I can't cope with all her heart-tugging
It makes me want to scream and shout
Glurge is the catch-all term for "inspirational" tales which purport to offer uplifting and timeless truths, but for various reasons — they carry Unfortunate Implications, they don't make sense once you've thought about them, or the medium is a poor fit for the message — they are just a bit too hard to swallow. (The word "glurge" was initially coined by a reader of Snopes 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:
- 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 even more 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.
- 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 other side will be not only incorrect but will actively oppose 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 Shilling: 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: Glurge is often presented to the reader as a "true story." Poke it for details, however, and most of it can't be confirmed.
- Designated Hero/Designated Villain: Glurge treats the characters who agree with its message as good persons, even if their actual behavior suggests otherwise. By proxy of this, those who don't comply with the message are treated as the scum of the earth, no matter how they may have lived their lives otherwise.
- 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.
- Hitler Ate Sugar: This is an overlap of Can't Get Away with Nuthin' above, as no matter how little characters in Glurge stories commit the injustices of the person or thing on the "karmic" receiving end, they'll receive just as much punishment for being even just tangentially associated with the offender.
- 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 man just wouldn't pull the right heartstrings.
- Mood Dissonance: Glurge often has unintentional tone problems. If the central theme is a Captain Obvious Aesop, it will be treated with more reverence and solemnity than it deserves; if a character's death furthers the narrative, it will be treated as anything but a tragedy (see Angst? What Angst? above).
- Purity Sue: A character — set up to be admired and imitated — whose purity and saintliness are impossible in Real Life.
- Space Whale Aesop: Often times depicted in "This Could Happen To You" Schmuck Bait, when Glurge stories attempt to capture the audience's heart with their cheap emotional tropes, they go the extra mile by implying that if a person doesn't comply with the "inspirational" message being presented, they'll suffer a consequence that's extremely unrealistic, and yet play it completely straight.
- 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).
- 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.
- Wheelchair Woobie: In a similar vein to the Littlest Cancer Patient, albeit applying to more age ranges than just children, making a physically disabled person out to be a character to sympathize with can be seen as an extremely cheap tactic to pull the tears out of the audience, especially if their situation is treated with pity as opposed to respect as a normal person.
- 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.
Not to be confused with Anvilicious, though this is a common feature of Glurge. Often invokes Sweetness Aversion. 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. Can cause Don't Shoot the Message if the moral itself was okay but the delivery was glurge-y.
The examples have been arranged alphabetically. Please put your examples in the proper place.
- This U.K. commercial from 2017 faced severe backlash and ended up being pulled from the air for enforcing this trope. It starts out sweet enough, with a boy asking his mom what his deceased father was like, and the rest of the ad has the two of them exploring his father's hobbies... until they end up having lunch at McDonald's, which this turns out to be an ad for. Why? Because the Filet-O-Fish was the father's favorite meal.
- The Values.com advertising campaign has many examples, one being 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. Incidentally, that was based on an urban legend which made its way into Snopes' Glurge Gallery about 14 years prior.
- 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 Delicate and Sickly 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.
- Often times, kitsch art boils down to this. In essence, paintings or porcelain figures of kitsch variety are meant to bestow giddiness in people with their sentimentality, the ultimate draw being that these pieces of art are ultimately worthless by true artistic value. Either they're cheaply constructed, or the initial concept has been done so many times that they no longer mean anything worthwhile.
- Socialist Realism and other totalitarian art forms like to portray glurge, with endless scenes of happy farmers, industrious workers, and brave soldiers without conflict or human suffering or any of the imperfections that make real life real. This has led to some commentators using the umbrella term "totalitarian kitsch" to describe art used as propaganda in totalitarian regimes. The theme of these paintings has been jokingly described as "girl meets tractor".
- Jack Chick and his notorious Chick Tracts are full of Glurge. However, they're even better examples of Scare 'Em Straight; pretty much anyone who rejects his very specific brand of Protestant Christianity has to answer to Giant Faceless God and his Pointing Finger of Doom.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): Issue 40 features the story of Twilight Sparkle's first days of magic school, with Princess Celestia asking her to help look after baby Spike. Cut to Twilight desperately juggling school and baby care like so many teenage mothers, except she wasn't even a teenager at the time. Just as Twilight starts to crack under the pressure, she realizes that Celestia trying to give her her first friend, not a responsibility. This is supposed to be heartwarming, but in true Glurge fashion, becomes much less so when one applies any sort of critical thinking:
- That Spike wasn't meant to be a responsibility for Twilight doesn't change the fact that he was a responsibility — a far greater responsibility than anyone Twilight's age has any business being saddled with. Celestia is right there when Twilight breaks down and rants about how she is struggling in school on account of having to care for Spike, yet there is no evidence that she ever properly addressed that.
- If Celestia thinks that taking care of a baby is an acceptable substitute for socializing with others one's own age, then it's no wonder Twilight's social skills are still minimal when the series begins. Combine that with Twilight likely having little time to make non-baby friends as a result of what she is going through, and it appears that Celestia wound up exacerbating the problem she was trying to solve.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) suffered a lot of this from its rot period of 1999-2005, where the focus shifted from an adventure-comedy to a relationship drama straight out of the Hallmark Channel. There are two stories in particular that push the boundaries of Glurge to their fullest.
- StH #134 — "Home: Epilogue". Sonic, after recovering from a near-death experience against Dr. Robotnik's latest creation named Mecha, is asked to be a guest of honor at Knothole's royal celebration, where he reunites with Sally. She implores Sonic to give up his life of action to settle down with her, claiming that the Royal Agency is enough to take on Robotnik. Sonic declines, saying that he's the only one who could stop Eggman after finishing off the Xorda invasion a year ago. This leads to Sally lashing out at Sonic and breaking up with him for claiming he's selfish, despite the fact that she's disregarding Sonic's feats of heroism throughout the years and only focusing on themselves.
- StH #155-156 — "Line of Succession". Sonic, having given up on Sally when the announcement that she's marrying Antoine arrived, has settled with dating Fiona Fox, which causes his best friend/honorary brother, Tails, to lash out at him for dating the girl he loved himself, even though he had fallen in love with a robot duplicate created by Robotnik made to look his age instead of her actual age. In addition, thanks to Creative Differences between the writers, what was originally intended to be a war-scarred Antoine was rewritten to be his previously-established Evil Counterpart intent on assassinating King Acorn before his son, Elias, arrives out of nowhere to stop him. The icing on the Glurge-y cake is the cover of #155, which was so melodramatically narmy that Sega issued a mandate that prevented Sonic from showing any extreme sadness.
- The Loud House fanfic:
- Easily Broken involves Lincoln's sisters putting an embarrassing video of him kissing his crush Ronnie Anne online, which causes him to run away to New York and his family tries to get him back. It's meant to be a heartwarming story about family, but the story flip-flops between portraying it as the family actually hating him and Lincoln just overreacting. He also becomes suicidal at one point but perks right up again after a good night's sleep, develops powers which are said to come from him being "pure of heart", and there's a recurring threat of his emotional wounds literally damaging his physical heart.
- Lincoln is Done is meant to be a Tear Jerker and Lincoln finally arriving home is meant to be heartwarming. However, the whole reason he ran away is because he dreamt his sisters hated him, and his sisters crying their eyes out and (in Lynn, Luna, and Lola's cases) trying to kill themselves just seems narmy because they know where he is and that he's okay. In addition, the plot was resolved with an exorcism-like ritual.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Bubbles gives a sad backstory to the Memetic Bystander Derpy Hooves, here portrayed as an Inspirationally Disadvantaged foal who has a loving father but an abusive mother. The wording of the story is childish and cutesy, focusing on Derpy's innocence and ignorance. The climax of Bubbles has Derpy's mother trying to poison her daughter (or at least that's what's heavily implied). After that fails she abandons Derpy in the forest, where the story ends.
- Snowdrop (2013): Snowdrop's character design makes it look like she was genetically engineered to be a Glurge star. Combined with the first few minutes focusing on the hardships she faces on account of being blind (mainly her classmates openly disrespecting her because of that), the film tugs at the audience's heartstrings with all the subtlety of a nuclear bomb. If that's not Glurge-y enough, it then all but explicitly sends the message that being Inspirationally Disadvantaged is better than not having the disability in question:
Snowdrop: Do you think if I wished hard enough, they [the stars] would let me see them?
Primrose: It's better to save your wishes, Snowdrop. For something you really need.note
- The Christmas Tree: The special is already on one of the lowest budgets imaginable with directionless acting, Limited Animation, and a story that doesn't understand the necessity of plot progression, but then it goes through with one of the most blatant cases of Black-and-White Morality in its moral presented in the last few seconds.
"[Mrs. Mavilda] learned that you always win when you are good."
- FernGully: The Last Rainforest is about as black-and-white as environmental movies get. The movie goes out of its way to offer the age-old message of "nature — good; humans — bad", but does very little to elaborate on such a concept besides a straw villain made of polluted, dark gas, making the main leads feel unsympathetic in their endeavors. It really says something when the two most likable characters are the Plucky Comic Relief, who has a backstory that actually shows a wrongdoing of mankind, and the aforementioned main villain, being suave and charismatic. (It also helps that the two of them are voiced by Robin Williams and Tim Curry respectively.)
- 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.
- The Polar Express frames belief in Santa Claus as something important that needs to be learned, on par with the value of leadership, and only those who believe in him can hear his sleighbells. The side character Billy also has never had a happy Christmas before, and it's implied to be because his family can't afford dinner, but then when he gets the present he's always wanted, it's portrayed as a sign he'll have a happy Christmas this year after all — yet receiving a gift won't make his family able to afford dinner.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Netflix's A Christmas Prince falls into the typical trappings of Hallmark Presentations, if not even worse. Amber and Prince Richard of Aldovia are presented as the main protagonists, but their actions are noticeably selfish and scummy. In the first movie, Amber ends up with Richard after a series of events where she uncovers that he was adopted, while Richard is seen shirking his responsibilities as prince to be a people's person, in the second movie, Richard only cares about his presentation while Aldovia plummets into bankruptcy, and unknowingly sided with the person who caused said bankruptcy, and in the third movie, Amber and Richard are only concerned with their baby while Aldovia is on the brink of warfare, and Amber only gets involved once a supposed curse is fated to hit her child, which is disproven as a myth by multiple characters. It doesn't help that Simon, Richard's cousin, has multiple propositions that would seriously help Aldovia, and also wants the throne when Richard doesn't, and yet he's constantly belittled and seen as selfish until he's left with nothing. The film wants its audience to see Amber and Richard in a cutesy and sympathetic light, but all they ever do is cause problems for others.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?".
- 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.
- Letters To God ticks all the Glurge boxes, including a Too Good for This Sinful Earth Littlest Cancer Patient.
- Life Itself (not to be confused with the the 2014 documentary of the same name) is a Generational Saga Hyperlink Story about a young couple waiting for the birth of their child, a moment that reverberates across two continents and takes place over the course of around six decades. While it's a not a bad premise, it has a questionable way of handling it. The young couple in question, Will and Abby, go through a lot of suffering, and the first twenty-one years of their daughter Dylan's life is one long Trauma Conga Line, and their future son-in-law Rodrigo goes through his fair share of suffering too. However, at the end, the narrator, revealed to be Will and Abby's granddaughter, decides it was all worth it because Dylan and her kids eventually led happy lives. This is supposed to be an Earn Your Happy Ending, just gives off the message that a person needlessly suffering is okay because there's a chance that their descendants might end up better off. This, along with some other factors (the constant shilling of Bob Dylan, its overly sentimental tone, and the overall pretentiousness of the script) meant that it was lambasted by both critics and audiences and ended up on several "Worst Movies of 2018" lists.
- 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."
- 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 Cameron's character being a Designated Hero.
- 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).
- 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.
- The Odd Life of Timothy Green involves an infertile couple who somehow grows a child in their garden (It Makes Sense in Context).
- 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.
- 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 its implied that the boy was actually beaten to death by the stepfather (hence the stepfathers 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:
Brad Jones: I'm not kidding, this is one of the most depressing films I ever sat through. And I've watched Salo and A Serbian Film.
- The Search for Santa Paws, a spinoff of Disney's Air Buddies film seriesnote , and from the same studio as The Odd Life of Timothy Green, 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.
- 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 Artistic License Biology; 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 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- On a larger scale, Tropic Thunder is a Deconstructive Parody of Glurge-heavy Oscar Bait movies (especially epic war films), calling them out as shallow, inaccurate, self-righteous, exploitative, hypocritical, and all-around clueless. Nobody involved in the film seriously believes in its messages - treating it as either a paycheck or an easy Oscar win - but most have deluded themselves into thinking they're deeply knowledgeable artistic geniuses. The Troubled Production is wracked by unprofessionalism and incompetence, with the movie itself being Based on a Great Big Lie (the man whose story it's supposedly adapting is a Phony Veteran). Ben Stiller has noted that much of the inspiration for the film came from various actor friends of his who did Glurgey Vietnam War films back in the The '80s and wouldn't shut up about how deeply spiritual the pre-production boot camp sessions supposedly were, making it out as if they were on the same level as real soldiers because they did some token research for their roles.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dog books such as The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving, Saving Cinnamon, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Emily Perl Kingsley's 1987 Essay Welcome to Holland, raising and teaching a special-needs child is allegorically compared to spending months planning a trip to Italy and then getting redirected mid-flight to Holland. The mid-flight redirection is never explained to the passengers prior to landing. The narrator then says the second-person protagonist "must stay" in Holland (as if they can't just board a train, bus, or second flight to Italy). The intended lesson about learning to appreciate special needs children is therefore undermined by learning how to handle a detour.
- Furthermore, the essay's penultimate paragraph states that "the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss." While the narrator is still talking about the allegory of getting redirected to Holland (which can easily be fixed by booking a ticket to Italy), it's also implicitly stating that special-needs children are to be mourned for not being neurotypical note , which Autistic blogger Luna Rose refutes.
- 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 — in the Jewish tradition, it's a comedy) solely for the benefit of Christian readers.
- Invoked in The Fountainhead: Alvah Scarrett's career is built on writing glurge-filled newspaper editorials.
- The Giving Tree is meant to be an inspirational story about unconditional love, but it's about a tree who "gives" her whole trunk to her friend the man, leaving only a stump, and he gives nothing in return.
- Heidi: The eponymous girl is happy living in the mountains, and becomes miserable when she's sent to her cousin Klara's house to get an education, so she gets sent back to the mountains and Klara comes with her. They manage to get educated in a way that keeps them happy, meaning that the book doesn't end up with an anti-education message, but the Glurge comes from the fact that Klara is initially in a wheelchair but the disability somehow goes away once she moves to the mountains.
- Hetty Feather: Conversed when Hetty reads a book titled Little Elsa's Last Good Deed, in which a Nice Girl named Elsa does many humanitarian acts but then dies in a hospital. Hetty finds the protagonist dull as she's too good to be realistic.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 Secret Garden's moral is that gardens are good for you. The garden in the story makes the scrawny girl Mary gain weight and the disabled boy Colin learn how to walk, even though in real life gardens can't do those things.
- 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".
- 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 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 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.
- Mad TV'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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A lot of early-to-mid-20th-century pop can fall into this nowadays, given how completely sentimentality has been redefined since then.
- 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.
- 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.
- Songdrops has "All I Want for Christmas is to Spend All of My Christmases with You", which is meant to be a fun Christmas song about a man wanting to spend Christmas with his crush. However, the crush hates his guts, to the point of apparently "going ballistic" every time they talk to each other, and he insists she loves him after all but is hiding her attraction, making the song seem very creepy.
- 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.
- Another 10 worst Christmas songs list said of the song, "Let it be. Let 'Christmas Shoes' be 'Christmas Shoes'. Accept it into your heart, and then go to your doctor, because your heart now has cancer".
- 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"
- "The Deck of Cards" by T. Texas Tyler implies that playing cards in church is punishable by death.
- "Diary of an Unborn Child", an anti-abortion Author Tract, would have been slightly more effective had the titular foetus not been sickeningly sweet and grotesquely creepy in equal parts, making its death more relieving than tragic. And then it starts singing.
- 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.
- The Ronald 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. Donald Trump often plays it at his rallies.
- 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.
- Johnny Darrell's "Green, Green Grass of Home", popularized by singers such as Porter Wagoner and Tom Jones, is practically Angst? What Angst? incarnate. It at first seems to be a peaceful recount of a person's childhood memories in their luscious, green, country home, until it's then revealed that the person is an inmate on Death Row, about to be executed. Despite this, they still seem content with their memories of home, and is about to cherish the fact that after they're executed, they'll be buried underneath the titular green, green grass of home. Unless this person was convicted for a crime they didn't commit, it's really hard to take what they're saying seriously.
- Drake's hit single, "Hotline Bling", seems to play Crazy Jealous Guy as straight as possible, whilst also painting it as presumably the correct perspective in the song. The guy that Drake sings in the perspective of is devastated that his girl has been "wearing less and going out more" whilst "hanging with some girls I've never seen before". He implores her to be herself and return to him, but considering that she apparently, "got exactly what you asked for," this implies that the behavior she's been going through is her being herself, and all the guy wants is control over her life.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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).
- Seona Dancing's "More To Lose" is this trope combined with New Wave; the single is a Break Up Song, but its overtly sentimental composition (combining both a piano riff and cloying synthesised main melody line) & mawkish lyrics ("we tore our hearts with jagged truths") make it more sappy and narmy than the Tear Jerker it's supposed to be. Ricky Gervais's mediocre vocals (it sounds like he's just speaking, for crying out loud!) do not help matters.
- "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.
- Red Sovine made a career out of Glurgy songs, most of them about truckers:
- "Bringing Mary Home": The urban legend of "the vanishing hitchhiker", who's now a little girl.
- "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.
- "Teddy Bear": A lonely little paralyzed boy with a dead father and only a C.B. Radio for company.
- "Run For Your Life" by The Beatles is so chockfull of Lyrical Dissonance and Unfortunate Implications, one can't help but wonder whether or not it was intentional. On its surface, the song seems like a peppy love song, not unlike the kinds seen in The '60s (and done so gracefully earlier on in Rubber Soul with "In My Life"), but one look at the lyrics tells it all. The song is about a man who threatens his loved one with violence if she ever thinks about leaving him. For what it's worth, John Lennon eventually regretted making the song, but this only pushes the Glurge-y narrative that this song was meant to be seen as romantic.
- "Run Joey Run" by David Geddes, a Teenage Death Song from 1975. The titular Joey gets a phone call from his distressed girlfriend, Julie, saying she had a violent argument with her dad, who has a gun and wants to make Joey "pay for what we've done" (it's implied that Julie is pregnant); she also tells Joey not to come to her house. So, of course, Joey speeds over to Julie's house, where her dad attempts to ambush him, but Julie jumps in the way and is killed instead. Julie spends her last words pleading with her dad not to hurt Joey and that she wants to marry him, and Joey ends up traumatized.
- "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
- While the story of Bernall's conversation was reported in the immediate aftermath of the Columbine shootings, later evidence revealed that the reported exchange likely never occurred, as the person who originally reported it apparently confused Bernall with another student.
- 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.
- In a similar vein to The Secret mentioned above (which is actually part of the greater topic), Glurge has been a common criticism of the New Thought Movement. The main philosophy behind the movement is that divinity is merely human in nature, and that we are all in control of our spirits. In particular, the movement revolves around the so-called "Law of Attraction", which claims that disease is caused by negative thinking, and that positive thinking is said to heal a person of their ailments. This carries a whole slew of Unfortunate Implications behind it, notably that impoverished or disease-ridden people are only in their unfortunate state of affairs because they think too negatively.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hazbin Hotel has a premise of redeeming the evil people of Hell so they can get into Heaven. On paper, it seems interesting, but then you consider its sister series, which goes and says that Heaven is evil and corrupt, making the amount of emotional weight laid on Hazbin's premise feel like glurge leading into a Sadist Show. The fact that Helluva Boss seems to fly in the very face of Hazbin doesn't help. The citizens of Hell mocked Charlie's idea of redemption, and then the two shows seem to encourage the very stuff that landed these characters in Hell, and the fact that neither this universe's Heaven or Hell seems ideal makes it all feel hollow.
- Played for Laughs in the RWBY Chibi skit entitled "Nurse Ruby". Weiss is sick and begs Ruby to get her some medicine. Instead of going for the pragmatic option, Ruby instead gets Weiss a glass of whole milk, a copy of Kung Fu Ninja Ultimate Slayer DEATH BATTLE! 2, and to top it all off, a motivational "Hang In There, Baby" cat poster of Blake hanging from a wire. Weiss points out that medicine is what she actually needs, and Ruby still declines, saying that Tai used to do all this stuff for Ruby whenever she was sick, and she would always feel better as a result. ...Followed by a tiny cough.
- Death Clown has the baby smashing PSA which exploits glurge tropes for dark humour.
- 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.note 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.
- Mercilessly parodied in this memetic image here:◊
- Spam, chain letters and faxlore by the thousands. Snopes has a section dedicated to examples of these, with well over one hundred entries, and yet even that barely dips into the endless well of schmaltz, Narm, and unexamined assumptions that winds up in people's inboxes daily.
- Parodied on Cute Overload!, in which the storyteller gets confused by the sequence of events in the pictures, leading to a very Lost Aesop.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic lampshades this among other things in his song "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me".
- Facebook has its own brand of chain letters, which often include pictures and added emotional blackmail along the lines of "only 3% of your friends will be brave enough to share this!".
- MySpace had a rash of people spreading religious chain letters that had a subject line like "Party" and a message that read (paraphrasing) "You opened it because it said 'Party', but would you open it if it said 'Jesus' instead? Now repost this with the same subject line if you love Jesus!" Never mind that lying is against the Ten Commandments. More malicious versions of this would encourage the reader to post it with something along the lines of "I hate (best friend)."
- BuzzFeed articles bearing the title "How to Tell You're [Insert Popular and Frequently GIF'd Character Here]!" frequently fall into this. These articles, and the pictures that accompany them, are usually taken out of context, and sometimes bear incorrect quotes, since the GIFs were swiped from Tumblr after the fanbase had photoshopped them. The peppy blurbs accompanying them do little to soothe the irritation. For example, "29 Signs You're the Lisa Simpson of Your Family" consist of images of Lisa Simpson accompanied by text ostensibly comparing the reader to her. Some of these images are taken out of context, especially the final point, "You started from the bottom now you're here. [sic]", accompanied by an image of Lisa in a pool surrounded by other kids; this episode had those kids treating Lisa as popular just to get to swim in that pool, which Lisa's family recently bought.
Terri: Isn't it amazing the same day you got a pool is the same day we realized we liked you?
Sherri: The timing worked out great, don't you think?
- One of the worst examples of Don't Shoot the Message is the "Don't Judge Me" Challenge from 2016, popularized by Vine. The format of each vine is starting off with the central person looking unbelievably ugly, usually with excess lipstick, a tissue in their nose, and drawn-on zits and unibrows, only for the screen to wipe to the person looking absolutely beautiful. The message presented by the challenge is encouraging body positivity for those who are considered ugly... except for the fact that no human comes close to looking as ugly as the initial shots are. They're completely exaggerated compared to people who are conventionally ugly, who usually range from Hollywood Homely to Ugly Cute, and could even be considered offensive depictions of ugly people under the right scope.
- A notably vicious parody is the "liek dis if u cri evrytiem" meme, consisting of poorly spelled and nonsensical glurge stories. The typical formula involves a girl committing suicide seconds after misunderstanding a compliment from her boyfriend, or the boyfriend performing a Senseless Sacrifice.
- Parodied by Rink Works' "Pea Soup for the Cynic's Soul", a collection of tales that are mostly stereotypical glurge but end in a rather twisted or horrific fashion.
- Pinterest receives particular backlash in some circles for its extremely sentimental and preachy "inspirational" quotes. Its glurge can take a pretty nasty turn through "fitspo" pins (designed to inspire the viewer to get in shape), which combine the glurge with emotional blackmail and guilt-tripping.
- One article from his old website, "Temptation Beach vs. a Book About Retarded People", features the book "Common Sense Not Needed" by Corrie ten Boom. The book is about Corrie's experiences preaching Christianity to developmentally disabled people in Nazi-occupied Europe. In true Glurge fashion, those people are portrayed as paragons of wisdom for parroting the doctrine she preaches, including applying Jesus' message of love to the Nazis — the same Nazis known for killing thousands of disabled people just like the ones Corrie was preaching to. Naturally, Seanbaby is quick to point out that dealing with a genocidal dictator is generally not the proper time to trot out Jesus' "turn the other cheek" rhetoric.
- Various Cracked articles of his such as "4 Unintentionally Depressing Self-Help Books on Happiness" have him poking fun at books which deliver shamelessly saccharine attempts at advice for life. Some notably Glurge-y examples include "The Simply Romantic Wife", a book of romance tips which advises women to be subservient to their husbands, and "1001 Ways to Celebrate America", which was published in 2001:
I haven't seen such a despicable attempt at cashing in on a tragedy since I sold triple-priced body lice shampoo at Comic-Con.
- Snopes is the Trope Namer and has a category for Glurge, which is usually inspirational-sounding urban legends involving hospital patients, animals, religion, etc. Most of the stories are rated false due to being implausible in real life and not holding any water.
- The infamous "There's a reason erasers don't work on your heart" vine crosses glurge with an Ice-Cream Koan. It claims that the reason they don't work is because it wasn't a mistake that you fell in love with somebody, but looking past any Fridge Logic of how erasers are physically unable to reach a heart without some kind of surgery, who ever made the connection between erasers and hearts in the first place? It almost feels spur of the moment in spite of it being presented as inspiring.
- This happens on Tumblr a lot whenever someone doesn't do the proper research:
- An infamous post of a long black object with pink on it was claimed to be a black man's burnt arm, and it was called "tragically beautiful". Then it turned out to actually be a picture of a Chance the Stallion dildo.
- A common GIF image purports to depict someone dying in the middle of an MRI scan. The original poster claimed that death causes the brain to release "tons and tons of endorphins that make you feel a range of emotions. Tragically beautiful." After being reblogged as "deep" and "beautiful", someone pointed out that it actually depicted someone turning into a zombie in The Walking Dead — with the AMC logo not even removed from the corner.
- Someone posted a picture◊ of a police officer with scars on the side of his face, calling it "Joker without makeup". Some users were sufficiently saddened, others visibly offended, before someone pointed out that it was actually a screencap from The Dark Knight where The Joker was hiding out among a group of policemen.
oh thats awkward
- There was a heated argument about a photoset of a bird covered in chocolate, calling it animal cruelty and saying that the bird probably died from interacting with the chocolate. Then it was pointed out that the photos were fake and came from this scene in Jack and Jill. The whole ordeal went memetic rather quickly.
- Another Tumblr post◊ featured an image of a machine pouring a strange pink goop into a bowl, claiming that this was "mechanically separated chicken" and detailing the excruciating process chickens go through to create it. It got a few disgusted and horrified reactions until someone recognized it for what it really was...
- There was for a long time an infamous post circulated on Tumblr, depicting an animated GIF of an oncoming train in black and white, with the claim that if the viewer closes their eyes at the moment the train "hits", they will immediately feel relaxed, because their brain will momentarily be tricked into thinking they have died. A lot of people have spoken out against the post's apparent glorification of suicide to an audience of mostly teenagers and young adults, and taken great pains to point out that suicide is no laughing matter.
- A very controversial Tumblr post once said: "I think suicidal people are just angels that want to go home." While a few users reblogged it as "poetic" and tragic", it was met with a lot more anger from people who actually were suicidal from mental illness, saying that romanticizing suicide is never a good thing.
- One picture that still shows up occasionally is a group of African teenage boys with one who appears to be crying in the middle. According to the caption, it's a ritual where a boy who commits some delinquency or other is surrounded by friends and loved ones telling him all the good things he's done to make him feel better about himself. Heartwarming to some (though a bit cheesy, not to mention nonsensical), but the photo is actually a soccer team celebrating after a win.
- One picture still floating around is two wolves facing each other with fangs bared, while a third looks scared ducked under one of their heads. The caption claims that the ducking wolf is pretending to be scared while really defending her mate's throat. The caption turned out to be complete fiction; all three are male, the smallest of the group just happened to accidentally back into another while submissively ducking out of a dominance display. There's also Fridge Logic as to how guarding another wolf's throat with their head in a fight would even work.
- YouTuber Dhar Mann's "inspirational" videos are largely this. Despite being extremely popular with a young fanbase, the morals of his videos are often cases of Moral Sociopathy or Black-and-White Insanity. There is no nuance to any of the stories, and the "villain" always gets some sort of punishment (which often contradicts the message of the video).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Morton Hears the Womb is an anti-abortion parody of Horton Hears a Who!. The fetuses are portrayed as already looking like babies even though in reality, no one aborts a fetus when the woman is that far along. They can also speak in the womb, and their mothers' reason for wanting the abortions has to do with the fetuses' size instead of simply not wanting kids.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- A similar parody occurs in the Regular Show episode "Temp Check", in which when the park crew determine who they believe is the real Rigby after Doug had disguised himself as him, Mordecai pulls Rigby in for a hug. ...Only to reveal that the Rigby who hugged him is the imposter since Rigby would never actually hug Mordecai, as established earlier in the episode.
- 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 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.
- This trope is deconstructed in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearts and Hooves Day". The titular holiday is the Ponyville version of Valentine's Day, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders discover that Miss Cheerilee, their schoolteacher, does not have a "very special somepony." They learn about a love potion from Twilight and follow the recipe, which is written in saccharine rhyme and includes ingredients like "a tuft of cloud" and "a bright rainbow's glow." Once it's made, they slip it to Cheerilee and Big Macintosh, Apple Bloom's older brother, who the Crusaders decided would be a good match for their teacher. They think it's romantic and a beautiful way to create true love, but it's apparent that A. the CMC didn't take Big Mac or Cheerlie's feelings into consideration, and B. they've essentially given the two a Fantastic Drug (especially because the recipe specifically states that it must be given "to two ponies who aren't in the know"). Then the Deconstruction begins: instead of developing true love, Cheerilee and Big Mac instantly become Sickeningly Sweethearts and babbling idiots who talk in disgustingly cutesy language and refuse to stop looking at each other for even a second. The Crusaders then discover that the fairy tale wasn't a happy story, but a warning — the prince and princess were so enamored with each other that they failed to fulfill their royal duties and ended up destroying their entire kingdom. The CMC are thus forced to break Cheerilee and Big Macintosh up and learn An Aesop that many Glurgey works fail to heed: forcing people to be together in the name of love is a very bad idea and often leads to horrible results.
- 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, and it's possible that the man just thinks the ducks are gone because he himself is sitting in the wrong spot).
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.
- 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 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!