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Aesop Amnesia

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"Lying is wrong! I'd know that if only I'd paid attention to anything that's ever happened to me before!"
Stan Smith, American Dad!, "The Phantom of the Telethon"

Some characters have a particular trait or mannerism that's come to be viewed as an overall part of them. Maybe they're stingy, or abrasive, or just like using a lot of profanity. Along comes an episode with An Aesop, and a character learns how good it is to be generous, or friendly, or that they don't need curse words to make themselves known.


Then, two episodes later at the most, they're back to hoarding their money, snapping at people, or cursing like a sailor. They've just run into Aesop Amnesia.

Aesop Amnesia is a sort of Snap Back that assures that Status Quo Is God from a character development point of view. After all, if you change something about the character that fans find enjoyable or defining about them, they're not going to be happy; and if that character trait provided a valuable foil for other characters, neither will the writers that come after. (Thus, you're much more likely to run into it on a series where writing duties are handled by a rotating set of writers and guest writers.)

And, of course, it allows the character to learn the same lesson all over again later!

In more recent series, this may eventually be lampshaded, especially if the show has a strong comedy element. In dramatic series, not so much.


A secondary sort is where the same series keeps trying to teach the same moral over and over again. This is slightly different than when the show has a certain theme or Aesop as their underlying premise, but rather where a show with a broad premise just keeps hammering home that one particular one until the viewer wants to shout "I get it already!"

A standard of cartoons, especially those aimed at fairly young children (or where the writers think anyone under thirty is a dope). In comic books, this frequently occurs thanks to the Fleeting Demographic Rule.

This is Truth in Television to some extent. People do not always overcome their flaws as quickly as fiction sometimes would like them to. Contrast Epiphany Therapy, where characters resolve long-standing issues and flaws too quickly. Compare Ignored Epiphany, Remember That You Trust Me and Lost Aesop. A Sub-Trope of Yo Yo Plot Point.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In what's probably a record for "fastest personality reset", after seeing a job well done, the members of the Student Council in Seitokai no Ichizon promise to stop being lazy and actually do the jobs they were elected for. One scene later, everything is back to the status quo.
  • In Slayers Revolution, Rezo the Red Priest is resurrected and basically the same crap with the Dark Lord Shabranigdo unfolds due to his obsession with gaining sight, which he was supposed to have gotten over in his Death Equals Redemption of the first series.
  • Detective Conan
    • During the episodes in which Ran suspects Conan is secretly Shinichi, she treats him with more respect, runs interference for him to investigate, and just generally pays more attention to what he has to say. But let him convince her the resemblance was all in her imagination, and she is back to scolding him for "interfering" in Kogoro's investigations again.
    • At one point Kogoro is told by the doctor to stop drinking so much—and for a few episodes he actually does. But not long afterward, he is back to boozing as heavily as usual.
  • Happens in the third arc of Bakemonogatari. An Aesop of the second arc was that Senjogouhara needs to be honest with Araragi about what's actually going on, or they're unlikely to make any significant progress in their relationship. But then in the third arc, Araragi lies to Senjogouhara about how he was beaten and mangled by Kanbaru. He then proceeds to keep her uninformed as he takes Kanbaru to Oshino to cure her affliction, even though Senjougahara is the whole reason why Kanbaru attacked him in the first place. Senjougahara calls him out on this in the climax after Oshino explains to her what's going on.
  • Kujo of the Gosick anime seems to experience this regularly. He regularly questions whether Victorique really cares for him, agonizes over it, and then comes to the conclusion she does care... only to forget the next mini-arc.
  • Naruto:
    • Inverted and Played Straight with Naruto himself. A key lesson he learned from Haku was that it was fighting for somebody you care about that makes you truly strong. This belief, and his decision to follow his own path, defined his character. He promptly forgot the very things that defined him when confronted with Gaara, whom he thought was strong because he had to endure his loneliness; it was only after remembering the forgotten aesop that he regained his will to fight. However, a particularly blatant example is Played Straight in one of the anime's filler arcs. Naruto spent most of the previous arc realizing that revenge is bad and destroys people, thereby solidifying his determination to rescue Sasuke from himself. However, at least half of the filler episodes have Naruto happily forgetting that revenge turned his best friend into an Omnicidal Maniac and actually helping other people get revenge. At one point, he even takes the initiative to avenge an island, despite the fact that there was no one left to benefit from destroying the oppressors. Somehow, it seems that the entire anime staff has missed the numerous falling anvils.
    • Sasuke cannot learn a lesson about revenge to save his life. Over and over, people have tried to (sometimes literally) beat it into him that he's just lashing out because he can't figure out any other way to cope, to no effect. Similarly, Sasuke constantly has it drilled into his head that teamwork and allies are important to him yet he constantly throws them to the side when he needs to, such as the Kage Summit after growing to like Team Hawk. In the final arc, Naruto actually calls him for completely ignoring the lesson they just learned, to which Sasuke merely responds that it's the past and no longer matters. In the end he comes around, lets go of his revenge and admits his appreciation of the feelings of those who kept caring about him.
    • In Part II and especially in the anime Filler, for the sake of humor, Sakura would often forget that she promised to start treating Naruto better.
  • Happens more than once in Digimon Xros Wars. Especially to Kiriha who will be a changed man actually more than once in the series. Most obvious when Deckerdramon dies and everyone is talking some sense into him. Two episodes later he is acting the same as before. But even to the main character Taiki who has to accept the fact later on that he might not be able to save everyone and he might has to kill some friends, who are revived after all. But he gets back into the old patterns very soon.
  • In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, EVERY member of the team has gotten in trouble at some point by running off alone to investigate something or someone suspicious, usually compounded by not even trying to tell anyone what's up. No matter what happens -and it's usually bad- they never learn. This leads to major tragedy on at least two occasions, The Secret Red Impulse and the last five episodes of the original series.
  • Just as fast as the Seitokai no Ichizon example, there's one from the Tenchi Muyo! manga. One story has Tsunami, disguised as an old man in a dream, take away Ryoko's tolerance for alcohol as punishment for her glutinous ways breaking the Masaki home bank. And she does this the day before a special drinking-style event. Despite the now incredibly-low tolerance for the drink, Ryoko pushes through and wins the day. Tsunami restores Ryoko's tolerance and gifts her with a lot more sake to drink and Ryoko promises to go easy. The last panel reveals that Ryoko blazed through all of those drinks in a month.
  • Pokémon has Ash, who almost always forgets to not blindly rush into things and to think his battles through. He also constantly forgets his mistakes, like trying to use Normal or Fighting moves on Ghost Pokémon.
    • From the start all the way through to the end of Diamond and Pearl, he seems to largely remember the lessons he learned, with occasional exceptions. Then at the start of Best Wishes, he suddenly forgets everything, including that every Nurse Joy looks the same.
    • Ash also has two regular Aesops he alternates between. One is that he needs to have confidence in himself and his Pokémon (this always seems to come as a revelation). The other - over-confidence!
    • In the English version of Pokémon: The First Movie, the lesson the gang learns is "Fighting Is Wrong". For a series based on having Trainers making their Pokémon fight each other until they go unconscious, this could have been a bold move, to say the least. However, most likely in the interest of sixteen more seasons and fifteen additional films (to date), the writers decided to have Mewtwo erase everyone's memories of the events on the island and have everyone leave with an overall feeling of happiness and accomplishment. The characters, especially Team Rocket, couldn't recall the important life lessons that they learned. This could be justified as Mewtwo believed it was more important to keep his crew safe from harm. The gang is then seen in the wrap-up montage using their Pokemon to fight each other... It wasn't that much better in the Japanese version where the motto is "All Life Is Equal."
  • The second half of the Magic Knight Rayearth anime has this, in part because of some Schrödinger's Cast issues. Guru Clef is sincerely remorseful over his part of the girls' trauma thanks to his Metaphorical Truth at the beginning and says he should have told them the whole story. But at the same time, he asks Sierra to pose as her deceased twin, Presea, to save the girls from further heartbreak—even though they didn't have any expectation that Presea would be alive, her having died early in the first season, and he could have just told them before they met who Sierra really was. This causes no small amount of angst for Sierra throughout the season.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba seems to be allergic to teamwork despite being able to take down The Big Five's Five-Headed Dragon because of Yugi's help. This is especially bad in the tag duel pitting him and Yugi against Marik's lackeys Lumis and Umbra because even with his kid brother Mokuba held hostage at that point, Kaiba is still adamant of trying to win the duel himself.
    • Kaiba suffers a lot from this trope due to most of the Filler Arcs being focused on him, the Big Five arc mentioned above being one of them (keep in mind that the wasn't nearly as present in the original manga). Another example is the Virtual World arc (which took place in the middle of Battle City), where Kaiba went through a lot of Character Development and got to prove his superiority to his stepfather and defeat him for good... only for the Battle City semifinals to come along, where Kaiba is driven by an unhealthy hatred for Gozaburo and Rage Quits after he loses to Yugi (again), resolving to blow up the island and end the tournament prematurely.
    • Yami Yugi goes through this, as well, in the (also filler) DOMA arc. A big deal is made during his duel with Raphael of Yami Yugi being afraid of defeat, which makes him go to such extents as being provoked into playing the Seal of Orichalcos, getting defeated anyway, and losing Yugi's soul as a result. This despite the fact that he learned a lesson about not being afraid of losing (and use defeat as a means to become stronger instead) back in Duelist Kingdom, and he demonstrated that the lesson stuck in Battle City. Similarly, Mai becomes very desperate to win at all costs to prove herself in DOMA. She was the one who taught him the lesson in the first place.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V attempts to provide the moral in the Synchro arc of "you have to make your own way, you can't try to get by through copying what other people do," since Yuya's entire strategy and entertaining style up to that point had been copying that of his father. And true to form, Yuya does create his own strategy and style in the final battle of the arc, complete with a new ace, Nirvana High Paladin. He then never uses this strategy and style again, and goes right back to copying his dad in the very next arc, never using Nirvana High Paladin again.
  • Lampshaded in Sabagebu!. One episode involves Momoka gaining weight after eating too many sweets, and a later segment in the same episode has her stating that she feels fine eating whatever she wants without fear of consequence. This leads to the following line from the narrator:
    Narrator: Momoka Sonokawa's ability to learn is so horrifyingly bad, she already forgot what happened a few minutes ago in part B.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! suffered from two bad cases of this:
    • First Negi. He's just a ten year old who wants to solve any trouble he faces all by himself and has a serious guilt complex. Throughout the series, his students and later friends try to get him to accept the idea of teamwork and stop trying to do it all by himself. The lesson never sticks for Negi. There's a hilarious scene where Negi has a fever. Kotaro explains it was brought on by his stress and worry about his friends, and sure enough, it goes away when he calms down. A few minutes later, Negi starts muttering it's all his fault that his friends have been scattered in the magic world, prompting Kotaro to slap him and say they've just gone over this.
    • Then there is Setsuna Sakurazaki, who just doesn't seem to get in her head that it's okay to be a strong bodyguard in order protect her "Ojou-sama" and be happily by her side as her friend (or more) at the same time. She learns it at the end of the Kyoto arc, during the Mahorafest tournament, gets an Evil Counterpart that makes her angst about it again and post Magic World she still doesn't get it.
  • The original Kinnikuman manga ended in 1988 with the titular character growing out of being a funny coward hero wrestler to a bright and all rounded brave hero wrestler; then the manga series revival in 2010 basically rebooted his character, all the valor, heroism, and courage he got at the end of the original 36 volumes run is set back a bit so the jokes on Suguru’s cowardice can keep running, all to make the moments where Suguru does get serious more climatic.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Touma Kamijou gets into a lot of Accidental Pervert moments. A lot of these could be easily avoided if he would just remember to knock before entering a room. In fact, he asked himself why he didn't do this when he walked in Orsola Aquinas about to take a shower, but he still keeps forgetting. He could also avoid a lot of his bad luck incidents if he would just watch where he's going and what he says. On a more serious note, while he's always telling the people he saves You Are Not Alone and that they can always call on him for help, he almost never calls for help himself and tries to solve problems by himself. When people bring it up, he'll say he doesn't want to bother anyone.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Freeza is an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who was born insanely powerful and always just coasted on his natural talent. This lead him to a rude awakening and a severe humbling when Goku (a Humble Hero who takes training very seriously) achieved the legendary power of Super Saiyan and utterly destroyed Freeza, leaving him to stew in his own failure. However, he's then recovered by his father, turned into a Cyborg, and immediately rushes off to Earth to get revenge on Goku...which gets him humiliated and defeated by a second Super Saiyan (Future Trunks), who actually kills him this time. In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ he's brought Back from the Dead, seemingly having learned his lesson and resolving to train for the first time in his life, which lets him achieve near-Physical God levels of power in just four months. And it's ultimately played straight, with Freeza still not learning his lesson. Golden Freeza is powerful, but it practically bleeds stamina and tires him out quickly. Compounding things, he gets a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Goku, who figured out the flaw the moment he saw the new form. Needless to say this doesn't sit well with Freeza, who blows up the Earth in a giant ragequit.
    • Vegeta has this to the extreme. As the Prince of the Saiyans, he's convinced that he's the strongest being in the universe and tends to bite off more than he can chew when it comes to enemies, as well as refusing to work with anyone he considers inferior (which is basically everyone). To make matters worse, he's actually not as strong as Goku, which enrages Vegeta for decades in-universe and results in his being a liability for the good guys quite often. It isn't until the very end of Z that the fuller Aesop finally sticks and he accepts that Goku is the better man. Come Super he still wants to surpass Goku but is far less bitter and toxic about it, and his massive sense of Saiyan pride becomes an asset rather than a liability since he goes from blind stupidity to a top-class Determinator.
    • Gohan is lectured during the Majin Buu Saga about how because he stopped training after the Cell Saga; he's gotten weaker and his skills have decayed, hurting his ability to protect his friends and family. Despite this, he still doesn't train, leaving him a shadow of his former self in Resurrection F and especially Dragon Ball Super. He seems to have learned this lesson in Super when Frieza kills Piccolo and blows up the Earth, asking Piccolo to retrain him once Goku deals with Frieza.
    • Subverted for Bulma in that she is aware that time traveling is a crime, but creates a new time machine to try it out. Of course, both Whis and Beerus gets onto her for it, and the latter destroys it by snapping his fingers.
  • Sonic X: There have been several occasions where Knuckles has been duped by Eggman faking a Heel–Face Turn, but no matter how many times he falls for it, he'll readily fall for the same trick again. Amy even lampshades this in the Season 2 episode "An Enemy in Need," reminding Knuckles of all the other times Eggman tricked him into thinking he wanted to reform and asking him just how many times he has to fall for it before he accepts that Eggman is nothing but a liar who will never change his ways.
  • Played for Laughs in the blooper reel of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, when the Elric brothers are talking to each other on the roof after they get their original bodies back.
    Al: I've been thinking about something lately.

    Comic Books 
  • Gotham City Sirens manages to impressively forget an Aesop on the same page! Harley Quinn has finally decided to stop pining after the Joker, since her experiences with another former sidekick has taught her that the Joker really does not care about those people he works with, and she has seen first-hand how pathetic and depressing such obsessions truly are. She knows he will never change, and for her own good and the good of her friends she should just move on...of course, he still might change... This is, of course, a major part of Harley's characterization, and a testament to how screwed up she is.
  • Batman has learned to be more open and caring to his children (especially Nightwing) so often that this might as well be called A Batman Family Aesop. Of course, that will happen with seventy-odd years of having been published. One of the things that really pisses off Batman fans (who have dubbed the phenomenon "Batdickery"), is that since the mid-'90s, Batman's character has been stuck in a cycle that goes 1) Batman acts like a paranoid asshole. 2) Horrible things happen. 3) Batman realizes he shouldn't act like such a paranoid asshole. 4) Return to step 1.
  • Likewise, Nightwing and Robin (Tim Drake) take turns learning not to be Batman when it comes to their friends and teammates, although Nightwing tends to be better at it: at least he has a few people he can respect, and his entire reason for becoming Nightwing was because he disagreed with Bruce's methods. Tim, on the other hand, has essentially become Batman however sans the "I work alone" nonsense.
  • It seems every new author wants to write the story where Iceman finally stops being immature. The Human Torch also gets similar treatment. Also from the Fantastic Four, the Thing learns several times over that looking like a monster isn't so bad when your friends still love you. However, this is played more realistically than most other instances of this trope, as the universe keeps trying to prove, in a variety of different ways, that actually, no, having friends who love you even though you're a monster doesn't help all that much, because humans in the Marvel universe are colossal dicks. (Plus, the FF were meant from the start to be a bunch of dysfunctional fuck-ups, so this quality of his was supposed to be a flaw.)
    • A major part of Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four is Reed Richards learning that he can't solve everything all on his lonesome, and shouldn't be afraid to ask his friends for help when he needs to. And then in Jonathan Hickman's Avengers, a major portion of the plot is caused by Reed Richards (and all the Illuminati, to be fair) deciding they and they alone can solve the problem, and don't bother asking their friends for help even when faced with the destruction of all existence. And when called on this by a super-scientist who could've helped, Reed's reaction is basically "yeah, whatevs."
  • Spider-Man repeatedly wants to ditch super heroics to be a normal guy with a normal family, only to have it drilled into him again that "Great power equals great responsibility".
  • In Green Lantern the Guardians of the Universe once created the Manhunters, a robotic army built to maintain order in the universe. These then went crazy and started slaughtering people, necessitating the creation of the Green Lanterns to replace them. Then, they created the Alpha Lanterns, implanting Green Lanterns with Manhunter programming, and gave them infallible authority over the other Lanterns. Thus far they're shown major Knight Templar tendencies and one of them was possessed by an evil New God, demonstrating they were totally wrong about the whole "incorruptible police force" idea. Turns out they're being controlled by Hank Henshaw. Good job Guardians.
  • Pretty much the entire Civil War was this for the Pro-Reg side. The Super Registration Act might have provoked a nuanced, thoughtful, balanced debate....if the entire flipping Marvel Universe hadn't been telling civilians for the past several decades that treating supers/mutants and normals differently was morally wrong, dangerous, pointless, and comparable to segregation and Nazism. Now, suddenly, everybody thinks it's some sort of valid option, just so a fat juicy Conflict Ball could be thrown into the ring. The biggest Face Palm, however, has got to go to Reed Richards, who once spent an entire issue delivering an Aesop to Congress on why a SHRA was a racist, unenforceable, and moronic idea. (And no, he didn't have any character development that showed him changing his mind.) Arguably the biggest irony is that Mark Millar thought he was delivering a balanced view.
  • The civilians of the Marvel Universe are infamous for their gullibility every time some villain tries to frame a hero for some crime or another. You'd think after the tenth time the guy robbing a bank in a Spider-Man outfit turned out to be Mysterio or the Chameleon, they'd catch on. You'd be wrong.
  • Rodimus in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye learns a valuable lesson about taking responsibility and not being such a lazy jackass all the time. He forgets it basically the moment the Dark Cybertron crossover ends and goes right back to napping on the job and pretending to be dead to get out of difficult questions.
  • Azula in the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic books intentionally does this. As what was likely the fourth generation of a toxic culture and mentality started by Sozin; her strict refusal to change (as The Beach showed us, she's got no way to function off the batllefield) puts her at odds with Zuko who desires change. Tragically enough, Azula still hasn't learned that Fear isn't the best way to make friends or get people to work for you; as she still not only has it as her best weapon but in Smoke and Shadow she's completely manipulated Ukano to do her bidding and has plans to manipulate Zuko into a Tyrant like she would have been and how previous Fire Lords were. It's quite difficult to tell if she's legitimately not learning anything or if she's just regressing to maintain some degree of sanity.
  • Since his first solo series, Deadpool has been learning to be more of a hero and kill less. He often succeeds, even becoming a popular Avenger for a time, but he always ultimately returns to being a murderous villain/anti-hero who's hated and feared by the wider Marvel universe.

    Fan Works 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan novel Nightmares Are Tragic, Luna experiences some of this, explicitly, right after being purged of the Nightmare at the end. Specifically, she loses a lot of her self-confidence, won in her successful fight from within against the Night Shadow. Justified, as the combination of the drain to her form from the battle and the damage done to her by the Rainbow of Harmony severely weakens her and causes her to lose some of her memories, especially her memories from the time when she was possessed by the Night Shadow.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Kokoa suffers from this at first. In Act I, she's single-mindedly attracted to Dark despite the fact that he's only interested in Mizore, and it's only after Dark explicitly tells her to her face that he has no interest in her, along with the realization that chasing after him has negatively affected her pride, which Kokoa constantly boasts about, that Kokoa realizes her mistake and backs off. Come Act II, she's completely forgotten this lesson and goes so far as to invoke a sacred vampire pact, punishable by death if broken, with Moka in an attempt to have Tsukune to herself; the others even point out how pathetic it is that she didn't learn her lesson in not chasing after boys who are already taken the first time. When Kokoa loses the pact, and subsequently realizes that Tsukune only loves Moka and what she would have taken from him had she won, she finally seems to learn her lesson, and this time, it actually sticks.
  • In With This Ring, Paul learns that he needs to take off the ring and be himself to distance himself from the ring's influence when it started to negatively impact his mind after he was nearly killed in a home invasion. He stops an episode after when he gets caught off guard, though later text does imply that he kept up the practice.
    • Paul and Co. find out through various means that the Belle Reve is highly likely to be compromised and so a mass-escape is also likely to be brewing there. They still let it happen and have to deal with the fallout.

    Films — Animated 
  • Brilliantly avoided by Woody in Toy Story 2. John Lasseter even states that Pixar specifically did not want to just give them amnesia and relearn the same lesson twice, but needed them to grow in a different way. Also, the idea of a Buzz Lightyear who thinks he's real is used in the same movie, but instead of the first Buzz forgetting everything he learned in the first one, it's used with a different Buzz toy who is found in a toy store.
    Buzz Lightyear: "Oh, tell me I wasn't this delusional..."
  • At the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo ends up losing Esmeralda to Phoebus, and accepting not just the fact that the two are both in love with each other, but also the fact that it's not his appearance that matters but rather how he is treated in public. In the sequel Quasi is now lamenting about why he has no love interest, and ends up falling in love with a beautiful circus performer.
  • A Goofy Movie has (over the course of a road trip) Goofy learning to let his teenage son grow up and Max learning to appreciate his father's "goofy" tendencies, and by the end of the film they've grown closer. An Extremely Goofy Movie opens with Goofy moping that his son is growing up and Max anxious to leave for college to get away from his embarrassing dad; Max sort of re-learns his lesson after his father helps him win a sporting event, while Goofy never re-learns his lesson and ends the movie as clingy as he started it.
  • This is one of the biggest criticisms for Disney's Beauty and the Beast sequels. In the original film the Beast mainly is a Jerkass but thanks to Belle he is eventually able to take a level in kindness. Both sequels, which roughly take place roughly in the middle of the film, should be after he underwent said kindness uptake, but they're completely ignored to have him be a dick again so he can once again learn his lesson. The second sequel, made up of three unaired episodes for a failed TV spinoff, has him go through this twice.
  • Like with Beauty and the Beast, the endless number of sequels of The Land Before Time have been criticized for having the characters recycle their personalities (even if their personalities barely resemble their original ones.) For example, in the first film Jerkass Cera goes through character development about accepting help from others, that sometimes accepting help is needed, and that being a jerkass won't get you far in life, all while living in a Crapsack World. You'd think that after surviving a incredibly dangerous journey she'd have changed, but EVERY sequel always has her start of a Jerkass and learn to accept help and stop being a jerkass, but no matter how dangerous the journey, she's always back to being a jerkass at the start of the next movie.
  • Timmy in The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue at least three times over.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • High School Musical is a repeat offender. After every film, all the lessons learned, all of the character growth is completely forgotten and the characters go on to make similar, if not the same, mistakes.
  • In many of The Little Rascals short comedies, Alfalfa has a cocky side to him that always lands him into trouble. Despite the number of times his ego is knocked down a few pegs, Alfalfa can't help but return to his old traits.
  • National Treasure 2, in regards to the Character Development and romance between Ben and Abigail. Especially in regards to Abigail, who turned into a much worse person than she was in even the beginning of the first movie. Are we supposed to be happy that they got back together at the end? They were also Strangled by the Red String in the first movie, so basically they arbitrarily got together, arbitrarily broke up and arbitrarily got back together again.
  • At the end of RoboCop (1987), Alex Murphy's persona reasserts itself and he talks and acts more like a human than a robot. In RoboCop 2, however, he's back to a more stilted robot-like personality for no real reason. Moreover in RoboCop 2 the prime directives that guide his behavior are completely erased from his system. This piece of development is again entirely erased in the third movie with the 3 directives back in place. This one makes sense, however, as after the first and second movies, Robocop/Murphy would have returned to being serviced and maintained by OCP technicians, who would have reinstated his original programming. In 2 and even at the beginning of 3 he's obviously already come some ways from the first movie, being capable of ignoring orders to save his friends, and in the second he seems to be accessing his old memories much easier than in the first.
  • By the ends of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Harold had learned to stand up for himself and to lighten up a bit, and Kumar had learned that being irresponsible hurts his friends. Two years later in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Kumar's irresponsibility has driven off his girlfriend, and Harold is still worried about appearances.
  • At the end of Osmosis Jones, Frank, the overweight, unhealthy man, as a result of a near-death experience at the hospital thanks to an evil virus the heroes were fighting inside his body, actually vows to stay healthy from that point on. However, by the animated spinoff, Frank's back to his unhealthy ways, and both Osmosis Jones and Drixxenol (a pair of microbes who protect his body) are both carried off from his body by a mosquito bite, and are now living inside someone else that mosquito bit! Now imagine what will happen if a virus like Thrax went inside his body again, and neither Ozzy nor Drix are there to save him...
  • In Spider-Man 2, this happens to J. Jonah Jameson in the course of a single sentence.
    Jameson: Spider-Man...was a hero. I just couldn't see it. He was a-
    *Realises Spider-Man has stolen back the suit*
    Jameson: -a thief! A criminal! He stole my suit! He's a menace to the entire city! I want the wall-crawling arachnid prosecuted! I want him strung up by his web! I want Spider-Man!
  • Superman Returns is based on the idea that after Superman II, the title character flew off into space for five years to search for any evidence of Krypton's survival. The problem is, Superman II has Superman stop paying attention to the outside world for, at most, two weeks and it got conquered by psychotic Kryptionians; one of the last scenes has him promising the president that he will be more vigilante in the future. While the world wasn't outright conquered again in his absence, Superman's disappearance did allow Lex Luthor to wiggle out of jail time and break into the Fortress of Solitude, which leads right into the supervillain conflict of the movie.
  • Tear Jerker example in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. McMurphy challenges Nurse Ratched's authority and unfair rules at every turn, becoming something of a hero to the sheepish patients and leading them to explore and regain their own lost least until McMurphy attacks Ratched in order to avenge her driving Billy to suicide and is moved to another part of the hospital and lobotomized. The Chief clearly doesn't forget what McMurphy taught him, but all the other patients seem to, and when the film ends, they're all back to behaving as they did before McMurphy arrived.
  • In the original Star Wars trilogy and The Force Awakens, the Galactic Empire and its successor, the First Order, repeatedly create planet-destroying weapons of mass destruction (the Death Stars and Starkiller Base) that have design flaws their antagonists exploit. The First Order at least have the foresight to armour the giant weak point on their superweapon, at least, but in the long run that just means that there's a bit of a delay before the 'splodey.
  • Tyor in Wizards of the Lost Kingdom 2 delivers the line "You've got to trust anyone that beautiful", talking about Amathea...about five minutes after his encounter with Freya, a villainous Hot Witch who worked for one of the bad guys and would have tricked him into giving up his quest and magical amulet had the Big Good not intervened at the last second.

  • Each of the Animorphs seem to have to learn the exact same lesson in each one of the books they star in, only to have the exact same flaw confronted and conquered again their next book. Jake learns not to be so uptight/be a better leader, Rachel learns not to take so much joy in the action/be a little less psychotic, Marco learns to take things more seriously/not be so pessimistic, Ax learns not to treat his human friends as inferior... Tobias is easily the worst, in EVERY book he narrates he laments being stuck, willingly or not, in his hawk form and has to learn to accept his situation for the sake of his friends and the war and move on. The only exception seems to be Cassie, the token pacifist of the group, who seems to always be right from the beginning.
  • The Baby-Sitters Club:
    • A number of examples, but one that stands out in particular is the relationship between Claudia and her genius sister Janine. There were many books where the two of them bonded over junk food, had a heart-to-heart talk, and realized that the two of them were Not So Different. By the next book, their relationship was back to where it was.
    • Also a feature in many Little Sister books, where Karen learns not to be a brat only to promptly forget it by the time the next book comes around.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Faile spends the first few books after her marriage to Perrin constantly frustrated that he doesn't magically intuit the Saldean marriage customs that she never bothered to explain to him, before realizing that she could be meeting him halfway by learning how the Two Rivers handles relationships from any of dozens of female role models who are only too happy to give her pointers. In a Heartwarming Moment, she arranges for a romantic moment for them in Two Rivers fashion and apologizes for being so hard on him. Come the next book, and she's right back to being angry that he doesn't read her mind and treat her like a Saldean husband is expected to treat his wife.
  • Bailey School Kids: The characters take turns between believing a character is supernatural, considering it unlikely, and teasing their friends for considering it, depending on the book.
  • Done intentionally in The Last Continent: Ponder, having spent the book, as always, being totally impatient with the older wizards (not without reason), is suddenly aged about fifty years, and learns what it's actually like to be a senior wizard. Upon his return to normal, a footnote tells us:
    "It would be nice to say that this experience taught Ponder a valuable lesson and that he was a lot more considerate towards old people afterwards, and this was true for about five minutes."
  • In Warrior Cats, no matter how many times the cats learn the importance of working together, by the next book, they'll usually be at each other's throats again.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Ron has learned a number of times not to be jealous of Harry being The Hero. Ron also learned that he's not worthless at Quidditch in two separate, sequential books.
    • Another plot device that J.K. Rowling seemed to really like was having the Hogwarts community, as a whole, turn against Harry (with only a handful of people standing by him). Over the course of the series, the Hogwarts students had to learn at least three or four times that refusing to trust Harry was a bad idea.
    • It's Sirius himself who tells Harry, Ron and Hermione in Goblet of Fire that a good way to get the measure of a person is to see how they treat their inferiors. In that specific case, it was referring to Crouch and his house-elf. Sirius appears to have forgotten this when dealing with his own house-elf in Order of the Phoenix. However Dumbledore points out after Sirius' death that Sirius wasn't particularly bad to House-Elves, he just hated Kreacher because Kreacher represented the house and life he hated. Also Kreacher comes across as a very unpleasant character, with his talk of pure-blood supremacy and insulting Sirius.
    • In Order of the Phoenix Harry doesn't learn that speaking his mind or telling the truth about Voldemort around Umbridge is only going to get him into trouble, or at least gets too angry to act like he's learned this lesson when it matters. McGonagall calls him out on it at one point.
  • Actually a plot point in Peter Pan: as a perpetual boy, Peter literally can't learn lessons. If he didn't have Aesop Amnesia, he'd grow up.
  • In The Princess and the Goblin, Curdie's Character Arc is accepting the reality of Irene's grandmother. By the start of The Princess and Curdie, he's convinced himself it was a dream.
  • In the Hush, Hush series, Nora never seems to catch on wandering alone, in dark, dangerous parts of town is just begging for trouble.
  • Played with in Prince Caspian. When the Pevensies go back to Narnia, Susan and Peter believe that Lucy is either mistaken or lying when she claims to see Aslan, and they don't. Edmund, on the other hand, remembers that it was just in the last book that Lucy's claims of "There's a magical land in the wardrobe" were right, so chances are they should listen to her this time.
  • Sweet Valley High: Jessica would try to pull off some crazy stunt, only to have it blow up in her face and make her out to look like a fool. Inevitably, by the next book or two, she would be trying something new, despite the fact that she was often warned about it by being reminded by others about how badly things had gone the last time. The sad thing is, a handful of these tricks were genuine attempts at improving herself or trying something new—cooking class, music lessons—so it seems a little unfair that those should go as badly as her usual schemes. Additionally, "good" twin Elizabeth would have a moment where she'd realize that she was being very judgmental and self-righteous about someone who would turn out to be a relatively nice person, only to be doing the same ting in a later book. This is outright pointed out by Jessica in one book when Elizabeth has taken an instant dislike to a guy, only for Jessica to blast her for automatically assuming that the guy must be a bad person just because he's rich.
  • In most of the Encyclopedia Brown books, a con artist named Wilford Wiggins tries to bilk the town kids out of their savings in some elaborate scheme or other. Not only do people not stop listening to him no matter how many times Encyclopedia explained Wilford's promises were hot air, Encyclopedia actually comes up with a special policy that he takes cases involving Wilford for free.
  • The Bible: In the Old Testament, Israel gets into a cycle of rejecting God's commands, turning to false gods, getting attacked by enemies, turning back to God, being saved by a judge, prophet or king God raised up to defeat their enemies, following God's commands again, then rinsing, washing and repeating. It gets so bad that God finally just lets the Assyrians and Babylonians carry them off into exile.
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: Despite seeing the dragons alive at the end of the first book, David's back to doubting their existence in the second.
  • Les Malheurs de Sophie runs with this trope. Every chapters has Sophie committing something forbidden by her mother then getting in problem, her mother punishing her then swearing she'll listen to her next time ...only to do it again in the next chapter. However this is justified by the protagonist being a 8 years old girl and the author treats disobedience as a characteristic of childhood.
  • The major characters of Relativity pretty much agreed that keeping secrets from each other caused all of their interpersonal problems in the first story of the series. That doesn't stop them all from continuing to keep secrets from each other, even though it results in arguments and fights every single time.
  • Quite the achievement in this happens in The Underland Chronicles at the end of the last book. After a horrible bloody war has badly mauled both humans and gnawers (human-sized rats that fight with humans almost constantly), Luxa (now the queen of the humans) decides that in retaliation the rats are to be banished to an inhospitable part of the Underland. The rats obviously don't take this well (since them being driven into places where it's hard to survive was a part of the war in the first place) and both sides are about to go to war again before Gregor puts his foot down and yells at them for being so stupid. Thankfully his speech takes and war is averted when Luxa and Ripred bond with one another.
  • Most of the Mr. Men who are defined by negative personality traits (Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Greedy, and Mr. Noisy, for example) learn their lesson and change their ways by the end of their own story; however, when they appear in another story, they're right back to their old ways (justified, because without those traits, they'd be nothing but Flat Characters).
  • The kids in Little Monsters sometimes get this mere seconds after learning their lesson. For example, Bossy Bethany learns she shouldn't be bossy after a Drill Sergeant Nasty gives her a taste of her own medicine and apologizes to the others, but immediately starts being bossy again.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On a "Very Special Episode" of Happy Days, Fonzie famously jumps his motorcycle over 17 oil-barrels in order to prove his courage; but he breaks his leg in doing so, and confesses that he learned how stupid it was to take foolish risks like that (an obvious Aesop to discourage kids from copying Evel Knievel). But then later in another "Special Episode," Fonzie accepts a dare to jump over a shark-tank on waterskis.... and he accepts the challenge— and succeeds victoriously and unscathed, thus forgetting his earlier lesson, while naming another trope (Jumping the Shark) in the process.
  • In Amos and Andy, the Kingfish's "Get Rich Quick" schemes always fail (and sometimes even end up costing him), but soon (usually in the next episode, and in at least one case, at the end of the same episode), he's got another one. He never learns!
  • In Arrested Development, Michael has the habit of using his son George-Michael as an excuse for why he shouldn't move on from his dead wife and start dating again. Someone then tells him to stop hiding behind his son. Michael agrees and decides to move on only to forget the lessons he learned a few episodes later and have to learn it again and again...
    • Lampshaded in numerous later season episodes as the rest of the family constantly jokes about the fact that Michael always comes back to save the day despite his continued attempts to leave.
  • In Roseanne, Jackie and her mother Bev have a strained, broken relationship throughout most of the show, Bev having driven Jackie into therapy with her constant criticisms and insults. But in an episode in one of the later seasons, the two share a teary heart-to-heart and seem to finally resolve their differences and repair their relationship as a mother and daughter. But of course, by their next appearance together, they go back to butting heads.
  • Home Improvement:
    • Tim Taylor learns that constantly being a male chauvinist is going to cost him. Of course he doesn't learn, that's the premise of the show. Honestly, why does Wilson even bother?
    • Tim also constantly learns that showing off or using something ridiculously overpowered for the job he's trying to do is going to end badly. Except when he doesn't, which is why he's on a first name basis with the doctors and nurses at the emergency room.
    • On the opposite end, Jill also learned several times that Tim's feelings weren't meaningless or baseless just because they were based in masculine behavior, and that she should try to be more understanding. Semi-separate of Tim, she also learned (repeatedly) not to try and psychoanalyze people with her still-amateur psychiatric abilities because she didn't have the experience and complete knowledge necessary to do so (and that she probably shouldn't analyze people she hadn't met yet). Or that she shouldn't meddle in peoples' relationships because she was as likely to cause a breakup as heal any difficulties. None of these stuck.
  • After a moral epiphany at the end of the The West Wing episode "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet", neither the President not anyone else keeps the staff revved up with the their collective pledges after the end of the season. They're great human beings already, so this doesn't actually ruin anything — it's just a really huge missed opportunity.
  • Mortal Kombat: Conquest was notorious for this. One of the main characters would do something stupid, learn a lesson by episode's end, was completely forgotten by the next episode.
  • Seeing how Supernatural is the king of going from bad to worse, this tends to happen a lot. Dean's unwillingness to talk about his problems is a good example. Despite all the emotional trauma Dean has experienced and all the "Chick Flick Moments" he's instigated, by the season 3 finale he still brushes off Sam's attempt at a heartfelt goodbye. Pretty much Truth in Television, and also somewhat justified in that one of the running themes of the show is that brotherhood is more important than anything the world can throw at it. The nature of the relationship never changes because they (Dean especially) actively do not want it to change. The few times it does become more open and adult, it's a sign that something is slightly off.
  • Dexter had this problem majorly in Season 6. Supposedly, Dexter learns from Trinity murdering Rita two seasons earlier that becoming too involved with other serial killers can be dangerous for his family. Yet within the space of what is supposed to be about a year, he has all but forgotten this lesson. This leads to his son Harrison getting kidnapped and held at knife point. Other lessons he's forgotten include:
    • Be more careful about leaving a trail (Seasons 2, 5, and 6); do not mercifully free your victims (Seasons 1 and 6); Harry was fallible and he should be his own person (every single season).
    • A shorter version would be "Listen to Harry and follow the Code." So far every single time Dexter objected to Harry resulted in major trouble, whether immediately or over the course of several seasons.
    • Truth in Television, to a point. Some studies have indicated that sociopaths (which Dexter would likely be considered if he existed in Real Life) do have trouble learning from their mistakes, even more than the average person.
  • M*A*S*H was king of this trope. Margaret learned at least three times to be kinder and more respectful to her nurses. Charles learned the value of the common man several times. Same for Hawkeye and his womanizing, his drinking, and his disrespect for authority. Though perhaps the crowning moment was when BJ went on a long rant about how it was so easy for him and Hawkeye to sit around, relatively far from the real fighting, considering themselves so high and mighty as they snarked and sneered at the war and complained about how bad they had it, while soldiers were actually fighting and dying on the front lines. By the next episode, they were back to snarking and sneering as usual. The rant in question is one of the only times anyone questions Hawkeye's position that he is morally superior to the Army, which was vital to the status quo. Hawkeye doesn't even get the Aesop in the first place, and seems to chalk the rant up to BJ being hysterical with guilt. Apparently the writers did too.
    • And then there's Frank Burns. Every time he's left in command, instead of maintaining the status quo as any temporary military leader should, he tries to institute his own hypocritical rules, which always back-fire on him and end up getting him in hot water when the CO returns. This happens every single time Frank is put in charge. In his case, it's not that he forgot the Aesop, but rather that it never sank in in the first place — he always maintains that he did a good job and everyone else was the problem.
  • Will & Grace used this a lot with all the characters, but mostly Karen and Jack. Karen would often learn that being shallow and nasty to everyone wasn't quite as fun as she usually thought it was, or Jack would learn something similar. The show would occasionally actually have an episode of the characters still having learned their lesson as a We Want Our Jerk Back episode.
  • The title character of House seems to inflict Aesop Amnesia on himself. Not only does he avoid learning a lesson, even if he does he announces he doesn't give a crap and continues to be the same Jerk Ass as ever. Though some of his supporting cast seem to have difficulty learning from experience, let alone keeping hold of the episode's message.
    • There's an episode in which Wilson says something like "Or you could just let it go," to which House responds "What person who is nothing like me are you talking to?"
  • A consistent trope on the earlier seasons of Nip/Tuck, where the character of Dr. Christian Troy would learn how much harm his selfish, reckless lifestyle causes and makes amends by the end of the episode, only to consistently go back to being an ever worse asshole by next week.
  • At Black Hole High, the science club seems incapable of remembering that it's a good idea to talk about your issues with each other instead of just assuming the worst and keeping it bottled up, even after talking out your problems turns out to be the cure for: molecular friction; taking on the characteristics of various elements in periodic-table order; attack by anthropomorphic Venus flytrap; and abnormal sponge growth. Also, they seem unable to learn the Aesop "Don't use the bits of weird Pearadyne phlebotinum stored in the school basement in your various get-rich-quick schemes" even after sticking their chips into various things caused: Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!; a cellphone to gain the power to enforce emoticons on its owner; a radio to receive messages from the future; the common cold to jump species from human to computer to building.
  • Entourage spent the first two seasons using Johnny 'Drama' Chase (presented as a Hollywood has-been) as a running gag machine on this trope. Drama would haughtily 'advise' Vince on Hollywood lifestyle, only to have E or Turtle point out how short-lived, illusionary, feeble or otherwise pathetic his acting career was in the 90's. It happened about once an episode. You'd think Drama would learn to keep his trap shut. Similarly, the course of the show has shown that anytime it's Eric vs. Vince in a difference of professional opinion E's almost always proven right. Vince makes few-to-no good decisions on his own. He could make a wrong turn in a cul-de-sac. You'd think that if Vince hadn't learned this by now, at least Drama, Turtle and Ari would remind him that E was right about Matterhorn, QB, Aquaman, Mandy More, Dom, Amanda, and Medellian, where Vince's instincts were way off (except for QB). Let E do your thinking for you Vince, it's his skill, not yours.
  • General Hospital: Jax makes a recording of Sonny implicating himself in knowledge of Claudia's death (Jax knows Michael killed her justifiably and that Sonny only covered it up), but tells Dante (then Dominic) he's deleting it because he can't wreck his family's lives by helping put Sonny away. Yet it's perfectly alright later on for him to still be knowledgeable and involved in the investigation, still seeking to get Sonny arrested and risking his relationship with Carly, Michael and Morgan anyway. Not to mention getting a federal prosecutor assigned to Sonny's case and doing everything he can so Sonny is convicted for something he never did. So much for not getting involved, huh Jax?
  • The Goldbergs: In the end of the pilot, Beverly Goldberg learned to let her kids live their own lives and not be so overprotective after making life difficult for one of them with her overly-intrusive ways. Oh wait, that's almost every episode of the show! The series is told by an Unreliable Narrator, though.
    • Ditto Murray Goldberg, who needs to learn every other episode to pay more attention to his kids and/or appreciate his kids' hobbies.
  • Community
    • "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" ends with the line "Pierce Hawthorne saved the life of Fat Neil, while learning very, very little." Failing to learn from their mistakes is a specialty of basically every character on the show, with Jeff getting special mention for lampshading this tendency of his.
    • They used the "The group doesn't work without Pierce" plot in "Art of Discourse" but still tried to kick him out in "Fistfull of Paintballs". Though it's justified in that Pierce had become significantly more of a jerk that year.
  • Leave It to Beaver is one of the archetypal examples here. Of particular note is the last episode, which has themes of how fast the children are growing up, counterpointed by hints that they're still as childish as ever, with what may be a clever subversion of the whole deal: It's a Clip Show, allowing them to run through the events of about half a dozen episodes in a row, touching on several morals at once and then ending the series before anybody can forget them again. It was even lampshaded in a TV Land commercial for the show. It explained that the moral of the episode would enter one ear, float around his skull without making contact his brain, and then exit through the other ear.
  • Scrubs. It's safe to say that thanks to a combination of this and Flanderization, not one character in Scrubs has any significant or meaningful character development. The most blatant examples:
    • Turk learns to see his patients as people instead of emotionally detaching himself. He learns the same lesson twice in two different, unconnected episodes. And still says that, "I work best when I'm emotionally detached".
    • Carla's "best moment in medicine" is when the doctors actually listen to her. She spends every other episode pushing her advice on everyone and everything. In one episode, it leads to disaster and she "learns" that in the hospital, the doctors are in charge because they are ultimately responsible for the lives of their patients.
    • JD learns that he needs to "grow up", despite the fact that his frustration is caused by stress over how utterly crappy his life has become due to a combination of bad circumstances and no one giving a damn about him, in one episode. This is the guy who acts like a joking, immature fool in every single episode. In another episode, Turk "teaches" him that trying to become more serious and mature is bad; you should instead never forget your "inner child" and continue to goof off.
    • Dr. Cox learns to be gracious and accept help from other people in order to advance professionally. He learns this three times, in three unconnected episodes. And still continues to act like an ass to his boss and make all the wrong moves.
    • Got lampshaded with The Todd, who was taught how to behave toward women by a shrink. The Shrink then explains to Carla that without long-term professional help, The Todd will change back to his old self within a week or so.
    • Also lampshaded with Carla having to teach Elliot the same lesson twice within a few episodes, and the latter episode actually flashing back to the former.
    Elliot: I ... don't recall that conversation.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun
    • An episode involved Dick grappling with his overblown ego. Of course, that's one of his primary character traits. At the end of the episode, he stated what he'd learned thus: "There are times for a little humility. Fortunately, that time is now over."
    • Played with in the episode where Dick dealt with his insensitivity. He went to Sensitivity Training and it successfully changed him into an ultra-sensitive guy. Only it turned out he was even worse that way and it all backfired, causing him to revert to his old ways before the end of the episode.
  • Family Matters was very bad about this:
    • Most episodes would have at least one character (usually either Carl or Laura) learning to be nicer to Steve Urkel, then promptly forget it the very next episode.
    • In later seasons, Steve Urkel changed from embodying Be Yourself to learning that lesson once per season.
    • Eddie tired of living by Carl's rules in Carl's house, so he moved out. Twice. And he got in trouble gambling. Thrice. And almost Once per Episode, Eddie got grounded at the drop of a hat for his latest Aesop violation.
    • Throughout the series, Laura would constantly date these no good jerkasses who were clearly taking advantage of her. The corresponding episodes would always end with her learning a lesson about being more discerning of men, only for her to promptly forget it soon after.
  • Smallville:
    • The best example of this was the relationship between Jonathan Kent and Lex Luthor. Despite all of Lex's attempts to show that he wasn't his father, and despite the fact that Jonathan acknowledged this almost every time that he was proven wrong, he was back to blaming Lex for everything that went wrong automatically by the next episode.
    • To a lesser extent (and only lesser because he was on the show for less time) this happened with Pete Ross as well, although he was sometimes justified. But then again, Lex never saved Jonathan's life only to have Bo Kent come back and accuse him of random crap.
    • Another example of Aesop Amnesia is that all the way up to Season 8, Clark has to repeatedly learn that not everything is his fault, his powers aren't a curse and that he should accept his destiny.
  • David on Six Feet Under seems to spend an awful lot of episodes learning that it's okay to be gay. This may be justified somewhat by the realism of the show; you can know something intellectually but it takes some repetition to learn it on an emotional level.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond was infested with this. Debra would confront Marie about her hostile behavior, Robert would confront Frank and Marie about their preferential treatment of Ray, Ray and/or Debra would confront Robert about his victim complex, Deborah would confront Ray about his selfish behavior, and other variations. Each time, it was treated as though these issues were finally being brought into the open after decades of repression, and now people were learning their lessons and would finally treat each other right. And each time the characters reverted to their same old neurotic selves straight away, and the audience groaned at the thought that the same issues would be "resolved" next year, and the year after that...
    • Of course, nobody seems to listen or care about Robert, so it's somewhat understandable for him to keep griping.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch was built on this trope. Nearly every episode ended with Sabrina learning not to use her magic carelessly, or selfishly, or to do morally questionable things. Which never stopped her from immediately resorting to elaborate and usually disastrous magical solutions to every tiny problem she encountered in her life. For seven seasons. It even gets lampshaded a few times. At one point, Sabrina really was blameless for the week's magical mayhem, since no one had told her the magical item she was using was magical. Zelda still starts lecturing her about using magic responsibly, then immediately apologizes when she realizes that lesson doesn't really apply here.
There were also several episodes that focused on Sabrina realizing that Harvy is her soulmate, one of which has her realizing she loves Harvy for who he is and not how he looks even going as far as to ultimately turn down the hot bartender who she originally showing interest in. She forgets all about this when the next hottie comes along.
  • Frasier and his brother Niles would constantly forget not to be so competitive, to stay out of other people's business, not to be so snooty etc etc etc. Occasionally the two would come to an epiphany about their behavior, only to change their minds about it in the same conversation. One episode notably lampshades this, in which it's pointed out that Frasier and Niles's issues are so deeply ingrained that they will never overcome them completely.
  • Boy Meets World lampshades this in an episode when Eric lands a role on the very similar "Kid Gets Acquainted with Universe," and during rehearsal the Cory/Ben Savage analogue stops when he realizes it's another Rory-learns-a-lesson episode, and starts shouting, "How can I learn so much and still be so stupid?!"
  • Seems like Jenny on Gossip Girl has learned the "don't let the queen and her posse change who you are" lesson about five times by now, but it never sticks for more than a few episodes at a time.
  • Played with in Seinfeld, as none of the characters ever learned anything in the first place, despite the fact that the plots often gave the viewers implied Aesops based on logic (e.g., don't let the security guard do his job sitting down). In fact, the Finale implies that all four of them have remained exactly the same since the Pilot, nine years earlier. No hugging, no learning.
  • Friends:
    • Now Chandler, say it with me: Monica does not love anyone else more than you! Over the series, he thinks she's in love with her 'soulmate' Don, then his best friend, then the 'funniest guy she's ever met' and on three separate occasions, her ex-boyfriend Richard. Every episode ends with Monica promising she's never wanted anyone but him. The most ironic example is the season 5 finale when she tells him 'I've never loved anyone as much as I love you' in reference to Richard. Season 6 finale? Chandler's panicking because he think she's going to leave him and marry Richard. And he still worries when they're Happily Married. Somewhat justified as Chandler's very insecure and Monica's encouragement of him is a key part of the series.
    • The one thing that upsets Joey more than anything is when his best friend lies to him about something important, yet you can count on Chandler lying to Joey about something important once or twice a season.
    • Monica's not great herself, having to learn over and over not to be a Super OCD Control Freak. She never actually does, thanks to flanderization.
  • Malcolm in the Middle has this sometimes, usually having the kids and Lois work things out and prefer getting along with each other before screwing it up on-screen in favor of Status Quo Is God by the end of the episode. There is at least one circumstance where Malcolm's amnesia takes longer to set in, though: he learns in season six that no, he doesn't get music like Dewey does but that's okay because he's good at other things. Several episodes later, he is upset that he doesn't understand music like Dewey does. Interestingly subverted in that in the latter example he doesn't actually seem to learn a lesson by the end of the episode. Francis also seemed to become a bit more responsible when working at a Dude ranch in New Mexico. However, post Season Six, when he was fired from what was implied to be feeding the funds of the ranch to a food trough rather than an ATM, he seems to have gone back to the delinquent, psychotically irresponsible self, and it is hinted that the only real reason why he got a stable job in the series finale was so he could take entertainment in taunting his mother by lying about remaining unemployed.
  • Glee:
    • Although the characters go through impressive development, some characters often miss one important point of their hardships: popularity does not equal happiness. And Puck, despite his growing likability, is still Puck.
    • How many times has Will learned to give solos out equally? He never seems to learn that part of the reason Rachel is such a drama queen is because he keeps giving her solos!
    • Quinn. During season one, she became pregnant, which caused her to fall from the top of the social hierarchy to the bottom. She gradually became more mature and began to reach out and form genuine friendships with people, namely Mercedes. Cue season two... and she's suddenly reverted back to being the shallow social climber she was in the very first episode.
    • Rachel learns that it's not all about her and that success depends on the whole club, only to go right back to trying to hog the spotlight and carry the team on her own.
  • A particularly disappointing one in Robin Hood. Episode six of series three marks the first time since the season premiere that Robin displays pangs of grief over the death of Marian. This leads to Robin breaking up with Isabella, basing it on a) his duty to the King and England, b) his acknowledgment that he's never going to get the chance to have a normal life, c) the danger that Isabella is in if she's known to be in league with Robin, and d) the fact that he still misses Marian too much. The episode ends with him looking wistfully at a happy family, knowing that it's a future he can never have...only for him to turn around and stare at teammate Kate with a "oh yeah, she's got a crush on me too!" expression on his face, assisted by an uplifting musical cue as Kate smiles at him. It's direct foreshadowing for their hook-up two episodes later, a development that completely undermines all the poignancy of Robin's earlier epiphany. So Robin's Aesop doesn't even last to the end of the episode in which he learns it.
  • C.C., Maxwell's business partner on The Nanny suffered this towards the end. Throughout the show's run, she was insanely envious of Maxwell's attraction towards Fran, and in "The Wedding", when Fran and Maxwell finally got hitched, she made one last attempt at cutting between them in the aisle, until Maxwell took her aside and assured her that even though he loves Fran, he'll always appreciate C.C.'s friendship. C.C. finally relented, but in the next episode, "Honeymoon's Overboard", when Fran and Maxwell get lost on their honeymoon, she was utterly indifferent to the fact that Fran had disappeared too:
    C.C.: I have stuck by Maxwell through sixteen girlfriends and two dead wives. (Everyone looks at her) One dead wife. I will find Maxwell Sheffield!
    Sylvia Fine (Fran's mother): And?...
    C.C.: I'll bring him home.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander learns that he has worth and should ignore those who say otherwise many, many times. The most egregious is after season 3's "The Zeppo", in which he saves the world by himself and doesn't tell anyone, and at the end of the episode, realizes just how ludicrously feeble and inconsequential Cordelia's insults are in the light of what he just went through.
    • Buffy herself seems to learn that she doesn't have to fight alone in quite a few episodes - that in fact, she needs her friends and should let them help her. Not that this stops her from under-appreciating/ignoring them all the way up to the end of Season 7.
  • Meanwhile, Angel had Gunn, who failed to learn the dangers of playing with dark powers. He nearly dies after having traded his soul for his battle truck years earlier and the time coming to pay up, but Angel saves him. Later, he fights to free Fred from a deadly slug-thing after Angel uses dark magic to try and find Connor. But still in season 5, he makes a deal with Wolfram and Hart to save his failing brain upgrade, and that time, there's no saving Fred from dying, courtesy of Illyria.
  • It's no wonder LazyTown needs a superhero; No matter how many times Sportacus teaches the kids the importance of eating healthy, exercising often and being kind to each other, they always revert back to their unhealthy, lazy, greedy and generally unpleasant ways.
  • iCarly:
    • Nevel in "iPity Nevel". He spends an entire episode learning to be a better person after ending up on the Internet insulting a little girl. At the end of the episode he does the exact same thing.
    • "iDate Sam & Freddie" ends with Carly delivering the Aesop to Sam and Freddie that they need to sort out their own problems or they shouldn't date. The very next episode "iCan't Take It" ends with Carly sorting out another Sam and Freddie problem so they can keep dating.
  • On Amen, every time Thelma realized that she didn't need the Reverend to make her life complete, or that she could make her own way in the world without depending on him or her father, she went right back to chasing Reverend Gregory and/or being a whiny Daddy's Girl by the next episode. Even worse was her father, Ernie. He would learn to be honest, kind, and to share with others. Then he would go right back to being his old lying, cheating, greedy self. Sometimes this happened in the same episode!
  • Modern Family: In the Season 3 premiere, "Dude Ranch", Phil finally gets tired of Jay mistreating him and stands up to him. Despite Jay finally seeming to get it, he's immediately back to needing Jay's constant approval by the next episode.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: "Dear Doctor" ends with the captain and Phlox deciding not to give a cure to a dying people they meet because of, well, all the usual justifications given for the prime directive. Later on, in "Observer Effect," an alien race refuses to give them the cure that would save their lives. They both cluelessly try to teach the aliens that the Aesop they had supposedly learned is all wrong.
  • Over the course of Season 12 of The Amazing Race, Ron learned to control his temper, and not to be so abusive towards his daughter. When they came back for Season 18, Ron seemed to forget all those lessons, and reverted to his old self.
  • Marshall from How I Met Your Mother doesn't have Aesop Amnesia so much as Aesop Split Personality. First he learns that it's okay to put his dream of being an environmental lawyer on hold so he can take a high-paying corporate job that will support himself and Lily. Then he learns that, no, he should follow his dreams instead, and quits. Then he learns the first Aesop over again and gets a different corporate job, then he learns the second Aesop again and quits. Then he learns the first Aesop for the third time and gets yet another corporate job, before learning the second Aesop for the third time as well and quitting once again.
  • Played with on Merlin. Nearly every single episode Arthur is presented with the aesop "Listen to Merlin, he's usually right", yet the show never fails to have him say something along the lines of "I know you're right, but I'm ignoring it". As of Series 4, this has been upgraded to "You were right, but just this once."
    • Lampshaded in the commentary of one episode by the actor playing Arthur.
    Bradley James as Arthur: Thank you, Merlin. I won't forget this until I'm out the door.
    • Played straight in the Series 4 finale when Arthur finally, unambiguously, realizes that Merlin was right and has been right all along about Agravaine. The very next morning, Merlin has to practically lure him into the clearing with the sword in the stone because, according to Arthur, Merlin's a complete idiot.
      • And then again when Merlin finally tells him the truth about being destined to unite the land of Albion. He says "You're making this up." He is making up the part about Bruta foretelling it, but nothing else. When Merlin finally points out that he has no reason to inflate Arthur's ego, Arthur walks off. So we've progressed to. "I can't argue with Merlin."
    • Merlin seems to learn his lesson about Self Fulfilling Prophecies in Series 3, but forgets it in Series 5. It comes back to bite him when it makes him directly responsible for Mordred's Face–Heel Turn.
  • The Suite Life does this many times when London learns to be nicer and more generous, only to forget it by the next episode.
  • The Honeymooners: Ralph and Ed never seem to learn that Ralph's latest Get Rich Quick Scheme is just going to end in failure.
  • Haven: Nathan Wuornos constantly forgets that Duke Crocker is not a bad guy anymore and keeps blaming Duke for everything that goes wrong. In season 3, he keeps assuming Duke is going to be a killer. This goes away in season 4.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Major (later Colonel) Kira Nerys never really got the grasp of the idea that no single nation, particularly the Cardassians, is completely evil (or good).
    • Later on in the series, she actually starts to take this lesson to heart and even uses her skills from the Bajoran Resistance to help Cardassia resist the Dominion.
    • Which actually makes this a very realistic form of the trope, since Kira has been fighting Cardassians ever since she could hold a phaser and personally witnessed the horrors they inflicted on her people. One simple aesop would not make that go away, and it would take multiple tries before she could start letting go.
  • Harriet Oleson on Little House on the Prairie keeps doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results each time. In "The Voice of Tinker Jones," she insists that a plaque with her name on it be displayed when she wants to donate a bell to the school. She does the same exact thing "Blind Journey," when she offers to donate money to the blind school. She seems to have forgotten how poorly her selfishness was received.
    • Often, Harriet will learn a lesson from the selfish ways she treats the other townspeople, and the episode will finish with her as humbled and apologetic toward another person, or the town as a whole. It's played as sincere, showing the power of community and redemption for Harriet. A few episodes later, she is back to her old ways, mistreating everyone around her.
  • The Utopia arc in Charmed Series 7 has the sisters go along with the Avatar's plans to change the grand design, despite the numerous times beforehand they've seen how badly this tends to go.
    • Pretty much every time that Phoebe gets a new boyfriend, she learns that she had previously given up on love and needs to learn to believe in it again. Heck, there are two different occasions where her ex-husband Cole sets her up with someone else just to teach her that.
  • When Kermit lets Statler and Waldorf host an episode of The Muppet Show, they end up having so much trouble running the show that they promise to never say anything bad about the show again. After the credits, Waldorf mentions he never liked the theme song.
  • Jackie from That '70s Show seems to learn to be less shallow and materialistic, not to mention more mature when she starts dating Hyde, but at the same time throughout the entirety of the show she remains having Rich Bitch tendencies, but mainly one-liners Played for Laughs.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Early in Battlestar Galactica, Gaius Baltar went through half a dozen episodes of accepting his vision of Caprica Six as more than a delusion of his own mind before it stuck.
  • Alex on The Worst Year of My Life, Again. Every episode, Alex seems to forget how the 'Loop Year' kicked his butt the last time he tried to change anything. By the time of 'School Play', Maddy is sick and tired of giving Alex a You Can't Fight Fate speech over and over, so she records herself saying it and plays it to him.
  • Necessary Roughness: K seems to forget every week that he previously learned not to be so self-obsessed. In fact, he'll often make new and breathtaking mistakes out of pride. Which is entirely consistent with someone needing therapy. At the end of Season 1, he goes through a traumatic experience that combines with his old problems, even though he's made some progress dealing with them.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: Mr. Potato Head often forgets the moral of the episode immediately after voicing it; this tends to happen as part of The Stinger.
  • The 2016 revival of Gilmore Girls showed Rory Gilmore cheating on her boyfriend by sleeping with Logan, “the man she cannot quit”, who happened to be engaged despite that having an affair has never done anything good to her in the past. It doesn’t help that at the end of the show, she’s pregnant with possibly Logan’s child which is similar what had happened to Lorelai. She also whines about how her journalism career is going nowhere which she doesn’t even put any effort to it. It seemed that she forgot what Mitchum Huntzberger told her in Season 5 that she “doesn’t have it” as a journalist.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events Mr. Poe repeatedly fails to learn that Count Olaf will not leave the Baudelaires alone, nor that he should believe them when they tell him the person who is obviously Count Olaf in disguise is Count Olaf. After the third time his evil plot is revealed they give up and flee, certain the lesson will never stick.
    Mr. Poe: Remember when you were staying with your Uncle Monty? You were convinced that his assistant Stefano was actually Count Olaf in disguise!
    Violet: Stefano was actually Count Olaf in disguise.
    Mr. Poe: Not the point.
  • Leslie Knope suffers from Aesop Amnesia for almost two entire seasons of Parks and Recreation. While Leslie has always had a tendency to butt into people's personal lives too much, the first four seasons were filled with enough instances of Leslie being in the right that it didn't feel like Leslie was just ignoring good advice. Once Leslie was put on city council, Leslie became a meddler for the whole town. Despite only narrowly winning her council seat, Leslie tried to enact numerous new policies that served to further her agenda, but take away things that Pawneeans liked. When she's threatened with the recall, Leslie publicly talks smack about Pawnee numerous times, then seems surprised when Pawnee votes her out. Even once she's finally off council, she still tries to push her agenda on all of Pawnee, such as the chard vendors whose marketing she doesn't appreciate.
    • She also has to accept about three different times that she's been voted off of council and it isn't the end of the world.
  • In The Flash (2014), Barry has had to learn in about half of the episodes not to hide from his friends and family information that most certainly concerns them. Each and every single time this backfires, and each time he "learns" the lesson, then promptly proceeds to do the exact same thing next episode. Other characters are guilty of this too. The worst part is, waiting so long to tell them or for someone else to reveal it to them results in conflict that could have been avoided if they'd just told them sooner.
    • There's also his usage of time travel. Barry frequently screws things up by trying to use time travel to fix his problems, swears it off, and then does the same thing again a few episodes later when some new problem comes up and time travel seems like a convenient way to fix it. Joe and Iris even lampshade this near the end of Season 3, and in the earlier Musical Episode Crossover with Supergirl, when Kara lists time travel as a way to get out of trouble, Barry tells her he's not supposed to do it anymore.
    • Just about every character comes to suffer from this, actually, especially when it comes to keeping secrets.
      • And everybody on its parent show Arrow too. Every time the characters have a horrible secret, they try to keep others from finding out. The secret always gets out and the attempt at hiding it always makes things much worse, but the characters never learn to just be truthful with each other.
  • The Power Rangers pretty much learned and re-learned the values of teamwork and believing in yourself on alternating weeks.
  • Deus Salve O Rei: Rodolfo's promiscuity keeps getting him into trouble like nearly getting lashed for adultery by a law he himself approved or inviting a mysterious woman into his palace who turned out to be a succubus trying to steal his life-force. Despite all of these things, he hasn't learned his lesson and still seduces any woman that catches his fancy, even after marrying someone else.

    Multiple Media 
  • The first three years of BIONICLE gave us several character arcs of the Toa learning that only together can they hope to defeat evil. At first they simply didn't like each other, then they got reckless with their power-ups, then they just bickered for the hell of it, before finally realizing that they had already learned this lesson.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Anything that the Pattersons learned in For Better or for Worse that didn't entail "My personal happiness is more important than anyone else, even that of my own family!" was quickly forgotten. When Elly nearly lost her husband and brother to a camping trip Gone Horribly Wrong, she appreciated him for about a week's worth of strips before reverting back to her passive-aggressive stewing. Michael never quite learned that "bad things don't just happen to other people", even after Lawrence broke his leg or Deanna was in a car crash.
  • This happens so often in Calvin and Hobbes, it's almost a defining character trait for Calvin. He almost never learns anything from his mistakes, or if he does, he learns the wrong thing, and on a few occasions, will try to ignore what he's learned.
    Hobbes: Live and don't learn. That's us.
  • Luann: Since the strip took her to college in 2014, Bernice has learned at least three times not to be overly obsessive about enforcement of the dorm rules. She always snaps back to her previous characterization by the next time she appears.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The nature of the Heel–Face Revolving Door is such that reformed heel characters often have to "re-reform" several times, and sometimes don't really reform after all. Just look at Eddie Guerrero, who was such a bastard that his wife left him twice. Matt Hardy's repeated failures to get along with his younger brother also come to mind.

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Amy Rose seems finally ready to give up her Sonic-chasing days and become her own person at the end of Sonic Adventure. By Sonic Adventure 2, not only was she back in full Sonic-chasing mode, she had in fact gotten worse about it.
      • However, it should also be noted that she had decided she should be more independent and not rely on Sonic to rescue her as much anymore, and became a full-on heroic Action Girl at the end of her story. In this area of her Character Development, this trope is averted; she retains her Action Girl qualities and rarely - if ever - plays the damsel in distress again after Sonic Adventure. Granted, the Sonic-chasing thing is still an issue, but at least she kept some of her growth intact.
    • And let's not even go into the whiplash-inducing Snap Back Tails went through between Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes.
    • Doctor Eggman is more or less completely incapable of retaining knowledge of the fact that Evil Is Not a Toy, despite having unleashed Sealed Evil in a Can only for it to turn on him and require his turning to Sonic for help about a half dozen times by now. He seems to have learned this by Sonic Colors... only to backslide into it by the time of Sonic Lost World.
  • Laharl's subsequent appearances in Disgaea put him back to his Tsundere Noble Demon phase of character development, despite the good ending of the first game implying that he's matured past that into a straight, yet stubborn, hero. In Disgaea Infinite, it's incredibly difficult for him to admit that he really cares about his subordinates, despite it being quite clear that he does.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Namine in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories spent a lot of time as a Shrinking Violet due to the abuse given to her by her "caretakers", Marluxia and Larxene. However, after meeting Sora, she learns to stand up for herself, and this confidence is reflected in Kingdom Hearts II. In the midquel Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days she is just as soft-spoken and submissive as ever when it comes to dealing with the less-than-kind (but ultimately good) DiZ, and it takes a meeting with Xion to influence her to change once more.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Jack Skellington is trying to win over Santa Claus to obtain permission to run Christmas. This contradicts the events of The Nightmare Before Christmas (which is all but stated to already have taken place in the Kingdom Hearts universe), where he realizes that he wasn't cut out for the job and running Halloween was what he was meant to do.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Ariel seeks help from Ursula despite knowing how untrustworthy she is from the events of Kingdom Hearts I.
  • Metal Gear has a very repetitive structure, which naturally leads to a lot of characters learning lessons over and over again.
    • Solid Snake's entire character arc is him repeatedly learning the same lesson about his freedom from the battlefield at the end of every game, only to end up back on the battlefield because otherwise you couldn't have a sequel. This was a factor in Hideo Kojima's desire to retire Snake as a character by tying off his ending in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. To wit: Snake decided at the end of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake that he was free from the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose. Metal Gear Solid showed him returning to the battlefield (declaring several times that battle was the only thing that made him feel alive) then deciding at the end that he was free of the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose with the person he loved, as he was now liable to drop dead of a heart attack at any time. Metal Gear Solid 2 showed him returning to the battlefield (this time completely willingly, alongside one of the people he loved), and had him say Raiden was now free of the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose with the person he loved. The eventual end of his story in Metal Gear Solid 4 is for him to declare to Otacon that he was now free of the battlefield and could live whatever life he chose, because he is now seriously terminally ill - although when he says he wants to do this alone, Otacon says he should instead do it with the people he loves.
    • Big Boss has had three games so far about killing The Boss, realising killing The Boss was a bad decision, getting over it, building a unit and accepting his title of Big Boss. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has him kill The Boss, deeply regret it and implies him taking his new title and building a unit in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops still has him calling himself "Snake" because he isn't comfortable being Big Boss yet, has him build a unit, kill The Boss's "Successor", and telling Campbell that he only feels truly alive when he's in battle and from now on to call him Big Boss, no longer wearing his bandanna. Then Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has him calling himself "Snake" still, killing a version of The Boss that Came Back Wrong, building a different unit, announcing that she betrayed him, abandoning his bandanna and saying that from now on he is Big Boss.
    • Raiden has a little of this, but significantly diminished compared to Snake. Raiden's backstory has him as a soldier trained on VR, whose viewing "war as a video game" is remarked on by Snake as being disturbing. At the end of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, he discovers that he has been manipulated into adopting a stereotypical video game character persona as a scheme to control his mind (the Colonel even compares it to "a type of role-playing game"), with his Meaningful Name showing how long this plan has been brewing. After getting out alive he declares that he will "choose [his] own name - and [his] own life" and decides to rise up to the responsibility of raising his child. He then returns in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in the series' recurring "Cyborg Ninja" archetype, having abandoned his family, now answering only to his hated codename "Raiden", and losing most of his personality in the process, focusing only on an obsessive and robotic desire to protect Snake which the previous Cyborg Ninjas also had - once again, reprising an empty video game character role, just as a side character this time. (Snake is at least shown to be distressed and disappointed by the new Raiden, and repeatedly tries to talk him into returning to his more human personality.) In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden's personality goes back to being a more confident and mature version of his original character, and he seems to have accepted the responsibility of looking after his family, though he now seems to be a lot more comfortable with the idea of "war as a video game" and is unapologetic about enjoying killing.
    • Gray Fox gets this in reverse. At the end of Metal Gear Solid he comes to terms with the fact that he's not a machine, but a person, and always fights for what he believes in. At the end of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, his younger self, who was raised as a machine, has to learn that he is a person. Not to mention, in Portable Ops's backstory, it's stated to be the second time Big Boss had to teach him this...
  • Punch-Out!! has Super Macho Man, an egocentric Eaglelander who is blatantly based on Hollywood celebrities. He gets his fame and fortune stolen after his initial defeat by Little Mac, and in Title Defense, he gets greeted to jeers and boos from the fickle audience, with even the spotlight wanting to get away from him. If he wins, he comes to the realization that Celebrity Is Overrated as the crowd suddenly "loves" him again, only to promptly ignore that and go back to posing.
    "Oh now you love me. Now you love Macho Man. Well, it's too late... MAYBE NOT! GRAAAAGH!! (flexes his muscles under the spotlight)
  • In Pajama Sam's Lost & Found, Sam's room is very messy, and the game ends with him realizing that he should keep his room clean. Since Atari forgot this after their buy-out from Humongous, their attempt at recreating the franchise ended with him learning the exact same lesson.
  • Minecraft. Admit it. How many times did you flood your cave/underground base before you learned to just leave that wall alone? Alternately, how many times did you nuke your own establishment for the same reason (replace 'water' with 'creepers')?
  • Bowser in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Since his attempt to rule the universe in the first Super Mario Galaxy game resulted in the entire universe being destroyed and recreated, this actually also caused Bowser to attempt to rule the universe again, but this time as a giant.
  • Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: Anniversary lets her obsession with the Scion get her into lots of dangerous situations where her life is at stake several times by people trying to stop her. The Big Bad eventually steals the artifacts from her and now the world's in danger. Lara realizes her obsession caused the whole mess and she sets things right by destroying the Scion. Fast forward to Tomb Raider: Underworld, Lara is back to searching endlessly for another artifact and winds up releasing the Big Bad from the previous game from her prison just so Lara can gain access to another world where her mother disappeared to. Predictably, the world is in danger yet again from Lara's actions.
  • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation has Werner von Croy attempting to steal the Iris while brushing off the warnings about the artifact from the inscription that Lara reads. Werner causes the chamber around him to seal up, trapping him and nearly gets Lara buried in a cave in as she escapes. Later on, the two of them meet again and despite Lara telling him that Set will ruin the world unless she gets the armor pieces of Horus, Werner once again dismisses the warnings as "hocus pocus" and sics his guards on her while he runs off to find the armor pieces for his own greedy ends. Werner then gets possessed by Set.
  • Puyo Puyo Fever: in the first game, we're introduced to Klug, who carries a book that has a suspicious red ghost-thing that often comes out. Apparently he can't see this, so this would be fine. In Fever 2, he's possessed by the demon in the book, who plans on using this freedom to regain his lost body. The heroesnote  save the day. Klug apparently learns his lesson that his demon is ridiculously pure evil and will return the book to the person who gave it to him. Cut to the next game, 15th where he... still has the demon infested book. And in 7, he has the book still and his Deka Transformation is his demon-possessed side. So, by now he should've gotten rid of the demon or book, right? 20th Anniversary; still has the book, it still has the demon sealed in it. ...There has to be a word for this kind of stupid.
  • Played for drama by Dragon Age II with two major characters, Sebastian and Isabela. If Hawke has high enough Friendship or Rivalry, Isabela will realize that running off with the Tome of Koslun to save her own skin while the Qunari destroy Kirkwall is wrong; she returns with the sacred book, saves the day, and by Act III seems to have grown a conscience and responsibility...until it becomes clear that she's willing to deal with a slaver and let him go free to enslave more people so that she can have a ship. Sebastian seems to have overcome his lust for vengeance in Acts II and III...but when Anders blows up the Chantry at the end of Act III, killing his beloved mentor Grand Cleric Elthina, he will vow to raise an army and burn all of Kirkwall to the ground if Hawke doesn't kill Anders (never mind that it's Hawke and Anders he actually has a problem with). Rather than simply showing that Status Quo Is God, however, these failures to change are part of the game's overall plot as a tragedy (and certainly highlight its place on the cynical end of the scale).
  • Final Fantasy:
  • One of the quests for the Companions in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is to take Farkas to help you kill a dragon so he can see for himself that they are real. Farkas reacts with gratitude and amazement. However, this is one of the game's handful of repeatable quests and Farkas can be used as a follower during almost any part of the game, so Farkas may already have killed dozens of dragons with you. Doesn't matter. He's still just as amazed that dragons are real the seventeenth time you repeat the quest as he was the first time you did it.
  • In Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, Miyabi gets so insecure about her masculine appearance that she fights with anybody who comments on it. By the time Shinovi's sequel rolls around, she has learned that it's pointless to worry about what people think of her...and promptly becomes so desperate to prove/show off her newfound "confidence" that she gets into fights with people.
  • Lamar in Grand Theft Auto V always gets himself into trouble with the Ballas or some other gang and no matter how many times Franklin saves him and points out how Stretch is setting him up, Lamar brushes it off and thinks people are just hating on him. It isn't until near the end of the game where Lamar finally starts listening to Franklin and starts considering that perhaps people really are out to get him and truly want him dead.
  • Ever since Warcraft III, the Horde and Alliance have been shown that the only way to safeguard Azeroth is by working together. Every expansion in World of Warcraft starts with the two factions at war with each other, usually despite knowing about a much greater threat (The Scourge, the Burning Legion, the Old Gods, etc), and ends with the factions reconciling to an extent after coming together to defeat the current Big Bad. The Devs Hand Wave it as "Keeping the War in Warcraft".

  • Misfile: Ash needing to learn that as a female, males now view him differently, has been a plot point more than half a dozen times.
  • In Sinfest, Slick is aware of the problem.
  • Invoked in 8-Bit Theater when Black Mage's realization that he ought to become a real hero as his life of wanton destruction brings him nothing but misery is interrupted by a dumb remark from Fighter.
    Black Mage: Hold it, wait... What was I just thinking about? The only thing I can remember is something about wanton destruction. *Stabs fighter* Well, whatever it was, I'm sure this isn't far off the mark.

    Web Original 
  • In Tales of MU, Steff is particularly prone to this. After stabbing herself with a knife she knew nothing about until it tore out half her soul, she spent several days resting and scared everyone close to her and almost died. Immediately after she was handed another magic item by Dee, a character who herself needs to learn to stop handing out magic no one but her is familiar with. She was told not to use it without lots of physical and mental preparation, and only then carefully. Her decision? Chug the whole thing the moment she's alone.
  • Same for Solange of the Whateley Universe, who still thinks her money can buy her out of anything.
    • Probably because she's not been a focus character since Jade beat her, badly. She DID learn not to screw with Team Kimba directly, however. She was given an option on learning that she wasn't a good Queen, but thanks to incidents with Ayla, Murphy, and Loophole, she's now out of the Alphas. Her current Aesop is probably closer to 'how to be sneaky and cruel'. Averted with the Don, who HAS learned said lesson, as well as Hekate. Whateley villains in general get most dangerous the more they get beaten.
    • Chou, however, definitely qualifies. How many times has she learned to accept being a girl, accept that the Tao is always right, accept that she has to kill sometimes, accept...She HAS learned how to handle romance, though. Except Molly has some summons that might not be nice...
  • From the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the heroic Robotman learned that he can still be human even if he's a Brain in a Jar. Then his original player left, the character was taken over by another player, and the "my God, what have I become" back all over again.
    • Even though his behavior led him directly to prison time, Corrupt Corporate Executive Lexington Cargill never seemed to learn that being a billionaire wasn't an automatic Get Out of Jail Free card.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd frequently learns to appreciate his video games rather than complain about them all the time, only to forget about that next episode or sooner. Of course, since the entire premise hinges on him complaining about video games, Status Quo Is God is pretty much mandatory in this case.
  • The Nostalgia Critic will never learn that he's worth more than what he thinks he is.
    • Until the fourth-year anniversary movie To Boldly Flee. And even that got undone.
    • The Critic also spent the entire Moulin Rouge! review learning the nature of Guilty Pleasures, despite having used the term himself several times.
    • Ironic considering he actually referenced Moulin Rouge! in the Mamma Mia! review, but the “guilty pleasures” song appears to have been driven out of his brain. He has huge complaints about women liking The Princess Diaries 2 and Mamma Mia!, even though people who enjoy them usually say they know they're dumb but they're fun popcorn movies usually made for eye candy purposes, and they like plenty of actual good stuff too. Perhaps he sees this is an example of Everyone Has Standards.
    • His stalker Hyper Fangirl lampshaded that she'll never learn her lesson, and told her assassin neither will he because she pays him a ton of money.
  • The Nostalgia Chick will never stop mistreating people, Nella isn't ever going to fully stand up for herself and Dr. Tease won't learn ethics.
  • In The Fantastic Favio Bros, LeTony discovers at the end of the first film that alcohol is bad after it nearly kills him and he makes peace with the heroes. In later movies this aesop is completely ignored, as LeTony goes on to try to addict people to more harmful substances and continues drinking. This is justified by Rule of Funny, though, with explicit references to when they made peace.
  • In Agents Of Cracked Dan constantly forgets that Swaim is dangerously insane and going along with any plan he comes up with will end badly. Despite this he does remember the previous episodes well enough that he objects to the plans at the start.
  • The main reason why the work usually referred to just as Update seems to keep going and going is because the protagonist is incapable of learning anything from previous ordeals or mistakes and does the exact same things again and again.
  • Throughout his Let's Play of New Super Mario Bros. 2, Lucky Seven DX is repeatedly taught the lesson "Greed is bad." After around the third time, he starts lampshading it, but gets no closer to actually learning the lesson.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series had this for no less a personage than Cruella de Vil. For the Yet Another Christmas Carol episode, we had a tour through her Freudian Excuse, and at the end she's being a genuinely nice person. It lasts until the beginning of the next episode because, well, she's the primary villain and Status Quo Is God.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: You know, for someone who's supposed to be a boy genius, it never seems to cross Jimmy's oversized mind that using his own genius for his own good has its share of consequences or exactly how many times his own inventions had backfired on him in the past. His arrogance and lack of common sense only pushes him further towards this trope.
  • Contrary to what he says in the page quote, in many areas Stan of American Dad! doesn't forget certain Aesops (accepting his gay neighbors, or his ethnic Iranian ones), but like the Peter Griffin example above they have lampshaded his inability to do so in other areas.
    Stan: There's something you should know about me by now, Roger. I don't learn lessons.
    • It took him 2 episodes to really accept his gay neighbors considering he tried to kidnap their baby from them.
    • The episode with the page quote, concerning Stan lying that he came up with Roger's idea, ends with him taking credit for Roger's idea. Even shortly after lampshading his inability to retain lessons, he still forgets the current lesson.
    • Another interesting example and partial Lampshade Hanging comes with Roger. One episode ended with him revealing that he didn't really feel like a part of the Smith family, which is why he got insulted when they threw a comedy roast for his birthday (at his request). The others actually get indignant because not only has this issue been dealt with before, but in that episode and others they had repeatedly gone out of their way to please his ever-insane needs and desires. As Hayley pointed out, if he didn't think they cared about him by that point, it was his problem, not theirs. Roger seems to get it then, though who knows if it will stick this time.
  • Deconstructed in Archer. The title character never learns his lesson about becoming a better person, which makes him reasonably and intensely disliked by his peers.
  • Sometimes happens on Arthur, but usually it's lampshaded with one character pointing out to the offender early on that they've learned this lesson before, while the offender tries to justify how the situations are different.
  • Ben 10: The sheer number of times Ben has learned lessons about being nicer to Gwen, using the Omnitrix smarter not harder, and respecting other people and promptly discarded them by the next episode is truly staggering.
    • The 2nd Lucky Girl episode has Gwen also guilty of this, as the episode opens with her telling Ben, "You should be grateful for what you've got; I only got to be Lucky Girl for a few hours." And later, while they're talking about a new charm she found, we get a flashback to Gwen destroying the other charms of her own volition, while ignoring why she did this: to Be Herself, and also keep them out of Hex's evil hands. It's an actually positive use of the trope because the original moral was nonsensically saying that having powers was stopping Gwen from 'being herself' in the face of Ben who uses the Omnitrix all the time with no issue. In this case the aesop is forgotten because well... it's worth forgetting.
    • Ben 10: Alien Force has Kevin Levin. He's constantly looking for a deal, and it's constantly biting him in the rear, usually because he trusts his old partner Argit despite the many times the latter has screwed him over.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse has Ben forgetting that he needs the help of his friends and family to be the hero he is, not to mention avoiding letting his fame go to his head. His new partner Rook calls him out on this, though.
  • The 2015 reboot of Bob the Builder sees Scoop suffer this as a result of his regression into a childish idiot.
  • Brandy from Brandy & Mr. Whiskers was probably the epitome of this trope. If I recall correctly, almost all of the episodes were about her either learning to care about others for a change or just care about Mr. Whiskers.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers:
    • Every single episode focusing on Zipper has the team dismiss him due to his small size/strength, which makes him leave, only for everyone else to realize what an asset he actually was and fully accept him at the end.
    • The "team ostracizes a character, so they leave, only for everyone else to miss them and want them back" plot point actually happens multiple times to every member of the Rangers except for Chip. In fact it's often Chip who's complaining that Dale's too stupid/Monterey Jack's too hot-headed/Gadget's too scatter-brained/etc. that makes whoever it is leave.
  • Muriel and Eustace in Courage the Cowardly Dog continue to be fooled by the Monsters of the Week (such as Katz and Le Quack) even after said villains had tried to harm them in the past. Not even their old age excuses them since Eustace acts incredibly immature for his age and Muriel doesn't seem to lack any wisdom or awareness whatsoever outside of her eyesight when not wearing her glasses...or does she?
    • Count how many times Muriel has bashed Eustace on the head for mistreating Courage.
    • And let's also count how many times Eustace was warned to not do anything stupid that would inflict some ominous curse on him and/or the rest of the family and stubbornly flouts them by doing it anyway. Lucky for him, the show makes great use for the reset button.
  • How many times did Darkwing Duck learn to put aside his pride and get serious/ask for help/play well with others/etc.? Probably about once an episode.
  • Yet another Disney example - the Disney Junior short series Nina Needs to Go, which is basically Potty Emergency: The Series, will always end with Nina saying "That will never happen again because now I know - don't wait to go!" But then, it happens again in another scenario.
  • DuckTales (1987)
    • Fenton Crackshell kept learning that it wasn't his mechanized battle suit that truly made him a hero, but his determination, brains, and spirit. He still put that sucker on at the earliest opportunity every episode, though. (Well, wouldn't you if you had one?)
    • Huey, Dewey, and Louie never quite got the message "playing pranks on your [parent equivalent] to get something out of them will only backfire in the worst way, and isn't very nice besides".
    • It was done a bit better with Uncle Scrooge, however. While he remained very cheap throughout the series, he was willing to at least put the safety of his family ahead of money (although not always their comfort). (He did still have a number of episodes in each of which he learned anew not to be so stingy, however.) Partially justified in that Scrooge's primary focus has been making money, finding treasures, and pinching pennies since at least his late teens; it's probably hardwired by now.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • Eddy lives and breathes this trope. Most of the Eds' failure in their scams are mostly his fault, and no matter how many times Edd warns him of a significant flaw, Eddy always ignores him instantly. It's not just the scams either. Eddy continues to taunt the likes of Sarah and Kevin even after the times each of those two characters, especially the former, have given the Eds a good beating in many occasions. Heck Edd actually lampshades this in two episodes when it came to Sarah. After the kids are horribly injured thanks to another one of Eddy's scams, they attempt to run after the Eds, who attempt to escape to the amusement park to go to Eddy's brother for safety. When the kids finally confront the Eds, they witness the pain Eddy suffers in the hands of his brother and are downright distraught. After Eddy's brother is defeated thanks to Ed, Eddy finally learns that all he had to do was be himself, and the Eds finally gain acceptance from the kids.
    • You would think that after the 50th time the kids were bilked out of their money by the Eds they'd learn not to ever give them a cent and never listen to a word they say. However, since the central premise of most episodes is based around the attempts by the Eds to scam the other kids only to be caught or otherwise fail miserably, the Cul de sac kids have to fall for the Eds' scams over and over and keep giving them their allowances almost every episode for the series to be able to work.
  • In "Ella Borrows Trouble" on Ella the Elephant, Ella "borrows" a number of things from her friends without asking. She gets into trouble for it and learns an important lesson. Yet, in "Tea Party Trouble," she "borrows" her mother's favorite earrings for the tea party without asking, resulting in one being stolen by a seagull.
  • Kuzco on The Emperor's New School has "learned" again and again (and again) that it's not all about him.
    • This show is a particularly absurd example. It's a series based off of the movie, where Kuzco spends the entire time learning that he isn't the center of the universe, and by the end, has become a genuinely nice person who treats other people as equals. Cue the series, where he has apparently forgotten all of the events of the movie and once again has to "learn" that the world doesn't revolve around him. Multiple times.
    • He seems to have gotten better by the sequel movie, Kronk's New Groove, where he mentions he loves being the spotlight in the beginning, but it's time for him to step aside. And then he makes another appearance by the end, where he's actually trying to help Kronk, who was an antagonist for most of the first movie and the series.
    • Slightly justified in that the opening scenes of Emperor's New Groove show Kuzco having been spoiled since he was in diapers. He's literally having to rewrite the habits of years. note 
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy's had to learn not to act like a Jerk Ass ("A Wish Too Far!", "Power Pals", "Fairy Idol", "The Jerkinators"), his parents' rules are for the best ("Ruled Out", "Channel Chasers") and there are worse alternatives to Vicky ("Totally Spaced Out", "Vicky Gets Fired") several times. If you count episodes with a Fantastic Aesop, add "time travel is bad" ("Father Time", "Twistory") and "make sure magic gadgets only work for you" ("Deja Vu", "Presto Change-O"). Furthermore, most of the episodes' plots wouldn't even be possible if he actually bothered to remember the dozens, if not hundreds, of times he's learned to be careful what he wishes for or to listen to Wanda's warnings of the potential consequences.
    • In one movie, Timmy states that he secretly wished for the entire earth to not age. It took 50 years for them to find out what had happened. Apparently after those 50 years he had gained absolutely nothing of value; no knowledge, no experience. All that time he didn't even bother to wish to find out if and how he would be caught so as to avoid it. He still doesn't bother to add two bits of sense into any wish.
    • "Love Struck" is an example of the writers forgetting their own Aesop. A previous episode, "The Boy who would be Queen", was about challenging gender stereotypes, showing girls can like traditionally boyish things and vice versa. "Love Struck" plays gender stereotypes completely straight, saying all girls like traditionally girlish things. When Timmy wishes for a world without girls, causing men and women to all live in one side of a world, the women form a Utopia while the men side of the world is a disgusting dump. The Mysterious Mr. Enter goes into detail on this.
  • Family Guy once lampshaded its own tendency to end with Peter describing whatever lesson he had learned by ending an episode with this exchange:
    Lois: Well, Peter, I guess you learned a pretty valuable lesson.
    Peter: Nope!
    • There are at least THREE times that Peter Griffin has learned to love and appreciate his daughter and promptly forgotten it by next episode. Twice it happened before the episode was even over.
    • An early episode had Brian coming to terms with his unrequited attraction to Lois, which was handled with a heart-to-heart conversation that was actually quite touching (especially considering this is Family Guy we're talking about). However, several seasons later Brian is outright obsessed with Lois, including trying to forcibly kiss her and convince her to leave Peter in one episode.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Bloo swings around between extreme Jerk Ass and Jerk with a Heart of Gold and virtually every time he finally realizes how life is much more fun if you're not consumed by childish egoism, he is reset back by the beginning of the next episode, or, worse, flanderized into an even greater jerk then before.
  • Parodied in Futurama's Show Within a Show, The Scary Door. A Lazy Bum scientist builds a robot to do all the important things in his life for him, while he relaxes. Years later, he sees that the robot is the one who is given an award for a lifetime of scientific achievement. The next second, his son walks into the room and hugs the robot instead of him. Feeling a case of tragic irony incoming, the scientist tells the robot to experience it for him. The robot falls to its knees in horror, while the scientist cracks open a beer bottle.
  • Goof Troop:
    • In the third episode, "Axed By Addition", Pete realizes that he has been a terrible father to his son, PJ, while he thinks PJ is sick and dying and spends the majority of the episode trying to apologize and ask for forgiveness for his mistreatment... then the doctors call him back, tell him PJ wasn't really sick, and he's right back to his abusive self for the rest of the series.
    • Max Goof has had to learn the lesson, "Your dad is awesome and you are lucky to have him even if he is weird and embarrassing" multiple times, most obviously in both movies.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Mabel Pines had to learn several times over the course of one summer that she should not always put her wants above the needs of others, and that she should think more selflessly. Even though "Sock Opera" seemed to be written specifically to address this, towards the end of the series she was still willing to make a deal to place the entire town under a temporary bubble where time did not move foreward after having a bad day where she learned the horrors of growing up and was met with the possibility of her brother not being there with her.
    • Invoked and parodied in Society of Blind Eye, where Blind Ivan feels a little bad when the negative repercussion of his amnesia ray are pointed out... only to zap himself with the ray to forget all about it.
  • Kim Possible
    • The Chained Heat episode "Bonding" showed Kim and Bonnie getting handcuffed together and learning more about one another in the process. Kim learns about Bonnie's family life, specifically her two sisters who belittle her at every opportunity. By the end of the episode, the two are getting along somewhat better, though by Bonnie's next appearance, she's just as shallow and mean as ever. This pattern pretty much repeats every time they're forced in a situation where they have to work together, and yet, never learn to get along.
    • Many, many times Ron learned the lesson about being yourself, and then promptly forgot about it. Actually lampshaded one time by Kim in "Ron Millionaire" where she mentions that he has a tendency towards this. It doesn't help.
      • One of the movies lampshades this even further, where Ron attempts to caution his younger self not to learn his lesson from one of these events in particular.
        "OK, look, listen to me. In the future you will change your hair and become a babe magnet. Keep that look!"
      • Well, the problem is at the end of the episode once he learned the lesson about his behavior he didn't need to alter his appearance back to the old style just because the new one had bad associations.
    • Kim learns that her brothers can be helpful and not just nuisances at least twice, and to disregard peer pressure from Bonnie a good few times.
  • King of the Hill runs on this trope.
    • Unless you're an actual calculator, you've probably lost count of the number of times Hank has learned to accept Bobby's athletic limitations and appreciate his other skills. Maybe it's genetic, as Hank has earned the grudging respect of his father, Cotton, on several occasions, and that never sticks, either.
      • Not to mention that no matter how many times Hank learns to loosen up, this still happens a lot:
    Bobby: Hey Dad, guess what! I joined the (insert incredibly effeminate and/or gay and/or non-traditional activity here)!
    Hank: BWAAAHHH!!!
    • Hank also constantly forgets that Bobby is good at some sports, like shooting, football, and wrestling.
    • Can we get a count of how many times Bill's gotten over his depression and found something meaningful in his life, including another woman, only to have it completely forgotten by the next episode?
    • Kahn and Minh quite frequently learn to respect their redneck neighbors and then forget.
    • More quintessential to the trope is perhaps Buck Strickland, who consistently fails to learn that his illegal schemes will always put his business at risk. Strangely, however, Hank for some reason doesn't even get an Aesop that his boss is an amoral bastard and that he'll always get in trouble for trying to clean up after Buck's mess.
      • In Hank's case, a number of episodes imply that Hank is fully aware of how bad Buck is, but sticks around out of a misplaced sense of gratitude and loyalty and/or an equally misplaced hope that Buck might at some point revert back to the hard-working man he was when Hank first met him (which he nearly did in one episode); both are played as Hank's having found a better father in Buck than he had in Cotton.
    • The numerous examples where Peggy should have learned that her perceived abilities and appearance don't match up to reality. At times, she learns to accept her limitations, but goes right back to her old self in the next episode.
    • In Season 4, the Running Gag of Nancy and John Redcorn's affair ends when they finally begin feeling bad about betraying Dale's trust (which is an incredibly rare commodity) and part ways amicably. Then in Season 11, Redcorn attempts to restart the affair, and though Nancy is temptednote , she ultimately stands by her man.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness has a particular issue with Po never learning humility, passiveness, forethought, basically any aesop that could lead to things being better for him.
  • In The Legend of Korra, this is pretty clear from season 1 to season 2, as the headstrong Korra once again disregards the advice of her patient mentor to work for fast results with a Manipulative Bastard who turns out to be totally amoral. As with her enemies, an elderly Toph even lampshades that an important lesson Korra often lets slip by is that nearly each of them had good ideas, but let them go too far. Toph even goes further to point out that Korra not learning her lesson is why she can't deal with newer enemies.
    • Just in general early on, Korra would often forget that she needs the help of her friends and family to be the hero she is, not to mention avoiding letting her status as the avatar go to her head. In Book 4, she cut herself off of the people she cared about, and Toph even points this out.
    • Actually averted with Tenzin. While the guy remains stiff and humorless throughout the series, he learns very, very quickly that Korra won't respond to rigid and studious teaching and that to be her mentor he has to bend a little. This lesson sticks with him throughout the series, and Korra consistently turns to him for advice when needed. He did attempt being overly-strict in Season 3 when teaching the new Airbenders, but that was because of bad advice.
  • The Loud House's main protagonist, Lincoln, seems to suffer frequently from this as he ends relearning the same lesson again and again. For example, after "No Such Luck", you'd have thought he'd stop telling lies for his own selfish needs, but "What Wood Lincoln Do?" came along and it shows him taking credit for other people's work, which is also cheating. What's the bet he'll forget that lesson again?
  • On Madeline, Pepito's cousins return in "Madeline and the Mummy" and seem to have completely forgotten why they stopped being brats in the last episode.
  • On The Magic School Bus, Janet seems to have relearned to not be such a snotty brat in just about every episode she appeared in.
  • Maryoku Yummy, being a series for preschoolers, tends to fall into this a lot. Every other episode, Hadagi has to learn not be a big jerk, Ooka has to learn to be more responsible, and Shika has to learn that Maryoku is just right and stop fighting it already.
  • In Miss BG every episode usually deals with BG lying/telling tall tales, which in turn causes a massive problem amongst her friends and family, but she never learns her lesson for good.
  • For a show that runs on Aesops, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has quite a few of these.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders play with this trope as a Running Gag. The lesson "You can't make your cutie mark appear; you just have to wait for it" comes up in several episodes, but they refuse to learn it or wind up Comically Missing the Point. Done most egregiously in "The Cutie Pox", where Apple Bloom states the Aesop herself, only to declare that she's waited long enough roughly ten seconds later. Ironically, it actually sticks a lot better that time, and by season 3, the "we're going to get our cutie marks in X" plots largely fade into the background.
    • The Mane Six zig-zag this trope. They often learn lessons related to their personalities, and then sometimes fall back into old habits. However, over the course of the series they have also shown signs of positive Character Development. Twilight has come to appreciate friendship more and has demonstrated more patience, calmness, and rational thought (traits which prove useful when she becomes a princess). Rainbow Dash took a level in kindness in Season 2 that has in general persisted, and Fluttershy has demonstrated ever-increasing traits of assertiveness and tough love, as well as more self-confidence in her flight capabilities. Applejack also dialed back on the pride permanently; in "The Super-Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", she has no problem accepting her friends' help, and at the end of the episode, she even explicitly points out that she knew that already. In "Apple Family Reunion", she actually plans for and goes to them for help.
    • Some lessons that stay learned are by the citizens of Ponyville at large, as they have learned to accept Zecora and Princess Luna. Zecora makes a crack about the ponies of Ponyville seeming to forget their lesson and hide from her again in "The Cutie Pox", but they're actually hiding from Apple Bloom.
    • At least once a season, there'll be an episode to teach Spike his place in the group. Considering his status as a Butt-Monkey, this might be needed.
    • In several episodes, the characters forget that Princess Celestia is a kind, nurturing mother figure to her subjects and think she is a stiff who would punish someone for making a simple mistake. Twilight Sparkle goes through this the most.
    • In the Season 1 episode "Griffon the Brush Off," Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie take caution not to prank Fluttershy due to her sensitive nature, and it's a plot point that Gilda doesn't have that kind of restraint and gets Fluttershy upset. In the Season 6 episode "28 Pranks Later," Rainbow Dash not only has to relearn "You don't just prank anyone you see" (and even pranks Spike in an incredibly similar way), but she loses that inhibition in the meantime and pranks Fluttershy during the Cold Open.
    • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (2013), an alternate universe version of Twilight's friends all learn to at least take five minutes or so to talk to each other about their problems. They forget this in the next movie and the spin-off comic as well.
    • After her Heel–Face Turn, Starlight Glimmer repeatedly tries to use magic to solve mundane problems instead of talking through them, which usually makes things worse.
    • This was lampshaded in "Fame and Misfortune" where a group of Loony Fans accuse Fluttershy of having to re-learn confidence over and over. Fluttershy responds that someone's personality doesn't just completely change because of one event; they may need to be reminded a few times.
  • Candace of Phineas and Ferb has learned to have fun with life in every episode that's ever focused on her. A possible justification is given in one episode where we see inside her brain; at one point, her Id (which represents her desire to bust her brothers) wipes out sections of her memory; this could be taken to mean that her desire to bust her brothers is so strong that she voluntarily forgets any lessons she learns which would get in the way of it. Plus, even without that her basic sanity is... dubious, at best.
  • The Powerpuff Girls have it pretty bad, but then, they are portrayed as being in kindergarten, so it might be understandable that they don't always remember the lessons they've learned very well.
  • Parodied in Rick and Morty. Mr. Needful had given Mr. Goldenfold aftershave that made him irresistible to women, but also impotent. Upon confronting Needfull about it, Needful declares that everything has a price and laughs evilly. Goldenfold breaks down, declaring that he deserves what he got for his greed and hubris. Rick shows up, cures Goldenfold's impotency, keeping the aftershave's positive effects, and Goldenfold immediately runs off with several beautiful women, yelling "I haven't learned a thing!"
  • Rocket Power: Otto Rocket. Oh boy! Where do we even get started on this arrogant kid? Well to put it short, of all the times he disobeyed any authority figure's demands and warnings not to do anything that would get him into major trouble (such as snowboarding off the big jump and sneaking into the back bowl that is off limits), it's a wonder why Raymundo didn't revoke his skating privileges for a while.
  • The babies of Rugrats get tricked by Angelica pretty much every episode and yet keep believing almost everything she says. To be fair, they are babies.
  • In Sabrina: The Animated Series instead of solving her problems on her own, she goes to the Spooky Jar (A Cookie Jar that contains a genie-like entity who is actually a Jerkass Genie) to solve her problems, only to create much much worse problems in their places. Despite this, she still uses it every episode.
  • Silly Symphonies that followed up The Three Little Pigs showed that Fiddler and Fiefer still played while Practical worked, and they generally blew off the Big Bad Wolf as a Harmless Villain.
  • The Simpsons
    • As with all Negative Continuity tropes, The Simpsons uses this one a lot. Often they'll just go ahead and lampshade, and at least one episode ends with Lisa concluding there was no moral to learn "Just some things that happened". With the supporting characters, it's even more pronounced; Barney goes from "clean and sober" to "hopeless alcoholic" depending on the mood of the writer, Mr. Burns has learned to love his fellow man dozens of times, and even though he's learned to stand up for himself in every episode he's a featured player in, Principal Skinner never manages to move out of his mother's house.
    • Lampshaded at least once in Mr. Burns's case:
      Burns: For me? Bobo? Smithers, I'm so happy. Something amazing has happened, I'm actually happy. Take a note! From now on, I'm only going to be good and kind to everyone.
      Smithers: I'm sorry sir, I don't have a pencil.
      Burns: Ehh, don't worry, I'm sure I'll remember it.
    • In one episode Mr. Burns describes himself as having "characteristic changes of heart". This leads to him befriending Homer and being a good person for much of the episode, then going right back to being evil at the end. As Homer notes, "I guess some people never change. Or, they quickly change and then quickly change back."
    • Also lampshaded in "Homer Loves Flanders" where Homer came to genuinely like Ned Flanders. At the end of the episode Bart asks Lisa where the expected last-minute Face–Heel Turn event is that would reset the situation back to status quo. Lisa is stumped. Then comes one last scene with "one week later" caption where Homer suddenly loathes Flanders again, and Bart and Lisa give a content "things are back the way they should be" smile.
    • The episode "Bart's Girlfriend", Reverend Lovejoy never really learns to discipline his daughter, and all Jessica learns is that she can manipulate boys into doing what she wants. Bart subverted this, by seemingly being suckered in again by Jessica into doing her chores, only planning to do a bad job to get Jessica in trouble.
    • In "Duffless", he also repeatedly failed to learn the lesson "the cupcake is wired up to electricity, and if you touch it you will get a shock". Thereby proving that yes, he was dumber than a hamster.
    • In "Krusty Gets Kancelled", when Krusty loses his show, he's destitute because he never saved for this kind of situation. After getting his show back, he buys a ruby to use as a clown nose.
  • In a first-season episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Chameleon begins a crime spree dressed as the eponymous hero. J. Jonah Jameson, being who he is, immediately prints a story in the Bugle declaring him a criminal; of course, by the end of the episode, the Chameleon is revealed to be the criminal and Jameson is forced to print a retraction, something he had apparently never had to do before. In the second season, Venom also begins committing crimes and general violence while impersonating Spidey. Jameson soon ends up at the police station, demanding to know why Captain Stacy hasn't begun efforts to arrest Spider-Man yet. While calmly explaining his evidence saying that Spidey was not responsible doesn't work, Stacy simply calls him out on this:
    Captain Stacy: This isn't the first time the Bugle got it wrong when a copycat dressed up as the webslinger. Now do you really want to embarrass yourself and your paper... again?
    • The above version of Jameson nails the comics Jameson perfectly in that regard. In the comics he'll accuse Spider-Man of either being in cahoots with the current villain or BEING the current villain, as well as fall for the copycat Spidey routine time and time again, and he never learns and keeps doing it, even brushing off those who try to remind him what happened last time he did that.
  • South Park:
    • While lessons the boys learn tend to stick ("Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride," for example), the same does not apply to the adults. No matter how many times Randy or Sheila learn lessons about actually listening to their children and respecting their wishes ("Bloody Mary" and The Movie, for example), they're back to publicly humiliating Stan and Kyle by the next episode.
    • This would also apply to Cartman, except he is a sociopath and one of the symptoms of a sociopath is a general inability to learn lessons at all.
    • The boys also frequently "learn lessons" about blaming their behavior on external influences, such as in The Movie. The trope is lampshaded to Hell and back in "Butt Out" (where they blame the tobacco company for making them smoke) by Kyle, who suggests that they come clean instead of letting things spiral out of control. Stan makes two such "I learned something today" speeches in a single episode. In "Chimpokomon", the kids are brainwashed by the Japanese into attacking the US. When the parents figure out how to snap the kids out of it, Kyle decides to go through with the attack. So Stan gives a "learned something" speech about the evils of blindly following the crowd. Kyle agrees and claims that, since all the kids refuse to attack, he still has to do it in order to prove his independence. Stan immediately does a speech saying the exact opposite of the first speech, completely confusing Kyle.
    • They also never seem to realize that whenever they (Cartman in particular) get involved with a Get Rich Quick Scheme (for whatever reason), things end badly such as the "Pandemic" Multi-Part Episode, where they are wrongfully sent to Peru after they start a pan-flute band.
  • Any episode of SpongeBob SquarePants that focuses on Mr. Krabs' incredible greed. One could guess that love (of money in this case) conquers all.
  • The members of the Sushi Pack frequently have to relearn Aesops about being a team. Like every other episode frequently.
  • Teen Titans
    • Beast Boy learned several times not to be such a goof-off. It never quite took, at least completely. Same for Cyborg learning to accept not being human anymore.
    • Oddly enough, the rest of the team seemed pretty good about avoiding Aesop Amnesia. When Raven and Starfire learned to respect one another's differences, it stuck with them through the rest of the series.
    • Even more oddly, the last time the series dealt with Cyborg's humanity this trope was actually inverted. Cyborg goes Machine Worship too hard and has a Superpower Meltdown, requiring him to learn the opposite lesson. Poor guy just can't win.
    • Robin still struggled with not being a Jerkass throughout the series. He was trained by Batman so it isn't surprising he would default to Jerkass. Robin finally ended up throwing away the Jerkass Ball (mostly) for good after the episode "Haunted".
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
    • Early on the turtles learn the dangers of becoming overconfident. From then on, they end up becoming cocky again multiple times. However, when this happens Splinter is usually quick to humble them again, or they suffer the consequences of it in battle. This helps to make it feel like a realistic character flaw instead of shoddy writing.
    • Several episodes have repeatedly focused on Raphael attempting to control his anger issues. Something goes wrong because he generally can't control his temper, he realizes how much of a problem it can be, and then another episode puts him back at square one.
  • In Thomas and Friends, after the 5th season, Thomas and Duncan become especially prone to this. In fact, Thomas's character up to the 5th season was built on Aesops from past experiences in the earlier seasons. Suddenly, when season 6 debuted, he was a perfect schoolboy type. With the debut of season 8, he seemingly forgot every lesson he ever learned.note  It's even worse when he forgets the Aesop of patience by the very episode after he learned it. James is quite bad for this too, but it may be justified considering his personality.
  • ThunderCats (2011)
    • In the episode "Song of the Petalars," young Lilliputian Emrick (questing to restore his people to their homeland) impulsively confronts a bird so large he's outmatched and protagonist Lion-O must save him. Lion-O complains of his teenaged stupidity. Later, Lion-O (questing to save his people and their homeland), in his teenaged stupidity, impulsively leads his ThunderCats to confront enemy forces so large he's outmatched and a Deus ex Machina must save them. When Lion-O attempts yet another Leeroy Jenkins in "Old Friends," his new mentor Panthro quickly loses his patience.
    • In "The Pit", Pumyra is distrustful of Lion-O until he nearly gives his life to save her. In "The Curse of Ratilla", Pumyra is distrustful of Lion-O until he nearly gives his life to save her. In "Birth of the Blades", Pumyra is — get this — distrustful of Lion-O until — get this — he nearly gives his life to save her. Of course, knowing what we know now, this may well be justified.
  • No matter how many times Harold from Total Drama Island manages to save the day at the last minute with some special skill that only he has, future episodes will always have the other characters, especially Duncan, proclaiming that he's useless and should not be listened to/trusted to do any sort of task.
    • Astonishingly, the episode where Harold is treated the worst in this regard comes immediately after the one where he single-handedly saves everyone from drowning!
  • On Timothy Goes to School, this is generally averted. When the kids learned a lesson on the show, it tended to stick. For example, in "Fritz in the Mess Fairy," Fritz realized that there was no mess fairy and he needed to clean up after himself. Him being messy was never shown as an issue again in the series, despite the story's Here We Go Again! ending with Fritz having made another mess with the cleaning supplies in the process of cleaning Timothy's seashells. In "Small Change," Nora learns to accept and even like change and she is never shown having an issue with it again. And if Lilly still sometimes forgets things, it can be forgiven, as it's difficult for her, and she does try hard and sometimes succeeds.
  • Totally Spies!:
    • You can practically mark it off on a checklist for every episode. One or more of the girls experiences a personal issue that could be easily solved with a little extra thought. They go on a mission that somehow relates to whatever the personal issue is. They learn from said mission how to overcome the issue. Cue scene in the last thirty seconds of the episode showing they haven't actually grown or learned anything.
    • There are multiple episodes where Britney joins the team and Alex gets jealous and thinks she's trying to take her place.
  • A disproportionate number of episodes in Transformers Animated feature the plot device of Bumblebee being a cocky showoff, going off on his own, and messing the whole thing up in order to learn the value of teamwork and actually telling your leader what's going on. At least once, this has happened two episodes in a row.
    • There were also alot of episodes in the first season that revolved around Sari recklessly using her Allspark key and having to learn that Allspark energy is not a toy. Thankfully, she did get much better about this by the time season 2 rolled around.
    • Sentinel Prime really should remember that yes, other people have valid ideas and plans and that he should stop being an aft to everyone around him and especially to Optimus Prime. If anything he was more of a Jerk Ass as the show continued, despite a constant barrage of Break the Haughty.
    • This is a fine tradition in Transformers, dating back to the original show where Optimus Prime would actually sum up the Aesop of the story to all the Autobots at the end of the story, just in case it wasn't blatantly clear enough. Amusingly, this probably technically makes the Autobots' Aesop Amnesia disobeying orders.
    • Just like Animated Bumblebee, Miko from Transformers Prime also has to learn (and forget) a lesson every other episode. Which is: rushing headfirst into trouble can, well, lead to trouble. In fact this has been the basis of so many episodes in the first season, some fans tend to chant "Oh, it's one of those episodes again..." when they see her doing something reckless.
  • Xiaolin Showdown had a couple of Stock Aesops, all of which were repeatedly learned and forgotten. A sampling includes "Don't futz around with the Shen Gong Wu for frivolous reasons", "Don't screw over your teammates", "Stop being jerks to each other". And while not really an Aesop, it was still rather glaring how they never learned that yes, even Jack Spicer can come up with a winning plan every so often, so don't just automatically shrug off what he's doing because he's a loser.
  • Handled brutally in BoJack Horseman. During Season 3, Diane learns she has more potential than writing shallow celebrity tweets... and ends up with a job writing for a feminist clickbait website. Princess Carolyn realises that her job is making her miserable and quits it to concentrate on her love life... before starting a new career in a basically identical job. Only BoJack recognises that his starring role in his rebooted sitcom is just him repeating the mistakes he always makes... which is especially sad, because he seemed a lot more sincere about it this time.
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood has a bit of an unusual case. While lessons generally seem to stick from episode-to-episode, they often seem to take a while to sink in within a particular episode. For example, in "You Are Special," O has to hear several times "I like you / I like you / I like you / Just the way you are" before he stops trying to do stuff to be like the other characters to be special.
  • On ToddWorld, the show's prevailing aesop can be summed up as "everyone is different and it's important to understand, respect and celebrate those differences." Yet in many episodes this will be forgotten. Stella is the usual offender, but it can hit just about any of the main characters.
  • Possibly intentional in Season 5 of The Adventures of Puss in Boots, which has several episodes in which Puss and the San Lorenzans learn not to ignore Butt-Monkey Eames, but never seem to remember this, because it's Eames, and he's just that forgettable.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender deconstructs it with Keith. He learns the fact that he can't be a hothead and needs to put the team's best interest before his own and forgets it every time. This comes to a head when he commits the same mistake after learning it in the very same episode, which leads to his team facing a threat without him and almost dying, leading Shiro to get back into Voltron and him to leave Voltron for the Marmora.
    Real Life 
  • Given what an Epic Fail alcohol prohibition was, you'd think people would learn would what seem to be an obvious lesson with regards to other drugs. more than 70 years later and we're still waiting...

I'm sorry but what did I just read??

Alternative Title(s): Moral Amnesia