Space Whale Aesop
Tom: I'd call this a good argument against busing.Tom: Well, you never know...
Crow: What, if you bus your kids they might get picked up by a giant?
—Mystery Science Theater 3000: War Of the Colossal Beast
The author has an important Aesop for the audience. There's an urgent course of action they want you to take, and they've decided to show you the tragic consequences of not doing so.
Trouble is, the real consequences, while they may be serious, aren't the sort that can easily be made to fit the Rule of Perception. Maybe they take decades to show up. Maybe they happen so subtly that it's hard to show why the action should be taken.
Worse, maybe there isn't yet agreement on what the real consequences are. How can we be sure what will happen to the Earth if we drive all the humpback whales extinct?
So the author dreams up some improbable, highly unforeseeable consequence to scare you into complying.
When done right, the improbable consequence will be a close analogy or a sharp metaphor to the probable one - just increased in scale, speed, or concreteness. You know irreparable damage will be done to the earth's ecosystem if the whales go extinct, but not what irreparable damage; and so, you arrange it so that the absence of whales leads to aliens endangering all life on Earth - especially the humans.
When done wrong, it'll defy all logic. Often, how well it comes off depends on how close you're looking and (if the consequences are still unknown) what you believe.
Different from the Fantastic Aesop. The Fantastic Aesop suggests a fantastic course of action ("don't use black magic to try and resurrect the dead") which can't even be attempted in the real world. The Space Whale Aesop suggests a real, viable course of action ("don't perform nuclear tests") by presenting fantastic consequences ("radiation from the tests will awaken a giant monster that destroys Tokyo") instead of a more realistic but not quite as dramatic example ("it can burn whole buildings if someone is careless"). Overlaps with Gaia's Vengeance if the intended message is an environmental one, which it often is. Overlaps with Spoof Aesop when the author is more interested in the space whale than the Aesop.
This is not necessarily an indefensible trope. If your purpose is to both teach the audience a highly applicable lesson and to entertain them with a fantastic scenario, then a Space Whale Aesop is probably the best way to go. Also, sometimes you just can't fit the realistic consequences of an action into a twenty-three-minute episode or a 120-minute film, so you need to speed things up a bit.
Before posting anything think for a second: "Is this supposed to be an Aesop?" If it was not intended as an Aesop then that is an Accidental Aesop.
- The message of a recent AT&T ad appears to be "Choose AT&T, the nation's fastest 3G network, and your future child will be President."
- Or "Let your penis guide your life, and your future child will be President."
- "No Pressure": Agree to cut carbon emissions, or someone will press a button and BLOW YOU TO BLOODY BITS! So Anvilicious it's ridiculous.
- Many of the YouTube commenters (amongst other people) have taken the message to be "do as we say or we'll murder you".
- Also tended to produce such resentment that it led people to declare their intention to do the oppposite of the intent of the film makers, such as deliberately letting their car idle for hours or turning up the furnace and the air conditioning at the same time to boost carbon production.
- Many of the YouTube commenters (amongst other people) have taken the message to be "do as we say or we'll murder you".
- From PETA: Fish eaters may experience turnabout. [dead link]
- Sharks eat humans, so we should voluntarily stop eating fish? Surely we should eat more fish, especially shark fin soup!
- The latest Direc TV Network's advertisement invoke this trope with such aesops as, "Switch to Dish or you'll get angry, go play tennis, get your eye injured and get an eyepatch which thugs will use as a reason to beat you up, knock you unconscious and leave you in a ditch." So remember kids, go satellite for your safety!
- The second commercial follows as, "If you have Cable, you'll pound your table in frustration with how terrible it is, which will cause your daughter to copy that behavior and punch the lunch out of her principal's hands when she gets older, which will get her expelled, which will cause her to hang out with street toughs, which will cause her to marry a street tough. 'Don't have a grandson with a dog collar.'"
- The next one is also pretty damn ridiculous. It follows as: If you have cable, you'll throw your remote in frustration, which will just barely miss your wife's head, which will make her assume you have anger issues, which will make her leave you, which will leave you all alone, which will make you grow a beard and become an animal hoarder.
- If you have cable, you'll get depressed, go to self-help seminars, get motivated enough to go to Vegas, where you lose everything and are forced to sell your hair.
- And the next one is perhaps the most off the wall yet: If you have cable, you'll get unhappy, go to Happy Hour, get happy enough to try a Turkish Bath House, where you'll meet Charlie Sheen and start re-enacting scenes from Platoon.
- The latest is quite a bit more specific, but it still fits: As a defense attorney, if you don't have Direct TV, you'll be distracted, which means your work will suffer, which will cause your innocent client to get convicted, which will cause him to become obsessed with your failure to get him cleared, which will cause him to blow up your house when he gets out.
- Caprisun "Respect the punch" adds, throw away your punch pouches with reverence or you'll be the victim of a nightmarish Baleful Polymorph.
- A deliberate evocation.
- Never Say No to Panda: You better buy Panda Cheese, or a panda will come and destroy your things.
- The underlying lesson of Pretty Cure seems to be "it's good to have friends who are different from you, so you can defeat monsters from another dimension."
- The final arc of Earth Maiden Arjuna features a Broken Green Space Whale Aesop. "Save the environment, but don't use advanced human science to save the environment from human-produced garbage, or else giant worm monsters will exploit your invention to send corrupt modern society back to the Stone Ages."
- xxxHolic pretty much runs on these kinds of aesops since it assumes All Myths Are True: don't lie or you'll get so paralyzed by them that you'll be run over by a car, don't cut your toenails at night or a giant insect will chop your head off, don't kill someone or your act of murder will be reenacted on every photograph and video that has you in it...etc.
- An episode of the Hentai Sex Craft demonstrates that you shouldn't break up with the guy you're dating just because he's too shy to make the first move, because... if you do that, his unquenched desire will escape his body in the form of an evil ghost thing and go on a rape spree.
- Don't pollute the oceans, or a cute Squid Girl will come to surface and try to invade it!.
- Chick Tracts do this by giving his transgressions explicitly magical consequences, since the real consequences of the behavior he warns against are both intangible and heavily disputed. For instance, "don't let your kids play Dungeons & Dragons, or they might become actual witches, or commit suicide because their character died" is probably the most famous example (who knows what he thinks of World of Warcraft). Another strip seems to suggest that you shouldn't go to parties because the bartender might actually be Satan, and yet another that believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny will turn children into god-hating, terrorist serial killers. Chick's been keeping pace with the times: more recently, his tracts suggest that reading Harry Potter will make you into a full-fledged Satan worshiper with demon-summoning powers
- There was a Wolverine arc which involved a South American country with a ruler who suffered acute superhero envy backed up by an ex-Nazi cyborg. Either of them sound like an awesome main villain? The final villain was evil crack from the dawn of time which drove its victims insane and, at one point, absorbed Wolvie into its horrifically bloated gooey true form. The message was Drugs Are Bad. It even gave us the Kingpin expressing distaste for drug dealing, making it not just a Space Whale Aesop, but an Anvilicious Space Whale Aesop.
- The Gargoyles comic plays this for laughs when a time-traveling Brooklyn breaks the fourth wall to teach a lesson to the audience:
Mary: Don't you know what is going to happen?
Brooklyn: Too much TV, too few history books. (points at the reader) You never know when a giant flaming magical time-traveling bird is gonna swallow you whole and spit you out in the tenth century. So hit those books, kids!
- Johnny the Homicidal Maniac did this for laughs.
Kids, don't do drugs. They'll only turn you into a hideous little freak troll-baby with exploding eyeballs.
- The Trope Namer: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The intended aesop is "don't assume you can use up Earth's natural resources without consequence, since someday your survival might depend on them," but an early draft involving a plague in the 24th century whose cure was lost in the destruction of the rain forests was considered unworkable, and director Leonard Nimoy found whales to be majestic, so the much more entertaining aesop of "save the whales or else a gigantic Space Whale probe will appear out of nowhere to destroy Earth" was born.
- Replace Space Whale with "Unheard of bacteria" and you basically get the plot of The Andromeda Strain.
- The Happening. Preserve the environment, or else the plants may get pissed and release a deadly neurotoxin that makes you kill yourself because of the deadly neurotoxin that the plants are releasing into the
- Standard in horror movies with a Death by Sex message, since showing real negative consequences of sex is often non-dramatic (even deadly STDs take years or decades to kill) or, worse, X-rated. These aesops range from from "have sex and Freddy or Jason will kill you" to "the Sealed Evil in a Can can only be opened by two people having sex on top of it (even if they don't know what it is) to "if you have sex, then you will shock and horrify your six-year-old sister whom you didn't know was watching, causing her to becoming depressed and making her vulnerable to Puppeteer Parasite".
- The movie Teeth evokes an old Space Whale Aesop: "Don't rape women, or the teeth in their vaginas will bite off your dick."
- The Day After Tomorrow: Cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions or the Earth will enter a new ice age and New York City will freeze solid. By the end of this week.
- And, in case that wasn't a tangible enough deterrent, said ice age will also cause wolves to escape from a zoo and come after you and your family.
- The Day the Earth Stood Still: the original called for humanity to abandon its reckless nuclear aspirations if it ever wants to travel into space without getting obliterated by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. The remake? Aliens just want to obliterate humanity to "help the environment". In the original, Klaatu even states that his race didn't care in the slightest what humans did on their own planet...but human affairs officially became their problem when the first space missions were launched with humanity capable of creating nuclear weapons.
- The Abyss (director's cut): Yet again, but with awesome special effects. Also: If you make up with your estranged wife, then you can prevent submarine aliens from killing everyone.
- The made-for-television holiday film "The Night They Saved Christmas" is not terrible, but it's based on this kind of Aesop: Don't drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge because you might harm Santa's workshop. And then it goes ahead and breaks its own Space Whale Aesop!
- The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961) warns that atomic testing could send the Earth spinning out of orbit towards the Sun. The bad science is somewhat offset by the 'documentary-style' realism of the story.
- The Crack In The World warns in the utmost seriousness that atomic testing could literally split the Earth in two.
- Invoked in-universe in the film adaptation of Watchmen. Adrian's message to earth: stop fighting or Dr. Manhattan will come back from space and make you DIE.
- Prophecy teaches us that if you let papermills pollute the nature, it will create killer mutant bears that will hunt you down.
- Eli Roth films: stay at home, around people you know, because if you go anywhere on vacation, you will either catch a flesh-eating virus or be dissected alive for sport.
- Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, don't ever look at even the softest of softcore porn or your girlfriend will dump you, you will suddenly suck at whatever you were good at before and the kids you thought were cool will beat the shit out of you.
- Birdemic: If you contribute to global warming, birds will develop acidic spit and WWII bomber engines, and attack people at random.
- Every slasher movie ever made teaches you that having sex is evil and will get you horrifically murdered by an undead maniac with a rusty blade while your nerdy virgin friend lives on to save the day. The same lesson applies to being popular, black, rich, good at sports, or aware of any of these qualifiers.
- Pretty much every moral lesson in the German moral children's book Struwwelpeter works this way.
- Thumb-sucking summons up a scissor-wielding tailor who snips of the offending digits; fussy eating habits result in death by starvation; and going out in a rainstorm to play leads to being hurled away to your doom by a sudden gust of wind. There is also a girl who ends up as a pile of ashes after playing with matches despite admonitions from her parents and her two pet cats. And many similar.
- Deconstructed in Jasper Fforde's The Fourth Bear, a spin off of the Thursday Next series, with "Cautionary Valley." The series takes place In a World where fictional characters come to life; the valley is a favourite haunt of Aesop-delivering Space Whales, led by the aforementioned scissor-wielding tailor. Children raised in this neighborhood are well-behaved to a downright creepy level. Prior to the events of the book, the parents were perfectly fine with it.
- Pretty much every punishment in Dante's Divine Comedy, especially, of course, those featured in Inferno.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: a lot of stories that use this trope as their premise basically end with "AI research is dangerous, since AIs will invariably become homicidal tyrants determined to enslave or destroy the human race." Parodied in John Sladek's Roderick At Random, which is told from the point of view of the world's one artificially intelligent robot. One conversation he has goes (roughly):
Scientist: Well, we of course we can't risk researching AI. We've run simulations, and it could turn out they get so smart that they realize they don't need humans and decide to wipe us out.
Roderick: Or, they could get so smart they realize wiping out other species is pointless.
Scientist: Oh, I didn't say there were no counterarguments.
- Un Lun Dun: Don't pollute, or else the smog will become sapient and take control of people's minds, making them destroy a fantasy world and then ours.
- State of Fear: Don't give in to people believing in global warming, or ecologists will destroy the planet with their weather-control machines. And do not blame the civilization for all evil or you will be eaten by Papua-New-Guinean cannibals.
- My Teacher Flunked the Planet, a children's book. Stop all war and feed the hungry, or else aliens will destroy Earth. The first two books (My Teacher is an Alien, My Teacher Fried My Brain) were suspense/adventure books with no moral to preach, but the preachy moral showed up in the third book and which has at least one good, long Author Tract about how Humans Are the Real Monsters. Although there was also a hidden one in here - TV rots the mind. Specifically, an alien taught us how to make TV to slow down our technological development, in hopes that we might resolve societal problems before we got to space.
- The moral of Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is "be compassionate towards all creatures and don't go around murdering innocent seabirds, or else you'll wind up stranded in the middle of the ocean, all your friends will die, their corpses will torment you, and when you eventually make it to land you'll be forced to constantly wander the world telling your story instead of being able to live a normal life." Bruce Dickinson put it best. "And the moral of this story is: This is what not to do if a bird shits on you."
- Some of Enid Blyton's stories for younger children. For example, The Magic Lemonade: "Don't torment insects, or you might get shrunk by magic so that insects can torment you".
- The Ant Bully has this same trope, sans lemonade.
- The Iron Giant (the book, not the movie) tells us to stop the wars or risk the wrath of a Cosmic Horror.
- Logan's Run the book: Don't become a hippie. Hippies want to get everyone stoned, destroy the family, raise children in creches, revoke age-of-sexual-consent laws, and kill off everyone over twenty-one.
- Pretty much any and all Be Careful What You Wish For stories end this way, most notably The Monkey's Paw. Among other examples, wishing to have money resulted in the family having their son die in a terrible industrial accident, followed by them receiving tons of money in compensation from the factory. Wishing you had more money is not wrong or dangerous just because a cursed artifact interpreted the wish to negative results. If anything the real Aesop is "Genies are jerks." In the case of The Monkey's Paw, the Aesop intended by the character who created the paw was "those who defy fate do so to their sorrow." Because apparently fate is a Jerkass.
- The book Chocolate Fever by Robert Smith does this. It's about a boy who eats chocolate with everything and then one day he breaks out in a chocolate rash.
- Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants: Don't make fun of people's names, or else they'll shrink you to the size of a bug and make you change your name to something absurd to make themselves feel better. Although this could just be a way of saying, "Don't make fun of people, because what goes around comes around."
- This in Lampshaded by the characters at the end their only current example of a moral, though the ending then points out the Fantastic Aesop driving the entire story: never hypnotize your principal.
- In Arthurian Legend, the origin of Merlin involves his mother (a nun) being raped by an Incubus at night...because she had an argument with her sister and neglected to say her nightly prayers that night. So don't forget to say your prayers, and don't argue with your siblings, or you'll be raped by demons...Hm...right.
- Given that the child of said union grew up to be a powerful wizard who was responsible for putting the legendary king on the throne, it makes one wonder why it was considered bad.
- Well, she was raped, so yeah. Bad.
- C'mon. The whole aesop is simple. Fight your sister, don't pray, be raped (by an Incubus, preferably) and become the proud mother of the most known (and presumably powerful) wizard on Western Lore. Can count also as an example of Rape as Fate, since Arthur was destined to be the King, and Merlin to be the wizard and... oh well, you get it.
- Babette Cole's Winni Allfours has quite a bad one for parents. The heroine's mother and father won't buy her a pony and make her eat lots of vegetables. Except that Winni works out that by eating all her greens, she'll turn into a pony! Once that's done, she's no longer dependent on her parents. So what kind of moral can we learn from that? "Don't try imposing limits on your kids, because they'll still succeed and it'll be all the worse for you?"
- The Adventures of Pinocchio: "Don't skip school and have endless fun, or else you'll change into a donkey".
- Some Christian dating books, such as "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" and "Lady In Waiting" seem to present the message that "God is keeping you single in order to get you to do service", which can lead to being interpreted as "there are too many problems in the world (such as hungry people), and that is why God is not giving YOU (specifically) a significant other".
- The tale of King Midas has the message "If you desire gold too much, you'll turn your loved ones into statues."
- Some Values Dissonance might be at play here, but most fairy tales (in their original form, that is) might come across as this to modern-day audiences. How often do birds peck peoples' eyes out in the real world?
- Quite a few novels for children have the admirable goal of wanting children to appreciate the importance of learning history and/or appreciating their parents. The method they use is to have the juvenile protagonist get stuck in the crapsack past because they dared not to want to learn history or didn't appreciate their parents. So you have books like The Devil's Arithmetic (Nazi death camp) Tune in Yesterday (racism in 1920's) and lots of books about being a slave in the 1800's.
- Intentionally used in Edgar Allan Poe's short story "Never Bet The Devil Your Head", as part of the Spoof Aesop. The reason it provides for the eponymous moral is that the devil might one day come to collect.
- There's a picture book called You'll Be Sorry by Josh Schneider in which the parents of a girl named Samantha tell her to stop hitting her little brother or she'll be sorry. She ignores them and his little brother cries so much that he floods the entire town.
- The Time Machine by H. G. Wells is based on his socialist beliefs, and the central message is that, if the upper classes continue to oppress the working classes, the upper classes will evolve into pampered babies while the working classes will become cannibalistic monsters. At the time it was published, it was less space-whaley - both socialism and evolution were in their infancies at the time, and it seemed entirely possible that forcing people to work in unlit factories would turn them into cave-dwellers. Now, Science Marches On and Society Marches On, and The Reveal seems rather less plausible.
- Twilight: Unchaste teenagers will die.
- New Moon: If you truly loved someone and lost them, you will want to kill yourself. Also, killing yourself is selfish, because it implies that you think your own problems are important.
- Eclipse: Behaving like a child will get you anything.
- Breaking Dawn: If you get married before you have sex, you will still die from it.
- The Candy Shop War has the rather straightforward don't take candy from strangers as it's message. It's even flat out said by one of the characters in the books-who the explains that these strangers might be wizards who are handing out magical candy and can very easily kill you. It also doesn't help that those strangers owned a candy shop and a ice cream truck.
- Almost makes it into a Space Dentist's Aesop: Don't eat candy or wizards will kill you. Who needs cavities when you have that?
- The Twilight Zone episode "Stopover in a Quiet Town" has Rod Serling delivering one of the most hilarious space whale aesops ever, in the smirking, self-aware tone that only he can. The episode deals with a married couple who awaken after a drunken car crash and gradually realize that they've been abducted from Earth and are now being kept as pets inside a giant alien child's model town...
Rod Serling: The moral of what you've just seen is clear. If you drink, don't drive. And if your wife has had a couple, she shouldn't drive either. You might both just wake up with a whale of a headache in a deserted village... in the Twilight Zone.
- Sterling was very fond of the Ironic Hell.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Beast Below": Sentient alien life isn't always a threat. Made more amusing in this case because the thing involved is an actual space whale
- "The Lazarus Experiment": If you don't test your new medical procedure before using it on yourself, you'll turn into a giant human-eating scorpion monster. Also possibly a Family-Unfriendly Aesop because it tries to claim that trying to prevent people from getting old and dying makes you deserve turning into a giant scorpion.
- The One Step Beyond episode "Forests of the Night" taught us that dabbling in the occult will cause you to turn into a leopard.
- The Twilight Zone episode "Jess Belle" is similar.
- A bizarre Inverted example from Summer Heights High: drama-teacher Mr G. performs an energetic dance for his students, dressed in what looks like a giant white pillowcase. He asks his class what the dance represented. The correct answer was: peer pressure.
- The X Factor also has this trope applying to it as seen here. Probably the biggest Space Whale Aesop the show has given out as a message - become a contestant and have your dirty laundry literally launched into the limelight.
- From an episode of SCTV - Jesus has magic healing booze.
- An in-universe example in Misfits: Simon tries to persuade the others that giving up their powers is a bad idea, but since he cites the example of Superman II, the rest hear "give up your superpowers and General Zod will destroy the Earth." It fails to persuade them.
- A sketch on The Whitest Kids U' Know features a kid Adolf Hitler being the nicest person in the entire town. In the last ten seconds of the sketch, he takes one bit of marijuana and suddenly wants to kill Jews.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Beer Bad" combined an Anvilicious message about the dangers of alcohol with a plotline about cursed magical beer turning college kids into cavemen.
- Family Guy has a lampshaded version of this in which the ancient Irish race had vastly advanced technology. Then somebody invents whiskey, a few people take a sip, and crapsack island ensues.
- "As we often learn at the end of an episode of MythBusters, everyday objects can, in fact, be made lethal if Jamie builds a gun to shoot them."
- Future!Ted in How I Met Your Mother sometimes gives these out: the reason they're fantastic is because they're ridiculously narrow because they're all about the five main characters ("Don't fight with Uncle Marshall, he's nuts." "If you hang out with Uncle Barney, you'l have great stories to tell.") and will only ever apply to his kids (and perhaps Marshall and Lily's kids).
- Big Tent Revival's arguably most popular song, Two Sets of Joneses: No matter how hard you work or how much your wife's father likes you, your marriage will fall apart very quickly if you don't have Jesus.
- Adam and the Ants' best known song, Antmusic features a moral possibly inspired by the Enid Blyton example above:
Don't tread on an, he's done nothing to you -
There might come a day when he's treading on you!
- Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer reminds us not to trust "a man who flies a sleigh and plays with elves." Okay, then.
- Voltaire's "The Mechanical Girl" leaves us with this very special message: "Never take a child away from a loving parent. Especially not ones who make children who shoot rockets from their eyes."
- Parents sometimes use these to scare their kids straight. "Don't misbehave or the bogeyman will get you," and "Don't make that face or it'll stick like that," are famous ones.
- The residents of "Cautionary Valley" (under literature above) come from these scare-tales. Fforde's interpretation of the Scissor Man is fairly tame; he's a pussycat compared to the one that appears in Hogfather, who is an emu-like being composed entirely of scissors.
- In his book Wisdom of the Elders: Sacred Native Stories of Nature, David Suzuki recounts a Chewong fable of the perils of disregarding the natural order. A childless man and wife were walking through the forest when they spotted a squirrel. In their loneliness, they unwisely disregarded that this animal was part of the natural order, and brought it home with them as a pet. Suddenly, the hundred-foot-tall snake god Taloden asal burst forth from her eternal subterranean slumber and ate their souls. The end.
- The Protomen has the moral 'be a hero, or else Megaman won't save you from evil robots'.
- According to some corners of the internet, every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten.
- Monsterpocalypse, drawing from B-movie sources, is built on this trope. The most obvious examples are the Radical factions, the Terrasaurs and Empire of the Apes. Respect the environment and live in harmony with nature, or a giant monster (supported by hippies with rocket launchers and apes with jetpacks) will eat you.
- Bionicle has a message to politicians: if you're governors, then please do your job instead of appointing others to do it for you while you dedicate your life to something else, otherwise those appointed leaders may start a war, and your planet will explode.
- While it's not a use of Scare'Em Straight, Mega Man Star Force offers fantastically positive consequences of following the Aesop. Why are friends important? Because they give you Hit Point increases and special abilities! Also, if you're lost in space on a dead satellite, they can direct you back home with electromagnetic friendship laser beams. Not that the franchise doesn't have more traditional examples. Mega Man Battle Network 4, for instance, explained that you should be good, because if you're bad, an asteroid controlled by a sentient computer program will destroy the planet.
- The moral of Super Energy Apocalypse is: Don't pollute, and do conserve energy, or else you'll be attacked by giant eyeballs.
- Super Mario Sunshine: "Always remember to brush your teeth!" Said straight after cleaning the teeth of a giant eel boss with a water filled jetpack because it was polluting an entire bay with purple poison.
- "Remember, always be kind to your pets." If you're not, they'll turn into fireballs and cover the village in flaming goop. (Although those particular pets were treated kindly, they were just sick with fevers; their owner was clearly upset over how sick they were, which is why she forces you to help out.)
- Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom reminds us not to pollute, and not to become greedy and power-hungry. Because if you do that, an Eldritch Abomination will cause all your pollution to become sentient and corrupt everyone in the country into violent indestructible tar-monsters driven by their basest desires.
- Snatcher - Trust other people and be open to them, or a mad Russian scientist responsible for wiping out most of Asia may take advantage of the culture of suspicion around you to trial a new plan to replace people with killer robots indistinguishable from them except for a tendency to get skin cancer and they'll start killing everyone and then the government will want to nuke your island to get rid of them before they spread and then you'll be sorry.
- According to the grand finale of the Riddle School series, you should always stay in school—because if you don't, you'll set off a time-stop mine and inadvertently almost doom the entire planet to annihilation by an alien race.
- Asura's Wrath: Hey, don't overpopulate or pollute the planet or else a magma monster representing the will of the planet will mutate all of the planet's animals to kill all of us!
- Played for laughs in CollegeHumor's Extreme Anti-Smoking Ad: Smoking will cause a Robot War.
- Combined with Do Not Do This Cool Thing
- Perfect Sympathy by "J.B. Burro" has the aseop "Don't mistreat your horse" or you will suddenly wake up one day in your horse's place and your horse will be the abusive owner.
- In the Ciem Webcomic Series and its pending Comprehensive Universe novels: "Do not pursue a new significant other until you've done the research first to make certain the first one is truly dead. Or else your spouse will die a horrible death at the hands of a Brainwashed psychopath in a shrew costume, and then the bad guys will blow up your house."
- One story in Jack teaches the following moral: don't get consumed by anger against people who express bigoted views about you, or your partner might die from a demonic brain tumor that feeds on your anger. (Yes, the person in immediate danger is an innocent third party, not the one who did something bad.)
- El Goonish Shive has Read or the Owl will eat you.
- Gunnerkrigg Court has a chapter that seems to be leading up to an aesop about treating others the way you'd want to be treated, but instead it ends with this.
- In The Dog House Diaries, Don't run with scissors.
- Homestuck :This is exactly why babies should not be allowed to dual-wield flintlock pistols.
- The first strip of Minus. Don't bully the new kid, she might be a Reality Warper who will imprison you with trees that appeared out of nowhere.
- Dr McNinja: "If you don't die when you are supposed to, really awful things will happen to you...in the service of Dracula." Maybe. He's not sure. And death can come for you at any time, in the form of a moon laser. Other "Dr. McNinja's Final Thoughts" epilogues are similar.
- Science and Ink presents: "Grimey the myopic spider" tale.
- The South Park episode "Free Willzyx" has a literal Space Whale Aesop: "If you mess with kids' minds, they will shoot a whale into space." A more typical example: In "It Hits the Fan," "Don't abuse swear words or an Eldritch Abomination will awaken!" And from "Fun with Veal": "Eating veal is wrong because it is made from mistreated baby cows, but if you don't eat meat at all, you become a pussy." (yes, quite literally).
- "Funnybot" had perhaps the weirdest one of all. "Don't have comedy awards or a robot will destroy the world".
- Many episodes of Captain Planet, in a desperate attempt to hammer in the importance of the issues, provide ludicrously overblown and immediate consequences for small-scale ecological harm. The main problem is the constant portrayal of pollution being caused by supervillains For the Evulz.
- Parodied in the Kim Possible episode Grande Size Me, we learn that "eating a balanced diet will keep you from turning into a mutated maniac". Disney decreed that they had to do a socially conscious episode about getting kids to eat properly, and so they made it as ridiculous as they could get away with. It was further parodied in The Stinger where Ron talks about the dangers of genetic mutation to the audience, while Kim, Monique and Mr. Barkin wonder who on earth Ron is talking to.
- A British series that also aired in Australia and Canada, called Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, was MADE of this trope. Watch too much TV? You'll end up as a potato chip at the back of someone's fridge. Get arrogant and fail to do your schoolwork properly? A gremlin will destroy your brain's memory centers. This was fused with a jarring blend of Nightmare Fuel and a claymation old man mistreating his pet spider, played for laughs.
- In the Stargate Infinity episode "The Illustrated Stacey," the team goads Stacey into getting an alien tattoo by insisting that she's too boring to do such a spontaneous thing. (It should be noted here that Stacey has multiple piercings, blue lipstick, and a pink mohawk.) The Aesop is something like "don't do things just to prove yourself" or "think before you act"; but the reason for this moral is that the tattoo ink is made up of microbes that start multiplying, threatening to cover Stacey's body and kill her within the day. Fortunately, most real life tattoos do not contain deadly diseases. (And the ones that do take much longer to kill.)
- A sketch on Robot Chicken featured a mother telling her son that you shouldn't give a mouse a cookie, or he'll turn into a vampire that will infect the country causing a nuclear war. That's why she killed her husband. He was giving a mouse a cookie.
- On King of the Hill, in one of the Halloween episodes, the resident Moral Guardian gets a group of children to go on a tour in her "Hallelujah House," showing various scenes of how she views atheists and "the Druids." One of them has a pair of actors talking about wanting to have pre-marital sex. The lady suddenly rotates the scene, now showing morgue cabinets with two pairs of legs marked HIM and HER.
"I guess the old saying is true: Sex kills."
- These are real, believe it or not.
- In an episode of Adventure Time Finn learns that if you break a promise you'll get to hold slumber parties, fight zombies, awake gumball guardians and reverse death itself!
- In Ozzy and Drix, the average boy that the characters live inside of puts on a few pounds in one episode. Apparently, this is enough to have his otherwise healthy body nearly go into cardiac arrest.
- Trollz once had Ruby encounter a Space Whale Broken Aesop: It's always good to act nice and set a good example to your friends... unless a magical spell has turned them evil anyway.
- Referenced in The Simpsons: Rod and Todd Flanders are watching a religious-themed educational show, but since the star characters are sheep, they don't see how their problems and solutions apply to real life.
- Animaniacs' Wheel of Morality. Moderately random.
- On one episode of Gargoyles, the distinction between magic and science is discussed, with a focus on keeping your heritage alive—including the "magical" aspects of it. The Aesop works out as "Believe in your grandmother's teachings, or else a giant magic humanoid crow will destroy your land For the Evulz."
- Dear Princess Celestia, no matter how strong and smart you may be, there are some things you just can't do alone. Friends have a special bond that has more meaning than you can find in any book. So cherish your friends, nurture your relationships with them, and always hold them near and dear to your heart, because together you can smite evil with a badass Goddamn rainbow Wave Motion Gun. Because friendship... is magic.
- Note: Most of the Aesops in the show are rather more realistic, but the first episodes of each season are there to justify the title and basically serve as Attract Mode.
- Remember kids, it's better to give than receive - or else you'll turn into a giant greedy monster and practically destroy your hometown.
- Also, you'd better get along with people different from you or evil ice elementals will cause starvation in the land.
- Lampshaded in the Futurama episode "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz."
Leela: Oh, if only we hadn't flown penguins to Pluto and dumped oil on them, this might never have happened!
- Further parodied in "A Big Piece of Garbage", with its Space Whale Green Aesop: If you just shoot your trash into space instead of recycling, it will eventually come back and destroy you. Further parodied with a Spoof Aesop at the end, "It's perfectly all right to use half-assed solutions to your problems, and let people in the future deal with the long-term consequences."
- A literal one in Mobius Dick- don't fly through the Bermuda Tetrahedron or you'll get eaten by a four-dimensional space whale and infinitely digested. Or maybe it'll feed upon your obsession. Or maybe you'll take control of it.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" had the lesson of "Don't bust your brothers using a time machine, or all childhood creativity will be destroyed, creating a Bad Future."
- Though arguably it's just "don't quash childish creativity," and the time machine was just a means for Candace to finally succeed. The Bad Future is still pretty out there, though.
- So, then: Don't quash children's creativity, or a villain will make you wear a labcoat and change your name to Joe.
- What about bust your brothers and they get sent to a military school where they'll be lobotomized to the point of being mindless zombies.
- Though arguably it's just "don't quash childish creativity," and the time machine was just a means for Candace to finally succeed. The Bad Future is still pretty out there, though.
- One of the movies of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: "Don't talk to strangers or aliens will kidnap every adult in town, including your parents."
- Or "appreciate all that your parents do for you (or they'll be abducted by aliens."
- Mundane pranks turning into supernatural problems is a pillar of Regular Show's plotlines.
Benson: I hope you've learned something from all this!
Rigby: Yeah. Make sure we do our chores so you don't narc on us to a giant eyeball.
- SpongeBob SquarePants gave us the lesson "Wild animals, throw very wild parties."
- Danny Phantom tells us not to cheat on a test, otherwise all of your friends and family will die and the future world will be completely destroyed by you.