Family-Unfriendly Aesop

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    The other moral is "Logical fallacies work."
    Calvin and Hobbes © Bill Watterson.

    ... I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.

    Jane Austenthe final line of Northanger Abbey

    Everyone knows the Stock Aesops. Be happy with what you have, friendship is more important than money, dream of better things. Sometimes these morals contradict each other, but nobody is surprised to see any of them in a story.

    But there are also morals that don't appear in fiction very often. Morals like "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished," "Don't automatically share, because some people are degenerate freeloaders," "Sometimes you should Be a Whore to Get Your Man,"or "Sometimes Violence Really Is the Answer." For a certain definition of morality, they aren't wrong, but it still seems... jarring, somehow.

    Do this and you have a Family Unfriendly Aesop. If it appeared in a kids' television show, the network would get 32,845 angry e-mails from Moral Guardians in the first day after airing. And if it appeared in a show for adults, it would still seem jarring, even if it was actually very good advice.

    Due to Values Dissonance, a moral that is family unfriendly in one culture may be very family friendly in another, especially morals about social mores or civil rights. This list is for morals that were family unfriendly even for the culture that they were written in. A prime target for dropping anvils.

    Note: Just because something happens in a story, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a Family-Unfriendly Aesop. Before adding an example to this list, think about whether the example is actually preaching a moral, or if it is simply telling a story to entertain (i.e. a Downer Ending does not mean it is trying to teach a lesson that life is pointless). If it's not the point of a story, it's not An Aesop. An unusual moral also doesn't count if it's played for laughs (Spoof Aesop). If it started out as a good moral, but was broken, that falls under Broken Aesop. If most people would've considered it a good moral when the work was made but society's moved on since, it's Values Dissonance. All in all, try to keep presumptuousness to a minimum in interpreting what the story's message is.

    Compare Clueless Aesop and some cases of Unfortunate Implications. See also The Complainer Is Always Wrong.

    Note: Understand that not everything needs or has an Aesop. A depiction is not an endorsement.

    Examples of Family-Unfriendly Aesops include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Pet Shop of Horrors is based entirely on this, due to the dubious morality of the Pet Shop owner, Count D. While he maintains that he is only giving humanity what they deserve, a good heart is no guarantee of a good outcome—several of the Count's shadier customers escape unscathed from their deals with the Count, while softer-hearted clients can be "punished" for a minor character flaw. Even if a character undergoes a positive change through being with their pet, such as developing a sense of compassion, they often fall victim to a tragic twist. This may be because he wasn't human - his character reads like one of The Fair Folk, so expect Values Dissonance, because their morality isn't anything like our own.
    • The same as the above happens in one occasion in Zatch Bell when Sherry is confronted with the task of saving her best friend Koko. Not wanting her to feel so depressed, she has Koko's partner, the very one she hated for taking Koko away in the first place, erase Koko's memory so that she forgets the whole thing. After Koko's memory is erased and her personality is changed to 'suit Sherry better' (Of what Sherry describes as "The kind Koko I knew growing up"), Sherry lies upfront to Koko's face to prevent her from knowing the truth. The consequence of this? Sherry gets accepted as having saved Koko, and the two hug and make up, despite neither having really done anything to 'make up' for their tension other than having burned Zofis's book. A heartwarming story, and a great lesson learned there.
      • To be fair on that one, even if it might have been a form of More Than Mind Control, Zofis did still actively change her personality. You could probably just say that Sherry was just making him undo what he did to her.
      • For the case of 'saving her' and trying to revert her back, sure. But did that give her the right to decide whether or not Koko (good or bad) could keep her memories? And then lie to her about it to be made out like a big damn hero? It just reeks of a rather piss-poor FU-aesop.
    • Kaleido Star
      • "When everyone around you is treating you like dirt, if you just be really nice to them and generally act like a dogsbody, they'll come around eventually." While it's nice to see the Genki Girl's sweet personality overcoming all the odds and avoiding the risk of becoming a Purity Sue by having to work for her acceptance, some of the other Kaleido Stage performers could really have used a slap in the face, rather than getting away with some seriously obnoxious behavior (such as Layla's sort-of Girl Posse Julie and Charlotte, before their Heel Face Turn).
      • And another one, from "Kalos Eido's Guide to Managing a Circus": "When your cast members are trying to kill each other, just leave them to it. It's a learning experience for them. While you're at it, why not try putting even more pressure on someone who's already being bullied?"
    • While the manga and anime itself has a Family Friendly Aesop, the creepy children's books in Monster were made like this purposefully by one of the characters to instill nihilism in children. They feature such lovely morals as "It doesn't matter whether you make a deal with the devil or not, because you're screwed either way."
      • The other, much more horrifying story the "God of Peace" gives us (basically), 'no matter how good you are, there will always be darkness inside you, so you should kill yourself'.
    • "Honesty is the Best Policy" is one of the Stock Aesops—face it, how many shows have you seen where a little lie leads to bigger ones, and Hilarity Ensues? So it's a bit surprising that Digimon Adventure 02 has one episode drop an anvil that little white lies are justified if lives are on the line.
    • Kodomo no Omocha Episode 12 teaches the moral that when your friends are irrationally mad at you and start bullying you for something you can't control, keep apologizing to them over and over again for said thing that wasn't your fault and maybe they'll forgive you!
    • The moral of the Tsumihoroboshi-hen arc of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni appears to be "friends help friends hide the bodies." But in a more directly stated example, it's okay to hide things from your friends if they don't need to know about it. Even though they're your friends, it doesn't require complete disclosure. While Higurashi certainly emphasizes the importance of trusting your friends, at this point it acknowledges that there are some things people just can't tell others and shouldn't have to.
      • Saikoroshi-hen (whether you accept it as All Just a Dream or not) seems to advocate a rather ruthless approach to pursuing one's own happiness at the expense of others.
    • The moral of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor as a series can be taken 2 ways: 1) Being an individual in a conformist society will lead to extreme success, or 2) Rigid military discipline is actively bad for winning wars, and treating it like a joke will make everything better. The former is a Family-Unfriendly Aesop for the Japanese, and the latter is one for Americans.
    • In-universe example: in Urusei Yatsura, Ataru tells a class of kindergartners a story about the legendary Kintaro, who through ceaseless effort, finally became the assistant to a great man.

    Ataru: The moral of the story is, "Even if you work like a dog... you can only rise so far in this lousy world!"

    • At the end of Eden of the East, Akira (the hero) makes a comment to the effect that Japanese have great potential but need someone to rule them to unlock that potential. In the end, though, it actually subverts this aesop by more or less stating that while it might achieve great results, it would be wrong to do so. Similarly, Akira/the series seems to take the viewpoint that since national tragedies/catastrophes bring a country together, causing one is a great idea so long as you can figure out a way of doing it without killing anyone.
    • Puella Magi Madoka Magica revels in this. "Never follow your emotions, you'll end up dead." "Never believe in the power of friendship - you'll also end up dead." "Helping others will royally bite you in the ass." "If you ever become a better person, you'll get killed." "Never sacrifice your individual well-being for the good of the universe." This is later inverted by the end of the anime in the new world created by Madoka, then re-stated by the events of Rebellion.
      • Madoka, even before the new world is more complicated than that. While pretty much all instances of "selfless" actions come back to bite people in the ass, the characters make it clear this is not intrinsic to the acts themselves, but due to those doing them pretending to be selfless. Sayaka seemingly uses her wish to heal someone else, but really just wanted the boy to love her. Kyoko wishes for more followers for her father, but was really wishing for a better family life. This is spelled out to the characters repeatedly, and it takes a whole lot of pain before Madoka makes a truly selfless wish, fully aware of what she wants and what will happen.
    • In Tiger and Bunny the message seems to be that there is nothing wrong in receiving corporate sponsorship, even at cost of product placement, and working with the system, even if it has has flaws and may be corrupted from within. Not as family unfriendly in Japan as in the West, with it's tradition of worshipping underdogs, rebellious spirits and people who don't like playing by the rules and portraying those who get funding from big industries as "sellouts".

    Comic Books

    • An arguable implication of the editorially mandated last arc of the Batgirl series, and an inescapably blatant one in the Robin arc that followed up on it, was that no matter how much you try you cannot find redemption, even for "sins" born of ignorance, so of course you should give up on escaping your past and embrace it as your destiny. Several months later, this was revealed as a case of Brainwashed and Crazy, in a hasty Author's Saving Throw.
      • Or, conversely, don't even bother putting on the Batmantle if you're a minority because they'll resurrect a dead character and stick the cowl on her rather than let an Asian girl be a bat protege. African-American vigilante Onyx probably knew this when she, as the only person Batman trusted to watch Gotham in his absence, never once put a cowl on while a white character was created from scratch to serve as Batwoman several months later.
    • In the Marvel Comics Crisis Crossover Civil War, the moral, according to Word of God, was that sometimes a little liberty must be sacrificed for security, especially when it comes to people who can potentially destroy the world with their powers. But many fans thought the Word of God was being sarcastic, and didn't realize it was serious. Why? Several reasons:
      • Marvel Comics has done stories for over twenty years in which treating super-powered mutants differently is the same as racism. In the context of Marvel Comics fandom, this is a very Family Unfriendly Aesop.
      • Some of the individual writers in the story didn't agree with the Word of God. Their stories clashed badly with the central theme, and turned it from a Family Unfriendly Aesop into a Broken Aesop.
      • Most importantly, the entire pro-registration side (which Word of God essentially pointed to as being "right") consisted of a bunch of complete bastards who actively committed incredibly immoral acts in the name of their goals, freely interacted with villains, and were willing to fight with lethal force. Several of them were written out of character to be more evil, and were led by the most jerktastic version of Tony Stark ever to be written (which is quite a feat). Meanwhile, the anti-registration people were led by Captain America (who is consistently upheld to be one of the most morally upright characters and the most reliable moral barometer in the Marvel Universe), generally acted in a far more "heroic" manner, had a stance that echoed the "correct" viewpoint of 30+ years worth of Marvel continuity, and acted on beliefs ("government isn't always right," "persecution is wrong," and "sometimes, you have to fight for what you believe in") that would far more accurately reflect those of the target reading audience (ie, young males). There's almost nothing within the actual context of the story that would imply the reader was even remotely supposed to see the pro-registration group as being in the right.
        • The game (Ultimate Alliance 2) didn't help either. If you chose the anti-registration side, the next task is to thrash some Registration Flunky Robots. If you chose pro-registration, you have to beat up a teenage superhero.
      • This also ties into the Reed Richards Is Useless trope. The U.S. government on Marvel Earth-616 can build giant Sentinel robots, powered-armor suits, and flying Helicarriers. Yet when it comes to stopping super-villains, or alien invasions (as in the following Secret Invasion crossover) they are wholly dependent on super-powered vigilantes. Mainly because they devote 100% of their ultra-tech resources to oppressing genetically-enhanced superheroes, who are usually doing the government's police and national security jobs for it anyway.
        • There is also an obvious element of racism to this. Although it has been demonstrated countless times in the Marvel Universe that technology can do virtually anything that super powers can, and despite the fact that seemingly anyone with a bachelors in electrical engineering can pretty much become a super-villain using stuff from Radio Shack, the focus of government and public concern is almost exclusively on people with biologically-based super powers. This is epitomized by Tony Stark, a Gadgeteer, being placed in charge of the crackdown on metahumans.
      • Last but not least, Joachim von Ribbentrop who said, "they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." No wait that was Benjamin Franklin.
    • Most superhero comics tacitly endorse vigilantism. "With great power comes great responsibility" is a nice message for kids; "so put on a mask and take the law into your own hands" is pretty questionable.
      • It's no coincidence that this has been the most frequently deconstructed and reconstructed trope in superhero (especially DC) comics, with superhero tropes such as "Thou Shalt Not Kill" changing from a family-friendly mandate to the standard way of making sure that all actual justice is dealt out by law enforcement and the courts, with superheroes being relegated to good Samaritans taken Up to Eleven who only foil super villains and criminals, never punish them. Of course, this causes even more complications: like, in case of Batman, what happens when the justice system is ineffective; or, in the case of super powered villains like the Flash's rogues, what happens when human systems can't contain the lawbreakers; or, in the case of Superman's Lex Luthor, what happens when you can't get the evidence to pin the rap for monstrous crimes on a Genre Savvy Villain with Good Publicity (and Plausible Deniability). These and all the other legally murky areas in the relationship between the justice system, superheroes, super villains, and regular criminals gives rise to has been the subject of many, many modern story lines involving characters espousing conflicting Aesops.
    • Chick Tracts:
      • The Bully: "Even someone whose bullying caused people to reject Jesus and end up in Hell might repent and go to Heaven."
      • Fat Cats: "Meet the New Boss, same as the old boss."
      • Gunslinger: "Sometimes the villain repents and goes to Heaven while the hero is self-righteous and goes to Hell."
      • Lisa: "Viewing pornography and a breakdown in one's marriage leads to child molesting, among other things--or vice-versa."
      • Little Bride: "Muslims are pedophiles, and cultural Values Dissonance is no excuse."
      • The horrifying truth is that these are not Family Unfriendly Aesops by accident, but by choice. Jack Chick really believes these messages. And so do hundreds of thousands of other people. That is why each of these moral lessons is classified as a Family Unfriendly Aesop rather than, say, as any kind of Accidental Aesop, Spoof Aesop, or Broken Aesop. (This is not to say there were not any of these in the tracts, however; see Jack Chick's main page for the details.)
    • Linkara once reviewed a PSA comic called Future 5, about a group of college graduate "heroes" who speak out in favor of higher education and battle a villain whose goal is to discourage kids from attending college and become the smartest man in the world by default. Though the comic is well-intentioned, it enraged Linkara to a surprising extent, thanks to several ways in which its message comes off as ignorant or outright insulting:
      • People who don't go to college are portrayed as idiots who are doomed to a lifetime of menial McJobs (which Linkara counters by mentioning people who either dropped out or never attended college and still succeeded in life, like Bill Gates and Patrick Stewart).
      • Dropping out is portrayed as always being a personal choice, ignoring all the reasons someone might have to get a job early (such as supporting their family in a time of sickness or loss).
      • People who do have menial jobs like flipping burgers are looked down upon as if they were a lower class of person, especially when compared to those who have "better" jobs.
      • At the end of the video, Linkara gets his student loan bill, much to his dismay. This pokes at the fact that the comic did not once address the tuition costs of college, which could leave someone paying well after college.
    • The following famous quote from Captain America sounds inspiring, until you remember that truth is quite often subjective, and that sometimes what someone sees as truth may not be clear-cut. In fact, it might be out-and-out false. Also, how is the world supposed to get to the River of Truth if one is standing in front of it and refusing to get out of the way?

    Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world -- "No, you move."

      • Given the context of that quote, the meaning may have been intended as "don't compromise your beliefs simply because there is a great deal of pressure on you to do so" rather than "if you know it in your gut, than stick to your guns."
      • Also note that despite that badass speech, Captain America DID ultimately move.
    • This is a bit of a mix of Family-Unfriendly Aesop and Broken Aesop, but the moral of Birds of Prey: The Battle Within, the arc from issues 76 to 85, appears to be the fairly stock aesop of "You should accept your friends for who they are and not try to change them," except that what Oracle was trying to change about Huntress is her tendency to kill people. In the end, Oracle apologizes to Huntress, and, in the Dead of Winter story arc (issues 104-108), actually tells Huntress to use deadly force against the Secret Six if she thinks it appropriate, possibly making this the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that sometimes killing people is a good idea, and very headbangerish as well. Oracle is a Bat for heaven's sake. The one unwavering thing about the Bat Family is that "thou shalt not kill" is mandatory.

    Fairy Tales

    • In many old fairy tales and folk tales, the moral is "You have to lie, cheat, and steal to save either yourself or your family. The more you do it, the better you are." Modern versions often Bowdlerise this, eliminating the original moral.
    • "Puss in Boots" is an outstanding example. American McGee's Grimm seems to suggest that the lesson in "Puss in Boots" is that "Cats are sneaky little bastards, and humans can exploit this for their own ends." Although in certain Bowdlerized versions where the cat is led purely by his own motivations and the ogre sometimes isn't murderous is that "Cats are sneaky little bastards and that's awesome."
    • In the original version of Hop-o'-My-Thumb, the kids are saved from certain death by the Ogre's wife. The youngest exploits her for all she's worth, and arranges for the ogre to murder his own children... but he's still the hero of the story, because it saves his family. Obviously, there's also a bit of What Measure Is a Non-Human? in there, even if the ogre is an evil non-human.
    • In the Russian fairy tale Prince Ivan and the Firebird, Ivan saves the kingdom by breaking every promise he makes.
    • "Rumpelstiltskin":
      • Not like any of the characters are particularly heroic, but the "happy ending" goes like this: The heroine got to marry the evil King and keep her child, while the fairy who had used his powers to save her life doesn't get paid for his kindness at all. There's no hint that he'd have done the kid harm... it appears that he deserved to get cheated out of his payment because he's a stranger, and strangers don't deserve to have their bargains honored. In some versions, Rumpelstiltskin has song which includes the lines "To-morrow I brew, to-day I bake/And then the child away I'll take," which implies that he planned to cannibalize the child.
        • This is also an example of cultural/audience change. In the time when these stories originated, it would have been pretty much taken for granted that Rumpelstiltskin had bad intentions for the child. Almost all the stories about interaction with the Fae are cautionary, they were generally seen as evil or at best dangerously amoral and alien. So seeing keeping the child from R wouldn't have been any more questionable than a modern version would at keeping a child out of the hands of a convicted pedophile or child killer.
    • The Tinderbox: Basically, the plot boils down to this: Hero encounters a poor, desperate witch who begs him for his help in retrieving her precious possession, a tinderbox. Witch tells hero how to safely retrieve the box, and offers him vast wealth in return. Hero retrieves box, after gathering as much gold as he can, and returns to witch. Witch thanks him and politely asks for her box, but hero decides to decapitate her instead. Later, he uses the box to kidnap a princess and murder her family/court. He and said princess are married and live happily ever after.
      • However some versions also strongly imply that the witch plans to leave him down there to die after he gets her the box, somewhat justifying her murder.
      • A somewhat more sophisticated justification applies if the soldier was good at thinking on his feet: what exactly was so great about that shabby old tinderbox that the witch valued it more than all the other treasures in the place? She openly disdains taking anything else for herself and refuses to explain her valuation. In retrospect, once we find out what the tinderbox can do, imagining what the witch might have done with it if he'd given it to her also tends to improve our opinion of the soldier.
      • Still another version has it so that the witch was giving the soldier a Secret Test of Character, and gave him the tinderbox as a gift for passing
    • Russian fairy tales, in general, tend to be rather cynical. One story in a collection by 19th century folklorist Alexander Afanasyev has the moral "Old favors are soon forgotten."
    • In another story, The Hero's father, the king, is about to die, so the prince must find magical apples and water to rescue him. He learns that a powerful warrior princess has them, but for some reason (usually involving beheading any man who comes close to her palace), can't just ask. The resolution is to steal them. The hero accomplishes it, but also goes to the princess's bedroom (despite the warning not to) and seeing how beautiful she is can't help but "kiss" her while she's asleep. While first she and her guard chase him intending to kill, later she gives birth to two kids, finds the hero and marries him.
      • Actually, in some versions the princess is quite sympathetic, being imprisoned by a troll who forces her to kill any man who comes to her palace. Said troll kicks her out when she's pregnant, and she's then forced to seek out the hero. The Victim Falls For Rapist morals are still quite creepy, though.
    • Jack and the Beanstalk features a boy who, after foolishly selling a cow for a handful of beans, proceeds to manipulate a sympathetic woman to gain food while also robbing her and her husband of their most prized possessions. When discovered, rather than admitting wrong-doing Jack proceeds to kill the husband before living happily after ever with the goods acquired by theft and murder.
      • Deconstructed in the Sondheim musical Into the Woods: after Jack robs from and kills the giant at the top of the beanstalk, the giant's widow comes to seek revenge for her husband. The show's Aesop is the more family-friendly "Actions have consequences, and if you selfishly back stab people, it'll come around to bite you in the ass."
      • Modern versions usually try to soften the ending by mentioning that the giant stole the gold, hen and harp from Jack's family to begin with. This, in itself, offers another Aesop: Murder is a viable solution if the victim is a bad guy.
    • Into the Woods also added "It's probably not a good idea to marry someone you just met" Aesops to the Cinderella and Rapunzel stories. Cinderella's prince is a philanderer, whereas Rapunzel is somewhat crazy. The only original story Aesop it leaves intact is Little Red Riding Hood's Aesop of "Don't talk to strangers," who become a good deal creepier. At the end, we get an Aesop of "Listen to people who know what they're talking about, even if they're witches."
    • Many fairy tales center around a hero who is poor in some way (an idiot third son, a tailor, a musician, etc.) who wins a princess's hand in a perfectly legitimate way (guessing the number of hairs on her head, offering the best gift for her birthday, guessing her riddle, etc.). And instead of honoring her promise, the princess (or her royal father) adds more conditions to the tests just so that she won't have to marry a peasant. These include sending him to find the Apple of Life, get a ring out of a lake, sort various types of grain, spend the night in a stable with a wild bear, and almost always the tests are on pain of death. And inevitably the prince will overcome these additional conditions and go ahead and marry the princess anyway!
      • This plot which probably is some sort of trope in its own right gets subverted rather brutally in Friedrich Schiller's ballad The Diver. A King throws a golden cup into some rough water and declares that whoever can retrieve it can keep it. After the hero manages this the king ups the ante by throwing a ring into the water and telling the hero that he will get the princess if he can do it again. The hero tries and drowns. The new moral here might be "she is probably not worth it" or simply "quit while you are ahead."
        • Schiller also offers the "Idiotic challenges will win you the heart of a woman" subverting The glove in which a lady throws her glove into an arena full of lions and tigers and challenges (mockingly) her suitor to get it. He retrieves the glove, the lady immediately falls for him - and he throws the glove in her face, saying "Den Dank, Dame, begeher ich nicht" ("Such Gratitude, madame, is not desired by me") - the Aesop is probably not to mock your suitor or he'll run away. Plus that a woman demanding such ridiculous things is not worth it.
    • The original version of "The Frog Prince". The princess drops her golden ball into a pond and the frog agrees to retrieve it for her if she in turn promises to let him live in the castle as her friend. She agrees, but when he brings her the ball, she takes it and runs to the castle, leaving the frog behind. The frog makes its way to the castle and tells the king about the princess's promise; she is forced to go through with it, letting the frog sit by her at meals and follow her everywhere. The entire time, she is obviously disgusted by it. When she goes to bed, the frog asks to be allowed to sleep in her bed and the princess is so disgusted that she throws it against the wall, whereupon it turns into a handsome prince and the two were married. This gets even more creepy when you realize that the princess probably isn't older than twelve, given that she was playing with a ball and cried when she lost it.
      • Besides the childhood marriage, what's family unfriendly about the aesop? The princess learns to keep her promises. Yes, she's disgusted, but that's no reason for her to shirk responsibility. She knew what she was agreeing to when she asked the frog for her ball back, and if she was that unhappy with the consequences, she shouldn't've made the deal with him in the first place.
    • Welsh fairy tales often have this. For example, Siôn A'r Pastwn Hud involves a man who, after going to seek his fortune, marrying the girl of his dreams and getting rich, comes home to find his mother has starved to death because she couldn't go out of the house when he was gone. This, sadly, is actually one of the stories with a happy ending. It seems to give the moral of 'If you go to find happiness, the ones you love will suffer'.
    • One fairy tale involves a man who, in order to win a princess's hand, must find a ring of fantastic magical power. A sorcerer tells him that the owner of the ring is a powerful and beautiful witch and tells the man where she bathes regularly. When the witch catches the man spying on her while bathing, despite being pissed, she believes the story he feeds her about how he was just lost in the woods and entranced by her beauty and kindly lets him live with her for awhile. During this time, she is perfectly lovely to him and does all sorts of nice things for him. Eventually, she asks the man to marry her and before answering, he asks if he can see the powerful ring of hers that he's heard so much about. She willingly shows it to him and lets him try it himself. As soon as he has it, he promptly uses it to fly away, while she pleads for him to return. The prince is married to the princess and, when the witch goes after him for revenge, he's rescued by the soldiers. The story does justify things a little by saying that he'd lose his soul if he married the witch and ends with the sentence "Wouldn't you have rather married the witch?" but he still got a pretty good deal for being a dick.
      • Witches are traditionally pagan - that is, "anyone who isn't Christian loses their souls."
        • That's a Broken Aesop as well, because the whole point of the journey was to steal a magic ring. According to Christianity, ALL "Magic" is powered by a deal with The Devil, and is thus a rejection of God. Aesop: commit the sins of theft and witchcraft and then you still get to go to heaven if you don't marry a witch - who by the way was particularly helpful and friendly to you.
    • One story involved a cat and a mouse living together and deciding to store a pot of cream for winter. They hide it in a church until they really need it. Over some time however, the cat is gradually tempted three times into drinking the cream, until it's all gone. When the mouse finds out, she starts yelling at the cat for eating their food supply for the winter. The cat responds by eating the mouse, and the story justifies this by saying that that's just how the world works (that cats and mice just can't co-exist). Never mind the fact that the two got along just fine before the cat was a jerk and the mouse was rightfully annoyed. No, apparently some people are just natural enemies and there is no way for them to get along.
      • This story has a twist. The cat excuses herself the three times saying that she's the godmother of a new baby, which is why she has to go to the church (where the cream is, we remember). When asked for the name of the kids, she answers (last two cases) something to the effect of "half gone" / "all gone." The mouse comments that these names are pretty unusual, but doesn't make the connection until it's too late.
    • There was a fable where the protagonist was built up as a good man, honest and honorable to a failing, and not all that familiar with the value of money; to the point where the man to whom he's indentured manages to squeeze extra years of service out of him, and the pay he receives at the end is a pittance even compared to what he should have gotten for the year his contract stipulated (that it was three times the pittance he would have gotten for the one year is cold comfort to the reader, if not the man himself). Later on the same qualities that got him exploited earn him a blowgun and a magic fiddle that makes anyone who hears its music jump and dance about. So he comes upon a Jew who is trying to get an apple down from a tree. He offers to help, shooting the apple down with the blowgun, but it falls into a field of briers. When the Jew crawls in after it, the man decides he can't help but cause a little mischief, and plays the fiddle, forcing the Jew to dance in the briers and get cut all over; he refuses to stop until the Jew agrees to give him all the money he has, which the Jew reluctantly does. Later, the man comes upon a town and is recognized by the Jew, who tries to bring him to task for his crime. But the magistrate wants to see this fiddle in action, so the man plays again, and everyone jumps up and starts dancing. The Jew, eventually fearing being forced to dance to exhaustion, drops the charges and admits that he stole the money himself, for which he is promptly punished, and the man gets to keep the twice-stolen money. So, "Nothing you do to a Jewish man counts against you, because he's a dirty Jew who wouldn't know honesty if it bit his dick off"?
    • The Scorpion and the Frog fable:
      • Taken by itself with no metaphor, the lesson is that a predatory animal (such as the titular scorpion) with enough sapience to communicate with a creature it naturally preys on (the frog) should not attempt to fight its natural instincts and pursue cooperative ventures; Mother Nature made the scorpion to kill prey and trying to be something other than that to the frog will only result in one's predatory instincts rising to the surface at the worst possible time, dooming both to a watery grave. It is better to stick with the natural order of things than to try to evolve past one's Darwinian trappings.
      • As a metaphor for evil, it suggests evil is an overriding character trait that outweighs self-interest and survival and one should not trust in an evil person trying to pull a Heel Face Turn.
      • It's also saying that some people are just plain rotten, and shouldn't be trusted, because of who and what they are.
    • Another well know fable: "The cicada and the ant". The moral is quite simple: if you only have fun and don't work, you'll have consequences, but a deeper analysis turns the fable into an anti-art tale. It seems to be that artists, represented by the cicada dedicated to play beautiful music all day, aren't productive members of society and thus, deserve to die of starvation.
    • "East of the Sun and West of the Moon": Apparently if you're not a Christian, you can't get the prince. To be fair, the false bride was his stepsister.
    • While we're at it, "Cinderella" itself. The moral is supposed to be, "If you're a good person, good things will happen to you," but instead it can easily come off as "Don't bother being proactive; eventually you'll get your big break."
      • Most versions have Cinderella take some active role. In the Grimms' version, she directly goes to the doves for help, and it is implied in the Perrault version that she intentionally loses her slipper so that the prince will find her. Many retellings also note that trying to stick up for herself would have only gotten her in more trouble.
    • The only obvious moral of the tale of Hansel and Gretel is: it's perfectly acceptable to break into someone's home and take their stuff (or eat it, if it happens to be made of gingerbread), and when the owner of the house is justifiably angry, she deserves to get murdered. Really, why is the witch the bad guy in this story again? Some tellings of this story make it so that the witch actually states that she deliberately built her house of gingerbread in order to lure children to be eaten, and some imply that the witch and the stepmother are in fact the same person.
      • It is perfectly fine for the witch to get angry but not for her to express that anger by trying to eat the children.
    • The Ugly Duckling has many of these. One seems to be that, if people bully you for being different don't worry. Deep down you are superior to all of them. In addition, it's wrong to bully people for being ugly—not because it's cruel, but because they may actually be Beautiful All Along.

    Fan Works


    Aang: Aw, but Sokka, we could have learned a valuable life lesson!
    Sokka: Here's a life lesson for you, Aang. You can't buy things with life lessons.


    Films -- Animation

    • The Land Before Time II seems to have the moral "If someone is from outside your culture, they're much dumber than you are, and have evil impulses that are almost certainly beyond their control."
      • To be fair, this ended up being addressed again in the 5th movie. In the 2nd movie, Chomper is a baby and really doesn't know any better. In the 5th, when they meet him again, he's grown up a bit and is able to control his impulses. He even says to Littlefoot, "You are what you are, and I am what I am. Nobody can change that. But we still can be friends, can't we?"
      • Not to mention that in the 5th movie once Littlefoot and his friends risk their lives for Chomper, the supposedly bloodthristy, monstrous Sharpteeth parents of Chomper have no trouble accepting prey creatures who just went to bat for their son.
    • In the sequels to An American Tail, trying repeatedly to start her own career makes Tanya either pushy, too distracted to help out around the house, and/or too blind to see her employer is plotting to kill and eat everyone she knows. In the end though, she did apparently learn her lesson.
    • The 2007 version of Beowulf diverges from the moral of its source material, essentially making the point that heroic stories are often lies told to cover up questionable or outright shitty behavior, and by the time you realize you shouldn't have told the story in the first place, you'll be too old and full of regret for it to make any difference.
    • The Incredibles points out that not everyone is special, and that if everyone were special, in reality no one would be. This is of course completely true, but rarely heard in Hollywood films aimed at kids.
      • Strangely, it comes to this conclusion by having someone who is special telling someone who is far more and uniquely special that he's not the right kind of special, thus creating a villain who can provide everyone in the world with the ability to be special but hates the protagonist's certain kind of special. That Aesop got all kinds of brittle. What could Syndrome have accomplished if he were nurtured and properly guided?
      • Speaking of Pixar movies, some of the more recent ones have also been perceived as family-unfriendly by viewers of more neo-conservative persuasions lately. When Cars 2 came out, with its very strongly anti-big-oil message, major conservative commentators ended up publicly claiming they would not take their children to Cars 2.
    • Ratatouille has a big one if you think about it. The main aesop is okay, it's the side-aesop given by Anton Ego that's disturbing. Basically it's that 'a person's review of art can never be considered art in of itself.' So, in other words, expressing your opinion on something else automatically makes it not art even if you put your heart and soul into it. This would include not only every single review in recorded history but also every single movie, TV show, book, and speech that ever commented on something else. So whenever someone mentions Citizen Kane your first response should be that it's not art because it expresses an opinion that the writer believed in...even though expressing yourself is the very definition of art.
    • The Polar Express has this. "If you don't blindly believe what others tell you, bad things happen to you (or good things don't happen either)."

    Films -- Live Action

    • Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End: Piracy is synonymous with liberty. "Freedom" means "I'm allowed to rape, steal, and murder." The government shouldn't protect people from violence, and criminals can do whatever they want and have a blast doing it. Kids, you might think pirates were awesome and a lot of fun, but just trust us; you would not have wanted to be a cabin boy in real life.
    • Teaching Mrs. Tingle tells us that you can do whatever you want to a teacher, at least if that teacher is "mean" (read: actually enforces the rules and won't let you goof off).
    • During the conclusion of 102 Dalmatians, a major character explicitly states, as an Aesop, "For people like Cruella, there are no second chances." Okay, sure she's obsessed with making a fur coat out of the pelts of adorable puppies, and she's nowhere near the first Disney villain to be irredeemably evil. But hearing it put so bluntly...
      • Made even more uncomfortable considering the film makes it pretty explicit that Cruella has an obsession with fur that is well within the boundaries of a mental illness. In fact, therapy had completely rid her of any of these impulses and had it not been for the chiming of Big Ben she would have remained a living saint.
    • Tyler Perry's Madea character advises a woman with an abusive husband to "throw a pot of hot grits in his face and then hit him with a frying pan." She reins in a young girl's bad behavior by repeatedly hitting her, and frequently suggests brutal methods of solving problems. Even outside of common self-defense, Madea's solutions are always violent.
    • Mr. Woodcock has a real whopper. The message seems to be "If your mom loves the man who abused you as a child, you should forgive him, and not carry a grudge."
    • According to Chungking Express the crazy Manic Pixie Dream Girl who likes to break into your apartment, rearrange your furniture and occasionally flood the place is not a creepy stalker who needs to see a therapist but actually the perfect woman. Well once she slaps on a stewardess uniform.
    • In Christmas with the Kranks, the main characters try to avoid traditional Christmas celebrations to save money. The neighborhood, however, insists that they conform with the rest of the neighborhood and participate against their will, since, by the Kranks' own admission, they're not Jewish. We're supposed to side with the neighbors and see the Kranks as selfish curmudgeons. The Aesop boils down to, "Conformity and commercialism are good."
      • The sad thing is they were originally aiming for a good moral like "Don't let the commercialization of Christmas discourage you from why you celebrate it"; instead, it became "Celebrate Christmas or your neighbors will torment you."
      • Another implied moral is that the only two acceptable belief systems for suburban Americans (at least in December) are Christianity and Judaism (the latter of which, apparently, will be only grudgingly tolerated), and anything else is morally wrong and will justify bullying and harassment.
    • The film Mad Money seems to have the moral that "federal crime pays, a lot; do it, especially if you're entitled because you're used to being rich, spent two weeks as a janitor, and decided it just wasn't for you."
    • Sugar and Spice has a high school cheerleader get knocked up by her boyfriend, so they decide to get married. The parents were totally supportive of their decision to get married, but when she added she was also going to have his baby their parents go insane, disown them, and both teens have to drop out. The girl is stressed because babies are expensive, but her husband isn't making enough at his minimum wage job and she has to stay at home to take care of the baby. Solution to financial troubles? Rob a bank!
    • Taken even further in the movie Catch That Kid. The 12-year old heroine's father is suddenly paralyzed and his only hope is an extremely expensive experimental procedure. Robbing the bank her mother designed the security system for and leading on the boys who like her to get them to be her accomplices are justified in the name of helping him.
    • In Raise Your Voice, Hilary Duff's dad won't let her go to music school and pursue her destiny, so she sneaks in with the help of a sympathetic aunt, who her dad is made to think she's staying with. This would be fine if the movie didn't go out of its way to justify this and insist that the Hilary Duff character, in her own words, "did what [she] had to do." Put another way, the message seems to be that the end justifies the means. The really weird part is how everyone in the movie acts as though she won't have a future if she doesn't go to music school that particular year. Her character is seventeen in the movie, but apparently it's impossible for her to wait a year until she's a legal adult and can do whatever she wants.
    • The little seen Walter Matthau-Robin Williams film The Survivors: Do what the professional killer says and everything will turn out all right. If you even think about trying to defend yourself, you will turn into a crazy survivalist.
    • The Devil Wears Prada begins by suggesting the very audacious Aesop that if you take a job you don't especially care for, occasionally prioritize it over events in your personal life, ignore your friends when they passive-aggressively criticize you about your job, start to sympathize with your coworkers whom you'd previously viewed with scorn, and, horrors, enjoy some of the perks associated with it, life might turn out okay. It even suggests that The Power of Love might not conquer all in the case of a casual relationship! However, it ends up reverting to the Broken Aesop that if you do any of those things, you are a bad bad person who is selling out on her deepest ideals.
    • Radio Flyer: Under absolutely no circumstances tell the police your stepdad's beating the shit out of your little brother, because they can't do anything. Especially don't tell your mom, because she's lonely and he's the only man she's got, and finding this out will make her sad.
    • Godzilla's Revenge has an ending moral of "beat up the bully and he'll respect you." But what warps it into the ultimate Family Unfriendly Aesop is the ending minute. Ichiro makes friends with the gang of bullies picking on him and goes around with them making mischief, including knocking a poor old painter off his ladder and spilling paint in his face. He goes off to possibly be a delinquent.
    • Hobgoblins has this coupled with Unfortunate Implications. The main character's girlfriend is a shrill shrew who insults him no matter what he does. Then the Hobgoblins' Lotus Eater Machine powers make her go to a local nightclub and strip. After breaking her free of the semi-Mind Control, she's loosened up and is a much nicer person. Or, as Crow T. Robot put it, "Amy wasn't fun until she became a slut!"
    • The Santa Clause series: When children don't get the toys they really really want for Christmas, they cease believing in Santa, become bitter and disillusioned, and have no sense of magic in their adult lives. It also has the Aesop that therapists are full of crap.
    • Grease features the extremely questionable Aesop of "change everything about yourself to be with the one you love."
      • A less harsh interpretation would be: "No matter how 'uncool' you think you are, you can become popular."
        • Which still relies on changing yourself to go with the crowd and arguably compromising your morals.
        • As well as taking up potentially dangerous habits, such as unprotected sex and smoking. Also, it does present the idea that "you can always become popular," but only on the condition that you change absolutely everything that made you unique or who you were.
    • The very premise of Final Destination. You Can't Fight Fate. Even if you see your own death coming a mile away. In fact, if you try to cheat death, it will spite you by torturing you, and then making your ultimate death as painful and violent as possible, or as hilarious as possible, in certain sequels.
      • As the sequels go on it becomes clear that death is giving the visions. So then a new Aesop that comes out is "Death is inevitable and when it's bored just likes to mess with your head first."
    • The moral of Pretty Woman: Prostitution is great. Eventually a rich john will take you away and marry you, and you will live happily ever after.
      • This movie essentially created its own trope: prostitutes are beautiful princesses waiting for a Prince Charming to redeem them.
    • Saving Private Ryan does this twice with the same character, "Steamboat Willie" (the unnamed German soldier they consider murdering). First, the Allied soldier who does not want to commit a war crime by killing a surrendering German is portrayed as a complete wimp, unable to fire his gun even as his friends and comrades are being killed. Second, if a squad doesn't murder POWs, they'll come back to kill.
      • Actually the proper aesop is that behaving decently doesn't for some odd reason mean people will behave decently toward you and tough break. But admittedly that is not what viewers will see.
    • Death Wish and many other movies with a Vigilante Man as a protagonist give a clear message that murder can be beneficial to society. Also, "playing by the rules" usually means "avoid shooting suspects," and any Cowboy Cop worth his salt never does that.
      • Cobra takes it further with the notion that policemen should always shoot first and never ask questions because all criminals, without exception, are Ax Crazy Nietzsche Wannabes who will constantly murder innocents For the Evulz until they're killed, and due process only allows them to get off scott-free.
    • F. W. Murnau's classic silent film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. If your husband attempts to drown you but then backs out at the last second, you should totally forgive him and not tell the police or anything. In fact, it will even breathe new life into your failing marriage.
    • The Dark Knight Saga argues through Rachel's letter and the ending that sometimes a deception is better than the truth.
      • Subverted in the next movie, where its quite plainly shown that if Alfred had been truthful with Bruce about Rachel's letter he could have saved the man years of pain.
      • Or that it's better to frame yourself for murder than to let people know an elected official wasn't really made of Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
      • In reality, the Batman franchise as a whole has a Family-Unfriendly Aesop: a single vigilante who is outside of the law, or any form of regulation aside from what he imposes on himself, going around beating people to a pulp is what people really need, because the police are too corrupt and incompetent to do anything right. Due process of the law is unnecessary. Especially if you're a rich white guy.
        • The Dark Knight Saga actually argues the opposite, that Harvey Dent will be the true savior of Gotham, that the citizens need the White Knight with his fairness and his prominent role in the legal system more than they need the Dark Knight. It states that a legal system, where criminals are brought to trial and jailed, is better than Batman's methods, but the system has been corrupted too much to do it. Batman does what he does only in absence of strong civil institutions, not because the superhero way is better, and he hopes that Dent can purge the system of its corruption and make Batman unnecessary.
    • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, living life to the fullest means being willing to lie, cheat, and steal.
    • The Disney Channel's first TV Movie Brink! - Andy is part of a crew of rollerbladers who skate for fun and not for money. Then Andy's family hits financial trouble and Andy decides to get sponsored and join a team in order to help out his family. He is thoroughly outcast by his friends, even when he tells them about his situation. It isn't until he quits the team (which of course, is portrayed in a negative light) he is reunited with his friends. So apparently, it is completely unacceptable to do what you like and get paid for it, you're just a big sellout.
      • It gets worse. During one match, Andy's new teammates decide to sabotage one of his old friends. Andy himself has no idea what's going on until the match, and when he shouts a warning to his friend, she ignores him and gets injured. Andy's old teammates then proceed to disown him completely, even though he tried to warn her about the sabotage. So the moral becomes "if you try to warn someone that they're in danger and they ignore you, you're still responsible if they get hurt".
    • Jingle All the Way: When your child grows up to be a divorced drunk while his best friend is a billionaire, remember that his parents got him that one hot, over-hyped action figure that was all the rage during the holiday season and you didn't. Howard (Arnold's character) is shown to be a workaholic, neglectful parent who has continuously broken promises to his son and missed out on important events. His not getting the Turbo Man doll could just be seen as the straw that broke the camel's back.
    • The film version of Little Shop of Horrors seems to teach that murder is perfectly acceptable so long as things work out in the end.
    • When A Man Loves A Woman: If you're a mother with a drinking problem, you can be a complete bitch to your Henpecked Husband and your children and you'll always be forgiven for the shit you pull. Even if you're such a Lady Drunk that you slap your daughter around, go out drinking and leave your kids alone and drive drunk with the kids in the car, few will ever dare scold you, and your Love Martyr husband will end up "punished" for getting sick of her Jerkass behavior and not believing it when she swears that she won't do it again.

    IMDB reviewer 1: A husband steadfastly loves his self-centered and obnoxious wife and suffers for it. That's what I saw played out in this movie in excruciating detail. What the scriptwriters wanted us to see was a heroic woman who singlehandedly conquers her problems while putting Mr. Nice Guy Husband in his proper place (kicked out of the house, separated from his children, and generally punished for "not listening deeply" enough).
    IMDB reviewer 2: She drinks, slaps her kids, drives drunk with her kids in the car, completely forgets about her kids while she's out on drinking binges...and we're supposed to feel empathy with this character?

      • Simple solution: The movie's about the husband, not the wife. In fact, the screenwriter based the movie on his own experiences with his wife's alcoholism. Critics who have had experiences with alcoholism (Roger Ebert included) tended to praise the movie as a realistic depiction of the disease and its effects on the family rather than a simple drink-crash-recover formula.
    • The moral of The Screaming Skull, according to the folks of Mystery Science Theater 3000, is "Don't trust anyone. Ever."
      • "Well Mike, what I learned from today's movie (Hobgoblins) is that Daphne is a slut, and that Amy wasn't fun until she became a slut." "Well that's the fun message!"
    • Subverted with Wall Street; Gecko's "greed is good" speech was mistaken for the movie's Family-Unfriendly Aesop, but only by viewers who were missing the point; the point was simply to show that Gecko was an eloquent villain, but a villain nonetheless.
    • Home Alone: Kids, according to this movie, booby-trapping your house will make it safer. Also, if you see criminals, you should make fun of them and try to make them so angry that they want to kill you. (Chances are, even if you're a kid, you can see the problem with the previous sentence and the danger in following it.)
    • Mystery Team: Wacky vigilantism is the only way to solve a crime.
    • A 1930s film, The Big House, forces us to sympathize with hardened criminals. The audience is supposed to look up to Butch (Wallace Beery), a (mostly) unrepentant murderer and an all-around Jerkass, because he has a defiant and disobedient attitude while in prison. We're supposed to view him as "brave", but he rebels not for the sake of the underdog but simply for himself: he causes trouble for the warden (a generally reasonable man) just because he doesn't like the warden's rules. (Oh, and did I mention that the person Butch killed was a woman?) It only gets worse: Butch bullies a smaller inmate, treating him very unjustly; the smaller man is in jail for accidentally killing someone in a vehicular accident. Yet the bullied victim is made out to be the villain because he "rats" on Butch and the other inmates so that the warden will grant him an early release - never mind that the inmates are breaking the law even inside of the prison, secretly plotting an insurrection and planning to kill the guards with machine guns smuggled into the prison yard. Both the "rat" and Butch die in the carnage when the warden squelches the uprising, but Butch is given a heroic death. And then, just to make matters even worse, the warden at the end of the film praises one of the conspirators simply for having a change of heart and saving the guards' lives during the riot - and allows him to walk out of jail a free man! The moral seems to be that you should always adhere to the values of your particular subculture (even if that subculture is unjust), but when the opportunity arises to do something heroic, break your own subcultural code. Confusing.
    • Star Trek: Insurrection: The intended Aesop is that "Letting the desire for eternal youth consume you can turn you into a monster". But because the Son'a are so over the top and Unintentionally Sympathetic with their failure to artificially extend their lives, the Aesop seems more like "Growing old is icky, and turns you into an evil, repulsive, toxin-oozing monster with a garbage-bag face".
      • Lets not forget that they're 'evil' goal help the Federation bring a medicine to countless worlds, saving untold lives and maybe even helping people like Geordi regain natural sight. And that's... terrible?
      • And the more conventional Aesop about the planet's rejuvenating powers: "Finders keepers, losers weepers".
    • Jane Elliot's "Bluest Eye" documentaries have skewed rather horribly in this direction. Elliott was the teacher who one day stuck her brown-eyed kids in collars and forbade them recess because blue-eyed kids were smarter—intending to demonstrate how easily racism took hold. One of the more recent films she's done, The Stolen Eye, is set in Australia. Really winning moments include the fun part where she dismisses the idea that blue-eyed Greeks could possibly be treated less well than blue-eyed Northern Europeans, the bit where she congratulates a Holocaust survivor on how lucky she is not to be visibly dark-skinned—and also, more topically, the many moments where she excruciatingly brow-beats people of Aboriginal descent into being cruel to the blue-eyed folk, actually forcing them to enact her disturbing Aesop of "Oh, everyone will be slighting and cruel to those who are degraded by authority figures. You should fear minorities, white people. Because they're waiting for their chance. They want to do this to you."
    • The Centron educational film "The Snob" might have turned out better if it didn't define "snob" as "student who studies harder than, and has different interests than, the majority." The so-called snob of the film is never seen actually shunning or looking down on her peers. She just doesn't want to participate because her interests are different. If anything, her peers are being snobs to her, saying nasty things about her behind her back and heaping shame on her for not being like them. The only time she shows any dislike for them at all is in response to this treatment. Thus, the message becomes "if your interests are different than the crowd's, then you must be a stuck-up jerk who looks down on them and any abuse they heap on your is totally justified. The only way not to be a snob is to CONFORM!"
    • It's not family-friendly anyways, but the basic moral for Drag Me to Hell is that you'd better be extremely generous and supply a person with an extension to their mortgage, otherwise, that person will curse you to Hell for it. Even if said person has failed enough times to not be trusted with a mortgage extension (failing to pay it off twice, at least).
      • Also, if you piss off a "gypsy", you will be smashed in the face with a curse. Because, y'know, the Roma aren't people, they're walking stereotypes. And somehow this is still an acceptable point of view; thanks a mint, Raimi.
    • The Director's Cut version of The Butterfly Effect: Everyone would be better off if you'd never been born.
    • In Other People's Money, the moral is that businesses exist to make money, and if a business is worth more shut down than running, someone's going to shut it down, no matter how noble, selfless or idealistic the CEO is.


    • If you give anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged the definition above, they will most likely reply, "oh, you mean like in Atlas Shrugged". Few works, if any, have espoused Family Unfriendly Aesops so completely, audaciously and influentially as this Doorstopper Philosophical Novel has. It teaches that altruism is evil, you do not owe anyone anything and capitalism holds the universe together. Can you be a good person if you believe all that? Well, good by what standard?
    • Almost every children's fantasy book is about learning to Be Yourself and how special you are. It's a Family Unfriendly Aesop when they don't:
      • The main character of Panda Ray is a young boy with amazing powers. After escaping from his overbearing mother, who threatens to "scoop him out," he enters a dreamlike parallel dimension, where he has all his secret fantasies made true; this makes him decide that he's "no better than" his mother, which, in turn, makes decide him go home, forsake his powers, and act like he's scooped out for the rest of his life. The moral: being special and different is bad, and the people who are trying to force you to be like everyone else know what's right.
      • There is some debate, particularly on the book's page, as to exactly what lesson we're supposed to get out of The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey.
        • For some, it's "Be proud of what you are," which is fine.
        • For some, it's "Be Careful What You Wish For," which is okay.
        • For others, however, the message seems to be, "Don't try to be anything you're not," which seems workable until you realize that this is like telling children Status Quo Really IS God and you shouldn't aspire to be anything better than you are.
        • And finally, several people have detected the truly Family Unfriendly "It's better to Just Be Normal, because if there is anything that makes you different or special, your family and friends will shun and abandon you." Scary-Crayon is an example of this one.
    • Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham has a perfectly nice Aesop about not deciding you don't like something until you've tried it. However, it delivers said Aesop in the form of a little creature named "Sam I Am," who stalks and harasses the protagonist until he finally breaks down and agrees to try the eponymous meal. An additional Aesop seems to be "Peer pressure can be good for you, as long as it teaches you something positive." This is in fact Truth in Television, as there is a thing called positive peer pressure.
    • In the famous science fiction short story "The Cold Equations," the moral is "life is fundamentally unfair." This moral was a very deliberate Family Unfriendly Aesop, serving as a Deconstruction of stories where the day is always saved somehow, all too often by Contrived Coincidences or Applied Phlebotinum. However, some people were not impressed, feeling that the writer created a very contrived situation riddled with logic holes to justify the Aesop.
      • The problem with "The Cold Equations" is that the execution was so botched that it voided its own Aesop in the process. While an Aesop of 'Stupdity can get you killed, and the laws of physics will make no allowances for good intentions' is entirely valid, when the story in question has the death landing on the least stupid person in the entire story the audience goes 'Seriously'? And before you mind-boggle at that "least stupid person" statement, the reasoning is as follows: the situation in the story cannot exist unless every person involved in the entire chain of decisions, from the original designer of the rocket ship to the crew of the mother ship in charge of preflight checks, hangar security, and overall SOP, to the pilot of the vessel to the stowaway herself makes at least one serious unforced error -- but the only person who dies is the untrained civilian, i.e., the only person who was making their error out of ignorance as opposed to not properly doing their job.
    • In Harriet the Spy, young writer Harriet learns that sometimes you have to lie to people to help them feel better about themselves so they won't hate you.
      • There's also the fact that her mother forces her to "admit" she feels guilty about her friends' hurt feelings after they read her private journal. Harriet makes a good point that it was her journal, she clearly forbade people from reading it, and that they had no right to do so. Mom seems to think that Harriet should feel guilty for writing the stuff down as well as for her friends' negative reactions. Eventually, Harriet agrees with what her mom wants her to say, basically so Mom will stop with the badgering.
    • A particularly jaw-dropping one appears in a Ray Bradbury story. The narrator's sedate, tranquil, lazy (and Irish) chauffeur picks him up one night and drives like a bat out of hell before revealing that every other enjoyable night, he was driving completely drunk. The narrator forces money on him and demands he get blotto before picking him up next, browbeating him into breaking Lent in the process.
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum (pun only partially intended), Rainbow Fish at best teaches children the joys of communism by showing how personal property and individualism are bad and that everyone should be equally poor and bland and at worst shows that the only way to have friends is to mutilate yourself and give away all your body parts.
      • The intended moral is to share one's gifts with others but yes, it can be easily seen as the above.
      • Not to mention the idea of simply being able to buy friendship.
      • Or perhaps the concept that if you are superior in any way, nobody will like you. Or that everyone's shallow enough that they will like you if you give each of them a single entirely useless item.
    • Perelandra, the second book of the Space trilogy by C. S. Lewis. The plot of the book is that the planet Venus is in the "Adam and Eve" phase and the devil has sent his agent—a man named Professor Weston—to corrupt "Eve." The angels send a man named Elwin Ransom to make sure that Tinidril chooses wisely. In the end, good triumphs over evil, but in an unexpected way: Ransom kills Weston and drops his body into a volcano.
      • This is actually lampshaded by the protagonist, who assumed that the fight would be purely intellectual, that he would win by the sheer force of his argument; and was initially horrified at the idea that he'd have to make the fight a physical one. It was very much a Take That at the pacifists who opposed Great Britain's military opposition to the evils of Nazi Germany and promoted Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy; and against the anti-confrontational passivity that was popular in much of the liberal Christian community.
    • A character in Slaughterhouse-Five suggests that The Bible's Aesop is that you should make sure someone doesn't have connections before you kill them.
    • Twilight is rather infamous for these.
      • If your boyfriend knows better, he should be allowed to do whatever he believes is necessary for your protection.
      • Sometimes, you just have to take matters into your own hands when the object of your affections refuses to realize that you're better for her than her significant other is.
      • Self-destructive behavior is a reasonable way to express grief.
      • True love knows no barriers. Twelve days is all the time in the world to decide that you can throw away everything else in the world to be with your significant other, since it's true love.
      • It's all right if a stranger stalks you and climbs into your bedroom without your knowledge or consent while you're asleep. It just means that he's trying to protect you. The same for if he sabotages your car, constantly spies on you, and has you essentially kidnapped by his family while he's away and unable to continue to spy on you. After all, it's just for your own protection.
      • If your boyfriend dumps you, it's completely fine to engage in dangerous activity that could potentially kill you. In fact, engaging in said activity will bring your boyfriend back for good.
      • Only those in your personal inner circle matter. The deaths of people you don't know - even if they are completely innocent, and even if the inner circle's actions directly contributed to the person's demise - are unremarkable and need not distract you from endlessly pondering your relationship, and of course there is no expectation that you might make any actual effort to save them. And yes, this is the "good" guys. (Examples: human tourists killed by the Volturi in New Moon whom Edward and Bella don't even try to warn, poor Bree Tanner who no one even tries to save after promising to help her in Eclipse, Irina, and the humans who are killed off-screen by the vampire allies who are given permission to borrow Cullen cars so they can go people-hunting in Breaking Dawn.)
      • Possibly one of the biggest - finding and being with your soul mate completely justifies any shitty behavior you engage in in the process.
      • The main point of the Twilight series is either just sit there and two of the best looking boys in school will suddenly pine after the new girl no one else likes or HOW GREAT IT IS TO HAVE A BOYFRIEND but what do you expect from a book where the main character is a Mary Sue of a girl who dreamed of having a boyfriend in high school.
      • If your boyfriend breaks up with you, don't decide that it was for the best and get over it in a healthy, mature way. Threaten to kill yourself so that he'll be forced back into a relationship with you, because your true love justifies it! It's also okay if you manipulate well-meaning people along the way, because true love justifies everything!
      • And it's OK to hunt and drink the blood of endangered wildlife, because it's immoral to hunt humans.
      • Also, most children's or YA books and movies about Fish Out of Water moving to rustic locales show those characters learning to overcome their snobbery and to value the local citizens they initially misjudged (Lightning McQueen in Cars, Mary in The Secret Garden, etc., etc.). Twilight essentially says, "You're right, Bella. Those people who have been falling all over themselves to be kind and welcoming to you as a new student in Forks ARE total losers. I mean, they try and include you? They ask you to PROM? You are too special for this, and only need to be considerate of equally special people. Like vampires."
    • The Sword of Truth series has some pretty screwy morals, especially in the eighth book, Naked Empire: Killing and torture are evil if the Bad Guys do them, but they're okay if the Good Guys do them -- because, by being Bad Guys, they brought it upon themselves.
      • Over the course of the series, Goodkind slowly works his way from formula fantasy to Objectivist philosophizing. This culminates with Faith of the Fallen, which is, in large part, a re-writing of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. From that book onward, the characters' morals take on a distinctly Objectivist tone, with the good guys becoming Objectivist heroes bordering on Knights Templar and the bad guys being collectivists and/or pacifists.
    • In book 2 of Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles, Laurie explains that she lies because "lying works," and nothing in the story contradicts this claim. This, from a book aimed at 6-12 year olds.
    • Pick a Robert Silverberg story at random, and it's got a 50% chance of belonging on this list. As an example, How It Was When The Past Went Away begins with a fellow giving Easy Amnesia to an entire city through a drug in the water supply. A religion forms around the mantra "drink and forget," and life becomes Utopian, as people can erase their memories of all the bad deeds they've done.
    • Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers: Veterans know what's best for you simply because they've served.
      • It's actually a lot more complicated than that, and boils down to the not-really-unfriendly "People who have already proven they're willing to put the best interests of their country ahead of their own will probably make better decisions for the country than people who are not willing to do so."
    • The original version of The Little Mermaid had this delightful message to children: "Obey your parents and behave, or an innocent girl will lose her soul." Is it any wonder most people prefer the Disney version?
      • On the other hand, the message can be construed as: Kill yourself/Abandon your entire species (depending on the version) for your man. Definitely a pre-feminism tale. It should be noted that Hans Christian Andersen had a lot of problems in his life, though.
        • Possibly also an example of Values Dissonance in the story. The mermaid could be seen as symbolic of paganism and desires to better herself via converting to Christianity.
        • The fable stated that mermaids don't have souls, but that she could do good deeds after her death to earn a soul and go on to Heaven, which supports this idea.
    • The children's book Tootle is about a young (and sentient) locomotive who is learning to become a real train. However, he also enjoys going off of the rails and playing in the meadow, though this is considered taboo in his society. In the end, the townsfolk decide to teach him a lesson by waving red flags everywhere he goes when he leaves the rails. Eventually he stays on the track and never leaves it again. The main message of the book seems to be "It's not okay to do what you enjoy, unless it is approved by authority figures." (Well...considering that if a train is derailed IRL, it results in death and destruction, I'm not quite sure this example's all THAT bad to stay on track!)
    • Gor, quite infamously, has the moral that "all women secretly want to be sex slaves."
    • Some people argue that the moral of Joe Abercrombie's The First Law is "people never change, they only delude themselves into thinking they've changed or trick others into thinking they've changed."
    • On the surface, the motivational book Who Moved My Cheese encourages being adaptive to changing situations in both your job and every day life. In actuality, it has several more prominent Family Unfriendly Aesops, including but not limited to: It's OK to let your friends starve to death while you fulfill your needs; if you're promised something and you don't get it, saying anything about it makes you an unsympathetic whiner; and you'll never escape the rat race, so be content with being shuffled around by your shadowy, greedy overlords. It's unsurprising that most office workers that receive it as a gift from upper management immediately start updating their resumes. (Or giggle and make "cut the cheese" jokes, as this troper did for days!)
    • A Series of Unfortunate Events can be seen as having the Aesop that adults are either useless or evil, and so there's no use trying to tell them when you're in a bad situation.
      • Much children's fantasy has similar themes, and it makes sense because if the adults could help, the teenaged protagonist wouldn't have a chance to become the hero. As it turns out, in real life the chances are that children can't solve everything on their own.
      • More likely A Series of Unfortunate Events was meant to satirize the Adults Are Useless themes in most children's literature.
      • Another Aesop seems to be, "There aren't always happy endings." Which is totally true, but not something you'd expect from a children's book.
      • Plus, the theme of useless adults was mostly a plot element that simply allowed the series (and the villains) to continue, rather than an Aesop. Most of the books, in fact, ended with much friendlier Aesops about how, if you're resourceful, you can make it through any awful situations. The final book, however, did have the fairly disappointing and widely-disliked Aesop of "some mysteries will never be solved."
      • The movie offers a much more hopeful moral.

    I know that at times, the world can seem like a cold and dangerous place, but please believe us when we tell you that there's more good in it than bad. And what may seem to be a series of unfortunate events may just be the start of a journey.

    • In The Worm Ouroboros, nobody matters but princes. In a battle, superior position, troop numbers, bravery, equipment and training count for nothing, the result will be determined by which prince/general thinks up more clever strategems. After four years of bitter war in which many are maimed and killed, the 'good guy' princes triumph. They then wish for - and are granted - a magical reset back to the beginning of the war so they can put their subjects through all that suffering again. Why? Because otherwise they'd be bored.
      • That's hardly a moral, it's just how they are.
    • Bedlam Boyz: Some people deserve to die. Let them. Don't dirty your hands making it fast or painless, either.
    • Babette Cole's Winni Allfours: Apparently, when your parents won't give you a pony and would rather have you eat your vegetables, not only is it sound to trick them by eating your veggies to turn into a horse (It Makes Sense in Context) but when they actually promise to grant your earlier wishes, you can refuses because you're having too much fun! Never mind the fact you may not live long and certainly won't have much family or social life.
    • Mimì Fiore di Cactus e il suo porcospino [dead link](Cacti Flower Mimi And Her Hedgehog)'s Aesop is, basically, "every stranger is a pedophile".
    • The Chronicles of Narnia contain the lesson that the real world is a harsh and violent place that sometimes takes a fair amount of violence to survive in. CS Lewis was even quoted once as saying that pretending otherwise would do a great disservice to children. Once again, an example of a very true and important Aesop, but one that many parents would rather their children didn't know.
    • One of the Stock Aesops is that cowardice doesn't pay. In extreme cases, the brave survives where the coward dies (sometimes Driven to Suicide), or alternatively they both both survive/die, but the coward is marked forever. So it comes as a tragic surprise that in Bridge to Terabithia, Leslie, who had no fear from the creek, drowns, whereas Jess, who feared the water (and couldn't swim) survives - and while he does suffer, it's not because of cowardice.
    • The Roger McGough poem Badgers and Goodgers, in which badgers are portrayed as an Exclusively Evil species, while their cousins, the goodgers, are Always Lawful Good. When a series of natural disasters hits the forest (culminating in a 'Great Jazz Revival'), the greedy, selfish baders are able to survive through their scheming and hoarding, while the compassionate goodgers feel compelled to help the other forest denizens and starve themselves to extinction because they're unable to care for themselves. In a Bittersweet Ending, Pan the animal spirit anoints the black fur of the badgers with white, in memory of their cousins, and gets them to renounce their selfish ways.
    • Another classical Moral is that having imagination is good. So When The Windman Comes by Antonia Michaelis is a HUGE subversion, with the Moral "imagination, when not strictly separated from reality, is potentially very dangerous - it can isolate you and make you live in fear of imaginary horrors - all the while making you more vulnerable to Real Life. Sometimes, being a sceptic is favorable, even for a child." This is particularly jarring since many other books by the same author actually promote imagination and/or openness to seemeingly impossible things.
      • A lesser "strange" Aesop is "You shouldn't be that afraid of strangers. Even though you are a child, that scary old man actually means you no harm".
    • Aesop's Fables sometimes encounter this trope. For example, The Fox and The Stork leads you to believe it's fine and dandy to do payback at someone who pulled a fast one on you, because "One bad turn deserves another."
      • Interestingly, Game Theory says that that's a quite reasonable (and, indeed, quite EFFECTIVE) strategy for some types of situations (the 'Tit-For-Tat' strategy). There is research that indicates humans may even be hard wired to accept this practice.
    • Several of the Serendipity Books from the 70s have massively Family Unfriendly Aesops. Specific and Egregious examples:
      • Squeakers, a leg-crossingly uncomfortable book about a little squirrel with alarmingly fluttery-lashed eyes , teaches little boys the admittedly important lesson that they have to tell their parents about being molested. The (male) squirrel goes through days on end of hiding the shameful and hideous bald patches on his tail where a neighbor is tearing out fistfuls of his fur on the way home from school every day in exchange for, yes, nuts. Ahem. Well:
        • Firstly, it warps the message into "Every adult male who ever tries to talk to you socially wants to force you to trade your body for meaningless tokens,"
        • and secondly, that also turns into "By the way, if you find any adult male even vaguely discomfiting or weird, it's probably because you can subconsciously tell he wants your little squirrely ass and is about to do things involving nuts to you,"
        • and thirdly, it actually makes reporting abuse sound like a terrifying ordeal, partly because the physical evidence is ugly and obvious and muchly-needing-to-be-hidden, and partly because the simple text captures the sickening sense of shame and fear so very accurately that this troper actually was nauseated when reading it as an adult.

    "I don't want to trade today, Mr. Mole ..."
    "That's okay, I'm just going to take what I want!"

      • Even more fun is Morgan Morning, which features a cute little brown foal who disobeys his mother and consequently falls down a cliff. His mother and the rest of the herd can't help him, so they sadly go graze somewhere else—explicitly leaving him there to die alone. The little pony lies weeping at the bottom of the cliff when a disembodied voice tells him that if he'll agree never ever to see his (also brown) mother again, he can live (why does this need to be mentioned? He was already never going to see her again). He makes the bargain and "is reborn/to live -- maybe die -- a unicorn!" Leaving the reader with three questions:
        • Is this book supposed to tell me that Mommy will leave me alone to die if I'm disobedient even one time? Because that's what I'm getting.
        • Wait—verbally eschewing or recanting his brown pony family allows him to pass for a magical white pony as long as he doesn't try to have contact with brown ponies, even though he can totally go see them now, because he's better than them and they might revert him to his old inferior ways? Are you kidding me?
        • This thing was sold with a pretty unicorn smiling amongst butterflies on the cover? ON A LOW SHELF?
    • The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is pretty obviously intended to be didactic ... somehow. Some people read the titular china bunny rabbit doll as a sort of naively-selfish Fool who learns that he's a Jesus figure whose true value lies in helping people. Other readers can't help but notice that Edward inevitably and uncontrollably leaves everyone he "helps" broken, grieving, more alone than when he arrived, at the mercy of crueler people, with their relationship with Edward Tulane (or Susannah, whatever) having stopped just agonizingly short of being fulfilling, and tending to end in deception or violence or emotional brutality or all three. Don't make friends, kids. The world will take them away and they'll be more hurt because you can't get back to them. Ever. Because life? It's so not under your control. Don't try.
    • The Princess Bride has one in-universe - the narrator notes how much horrified as a kid he was, because some events of the story just didn't worked out as in usual fairy tales and adventure stories and found relief only when he realized what the aesop was - "life is not fair".
    • Hush, Hush contains a number of these, along the same lines as the ones in Twilight. The biggest offenders:
      • Sexual harassment and stalking are appropriate ways to express love.
      • If someone is making you uncomfortable or worried about your safety, there's no point in going to your teacher, parent, or friend for help. They won't take you seriously or try to take care of the problem.
      • If someone is concerned that a guy is acting inappropriately towards you, you should be suspicious of this advice because the person is probably just jealous and trying to get the guy for herself. Even if the guy is acting inappropriately towards you.

    Live Action TV

    • Degrassi, despite its heavy-handedness, frequently has morals that are widely believed by teenagers but are unusual for adults. This may be a huge part of the show's appeal to teens.
      • Emma is still hurting after being dumped by her boyfriend Sean, so she starts purposely getting him in trouble—from ratting him and his friends out when they steal from a diner, to ratting to the principal that he stole her dad's laptop (an accusation later proved to be correct). Later, Emma learns that she should just move on and leave Sean alone, despite his misdeeds so the moral is "no matter how horrible somebody is to you, tattling on them is worse."
        • Or maybe it's just "revenge is a dish best served never"
        • This one is actually getting more and more into the public consciousness. Many recent Law and Order episodes hinge on someone (usually black) with a healthy hatred of cops deciding whether to "snitch" or whether to take critical information that would either exonerate them or get justice for a murdered family member to the grave.
      • Bitter Goth girl Ellie has to learn to trust people again after her boyfriend abandons her and sticks her with the rent. Specifically, she learns to trust both her new roommate—a recently reformed schoolyard bully who wants to gamble with their rent money—and her mother, a recovering alcoholic who once burned their house down in a drunken stupor. Both of them turn out to be completely trustworthy. This is on the extreme idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, so idealistic that it can feel like "take candy from strangers."
      • Paige has a completely horrendous experience at Banting University. The next season, she's dropped out and despite working a high intensity fashion industry job, she's a lot happier. In season 9, Emma drops out of Smithdale due to the same issues Paige was facing. Spinner never goes to college and basically works a standard 9 to 5 restaurant job and couldn't be more content. The lesson of "College isn't for everyone/you can be successful and happy without going to college" pretty much flies in the face of almost every show aimed towards young audiences.
        • This is likely due to the difference between American and Canadian attitudes towards college. In Canada, high school is more comprehensive and involves (optional) job training; it's much easier to be middle class in Canada with a high school diploma than in the US.
      • Alli is constantly being rebuked by her boyfriend Johnny for not respecting their relationship boundaries - he wants to keep his reputation as a tough guy. So in order to get him to open up and show affection, she starts "sexting" him nude pics. However, whenever she embarrasses him in front of the whole school by showing off a lovey-dovey cute photograph of him, he sends her nude pics to his friend. At the end of the episode, the lesson presented appears to be that Alli was in the wrong, and it didn't matter that he sent those nude pics because she broke her promise in regards to their relationship rules and that was worse. Wow.
      • Jane is being harassed by the new Degrassi football team since she's the only female player. The coach (who is also the principal) is turning a blind eye. She does the "right thing" - she tells another adult about the harassment but bullying worsens and she's actually assaulted in the hallway. It isn't until she makes a stand for herself (along with a handful of teammates behind her) that bullying goes away. This episode actually makes the case it's better to stand up against bullies yourself and that telling about an adult could make the bullying intensify.
        • This is unfortunately often true, as the response of school authorities is to try and stop the complaining student since it is easier to oppress a student until they stop reporting the problems than it is to deal with the issue of students bullying, which usually involves parents, ironically complaining that the complainer is "overly sensitive" or "has issues," which leads to intensified bullying because the bullies know that they will not be punished. This is just the general rule of thumb that it is easier to ignore a problem than deal with it.
      • Some people might think episode 3 of season 10 had the message "It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It": Declan is trying to reunite with Holly J (they're on a break after disagreement on money issues) and he pulls off all the stops trying to get her alone. They end up having sex—but Holly J at first verbally says "No" and "No, we shouldn't be doing this" but then later ends up kissing him and they initiate sex. At the end of the episode, Holly J clearly says to Declan (who is utterly disgusted with himself and nearly flees Toronto after finding out Holly J felt pressured to have sex) "I don't think you raped me." There is already a Broken Base on how the show handled this topic, some saying it Degrassi basically excused rape and others sayings they accurately portrayed the blurred lines in between date rape and regretted sex. Degrassi always tried to look at controversial topics in a realistic way. Compare this with the Paige storyline, wherein she's date-raped at a party, presses charges, and the guy is acquitted due to "lack of evidence," despite the judge's commendation of Paige's bravery in taking the case to trial. It's supposed to be open for debate and dialogue.
    • Similarly, almost every episode of Radio Free Roscoe has the moral that Adults Are Useless, so teens should defy and disobey them whenever possible. What makes it even more interesting is that it's always played as an idealistic moral—not "adults will always screw you over," but "disobey adults and everything will turn out happy." An example: In "The Boxer," the Jerkass principal is serving as a substitute history teacher on the Boxer Rebellion, which he knows nothing about. So his lectures are biased, inaccurate, and a bit racist... and in response, one of his students corrects every one of his errors, out loud, in front of the class. By the end of the episode, the principal and the student are teaming up to teach a better lesson. In a less idealistic show, the principal would have arbitrarily slapped the kid down with his authority.
    • On Barney and Friends, there are some instances which may give the false impression that cheating is okay. In "A Splash Party, Please," when Barney and the kids are having a tug o' war, Min helps the other kids win by tickling Barney. Later, in "Falling In Autumn," Shawn participates in a relay race with a peanut stuck to his spoon with peanut butter. Proponents states that it's safe to assume that these "cheating" ways were just thrown in as jokes, while opponents state that children of the target demographic pick up from mimicking and may copy the action because they do not understand that it's supposed to be a joke.
    • 24 has been criticized by some circles who interpret it as justifying torture as a tool of war by the U.S. Government, due to over-representing its effectiveness and repeated use of the "ticking-clock scenario" of an imminent terrorist attack that can't be prevented without Jack Bauer doing the interrogation. There's quite a bit of debate on that. It also seems to suggest that, even for the good guys, tasering your own employees to ensure their loyalty is good policy, and that you should expect them to go back to their cubicles immediately afterward without so much as a complaint. The writers toned this down in later seasons in response to unrealistic perceptions about how torture works in the real world but it still gets results almost every time its used and anybody who calls Jack out on his human-rights abuses is made into a strawman with a point.
    • An episode of Touched By an Angel had the moral that, no matter how nice they are, atheists are fundamentally bad people with whom believers should not associate. The episode is also a sequel episode to a season finale that dealt with accepting the death of a child. The death episode is much better in its message, though it borders on Family Unfriendly for the crowd who do not believe in an afterlife. What that vast crowd of non-afterlife-believing people is doing watching a show about angels? Don't ask us.
      • Like how people who don't believe in elves would never watch Lord of the Rings?
      • The message was not that one should not associate with atheists, it was that one should not be willing to compromise one's faith and convictions out of desperation to find love and marriage. In this episode, the atheist in question was insisting that his intended give up her faith, and accept a definition of marriage that went against her convictions (As long as we both shall love, rather than as long as we both shall live.) Although, this portrayal of atheists could have Unfortunate Implications.
    • Boston Public has characters acting erratically fairly often but they are saved because their intentions are good. In the pilot episode alone, Harry Senate fires a gun and Assistant Principal Guber slams a kid against a locker.
    • Battlestar Galactica: Sometimes you have to Shoot the Dog, you can't always Take a Third Option, and you have to Know When to Fold'Em.
    • The season one Veronica Mars episode Drinking the Kool-Aid seemed to preach the moral that freaky cults are actually filled with nice people. It might be family unfriendly to say so, but it's absolutely and without question Truth in Television, and an anvil that needs to be dropped on a regular basis. Too many young people think that niceness equals goodness or trustworthiness. But anyone can be nice; all niceness requires is outward inoffensiveness. What's more, cults go out of their way to recruit nice people (or to teach their members how to be nice) for the sole purpose of recruiting new members who are too innocent to see beyond the superficial inoffensiveness.
      • The whole underlying theme of this series seems to be to not trust law enforcement and take justice into your own hands -- especially in Season Two. The biggest examples of this are when Veronica helps Duncan kidnap his illegitimate daughter to avoid any chance of her ultra-fundamentalist and abusive grandparents gaining custody of her, then when Duncan has his family's security chief Clarence Wiedman kill Aaron Echols because he killed his sister Lily but was acquitted. Of course, it was a noir show.
        • Both those examples were also treated with a lot of emphasis on the fact that what was happening was illegal, and the guilty parties were often treated with great disappointment by authority figures after it happened. As for the rest of the show...
        • Not to mention that a number of times, taking the law into your own hands actually has real consequences, like when Weevil arranges for his cousin's murderer to be killed by his drug dealers, and is then arrested and sent to prison for connection to his disappearance on the day of his graduation. That this happens to the poorest, most disenfranchised character rather than any of the richer, more connected ones like Veronica or Duncan makes it even more Truth in Television.
    • Oh, Grey's Anatomy... Shonda must have some warped morals! What with the "Marriage is nothing important," or the "no matter how awful you behave, everybody will love you and your punishment will be nothing more than a slap on the wrist"?
      • To be fair, this is heavily lampshaded, usually by Erica Hahn. Various characters hate each other for actions they took part in several seasons earlier and never fail to namedrop their particular flavor of irresponsibility and failure. Just ask Yang.
    • Probably lifting Ms. Rand above advice to the letter, the famous "backwards" Seinfeld episode, "The Betrayal," showed Jerry and Kramer's first meeting, with Jerry insisting to Kramer that "what's mine is yours."
      • It's not that family-unfriendly; Kramer just took Jerry's friendly offer too literally and too far.
      • And of course, looking for any aesop in the "No hugging, no learning" world of Seinfeld is barking up the wrong tree.
    • One episode of the short-lived anthology series Night Visions told the story of a Town with a Dark Secret where music is banned and anyone who breaks the rules is swiftly and brutally dealt with. A drifter comes into town, realizes something is wrong and starts investigating: it turns out that the townspeople are all convinced that they're under a curse, and playing or creating any kind of music within the town will summon some sort of monster to kill them all. Of course, the drifter thinks they're all nuts, and in the inevitable climactic confrontation he delivers a heroic speech about how they have no proof that the monster actually exists, and they've been committing horrific acts in the name of blind superstition. The townspeople realize he's right, and he leads them all in a rousing rendition of "Amazing Grace." ... And then the monster comes to kill them all. Moral of the story: committing horrific acts in the name of blind superstition is a really good idea! For the record, Night Visions was chock full of family unfriendly or outright broken aesops. It's the sort of show you watch expecting a story about an abused wife to end with her being beaten to death by her husband, followed by host Henry Rollins delivering An Aesop along the lines of "Next time your husband tells you to shut up, you should do it."
      • The fact that a monster killed them makes the claims true, and thus, not "blind superstition." This post implies that, as long as you're intentionally or unintentionally unaware of the validity of a claim, it's A-OK to act as though it isn't true. If that's the case, most children shouldn't listen to their parents as they most likely won't understand why they're being told to do something at the time of instruction
        • The fact that they unquestionably accepted it for at least a hundred years despite no indication or evidence of it does make it one. That the townspeople seem incapable of moving makes it even more. And that headphones are forbidden. But what puts icing on the cake is that the monster isn't coherent: music disturbs it but yelling your head off won't; it doesn't attack only the source of the music; it has slept for hundreds of years on nothing but birds; and that's just the overt problems. Also until the person was eaten the acceptance was in fact blind superstition. And, fyi, there's a vast difference between believing in Santa Clause when a kid and still believing in Santa Clause when you grow up.
        • Alternately, if we're to accept the "respect the beliefs of others" bit Henry Rollins says at the end, the episode's Family-Unfriendly Aesop simply becomes the following: "Even if a person's beliefs are patently ridiculous by any rational standards whatsoever, even if those beliefs prompt that person to murder her child to uphold them, you should respect those beliefs -- because they're beliefs, and sometimes those can be true whether the believer knows it or not." Yeah, Night Visions doesn't allow itself much wiggle room on the unfriendliness factor of its aesops.
    • For a show that could get outright Anvilicious at times, Full House tended to fall into this trope frequently in plots involving Michelle getting away with just about anything, especially in the later seasons.
      • The Disney episode was particularly egregious; after half an episode of being a horrible brat and getting everything she wants, Michelle deliberately runs off in Disney World after overhearing her sisters (rightfully) complain about how she always gets her way. Then, she's found and the older girls apologize for being mean to her! Never mind that she's old enough to know better, still runs off on a tantrum, and gets to ride in the parade (and is in no way punished) in the end regardless.
        • She is reprimanded for running off, however.
        • Also, I think the scriptwriters wanted us to understand that, in Michelle's mind, her sisters' disdain for her is her punishment. And Michelle might have believed that she was doing the right thing in leaving her family, since it would make Deej and Stephanie happy if she were gone. (Yes, that's an incredibly naive attitude, but for a child it counts.) Interestingly, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen also played characters who followed this line of reasoning in the TV movie To Grandmother's House We Go: they run away to Grandma's house not because they hate their mother, but because they felt that they have made their mother frustrated and want her to be happy again.
      • An earlier episode involved Deej and Stephanie going unpunished. They had gone into Danny's closet against his wishes and accidentally put a hole in the wall of his bedroom. The episode ends with the sisters making nice after their previous fight, but as the credits roll, we're left to believe Danny will never discover the damage.
      • One season earlier, Steph had a mess in the kitchen that Danny cared more about a clean kitchen that he just waxed more than what had happened with the car.
      • Season 6's "I'm Not DJ" had sent the wrong message for some girls rather than every one of them due to the fact that Stephanie was the only girl in her fifth grade class to be too young for ear piercings since she was treated like another DJ Tanner. To prove that Stephanie was not to base her life on what was on television, or what was popular, or what her female friends were doing, he would have to dislike her friends and so would DJ (despite that neither one had actually said it to Stephanie).
      • Two episodes later, DJ was not invited as no one cared of she had to miss her Uncle Jesse's high school graduation due to a ski trip.
      • It happened when DJ was to be extra generous as ordered by her father (who unknowingly let the younger siblings do whatever they want to bully her) before he busts those two girls for taking advantage of DJ, and DJ was grounded for the ticket, despite Kimmy airing out her socks, and cannot take the girls wherever they want to go. Off-camera, Danny tells DJ that she would need to cut her hair short, but no viewer heard that at all!
    • Basically anytime a police procedural uses wanting a lawyer as evidence of guilt. No matter how innocent you are, always get a lawyer.
      • This message is prevalent enough to have earned a trope of its own, "Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers."
        • Subverted, surprisingly, by the show Dexter, where an innocent man is suspected of murder, and when he realizes that it looks like he's going to be arrested for it (there was some very compelling evidence that linked him to the murder scene), he asks to speak with his lawyer before answering any questions. Many of the other characters take this as a sign of guilt, but he ends up proving his innocence, and everyone else wrong. Kind of odd for a show with a serial killer as a protagonist.
    • Two and A Half Men owes its very existence to this trope. A man can only adopt one of two possible approaches to women, Butt Monkey (Alan) or Casanova (Charlie).
    • iCarly is stock full of these Aesops. The show seems not to care about the victimization on Freddie, sometimes even seeming to encourage it i.e. iMeet Fred, with an aesop that basically boils down to "Unpopular opinions are bad" and "It's your own fault if you get beaten up for sticking by your own opinion."
      • Also the countless psuedo feminist aesops...
      • "Violence IS the answer to bully problems as long as it means being yourself." Good point.
      • If a boy likes you, don't bother putting him out of his misery by either dating him or breaking his heart, use his affection for your own purposes even if it conflicts with his. Also, get angry with him every single time he so much as looks at another girl. Laugh as your best friend repeatedly physically assaults him because he won't leave the pair of you alone due to being in love with you.
      • If you have to break up but both mutually agree to revisit that relationship in the future, don't bother telling him if your feelings have changed. Just keep dating random guys who cheat on you, leaving you crying on the original person's shoulder.
      • If you are physically violent, emotionally abusive, show zero respect and hurt someone so often that they eventually tell themselves that it would be 'weird' if you weren't doing things, they will turn around and give you a shot at dating them because you were only 'hiding your feelings' for them.
    • The whole Carrie/Big premise from Sex and the City. "It doesn't matter how many times a guy breaks your heart (or even marries someone else); if he's good-looking and the sex is great, keep going back to him." The same Aesop is applied with Grace/Leo on Will and Grace.
    • Lost has a rather unfriendly Aesop when Jack yells at Kate that she has no right to say that she shouldn't want Jack around Aaron while he's popping pills while home alone with him because she's "not even related to him." Despite having raised him for almost his whole life she's not his real family. Jack is, so he knows better than her. And Kate still ends up with Jack in the end.
      • It helps that Jack has been tremendously humbled from his experiences, wants to repent for his actions, and they only get back together in the Purgatory-esque afterlife specifically created for them for their help in protecting the Island.
    • Demitri Martin does this on a first season episode of Important Things with Demetri Martin. He mentions traditional "things your parents told you," like don't run with scissors, don't talk to strangers, or don't play with matches, then amends them (Don't run with scissors unless your house is being broken into while you are cutting something, in which case run and stab with scissors, don't play with matches unless you actually want to have fun, and don't talk to strangers unless you want to meet anyone ever).
    • Malcolm in the Middle. In "Malcolm's Job," Malcolm is written-up by his mother for not following a silly rule at his new job (the Lucky Aide grocery store where his mom Lois also works). He later discovers Lois smoking on a break (after supposedly quitting) and he's furious with her hypocrisy and yet promises to keep the secret from the family. Later, an accident (regarding the same silly rule) happens to Malcolm and Lois writes him up again, despite her asking him to keep her smoking a secret (the write-up is later revoked). He's again furious and confronts her and threatens to spill the smoking secret. Lois calmly tells him that he won't because she is his mother. She also tells him while the treatment is unfair, she is his mother and will always be no matter how old he gets and he doesn't get to ever challenge her authority. This also runs concurrent with the mindless Lucky Aide job and Lois and Malcolm's superiors plot so basically the moral is "No matter how right you are, no matter how unfair something is, if someone holds authority over you, you will not be able to do anything about it." Growing Up Sucks.
      • "Life is unfair" is the theme of the show, and it holds true to the finale. It is revealed that Lois and Hal have basically planned out Malcolm's life for him for him to become president of the United States and they never meant for him to be happy. The other kids knew about this and Lois even screws Malcolm out of a cushy job in order to make their plans come true. This seems infuriating, and yet it's one of the biggest heartwarming moments in the series' history because Malcolm in the end accepts their vision for him and goes off to Harvard getting through school as the janitor. His valedictorian speech addresses just how families make up your identity; and the big lesson is that sometimes you have to put aside your own happiness in order to please them. Though that can be quite disturbing, because Malcolm is sacrificing himself for a family that makes no bones telling him how they are willing to screw him over to make their lives better, even though the majority of their hardship is self-inflicted.
        • Everyone is a jerk, no matter how nice they look.
      • Spoofed in the episode "Lois Strikes Back" where four girls play a mean prank on Reese and the school does nothing to punish them for it, so Lois takes matters into her own hands and gets revenge on the girls. Malcolm attempts to deliver the Aesop that two wrongs don't make a right and Lois seems to accept this, only for her to sneak out the window to get revenge on the last girl. Interestingly enough, attempting to play the Aesop straight with Lois abandoning her revenge could have resulted in a Family Unfriendly Aesop as well since then it could have been "if a group of mean girls hurt a family member, standing up for them is wrong even if the girls get away with it."
    • House is rife with these
      • Common ones are "Everybody lies," "Nobody ever changes," and "You can't always get what you want." [1]".
      • A big and often used is if you are a genius who other people have to depend on, you can basically be a dick to everyone without many consequences. Though this is more of a Truth in Television variety because often those who don't have to deal with you constantly will let you get away with being an ass if you are good for the bottom line.
        • This particular trope is often subverted too though; House will often intentionally behave like even more of a complete and utter dick than his own natural personality would be, simply because he can. While often it's played for laughs, his cavalier/antisocial/sociopathic tendencies have more than once lead to a patient ending up with lifelong injuries that wouldn't have happened if everyone had just done their job right the first time, at which points he usually feels legitimate remorse and sometimes contemplates (however briefly) if he should really keep doing things that way.
        • Also, a nod to realism early on, when Cuddy mentions that she got him for a steal, salary-wise, because his rampant Jerkass tendencies meant that no one else would even hire him.
      • Patient rights are basically hindrances that prevent doctors from doing their jobs correctly. Every time a patient is shown refusing treatment, the team finds some way to either bully, trick, or otherwise manipulate them into conceding. In nearly every episode, the team is shown breaking into the patient's home in order to find out what the patient is hiding from them.
        • The crowning example of this has to be in "Last Temptation": Martha Masters puts a girl with bone cancer into false cardiac arrest with a chemical in order to manipulate her parents into agreeing to let the doctors amputate the girl's arm because she wanted to postpone the surgery and Masters felt that was unreasonably life-threatening. The girl wakes up without her arm and is understandably horrified, but the audience is meant to agree with Masters' actions, judging by the way she leaves content with herself to the strains of "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Wow.
      • The entire Martha Masters arc, which was basically a Filler Arc for Olivia Wilde to leave and shoot Tron: Legacy, is rife with the common tropes from the series along with things like "Being idealistic and hopeful is just something for the immature and you have to be forced to grow up."
    • Police, Camera, Action! (and its Companion Show Police Stop!) tend to have these.
      • However, the family unfriendly aesops are "don't drink and drive, unless it's a soft drink" or suchlike.
    • Almost every episode of Profit ended with the main character delivering a monologue on the life lesson the viewer should take from the preceding events. Given that the character in question was a Villain Protagonist, these were all Warped Aesops from most people's perspectives.
    • The Wizards of Waverly Place movie seems to says that hard work and discipline are useless, as the naturally gifted will effortlessly breeze past you.
      • Said powers were ultimately useless in preventing the Butterfly of Doom from taking her brothers away.
    • Star Trek turned the Prime Directive from the moral of "don't mess with cultures far less advanced than you" to "don't save less advanced people about to die even though we can."
      • Star Trek: The Next Generation started this with "Homeward," where Worf's brother was treated as in the wrong for saving a tribe of people whose home planet lost its atmosphere, and that he would only do such a thing because he knocked one of the natives up, not for simply humanitarian reasons.
      • Star Trek: Enterprise also did this with no prime directive in "Dear Doctor." SF Debris tore into the episode for not only the bad moral, but the completely wrong notion of evolution that justified it.
      • Star Trek DS9 also has an invoked and lampshaded example for The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Never tell the same lie twice.
    • An episode of Family Matters (a pretty ironic title, at least where this trope is concerned) that was apparently supposed to be pro-gun control. It implies that guns (and all other personal weapons, for that matter) are inherently evil: even if the only reason you purchase a gun is for self-defense, you'll end up abusing your privilege and getting shot anyway. This is especially egregious in that the father of Laura Winslow (the character who learns this lesson) is a police lieutenant!
    • One storyline in Coronation Street had mild-mannered cafe owner Roy Cropper bullied and intimidated by a builder who took a dislike to him because of the rules his customers had to follow. The climax saw one of the bullying sessions interrupted by the bully's boss, Charlie Stubbs, who threw him out of the cafe, punched him and fired him. This rather awkward The Answer Is Violence ending was made even worse by the fact Charlie Stubbs was a borderline Complete Monster who, at the time, was psychologically torturing his girlfriend. So... basically the moral is "The only way to deal with a bully is to get an even bigger bully to beat him up."
    • Lampshaded and inverted in the episode "What Fresh Hell" of Criminal Minds. Reid, Gideon and a cop are investigating a child abduction case and en route to a lead, and Gideon asks the cop if she knew what the most damaging public service announcement was for these kind of cases. The answer was "Stranger Danger" because, statistically speaking, a child is more likely to be abducted or abused by someone they know- family, friends, teachers, neighbours- with strangers making up just 1% of such cases. The effect therefore was merely to make parents more paranoid and police and social services to focus on the wrong people.
    • The Wire was a series that balanced a harsh look at Baltimore city life with a few comedic or lighter moments every now and then to break the tension. Still, the aesop of the final season rings through loud and clear - no matter how hard you try to break free, if you live in Baltimore, you may as well just kill yourself, because everyone in that city gets screwed in the end. Internal politics and incompetence reigns supreme. Illicit businesses are an implacable part of city life. None of the pieces matter, because the game stays the same - only the players change. If you're an elected official, you will be able to get away with anything. This message was so clear that real-life Baltimore city officials tried to critique the show, until creator David Simon (a former crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun) threw it back in their faces, acknowledging that his series was less' harsh about the city's problems that what he saw in Real Life.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Gift": the world needs good and pure heroes, but it also needs things done that aren't good and pure, so non-heroes should follow heroes around and shoot dogs for them.
    • The season premier of Bones has the moral that Status Quo Is God and that moving on with your life and doing something you really want is selfish and wrong.
    • While Babylon 5 ended up more idealistic than cynical, it still had a few sprinkled here and there. Stated outright at the end of "Believers," for example:

    Sinclair: "Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't change anything."

    • An episode of Doc Martin involves a teacher telling one of her students that he has to let his classmates tease him, when he's hiding inside the hallway from gym class, and sooner or later, he might just fit in. As soon as he's about to take it, it's not just teasing anymore. Another boy grabs his ankle just before he's about to jump off a ladder during an obstacle race, and this causes him to fall and injure himself. At the end of the episode, the teacher admits to the titular doctor that she might have been wrong, and says that he'll probably never fit in, and maybe that's for the better. Err, what!?! Better for him, or better for everyone else? Yeah, it's no surprise to see that a lot of bullying doesn't get taken seriously like it should, just like in real life, but would you be saying something like that if he killed himself because he couldn't fit in anywhere? Or are you saying that that the world's better off with one less loser, and that castration is a good thing? You should be helping kids like Peter to get along with other students and making rules against castration, and that boy who grabbed his ankle should be punished for nearly getting him killed.
    • Pretty much the central question of Dexter is whether or not it's okay for Dexter to kill people who he knows are murderers, and the police can't prove. Part of his code is ensuring that these people are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, guilty, before he kills them. However, he has slipped up a few times and killed innocent people. It's also asking the question of just what Dexter is. Is he a good man doing good things for a bad reason? Is he a good man doing bad things for a good reason? A bad man doing good things for a bad reason? Or is he just a monster who has found a way to control himself as best he can? The view that Dexter himself holds is the last one. He believes himself to be an irredeemable monster without a shred of humanity, and that the only difference between himself and the people he kills is that he's found a way to control himself, and they haven't. And we're supposed to root for him, although the reasons are more to do with the character himself than what he does and why.
      • This issue is further complicated by the fact that, occasionally, Dexter will destroy or misrepresent evidence so that the police can't catch a criminal, solely so that he can kill them personally. This is often the case if the killer in question has hurt someone in Dexter's family (Deb or Rita and the kids) or if they have offended his delicate sensibilities somehow (crimes that traumatize children). Since blood spatter is such a specialized skill, he usually has no trouble faking the results of the blood spatter evidence the department finds.
        • The obfuscation of evidence has been taken to new heights in season six, where Dexter is trying to single-handedly catch the Doomsday Killer, even though his sister has recently become the youngest lieutenant ever and really needs to crack this (extremely high-profile) case or risk looking incompetent. He has ignored her pleas for his help at least four times, so far.
    • There's an old story about Sesame Street back when Snuffleupagus was portrayed as just Big Bird's imaginary friend that nobody ever believed him about. Apparently, there was some sort of Real Life scandal with a group of kids at a pre-school who tried to come forward about being abused (possibly sexually, IIRC) but weren't believed at first. When the Sesame Street writer's heard about the ordeal these kids had gone through trying to get someone to listen, they took a look at the potential Family-Unfriendly Aesop they had going with nobody ever believing Big Bird ("Don't bother trying to convince adults, they won't believe you") and decided to make Snuffy real and had the other characters meet him and apologize to Big Bird for doubting earlier.
      • Technically, Snuffy was always real, but every time Big Bird tried to introduce him to the others he would get scared and run away. What the writers decided to do was to prove to the adults that Snuffy was real.
    • The George Lopez Show One episode has George and Angie discovering that Carmen is on birth control. Carmen reveals she's not having sex but has it in case she starts, which they're reasonably concerned about. They're concerned that she's not emotionally ready for it, and there's the risk of her getting pregnant. Nothing wrong with that. However, first, they take away the birth control, which is kind of a bad thing to do if you're concerned about your kid getting pregnant. Second, it gets kind of ridiculous when they get so desperate to keep her from having sex that they bribe her with a new car, which they tell her she can only keep if she doesn't have sex before 18. They seem to be blind to the fact that not all sex is planned and think there's no risk of Carmen having spontaneous sex, as teenagers often do, as well as what will happen if she does it without birth control.
      • This is particularly frustrating because as Benny pointed out to them earlier, if Carmen starts having sex it will either be planned and protected or spontaneous and unprotected, and George, of all people, should be aware of this, seeing as Benny got pregnant with him as a teenager. Yet, the episode portrays George and Angie as being right.
        • This is even weirder because if Carmen has protected sex, they would probably never find out about it anyway, unless something goes wrong with it.
    • Lizzie McGuire There was an episode where our titular character discovers a natural talent for gymnastics despite her natural clumsiness and their imposing gym teacher encourages them to pursue further training in this field; of all the people you'd expect to give her support in this, her friend Miranda provides only scorn. This is made increasingly offputting when you consider this same friend accuses our titular character of not supporting her in return in other circumstances including a shoplifting accusation that Lizzie couldn't disprove and a poorly made attempt at acting in the drama program. By episode's end however, Lizzie learns the error of her way and chooses not to pursue her natural talents because they are sneared at by a friend. "Remember kids, always pass up a chance to fulfill your potential in order to avoid feeling the scorn of your fellow students."
      • Actually, when Kate tries to sabotage Lizzie's gymnastics competition at the end of the episode, Miranda and Gordo stop her and Lizzie quits the gymnastics because she hates doing it. And Lizzie didn't want to do the gymnastics at first but her friends talked her into it.
      • Another episode happened on Picture Day when Lizzie wore her ugly unicorn sweater that she was too pretty/mature for as no other student was allowed to. It was not cool out, but Sam and Jo said it as they were unaware that they had turned against their daughter. But they were to turn against her friends more, and Gordo has this "wrong" message that good looks would be a bad thing. (In reality, Lizzie would have not worn a unicorn sweater not a white blouse covered in green paint. She would have worn another shirt to set a mature standard, depending on how serious school photo day is.)
      • And so on so forth.
    • The infamous Sweethearts Day episode of My Wife and Kids, as explained in detail on the TV Wall Bangers page, effectively says "Your wife is always right even when she's being selfish, bratty, and ungrateful."
      • My Wife And Kids is pretty much Your Wife Is Always Right Even When She's Being Selfish, Bratty, And Ungrateful: The Series.
    • The same as the above can be applied to Everybody Loves Raymond, specific examples include...
      • If you want to support your wife after a sudden, unexpected change to herself, don't, because she'll just call you a pig.
      • Your wife is better and smarter than everybody else you know, and if you try to argue with it, you're just proving her point.
      • Don't ever try to do anything if you're a man. You'll just screw it up and your wife will have to fix your messes. (Although, this one applies to a huge percentage of shows and commercials involving a husband and wife nowadays).
      • If your wife is angry, it's always your fault. If it's not your fault she's angry, it's your fault for not calming her down.
      • Bullying is OK, as long as your daughter is on the giving end of it.
      • If your wife thinks you're an idiot, she's probably right and you should just take it.
    • With shows like What Not to Wear, "If you don't dress the way we tell you, you'll look terrible, nobody will like you, you'll never get a good job, and we'll have to throw out all of your bought possessions."
    • There's an episode on The Bernie Mac Show where every member of the Mac family was guilty of some kind of dishonesty. Bernie fessed up to making Jordan fake an asthma attack, so they could go to an L.A. Clippers game one night. Jordan used that original lie as leverage against Bernie, and cut down a willow tree Wanda was trying to grow for no reason other than the plant being an eyesore. Vanessa lied about not going to an R-rated movie, but was exposed when she recited an iconic line from the movie, which Bernie recognized. And Wanda, despite chastising those three, was also exposed to lying about attending Brianna's play, because a salon appointment kept her away. Brianna was seen by the other four as the moral center of the situation, because of her incorruptible sweetness, but even that was subverted, because her sneaky bed jumping kept Bernie and Wanda from suspecting her at all of foul play (with a yellow arrow lampshading "best liar of them all"). The moral seems to be: honesty is the best policy, but only when lying doesn't benefit you anymore.
    • Penn and Teller are often prone to opposing mainstream aesops in Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Perhaps an especially memorable case is Holier Than Thou, wherein they had some memorably harsh criticisms of such popularly revered figures as Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama, but especially Mother Teresa.
    • You Can't Do That on Television, the show that popularized the Adults Are Useless trope in children's television, was conceived when Roger Price realized that damn near every family-friendly show on at the time depicted situations where there were always kind, reliable adults for kids to fall back on for help and advice. He wanted to teach kids that adults can be unreliable or even downright cruel and you need to be able to get along on your own in the world. Not an inherently bad message, but the complete and total absence of any decent adults on the series might've been taking it too far.
    • Future!Ted from How I Met Your Mother sometimes gives these out, but usually for laughs, e.g. "I won't bother telling you not to fight, because that's pointless, but don't fight Uncle Marshall." "And that's how we learned to forget what we had learned five seconds earlier." "Don't try to make your wife/husband jealous or he/she might beat the snot out of someone." etc., etc.
    • In the Mortal Kombat series, Liu Kang is the fated champion of the Earth Realm in the next tournament, and so must survive for our world to have any chance. In one episode, he sets off into an obvious trap to get the antidote his poisoned friends need to survive, despite their telling him not to do it. He succeeds, cures them, and then Raiden shows up, in his full godly fury, to tell him quite emphatically that yes, his friends were right, and Liu Kang really is more important than them.
    • From Merlin: After Guinevere is Mistaken for Cheating, Arthur banishes her from Camelot and becomes engaged to Princess Mithian on the rebound. The writers decided to subvert audience expectations by presenting Mithian not as an Alpha Bitch or a Spoiled Brat, but as lovely princess who impresses everyone with her beauty, immediately integrates herself into Camelot's court, effortlessly charms everyone she meets, enjoys hunting and shooting, becomes genuinely fond of Arthur, and even goes so far as to personally seek out Merlin's approval. The idea was presumably to present Arthur with a difficult Moral Dilemma between marrying Mithian (the perfect match) and seeking out Guinevere (his true love). The set-up worked a little too well considering many viewers ended up believing that Mithian would have made a much better wife and queen than Guinevere.[2] This led to Moral Dissonance, as Arthur eventually sends Mithian back to her own kingdom with a consolation prize of the disputed lands, a decision which could have easily led to war had Mithian not been gracious in defeat. The aesop was meant to be "follow your heart", but given the fact that Arthur was risking his kingdom by breaking the engagement and had essentially been stringing Mithian along for an extended period of time in an attempt to get over his feelings for Guinevere, it instead felt like "do whatever you have to do to be happy, regardless of any consequences and no matter how many people you have to hurt."
    • Law and Order Special Victims Unit had a rather bad one in the episode that introduced Dani Beck. The plot centered around the disappearance of a young woman who, due to a degenerative genetic disease, looked like a ten-year-old girl. It is mentioned that said disease will likely kill her before she turns thirty. It turns out she wasn't actually missing, she was trying to run off with her boyfriend, an older man who looked his age. Stabler arrests the boyfriend for... possibly being a pedophile? Unsurprisingly, the judge throws out the case immediately, but the way it's scripted makes it clear that we're meant to view this as a bad thing. So, the fun message of today's episode is "people who don't have long to live shouldn't try to find happiness in that time, and people with potentially-destructive urges should not try to find harmless outlets for them." That's not even getting into the whole "eccentric sexual practices, no matter how consensual, are evil" thing both this show and CSI have been repeatedly guilty of.


    • "Better the Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue is about going back to the guy who treated you badly because "better the devil you know." This was probably meant to creep the listener out. Nick Cave called it the most disturbing song he had heard, in part because of Kylie's innocent image.
      • Kylie and Nick went on to sing a duet, "Where the Wild Roses Grow," about a girl falling for a man who then bashes her head in with a rock so no one else can have her. Kylie is a very creepy soul in a very cute body.
    • Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" is a really-very sarcastic song that, taken unironically, would have one of the most family unfriendly aesops ever. "If you're a girl who follows the Rule of Cool and likes a taken boy, it's okay to throw yourself at the guy and steal him away because you know he likes you back, and his girlfriend is "like, so whatever." And the video points out it's okay to humiliate said girlfriend because she's a nerdy girl with glasses." Lavigne's Word of God points out how it's criticizing shallow boy-crazy girls who act like that, but tell that to the song's Misaimed Fandom.
      • And to everyone who thinks she's dead serious and hates that song accordingly.
        • The song "One of Those Girls" from the same album seems to confront the subject from the other girl's perspective. It almost makes it a Chekhov's song.
      • Another song on the same album features the lyrics 'I hate it when a guy/doesn't get the tab/I have to get my money out/and that looks bad'.
    • Kingdom Hearts' opening theme song, "Simple and Clean," suggests some very dubious morals. For example, "Don't get me wrong I love you, But does that mean I have to meet your father?" suggests that the narrator's lover doesn't want to put out the effort to get acquainted with her family, and that, although the lover "wishes he could prove he loves her, he doesn't want to have to walk on water; when she's older she'll understand that it's enough when he says so." Apparently, "Hikari," the Japanese version of the song, makes much more sense, and is almost the complete opposite: "I'll introduce my family, You'll surely get along well."
      • As far as relating the two - "Simple and Clean" and "Hikari" - they are not even translations of each other. At best, they tend to be vaguely similar.
      • The "wish I could prove I love you" line may be him saying, when he says 'I love you' to her, it's because he actually loves her, and she shouldn't always force him to prove this (Or at least, to go to ridiculous lengths to do so). Plus, looking at the 'when you are older' line in context within the game, then it could be seen as, rather than a romance between two adults, a romance between two teenagers who don't entirely understand romantic love. Hence, it's more of a 'I love you, I really do, believe me when I say so'. Given the last bridge, 'whatever lies beyond this morning is a little later on', and 'regardless of heartaches, the future doesn't scare me at all; nothing's like before', you could almost interpret "Simple and Clean" as being about a young couple having sex for the first time; he did so because genuinely loves her, she loves him too, and she's worried that he's only with her for the sex, but by the end of the song, she's clued in that he really does care about her, meaning we could also possibly interpret it as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, rather than a Family-Unfriendly Aesop.
    • The Script's popular ballad The Man Who Can't Be Moved is about a guy who was left by his ex, and is willing to stand on the corner of the street until she comes back. Though it's certainly a desperate romantic gesture (which a lot of people go mushy about) others really wish that he'd get on with his life. There's absolutely no way she's coming back, he's probably going to make himself ill, the chances of the news picking him up are absurd and it's probably not his fault that she went away anyway.
    • These come up a fair few times in Lily Allen's music, prominent among them her singles "Fuck You" ("Conservatives are inherently tyrannical/hateful/war-mongering/generally terrible people who don't deserve to express their opinions") and "Not Fair" ("If your boyfriend is bad in bed, it more or less negates any positive traits he may have").
      • Similar to Avril Lavigne, she also gets criticism for a couple of songs that are intended as ironic but would have Family Unfriendly messages if taken straight, particularly "22" ("Women are no longer important to society when they reach 30") and "The Fear," about vacuous materialism and celebrity worship: "I wanna be rich and I want lots of money. I don't care about clever, I don't care about funny ..."
      • To be absolutely fair, the overall message of "Not Fair" is supposed to be that "physical intimacy is partly an expression of emotional intimacy in a healthy relationship," which isn't quite as Family Unfriendly; the boyfriend is suggested to be less an inherently bad lover and more just a bit too thoughtless and selfish to actually take the trouble to find out how to go about satisfying the narrator, being more concerned with his own gratification ("All you do is take!"), particularly in light of the fact that the narrator apparently puts herself out to pleasure him ("I spent ages giving head!"); the narrator in turn is clearly torn about the issue (i.e. she clearly digs her boyfriend and his positive traits, but just can't get over this whole bedroom thing).
      • And "Fuck You" never actually mentions conservatives, and is mostly about intolerant people, probably more of the homophobic/xenophobic populist rhetoric that is basically operating through derailing arguments to discussion of freedom of speech or symbolic politics. This doesn't have much in common with what most Americans, or indeed anyone think of as conservative - it's a growing problem in western Europe that may very well invoke the kind of reaction that "Fuck You" describes among the people who are struggling with it.
    • The punk rock band NOFX's song "Drug Free America" is actually promoting an America where drugs are free of cost. Their song "Don't drink and drive" warns about the danger of spilling your drink while driving, and argues that drunk people are better drivers (NOFX use a lot of satire and believe that it should be offensive).
    • Dolly Parton's song "What Is It, My Love?" has the moral, "occasional moments of happiness in a bad relationship justify being in said relationship." Cue my forehead in great pain.
    • "A Boy Named Sue" could be this trope's theme tune. The heartwarming reveal at the end is that the father gave his son an embarrassing girl's name, not as a stupid joke, but so that a lifetime of bullying would teach him to fight and make him strong. The aesop may be more along the lines of "sometimes people are just trying to help, and holding misdeeds against them in pursuit of revenge is wrong." After all, in the end, while the singer admits finally understanding his father's actions, he also points out that there's no way in hell he was going do the same to his own son.
    • The Crystals' "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)" was controversial due to its seeming Family-Unfriendly Aesop that Domestic Abuse is okay when the woman deserves it for cheating, and in fact is a man's way of showing that he cares. It was based on a true story about the songwriters' young babysitter, and was apparently meant to document that victims of abuse sometimes feel that way, not to actually support that view, but still carries Unfortunate Implications. Even at the time of release (the early sixties) it was quickly pulled due to negative public reaction. Surprisingly it's gotten a lot of modern covers or lyrical shout outs, seemingly specifically because the lyrics are fairly ripe for The Cover Changes the Meaning.
    • Cerrone's 1977 song "Supernature" is a lovely danceable disco tune that insists that science is so inherently bad that using it to feed the hungry will make angry monsters rise up from the bowels of the earth to eat everyone. Really.
    • O.C. Smith's song "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp" has a very, very clear message that being a prostitute doesn't make a woman evil or contemptible. Not family unfriendly, per se, but very unusual.
    • Fergie's song "Glamorous." One of the lyrics has Fergie reminiscing, "Like my daddy told me so, he let his daughter know, 'If you ain't go no money, take your broke ass home.'" What the hell, Fergie's dad? What a great lesson to teach your daughter.
      • Bad delivery, sure, but not really a bad message. If you don't have any money, you probably should go home instead of shopping, partying, spending money you don't have.
        • Within the context of the lyrics, it sounds more like her father is telling her not to come home if she doesn't become a success in show business.
    • The Aesop of Lemon Demon's "Geeks in Love" seems to be that geeks are naturally better people with better relationships, and everyone else is just jealous of their perfect lives.
    • The music video for Drake's Find Your Love. The song is a positive message about putting everything on the line for love which Drake does in the video to a woman...who's also connected to a gang leader. He crosses the line and attempts to woo her...and he's eventually caught by the gang, beaten and (presumably) shot in the back of the head by the same girl he was putting his heart on the line for. The video ends in a Bolivian Army Ending (the girl could have shot the gang leader) but there is a clear message about not even love is worth crossing a line over.
      • Or, arguably, don't throw your life away for a romantic fantasy? Or 'don't let fantasy blind you to reality'?
    • P!nk's "Perfect" takes a good aesop ("Be proud of who you are and don't let the nay-sayers get to you") and turns it Up to Eleven with the line "Don't you ever ever feel like you're less than perfect" and you get the aesop "You are absolutely perfect the way you are right now. Don't try to change anything and don't accept any form of criticism, even constructive ones."
      • The video for "Stupid Girls" mangles the song's message by equating stupidity with makeup, fashion and anything pink while presenting playing football and being physically strong as being smart. Playing football all the time will not make you any smarter than putting makeup on. While the smart side of the table does have a book, a keyboard, microscope and dance shoes the message is undermined by having the little girl choose the football at the end. The point of the song is that girls should be smart, not physically strong.
    • Indica's song "In Passing" is about a the dead singer telling her sister that her pain will go away and everything passes. Not quite unfriendly until the last few lines where she tells her sister that she also will pass. Extremely true and not something most children are equipped with or taught.
    • Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around With Jim." Big Jim Walker hustled Slim McCoy in a pool game, taking all Slim's money, so Slim followed him to Chicago, murdered him, and is highly respected for this. At no point does the song say Jim cheated—he was just a more skilled pool player than he at first pretended to be. In other words, the moral is: being a sore loser and stealing back the money that was fairly won from you is cool if you get away with it.
      • Alternatively, could be the perfectly solid Aesop of not being dishonest because it can come back to bite you in the ass, especially with psychotic murderers. But then that makes the title rather ironic.
    • Taylor Swift's song "The Way I Loved You". All in all, the Aesop here is "Nice guys that respect you are boring, the best relationships are the ones that keep you up all night crying and cursing the other person." That's just a terrible message in general, but it's even worse when you consider that her biggest fans are teen girls.
    • The New Kingston Trio's "Jug Town" is surprisingly pro-alcoholism: Basically the moral amounts to "if you're a family man with a menial low-paying job, alcohol will provide a release from your miserable life".
    • Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" shows the audience how cool it is to get drunk to alcoholic amnesia and then break the law, perform amateur table-dancing and sleep with strangers. You know, that sort of things which should be done again and again every Friday.
    • Nelly's "Ride Wit Me" starts off with the classic rap Aesop "Materialism is good" ("Oh why must I feel this good ... Hey, must be the money!"). Luckily though it sorts itself out and ends up with the rather more palatable, if still questionable, message "Materialism is perfectly fine, as long as you worked for your money" ("It feel strange now, makin' a livin' off my brain instead of 'caine now")
    • Carly Simon's "Jesse" begins with the speaker declaring that she's through with the title character after he "cut out her heart like a paper doll" and "set me up/just to see me fall" (which would seemingly making it clear that Jesse is a Jerkass). Within a couple stanzas, the basic moral seems to be, "Go ahead and ignore your better judgement, and that of your friends, and your own mother, and hook up with the guy again so you can wait on him hand and foot." "I'll always cut fresh flowers for you...I will make the wine cold for you...I will change the sheets for you..."

    Newspaper Comics

    • Little Orphan Annie had a World War II strip where Annie sees a man physically attack an obnoxious war-profiteer simply for expressing an opinion and stops a cop from intervening saying "It's better some times to let folks settle some questions by what you might call democratic processes."


    • Avenue Q contains many such unconventional Aesops, though some are tongue-in-cheek. Examples include "The Internet Is for Porn" and "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." Another Aesop in the show is "there's nothing wrong with being gay," which on one occasion is humorously expanded to "it's perfectly fine if you're gay, unless you're a Republican."
      • The biggest Aesop in the play can be summed up in Lucy the Slut's line: "Everyone only has one revelation in life: they find out they aren't special."
    • The musical Carousel and the play Liliom on which it is based contains one of these, personified in the immortal line: "It's possible for a man to hit you, hit you real hard, and have it feel like a kiss."
      • Amanda Palmer did a cover of the song "What's the Use of Wondrin" as a creepy domestic abuse ballad...and didn't have to change a word.
    • Grease has the moral that you should be willing to change yourself completely for a guy. To be fair, it seemed like the writers were trying to show Danny changing himself for Sandy as well, through participating in wholesome sports and going out for a letter jacket, but this hardly shows up in the final version.
      • It also has the wonderful moral that girls who don't smoke, drink, or have sex are laughed at behind their backs and will only find acceptance when they give in to peer pressure.
      • "You're the One that I Want" mollifies this a little, but only a little. Significantly, this number didn't appear in the original stage show. What does appear (at least in the 1994 revival) is "Since I Don't Have You," which is comparable to "Unworthy of Your Love" from Assassins in its theme of "If I'm not in a relationship with this person, I'm a worthless individual," except only in the latter are we supposed to think of the character singing as mentally disturbed.
      • Let's be honest though, if Sandy had remained The Ingenue, we'd be complaining that the message was "The only acceptable thing for a woman to be is pure, innocent, and virginal." Not to mention saying the film promotes conformity isn't all that accurate. Sandy becoming a "bad girl" was conforming to the Pink Ladies, but in the context of when the film is set, she is being extremely nonconformist to society's mores. If anything, keeping Sandy a "good girl" would send a much more pro-conformity message.
      • For that matter, the idea that the only choice girls have is to be a Purity Sue or a chain-smoking bad-girl is pretty family unfriendly.
    • Our House has the moral 'If you don't give yourself up after committing a minor, non-violent and non-malicious crime, a Corrupt Corporate Executive will burn your mother.
    • In The Wild Duck, the entire cast turns out to be one giant Dysfunction Junction that is only keeping itself together by repressing every one of their hidden sins and weaknesses through willful delusion. When the resident Wide-Eyed Idealist attempts to unravel some of these lies and bring about truth, the result is the suicide of the family's young daughter. As the man who attempted to keep all this under wraps at one point muses:

    Doctor Relling: Deprive the average human being of his life-lie, and you rob him of his happiness.

    • The kid's play The Magic In Me says that if you can't do something right off the bat, you'll never learn to do it.
    • Rent: "True artists are too good for day jobs." Even when your friend's good graces are all that stand between you and the shelter.
      • Alternately, "You can have a day job or be an artist. One or the other." Aside from Mimi, none of the characters have ostensibly paying jobs that they actually like. (Except for Benny and Joanne, and their jobs are more mainstream than the others'.)
        • Also it's totally OK to kill someone's dog.
      • more can be read here
    • Death of a Salesman: dreamers get crushed under reality's dirty heel. Deal with it.
      • Although a slightly less Family Friendly Aesop is "don't let your dreams blind you to your actual circumstances"; Willy's problem isn't necessarily that he's a dreamer, but that he's so fixated on his dreams that he ignores real life when he shouldn't.
        • Willy is a good carpenter, his wife could forgive his infidelity if he confess, and his sons are so angry with him because he never wanted to acknoledge reality. Willy's situation could be really improved if he only could muster the valor to change his ways. A lot of people confuses his stupid and petty delusions with dreams.
    • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is essentially "Stockholm Syndrome - The Musical." Although the male characters have clearly learned by the end that women are human beings and not trophies to be snatched by force, that doesn't really mitigate the depiction of the kidnapping scenes as harmless slapstick comedy.
    • Several of the less family friendly aesops in Wicked are mentioned here.


    • Don't theorise, accessorise!
    • One word-Barbies
      • Sure, Barbie may present an unrealistic standard of beauty that no human being could ever hope to live up to, but she's a hell of a lot better than the Bratz. She's been a doctor, an astronaut, a teacher, a vet, President, a painter, a musician, a student. She even has a movie where she tells the prince at the end that she can't marry him yet because she still has things she wants to do before she settles down. And she's |well-read in political theory. Barbie is actually quite a good role model.
    • The Purr-tenders were cats masquerading as other animals becuase they thought they weren't special enough to get attention otherwise. This deception was encouraged; instead of being yourself, it was better to hide who you really were at all costs and hope people accepted the mask you wore for them... and if they found out the deception, that they'd already grown attached enough to you not to mind that you'd been lying all this time.

    Video Games

    • Dragon Age is full of those and sometimes lampshades them. For example, at the mage starting quest you get several of them, the most prominent being that guile and trickery are sometimes preferable to trust and altruism.
      • The overarcing story in Orzammar delivers the message that a progressive-minded individual who is personally a manipulative, sleazy jerk sometimes makes a better leader than a kindly, democratic individual bound by stagnant social traditions. Another aesop, perhaps more family-friendly, might be that every person is a mix of good and bad, and shouldn't be judged on first impressions alone.
        • Indeed, that's one of the recurring themes of the series - first impressions of people or situations are often deceiving, and hasty judgments lead to tragic consequences. Don't trust the surface; dig deeper before making a decision.
        • In fact, with the exception of the Mage Tower every one of the four main quest zones past Lothering has the actual villain of the piece turn out to be the person who looked like the hero on first introduction.
    • Valkyria Chronicles. If you're overwhelmed by a major change in your ability to handle your problems, don't carefully examine your feelings, weigh your options, or take your situation and your resources into consideration; just jump to whatever wild conclusion comes to mind, because your boyfriend is just waiting for the right moment to bail you out with common sense.
      • That one actually shows up twice. Alicia freaks out and tries to kill herself (and her friends) with her Valkyria flame, Captain Varrot almost murders a captured enemy officer because she's in a good position to do so; they both have to be talked out of it by their future husbands.
    • Some people believe that Tales of Vesperia glorifies vigilantism and murder.
    • Fallout 3. There is a quest called Tenpenny Tower, about a luxurious hotel inhabited by prejudiced humans and a nearby gang of civilized ghouls (a form of monstrously mutated human) who want to live in it. There are three ways to solve this quest -- Two of them involve killing either party and being rewarded by the other for it. The final option is, through a lot of tedious diplomacy, to convince the humans to let the ghouls live alongside them, and it ends with the two species coexisting peacefully and happy-happy. Except, a few days later, all the human inhabitants have been slaughtered by the ghouls. Sometimes the oppressed, when presented with the opportunity, can be just as inhuman as the oppressors.
      • It's debatable whether you could have known that that would happen in the first place, so this could also function as an Aesop about how even noble acts can bring unforeseen and unpleasant consequences.
      • Or "you just picked the peaceful option because in all video games this gives the best rewards, didn't you? Welcome to the real world, newbie."
      • By the way, if you want to do so without gaining negative karma ( because you killed Roy Phillips and his followers), goad all three of them -- Michael Masters, Roy Phillips, and his wife -- into attacking you via dialogue. You do not get negative karma for this, which raises a few questions in itself. For more moral dissonance, check out the game's own page.
    • Deliberately invoked in Knights of the Old Republic II: Kreia is full of these. Think you've done a good deed by giving that beggar some spare change? Think again! Kreia promptly shows you a vision of the poor sap getting mugged by another beggar- his newfound money stolen, and himself being left to bleed in the street. The moral of this story? Keep your misguided "charity" to yourself, lest you cause even more suffering by extending your generosity!
      • Although Kreia is a Sith so she gives a 'bad' advice. Not much dissonance in that. Furthermore, possibility of playing bad guy is or some actually a whole point of the game.
        • Good in theory, except Kreia goes out of her way to criticise EVERYTHING you do. Was ultimately making a point that both the light and dark sides of the Force are ultimately damaging, and justifies her cause of destroying the Force, but still massively irritating during play.
      • The game's Aesop is the very family-friendly, "good actions breed good from others, while evil does the same." The game not only reveals Kreia is the Big Bad, but also then shows how the evil, selfish actions of a dark side character lead to destructive, evil ends for all involved while a light side character's selfless, noble actions lead to a heroic, bittersweet ending. Additionally, the player character is handed an Idiot Ball every time Kreia attempts to teach a lesson. In the above example, anyone with half a brain should be able to point out that while well-meaning actions do sometimes go awry, all choices must be made in uncertainty and she's cherry-picking a bad outcome from a kind act - and laying the blame on the kind act, rather than the later decision of the muggers. Within the narrative of the game, Kreia is fundamentally wrong, regardless of whether the player plays a light or dark side Jedi. With the sole exception of the case with the mugger, all of a player's good actions yield good consequences, and all their evil actions yield suffering and woe for others. All of the Sith Lords, including Kreia, are destroyed by the evil drive they chose to embrace.
        • To be fair to the game Kreia is shown on-screen to explicitly have the superpower to force someone's brain into cognitive dissonance, witness what she does to poor Disciplie. The reason your character clutches an Idiot Ball every time she talks is because the woman actually does temporarily make people stupider via Force poking them in the brain.
    • Legend of Mana, especially in the Faeries story arc, repeats the message: "freedom is the highest ideal, therefore be true to yourself even at the cost of everything else". Great, except Irwin the Demon Lord is an Omnicidal Maniac, and the one person who could talk him out of it absolutely refuses to do so because she claims that she loves him too much.
    • While Red Dead Redemption has a few over-arching Aesops, the side quests mostly promote a philosophy of "Be careful doing nice things for people, because it may not end well for all involved". While there are some examples of a good deed having a genuinely good outcome, most do not follow this line of reasoning. Give an inventive aviator the means to create his flying machine? Congratulations, you just gave him the means to fly off of a cliff to his doom. Rescue a seemingly love-struck Chinese immigrant from cruel indentured servitude? Good job, you find out later his "love" is an addiction to heroin. Decide to rescue a mountaineer from rampaging Sasquatch? Nice work, you just single-handedly reduced a peaceful species to a single suicidal survivor. This even applies to minor side-activities, where stopping to help someone on the side of the road can get you either killed or left horseless. While mostly played for the sake of dark humor, the general message is the same; people will manipulate your sense of justice, honor or altruism to deceive you and sometimes the worst thing you can do for a person is giving them the help they seek.
    • Parodied with an in-universe example in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In order to join the Dark Brotherhood, you have to complete a quest from a little boy who wants you to kill the cruel headmistress at the orphanage he was being held in. If you do, he'll proudly proclaim that he now wants to be an assassin when he grows up and decides that you can solve anything by getting a person you don't like killed.

    Web Comics

    Web Original


    "If you love someone set them free. If they return to you, put several 8 inch blades into their head. If they return again, then run, JUST RUN.


    Western Animation

    • SpongeBob SquarePants has the episode abrasive side, in which the aesop is that spongebob should just let himself be pushed around.
    • "Family unfriendly" aesops on The Simpsons are usually just parodical; and the aesops they actually mean are typically more family-friendly than the show itself; but over the long span of the show various episodes have had some rather controversial messages. Many of these are connected to the reputed liberal tone of the show, which yields messages that from time to time offend viewers of more conservative persuasions.
      • Played for laughs on one Treehouse of Horror segment of The Simpsons parodying ET the Extraterrestrial. When Bart befriends Kodos, he tries to defend his alien friend from government agents who think he's evil, oblivious to the fact that he actually wants to conquer Earth. In the end, as the heroes triumph over the alien and prepare to dissect him alive, they reflect that Kodos was just as evil as he looked, and conclude that sometimes it's perfectly fine to judge a book by its cover. As Homer points out, the inside cover of a book does tell you an awful lot about what it's about...
      • The moral of "Lisa the Drama Queen" came across as "The real world is supposed to suck, deal with it, and any form of escapism or fantasy is wrong".
        • Also, "Your grades are more important than your friend's mental health".
    • American Dad: S4 Ep 19 has Terry's dad coming to visit him, then discovering he's gay and disowning him. After the characters scramble to convince him to accept homosexuals, he basically says "I know it's not dangerous. I know it isn't something that can be changed. I just don't like it." The moral is, "Bigots will be bigots no matter what you say to them, and sometimes they're people you love."
    • Family Guy: one that just happens to be rather "politically incorrect," occurs in the recent, controversial "Down's Syndrome" episode, which is supposed to remind people that being disabled doesn't prevent you from being an arrogant sack of shit. While sadly true, it was far too Anvilicious and awkward to be even remotely effective. The constant "retards are funny" jokes probably didn't help.
      • The episode "Holy Crap" has Peter continually try to make his hard-working and religious father, Francis, accept him, even going so far as to have the Pope vouch for him. The moral is that Francis never will accept how Peter lives, but that doesn't mean he doesn't love Peter. After a moment's reflection, Peter realizes that's the same way he feels about Francis too.
      • The episode "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven" has the aesop "Discrimination against atheists is bad..." Okay, fair enough. "...and Christianity makes you a book-burning fundie!"
      • "Prick Up Your Ears" endorses pre-marital sex, asserts that vaginal sex is "just tops," pushes for schools to teach about contraceptives, and, most controversially, says that abstinence is "just wrong."
      • "Seahorse Seashell Party" ends with the aesop that it's okay to be an abused (mentally and physically), depressed sack of shit living with a horrible family and taking all the blame just because if you don't, they're going to rip each other apart.
    • Bucky O Hare and The Toad Wars #2: in an early episode, a guy named Al Negator tries to get a job on the Righteous Indignation. As he's a shifty-looking reptile, the crew is generally suspicious. But Captain Bucky O'Hare hires him on anyway, making a big point of mentioning how he trusted the gunner Deadeye Duck, despite him being a pirate with somewhat questionable morals. So it looks like a "beauty is on the inside" or "different doesn't mean bad" kind of Aesop... until Al betrays them, steals classified info, and sabotages the ship, and it becomes "if they look evil, they are evil." On the other hand, Deadeye never did a Face Heel Turn, so Bucky was right about him...
      • This could also be an Aesop for Bucky about trusting his crew and taking the advice of subordinates seriously, which may or may not qualify as a case of The Complainer Is Always Wrong.
    • Children's cartoons in the Eighties such as The Get Along Gang instilled a message that children should always go along with what the rest of their circle of friends thinks; if they disagree, there's obviously something wrong with them. Years later, the creators of the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon would bitch about how they had to constantly portray one of their characters as a whiner due to pressure from parents' groups. Arguably, the real lesson to be gained from The Get-Along Gang is "never associate yourself with a compulsive gambler."
      • The movie was one big anti-competition message, basically stating that it's not possible to engage in competition against your friends and that anyone you compete against must be your enemy.
    • One of the most ridiculous examples is the Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "Wheeler's Ark": The Planeteers have developed a habit of picking up injured and endangered animals on their missions and bringing them back to Hope Island. Gaia, naturally, finally tells them this is impractical and orders them to take them all back. Fat chance—they just pick up more at every location, all while Wheeler tries to tell them this is bad idea. Instead of the others learning what could have been a perfectly valid Green Aesop about how you shouldn't take exotic species out of their natural habitat, Wheeler just learns "If you don't want to take a wild wolf pup home with you, you're a heartless jerk."
      • The episode "The Numbers Game" is perplexing already (Wheeler learns a lesson that he already knew, while his friends disagree with him and learn nothing), but even that aside, it's an episode about how it's wrong to have more than two kids. Aimed at little kids. Now, imagine watching that if you're the third child in your family...
    • Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! has the occasional moral that is a bit off. For example, the Aesop of The Grass is Always Plaider is supposed to be something akin to "there's no place like home," but plays out more like "places other than your hometown may seem interesting, but are actually boring once you get there."
      • In the episode "A Tale of Tails," the moral appears to be the standard "it's okay to be different" moral, right up until the end, in which the title character uses his "kooky" tail to prove himself better at all the games the other kids play, at which point they all change their minds and love him. This seems to change the message to "it's okay to be different if that difference gives you an advantage" or "if you're different you have to prove yourself better than everyone else to be accepted." Then the closing song changes the moral yet again, this time implying that if you're not different in some way, you're not cool at all. "Don't conform ever" isn't necessarily a bad aesop, but it is a little unusual.
    • Daria has a lot of these. Notable is the fifth season episode "Prize Fighters," in which Daria has to be interviewed in order to gain a scholarship. However, she learns the company offering the prize has a rather sexist and racist history, so she feels uncertain about dealing with these people. Furthermore, she doesn't want to obtain the money by acting in a false manner: acting friendly, attentive, and interesting. When she is finally interviewed, she behaves as she always does: honest, sarcastic, and clipped. One might expect her to win the scholarship based on an Aesop of being true to oneself and not putting on false pretenses. But no, the interviewer is shocked by her crass behaviour and she is refused the money after all. The real Aesop runs along the lines that in the real world, which is often unethical and imperfect, you cannot always expect to win out if you stick to your own principles.
      • The entire show had a basic principle of "Everyone sucks in their own way, and adulthood is not a cure for immaturity."
    • Thomas the Tank Engine has some pretty bad Aesops too, such as in the episode "Daisy," where the title character makes up a lie to get out of doing work, and gets away with it. Many episodes also feature lessons like "It's okay to get revenge on somebody if they annoy you" like in "Percy and the Signal." And in the episode "Escape," Douglas basically steals another engine from a different railway by deliberately fooling a signalman, and nobody seems to question the morality of it, not even the Fat Controller.
      • "Daisy" comes as a the first story, she gets away with lying, but then in the very next one she gets called out on her bullsh*t and warned that she can either shape up or ship out. "Escape" is technically kinda dodgy, morals-wise...but Oliver *was* going to be scrapped if he didn't escape.
        • In their backstory, the Scottish Twins had resorted to the same kind of trickery to keep themselves from being scrapped. "Escape" is more about the situation with Oliver pressing their Berserk Button trigger than actual mischief-making.
        • Older Thomas stories do require historical context. At the time the book was written, British Railways (Britain's rail system was nationalized in 1948) was having to scrap engines they couldn't use and move to lower-maintenance diesel locomotives. Sodor's main railway, the fictional North Western region of BR, maintained operating independence and continues to use steam traction. It would have been the work of a phone call to arrange for Oliver to be officially transferred to the region. British Railways was glad of circumstances like this. They didn't want to scrap so much of their massive steam engine fleet, it was a Shoot the Dog situation.
        • Plus, given the "revenge on the annoying one" aesop used in "Percy and the Signal", it's pointed out toward the end that Percy thought the big engines were being silly on the subject of signals, quite possibly implying that Percy could somehow tell that they were teaching him a lesson the wrong way. Furthermore, though the same kind of aesop was used in the very first episode of the series, the US version of the episode more or less makes Gordon's motives for getting even with Thomas even less justifiable by having Thomas say "Maybe I don't have to tease Gordon to feel important", which may imply that he didn't even know that Gordon was trying to teach him a lesson and probably wasn't even listening when Gordon said "Now you know what hard work means, don't you?"
      • "Breakvan." The Scottish Twins confronted and then (accidentally)destroyed a piece of rolling stock that kept mouthing off. The other engines thanked them. The Breakvan really was a Jerkass, but the moral of this story appeared to be, if someone's bullying you, just beat the crap out of them!
      • "Calling All Engines": People will force you to cooperate with those who are different from you, just remember that they're evil and would kill you at the first chance they had.
    • Bob the Builder had a scarecrow trickster as a main character, which is fine on its own, but he is always "forgiven" and never even has to say he's sorry. Not a great character for a show for young children.
    • The Thundercats episode "Pumm-Ra" ends with the arguably true but surprisingly cynical moral "If someone says they want to be your friend, you shouldn't automatically trust them." Especially if their name is only one letter different from your arch-enemy.
    • King of the Hill has a JARRING Family Unfriendly Aesop in season 2's "Husky Bobby." Bobby becomes a male model for a husky boys' clothing store and loves it. Hank is horrified at his son's newfound hobby and wants to him quit so he wouldn't be humiliated. Hank and Bobby actually get into a argument right before Bobby takes the runway to a husky boy fashion show, with Bobby finally confronted his dad about him not being supportive to which Hank simply dismisses. In the end, Hank succeeds in pulling Bobby out the show... right before hooligans start pelting the husky boy male models with donuts. And Bobby thanks his father for pulling him out the show and keeping him from being embarrassed. The moral? "It's not worth doing what you like or being different if you're subject to humiliation." This is especially jarring considering all the difficulties Hank and Bobby have building a relationship and Hank's disapproval of almost all of Bobby's activities.
      • The episode where Bobby becomes the school mascot certainly applies. Basically, in the episode, Bobby becomes terrified and wishes to quit when he finds out that it's a tradition for the mascot to be beaten up by the other team. So, how do the other characters react? They verbally harass him and call him a coward, up to and including the teachers at his school. So the moral is "Tradition and commitment are more important than the physical and mental well-being of a child." The hell?
      • Another one that should have taught Hank religious tolerance: "Won't You Pimai Neighbor?" Hank, who continually says he's not a redneck, refuses to allow any religious freedom in his house when Bobby is thought to be the reincarnation of lama Sanglug, and tries to force the Buddhists to stop making him a religious figure. This is made all the more upsetting by the revelation that Bobby may actually have been the re-incarnation of the lama.
        • It was actually BOBBY who forced them to stop treating him as a religious figure, essentially by cheating on their final test. The senior monk clearly saw through it (and was even questioned on it by one of his subordinates who did as well) and simply passed it off with "It was my call, and I made it."
      • In "Business Is Picking Up," Bobby is late to sign up to job-shadow program, and ends up being left with the one local business person no other kid signed up to work with: a man named Peter Sterling (played by guest star Johnny Knoxville) who owns his own waste removal service, cleaning up dog droppings and similar. Hank is horrified when Bobby takes to the apparently very profitable work and even has plans to start his own business based around vomit removal that seems to have promise. He convinces Sterling to help dissuade Bobby because he doesn't have Sterling's charisma and might be ridiculed for it.
      • In yet another episode Bobby starts reading tarot cards and hanging around some people who did the same. Hank is horrified and tries to get Bobby to stop because he thinks people will laugh at him for having such an unusual interest. So the moral is "If other people disapprove of something you do, you MUST give it up no matter how much you enjoy it."
        • It also provides the family-unfriendly aesop of "If someone likes something unusual, it means they're freaky cultists that engage in creepy activities".
      • In one episode, Hank is upset that Bobby and his teammates leave the football team which has a blantantly abusive coach to join the soccer team. By the end of the episode, Bobby realizes how wimpy soccer is and says, "C'mon guys, let's play some football!" The only apparent moral is that football is better than soccer.
      • To be honest, somewhere between one and three quarters of all the Aesops shown in Kot H fall somewhere between Broken, Family Unfriendly and Spoof. In fact, a lot of the time that it would seem to be actually promoting something, it's laden with the subtext of "This is the way a well-meaning but somewhat ignorant person thinks." Thus perfectly in synch with the "everyday average person" schtick of the entire show...
      • As a counterpoint, most of the ones based on Hank can be chalked up to Values Dissonance. If you are a strongly Christian man, then your son converting to Buddhism and saying that he's a reincarnation of Buddha is as dangerous to his soul as playing with dynamite is to his body. Same goes for tarot cards.
      • In the series finale, Hank and Bobby finally bond when Bobby finds out he has a knack for testing meat for flaws to near perfection, despite it all, the only thing Hank openly felt proud about his son doing was something he thinks is perfection, the fact that Bobby enjoyed it is a sweet bonus footnote, but still doesn't mesh well with all the other stuff he shot down.
    • The 1934 Disney short film The Flying Mouse has a plot similar to The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings above plus an extra dose of What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: the birds fly away from him (one baby bird who sticks around is quickly dragged off by its mother), his family runs terrified into their house and barricade it against him... only the creepy-looking bats call the bat-winged mouse "Brother" and he whimpers, "I'm not your brother!" (the insulted bats mock him with the song "You're Nothing But a Nothing")-- further, when he looks in a puddle, he sees his reflection change to that of a bat, causing him to try to pull the wings off, and telling the fairy who granted his wish that he wants to die!
    • The Critic has a hot actress (with an upcoming movie) crushing on Jay which he and the rest of the cast see as blatant pandering for a good first. She ignores Jeremy (a Mel Gibson Expy) and seems to genuinely endear herself to everyone, steering the episode to being "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover" while Jay procrastinates about seeing her movie. He finally does, realizes she's god-awful and puts his integrity as a critic above romance...and she immediately turns nasty. Ironically, if she put that much effort into her movies, she'd have more Oscars than Tom Hanks.
    • The Adventure Time episode "His Hero" applies. Finn and Jake are convinced to practice nonviolence by their hero Billy. After a while they realize that violence is necessary sometimes and use force to rescue an old lady that's in peril. They go back and explain that to Billy and we all learn a valuable lesson.
      • Also counts as a Spoof Aesop, since the actual lesson they learned was "Don't listen to old people." The old lady told them so.
      • In "Crystals Have Power", Finn gets hurt roughhousing and Jake is afraid to use violence, remembering his greatest failure when he knocked out his brother Jermaine and their dad congratulated him for it. After getting knocked out trying to save Finn with nonviolence, Jake's dad appears as a Spirit Advisor, saying Jermaine is fine and if Jake had let him finish talking that day, he said Jake would only hurt everyone who's bad. Jake promptly snaps out of it.
      • At the end of the genderbent episode, Fionna learns that she doesn't need a man to make her happy, unless that man is the Ice King.
      • In "Conquest of Cuteness", Finn and Jake teach the Cute King that he'd be better off manipulating others with his cuteness instead of making blatant threats ("Just be righteous about it.")
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender: It's okay to steal, as long as it's from pirates. Lampshaded in the episode.
      • Avatar looked for awhile to be building up to a very Family Unfriendly Aesop: that sometimes, Violence Really Is the Answer. Aang spoke with all of his past lives and each one told him, indirectly, about how many lives they could have saved if they had "acted decisively," or how they were willing to do "anything" to save the lives of millions of people, and that as Avatar his duty was to put the well-being of the people of the world over his own path to enlightenment. But at the last minute the show pulled a deus-ex-machina out of the bag and allowed Aang to save the day without killing.
        • Which, to some, let to yet another one of these: Never take responsibility or make hard decisions; magical turtles will solve all your problems for you.
      • There is nothing wrong with scamming people as long as the scams don't draw too much attention to yourself.
    • The Inspector short "London Derierre" was written around the idea that British policemen are a bunch of idiotic fools for not carrying weapons and that real police officers carry guns at all times and use them whenever the opportunity presents itself. While you can make arguments for and against British police officers being unarmed, the way the cartoon depicts things rather undermines its own argument, because the Inspector opens fire at a burglar who has done nothing to directly threaten the Inspector himself, and does it in the middle of a crowded building. This has the effect of making the Inspector look like a trigger-happy maniac, even though he's the one we're supposed to sympathise with, while the obstructive British police officers come off like they're preventing the Inspector from hurting any innocent bystanders.
    • Hey Arnold! episodes featuring Helga's mom tend to teach that parents are sometimes idiots. This is not the kind of message that parents usually want their kids to be exposed to.
    • A Christmas special based on For Better or For Worse taught us that people will only appreciate what you do for them if they think you've died.
    • The Proud Family had a fairly standard episode where Penny got bullied, right up to the last minute. She eventually got the bullies to leave her alone by becoming their money manager and ends the episode happily waving her cut of the stolen money. "If you can't beat them, join them" is a fairly standard Aesop, but usually isn't applied to criminal behavior.
    • Though this probably wasn't intentional, the first episode of Justice League can fairly easily be seen as having a pro-nuclear weapons slant.
    • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the Giggle at the Ghosties song has An Aesop about how you're supposed to laugh at your fears... So if a scary looking guy comes up to you you should laugh at him.
      • More accurately, it was about laughing at the scary things kids see in the dark.
      • More recently, Luna Eclipsed, for which Luna spent most of the episode trying to win over the population that was irrationally afraid of her, ends with her instead deciding to instead go along with it and be the pony who scares other ponies to entertain them. A lot of viewers compare this to the concept of a deformed character joining a freak show just to try to get more approval from society.
      • Even more recently, The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 has the moral of "Sometimes it turns out that you were right all along and the other guys were wrong." Which is entirely true, but also entirely atypical for for a kids' show.
        • The whole episode is somewhere between Broken aesop, Space Whale aesop and idiot plot since the only reason the Apple family could beat the Flim-Flam brother's machine was because they got help from another 5 ponies who worked to exhaustion, the machine would have eventually defeated them if there was no time limit, and the whole town was going to let a couple of strangers to take over the city's main food supply. Not to mention that the whole conflict could have been evaded if someone had the insane idea of negotiating a fair price for both sides.
      • The episode Dragon Quest has one at the end. At the end of the episode, Spike adopts a phoenix he names "Peewee" after refusing to smash the egg when Teenage Bully Dragons make him go on a raid. This is supposed to parallel how Spike was adopted as an egg and raised by something outside his species (IE: Ponies). One tiny little problem. No one knew who Spike's parents were and it's explicitly stated that they just found him as an egg implying his parents either died or abandoned him long before Princess Celestia found him an gave him to Twilight Sparkle. Spike, on the other hand, is well-aware who Peewee's parents are and knows where they live (IE: The Everfree Forest). Plus, he had plenty of time to go after the Phoenixes and return their egg to them. So, erm, kidnapping is fine as long as you intend to raise the child as your own?
    • In an episode of Yogi Bear Yogi and another bear begin fighting over Cindy, and she tells them that whoever brings her the best present gets to be with her. Yogi and the other bear proceed to steal not only food but TV's and radios, Yogi eventually wins by bringing her a freaking car. Ranger Smith finds out but see's he stole it for Cindy, and decides not to turn him in because "it's spring." So the moral? "Stealing is okay if it could get you laid."
      • Also, material possessions buy love.
    • In Winx Club, there's the Official Couple of Bloom and Sky. Sky has been courting Bloom for most of Season 1. But then, wait! Sky was already engaged to Princess Diaspro! Thus he would be cheating on both girls at the same time. But no one ever points this out as a bad thing. Kids, when you grow up and get a significant other, it's okay to cheat!
      • Not only that, but Bloom sneaks into Red Fountain and attacks Diaspro, believing her to be one of the Trix! While it's understandable that Bloom would be hurt, Diaspro didn't even have any idea that she existed! Because it's always the other person's fault if YOUR significant other cheats on you...
        • It gets worse in that after Bloom finds out the truth, she decides that she doesn't want to be a fairy anymore and leaves Alfea. Let me restate that: She decides to give up all her dreams just because she got her heart broken! Yeah, because your dreams are totally worth giving up over a broken heart. And when her friends attempt to talk her out of it, she barely even considers what they're saying. Really, Bloom? That's how you treat the people who have been your friends since day 1?!
      • Many fans also feel that Bloom calling Mike and Vanessa by their first names instead of "Dad" and "Mom" gave the message that adoptive parents will never replace biological ones, regardless of how much they love you.
    • Redakai seems to be showing up on several of these lists. While flinging fire around in a forest is more of a Broken Aesop in context, there are family unfriendly ones, as well. In one episode, both the good guys and bad guys are betrayed by a Paleontologist who is trying to get his hands on a resurrected Pterodactyl. In the end, the heroes catch up to him, then attach him to a rope tied to the pterodactyl so he is dragged through the air like someone being dragged by a truck while the heroes laugh. So..."Lynching is an acceptable form of retribution to someone who betrays you?"
    • Parents frequently bash Caillou for teaching that whining to get your way is good.
    • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Ultron-5" begins with Ant-Man annoyed with his teammates' constantly fighting criminals in order to resolve conflicts. While he prepares for quitting the Avengers, he talks to his robot, Ultron, about how there must be "a better way" to reduce crime. What does Ultron do afterward? Since Ant-Man deemed humanity responsible for all the violence, Ultron decides to Kill All Humans to rid the world of fighting! Feeling responsible for nearly causing the extinction of everything, Ant-Man never seems to find a better way by the time the first season ends, which could leave some viewers wondering if violence really is the answer...
      • It probably doesn't help that Ant-Man decides to quit after his suggestions for the Avengers and the Serpent Society to talk things out instead results in the battle escalating, and the other heroes' blaming him for the Serpent Society ultimately fleeing the scene of the crime.
      • In the second season, The Wasp tries to urge Hank (Ant-Man only goes by his civilian name now.) not to give up trying to help the Avengers find a better way to resolve conflicts, though she might just do this because she doesn't want Hank's depression to interfere with their love.
    • The Nightmare Before Christmas had the intended Aesop of "we all have our own talents, which we should be proud of." It can also, however, be fairly easily read as "never try anything new; you'll just fail miserably."
    • The Berenstein Bears series from the 1980s had one episode called "The Berenstein Bears and the Spooky Old Mansion" which was about a old woman that Mama Bear knew as a cub just died (they never go out and say it because mentioning death on a kids' show was forbidden at the time) but lo and behold, she's leaving them inheritance! The catch? They must trudge through her old, dilapidated mansion in the middle of the night to claim it (did I mention there are frogs and owls and bats and spiders that now live there?). So they do that, and what is the inheritance? Is it a pile of money? Keys to a new car? An all-expenses-paid vacation? Actually... it's a note that says by making them do this, she's granting them the gift of courage. A normal person would curse the old bag out and leave, and probably order the mansion demolished the next day. But not here; the family is very happy with all this moral goodness. It seems like the moral here is "It's okay if you make people waste time and energy, get scared, and risk getting hurt all for a hypocritical display of virtue (did she plant it there?), or worse: "It's okay if someone is treating you like crap."
    1. But if you try sometimes, you get what you need
    2. Of course, it's hard to separate this from the Die for Our Ship mentality that surrounds Guinevere.