Author Tract

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"Writers, whatever else you do, resist the urge to put yourself into your story, because what we care about is your creation, and the last thing we want is to find we've been lured into a wonderful and instructive analogous world, only to find you've kidnapped us here to tell us to drink our Ovaltine."

All writers put something of themselves into their stories, but some of them go just that little bit too far. For them, the real point of writing is not to shape worlds or create characters, but to preach their ideological beliefs.

This is not always a bad thing. For some books, the premise is simply a way of putting a political point across in an interesting and imaginative way. However, when the message come across as forced or one sided, it may prevent some readers from enjoying the book.

Note that this only applies when the entire universe and characters have been created to put forward the author's viewpoint. If an existing fictional universe or character has been altered to create a medium for a tract, then it's due to a Writer on Board (Author Filibuster is an extreme example of that). If the author's just filling up their story with stuff they like, that's Author Appeal. If it's gotten to the point where the tracting (or whatever personal issues the author has) has all but taken over the author's work, then the author has entered Filibuster Freefall.

Please do not use this page as an excuse to complain about an author you don't like. Keep in mind that the minimal requirement for a work to qualify here is that the message has to be obvious and heavy handed. Don't use this page to Complain About Messages You Disagree With.[1] When adding examples, please restrict them to explaining what the tract is about and how this is shown. We don't want arguments.

Contrast What Do You Mean It's Not Didactic?. May overlap with Artistic License.

Examples of Author Tract include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Earth Maiden Arjuna starts out as a fast-paced mature Magical Girl series. Then it quickly veers into very heavy-handed ecological preaching. Tolerable, because the animation is freaking sweet, because Theresa is really Badass and because Juna's transformation is damn cool, but the storyline is still Anvilicious to the point of being distracting, and full to the brim of very bad science about why Science Is Bad.
  • Another Shoji Kawamori piece, Macross Zero, mixes spectacular mecha battles with the seemingly-opposite message that all warfare is inherently evil. It's set on an island that's a mostly-primitive Eden, inhabited by innocents. The shaman/priestess freaks out over the arrival of UN forces to defend the island, saying they're possessed by evil spirits that are prophesied to destroy everything. For the first half, this is played as "silly superstitious witch doctor". But by the end, you realize that she's absolutely right. The island paradise gets tac-nuked into a wasteland, and only her Heroic Sacrifice keeps the entire world from being obliterated.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam. War is bad, m'kay?

You soldiers can decide to live and die by any rules you want, commandant. You can play any games you want, but civilians shouldn't have to lose their lives as a result.

    • Incidentally, most of this came about of it being based off of World War II.
  • Osamu Tezuka did this occasionally, but he usually managed to pull it off well. For instance, in Black Jack, Tezuka often criticizes the current state of the medical establishment, lent some weight by the fact that he was trained as a doctor before becoming a manga artist. It rarely feels heavy handed, though because of its wonderful characterization (Black Jack himself is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a convoluted Backstory) and the title character's amazing demonstrations of surgical skill that go Beyond the Impossible. His science fiction stories, including Astro Boy often discuss the dehumanizing effects of modern society technology, but counterpoint it by showing all the good that can come of modern technology. Karma, the 4th (or 5th, depending on the localization) volume of Phoenix series is largely built around Buddhist themes, discussing Karma and reincarnation at length and lamenting the corruption of the Buddhist faith by political interests, but it is widely considered to be Tezuka's greatest masterpiece. The later (and sadly, final) Phoenix story Sun does something similar with Shinto.
    • Tezuka's science fiction book Apollo's Song did the same as Astro Boy, but touched on the nature of love and romance (not to mention Greek Mythology) as well.
    • Some of his stories that focus on nature like Kimba the White Lion tend to have a Green Aesop, but Tezuka tends to make it play back-burner to other aesops about family and sacrifice.
  • Team Medical Dragon was written by Akira Nagai, a practicing doctor - and the manga basically centres around a maverick (but exceedingly skilled) cardiac surgeon and his team fighting against bureaucracy and corruption in the Japanese health services. It's particularly jarring when you realise that all the protagonists are incredibly good-looking compared to most of the antagonists, who are practically caricatures.
    • The issue with the looks is somewhat taken care of in the live-action version, with the antagonists having a fair amount of attractive people, and Dr. Asada being the only one pointed out to be good-looking.
  • Only Yesterday sometimes comes across as a tract about the importance of Japanese farming. It avoids being irritating through the sheer quality of the animation and storytelling—and it helps that the monologues are sometimes being interrupted by the character saying that he is getting too serious.
  • Most of Hayao Miyazaki's movies have at least one segment that preaches the importance of respecting and preserving nature. That is, if the plot itself isn't already completely built around the Aesop.
  • Another Studio Ghibli movie, Grave of the Fireflies has a different Aesop altogether. Did you know that war is bad? Well, this movie goes out of its way to show you that War Is Hell. That is, if you can see that through all the tears.
    • The War Is Hell message is made even more effective by the fact that this is not a film about those fighting in the war, it is a film about the civilians who must suffer for the sake of it.
  • Code Geass has been (and still is) accused of being an anti-American Author Tract by director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi. When asked about the subject, his response was "I know some authors have political messages in their works, but that wasn't my intention; I just wanted to tell an entertaining story." Later, when asked again, he responded "You mean America and Britannia are exactly alike? I had no idea!"
    • Which proves such people don't really get Britannia at all. Specifically, it was begun by the British government moving to the American continent.
    • After which said continent effectively became Britannia. But if there's a critique of imperialism in it, Britannia's imperialism resembled the British and various European empires' rather than American-style globalization.
    • In the English dub, at least, there are actually some parallels between the Black Rebellion and the American Revolution: the Brittanian Emperor says "all men are not created equal" while America's Declaration of Independence began by saying "all men are created equal", and the new nation Zero forms to fight Brittania is called "the United States of Japan".
  • Having been inspired by its creator's battle with depression, Neon Genesis Evangelion (particularly the ending - both of them) contains numerous sequences containing in-depth discussions of the human condition and concludes with a lengthy expose on the thought process that leads the main character to overcome his own depression, go on living and reject the Assimilation Plot he finds himself a part of. Whether this makes the series impassioned and sincere or pretentious and pedantic depends heavily on who you ask.
  • Masashi Kishimoto really, really wants you to know that revenge is bad, kids.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The works of Alan Moore frequently stray into Author Tract territory, most notably Promethea, which was a 32-issue series explaining Moore's views on the nature of magic and V for Vendetta which was very much a vehicle for his political views.
    • Possible subversion: Moore has stated that he wanted to let the reader decide for themselves whether V is a noble freedom fighter or a psychotic terrorist, and portrays V's antagonist, a leader of a fascist party, as sympathetic. If it were an Author Tract, the morality would be more black and white.
      • If it were a bad Author Tract it would be more black and white. There's nothing saying an Author Tract can't be subtle or well-written.

Alan Moore: "The central question is, is this guy right or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think of this?"

Rashad: Did you know that evolution is basically a racist concept? Some evolutionists still teach that white people evolved from "negroes" who evolved from apes- meaning "white people are more evolved!"

  • One Chick Tracts explains where the idea came from—Communist China found that Western children loved reading comics, so they decided that easy-to-understand comics would be an excellent medium with which to indoctrinate the people. Even though the comics in question are mostly Japanese.
    • That said, basically every piece of official publication in Communist dictatorships is an example of this trope.
    • An alternate, and equally apocryphal origin story for Chick tracts, suggests that they were inspired by "Tijuana bibles"—similarly pocket-size, staple bound amateur comics of the '30s and '40s, which featured Lawyer-Unfriendly Cameos of licensed characters engaging in pornographic acts.
    • In general comics are a popular form for propaganda because illustrated stories can reach across linguistic boundaries.
  • The Invisibles was basically created as a way for Grant Morrison to explain his experiences with extraterrestrial contact and magic.
  • Frank Miller has always been a little on the board about his politics in his writings, though they never have messed with a good story. However, the years have passed, and his works and just less and less stories and more and more just characters fighting and talking about HIS views on politics, specifically, HIS preferences on politics. And, with his new title, Holy Terror... lets just say that Islam, the entire Islam, being terrorists or little children, won't be saved.
  • Warren Ellis has specifically stated that Transmetropolitan is basically him venting about his various opinions on politics and consumerism, with the main character being a sort of author surrogate. This is particularly notable in the issue where Spider Jerusalem takes on religion, which doesn't even end properly—the issue concludes with him dressed up as Jesus, tearing up a sort of religious convention in a mall (while giving a long speech about why religion sucks, of course) and getting tackled by security. No mention is made of it afterward.
    • Transmetropolitan actually does this right, as Spider is just unsympathetic enough to avoid being a Mary Sue 'I am right, you are wrong' type of character. You are left free to disagree with his individual likes and dislikes while sympathizing with his basic humanity, as many characters within the comic itself do. Many of the characters close to Spider constantly complain about what a horrible and unpleasant person he is, frequently abusing and taking advantage of him when he's blitzed on whatever drugs he's managed to come up with. At one point, one of the characters closest to him gets sick of his crap and leaves; but later returns and comments that the worst part of working with such a bastard is that he's the good guy, and actually making a difference.
    • Most of Ellis' comics seem to have characters declaring their sociopolitical views, which always are along the same lines, and close to the author's own opinions.
  • Garth Ennis is fond of these—particularly concerning religion, the Irish and other authors he doesn't like. Above all else, however, he enjoys voicing his dislike of superheroes, beginning early with The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, continuing on in his run on The Punisher proper and culminating in his current series The Boys.
  • One of the reasons William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman was to convince everyone to come under 'loving submission' to a world matriarchy. Oh, and bondage is highly enjoyable.
  • Comically subverted by Grant Morrison when he literally shows up in Animal Man to (among other things) mention that he feels, his own, writing for the book has become too preachy and contrived.
  • Dave Sim's Cerebus eventually came to be dominated by Sim's viewpoints on the evils of feminism and his rather unusual take on the Abrahamic religions. An entire story arc was dominated by the title character reinterpreting pretty much the entire Torah.
  • David Mack's Kabuki started out as action-adventure (though already with some genre savviness and self-reflexivity) and eventually became a meditation on producing independent art (turning the self-reflexivity and self-reference up to 11).
  • In a borderline case, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, was an incisive analysis of comics as a medium (though not without its own agendas and prejudices), while the 'sequel,' Reinventing Comics is much more of a personal manifesto.
  • Sky Doll by Barbara Canepa and Alessandro Barbucci often veers into this territory, which the overall story could be interpreted as an author tract against all religion in general.
  • Pat Mills was very fond of writing about the evils of Christianity and the glories of Neopaganism in the 80s; Sláine and ABC Warriors were particularly prone to simply becoming mouthpieces for his views on religion. However, he's gotten better about it.
  • Several times in Wilhelm Busch's stories. Best example may be "Pater Filucius". Gottlieb Michael (the good guy) is generally seen as a stand-in for the good German people, whom the evil Catholic church wants to harm.
    • Pater Filucius was Busch's contribution to the Kulturkampf, the period of intense conflict between Bismarck's government (supported by the Liberals) on one hand and the Catholic Church and its political arm, the Centre Party after the first Vatican Council declared the Pope to be infallible. Most characters in it are allegorical and have significant names. The German people had long been personified as der deutsche Michel ("German Mike"), rather like the British one was represented by John Bull, because St. Michael was Germany's patron saint. Father Filucius (from the French filou, "crook") is a Jesuit, Gottlieb Michael's two maiden aunts Petrine and Pauline stand for the established Catholic and Protestant churches (the Pope tracing his authority to St. Peter, while Protestants place greater emphasis on the teachings of St. Paul. In the end, Gottlieb marries Angelica, signifying Wilhelm Busch recommending an "Anglican" solution to the centuries-old Catholic-Protestant divide in Germany.
  • JLA: Act of God is entirely devoted to saying that Batman is right and the only way to fight crime is by being a normal vigilante with no special abilities. And also that superheroes are arrogant because only God should have power, it even goes so far as to have Wonder Woman convert to Catholicism, in spite of her being an Amazon, who has met Greek gods before.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is, in part, its author's attempt to teach lessons in rational thinking through the medium of Harry Potter fanfiction.
  • Similar to and inspired by the above, Luminosity is designed to explain luminosity—i.e., self-awareness.
  • "Harry Potter Turns to the Lord" is a fanfiction about a Gary Stu teaching Harry Potter that witchcraft is evil.
  • In Chrono Trigger Crimson Echoes, King Zeal calling out Crono and the party near the end could qualify as this, given the context.
  • Pretty much any time any fanfiction creates a Designated Villain based on the author's personal experiences/views/current events, it's getting into an author's tract. It can be excused in some cases, if it's related to the plot, but if it comes out of the blue it looks like a giant lecture in the middle of an otherwise unrelated story.


Film[edit | hide]

  • An American Carol was David Zucker's stab at making a conservative comedy film, featuring a straw-stuffed Michael Moore parody getting the shit beat out of him by Patton.
  • The propaganda film Triumph of the Will was a tract for the Nazis. After World War II, director Leni Riefenstahl repeatedly insisted that she was not herself a true believing Nazi.
  • Most people assume Birth of a Nation, which portrays the KKK as heroic saviors, was a tract by director D. W. Griffith. In fact, it's an adaptation of a then-popular novel by Thomas F. Dixon, Jr, which was itself a racist author tract. Being the son of a Confederate Army colonel, Griffith may have supported the tract, but evidence isn't exactly handy. Most likely, Griffith was interested in the story's profit potential. In response to accusations of racism, Griffith promptly filmed Intolerance, which criticized racism and discrimination. And bombed.
  • Glen or Glenda is essentially Ed Wood's apology for crossdressers like himself; he even played the crossdressing title character under a pseudonym.
  • Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator in which Chaplin urges the viewers to resist the Nazis.
  • A King In New York is largely a vehicle for Chaplin's views on nuclear disarmament and the Red Scare, with some comedy tacked on.
  • Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack was slowly overshadowed/overwhelmed by Laughlin's political views. Many a war is waged on Straw, specially if it's anyone on the opposite end of Laughlin's political views.
  • Richard Linklater's film version of the non-fiction book Fast Food Nation went from an expose of the practices of the fast food restaurant industry to a two-hour rant about why people shouldn't eat meat. Despite becoming an In Name Only adaptation of the book, author Eric Schlosser (who is not a vegetarian) still endorsed the final product.
  • Sherwood Pictures makes films (such as Facing the Giants and Courageous) that are specifically intended to teach about Christian morality. This makes sense, as they're produced and financed by a Baptist church.
  • Steven Seagal's On Deadly Ground caps off its green-friendly agenda with Seagal literally lecturing the audience on environmental problems and getting a round of applause.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Human Stain by Philip Roth "Oh how difficult it is to be a rich white man in Academia! No one recognizes your true genius! Surrounded by PC nuts who think you're being racist for ENTIRELY innocuous comments and those women pretending to be smart like men with their twittering and their sensitivity... but they all really just want in your pants." The whole book is a beautifully written whine about how he wishes people would stop calling him a sexist racist jerk who's condescending and mean to everyone.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Four kids are punished for their flaws by karmic near-deaths, and the one perfect kid inherits a huge chocolate factory. Whilst no one would deny that Veruca Salt's brattishness probably got her what she deserved, obesity, gum-chewing and TV addiction (particularly the latter) are more personal bugbears of Dahl's. You could argue that these habits are symptoms of the kids' general Jerkass behaviour which, as Dahl also points out, is indulged by their parents.
  • Ayn Rand is a great example. Several other authors here are noted as having many of their tracts derived from hers. She wrote several novels expounding of the virtues of her personal philosophy, Objectivism, culminating in her Magnum Opus—the Doorstopper Atlas Shrugged. With the Author Filibuster (actually only the longest of several in the book) lasting dozens of pages on end (exactly how many depends on which edition), Anvilicious doesn't begin to describe it. Of course, like George Orwell, Rand never pretended her books were anything but author tracts.
  • The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is often accused by detractors of being nothing more than Objectivist propaganda, particularly the later books. These themes only begin to crop up later in the series: Faith of the Fallen is two-fifths desperate battles and Angst, and three-fifths clangingly obvious pro-Ayn Rand soapboxing on how individuals working for themselves in a free market works far better than your broken, inevitably corrupt socialism. Confessor also stumps for atheism.
  • Orson Scott Card's Empire, where the characters will pause during the action to explain exactly why sweeping demonizations of the views of others are destructive. Part of it comes from the ridiculous premise—he was hired to write the backstory for a video game about a second American Civil War taking place Twenty Minutes Into the Future, with the opposing sides being strawman versions of the Democrats and Republicans.
    • In truth, Orson Scott Card does this in a lot of his novels, but usually expounding on religion and philosophy instead of politics. He often introduces characters who spend a good deal of time discussing and speculating on the nature of God. Examples include Sister Carlotta in the Ender's Shadow series, and most of the village in the Xenocide series. To be fair, he usually folds this speculation into the plot pretty well.
      • A more blatant example: Towards the end, the Ender's Shadow series also features numerous lectures from widely disparate characters on how the only way to really be a part of the human race is to have babies, culminating in one Battle-school grad stopping her troops in the middle of a battle and telling them to go home and procreate.
  • Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. After bubbling under the surface for the first third of the trilogy, the final volume explodes into a massive Take That against organized religion. Part of Pullman's intention with this series was to set up an atheist response to the fantasy novels of Christian writer C.S. Lewis, whom Pullman loathes.
  • Lewis, of course, wrote the Narnia books, in which children go to the titular land and have adventures with Aslan the Lion, who is basically Alternate Universe Talking Animal Jesus. He generally keeps it in subtext, but makes it extremely blatant at some points, such as Aslan saying to the kids at the end of the fifth book that he is "known by another name" in their world. The final Narnia novel goes even further by having Aslan outright state that he is known as "the lamb" on Earth, and having the main characters follow him into Heaven.
    • Word of God... ahem... in this case claims it didn't start out that way. Lewis said that he didn't set out to write the Narnia books as a religious parable, but that he had converted to Christianity (due to Tolkien!) at the time and his feelings about religion just found their way into his work. Obviously he had noticed it and was playing it up by the end, but it explains why it was more subtle early on.
    • C. S. Lewis did write deliberate Author Tracts, however:
      • The Great Divorce, an allegory.
      • Pilgrim's Regress, which is So Bad It's Good or just plain bad depending on your religious and literary tolerances. Lewis wrote this as a deliberate allegory when he thought his path to conversion was typical. He later found out it wasn't ... (Lewis later stated that he disliked Pilgrim's Regress, and considered it one of his weakest works.)
      • The Screwtape Letters. In contrast to Pilgrim's Regress, this is actually well-written, but since he deliberately used a Villain Protagonist, it's better as literature than as a tract. This is especially true due to Lewis noting in the introduction that, being a demon, Screwtape is an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Another notable Narnian example comes at the end of The Silver Chair, where the Lady of the Green Kirtle is set up as a Hollywood Atheist of the "completely evil" variety and Lewis puts into her mouth some deliberately skewed philosophical arguments against the existence of Aslan. (Particularly bad because the Green Lady actually knows that Aslan exists, and is just straight-up lying.)
    • Mostly an example of the Flat Earth Atheist or an outright portrayal of the Devil as described by fundamentalist Christians, because she knows that Aslan exists, she is just trying to convince others he doesn't.
  • The Left Behind series of religious novels are overtly based on the authors' premillennial dispensationalist views on the Rapture. Only Christians with their very specific beliefs are shown to be worthy of going to heaven. Like any didactic religious story, the plot is clearly just a vessel to convert the readers or reinforce their already sympathetic views. Helpfully, the two main characters are both Mary Sues of the authors, giving the reader a virtually unfiltered look into the authors' actual beliefs and point of view. Slacktivist illuminates many of these beliefs in his page-by-page analysis.
    • You know you're dealing with an Author Tract when you read a women's clinic employee saying that she's sad that all the world's children disappeared... because they can't perform any more abortions now!
  • The elves of the Inheritance books (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance) are atheist vegetarians who impart their 'wisdom' to the main character and the reader, by spending quite a bit of time expounding upon how 'stupid' religion is (particularly to the dwarves). Christopher Paolini denies that this was a representation of his own beliefs, claiming it was simply an attempt to portray various cultures and viewpoints in the series. This became a lot more plausible after the third book. However, in the fourth book Eragon devotes two paragraphs to discussing the stupidity of religion, and in many places it is hinted that religion is scoffed at by all the main characters except Orik (the dwarf king) and Nasuada (the human queen).
  • A large part of Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in A Strange Land revolves around nudism and polyamory, both of which Heinlein practiced in his real life (For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs, a lost early Heinlein manuscript which was first published in 2003, contains similar themes). Indeed, his works can largely be divided into pre-Stranger and post-Stranger, with the latter showing far more evidence of this. There's also a greater-than-average amount of incest, including a mention that in his distant future it's genetically safer in some cases for a woman to bear her brother's children than an unrelated man's -- a couple's decision to have children together (or not) is based purely on their gene scans, not on consanguinity. Not that that necessarily stops them from marrying; there's a reference to a happily married couple who are raising seven children, "four his, three hers, none theirs," using donor sperm for hers and donor eggs for his because the genetic risks of having children together were too great. Apparently Hollywood Evolution leads to a world where whatever the creator thinks is hottest happens. Heinlein was probably unaware of the Westermarck Effect, or he would have been less sanguine about the possibility of genetic scans completely replacing the incest taboo as society's method of minimizing pregnancies and births marred by reinforced harmful recessive genes.
    • All of Robert A. Heinlein's heroes have the same views as he does. Some of his early writing was made solely for the purpose of Author Tract. However, even his stories that weren't solely designed for it still have plenty of it in there. It is just that he was such a good writer with good ideas that he could get away with it. He also does get you to think about the issues, as well. Starship Troopers is the most popular story of his that has been accused of being an Author Tract, with critics basically saying it is just about worshiping the military.
      • Starship Troopers is an Author Tract, all right. He wrote it in protest of America signing a nuclear treaty with Russia—whom he did not believe would keep nuclear treaties. Unfortunate Implications in that Reality Subtext, but this novel is good in itself. And it doesn't have the Squick that Stranger in A Strange Land does, which makes a difference: there are probably a lot of people who appreciate Heinlein's military politics, but not his sexual politics.
      • Or vice-versa - Stranger was well-liked by the hippie movement, for example, while they certainly weren't fans of Starship Troopers.
      • Starship Troopers is very pro-military in general, but it was more about Heinein's ideas of how the military should be (as well as the associated political/philosophical ideas being pushed) than being pro military.
      • Weirdly, given that it suffers from such a severe dose of Author Tract, Starship Troopers comes closer than any of his other major novels to breaking the main character out of the 'Heinlein hero' mold. The protagonist isn't an attractive resourceful polymath; he's just a regular Joe (well, Juan) who believes the political line fed to him in school.
      • Heinlein is an unusual author tractist in that his political opinions and issue of choice evolved over time. While he never stopped writing author tracts, has later tracts effectively contradict his middle tracts, which in turn contradict his earlier tracts.
  • 1984, by George Orwell, is nothing but an extremely Anvilicious Author Tract based on his vision of how Stalinist revision of history might be taken to its logical extremes.
    • Orwell's Animal Farm is also a thinly veiled satire of the Russian Revolution, and more generally of the nigh-universal cycle of revolution and corruption.
      • Animal Farm can also come off as a pro-Trotskyist Author Tract given the fact that the one semi-good pig was an idealized version of Trotsky.
  • Stationery Voyagers is a mix of this with Author Appeal, mixing spoofs of works the author either really likes or really dislikes with an elaborate commentary and hypothesis on evangelical Lutheran theology, conservative politics, and how the two both reinforce and seek to balance each other. Season 3 devolves into numerous levels of Take That on groups the author finds fault with: the Kinsey Institute, Planned Parenthood, GLAAD, ecoterrorists, activist judges, and other political left-wing Acceptable Targets.
    • While it doesn't shy away from criticizing Islam or Islamic terrorists, the series is surprisingly soft towards non-militant Muslim individuals in general, even allowing a group of proto-Muslims to do something heroic in one flashback episode. Although the Drismabons are still depicted as destroying the Kaaba in one episode, then laughing about it.
    • The series even goes so far as to show the economics of personal and sexual lifestyles, and societal economic consequences of subjective thinking. So really, there's no hot-button issue the series won't touch.
  • L. Ron Hubbard and his final novels, Battlefield Earth and the 10-volume Mission Earth. In Battlefield Earth psychiatry is what caused the evil space overlords to turn from their generally happy live-and-let-live prior existence, into amoral Planet Looters who regularly commit planetary genocide just so nobody will get in the way of their mining operations. Psychiatry is also the big-bad in Mission Earth, to the extent that every single antagonist is either a supporting the profession or a practitioner or exporting it off-world or using it to take over the world. It doesn't help that almost every character is a Strawman Political.
    • Let's not forget the evil Psychlos. This isn't a play on 'psycho'--it's a reference to psychologists, who are considered evil in Scientology doctrine.
    • His earlier work Masters of Sleep promotes Dianetics and features as a villain a mad psychiatrist, Doctor Dyhard, who persists in rejecting Dianetics after all his abler colleagues have accepted it, and believes in prefrontal lobotomies for everyone.
    • Other common targets for Hubbard's ire include journalists, federal investigators, bankers, elected officials, policemen, doctors, college professors, and modern art.
  • Michael Crichton. State of Fear. In fact, many of his books: starting with Jurassic Park, and going on from there.
    • And in Next, he used a page in the book as a tract against... someone who wrote an article against Crichton's stance on Global Warming. How did he portray someone who dared disagree with him? As a pedophile with a tiny penis who raped infants, of course! The character appears and then vanishes as suddenly.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky hoped to convey a new way to understand religion through exemplifying the themes of guilt and free will in writing The Brothers Karamazov. This can be seen in what many critics call the pivotal chapters of the book, which include the parable called The Grand Inquisitor. The way in which events play out conform with the Elder Zosima's idea expressed throughout of "everyone is guilty for all and before all."
    • Notes From Underground is arguably an Author Tract; it highlights the societal chaos brought about by the then fashionable, and highly depressing, trend towards rational reductivism (often referred to as nihilism).
  • War and Peace was the means by which Leo Tolstoy wanted to share his view of history and historical forces. No no, the title doesn't give it away.
    • What gives it away is the 100-page epilogue that drops any pretense of plot, characterization, drama, or interestingness. It even critiques the rest of the book directly.
  • The Bill the Warthog series of children's detective stories are meant as biblical metaphors, including a whole book where the author just rips stories from Jesus's parables. Good thing the parables are in the public domain...
  • John Ringo does this sometimes fairly increasingly frequently, most noticeably in The Last Centurion which blames the fall of American civilization due to bird flu on democrats and liberals, and the rest of the world on universal healthcare. Though this is partly mitigated by it being a first-person narrative.
    • In Through the Looking Glass, a grandmother ponders why her local Democrats can't be both liberal and patriotic. Lasts a page, but then there's a David Lynch-esque sequence that shows that an apparently minor creature that accompanied a little girl is God. Well, that, and it's part of a race that makes up part of the universe. It leads to questioning why science and religion can't co-exist. Then, after that, it turns out various Terrorists and Insurgent groups tried to use captured aliens as a bioweapon, which escaped of course and butchered most of the Islamic fundamentalist movement in the Middle East. It's a good thing to the characters.
      • By itself, the grandmother's pondering could also be first-person perspective, since there are real people who think like that, some of whom are Florida grandmothers. Suffice to say that it isn't at all by itself.
    • He wrote Ghost as this deliberately. It was a horrible wank-fest that he just had to get out of his head and shove it in a drawer. When fans heard about it they asked for it and loved it, and it got published, much to his chagrin. To give you an idea, the main character pursues kidnapper terrorists to the Middle East, where he kills them all, coaches a group of naked coeds through a siege (while renaming them, because he can't be bothered to learn their names), kills Bin Laden and mails his head to the President in a bucket, buys a yacht with the reward money, has kinky bondage sex with some of the coeds and converts them to Republicanism. In the in the first third of the book.
  • The Land of Mist by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a novel-length tract justifying the author's conversion to Spirtualism, including the massive change in character of ultra-rationalist Professor Challanger, who converts to Spiritualism. There is a suggestion in chapter two that the deaths of "ten million young men" in World War I was punishment by the Central Intelligence for humanity's laughing at the alleged evidence for life after death.
  • Matthew Dickens spends the last hundred pages of the book Magnus telling the reader about his personal views on religious doctrines, evolution, theology, Superman Returns, etc.
  • This trope was Charles Dickens' stock in trade. All of his works are morality plays meant to drive home his socialist ideals. In A Christmas Carol, Ebeneezer Scrooge rails that the poor are lazy and inferior and deserve to die, on scientific principle, and then an innocent child almost does. In David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, and Oliver Twist, more innocent children are mercilessly abused, either by predators that society chooses to do nothing about, or by the very institutions of that society. In Little Dorrit, citizens are reduced to professional beggars by the debtors' prison system. And the list goes on.
  • Piers Anthony does these occasionally. One story he wrote was basically a Take That explaining why the sci-fi publishing business was worthless (Anthony having struggled against it for quite some time before learning the tricks of the trade). One supposes that subjectivity enters in over where the line is drawn between Author Tract, Author Filibuster, and Author Appeal where his other books fall, though he's never been very shy about making his ideas on sexuality (and the ages at which people take notice of it), body modesty, and other things an important plot element of his stories.
  • The Arthur Hailey novel The Moneychangers has a recurring character to filibuster about how Gold is Good. Given that he's a pundit with his own popular newsletter, and is married to one of the secondary characters, and the book is about banking, it kinda makes sense. Then, after the 'real' ending, the US establishes a gold-backed dollar, and we are treated to the full text of one of said pundit's newsletters. Guess what it's about? The book ends with the lead putting the newsletter down and reflecting how wise said pundit is.
    • This makes even less sense in Overload, a novel about a power company, when the President establishes a gold-backed dollar. The protagonist, an power company spokesman, promptly comes up with a perfect comment about the dangers of America's dependence on foreign oil, as requested by the reporter who presented the story to him so she could get a soundbyte. Then she sleeps with him.
    • Hailey's novels in general often go into Author Tract territory, as the author has one or another of his character expatiate on a particular failing of the business he is examining in the current book. For instance, Airport goes into a lot of detail about aviation safety, how people who complain about airport noise are in fact sometimes deluded by real-estate promoters looking to make a buck, and the evils of "flight insurance" (a type of life insurance which, at the time the novel was published, could be purchased by passengers worried about whether they would survive the flight).
  • Much of Sheri S. Tepper's work reads as thinly disguised, feminist utopianism; particularly The Gate to Womens Country and The Revenants. Beauty paints a rather extreme picture of the human race's 'destruction' of Earth's environment.
  • Petrarch's unpublished final work, a poem on Scipio Africanus, was full of long Author Filibusters on how Ancient Rome was better than everything ever. Technically, this is true of all of Petrarch's work, and indeed, most things written during The Renaissance, but he took the cultural inferiority complex Up to Eleven. There's also apparently a fictitious bit where Scipio goes to see a fortuneteller, who speaks of a dark time when poetry will die out and only a man named Petrarch will be able to save it. After Petrarch died, some of his fans wanted to publish it. Then they read it, and decided that he never finished it for a reason.
  • Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen has always been filled with navel-gazing philosophy (usually of the wangsty kind), but for the first seven books it was at least the characters doing it, and sometimes not without reason. But in book eight, Toll the Hounds, we have long ramblings in omniscient voice, and it becomes painfully obvious that Erikson is trying to push his allegedly deep insights regarding the world on the reader. Perhaps the most Anvilicious example is p. 617 (hardback version), where Erikson has the audacity to, in omniscient voice, use the phrase: "And this is the lesson here, dear friends."
    • The parts of Toll the Hounds where the readers seem to be directly addressed are actually told by Kruppe (who, as we know since the very first book, just loves the sound of his own voice).
  • Even Edgar Allan Poe wasn't immune to this, though to either his credit or his fault, he restricted it to philosophy--The Imp of the Perverse is entirely about his idea of a previously uncredited motivating force behind people's actions.
  • HP Lovecraft's short story Silver Key consists almost entirely of his Author Avatar Randolph Carter, who is exactly like Lovecraft except that his family didn't lose its wealth and prestige musing about all things wrong with the society. He bashes both religion and science for their obsession with order and structure, and declares that dreams are equal to reality, and that the only things worth valuing in a meaningless universe are beauty and harmony. The ending implies a romanticized view of suicide, as Carter abandons the Waking World, ironically in perfect opposite to the Aesop he was supposed to have learned in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
  • King John of Canada by Scott Gardiner, although nominally a political satire, in reality consists of one Author Filibuster after another against Natives, Quebec Separatists, environmental activists, Saudi Royals, the Asper family, American-style conservatives...in short, everyone that the author doesn't like, all stuck together by a paper-thin plot and shallow characters. Even for someone who agrees with most of his points, it's painful to read.
  • The Turner Diaries, written under a pseudonym by William Pierce, who was leader of the neo-Nazi organization National Alliance until his death in 2002. Largely about eeeevil liberals and Jews enslaving America, and the actions of the Designated Hero terrorist cell 'The Order' trying to overthrow said eeeevil strawmen. For a scary note, a scene in which the Order blow up a federal building probably inspired the actions of one of its biggest fans - Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber.
    • The Order also inspired a real life terrorist organization of the same name that is responsible for numerous deaths.
      • And to which McVeigh may have had ties, according to Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God - a book about religious terrorism.
  • 99% of everything that John Milton wrote (including, tautologically, his political tracts).
  • Tom Clancy's Executive Orders has President Jack Ryan remaking the U.S. government.
  • Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream. An Alternate History Adolf Hitler (who became a writer instead of a politician) writes Lord Of The Swastika, a pulp SF adventure with a plot that mirrors the real-world rise of the Third Reich. It's followed by a review where a scholar heaps praise on Hitler as a brilliant writer of rollicking good adventure stories, and whose only criticism is that he thinks it was a bit implausible for the protagonist to rise to power by creating a rather silly Cult of Personality and machismo. Naturally the whole thing is one giant Take That at the Broken Aesop morality of pulp SF and fantasy stories.
    • Of course, Spinrad's tract is one of the few actually capable of actually proving its point, since it is about fiction, rather than the real world. His point is "many if not most pulp SF and Heroic Fantasy stories are characterized by vaguely Nazi/Fascist Broken Aesops, to say nothing of machismo that would put Freud in a tizzy," and this is a point he can prove by going on to write a fairly typical (if exaggerated) pulp Science Fiction/Heroic Fantasy novel that is obviously Nazi and obviously and steroidically Freudian. Taking The Iron Dream as a model, we can then compare it non-Tract pulp and find the salient similarities (which are chillingly many).
  • Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, a depiction of an environmentalist utopia.
  • A great deal of Meg Cabot's books, especially her YA novels. It was especially apparent in Ready Or Not, where Ms. Cabot literally stopped the narrative to rant against the abstinence movement. Her other books contain some amounts of similar commentary.
  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is perhaps one of the most compelling examples we have of an author tract, or rather two tracts—first about the hellishness of the meat-packing industry in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century, and then a defense of socialism. More literal than the usual author tract, because at first he had to self-publish. The meatpacking half (based on Sinclair's undercover observations) was so horrifying that it led to nearly-immediate regulation: the Meat Inspection Act, and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which established the FDA). The socialist half made little lasting impact in America, where the burgeoning movement was forcibly shut down by the government, but was part of a sweeping movement that radically transformed the politics of Europe and Asia.
    • These were not separate goals, but Sinclair couldn't control readers' reactions. After America panicked about food safety and ignored the plight of the workers he said, "I aimed for their hearts and hit them in their stomachs."
  • Nation, by Terry Pratchett, is unusually heavy handed with its themes. If one has read many Pratchett books or has ever listened to him speak on religion, it becomes extremely obvious that the book is almost entirely an Author Tract about humanitarianism, atheism, thought, and the role religion plays in society. This becomes even more obvious at the end of the book where Pratchett drops all pretense of writing a story and simply has a section that may as well be Terry himself making a speech about humanity. When you consider the fact that this obvious Author Tract was written after the author became aware that he has a fatal disease, the straight-forward nature of the book can be outright heartwrenching.
  • Joanna Russ's sci fi novel The Female Man is partly about Alternate Universe versions of the same woman meeting up and getting to know each others' cultures,[2] and it's about equally about Russ taking every opportunity to espouse how men are keeping her down. It's telling that one of the most detailed passages is that warrior woman literally tearing a man apart with her reinforced steel teeth and claws. It's also implied that the Lady Land utopia is the direct result not of a plague, but of the aforementioned gendercidal war.
  • Gustav Meyrink started out with a fairly decent, atmospheric novel, The Golem. The author's occultist views and rampant antisemitism were obvious, but still... then came The Green Face, and it was an Author Tract plus a bit of plot. Then, It Got Even Worse.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin, "the book that started the Civil War," is a novel aimed at women in an attempt to get them to convince their voting husbands to outlaw slavery. Many times the narrator will address the reader directly to push her down this logical path.
  • Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson was a very popular didactic novel to teach young women the importance of feminine virtues, including piety, domesticity, and most importantly chastity. The main character is basically a Mary Sue of the feminine ideal who repeatedly asserts her virtue against the advances of a rakish suitor.
    • Even at the time the book was published, some were disgusted by the classification of "virtue" as "virginity". One author wrote a parody, Shamela, that ridiculed the concept by having long conversations over the heroine's "vartue", pointing out just how meaningless the word "virtue" is when used in the original.
  • Anna Sewell's Black Beauty was originally written as an Author Tract about the abuses suffered by carriage horses in 19th century England, not as a children's novel.
  • Only the Super Rich Can Save Us by Ralph Nader. Yes, that Ralph Nader. Although- consumer advocate that he is- he never pretends that the book is anything other than 'how everything could be so much better if a few rich people got together and implemented my program.'
  • Eugen Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future, which has the Strawman Political as the viewpoint character who celebrates Germany's slide into Stalinist Communism and saves the Author Avatar for the very end. Interestingly, it was published in 1891 and managed to predict much of the Crapsack World the Soviet bloc would become.
  • Kurt Vonnegut does this a lot. Cat's Cradle not only talks about how the invention of nuclear weapons was a bad thing, but pretty much says that if we insist on inventing things without thinking first about what they might be used for after we invent them, then we're all doomed (one character has given up science altogether, since he's come to believe that anything he invents will probably be turned into a weapon somehow). The parts of Slaughterhouse-Five set in Germany during WWII are unquestionably anti-war. The message of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater seems to be that society will not fall apart if the wealthy share their money with the poor. The very first page of Breakfast of Champions begins describing the country in which the characters live (the United States) and all the ways in which it is fucked up. And so on...
  • The Maximum Ride novels are one big Green Aesop after book three.
  • Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke is flagrantly plagued by the author's numerous holier-than-thou agendas. Every character we are supposed to like is a vegetarian, a pacifist, and will never stop bemoaning mankind's need to put animals in cages even though this theme has cursory relevance to the actual plot, at best. The problematic nature of this aesop is artlessly dodged in that the good dragons subsist entirely off of moonlight and breathe fire that doesn't burn. In one particularly obnoxious scene, a main character sneaks into the campsite of a scientific expedition and releases several caged chickens and a monkey, an act that was not only entirely inconsequential to the plot but also failed to explore the ramifications of the fact that the newfound freedom of these creatures was in the Egyptian wilderness (lucky, lucky chickens). The author is further guilty of putting Eastern people high up on a pedestal over Western people to a point of othering them, not to mention betraying that she probably isn't as familiar with Asia as she would have us believe.
  • Noir by K.W. Jeter is a Doorstopper set in a Dystopian Cyberpunk Crapsack World. After a couple hundred pages of mediocre plot setup, the entire story shifts to the main character being nothing more than a Marty Stu "Copyright Cop" who spends the rest of the book discussing how people who infringe copyrights should be dismembered and tortured because, in the Information Age setting of the book, copyright theft is worse than all other crimes. Jeter's personal website indicates that he firmly believes this. (Adding insult to injury, there are a few interesting concepts that are almost entirely discarded in favor of ranting on copyright.)
  • The Jakub Wedrowycz stories are written by a conservative author, and it shows sometimes; in one of the stories, the bad guys are radical left-wing ecologists, and in another the heroes chase away an European Union official.
  • In Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah, about a Muslim girl living in Australia who decides to wear a hijab regularly, this occurs a lot. The main character often has speeches about the fact that non-Muslims should just see it as a piece of cloth and not as her whole personality. While this is a worthwhile message, this is expressed through contrived situations.
  • Everything Flows is basically one long statement by Vasily Grossman on Stalinist oppression and the necessity of freedom, with story to help the digestion.
  • "August" by Bernard Beckett is a philosophic idea about free will (or the lack of) with a two main characters and storyline plastered on top.
  • Apparently, in The Nutcracker and The Mouse King (the original story, not the ballet), the portrayal of the royal characters as brats and jerkasses while "commoners" like Marie and the Nutcracker became beloved monarchs of the Land of Dolls was meant to attack and subvert the notion that royalty was inherently good and noble and that one needed royal blood to be a good ruler.
  • The Accidental Time Machine: The book contains rants about the evils of Christianity.
  • Youth in Sexual Ecstasy is a novel dedicated to young people that heavily promotes sexual abstinence and a strong Pro-life message.
  • John Grisham's books often feature this trope, targeting big business and/or conservative views. The Confession is an egregious example: the book attacks the death penalty by constructing a miscarriage of justice where the pro-death penalty side are all grossly negligent and unlikeable, in contrast to the anti-death penalty side. To top it off, once the message is thoroughly beaten through you, Grisham decides to dedicate a few pages to having a character rail against the death penalty.
  • Self-proclaimed libertarian PJ O'Rourke's Don't Vote - It Just Encourages The Bastards is a bit hammery with its fundamental message of "All politicians suck, but left-wing ones suck worse than right-wing ones".
  • G. P. Taylor's book Shadowmancer is a heavy-handed attempt to get the reader to convert to Christianity. It's filled with Hollywood Atheists. One of the characters, Raphah, is clearly an author mouthpiece who condemns all things the author dislikes such as witchcraft and coffee.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Saturday Night Live sometimes has this happening, most likely because the host differs from week to week. Christina Aguilera hosted in the midst of her Dirrty phase, and about three-quarters of the sketches where she played a central role (either as herself or someone else) had her character lecturing the others on how she chose to express herself as a woman. Some sketches in this style were Anvilicious, others were anvilicious but got the point across with a good punchline.
  • The West Wing varied a lot over time - the writing staff was mostly Republican in later seasons, leading to things like Arnold Vinick being the better candidate in the Season 7 election, to the point where he would have won had actor John Spencer not died, forcing a last-minute rewrite.
  • Sorkin's follow-up, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip took the preachiness and turned it Up to Eleven. And then squared it. This was parodied in the early episodes of Thirty Rock, with Lemon ranting about something, then getting confused about the statistics before concluding, "I gotta read more."
  • MacGyver pretty much turned into a show protesting societal wrongs after a couple seasons. The most glaring was probably the one that opened with a warning about a graphic portrayal of a de-horned rhinoceros, then spent about half its running time explaining the poaching in Africa and ended with Richard Dean Anderson as himself narrating about what can be done about it. Very Special Episode, indeed.
  • Boston Legal frequently involved the writers concocting a storyline that would allow James Spader to sue and deliver increasingly lengthy closing arguments. Frequently lampshaded.
    • Harry'sLaw seems to be another David E. Kelley example, utilizing the characters of Harry and Thomas Jefferson as soap box preachers in court room scenes.
  • Russell T. Davies is a mild case, for sufficiently flexible values of 'mild'. While he does tend to harp on about homosexuality and atheism a lot, he rarely cops out.
  • Joss Whedon touches on his existentialist(-ish) views in the the Firefly episode Objects In Space, through Jubal Early. Joss goes into much deeper detail in the episode commentary.
  • Speaking of things produced by Joss... "Smashed" and "Wrecked" from Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer felt to some a lot like a great big 'just say NO to drugs' thing. Especially "Wrecked", which was written by Marti Noxon.
    • Season four's "Beer Bad" is not exactly pro-boozing either. It was written specifically to get reward money being offered to shows that dealt with the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. This failed because the episode failed to deal with alcohol consumption realistically, instead having a magical potion in the beer turn drinkers into cavemen.
  • An In-Universe application of this trope occurs in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Author, Author", in which the Doctor writes a holo-novel which is essentially a screed against the oppression of intelligent holograms, with thinly-disguised versions of the crew as the villains. However, the end of the episode implies that maybe the novel is in fact necessary.
  • iCarly: Dan Schneider drops his Anti-Shipping anvil at the end of the episode iStart A Fan War, basically mocking the fans who made his show popular online, and then following it up with Carly mouthing something that could have come from one of his blog posts, which basically boils down to 'shut up about romance and watch the show for the comedy'.
    • He later expanded in his blog that he was in fact just mocking ship to ship combat and not shipping itself.
  • Doctor Who has had several cases over the years, including "The Green Death" (Green Aesop), "The Two Doctors" (vegetarian), "Aliens of London"/"World War III", "The Sunmakers" (anti-tax), "The Curse of Peladon" (pro-EEC), "The Monster of Peladon", Battlefield (Nuclear weapons).
  • Penn and Teller Bullshit is completely blatant about its skeptical and Libertarian agendas from the very first episode. Teller has said (aloud, with his voice) that he likes the show being totally biased, but still fair.
  • Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, had a history of putting his atheist beliefs in his work, though this only became Anvilicious in The Next Generation (there are several affirmative mentions of a belief in God by heroic human characters in the original series).
  • Is it coincidence that the soapboxing quotient on Quincy increased as Jack Klugman got more script control? Er... no.


Music[edit | hide]

(Given the large number of protest songs and other musical agitprop, this probably should only list notable or extreme examples)

  • The album Firestorm by filk musician Leslie Fish is intended as a set of instructions for surviving after a nuclear war. Many of her other songs are author tracts on the subjects of religion, anarchism, and civil liberties.
  • System of a Down lost a lot of their fandom after their concerts became political talk-downs instead of politically charged music.
  • Rush's Rock Opera 2112 is essentially a hard-rock adaptation of Ayn Rand's Anthem, and a number of the group's other songs reference Objectivist ideals, such as "Tom Sawyer", "Red Barchetta", "The Trees", and (appropriately enough) "Anthem".
    • Not for nothing is the track "2112" known as 'the best Objectivist novel ever written'.
    • Their much later album, Roll the Bones, particularly the title track, can be seen as an Author Tract repudiating their earlier Objectivism, or at least softening it greatly; and propounding more of a 'life is random, you deal with what you get' attitude, incorporated with a strong anti-religion/superstition message.
  • In the 2000s, it has become chic to produce remixes of existing songs (protest songs in particular) containing soundbytes from the creator's political candidate of choice. This editor recalls hearing a version of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" mashed up with a John Kerry speech in 2004, and 2008 has seen a will.i.am-produced hip-hop remix of several Barack Obama speeches.
  • "Long Leather Coat" by Paul McCartney, issued in 1993. If you are not in animal-lib, you will get chills listening to this.
  • Several of John Lennon's works from '72 and '73. "Woman Is the Nigger of the World." There is even the Nutopian National Anthem- which is silent...
  • Much of Green Day's American Idiot album contains constant Take Thats against the George W. Bush administration. One song on the album, "Holiday", despite already being an Author Tract manages to still have an Author Filibuster where the song stops for the singer to Strawman Political Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Bush directly through spoken word, complete with pulling a Godwin. Only a couple of tracks on the album ("Holiday" and "American Idiot" especially) are explicitly political, though, with the main focus of the album being a narrative about disaffected youths. Most assume the entire album is nothing but political ranting because the two most Anvilicious songs were released as singles and, consequentially, received the most airplay
  • Diary of an Unborn Child is an anti-abortion Author Tract that would possibly have been more effective had the titular protagonist not embodied Sickening Sweetness and Nightmare Fuel in equal measure, making its eventual demise more of a relief than anything. And then it starts singing.
    • Not to mention that in trying to be strawmannishly Anvilicious, the creator portrays the mother as literally quaking in fear at the very concept of her child, implying that she hates it and despises it. Of course, if your unborn fetus was chirping at you about every stage of its development in a Chipmunk-esque voice, it might scare you, too.
    • There's also the fact that the stages of development are completely inaccurate. Did Not Do the Research indeed.
  • Subverted by Alice Cooper. Despite being a Republican and Christian, he is vehemently against mixing his beliefs with his songs, both because he feels that rock is the antithesis of politics and because he doesn't think people should be looking to musicians for guidance on who to vote for.

"So when I see all these rock stars up there talking politics, it makes me sick. If you`re listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you`re a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we`re morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal."

    • Likewise, Elvis Presley is known for his comment to a reporter who asked for his opinion on the Vietnam War; The King politely replied with "Ma'am, I'm just an entertainer," and he left it at that.
  • Neal Morse left his Prog Rock band Spock's Beard after becoming a Christian. His Testimony album is pretty much the story of his conversion, although he tends not to be didactic and simply calls it "my story."
  • Early Chicago had a lot of these. If it's penned by Robert Lamm, expect this trope (also, expect a lot of vitriol aimed at the establishment). Exemplified by A Song for Richard And His Friends.
  • Toby Keith's early albums were a mix of fun or melancholy country tunes, of above-average quality. For a while, they are mostly raucous instructions on blind patriotism, bible-thumping and how he's better than everyone.
    • Possibly subverted, in that he's a registered Democrat who has said that he personally never really supported the politics of going to war in Iraq, that he's in favor of timelines for troop removal in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been generally supportive of Barack Obama's campaign and administration. And then subverted again in that, "American Ride" aside, he seems to be largely reverting to his 1990s sound.
  • Just about all the music of Canadian far-left band Propaghandi is like this, although it's gotten to the point where they spend so much time at their concerts ranting to the audience instead of actually playing music, that their fans have been known to yell at them to shut up and play.
  • Parodied with a hint of deconstruction by Tenacious D in the song "City Hall", where the duo take over the world - first, they legalise pot, then they try to reduce pollution with an absurd and impractical tube system, then they start to lose steam, showing that rock stars aren't really the type of people who you should take political advice from. After they've settled down, the band tries to kill each other - and succeeds.
  • Most of the work of The Cranberries is about their political views stemming from The Troubles. Even their international hit song "Zombie" ("It's been the same old theme since 1916") is a cry to Please Think Of The Children and stop the fighting.
  • While normally Bob Dylan puts enough subtlety in his protest songs that you could naively assume they were made purely for the artistic merit, he didn't even try with "Neighborhood Bully".
    • His 1964 song "Ballad in Plain D" is a fairly straightforward rant about the end of his relationship with Suze Rotolo (the woman with him on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan), blaming her 'parasite sister' for breaking them up.
  • Ministry did an entire TRILOGY of a full-length albums specifically against George W. Bush.
  • A Perfect Circle's album Emotive, which could probably be renamed 'take this album to an anti-war protest.'
  • Many thrash metal bands moved in this direction during classic metal's Gotterdammerung between 1988 and 1991, trading sex and violence for left-wing politics and anti-war messages, and beer-fueled fury for punkish societal indignation. The lyrical style became derisively known as 'CNN thrash' by some fans, although some classics did arise out of this. Anthrax was the most famous example (the entire Persistence of Time album is a series of political songs), although Metallica flirted with it on And Justice For All. Some bands, like Sacred Reich and Toxik (whose second album is a Concept Album about how television is bad for you) made their entire careers doing this sort of music.
  • Not the album specifically, but the music video Interstella5555 is basically a gigantic middle finger to the celebrity system and the corporate world's exploitation of artists, which fits Daft Punk's core philosophies quite well.
  • Nerina Pallot's "Everybody's Gone to War" was even lampshaded on the radio, with DJs saying she had a slight problem with Iraq.
  • Stereolab have a lot of songs espousing a Marxist / Situationist worldview. It's all but impossible to find a professional review of the band that doesn't mention this fact.
  • Dixie Chicks did this so much in 'Not Ready To Make Nice.' They basically come to terms with their now-dwindling fan-base (due to a disdainful comment by lead singer Natalie Maines after President Bush was re-elected). They even recognize the death threats they received on their tour that year.
  • Stan Rogers sang unabashedly about many social issues, but really only dabbled tractfully into politics by taking on the subject of The Troubles with his song "House of Orange" - this despite being Canadian, not Irish. The song's still good, despite the occasional heavy-handedness of the lyric:

And causes are ashes where children lie slain.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • The Boondocks (also the animated TV show version). Often expresses the feelings of Aaron McGruder on race, entertainment, religion, and politics. Be warned however, that some of that is also just Huey being Huey. This is subverted, however, by Huey being the character that often voices McGruder's beliefs, making it difficult to distinguish what the character thinks, and what the author thinks. Michael Caesar's role provides a bit of realism or Lampshade Hanging to make the tract less Anvilicious or provide a more temperate view.
  • Bill Watterson admitted that he wrote a lot of his troubles with the syndicate into Calvin and Hobbes, as well as his opinions on comics, film, TV, commercial and other industries, humans' role in nature, art, and general philosophy. Fortunately, he was a good enough author to not let it get in the way of characterization or humour.
  • Doonesbury is really just Gary Trudeau telling people what he thinks about politics day-in and day-out, with occasional asides for other things. In its later years, however, the comic has become as much about exploring the gigantic cast of characters' lives as it has about politics. In the beginning it focused almost entirely on humor about the college life of the (much smaller cast of) main characters.
  • Mallard Fillmore started out as an attempt at a standard, character-driven comic, but quickly devolved into a platform for the author to state his conservative opinions on various current events. More often than not, Mallard acts as an Author Avatar speaking directly to the reader.
  • Prickly City was sold to syndicates as "a girl and her coyote buddy" but turned into a conservative soapbox even faster than Mallard Fillmore.
  • After its creator's conversion to born-again Christianity, BC became notorious for its pro-Christian sermonizing, including one infamous Easter strip showing a menorah transforming into a cross (Word of God (ahem) was that this was merely his way of expressing a new religion coming into its own). Which may seem weird given the apparent setting, but there was a story in around 2000 or so that puts forth the idea that the setting was not prehistoric but rather post-Rapture.
    • With Hart's grandson, Mason Mastroianni, in the writer's seat, the preachiness has been dropped and the strip has returned to gag-a-day format. There was a strip ("Hey, I found this paper from 2004...") that implies B.C. merely takes place After the End.


Stand Up Comedy[edit | hide]

  • Dara Ó Briain has been known to rant about science in a very entertaining manner.
  • Bill Hicks' comedy routines were pretty much nothing but this trope. He liked challenging mainstream beliefs on society, religion, politics and pop culture, often in a deliberately controversial way.
  • George Carlin's later concerts have tended to include at least one section that comes across as not so much comedy as a rant to the effect that "the very concept of religion, and in particular Christianity, is inherently illogical and overbureaucratic."
    • Overall George Carlin's career can be summed up as starting out as "guy telling obscene jokes with a lot of profanity with witty observations sprinkled throughout" and ending up as "grumpy old man standing on stage bitching about the stuff he hates".


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Bat Boy: The Musical (based on the Weekly World News story) features a blatantly obvious anti-religion message as every single religious character is depicted as either being dumb and/or violent. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Brian Flemming (of The God Who Wasn't There infamy) co-wrote it.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid series has a tendency to pause the action for long cutscenes proclaiming the danger of nukes. Metal Gear Solid Thumbnail Theatre mocks this by occasionally substituting the name of the nuclear expert with that of Kojima:

Hideo Kojima: NUKES ARE VEDDY, VEDDY BAD. GRRR NUKES.

  • The Oddworld games have shades of this. The save the environment aesop being essentially the point of the entire series. A proof that Tropes Are Not Bad in that even if one finds the whole thing heavy-handed it tends to be presented in an entertaining fashion.
  • The Last Resurrection portrays Jesus (the game's final boss) as being personally responsible for crusades, inquisitions, witch-burnings and even Nazism; during the ending sequence the heroes conclude that world peace will not be achieved until all religions are abolished. It's a long-shot, but there's a small chance that the designer might not be too keen on organised religion.


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • The online flash series Broken Saints is deeply immersed in Author Tract, all taken Brooke Burgess' new-found (as of the original writing) philosophical outlook on life. He also makes no secret of his political views, particularly as regards the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq post-Gulf War I. One of the main protagonists is an Iraqi 'freedom fighter' who is struggling to balance his desire for justice against the Western invaders and the peaceful teachings of his religion. It is worth noting that the series was well under way before 9/11, and was almost completed before the second Gulf War.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • MAG-ISA - this comic contains political and religious issues that reek of Jack Chick. The author is often suspected of being part of the "Christian Conservative Right Wing" but he is not if you read deeper into his work.
  • Fans! is a little too vehement in its defense of fanboys. Claim that they're valuable, intelligent and worthwhile human beings, fine. Claim that fanboys have the specific combination of strengths that makes them the only ones capable of defending Earth, and that the biggest, geekiest fanboys alive will be revered by future generations as heroes who made all of society possible... that's taking things a bit too far.
    • Shortpacked seems to take the opposite tack in its satire and often portrays fans with complaints of any sort as self-entitled morons. Not surprisingly, what is considered unfair and what is considered perfectly okay seems to coincide with the author's tastes...
      • Willis often acknowledges that obsessiveness fanishness, even his own, is Not Okay. This was parodied when he shows up at the store and gets in an armed fight with Ethan over an Edit War. The arc ends with him and his girlfriend sneaking into Ethan's apartment--Maggie in a Transformers costume—and smashing up his computer so he wouldn't be able to edit the wiki. Then there was the time he made fun of people who said that the second Transformers movie sold out because of all the marketing. In case you don't get it, Transformers is probably the most popular and transparently Merchandise-Driven franchise ever.
      • Willis isn't afraid to take shots at himself, but also loves slamming people who disagree with his opinion on various message boards. One storyline in the comic in particular is a major Author Tract- it's a poorly-disguised attempt by Willis to get Dinobot to win an online poll that will enter him into the Transformers Hall Of Fame. One character from the strip is campaigning for Congress by also campaigning for Dinobot's entry.
    • The Order of the Stick unashamedly pokes fun at gamer attitudes which Rich Burlew finds obnoxious, such as players whose paladins use the letter of the rules to act like Heroic Sociopaths until their class status is endangered, then perform a token good deed to retain it.
      • To be fair, this is a common complaint against D&D paladins. Many good players make it a personal challenge to create a likable paladin simply because so many people have been burned by them.
  • Unicorn Jelly and Pastel Defender Heliotrope, both by Jennifer Diane Reitz, both start out as (respectively) amusing and cute fantasy and science fiction stories, but the Author's soapboxes about religion, homosexuality, and transgenderism overwhelm the plot more than once. It is revealed at the end of Pastel Defender Heliotrope that it was about anti-piracy legislation as well (which seems like an Ass Pull to boot since it only comes up in the last page or two).
  • DC Simpson tended to veer into left-wing politics in regards to her Orphaned Series Raine Dog, with Anvilicious soapboxing about "Blue State" Democrats and transgenderism, coupled with the Unfortunate Implications of the various intended metaphors. Previously, I Drew This! was pretty openly a political comic, but even her least political comic, Ozy and Millie, still had political commentary, usually with geoglobal politics boiled down to playground puppets, and famously Millie's Mr. W sockpuppet.
  • With The Last Days of Foxhound, this is bound to happen when a biochemistry student writes a comic about Metal Gear Solid, but it's noticeable how he still makes it funny. Mantis is the typical mouthpiece. Dr. Naomi Hunter supplements Mantis' rants with more reasonable but obviously frustrated objections.
    • Also played with when the plot stops so that Mantis can rant against banning gay marriage. The best part is that it is entirely in-character - he isn't so much arguing for gay marriage as he is saying that having sex with reproduction is just as gross as having sex without reproducing.
  • Tales of the Questor - While the comic has become incredibly more reasonable about this, earlier strips were suffused with a certain subset of Christian theology, culminating when the author updated with rants about other belief systems. Those rants have since been moved elsewhere, but the author still provides nods towards Christianity now and again. Every other comic by the author, on the other hand, is still chock-full of pro-Christian, American (especially Southern), libertarian soapboxing and anti-pretty much everything else.
  • Parodied in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja when the Alt Text claimed that:

This whole comic has been a setup for me to push my views on you that man should not fly.

  • Critics of YU+ME: dream have branded it an author tract, saying that all straight characters are portrayed as evil, especially in the first section. Possibly justified because it's all Fiona's dream, and since she's newly out, possibly somewhat biased.
  • Kit N Kay Boodle is entirely a vehicle for Richard Katellis' views on free love, yiffing, and the plight of the furry community. The world outside of idyllic, nudist Yiffburg is full of monstrous dictatorships and ruthless capitalist states that criticize Yiffburg for being horny layabouts. Any character who doesn't constantly want sex with total strangers is either an evil fascist or an oppressed soul, and the answer is invariably anonymous sex, either to defeat or convert them to the yiffy way of life. It doesn't help matters that the story is occasionally interrupted by the author describing the sexual exploits he and his wife have with their parents.
  • The Flobots webcomic has varying levels of Anviliciousness, depending on the issue, but Chapter 1: Vote for Change was far enough over the edge to be Narm. Chapter 2: Iraq, though, was a significant improvement (since it was an amalgamation of story's told by actual soldiers, it can be disturbing and touching at the same time).
  • Better Days started out as an author tract largely for conservatism and mild misogyny, but has gradually grown into an author tract for Objectivism as Jay Naylor discovered that particular philosophy and became a huge Ayn Rand fan. The most recent chapter of the comic is basically a long rant against abstract art or any art that 'doesn't look like something', culminating with the 'good' artist whose paintings "look like what they're of" being given validation first in the form of a big check from a businessman, and then discarding her own search for fulfillment to move in with the male main character, whom she expects nothing of (not even fidelity). And guns are good. Very very good.
  • Jesus and Mo is an unabashed Author Tract ridiculing religion. The comment box is headed with the note "This comments section is provided as a safe place for readers of J&M to talk, to exchange jokes and ideas, to engage in profound philosophical discussion, and to ridicule the sincerely held beliefs of millions. As such, comments of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature will not be tolerated."
  • General Protection Fault briefly delved into this in the 'Providence' arc in 2005, showing Akhilesh (a kindly doctor bordering on Ned Flanders-like religious outlook) witnessing to Trudy, with verse upon verse of scripture, accompanied by author commentary.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • South Park often devotes episodes to be heavy handed over the top Author Tract, with Strawman Political.
    • And then lampshades it in Cartoon Wars. Repeatedly. Let it never be said that, whatever their views, Parker and Stone are not self-aware.

"And if you ask me, your show has become so preachy and full of morals that you have forgotten how to be funny!"

  • DuckTales (1987) occasionally delved into this territory, although it was generally done well and in a manner that could educate kids on issues they might not otherwise learn about until they were older. Some episodes dealt with themes such as capitalism vs organized labor (showing the importance of responsible management, without totally demonizing, when Uncle Scrooge lost his memory).
    • This was also a recurring theme in the original comics - making money by being stingy is OK. Making money by being totally unfair to consumers, the environment, or employees isn't.
  • Seth MacFarlane has bluntly stated that American Dad, a show about an extremely stupid conservative CIA agent and his family, was created primarily out of his frustration at George W. Bush's re-election in 2004. However, despite its overtly political premise, it has generally been far less preachy than the Family Guy episodes that have aired during the same years. An episode focused around Bush, while showing him to be pretty stupid, actually had him portrayed as a pretty decent guy who ends up delivering a heartfelt message to help Stan be more forgiving and supportive of his daughter.
  • A writer for The Simpsons admitted that the creative team has deliberately made Ned Flanders, in recent seasons, less of a 'turn the other cheek' Christian and more of an intolerant Moral Guardian, as a protest against the growing influence of Moral Guardians in Bush's America. Much of this has been viewed as being massively out of character compared with earlier seasons. Flanders was de-Flanderized in The Movie, though, being portrayed as a genuinely caring guy who just has some annoying quirks.
    • Matt Groening himself said that one of his favorite things about The Simpsons was how inaccurately and demonically they got to portray nuclear power.


  1. Especially since disagreeing with the message is hardly a requirement for this trope.
  2. one is from the world as we know it, one is from a world where The Great Depression never ended, one is a warrior from a world where men and women are on opposite sides of a war, and the last one is a utopia where men were wiped out by a vaguely defined 'plague' in the distant past