Aesop Amnesia

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"Lying is wrong! I'd know that if only I'd paid attention to anything that's ever happened to me before!"
Stan Smith, American Dad

Some characters have a particular trait or mannerism that's come to be viewed as an overall part of them. Maybe they're stingy, or abrasive, or just like using a lot of profanity. Along comes an episode with An Aesop, and a character learns how good it is to be generous, or friendly, or that they don't need curse words to make themselves known.

Then, by two episodes later at the most, they're back to hoarding their money, snapping at people, or cursing like a sailor. They've just run into Aesop Amnesia.

Aesop Amnesia is a sort of Snap Back that assures that Status Quo Is God from a character development point of view. After all, if you change something about the character that fans find enjoyable or defining about them, they're not going to be happy; and if that character trait provided a valuable foil for other characters, neither will the writers that come after. (Thus, you're much more likely to run into it on a series where writing duties are handled by a rotating set of writers and guest writers.)

And, of course, it allows the character to learn the same lesson all over again later!

In more recent series, this may eventually be Lampshaded, especially if the show has a strong comedy element. In dramatic series, not so much.

A secondary sort is where the same series keeps trying to teach the same moral over and over again. This is slightly different than when the show has a certain theme or Aesop as their underlying premise, but rather where a show with a broad premise just keeps hammering home that one particular one until the viewer wants to shout "I get it already!"

A standard of cartoons, especially those aimed at fairly young children (or where the writers think anyone under thirty is a dope).

This is Truth in Television to some extent. People do not always overcome their flaws as quickly as fiction sometimes would like them to. Contrast Epiphany Therapy, where characters resolve long-standing issues and flaws too quickly. Compare Ignored Epiphany.

Examples of Aesop Amnesia include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In what's probably a record for "fastest personality reset", after seeing a job well done, the members of the Student Council in Seitokai no Ichizon promise to stop being lazy and actually do the jobs they were elected for. One scene later, everything is back to the status quo.
  • In Slayers Revolution, Rezo the Red Priest is resurrected and basically the same crap with the Dark Lord Shabranigdo unfolds due to his obsession with gaining sight, which he was supposed to have gotten over in his Death Equals Redemption of the first series.
  • In Detective Conan, during the episodes in which Ran suspects Conan is secretly Shinichi, she treats him with more respect, runs interference for him to investigate, and just generally pays more attention to what he has to say. But let him convince her the resemblance was all in her imagination, and she is back to scolding him for "interfering" in Kogoro's investigations again.
    • That is partly due to Ran already treated Shinichi as a legitimate detective, while she still considered Conan as a Snooping Little Kid.
    • At one point Kogoro is told by the doctor to stop drinking so much—and for a few episodes he actually does. But not long afterward, he is back to boozing as heavily as usual.
  • Happens in the third arc of Bakemonogatari. The Aesop of the second arc was that Senjogouhara needs to be honest with Araragi about what's actually going on, or they're unlikely to make any significant progress in their relationship. But then in the third arc, Araragi lies to Senjogouhara about how he was beaten and mangled by Kanbaru. He then proceeds to keep her uninformed as he takes Kanbaru to Oshino to cure her affliction, even though Senjougahara is the whole reason why Kanbaru attacked him in the first place. Senjougahara calls him out on this in the climax after Oshino explains to her what's going on.
  • Kujo of the Gosick anime seems to experience this regularly. He regularly questions whether Victorique really cares for him, agonizes over it, and then comes to the conclusion she does care... only to forget the next mini-arc.
  • Inverted with Naruto. A key lesson he learned from Haku was that it was fighting for somebody you care about that makes you truly strong. This belief, and his decision to follow his own path, defined his character. He promptly forgot the very things that defined him when confronted with Gaara, whom he thought was strong because he had to endure his loneliness; it was only after remembering the forgotten aesop that he regained his will to fight.
    • A particularly egregious example is in play in the anime's most recent filler arc. Naruto spent most of the last arc realizing that revenge is bad and destroys people, thereby solidifying his determination to rescue Sasuke from himself. However, at least half of the filler episodes have Naruto happily forgetting that revenge turned his best friend into an Omnicidal Maniac and actually helping other people get revenge. At one point, he even takes the initiative to avenge an island, despite the fact that there was no one left to benefit from destroying the oppressors. Somehow, it seems that the entire anime staff has missed the numerous falling anvils
  • Happens more then once in Digimon Xros Wars. Especially to Kiriha who will be a changed man actually more then once in the series. Most obvious when Deckerdramon dies and everyone is talking some sense into him. Two episodes later he is acting the same as before. But even to the main character Taiki who has to accept the fact later on that he might not be able to save everyone and he might has to kill some friends, who are revived after all. But he gets back into the old patterns very soon.
  • The English dub of Stitch!, which portrays it as a sequel to Lilo & Stitch: The Series, where Stitch moved to Japan just because "Lilo is too old to keep him", despite Ohana meaning "family", and no one being left behind. Averted in the original Japanese version, which takes place in an Alternate Continuity... ...but was later retconned back into the sequel where Lilo is now an adult and the mother to a little girl that looked exzctly like her when she was young.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Gotham City Sirens manages to impressively forget an Aesop on the same page! Harley Quinn has finally decided to stop pining after the Joker, since her experiences with another former sidekick has taught her that the Joker really does not care about those people he works with, and she has seen first-hand how pathetic and depressing such obsessions truly are. She knows he will never change, and for her own good and the good of her friends she should just move on...of course, he still might change... This is, of course, a major part of Harley's characterization, and a testament to how screwed up she is.
  • Batman has learned to be more open and caring to his children (especially Nightwing) so often that this might as well be called A Batman Family Aesop. Of course, that will happen with seventy-odd years of having been published. One of the things that really pisses off Batman fans (who have dubbed the phenomenon "Batdickery"), is that since the mid-'90s, Batman's character has been stuck in a cycle that goes 1) Batman acts like a paranoid asshole. 2) Horrible things happen. 3) Batman realizes he shouldn't act like such a paranoid asshole. 4) Batman acts like a paranoid asshole.
  • Likewise, Nightwing and Robin take turns learning not to be Batman when it comes to their friends and teammates, although Nightwing tends to be better at it: at least he has a few people he can respect.
  • It seems every new author wants to write the story where Iceman finally stops being immature. The Human Torch also gets similar treatment.
    • Also from the Fantastic Four, the Thing learns several times over that looking like a monster isn't so bad when your friends still love you. However, this is played more realistically than most other instances of this trope, as the universe keeps trying to prove, in a variety of different ways, that actually, no, having friends who love you even though you're a monster doesn't help all that much, because humans in the Marvel universe are colossal dicks. (Plus, the FF were meant from the start to be a bunch of dysfunctional fuck-ups, so this quality of his was supposed to be a flaw.)
  • Spider-Man repeatedly wants to ditch super heroics to be a normal guy with a normal family, only to have it drilled into him again that "Great power equals great responsibility". (Of course, a fair portion of his family's now been retconned out of existence and it's illegal for him to have his power, so it's unclear what the point of his existing is.)
  • In Green Lantern the Guardians of the Universe once created the Manhunters, a robotic army built to maintain order in the universe. These then went crazy and started slaughtering people, necessitating the creation of the Green Lanterns to replace them. Then, they created the Alpha Lanterns, implanting Green Lanterns with Manhunter programming, and gave them infallible authority over the other Lanterns. Thus far they're shown major Knight Templar tendencies and one of them was possessed by an evil New God, demonstrating they were totally wrong about the whole "incorruptible police force" idea. So...nothing that bad has happened yet, but it's generally considered only a matter of time.
    • Turns out they're being controlled by Hank Henshaw. Good job Guardians.
  • Pretty much the entire Marvel Civil War was this for the Pro-Reg side. The Super Registration Act might have provoked a nuanced, thoughtful, balanced debate....if the entire flipping Marvel Universe hadn't been telling civilians for the past several decades that treating supers/mutants and normals differently was morally wrong, dangerous, pointless, and comparable to segregation and Nazism. Now, suddenly, everybody thinks it's some sort of valid option, just so a fat juicy Conflict Ball could be thrown into the ring. The biggest Face Palm, however, has got to go to Reed Richards, who once spent an entire issue delivering an Aesop to Congress on why an SHRA was a racist, unenforceable, and moronic idea. (And no, he didn't have any character development that showed him changing his mind.)
    • Also occurs in Civil War when Reed patronizingly tries to make important decisions for his wife (such as where she should go, what she should go, and which side she's on) 'for her own good' without consulting her first, as well as treating her as weak and in need of protection, despite the multiple prior comics arcs where Reed had already learned that a) a good marriage is one where both parties communicate b) on average, his wife is better at making life choices than he is and c) Susan is the biggest badass on his entire damn team.

Film[edit | hide]

  • High School Musical is a repeat offender. After every film, all the lessons learned, all of the character growth are completely forgotten and the characters go on to make similar, if not the same, mistakes.
    • Disney is often an offender in their Made for TV Movie department when said movies have sequels.
    • It is particularly exhausting that Sharpay becomes nice in every movie, then becomes mean again in the sequel.
  • National Treasure 2, in regards to the Character Development and romance between Ben and Abigail. Especially in regards to Abigail, who turned into a much worse person than she was in even the beginning of the first movie. Are we supposed to be happy that they got back together at the end?
    • Of course, they were also Strangled by the Red String in the first movie. So basically they arbitrarily got together, arbitrarily broke up and arbitrarily got back together again.
  • Brilliantly avoided by Woody in |Toy Story 2. John Lasseter even states that Pixar specifically did not want to just give them amnesia and relearn the same lesson twice, but needed them to grow in a different way. Also, the idea of a Buzz Lightyear who thinks he's real is used in the same movie, but instead of the first Buzz forgetting everything he learned in the first one, it's used with a different Buzz toy who is found in a toy store.

Buzz Lightyear: "Oh, tell me I wasn't this delusional..."

  • At the end of RoboCop, Alex Murphy's persona reasserts itself and he talks and acts more like a human than a robot. In Robocop 2, however, he's back to a more stilted robot-like personality for no real reason. Moreover in Robocop 2 the prime directives that guide his behavior are completely erased from his system. This piece of development is again entirely erased in the 3rd movie with the 3 directives back in place.
    • This one makes sense, however, as after the first and second movies, Robocop/Murphy would have returned to being serviced and maintained by OCP technicians, who would have reinstated his original programming. Too, even at the beginning of the third he's obviously already come some ways from the first movie, being capable of ignoring orders to save his friends, and in the second he seems to be accessing his old memories much easier than in the first.
  • By the ends of Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, Harold had learned to stand up to himself and to lighten up a bit, and Kumar had learned that being irresponsible hurts his friends. Two years later in A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, Kumar's irresponsibility has driven off his girlfriend, and Harold is still worried about appearences.
  • At the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo ends up losing Esmeralda to Phoebus, and accepting not just the fact that the two are both in love with each other, but also the fact that it's not his appearance that matters but rather how he is treated in public. In the sequel Quasi is now lamenting about why he has no love interest, and ends up falling in love with a beautiful circus performer.
  • At the end of Osmosis Jones, Frank, the overweight, unhealthy man, as a result of a near-death experience at the hospital thanks to an evil virus the heroes were fighting inside his body, actually vows to stay healthy from that point on. However, by the animated spinoff, Frank's back to his unhealthy ways, and both Osmosis Jones and Drixxenol (a pair of microbes who protect his body) are both carried off from his body by a mosquito bite, and are now living inside someone else once that mosquito bit! Now imagine what will happen if a virus like Thrax went inside his body again, and neither Ozzy nor Drix are there to save him...

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Wheel of Time features this repeatedly. The characters spent hundreds of pages not talking or working together towards a common goal. Two (or rarely more) finally pound out a plan utilizing both of their strengths, score a resounding blow against the Enemy of the Moment, then, a few chapters later, go back to their usual Poor Communication Kills standpoint.
    • We could have cut out a half-dozen books if someone had just gathered up all the main characters in one place, smack 'em with a bit of Compulsion to force them to be honest (none of this pansy Oath Rod double-talk), and had them talk for a few days.
    • Really though that'd go against the characterization of most of the actual characters doing this. You've got to remember Rand was a Shepard spending most of his time alone with family or people he's known since he could walk, and didn't have much time to practice his people skills out with the sheep. The Aes Sedai do the double talk because it's the only way they've been able to get anything done and it worked for centuries until very recently(to a degree), and most other characters are pseudo European nobles playing political games that mean if they don't use double talk every other sentence until it becomes habit assassination is assured. Mat's really only better because he was raised by a horse trader, the kind of profession that relies heavily on charisma and people skills.
    • Even Mat is not immune, given that historically (and Lampshaded) horse traders were the used car salesmen of the world. Perrin is generally direct and open, and works well with others; his honesty might come from the fact that he's Thor, though...
  • Bailey School Kids: The characters take turns between believing a character is supernatural, considering it unlikely, and teasing their friends for considering it, depending on the book.
  • Done intentionally in The Last Continent: Ponder, having spent the book, as always, being totally impatient with the older wizards (not without reason), is suddenly aged about fifty years, and learns what it's actually like to be a senior wizard. Upon his return to normal, a footnote tells us:

"It would be nice to say that this experience taught Ponder a valuable lesson and that he was a lot more considerate towards old people afterwards, and this was true for about five minutes."

  • Star Wars The Expanded Universe series, Young Jedi Knights The 4th book, "Lightsabers" contains an Egregious example of this. In the story, Tenal Ka loses her arm in a lightsaber training accident as a result of being too proud of her own abilities and not putting enough care into constructing her lightsaber. Afterwards, she feels ashamed that she let her pride cloud her judgment. Good lesson. However, what does she do afterwards, not only in the same book but only several hours later? Refuses to wear a synthetic arm replacement. Why? Because she's too proud and has confidence in her abilities.
    • This is a rather bad example, as it strips out the context that makes them entirely different situations, and also expects Tenel Ka to have undergone Epiphany Therapy immediately following an extremely traumatic event. The actual situation is: Tenel Ka screws up her lightsaber's construction because she's too prideful of her combat abilities to put the proper time and attention into it. In the immediate aftermath of losing her arm, she doesn't want a synthetic one because she feels it would be admitting that she can no longer be a warrior on her own terms and would have to accept help... in other words, acknowledge that she's become handicapped. By the end she still decides to not use a prosthesis, but because she wants to be aware of her own body and limits and do things properly on her own, which she demonstrates by building a new, functioning lightsaber (which takes her much longer with only one hand, but she's learned not to rush things or take shortcuts).
  • In Warrior Cats, no matter how many times the cats learn the importance of working together, by the next book, they'll usually be at each other's throats again. However, since the final battle is coming, they may not lose the aesop this time around. Fingers crossed.
  • In the Harry Potter series, Ron has learned a number of times not to be jealous of Harry being The Hero. Ron also learned that he's not worthless at Quidditch in two separate, sequential books.
    • Another plot device that J.K. Rowling seemed to really like was having the Hogwart's community, as a whole, turn against Harry (with only a handful of people standing by him). Over the course of the series, the Hogwart's students had to learn at least three or four times that refusing to trust Harry was a bad idea.
      • In Order of the Phoenix, however, there was a noteworthy aversion to this : Ernie Macmillan. In two earlier books, Ernie was among the students who distrusted Harry. He believed Harry was the Heir of Slytherin in Chamber of Secrets, and that Harry had maneuvered himself into the Triwizard Tournament in Goblet of Fire. Following that pattern, one might have expected Ernie to believe Harry was lying about Voldemort's return. Instead, Ernie seemed to have learned from his mistakes. In the fifth book, Ernie not only believed Harry, but made a loud, public declaration of his support for him. Despite Ernie's pompousness, Harry was pleased by the vote of confidence.
  • Justified in Peter Pan: as a perpetual boy, Peter literally can't learn lessons. If he didn't have Aesop Amnesia, he'd grow up.
  • In The Princess and the Goblin, Curdie's Character Arc is accepting the reality of Irene's grandmother. By the start of The Princess And Curdie, he's convinced himself it was a dream.
  • In the Hush, Hush series, Nora never seems to catch on wandering alone, in dark, dangerous parts of town is just begging for trouble.
  • Played with in Prince Caspian. When the Pevensies go back to Narnia, Susan and Peter believe that Lucy is either mistaken or lying when she claims to see Aslan, and they don't. Edmund, on the other hand, remembers that it was just in the last book that Lucy's claims of "There's a magical land in the wardrobe" were right, so chances are they should listen to her this time.
  • Sweet Valley High: Jessica would try to pull off some crazy stunt, only to have it blow up in her face and make her out to look like a fool. Inevitably, by the next book or two, she would be trying something new, despite the fact that she was often warned about it by being reminded by others about how badly things had gone the last time. The sad thing is, a handful of these tricks were genuine attempts at improving herself or trying something new—cooking class, music lessons—so it seems a little unfair that those should go as badly as her usual schemes.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Arrested Development, Michael has habit of using his son George-Michael as an excuse for why he shouldn't move on from his dead wife and start dating again. Someone then tells him to stop hiding behind his son. Michael agrees and decides to move on only to forget the lessons he learned a few episodes later and have to learn it again and again...
  • In Roseanne, Jackie and her mother Bev have a strained, broken relationship throughout most of the show, Bev having driven Jackie into therapy with her constant criticisms and insults. But in an episode in one of the later seasons, the two share a teary heart-to-heart and seem to finally resolve their differences and repair their relationship as a mother and daughter. But of course, by their next appearance together, they go back to butting heads.
  • Home Improvement, Tim Taylor learns that constantly being a male chauvinist is going to cost him. Of course he doesn't learn, that's the premise of the show. Honestly, why does Wilson even bother?
    • On the opposite end, Jill also learned several times that Tim's feelings weren't meaningless or baseless just because they were based in masculine behavior, and that she should try to be more understanding. Semi-separate of Tim, she also learned (repeatedly) not to try and psychoanalyze people with her still-amateur psychiatric abilities because she didn't have the experience and complete knowledge necessary to do so (and that she probably shouldn't analyze people she hadn't met yet). Or that she shouldn't meddle in peoples' relationships because she was as likely to cause a breakup as heal any difficulties. None of these stuck.
    • In one episode, Wilson also used a saying that he learned from Tim. Once Tim is proud enough to bring back the saying on Tool Time, he asks Al if he knows who made that quote. "Of course, I told you that last year."
  • After a spine-tingling moral epiphany at the end of the The West Wing episode "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet", neither the President not anyone else keeps the staff revved up with the their collective pledges after the end of the season. They're great human beings already, so this doesn't actually ruin anything—it's just a really huge missed opportunity.
  • Seeing how Supernatural is the king of It Got Worse, this tends to happen a lot. Dean's unwillingness to talk about his problems is a good example. Despite all the emotional trauma Dean has experienced and all the "Chick Flick Moments" he's instigated, by the season 3 finale he still brushes off Sam's attempt at a heartfelt goodbye.
    • The two finally seem to be getting better at this in season 4. They've learned not to keep things from each other, and Dean has become more lenient in regards to Sam using his powers in desperate situations, as well as trying hard to accept Ruby after learning what she did for Sam.
      • And even that went to hell. Obviously.
      • Although as of the 100th episode, they have made the decision to actively try not to fall into these destructive habits.
    • "Family is all we've got". Great. You two wanna stop breaking up with each other and spending episodes away from one another learning this again?
  • Dexter had this problem majorly in Season 6. Supposedly, Dexter learns from Trinity murdering Rita two seasons earlier that becoming too involved with other serial killers can be dangerous for his family. Yet within the space of what is supposed to be about a year, he has all but forgotten this lesson. This leads to his son Harrison getting kidnapped and held at knife point. Other lessons he's forgotten include:
    • Be more careful about leaving a trail (Seasons 2, 5, and 6); do not mercifully free your victims (Seasons 1 and 6); Harry was fallible and he should be his own person (every single season).
  • Mash was king of this trope. Margaret learned at least three times to be kinder and more respectful to her nurses. Charles learned the value of the common man several times. Same for Hawkeye and his womanizing, his drinking, and his disrespect for authority. Though perhaps the crowning moment was when BJ went on a long rant about how it was so easy for him and Hawkeye to sit around, relatively far from the real fighting, considering themselves so high and mighty as they snarked and sneered at the war and complained about how bad they had it, while soldiers were actually fighting and dying on the front lines. By the next episode, they were back to snarking and sneering as usual.
    • The rant in question is one of the only times anyone questions Hawkeye's position that he is morally superior to the Army, which was vital to the status quo. Hawkeye doesn't even get the Aesop in the first place, and seems to chalk the rant up to BJ being hysterical with guilt. Apparently the writers did too.
    • Frank never learned that fabricating stories about Hawkeye would get him in trouble, despite doing this several times. This may be because the actual lesson he learned was that he could make up anything he wanted, even charges that would carry a death sentence, but it was all okay when Hawkeye was found not-guilty.
    • Klinger continued to dress as a woman, his best effort for getting kicked out of the Army, even after he was offered the chance to get out, and he was informed that his record would say he was a transvestite and a homosexual.
      • He did give this up eventually, however, once Radar left the show permanently.
      • Also, Klinger turned down the offered homosexual discharge because it would have rendered him completely unemployable in civilian life (remember, this was the 1950s), and kept wearing the dresses even after having basically given up on trying to leave the Army because by that point it was a running gag between him and his friends, and useful to camp morale.
  • Will and Grace used this a lot with all the characters, but mostly Karen and Jack. Karen would often learn that being shallow and nasty to everyone wasn't quite as fun as she usually thought it was, or Jack would learn something similar. The show would occasionally actually have an episode of the characters still having learned their lesson as a We Want Our Jerk Back episode.
  • The title character of House seems to inflict Aesop Amnesia on himself. Not only does he avoid learning a lesson, even if he does he announces he doesn't give a crap and continues to be the same Jerkass as ever. Though some of his supporting cast seem to have difficulty learning from experience, let alone keeping hold of the episode's message.
    • Of course, he learned to visit patients rather quickly.
  • A consistent trope on the earlier seasons of Nip Tuck, where the character of Dr. Christian Troy would learn how much harm his selfish, reckless lifestyle causes and makes amends by the end of the episode, only to consistently go back to being an ever worse asshole by next week.
  • At Black Hole High, the science club seems incapable of remembering that it's a good idea to talk about your issues with each other instead of just assuming the worst and keeping it bottled up, even after talking out your problems turns out to be the cure for: molecular friction; taking on the characteristics of various elements in periodic-table order; attack by anthropomorphic Venus flytrap; and abnormal sponge growth.
    • Also, they seem unable to learn the Aesop "Don't use the bits of weird Pearadyne phlebotinum stored in the school basement in your various get-rich-quick schemes" even after sticking their chips into various things caused: Instant AI, Just Add Water; a cellphone to gain the power to enforce emoticons on its owner; a radio to receive messages from the future; the common cold to jump species from human to computer to building.
      • The radio that received the broadcasts from the future actually ended up saving the day though didn't it?
  • Entourage spent the first two seasons using Johnny 'Drama' Chase (presented as a Hollywood has-been) as a running gag machine on this trope. Drama would haughtily 'advise' Vince on Hollywood lifestyle, only to have E or Turtle point out how short-lived, illusionary, feeble or otherwise pathetic his acting career was in the 90's. It happened about once an episode. You'd think Drama would learn to keep his trap shut, but....
    • Similarly, the course of the show has shown that anytime it's Eric vs. Vince in a difference of professional opinion E's almost always proven right. Vince makes few-to-no good decisions on his own. He could make a wrong turn in a cul-de-sac. You'd think that if Vince hadn't learned this by now, at least Drama, Turtle and Ari would remind him that E was right about Matterhorn, QB, Aquaman, Mandy More, Dom, Amanda, and Medellian, where Vince's instincts were way off (except for QB). Let E do your thinking for you Vince, it's his skill, not yours.
  • Community ended "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" with the line "Pierce Hawthorne saved the life of Fat Neil, while learning very, very little."
  • Leave It to Beaver is one of the archetypal examples here. Of particular note is the last episode, which has themes of how fast the children are growing up, counterpointed by hints that they're still as childish as ever, with what may be a clever subversion of the whole deal: It's a Clip Show, allowing them to run through the events of about half a dozen episodes in a row, touching on several morals at once and then ending the series before anybody can forget them again.
    • It was even lampshaded in a TV Land commercial for the show. It explained that the moral of the episode would enter one ear, float around his skull without making contact his brain, then exit out the other side.
  • Scrubs, Scrubs, Scrubs, Scrubs, Scrubs, Scrubs. It's safe to say that thanks to a combination of this and Flanderisation, not one character in Scrubs has any significant or meaningful character development. The most blatant examples:
    • Turk learns to see his patients as people instead of emotionally detaching himself. He learns the same lesson twice in two different, unconnected episodes. And still says that, "I work best when I'm emotionally detached".
    • Carla's "best moment in medicine" is when the doctors actually listen to her. She spends every other episode pushing her advice on everyone and everything. In one episode, it leads to disaster and she "learns" that in the hospital, the doctors are in charge because they are ultimately responsible for the lives of their patients.
    • JD learns that he needs to "grow up" (despite the fact that his frustration is caused by stress over how utterly crappy his life has become due to a combination of bad circumstances and no-one giving a damn about him) in one episode. This is the guy who acts like a joking, immature fool in every single episode. In another episode, Turk "teaches" him that trying to become more serious and mature is bad; you should instead never forget your "inner child" and continue to goof off.
      • The Turk scene was actually a mere episode or two after JD got the whole "be mature" lesson. Turk basically explains that being mature is knowing when you don't have to be mature.
      • As well as JD needing to learn to stop being so emotionally needy, grow a backbone, and realize that people would respect him more as a doctor if he let his ability speak for itself. This was taken to insane levels in the Med School Spin-Off.
    • Dr. Cox learns to be gracious and accept help from other people in order to advance professionally. He learns this three times, in three unconnected episodes. And still continues to act like an ass to his boss and make all the wrong moves.
      • He's now Chief of Medicine. I guess those lessons helped a bit.
      • He actually did loosen up after a while. He's just hard to teach, as any man with a big ego.
    • Got lampshaded with The Todd, who was learned how to behave toward women by a shrink. The Shrink then explains to Carla that without long-term professional help, The Todd will change back to his old self within a week or so.
    • Also lampshaded with Carla having to teach Elliot the same lesson twice within a few episodes, and the latter episode actually flashing back to the former.

Elliot: I ... don't recall that conversation.

    • This was a big time plot point in My Lunch. When Jill dies of what appears to be a drug overdose, JD becomes depressed, but Dr. Cox tells him "the moment you start blaming yourself for deaths that aren't your fault, there's no going back". At the end of the episode, when it's revealed that Jill had rabies, all of the patients that she donated her organs to die. This sends Dr. Cox over the deep end and he blames himself for it, despite the fact that nobody could've seen it coming. JD calls him out on the Aesop Amnesia, citing exactly what Cox told him. But Cox accepts that there's no going back and leaves.
  • An episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun involved Dick grappling with his overblown ego. Of course, that's one of his primary character traits. At the end of the episode, he stated what he'd learned thus: "There are times for a little humility. Fortunately, that time is now over."
    • Played with in the episode where Dick dealt with his insensitivity. He went to Sensitivity Training and it successfully changed him into an ultra-sensitive guy. Only it turned out he was even worse that way and it all backfired, causing him to revert to his old ways before the end of the episode.
  • Family Matters. Most episodes would have at least one character learning to be nicer to Steve Urkel, then promptly forget it the very next episode.
    • This could be pretty bad in the episodes where Urkel would save their lives.
      • True, but keep in mind this is because Steve never seemed to learn the lesson of not being an incredibly annoying twit. Yeah, when he helped them out and saved their lives they should be a little more tolerant and give him some more leeway, but it did not entitle him to irritate the crap out of everyone endlessly.
    • In later seasons, Steve Urkel changed from embodying Be Yourself to learning that lesson once per season.
    • Eddie tired of living by Carl's rules in Carl's house, so he moved out. Twice. And he got in trouble gambling. Thrice.
  • Smallville. The best example of this was the relationship between Jonathan Kent and Lex Luthor. Despite all of Lex's attempts to show that he wasn't his father, and despite the fact that Jonathan acknowledged this almost every time that he was proven wrong, he was back to blaming Lex for everything that went wrong automatically by the next episode.
    • To a lesser extent (and only lesser because he was on the show for less time) this happened with Pete Ross as well, although he was sometimes justified. But then again, Lex never saved Jonathan's life only to have Bo Kent come back and accuse him of random crap.
    • The Lex/Jonathan thing was justified sometimes. There were several episodes where Lex actually had done something horrible, it just wasn't the exact horrible thing Jonathan suspected him of. For example, one episode of Season 1 had Lex suspected of murder before the start of the series. It turned out that he was innocent; Lex deliberately took the blame to cover for a friend, knowing that his father would buy a clean slate for him, but wouldn't bother to do the same for just some friend. That speaks well of Lex's generosity, sure, but (a) he was still rich and cold-blooded enough to cover up a murder, and (b) if he had been open about that with Clark, the hostage situation in the episode could have been prevented. By the end of the episode, you're left feeling sorry for Lex, but he's really no more trustworthy than before.
    • Another example of Aesop Amnesia is that all the way up to Season 8, Clark has to repeatedly learn that not everything is his fault, his powers aren't a curse and that he should accept his destiny.
  • David on Six Feet Under seems to spend an awful lot of episodes learning that it's okay to be gay. This may be justified somewhat by the realism of the show; you can know something intellectually but it takes some repetition to learn it on an emotional level.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond was infested with this. Debra would confront Marie about her hostile behavior, Robert would confront Frank and Marie about their preferential treatment of Ray, Ray and/or Debra would confront Robert about his victim complex, Deborah would confront Ray about his selfish behavior, and other variations. Each time, it was treated as though these issues were finally being brought into the open after decades of repression, and now people were learning their lessons and would finally treat each other right. And each time the characters reverted to their same old neurotic selves straight away, and the audience groaned at the thought that the same issues would be "resolved" next year, and the year after that...
    • of course, nobody seems to listen or care about Robert, so it's somewhat understandable for him to keep griping.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch was built on this trope. Nearly every episode ended with Sabrina learning not to use her magic carelessly, or selfishly, or to do morally questionable things. Which never stopped her from immediately resorting to elaborate and usually disastrous magical solutions to every tiny problem she encountered in her life. For seven seasons.
    • And several movies!
    • Gets Lampshaded a few times. At one point, Sabrina really was blameless for the week's magical mayhem, since no one had told her the magical item she was using was magical. Zelda still starts lecturing her about using magic responsibly, then immediately apologizes when she realizes that lesson doesn't really apply here.
  • Frasier and his brother Niles would constantly forget not to be so competitive, to stay out of other people's business, not to be so snooty etc etc etc. Occasionally the two would come to an epiphany about their behavior, only to change their minds about it in the same conversation.
    • It's implied (and outright stated in the episode where they attend relationship counseling) that their character flaws are so deeply rooted in their psyches that they will never be able to overcome them.
    • Niles also got better about learning his lessons in the later seasons, once he and Daphne were together with the nastiness of their last breakups behind them. Like in real life, it's apparently easier to learn from your experiences if your life doesn't suck.
  • Boy Meets World lampshades this in an episode when Eric lands a role on the very similar "Kid Gets Acquainted with Universe," and during rehearsal the Cory/Ben Savage analogue stops when he realizes it's another Rory-learns-a-lesson episode, and starts shouting, "How can I learn so much and still be so stupid?!"
  • Seems like Jenny on Gossip Girl has learned the "don't let the queen and her posse change who you are" lesson about five times by now, but it never sticks for more than a few episodes at a time.
  • Subverted in Seinfeld, as none of the characters ever learned anything in the first place, despite the fact that the plots often gave the viewers implied Aesops based on logic (e.g., don't let the security guard do his job sitting down). In fact, the Finale implies that all four of them have remained exactly the same since the Pilot, nine years earlier.
    • Well, three of them, anyway ... there was no Elaine Benes in the pilot episode.
    • The show had a simple policy: "No Hugging, No Learning".
    • Though, in the Season 5 finale, George did learn the unusual Aesop that, since he screws up everything he tries to do, he should just do the opposite of whatever his natural instincts tell him. This works out beautifully, getting him a beautiful girlfriend, a nice apartment, and a great new job in record time. By the Season 6 premiere, however, he's back to his old self; the job and apartment are still around, but, even when asked, he doesn't seem to remember how he managed to get them.
  • Cleverly averted in a Friends episode. Once, Ross and Rachel were bitching at each other in Monica's living room, and the rest were locked in Monica's bedroom at the time. When a script called for a second fallout between R&R in the living room and the rest once again found themselves in Monica's bedroom without daring to go outside, Joey apparently had thought of this possible situation after the last occasion, and had put a box of food, comics and condoms (it's Joey after all), to pass the time if they ever got stuck in there again.
  • Malcolm in the Middle has this sometimes, usually having the kids and Lois work things out and prefer getting along with each other before screwing it up on-screen in favor of Status Quo Is God by the end of the episode. There is at least one circumstance where Malcolm's amnesia takes longer to set in, though: he learns in season six that no, he doesn't get music like Dewey does but that's okay because he's good at other things. Several episodes later, he is upset that he doesn't understand music like Dewey does. Interestingly subverted in that in the latter example he doesn't actually seem to learn a lesson by the end of the episode.
    • Francis also seemed to become a bit more responsible when working at a Dude ranch in New Mexico. However, post Season Six, when he was fired from what was implied to be feeding the funds of the ranch to a food trough rather than an ATM, he seems to have gone back to the delinquent, psychotically irresponsible self, and it is hinted that the only real reason why he got a stable job in the series finale was so he could take entertainment in taunting his mother by lying about remaining unemployed.
  • Glee. Although the characters go through impressive development, some characters often miss one important point of their hardships: popularity does not equal happiness. And Puck, despite his growing likability, is still Puck.
    • How many times has Will learned to give solos out equally? He never seems to learn that part of Rachel is such a drama queen is because he keeps giving her solos!
      • Mr. Schu doesn't even wait for the break between episodes during "Throwdown" in which the club splits up because Mr. Schu keeps picking stereotypically "white" pop songs and giving all the solos to Finn and Rachel Mr. Schu learns his lesson, accepts all the kids for their differences and then ends the show with...Finn and Rachel singing "Keep Holding On" a pop song by the very white Avril Lavigne.
    • Quinn. During season one, she became pregnant, which caused her to fall from the top of the social hierarchy to the bottom. She gradually became more mature and began to reach out and form genuine friendships with people, namely Mercedes. Cue season two... and she's suddenly reverted back to being the shallow social climber she was in the very first episode.
  • A particularly disappointing one in Robin Hood. Episode six of series three marks the first time since the season premiere that Robin displays pangs of grief over the death of Marian. This leads to Robin breaking up with Isabella, basing it on a) his duty to the King and England, b) his acknowledgment that he's never going to get the chance to have a normal life, c) the danger that Isabella is in if she's known to be in league with Robin, and d) the fact that he still misses Marian too much. The episode ends with him looking wistfully at a happy family, knowing that it's a future he can never have...only for him to turn around and stare at team-mate Kate with a "oh yeah, she's got a crush on me too!" expression on his face, assisted by an uplifting musical cue as Kate smiles at him. It's direct foreshadowing for their hook-up two episodes later, a development that completely undermines all the poignancy of Robin's earlier epiphany. So Robin's Aesop doesn't even last to the end of the episode in which he learns it.
  • C.C., Maxwell's business partner on The Nanny suffered this towards the end. Throughout the show's run, she was insanely envious of Maxwell's attraction towards Fran, and in "The Wedding", when Fran and Maxwell finally got hitched, she made one last attempt at cutting between them in the aisle, until Maxwell took her aside and assured her that even though he loves Fran, he'll always appreciate C.C.'s friendship. C.C. finally relented, but in the next episode, "Honeymoon's Overboard", when Fran and Maxwell get lost on their honeymoon, she was utterly indifferent to the fact that Fran had disappeared too:

C.C.: I have stuck by Maxwell through sixteen girlfriends and two dead wives. (Everyone looks at her) One dead wife. I will find Maxwell Sheffield!
Sylvia Fine (Fran's mother): And?...
C.C.: I'll bring him home.

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander learns that he has worth and should ignore those who say otherwise many, many times. The most egregious is after season 3's "The Zeppo", in which he saves the world by himself and doesn't tell anyone, and at the end of the episode, realizes just how ludicrously feeble and inconsequential Cordelia's insults are in the light of what he just went through.
    • Buffy herself seems to learn that she doesn't have to fight alone in quite a few episodes - that in fact, she needs her friends and should let them help her. Not that this stops her from underappreciating/ignoring them all the way up to the end of Season 7.
  • It's no wonder LazyTown needs a superhero; No matter how many times Sportacus teaches the kids the importance of eating healthy, exercising often and being kind to each other, they always revert back to their unhealthy, lazy, greedy and generally unpleasant ways.
  • iCarly: Nevel in iPity Nevel. He spends an entire episode learning to be a better person after ending up on the internet insulting a little girl. At the end of the episode he does the exact same thing.
    • iDate Sam & Freddie ends with Carly delivering the aesop to Sam and Freddie that they need to sort out their own problems or they shouldn't date. The very next episode iCan't Take It ends with Carly sorting out another Sam and Freddie problem so they can keep dating.
  • On Amen, every time Thelma realized that she didn't need the Reverend to make her life complete, or that she could make her own way in the world without depending on him or her father, she went right back to chasing Reverend Gregory and/or being a whiny Daddy's Girl by the next episode. Even worse was her father, Ernie. He would learn to be honest, kind, and to share with others. Then he would go right back to being his old lying, cheating, greedy self. Sometimes this happened in the same episode!
  • Modern Family In the Season 3 premiere, "Dude Ranch", Phil finally gets tired of Jay mistreating him and stands up to him. Despite Jay finally seeming to get it and this being a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Phil, he's immediately back to needing Jay's constant approval by the next episode.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: "Prime Directive" ends with the captain and Phlox deciding not to give a cure to a dying people they meet because of, well, all the usual justifications given for the prime directive. Later on, in "Observer Effect," an alien race refuses to give *them* the cure that would save their lives. They both cluelessly try to teach the aliens that the Aesop they had supposedly learned is all wrong.
  • Over the course of Season 12 of The Amazing Race, Ron learned to control his temper, and not to be so abusive towards his daughter. When they came back for Season 18, Ron seemed to forget all those lessons, and reverted to his old self.
  • Marshall from How I Met Your Mother doesn't have Aesop Amnesia so much as Aesop Split Personality. First he learns that it's okay to put his dream of being an environmental lawyer on hold so he can take a high-paying corporate job that will support himself and Lily. Then he learns that, no, he should follow his dreams instead, and quits. Then he learns the first Aesop over again and gets a different corporate job, then he learns the second Aesop again and quits. Then he learns the first Aesop for the third time and gets yet another corporate job, before learning the second Aesop for the third time as well and quitting once again. We'll see if it sticks this time.

Multiple Media[edit | hide]

  • The first three years of Bionicle gave us several character arcs of the Toa learning that only together can they hope to defeat evil. At first they simply didn't like each other, then they got reckless with their power-ups, then they just bickered for the hell of it, before finally realizing that they had already learned this lesson.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Amy Rose seems finally ready to give up her Sonic-chasing days and become her own person at the end of Sonic Adventure. By Sonic Adventure 2, not only was she back in full Sonic-chasing mode, she had in fact gotten worse about it.
    • And let's not even go into the whiplash-inducing Snap Back Tails went through between Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes.
  • Laharl's subsequent appearances in Disgaea put him back to his Tsundere Noble Demon phase of character development, despite the good ending of the first game implying that he's matured past that into a straight, yet stubborn, hero. In Disgaea Infinite, his most recent appearance, it's incredibly difficult for him to admit that he really cares about his subordinates, despite it being quite clear that he does.
  • Namine in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories spent a lot of time as a Shrinking Violet due to the abuse given to her by her legal guardians, Marluxia and Larxene. However, after meeting Sora, she learns to stand up for herself, and this confidence is reflected in Kingdom Hearts II. But then comes the mid-quel... Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, in which, now working for DiZ, Namine is just as soft-spoken and submissive as ever when it comes to dealing with a less-than-kind guardian, and it takes a meeting with Retcon character Xion to influence her to change once more. Namine does have power of memories...maybe she accidentally inflicted Aesop Amnesia on herself?
    • A very minor example from 358/2 Days, but Roxas just can't seem to catch on that Paul Reubens shouting "Trick or treat!" is a signal from the universe that it is time to duck. Eventually he tires of it and kicks Lock, Shock, and Barrel's butts...only to fall for the same trick again sometime afterward.
  • Otacon from Metal Gear Solid. Every game he's in ends with him saying "I'm done with crying" yet the next game...HE CRIES. "Oh I'm done crying about Wolf. No, I'm good now" next game: "OMG WAHHHHH! But it's okay, I won't cry anymore". 4th game: "WE NEVER STOOD A CHANCE! WAHHHH. NAOMI WAAAAAH. No, I've got no more tears to cry. NO WAIT I'VE GOT MORE NVM". Mind you most of the stuff he cries about really suck but Christ Otacon, don't lie to yourself!
    • However, he was good at sticking with his other Aesop, that scientists can be abused by governments.
  • Punch-Out!! has Super Macho Man, an egocentric Eaglelander who is blatantly based on Hollywood celebrities. He gets his fame and fortune stolen after his initial defeat by Little Mac, and in Title Defense, he gets greeted to jeers and boos from the fickle audience, with even the spotlight wanting to get away from him. If he wins, he comes to the realization that Celebrity Is Overrated as the crowd suddenly "loves" him again, only to promptly ignore that and go back to posing.

"Oh now you love me. Now you love Macho Man. Well it's too late... MAYBE NOT! GRAAAAGH!! (showboats like there's no tomorrow)

  • In Pajama Sam's Lost & Found, Sam's room is very messy, and the game ends with him realizing that he should keep his room clean. Since Atari Did Not Do the Research after their buy-out from Humongous, their attempt at recreating the franchise ended with him learning the exact same lesson.
  • Minecraft Admit it. how many times did you flood your cave/underground base before you learned to just leave that wall alone? Alternately, how many times did you nuke your own establishment for the same reason (replace 'water' with 'creepers')?
  • Bowser in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Since his attempt to rule the universe in the first Super Mario Galaxy game resulted in the entire universe being destroyed and recreated, this actually also caused Bowser to attempt to rule the universe again, but this time as a giant.
  • Mewtwo in Pokémon Puzzle League.
  • Lara Croft in Tomb Raider Anniversary lets her obsession with the Scion get her into lots of dangerous situations where her life is at stake several times by people trying to stop her and letting the Scion fall into the hands of the Big Bad puts the world in danger until Lara realizes her actions led to this and she puts a stop to it all. Fast forward to Tomb Raider Underworld, Lara is back to searching endlessly for another artifact and winds up releasing the Big Bad from Anniversary from her prison just so Lara can gain access to another world where her mother disappeared to. Predictably, the world is in danger yet again from Lara's actions.
  • Vehicular combat game Interstate '76's Arc Words and central theme is to "Never get out of the car" during missions, and that doing so leads to death (as it did for Jade). What does the despised "sequel" Interstate 76 add? On foot segments!

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Misfile: Ash needing to learn that as a female, males now view him differently, has been a plot point more than half a dozen times.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Mackenzie of Tales of MU never learns her lesson about... well... anything. Steff is bad, too. Actually, none of the main characters (except Two) really develop in a meaningful fashion. Keep in mind we're still not through the first two months of the first semester at MU. Two, being a creation without a childhood starts with No Social Skills and has the most social catching-up to do, and could possibly catch up quickly enough to balance out within the first five weeks of class.

Steff has bad moments. After stabbing herself with a knife she knew nothing about until it tore out half her soul, she spent several days resting and scared everyone close to her and almost died. Immediately after she was handed another magic item by Dee, a character who herself needs to learn to stop handing out magic no one but her is familiar with. She was told not to use it without lots of physical and mental preparation, and only then carefully. Her decision? Chug the whole thing the moment she's alone. Tales of MU could probably fill up its own wall banger page rather quickly.

  • Same for Solange of the Whateley Universe, who still thinks her money can buy her out of anything.
    • Probably because she's not been a focus character since Jade beat her, badly. She DID learn not to screw with Team Kimba directly, however. She was given an option on learning that she wasn't a good Queen, but thanks to incidents with Ayla, Murphy, and Loophole, she's now out of the Alphas. Her current Aesop is probably closer to 'how to be sneaky and cruel'. Averted with the Don, who HAS learned said lesson, as well as Hekate. Whateley villains in general get most dangerous the more they get beaten.
    • Chou, however, definitely qualifies. How many times has she learned to accept being a girl, accept that the Tao is always right, accept that she has to kill sometimes, accept...She HAS learned how to handle romance, though. Except Molly has some summons that might not be nice...
  • From the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the heroic Robotman learned that he can still be human even if he's a Brain In a Jar. Then his original player left, the character was taken over by another player, and the "my God, what have I become" back all over again.
    • Even though his behavior led him directly to prison time, Corrupt Corporate Executive Lexington Cargill never seemed to learn that being a billionaire wasn't an automatic Get Out of Jail Free card.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd frequently learns to appreciate his video games rather than complain about them all the time, only to forget about that next episode or sooner. Of course, since the entire premise hinges on him complaining about video games, Status Quo Is God is pretty much mandatory in this case.
  • The Nostalgia Critic will never learn that he's worth more than what he thinks he is.
  • The Nostalgia Chick will never stop mistreating people, Nella isn't ever going to fully stand up for herself and Dr. Tease won't learn ethics.
  • In The Fantastic Favio Bros, LeTony discovers at the end of the first film that alcohol is bad after it nearly kills him and he makes peace with the heroes. In later movies this aesop is completely ignored, as LeTony goes on to try to addict people to more harmful substances and continues drinking. This is justified by Rule of Funny, though, with explicit references to when they made peace.
  • In Agents of Cracked Dan constantly forgets that Swaim is dangerously insane and going along with any plan he comes up with will end badly. Despite this he does remember the previous episodes well enough that he objects to the plans at the start.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • As with all Negative Continuity tropes, The Simpsons uses this one a lot. Often they'll just go ahead and lampshade, and at least one episode ends with Lisa concluding there was no moral to learn "Just some things that happened". With the supporting characters, it's even more pronounced; Barney goes from "clean and sober" to "hopeless alcoholic" depending on the mood of the writer, Mr. Burns has learned to love his fellow man dozens of times, and even though he's learned to stand up for himself in every episode he's a featured player in, Principal Skinner never manages to move out of his mother's house.

Burns: For me? Bobo? Smithers, I'm so happy. Something amazing has happened, I'm actually happy. Take a note! From now on, I'm only going to be good and kind to everyone.
Smithers: I'm sorry sir, I don't have a pencil.
Burns: Ehh, don't worry, I'm sure I'll remember it.

    • In one episode Mr. Burns describes himself as having "characteristic changes of heart". This leads to him befriending Homer and being a good person for much of the episode, then going right back to being evil at the end. As Homer notes, "I guess some people never change. Or, they quickly change and then quickly change back."
      • Also lampshaded in an episode where Homer came to genuinely like Ned Flanders. At the end of the episode Bart asks Lisa where the expected last-minute Face Heel Turn event is that would reset the situation back to status quo. Lisa is stumped. Then comes one last scene with "one week later" caption where Homer suddenly loathes Flanders again, and Bart and Lisa give a content "things are back the way they should be" smile.
    • The episode "Bart's Girlfriend" ends with a scene in which Bart falls back into the exact same behavior he just learned to avoid, seconds after making a speech about how much he's learned. Word of God says the writers wanted to do an episode specifically about Bart having an experience which he utterly fails to learn anything from.
      • In one episode, he also repeatedly failed to learn the lesson "the cupcake is wired up to electricity, and if you touch it you will get a shock". Thereby proving that yes, he was dumber than a hamster.
  • Similarly, Family Guy once lampshaded its own tendency to end with Peter describing whatever lesson he had learned by ending an episode with this exchange:

Lois: Well, Peter, I guess you learned a pretty valuable lesson.
Peter: Nope!

    • This troper remembers at least THREE times that Peter Griffin has learned to love and appreciate his daughter and promptly forgotten it by next episode. Twice, it happened before the episode was even over.
  • Contrary to what he says in the page quote, in many areas Stan of American Dad doesn't forget certain Aesops (accepting his gay neighbors, or his ethnic Iranian ones), but like the Peter Griffin example above they have lampshaded his inability to do so in other areas.

Stan: There's something you should know about me by now, Roger. I don't learn lessons.

    • Another interesting example and partial Lampshade Hanging comes with Roger. A recent episode ended with him revealing that he didn't really feel like a part of the Smith family, which is why he got insulted when they threw a comedy roast for his birthday (at his request). The others actually get indignant because not only has this issue been dealt with before, but in that episode and others they had repeatedly gone out of their way to please his ever-insane needs and desires. As Hayley pointed out, if he didn't think they cared about him by that point, it was his problem, not theirs. Roger seems to get it then, though who knows if it will stick this time.
  • A disproportionate number of episodes in Transformers Animated feature the plot device of Bumblebee being a cocky showoff, going off on his own, and messing the whole thing up in order to learn the value of teamwork and actually telling your leader what's going on. At least once, this has happened two episodes in a row.
  • Ben 10: The sheer number of times Ben has learned lessons about being nicer to Gwen, using the Omnitrix smarter not harder, and respecting other people and promptly discarded them by the next episode is truly staggering.
    • The 2nd Lucky Girl episode has Gwen also guilty of this, as the episode opens with her telling Ben, "You should be grateful for what you've got; I only got to be Lucky Girl for a few hours." And later, while they're talking about a new charm she found, we get a flashback to Gwen destroying the other charms of her own volition, while ignoring why she did this: to Be Herself. Granted, the Aesop gets broken to hell and back with future plot developments, but yeah.
  • Beast Boy of Teen Titans learned several times not to be such a goof-off. It never quite took, at least completely. Same for Cyborg learning to accept not being human anymore.
    • Oddly enough, the rest of the team seemed pretty good about avoiding Aesop Amnesia. When Raven and Starfire learned to respect one another's differences, it stuck with them through the rest of the series.
    • Even more oddly, the last time the series dealt with Cyborg's humanity this trope was actually inverted. Cyborg goes Machine Worship too hard and has a Superpower Meltdown, requiring him to learn the opposite lesson. Poor guy just can't win.
    • Robin still struggled with not being a Jerkass throughout the series.
      • Come on, he was trained by Batman. Of course he's going to default to Jerkass.
      • Robin finally ended up throwing away the Jerkass Ball (mostly) for good after the episode "Haunted".
  • The Powerpuff Girls have it pretty bad, but then, they are portrayed as being in kindergarten, so it might be understandable that they don't always remember the lessons they've learned very well.
  • How many times did Darkwing Duck learn to put aside his pride and get serious/ask for help/play well with others/etc.? Probably about once an episode.
  • Similarly, Fenton Crackshell kept learning that it wasn't his mechanized battle suit that truly made him a hero, but his determination, brains, and spirit. He still put that sucker on at the earliest opportunity every episode, though. (Well, wouldn't you if you had one?)
    • And Huey, Dewey, and Louie never quite got the message "playing pranks on your [parent equivalent] to get something out of them will only backfire in the worst way, and isn't very nice besides".
    • It was done a bit better with Uncle Scrooge, however. While he remained very cheap throughout the series, he was willing to at least put the safety of his family ahead of money (although not always their comfort). (He did still have a number of episodes in each of which he learned anew not to be so stingy, however.)
  • The members of the Sushi Pack frequently have to relearn Aesops about being a team. Like every other episode frequently.
  • Kuzco on The Emperors New School has "learned" again and again (and again) that it's not all about him.
    • This show is a particularly absurd example. It's a series based off of the movie, where Kuzco spends the entire time learning that he isn't the center of the universe, and by the end, has become a genuinely nice person who treats other people as equals. Cue the series, where he has apparently forgotten all of the events of the movie and once again has to "learn" that the world doesn't revolve around him. Multiple times.
  • In Thomas and Friends, after the 5th season, Thomas and Duncan become especially prone to this. In fact, Thomas's character up to the 5th season was built on Aesops from past experiences in the earlier seasons. Suddenly, when season 6 debuted, he was a perfect schoolboy type. With the debut of season 8, he seemingly forgot every lesson he ever learned. It's even worse when he forgets the Aesop of patience by the very episode after her learned it. James is quite bad for this too, but it may be justified considering his personality.
  • Any episode of SpongeBob SquarePants that focuses on Mr. Krab's incredible greed. I guess that love (of money in this case) conquers all.
  • On The Magic School Bus, Janet seems to have relearned to not be such a snotty brat in just about every episode she appeared in.
  • Kim Possible's Chained Heat episode "Bonding" showed Kim and Bonnie getting handcuffed together and learning more about one another in the process. Kim learns about Bonnie's family life, specifically her two sisters who belittle her at every opportunity. By the end of the episode, the two are getting along somewhat better, though by Bonnie's next appearance, she's just as shallow and mean as ever.
    • Not to mention the many, many times that Ron learned the lesson about being yourself, and then promptly forgot about it. Actually lampshaded one time by Kim in Ron Millionaire where she mentions that he has a tendency towards this. It doesn't help.
      • One of the movies lampshades this even further, where Ron attempts to caution his younger self not to learn his lesson from one of these events in particular.

"OK, look, listen to me. In the future you will change your hair and become a babe magnet. Keep that look!!"

        • Well, the problem is at the end of the episode once he learned the lesson about his behavior he didn't need to alter his appearance back to the old style just because the new one had bad associations.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Bloo swings around between extreme Jerkass and Jerk with a Heart of Gold and virtually every time he finally realizes how life is much more fun if you're not consumed by childish egoism, he is reset back by the beginning of the next episode, or, worse, flanderized into an even greater jerk then before.
  • King of the Hill runs on this trope.
    • Unless you're an actual calculator, you've probably lost count of the number of times Hank has learned to accept Bobby's athletic limitations and appreciate his other skills. Maybe it's genetic, as Hank has earned the grudging respect of his father, Cotton, on several occasions, and that never sticks, either.
      • Not to mention that no matter how many times Hank learns to loosen up, this still happens a lot:

Bobby: Hey Dad, guess what! I joined the (insert incredibly effeminate and/or gay and/or non-traditional activity here)!

    • Hank also constantly forgets that Bobby is good at some sports, like shooting, football, and wrestling.
    • Can we get a count of how many times Bill's gotten over his depression and found something meaningful in his life, including another woman, only to have it completely forgotten by the next episode?
    • Kahn and Minh quite frequently learn to respect their redneck neighbors and then forget.
    • More quintessential to the trope is perhaps Buck Strickland, who consistently fails to learn that his illegal schemes will always put his business at risk. Strangely, however, Hank for some reason doesn't even get an Aesop that his boss is an amoral bastard and that he'll always get in trouble for trying to clean up after Buck's mess.
  • Xiaolin Showdown had a couple of stock Aesops, all of which were repeatedly learned and forgotten. A sampling includes "Don't futz around with the Shen Gong Wu for frivolous reasons", "Don't screw over your teammates", "Stop being jerks to each other". And while not really an Aesop, it was still rather glaring how they never learned that yes, even Jack Spicer can come up with a winning plan every so often, so don't just automatically shrug off what he's doing because he's a loser.
  • In a first-season episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Chameleon begins a crime spree dressed as the eponymous hero. J. Jonah Jameson, being who he is, immediately prints a story in the Bugle declaring him a criminal; of course, by the end of the episode, the Chameleon is revealed to be the criminal and Jameson is forced to print a retraction, something he had apparently never had to do before. In the second season, Venom also begins committing crimes and general violence while impersonating Spidey. Jameson soon ends up at the police station, demanding to know why Captain Stacy hasn't begun efforts to arrest Spiderman yet. While calmly explaining his evidence saying that Spidey was not responsible doesn't work, Stacy simply calls him out on this:

Captain Stacy: This isn't the first time the Bugle got it wrong when a copycat dressed up as the webslinger. Now do you really want to embarrass yourself and your paper... again?

  • The Fairly OddParents: Timmy's had to learn not to act like a Jerkass ("A Wish Too Far!", "Power Pals", "Fairy Idol", "The Jerkinators"), his parents rules are for the best ("Ruled Out", "Channel Chasers") and there are worse alternatives to Vicky ("Totally Spaced Out", "Vicky Gets Fired") several times. If you count episodes with a Fantastic Aesop, add "time travel is bad" ("Father Time", "Twistory") and "make sure magic gadgets only work for you" ("Deja Vu").
  • No matter how many times Harold from Total Drama Island manages to save the day at the last minute with some special skill that only he has, future episodes will always have the other characters, especially Duncan, proclaiming that he's useless and should not be listened to/trusted to do any sort of task.
    • Astonishingly, the episode where Harold is treated the worst in this regard comes immediately after the one where he single-handedly saves everyone from drowning!
  • Brandy from Brandy and Mr. Whiskers was probably the epitome of this trope. If I recall correctly, almost all of the episodes were about her either learning to care about others for a change or just care about Mr. Whiskers.
  • South Park: While lessons the boys learn tend to stick ("Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride," for example), the same does not apply to the adults. No matter how many times Randy or Sheila learn lessons about actually listening to their children and respecting their wishes ("Bloody Mary" and The Movie, for example), they're back to publicly humiliating Stan and Kyle by the next episode.
    • Additionally, Cartman.
      • To be fair, Cartman is a sociopath, and one of the symptoms of a sociopath is a general inability to learn lessons at all.
    • The boys also frequently "learn lessons" about blaming their behavior on external influences, such as in The Movie. The trope is lampshaded to Hell and back in Butt Out (where they blame the tobacco company for making them smoke) by Kyle, who suggests that they come clean instead of letting things spiral out of control.
  • Silly Symphonies that followed up Three Little Pigs showed that Fiddler and Fiefer still played while Practical worked, and they generally blew off the Big Bad Wolf as a Harmless Villain.
  • The cartoon of One Hundred and One Dalmatians had this for no less a personage than Cruella de Vil. For the Yet Another Christmas Carol episode, we had a tour through her Freudian Excuse, and at the end she's being a genuinely nice person. It lasts until the beginning of the next episode because, well, she's the primary villain and Status Quo Is God.
  • Maryoku Yummy, being a series for preschoolers, tends to fall into this a lot. Every other episode, Hadagi has to learn not be a big jerk, Ooka has to learn to be more responsible, and Shika has to learn that Maryoku is just right and stop fighting it already.
  • Sometimes happens on Arthur, but usually it's Lampshaded with one character pointing out to the offender early on that they've learned this lesson before, while the offender tries to justify how the situations are different.
  • In the ThunderCats (2011) episode "Song of the Petalars," young Lilliputian Emrick (questing to restore his people to their homeland) impulsively confronts a bird so large he's outmatched and protaginist Lion-O must save him. Lion-O complains of his teenaged stupidity. Later, Lion-O (questing to save his people and their homeland), in his teenaged stupidity, impulsively leads his Thundercats to confront enemy forces so large he's outmatched and a Deus Ex Machina must save them. When Lion-O attempts yet another Leeroy Jenkins in "Old Friends," his new mentor Panthro quickly loses his patience.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the Cutie Mark Crusaders have a pretty bad case of this. The lesson "You can't make your cutie mark appear; you just have to wait for it" gets pounded into them pretty much every time they get their own episode, but they never seem to remember it. Done most egregiously in "The Cutie Pox", where Apple Bloom states the aesop herself, only to declare that she's waited long enough roughly ten seconds later.
    • The Mane Six are also quick to forget their weekly lessons. Fluttershy has learned and forgotten how to be confident at least once, Rarity has learned and forgotten how to be down-to-earth at least twice, and Rainbow Dash has learned and forgotten how not to be a jerk at least four times. Between the first and second seasons, the entire Mane Six and Princess Celestia forgot that the Elements of Harmony are powered by getting along, and aren't just a point-and-shoot Fantastic Nuke. The only lessons that stay learned are by the citizens of Ponyville at large, as they have learned to accept Zecora and Princess Luna.
      • The second time the Elements of Harmony were used can be explained by Discord screwing with everyone, making them act the opposite of their normal selves.
    • Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of Aesop Amnesia has to be for the second season finale. The very first aesop learned in the second season, learning to take other people's concerns (in this case, concerns over the person Twilight's brother is going to marry) seriously, as well as the very last aesop right before this finale, don't jump to conclusions and accuse people, get forgotten in the finale. This results in not only Twilight Sparkle making herself look like an idiot in front of her friends and brother, but also caused an entire invasion to happen, as the bride in question turns out to be a queen of a monster race in disguise.
  • The Grinch in Halloween is Grinch Night.
    • Although, technically, in the original he learned to appreciate Christmas. Doesn't mean he can't be grinchy the rest of the year, even if his heart grew three sizes.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • It's not uncommon in bad debates to encounter people who repeat the same arguments after they've already been soundly disproven.
    • This can lead to hilarity on online forums. An argument will be made and refuted soundly on one page, only for it to be made again, often by the same person, a page or two later.
    • Particularly egregious trolls will do this openly, going so far as to quote the debunking of their nonsense and respond with the exact same nonsense, often word for word.
    • And then you encounter the truly mind-blowing god-tier trolls who will be provided with links and article cites completely contradicting their claim in plain English, and then be spotted shortly afterwards repeating the citations as alleged support for their claim.
  • Anyone who attends any twelve-step recovery program for any significant length of time (six months or more) will hear dozens of life stories about people falling for the same addictions and abusive relationships over and over again, and will hear about people falling off the wagon repeatedly. Addiction is like that.
  • It isn't so much that people forget the aesop, it's more like it's extremely hard to change their ways, if someones' behaviour becomes too extreme and then they 'learn their lesson', there's a good chance they'll repeat the behaviour even though they know the danger, becuase it's in total opposition to their personality to not do it. For example, if someone has an addictive personality, it's in their nature to be addicted to something.