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Give a Man a Fish...
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

A Stock Aesop and Stock Phrase. By now, parodied or twisted at least as often as used straight.


Examples:

  • Minecraft: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll stand at the top of a cliff, whisk pigs off the ground, and snipe them out of the air.
    • On the subject of how incredibly addictive Minecraft can be:
    "I have heard [Gabriel] suggest that the game is crack, but it's more like all of the ingredients and equipment that you need to make crack, which I'd say is worse."
  • Dilbert: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will buy a silly hat. And if you talk to hungry people about fishing, you are a consultant."
  • In the Discworld novel Jingo: "Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life."
  • Schlock Mercenary: Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries.
    Maxim 21: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Take his fish away and tell him he's lucky just to be alive, and he'll figure out how to catch another one for you to take tomorrow.
  • Jason Love's Snapshots — the Robin Hood cartoon.
  • The alt-text of this XKCD says "Give a man a fish, or he will destroy the only remaining vial of antidote."
  • The Order of the Stick here. The title of that day's strip is, "Technically, the 'Fish' Version is a Subset of This One."
    Belkar: Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime!
  • Jackie Kashian gave us the salesman's version: "Give a man a fish, and that man knows where to come for fish. Teach a man to fish, and you've just destroyed your market base. What the hell is wrong with you?"
  • There's an unusual twist on one floating around the internet: Give a fish a fish, and you introduce the concept of slavery to an entire species. Teach a fish to fish, and you make him a mythical, nightmarish murderer feared by his own kind.
  • Or, "give a man a fish, and make it illegal to teach fishing".
  • There's another version, source also unknown, although somewhat well-spread across the internet, that goes like this: "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will dragnet the bottom of the ocean floor, dump 90% of what he catches as unmarketable, pollute the skies with greasy black smoke from his fish canning factories, wipe out the various species of fish that he has been exploiting, devastate the ecosystem, process his dead into Soylent Green, fall into a deadly downward spiral of food-riots and warfare, blow up the planet, and be succeeded on the top of the food-chain by cockroaches."
  • Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Don't teach a man to fish, and you feed yourself. He's a grown man. Fishing's not that hard."
    • Also in Parks and Recreation, the leader of the "Kaboom" playground-building team:
    "Take a man to Kabooming, and he Kabooms. Teach a man to Kaboom, and KABOOM KABOOM KABOOM!!"
  • Used incorrectly in Negima!?(dub) by Asuna while fishing.
    "If you teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a day, but if you give him a fish he'll just eat a bunch of fish!"
  • From This El Goonish Shive B Side Comics strip: "Couldn't you just give me a fish?"
  • Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll sit in your boat and drink all your beer.
  • As said by Minsc in Baldur's Gate, after giving money to a beggar:
    "You should have given him a sword! Give a man a fish and he feeds himself for a day. Give a man a sword, and he can chow down on the meaty marrow of evil!"
  • Arrested Development: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish..." "... and he'll want to use your yacht, and I don't want this thing smelling like fish."
  • Quoth Jeremy Keith, on his book Bulletproof Ajax: "Give someone a fish and they’ll think you’re a bit of weirdo; teach someone how to fish and they’ll wonder what fishing has got to do with web design."
  • A more sociopathic variation: Light a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night. Light a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
  • Mountain Time: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Give a man some worms and you feed the fish, too.
  • Parodied with the Pandaren in World of Warcraft
    "Teach a man to fish, and he is fed for a day. Uh, no, uh...he is fed. I...I messed it up, but we just make this stuff up anyway."
  • A joke/variation accredited to wives both happy and annoyed:
    "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you get him out of the house on the weekend."
  • Quoted by Archer in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode Mauraders, when deciding the best way to protect a colony of miners from being bullied regularly by a group of Klingons is to teach them how to stand up for themselves.
  • Parodied in Fable II in a loading screen. Teach a man to fish, and he'll stink up the whole town.
  • Parodied with one of the "pearls of wisdom" dispensed by Beatrix Russell in Fallout: New Vegas:
    "Feed a man for free. He'll be back asking for more. Feed a man a bullet. You won't hear from him again."
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