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Monster of the Aesop

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The tendency of the Monster of the Week to conveniently fit to the episode's theme and Aesop in its appearance and mannerisms, even if they were supposed to be random.

This is frequently justified in one way or another. In some series, there's an inherent property of the Monsters of the Week that makes them tend to follow this trope, even tailoring their Sculpted Physique to fit that theme. Other times, the villains are actually inspired by or even taking advantage of the plot of the episode.

Often the monster's nature can be connected to a Double Aesop, either on learning its origin or finding the way to defeat it.

See also Monogender Monsters and Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance. Subtrope of Space Whale Aesop.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Brave Exkaiser, the Geisters use Earth's television networks to find things that humans 'treasure' so that they can steal it and sell it to the highest bidder. Their Geister Robo monsters are ordinary things that the Geisters transform into the Monster of the Week - usually to make stealing the treasure easier. Early examples include a bridge transformed to steal a train, electrical towers transformed to steal energy from a nuclear power plant, and a launchpad transformed to steal a rocket ship. The metaphorical meaning of 'treasure' also applies, and some of the treasures they try to steal are immaterial things that they have to make adjustments for. In the case of the Geisters trying to steal dreams, [[Baku stealing food from the tapir exhibit at the zoo]] fails. To make up for this, the Geisters install machines that make so much noise constantly that people can't sleep, and thusly can't dream.
  • In various versions of Pretty Cure, the monster is formed from handy, usually inanimate objects, so if any one thing has been the focal point of the episode, there's a good chance the girls will end up fighting it at some point. Of course, the Monster of the Week is just as frequently something random, like a piano or a planter or a gazebo.
    • HeartCatch Pretty Cure! averted this - while an inanimate object was used, the monster was formed by a "Person of the Week"'s withered "Heart Flower", altered due to a problem that's weighted their heart's down. Evidently, it usually leads to the heroines to beat the monster by talking before using their powers to fully purify them.
  • Mazinger Z: In episode 41 Kouji is undergoing a hard pilot training to be able to fly Mazinger-Z at high altitude. However he resents many aspects of the training, like being on a diet,and he even got in a fight with Sayaka because she wanted him eating the diet food she had made and he refused. Of course, in that episode Dr. Hell designed a Mechanical Beast -Karma K5- capable to fly higher and faster than Mazinger-Z, and Count Brocken crafted a strategy to exploit that advantage. Kouji got hurt and even fainted due to physical strain and exhertion, and later he apologized to Sayaka, admiting he should have listened to her and eaten the meal she had fixed.
  • In the Super Robot Genre anime Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh, the monster seeds were specifically activated by the word "meiwaku" (troublesome, problem) being used in a phrase, and would then take on the form/powers of whatever was being considered a problem by the speaker. So there was a traffic jam monster, a flu monster, a superhero monster (this one had some serious "what side am I on again?" issues) and so forth.
  • In Sailor Moon, it often occurred either because the monster inherited the human host's traits in grotesquely exaggerated form, or because it possessed an inanimate object owned by the Victim of the Week and somewhat connected to the episode's plot. Most of the monsters in the first few episodes didn't follow this precisely, mainly being heavily bowdlerized versions of Cutey Honey-type monsters.
  • CLAMP has used this a few times in both Tokyo Babylon and ×××HOLiC.
  • All the X Eggs in Shugo Chara! stem specifically from self-confidence issues.
    • Except in filler episodes when "? ("Mystery") Eggs" take on this role
  • Pixy Misa in Magical Project S would frequently create a "Love-Love Monster" from an object linked to the story (e.g. P.E. equipment, a chemistry vial, a comic book, etc.).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion features this occasionally with the Angels, the most notable example being Israfel, which forces Shinji and Asuka to overcome their hostility towards each other to defeat it.
  • In a similar vein to the Raijin-Oh and Sailor Moon examples above, GaoGaiGar's monsters of the week through the first half of the series were the manifestations of the stress that the host of the Zonder Metal was suffering from.

    Fan Works 
  • Invoked and Deconstructed in Marionettes where the title Marionettes were created by the Stallions in Black to enforce what they view as the 'correct' path of fate and teach the Mane Six and CMC (who they view as The Chosen Ones) lessons or humble them as part of their mission to 'safeguard Equestria's heroes'. In fact the original one, G1T01 (Trixie's original form) was created to humble Sunset Shimmer. The deconstruction comes in due to the fact the Marionettes are fully sapient and thus it's incredibly heartless to use them as object lessons and deny them any other form of freedom. Particularly due to the fact the Stallions actively reprogram them to prevent them from changing for the better.

  • Ursa from After Earth. A monster that hunts solely by detecting emanations of fear, and is deaf and blind otherwise, makes absolutely no sense, especially since it was supposedly designed that way specifically to prey on human (advanced, star-faring humans, mind you, not cavemen), except as a visual representation of the protagonist's need to face and conquer his fear.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Power Rangers:
    • Rita Repulsa, in particular, did it all the time. In fact, most villainous plots from the first two seasons were inspired by what the Ranger teens were doing at school when the villains looked in. Even multi-parters had a lesson to be learned that the monster would tie into.
    • Zedd was, in a way, worse, as he'd make monsters from (sometimes Aesop-related) objects, allowing them to be even better tailored to the plot!
    • Mostly averted with Master Vile, the lone filler episode was sort of this. Of course with Vile being a Knight of Cerebus, this is to be expected.
    • King Mondo did this occasionally but much less so than the evil space aliens. Divatox, on the other hand, did this a lot. Astronema did this on occasional but seeing as how Cerebus Syndrome defined In Space, this was less common
    • Trakeena and other post-Zordon villains did this less as the Rangers were often young adults with jobs and was no longer the lighthearted show set in Angel Grove that we were familiar with, they no longer hung out at a juice bar, went to high school, or had quirky misadventures with Bulk and Skull (although Bulk did board Terra Venture and came back in Samurai).
  • In the Charmed episode "Battle of the Hexes," Billie is rather outspoken about her beliefs that Straw Feminism is better than real equality between the sexes. She learns the defects of this philosophy when she just happens to discover a magical belt that belonged to an ancient Amazon queen. More or less by coincidence, the demon of the week also holds to Straw Feminist views.
  • Due to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's initial mission statement of showing 'High School as Hell' most episodes feature monsters and villains that turn a normal teenage issue into high horror-flavoured drama. Like most Monster of the Week shows, the monsters are often Anvilicious (and sometimes lampshaded). Leaving High School after season 3 meant the characters had a less particular time of life to make Aesops about, but it certainly didn't stop them cropping up.
    • In "Witch", a mother who tries to live through her daughter is literally a witch who has bodyswapped with the girl.
    • In "Go Fish", a coach who prizes only his team's ability to perform and not any finer human qualities has them turn into sea monsters.
    • In the episode "Reptile Boy", Buffy and Cordelia go to a frat party. The one drink is, of course, drugged, though this being Buffy the girls are nearly devoured by a giant snake monster as opposed to raped. This one ended with a notable lampshading:
      "... You were nearly eaten by a hell-beast. I think the words 'let that be a lesson' are a tad redundant at this juncture."
    • The next time Buffy tries drinking with frat boys in "Beer Bad", they all turn into cavemen (and cavewoman) stereotypes.
    • "Teacher's Pet" has the sexy female substitute teacher who preys on teenage boys be revealed to be a giant praying mantis who devours her victims after mating with them.
    • In "The Pack", Xander and some other students become possessed by hyenas. Before it escalates into people being eaten, the plot plays out like Xander is falling in with a bad crowd and turning into a bully/delinquent.
    • In "Ted", Buffy has to deal with her mother's new boyfriend who's nice Standard '50s Father to everyone else, but turns into a nasty and abusive Control Freak to Buffy when their backs are turned. He turns out to be a malfunctioning android.
    • The villain of "The Prom" is trying to get back at his fellow high schoolers by killing them at prom. Aside from the fact that he was planning on sicking demonic dogs on them and not use guns, the plot feels very reminiscent of a school shooting. The most obvious moment is when we find out he sent out an ominous email in advance, where he gloats about his classmates impending deaths. Interestingly, this episode aired only weeks after Columbine. However, it was an earlier episode, "Earshot", that ended up delayed since it involved a student bringing a gun to school and was treated far more seriously, even though the supposed mass shooting in that episode turned out to be a Red Herring. But since "The Prom" was more ridiculous at first glance and the killer was treated as more of a nuisance, it aired with zero delays.
      Wesley: Let me guess: he was always quiet, kept to himself but always seemed like a nice young man.
      Oz: Well, he didn't seem the murderous type anyway.
  • Supernatural: The episode "You Can't Handle the Truth" featured the Roman goddess Veritas who was killing people by making people around them tell the truth about anything, just when Sam and Dean are dealing with trust issues of their own because Sam is barely acting like a normal human (because he lacked his soul, it turns out).

  • Early on in BIONICLE, the Toa had to face Evil Knockoffs of them called the Shadow Toa, born from the darkness within themselves. While the Toa were able to fight them to a standstill, they could only be truly defeated by the Toa accepting their inner darkness.

    Video Games 
  • In a rare video game example, the Eidolons in Final Fantasy XIII. Each of them are summoned when the related party member reaches their Despair Event Horizon. Conquering the Eidolon in battle always involves playing to the character's strength in battle and overcoming the character's Fatal Flaw.
  • Persona 4's Shadow bosses and their dungeons are all based around some mini-Aesop for a different character, about how they have to learn to accept themselves. So for example you have Chie's "dominatrix banana-head" Shadow that represents her repressed resentment about Yukiko's greater popularity and joy at having the popular girl lean on her for support, which later leads her to have a more honest and mutually supportive relationship with Yukiko.

    Western Animation 
  • Each episode of Yogi's Gang featured a villain who encouraged or reveled in bad behavior such as greed, bigotry, vandalism, or littering.
  • A common theme on Sushi Pack is that the villain of the day will need (and usually fail) to learn the same lesson that one or more members of the Pack is struggling with.
  • Common on Teamo Supremo, where the villain's M.O. would often coincide with some issue one of the heroes was struggling with, such as a battle with Sloppy Joe coinciding with Brenda having problems with disorganization.
  • In the 2007 TMNT movie, the Turtles face a villain-led "brotherhood" while they themselves are having unity issues. Just prior to the final battle, the Turtles' family comes together as that of their enemy falls apart.
  • Teen Titans
    • The very first episode contrasts our heroes, who are constantly squabbling with each other over petty matters and can't keep their tower maintained with the well-organized, highly-professional H.I.V.E academy students. The H.I.V.E hand the Titans their asses through a combination of coordinated attack formations and exploiting the Titans' internal discord and individual weaknesses. Its only after they rally, get organized, and come up with an actual plan of attack that the Titans are able to triumph.
    • In the episode "Forces of Nature", the other Titans are mad at Beast Boy for his non-stop, often dangerous pranks, which he unapologetically commits. The villains of the episode are then revealed to be Thunder and Lightning, a pair of superpowered brothers who turn out to be less evil than... a pair of pranksters who don't fully grasp they're hurting people. They and Beast Boy then learn the aesop about taking responsibility for one's actions together.
    • The aptly named episode Fear Itself has the monster from an impossibly scary horror movie come to life and terrorize the Titans Tower. Everyone initially thinks that the party responsible is Control Freak, a minor villain who can bring movies to life, but the source of his power was confiscated by the Titans at the beginning of the episode and hadn't been touched since. It turns out that the responsible party was Raven. Because her Psychic Powers are tied to her emotional state, her being in denial about being scared by the movie caused her to subconsciously bring her own fears to life. She's able to make them go away be simply admitting to herself that she was scared and resolve to face her fears anyway.
  • Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fits this. The show overall is all about friendship (well, duh) and Discord is the spirit and living embodiment of... well, guess. And his signature ability (well, aside from being able to do absolutely anything) is to invert personalities (turning positive into negative, of course), thus breaking friendships.
  • An episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold featured an egocentric Captain Atom who constantly said that Batman wasn't a real hero because he didn't have powers. Then, the Villain of the Week showed up and took his powers, making him useless. Of course, this being the show that it was, Cap didn't get it at all.
  • The akuma from Miraculous Ladybug verge on this sometimes. For example, Ladybug and Chat Noir's showdown with the Horrificator involves a lesson in facing your fears. Justified in that the akumas work by finding someone who is full of anger or frustration, disabling their inhibitions, and then giving them a set of superpowers themed around their personality. So an akuma's powerset will usually be correlated to what's happening to them at the moment.
  • The Arc Villains in The Legend of Korra combine this with Villain Has a Point, in that they embodied a societal change that needed to happen; it's just that their imbalanced methodologies brought them into villain territory. Amon sought to free the Muggles from oppression, but wanted to do so by exterminating the Bending Arts altogether. Unalaq wanted to restore mankind's connection with the spirits, but sought this by instigating civil war and becoming the Dark Messiah. Zaheer and the Red Lotus wanted to put an end to oppressive dictatorships, but tried to accomplish this through Bomb Throwing Anarchy. Kuvira sought to bring order and strength to a chaos-torn world, but did so by subjugating the Earth Kingdom under her iron-fisted rule.
  • Each member of the Rogues Gallery on Captain Planet and the Planeteers was designed to embody a certain threat to the planet's ecosystem.
  • This tends to happen in a few episodes of VeggieTales. Especially in the Larry-Boy installments. Just 3 examples are an alien Fib that grows bigger when the person it hangs out with lies but shrinks when they tell the truth, a Rumor Weed that grows bigger via the power of, well, rumors, and a bad apple that tries to get everyone to give into temptation.