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Remember, a Central Theme is not the same as An Aesop; a theme is a question, idea, topic or concept that the text explores, while an Aesop is a conclusion the author reaches about the theme or a lesson they wish to impart to the reader. As such, you should avoid phrasing your examples as conclusions.


  • Adventure Time: Everything stays. In the big, weird, scary, beautiful world everything ends, but it also continues to exist in some wonderful misshapen way.
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  • Allen Gregory: Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
  • American Dad!: Be open-minded, but don't get too overwhelmed by new ideas.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Everyone is "weird" in their own way, and this should be celebrated as what makes the world "amazing". Society will try to suppress you and your uniqueness, but there are always people who will love you for all your imperfections.
  • Amphibia: Knowing who your real friends are and mutually respecting one another's needs.
  • Archer:
    • We're all ruled by our vices, and will always make poor decisions because of them.
    • Listening when other people are talking pays off.
  • Avatar saga:
    • Both shows:
      • Humans Are Flawed, but learn from your mistakes and you can grow.
      • "If you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you will ever see."
      • Misery Builds Character. Life is tough, and sometimes it's gonna kick the crap out of you (physically or mentally), but feeling pain makes you better understand others' situations. Zuko and Korra, in particular, learn this.
      • When watched side by side, it's clear that The Last Airbender is about a human learning to become a god, whilst The Legend of Korra is about a god learning to become a human, relating to the Taoist balance between heaven and earth.
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    • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
      • Destiny is choice; and choices must be made, not put off.
      • A friend may become an enemy, but an enemy may also become a friend.
      • Be open-minded, it might just be the only difference between you and your enemy.
      • War Is Hell. But forgiveness, love, friendship, and compassion win out over spite, hatred, and fear in the end.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • Attaining balance, whether it be in an individual, a city, or the world.
      • Recognizing one's own strengths and weaknesses, and by doing so, adapting to your personal environment and situation.
      • Extremism of any sort is bad. All the villains have legitimate points and are well-intentioned, but are all willing to go way too far to achieve what they want, as pointed out to Korra by Toph.
  • Beast Machines: Bringing life back to earth; like the life cycle of a plant.
  • Ben 10:
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    • Make the best out of the cards you are dealt.
    • You shouldn't be a hero for the thrill of it and the praise afterwards. You should be a hero because it's the right thing to do.
  • Big Mouth:
    • Growing Up Sucks but at least we have our loved ones.
    • Being young doesn't excuse you from toxic behavior, in particular toxic behavior done by males towards females.
  • Bob's Burgers: Life may be hard and awkward, but at least you have your family. Even if they are hard and awkward.
  • Bojack Horseman: Family, friendship, love, regret, sadness, depression, escapism, and the human experience. More specifically:
    • The endless pursuit of personal happiness; attempting to conquer depression, with mixed results.
    • Can people really change themselves for the better? Or are they always doomed by their self-destructive behaviors?
    • If you treat someone in your life badly, that will have lasting negative consequences on your relationship with them.
    • Fame and fortune cannot buy happiness, because of the destructive nature of Hollywood and celebrity culture.
    • There is a huge difference between reality and fiction, even if life has a tendency to blur them both.
    • The media consumed by the public plays at least a partial role in shaping the values of our culture, and those making movies and TV shows with harmful messages need to be held accountable for said messages.
    • As for particular seasons:
      • Season 1 focuses on trying to be a good a person and doing the right thing.
      • Season 2 focuses on eternal happiness vs immediate pleasure.
      • Season 3 focuses on reputation and impact.
      • Season 4 focuses on The Chain of Harm over the course of generations and the long-term damage of harmful expectations, particularly those placed on women.
      • Season 5 focuses on accountability for your own actions, for the actions of those in your life, and for the art you put out.
      • Season 6 focuses on accepting the past, making peace with it, and looking towards the future, whatever good or bad it might hold.
  • The Boondocks:
    • The positive (and negative) aspects of African-American culture.
    • Fighting against racial discrimination and political corruption (more so in the first season and the original comic strip).
    • When your advice is constantly ignored, sometimes all you can do is let people learn things the hard way.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers:
  • Castlevania (2017):
    • Nihilism vs Humanism. Does a miserable world full of bad people deserve to be destroyed, or is it still worth saving regardless?
    • Knowledge is power. Learning new and useful information is the best method for finding solutions to any problems.
    • Season 3 adds a theme of trust, how easily can it be broken or abused, and how having your trust betrayed damages your future relationships.
  • Central Park: Protecting your community.
  • Clarence: It's possible to find fun and excitement in the boring and mundane.
  • The Cleveland Show: The perils and pitfalls of fatherhood, and the joys and challenges of life in a blended family.
  • Close Enough: Clinging to your youth while also figuring out how to become a responsible adult.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Protecting childhood.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
    • Protecting the people you love, even when it means going up against the things you fear most.
    • Fear and cowardice aren't necessarily the same thing (which makes the show's title somewhat ironic).
    • Courage is not necessarily the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to confront one's fears even despite being afraid.
  • Craig of the Creek: Childhood and Friendship.
  • Cybersix: What does it mean to be human?
  • Daria:
    • The High School Experience and Teenage Years as Rite of Passage for everyone, and how it impacts all.
    • Shallowness versus depth: the conflict between keeping the peace and staying the same, even if it's mind-numbing or unfulfilling, or dealing with our inner turmoil and flaws, which while it leads to change, will often bring out some ugly truths about ourselves and others.
  • DC Animated Universe:
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In any pursuit, you're going to fail in small ways, maybe even in big ones. The important thing is learning the right lessons from failure.
  • Disenchantment: Growth, understanding, and knowing who you truly are.
  • The Dragon Prince: Every morally questionable action, no matter how good the intention it was taken with, is ultimately self-serving, will have serious consequences, or both.
  • Duckman: The raw, ugly, and offensive side of life is oftentimes the most sincere.
  • DuckTales:
    • DuckTales (1987): The spirit of adventure and the power of family.
    • DuckTales (2017) has the central themes of its predecessor, but adds more:
      • Hard work is its own treasure.
      • It is a parent's duty to raise their children right.
      • Lies, greed and deception can break apart family and friends.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
  • F is for Family:
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Be Careful What You Wish For.
  • Family Guy:
    • Family sticking together despite their differences.
    • In earlier seasons, the overall theme seems to be that television has an immutable place in American consciousness, for better or for worse, so we should try to take our inspiration from the better.
    • In later seasons, the overall theme seems to be that the world will drive you crazy, and family will drive you even crazier.
  • Fillmore!: There's always More Than Meets the Eye.
  • Final Space: No one's beyond redemption, and anyone, even if they're the lowest of the low, can be a hero.
    Gary: All of us are broken. Just a question of how much and how far we're willing to go to fix it.
  • Futurama:
    • Everyone's a little weird. And that's okay.
    • No matter how much time passes, or how much our technology and world evolves, humanity is always basically the same, for better or worse.
    • Loneliness. Difference. Some ideas remain familiar even after the world has changed enough to become unrecognizable. No matter how different and isolated you are, you can always find common ground with people if you look for it.
    • There is always more to people than you would presume, and no matter how small and insignificant you think you are, how weak and stupid you are, life always has some value and meaning to the people around you.
  • Gargoyles:
  • Gravity Falls:
  • Green Eggs and Ham: Do not take things at face-value, ranging from Michelee and her thinking that Mr. Jenkins the Chickaraffe is dangerous to the audience knowing the truth about Sam and BADGUYS. The extended lyrics to the show's opening "Backflip" adds onto it: "But take any advice with a grain of salt" which reflects that you shouldn't 100% believe everything you see/hear.
  • Harley Quinn: Overcoming Domestic Abuse and finding success as a woman in a male-dominated field, even if that field is being a supervillain.
  • Hey Arnold!: Rousseau Was Right. People in poor circumstances are definitely able to find happiness in their circumstance.
  • Hilda:
    • Friends can come from unlikely places.
    • Adapting to new environments and situations.
  • I Am Weasel: Friends can be polar opposites and an Odd Friendship is OK, and those who seem evil are The Boo Radley sometimes.
  • Infinity Train:
    • Learning to accept that things won't always go your way and that's fine.
    • You can't actually run away from your problems, your traumas or your past, but you can come to terms with either of those and move on over time.
    • Each season tends to focus on one theme over others
      • Book 1 is about trauma, and learning to deal with it and heal.
      • Book 2 is about identity, learning about yourself and what you identify as.
      • Book 3 is about empathy, and learning to care about others, especially those different than you.
  • Invader Zim: Progress is never inevitable in any civilization (human or otherwise). Technology can hinder society's development as easily as it can advance it, since it often frees people from needing to think or pay attention to what's happening around them.
  • King of the Hill: The Good Old Ways will always have a place in a modern world, but nobody is always right.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: The world is better than it may appear, so kindness and trust will take you further than prejudice and secrecy.
  • The Legend of Tarzan: Balancing responsibilities.
  • The Loud House: The ups and downs of living in a large family.
  • The Magic School Bus: Learning about nature and the world is even more fun with your friends.
  • The Midnight Gospel: Talking about enlightenment is not the same thing as being enlightened.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: Maintaining a positive attitude when everything goes wrong, because things going wrong often opens new doors and makes thing more exciting.
  • Mixels:
    • Creativity is an important aspect of life.
    • Teamwork can help solve problems.
  • Moral Orel:
    • Just because kids are prone to mistakes doesn't mean adults are any better.
    • People will often misinterpret The Bible in order to serve themselves and exploit others, instead of staying true to its teachings, and that will make monster out of them.
    • Doing the right thing, even if it means going against traditional values espoused by your community.
    • Staying optimistic in a Crapsack World.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Overall: Friendship is a powerful force that can connect all of us, and lets us accomplish far more then we can achieve on our own.
    • Second season: But that doesn't mean it's easy.
    • Season three: Everyone is special in their own way, and everyone has an important part to play.
    • For the fourth season, it's maintaining a friendship after life begins to separate you, and growing into a position of responsibility.
    • Season six: Becoming a better friend and atoning for your mistakes is something that anyone can do.
    • Season seven: Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. You should value talking things out and listening over trying to force your opinions.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: Learning how to be the best version of yourself by accepting and reconstructing both good and bad character traits.
  • Over the Garden Wall: Things aren't always what they seem.
  • The Owl House: Embracing and loving the weird and unconventional parts of yourself, and finding a community with other weird and unconventional people.
    • Also, don't judge a book by its cover - a lot of conflicts in the show comes from characters severly misunderstanding the situation or misplacing their trust. Majority of the main cast has secrets they hide from the world, Hidden Depths or things about them they themvelves haven't yet realized.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Make the most out of every day you've got.
    • The importance and greatness of idealism and creativity.
  • Pinky and the Brain: The impracticality of supposed intelligence, the wisdom of supposed stupidity, the subjectivity of intelligence.
  • Primal: Surviving in a savage world.
  • Ready Jet Go!: No matter what happens, keep a positive attitude and persevere through obstacles, no matter how impossible they may seem.
  • Recess:
    • Authority, and fighting it when those with authority abuse their power.
    • The Power of Friendship will help you overcome any problems in life.
    • Childhood is precious. And enjoy being a kid while you can.
  • Regular Show:
    • What aspects of life should and should not be taken seriously.
    • The importance of maintaining good relationships with your friends, lovers, and family, and resolving all your petty conflicts with them.
    • Goofing around and slacking off to avoid taking responsibility for your job or duties often only makes things harder for you, rather than just doing whatever needs to be done in the first place.
  • Rick and Morty: Embracing the inherent chaos, unpredictability, and cosmic meaninglessness of the universe and finding something to keep yourself tethered to the mortal plane rather than succumbing to nihilism.
    • The mental conflict between intelligence and human connection.
    • Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss. Rick's intelligence and need to be seen as smarter than everyone else with no need for other people only keeps him miserable at the end of the day, while Morty, Summer, Beth, and Jerry, at least post-Character Development, are able to find some degree of happiness as a family because they're able to trust what makes them happy and don't try to force the world to bend to their fleeting whims.
  • Robot Chicken: The absurd humor between pop culture icons and the nostalgia we place on them through playing with their respective tropes.
  • Rugrats and All Grown Up!: The joys and struggles of youth.
  • Samurai Jack:
  • Scooby-Doo:
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • Love, friendship, acceptance, and a place to belong are vital to a happy life.
    • Past traumas can hinder you, if you let them.
    • No matter how many hardships you have endured, you are still responsible for your own choices.
    • Trying to win the love and acceptance of one's abusers is a futile effort, and will only lead to more heartache.
    • Sometimes it is necessary to defy the expectations of family, leaders, etc. in order to do what's right.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Family will always stand by you and accept you for who you are; no matter how different you are, how much you fight, or how crazy you drive each other.
    • For Springfield in general: Everyone in the world is unique and seems a little weird or crazy to everyone else. You won't make them change. Get used to it.
    • For Springfield Elementary School: The education system is flawed and so are the people in it.
    • The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and its effects on the town are one big Green Aesop.
    • For the Treehouse of Horror episodes: Ignorance can cause your own demise.
  • Solar Opposites: Blue-and-Orange Morality does not excuse you from the consequences of destructive behavior, no matter how much you try to force it to.
  • South Park:
  • The Spectacular Spider Man:
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: It's worthwhile to have a positive attitude and Be Yourself, even if the world may look down on you for it.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: Acknowledging the contributions of seemingly-unimportant people.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Love makes your life better, while hatred and bigotry do the most damage to oneself.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
  • Steven Universe: Love, and its infinite amount of forms, including platonic and familial. Every mini-theme traces back to this:
  • Steven Universe: Future:
    • The importance of mental health, and finding healthy ways to process trauma.
    • it's okay to have negative emotions. It doesn't make you a bad person, and it's something you have to deal with, instead of bottling it up and letting it fester into something worse.
    • It's good to help others, but your own well being is important too.
  • Tales of Arcadia: Your family and friends can help you defeat evil and adversity.
  • Teen Titans: The central theme of the whole show is The Power of Friendship. Several of the season arcs are centered around the theme that you may be Not So Different from a villain, be it by blood, abilities, or personality, but you can always choose to be a better person. The Terra arc also has the central theme of taking responsibility for one's actions, and the Raven arc says yes, you can Screw Destiny.
  • Thunder Cats 2011: Right Makes Might. Being a proud badass doesn't make you a good leader. Seeing the big picture, having clarity, doing what's right, and showing kindness, selflessness and mercy towards all does make a good leader, and is the best way to combat the evil in the world that would exploit people's hatred and selfishness.
  • Tom and Jerry: The trials and tribulations between predator and prey.
  • Transformers: How constructive and deconstructive it is to live by your principles. Every Autobot and Decepticon have personal mottos that they define themselves by, as well as the principles of the two main factions of the cybertronian war - the Autobots stand for freedom and autonomy, while the Decepticons promote tyranny and deception - and all involved must accept the consequences of their ideologies, whether glorious or tragic.
  • Tuca & Bertie: The struggles women face, while also accepting that women aren't perfect.
  • Twelve Forever: The pressures of growing up and escapism.
  • Uncle Grandpa: Always embrace weirdness, imagination, and idealism.
  • Undone: Being mentally ill doesn't mean being stupid. What some consider mental illness might actually be just a new way of looking at the world.
  • The Venture Bros.: Failure and Identity. The series is about failure, and failed expectations in particular. The setting is a failed Used Future take on the Space Age ideals, Rusty Venture and Billy Quizboy are failed child geniuses, and almost every episode is about how some experiment crashed and burned.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Family of Choice
  • Wakfu: If you have the power to help somebody in need, then you should, that's what makes a hero.
  • Wander over Yonder:
  • We Bare Bears: The need to fit in and belong in modern society, no matter how awkwardly we try.
  • Wild Kratts: All creatures are amazing and should be living free and in the wild.
  • Yogi Bear: The call of the wild vs. the laws of man.
  • Young Justice:
    • What does it mean to be a hero?
    • The next generation taking over where their predecessors left off.
    • How far can a hero go to save the world, without destroying who they are in the process?

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