"Perhaps it hasn't one," Alice ventured to remark.
"Tut, tut, child!" said the Duchess. "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it."
The episode ends with a moral à la Aesop's Fables. Either the last line of the episode summarizes the whole point of the episode, or it leaves the viewer with the issue that the writers want them to ponder. 1950s sitcoms often end on the "Gee, I learned my lesson," type of moral, while Law & Order leaves you pondering. Since some shows seem to contractually require one moral per episode, you often end up with a Broken Aesop.
A lot of kids' shows go out of their way for this, especially Disney-animated shows. Writers often call it the "Object Lesson", and write the episode around it. This is particularly noticeable in programs made in The United States during the late 1970s through the early 1990s, as the FCC at the timenote required that all children's television shows have "educational" content, and this was the simplest way to meet its requirements.
For times when a lesson is learned through a moral conflict, see Moral Dilemma.
In some quarters An Aesop delivered to another character, often a child, directly is referred to as a "You See, Timmy" from the frequent use of that line to deliver the Aesop in the television show Lassie. This definition was put forth originally in the movie Speechless.
- Accidental Aesop — The audience reads an Aesop when one wasn't intended (or a different one was intended)
- Aesop Amnesia — When characters learn an Aesop in one episode and have apparently forgotten it by the next one.
- Aesop Collateral Damage — When other characters have to suffer to teach Bob his Aesop.
- Aesop Enforcer — When a character takes (sometimes drastic) action to ensure that another character learns their Aesop.
- Aesoptinum — Applied Phlebotinum that exists solely for the moral.
- Alternate Aesop Interpretation — A meta-trope where the viewer finds a different moral to be more apparent than the one the story actually states.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle — The Tag devoted to some sort of moral.
- Anvilicious — The moral lands on the audience's heads with all the subtlety of an anvil.
- Author Filibuster — The plot comes to a screeching halt while Aesop is delivering his moral.
- Author Tract — The story is only there to be a framing device for the Aesop.
- Broken Aesop — The events of the story undermine or flat-out contradict the moral.
- Captain Obvious Aesop — An Aesop that should be obvious to everyone (e.g. "mass murder is bad") is treated as revolutionary and insightful by other characters.
- Central Theme — The underlying (moral and/or philosophical) theme that the story is about.
- Clueless Aesop — A show mishandles a serious life lesson because a full explanation of the topic is too complex or adult for the audience, language, and tone of the show (e.g. a No Hugging, No Kissing cartoon tries to discuss sexual assault).
- Compressed Vice — A character gains a flaw they never had before simply to learn the Aesop dealing with it.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing — A story meant to demonstrate that X is bad unintentionally makes X look really, really cool.
- Double Aesop — When Alice and Bob learn their lesson in one story.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop — A moral that is unexpected and defies conventional wisdom (but may be good advice nevertheless).
- Fantastic Aesop — A moral which is appropriate for characters in Speculative Fiction (e.g. "Don't raise the dead") but which has no Real Life application except metaphorically.
- Glurge — A story which attempts to make its Aesop more palatable by smothering it in sweetness. The moral is often flimsy or loaded with Unfortunate Implications.
- Golden Moment — The very mawkish summation of the moral seen in old Dom Coms.
- Ignored Aesop — When characters discuss the Aesop in a metacontextual way, usually sabotaging whatever flimsy moral may have existed in the first place.
- Karmic Twist Ending — A Twist Ending designed to force a moral.
- A Lesson Learned Too Well — The character learns an Aesop early but doesn't learn when not to apply it.
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop — A disposable character introduced for the sake of the Aesop.
- Lost Aesop — You get the sense you were supposed to learn something, but you're not sure what.
- Monster of the Aesop — When the Monster of the Week eerily coincides with the Aesop.
- Morality Ballad — A moral in song form.
- Philosophical Parable — A piece of moral philosophy in the form of a story.
- Safe Driving Aesop — A lesson presented, usually through dictation or fear, about why we should all drive like our grandma's in the passenger seat.
- Safety Gear Is Cowardly — Showing that not wearing safety gear and insulting it/the image of it to get you to wear it for your own good.
- Scare 'em Straight — Making sure the lesson sticks by showing the nightmarish consequences of not obeying it.
- Script Wank — Having a character come right out and say "The lesson to be learned here is..."
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped — The importance of the message justifies its Anvilicious presentation.
- Space Whale Aesop — When the work undermines the moral by showing characters ignoring it and suffering bizarre, illogical, or downright impossible consequences.
- Spoof Aesop — The moral is clearly not meant to be taken seriously.
- Stock Aesops — The old chestnuts (e.g. "Be yourself," "True beauty is on the inside")
- Subverted Suspicion Aesop — A subversion of the Stock Aesop "don't judge a book by its cover," where Alice instinctively dislikes newcomer Bob, is told to calm down and "give him a chance," but ultimately is vindicated when Bob proves to be a scumbag. This happens often enough that it gets its own trope.
- Very Special Episode — The show takes a more serious tone to tackle a more serious issue.
Ironically, the Greek storyteller Aesop probably doesn't deserve the dubious honor of having this trope named after him. In their original forms these stories likely did not end with heavy-hitting moral anvils. The listeners (for Aesop would have been an oral storyteller) were probably left to sort out the meaning for themselves; the one-liner morals (such as "slow and steady wins the race") were likely tacked on by modern compilers.
- The main theme running through the ARIA series is that you should enjoy life to its fullest and pay attention to little everyday wonders. It helps when you live on a terraformed planet full of mysteries and are allowed to spend your time rowing a gondola in a beautiful City of Canals, populated by friendly people.
- Attack on Titan - The world is a cruel place, but you can find beauty if you never stop fighting for it.
- Berserk: While Berserk doesn't answer all of the questions it raises about heavy philosophical and ethical issues, it definitely has several lessons to give:
- There is little besides wishful thinking to suggest that that the universe (or at least the Berserk-verse) is ruled by a just and all-powerful God who rewards good and punishes evil. The world is unjust and unfair, so bad things will always happen to good people for no reason at all. The excised missing chapter goes so far as to indicate that the human condition is that we want reasons for our suffering and create elaborate religious or metaphysical belief systems that get in the way of taking responsibility for our own lives and absolve us of the responsibility of trying to change it. However, there is also a strongly anti-nihilistic message to the story saying that people can make a difference. There were a lot of bad things Guts was unable to prevent, but he has saved people and changed a small number of lives because he had the courage to stand up to villains that no one else would oppose. Even Jill who recognizes that she's weak and fragile decides at the end of the Lost Children chapter that by going home and fighting her own small battle she'll be able to change something.
- One of the Golden Age Arc's main themes is that even the smallest of your actions can have an unpredictable effect on other people, and that progress that you have spent your entire life building can be ruined if you take one reckless action without thinking of the consequences. For example, Griffith never thought that his speech to Princess Charlotte about what a friend is would be overheard by Guts and cause him to quit the band of the Hawk, and Guts wouldn't have expected that his departure would cause Griffith to have a breakdown and throw out all the Hawks' work by sleeping with Charlotte and incurring the King of Midland's wrath. The King at the same time decides to pursue revenge against Griffith at the cost of ruining his own kingdom and wasting the effort of a 100 year war that was supposed to win peace and prosperity for his subjects.
- No man is an island. Even if you think that relying on others will make you vulnerable, and that you're tough enough to take care of yourself, there will always be challenges that are too much to handle without help. During the Black Swordsman Arc Guts tries to drive away anybody who tries to get close to him because they'll get in his way or get themselves killed, and manages for a while, but after two years of Walking the Earth he is an emotional wreck and only Puck's company saved him from losing both his sanity and his moral compass. Once he decides to stay with Casca he finds himself utterly unprepared to care for and protect another person by himself, and has no choice but to accept the help of the followers who were inspired by his struggle and form a new adventuring party for survival.
- "Revenge is nothing but the place where men who can't deal with sadness go." Guts learns this from Godo the blacksmith after he goes on a two-year Roaring Rampage of Revenge against all Apostles and the God Hand in retaliation for having everyone he cared about taken from him in the Eclipse, only to come back and find that a mentally-regressed Casca has wandered into danger while he was away. When Guts tells Godo that his companions needed to be avenged, Godo replies he really left on that rampage because he couldn't bear to stay by Casca's side and face the grief of everything he had lost. Instead, he drenched himself in hatred and violence, and while The Power of Hate made him strong for a time, it left him as a wreck of a man and caused the only precious thing he had left to slip through his fingers. Guts redeems himself by rescuing Casca, and afterwards makes a conscious decision to forget about chasing Griffith in order to focus on protecting her.
- Religious fanaticism cannot save people or defeat evil, and a dogmatic religion will either be used as a cover for corruption or lead to the methods of a Knight Templar. The Conviction Arc features Bishop Mozgus' misguided attempts to purify his flock through inquisition, torture, and execution, which cause hundreds of innocent deaths. Even though he genuinely believes his actions are for the greater good, he is deluded and ultimately leads all his followers to their doom; The only ones who survive the collapse of the tower are those like Guts and Luca who took their fate into their own hands rather than waiting for God to save them. Schierke delivers an Aesop to a priest after fighting the trolls in Enoch village that it's okay to believe in the supernatural, but you have to be open minded about it and see the world beyond ours for what it really is instead of what dogma tells you to see. A small example of this is how Farnese was unable to see Puck when she was serving the Church, but became able to see elves once she started opening her mind.
- People can decide to change themselves, no matter who they were before or what they've done in the past. Guts spends the two years after the Eclipse running away from his problems and drenching himself in revenge and hate, to the point where he almost becomes as big a monster as the ones he's fighting. But when he realizes how his actions have distanced him from Casca and put her in mortal danger, he drops everything including his revenge on Griffith in order to rescue her before it's too late. From that point on he feels the burden of responsibility and is tortured by the lingering consequences of his past actions, but those who witness his gradual transformation can attest how much he's changed through sheer willpower and become a far more admirable person. Farnese is a particularly inspiring example of The Atoner, having been a Knight Templar who burned people at the stake just to satisfy her need to feel powerful and validated, but eventually deciding to leave her whole life behind in order to learn from Guts. She starts risking her life to protect Casca, the girl whom she once persecuted, and after spending her whole life being protected and cared for by others she rises to the challenge of being responsible for someone else. Even an evil being who seemingly has no redeeming qualities can do something which—even if it's far too late to make up for their crimes or save them from damnation—can still express their humanity through a last act that will change how people remember them. The Count had cast away his humanity and morality long ago, and he could have kept on living if he had sacrificed his daughter Theresea, but instead he consigned himself to eternal torment out of love for someone else. All of this doesn't change the fact that a lot of characters in the story stick to their evil ways until the very end, and the story focuses heavily on the Freudian Excuse and cruel circumstances that would drive a person to villainy, but there's an implication that whatever the circumstances, doing evil is always on some level a real choice. The God Hand may manipulate fate, but perhaps they need people to believe that their moral decisions are outside of their control in order to trick them into giving it up willingly.
- The entire tenth episode of Cowboy Bebop consists of each of the members of the Bebop giving An Aesop, which is lampshaded by the use of caption cards reading 'lesson'. The entire concept gets more and more twisted as the episode goes on: Jet starts out with a straight Aesop about how hard work is the only thing that pays off in the end and those who trust in their luck get theirs eventually (after having lost his savings in an attempt to gamble with Faye). Faye follows up with a Family-Unfriendly Aesop about how humans are always playing each other and trusting people is for fools (after it's revealed she was cheating). Ed delivers a Broken Aesop about how, if you see a stranger, you should follow him (after it turns out there's a stowaway poisonous creature on board that's attacking the crew). Finally, Spike finishes it off with the episode's real lesson... Don't leave food in the fridge. The poisonous creature had mutated from a lobster left in the ship's backup refrigerator too long.
- Cross Ange has two:
- You have to fight and live on.
- People are not meant to live alone.
- Dragon Ball
- The overreaching lesson of the entire series. No matter how powerful or good at your craft you become, there is always someone better out there. So keep practicing, keep learning, and honing your skills, otherwise you will fall behind.
- Pure talent will only gets you far. If you don't work to maintain your gifts, you will find yourself lacking when you need to be sharp and someone who's less talented, but works harder can surpass you. The reason Frieza lost on Namek and in Resurrection 'F is because he relied only on his raw might to get ahead and didn't put in the proper amount of work. Gohan also falls behind despite his gift because he stopped improving himself in the field of fighting.
- Having a lot of pride in yourself is not necessarily a bad thing. It's when you are unable to put it aside that it becomes a detriment. Vegeta learns this lesson over and over again until it finally sticks at the end of the Kid Buu fight. Frieza being unable to let go of his pride led him to ruined and death, twice.
- There are times when it is best to give up and admit that you're not the best. Take the lessons of losing and humility to heart and improve yourself. Goku learns this from all his losses from Jackie Chun to Beerus.
- Forgiving those who do evil and accepting second chances can lead to lifetime enemies becoming friends and even family. At the same time, there are times when you will have no choice but to kill since some people will never change no matter how many chances they receive. Although most of Goku's friends are former enemies, he couldn't show any mercy to Frieza and Gohan couldn't reason with Cell despite his pleas.
- Eureka Seven: Never give up on being with your loved one.
- Franken Fran: Though there are exceptions, the dominant Aesop to be learned is that death is not something to come back from, especially via science.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Compromise your dreams with what is best for everyone. Roy compromised his dream for power by vowing to use it for others, and being patient about it. May gave up her quest to restore her clan to help save another country. She got both though. Scar compromised his quest for vengeance by just preventing it from happening again in the future. Ed gave up his alchemy, and didn't get his leg back. Al rejected his body because he couldn't fight with it, and when he got it back it was incredibly weak. The only person who didn't compromise was Father. He wanted out of his flask, and didn't balance it with morality, empathy, or just settling for anything less. And he got screwed.
- Spoofed in the legendary Full Metal Panic! rugby episode. Sosuke subjects the Jindai HS rugby team to Training from Hell straight out of Full Metal Jacket, turning them from tea-sipping wimps into violent psychopaths. After watching them (literally) beat the opposing team into a bloody pulp, Sosuke muses "Fighting is always pointless. Their actions have taught me this"...and gets smashed upside the head with Kaname's Paper Fan of Doom as she shouts "Don't go trying to put a neat little conclusion on this!"
- Great Teacher Onizuka shows us that teachers are human beings too. They have feelings and they deserve your respect. They do care about you and are willing to help you if you let them. There are bad teachers but they are the exception and not the rule.
- Guardian Fairy Michel has one every episode, as the series was made for families and children.
- Gunnm delivers an especially hard-hitting Aesop in volume five: Be a little considerate of people's feelings. Allways treat others with respect, even if you think they are cowardly, selfish jerks. You may not like the result if you don't.
- Happiness Charge Pretty Cure has quite a few episodes with aesops. One was about the importance of studying, and another was about telling your friends if you are sick before you even get sick (and to dry off after you get hit by water!).
- Despite being mostly comprised of Aespoic-moments, the 32nd episode of the original 1969 series of Himitsu no Akko-chan plays that straight towards the heroine. When the kind-hearted Akko-chan meets a new deaf kid at school, she hurriedly wishes her magic mirror to turn her into a deaf-mute version of herself, enabling her to empathize better with her plea. Her magic mirror takes her literally, taking her speaking voice again too, and refusing to change her back on the premises that, needing a clearly worded wish to act, it can't understand or obey a deaf-mute mistress. Only when Akko-chan, distraught and terminally scared, is starting to resign to her fate, the mirror changes her back on its own accord, moved by her tears and pointing out how her owner has now learned that a disability is nothing to be wished for, and how her new friend was more brave and resourceful than she could think.
- THE iDOLM@STER: Almost every episode gives a lesson to at least one character.
- A recurring Aesop in Lyrical Nanoha is that regardless of how one was born/created one has the ability to choose whether to do good or evil.
- Michiko & Hatchin: Let go of your past.
- Most episodes in Mokke have mild, safe Aesops in the vein of "appreciate your friends," "set goals in life" or "don't cling obsessively to material possessions."
- Monster: Forgive, no matter how horribly you were hurt.
- Ninja Scroll: Delivered by Dakuan, of all people.
Dakuan: ''By the way, I'm very sorry about having lost Kagero. It's unfortunate, but she did had a few moments of living as an ordinary girl and of course, making love with you that is good after all.Jubei: Was that your plan as well, old man?
- In One Piece:
- Aside from the recurring Power Of Friendship theme, the CP9 saga and Robin's backstory has "It doesn't matter how you live your life, you are not evil just for existing" which gets indirectly revisited when it comes time to dive into Ace's backstory as well.
- There are also some surprisingly complicated lessons about racism for a shonen series, especially when Hody Jones is involved, being one of the biggest monsters in the series who has a fierce anti-human sentiment despite humans having never done anything to him. He turned into an extremist and fishman supremacist just by growing up in a racially-charged environment.
- Hereditary and family doesn't matter and family is who you choose.
- It's the Journey That Counts
- Nothing lasts forever; legacies must be passed on if they are to survive, and the old must accept that the world belongs to the next generation.
- "No matter how much hardship, oppression, and misfortune you may have had, do not lose hope, because there are people out there who will treat you well and be by your side when you need it." This is shown not only in most characters' flashbacks, but Jinbe directly teaches this to Luffy during his Darkest Hour right after the war at Marineford.
- At the end of each volume of Oishinbo there are cautionary tales that teach a lesson. At the end of "Japanese Cuisine" there is an Aesop about simple values, at the end of the volume "Sake" there is one about sobriety and at the end of "Ramen and Gyoza" there is one about racism.
- Pandora Hearts: Everyone has the right to exist and everyone has value and meaning and is deserving of love, regardless of how accidental or ill-fated their existences are or whether the world would be easier off without them.
- Popotan: Moving away from others is not as hard as it appears because one can still have pleasant memories of old friends, and one should learn to let go of said friends in order to move on in life. It's an overarching theme of the entire series, and Konami (the best friend of Mai, one of the protagonists) puts it into words in both the second and the final episodes.
- Princess Tutu: Don't be afraid of being yourself. Even if you are "only a duck", you don't need to become a "beautiful swan" to be loved.
- The DiC English dub of Sailor Moon often ended with a "Sailor Says" segment.
- Super Gals has the ironclad rules for girls which are general Aesop, mainly circling around: Be Yourself.
- Sgt. Frog:
- Early episodes had the Narrator end every episode with one of these, which eventually descended into Spoof Aesops such as, "Kids at home, don't grow up to be stupid adults like them!"
- Episode 10: Brush your teeth. Not to combat cavities, but to combat an alien menace that sets up bases in your teeth.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Courage and vigor is the power of humankind.
- Always face forwad, never give up, and know that you're awesome.
- Umi Monogatari has one that doubles as the central theme of the series. Everyone has darkness in their hearts. That's normal, and we must learn to accept it, not cast it out.
- Seconds: We all make bad decisions that we wish we can take back. But it happens and best we can do is roll with the punches and try to learn from them so they don't happen again. Lightly parodied at the end, where Ray points out that a poster featuring that Aesop has been hanging in his office the entire time. The office that Katie has been going to everyday for the last three years.
- In one Strontium Dog story, Johnny and Wulf search for a target on a planet where the natives, among other things, eat humans. The conditions in which the farmed humans were kept served to illustrate the point that battery farming is bad.
- Many times in the stories of Wilhelm Busch, often against alcohol and mischief. Several stories end with "Und die Moral von der Geschicht..." (and the moral of the story is: ...) There's a reason the German version of this page was named "Die Moral".
- Since A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate is designed like a season of the show, with each chapter an episode, they all end with a character learning something.
- This is lampshaded in Script Fic Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
Calvin: Eh, we gotta have a few of those every once in a while.
- The series in general loves playing with aesops, so one of the few sort of straight examples comes from "Socrates Squared". After having to put up with his duplicate for the episode, Socrates finally learns how obnoxious his personality is. He refuses to give up his pranking ways, however, and one of the characters remarks "Meh. Better than nothing."
- The End of Ends: You can never truly change who you are, and even if you do change, you are who you are and that can’t change.
- The Fifth Act has two:
- By reaching out to others, you can help others change whether you intended to or not.
- Vengeance isn't worth dedicating your life and dreams towards.
- In Gift of A Diamond, Blue diamond learns from Steven that just because something does not turn out exactly how you want it, does not mean that it doesn't have any worth.
- In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, there is at least one in most chapters.
- Most chapters of My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, end with the Grand Ruler giving an Aesop that is tangentially related to the events of the chapter. Unfortunately, the supposed morals are pretty weak and their connection to the main Aesop of "believing" is not very clear. However, these were removed from the retooling, until the Deviant ART version which reinstates most of them.
- Pokémon Story: Sinnoh Journey:
- Having no real end-goal can be lead to unhappiness and a lack of fulfillment.
- Rivals aren't necessarily enemies. You can have a rival that can be a friend and still can drive to you to be better.
- Sonic X: Dark Chaos: The system is broken and needs to be replaced by something better. Also, religion is bad.
- Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations:
- There is nothing wrong about reaching out to others to help you in your troubles.
- Forgive yourself, do not be a prisoner to your own past. Also, to joke around and make people smile to hide your sadness is fine. But, it will tear you apart if you overdo it..
- Keep going at your heart's content.
- A new world is a start of a new journey.
- The very first friend you form a strong bond with is the only friend you cannot replace.
- Admit that you are flawed, there is nothing to be ashamed of anything of who you are.
- The Wedding is Off!:
- If you make a mistake, don't try to run away from it and forget about it. It'll only get worse until you finally fix it.
- Even if your actions are justified, you still must apologize if you treat your friend badly.
- It's better to forgive than to hold a grudge.
- Several lessons are learned by characters in The Book of Life.
- Manolo: Follow your heart.
- Maria: Live life by your own rules.
- Joaquin: You do not have to be exactly what someone else expects of you to be great.
- Xibalba: Cheaters never prosper.
- Carlos and General Posada: Let your children follow their dreams even if they differ from yours.
- La Muerte: Anyone can die. It takes courage to live.
- The Boxtrolls:
- Epic: "Many leaves. One tree."
- Kubo and the Two Strings: As long as you hold those you love within your memories, their stories will never fade, even after they're gone.
- The LEGO Movie:
- By deconstructing the trope The Chosen One, this film expertly averts sharply defining the terms ordinary and extraordinary, explaining that everyone has the capacity to be special and creative without a prophecy unfairly singling out those who deserve to be special. This puts it in the regard of how toxic it is to splinter people like this and initiate conflict by saying those who have received status through a magical prophecy are better than others. This is bluntly parodied in that the name of the person who holds the Piece of Resistance is the Special. Not only that, but it also involves the aesop of the burden of this on the individual, as well as Emmet's spontaneous retrieval of the Piece of which he honestly had no idea about being received as undeserved by many of the characters. Despite the fact that this prophecy was meant to be random, and did not discriminate against specific groups of people.
- As everyone's special, it is noted in their potential to be creative that puts people on an equal level, rejecting the idea that people are born with inherent value seeing as we are taught from a young age of how special we are. This sets off the ideal of 'special snowflake' status where we internalise the belief that we are better than others, competing against possible threats that, even if they seem legitimate, are perceived towards our 'perfect' self. It practically explains the unhealthiness of competition, favouring equality and healthy relations with others.
- This film criticises the concept of "special snowflakes" without specifically targeting a particular group of people or even a single character.
- It's pretty obvious with Lord Business, who assumes any genuine or legitimate rejection of his beliefs that he has enforced is an attack on his dream of a perfect world. He even explains during a speech that he was never considered special, instead validating himself through power and control of others which hides his insecurity. This is brought to the surface by Emmet, who tells Business that he has inspired so many people and that he is special too and doesn't need to push back against everyone else whom he assumes to be receiving the special treatment over him (the climactic scene in the Think Tank involving Business' one-sided interaction with Emmet explores this very closely).
- Wyldstyle herself wanted to be the Special, her initial meeting with Emmet involving taking out a lot of her anger on someone she believes didn't deserve the prophecy because he isn't a Master Builder. What we must understand is this involves how she actually wanted to be the Special herself, quoting her prejudice to begin with that someone ordinary received it instead. Of course, this is important in establishing the aesop of the film, because it kickstarted the aesop that everyone is special with the capacity to do great things, creating an equilibrium rather than discrimination between different groups by the end of the film.
- Lord Business is a representation of Finn's father, where the LEGO world is being simulated in real life, who has become so much of a control freak as to define LEGO as a 'highly sophisticated interlocking brick system' (therefore taking it far too seriously) as well as refusing to allow anyone to mess up the perfect construction he has built. Finn is playing out the events of the story through how he perceives his father to act, detailing the aesop of the importance of reaching a middle ground between two set values, and the acceptance of both as long as you don't force them on others. Finn also didn't want to become distant to his father, whom he loved but feared he would never respect if his father continued like this (as seen by his designated role in Finn's story as Lord Business, the villain) and was honestly trying to reach out to him because he wanted to have a proper, loving father-son relationship where they could bond over their interests together.
- Moshi Monsters: the Movie has the Aesop "don't be arrogant, but be optimistic".
- Played in Mulan II. Heart Over Duty.
- My Scene Goes Hollywood: Friendship is more important than being rich and/or famous.
- Penguins of Madagascar:
- "Looks don't matter. It's what you do that counts."
- You do have a right to be appreciated... but it's a right you have to EARN.
- Lampshaded in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, in the following dialog:
SpongeBob: I guess you're right, Plankton. I am just a kid. And you know, I've been through a lot in the last six days, five minutes, twenty-seven-and-a-half seconds, and if I've learned anything during that time, it's that you are who you are. And no amount of mermaid magic, or managerial promotion, or some other third thing can make me any more than what I really am inside: a kid.
Plankton: Very impressive. Now, back against the wall...
SpongeBob: [on microphone] But that's okay! Because I did all the things they said a kid couldn't do! I made it to Shell City, and I beat the cyclops, and I rode the Hasselhoff, and I brought the crown BACK! So, yeah, I'm a kid! And I'm also a goofball, and a wingnut, and a Knucklehead McSpazatron! But most of all, I'm... I'm... I'm... I'm a Goofy Goober! [rock music starts]
Mr. Krabs: Mr. Squidward, front and center! I think we both know who rightfully deserves to wear that manager pin.
- And later subverted in the end of the movie
Squidward: I couldn't agree more, sir.
SpongeBob: Wait a second, everybody. There's something I need to say first. I just don't know how to put it.
Squidward: I think I know what you're going to say. After your life-changing journey, you found that you don't want what you thought you wanted. What you really wanted was inside you all along.
SpongeBob: Are you crazy?! I was just going to say that your fly is down. Manager! This is the greatest day of my liiiiiiife!
- Toy Story 2. The toys watch Al half-crying during an Al's Toy Barn commercial on TV after losing his Woody's Roundup dolls.
Hamm: I guess crime doesn't pay.
- The lesson in the first Kung Fu Panda is that there is no "secret ingredient" to greatness. You alone can make yourself great. This is why the Dragon Scroll is blank. The surface is reflective to show its viewer themselves.
- 2:37: It's not always obvious when somebody's suicidal. Or as Luke puts it: "Sometimes, you just get so wrapped up in your own problems that you just don't notice anybody else."
- Parodied in the Coen Brothers' dark spy comedy Burn After Reading. At the end, the CIA director tries to find a lesson in all that has happened, only to conclude that there is none.
CIA Chief: What did we learn, Palmer?
Subordinate: I don't know, sir.
CIA Chief: I don't fucking know either. I guess we learned not to do it again... Fucked if I know what we did.
- Cloud Atlas: Spelled out for us by Sonmi's revelation: "To be is to be perceived, and so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other. The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds, that go on and impressionate themselves throughout all time. Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and Present. And by each crime and every kindness we birth our future."
- The Aesop in Coming Soon is that piracy is a bad, bad thing.
- Quoth the Doctor Strange (2016) movie: "Driving while distracted can be hazardous for both you and others around you. Please drive responsibly." Dr. Strange fails to heed this advice and gets a car crash, two shredded hands, and a premature end to his surgery career for his trouble.
- Also a subversion: As a result of violating the above Aesop, Dr. Strange gets to become one of the most powerful superheroes in the entire world.
- The title character in Drop Dead Fred tells Elizabeth at the end that she's never really alone as long she had herself.
- The theme of The Duff seems to be "Don't let labels define you."
- Health Education movies such as The Keg Party.
- Lights of New York has an awkward one: "We want to do right to each other and everyone else. There's no luck in anything else".
- Played in Mean Girls. Be yourself (of course!).
Richard M. Nixon: Always remember: others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.
- This trope is used and then averted in The Onion Movie. Immediately after a pro-West, "violence is not the answer" speech by a former terrorist, the main character goes on to say:
"I think we've all learned a few things in the past 90 minutes. We've learned that Irishmen have huge nipples. We've learned that film-critic intellectuals are a bunch of gaywads. And most of all, we've learned that creeping corporate influence over the news protects us from terrorism."
- What Price Hollywood?: Celebrity Is Overrated. People die for it.
- The Central Theme of Pay It Forward is that by performing random acts of kindness for complete strangers we are able to change the world for a better.
- Played in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Just because a man is an outlaw doesn't mean he isn't a good person in his own ways.
- The Aesop in Reefer Madness is this: if you smoke marijuana... sorry, "marihuana"... even once, you'll instantly become addicted and as a result you'll go crazy, become a sex-crazed lunatic, and murder your girlfriend in cold blood.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This movie (and by extension the next one) can be seen as being about consequences. Most of the events in this film occur because of Kirk's actions in the past, or reference his cavalier attitude to rules — the entire film would have been averted if Kirk had not been so careless as to have marooned Khan on Ceti Alpha V without doing a complete survey of the planet and the surrounding system. He even acknowledges this when he ruefully admits that he never actually learned the lesson that the Kobayashi Maru test from the beginning of the film was actually trying to teach — instead of accepting some situations for what they were, he merely kept cheating until he was able to get his way. Both Spock and later David die for his hubris. And his refusal to raise the shields despite the fact that Starfleet regulations state that if ANY approaching ship does NOT respond to any communications, you are to RAISE THE SHIELDS. Saavik was cut off by Spock before she quoted the regulation in its entirety; however, the implication is pretty clear. Plus the fact that after the attack, Kirk said to Saavik, "You go right on quoting regulations".
- Star Trek Into Darkness: Listen to your friends and advisers. In order of occurrence;
- If Kirk had listened to Spock and not lied in his report, he would have been able to defend his actions at the inquest instead of being chewed out by Pike, which at the very least would have delayed his demotion long enough for him to still be a captain when Khan attacked.
- If Pike hadn't pulled a Not Now, Kiddo on Kirk at the captain's meeting he would have figured out Khan's plan a few precious seconds earlier, possibly saving the lives of all present.
- If Kirk had listened to Scotty's complaints and let him check the payload of the torpedoes, instead of overruling Scotty so he could pursue his vendetta against Harrison, the frozen super soldiers would have been discovered, undoing everyone's plans.
- Had Kirk not listened to Spock and killed Harrison with the torpedoes, he would have aided Marcus' plan to start a war. Granted, it did end up getting him killed and San Francisco leveled by a starship, but those things might have happened anyway if a war started.
- More importantly, don't let your desire for revenge compromise you, lest you pay the price for it. And good friends and advisers will point this out to you.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939). After Glinda asks Dorothy what she's learned, Dorothy gives one.
If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, l won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there I never really lost it to begin with.
[and after Dorothy returns to Kansas] There's no place like home!
- In The Adventures Of Caterpillar Jones, the first book deals with overcoming fear and learning to let go, while the second deals with exercise and good habits.
- In Animorphs, there are several including War Is Hell, and What Is Evil?.
- The moral of The Brothers Karamazov is to live life, take the good and take the bad and remain true to yourself. There might be other lessons scattered about the book concerning not manipulating others or belief in God, but the big message is to take the ups and downs and keep on. It comes off as bittersweet mostly because of all the events that had to take place for the protagonist to come to this conclusion.
- Browns Pine Ridge Stories: The first chapter ends with one.
- The Oompa-Loompa songs in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator are usually aesops in rhyming verse, and close out chapters to boot.
- The Divine Comedy: The souls purging their sins in Purgatory make it clear the prayers of living people can make their journey to Heaven shorter by centuries of time. This serves as a lesson of the importance of prayer for Dante and for the poem's readers.
- The Fault in Our Stars: "The ill and the dying aren't saints, they're people." Word of God says the book was written as a reaction to the frequent glamorization of illness in the media.
- Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy shows that everything can be solved without resorting to violence in a incredibly clever and fascinating way, after all: "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent".
- Galaxy of Fear is Goosebumps IN STAR WARS, but features a pair of orphaned Alderaanian kids who sometimes learn things on the way, many of them a consequence to losing their home and everyone they knew. These are usually pretty quiet and not outright stated.
- Eaten Alive: Even when no one believes you, trust your instincts.
- City of the Dead: If you Never Got to Say Goodbye... that hurts, but it wouldn't really be better if you had. Don't let yourself think they could be brought back. Remember the good times with them.
- The Planet Plague]]: Dwelling too much on Revenge hurts you - if you're sick negative emotions may make the illness progress faster - it's better to be driven by what you're fighting for.
- The Nightmare Machine: You have to stretch to find a moral, but you could argue that it's "You have to face your fears."
- Ghost of the Jedi has a New Media Are Evil sort of message - just because you're friends with someone over the Internet doesn't mean you really know them - but also that failure happens and it's awful, but you can't mope and stop trying things just because you messed up, however badly.
- Army of Terror might be that it's better not to lie. Kind of stretching, though.
- The Brain Spiders: People change as they grow up, and that's okay. But don't be so eager to seem grown up that you lose track of who you were before, and don't confuse "grown up" with "reckless".
- The Swarm: Careful about which secrets you keep. Also, don't think in black and white; people you think of as enemies may not be all loathsome.
- Spore: Unchecked greed is bad. And it's good to feel like being part of something larger, but it isn't everything.
- The Doomsday Ship: Sometimes even in frantic moments it's better to stop and think.
- Clones: Don't judge too harshly by first impressions.
- The Hunger: Question unexamined traditions. Don't succumb to feeling helpless.
- Goblin Market concludes with a very obvious Aesop:
For there is no friend like a sister...
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.
- In How Kazir Won His Wife, a sorcerer in the Framing Story identifies the moral of the story he tells as being "not to rely on general principles and routine mechanical methods"
- The second revised ending of The Little Mermaid says that the daughters of the air take more time to earn her souls if children are bad, and less time if they are good.
- The poems "Maxims of Baloo" and "The Law of the Jungle" from Rudyard Kipling's original Jungle Books probably qualify.
- Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama series tries to teach lessons such as being patient, sharing with others, and standing up to a bully.
- Mik's Mammoth: Provides us with one in the form of a poem,
The moral is that little chapsMay overcome life's handicaps,And, with some effort, they perhapsCan triumph in the end.
- The People of Sparks' underlying theme is basically learning to accept people who are different from you.
- Treehouse: Normally averted, but in "The 39-Storey Treehouse", Jill points out that Andy and Terry could have learnt something from their adventure and Terry complains because he hates stories with morals.
- In The Trolls while little ones crop up here and there in Aunt Sally's stories, perhaps the biggest message is also, interestingly, the stealthiest one: be nice to your siblings.
- Subverted in the poem Twice Times by A. A. Milne about two bears, one good and one bad who then, for no apparent reason, swapped places. The poem concludes "There may be a Moral, though some say not; I think there's a moral, though I don't know what."
- War and Peace: There are no Magnificent Bastards, only bastards who think themselves magnificent. Told via an entire part just in case you didn't catch it in the plot.
- The moral of Who Moved My Cheese is to watch for signs of change, and be ready to change your actions when change happens around you.
- The Serendipity Series, a set of childrens books written by Stephen Cosgrove, each carry an Aesop of their own.
- The aesop of The Great Divorce is that Heaven and Hell are incompatible, though people can decide which to reside in.
- Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): A simple but important one: Just because the world would be better off without someone doesn't mean they deserve to die. Elhokar is a terrible king and should probably step down in favor of Dalinar, but he is not an evil man—just a short-sighted and impulsive one. With time and help, he can become a great king.
- The intention of the Afterschool Special, usually coming about in the final act.
- The Aquabats! Super Show! has done this twice:
MC Bat Commander: Maybe you are ready to be a mother, Jimmy. Part of being a parent is knowing when to let your children go.
- At the end of "Mysterious Egg!":
Crash McLarson: Those mummies weren't that scary.MC Bat Commander: You know, that is why we shouldn't judge people or mummies until we get to know them.
- At the end of "Ladyfingers!":
Learning and Growing!
- Followed by:
- Black Mirror: The National Anthem: Actually a rare in-universe example. A British princess is kidnapped, and the ransomer releases a YouTube video making a singular demand of the Prime Minister: he must have sex with a pig on live television or the princess will be killed. After doing everything in his power trying and failing to stem the resulting media circus and generally find a way out of the situation, half an hour before the PM is set to do... it, the princess is released without so much as a broken hair on her head, out into the streets of London which are completely deserted because everybody is in their homes preoccupied with watching the Prime Minister fuck a pig. Would probably also count as a Broken Aesop considering the orchestrator kidnapped and threatened a completely innocent princess and used the worst kind of public humiliation and sexual coercion to teach a strange moral lesson.
- The Brady Bunch has this in spades.
- One episode of Boy Meets World plays with the notion of the Aesop: Mister Feeny assigns Corey, Topanga, and Shawn a seemingly impossible task. After trying and failing, the kids come to the conclusion that Mister Feeney was giving them a Secret Test of Character to teach them a lesson about teamwork. Unfortunately, they were wrong: Mister Feeney was actually trying to teach them a lesson about never giving up, and wants them to complete their seemingly impossible task, and so he sends them back out again.
- Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life: Cooper ends each episode with a lesson, sometimes as simple as "don't do all the stupid things we did in this episode," but sometimes more complex.
- Community: The first episode has Prof. Duncan attempting to impart one to Jeff Winger about academic honesty. Jeff, however, feels strongly that community college is not the place to learn anything. Jeff's objection notwithstanding, many episodes end with speeches, tilted-head smiling people, happy music, and reconciliations. In fact, "Wingering" becomes a term for saving the day by giving an inspiring speech about what they learned.
- Most, if not every episode of The Courtship of Eddie's Fathernote had Tom (the father) and Eddie talking about one before both the opening and ending credits sequences.
- Even though the show isn't EI-rated, all post-Episode 1 episodes of Crash and Bernstein have at least one. Episode 2's was to not be scared of anything, Episode 3's was that some things in life are hard, Episode 4's was to follow the rules and to tell the truth, and Episode 5's was that fitting in sometimes isn't the best thing to do.
- Doctor Who: There are recurring aesops, usually tied to The Doctor or humanity. Sometimes friends leave, and it hurts, but that doesn't make your friendship any less meaningful. Sometimes you need a loved one to keep you in check. Humans, while we're given a short time on Earth and are sometimes cruel, can make a meaningful impact. Etc.
- "The Two Doctors" is an allegory about meat-eating, hunting, and butchering, ending with the Doctor announcing to Peri that, "from now on it's a healthy vegetarian diet for both of us!" Writer Robert Holmes was a vegetarian.
- There are some Aesops about inner turmoil in "Vincent and the Doctor" from the Fifth Series. The episode explains that there are differences in how different people deal with depression or anxiety (the Eleventh Doctor is shown to be more resilient than Vincent van Gogh). The Doctor also delivers a particularly touching Aesop at the end, when Amy discovers that their intervention failed to stop Van Gogh from killing himself: "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't always spoil the good things and make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things."
- Every Full House episode ends with a sappy musical score while Bob Saget explains the moral of the story to one of the girls.
- Not only used in virtually every episode of Hannah Montana, but occasionally played with, too, with Miley once asking her dad if he can't just fix the problem instead of trying to teach her a life-lesson.
- Highway to Heaven, the Christian drama starring Michael Landon and Victor French as itinerant workers who help the people they encounter deal with situations using a (though not explicitly stated) Christian solution. Said moral would come usually toward the end of the episode, after which the person gets a chance to apply what he/she learned and/or any villains are defeated.
- Home Improvement frequently had these, and they were usually delivered by the character Wilson, who would dispense advice to help the other characters with the issue of the episode.
- How I Met Your Mother justifies this because a sizable chunk of the premise is Future!Ted lecturing his kids about his mistakes when he was young. However, they're frequently spoof, family-unfriendly, broken, space whale (i.e., "I won't bother telling you not to fight, but don't fight with Uncle Marshall. He's insane."), lost, lampshaded Do Not Do This Cool Thing, or otherwise humorously subverted, usually with Future Ted giving an Aesop, but admitting that in real life, back when the events actually took place, he and his friends didn't learn their lesson right away. However, when one of the characters gives an Aesop in the present, it's more often played straight.
- Katie Morag usually has one at the end of an episode. Justified in that it is a children's show.
- The whole concept gets parodied in a Running Gag on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Every episode ends with the "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?" segment, which ranges from a Spoof Aesop to a complete non sequitur with no relation to morals or lessons whatsoever. On at least one occasion, the "lesson" learned is a Spanish vocabulary word.
- Every episode of My Name Is Earl ever devised concludes with Earl dropping an Aesop on the viewer's head in a voiceover.
- Every episode of Scrubs ends with J.D. reciting the theme of the episode over a musical piece. Often, though not always, an Aesop.
- Vehemently averted in Seinfeld, where the credo is "No hugging! No lessons! No point!"
- Subverted in the series finale as the four main characters get sent to prison for violating a Good Samaritan Law.
- But the moral itself is muddled to no return because all Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer did was make fun of a stranger getting robbed and that is hardly a crime. There is also the hiring of bumbling lawyer Jackie Chiles to defend the four, Jerry deciding not to allow Newman to travel with them to Paris, and Kramer getting water in one ear and leading to him causing the plane to crash while trying to get said water out of the ear.
- Heck, each episode has multiple plots and the viewer can make up his or her own moral from each of them. For example, the Season 9 episode The Dealership featured the on-again/off again relationship between Elaine and David Puddy, Jerry trying to buy a car from Puddy, a hungry George wanting to eat something and settling on a Twix Bar only for him to not eat it, and Kramer taking the car Jerry intends to buy out for an extended test drive.
- Sister, Sister is full of these, ranging from the typical (such as stranger danger and the value of wise spending) to the more complex (such as Lisa dealing with her fear that she cannot compare to Ray's dead wife).
- Oft-times used in the Disney show Smart Guy, one particularly creepy example being "Strangers on the Net" in which ten-year-old T.J. meets up with a man from The Internet who later tries to get him to pose for pictures in his underwear, thus teaching us about Internet safety. In about the squickiest way possible. And this was on Disney.
- A great many Star Trek episodes end on an Aesop, sometimes even degenerating into a minor Patrick Stewart Speech. In fact, every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series end on an Aesop, as Gene Roddenberry was apparently obsessed with moralizing everything in the most convoluted way.
- Subverted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when Garak claims that the moral of The Boy Who Cried Wolf was actually "Never tell the same lie twice."
- Strangers with Candy bases its entire premise on parodied Aesops: every episode ends with Jerri learning such lessons as the usefulness of illegal steroids.
- Most of the episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits (1963) were morals about human hubris.
- The Weird Al Show's staff were so annoyed by the fact that they had to shove a moral down children's throats every week, they actually started each episode with the lesson to be learned written on parchment and narrated in a fancy voice. It was then torn in half to start the show.
- For more than three decades starting in the early 1950s, there were a number of Christian anthology dramas populating the airwaves. Each episode was fairly straightforward in formula: An off-screen narrator or on-camera host (always a clergyman, either real or played by an actor) will introduce a story and a situation/dilemma one or more characters are facing, along with a hint of the Christian doctrine that is about to be illustrated. The story unfolds, with the situation reaching its peak as the characters try various ways to resolve the situation; finally out of options, the characters turn to their Bible or a clergyman for advice, and the situation reaches its resolution. The moral would be told in the final act, with the host reviewing the situation and providing both commentary and appropriate Scripture. The best-known of these shows was "This is the Life," a Missouri Lutheran Synod-underwritten program that dated from 1952 (on the old DuMont network) through syndication in the 1980s; other denominations, including the Catholics, Baptists and Methodists, had their own anthology programs. Save for perhaps rural communities and/or public access stations having old tapes and running them as filler, these Christian anthologies have all but disappeared from the airwaves, with reruns of "This is the Life" last seen in terrestrial syndication in the early 1990s.
- In the early '60s there were some non-religious shows like these for pre-teens and teenagers.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place responsibility and loyalty are fairly common themes.
- "Hard Ball" from Trout Fishing In America's My Name is Chicken Joe has one of these, but it meanders off to the point of approaching a Spoof Aesop...
"The moral of this story is to do what this parents tell ya'. And you can't do that, a friend's advice might help ya'. And if you can't do that all is still not lost. Take a tip from me, just be lucky with the toss!"
- Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht's concluding trio hammers home that people shouldn't be condemned for liking coffee.
- Kids Praise: Being a Christian work aimed at kids, these are inevitable. The arc aesop of the whole thing is that you have to actually mean it when you're praising God, but numerous other ones appear about determination, problem-solving, kindness, empathy, patience, praying for guidance before making big decisions...the list goes on.
- Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin learns the wrong lesson, if he learned any at all.
Hobbes: Live and don't learn, that's us.
Calvin: I like lessons that aren't applicable later in life.
- And after the Snow Goons arc:
- Most of the stories in Muppet Classic Theater have some sort of moral.
- Hansel and Gretel has a moral quoted in the opening scene by Gretel (to whom Hansel replies that it sounds nice but does nothing to alleviate hunger), which is sung again by the cast at the end:
"When past bearing is our grief,
Then 'tis Heaven will send relief!"
- The Time of Your Life: The text of the play is prefaced with a moral sermon.
- Rodgers and Hammerstein were fond of presenting Aesops:
- In Oklahoma!, "The Farmer And The Cowman" ends up with Aunt Eller waving a gun at the feuding ensemble and making them repeat this lesson:
"I don't say I'm better than anybody else,
But I'll be damned if I ain't jist as good!"
- The doctor's speech at the graduation in Carousel.
- South Pacific had one in the song "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught."
- In Oklahoma!, "The Farmer And The Cowman" ends up with Aunt Eller waving a gun at the feuding ensemble and making them repeat this lesson:
- Henrik Ibsen is mostly known for not using straight aesops at all, but there are some of them hidden in plain sight:
- Peer Gynt: "To be yourself is to give yourself up, or to walk with the meaning of your maker visible." And when asked what of the ones that never got to know what the intended meaning was: "He is supposed to sense it - and in the lack of sensation, the guy with the hoof has a good bait."
- Brand: On the topic of love over pure willpower, Ibsen does not state it directly, but it is there.
- The Pillars of Society has probably the plainest aesop in any play written by Ibsen, when the female activist closes the play with this:
The spirit of truth and freedom, that is the pillars of society!
- In The Soldiers Tale, the moral of the story, essentially "you can't have it all," is stated by the Narrator during the Grand Chorale. The protagonist proceeds to flout it and suffers the consequences: he literally goes to the Devil.
- Aesops are the main collectibles in the Mind Screw Puzzle Game Anti Chamber.
- The Aesop of the Assassin's Creed series is that people should be allowed to choose, and that free will is what makes us human. This is shown with the Assassin's reaction to the Crusades-era Templars plan, and Ezio's speech at the end of Bonfire of the Vanities.
- Followed up more bluntly with Assassin's Creed III, set during the American Revolution, but with more grey thrown in. Connor, half-Mohawk/half-European is idealistic about freedom to the point of naivete, where he doesn't even consider the consequences of his actions. Whereas some of the Templars in this game go beyond your typical mustache twirling villains, and are truly well-meaning people whose methods fall counter to the Assassin's.
- The theme of Cuphead revolves around gambling with the Devil, which is strongly advised against, and it has a moral: When you get yourself into trouble, it's up to you to put in your blood, sweat and tears to get yourself out of trouble. Also, whenever you decide to gamble, it's important to know when to stop.
- The endings present another one: Don't condemn others for their sins, for you too are a sinner. Cuphead and Mugman handing over the Soul Contracts to the Devil rather than saving his debtors results in them becoming evil themselves and becoming loyal minions of the Devil, while saving them results in a happy ending where everyone is freed. Condemning the debtors does not make you the good guy, showing them mercy does.
- Dark Souls, which not only had a plot, also contained a few morals. Of them all, the most optimistic you'll find is the central mechanic of being an Undead, in that you can die a hundred times but still get back up to try again and achieve success. It's a common theme in videogames in general, but is reinforced plot wise by the fact that others with the Undead curse must always persevere and never lose hope, or they will go Hollow and become a shell of their former selves. This is all unfortunately undercut by the fact that all of your perseverance is in vain, as you are only attempting to prolong what was already long lost. When it's all said and done, Dark Souls is a deliberately bleak game.
- Deus Ex is one giant blizzard of Aesop. No, seriously: Whether it be an itty bitty side mission, a conversation with a random NPC, or the grand scheme of the plot, you are constantly exposed to new aesops. To this day, Deus Ex is still held in high regard for the neutrality it took in these aesops, allowing the player to make their own judgment calls. The main "choice" throughout is to decide whether or not common people can be trusted to make the right decision, or if someone should secretly make those decisions for them. On the final level, choosing to manipulate the public allows you to live. But the only option that gives them the freedom to shape their own opinion requires a Heroic Sacrifice on your part.
- In the Framing Device of Dragon Age II the Seeker Cassandra is trying to find out who is responsible for starting the conflict between the Mages and Templars that threatens to tear the world apart. The message that Varric is trying to get through to her (and by extension the player) is that no one person — not Hawke, not Orsino, not the Arishok, not Meredith, not even Anders — was wholly responsible. It was simply the unfortunate result of a bunch of well meaning people with different ideas of right and wrong being pushed beyond the point of compromise. Moreover, these tensions have been building up for centuries and any possible solution would be both horrific and necessary, with the status quo being just as intolerable. Sometimes there is no Big Bad whose defeat will solve everything.
- Another major Aesop of the game is that prejudice is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you oppress, harass, or treat a group of people as an enemy by default because of what they might do, they WILL become your enemy in truth because you've given them a reason to hate you.
- In-universe example: The Harrowing in the Mage origin of Dragon Age: Origins is designed to teach apprentices who are ready to become full mages that you should never judge anything in the Fade by appearances alone.
- Fallout: New Vegas: The DLC collectively seem to have "don't dwell in the past" as an aesop. All of the primary antagonists are in some way unable to move on past a point in their lives: Elijah's defeat at Helios One, Graham's "execution" by Caesar and his own past, the Think Tank's refusal to cease their experiments, and Ulysses' witnessing the unwitting destruction of the Divide by the Courier. To say nothing of the huge emphasis on using old-world technology to evil ends.
- "Let go of the past" is an aesop the series in general preaches. Several antagonists cling to old values and thus are antagonists:
- The Enclave want to reconstruct the United States and retake their place as the government of a new America. The reality is that their power is in-name-only and really they're just genocidal thugs who want to rule the wasteland because they have a load of fancy technology that they can use to push everyone else around.
- Caesar's Legion is a blatant one. They're made of up a tribe that has defeated and assimilated all of their neighbours, and their leader wants to rebuild a new Roman Empire as faithful as the first one - including all the slavery, misogyny and brutality that made Ancient Rome a rather nasty place to live by modern moral standards.
- The pre-war United States was obsessed with the cultural norms of an idealised utopian version of the 1950's, clinging almost religiously to the past. As a direct result of this obsession, America was a dystopian hellhole under a thin veneer of happiness, where the government actively used mind control and brainwashing to control the populace, political dissenters were sent to concentration camps to be used as test subjects for horrific genetic experiments, safety regulations were virtually nonexistent, and free, independent thought was seen as a menace to be stamped out at all costs. This led to America's downfall, and they dragged the whole world down with them.
- Most of the time, the Brotherhood of Steel is devoted to the Codex, which tells them they are to find and hoard old world technology to keep it out of the hands of those unfit to use it. The West Coast faction of the Brotherhood descend into Knight Templar behavior and may be wiped out by the very people they seek to "protect", while the East Coast tosses the Codex aside in favor of helping people, and prospers. Honor Before Reason's bad, mkay?
- For a game all about warfare, For Honor takes a very dim view of war and only the Big Bad really revels in it.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The teaching of tolerance is a big theme in the Mass Effect series but nowhere is it more clear than at the end of "Priority: Rannoch" in Mass Effect 3: A planet is big enough for everyone—just put down your guns, blockheads, and you can share it all in peace.
- Men Of Valor would like you to know that the US marines who fought and died in Vietnam are men of valor, regardless of their race.
- Monster Hunter shows that no matter how powerful or terrifying the enemy is, you can beat them as long as you persevere and work together. It mirrors the message of Dark Souls except that the message is significantly more positive and triumphant.
- Night in the Woods has two: "Everything comes to an end, and it's okay to be sad, but there's always a reason to keep going" and the somewhat less uplifting "Capitalism is ruining everything".
- Ogre Battle 64 is about what it truly means to be noble. Will you rule by power alone Yumil, or will you rule based on what is right Magnus, but only if Lawful.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
- Persona 3: Live your life to fullest and don't let anything to regret. Also; help your friends, that's what friends are for.
- Persona 4: Seek and face the truth, no matter how hard it can be, because accepting the truth is the first step towards improvement.
- Persona 5: Society can be corrupt and oppressive, but that doesn't mean that you have to accept that it has to be this way. Get out and do something about it, even if others don't think you should, because doing nothing means you're no better than the villains.
- The Reconstruction has one that's never explicitly stated, but it's definitely an important part of the ending and Dehl's Character Arc. A single person cannot save the entire world, and if they could, the psychological stress would break them first. So, instead of shooting for over-ambitious goals or lamenting the fact that we can't accomplish them, we should focus on what we can do to make the world a better place.
- In Robopon, the second game's epilogue has everyone you've met giving a different aesop to the point of comedy.
- Sonic the Hedgehog has one in "Sonic and the Black Knight". It ended with Sonic teaching Merlina how life simply works:
Sonic: Merlina, every world has its end. I know that's kind of sad, but... that's why we gotta live life to the fullest in the time we have. At least, that's what I figure.
- Undertale has many, many lessons to teach the player, but the most clearly and consistently reiterated one is while The Power of Love can certainly be a force for good, you have to be careful not to love something too much or express that love in a way which is detrimental to others.
- The World Ends with You is all about not closing yourself off from other people (reaches critical mass in the Bonus Boss fight with Hanekoma, who spends the whole fight spewing inspirational Catch Phrases like "Enjoy the moment!" and "Don't let limits slow you!" at you as he kicks your ass).
"The world ends with you. If you want to enjoy life, expand your world. You gotta push your horizons out as far as they'll go."
- Enduro Racer: The game decides to give you this surprisingly heartfelt speech for some reason, upon reaching the goal:
“Enduro” is a symbolic journey through life via the media of a race. The results are insignificant and what really counts is competing. Of particular importance are the lessons to be learned concerning one’s self from the various encounters you experience along the way. There is no victor or loser in this test of endurance. The only thing that matters is that you make a commitment to begin the long and trying trek. This game is then dedicated to all of the “life riders” who have started out on the solitary trip to find their own individual limits. Last, but not least, may we sincerely congratulate you on a perfect run.
- In A Profile, building on the Family-Unfriendly Aesop of 'Your friends will lie to you directly to your face, so be careful,' it then turns it around and says 'but you should trust them anyway. They're your friends.'
- Dangan Ronpa: Hope cannot exist without despair. Having the courage to face uncertainty is also hope.
- At least two are present in Higurashi: When They Cry. The first is that you should always believe in your friendsnote and that it's never too late to repent and start over. In fact, this is a pretty striking contrast between the ends of Meakashi and Tsumihoroboshi. In the first the no attempts at amends are made even when the error is realized while Tsumihoroboshi states the Aesop outright and has the people involved seeking forgiveness.
- Katawa Shoujo: People with disabilities are just that, people. Considering this is a doujin eroge Visual Novel than began on a certain image board this is surprisingly deep.
- In Major Minor it's a case of learning how to deal with the deaths of loved ones and move on with your life. Practically everyone in the cast has lost someone, and they all deal with it in different ways - for better or for worse.
- Arcs 1 & 3 of Umineko: When They Cry deal directly with one of Aesop's fables, The North Wind and the Sun.
- Ace Attorney: No matter how much the truth may hurt, it's important not to avert your eyes from it.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: The law isn't ever perfect, and it needs to be changed and nurtured over time. Don't stand still as things change - Change along with it.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: You won't be able to face yourself or your problems if you can't trust others.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice: Understand and uphold the beliefs and ambitions of those who came before , so that you can pass it onto the next generation.
- Parodied in Educomix:
Dave: You've taught us all a valuable lesson! If we ever see evidence for a different religion, we should still treat the people that believe in it as idiots!
- El Goonish Shive: This comic and this one pretty much sum up the aesop for the Death Sentence arc.
- Irregular Webcomic! decide to drop an Aesop about Be Careful What You Wish For in this strip, anviliciously, with links to this AND that page.
- Lady Spectra of Lady Spectra And Sparky is prone to giving lectures.
- Precocious: "Actions have consequences. Who knew?"
- Made into a Super Hero in this comic
- Broken Saints is big on the moral messages, and this is Lampshaded in the credits of Chapter 19, which has a line reading: "today's lesson: strip clubs are bad"
- The Cartoon Show: "Always be creative and let your imagination soar", "the world is a blank canvas and you can make whatever you want on it", "always sign your name after drawing because someone might take it", "when it comes to your imagination, the sky is the limit".
- The Chronicles of Jaller: Parodied. At the end of "Axon Gets Kidnapped," Axon concedes that "Not all Hero Factorys are stupid lame dumbwads," at which point one shows up wanting to join them. Jaller shoots him on the spot.
- Demo Reel: "Hollywood is a horrible place to be for minorities", "Accentuate the Negative only causes pain" and "try to move on from your abusive past in a healthy way".
- Dusk's Dawn tries to shoehorn one in at the end about not thinking things through.
- Subverted in Look a Vlog.
- The Most Popular Girls in School:
Ashley: Guys... I've got an idea, just hear me out: Maybe we should just like whatever it is we like. And if other people start liking it too, that's not bad. In fact, it probably means that whatever it is we like is pretty good. Only now we have people we can share it with. And if nobody else likes it, well, that's okay too, because it makes us happy.
- Episode 57:
Mackenzie: (to Brittnay and Trisha) I decided I'm not gonna drop out of school after all. ...Look, all I've ever wanted to do was to just find a way to escape all these bitches and assholes we go to school with. But since we got here, Jeannie betrayed us, those French cunts tried to kill us, and I realized, it doesn't matter where you go, there's always gonna be bitches and assholes in your life. So the only thing you can do is surround yourself with the few bitches and assholes you can actually stand being around. And for me, that's you guys.
- Episode 82: Other people's dreams don't have to be your dreams, which is what Brittnay reveals as she says goodbye to Mackenzie. Also, when Mackenzie reunites with her friends at the airport, she drops this message:
- The Web show Speed Game, which usually display and comment speedruns, talks about the history of the number Pi in the Pokémon episode.
- From A Caution to the Wise, a story in The Wanderer's Library: They ask for a story with a moral; the moral is; "A caution to the wise - look elsewhere for your wisdom."
- What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? caps off every live recording with what they learned from the night's bizarre news stories, sometimes also veering into Spoof Aesop and Family-Unfriendly Aesop. There are even some recurring aesops, like "No one wants to see your dick," "There's nothing sexy at the Wal-Mart" and "Poop is not a plan."
- A running gag in Fat, French and Fabulous is various aesops both serious and not, including a combined moral lesson on washing your hands and donating your body to medical science.
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues had a valuable virtue in every episode — two children have typical problems involving other kids, so they visit four Talking Animals to have their problems solved with stories from the Book of Virtues.
- Adventure Time has some conventional morals done in really weird ways. For example, "Don't break your promises" is shown by having Finn punished by the royal Gumball Guardians.
- The Aesop's Film Fables cartoons produced by Van Beuren Studios ironically didn't have these at first (they had parody aesops in the silent era shorts and abandoned them altogether by the sound era) but they eventually did start having real aesops in the Burt Gillett era shorts, such as the Toddle Tales and some of the Rainbow Parade shorts. "Spinning Mice" for instance has the moral of "Leave Well Enough Alone".
- Animaniacs gave an aesop very occasionally. But as a cartoon centered around just being silly, the cartoon usually made a point of parodying aesops. They did this (on a regular basis) with their Wheel of Morality, which would provide a random "moral of the story" for the episode that was usually humorous and always had nothing to do with the episode. On the other hand, the movie had a tried and true moral: Never give up, even when things are looking bad.
"Wheel of Morality, turn turn turn. Tell us the lesson that we should learn."
- Arthur has about as many episodes with morals as episodes without.
- The first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender was pretty notorious about this. Although some of those were along the lines of "Stealing is wrong unless it's from pirates."
- Beat Bugs generally aims to teach one in each episode, themed around a song of The Beatles. "Be Yourself" is one of the most common ones because, after all, "Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time / It's easy!"
- Played straight with Birdz, although they're not heavy-handed since they're often skewed to the avian universe (e.g. Eddie learning the hard way that he should study the map and pack properly during migration season).
- Many episodes of 1980s cartoon Care Bears deliver a moral at the end.
- Centurions always had some sort of science lesson at the end.
- Lampshaded in Danny Phantom: when Jazz is being overprotective at the beginning of "Secret Weapons", Danny tells her, with a bored expression on his face, that "There's a rhythm to these things: ghost attacks, we exchange Witty Banter, I kick ghost butt, and we all go home having learned a valuable lesson about honesty or some such nonsense." This is also a slight breaking of the fourth wall, as it's the basic layout of each show.
- Naturally, being a Christian cartoon, almost every episode of Davey and Goliath had one, from not lying to racism.
- Defenders of the Earth has a few, including:
- It takes courage to admit to wrongdoing, especially when you've been led to believe the consequences will be worse than they are. (A Demon in His Pocket)
- In order to have friends, you should show that you can be friends with others. (The Starboy)
- Having a disability doesn't have to leave you totally helpless; instead, you should make the most of the things you can do. (One of the Guys)
- Using drugs as a means of relieving pressure will only mess you up. (The Deadliest Battle)
- Before he went to Disney, Doug had An Aesop in almost every single episode. You could tell the Aesop after a couple of minutes already, often even before the episode title.
- Although The Fairly OddParents! doesn't have many episodes strictly made to teach a moral, there's one where the moral is thrown in the viewers' faces with a case of breaking the fourth wall: "And sometimes the best weapon of all is to say you're sorry." Cue screen where the phrase MORAL OF THE STORY pops up.
- Subverted in Family Guy: While Peter recovers in the hospital, Lois says, "I guess you learned an important lesson." Peter leans back smugly and says, "Nope," at which point the episode ends.
- Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids had a heavy-handed Aesop in every episode, driven home by a song from the Kids themselves. One example: "Dope is for dopes/Drugs are for dummies/And if you mess around with them/That kind of mess isn't funny."
- Played straight but surprisingly subtle in an animated version of Flash Gordon, Flash alludes to men on Earth who "did terrible things in the name of obedience" but does not name names. In the eighties, this was a clear allusion to Nazi Germany and impressively assumes sufficient motivation, intelligence and education of the kids watching that they would either get the point or go find out.
- Parodied in an episode of Futurama. After Fry and Bender drag the Planet Express headquarters along on their joyride in the Planet Express ship, they exit the ship to find the rest of the Planet Express staff, battered and seriously pissed off, waiting for them. Attempting to divert inevitable trouble, Bender says, "And that's how we learned our lesson."
- From another episode:
"It's just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year long, the grasshopper kept burying acorns for winter, while the octopus mooched off his girlfriend and watched TV. But then the winter came, and the grasshopper died, and the octopus ate all his acorns and also he got a race car. Is any of this getting through to you?"
- From another episode:
- The first three seasons of the U.S. Acres animated series were packed with these.
- Gargoyles had the episode "Deadly Force", in which Broadway finds Elisa's loaded gun and starts playing Cops 'n' Robbers. Elisa is busy cooking and not paying attention to him when Broadway accidentally pulls the trigger and shoots her in the chest, nearly killing her, showing just how deadly guns can be. Elisa wasn't even healed in the next episode, either. Too bad it turned into the Missing Episode.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) always ends with an Aesop.
- For Henry Hugglemonster: always help your family when they need it. This is a prevailing rule of the show and something that the characters abide by, to the point where if they don't, it is treated as O.O.C. Is Serious Business.
- Each installment of The Hive, another Playhouse Disney / Disney Junior show, presents one.
- Jem did this in practically any episode about the Starlight Girls — one of them would do something stupid (anything from stealing to drugs) and have to have An Aesop explained to them. A few featured other characters, such as the one where Roxy got screwed over again and again because she couldn't read.
- JoJo's Circus has the title character yanked away to a stage with a spotlight at the end of each story to talk about the aesop that she learned from what happened in it.
- Roughly 1/3 of all Kim Possible episodes ended on An Aesop (sometimes due to Aesop Amnesia), roughly a third of the episodes ended on a Subverted Aesop, and the remaining thirty took the Aesop and twisted it about as far as possible to create fantastic Aesops, (don't buy mutant toys) Space Whale Aesops, (Eat healthily or your DNA will mutate you into a mini-Hulk) or just outright lampshading them for comedy value.
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series from Disney Channel: One of those animated kids shows that works by rote, it's usually a lesson about the power of friendship and tolerance and honesty.
- Matchbox Hero City is one of those shows that has a charater or in this case, a car tells himself what he's learned.
- Milly Molly had many Aesops, although a few episodes did not have a moral.
- The majority of Milo episodes have morals, but a few don't.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has one of these about friendship at the end of each episode (and therefore on nearly every single page with such a recap), usually given in the form of a letter from Twilight Sparkle to Princess Celestia.
- Nina's Little Fables is a short program on PBSKids Sprout featuring fables narrated by show hosts Nina and Star. Some of them are actual Aesop's Fables.
- The Proud Family had a tendency to overdo this at times, with some episodes being particularly Anvilicious (most notably the one about how Digital Piracy Is Evil).
- Ready Jet Go! has Aesops in a few episodes, but they're unique in that they're woven subtly into the narrative of the episode instead of being shoved down your throat. Examples:
- The moral of "Sounds Abound" is "Performing experiments is better when you're doing them with your friends".
- An overall theme of the show is "Failure is a stepping stone to success"
- "Kid-Kart Derby" has two: "Winning isn't everything" is the main one and "Don't cheat" is the minor one
- The show had a Be Yourself Aesop in the episode "My Fair Jet" that was surprisingly Played for Drama
- "Jet 2" - "It's not good to stay jealous"
- "Space Junk" - "Knowing there's a problem should make you want to help solve it"
- "Jet's Time Machine" had a very important one - "You can't change the past, you can only learn from it"
- Happened quite often in the early episodes of Recess, though they were never in-your-face about it. Then morals came from time to time later on, and season six became Anvilicious.
- The Rocky and Bullwinkle segment Aesop and Son subverted not only this trope, but the fables themselves. The titular philosopher would tell a parodied version of his story, say the moral, and then Junior would chime in with a second moral, usually a pun off some element of the story.
- The lesson in Rubbadubbers is that children should be careful what they wish for, as in every episode a character's Imagine Spot embodies their wish, but still has consequences.
- On Sheriff Callie's Wild West, each of the show's stories has a moral of some sort that it's trying to teach. However, there seem to be in two in particular that crop up with some frequency:
- Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
- Be kind and friendly to others and good things will happen. (The town is called "Nice and Friendly Corners" after all.)
- Subverted on The Simpsons; at the end of one episode, the family debates what lesson they're meant to learn from the events of the past 22 minutes before finally concluding that it was all "just a bunch of stuff that happened".
- This happens in multiple shows; there is an obvious lesson to be learned, but Homer generally interprets it as something completely different.
- Played straight in the movie, however. Throughout the film, Homer learns several lessons that causes him to change his behavior. Firstly, by refusing to admit he made a mistake by polluting Lake Springfield, apologize for it and try to fix the damage done, the entire town not only hates him for trapping them in a dome for perhaps forever, but he ends up putting his own family in danger because of it. Secondly, he discovers that by acting out of selfishness and refusing to help save his friends that loved him for years, he ends up alienating his family, who do care for them because of how much they supported them (especially since Ned helped save their lives from the mob that tried to kill them during their escape from Springfield). Finally, he finds out that without his family and friends, not only does his life have no meaning whatsoever, he will live the rest of his life alone, isolated and unloved.
- South Park often features an Aesop at the end. Many times Kyle starts a speech by saying, "I've learned something today..." The morals are sometimes humorous - though as often as not - these speeches really are didactic. Sometimes Cartman tries to tell the others what he's learned.
Kyle: Oh shut up, Cartman! You didn't learn a thing! Not a goddamn thing!
- Spongebob Squarepants had an Aesop in many episodes in the first few seasons, all of them being important lessons to teach children such as facing the consequences of your actions (Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV, No Free Rides, Squeaky Boots), the grass isn't always greener somewhere else (Nature Pants, Squidville, The Algae is Always Greener), be yourself (Ripped Pants, Big Pink Loser, and again Nature Pants), jumping to conclusions about someone or something can have dire consequences (Sandy's Rocket, Nasty Patty,Wormy), not to curse (Sailor Mouth), not to take advantage of your friends (Can You Spare a Dime, I'm With Stupid and to a lesser extent, Prehibernation Week), and not to touch things that aren't yours unless instructed (Life of Crime). Later seasons tend to lack these.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars doesn't make you guess - they give you an aesop on-screen at the beginning of every episode.
- Stōked: Emma gets one courtesy word-for-word from her Shoulder Angel in "All We Are Saying is Give Reef a Chance"; no amount of money is worth a friendship.
- Stoppit and Tidyup is one of the few shows aimed at young kids that averts this, as none of the episodes seem to have a moral in them.
- Super Friends. In the 1973-74 season, the Aesops were usually one of three types. Many episodes used all of them.
- Taz-Mania often featured the characters saying at the end "What have we learned from this?", and usually concluding that they hadn't learned anything.
- Subverted in Teen Titans:
Robin: Well, I guess this whole experience proves it really is bad to watch too much TV.
Starfire: But truthfully, we only prevailed because Beast Boy watches too much the television.
Raven: So, there really isn't a lesson here.
Cyborg: Yep, it was all completely meaningless.
- The whole point of Thunder Cats. Seriously. This was during the time when cartoons where the scourge of the Earth and were corrupting kids (in the same way that Comic Books did before and Video Games are now ... oh wait!), so the producers sat down and said that every episode must have a moral, and they actually hired a child psychologist to help them write the stories.
- Thunder Cats 2011 continues this out of tradition, with a discernible lesson in most of its episodes.
- The Tick also ended most episodes with The Tick turning to Arthur and saying "Arthur, I think we've learned a valuable lesson today," and then expounding semi-incoherently.
- The Weekenders loves Aesops. The episode "Listen Up" subverts their convention two-fold by having Carver (instead of the usual Tino) deliver it, and then having him off-center on screen and fading him out, forcing Carver to cut it short.
- On What It's Like Being Alone, Aesops are usually provided by one-off characters that are on the verge of death. They then die, violently.
- Yogi's Gang: The pilot movie teaches people to take care of their homes instead of simply moving away to look for a "perfect place". Each episode of the series has an aesop regarding the vice represented by the villain.
- Young Justice episodes often have Aesops about Leadership, Teamwork or Strategy.
- Remember, kids—now you know. And Knowing Is Half the Battle!
- Common among Spark Plug Entertainment's CGI Mockbuster cartoons.