Free the Frogs
In almost any High School show, there will be probably be an episode where everyone must dissect frogs in science class. A character (usually the main character) will question whether it is morally acceptable to kill the frogs for science. The teacher will usually inform the objecting character that not doing the dissection will result in a failing grade. There are two standard directions the show can go at this point:
- If the show follows the Science Is Bad trope, the character will conclude that it is wrong to kill the frogs, and they will find or create an opportunity to free them, accepting the failing grade or, in the more extreme examples, actually converting the teacher and the rest of the class to their stand.
- If the show is using Honor Before Reason, the main character will refuse to kill their own frog and accept the failing grade, but will not attempt to free any frog but their own, acknowledging that it is wrong to impose one's own values on others.
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Anime and Manga
- In Mamotte Shugogetten, Shaorin (on her first day out of her ring in 400 years) prevents a professor from dissecting a (still living) frog by asking him to take her life instead, and later releases that frog into the bushes.
- Comic book example: In The Tale Of One Bad Rat Helen frees a batch of rats which are scheduled for dissection. The one that doesn't run away, she adopts as a pet.
- In Adventure Comics #1, surprisingly, a teenage Mad Scientist believes in freeing the frogs:
Simon Valentine: ...I am but scant breaths away from enabling the classroom frogs to speak, and in turn, form some semblance of an intelligent revolt. The dismantling of a frog cannot teach us anything new. The inner workings of a simple frog have already been explained. We should only be willing to cross the line for the unexplained.
- Freeing the frogs is more fun if you're (psychically linked to someone who's getting you really) drunk, as we learn from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
- The Made-for-TV Movie Kermit's Swamp Years. The moral objection becomes a whole lot more clear-cut if the frogs themselves are capable of expressing an opinion.
- Used in a 1995 Disney Channel adaption of Freaky Friday. The mother (in her daughter's body) makes a sixties-style revolution speech against frog dissection.
- Beetlejuice. Lydia fakes out the Maitlands by claiming to have gotten a C in Biology because she refused to dissect frogs. She then reveals she really got an A, but doesn't go into any more detail about dissecting anything.
- In The Incredibles Dash mentions he dissected a frog in passing.
- Which is strange considering he's in elementary...
- In Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger, Esther has to dissect her pet duck in science class, after leaving it in a cage with other ducks over the weekend. She originaly got the duck from the same cage in the school attic.
- In South Australia, it actually is legal to purchase and raise animals specifically for the purpose of dissection, provided you sign documents saying that the animals will not be under any pain or stress, and you are a certified research institution. Like a school.
- Kiernan Shipka's character Zoe sneaks her frog out of class to free it in the Hallmark movie Smooch. The frog then gets away and Shipka then meets a man who she mistakes to be the frog now transformed into a prince.
- In one story in Cicada magazine, a girl who's working at a lab to pay off the fines she incurred shoplifting releases all the flies kept as specimens and gets fired as a result.
- Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling begins with Martha Abbott and a friend doing this.
- Was a plot point in 8 Simple Rules; and the episode had several actual impacts in the show's direction, though minor.
- On Saved by the Bell (back when it was still Good Morning Miss Bliss), a girl frees the frogs before they can be killed by the science teacher with the Einstein hairdo, weird goggles, and ghastly voice. She eventually returned the frogs as part of a Broken Aesop about not pushing her beliefs on others, but the more obvious moral of the episode was (of course) that Science Is Bad.
- A 1990 Neighbours storyline saw Melissa Jarrett objecting to her boyfriend breeding mice for dissection and enlisting the help of activist Kerry Bishop, who had a few Animal Wrongs Group tendencies, to free the mice (and a few frogs). The teacher simply acquired some more mice and the lesson went ahead, with Melissa and two other students opting out.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide had an episode that parodied every possible form of this plot in twelve minutes. The frog that is freed turns out to be more of a class pet as in real life and all of the ones that will be dissected were already dead. In the climax, the kids release the frog to "roam free," we hear it crossing a busy street — and with a sickening thud, the kids are splattered with green goo. Then the lunch lady walks by and says, "who left my spinach cans out in the road?"
- So...quadruple subversion? Though this editor may have lost count.
- Let's throw some more parts in, Ned only joins the Save The Frogs side because the girl he likes is leading it, and in the end the Teacher does give the class an computer simulation option.
- Don't forget that the frog-kidnappers ended up getting attatched to the frog and didn't want to set him free, instead making a little frog RESORT.
- In an Edison Twins episode, during the college season, the twins deal with an idealistic young man who cannot tolerate having rabbits being killed for their studies and releases them on the campus. The Twins protest that this is clearly impractical since the domesticated rabbits can't survive in the wild and they manage to round them up. The next day, the professor who was using these rabbits is told of the incident in class and the young man stands to calmly state his objection to using the rabbits. However, the professor unexpectedly reveals that he anticipated this and used it as an opening to begin his next lecture topic, "Ethics for Scientists."
- The short lived Sabrina the Teenage Witch clone, Teen Angel had a very bizarre take on this. The characters give their frog human intelligence and the ability to talk and he becomes a member of their clique.
- In the actual Sabrina the Teenage Witch, there is somewhat of a variation. Sabrina and class have to dissect frogs, and it seems to follow real life in that the frogs seemed to come pre-killed. Sabrina and her partner express some disgust over it, though they do it with no big drama. The subversion happens when Sabrina accidentally uses her magic to reanimate the frog, and it jumps off the lab table.
- Shows up in a flashback of Pushing Daisies. Things get much more interesting when the frogs come pre-killed, only for the kid to resurrect them...
- In particular, once Ned has had his fun, he goes around 'killing'' the frogs (or rather, undoing their resurrection) so that they won't cause other animals to die.
- A 3rd Rock from the Sun episode played with this using flies of all creatures. At Alissa's suggestion, Tommy freed the flies and the teacher immediately gave him an "F". Then Alissa revealed that she was just kidding, saying "I didn't think you'd actually do it!"
- Subverted in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Witch" in which Willow has no problem dissecting a frog. (This may be because, as we learn later, she has a frog phobia.)
- "Don't warn the tadpoles!"
- In The Secret World of Alex Mack, one episode features a subplot in which Alex learns that her biology class will be dissecting a frog (apparently only one is being cut up) and she fears that it will be the class pet. At the end of the episode, her sister finds that she rescued the frog and was releasing it into the woods. Not only does the sister approve, but confesses that she performed a similar feat when she was in Alex's grade (she rescued a large number of flatworms).
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Francis released 200 frogs from biology class into the middle of a highway, causing a massive traffic jam. He claimed he was "freeing the alleged frogs".
- Hazel does this (on a personal level) in the Dead Gorgeous episode "Sisters In The Mind" when she believes that the frogs that she has raised as a biology project are scheduled to be dissected.
- Done in the TV adaptation of Zbeng!, where a guy attempts it to improve the score with his angry Soap Box Sadie girlfriend.
- Becky Conner from Roseanne takes a C in Biology rather than commit animal genocide (dissect a frog).
- Student Bodies has this issue with worms instead of frogs.
- In one episode of Dinosaurs, Granola Guy Robbie is expected to dissect a human for biology class. He smuggles her out of class, and later releases her into the wild.
- In a comparable scenario not taking place in science class, Radar on M*A*S*H once rescued a lamb which had been slated to become dinner for a visiting group of Greek soldiers. His moral outrage at their plans played out exactly like this trope.
- Roy does this in an episode of ROY. However, he attempts to keep the frogs in his room instead of releasing them into the wild and Hilarity Ensues.
- In American Horror Story: Coven, swamp witch Misty Day winds up in an Ironic Hell where she must dissect a frog for all eternity
- Comic strip variation: In Zits, Hector's Straw Vegetarian girlfriend Autumn convinced Hector and Jeremy to take several thousand locusts bound for the science lab and free them in the hallway with a variation of the title being their warcry. Reality Ensues when the Hazmat unit shows up.
- Happened in the comic strip FoxTrot. When Paige Fox hears that she will be dissecting a frog in biology, she is grossed out by the idea and tries to get out of it. When she finally does dissect the frog, she thinks it's cool and describes it in detail to her family at dinner.
- On another occasion, she SEEMS to be complaining about the frog she's having to dissect-until her friend tells her to shut up about the math test tomorrow and help her with the stinking frog.
- And in yet another example, Paige is squicked out by the idea of having to dissect an earthworm. When urging her to think of the various educational benefits she'll gain from the experience fails, her teacher finally gets her to go along with it by pointing out how jealous her little brother will be when he finds out.
- In one Drabble strip, Norman tries to impress longtime love Wendy by telling her how he set his frog free and let it jump out the window. She then reminds him that his biology class is on the eleventh floor.
- Done, but heavily mocked, in the web comic Timelysium. The main character is a time traveler who has to do whatever history says happened and is trying to keep the timeline from going out of whack, so he has no choice. This does NOT, however, stop him from ranting about it to the Granola Girl whose idea it was in the first place:
You're an idiot, you know that? Right now as we speak people are starving to death in every country on the planet, horrifying crimes are being committed, lives are being ruined and you're having an emotional breakdown over a frog. I hope the zombies eat you once WW 3 rolls around, I really do!
- In Darths & Droids, Sally does this between gaming sessions, and gets suspended. Corey thinks this is badass.
- Survival of the Fittest v4 has a flashback in its pre-game, that involves Remy Kim and Sarah Tan dissecting a frog. However, subverted in that neither of the characters show any moral problems with it, and any problems they do have with it tends to be more of a Nausea Fuel related issue. In a different v4 pre-game thread we see Fiona Sparki and Maria Santiago dissecting a baby pig. They do show disgust, but Fiona more so, who is almost in tears at the idea of dissecting a pig so small.
- A Kill Frog cartoon entitled Skip, Hop, Flop had a little boy running off with the body of a pre-killed frog, refusing to dissect it as his Mad Scientist teacher had instructed him to.
- In the episode "Splitting Images" of Danny Phantom, Sam, the series' animal activist goth, sets up a "Save the Frogs" campaign which includes T-shirts, pins, and an assembly.
- And robo-frogs (that obnoxiously encouraged you to remove their realistic organs).
- Parodied in South Park, in which the children are accidentally given (endangered) manatees to dissect in the episode "Fat Camp".
- Detentionaire: "Welcome to Factory Island": The tenth grade students get sent on an excursion to Green Apple Splat soda factory after A. Nigma High gets overrun by freed dissection frogs. Lee discovers that the frogs were freed by a trio of students called the Tree Huggers and they admit that they had also released the frogs on the day of the Prank while everyone was busy with the assembly. When the Tree Huggers see that frogs are used in the production of Green Apple Splat, they mess with the factory controls and cause a meltdown while freeing them.
- An episode of Pepper Ann had the titular Ann refusing to dissect a frog in her science class after taking it home over the weekend. She eventually does the work based entirely on an internet-based dissection simulation called VirtuaFrog. Unusually, her teacher does give her the chance to opt out and watch a film on plants instead.
- A slightly different take occurs on Tiny Toon Adventures in an episode where Hamton's class is required to dissect a frog. Unlike the above examples, the science class uses dead frogs. The twist is that Hamton's frog is still alive, which he has trouble proving to anyone else, because it happens to be Michigan J. Frog. Complete with singing.
- At the end of the episode, it is revealed that his next class is dissecting caterpillars. Unfortunately, the poor guy's caterpillar is also alive and singing opera.
- There was an episode of Braceface that dealt with this trope. It might have been Sharon protesting seeing as she's an animal lover and a vegetarian so at least it's consistent.
- This one also hand waved the fact that the frogs are supposed to be delivered pre-killed by showing the teacher complaining to the delivery guy about the mix-up that resulted in live ones being delivered.
- In The Fairly OddParents the students were dissecting frogs (on the last day of school, for some reason). Though none of the students actively protested as much as staring at the frogs, Timmy uses his invisibility wish to beat up Francis, who'd been more than happy to cut open the frog. It almost becomes horrific when you realize the frog was still alive.
- In The Simpsons episode where Lisa first becomes a vegetarian, she refuses to dissect an earthworm.
- Another episode had the (dried) frogs be reanimated (or at least woken up) by a steam leak. They proceed to attack the students, with the croak of one being subtitled "Get 'Em!"
- Subverted in American Dad!, when Steve impressed a girl by playing around with the dissected frog.
- The former half of Mina and The Count was assigned to dissect an already-dead frog. She brought it back to life.
- An episode of The Brak Show featured Brak trying to get out of killing and dissecting a clam he's grown fond of. After playing sick the night before doesn't work, he almost succeeds by having a lumberjack-turned-bird grant his wish, only for Zorak to eat the bird at the last second. Ultimately the clam busts out of school himself and borrows Brak's Mom's car to get away.
- Done by Creepie in the Growing Up Creepie episode "Operation Monarch Liberation". Just replace Frogs with Butterflies.
- In the second episode of Daria, Upchuck reveals that the only reason he was invited to Brittany's party was because he dissected her frog.
- In many, if not all Scottish schools, dissection is no longer practiced, except on flowers. This can lead to a certain amount of disapointment in 11 year-olds moving up to high school who watched a lot of American television, and were actually looking forward to dissecting a frog, if only to enact this trope.
- Many North American schools are either replacing or considering replacing actual dissections with virtual dissections for the lower grades, when biology is a required course. Actual dissection experience is considered of value mostly to those students who sign up for the elective in the higher grades.