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Broken Aesop / Western Animation

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The field of Western Animation has many morals at the end of the episode, and many writers who think they can half-ass it. While it's not the cause of all the Broken Aesops here, it's certainly connected to a lot of them.

This list of examples is in alphabetical order, so please add your example in the proper place. Thanks!

Western Animation with their own pages

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  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • One "Sonic Says" segment advises kids against running away from home by having Coconuts try it, and Sonic remind him of all the good things Robotnik does to take care of him, and how no one will be there to do those things if he runs away, to convince him to go back home. The thing is, though, Coconuts is The Un-Favourite among Robotnik's creations, and spends most of his time taking abuse and doing chores to clean up after the rest of the "family", so basically the message comes down to "Even if your family is abusive, it's better than risking it going it alone".
    • This Sonic Sez delivers the lesson "Don't break the law". Trouble is, it's attached to the episode "Momma Robotnik’s Return", where Robotnik's mother legally adopts Sonic as the first step in a plot to get him killed — in essence, taking advantage of the law for her evil scheme (evidently, the government of Mobius has never heard of background checks) and delivering the opposite message: that what's right and what's legal don't always match up.
  • One episode in Allen Gregory has Allen hold a play in school that is extremely racist to Hispanics, which naturally gets Allen booed off the stage until a Hispanic student gets on stage and explains why racist views presented are wrong, which gets the kid cheered. Allen is forced by his teacher, Gina, to go to the people and apologize for the racist remarks, but he is met with cheers and applause instead because they thought the Hispanic student's speech was a part of the act. Allen rolls with it and learns nothing from his actions, frustrating Gina.
  • American Dad!:
    • In the episode "Stannie Get Your Gun", while waving a gun around and firing (what she thinks are blanks) at random, Hayley accidentally shoots Stan in the neck, paralyzing him. Out of grief, she supports Stan's decision to sing pro-gun songs at rallies. After seeing how depressed Hayley is, Stan realizes that Hayley would never intentionally harm him, and thus the gun must be at fault. He becomes anti-gun until near the end of the episode when he is shot in the spine again, healing him. At no point in the episode is it brought up that Hayley acted incredibly irresponsibly by firing a gun while pointing it at people, even if she thought it was loaded with blanks. Nor is it brought up that Stan was at fault for mistakenly putting an actual bullet in the gun with the blanks, or handing a loaded gun (blanks or no blanks) to someone without telling them. Hayley could've killed the man playing as the robber rather than simply paralyzing Stan and this is never brought up, the blame is either placed on Hayley or the gun. Nor is it brought up that even firing a blank at someone from a real gun is incredibly dangerous and can even be lethal: this infamously led to the death of Brandon Lee on the set of The Crownote , is why they make special blank-firing guns, and is something any gun owner with a modicum of knowledge about firearms should know.
    • In the episode "The American Dad After School Special", Stan disapproves of Steve's girlfriend Debbie due to her being fat. Francine and Hayley berate him for it, pointing out that he himself is somewhat overweight, resulting in Stan becoming anorexic and hallucinatory. The episode doesn't present many more options than "approving of overweight people" and "disapproving of overweight people will result in self-destructive extremism" and, not to mention, Debbie serves as a regular target for fat jokes from there.
    • In the season 3 episode "Surro-Gate", Stan kidnaps his Camp Gay neighbors' daughter under the assumption that they'd be unfit parents (because of their homosexuality). Seven seasons later he's proven at least half-right in the episode "A Boy Named Michael", as Greg & Terry are shown to be insane Education Papas that try to kill Roger for not meeting their standards while he's masquerading as their new adopted son, retroactively destroying the aforementioned episode's moral.
  • Animaniacs: The moral of "Be Careful What You Eat" is not to eat too much candy since it contains many suspicious ingredients. However, most of the ingredients listed were actually fine but demonised (MSG, sugar, etc), trivial (carob bean, Grade-A milk, etc), or even good for you (beta carotine, lactic acid, etc). They just sounded intimidating due to Scary Science Words.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force has many examples of this, but it works since the show rarely if ever takes itself seriously. "Universal Remonster", for example, has Frylock spend most of the episode discussing how too much TV is bad for you. Then at the end of the episode, he buys a new HD plasma screen TV, which immediately gets lampshaded by Meatwad.
    Meatwad: I thought you said TV was bad.
    Frylock: It is... but we f**king need it!
  • Archie's Weird Mysteries:
    • "Extra-Terror-estrial" had the group helping an ET-like alien named Gleebo build a device to get home while protecting him from evil aliens, only to reveal Gleebo was an intergalactic criminal and the "evil aliens" were actually police officers and ends with Archie speaking the moral of "cute can be bad and ugly can be good, don't judge a book by it's cover" verbatim. The problem here is the police did nothing to convey they were actually the good guys, despite knowing pretending to be the victim was the criminal's M.O. and even despite them speaking English, and instead went in full-cocked armed with lasers and began attacking Archie and his friends: the teens had every valid reason in the world to believe Gleebo was the good guy and the police were the bad guys here, none of which had to do with appearances.
    • "The Day the Earth Moved" is about the importance of respecting your family traditions. The one year the Andrews men don't perform their tradition, a giant worm emerges and begins destroying Riverdale. The only problem is, no one knew that the tradition was intended to placate it until Archie and his friends did some research. Even Mr. Andrews couldn't offer an explanation other than "it's tradition."
  • Arthur:
    • The episode "Arthur's Big Hit", where Arthur hits D.W. when she breaks his model airplane. She runs crying to their parents, and the rest of the episode is spent rubbing Arthur's nose in it, with the intended message of "violence is never the answer". There are a couple of problems with this:
      • Arthur learns his lesson when Binky hits him, and his parents treat Binky hitting Arthur as suitable punishment for Arthur hitting his sister, so it's apparently okay to hit someone to teach them why hitting is wrong. On top of this, Binky hits Arthur because he was peer-pressured by his Jerkass friends into hitting some random kid to prove how tough he is, which ends up being Arthur via Contrived Coincidence (although Binky was aware that Arthur hit D.W. and was distressed about it, so that can be debated), but Arthur hit D.W. as a direct consequence of her behavior. Also, the fact that Binky's intent was to engage in the exact sort of behavior that the episode's Aesop was meant to discourage is never meaningfully acknowledged.
      • D.W. only learns anything because Arthur hit her. Their parents say they'll have a talk with her, but by the end of the episode there is no evidence that that had actually happened — she still blames Arthur for the model she broke. The only remorse she feels is for driving Arthur to violence, but she only does that because hitting her has convinced her that the model really was important to him. Violence is never the answer, but it's the only language D.W. understands.
    • In "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver" after Buster (allegedly) rescues a cat, he gets hailed as a hero, with the aesop being not letting success go to your head. However, this falls flat as the only reason Buster was acting the way he did in the first place was the townspeople going out of their way to heap praise on him.
    • "Francine and the Feline" has Arthur and Francine arguing over the idea of whether cats and dogs can get along well or not, with Arthur going to great lengths to keep Pal away from Francine's cat, Nemo. The Aesop comes in place at the very end and proves it really is possible, and it does a good job of showing it. The "broken" part of this comes in when the entire point of this episode is thrown out the window so they can use Nemo as an antagonist in the episodes where Pal and Kate can talk. In short, they retroactively wasted a perfectly good moral. The fact that Arthur has friends who are cats of the humanoid, sapient variety is not brought up either.
    • "D.W's Very Bad Mood" tries to teach the Hard Truth Aesop that you shouldn't expect to be invited to every single event or birthday party. A very hard truth that people need to learn. Unfortunately, D.W. receives no comeuppance for her actions at all - and if anything gets indulged by not only being taken to a movie she already saw in the theatres several times but getting invited to Francine's birthday party. D.W. even looks forward to how she gets to go to an older kid's party... to get back at the girl who didn't invite her. Instead it comes off as teaching kids that throwing a tantrum is perfectly fine.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The intended message in "The Southern Raiders", as stated by Aang and supported by Word of God in the DVD commentary, was that violence isn't the answer to your problems and that forgiving your enemy is the first step towards healing from trauma. However, what led to Katara finding closure was seeing what her mother's killer was really like, and ultimately deciding that forcing him to live with his own cowardice was better retribution than murdering him. Katara herself rebukes Aang, pointing out that she didn't forgive him, and she never will.
    • Sequel Series The Legend of Korra has a couple of these as well:
      • Korra Took a Level in Jerkass in Season 2, which was supposed to have consequences that would teach her and audiences the importances of reining in your temperament and thinking your actions through. But her most brash and impulsive action, threatening to kill a judge to get him to overturn her fathers sentence, is how the heroes learned of Unalaq's villainy in time to rescue Korra's father and ultimately thwart his Evil Plan. Those Korra are able or unable to convince to help do so for reason unrelated to her temperament. Even after Korra Took a Level in Kindness and starts thinking thing through they still fail to make inroads agains the villains until the very end for unrelated reasons, in fact it inadvertently leads to a moment where Korra is forced to aid the villains, and her attempt to talk the villains out of it fails or played such a small part in there Heel–Face Turn it likely would have happened regardless.
      • It's noted throughout the franchise that balance is important: the Four Nations need to be in balance, there are allusions to yin and yang, which is the concept that opposite forces compliment each other, and the very concept of the Avatar is to be a balance of the four elements. However, this gets broken by Vaatu and Raava. Vaatu and Raava are depicted as two halves of the same being in conflict (with very obvious yin-yang symbolism in their designs and battle), who were split from each other long ago—creating an obvious imbalance between the two, as Raava became the spirit of the Avatar, while Vaatu was sealed away. One might expect from this, along with the concept of balance being so emphasized, that the series would establish Vaatu has important aspects as well, and end with the two being reunited and the balance between them restored. But instead, Vaatu is depicted as a complete Generic Doomsday Villain who is Made of Evil and has no redeeming qualities, and his destruction is treated as wholly good.
      • In the final season, it's noted that the prior main antagonists—Amon, Unalaq, and Zaheer—were all motivated by good intentions but were driven into extremism, which creates imbalance, with the intended statement being that moderation is the true path and an extremist mindset destroys a good purpose. Except that doesn't really work as a reason for why their movements fell apart. Zaheer is a true well-intentioned extremist, but his plan didn't really fall apart because it was too extreme; it fell apart because he didn't really have a plan at all besides "kill the Earth Queen and it'll all work out by itself." Meanwhile, Amon and Unalaq were Secretly Selfish, and their motivations amounted to jealous resentment and naked ambition, respectively—which were, again, the actual reasons their plans fell apart, not their methods.
  • One episode of Avengers Assemble had Hawkeye try to confront the Hulk on his selfish, hoarding, rude behavior. But throughout the episode he's portrayed as a selfish and childish crybaby. In fact, not once does anyone side with Hawkeye despite the fact that his grievances with Hulk are actually quite reasonable. So basically the moral of the episode is, let Hulk get away with everything, or get smashed.
  • Ben 10:
    • The Ghostfreak two-parter tries to do an Aesop about teamwork. Unfortunately, this fails when The Hero is armed with one of the most powerful artifacts in the universe; try as they might, Gwen and Max really don't compare. Also, at the beginning of Part 2 ("Be Afraid of The Dark"), Gwen tells Ben "We don't need your help". Frankly, the story makes it seem like she's jealous of the Omnitrix, and having sidekick issues. Max has a lesser case, but, not being ten, he knows when to shut up and get on with things. At the end of the second episode, Ben ends up learning his aesop about teamwork after... he uses his Omnitrix to save Gwen and Max's asses as they plummet from space to Earth.
    • She is also guilty of a Broken Aesop in the opposite direction. The first season episode "Lucky Girl" revolves around her becoming a superhero based on a magical charm she finds. After losing it and finding out that the Big Bad of the episode possesses many similar charms to augment his magical power, she opts to destroy them rather than use them herself, justifying it as a decision to "just be me". Unfortunately, this Aesop is broken for two reasons. First, her stance on not relying on such power tends to be overshadowed when her cousin keeps using that Omnitrix thingy, especially since she benefits from it as much as everyone else. Second, what does she do in later episodes? She readopts the persona briefly after finding an even better charm. Then she learns that she is capable of using magic, and (with a few tools stolen from one villain) starts regularly using it herself. In fact, in the future-based episodes, she carries and uses the exact same charms that she destroyed in that first episode! It seems those powers are just too cool to pass up after all.
      • The best way to interpret it is they realized how broken the aesop was from the first episode and chose to just pretend the lesson wasn't there, from then on destroying the charms only to keep them out of the hands of the bad guys and getting them in the future when she'd be strong enough to protect them.
    • Another broken Aesop occurs with the show's handling of Kai Green. As she turned out to be quite shallow by the end of her debut, Ben supposedly learns the moral that not every crush is meant to work out and he just needs to move on. As Gwen put it, "the thing about a crush is, sometimes you get crushed." Yet for whatever reason, Ben 10: Omniverse backpedaled on this moral hard by not only bringing back Kai, but going as far as to treat her and Ben as destined to be together. It's to the point where time traveler Chrono Spanner (secretly their future son Kenny in disguise) goes back in time specifically to ensure they spend time alone with each other. To make matters worse, the show actually worsened Kai's shallow traits from the original series, making it seem even more ridiculous that she's somehow the one that Ben has to get together with.
      • Even prior to her return in Omniverse, the original series was just as guilty of breaking this Aesop. While she's never shown onscreen, pop-up trivia confirms that the mother of Kenny (Ben's future son) is Kai, which is further supported by the fact that he shares the same skin tone as her. This is, again, in spite of the moral of Kai's debut literally being that she and Ben aren't meant to be together.
  • The Bobinogs episode "Wash, Soap, Rinse, and Dry" pulled off its Aesop about hand washing, but its other Aesop, not to be afraid to ask to use the toilet, is broken because Nib did ask to go to the toilet before riding in the hot air balloon, but her friends brushed it off with "There's no time for that".
  • Several episodes of the satirical African-American cartoon The Boondocks carry the message of "black people shouldn't be acting like foolish caricatures of themselves". Some episodes even lambasted the BET TV network for perpetuating this. Despite this, most of the comedy in The Boondocks is reliant upon over-the-top stereotypes of ghetto black people.
  • Big City Greens does this with the episode "Ding Dongers". In the episode, Remy discovers Cricket is the key to popularity with a TikTok-like app and pushes him into doing multiple dangerous stunts, only to ultimately stop and realize he was dreadfully harming Cricket for the sake of popularity, so he ends up Taking the Bullet for his sake. However, their friend Benny filmed the whole park stunt, and his account gets the most followers yet making him a platinum member, thus he sold Cricket and Remy out for fame like Remy almost did.
  • Invoked in one episode of Brandy & Mr. Whiskers. Whiskers had just gotten over his Compressed Vice of video game addiction and decides that the lesson is that there's more to life than staring at a screen for hours on end. He and Brandy, remembering they are ratings-dependent cartoon characters, very quickly try to claim that television is exempt from that statement before the viewer switches them off.
  • In the Bratz cartoons, the main characters constantly tell the one-shot characters that they should follow their own unique sense of style... right after they give them a makeover or get done gawking at the villains' untrendy Limited Wardrobe.
  • Captain N: The Game Master had an episode (very loosely) based on Paperboy where Mother Brain used a mind control serum mixed in with ink to take over the neighborhood. It's also revealed that the titular paperboy is illiterate, leading to a "Reading Is Cool" Aesop. However, the mind control serum only works if the victim reads what was written with the ink and the paperboy was unaffected because he couldn't read it.
  • Captain Planet
    • The moral of the entire series is "if we work together, we can save the planet", but in every episode, working together fails and the Planeteers always end up calling Captain Planet to deal with the problem for them. Mitigated somewhat by the ending tag of each episode, telling the viewers how they can personally help save the planet (without the Captain's help). Sure, calling Captain Planet is "all their powers combined", but if combining their powers is all it takes, why isn't regular teamwork enough?
    • Captain Planet also has a problem with a broken Aesop regarding green technology. We're told that relying on fossil fuels and nuclear power is badwrong and instead should be using such things as solar power. But the only ones who have solar power in the energy densities required are the Planeteers (their craft actually flies on the power generated by solar panels). So... why aren't they giving this technology away, if it will help? So the Aesop is: "Use green technology, but never actually give it to anyone who would benefit."
  • The true star of A Charlie Brown Christmas is Charlie Brown's sad little Christmas tree, which serves as a metaphor for the True Meaning of Christmas, in contrast to the glitzy Aluminum Christmas Trees everyone else buys, which are a metaphor for crazed holiday materialism. By the end of the film, Charlie Brown's friends come around to appreciating his perspective — and his tree. Yet the climax of the film nevertheless features everyone happily decorating Charlie Brown's sad tree until it rather magically comes to resemble as more "proper" one, decked out in glitzy decorations. This is presented as a happy ending, though it undermines the anti-materialism message by ultimately presenting Charlie Brown's tree as something that needed to be "fixed" by conforming with materialistic standards.
  • The intended moral of obscure 1995 Christmas Special The Christmas Light seems to be that everyone has the capability to be a good person and friendship can help bring out the best in people, but it falls flat in a number of ways due to how ineptly the story is written. The biggest way the moral fails is the fact that the story indicates that Burton was the one who learned this lesson when the story's circumstances would make it more appropriate for the other characters sans Jennifer to learn said lesson since they were the ones who caused Burton to go bad in the first place by always bullying him for reasons that are never stated. On top of that, the heroes don't try even once to get the antagonist of the movie's sequel to learn this lesson, even after he's defeated.
  • The Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot episode "Welcome to Grump-A-Lot" has Grumpy Bear lose his temper at his friends, causing a "Grumpy Storm" to break loose and turn everyone except for Grumpy into foul-tempered opposites of their normal selves. The lesson (as spelled out by Tenderheart) is that "While we all get frustrated, we must learn to control our emotions." Which would be fine, except Grumpy only blew up at the others because he was all set to watch TV in peace and everyone showed up at his place without being invited, ate all his food, criticized the way he had laid out the snacks, deliberately stood in front of the TV screen so he couldn't see anything, talked and sang loudly over the announcer, and utterly refused to respect his privacy. So the lesson came across more as "It's wrong to want time for yourself, and if your friends walk all over you and refuse to consider your feelings on the matter, you have no right to get angry at them about it." Bonus points because this was the exact kind of lesson that the Care Bears franchise originally tried to avoid with Grumpy Bear; the entire point to his character was to teach kids that it's okay to sometimes be grumpy.
  • While Crawford's Corner is usually good at getting its morals straight, in "Crawford Washes His Hands", one of the lessons is not to leave the faucet dripping as that would be bad for the environment. However, instead of just telling Crawford to turn off the faucet, the offscreen voice has him guess what he needs to do (e.g. "Do you hear anything?"), which only leaves the faucet dripping for longer.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • The Aesop of "Splitting Images" is supposedly "Standing up to bullies makes you a bully." By that logic, Danny's a bully for messing with Dash and the rest of the bullies. Pointdexter should, therefore, be just as much of a "bully" as Danny, as he also punishes a kid he thinks is a bully. Danny is portrayed as in the wrong for giving real bullies a taste of their own medicine, but Pointdexter is treated as in the right for giving Danny a taste of his own medicine. Danny concludes that what Pointdexter put him through "serves me right," even though he and Pointdexter did the exact same thing with the exact same motive. If Danny was wrong, Pointdexter should have been wrong, too; conversely, if Pointdexter's actions were justified, Danny's should have been, too. The double standard is very stark.
    • Vlad is treated as in the wrong for thinking of his imperfect clones of Danny as cannon fodder. However, Vlad is the only one to feel sad when the unfinished perfect clone is killed.
    • The conflict of the very first episode, "Mystery Meat," is started because Sam attempts to express her individuality as an "Ultra-Recyclo vegetarian" by replacing the cafeteria's lunch menu with what is essentially grass on a bun and forcing all the other students to go along with it. Naturally, the other students are not happy about this, but Sam refuses to back down, even when her changing the menu to her tastes results in her getting kidnapped by the Lunch Lady Ghost.
    • "The Fright Before Christmas" has Danny accidentally destroy one of Ghost Writer's books due to him being in a sour mood about the hoildays; in retaliation, Ghost Writer curses Danny and everyone around him to be stuck rhyming until he learns An Aesop about being in the Christmas spirit. The story falls apart due to the actual reason Danny is always in such a bad mood around Christmas: every year, his parents have dramatic public arguments about the existence of Santa Claus, complete with laser battles. Of course Danny would be miserable having to deal with his parents making even bigger spectacles of themselves than usual, but everyone else just treats Danny's feelings as Wangst. So the lesson ends up coming off as "Don't be a Scrooge around the holidays, even if you have a good reason for doing so, because everyone around you will just shame you into feeling the Christmas spirit." Merry Christmas?
  • In a few episodes of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter does something that bothers Dee Dee or hurts her feelings, and in turn he has to make up for it after being stricken with guilt for what he'd done. That would all be okay if it weren't for one thing: Dee Dee is constantly destroying Dexter's lab, and very rarely shows any respect for her brother, and they want us to blame Dexter. The result is Dex becoming Unintentionally Sympathetic while Dee Dee becomes the opposite.
  • All three plots we see in Dorbees: Making Decisions have the "Making the right decisions" moral broken in some way.
    • Jack and Mary Jane: The right decision was meant to be for them to stay in school, but considering the teacher was giving them bad information(he says the sum of the sides of a triangle is 90 degrees; in reality, the sum of the angles is 180 degrees) and the school flat out tries to kill them as soon as they step out of the classroom (nothing is done to establish that this system could tell the difference between kids intending to leave school and kids leaving the class for a legitimate reason, like to go to the nurse or the bathroom), staying in that school probably wouldn't be the best decision either.
    • Otto and Dig: The right decision was meant for Dig to be honest, which he ultimately does... by telling Otto that he can't possibly make someone as ugly as him look good, despite being the best clothing shop in town, and that Otto would be better off sticking to Scandinavian clothes rather than trying to integrate into the local fashion. There's being honest, and then there's being unnecessarily blunt.
    • Mr. Poe and Yogul: Mr. Poe saves Yogul from Dr. Dairy's death trap by pressing a button to free him, ignoring the other two buttons which are labeled "Push for World Peace" and "Push to End World Hunger". Even if there was a reason why Mr. Poe couldn't press all three, pressing either of the other two could have saved millions of lives, making them better decisions than just freeing Yogul.
  • In Double Dragon, this is what the Oldest Dragon tells Billy in the first episode "The Shadow Falls":
    Oldest Dragon: Never forget the code of the dragon. Do not battle if you can avoid it. If you must fight, do not injure. Never intentionally harm another.
    • This gives the message that one shouldn't jump into battles for the sake of fighting, don't be a bully, etc... yet the Oldest Dragon also tells Billy that he should never injure his opponents during battle. This is absurd, especially in Billy's case, as he is fighting against the Shadow Warriors, the members of an evil syndicate. He can't afford not to injure these guys. If the Oldest Dragon told him not to kill them, it'd be a different story. It's just an out-of-place message in a Merchandise-Driven action cartoon.
      • And if that wasn't enough, while the Oldest Dragon tells Billy the above quote, he hands him a sword. Billy Lee is told never to harm his opponents while being handed a sword. ''The Oldest Dragon, who knows exactly how huge a threat the Shadow Warriors are, is telling his pupil, who he just named a Dragon Master, not to harm them as he hands him a sword.
    • There was also the guns are bad episode. The city bans every kind of unlicensed handgun. The Shadow Master increases production of his illegal handguns, since there is now a greater market; resident criminals buy weapons from him illegally and go on a rampage. When regular citizens find that they can't even buy licensed weapons, unless they're in law enforcement, they start buying them illegally to protect themselves. The police prove unable to stop the wave of crooks or shut down the Shadow Master's operations. The moral comes across less "guns are bad" than it does "crooks are already willing to break the law, and will get weapons. You need to be able to defend yourself.", which one might recognize as one of the most popular arguments in favor of letting the general public own guns. Bonus points for no grey areas between "no legal guns at all" and "no restrictions on guns."
  • Dragon Booster had a big one in "Pride of the Hero". It starts with Artha's ego yet again getting over-inflated. Then we see Fan-Favorite Anti-Villain Moordryd suddenly stopping Wraith Dragons after what looked like a fight with his Big Bad father. While we admit it seems a bit abrupt for a Heel–Face Turn, at least Artha's getting called out for the fact that jealously is the main reason he doesn't trust Moordryd. In order to make a point, and possibly because he sense the good in him, Beau then lets Moordryd get on his back, shocking Artha into admitting that maybe there is good in Moordryd...only for Moordryd to whip out an Artifact of Doom and spill his whole evil plan.
  • Quite a few Dragon Tales episodes have perfectly good Aesops that wipe out on the shores of Most Writers Are Human And Do Not Live In Magical Lands, and wind up just looking strange. To wit: Lorca is a magical dragon who lives in a Magical Land with unicorns and wizards and magic everywhere, and he's in a wheelchair. So the little kids watching this fantasy cartoon where children have wonderful adventures in a Magical Land can learn that disabled people are just like you and me. Even when they are dragons in wheelchairs. We get the intended message, but it seems a little on the nose to have a mythical creature in a wheelchair.note This Aesop gets especially weird when you remember that Lorca can fly just fine and lives in a world with wish-granting magic, creating huge amounts of Fridge Logic.
  • DuckTales (2017): In one episode, Scrooge and his on-and-off girlfriend/rival Goldie O'Gilt encounter a Fountain of Youth near a hotel resort in Florida, and they become 20-somethings again. But then they find out the fountain actually transfers youth; someone has to be made older for it to make someone else young, and the resort owner has been stealing the youth of college-age spring breakers to maintain his own life. Scrooge and Goldie ultimately decide they'd rather age gracefully than artificially become young again. This would be admirable except they have both already used various means to prolong their lives and relative youth, having been alive since the 1800's. One could argue that those previous methods didn't require them to harm others like this one does, but the show never makes this point.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of The Emperor's New School. After Kuzco and Kronk attempt to get Mr. Moleguaco to take a vacation because they find the work he's giving them too hard (mostly Kuzco, Kronk just wants a piñata), Mr. Moleguaco decides to indeed go on vacation, resulting in Kuzco, Kronk and the rest of the class having to put up with a Sadist Substitute Teacher named Mr. Nadaempa. Eventually it turns out that Mr. Nadaempa is Mr. Moleguaco's cousin, and that Mr. Moleguaco enlisted his help to teach the class that you can't skip work. Then he takes them all to a water park. When Malina points out that they're not learning anything, he blatantly Hand Waves it.
  • The National Film Board of Canada animated short, ''The Energy Carol'' has the standard Green Aesop of conserving energy. Unfortunately, the short undermines its own message for the sake of a joke: after our Scrooge analog is visited by the ghosts of energy past, present, and future, he becomes a complete Luddite and urges others to do the same, while the ghosts look on and wonder if they overdid it.
  • Family Guy:
    • One commonly-found Broken Aesop is parodied — that of the strong, empowered woman with an important job who's unfulfilled without a man. It features one such character meeting a man who says "In the next ninety minutes I'll show you that all your problems can be solved by my penis."
    • There's also the infamous "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven", the intended Aesops of which being "Fundamentalism and willful ignorance in religion can be dangerous" and "Sometimes religion doesn't have all the answers to mankind's unanswered questions." But sadly, the reason why the episode is so hated is because, due to how the episode plays out, the Aesops come across more as "Believing in God is a waste of time, especially if you're from a family that treats you like crap and your life sucks," and "Atheists know what they're talking about when they say that there is no God and no reason to follow religion." Ulimately, the moral falls flat as Brian comes across as a massive jerk, basically saying Meg not standing up to her perception of beauty proves God doesn't exist.
    • "Episode 420" unsuccessfully juggles the "legalizing weed will have no negative consequences on society" aesop with "stoners are morons" jokes. For example, the scene where Brian states that ever since legalizing weed worker productivity is up over 100% doesn't really fare so well since only a scene away Peter was so stoned he couldn't even set up a Cutaway Gag. And when he mentions that crime is down, it is clear that it is because everyone is too stoned to get off the couch.
    • In "Seahorse Seashell Party", Meg openly accepts being the Griffin family Butt-Monkey because, after confronting them on what awful people they are, the entire family falls apart. This is supposed to show how strong, mature, and stable she is for being able to endure the abusive hell she lives in for their sake... except the abuse has driven her to become an obsessive, mall-garbage-eating stalker, starved for even the barest minimum of positive attention.
  • Futurama:
  • In Galactik Football's second season, Rocket is banned from playing and leaves the team to play in a one-on-one game called Netherball, becoming a much more aggressive player the longer he plays. The Aesop is rammed down our throats by every "good" character — playing as a team is good, playing for yourself is selfish. Rocket eventually returns to the team, and in his first match back the opposing captain (Lurr, who was one of the main proponents of the whole "teamwork is good" mantra) plays a game that's like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs is playing all the positions in baseball. Then in their next match, their opponents all leave the field save for their ace player, who proceeds to run rings around the protagonist team and score three goals in a row. It's only when Rocket draws upon his experiences playing Netherball and decides to do it all himself that the heroes score a goal.
  • In an episode of The Galaxy Trio, a subterranean race is wreaking havoc on the surface world. After the Trio beat them, it turns out that they are actually the original natives of the planet, forced underground by the colonists from space. The solution is to send them to live on the sun instead with no mention of reparations, which their physiology conveniently favors.
  • The US Acres cartoon "Gort Goes Good" has a "people can change" moral, completely subverted in that Gort's Heel–Face Turn was just a ruse. Despite this, Orson still proclaims that it's possible for people to change for the better, but his case isn't looking too strong. It's worth noting that Orson was the only character that honestly believed that Gort had gone good in the first place, and Orson's Aesop was just an example of his rampant optimism. At the very end, after Wade causes a problem with his panic, Orson grudgingly admits that some people never change.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • "The Time Traveler's Pig" teaches Dipper that sometimes, you have to sacrifice your needs for others' happiness, in this case, Mabel. Except that when Mabel loses Waddles to help Dipper impress Wendy, she ended up fighting with Dipper over the time machine hoping to return to the timeline where she wins back Waddles and upon failing to do so, ended up having a month long Heroic BSoD where she beats her head on a totem pole. Downplayed when you consider the fact Mabel's happiness was a beloved pet pig (who winds up looking quite unhappy in the timeline where Mabel never wins him), whereas Dipper's happiness essentially amounted to pining over someone who due to realistic circumstances could only love him back in his dreams.
    • "The Love God" attempts to give a moral about not meddling with people's relationships, which is undermined by everything ending up better for all parties involved after Mabel uses a love potion to force two people together. She learned the aforementioned lesson while trying to reverse the effects of the potion (or at least force a break up, given that Gravity Falls: Journal 3 revealed that the potion's effects were temporary), and ultimately decided not to since the results of her tampering were good in the end.
    • "Roadside Attraction" has an aesop about not being a pickup artist. On paper, Dipper tries being one to help take his mind off of Wendy, flirts with a number of girls at different tourist attractions, then gets called out for it when they all meet up at the final spot and find out what he's been doing. In practice, however, all Dipper is shown doing is having friendly conversations with them and asking for numbers and e-mails to keep in touch, with the girls not really having any reason to expecting hearing from him again. It instead makes the episode come off as implying that so much as interacting with someone of the opposite sex is automatically seen as trying to be in a relationship with them and thus that Dipper shouldn't interact with more than one member of the opposite sex.
      • Plus in previous episodes we see Mabel aggressively throwing herself at every boy she sees, often regardless of how comfortable they are with her doing so, and it's played for laughs, resulting in a significant Double Standard.
    • The lesson of "Soos and The Real Girl" is apparently about going out and meeting real people, rather than playing video games, and that dating sims aren't a substitute for real realationships. Fair enough- except that the dating sim in question is actually intelligent and sapient. So the lesson ends up being closer to "A.I. aren't real people, even if they are fully sapient and can think".
  • The Italian cartoon Grisù had a problem with using a reset button powered by Failure Is the Only Option that consistently clashed two contradictory aesops. Being a young dragon, Gris&ugrave (whose name is Italian for a firedamp) dreams of being a fireman and stopping fires instead of starting them as his proud father keeps reminding them is his role in life. The aesop here is to believe in yourself and anything is possible, as week after week he gets a different job and gains instant fame as he succeeds at it beyond expectation... only to literally burn it all away as his happiness makes him lose control of his fire breath and he singes everyone involved, ruining his job and delivering the counter-aesop don't try to be something you're not as you will only destroy your life in the process.
  • The Groovenians espouses the morals of not trampling on artistic expression. The problem is that it equates any form of making self-admitted hipsters take responsibility and pay their dues with not caring about their artistry. One wonders whether the creator of the cartoon being a career artist has anything to do with it, though no one wonders why the pilot never got picked up.
  • Harley Quinn (2019) featured a Framing Device about an entitled, misogynistic fan who hates the show (and Harley) on principal, and has to be goaded into watching it. At the end, he learns that he shouldn't have judged the show and needed to get over his pre-conceived notions. Except the episode he watched didn't feature Harley at all, instead focusing on Batman. It was completely different from the rest of the series. So instead of him learning to give something a chance, the episode is essentially saying that giving him what he wants is the way to go.
  • The 2014 NBC holiday special How Murray Saved Christmas has some good messages about teamwork and doing your part for the community. These are undercut with jokes about sweatshop labor and kids being brats.
  • The Inspector short "London Derierre" was written around the idea that British policemen are a bunch of idiotic fools for not carrying weapons and that real police officers carry guns at all times and use them whenever the opportunity presents itself. While you can make arguments for and against British police officers being unarmed, the way the cartoon depicts things rather undermines its own argument, because the Inspector opens fire at a burglar who has done nothing to directly threaten the Inspector himself, and does it in the middle of a crowded building. This has the effect of making the Inspector look like a trigger-happy maniac while the obstructive British police officers come off like they're preventing the Inspector from hurting any innocent bystanders.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures:
    Jackie: You see, Jade? Slow and steady wins the race.
    Jade: But you're using the rabbit talisman to get super-speed? I'm getting mixed messages here!
  • The episode "Like Father Like Son" from Kaijudo has the moral that kids don't always end up like their parents, and can make the right choices and become better people. Despite nearly dying multiple times, getting kidnapped and held hostage, and pretty much being dragged through the Fire Civilization, Carny still becomes a recurring villain after running back to his scumbag of a father.
    • Even worse, in a later episode, Ray's father turns out to be a duel master.
  • Kim Possible has "Twin Factor" where Kim describes a mind control chip as "ferociously unethical". Later, she uses it on her brothers while babysitting.
    • The morality of mind control goes right out the window when Kim's own father brainwashes her note . Or the previous episode where Shego having her Morality Dial switched to good is a good thing.
    • "Low Budget" includes the discovery that Kim's favorite brand, Club Banana, is an offshoot of (and sells similar wares to) Smarty Mart, the Walmart expy which she belittled. This doesn't affect her adherence to the latest Club Banana fashions at all. Smarty Mart's boots are black, and Club Banana's are onyx.
      • In that particular episode, Kim isn't portrayed as a role model. Assuming that she's an Anti-Role Model, the aesop ends up being something like "Teenage girls are hypocritical and stubborn. Don't bother trying to change them".
  • King Arthur & the Knights of Justice had two episodes, "To Save a Squire" & "Winter Campaign," which appeared to be attempting to show You Go, Girl! by having Guinevere's handmaidens join the Knights on a mission and prove themselves. However, the moral was butchered in both; while Mary in the first episode was closer to Action Girl or Silk Hiding Steel, not only was Tone depicted as a Straw Misogynist (despite never having shown behavior like this before), but the other Knights treated Mary's inclusion with derision as well, and weren't called out on it. In the second, Elaine was hardly depicted as useful.
  • King of the Hill: The show often teaches that hard work isn't always glamorous, but it's always the proper and admirable way to get results. In "Business is Picking Up," Bobby job shadows under a man who cleans up animal waste for a living. He enjoys this so much that he thinks about setting up his own sort of business involving vomit clean-ups, but some of the other characters seen are squicked at either of the cleanup jobs. The show-wide aesop is broken when Bobby is portrayed as being in the wrong for wanting to do dirty work, even if it's an honest job and said animal waste cleaner is shown to make big cash off of his jobnote , because other people would hate him for it to the point that they might beat him up. This is conveyed to Bobby by the animal waste-cleaner staging a lie to him about it. The aesop of the episode is less "Hard work has great payoffs" and more "Having a job involves work... and making sure enough people like you" mixed in with "Kids should follow after their parents." Adding to the inconsistency, five episodes later the show goes back to emphasizing the work and ignoring popularity when Bobby and Joseph are more respected by their fellow students for bumming off the streets (which is shown as a cheap and unfair way to get money) than for having an honest job.

  • In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Checkers", Lilo is sick of her older sister/guardian Nani's constant bitching over her strange, mundane hobbies, and being belittled by Mertle and her Girl Posse. The experiment of the week is #029 (dubbed Checkers), who can be used as a crown that grants its wearer, essentially, a form of mind control over everyone who sees them. Lilo uses this to make everybody treat her with respect. It ends up horribly for everyone involved, concluding with the message that power corrupts. However, the main instances of corruption are performed by Mertle without any instruction from Lilo (or even informing Lilo until it's too late), making the message instead "don't give your subordinates any autonomy or they'll ruin things", the exact opposite of the intended message.
  • The Lion Guard:
    • "The Wisdom Of Kongwe" has the intended Aesop "Be patient. Take a moment to stop, think, and observe your surroundings" when Fuli and Makini escort the tortoise Kongwe to Pride Rock to discuss recent developments (specifically, the appearance of Scar's ghost) with Simba. We're meant to see Fuli as in the wrong for wanting to get back to Pride Rock as soon as possible, getting frustrated over Kongwe's habit of stopping and examining random things like flowers. Trouble is, Simba specifically said that he wanted to speak with Kongwe as soon as possible - a perfectly reasonable request given the new threat at hand. Which, in turn, makes it perfectly reasonable for Fuli to tell Kongwe to quit screwing around and get a move on.
  • The Little Princess episode "I Want to Find the Treasure" is meant to have an anti-cheating Aesop, in that the Princess uses a map for the Easter hunt despite not being allowed. It's broken by two things— first is that the Princess didn't know that using the map wasn't allowed, and second is the question of why there even was a map if using it wasn't allowed.
  • The Loud House:
    • The intended moral of the episode "Linc or Swim" is, "It's better to spend time with your family rather than to spend time on your own." However, when Lincoln was spending time with his family at the town pools, he still didn't have a good time, because three of his sisters got the whole family kicked out. Slightly diluted by the fact that getting their own pool meant there was now no-one to kick the Louds out, but there's still the fact that Lincoln learned his lesson about selfishness while Lori was selfish earlier in the episode (namely, she kicked her siblings out of the pool for a "senior swim" because she's a high school senior) and never learned better.
    • "Brawl in the Family": The idea of the episode is to let some conflicts settle by themselves without getting involved, which is technically right as Linc's attempts to settle the fighting prove nothing more than futile. However, given that the sisters' entire protocol results in them not allowing him to do anything simple in the house, such as watching TV or even letting him be in his room, all while going to outrageously stupid lengths just to keep the warring sisters apart without actually letting anyone solve anything, the whole point of the Aesop seems completely moot, since Lincoln’s life is being messed with and thus he has every valid reason to want to stop the fighting. Furthermore, the sisters keep telling Lincoln to stay out of it, yet those who aren’t fighting do every unfair thing just to stop the angry sisters from seeing each other, plus when Lincoln has Luna and Luan switch rooms with Lori and Leni, the former two go at it as to who had the dress first, meaning they just broke their own rules. In the end, the fighting only stops because Lori managed to trick Leni into wearing the dress on all days of the week that don’t end in Y, as in, not wear it at all. Meaning the whole ordeal was all for nothing and the whole system was a complete failure.
      • The moral also falls flat due to prior continuity; in episodes such as "Heavy Meddle," "Study Muffin," and "Cereal Offender," they served nothing but to make the situation worse or awkward for Lincoln, yet he ends up learning a lesson at the end.
    • "The moral in "Strife of the Party" is that Lola should think about her twin sister Lana while celebrating her birthday since she ruined Lana's birthday plans. The problem is that Lana's plans include a huge mud-made cake, and bull named Roy, and garbage for decorations, and she never thought about if the plans will be enjoyed by the guests (and Lola). The disgustingness of her plans is what forces Lola to undo it by contacting a garbage man, popping the tires on Flip's truck so he can't bring Roy, and tipping a health inspector to prevent the cake from being delivered, eventually ruining Lana's party planning. Still, the episode puts Lola in the wrong since she sabotaged the party for her own needs to run it her way.
    • In "The Butterfly Effect", Lincoln accidentally breaks Lisa's chemistry set, considers lying about it, but then decides to tell the truth after imagining a worst-case scenario for what would happen if he didn't tell the truth. However, nothing he imagined was the result of not telling the truth — Lily's growing into a giant and the explosion that caused Leni's intelligence-enhancing head injury and the photo of Bobby that led to him being Mistaken for Cheating were both the result of the accident itself, and everything else that happened was the situation spiralling out of control after those things happened.
  • Martha Speaks:
    • One episode introduces the character of Bob, an Angry Guard Dog with the habit of chasing after or barking at everything in sight. Bob attacks Martha and Helen throughout the episode while Bob's owner calls him a "bad dog". Then, at the end of the episode, Bob's owner starts calling him a "good dog" and Bob suddenly starts acting nice. Now, this could've been a good lesson about how calling someone names can make them angry and take out their anger on others. There are two problems: Bob was never shown being nice throughout the entire episode, even when he wasn't being called names, and in later episodes, he goes back to being mean.
    • At the end of "Martha's Steamed!", Helen asks Martha if she learned something from all. Martha believes it's you couldn't jump to conclusions and a very hot dog can get very thirsty. Helen says the lesson was you shouldn't go eat food everywhere you see because it will lead to trouble. Martha, of course, misses the point and tries to reach for something in a trash can, only to fall in.
      Martha: Trouble? Eating is no trouble at all. [falls into the trash can] Uh, help!
  • In the Maryoku Yummy episode "Flip, Flop, and Float," Maryoku gets sick and is ordered to rest, but continually gets out of bed to help her friends, despite the fact that they keep telling her they'll be fine. Each time, she causes them trouble and just gets more and more sick. It looks like the moral of the story will be "when you're sick, stay in bed," (this is a show for preschoolers, after all) but at the end, Maryoku admonishes her friends for not telling her how much trouble she was causing for them, and the moral becomes "don't be afraid to hurt people's feelings when there's something important to tell them." Because heaven forbid Maryoku should actually be the one to learn a lesson.
  • Michel Vaillant had an episode in which the eponymous Michel and his family racing team compete in a special exhibition race showcasing environmentally-friendly fuels/transportation technologies. The resident baddies try to cheat by using higher performing regular gas. It's animated as thick, sooty, jet-black smoke and causes bystanders to notice by making their eyes water, and is essentially the same fuel used by the Vaillants and everybody else in all other episodes.
  • Many Christmas specials that aims to educate about the true meaning of Christmas makes the mistake of somehow giving the main character what they wanted at the end. Unfortunately, by doing so the writers ends up reconstructing the "be nice for cool presents and not for unselfish reasons" morale that they intended to discourage in first place.
    • Subverted in The Town Santa Forgot, where the Spoiled Brat Jeremy Creek doesn't get all the presents he wants, but does gets to ride with Santa Claus, helping to deliver presents to other kids, which he finds he enjoys more than getting the presents he wanted in the first place.
  • In The Little Rascals episode "Science Fair and Foul", Buckwheat is surprised to have won the science fair award despite the Unrobotic Reveal. As the judges said to him, "Even though planning and performance are important, equally important is the ability to improvise… to make do with what you have." Isn't that what Buckwheat did when he built his robot from tin cans, cardboard boxes and other found objects?
  • In the Mike Tyson Mysteries episode "San Juan Puerto Rico Blows but San Juan Capistrano..." the Mystery Team ends up in the Bermuda Triangle where they meet L. Ron Hubbard who's framed as a lunatic. The episode ends with the group meeting the nun who hired them who apologizes for them "being preached a made-up religion full of fanciful stories, designed to take advantage of the gullible and get their money" before asking for donations for the church and explaining Christianity to them with the same music played when L. Ron Hubbard explained Scientology. This attempt at Hypocritical Humor falls flat, however, due to the fact that earlier in the very same episode Marquess (who's a ghost) mentioned having been to Heaven.
  • In the episode "The Fugitive Flowers" in My Little Pony 'n Friends, while the ponies do explicitly state that the reason they believed the Flories (mobile sapient invasive weeds) were good and the Crabnasties were bad is because the Crabnasties are ugly and the Flories are pretty, one can't ignore the Fridge Logic that the Crabnasties really didn't make themselves come off as "good guys" even ignoring that they're ugly-looking Giant Enemy Crabs. The Crabnasties make themselves known to the ponies by ripping a swathe of destruction through Dream Valley; cutting down or tearing up trees, flipping over boulders, ripping up plants and generally making a mess. When the ponies complain, the Crabnasties brush them off and wander away, still tearing the place apart as they go. If they had apologised for the destruction and explained that they are police officers out to stop the Flories, who drain the life from the earth and create deserts wherever they go, they could have elicited enough understanding to prevent the ponies from assuming "Flories Good, Crabnasties Bad".
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Adrien/Cat Noir had many instances where he could have discovered the identity of Ladybug/Marinette, but always respected the private life of his beloved, despite he knows learning it would bring them closer.note  His attitude was presented as the right thing to do. In the meantime, Alya and Luka were both akumatized on the fact they wanted (for less noble motives) to know Ladybug/Marinette 's secrets, and tried violently to force the issue with their powers. Since, Alya had been entrusted to Ladybug's identity and the secrets of the Miracle box. And Luka had accidentally witnessed the civilian identities of Ladybug and Cat Noir. Adrien's reward for his honesty? He's still (and more and more) left in the dark, and will very likely be the last one to know.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Native Youth Olympics," Walter emphasizes to Molly that the key to doing well in any of the Native Youth Olympic events is to keep practicing. In the end, Molly wins a gold medal for the Greased Pole Walk, an event that she signed up for at the last minute and didn't practice at all because she was naturally good at it.
  • Nina Needs to Go!. The moral is that you shouldn't wait to go to the bathroom. However, children can instead misinterpret the moral as "You should wait until the very last second before going because if you do, your Nana will swoop in and take you on an exciting journey to the bathroom." It doesn't help that despite what Nina says about her not waiting to go anymore at the end of each short, she holds it in until the last second again the very next one. Unless you take the interpretation that she wasn't holding it in and truly didn't think she needed to go... only that's also a broken Aesop, since that'd make the "don't wait" part not make sense.
  • Peg + Cat as a whole is meant to teach kids about the importance of math, and in most episodes, someone will comment on how math did some cool thing. However, in some episodes, the Aesop is broken by the problem not having been solved via math at all:
    • In "The Three Friends Problem", the moral is supposedly that graphs are a good/important thing, because they helped Peg keep score with her and her friends' silly games, then later helped her get Cat over his New Friend Envy— however, it was Cat who was trying to use a graph to express his envy— Peg was consoling him by telling him that love couldn't be measured on a graph. So math didn't really help their play date (apart from the scorekeeping); if anything, math got in the way.
    • In "The High Noon Problem", the moral is supposedly that making hypotheses and doing calculations based on those is the way to go (the protagonists guess which boots Bad Jack will be wearing, and use that to calculate the length of the feather they'll use to tickle him). However, this is broken by the fact that Bad Jack takes one boot off, and is eventually defeated by being made to tickle himself, which could have happened even if Peg and Cat hadn't even heard of math.
  • In the Pound Puppies (2010) episode "The Really Weird Dog", Squirt holds a grudge against Rover the alligator despite his friendliness to the rest of the team. Naturally, the episode ends with Squirt coming around and helping to save Rover, making it a nice episode on racism — Fantastic Racism, but racism nonetheless — except that there are two other episodes that season in which the entire team shows prejudice against cats ("Catcalls") and coyotes ("Rebel Without a Collar").
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016):
    • This show has a rather infamous example overlapping with Clueless Aesop: one episode has Bubbles befriend a horse who wants to be a unicorn, the girls try to turn him into a unicorn, he turns into a monster, they get him back to normal, and then they learn he was a unicorn the whole time. It doesn't sound too bad, and it might not have been had the promotional team not tried to turn it into a metaphor for being transgender. Because the episode (again) had him turn into a monster when they attempted to use the transmogrifier to make him a unicorn, it comes off as an anti-transgender message. Doesn't help that, supposedly, the writer didn't intend for this to be a metaphor at all. Perhaps a better moral would have been "Sometimes you might already have what you want and not realise it". Breaking this even more is the fact that Him is still in the reboot. Keep in mind that Him has some Values Dissonance going on that make him something of a negative gay and/or trans stereotype.
    • The episode "Once Upon a Townsville" tries to teach the moral that a girl can be strong and empowered while also being a Girly Girl, by having Princess Bluebelle defeat the dragon she's been running from and rebuke the Powerpuff Girls for dismissing her love of being a Princess Classic. The thing is, in their efforts to get her to stop relying on her useless Prince Charming, the girls never once insinuated that Real Women Don't Wear Dresses. (The worst they did was express mild annoyance at her Spontaneous Choreography.) What's worse is that this came after Bluebelle constantly threw herself In Harm's Way in hopes that it would rouse her Prince to come to her rescue, only to get annoyed when the girls saved her instead. She wouldn't have much place to talk even if the girls did say something insulting to her.
  • The Proud Family episode "Enter the Bullies" featured Penny's mother advising her to try and "find some common ground" to resolve a conflict with The Gross Sisters, who had a grudge for her reporting their lunch money extortion to school officials. Said common ground ended up being...offering financial management advice for their stolen money.
  • Recess: "Nobody doesn't like TJ" tries to deliver the aesop of "You can't please everyone" or "Not everyone will like you". By the end of the episode, Gordo and TJ still decide they don't like each other for no good reason - and it's treated as alright. This is undermined a lot by the fact that Gordo has plenty of reasons to legitimately not like TJ, ranging from TJ's obsequious behaviour towards him and even giving Gordo something he was allergic to (Albeit by accident). It instead comes off as "It's alright to dislike people for no real reason".
  • Redakai has several clumsy morals in it, one of which is their mishandled Green Aesop. In one episode, the heroes Team Stax are trying to protect a large tree in the middle of a forest in a slightly arid land. One of them, Maya, does this by hurling a huge fire tornado at the bad guys who are standing right next to the tree. She is then congratulated for taking the initiative in saving "nature". It essentially seems like "Save the forest, throw fire everywhere".
    • Another one seems to be "Attacking civilians and cheating are okay when you're the "Good Guys" and nobody is looking".
  • Regular Show has the episode "Think Positive": if you don't yell at people, then you'll destroy everything around you. This is especially damning since Benson, the character the episode focused on, refuses to get anger management, and after this episode, continues to be hard on Mordecai and Rigby for a good while.
  • Rocket Power:
    • In "Power Girl Surfers", Reggie starts an all-female surfing group to show the world that girls can excel at extreme sports. She decides to do this after Otto is unexpectedly offered a cover story in his favorite surfing magazine, and she's unable to convince the Jerkass magazine editor that she deserves her own story more than her brother does; at the end, she and her friends crash Otto's cover shoot to challenge him to a surf-off, humiliating him in front of the people offering him a shot at fame. Because of the way Reggie is written, the Aesop comes off as, "Resenting someone else's good fortune is perfectly fine, if you can prove that they're not worthy of it."
  • The Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Stand and Deliver" seems to have been aiming for a light-hearted feminist fable with a moral along the lines of "Men should listen more and not take women for granted". Somehow, what they hit was "Male attention is the most important thing in a woman's life and they will abandon literally everything to go off with any man who offers it".
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) has the episode "Game Guy", where the heroes meet a strange freedom fighter called Ari. Although Sonic wants to trust him, Sally wants to err on the side of caution. Eventually Ari leads Sonic into one of Robotnik's traps in exchange for the freedom of his own teammates. When it becomes apparent to Ari that Robotnik has no intention of honoring his end of the deal, he proves himself trustworthy by freeing Sonic from the trap, sacrificing himself in the process. At the end of the episode Sonic gently chides Sally for not being trusting enough, despite the fact that what happened in the episode proved that she was right.
  • In South Park:
    • "The F-Word" is about the attempts of the kids to get the word "fag" to be allowed if it's not used as a hateful slur against gay people. This is heavily undermined by the fact that a few seasons previous, "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" ended with the Aesop that white people can't know what it's like to hear racial slurs even when they aren't used in a deliberately hateful context and should respect that.
    • And "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" itself seems to contradict the Aesops of The Movie (people overreact over offensive language) and "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" (offenses to racial minorities shouldn't be considered any worse than those done to white people, if they aren't explicitly racist in nature). Its Aesop is also broken over the fact that Randy actually was not being racist; even the black cameraman thought the word on Wheel of Fortune was the N-word. However, the intentional Aesop that majority groups (read: white people) really don't understand such issues as well as they think they do is intact. Almost like a meta on Stone and Parker's own gradual understanding of race relations, Stan spends most of the episode trying to have Token believe he understands with Token proving he doesn't until the end when Stan basically says, "I don't get it, but I'm sorry" does he truly understand and is forgiven.
    • Proper Condom Use” says parents should teach sex ed, and not trust it to schools, because some teachers are ignorant. But the parents in South Park do dumb shit all the time. Sure, Ms. Choksondik accidentally started a war between boys and girls. But the parents deliberately started a war on Canada. And later, "Sarcastaball" would feature Butters selling his semen as a sports drink after his father (clearly not comfortable educating his child about sex like a responsible parent) lied to him about what it is. So... parents are smarter than teachers? M’kay.
    • "Butt Out" gives a defense for the reasons people smoke cigarettes. "Tegridy Farms" demonizes everyone who smokes via vaping.
    • The moral of "Safe Space" is essentially to start taking criticism and that reality is harsh without safe spaces, even though the previous episode portrayed critics as obnoxious people that should just be kicked out. So the previous episode depicted people wanting to have their opinion heard as entitled, and now depicts people who don't want to hear other people's opinions as entitled (Though this probably has more to do with the fact that people in the previous episode weren't just speaking their opinions, they were actively using them to bully people into giving them stuff.) More eye-raising is the fact that neither Trey nor Matt have active social media accounts, and yet dub a character representing brash online criticism as "reality". In reality the real-life persona of individuals does not always correlate to an online brash one. Furthermore, the episode makes use of the Appeal to Worse Problems fallacy by depicting poor third world children for having to filter out harmful comments for first-world people. This is despite the fact that online abuse can actually be life-threatening with the same episode showing Butters nearly committing suicide due to being exposed to too much negativity and sleep deprivation. (For that last part though, that was probably the point to show how those people care more about inflating their egos more than the wellbeing of people in third world countries). The episode, as do most people who criticize the concept of a "safe space," assumed that its purpose is to keep out 'reality' rather than allow people that are marginalized and attacked to take a break from the negativity they face every day. Intentional or not, the episode is basically victim-blaming.
  • SpacePOP's girl power themes and general message is undermined by the fact that the princesses fail to rescue their parents and make little headway against Geela for a majority of the series. Chamberlin also destroys the Fog-O-Nator machine by complete accident when the group was forced to escape without getting a chance to attack it, and suggests a self-destruct button when the girls' ideas to stop Geela's communication center wouldn't work or would take too long.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • The moral of the episode "Ditchin'" is "stay in school", but Spongebob had the best day of his life after ditching boating school to go hang out with Patrick. He got to meet Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy (again) to get his MM & BB origins comic book autographed, gets free ice cream for the rest of his life, got to go jellyfishing, and bested Sandy at badminton, and while he spent the entire episode making tiny excuses and small justifications that added up to hours of tardiness, he still managed to get back to school before anything bad could (permanently) happen.
    • "The Abrasive Side" is about SpongeBob getting the titular side in order to learn to be more assertive. Unfortunately, the abrasive side turns out to be a major Jerkass that soon starts to take over completely. SpongeBob finally goes to Sandy for help, and she tells him that he doesn't need to change his personality, because who he is is just fine. A fairly standard kid's show moral, but some details from the episode completely ruin the message. First of all, the reason SpongeBob was trying to learn to be assertive in the first place was because people were constantly taking advantage of his inability to say no to ask him for favors, resulting in him missing a trip to Glove World with Patrick. Secondly, and most importantly, Sandy is just as guilty of taking advantage of SpongeBob (in fact, she's the reason he misses his bus) as nearly everyone else in the episode. With these details in mind, seeing Sandy tell SpongeBob that he's fine the way he is comes off less like her saying that he shouldn't be a jerk, and more like she's actively telling him to remain the same so she and others can continue to manipulate him. The episode ends with SpongeBob rid of the abrasive side, but nowhere closer to learning how to stand up for himself.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "Say Uncle" had a lesson about not hating or attacking others simply because they are different or have different views, which is shown by the Gems being in the wrong for attacking Uncle Grandpa as he's explained to be just trying to help Steven activate his shield. The problem is that by "helping," he was firing a number of weapons at Steven and on his debut he also sank a ship that might have killed or dangered at least Lars and Sadienote . The message is weakened because the other Gems had enough reason to believe Uncle Grandpa was a genuine threat and not just a weird Reality Warper, especially considering how Steven is a little brother figure to all three of them.
    • One of the show's major themes is that Humans Are Special, but the Gems are shown to have a very condescending if not outright disrespectful attitude towards humans and the way they live their lives, and while they do interact with one or two humans here and there (mainly Greg and Connie), they don't really go out of their way to get better acquainted with the species they've been protecting for millennia, and the show doesn't make any real attempt to make them rethink those opinions at any point. Rose does eventually have this epiphany, but with all the other Gems, their reasons for protecting Earth comes off more like them doing what Rose would have wanted, and liking the freedom that Earth gives them, rather than any real concern or attachments to it's inhabitants.
      • Although this is being somewhat remedied in later seasons as it shows the Crystal Gems making an effort to get to know and coordinate with the people of Beach City and several of them (mainly Amythest and surprisingly Peridot) mingle with humans extensively.
    • Another major theme of the series is how positive interpersonal relationships can be found in many forms, meant to be illustrated by Steven's diverse family of his father and the Crystal Gems. However, the entire point of Steven Universe: Future is that the Gems raising him to be a Kid Hero has been extremely detrimental to his mental health and left him with Chronic Hero Syndrome. In addition, he has no formal education and had never even seen a doctor (although the giant diamond where his navel should be somewhat justifies this).
  • Tangled: The Series falls into this:
    • One of the major lessons in the show is The Needs of the Many. However, there are more than a few instances on the show where this fails to apply.
      • King Frederic making crackdown on crime overly harsh following Rapunzel's kidnapping, leading to Lady Caine (who was a minor then) to become fatherless, and she's likely not the only one.
      • Rapunzel not checking on Varian following the events of Zhan Tiri's snowstorm, instead wallowing in her own feelings.
      • Rapunzel taking the revelation that Eugene thinks Cassandra is not a true friend because of her betrayal badly.
      • Cassandra being extremely and unhesitantly willing to pursue her "destiny" at others' expense.
      • Rapunzel not arriving at Cassandra's black rock tower with a battalion of soldiers/warriors, or even magical beings, due to the power she now possesses in hopes of being able to incapacitate and capture her.
    • The other major message of the show is about giving people a second chance, with Rapunzel's mission to redeem Cassandra forming the backbone of Season 3. Whilst Rapunzel DOES succeed (ensuring this Aesop is technically played straight), it took until the climax of the Grand Finale, with Cassandra having several Ignored Epiphanies, and endangering the lives of Rapunzel and her friends numerous times. This ensured that many fans turned against Cassandra, not believing she was worth saving and feeling that she was a Karma Houdini because of the fact Rapunzel and Eugene were so quick to forgive her.
  • Parodied in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). After Leonardo is told by Splinter that there aren't right or wrong decisions, only choices, Leo learns that he was made the leader of the group because he asked. Leo then asks if Michelangelo could have been the leader.
    Splinter: No, that would have been wrong.
    • Another example is when they have to deal with Stockman.
      Splinter: The first rule of being a ninja is to do no harm, unless you plan to do harm then do lots of harm!
  • Teen Titans:
    • Half of the Prejudice Aesop of "Troq" is that bigotry is not acceptable even if it's coming from those otherwise heroic. This is undercut by the Titans and aforementioned bigot portrayed heroically for wiping out an Always Chaotic Evil race. Worse is all the testament and evidence for their evilness comes from said bigot yet is still taken at face after the Titans realize his bigotry, and the race never antagonize them beyond what can seen as self-defense from their attempted genocide.
    • Lampshaded at the end of "Episode 257-494"
      Robin: Well, I guess this whole experience proves it really is bad to watch too much TV.
      Starfire: But truthfully, we only prevailed because Beast Boy watches too much the television.
      Raven: So there really isn't a lesson here.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • "Finally A Lesson" refutes the argument that the Titans should teach more life lessons and does this by having Robin teach the other Titans how to buy and maintain rental property, with the joke being "it's boring". Problem is, the show has taught lessons in the past, and oftentimes deliberately bad ones, a trait that still carries over to later episodes. It'd probably make more sense if it was a suggestion like "either teach good lessons or don't teach any at all", but as the suggestion was merely about morals in general, the point of this episode becomes one of these.
    • "The Return of Slade" is a giant Take That, Audience! aimed at people who think the show doesn't hold up to the standards of the original series — and, by extension that only kids should be watching cartoons. Problem is, Raven, who delivers the Aesop, is shown to be a fan of a My Little Pony-esque cartoon — meaning that even though she calls out Beast Boy and Cyborg for liking childish things, she has no problem doing so herself.
    • Similar to WWE promoting anti-bullying messages in its programming, Teen Titans Go likewise suffers from using characters who treat each other rather poorly in-universe to spread anti-bullying rhetoric. Examples include the way Raven treats Beast Boy for trying to be nice to her (besides when he [[Abhorrent Admirer constantly simps for her when she doesn’t want it[[, which is somewhat justified) or Robin's "baby hands" being a constant source of mockery and frustration for him among the other team members. It's mostly Played for Laughs but at the same time that gives it a bad place to start from when trying to address the seriousness of treating everyone well and not being a jerk.
  • Thomas & Friends: In "Bradford the Brake Van", The Fat Controller lectures Thomas that following the rules was more important than being on time. This doesn't really help the fact that earlier in the story, he scolded Thomas for being late with his stone trucks, when in fact, it was Bradford who made the delay by telling Thomas to unload some of the stone, believing that following the rules is more important than being on time.
  • In the Thunderbirds episode "Atlantic Inferno", Jeff leaves confident son Scott in charge of International Rescue — cue 'bad decisions', Jeff's ire, and an apparent Aesop of "being in charge is more difficult than it looks". However, Scott makes sensible decisions based on expert advice. Jeff unreasonably censures Scott without listening to the evidence, leaving Scott unable to function. The Aesop sadly becomes "adults are always right, even when they are wrong".
  • Done intentionally with Kid Hero Lion-O in the Thundercats 2011 episode "Song of the Petalars" where he ignores his own lecturing of young friend Emrick (for impulsively attacking a large enemy that outmatched him) in favor of pulling a Leeroy Jenkins and leading his Thundercats to a confrontation with an entire army that degenerates into a Last Stand until a Deus ex Machina saves them. Lion-O justifies this course of action in a Rousing Speech by culturally misinterpreting and breaking yet another Aesop: his friend Emrick's assertion that It's the Journey That Counts, and the good we do is what matters most. However, Lion-O's mangling of the Aesop is presented in a convincingly heroic fashion. He isn't called on his behavior until the next episode, and even then only obliquely.
    • It's even worse because at the start of the episode Lion-O has the right idea of fleeing and living to fight another day rather than facing immediate defeat and certain death, while Tygra gives him endless grief about this. Later when Lion-O changes his mind they are (sure enough) almost wiped out.
  • The TV special Totally Minnie has Minnie Mouse giving a nerdy guy dating advice and an excessive makeover, but ends with a Be Yourself aesop.
  • In the Trollz story arc where the girls turn evil, Ruby worries that her meanness has influenced them into becoming mean. Obsidian tells her that if she sets a bad example, she can change it by setting a good one. It seems okay... until Ruby cleans up her act and it fails because Simon's magic was too strong. A Space Whale Broken Aesop, if you will.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man focuses on Spider-Man having to learn sense of responsibility and teamwork, with Nick Fury as The Mentor. Both very respectable aesops, but it's quite hard to not sympathetize with his tendencies to work alone when his teammates are mostly obnoxious Jerkasses who forcefully insert themselves in his life, constantly mock or insult him (despite the fact he often ends up as the Only Sane Man) and, in Nova's case, outright insult his best friend Harry Osborn. Then you have those times where Spidey himself dabbles in being a Jerkass and an idiot that leaves you feeling that the criticisms of his teammates are not unjustified. As the for the responsibility aspect, not only does it feel unnecessary since the whole Spider-Man origin (confirmed to be the same in this version) was supposed to be about Spidey learning responsibility of his own, but Fury, being an Anti-Hero with several Create Your Own Villain in his backstory, leaving no personal space to his recruit (he sets up security cameras in Spidey's house) and willing to break his promises, hardly appears as a suitable authority figure.
    • Demonstrated beautifully in "Not a Toy," when Spidey loses Captain America's shield:
      Agent Coulson: But you've all learned some valuable tactical lessons, right?
      Spidey: Let's see: know your fight, our powers are only one tool in the toolbox...
      Agent Coulson: No! I mean about touching things that don't belong to you.
      Spidey: Oh, yeah. Because you might accidentally stop a madman from taking over the world.
      [Agent Coulson's eyebrow visibly twitches]
      Spidey: And... you're welcome?
  • Uncle Grandpa didn't normally have An Aesop, as it was an animated series that relied on Surreal Humor, but there was one episode which did have An Aesop. The episode "The Fan", Season 2, Episode 7, was meant to deliver the morals of "There's more to life than being obsessed with a television or show or fandom", "Someone spending their whole life inside a house and never outside can dramatically effect how they function, or even live in life without any real kind of development." and "It's better to have multiple passions and not be consumed by a toxic fandom", and also "Your heroes can become a Broken Pedestal", with the super-fan Nubert Nimbo, a socially-awkward One-Shot Character with an Ambiguous Disorder learning the moral. The episode completely contradicted the moral by having the show's protagonist Uncle Grandpa damaging Nubert's collection (which could have been worth a lot, both emotionally and financially), to melt down into a statue of Nubert's mother. This instead gave the moral of "It's OK to damage people's possessions to snap them out of a passion". In the end, the only moral learnt was "Your heroes have problems just as much as anyone else, while the other two morals were completely contradicted. This trope ends up being zig-zagged, but on the whole it's mostly played straight.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: The show's message is one about the value of teamwork and how nobody achieves anything alone. The problem is that in almost all plots, victory hinges on the Black Lion's pilot, independent of the teammates issues, troubles and skills, leading to one think that the show is trying to say "The leader is the most important part of team, independent of whoever is in it". Furthermore, the show's tendency of making the Black Lion's pilot the actual main character in an otherwise Ensemble Cast show, with his decisions being the only ones to actually affect or alter the plot's direction or pace furthers prioritize leadership over teamwork.
    • The emphasis on "everyone is important" gets a pretty firm beating from the later idea that there's some kind of "hierarchy" among the smaller lions, with the red being above the other limbs and the blue being below. If that's the case, then the moral is less "everyone in the team is equal", and more "everyone in the team is equal, but some are more equal than others."
    • Shiro receiving command of the Atlas is claimed by the creators to be seen as a moment of growth, when he finds a life outside of being a Voltron paladin and where he belongs. But when he was the paladin of the Black Lion, he was remarkably happy, clearly skilled at it, doing a lot of good, and fit the job description to a tee, so the idea that being the Black Paladin was somehow bad for him feels like an Informed Flaw at best, and a sloppy consolation prize for losing his role to Keith at worst. Compounding the problem is that this coincides with Allura becoming the Blue Paladin out of a desire to not be on the back lines anymore; prior to then, she also had command of a separate vessel that placed her outside the group but in a Supporting Leader role that was treating as important, and now (due to the above-mentioned hierarchy) she is at the bottom of the Paladin totem pole — as if becoming the lowest rung of the Paladins is better than even the most important job outside of them. Whether becoming a Paladin is good or bad, either way, somebody got demoted.
    • There's a strong moral of "found family" in the series, that the Paladins are True Companions, closer than friends, and that's where their power comes from. But as the series goes on, most of the group lands more into The Friends Who Never Hang, most of them have extant family they seem closer to, and their sniping at each other comes across as less good-natured and more Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. The heavy implication in the epilogue that they basically went their separate ways after the series ended only breaks this further. Even the show itself tries to do an Author's Saving Throw by having Keith loudly ask if they have anything holding them together aside from circumstance, but never really provides a good answer (not to mention, this happens in the seventh season of eight). It doesn't help that Lotor, the character who most separated himself from his birth family to find companionship elsewhere (and with very good reason) is depicted as a crazed villain and killed off in brutal fashion. The message seems much closer to the old-fashioned "biological families are all-important and abandoning them is immoral, while found families are unreliable and abandoning them is natural."
  • Wander over Yonder:
    • Parodied and lampshaded in Wander over Yonder. Lord Hater has his henchmen make a Aesop-heavy propaganda cartoon for him, but due to being a Vanity Project with poor production values and bad writing, the messages end up being contradicted at every turn. For instance, Cartoon-Wander declares that the lesson is friendship can redeem anyone, only for Cartoon-Sylvia to point out that in the cartoon Lord Hater only pretended to get redeemed by friendship as part of his evil plan. Eventually a completely unrelated Aesop about bike safety gets sloppily thrown in because that's the only moral the cartoon wouldn't break.
    • A real example occurs with several episodes that have a reoccurring Aesop of "You can't befriend everyone, so don't hurt yourself trying." Which is a good lesson, except that Wander himself clearly does not believe this. And is constantly trying to befriend people who want him dead. In the end, the moral is effectively defanged by showing that Lord Hater and Lord Dominator may indeed become his friends in the future.
  • A couple of episodes of W.I.T.C.H. ended with one of the girls' parents learning an aesop about how they should trust their children, right after the girls pull off a Zany Scheme to keep anyone from finding out the truth.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men (2009) showcased Cyclops grieving over the disappearance of his love interest Jean Grey (who was actually introduced giving him a hard time about sucker-punching Wolverine in a fit of jealousy and then blows a kiss to his rival) and being annoyed at Professor Xavier demoting him while promoting Wolverine to leader. The series seemed to initially pitch the idea that Cyclops had to learn to let go of his resentments and move on with his life, including but no limited to hooking up with his then comic current girlfriend Emma Frost. 26 episodes later... he ended up back together with Jean anyway after waiting for the odds to change in his favor. Great moral for the kids: don't learn to move on from the loss of your loved ones, just sit around being depressed in the hopes that they'll eventually come back to you.
    • There's also an episode where he goes out on his own to track down what happened to Jean and, eventually, needs to call for backup, resulting in Logan chewing him out on working as a team...despite the fact that in many episodes of the show, Logan himself strikes out on his own for personal crusades, more than any other character. This is the kind of message you'd normally expect Cyclops to beat into Logan's head, not the other way around, but the show decided to switch their roles around for...reasons.
    • Then there's the fact that Cyclops spent the whole series being mentally and emotionally unstable if not outright legally insane and none of the X-Men, his so called friends, his so called family, ever try to help him. At the start of the series they pretty much left him to waste and rot away in a run down rat infested motel for no real reason and even after he gets back on the team they still pretty much leave him to his own devices despite the fact that he clearly needed professional psychiatric help, even if he was being more anti-social than usual. The only member who did offer him help was Emma Frost and, well, that didn't turn out so well. So the message here seems to be that it's okay to abandon your friends, no matter how much they may be suffering, if they're inconvenient to you, regardless of how long you've known them, regardless of whether or not they're practically family, simply because you can't be bothered to help them.
  • The end of Young Justice season three states that secrecy is unforgivable, no excuses, which... falls very flat when you remember that Young Justice is a cartoon about superheroes — most of which have secret identities.