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Ignored Aesop

Combining Hypocritical Humor and An Aesop. The characters summarize a lesson they have learned, then immediately follow up with something that shows that they haven't learned anything after all. The characters, not quite done with reflecting on their own actions, may then proceed to further discuss what possible lessons they have learned. By the time they're finished the audience is clearly convinced that if there was ever any moral to the preceding story, it has been thoroughly and completely lost.

This is often a good way to justify Aesop Amnesia- after all, the equivalent of an Aesop-based kung-fu scene should leave everyone, including the viewer, sufficiently confused as to the purpose of the story that it's hard to hold it against the characters for failing to realize how they could apply this knowledge to other situations. This will most commonly end with characters concluding that they haven't learned anything, or they'll spend the ending of the show desperately trying to come up with an Aesop that works as a result.

See also Here We Go Again, Spoof Aesop, Lost Aesop.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Used in the Astro Boy story "Mad Machine," where, after being arrested, villain of the week Dr. Foola promises to give up his amoral money-grubbing ways—before snapping his handcuffs and offering to sell better ones to his guards.

Fan Fic

Live-Action TV
  • In the Father Ted Christmas special, Ted summarises what he has learnt
    Ted: You know Dougal, being in the priesthood - it's not about awards and glamour. It's about hard graft. It's about applying yourself to the spiritual needs of your parishioners...I could have turned into a bad priest....Selfish, arrogant, not given a damn about my parishioners...
    Dougal (answering the phone):''' Ted, It's Mrs Gilcuddy. She wants you to do one of those remembrance masses.
    Ted: I'm not in.

Newspaper Comics
  • Calvin and Hobbes did this a lot. For example, the end of the first "Duplicator" arc has Calvin attempting to describe the "valuable lesson" they learned from the incident. He shortly gives up, and Hobbes proclaims, "Live and don't learn, that's us".

Theatre

Video Games
  • Portal 2 ends with GLaDOS having apparently learned The Power of Friendship, only to use that information to discover where her remaining humanity is stored and delete it. She promptly returns with a second Aesop: "The best solution to a problem is usually the easiest one."

Webcomics

Western Animation
  • Kim Possible: In one episode, Kim, Ron and the whole cheerleading squad return to Camp Wannaweep which has been converted to a cheer camp. Gil returns and has apparently been returned to normal — everyone believes that he isn't evil anymore, except Ron. Ron repeatedly tries and fails to prove that he is still evil. It then turns out that Gil is still evil and Ron ends up saving the day. At the end of the episode, Kim, Ron, and Bonnie try to figure out what the lesson is. Ron suggests, "Normally I'd say we learned that suspicion and paranoia is bad, except that's what saved us." After several more failed attempts, they all agree "Cheer camp stinks."
  • Xiaolin Showdown: At the end of one episode where the team faced an Enemy Mime, Clay suggests that "we've all learned a little something." His teammates suggest "the importance of trusting your teammates", "the value of simple solutions to complicated problems", and "Omi can't use slang." Nope. "Everyone hates a mime."
  • South Park episode "Chinpokomon":
    Stan: Dude, Chinpokomon isn't cool anymore.
    Kyle: What?
    Cartman: Yeah, dude, that's way over.
    Kyle: Dude, you're just jealous because I'm Chinpoko Master!
    Stan: No, Kyle. You see, we learned something today. This whole Chinpokomon thing happened because we all followed the group. We only liked Chinpokomon because everyone else did. And look at the damage it caused.
    Kyle: So now I should stop liking Chinpokomon because you all don't?
    Stan: ...Ye-eah.
    Kyle: But if I stop now, I'll just be going with the group again. So, to be an individual, I have to bomb Pearl Harbor. See ya.
    Stan: Oh. Wait. Actually, I was wrong. You see, Kyle, I learned something, just now. It is good to go with the group. A group mentality is healthy, sometimes.
    Kyle: Aw, screw it; I'm too confused.
  • The Simpsons has a couple of examples.
    • "Blood Feud":
    Marge: The moral of the story is, a good deed is its own reward.
    Bart: Hey, we got a reward. The head is cool.
    Marge: Then... I guess the moral is no good deed goes unrewarded.
    Homer: Wait a minute. If I hadn't written that nasty letter, we wouldn't have gotten anything.
    Marge: Well... Then I guess the moral is the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
    Lisa: Perhaps there is no moral to this story.
    Homer: Exactly! Just a bunch of stuff that happened.
    Marge: But it certainly was a memorable few days.
    Homer: Amen to that!
    • "Rosebud":
    Homer: Well...we didn't get any money, but Mr. Burns got what he wanted. Marge, I'm confused! Is this a happy ending or a sad ending?
  • One episode of Adventure Time has the main characters Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline, and Beemo trying to get their prized possessions back from a thief called a Door Lord. When they finally reach him (via The Power of Friendship), the Door Lord refuses to give them their stuff back. Marceline then figures out that the Door Lord wanted them to learn that their treasures don't matter and that the real treasure was friendship. They then beat up the Door Lord, and take back their stuff.
    • Similarly, the entire point of the Magic Man episode is that Magic Man is a jerk, even though Finn tries to find other Aesops.
      • Adventure Time seems to be running with the lesson that sometimes people are jerks and not worth helping, but Finn has Chronic Hero Syndrome.
  • The Cutie Mark Crusaders from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are masters of this trope, most recently learning that they have to wait and do things properly rather than taking shortcuts, before promptly declaring they've waited long enough and heading off to find a shortcut.
    • There was also the time they spent an episode forcing themselves to do things they're bad at, but think sound cool. They learned that they should be true to themselves, and respect their own talents. No, that doesn't mean they're going to try scooter riding, carpentry and singing; no, their true call must be comedy. (They did just win an award for comedy at that point... because their Epic Fail of a performance in the talent show made the audience laugh.)
  • Frequently, American Dad! will deliberately break its own Aesops for the sake of humor. An example is in the episode "Threat Levels". Francine begins a career in real estate, and Stan becomes jealous when she starts earning more income than he does. Stan tries to sabotage her career, but by the end of the episode, he comes to understand that you shouldn't be jealous of your partner's success and that you should take pride in their triumphs. However, even after learning this, he still sabotages her career anyway.

Green AesopAn AesopLong-Lost Uncle Aesop

alternative title(s): Aesop Ju Jitsu
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