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So You Want To / Write a Very Special Episode

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So you have a lesson that you want to teach your audience. Good for you! But before you do you might want to read this here page.

Necessary Tropes

Well, obviously there's going to be an Aesop. After that, it depends on the Aesop you're using. Many good morals can be derived from a properly Deconstructed Trope, from the obvious "Don't believe what you see on television", to more specific items, such as "No, you can't change him."


Choices, Choices

The world is your oyster when it comes to Aesops but just in case you're not sure what you want to teach your audience check out our handy-dandy list of Stock Aesops.


Potential Subversions

Pick an Aesop, any Aesop, and subvert it. Space Whale Aesops are really good for this.

Writers' Lounge

Suggested Themes and Aesops

Again, the world is your oyster, but make sure that whatever Aesop you pick doesn't get cancelled-out by your premise. Also, make sure that your series can deliver an Aesop that your intended audience can handle reasonably well. If you don't think you've done that, don't dumb the Aesop down. Rather, choose a new one or shift your demographics. Don't think young children could understand your detailed morality lesson? Aim towards a teenage audience.

Potential Motifs

  • If you're trying to illustrate the pitfalls of something, a reminder of the protagonist's "old life" can work very well. If a character's love interest is shown repeatedly warning a character about drugs, but she does them anyways, one can make a strong motif of a necklace that her girlfriend gave her.

  • A good motif will stay with a character. For example, scars can help avoid [1]s.

Suggested Plots


Set Designer / Location Scout

Having your Very Special Episode take place in its original setting will drive your Aesop closer to home than if you change settings all of a sudden.

Props Department

Make sure to have Aesop-related props nearby (car and booze for the drunk-driving episode etc.).

Costume Designer

Casting Director

It might be tempting to bring in a Long-Lost Uncle Aesop but it might be more meaningful if you either introduce them several episodes prior or if you use an already existing character (for example, if the drunk driving episode is one where Tonight, Someone Dies).

Stunt Department

Extra Credit

The Greats

  • Gargoyles had one about guns ("Deadly Force", currently a Missing Episode), and about reading ("A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time").
  • The Blackish episode on police brutality/racial violence is a good example of using material Ripped from the Headlines to create a quality VSE.
  • Bojack Horseman, already a Dramedy, has episodes like "BoJack Hates The Troops", "Hank After Dark" and "Braap Braap Pew Pew", episodes tackling an extremely sensitive topic (in this case, entitled heroism, washing sins of celebrities and abortion respectively) that have no shortage of the show's trademark Black Comedy, proving that very special episodes should not resort to total melodrama to prove their point.

The Epic Fails


Example of: