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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: Reality is a weird and chaotic place, but you can find a place in it.
  • Allen Gregory: Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
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  • American Dad!: Be open-minded, but don't get too overwhelmed by new ideas.
  • 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:
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender: War Is Hell. But forgiveness, love, friendship, and compassion win out over spite, hatred, and fear in the end. A friend may become an enemy, but an enemy may also become a friend. Destiny is choice; and choices must be made, not put off. Also, be open-minded, it might just be the only difference between you and your enemy.
    • 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.
    • Along this line, 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 Tao balance between heaven and earth.
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  • Beast Machines: Bringing life back to earth; like the life cycle of a plant.
  • Ben 10:
    • 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.
  • 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:
    • 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?
    • Fame and fortune cannot buy happiness, because of the destructive nature of Hollywoo and celebrity culture.
    • There is a huge difference between reality and fiction.
    • Vicious deconstruction of Status Quo Is God; if you treat someone in your life badly, that will have lasting consequences.
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    • The media consumed by the public plays at least a partial role in shaping the values of the culture, and those making movies and TV shows with harmful messages need to be held accountable for said messages.
    • Other recurring themes of this show include family, friendship, love, regret, sadness, depression, and escapism.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Courage is not necessarily the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to confront one's fears even despite being afraid.
    • Fear and cowardice aren't necessarily the same thing (which makes the show's title somewhat ironic).
  • 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 everyone.
    • People can only tolerate your flaws and quirks for so long, until it hurts them or they grow tired of it.
    • Don't let your self-image and insecurities hold you back from your potential. We are all more than what we perceive ourselves to be (anti-social bookworm, vapid pretty girl, etc.).
  • 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 (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:
    • Learning how to deal with the fact that things aren't always what they seem.
    • The ones who love you and you love are people you can trust.
    • Growing up can be rough somedays, but the people who love you can help you get through it.
    • Every episode has its own theme or message; click here for a full list.
  • 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.
  • Invader Zim:
    • Humans Are Morons. Amazing that we have not been invaded.
    • Luckily, the aliens are morons, too. Word of God points out that anyone with the Irkens' miraculous technology and average intelligence could conquer the Earth in no time. Zim, on the other hand, is continuously thwarted by his own ridiculous plans, a complete lack of common sense, and a ten-year-old social outcast; the aliens in "Abducted" are utterly brainless. One could argue that Invader Zim contains a subtler theme that technology makes us stupider because we no longer have to think.
  • King of the Hill: The Good Old Ways will always have a place in a modern world, but nobody is always right.
  • Disney's The Legend of Tarzan TV series: 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, and the fun in doing so with your friends.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: Maintaining a positive attitude when everything goes wrong.
  • 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 misinterpreting The Bible or using it to serve themselves and exploit others, instead of staying true to its teachings, 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.
  • Over the Garden Wall: Things aren't always what they seem, so you should expect the unexpected.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Make the most out of every day you've got. Especially during summer vacation.
    • 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.
  • Ready Jet Go!: No matter what happens, keep a positive attitude and persevere through obstacles, no matter how impossible they may seem.
  • Recess: The Power of Friendship will help you overcome any problems. And enjoy being a kid while you can.
  • Regular Show:
    • What aspects of life should and should not be taken seriously.
    • Trying to maintain good relationships with your loved ones; whether they be friends, family, romantic partners, etc.
  • 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 in spite of nihilism.
    • The mental conflict between intelligence and human connection.
  • Rugrats and All Grown Up!: The joys and struggles of youth.
  • Samurai Jack:
  • Scooby-Doo: No matter how supernatural it may seem, there's always a scientific and logical explanation for everything.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Finding love, friendship, and acceptance, a place to belong, even if it is among people you once considered an enemy, whenever good people can find them in an oppressive society without becoming corrupted themselves and how your past traumas can hinder you on the way to them or even cause people who could be or were close to each other to become enemies.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Family will always stand by you and accept you for who you are, no matter how much you fight, how different you are, or how crazy you drive each other.
    • For Springfield in general: Everyone in the world is unique and seems a little insane 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.
  • 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 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 comes in an infinite amount of forms. Specifically, through having faith in yourself and others or accepting flaws.
  • 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.
  • ThunderCats (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.
  • Trollhunters: Your family and friends will help you defeat evil and adversity.
  • Uncle Grandpa: Always embrace weirdness, imagination, and idealism.
  • 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.

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