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Glurge

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"It makes you cry — but it puts a gun to your head to make you do it."
SF Debris on the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Real Life"
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Glurge is the catch-all term for "inspirational" tales which purport to offer uplifting and timeless truths but — for various reasons — are just a bit too hard to swallow. (The word "glurge" was initially coined by a reader of Snopes.com and derives from the sound of someone throwing up).

These stories are presented as modern-day parables, meant to touch hearts and change minds. Unfortunately, they do so by simplifying their message to the point of complete uselessness to any reader who thinks about it seriously. All shades of nuance between good and evil are wholly overlooked in the rush to present a universe in which everything happens for a satisfying reason, meaning that valuable lessons about hard work, understanding, personal growth and sacrifice are left by the wayside.

Glurge is easier to recognize than to describe. This being a super-trope, it typically involves some combination of the following:

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  • Aesop Collateral Damage: Glurge often relies upon the suffering of a secondary character to drive home the lesson. This gives the protagonist an opportunity to realize his mistake and choose to follow the lesson after all — sometimes he might even reason that God (or whatever Powers That Be) caused this suffering to show him the "right way".
  • All That Glitters: The protagonist learns that money isn't everything. He then goes to the complete opposite extreme, becoming The Hermit and renouncing things that actually are important, like his own health and the people close to him.
  • Angst? What Angst?: A character who suffers trauma or loss will react in whichever way is most convenient for the narrative — up to and including bouncing right back without a second thought. Modeling this as the 'right' way to react is unhelpful to say the least.
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  • Black-and-White Morality: Glurge-y works leave no doubt as to who is right and who is wrong. The sympathetic side will be entirely good, while the opposing side will be not only incorrect but actively hostile to all that is good.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Every mistake or transgression results in disaster; conversely, every disaster is the direct result of a character's error (which can be corrected by coming around to the 'right' line of thinking).
  • Character Shill: It's common for Glurge to include a secondary character who serves as the protagonist's cheering section. If the central message is put into the mouth of a teacher or preacher, there will be at least one person on hand to say, "You're right", "So true!", etc.
  • Children Are Innocent: Kids generally come across as wiser or more capable than adults. In stories that involve spiritual or supernatural forces, children can see and/or interact with them, while adults and teens cannot.
  • Dan Browned: These are often circulated as true stories though that is often not the case.
  • Disproportionate Retribution/Disproportionate Reward: Glurge is there to teach a lesson, so it will reward the characters who agree with the message and heap abuse and suffering on those who disagree, making them examples to the others (see Aesop Collateral Damage above).
  • Easy Evangelism: The character who speaks the work's message will effortlessly win over all the sympathetic characters. Those who ignore or reject him will be portrayed as stupid, in denial, or evil. In addition, any character who "thinks things through" and concludes that the central message is correct will be depicted as insightful and logical even if their reasoning is a hot mess. Glurge promoting a religion almost always includes this one.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: A statement that sounds insightful and deep but is actually meaningless (e.g. "Time is the world's love shining down on us like the sun.")
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: This trope not only ignores the real limitations a disability imposes, it makes disabled persons seem lesser, "lazy", or just not worth writing about if they haven't developed some sort of Disability Superpower.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Glurge-y stories often make the terminally-ill character a child. Apparently a dying middle-aged woman just wouldn't pull the right heartstrings.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Similar to the above, Glurge-y works only feature 'cute' animals. While this certainly does arouse the audience's sympathy — who doesn't like puppies more than naked mole rats? — it also suggests that the suffering of non-cute animals doesn't matter.
  • Purity Sue: A character — set up to be admired and imitated — whose purity and saintliness are impossible in Real Life.
  • Stalking Is Love: Many "romantic" Glurge stories feature this trope. It's a particularly dangerous phenomenon; in real life, stalking is demonstrably not love, but rather a compulsion arising from social phobia or mental illness. And works have a distinct Double Standard for this trope; shady-looking stalkers are evil and the victim is in real danger, good-looking stalkers are romantic and sympathetic, and nerdy unpopular stalkers are just there to be pitied.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Usually ties in to Aesop Collateral Damage. It also has the effect of suggesting that living in general is terrible, and there's no point in being good because you'll wind up dead!
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Glurge-y stories often distort and fabricate historical fact in the guise of offering "true stories". This way, they can add some extra weight to the story by claiming that it portrays "real life" (but only the authors' conception of it).
  • White Man's Burden: A rich white person helps out a poor non-white person out of the goodness of his heart. This has a number of Unfortunate Implications, most significantly that minorities need white people in order to accomplish anything meaningful.
  • Whoopi Epiphany Speech: A poor, ethnic minority, disabled, illiterate, or ill-educated character (ideally all of the above) makes a wise and insightful speech to the white, able-bodied, richer, better-educated protagonist. If the epiphany-giving character isn't sufficiently well-developed in their own right, they can seem like a mere plot device to spur the protagonist — who really matters — to take constructive action. This reinforces the belief that minorities are helpless in a similar manner to White Man's Burden.
  • You Know Who Said That?: A character makes a statement and then tells us that those words came from a particular historical figure. Such quotes are often mined, misattributed, or taken out of context (sometimes deliberately). The reader is meant to immediately accept or reject the words based on who said them, which is just sloppy — many admirable persons have said unfortunate things; many wretches have been right once or twice.

Tropes Are Tools: a work can use any number of these tropes without being Glurge. The hallmarks of Glurge are 1) a questionable message 2) conveyed through a manipulative delivery, which is 3) meant to arouse strong emotions in the reader but 4) fails to withstand scrutiny afterwards (though the reader is supposed to be so stirred that looking at the message dispassionately seems cold-hearted or downright amoral).

Not to be confused with Anvilicious or Tastes Like Diabetes, though those are common features of Glurge. See also Unfortunate Implications, which has more to do with subtext (and isn't clearly stated at the end). Glurge is often caused by Values Dissonance, as things that seem heartwarming and uplifting according to the values of one time might seem disturbing and offensive in another. Oscar Bait often has similarities with Glurge. Believe it or not, some people have the urge for this trope and are Glurge Addicts.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • There was an ad promoting Proposition 8 (a law which banned gay marriage in California) featuring a cute, little blond girl playing with Barbie dolls. While the ad seemed sweet on the surface, advocates for gay rights would see this as a way of using children (who don't really understand what it is they're doing) to promote homophobia.
  • The Values.com advertising campaign has verged into saccharine territory. The biggest offender is a 2015 ad centered on a footrace for handicapped children; the first-place runner trips mid-race, the second-place runner stops to help him up, and then all the other runners lock arms and skip across the finish line together.
  • In 2015, Apple launched a commercial starring Andra Day and Stevie Wonder singing his song "Someday at Christmas". Many found the ad beautiful... until they saw the Apple logo. "Maybe someday we'll live in a world that's peaceful where everyone is free from suffering, everyone will care for each other, and children no longer starve." says Apple, a company that uses slave labor to create their products and hoards an exorbitant amount of money that could help billions of people around the world by barely cutting into their net worth. Merry Christmas!
    "One warm December our hearts will see/A world where men are free
    Someday at Christmas we'll see a land/With no hungry children, no empty hands
    One happy morning people will share/A world where people care
    [...]
    Someday in a world where people are free"

    Anime and Manga 
  • Code Geass has a strange relationship with this trope. The protagonist, Lelouch, is a Britannian (read: European) nobleman who leads the Japanese in a revolt against their European colonists. He essentially single-handedly tries to end hatred, malice, and endless war. It looks a lot like a Mighty Whitey situation, in that the Japanese are incapable of freeing their country on their own. But it's made stranger because Lelouch is an Anti-Hero, deliberately invokes a Zero-Approval Gambit at the end, and has to operate in disguise. And it's a Japanese series, so it's difficult to tell what race anybody is anyway.
  • One of the main points of Popotan is that the girls always have to travel through time. Mai, in particular, hates it because she can never settle for any lasting friendships. Eventually, upon finding who they're looking for, they're given the option to either continue or return to any time of their choice. But, even after deciding to go back to those they felt closest to, they're now unhappy about not being able to see each other anymore. Daichi even calls Ai out for abandoning her purpose in life, and encourages her to reunite with her sisters and continue the journey. This completely ignores the idea that some people just need to move on with their lives, and suggests that you should eschew happiness in favor of repeating an endless cycle to make others happy.
  • Naruto's central lesson is that The Power of Friendship can overcome anything, as long as enough people support. But it's delivered so ridiculously that it's impossible to apply it to real life; by the end, the story believes so strongly in Defeat Means Friendship that it works on villains who were previously trying to wipe out humanity and did nothing to deserve such redemption. The show tried to mitigate this by bringing us Kaguya, a Greater-Scope Villain Physical God, who comes out of nowhere to be a Hate Sink and retroactively excuse the other villains' crimes.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love is War has an in-universe example with Today Will Be Sweet, a tear-jerking manga the cast becomes hooked on. According to the brief plot summary, the male lead is an Ill Boy with a terminal disease while the heroine lives in an abusive household and suffered from isolation and anorexia before the male lead breaks her out of her shell. She also hasn't eaten decent food in a while, and the one decent meal she gets is a curry dish made by her love interest before he kicks the bucket.

    Arts 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot has an In-Universe example. One of Jason's The Family Circus strips involves the father sparing the black widow that fatally poisoned Dolly, saying, "at least one will live." Paige doesn't get it, and walks off, at which point Jason protests that it's supposed to be heartwarming.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • A Troll in Central Park is so saccharine it will give you insulin shock. A particularly broken scene has Stanley the troll show the kids his vision of a perfect world — a Sugar Bowl filled with trolls that all look and act exactly like him.
  • Noel, a movie about an animate christmas ornament, set in a world where all christmas ornaments are secretly alive. Noel is special because he has a "happiness", since when he was formed, a tear rolled down the cheek of the glass maker and found itself on the inside of the ornament. This causes Noel to be incredibly, obnoxiously happy all the time, much to the annoyance of the much more sympathetic other ornaments he was shipped with. Close to the end of the movie, the other ornaments are broken and thrown away, despite desperately pleading to be hung up on the tree one last time, while Noel survives all of them, and the also sentient trees, until he breaks by accident, with the happiness tear evaporating, leaving Noel as a pile of steam to travel the world. It's the perfect illustration of how disturbing the concept of animate objects can be.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Almost any "inspirational" movie about a teacher, especially of the Save Our Students type, actually implies: (a) a teacher can reach all students just by caring, which means not having a life at all; (b) all the other teachers those students ever had just didn't care enough; and (c) the school system doesn't need discipline, funding, national standards, or any actual improvements — it just needs teachers who care more. They also often overlap with White Man's Burden, as the teacher is often white and the students non-white, the school is often in a gang-ridden ghetto, and the teacher's ability to "overcome racial differences" to "reach the kids" is hailed as amazing and not at all racist.
    • Dangerous Minds is a good example of how such films are implicitly racist; only the white teacher can get through to the students, and not her non-white fellow faculty members.
    • Up the Down Staircase shows how this trope is used in school districts' "training" programs, which has the effect of blaming teachers for everything wrong with their schools — rather than overcrowding, lack of a consistent discipline policy, or other leadership failings at the government level.
    • To Sir, with Love avoids this very well — possibly because it's a true story — but it still makes it clear that Sir and his students' success was only possible because of lowered expectations.
    • God's Not Dead is about a religious student clashing with his atheist teacher over God's existence. The glurge comes from the movie's badly-written Black-and-White Morality that says all Christians are good and all atheists and non-Christians are either evil or sad people who really do believe in God, but just pretend not to in response to a tragic backstory event. The film ends with the teacher getting hit by a car and accepting God just before he dies, with his death being painted as a cause for celebration simply because he converted before he died. Critics and general audiences were not pleased, but it was a massive hit with its target audience (as preaching to the converted tends to do).
    • Lean on Me also avoids falling into the typical Glurge trap. Joe Clark stresses discipline and control as the only effective methods of instruction, he can only save the core student body rather than everyone, and the principal unceremoniously throws dozens of "troublemakers" out of the school, facing the issue head-on with brutal practicality. The film is, though, Undermined by Reality; the actual school never saw much improvement in test scores, Joe Clark left his position (partly because of his fellow teachers' resentment of his work), and the state took over the school a year later.
    • Half Nelson subverts this by making the aspiring inspirational white teacher a hypocritical drug addict. To the young black female student he'd like to inspire, her jailed brother's drug dealer partner is a better role model.
  • Parodied in Tropic Thunder: Actor Tugg Speedman, in a blatant bid to win an Oscar, played a mentally-disabled farmhand in the film-within-a-film Simple Jack. He didn't win anything, and the film was a total bomb. Kirk Lazarus explains to Tugg that this is because he went "full retard", and he goes on to show how the actors who did win (or come close to winning) Oscars didn't actually portray mental disability accurately — like Dustin Hoffman playing an Idiot Savant in Rainmannote , Tom Hanks playing The Fool in Forrest Gump, or Peter Sellers playing a Seemingly Profound Fool in Being There (there's a Critical Research Failure as Sellers didn't win an Oscar, but he did win a Golden Globe, and it's widely considered one of his greatest performances and a major Award Snub). The only one he says actually played an accurate "full retard" was Sean Penn in i am sam, who "went full retard and went home empty-handed."
  • The end of Knowing was blatant Glurge. Earth fries, everybody dies. Except for some 30-odd kids who are saved by aliens, whose reason for being there is never explained, and taken to some alien garden, surprisingly nonchalant about everybody they know having been horribly killed.
  • Will Smith, in his Oscar Bait film Seven Pounds, plays an Atoner with a God complex who chooses patients to receive his saintly organs. He thinks that using fake IDs is a perfectly legitimate means to contact prospective recipients, and he considers a person worthy if he is rendered barely articulate by a volley of insults. The film implies that committing federal crimes is okay as long as it's for a good cause. But the serious Glurge is that the protagonist commits suicide at the end to donate his organs, and this is treated as some sort of beautiful martyrdom. And the moral breaks under Critical Research Failure; his method of suicide is needlessly complicated — a box jellyfish, whose venom should leave most of his organs unusable anyway. Film Brain despises this movie for these reasons.
    • Smith would later do an even worse example of Oscar Bait and Glurge in Collateral Beauty, where he plays a man who copes with his daughter's death by writing letters to time, death, and love. Three of his fellow employees try to manipulate him by hiring actors to pose as those entities - and those workmates have troubled lives too! The general consensus is that it's overtly dramatic to the point of being manipulative.
  • The film Soul Food is about a grandmother who shows her love for her family by cooking delicious but unhealthy "soul food". She dies of clogged arteries, and her family honors her by eating the same unhealthy food that killed her. The Boondocks pointed out how Glurge-y this is.
  • Forrest Gump, as shown by Michael A. Novelli at The Agony Booth, is chock-full of Unfortunate Implications brought about by its Glurge; Forrest is only a good guy because it never occurs to him to do anything that falls outside a conservative American framework of morality. (The novel it's based on is much more nuanced, showing how Forrest struggles to apply his Black-and-White Morality to the crazy world around him.) A Cracked: After Hours video also comments on the problems with the love story between Forrest and Jenny, particularly the scene where Forrest — a confused, mentally handicapped man — shows up at Jenny's dorm room and she tries to have sex with him. Swapping the genders in that scene leads to a very sinister result.
  • Patch Adams is supposedly Based on a True Story, but it throws away much of the real Patch Adams' philosophy note  in favor of Glurge. It even changes a real-life medical student and friend of Dr. Adams into a female love interest with an implied Rape as Backstory who ends up killed by a patient, all for cheap drama. The real Dr. Adams hates the movie for this reason.
  • In Radio Flyer, a boy escapes his abusive stepfather by building an airplane out of a toy wagon and flying away in it, presumably to his death.
    • Though it’s implied that the boy was actually beaten to death by the stepfather (hence the stepfather’s arrest), and the younger brother invents the story of him flying away in his wagon as a coping mechanism.
  • Rock: It's Your Decision is supposed to be an educational and supportive movie about a Christian teen realizing that he must stop listening to sinful rock music (i.e. all of it). The narrative is trying to show a young man who, at first, listens to rock music, but eventually begins to see the evils of rock music and tries to convince his friends who refuse to listen and ultimately cuts ties with these bad people to better his life. This is the intention, but how it was portrayed is so baffling that it becomes the exact opposite. It seriously works better as a tract on the evils of fundamentalist Christianity than it does its actual subject. He starts off as a decent person and ends up as a ranting bigot who has turned on his friends and family. He denounces his mother for her love of soap operas, breaks all ties with his friends after forcibly trying to shut off the music at a party that he was invited to, and ends the story with him going on a rant at his church about how rock music controls people before shooting into a rant about gays being evil. As to the result:
  • The Search for Santa Paws, a spinoff of Disney's Air Buddies film seriesnote , could be the most Glurge-y Christmas movie of all time. A deliberately cute Heartwarming Orphan, who lives in an Orphanage of Fear, comes across Santa's talking dog, who can only be understood by those who truly believe in the magic of Christmas. The dog's mere presence makes all the other orphans realize the meaning of Christmas (including the jaded older girl who's given up on ever being adopted). Santa himself has suffered Easy Amnesia and becomes a Mall Santa in a toy store; the (sadly infertile) couple who owns it has to help the orphans Race Against the Clock to find Santa's MacGuffin that will save his life, and in the end the couple adopts the aforementioned heartwarming orphan. It's played completely straight, and as a result it's completely ridiculous and implausible.
  • The Christmas Shoes, a 2002 Made-for-TV film, takes inspiration from the song of the same name, and just like the song has become infamous for having bleak implications. However, the movie goes a few steps further than the song by having a more elaborate and even glurgier story. The main character, Robert, is a lawyer who spends way too much time at work, to the expense of himself and his family, and he meets Nathan, a poor boy who wants to buy his terminally ill mother beautiful shoes to make her happy before she dies. At first, it seems evident that the movie will deliver a very basic Aesop about the dangers of valuing money and material possessions over other people, similar to A Christmas Carol, with Robert taking inspiration from Nathan and learning to be less self-centered. However, as one reviewer notes, this is not the case: rather, it is Nathan who starts overworking himself to be able to pay for the shoes, and the movie goes to show this as a noble and admirable sacrifice, which most viewers who see past the saccharine framing will find horrifying (and those who give it a moment's thought will notice that it's in direct opposition to any anti-materialism Aesop the film might have been trying for).
  • The Odd Life of Timothy Green, from the same studio as Santa Paws, involves an infertile couple who somehow grows a child in their garden (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • The Boy Who Could Fly has an uplifting message about autism, but the protagonist's behaviors are not even close to how a regular autistic person acts. Being a popular classroom movie at the time, it may have given lots of students the wrong impression of how autistic people behave and look.
  • Letters To God ticks all the Glurge boxes, including a Too Good for This Sinful Earth Littlest Cancer Patient.
  • North seems to think of itself as an uplifting morality tale of a kid who learns to appreciate his parents. Instead it comes off as a story of a raging egotist who abandons his parents but returns to them only because all the other ones he encountered were raging racial stereotypes. What's worse, the film tries to save itself by revealing it was All Just a Dream, but that just reveals North to be a huge racist himself as well.
  • While Whatever Happened To Baby Jane wouldn't qualify, the song "I've Written a Letter To Daddy" sure would, if it weren't staged rather creepily.
  • The Ultimate Gift. Sinful, jerkass man who disregards his father? Check. Said man must go through a series of trials that improve him in order to get the titular "ultimate gift"? Check. He falls in love with the single mother of the Littlest Cancer Patient? Double check. The kid dies? You bet. The part where all this starts to go off the rails is the ending, where Jason receives two billion dollars for his efforts, implying that the "ultimate gift" is just money.
  • This is an accusation levelled at the film Little Boy, a blond American kid's Coming-of-Age Story marked by the bullying he goes through, his father being sent off to World War II, and the racism hurled at the Japanese-American neighbor the kid strikes an Intergenerational Friendship with.
    Youtube commenter, about the movie's trailer: "Little Boy is a ww2 movie implying that the bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki was because one little boy prayed really hard for his father to come home from the war, and God was so moved by his prayers that he decided to vaporize thousands of Japanese people."
  • War Room, ostensibly about a couple turning to faith during a rough patch in their marriage, imparts the message that Satan is responsible for a verbally abusive and adulterous husband's behavior, and all his wife needs to do is pray for him. This is particularly dangerous, as many abuse victims stay with their partners precisely because they believe it's their responsibility to "save" their abusers.
    • A subplot of the film has the husband, Tony, making thousands of dollars by stealing and selling his company's drugs. After he finds the Lord, he takes the stolen goods back to his boss, all but insuring major prosecution. The boss is so moved, he lets the whole thing slide - imparting the message that being sufficiently Christian will spare one from real world consequences of actions; even a cursory reading of The Bible will not support such a moral.
  • Old Fashioned, marketed as The Moral Substitute to Fifty Shades of Grey, showing a love story based on romance and courtship rather than sex, but the way it's shown makes Fifty Shades of Grey seem less abusive. Our hero, Clay Walsh, is so disgusted by the possibly of giving into his base desires, he refuses to be in the same room as his Love Interest Amber, and much of their so-called romance is actually him molding her to his ideal of a properly submissive wife and mother, even making her cut up food for a friend's baby. In one scene, he shames a sex worker to her face (all in the name of "treating women with respect") and almost gets to a fight with her driver when he correctly points out that Clay just cost her a night's worth of pay.
  • The Shack is meant to be an uplifting story where the main character, Mackenzie, meets with the Holy Trinity and learns to move on from his daughter's murder. It completely ignores the fact that he, as a thirteen year old boy, poisoned his father and got away with it, not to mention that his daughter's killer is never caught and possibly slaughtering more children.
  • Airplane! viciously parodies many Glurge cliches, such as having an adorable Littlest Cancer Patient (who gets comically abused) and Ted's "moving" romance with Elaine (which is portrayed as incredibly shallow and stupid). Note that the script is a direct adaptation of a real movie, Zero Hour!, which played all the cliches and Glurge completely straight. The Littlest Cancer Patient spoof is pulled from a subplot of the second film of the Airport series (yes, even the singing nun).
  • The Book of Henry can come off as extremely contrived and overly sentimental for all the wrong reasons. Main protagonist is a young boy with an Ambiguous Disorder who pays his family's bills because his mother would rather play video games? Check. Main love interest is being physically and sexually abused by her stepfather, despite showing no physical evidence of said abuse? Check. Main protagonist suddenly dies of a brain tumor halfway through the movie...but not before creating a series of instructions on how to kill said abusive stepfather and get away with it? Check. Mother follows instructions until literally the last minute (as in standing in front of the stepfather with a sniper rifle) when she realizes her dead son was just a kid and maybe she shouldn't listen to him? Check. In the Midnight Screenings review of the film, Brad Jones even compares the movie to films such as Jack the Bear and the aforementioned Radio Flyer.
    • Nathan Rabin subsequently discovered The Book of Henry's older Distaff Counterpart in 1982's Six Weeks: A precocious 12-year-old figure skater/ballerina who has voluntarily given up her leukemia treatments befriends a politician who helps her and her wealthy mother realize the girl's bucket list dreams within the titular time frame, which is how long she has to live. One of her dreams is getting her single mom and the politician together...even though he is already married and has a child. Beyond the sentimentality, both Rabin and the hosts at the '80s All Over podcast were seriously creeped out by the implications of the relationships, especially as the one between the adults comes solely through their respective relationships with the child. (For those wondering how it plays out, while the girl mock-marries them by the time she dies, they do not end up together.)
  • This is why The Greatest Showman is an extremely divisive movie. It's an Oscar Bait, Very Loosely Based on a True Story pop musical about P.T. Barnum, whitewashing him into a Lovable Rogue who follows his dreams, celebrates diversity, and makes money by organizing a circus that toplines society's differently-abled and/or odd-looking outcasts. The antagonists range from a Straw Critic who accuses Barnum of being lowbrow and exploitative to dyed-in-the-wool bigots, but the lesson Barnum ends up learning is not to aim for "respectability" when he tries to break into upper-crust society by promoting an opera singer and forgets about the needs of his troupe and family. Those who like the movie (which was a slow-burning box-office hit) find it uplifting, inspirational, and joyous. Those who don't like the movie see it as phony and manipulative, particularly with its platitudes about acceptance and pride (best exemplified by the Signature Song "This Is Me") as they are undercut by the film not letting the audience get to know most of the circus performers (who sing said song) as individuals and instead focusing the bulk of the narrative on the White Male Lead and his redemption, and its use of the Straw Critic and bigots to shame the viewer into not questioning/analyzing what they're watching lest they be seen as enemies of joy and diversity. It's one of the few The Flop House subjects that technically doesn't qualify as a flop, simply because one of the hosts was that eager to analyze its failings. The episode points out that "This Is Me" begs the question "Who are you?".
  • A Little Piece of Heaven is infamous for being both that Kirk Cameron Christmas film that's not Saving Christmas and for being marketed as a wholesome religious family drama that includes child abduction (involving drugs no less!), convincing said children that they're dead, throwing the word "retard" around the Inspirationally Disadvantaged character in an awkward attempt at Deliberate Values Dissonance, and many other things that make the movie uncomfortable mainly thanks to Kirk Cameron being a Designated Hero.
  • The Hallmark Channel Christmas TV Movie A Gift of Miracles is about PhD student Darcy finding a list of gifts her mother, who was killed by a Drunk Driver when Darcy was one year old, intended to give to various people she knew, so Darcy decides to go give them to their intended recipients. Then there are some happy coincidences, and the film tries to have an uplifting message about everyday miracles and "everything happening for a reason". The problem is that Darcy's tragic backstory is vital to this "uplifting" plot, so one can't help but wonder if a one-year-old's mother dying in a senseless accident was supposed to be "worth it" or "meaningful" because the death led to a few happy coincidences decades later.
  • Music (2021) tells the story of a recovering alcoholic learning to be responsible by caring for Music, her autistic sister. Said sister serves mostly as a means to further the neurotypical main character's story and Character Development, and the depiction of autism has been criticized as inaccurate and problematic. Music is portrayed as Inspirationally Disadvantaged to the hilt; she's a cheerful and purehearted girl who literally views the world as a big bright-hued musical, and the only downsides to her autism are occasionally having meltdowns (glossing over all the difficulties that can arise with autism such as financial instability and social isolation, and the fact her guardian struggles to provide her with proper care).

    Literature 
  • The Chicken Soup for the Soul series is essentially an entire franchise devoted to glurge, being compilations of "feel-good" stories which as supposed to warm the reader like, well, a bowl of chicken soup. People down on their luck and coping with drug abuse, angry elders whose perspectives are turned around by the birth of a child or adoption of a pet, the works. Later publications are themed to a specific topic, and they proved popular enough to spawn a television series.
  • Parodied in The Areas of My Expertise with The Six Oaths of the Virtuous Child, which are more creepy than inspiring.
    - Today shall not be wasted. I shall rise before the sun, so that I may then watch my family as they slumber, with intent, waiting eyes.
    - I shall honor my mother today, and I shall tell Father he is powerful.
    - Today I shall be clean. I shall not touch my teeth, knowing that the oils of my skin shall cause them to disintegrate. I shall instead hone them with a good steel twice after prayers.
    - I shall be a faithful child, and I shall ever make science my enemy. Also eels.
    - At day, I shall perform my chores and duties happily, and if I see an eel, I shall kill it before it may speak to me seductively of its lazy life on lazy river bottoms.
    - At night, I shall dream of more labor, and in my sleep I shall smile with sharpened teeth, knowing that today has not been wasted.
  • Mark Twain wrote two stories parodying this: "The Good Little Boy", in which the title character's life ambition is to be the star of a Sunday School book, and "The Bad Little Boy", in which the title character misbehaves and karma utterly fails to inflict ironic punishments.
  • In his stand-up routine, David Cross savages the book Promises to Keep: Daily Devotions for Men of Integrity for being full of Glurge and warped Aesops.
  • The Nazi party published kids books, which were unsurprisingly full of Glurge. They also presented Jews and Romani as evil, conniving demons who wanted to ruin the lives of all the big-eyed Teutonic waifs. One Nazi children's book featured Adolf Hitler inviting a little girl to his private villa for tea and cookies, then giving her a hug and a kiss as she leaves.
  • Invoked in The Fountainhead: Alvah Scarrett's career is built on writing glurge-filled newspaper editorials.
  • Dog books such as Saving Cinnamon, The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving, A Small Furry Prayer, and What a Difference a Dog Makes are often filled with glurge. As an Entertainment Weekly reviewer summed up:
    They are all blatantly, painfully the same exaggerated story of hope and triumph-of-the-humane-society spirit. You know the kind — a pit bull learning to love, a pug saving a nursing home, a chihuahua crusading for immigration reform! Not to be callous, but I've had it! I'm sure Oogy and Pukka are great pooches, but their cloyingly cute books are enough to give you a case of the canine diabetes.
  • Edward Everett Hale's The Man Without a Country is quite Glurge-y, much as it tries to pretend to be a manly man's story set among the men of the Navy. The moral lesson is: love your country dammit, because if you don't have a country your life is worthless and you dwindle into a pathetic loner obsessed with the whole notion of "country." Never mind that patriotism for the sake of patriotism is naive at best, or that what happened in the story was a form of low-key brainwashing, making the man's life revolve around the lack of the United States — it's really nauseating.
  • The Secret is infamous for claiming that good things happen only if you really, really visualize them enough, and that if they don't happen to you, you just didn't want them badly enough.
  • The Love and Logic parenting books imply that the best solution to problems between parents and children is for the parents to do whatever they want and just repeat the phrase "I love you too much to argue" when the child protests.
  • Kate Breslin's inspirational romance novel For Such a Time got some good publicity and was nominated for two 2015 Romance Writers of America awards — whereupon people not in its target audience of conservative Christians found out about it. A Whole Plot Reference to the Book of Esther, it recasts the story's events as a romance between a Jewish concentration camp prisoner and a Nazi commandant, the latter of whom is redeemed by The Power of Love and God's grace. There's a lot written about it online, but this joint discussion and the comments below it sum up the major criticisms well: the extremely offensive and mostly intentional use of Artistic License – History throughout, without which the story couldn't end on Happily Ever After; the Stockholm Syndrome nature of their relationship; and the Jewish characters not acting authentically Jewish, to the point that a common misconception is that by the end the heroine has converted to Christianity. Thus, the book distorts and exploits both a horrific chapter of Jewish (and 20th century) history and a beloved Old Testament story (which is not even a romantic one) solely for the benefit of Christian readers.
  • Scottish actress Louise Linton's book In Congo's Shadow received heavy criticism for this. To make long story short, Linton's portrayal of Zambia during The '90s is inaccurate as hell, filled with racist stereotypes, and suffers horribly from Mighty Whitey.
  • In the Venus and Mars books, there's a story about a knight who rescues a princess from a dragon. She marries him, then gets attacked by another dragon, and tells the knight how to kill it. This happens again and again until the knight rescues another princess who doesn't tell him what to do or how to do it. What the reader was supposed to take from this is that it's important for a man to be able to solve his own problems. What it ended up implying was that women need to be delicate and passive to protect their boyfriend/husband's ego, and that if he cheats, it's her fault for being too outspoken. It also introduces Fridge Logic: If the princess knows how to slay the dragon herself, why doesn't she at least try?
  • Boq comes across some in-universe glurge in Wicked. While at Railway Square, he spots scrolls painted with sunsets and inspirational one-liners such as "Lurline Lives Within Each Heart" and "I Pray to the Unnamed God That Justice Will Walk Abroad in Oz".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Hallmark Channel has made a small industry out of Glurge-filled made-for-TV movies, known as A Hallmark Presentation. Most often these films are about someone who is overwhelmed with working in the big city, and are forced to live in a small town, which they end up finding more satisfying than their past life. Usually a ridiculously hot love interest drops right into their laps to help the process along, along with a few quirky but bland small town friends. The only real obstacles the protagonist has to overcome are getting off on the wrong foot with the love interest, or some petty rival, which in real life could be fixed by talking to the love interest like an adult and ignoring the rival. Everyone is just sort of cutesy and non-threatening overall. If the main character is a woman the movie will emphasize that starting a family is more fulfilling than having a job. Then December rolls around and Hallmark replaces their normal movies with special Christmas ones, which are the same except the overworked person is so overworked that they don't know the true meaning of Christmas, which they learn by moving to the small town and experiencing a little Christmas magic.
  • The Lone Gunmen: "Like Water for Octane" is a story about the Lone Gunmen struggling to expose the truth about a revolutionary engine which doesn't use petrol, only to decide that the world is too stupid to be trusted with the truth and that the trio should appoint themselves custodians of that technology. The episode seems entirely sincere in this belief, which makes it seem like the production team have somehow misunderstood their own characters. The Lone Gunmen collectively decide that the world does not need to be freed from its addiction to gasoline. Who wrote this episode, Jeremy Clarkson?
  • Viewers of 7th Heaven are force-fed Christian morals like a baby. The version of Christianity was the vague, feel-good sort that could best be described as "spiritual masturbation". You don't mention Jesus as anything more than a really hoopy dude, because people might feel bad, And That's Terrible.
  • The Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Faith" is a look at the darker side of glurge: the Victim of the Week is a benefactor who planned to stop supporting a girl who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and survived abuse to write an inspiring book about her experiences. He planned to stop because he found out she isn't real, and her "foster parents" are con artists. And this is actually inspired by Anthony Godby Johnson, supposed "author" of A Rock and a Hard Place.
  • MADtv's parody skit "Nice White Lady" subverts the "inspirational teacher saves inner-city students" story that shows up in so many movies by pointing out the racism underlying many such stories. MADtv's inspirational teacher doesn't do much to inspire her black, Latino and Asian students except make random speeches and utter platitudes — but she doesn't have to, because, as the title says, she's a nice white lady.
  • Touched by an Angel: Sending the message of God's love is awesome, but mixing it with this trope ain't exactly a good idea. The original unaired pilot was more cynical with one angel Monica calling humans "god's sport" and Tess smoking.
  • Parodied in The Middle. In the first Mother's Day episode, Sue Heck, who often tries out for things that she never makes it into, finds an inspirational fridge magnet with a dolphin flying a kite that says "Think of the thing you can not do and then do it." However, since her father Mike doesn't buy the fridge magnet for her (since Frankie may not have wanted it for Mother's Day), Sue steals it, which is basically contrary to her nature and makes her feel very guilty. So much for the inspirational message.

    Music 
  • The song "Christmas Shoes" is a by-word for Glurge. A man who's not in the Christmas spirit comes across a boy who counts pennies and wants his dying mom "to look good if [she] meets Jesus tonight." He buys a pair of shoes for the boy and winds up changed for good. He further reasons that God sent the boy to help him change (but doesn't address the idea that God must have also nearly killed his mother — or might not let her into heaven if she looks too poor). It's so infamous, even Christian radio stations have stayed away from the song these days, and it's evoked a ton of responses:
    • Patton Oswalt offers an Alternative Character Interpretation that posits the kid is a Street Urchin scamming his marks by playing on their heartstrings.
    • A short story in Hark the Herald Angels Scream parodies this song and its story, but instead of the song becoming popular, it causes mass suicide because of how sad the situation was, and the narrator is arrested for mass murder and for creating the song in the first place.
    • Lindsay Ellis, then known as The Nostalgia Chick , calls it the #1 disturbing and inescapable Christmas song.
    • Hard 'N Phirm wrote an over-the-top response song called "She Named The Pony Jesus", in which a guy steals a horse from a fair to give to his ridiculously ailing daughter. The song ends with the horse trampling the girl and running away.
      "Can I have a pony, Jesus
      your humble servant begs
      you see my little girl breathes through a tube
      and has a wheelchair for her legs
      I'm not asking you to fix her spine
      or uncollapse her lung
      but I know she'd thank you for that pony
      if she had a working tongue
      I know that horse won't stop her tremors
      or reattach her nose
      but I know she'd hop right on that pony
      if she could move her shriveled toes"
  • In the Dolly Parton song "Letter to Heaven", a little girl writes a letter to her dead mom. On her way to mailbox, she gets run over by a car and dies.
  • Red Sovine made a career out of Glurgy songs, most of them about truckers:
    • "Teddy Bear": A lonely little paralyzed boy with a dead father and only a C.B. Radio for company.
    • "Giddy-up Go": An old trucker, whose wife and son left him years ago because he was gone so much of the time, meets a young trucker and recognizes him as his now-adult son by the name of the young man's truck: "Giddy-up Go", the same thing the old man named his truck when the son was a small child.
    • "Little Rosa": A father tells of buying a rose to lay on the grave of his little girl, Rosa, who was killed by a train.
    • "Bringing Mary Home": The urban legend of "the vanishing hitchhiker", who's now a little girl.
  • "The Deck of Cards" by T. Texas Tyler implies that playing cards in church is punishable by death.
  • Michael Jackson was a Glurge Addict, so it's not surprising that some of his work falls into this territory. In particular, he always plays Children Are Innocent straight.
    • The video for "Heal the World" posits that soldiers and terrorists would lay down their arms if they could just see how happy and peaceful children are, in an effort to return to that state of innocence. This doesn't address that these people were children themselves once, and that they're fighting for reasons much more complicated than any child could understand.
    • Ghosts was something of a response to accusations that his affection for children hid unsavory motives. It uses the framework of a black-and-white horror movie. An evil white mayor (played by Jackson) leads a Torches and Pitchforks mob on the supernatural Michael, just because he was sharing ghost stories with some local boys.
    • "Earth Song" is a Green Aesop guilt trip that attacks the listener for not even bothering to notice the suffering of plants, animals and people. In the video, war victims and natives wailing and gnashing their teeth somehow prove sufficient to magically turn back time and make everything all better. To make matters worse, live performances had Jackson singlehandedly stand up to a tank and reduce the driver to tears by standing down the gun he aimed at him.
    • "Little Susie", from the same album as "Earth Song", isn't as well-known (it wasn't released as a single), but it's just as much of a guilt trip. The title character is a little girl who, thanks to a combination of death and abandonment on her family's part, lives all alone in an apartment. She spends her time singing a song to a tinkly music box tune, while no one in the building tries to help her; only one person is even aware of her existence. She's finally found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs, which is either a suicide or a murder (if the latter, clearly by someone in it For the Evulz).
  • A lot of early-to-mid-20th-century pop can fall into this nowadays, given how completely sentimentality has been redefined since then. "Artificial Flowers" (best-known version by Bobby Darin) is a great example.
    • The worst offenders were the many girl groups in the The '60s, whose lyrics would be perceived as downright creepy if they were written today.
    • One particularly chilling example is Neil Sedaka's "Next Door to an Angel", in which he delights in describing his young neighbour's physical development ("She used to be such a skinny little girl/But all of a sudden, she's out of this world!") and plans to "make that angel mine"; while the girl next door is explicitly identified as 16, the narrator is suspiciously not. And yet, it's all cheerfully sung to the most cheesy, goofy rhythm imaginable.
      • This was probably intended to be from the viewpoint of one teen singing about another a la Paul Anka's "Puppy Love". But "Right Next Door" was released in 1962 and Neil Sedaka was 23 at the time, so in real life a 23-year-old singing those lyrics about his 16-year-old neighbor is still pretty creepy.
      • The same viewpoint and depiction also applies to "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", also by Sedaka. That song was released in 1961, one year prior to "Right Next Door".
  • Many songs advertised as father-daughter dances at weddings fall into Glurge; prime examples are "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle, and "My Father's Eyes" by Amy Grant. Some brides are now catching on to how Glurgey and slightly creepy they are.
  • "Diary of an Unborn Child", an anti-abortion Author Tract, would have been slightly more effective had the titular foetus not been a grotesque mix of sickening sweetness and Nightmare Fuel in equal parts, making its death more relieving than tragic. And then it starts singing.
  • "The Little Girl", sung by John Michael Montgomery, is based upon a religiously-themed urban legend (similar to the above-mentioned "Christmas Shoes"). Songwriter Harley Allen, when asked about the song's origin, stated that "if it ain't true, it ought to be," which has Unfortunate Implications: the eponymous "little girl" witnesses the brutal murder-suicide of her parents.
  • "This Is Your Time" by Michael W. Smith is a Christian pop song based on a story that arose from the Columbine massacre (the real-life story, about how Cassie Bernall was killed after saying she believed in God, had enough glurgy overtones to have its factual nature called into question). The song came out less than a year after the shooting and is intended as an inspirational tale about how Bernall was supposedly willing to die for Jesus, so you should be, too!note 
    • Whatever it Takes, an album compiled in her memory, isn't quite as glurgy, but Allmusic has this to say about it:
      In the wake of her death, a non-profit cottage industry has sprung up around her memory — which, depending on your perspective, is either a way to spin an extraordinary and dramatic tragedy into a positive good, or an odd marriage of grief and capitalism that might seem disturbingly manipulative no matter how well-intentioned. [...] Anyone inspired by Bernall's story will find it difficult not to feel the same way about many of these songs. Yet if one takes a larger perspective, the album is also another cog in a veritable merchandising machine; the sheer scope of this sincerely motivated attempt to find utility (and revenue) in tragedy makes it hard to shake the feeling of exploitation, no matter how noble the ultimate cause.
  • A little over a year after 9/11, the slew of nationalistic country songs written in its immediate wake were slammed for being shallow and reactionary, and were seen as shamelessly capitalizing on the country's grief. The two most infamous of these were "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" by Toby Keith and "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" by Alan Jackson, the latter of which was mercilessly parodied on the South Park episode "A Ladder To Heaven" where Jackson solemnly strums his guitar, occasionally singing "Ooo yeah, 9/11..." while everyone weeps.
  • Even before that, the Reagan era had "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood, which features lyrics like "And I'm proud to be American, where at least I know I'm free." For better or worse, it made a comeback post-9/11, with pop group Jump5 covering it one month after the attacks.
  • Merle Haggard's otherwise well-regarded Christmas album, Christmas Present, contained the notorious filler track, "Grandma's Homemade Christmas Card," a short, soggy ballad with ends with The Reveal that Grandma was Dead All Along. Songwriter Randy Brooks was apparently so appalled by its shameless sentimentality that he wrote "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" in response.
  • The song "From a Distance" by Julie Gold (famously covered by Bette Midler) tries to portray God as a benevolent deity, and claims that terrible things happen because He's watching from a distance and can't see all the terrible things. This not only puts God's omniscience into question, but also unintentionally makes Him look like an apathetic deity who doesn't really care about His creations.
  • "Please, Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" about a kid begging his alcoholic father to stop drinking during the holidays. The message is depressing despite the tune being lively and upbeat.
    • Children country singers, due to having adults write most of their songs to be as precious as possible, are particularly prone to this special type of glurge. One noteworthy example is "Mr. Russian, Please Don't Shoot Down Santa's Sleigh" by Shana Lynette, which features the girl begging the Soviets not to blow Santa out of the sky if he enters their airspace. Then there's "Please Don't Go Topless, Mother", where little Troy Hess tearfully tells his mother to give up go-go dancing at the local bar, and contains so many smutty double entendres ("you're ruining your rep-utation / and I can give you two big reasons why") that it feels like a Stealth Parody of the genre.

    Theatre 
  • The Merchant of Venice: Much has been said about William Shakespeare's morality tale that pandered to the Christian audience of its time. The message of the play if taken at face value is that all Christians are good honest men who are the innocent victims of avaricious, bloodthirsty, downright evil Hand Rubbing Jews, but will ultimately triumph over them. Many modern interpretations however, paint the story as a deliberate Satire of the anti-semitic tales of the age; they argue that it appears utterly contrived when viewed critically, and it is often interpreted to be a harsh criticism of Christianity in disguise.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect 2 has a hilarious parody of glurgy chain e-mails called "IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!" It involves a terminally-ill drell (desert-dwelling green-skinned humanoid) lying in the ocean, praying to the Enkindlers, and being told that it wasn't the water but the Enkindlers who were keeping him afloat, then waking to find himself cured. Bonus points for making no sense in the context of the Enkindler religion, which is essentially deist. Hell, the religion actually knows the Protheans are precursor aliens, it just chooses to revere them for uplifting the Hanar.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Dream Daddy, for fans who didn't consider Joseph's Good Ending a good ending in its own right, or an Esoteric Happy Ending at worst, it's almost always considered this instead. The fact that the devs gave an interview that explained they chose not to give Joseph a "Good Ending" because they didn't want to give the impression of breaking up marriages as a good thing really didn't help some fans see Joseph's Good Ending in any better terms.

    Web Comics 
  • Each Zen Pencils comic is a Framing Device for a famous quote — and it falls into all the pitfalls of You Know Who Said That?, with many quotes being hypocritical or out of context. A surprising number of comics also encourage readers to quit their jobs and pursue their passion (even if it's obsessively binge-watching Game of Thrones, abandoning everyone you know, and wasting your money to literally become a character from the show), suggesting that the only reason to do anything is for the art. Its attempt at an original story arc is a Glurge-y attempt to paint art critics as hateful trolls who are defeated by The Power of Art.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • TheGamersCave's "I am a Gamer" is supposed to be a celebration of the gamer identity. It begins innocently enough, talking about how video games allow players to experience a reality other than their own, but it goes downhill when the narrator starts claiming that video games are superior to Real Life, reinforcing common gamer stereotypes (such as preferring imaginary relationships to real ones and equating video game experiences with real life). The uplifting techno music in the background only adds to TheGamersCave's preachiness. The video made the narrator a source of mockery, especially when he tried to get a parody taken down.
  • The Nostalgia Critic has a tendency to choose really sappy music for rousing speeches delivered to straw villains. He has mocked this a few times, like in We Wish You A Turtles Christmas, where he's spewing about Christmas but Tamara is getting gored by zombie Malcolm behind him.
  • The notorious I Am Autism is a film produced by Autism Speaks and put on the Internet in September 2009. It starts out with a man's deep voice speaking over footage of autistic children playing at various activities as "Autism!", gloating about how he "work[s] faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined" among other things. Then it switches over to various saintly neurotypical adults who all talk about how they will bravely fight autism, with one woman saying that "Autism!" "think[s] that because [her] child lives behind a wall, [she is] afraid to knock it down with [her] bare hands." Unsurprisingly, it got a lot of backlash from autistic people, autistic allies, and many disability rights organizations. Autism Speaks did pull it down, but the director of the piece, none other than Alfonso Cuarón, hasn't publicly apologized or even spoken about it since.
  • "Not Alone" by conservative advocacy group CatholicVote argues that people shouldn't be oppressed by others... for opposing same-sex marriage. The homophobic message in general pretty much drove people away.
  • YouTuber Revolution Tube conversed this trope in a video about "uplifting" news stories that aren't actually uplifting, such as one involving a homeless 8-year old and another where seniors work at fast food restaurants.
  • Played for Laughs in the Game Grumps playthrough of Dead Rising 3, when Youtube censored their video because of the scene where Christine Emerie performs a ritualistic voodoo-style suicide. To retaliate they replaced the scene with an image of a field of flowers and beautiful accoustic music with this message emblazoned on it, complete with a good dose of Censored for Comedy and a hint of And That's Terrible:
    Oopsie! Turns out Youtube doesn't like content that "promotes self h*rm or is intended to shock or disgust users." Just know that something very unpleasant happens here that nobody should ever do. If you or a friend are in need of help, please reach out to someone, or call the National S**c*de Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Please have an amazing day and remember that you are loved.
  • A particularly reviling example is Fake Animal Rescue Videos on YouTube. The way the videos are presented are shots of animals and pets in life-threatening situations, then shots of the people with the animals in perfect condition, implying that they rescued them out of heroism. In reality, the latter recordings are shot first, and the shots of animals beaten and battered are recorded after, as the animals are being abused out of exploitation for the sake of telling a "heartwarming" story.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In one episode, this is how Mac is able to tell which of the Bloos is his true best friend. The one that made the heartfelt speech at the end wasn't the real one, since Bloo would never say or admit something like that.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Hank's mom Tilly collects cutesy figurines, and Hank utterly despises them because of how much she loves them and how they seem to control her life. Then Hank realizes those figurines were the only things that kept her going while she was trapped in her marriage to Hank's Jerkass father Cotton.
    • In the episode "Husky Bobby", Bobby begins modeling as a plus sized child. Hank is extremely embarrassed about this, as he is prejudiced against overweight people. The whole episode centers around Hank trying to get Bobby to quit. He finally succeeds before a fashion show for plus-sized males, which ends with the children who were not dragged out by their dads getting pelted with donuts. Nobody does anything to stop it, it ends with a heartwarming moment between Bobby and Hank, and nobody is punished for their actions. A Weighty Aesop at its worst.
      Bobby: Wow Dad, you were right!
      Hank: Hell, when you get fashion shows, teenage boys, and donuts in the same place, this is bound to happen.
      (Scene fades to black and happy music plays)
  • The Dreamstone, especially in early episodes, concerns a Serious Business feud about spreading dreams and nightmares. The Big Bad's minions, the Urpneys, were sympathetic Punch Clock Villains who got beaten up and sent to face their murderous Bad Boss whenever they tried to ruin the heroes' dreams, all still depicted in a sickly sweet and righteous tone.
  • South Park: The subplot of "Tweek vs. Craig" has the shop teacher Mr. Adler mourning the loss of his fiancée. The flashback sequences have him reminiscing with a live-action woman which manages to look worse than the standard animation. What tops it off is his girlfriend's final message: "Saying good-bye doesn't mean anything. It's the time that we spent together that really matters, not how we left it."
  • The Legend of Korra includes an in-universe example of Glurge with a historical tale: A heroine couldn't be with her beloved because he was the son of her enemy and had an Arranged Marriage with a princess, so she rode a dragon into battle, burned down the country, and jumped into a volcano. Jinora thinks it's the most romantic story ever, while Korra is completely nonplussed by it.
  • Used In-Universe on The Simpsons: Bart becomes a co-anchor on Lisa's news show, and taking the advice of Kent Brockman, he does a series of human interest stories of this nature, including one of a duck feeder who is upset that ducks stopped visiting him (even though there's another pond filled with ducks nearby).
    Mr. Burns: [while watching the duck story and shedding a tear] Smithers, do you think maybe my power plant killed those ducks?
    Smithers: There's no "maybe" about it, sir.
    Mr. Burns: *sniff* Excellent.
  • In one episode of BoJack Horseman, Diane and Guy are tasked with filming a feel-good story about two women making dolls...who were recently bought out by Whitewhale. Diane laments afterwards that there's nothing "feel-good" about small, independent businesses being bought out by large corporations.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "All That Glitters" is a particularly notorious example of this. Through methods that come across as a Space Whale Aesop and turn SpongeBob into a Designated Villain for an undeserving amount of Aesop Collateral Damage, SpongeBob is taught a lesson that betraying your friends is wrong. ...Even though this friend is an inanimate spatula, has nothing to do with what the title implies, and SpongeBob is learning all this while spending the entire episode naked.
    SpongeBob: But I didn't mean to betray you. Mr. Krabs said I needed a new spatula! Krabby Patties don't just flip themselves, you know. It was a moment of weakness!


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