a team of tea-sipping pansies into violent psychopaths with Training from Hell.
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.
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.
THE iDOLM@STER: Almost every episode gives a lesson to at least one character.
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.
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".
Calvin: "Eh, we gotta have a few of those every once in a while."
It's later subverted somewhat in "Surge":
Sherman: Well, you know, there is a lesson to learned from all this. MTM: Really? What's that, then? Sherman: That mankind has developed a too much dependency on electricity. We should all learn to be a little less conditioned to be so electric and so forth. This three days without electricity actually could have done us some good. (beat) Socrates:Who cares? THE ELECTRICITY'S COMING BACK ON IN 90 SECONDS!!!
Most chapters of the Hate Fic / Fix FicMy 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.
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]
And later subverted in the end of the movie:
Mr. Krabs: Mr. Squidward, front and center! I think we both know who rightfully deserves to wear that manager pin. Squidward: I couldn't agree more, sir. [Crowd cheers] 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!
FBI Chief: So, what have we learned? Subordinate: I don't know, sir. FBI Chief: Neither do I. I guess we learned never to do that again. Even though I don't know what the hell we did.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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".
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.
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".
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."
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.
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.
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.
Vehemently averted in Seinfeld where the credo was "No hugging! No lessons! No point!"
Strangers with Candy based its entire premise on parodied Aesops: every episode ended with Jerri learning such lessons as the usefulness of illegal steroids.
Every episode of My Name Is Earl ever devised concludes with Earl dropping an Aesop on the viewer's head in a voiceover.
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.
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."
In Doctor Who, The Two Doctors was 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."
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.
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.
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 was a Spanish vocabulary word.
Sister Sister was 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).
The first episode ofCommunity 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.
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.
One episode of Boy Meets World played 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.
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.
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 "Ladyfingers!":
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.
Learning and Growing!
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.
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.
And after the Snow Goons arc
Calvin: I like lessons that aren't applicable later in life
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.'
Katawa Shoujo: People with disabilities are just that, people. Considering this is a doujin erogeVisual Novel than began on a certain image board this is surprisingly deep.
At least two are present in Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni. The first is that you should always believe in your friendsnote Though there's an addition this one that says you should believe in your friends, but you don't have to tell them things they don't need to know 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.
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.
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.
"Oh goddammit, Kyle! You gave him one of your gay little speeches, didn't you?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
Lampshaded in Animaniacs (repeatedly) with their Wheel of Morality. "Wheel of Morality, turn turn turn. Tell us the lesson that we should learn."
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.
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 Aesop (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.
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."
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. (Everyone laughs)
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.
The whole point of ThunderCats. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Averted in episodes 1 and 2 (since they're two-parters).
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.
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!
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).
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.
Spongebob Squarepants had an Aesop in many episodes in the first season, all of them being important lessons to teach children such as facing the consequences of your actions, not to curse, not to take advantage of your friends and not to touch things that aren't yours when instructed. Later seasons tend to lack these.