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Prejudice Aesop

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No matter what your language, no matter what your name, in some ways we're all the same.

Prejudice. An irrational, unfortunate wrong that, sadly, is still very much an issue today, though it's been steadily decreasing as people are increasingly exposed to "the other" in television, movies, and even the workplace. This is when the story has a moral which amounts to either "don't be prejudiced" in general, or "don't judge people based on X", where "X" could be as serious as race, but it could also be as simple as their hobbies.

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Works (and installments of works) with Prejudice Aesops usually have a message about how "we're all different, even within groups, and that's a good thing because it makes the world more interesting" or "these people are a bit different, but in some ways, we're all the same".

A common plot is for someone to introduce their new friend or love interest to their friends/family, only to find out that their friends/family are prejudiced against a group the new character belongs to (sometimes because they're just bad news, but other times out of naivete or misguided fear). In another commonly used scenario, a character, or group of characters, prepares to meet this new character who belongs to a group, expecting them to behave or look a certain way due to stereotypes or preconceived notions, only to discover the character isn't at all like what they assumed. The new character might be a Long-Lost Uncle Aesop, but they may go on to become an established character.

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Another common plot is to have a character plan to do something (maybe even being the first in their group to do it) only to find out that they're not allowed because the folks in charge are prejudiced.

It may also be combined with Fantastic Racism or Animal Jingoism where characters are prejudiced toward another species due to believing stereotypes (such as mistakenly believing that dogs hate cats or that all gnomes are evil), but then learning that the stereotypes aren't true.

Either way, the message might also be learned by having the one who characters are prejudiced against saving the bigots, winning against them, or something similar.Double points if they prove the bigots wrong in the process (e.g. Alice wins against Bob in a footrace despite him saying, "You run like a girl!").

Usually results in the bigot becoming a Former Bigot. Can happen in a Girls vs. Boys Plot. Gay Aesop, Showing Up Chauvinists, and You Go, Girl! are sub-tropes. Sometimes is a Very Special Episode. If an established character is established as prejudiced when they previously were not, that's a kind of Compressed Vice.

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Important: Please only add intentional examples here. Unintentional ones go on Accidental Aesop.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece: The main lesson showcased in the Fishman Island Arc. Fishman and mermaids are considered a major minority race within the series, with many having suffered enslavement and cruelty from humans. This has caused a few fishman such as Arlong and Hody Jones (the main antagonist of this arc) to have grudges against the human race and go out of their way to kill and enslave those they can catch themselves, regardless if they've done anything to them or not. Hody himself even admitted humans never did anything to him, he just grew up in a negative environment that taught him humanity were lesser beings and would even persecute those that would interact with humans up to and including killing the queen of Fishman Island. After the Straw Hats defeat him and his crew, the royalty of the kingdom, already trying hard to foster relations with humanity, promise to take steps so this won't happen again and teach their people that not all humans are evil.

    Comic Books 
  • EC Comics: In the classic story "Judgement Day" a human astronaut visits a planet of robots to determine whether they are qualified to join The Federation. He learns that the robots come in two colors, orange and blue, and the orange robots discriminate against the blue ones. He judges the planet unready to join the Federation because of this. In the last panel he removes the spacesuit helmet he had been wearing throughout the story, revealing that he is a black man.

    Films—Animation 
  • The moral of Beauty and the Beast (and the fairy tale which inspired it) is not to judge somebody by their appearance because the "beast" is actually a man under a curse.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame is about religious bigotry both towards those considered deformed (Quasimodo) or heathens (Esmeralda and the Romani). Frollo has demonized the Romani and is hunting them, while also keeping Quasimodo trapped in the bell tower to hide him from society.
    Esmeralda: You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help!
    Frollo: Silence!
    Esmeralda: JUSTICE!
  • Pocahontas serves to teach a lesson about prejudice; the English settlers viewing the Powhatans as uncivilized savages leads to hostilities between them that in turn leads Kocoum to attack John Smith for being with Pocahontas and Thomas to then shoot him dead because he's been conditioned to dehumanize the Powhatans. Pocahontas appeals to everyone's basic humanity to stop the violence.
    "Look around you! This is where the path of hatred has brought us."
  • Pooh's Heffalump Movie reveals that the Hundred Acre Wood citizens were misguided in their fear of Heffalumps. Roo befriends a young Heffalump named Lumpy and the characters learn that Heffalumps are harmless.
  • Zootopia shows that everyone harbors a degree of bias within them and some of those biases can be destructive as they lead to prejudice, stereotyping and profiling. Instead of focusing on just a single prejudice throughout the movie, we actually see many different biases at play at different times. The main prejudice that's exploited by the Big Bad is that predators have innate biological impulses that can cause them to revert to their "primitive, savage ways." However, we also see prejudice reflected in the belief that bunnies can't be cops, foxes are sly and untrustworthy, all elephants never forget, or any aggressive predator seems savage to a small rabbit. This is how bias works in the real world. However, the blow is softened as the movie also shows that you can overcome bias if you actively work on becoming aware of it and moving past it.

    Films—Live-Action 
  • Don't Be a Sucker, released on 1943 and edited four years later, on 1947, was a Backed by the Pentagon short movie for the use of its servicemembers and attacking fascism and racial prejudices.
  • Revenge of the Nerds has this as the underlying messages. The heroes are essentially outcasts at the college they go to when they simply just want the same academic college experience everyone else wants, some of their members including a effeminate black man, a child prodigy and a boorish but still good hearted member. But the jocks take their jerkassery to extreme levels to the point of bigotry, especially when said protagonists make their own dorm after the jocks took their initial one and try out for a black charter (who ironically nearly refused upon seeing they were nerds but changed their minds upon seeing they were just as persecuted and impressed that they were willing to fight back) only for the jocks to ruin just to "put them in their place". In the end when the jock trash their dorm, the lead hero confronts them and gives a speech that everyone is ultimately no different then the other and shouldn't single out someone for being different.
  • Volcano has this as something of a theme. While most of the focus is trying to stop the lava from an active volcano from spreading across Los Angeles, there's likewise the message we have to work together to survive at all and prejudice will only hinder that. A minor plotline had a black man getting hassled and later arrested over a squabble by a white cop. Though the cop lets him go in lieu of the crisis and later the black man helps him and other first responders by lifting a roadblock barricade needed to be put in place with others and slow the lava. Which the cop later thanks him by getting a fire truck to go down to his neighborhood and put out the fires there. At the end, when the lava flow is finally stopped and ashes rain down from the smoke cloud, covering everyone in them. A boy that was rescued comments "Everyone looks the same".

    Literature 
  • The Berenstain Bears: In "The New Neighbours", some panda bears move in next door. Papa Bear is prejudiced against them for not being "real bears", but then learns to accept them.
  • Gangsta Granny is about a boy named Ben hating to stay with his "boring" grandmother, but then finding jewels in her biscuit tin and being told she used to steal them. The moral of the story is not to assume someone is boring just because they're old.
  • Harry Potter has this as a central theme, but it's most present in the second book; Harry learns of the Fantastic Racism from pure blood wizards towards Muggle borns, and that one of the Hogwarts founders created the Chamber of Secrets with a monster inside to purge the school of Muggle born students.
  • In Is There a Dog in This Book?, Andre and Moonpie assume that the dog will hate them for being cats, so they run away and take Tiny (who is unbiased) with them. Eventually, however, they learn that some dogs are friendly and make friends with the dog.
  • Pink Is For Boys is about how all colours are suitable for both boys and girls and Pink Girl, Blue Boy shouldn't apply.
  • In The Sneetches and Other Stories, the first story, "The Sneetches", is about creatures called "Sneetches", some of which have star shapes on their bellies and believe they're better than the ones without. A monkey-like creature named Sylvester McBean gives them a machine that gives the plain-bellied ones stars, but they start to fight and add and remove stars until they have no idea who is who. They then learn not to discriminate based on appearance.
  • In the Roys Bedoys book "Respect People's Opinions, Roys Bedoys", Roys Bedoys learns not to judge people based on them having different opinions than you.
  • Williams Doll is about a boy named William who wants a doll but is faced with sexism and everyone needs to learn that boys can like dolls too.
  • Theres Something About Sam deals with Max hesitant to invite new kid Sam to his birthday sleepover because he's "weird". When Sam comes, Max gets used to the kid's differences and comes to love it. The thing about Sam? Lycanthropy!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Although not a series per se, BBC News 24 had a small one-off interview around 2012-2013 featuring how New Zealanders in Australia sometimes faced hostility despite the nations being friendly to one another, and post-2017, how American expats in Canada faced hostility due to the new president.
    • Similarly, BBC News 24 presenter Karin Giannone also released a now-deleted YouTube video in 2014 detailing her own experiences of prejudice; she is white South African, but lived in England most of her life.
  • All in the Family: A lot of episodes focused on this as the main lead, Archie, grew up in a time where prejudice was a common thing and, while comedic, dealt with him coming to terms with the changes of the era, how such thinking is becoming outdated and his moral fiber being put to the test when some acts of prejudice become a bit extreme for his liking.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The show dealt with this in a few cases, in one episode Will and Carlton are givin the keys to a car belong to Phil's legal partner. They drive it into a white neighborhood and are stopped by two cops who assume they stole it (though largely due to a rash of car thefts in the area), leading to their parents busting them out and Phil getting a major awesome moment where he dresses down the cops who arrested them. In the end, the whole experience shakes Carlton's faith in the legal system. Another had Will and Carlton trying out for a black fraternity, but the leader singles out Carlton due to coming up from a rich family which he considers as "sell outs" to the black community and giving him more difficult tasks during the haze week. Despite Carlton weathering everything, the leader refuses to let him join and when the reason why is revealed, Carlton gives him a major "The Reason You Suck" Speech before Will and he leave altogether and the second in command of the fraternity states he'll make sure the leader is discharged and thrown out for his prejudice.
  • The Good Doctor includes this trope in an episode featuring a trans girl and, while the show is Lighter and Softer than its predecessor House (from the same creator), it went Darker and Edgier and had the eponymous doctor, Shaun Murphy, thinking about when he was the victim of prejudice for being autistic. Unlike some examples on this page, this is more down to being Innocently Insensitive (which is part of his character), rather than a Jerkass, although towards the end of Season 3, he temporarily Took a Level in Jerkass during the Romance Arc.
  • Happy Days, being set in The '50s, dealt with the issue a number of times:
    • In "The Best Man", Howard is the best man to his black friend, but the neighbours are racist. Fonzie sums up the moral best: "It's not about the colour of your skin; what matters is if you're cool."
    • In "Fonzie's New Friend", Fonzie has a black friend but the teens and their parents (except Howard and Marion) are racist, so Fonzie has to teach them not to be racist.
    • In "Fonzie Loves Pinky", Fonzie thinks women can't race in a derby, so Pinky Tuscadero has to prove him wrong.
  • Holby City has this an Omnipresent Trope in its Long Runner history (21 years), so listing all the examples would take up too much room, but this aesop is more of an Enforced Trope due to the BBC's public service commitments.
  • The Jeffersons: A few episodes dealt with this a bit seeing how the leads were African-American during the 70's. One of the most notable was Sorry, Wrong Meeting where George, Bentley, and Tom go to what they think is a Neighborhood Watch meeting when really it's a KKK chapter who're trying to to force the Jeffersons out of the building. The leader suffers a heart attack while arguing with George who saves him via CPR. But when told he did, the leader bluntly state "You should have let me die" before being wheeled off to a hospital. Needless to say the leader's son and the men of the chapter see how toxic prejudice can be if he isn't even willing to be grateful his life was saved at all and they leave the meeting en masse.
  • The first episode of the obscure puppet show Panwapa has the islanders assuming newcomer Azibo is dangerous because he's a monster. The only one unafraid is the owl Athena, who convinces Azibo to let them know how nice he really is via song, leading the other islanders to learn their mistake and help him make his home.
  • Sesame Street:
    • The song "We All Sing with the Same Voice" is about how people all look different, have different families, and come from different places, but we're all the same in many ways.
    • "No Matter What Your Language" is also about how even though we speak different languages, have different names etc., we're still all the same in many ways.
    • Another song, "No Matter What", is about how we're all different, but we still do things like shiver, laugh, cry, etc.
    • One cartoon skit is about a Native American boy teaching two white boys about how Native Americans don't really speak in Tonto Talk.
    • In one episode, Gina gets a racist phone call saying she can't be best friends with Savion because they have different skin colours. She tells Telly that some people think people with different skin colours can't be friends, but that those people are stupid.
    • One song is about how families with only one parent, or with grandparents, aunts, and/or uncles as legal guardians, are just as legitimately families as families with two parents.
  • The Sooty Show: In one episode, Matthew thinks that men are better drivers than women. He changes his tune when Soo wins against him in a car race.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) has several of these, including "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" (don't allow paranoia to make you prejudiced), "Eye of the Beholder" (don't be prejudiced based on appearance), "The Obsolete Man" (don't allow the state to determine who is and is not worthy of living), "He's Alive" (racism is bad because that's how Hitler took power), and "Time Enough At Last" (don't be cruel to people for liking something you don't).

    Music 
  • Parodied in the Kat McSnatch song "Don't Be a Racist" where the lyrics are racist themselves (e.g. "If you're Japanese, stop murdering the whales") but at the same time, it tells the listeners not to be racist. The chorus points out the song's hypocrisy and asserts that "racism is always wrong unless you put it into a song".
  • In the Peter Alsop song "It's Only a Wee-Wee (So What's the Big Deal?)", the singer (portrayed as a young child of about six) doesn't understand why adults are sexist and think children should act a certain way based on their gender, when the only real difference between boys and girls is their "wee-wee".

    Video Games 
  • This aesop is a major underlying theme in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Most angels, like Archangel Vulcanus, consider the demons to be pure evil, that angels are the only source of good, and humanity is effectively Too Dumb to Live without the angels' guidance. Flonne, whom has spent time in Laharl's company, effectively rebukes Vulcanus's claims during the final chapter.
    • Similarly, in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, human guardsman Almaz even brings mention to his own prejudices against demons prior to working with Mao and company, coming to view the group as good friends.
  • This is largely the overarching aesop of Fire Emblem's Tellius duology. There is a deep divide between Beorc (traditional human characters) and Laguz (animalistic humanoid shapeshifters) due to past tensions and racial prejudice while the Branded (hybrids between the two) are treated horribly by both sides. Ike, the protagonist, grew up without knowledge of such racial divides, and his journey throughout the games basically beats the player over the head that "racism is bad."

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Hooky: A majority of the comic deals with the war between humans and witches. Some members on both sides really just wanting peace from the fear the other keep imposing on them (Witches uses magic to subjugate humans, humans hunting witches down), though of course you got the few jackasses who keep stoking the conflict as well. This comes to a head when one of the main characters, Dani, after viewing what she thought was her brother's, Dorin's, death. Unwittingly cast a curse on herself and became the much feared Queen of the Witches which only exacerbated things. It isn't until the end where her brother and friends, after a very lengthy battle and chase, get the two sides to finally talk things out and reach a shaky yet reasonable truce (Helped that one of said friends is a royal who has taken up learning magic). Later working together to heal their wounded. It's in this unity that finally breaks the curse and brings Dani back to normal.

    Western Animation 
  • Third And Bird:
    • In one episode, Muffin makes friends with a pig named Ben, but Samuel and Rudy tell her not to bring him to visit because pigs are dirty and lazy. When Ben does show up, however, he proves to be a Neat Freak and not lazy at all.
    • In another episode, Samuel makes friends with a worm, but Muffin doesn't like worms because they move differently. Samuel teaches her that differences are fine and they sing a song about how "Different is Good".
    • Another episode featuring Elliot involves the birds going to Elliot's family reunion where Esther, his aunt, is prejudiced against birds. They teach her to shed her prejudice, again with the "Different is Good" song.
  • Arthur: "Dear Adil" is about Arthur having assumptions about his Turkish pen pal (assuming he lives in a tent, owns a camel, etc.) and learning that he shouldn't make assumptions about cultures.
  • The Loud House episode "Lincoln Loud: Girl Guru" has Lincoln trying to give advice about girls only for it to fail miserably, the moral being that girls and women are just as varied as boys and men.
  • In the Martha Speaks episode "There Goes the Neighbourhood", Martha doesn't want to be friends with Kitten the cat because she hates cats, but then she learns that cats aren't all bad.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Hearth's Warming Eve" reveals that over a thousand years ago, Pegasi, unicorns, and regular ponies (or "Earth ponies" as they're called) used to all be prejudiced against one another, but that attracted elemental spirits who made it cold and fed on hatred, so the ponies had to learn to drop their prejudices to survive.
    • "Bridle Gossip" is about the ponies assuming that Zecora the zebra is dangerous because she lives in the Everfree forest and they've never seen a zebra so they assume she's a weird sort of pony. They eventually learn she's just a friendly herbalist.
    • "The Times They are a Changeling" is about the cast learning that not all Changelings are bad upon meeting a Changeling named Thorax.
    • In "School Daze", Twilight wants to start a school for learning how to make friends and get along. However, Chancellor Neighsay disallows it because she's allowing non-pony creatures to enter and believes they're dangerous.
    • Even the penultimate two-parter, "The Ending of the End," uses this as a plot point. The villains sow distrust among the pony races that all unicorns, pegasi and Earth ponies end up segregating themselves. So much that it weakens the defenses around Cantorlot, the villains figuring the prejudice and fear of each other would be enough to keep aid from coming to the Mane Six when they go after them (though likewise unwittingly summoning the Windgos as well which only appear when there's major strife between the pony races). But thanks to the lessons taught in Twilight's school in this and the previous season, the students of said school rally their respective races to come together and fight for their kingdoms. And indeed, all manner of races do so at a critical moment in the battle against Tirek, Chrysalis and Cozy Glow, saving the Mane 6 and Spike. What's more, this unity of the races is what Twilight realizes is the true power that the Elements of Harmony embody and were always with them despite the tree and accessories being destroyed at the beginning of the season. Ultimately it's what de-powers and stops the villains' plans once and for all.
  • Peg + Cat: In "The Big Dog Problem", Peg and Cat assume the dog is mean because he's very large, but then they learn he's a Big Friendly Dog and they shouldn't judge based on size.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: This is a major underlying theme within the series. At first were lead to believe the evil forces were monsters from Star's homeland, Mewni, trying to seize power for themselves. But as the series goes on, we start to see plotlines that showcase the monsters aren't as bad as Star was lead to think, some even just want better living conditions for their families due to actually being oppressed by the current regime. The prejudice was so bad, that, during Eclipsa's rule, she fell in love with a monster and birthed a daughter, a half-breed. The Butterfly monarchy absolutely rejected the notion of having a partial monster for a ruler and, after Eclipsa was imprisoned in crystal, went so far as to secretly switch her daughter out for a normal Mewnian. Season three goes into this much more as the series moves into the other realms and we explore more of Mewni. Season four takes it full throttle and showcases how prejudice can have devastating consequences if left unchecked.
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