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.

No real life examples, please; Real Life is not scripted, and thus does not have Aesops of any sort.

Examples of Family-Unfriendly Aesops are listed on these subpages: