Simon Skinner: I'm simply suggesting that young Peter be given a second chance, before he becomes just another crime statistic. I'm sure he's going to learn a valuable lesson.
: Stealing biscuits is... wrong?
Friends, there comes a time in everyone's life when they can no longer sit quietly and say nothing. Sometimes, a man's got to take a moral stand, even though it may not be popular and even though it might get him into trouble. Today, my friends, is that day. I won't stay silent any longer.
I believe that cancer is bad.
This is a trope for when characters are treated as brave revolutionaries by the other characters in the work for stating the obvious: that Eyepatch Q. Blackheart is a bad man
, that the Nazis
were evil, that cancer is bad, etc. Can also apply to situations or things instead of people. The important part of the trope is the reaction of others. This isn't about the work's moral message, it's about a character being treated as brave for making statements that are completely in line with the majority opinion around him.
Obviously there's Truth in Television
here. Values Dissonance
can sometimes result in this, if the Aesop really was
revolutionary and controversial for its time/place. Also, some Aesops are uncontroversial when spoken as a plain statement, but have an implicit, less-widely-agreed-to message, such as "We're not yet doing enough about this." For example, it's easy to say "Prejudice is bad", but programs designed to help disadvantaged minorities, like affirmative action and hate crime legislation, are polarizing
political issues with no clear right or wrong answers.
This trope is Played for Laughs
quite often, hence why so many of these examples are parodies, but straight examples are still fairly common
, And That's Terrible
, Stock Aesops
, and Drugs Are Bad
. Contrast Family-Unfriendly Aesop
and Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped
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Anime and Manga
- This article mocks the Grounded Aborted Arc of Superman for this, pointing out that Superman appears to be making the statement that drug dealers and child abuse are bad and treating it as though it's some radical new idea.
- My Little Unicorn:
- One of the many Aesops given out by the Grand Ruler can be summed up as "There are different ways to solve problems."
- Another one deals with how nightmares are frightening.
Films — Live Action
- Equilibrium argues that even if human emotion causes problems, it's still worth it. So if you were planning on turning all of humanity into emotionless automatons, think again!
- High School Musical tells us that being yourself is good and cliques and bullying are bad. Thanks HSM, no one's ever thought of that before.
- The Room: Tommy Wiseau claims the message of the film is "If a lot of people love each other, the world would be a better place to live", which his character Johnny in fact baldly states at one point in the film.
- Morgan Spurlock's experiment in Super Size Me, which demonstrates that excessive fast food isn't good for your health. Spurlock lampshades it and stresses that the point is to show just how bad it is for you, which surprises even his doctors. The film as a whole is about how fast food has become such an ingrained aspect of American culture.
- Grizzly Man: If you tempt death and hang out with grizzly bears, they will eat you alive. Common sense to everyone... except poor Timothy Treadwell, the subject of the documentary who constantly ignored warnings of the danger he was putting himself in. It's an obvious moral, but this film makes it clear just how horrifying the consequences are. "In nature there are boundaries" indeed.
- The moral of The Purge is that making all crime legal for one day a year is not a good idea.
- One of the major things that the sequel ended up doing was turning this into "people with power twist the laws for their own ends, and a world without laws soon destroys those who are unable to defend themselves."
Live Action TV
- Lampshaded on Community at one point when Britta and Annie are staging a demonstration to raise awareness about the environmental effects of the oil spill in the gulf. Britta is angry and yelling about how horrible it is to people passing by when someone mockingly points out that she doesn't need to yell at them, nobody is on the other side of this issue.
- It happens quite often in Doctor Who, as well. One of the more obvious examples is the 2008 episode "Planet of the Ood" which appears to have the message "Slavery is a bad thing." How many of the audience didn't already know that is unclear. An alternative one, only slightly less obvious (but in some quarters probably still necessary) might be: "Even if a people doesn't look like you, and seems more primitive than you, that gives you no right to exploit them." It seems to have been a deliberate attempt at amends for the Fridge Horror of the Doctor basically saying "okie dokie" when he discovered the Ood slaves in "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" and left them to die at the end of the episode. This is the main reason they made Planet of The Ood, to address that fact. It's even lampshaded when Donna points out how uncharacteristic it is for the Doctor to not help the Ood, the Doctor points out he was battling Satan at the time.
There's a slightly more subtle Aesop at work as well. At one point when Donna's railing against the institutionalised slavery represented by the Ood, the Doctor points out that most of the clothes she's wearing at that very moment were manufactured in sweatshops by people living only a few steps above slavery. It suggests that although people in the west intellectually know slavery is bad and wouldn't tolerate it when they're directly exposed to it, if it's out of sight and they benefit from it they're likely to not give it much thought. Although that seems to be something of a Lost Aesop, since Donna is offended by the comment, asking the Doctor if he only travels with humans so he can take cheap shots at them, and the Doctor apologises.
- Happens on Dr. Phil often. Usually he ends up telling people something that they should already know, like that it's not okay to cheat on your wife, or it's bad to abuse your family, or that child molestation is horrible. But the people on the show will act like he's telling them something radical that they've never considered and will be belligerent to the end.
- Referred to in an introduction to the Father Ted scripts by Graham Linehan. Commenting on the Mistaken for Racist episode 'Are You Right There Ted?', Linehan says that it seems to be the only story that has a moral... but if it does it's only 'Don't be racist' which he sarcastically says is 'pretty strong stuff'
- Played with in Horrible Histories involving the Trope Namer himself: Aesop is sent to distribute alms to a Greek city... unfortunately his idea of crowd control involves increasingly patronising reminders of his "moral tales". The crowd's (hilariously matter-of-fact) response: "Have you ever heard the story about the fable writer and the cliff? It's a story about a highly annoying fable writer who gets thrown off a cliff by an angry mob." "Yeah, it's a moral tale about not annoying an angry mob."
- Joked with occasionally on Mythbusters, when they warn against an obviously dangerous act due to a lesser-known risk associated with it that they had spent the episode proving was possible:
- "Don't leave loaded guns in exploding rooms" - The myth was about a certain make of gun reputed to fire on its own if vibrated in a certain way. The original myth was about this happening via a car stereo system, but they had to eventually set off an explosion near the gun to make it happen.
- "Don't stand near a car fire" - Because it's possible for the fire to make the car's bumper launch off at dangerous speeds. The Mythbusters couldn't make this happen themselves, but proved it was possible by finding a firewoman who had her legs broken as a result of this happening.
- Star Trek can be prone to this sometimes.
- Michael Jackson gets some of this from the Vocal Minority of his fanbase:
- Joe Vogel's book-length essay Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson's Magnum Opus argues that (to quote its back cover) the 1995 number "defied the cynicism and apathy of Generation X... it demanded accountability in an era of corporate greed, globalization and environmental indifference", which was a major reason why the song and video didn't catch on in the U.S. But the "challenging" message is that... pollution, environmental destruction, the killing of wild animals (especially endangered ones), and war are bad things. Those "cynical" Generation Xers, and most everyone else in the U.S., knew that already by The Nineties, a decade rife with green Aesops. As well, Jackson never gave concrete solutions to such problems in his work, apparently thinking that these things are only done For the Evulz and/or by greedy people who could stop whenever they wanted to with no consequences.
- "Black or White" also gets praised for saying that racism, war, and the Ku Klux Klan are bad — in 1991. Even if the infamous crotch-grabbing "panther dance" coda is interpreted as Jackson showing solidarity with groups like the Black Panthers, he was rather late to the party on that one.
- Tom Lehrer's song "The Folk Song Army" and its introduction (see quotes page):
We are the folk song army
Every one of us cares
We all hate poverty, war and injustice
Unlike the rest of you squares
- Antichamber: The quotes you find scattered throughout are intended to be both clues and musings on the nature of life (see the game's original title). Many find them more useful as the former than the latter.
- Though there are more profound aesops to be found in the game, one of the major ones of Tales of Symphonia basically boils down to "Racism is bad, mkay?"
- Brought up in this strip of So... You're a Cartoonist? Andrew says he's thinking of making a comic addressing terrorism or gun control. His friend argues that criticizing something everyone already hates takes no real effort. Andrew thus decides to give himself a challenge and deliberately unleash a flame war... about Mario.
- In 20 Socially Unacceptable Things by Matt Santoro, Matt tells the audience that it's bad to pick your nose.
- The Nostalgia Critic tends to rip into movies for this. In his review of The Cell, he's rather baffled at what the audience is supposed to take out of the scenes which show that the serial killer was beaten as a child, by his father. The Critic seems to find it a given that most every one already knows that child abuse is bad.
- One "Sonic Says" segment from The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog tells kids not to climb into washing machines.
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Everyone knows that dumping an oil tanker in the ocean is a bad idea, yet everyone keeps going on about it. The writers reportedly did this on purpose, since more nuanced villains might have been too close to home—i.e., companies their young viewers' parents worked for, or they might fall squarely into Strawman Has a Point if they allowed a realistic portrayal of an oil executive being upset at what his employees were doing.
- Parodied in Donkey Kong Country. Often, when King K. Rool conjures up a plan to steal something (usually the Crystal Coconut), loveable ol' Krusha says something like "Stealing is baaaaaaad".
- Parodied on Family Guy when Congressmen finally realize smoking is bad.
Congressman: Smoking is a horrible vice! It shortens life expectancy and pollutes our air. And according to recent polls, air is good!
- And in the same episode: "Hey. We had a lot of fun today. But you know what's not funny? Killing strippers."
- In "A Fresh Heir", Peter's rich father-in-law decides to leave all of his money to Chris, meaning Peter won't be able to get to it like he had been planning to do with Lois. Peter decides to marry Chris (Just roll with it), but decides not to at the end of the episode.
Peter: And I guess I learned it's wrong to take your son to Vermont under false pretenses to try to marry him for his inheritance.
Stewie: You...you should have known that.
- Parodied in Futurama:
Jack Johnson: It's time that someone had the courage to stand up and say: "I'm against those things that everybody hates!"
John Jackson: I respect my opponent. He's a good man. But frankly, I agree with everything he just said!
- Redakai's pilot had the aesop "Slavery is bad." Really, there weren't enough plot points or other threads for the moral to be anything else. The "Taunting someone for a skin-blemish" potential moral is never closed. Nope. Slavery is bad.
- Sabrina's Secret Life has an episode where Sabrina "learns" that rumours are bad and the only way to stop them is to out them as a pack of lies. Did we mention she's fifteen and yet every character spends the episode behaving like a 6-year-old?
- Parodied Up to Eleven on a famous episode of South Park: