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"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time — a tremendous whack."
An Anvilicious work is one that has a moral message and makes it as subtle as an anvil dropped on the viewer's head. But sometimes, a work can be Anvilicious without suffering in the process. Some works not only pull it off gracefully, but are effective because of the Anvil — and not in a So Bad It's Good way, either. Often seen in Reconstructions.
Other times, the anvil comes across very blatant, which might turn off some viewers, but in the era which the story is told, the message itself is more important than the story or allegory it is presented in.
A reminder that An Aesop is Not Bad. And don't let the fact that the anvils of one work are often incompatible or in direct opposition to another's get in the way either.
Remember, this is not whether or not you agree with the moral, it's about how a story is improved because the message is so blatant. A genuinely anvilicious aesop is not automatically excused by being an agreeable one.
Anime and Manga
- Aho Girl: You can't fix stupidity.
- Attack on Titan: With great victory comes great sacrifice. Those who cannot make sacrifices will never be able to change anything.
- Code Geass: Lelouch sums up the main anvil perfectly: "The only ones who should kill are those who are prepared to be killed". Basically, if you commit evil acts, regardless of your intentions, you had best be prepared to face the consequences.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
- "The idol of today pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection, and will, in turn, be supplanted by his successor of tomorrow." — Washington Irving
- The main anvil of the story: believe in your friends, who believe in you. Believe in you, who believes in yourself. Kick reason to the curb, and go do the impossible! There's basically nothing you can't accomplish if you set your mind to it and have the will and courage to back it up! In a world of pessimistic stories, belief that Good Is Dumb, and Anti Heroes, TTGL's anvils feel really refreshing to see out of a mecha series.
- Another important one is that you can't run away from your problems. All of the antagonists are simply people that are dead scared of something — the Anti-Spiral for Lordgenome and Rossiu, and the Spiral Nemesis for the Anti-Spiral, and think that locking people away will prevent the problem. Also, Simon's first reaction to danger at the beginning of the story is to dig a hole and hide. All of this never works, and it usually causes a lot of unnecessary(?) pain and suffering. As Kamina first, and Simon later, demonstrates, the best way to deal with your problems is to face them.
- G Gundam did the same.
- Coming right after the depressing Victory Gundam, it showed that even in a Crapsack World where world peace is maintained only through a deathmatch tournament that one could fight to defend that which is close to you, win the respect of those you fight, and still come out on top in the end.
- Possibly the purest expression of optimism in the series: "Humans aren't that foolish; there truly is NOT anyone stupid enough to do what they know will cause the destruction of everything."
- There is another lesson that's pretty clear, even though Master Asia learned it the hard way. Try to justify your motives all you want, but siding with a genocidal monster is rarely ever a good idea.
- Gundam Wing: "War Is Hell, no matter for what reason you fight."
- Endless Waltz: "Don't hold out for a hero", if you want peace you have to do something about it yourself."
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 War in The Pocket: "War is not a game, and good people on both sides of it can be forced to kill each other."
- Gundam 00: "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."
- Another one, by Setsuna F Seiei, from the opposite direction, but something that still needs to be said; yes, war is bad, but there are moments where it's necessary if there's no way of getting rid of a corrupt, irredeemable regime.
- Gundam SEED: The show's messages about racism and conflict escalation just wouldn't hit as hard if they didn't show the effects of Cyclops and Genesis on the human body. And even if one group of people were innately more capable than the rest, racism still wouldn't be okay.
- Gundam X: There is no fate, but what we make for ourselves.
- Turn a Gundam: Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.
- Inuyasha: Throughout the series, half-demons are shown to hated by absolutely everyone, by demons for being weak and tarnishing bloodlines and by humans simply for being part-demon. This is especially shown whenever the group visits a village where a half-demon lives; whenever something goes wrong, the villagers automatically assume it's the half-demon's fault. And yet, of all the half-demons seen in the entirety of the series (fillers and movies included), the only truly evil one is Naraku (Izumo could count as well, but he's more of an Anti-Villain). The series states pretty clearly that a person's race does not dictate who they are, and that it never pays to judge someone before you even know them.
- It isn't just an anti-racism message either. For most of the series, Kagome's modern-day friends Eri, Yuka and, to a lesser extent, Ayumi, can't understand what Kagome sees in Inuyasha, believing him to be some kind of delinquent. However, these beliefs have one crucial flaw- they haven't even met the guy yet. When they finally do meet him in episode 160, they realise that he's not such a bad person at all when you get to know him, and before you can say 'Jewel of Four Souls', InuKag has three more Shippers on Deck.
- Fate/Zero has several lessons:
- Despite Kiritsugu and Saber having almost polar opposite views on war (Saber believes wars should be clean and honourable while KIritsugu believes wars simply shouldn't be fought in the first place), neither of them are completely right nor completely wrong. While what Kiritsugu says does make a lot of sense, the way he describes the world is how it is. Saber, on the other hand, describes the world as it should be. Basically, the world can't survive without realists or idealists. You need both in the world. Otherwise, you just get chaos of two different extremes.
- Another lesson is that sometimes, you just have to accept that enough is enough. Kiritsugu consistently tells himself that he has to do what he's doing, but it's shown clearly that he's not fine with it at all and that it's too much on his soul. Kiritsugu had lived a happy life with Irisviel and Illya for nine years and he chose to throw all that away in pursuit of a goal that, as he learns the hard way, is impossible. No matter how great the cause may be, sacrificing your loved ones isn't worth it and is a decision you will come to regret.
- There comes a time for all of us when we have to accept the past and move on. Letting a single event of your life define you can and will mess you up. This is shown by several characters, from Kiritsugu, who's based all the actions of his life on a mistake he made when he was too young to know any better, and Saber, who desires to undo the destruction of her kingdom, essentially ensuring that her legend never comes to fruition (though in Saber's case, this ends up being an Ignored Epiphany that doesn't truly sink in until Fate/stay night). By contrast, Rider, while certainly sad about how his reign ended, nevertheless believes undoing it would be an insult to all those who died in his name, which is why his wish focuses on the present. Similarly, Waver ends up entering the Grail War on a whim with a desire to be acknowledged for his talents. but eventually comes to realise he never needed the Grail and, as a result, is the only Master to come out of the war better off than he was before it.
- Digimon Adventure: If you and other people have ended up in a very dangerous place, miles away from the nearest civilization, you all have to quickly learn how to work together as one and put all grievances aside in order to survive, or all of you are gonna get fucked. It's even more important if half of your group have some psychological issues and There Are No Therapists around.
- Digimon Adventure 02: Sometimes, you have to use lethal force for the greater good, and to save innocent lives. The "If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him" mentality is just suicidal naivety at best and suicidal naivety with genocidal consequences at worst, and your enemies will gladly take advantage of it anytime they can if you don't grow up and see the reality.
- Digimon Tamers: Life is life, regardless of whether it's organic or virtual.
- And internet censorship is stupid and wrong.
- With the Light all but screams to the world, "Autistics are not sick! They can become honest, hardworking members of society, and they will! They don't need a cure, they need to be encouraged and loved!" It took an entire society (one classroom of students, several teachers, a few social workers, and a big family) to get Hikari into middle school, and it certainly wasn't easy, but it had nothing if not a positive impact on those near him.
- Paranoia Agent, a series about accepting reality as it is, features in its final episode an unspeakably creepy town made of cardboard cutouts that one of the characters smashes to nothing in six swings of a baseball bat. The absolute unambiguity of it makes the anti-escapist message feel clear, clean, and right.
- Great Teacher Onizuka: Do your Best, Be Independent, Be A Man (even if you're a woman...) And it's better to try and fail than to refuse to try because of uncertainty.
- Pet Shop of Horrors drops Anvils about animals in general. In general, there were a number of heavy-handed Aesops about human/pet relationships and how people need to see their pets as companions to be loved rather than stupid animals to be exploited or abused, as any animal rescue show can attest.
- A particularly roundabout one was dropped with the chapter "Dreizehn".
A young woman named Karen goes to Count D's shop for a seeing-eye dog with experience in protection as well, after a fire that killed her parents and traumatized her so much she went blind. The titular Doberman chosen for this purpose not only looks human, but feels human, too — to Karen's shock. After she gets used to it, a slightly awkward conversation ensues in which he agrees to let her "see" him by touching his face; after several panels, she comes across his ears. Prior to this, Dreizehn had not been shown as a dog, and as a human, his hair covered his ears — which had been cut into sharp points.
Horrified, Karen questions this and brings to light the practice of cropping dogs' ears from a dog's perspective, made even more disturbing when Dreizehn assures her that since it was done when he was young (a puppy!), "It doesn't hurt anymore."
To drive home the Anvil, there is a short passage in the back reflecting upon the fact that some people refuse to acknowledge Dobermans with natural ears because they don't look like real Dobermans.
- Pet Shop also has a lot to say about humanity, particularly in the final volume of the first series, at the end of which Leon manages to make his way onto the Count's ship only to be told that "humans have not yet earned the right to be on this ship" before being pushed off the side, only to wake up unharmed.
- A particularly roundabout one was dropped with the chapter "Dreizehn".
- The Macross franchise; The Power of Love and the beauty of human culture shall overcome all, even the unstoppable marauding alien death fleets that were designed only for war, or at the very least distract them long enough to give humanity an opening to use reaction weapons.
- Fullmetal Alchemist.
- There are numerous scenes in the anime where characters pause mid-battle or delay combat in order to stand around preaching their own philosophies at each other — notably Ed and his pro-science stance. And, somehow, not only does it work, but the story would fail without it. The manga does this with more subtlety, but the tone and stories of the two are quite different. It helps that the morality is not especially anvilicious, as the characters struggle to figure out what morality is right at all.
- There are three major themes in the manga: tolerance, the Cycle of Hatred, and the fact that the military is for the protection of the people. The basic aesop is "Genocide is bad". All the more powerful because much of the traumatic scenes are based on testimony from Japanese veterans and the persecuted Ainu.
- Also, ordinary people are capable of doing horrible things in the right circumstances, but can also redeem themselves and make up for their mistakes.
- And "redemption is not death": you can always do the right thing, no matter what wrongs you've committed in the past. Scar lives through the series, even though any other series would have killed off a death seeking serial killer out for revenge. Hohenheim's offer to sacrifice his life for Al is turned down, and he gets to die a (more or less) natural death. Mustang both wants to change the country and wants to be tried for war crimes.
- Another big anvil was the lesson that Scar and Winry learned, and that's the difference between enduring evil deeds and forgiving evil deeds.
- "Keeping moving forward."
- Sailor Moon S is essentially one long Aesop on expedience vs. morality: Doing what is easy, and possibly justifiable, versus doing what's right.
- Sailor Moon R's one long Aesop: Your family bonds are important (obviously this lesson does not apply to people who actually have parents who abuse them or something, it's just a general Aesop). Trust your family even when there's a conflict; Diamond didn't trust Sapphire until it was too late, and lost his brother as a result. Chibi-Usa resented her parents both for not helping her up when she fell as a child and in general not being around sometimes and leaving her lonely; unfortunately she let this fester instead of directly asking her parents what motivated them to act as they did, and Wiseman turned that to his advantage to brainwash Chibi-Usa into Black Lady. Mamoru didn't trust Usagi to be able to protect herself after Mamoru was shown a vision of Usagi's death, and Mamoru chose to handle it by breaking up with Usagi without trusting her with the truth about why he was doing it. This almost made Usagi vulnerable to being brainwashed by Wiseman when he tried to trick her into thinking Mamoru loved Black Lady instead, but Usagi's own ease to trust her loved ones overcame the brainwashing and it didn't work.
- Mushishi delivers a striking overall theme: all life is fundamentally equal. There is no 'evil' in nature, only living things doing what they have to do to survive. The whole message of Grey and Grey Morality and naturalistic beauty is sent with surprising subtlety. Even creatures that seem horrible (invasive fungi, scavengers, parasites, etc.,) are still living things, and should be respected as such. There's no evil in nature, only a collection of organisms doing what they were born to do.
- The Animatrix: The Second Renaissance pre-emptively drops quite a few anvils in favor of granting sentient machines civil rights. Comparisons are made to other civil rights struggles, like the Amistad, Those Wacky Nazis, the Chinese democracy movement, and even Exodus.
- Mirai Nikki: Some people just aren't fit to be parents.
- Just because you're desperate for friends doesn't mean you should try to befriend anyone.
- Toradora!: Love isn't what everyone says it is. While the concept of soulmates can happen, you're just as likely to find love that been sitting next to you the whole time.
- Ami drops another one during the Summer House arc; "Adoration never leads to a balanced relationship." Basically, going out with someone you put on a pedestal is asking for some problems.
- A Certain Magical Index: Having a Dark and Troubled Past isn't a reason for you to lash out at the world in anger. It's a reason for you to try and make the world a better place so nobody will ever suffer the same pain you did.
- You don't need a reason to help someone. Staying out of matters just because they don't concern you is a selfish thing to do, as people could very well die as a result of your inaction.
- D.Gray-man: Getting past the loss of loved ones can be a long and painful struggle, but it's one that's necessary if you don't want to hurt those who are still there for you.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has one really good anvil that it keeps dropping consistently: it doesn't matter what someone's background is, it doesn't matter how they were born, it doesn't matter where they came from, it doesn't matter what they're fighting for, and hell, it doesn't even matter if they're not technically classifiable as human. Everyone is a person, with just as much potential to be good as anyone else, and no matter what else, they deserve to be treated with compassion and love.
- Grenadier has the message that one should always try to find a peaceful solution to conflicts, whenever possible. The series is largely about Rushuna's inner struggle to find out where the line should be drawn.
- Grave of the Fireflies:
- War has awful consequences, even on those not actually fighting it.
- Honor Before Reason is a bad idea when you're in a city with no infrastructure that almost burned to the ground.
- Legend of Galactic Heroes:
- Nationalism and religious extremism are not legitimate ideologies, they are cheap propaganda ploys used by demagogues to gain and retain control over the people. While most of the show retains a Grey and Gray Morality, the smug snakes are either nationalist leaders or fundamentalist leaders who do not believe a word of what they say and feel nothing but scorn toward their followers.
- The story shows us how a young republic who managed to fight toe to toe with its much older, bigger, dictatorial neighbour ultimately collapses because its citizens elected nationalist politicians. On top of that, the narrator, and sometimes even Poplan, of all people, spend some time to hammer it again and again and again.
- In the case of Nationalism, it's not so much love of country that is rebuked; indeed, many characters on both sides show patriotism to their respective countries and ideologies. Rather, it's on the more hardline, destructive forms which formed part of the reason why the war began in the first place.
- One Piece has three for the price of one:
- "The "Justice" is defined by the winners", iterated by one of the villains, Donquixote Doflamingo.
- "The dreams of men will never die!", again literally said word-for-word by future Big Bad Blackbeard.
- One especially for the shippers, "There is NO way that the innocent, naive hero will EVER take an incredibly hot Amazonian empress as his lover... but it's sure as hell funny to see her try!"
- Also, take care of your friends. One of those things that just cannot be repeated enough, especially in the shallowness of the modern world.
- The "Fishman Island" arc shows the consequences of letting hatred fester in society.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
- In Tsumihoroboshi-hen: Everyone has embarrassing secrets that they want to hide, and that's okay. In fact, there's nothing to accomplish by confessing some of them.
- Also, trust your friends, talk to them, and don't take all your problems onto yourself, or things will quickly spiral out of control.
- And, like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, no matter how hopeless things seem, determination can get you through them.
- Cowboy Bebop:
- Samurai Champloo uses the character Isaac to address both weaboo idealization of Japan, as well as Japan's own tendency to gloss over the past. Isaac is a Dutch ambassador who loves Japanese culture, and as a Straight Gay, he can practice his sexuality there, which during this time would be punishable by death in Europe. However, Issac needs to disguise himself when out in public in Japan, as this was a period where foreigners were prohibited outside of a small "safe zone" (note the series's related discussion of the persecution of Japanese Christians during this era). Isaac ultimately comments that both Japan and the West have screwed up features, albeit in different ways.
- Irresponsible Captain Tylor: "Life is too short to live by someone else's rules. Do what you want to the way that you want to."
- Bigger than and encompassing its more famous Green Aesop, Tokyo Mew Mew has "Even if it isn't your fault and it isn't fair that you're involved in the first place, don't ignore or write off the injustice that you see; take responsibility for fixing it, because no one else will."
- The Mahou Sensei Negima series as a whole seems to have the message "Don't dwell on the past; keep moving forward".
- The Mahorafest arc ultimately boils down to "You can't always be sure that you're doing the right thing, but you need to give it your all anyway or you'll never accomplish anything, good or bad." Alternately, "Sometimes, you just have to stick to your guns even if you aren't sure you're right."
- "I will... continue to step forward!"
- Tokyo Babylon: The manga drops more than a few anvils directed at Japan (at the time the manga was written) specifically, relating to how Japanese society handles bullying, the mentally ill, rape victims, and immigrants. They don't really propose solutions all of the time, but the idea is put out there.
- School Days: Sleeping with someone under the guise of a relationship and then proceeding to ditch them without any warning for another person is not cool at all.
- School Rumble. The first person you fall in love with will not be your last. Hell, the person you fall in love with now might lead you to the one you will love for the rest of your life.
- Ah! My Goddess:
- Emotional maturity is awesome. Two people who trust each other will have no problem finding happiness.
- Also, Urd's line: "My sister's not a doll, Keiichi. She has emotions, including that one."
- Trigun. Killing is wrong. Even when it's necessary, its still wrong. You just have to accept the stain on your soul.
- It's never too late to learn from your mistakes and redeem yourself.
- Now and Then Here and There: War Is Hell for civilians and children. Especially when the children are the ones fighting the war. There is a very good reason why this series is listed right up there with Grave of the Fireflies in terms of tear jerkers and gut-wrenching child cruelty.
- You can pretty much sum Death Note up with two words: "Power corrupts". Or four: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely".
- Future War 198X can be summed up with "War and nukes are bad." It also completely broke the Nuclear Weapons Taboo, and its distribution in East and West Germany was all the more fitting back in the tensest times of the eighties.
- Naruto: Under its Fantastic Aesop about not creating a Laser Guided Tykebomb, there is a very strong message about the need for parental figures in a child's life.
- And the Cycle of Hatred, particularly in Sasuke's story.
- And there's also the fact that you have to always believe in yourself. If the world says you're stupid, don't stop studying; if the world says you're weak, never stop getting stronger; if the world says you're a monster, become a hero. There is a constant dichotomy between Naruto and those he inspires, and those who give in to the hatred, loathing and darkness... And a truly inspiring message that, no matter how far you may have fallen, if you're willing to try you can still find the light again.
- And that it's an extremely scary thing that the generation that has seen the horrors of WMDs being used against people is dying off, because humanity may forget how terrible they really are and use them in the next war.
- Tanaka Yutaka's stories show how communication, honesty and trust in a relationship works, and the lack thereof doesn't.
- Elfen Lied: To sum it up: "Love your neighbor as yourself".
- After it's Genre Shift, Kinnikuman continually attempts to burn in the message that "Friendship is a really good thing." Even the villains value friendship in the series.
- Monster teaches that Forgiveness is always important, even in the face of someone as unspeakably evil as Johan Liebert. It also makes clear that it is never too late to start anew, which is displayed by the number of people attempting to atone for past sins, or people like Nina, who has been through such horrible trauma, yet puts the pieces of her life back together and attempts to live a normal life.
- Dragon Ball:
- No matter how things may change, never forget who you are. Throughout Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT, Goku stayed true to himself. No matter what foe he was up against, his innocence and pureness never faltered. His love for life, friends and family, strengthened him against whomever he faced. There were times where he could have thrown it all away. It would have been easy to do, but he refused. Goku kept a firm grasp on who he was and refused to let them go. At times in life, it may be easier to change who we are to overcome challenges but if you lose yourself on your road to achieving your goals, have you truly achieved anything at all?
- You can be more than what society or the system expects from you; Goku's overall progression in strength is a great example of that. Goku was born with a power level of just two, which even by Saiyan standards, was disappointing. As a result of this, people who were a part of Freeza's Planet Trade Organisation, and even Goku's own father, considered him an afterthought on the day he was born. Because of his underwhelming power level he was sent to Earth, which was one of the weaker planets in the Galaxy, in order to destroy its inhabitants and clear the planet for its future sale. However, one day Goku fell down a deep ravine and hit his head, suffering severe head trauma that sent him into a coma and very nearly killed him. After he woke up, he had lost all of his Saiyan aggression, becoming a kind and mild-mannered young boy. The rest is history...
- Never forget who you're fighting for. Goku’s victories would not have been possible if it weren't for the love of his family and friends. The strong bonds between the Z fighters drove them to give everything that they had in order to save each other and their loved ones. Their friendship is truly inspirational. There is no stronger friendship than willing to do anything and everything in one’s power to protect the other. You can give nothing more than everything you have to protect your friends and family. In return, their strength becomes your own and the impossible becomes a reality.
- Nothing is more powerful than a group coming together and uniting under one common goal. The power of numbers can be seen anywhere you look in Dragon Ball Z. This lesson however was mainly inspired by the use of the Spirit Bomb against Kid Buu. While Vegeta was forming his plan, he understood the strength a united group of people would provide. The power he and Goku possessed in comparison to a single person on Earth was far greater, but the combination of each and every individual on the planet was astounding. Each and every person is capable of achieving great things, but when everyone comes together as one in order to succeed, that is true greatness.
- Never be content with what you have and always strive to become better at everything you do. There were a number of times throughout Dragon Ball Z where any single one of the Z fighters could have just said that they gave up because it was too tough or that they didn’t feel like it but they didn’t. They strived to become stronger, to achieve what their dreams and to protect the ones that they love. If you wish to see perseverance demonstrated in one character in particular, look at Vegeta. He spent the majority of his young life ruled and enslaved. Never did he let that stop him. He continued to train knowing that one day, his opportunity would come and that he would be successful. When Goku ascended to a Super Saiyan before him, he did not give up. It motivated him even more to achieve what he believed was his birthright.
- You can't fight fate. Both Bardock's and Freeza's stories exemplify this, both of their stories mirrors many Greek tragedies, incorporating the message that one cannot escape from his own fate or destiny no matter what one does to avoid it or prevent it. Despite being given the gift of seeing the future, Bardock failed to prevent the destruction of Planet Vegeta and the near extinction of his race. This was after seeing several visions of Planet Vegeta being destroyed and failing to convince other Saiyans that Freeza was going to destroy all of them. In Freeza's case, he was in fear of the Legend of the Super Saiyan, so Freeza killed the Saiyans to prevent the legend ever happening, inadvertently created the catalyst necessary for a Saiyan to become what he had feared. Needless to say, Freeza ended up being defeated by the last known pure blooded Saiyan in existence, Goku, and even though Freeza miraculously survived planet Namek exploding and arrived on Earth before Goku, he ended up being brutally killed, along with his soldiers and his father King Cold, by another Saiyan, Trunks.
- Never rely on numbers to determine or judge the content of a person's character. The reliance on scouters, a device which measures the ki on any sentient being and then outputs it as a 'combat rating', was more of hindrance to person using the scouter than an actual advantage. Guys like Raditz, Nappa, Zarbon, The Ginyu Force, Cui, Dodoria, hell, pretty much everybody who worked under Freeza, put way too much stock in the readings that scouters would provide them. Because of this they would often underestimate their opponent's abilities, and their arrogance would naturally come back to bite them in the ass. Vegeta was the only one smart enough to realize that scouters are pretty much useless and impractical in battle and he even mocked Jeice and Cui for putting too much reliance in them, before he executed them with great ease. Probably the most poignant example was when Trunks took on Freeza's soldiers on Earth, his power level was just five when one of Freeza's soldiers took a reading from the scouter and because of this, immediately dismissed Trunks as a threat. Read the spoiler in the second example to know how that fight turned out.
- It should also be noted that Trunks power reading was last reading officially provided in the history of Dragon Ball, and it's justified when you take into consideration that many of the main cast had gotten so strong that scouters pretty much became redundant in measuring a power level because it would just be way too high for the scouter to even comprehend.
- Similarly, physical appearance is no indicator of a person's true worth. There are countless characters who aren't considered threatening due to their short stature or harmless visage, yet they've all displayed incredible strength. Inversely, plenty of fighters who are huge or menacing are often shown to be deeply insecure when confronted by someone who might be better than themselves.
- Pride comes before a fall. Vegeta gets his ass handed to him so many times for his stubborn pride, you start to wonder if he likes it. Few are the characters who have done more stupid things for the sake of their pride. You'd think he would learn to never underestimate his opponents after being beaten by a low class Saiyan warrior (Goku), his five year old son (Gohan), a bald midget (Krillin) and fat samurai (Yajirobe)... but nope! Vegeta's huge ego and immeasurable pride always get the best of him, which lead to him getting his ass kicked by Zarbon, Recoome, Freeza, Android 18, Cell and Majin Buu. In Cell's case he deliberately aided Cell in becoming stronger because his ego wasn't satisfied with how easy the fight was. Let this be a lesson folks, don't be like Vegeta, because it's a case of going one step forward and then ten steps back.
- Freeza is probably an even more appropriate example. He could have killed Goku at any point during their battle but decided to drag out the fight because, like Vegeta, his ego wasn't satisfied with how easy the fight had become and he wanted to make Goku suffer more. His hesitance to finish comes back to bite him as Goku eventually becomes a Super Saiyan and defeats Freeza. And even after that battle and reaching Earth before Goku, he decides not to just destroy the Earth when he has the chance because his pride wouldn't be satisfied with that, he instead wanted to make everyone on the planet suffer; cue another Saiyan, Trunks, who makes quick work of Freeza, his father King Cold and Freeza's soldiers.
- The secret to success is to be ready for when your opportunity comes. Each person has his or her own belief of why Goku is as successful as he is. Most common of course is natural talent, or the love that he has for his family and friends. Both are true, and both are key factors but in many of the battles that Goku is in he outlasts his opponent. Whether this is because of his endurance, motivation, or something else. He always bides his time until he knows he has a chance for victory. When that opportunity does come, it does not go to waste.
- Without defeat there is no victory. Through Dragon Ball Z, you see nearly every single character get knocked down. Some immediately get back up and face their opponent while others cower. In the end, the struggles that they underwent resulted in them becoming successful. Each time you fall is not for nothing. Only through our failures are we able to become better. Do not look at defeat as something that is permanent; it isn’t. It is a minor roadblock on your journey to becoming who you are meant to be.
- Often in life, our closer friends were once our hated enemy. Throughout all of Dragon Ball, the theme of mercy towards those who have wronged us is everywhere. Goku could have finished both Piccolo and Vegeta off, and yet he didn’t. Whether this was because of his Saiyan blood and his desire to always become a better warrior by fighting people at their caliber, or if it was because of his pure heart, we will never know. But think about it, do you have those few friends that you started out on the wrong foot with them but now you’re inseparable? I sure can. It kind of makes you want to forget about first impressions all together…
- For all people talk of Goku's Aesop of "you can surpass any limitation you put your mind to", Vegeta's entire character arc offers a far more realistic and poignant one: there's always going to be someone better than you, no matter how badly you want to be the best or how hard you try, but you shouldn't allow yourself to be consumed by envy. It's only in the late Buu saga when Vegeta accepts that he will never match Goku's power that he becomes at peace with himself.
- Shugo Chara. Love and compassion are very much important, and it acknowledges this too. (Especially within the second season, particularly near — by the end.) However, having fun and doing what you want to do, are equally important, rather than just doing as others say, or proving their judgements of you and what they tell you you can do. Also, afore — said loving other people should not be done just because it's accepted within general, but because you actually want to help and believe within them, and because it just isn't right to make harm towards personages.
- Also, within the second season, it is 'not' a good piece to keep your problems from others, even if you think it's better for them, due towards the fact that doing so is never going to help 'any — thing', let alone them. Amu, Ikuto and gozen become the prime targets towards this, within ascending order of severity. Although, if it's really, 'really' probable that going some — where involved within as such is going to potentially harm them/some — one other involved as said as such, and not due towards some annoying fear, then it may be best to not do so.
- Barefoot Gen: Nuclear weapons and war are bad. To get the point across, allow us to traumatize you for life. There is more in the manga about the following occupation and the treatment of the nuclear attack survivors, too. And all of this is based on the author's own life. All of this horrifying shit really happened.
- Fairy Tail: The end of the Tower of Heaven arc emphasises that just because a Heroic Sacrifice saves your friends' lives doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to be happy to be alive at your expense.
- Happens quite often with Natsu:
- Much of Natsu's fight with Gildarts in the S-Class Exam was a big anvil drop on his tendency to Leeroy it up. Considering that Gildarts had just come back from fighting the black dragon, it was probably also dropped the anvil that if Natsu couldn't beat Gildarts on his own, he has no chance against the black dragon.
- A later extension to keep Natsu from reaching God Mode Sue status comes along when Future Rogue curb-stomps him in their first fight to the point of Ultear having to save his life from Future Rogue's shadow magic. A skirmish that takes place only a day after Natsu's last battle where he utterly embarrassed Sabertooth's Sting and Rogue in a two-on-one fight in which he didn't even have to resort to using his Lightning Fire abilities.
- Tartarus member, Silver, 1 hit KOing Natsu with his ice-magic when the later decided to go Leeroy Jenkins on the Tartarus hide-out. This coming moments after people started making claims that Natsu had officially obtained God Mode Sue status.
- Basically what happened to Laxus at the start of the Tartarus arc; being taken out nearly right away. Some believed this occurred due to his character showing glimpses of God Mode Sue as the Grand Magic Games moved along, and that this incident brought him back down to normal level.
- The series has another major lesson, and it is arguably the most important; whether or not someone can be considered your family ultimately has very little to do with blood or DNA. All members of the titular guild view each other as family, and yet apart from Makarov and Laxus, Gildarts and Cana and the Strauss siblings, almost none of them are actually related. As Erza once puts it, just like flowers can't choose where they bloom, children can't choose their parents. Speaking of Erza, out of all the many characters (and trust me, it's a huge number), she arguably drops the anvil the hardest. She never knew her real parents, so Makarov is the closest thing to a father she's ever known, and yet they are just as close and loving to each other as a real father and daughter. Contrast that with Minerva, Erza's Evil Counterpart in Sabertooth, whose Guild Master Jiemma is her real father, but is abusive towards her to the point that she doesn't care when one of her guild mates blows a hole through him.
- Happens quite often with Natsu:
Lucy: (to her father) I'm not lucky Lucy Heartfilia anymore. I'm Lucy of Fairy Tail. The people there treat me like family, something you never did.
- Kyo Kara Maoh: No matter how different two groups are or how much bad history they have between them, it is possible for them to live together peacefully.
- Uchuu Senkan Yamato/Star Blazers: No matter how necessary a war may be, people are going to suffer. Turnabout isn't fair play; killing is and always will be wrong. There often isn't a clear difference between the good guys and bad guys, in the end. Revenge is a slippery slope that will never, under any circumstances, make you happy.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Everyone desperately needs to be loved and accepted, from their families, their friends, and the people around them. Otherwise they'll end up as screwed up as these people.
- If you know yourself you can take care of yourself. The uploader of the video says this specifically: You are the one who writes the story of your life. If you run away from doing so and immerse yourself in something else to avoid thinking about it — to the point that it consumes you (excessive gaming, anime binging, alcohol, sex, becoming a workaholic, etc.), you will have wasted your life instead of doing something meaningful with it. Life is worth living, but only if you choose to live it rather than run from it.
- Communication and interaction with other people is extremely important. Even when it's to avoid pain, sacrificing intimacy is not worth it and will make your life worse.
- Don't kill yourself. The series makes more sense if you think about the Instrumentality Project as an allegory for suicide.
- The third Rebuild of Evangelion film has the basic message that in life, everyone screw up, and sometimes, obsessing over your mistakes and trying to undo them only makes things much worse. Much much MUCH worse.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Making other people happy often requires a person to sacrifice their own happiness in exchange and doing selfless acts for selfish reasons will usually backfire. The person must be HONEST to themself about such so-called selflessness, and admit that not everyone can be totally selfless unless they really know what they're doing.
- Psycho-Pass: Using a utilitarian system that judges people by what they might do rather than what they've already done, is using evil to fight evil. For every potential criminal put away, many more innocents are killed or have their lives ruined.
- If you turn away from the people you love because you don't understand them, you will regret it when you lose them forever.
- The law doesn't protect people, people protect the law. The law is not the system and it's not the provisions of the system. The law is the accumulation of everyone's wishes for a better society. And the worst thing you can do to these laws that should be sacred is to create a law that is unworthy of protection.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena:
- Assigned roles suck in general. Especially gender roles. People must start building their own destiny through their own actions rather than others'.
- It's best to stop judging women for their looks, their beliefs, etc. ESPECIALLY if a woman does this, because women who hate other women will never be able to love themselves.
- When one projects their hopes and ideals onto other people, it just ends with everyone getting hurt. Especially if the person expects the other/others to live up to those hopes.
- No one can save the world by themselves. Those who try will be overwhelmed, crash down over the pressure, fall into anger and despair, be liable to betrayal from those they saved, and probably end up becoming selfish assholes who hurt those who DO need them.
- Family is important, yes. But if someone is mistreated by theirs and can't get them to change, they must save themselves first. In such cases, their safety come first.
- Abuse victims are NOT "purse puppies" that their "saviors" can sweep off their feet and show off as "living accomplishments". They have their own needs and personalities, they react differently to the world around them, they often can be huge assholes out of resentment and pain (rather than being sweet and sad 'children' to dote on and mollycoddle), and at their very worst they can either become massive narcissists or even victimise other people.
- People in bad situations cannot just be 'rescued' and 'saved' by others. They must first give the first step to their own salvation. Giving support and encouragement isn't a magic solution: if the person in trouble doesn't take the chance to save themself, no one can do it for them.
- Candy Candy:
- "People must work hard for their own success and independence, and if done right, they'll be greatly rewarded. No one can expect to have anything just handed to them."
- "Romance is not the end and be-all of a person's life, and especially women. It's important, yes, and there's no sin on being a woman or a man in love, but it shouldn't be someone's only priority. And sometimes, if the lovers aren't ready or aren't making each other happy, it's time to break off and say goodbye"
- Blue Comet SPT Layzner: Discrimination is bad. Racism is bad. War is bad. Conquering and oppressing other people IS BAD.. This is especially obvious regarding the second part of the series, all but stated to be inspired in the Japanese Empire's war crimes during World War Two and especially the cruel treatment of the Korean Peninsula.
- Sasurai no Taiyou:
- Yes, rich people can be snooty. Yes, poor people can be kind. But that does NOT automatically happen because of their birth: what makes the trick is the person's specific environment. i.e, Nozomi is a sweetheart and Miki's a snot, but their moms are huge influences in them. Plus Michiko is NOT exactly swimming in riches, but she's a huge asshole and not even her Dark and Troubled Past justifies her revenge on two innocent families, one rich and one poor, and their just as innocent children..
- There's also quite the criticism to the capitalistic post-WWII Japanese society and its cut-throat entertainement industry. Which turned out to be... prophetic.
- A number of EC Comics in the 1950s. In that era, doctors would appear in cigarette TV commercials telling people how healthy they were. EC in general (and Mad magazine more specifically) worked anti-smoking elements into their features quite frequently. Other notable aesops include:
- "Judgment Day" features an astronaut from Earth refusing to allow a planet of robots whose society is segregated along color lines to join a coalition of civilized species. The anvil is then hammered into the ground when the astronaut takes his helmet off and the reader discovers that he is black. Its necessity was later proven by the Comics Code Authority when the story was being anthologized, as they tried to tell EC editor Bill Gaines that the hero could not be black.
It also dropped a second and equally important anvil — that segregation can be overcome. While the robots are refused membership to the coalition, the astronaut assures the robots that if they work at it, they can fix their social problems.
- "Master Race" us about a German immigrant to America after WorldWarII who is driven to near-madness because he believes he is being stalked by someone from the war. As the story unfolds, it is slowly revealed that the man was a commander at Bergen-Belsen, and the man following him is a Jew he had tortured who had vowed revenge. The story is shot through with accurate descriptions and depictions of what occurred in the Nazi concentration camps, and was one of the first pieces in American popular culture to address the Holocaust at all. The complete story is also available online.
- "Judgment Day" features an astronaut from Earth refusing to allow a planet of robots whose society is segregated along color lines to join a coalition of civilized species. The anvil is then hammered into the ground when the astronaut takes his helmet off and the reader discovers that he is black. Its necessity was later proven by the Comics Code Authority when the story was being anthologized, as they tried to tell EC editor Bill Gaines that the hero could not be black.
- V for Vendetta, specifically the "Valerie" chapter, about a woman who had been a successful actress before the fascist regime slowly and cruelly destroyed her life, which ended in a concentration camp medical experiment, all because she was a lesbian. The narrative would not be half as effective if Moore had been subtle with it.
- Warren Ellis is big on these.
- The entire run of Transmetropolitan was a big, long, anvil about the importance of standing up for The Truth and speaking out for what you believe in, regardless of the personal consequences; and the evils of complacency and blindly accepting authority. Making the character who most embodied these principles a self-proclaimed bastard further emphasizes the already subtle-as-a-sledgehammer point.
Spider Jerusalem: I'm sorry, is that too harsh for you? Does that sound too much like the Truth? Fuck you. If anyone in this shithole city gave two tugs of a dead dog's cock about the Truth, this wouldn't be happening.
- 40, "Business", is a stark look at child prostitution and the failings of underfunded social services. Despite the comic's post-cyberpunk setting, the story rings far too true. But the conclusion/anvil that the story comes to:
Why are your kids selling themselves on the streets? Because you completely fucked up the job of raising them.
- "Monstering" also has a good one about journalism and the duty of news media:
It's the Journalism of Attachment. It's caring about the world you report on. Some people say that's bad journalism, that there should be a detached, cold, unbiased view of the world in our news media. And if that's what you want, there are security cameras everywhere you could watch footage of.
- Another one was dropped by the Reservations:
"Remember the past, and learn from it, or you are doomed to repeat it."
Joseph Swetnam: Justice, like Lightning, should ever appear. To few men's ruin, but to all men's fear...
- Black Summer: A lot of people don't like the president, but only a giant prick would actually kill him.
- Captain America once was used quite often to address social issues. This tends to involve numerous misinformed people being led on by a few evil people against a few unfairly persecuted people, and Cap trying to resolve things.
"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.""
- Another version was done in What If? #44, which involved Captain America being revived 'today' — or, at least, well after a virulently anti-Communist version had laid claim to the shield and turned America into a rather unpleasant place to live. The resulting fight between the real Captain America and the John Birch Society knockoff was immediately followed by Cap delivering a What the Hell, Hero? to the entire country.
- Most of Grant Morrison's comics (most notably Final Crisis and Flex Mentallo) are tracts speaking against the Dark Age of comics, specifically the idea that comics should mirror Real Life in their violence and morally ambiguous attitudes. Morrison's takes on Superman and Batman are extraordinarily optimistic and straight-forward; Superman is often shown as a borderline God (especially in All-Star Superman) who tirelessly works toward the betterment of mankind, while Batman represents the peak of human ingenuity and intelligence, who can break free from any trap and defeat any villain. The whole thing is a stark and welcome contrast to the Frank Miller ideal of the tortured outcast Batman, and the ultimately ineffectual government puppet Superman.
- The Green Arrow storyline where he discovers that his sidekick is addicted to heroin. During a time when the title had turned into a rather Anvilicious series, this particular arc was exceptionally well done and considered a turning point in the character, the series, and even to some extent comics in general being a transport for serious issues. Several anvils are dropped — not just drug-related ones, but Green Arrow's sense of betrayal of responsibility for his friend and his relationships with other superheroes. It's a remarkably deep arc during a time when most superheroes were wearing spandex tights and going "POW" at the villains.
- In the "Forever" story arc of Powers, Christian Walker goes to show his abilities to Albert Einstein, to ask what they are and where they came from. In their conversation afterwards, Einstein delivers an astoundingly good speech about the nature of the scientific attitude, and afterwards...
Walker: I thought — I thought maybe my story would upset you. I thought that I might be upsetting some of your theories of the--
- A meta example is the Spider-Man comic book arc, "Green Goblin Reborn!", where Spidey encounters the negative effects of drug abuse, with his friend Harry ODing on pills. Despite this, the Comics Code Authority refused to approve the story for having any depiction of drug use — even when it was peppered with Anvilicious anti-drug messages. Stan Lee decided to publish the stories without the CCA seal of approval, and the ensuing public support prompted the CCA to relax its overly-constrictive guidelines.
- Punisher: Max's darkest story arc, The Slavers, includes a lot of information — including a lecture, with slides — about the sex slave trade.
- The two issues of Zot! in which Terry comes out to herself and Woody pens an editorial about the attack on a young man presumed gay.
- The first story arc of Wonder Woman Vol. 2 drops the same anvil as The Day After, with Diana showing Ares that his plans to start World War III would leave him with nobody to worship him. Later, the "Who Killed Mindi Mayer" issue delves into drug use by revealing that Mindi technically wasn't murdered; she died from a cocaine overdose before her attempted killer pulled the trigger.
- The moral of Watchmen is that morality is itself ambiguous. Hammered home extra hard by the death of Rorschach, perhaps the only remaining morally absolutist vigilante.
"I leave it entirely in your hands."
- Also, life is a precious, fragile thing, and we should be grateful for every day we get.
- Moral absolutism is bad. So are rape and child abuse.
- The whole reason X-Men exists: you shouldn't be afraid of someone because they're different. Different people are people too — some are bad, some are good, and some are neither. Don't pigeonhole huge groups of people.
- X-Men is also largely about the world's "good" mutants managing to band together and prove to the world that their powers can be used for good, no matter how many psychopathic mutants decide to abuse their gifts. Even when mutants have every reason to hate humanity, and could conquer the world if they chose to do so, they are always capable of choosing a higher path and working for the good of society for no other reason than that it's the right thing to do.
- Another anvil dropped is that just because someone hates you does not mean you shouldn't do the right thing and not help them.
- While Jack Chick has been infamous for being Anvilicious in a negative way, one particular tract, "Why No Revival?", provided a positive one. Instead of criticizing unbelievers (or Catholics), in a tract that was explicitly directed at Christians (and states that it is NOT for the unsaved), he instead criticized Christians who were afraid to admit their faith and beliefs to their peers. In contrast, he shows the ancient martyrs who were under the threat of death and yet were not afraid to say that they were Christians. In the tract, he criticized the hypocrisies of some Christians and shows why many churches faced various spiritual problems and no revival. Even if Jack Chick is woefully out to lunch on a lot of things, he knows this topic very well.
- The main Aesop of Scott Pilgrim is that if you've made mistakes in the past, you shouldn't run away from them, but rather to accept those flaws to become a better person and avoid making the same mistakes all over again.
- Kingdom Come is a brutal, heavy-handed Deconstruction of the The Dark Age of Comic Books with a decidedly apocalyptic tone that can come across as needlessly Anvilicious to modern comic fans. But considering the state of the comic book industry at the time of its publication, a subtler Take That might not have had the same effect. For this reason, many fans actually cite Kingdom Come as the definitive end of the Dark Age.
- Star Trek Voyager — Rose and the Yew Tree is a bomb raid of anvils dropped well: Civilized does not mean moral. Tolerance repaid with prejudice breeds resentment. The enemy is no different then you. Principles guide us when we lack data. Live in the now. Stories are important... That and much more. Oh so much more. Anvilicious because it's told. Effective because it's shown. Possibly best fan fiction ever written. Required reading for anyone who can tolerate SF.
- In the Daria/LegionOfSuperHeroes crossover Bird With Black Wings (set in the Crapsack World that is the shared-world series Daylight, set after a civilization-extinction level event caused by massive solar flares), the members of the Legion get into an debate on whether they should revoke their rule on killing. The discussion is turned by Julia Carlyle, who gives a Patrick Stewart Speech on how she, as a military officer, has it in her job description to kill, but how others expect the Legionnaires to hold fast to their standards, even in the toughest of times. She even paraphrases Tom Clancy in a Crowning Moment of Awesome at the end of her speech:
Julia Carlyle: “There’s a passage I read in a book long ago. I’m paraphrasing just a bit – but the meaning is something I’ve always remembered. `So we don’t have a choice. You can name any reason you want, but it all comes down to the same thing; we have a debt of honor to the man who brought all of us together, and the people who believe that we stand for something more. If we don’t defend that principle, we don’t defend anything. And nobody will trust us, and nobody will respect us, not even ourselves. If we turn our backs on them by deciding to kill, then we are not the people we say we are, and everything we’ve ever done is a lie.’”
- There is an entire subclass of documentary films that aim for this.
- The Social Network: while you may have good intentions in starting a business, bad decisions made will ultimately affect personal relationships.
- Requiem for a Dream: Drugs Are Bad. What really makes the movie work is that the consequences all of the characters face are all part of a logical chain of events, and that while they are horrible, they are actually pretty realistic. It helps that you just feel so bad for the characters, too.
- All Quiet on the Western Front: The people on the other side of war are just as human as you are. Also, War Is Hell.
- Joyeux Noël has a well-aimed anvil about the humanity of all sides of a war. While it couldn't be called subtle, it manages to be ethically complex and very inspiring. The fact that many of the aspects of the film that might otherwise seem unreal are based on true events from World War I makes it all the more amazing.
- Clint Eastwood made the same point about the WWII Japanese in Letters From Iwo Jima, the companion piece to his American-POV movie, Flags of our Fathers.
- Blood Diamond emphasizes that even people who have engaged in evil have the potential to consciously choose good and redeem themselves. This is shown in the film through a real-life home for former child soldiers which, through kind treatment, gives them a chance at a normal life.
- Brokeback Mountain, emphasizes that gay people are just as capable of romantic love as any straight person, and for depicting the very real pain caused by the closet — not just Jack and Ennis, but everyone around them, are made miserable and complicit in the lie that the two are forced to live.
- Many films made during World War II, with Casablanca being a good example of a work which is explicitly patriotic yet never stops being entertaining.
- The Dark Knight's story was mostly taken from the famed comic "The Killing Joke," where the Joker wants to prove that anyone can have a bad day and turn into someone like him. The comic rides on the aesop that personal choice and free will is an individual trait, that everyone will not do the same thing in the same situation.
It even adds that while one person can become a symbol, whenever you try to force moral change, people will fight you. For Batman, the mobs resisted his war against them. For the Joker, civilians and criminals alike refused to play by his "social experiment."
Also, you do not bow to fear. Every time Gotham goes along with the Joker's demands, something terrible happens. Every time they resist him, the outcome is a good one.
- There is nothing at all subtle about the original The Day the Earth Stood Still. The entire film is an indictment against trigger-happy paranoia; at the conclusion, Messianic Archetype Klaatu delivers An Aesop in no uncertain terms. There is no irony, there is no ambiguity, there is only sincere, earnest urgency — and it works.
- The entire point of The Deer Hunter is to drive in the point that War Is Hell.
- District 9 has plenty of messages about racism: Refugees and minorities deserve respect, racism is bad, the Apartheid is monstrous, and racist people are capable of finding enough humanity within themselves to find redemption (which is a rare anvil to drop, indeed, as some viewers treat bigotry as a Moral Event Horizon on its own and become angry when such characters redeem themselves!).
- Dr. Strangelove showed us that the "arms race" may as well be a bunch of sexually-frustrated men trying to outdo each other. And for that matter, the "missile gap" is about as silly as a "Doomsday Gap" or a "Mineshaft Gap."
- The movie Fail-Safe is basically the serious version of Dr. Strangelove, and actually depicts the horror of a nuclear attack, as it has both Moscow and New York City getting blown-up.
- Good Night and Good Luck... portrays its villain as an unspeakably corrupt madman who will stop at nothing to ruin his enemies' lives. The villain is McCarthy himself, who is played by archive footage of himself. You can't argue with an anvil that falls out of a story that actually happened.
- Frank Capra films are generally Anvilicious in a good way. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; where Mr. Smith does Eagle Land so proud that if you are not, as an American, inspired by his advocacy for the rights of all of us, then you, sir or ma'am, are a communist!
- Secondhand Lions takes time out for Robert Duvall to expressly give this monologue on the moral of the story:
Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.
- Gojira derives a large part of its power from its explicit and not remotely subtle anti-nuclear-weapons message. While the giant dinosaur is something of a Space Whale Aesop, the sheer devastation wrought by the monster was intentionally evocative of the aftermath of a nuclear bomb, showing exactly what one does every time they let a weapon of mass destruction loose.
- Godzilla VS Hedorah provides the very straightforward message that pollution is a huge danger to not only humans, but all life as well... And that we must all work together to stop it.
- John Q raises questions and messages about whether or not health care in the country is truly a service to help the sick or a business just out to make money. It lays it on thick, but it's something that needed (and still needs) to be pointed out.
- The anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun is clear, blatant and obvious in its message from the very first scene. It could not possibly be improved, certainly not by anything remotely resembling subtlety.
- The Day After showed in explicit detail what would happen to the survivors of a nuclear war between the US and the USSR. The message was impossible to miss: The catastrophic events you have witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than the destruction that would actually occur in the event of a full nuclear strike against the United States. And it worked! Soon after The Day After (and Threads, an equivalent film in England) was released, various nations started talking seriously about disarmament, instead of making more ridiculous plans to "win" a nuclear war. Ronald Reagan even sent the producers a note after the 1985 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed, stating "You caused this to happen."
- The War Game (not to be confused with War Games) did its job of warning about the horrors of nuclear war a bit too well — it was banned for twenty years because it was considered likely to panic the public.
- The entire plot of War Games is about how the only way to "win" a nuclear war is not to start it in the first place. Of course, it doesn't go so far as to have an actual war occur, but it gets fairly close, making it pretty effective. It doesn't get much more Anvilicious than having "The only winning move is not to play" right there in the script...
- The 1988 animated English film When the Wind Blows, (based on the comic book of the same name by Raymond Briggs, which is similarly effective) about a retired couple living in the country, who survive a nuclear attack. They do everything they've been told to (largely the equivalent of tarps and duct tape) while waiting for someone in authority to come to their aid while they slowly die.
- Hairspray (both versions) comes with An Aesop about racial tolerance and how anyone can achieve their dreams if they're plucky enough to Be Yourself that's so subtle-as-a-speeding-Mack-truck that it borders on parody. And yet, it comes off as refreshingly optimistic and upbeat and makes the show thoroughly enjoyable.
- The Shawshank Redemption repeats the basic message — that hope is a really good thing — about a billion times over, but that doesn't stop it from being fantastically well done.
- The Chinese film Wait 'til You're Older pretty much hammers home the point that life is a one-way journey and that people should value the time that they already have. This is achieved by having the protagonist take an aging potion as a fast track to adulthood, only to find out that his life span has been reduced to less than a week, and he has an overwhelming need to resolve his family problems before his time runs out.
- Most parents and children are probably glad that Monsters, Inc. dropped the anvil that there's no need to be afraid of your closet.
- Most Disney-Pixar flicks have some sort of underlying, Anvilicious message.
- Pixar gives us a bearable Green Aesop in WALL-E. It also gave us a few other memorable anvils, like "Get off your ass and DO something" and "Corporate culture should not tell you how to live your life". The director claimed the Green Aesop was an Accidental Aesop since it was just required to create the setting.
- While being a kickass action-comedy, The Incredibles has some major messages on both the strength of family and the individual vs. a homogenizing society.
- Brad Bird's non-Pixar film, The Iron Giant, drops the anvil that you are who you choose to be. Nobody programmed you to do anything; you choose who you become.
- The central message of It's a Wonderful Life is that You Are Not Alone.
- October Sky: Knowledge, especially education, plus determination and hard work, can enable you to accomplish any dream, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. (Doesn't hurt that it's a true story, either.)
- Pollyanna and the scene about all the Happy Texts in the Bible. It might be Tastes Like Diabetes to some but in today's society where everyone is taught to Accentuate the Negative and be cynical because positivity is considered "immature", Pollyanna's line about how there are over 800 texts in the Bible telling mankind to be happy is a very telling lesson.
- At its core, Serenity is an attack on do-gooding government social engineers. The first scene even has River, one of the movie's protagonists, stating that the Unification War which decimated the rim planets was the result of government meddling. Word of God says that the Independents were fighting for "the right to be wrong" — the right to have their own way of doing things.
River: People don't like being meddled with.
- The point of Schindler's List is that the Holocaust was bad. This might hardly seem like a message that needs to be repeated, but it's a lot easier to compartmentalize it in an academic setting as opposed to seeing it played out in front of your eyes.
- Silent Running. The natural world is valuable and important, and worth the effort to protect and preserve.
- The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming is a very solid (and at times brutal) statement on war, and the difference between being a person and being a sheep. McCarthy-era panic just makes an extra-good backdrop to it. After twenty-plus years of "Russians are all soulless killer commies", it also was one of the first to drop the "no, they're just people like us" anvil.
- While Rent tends to get called over-hyped or dated in its extremely optimistic point of view, it wouldn't have made such an impact if it wasn't about a group of broke and starving and (for half of them) HIV/AIDS-positive friends. In spite of everything going wrong, they still manage to have fun and hope for whatever's left of their future.
- Tangled makes no secret of its moral about dreams, but damned if it doesn't do it beautifully anyway. And even better, it actually teaches that people go through life with more than one dream, as opposed to the idea that people are defined by one thing. Or, as Flynn puts it, "That's the great thing about dreams. Once you've found one, you get a new one."
- The Princess and the Frog. Work hard to achieve your goals, and don't go for the quick "too good to be true" route. At the same time though, it's important to not neglect things like friendship or love.
- While the moral in the movie is not in the original novel at all, since Victor Hugo actually hated the Roma like many other people of his time period, Disney's take on The Hunchback of Notre Dame handles its anti-bigotry message far less Anviliciously — and with far more skill — than its immediate predecessor, Pocahontas. This is best illustrated in the song God Help the Outcasts.
- It's hard to name a Charlie Chaplin film which doesn't drop one or more. The Great Dictator is probably one of the oldest films to drop such a colossal anvil. It involves someone else with that same moustache...
- In Stand by Me, the major moral lessons are the importance of friendship and family and that you should believe in yourself and follow your dreams no matter what anyone else says.
- Prayers for Bobby drops the anvil hard on homophobia. The fact that it's a true story makes it all the more powerful.
- The Ox-Bow Incident is one of the first serious Western films made, and it's Anvilicious in a big way. But its anvil is a critical one, maybe even more now than when it was made. In a time when the words "vigilante" and "hero" are seen as synonyms, even while DNA testing gives us a hint of just how many people might be wrongly accused, The Ox-Bow Incident tells a simple, inevitable story that movies like Death Wish and The Brave One wouldn't dare get into: what happens when the righteously outraged vigilante heroes, claiming that the law's failed and trusting their own instincts instead, kill an innocent man?
- Dogma says a lot that needs to be said about organized religion, and how it undermines the most important thing of all; that you have faith.
- There're two important messages in Up, which both tie into one another.
The first is 'don't ignore what's really important by clinging to your regrets', which Carl learns when he realizes that his house and the associated memories doesn't matter as much as the people in his life right now.
The second is that 'life is unfair, but you can't let that ruin your chances at being happy'. Carl never took Ellie to Paradise Falls, Russell never sees his dad again, and Muntz had his reputation destroyed. It's sad, but it's not the end of the world. Carl and Russell instead move on with their lives and find happiness regardless, while Muntz becomes corrupted by his own bitterness.
- Terminator 2: There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.
- The 1947 film Gentlemans Agreement is a very anvil-heavy attack on anti-Semitism. Watching it nowadays, it's easy to miss just how controversial this was at the time.
- Fritz Lang's Metropolis says "The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart" about a million times (more in the unabridged version), ending with a shot of Freder (the heart) joining the hands of Joh Frederson (the head) and Grot (the hands). And it's true.
- An in-universe example occurs in Galaxy Quest — "Never give up! Never surrender!" — as well as the various anvils dropped by the movie itself. Lampshaded at various points by the Thermians.
- Ferngully for its antipollution message and the one of animal testing that's in the uncut "Batty Rap" song. The way the music and Robin Wiliam's narration go, its pretty damn creepy. And all true.
- The Star Wars prequels. Or any movie about the zeitgeist before an oppressive regime starts up.
- The Wave is all about how one should never assume that fascism can "never happen here." It can, and very easily. The Nazis were able to get away with what they did because the people didn't see the warning signs and would rather give up their freedom than risk being cast out of society. The fact that it was based on an actual incident that happened at a California High School only intensifies this.
- Disclosure: No, rape is not okay when it's a woman on man. Not even if the woman is his ex-flame and the man is a reputed horn dog.
- M gives us two: It's important that you watch your children and don't let them talk to strangers, and that, quoting the lawyer, "No one has the right to kill a man who is incapable of responsibility for his actions! Not even the state!"
- Avatar manages to avoid the Science Is Bad pitfall usually associated with simple Green Aesop stories when it is science that can help the planet. The scientists in the film represent the best of humanity, who see the true value of Pandora in its forests that could be used to cure the sick Earth with various biomechanical means derived from the native plants, instead of hoarding the crude Unobtanium, the most obvious resource around. It's the Corrupt Corporate Executives who just want to make a big buck and jingoistic soldiers who seek to demonize and destroy the natives who are the actual villains of the story. The movie shows that science can be good or bad for humanity; it just depends on what kind of people use it.
- Throughout the film of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy spends her time wishing she had Susan's beauty, and eventually has a dream that she has turned herself into Susan, only to find that she (Lucy) no longer exists and that Edmund and Peter no longer remember Narnia. After she wakes up in a panic, Aslan gently scolds her for her vanity, telling her that by wishing to be someone else, she is underestimating her own worth. Perhaps what makes it work is the dream itself — there's something chilling about finding out that your old self never exists and no one remembers it at all.
- American History X. Racism is bad. End of story, and that's including African-Americans' racism toward Caucasian people, not just Caucasian people's racism toward the African-Americans. If someone is a racist, he's racist, no matter which ethnic group he belongs to, and that's wrong.
- Love Actually has "even if you really are attracted to someone, and that particular someone is really attracted to you, sometimes it's just not the right time for romance. Sometimes there are overarching issues that need to be sussed out." Sara was one of the few people in the story who did not get the guy. However, she chose to take care of her mentally ill brother rather than to be with her Love Interest, showing that family is more important than romance. Their final interaction seemed to imply that they really are still interested in one another, but are just putting things on hold.
- This exchange from The Fellowship of The Ring sums up quite nicely the importance of making choices in one's life:
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
- Paddy Chayevsky's Network is one big anvil on Television and television culture.
"So, you listen to me. Listen to me: Television is not the truth! Television is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth... Go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever going to find any real truth."
- It also has a few other less-than-subtle anvils to drop about humanity, corporatization, and marital fidelity.
Howard Beale: "I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'"
- Inherit the Wind is necessary viewing for any who thinks themselves religious and is fearful of thinking for themselves. Such wisdom in the play/film, especially as spoken by Spencer Tracy in the 1960 film, can change your life and set your spirit free:
[challenged to say if he considers anything holy] Henry Drummond: Yes. The individual human mind. In a child's power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "amens" and "holy holies" and "hosannas." An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters.
- The Halloween remake has the aesop that animal abuse is a big warning sign of a future abuser/serial killer.
- In Paris Je T Aime, a collection of short films about the city of Paris made by notable directors. The husband-and-wife team behind Bend It Like Beckham made a short about the relationship between the ethnic French and the growing Muslim community in Paris. A few teenage/college aged boys make fun of a hijabi and try pulling off her headscarf. One of the boys with them lingers to apologize. She's beautiful and intelligent, and they hit it off. He tentatively asks her about her hijab and she explains that it was her choice, it's a reminder of her faith and it makes her feel good. At one point he vists at her house, and her scary male relative is there — oh no! But he's happy to meet the boy and invites him to go for a walk with them, all three together. The movie fades out as the older man makes small talk, full of pride, about the student project she's working on: stories about Paris, but about her own Paris ... Anvilicious as hell? Yes. Sweet, touching, and a refreshingly honest look at the fears non-Muslims have built up around Muslims, as well as what you generally get if you bother to actually talk to a Muslimah? Definitely yes.
- Gran Torino gives us more than a few. First, there's the lesson that killing someone is not "cool", but a traumatic experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Second, being a big damn hero just isn't worth it. Finally, fighting violence with violence is pointless.
- Rambo (2008) has an anvil who seriously needed to be dropped but most movies didn't have the balls to do it. The anvil is that most of times, pacifistic and non-violent ways simply aren't gonna change anything, and are completly useless against evil bastards who kills and mauls innocent people For the Evulz. They will only response with deadly violence towards those who are naive enough to believe in non-violence and then make a good laugh about it. The only thing that can actually stop the murderous rampages of those kind of people is deadly violence paid back on them, because once they themselves are dead, they can't harm another human being ever again.
- A History of Violence has an anvil that is something of a Take That to the glorification of violence in popular media. Killing someone does not — and should not — automatically make you a hero, no matter how much they may have deserved it. Actions have consequences, and the consequences of violence are ugly and life-destroying.
- The X-Men movies made a big deal out of the parallels between mutants and LGBT folks, especially in the second movie when Bobby "comes out" to his parents. It's ridiculous, but when you hear about or have experienced some of the stigma that many people go through these days, you can get why it's still an issue. (Also, being gay would be a lot easier if you could shoot fireballs or something.)
- Captain America: The First Avenger gives us a wonderful anvil that basically tells us that true power doesn't come from attaining actual strength to strong-arm everyone around you, but it comes from within, and that those who are good people will always know the true value of power. Hence why Steve Rogers managed to be a better person than he was prior to the Super Serum, and why the Red Skull (a power-hungry maniac) turned out the way he did.
- The Other Guys drops the anvil that unchecked corporate greed is a bad thing, and can destroy lives. In a Buddy Cop satire movie. But since it came out right after the credit crunch and the resulting economic crisis, the point seems to be that it's not ordinary people that caused the crisis, but rather predatory corporations.
- The film Utoya, 22 Juli is a reenactment of the Breivik Massacre (which happened on the island Utoya at 22. July 2011) from the perspective of the victims. The film masterfully drops two anvils: first, victims of shootings are not just numbers: they are(mostly young) people, whose hopes and dreams are brutally squashed. And second, no matter what the motives for the shooting are, if you do that, you are forever past Moral Event Horizon and deserve utter condemnation for all times.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: "All right. I'll go to hell, then." Called the greatest phrase ever in American literature for a reason.
- Night by Elie Wiesel: The Holocaust happened, and we have to come to terms with that. It was a dark mark on human history that should never be repeated. Real human beings with feelings were slaughtered for no reason other than their heritage. Genocide is bad. It cannot happen again.
- Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale — a sci-fi fable about patriarchal society and religious fundamentalism — is about as subtle as a high-velocity cinder block, but has a highly influential and important message.
- The Rising Of The Moon by Flynn Connolly, in which an Irish woman returns to Ireland after having spent fifteen years in self-imposed exile so that she could teach actual Irish history instead of the redacted version authorized by the government. Anvils include, but are not limited to, "Freedom of Religion," "Freedom Isn't Free," "Equal Rights," "Sexism Works Both Ways," "One Person Can Make a Difference," "Those Who Cannot Remember the Past," etc.
- Empire, by Orson Scott Card, is not the least bit subtle about the problems of the current political system in the United States. The bad guys aren't "the Democrats" or "the Republicans." It's not the right or the left, it's a few people at the top on both sides, with extremist views, who could pull everyone else along with them into a second civil war. (And the unanswered question posed by the ending is even creepier...)
- Ender's Game also rejects subtlety and symbolism, and is all the better for it.
- A lot of Dickens falls under this heading from A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. He gets away with his anvils because they're never based on the idea that Readers Are Morons and need lessons in basic decency, they are always motivated by genuine passion, fury against real injustices, and a need to increase word count:
"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."
- Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist is the book responsible for abolishing workhouses as a placeholder for orphans. Who can forget the iconic "Please, sir, I want some more!" scene?
- Ben Elton's High Society makes some very important points about the harm created by drug prohibition and the power wielded by sensationalist tabloid media, and still manages to be a thoroughly entertaining read.
- The novel Momo by Michael Ende. The book's message about how we need to make time for each other and all the things we love in our lives is really obvious — and you couldn't imagine the book being nearly as good without it.
- Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein drops anvils about military service.
- "If you want to participate as a citizen, you have to serve your country, up to and including being prepared to quite literally fight, even die, for the privilege. And it is a privilege, not a right."
- Also, an all-volunteer army that's well trained, well equipped, and knows the value of the individuals that serve in it trumps an army that treats its infantry like so many potatoes to be thrown at enemies, even if the latter greatly outnumbers the former. Basically, if your idea of troop management is "let 'em die like pigs, We Have Reserves", then those "reserves" are going to run out a lot sooner than you think... and you are going to deserve to be screwed over once that happens.
- Another perspective taken is that Heinlein, who was not especially pro-military, took the morally-brightest example of a militarized society (the Terran Federation) and compared them to the worst example possible (the bugs). The anvil falls from the comparison between the two.
- There's also the Anvil that "violence never solves anything" is wishful thinking. Yes, it is preferable and best that you look for a non-violent solution to any given problem. But at the same time, sometimes that simply isn't going to work. Insisting on avoiding any violence once it's clear that a compromise can't be reached is dangerous in itself.
- Lastly, there are two aesops regarding sexism and racism. Johnny Rico is Juan Rico and his girlfriend Carmen is an officer and a pilot, trying to demonstrate an integrated service being the ideal.
- Brave New World wouldn't have been half as effective if Aldous Huxley had been even the least bit subtle.
- Norman Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth drops the learning-is-fun anvil pretty early on, and keeps picking it up and dropping it again. This strategy would not work if the book were not also funny as hell — it reads like a combination of Shel Silverstein, James Thurber, and Douglas Adams. Kudos to Norton Juster for also throwing in enough Parental Bonus moments to keep the book funny and relevant.
- Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Enough said.
"Atticus, he was real nice..." His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them." He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.
- 1984 and Animal Farm, both by George Orwell. If these books weren't overblown, they wouldn't be nearly as effective in conveying how truly fragile and precious the ideal of freedom really is.
- The chief Anvil in both is about individuality versus conformity and the important of holding onto the truth that's right in front of your eyes. As long as you have that, you are still free, no matter what anyone else does to you.
- Terry Pratchett's Young Adult Discworld novels drop anvils labeled "take personal responsibility" so often you think you're being attacked by an anvil-wielding 82nd Airborne. But it works.
- Terry Pratchett's Hogfather drops the anvil that humans need to learn stories when they're young — that they need to believe in silly things like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, so that when they get older, they can believe in other things that don't exist without people believing in them and acting on them — like Justice, Mercy, Duty, and that sort of thing.
- Though all of Ayn Rand's novels are Anvilicious, the unsubtle political messages in We The Living come off more acceptably than those in her later works, because it targets Russian Communists rather than generic Strawman Political equivalents.
- The same qualifies for Howard Roark's Author Tract at the end of The Fountainhead. Regardless of whether you agree with its content, it's passionately written, very moving, and completely devoid of subtlety. It helps that it appears in a context where one would expect to hear (and to listen respectfully) to a passionate speech appealing to universal principles and a sense of justice: the end of a criminal trial.
- Uncle Tom's Cabin basically consisted of Harriet Beecher Stowe gathering together a whole bunch of stories of actual people who were actually enslaved, then changing the names and adding in a plot to tie it together.
- It drops another on the caring of children — if you expect a child to be wicked and immoral, that's exactly how they'll act.
- Gulliver's Travels as a tract against human self-importance in general, and English society in particular. And, of course, the final anvil dropped in that book — that misanthropy isn't always a good attitude to take toward the failings of humankind.
- A Modest Proposal, also by Jonathan Swift, took on the British policies and attitudes towards the Irish by proposing that the Irish sell their children to the aristocracy as food in a marvelously over-the-top detailed manifesto.
- The Feminine Mystique dropped a big fat anvil of "society shouldn't pressure women to be housewives if they'd rather have careers." Seems too obvious to bother mentioning now, but it was quite controversial when it was published in 1963.
- The Crucible, as well as almost any other leftist fiction written during the Second Red Scare, and the height of McCarthyism: pointing fingers is wrong.
- The Jungle. The protagonist Jurgis goes through nearly every possible disaster a working-class citizen of his time can possibly suffer, with his child even drowning in the muddy streets, and Sinclair's intent becomes quite clear in the final chapters, which attempt to set up the Socialist party as saviors. Of course, it was the depiction of what goes into meat that ended up hitting the general public and sticking with us. As Mr. Sinclair himself remarked, "I aimed for America's heart and I hit them in the stomach." The book was solely responsible for the Meat Inspection Act of 1919.
- Between the refugee camps and the "planet assassins," The Holy Land never even tries to be subtle with its satire. Whether it's a good book or not depends largely on your political stance.
- In Les Misérables, literacy is not just useful, but makes the difference between life and death for several different characters. The Power of Love changes Jean Valjean from a petty crook into a great philanthropist. Javert only cares about enforcing the law, and is driven to suicide when he finally realizes that Valjean is a more moral man than he is.
- The musical drops one as well at the end, when almost all of the cast is dead, except for Cosette and Marius, who are Happily Married. All of the cast gathers on stage peacefully, for the final song:
Do you hear the people sing/Lost in the valley of the night/It is the music of the people who are climbing to the light/For the wretched of the Earth/There is a flame that never dies/Even the darkest night shall end and the sun will rise!
- People can change when given the chance. And being friendly towards those in need DOES make a difference to them. While putting a Cain's mark on former convicts under parole most surely will exclude them from honest work, thus leaving them not much choice than resorting to crime again. By expecting them to break parole and treating them as criminals in advance again you're making them into criminals. Or by treating an unmarried mother as a whore and firing her you force her to resort on prostitution to provide for her and her child.
- Also he loved to ponder about whether wars and fights are justified or not — concluding that wars are always bad and should be avoided. Unless they are necessary to bring humanity along. Still, every death is regrettable, no matter which side.
- In general Victor Hugo was the master of this. Another favourite anvil of his told how cruel the death sentence is, done in The Last Day of a Condemned Man . And it won't leave you for a long, long time.
- Catch-22: War makes you crazy. Ostensibly about World War Two, but there's a reason it was immensely popular during The Vietnam War.
- The book also has a deeper anvil dropped about the individual's responsibility for the evils of the modern world. Almost every character death could have been prevented by Yossarian, had he actually done anything, and his friends continue to die around him until he finally balls up and sticks it to The Man.
- The essay "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" was a not-very-subtle jab at both anthropology and American culture.
- Many of these in The Lord of the Rings.
- This one in particular:
Gandalf: Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment, for not even the very wise can see all ends.
- For the series in general: "There is good in the world. There is also bad in the world, but the good is worth fighting for."
- "Never leave your friends behind."
- One of the most powerful anvils dropped, yet oddly one of the most often missed, was how truly evil despair and defeatism are. All of the heroes keep pushing on despite apparent hopelessness, and eventually win through and defeat the Big Bad. By contrast, the secondary villians — Saruman and Denethor — are both corrupted by their own despair into joining the wrong side, or giving up and committing suicide while leaving family and friends to die; and are both eventually destroyed.
- There's a rather lovely scene at the end of The Two Towers when Sam is talking about his very favorite stories, and how things go so bad that you wonder how anything could ever go back to the way it does before, and yet it does. Not only is it a not-so-subtle "This is what's happening right now to the person saying it" moment, but it perfectly encapsulates the anvil mentioned here.
- Treebeard's comment when Merry and Pippin ask him about what side he's on. Considering that Tolkien wrote this before green anvils were being dropped like the Blitzkrieg, the message is pretty powerful:
"I am on nobody's side because nobody is on my side. Nobody cares for the woods anymore."
- The movie follows up with a second anvil when Treebeard is promped into choosing a side when he discovers that Saruman has been cutting down the trees, the lesson being: if you refuse to take a side because YOU have no personnal stake in it, it will come back to bite you in the ass later.
- And, of course, the obvious messages of the One Ring: "Power Corrupts", and "The End Does Not Justify The Means".
- One of the most important and poignant Aesops in all of Tolkien's works is that times change and that all things, no matter how good or beautiful, will someday end. The First Age of Middle-earth, a time of immense beauty and magic when the gods walked the earth, ended without ever coming again. The whole race of the elves is a testament to this Aesop. Because of their immortality, the elves wither away from grief and longing of the Undying Lands if they stay on Middle-earth too long. The mortality of humans is portrayed as a good thing, because man is able to pass to a new world freely. More so, the same applies to the Shire, in the Book at least. The Scouring of the Shire drops an anvil about the safety of Home and personal investment in a fight.
- The Hobbit, especially what Thorin says to Bilbo near the end:
"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!"
- One Sherlock Holmes story (The Sign of Four) had Dr. Watson blatantly chastising Holmes for the dangers of his cocaine habit. Although it's often thought that having a character give this lecture was either prescient or a lucky guess, in reality, it was not: doctors already knew that cocaine was dangerous when used as a recreational drug, but the idea that drug sales could and/or should be restricted had not yet been imagined, let alone implemented. (When the idea was suggested some years later, Doyle was among its strongest supporters.) At this point in time, it was perfectly possible to buy arsenic or strychnine at the apothecary's without any formality greater than signing a book, and there was no doubt that both of those drugs were pure poisons.
- The Adventure of the Yellow Face contains a remarkably progressive anti-racist message for its time. The client hires Holmes to find out why his wife keeps asking him for money and not revealing what it is for. He also spies her making visits to a cottage and spots someone with a hideous jaundiced and deformed face from the window. He suspects a blackmailing plot, but when Holmes enters the cottage and confronts the yellow-faced individual, it is revealed to be a young black child wearing a mask. Turns out the wife was previously in an interracial marriage before her husband died, and she has been hiding their child out of fear that her current husband will leave her if he finds out that she was married to a black man. The story ends with the client picking up the child, kissing the young girl, and saying "I am not a very good man, Effie, but I think that I am a better one than you have given me credit for being."
- The New Testament. Jesus wasn't all parables and allegories. He said some pretty blunt things about hypocrisy and following the commandments. (The scene where he bowled over the businessmen's tables in the Temple comes to mind.)
- His biggest Anvil that he dropped was his "The Reason You Suck" Speech leveled at the Pharisees (The religious leaders of his time), calling them out for their hypocrisy and how they were leading the people away from heaven and onto the road to hell.
- The Old Testament is also pretty anvilicious in places, but it's hard to argue that "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is an anvil that didn't need dropping (and indeed, continues to need dropping).
- Dr. Seuss's The Lorax. Seuss speaks against logging, environmental destruction, or greed and short-sightedness in general? Given that he himself removed the line "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie" when informed that Erie was no longer a dead lake, the second and third seem probable.
- Also from The Lorax: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
- Horton Hears a Who is just as anvilicious. And ridiculously necessary, considering the simplicity of the message.
A person's a person, no matter how small.
- The Butter Battle Book, is about the Cold War arms race, of all things.
- And the anti-racism message of The Sneeches. In fact, a great many of his books drop a pretty obvious anvil of some sort; but then, subtlety is not necessarily useful or effective when writing for children.
- His Dark Materials's condemnation of repressive institutions (Word of God says it isn't only condemning religion, although whether Pullman came up with that later after the backlash is debatable) and messages promoting secularism and the need to improve this world rather than hoping for paradise in an afterlife wouldn't have been nearly as effective if they had been subtle, mostly because these ideas weren't as widespread at the time (and especially not in young-adult books).
- Frankenstein. Be careful toying with the natural order of things, because who knows what it'll lead to.
- Also "Take responsibility for what you create."
- "Projecting things onto your children is wrong."
- Science is neither good nor evil, any more or less than fire. It depends who uses it and for what. Fire could be used to cook meals for the homeless, or to cook the homeless for meals.
- "Men should not eliminate women from the process of creating life." — Mary Shelley's mother was essentially the grandmother of feminism, and unlike some movements within 20th-century feminism, 19th-century feminism believed women should have a public voice because they were different from men.
- On the Beach, by Nevil Shute. Oh my God, On the Beach... Noted how Threads and other films depicting horrors of nuclear holocaust in the film section of this page demand strong nerves from the viewer? Well, compared to this book (and the films of it), they are downright optimistic. As one critic said: "Most novels of apocalypse posit at least a group of survivors and the semblance of hope. On the Beach allows nothing of the kind." You don't get any less subtle in telling exactly what an all-out nuclear war might mean for humanity.
- In The Saint in New York, a Scene where Simon Templar rescues the daughter of a Jewish financier is followed by a paragraph in which anti-semitism and Nazism is denounced in the bluntest possible terms. It's totally out of place in the novel, but remains an extraordinary (for its time) and necessary warning of the evils of Nazi Germany.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has many examples of these. The best may be the lines '"Bread!" boomed a man behind her. "We want bread, bastard!" In a heartbeat, a thousand voices took up the chant. King Joffrey and King Robb and King Stannis were forgotten, and King Bread ruled alone.'
- Also the broken men in A Feast for Crows.
- As well as Arya Stark's entire arc in Clash of Kings. Basically, Martin would like you to know that War Is Hell and that the common folk suffer the most during war.
- After Tyrion learns about how his siblings were almost married into the Martell family and how King Aerys spurned friend/hand Tywin Lannister by not marrying Cersei to Rhaegar. At that moment, Martin makes explicit just how much of the strife and trauma our current characters are going through is due to the actions of those generations before and often long dead.:
"It all goes back and back, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance in our steads."
- Candide was essentially an anvil dropped on the philosophy that everything that happens is a good thing and that we 'live in the best of all possible worlds.'
- It's a particularly delicious anvil, because it points out that, although life really sucks, we can still make some good out of it in the end.
- Jennifer Government is set in a world where the government has very little power at all, but it's as dystopic as 1984 and Brave New World: a girl gets killed in order to increase the street cred for some new shoes, 911 won't send an ambulance unless they can confirm whether the girl can afford it, and the government can barely afford to bring those responsible to justice. Basically, "unchecked capitalism is very bad."
- Atlas Shrugged is a Deconstruction of the Marxist slogan “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. In story, this takes the form of the 20th Century Motor Company which functions as a microcosm of a communist police state, such as the Soviet Union (which Rand fled from after her family’s business was seized by the new communist government).
- In the story, we are also constantly reminded that the government has the privilege of a monopoly on force (something which is always overlooked in works like Jennifer Government), which private citizens and corporations lack, and so “political power” is the power to use force while “economic power” is the power to produce.
- The main, undisguised message of Jane Austen's novel Emma is about the evils, dangers, and folly of a practice we now know as Shipping.  If there was ever an anvil that desperately needed to be dropped...
- Harry Potter on the Power of Love. Not only is it a message that seems to be lost all too often (seriously, look up how many fanfictions there are about how Harry ought to have been a dark vigilante who beat up the Dursleys and trusted no one), Rowling puts far more emphasis on how important the love of family and friends are instead of love interests. Seriously, how often does that happen?
- Another one is that just because you made terrible choices in the past does not mean you are an inherently horrible person — you can change if you truly want to.
- Death is inevitable; respect it, know it, and you will live a happy life.
- Pretty much every poignant sounding line said by Dumbledore resumes some important anvil from the books:
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
- The Wicked Lovely series — "There are always choices."
- Ink Exchange in particular-- "Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter" and one which doesn't actually get spoken, which is that no-one (Niall and Leslie, in context) is Defiled Forever; you can survive, and that's what matters.
- Book (Abridged)" is based on the premise that America's phone books are lists of people who will all be dead if a nuclear war occurs. The anvil is that such a war is not survivable, much less winnable, and that science fiction "after the bomb" stories are just stories. He drops it in gut-wrenching fashion by detailing a number of horrible ways that people who survive the first detonations will suffer and die in the hours and days after the attack.
- Black Beauty: "Treat animals kindly." Well, that's all well and good, but unless you've seen some of the true horrors people put their animals through (and not just horses, but also dogs, cats, birds, and anything that isn't a human being), you can't possibly appreciate how often this anvil needs to be dropped. (Anna Sewell also made the brilliant choice to make at least one of Beauty's owners not a bad guy, but ignorant about how to care for a horse. There's another much-needed anvil: "Learn how to care for an animal before you make it part of your life.")
- David Gemmell: All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
- Tess of the D'Urbervilles: Yes, the book is incredibly depressing, leading the main character from one bad situation to an even worse ones. But, at its time, it was very different and controversial, making the main character, who wasn't a virgin via rape, very sympathetic and, ultimately, more morally good than many of the other supposedly "pure" and pious characters rather than some harlot that the society of the time would have deemed her.
- Chris Crutcher's young adult novels (Running Loose, Stotan!, The Crazy Horse Electric Game, Chinese Handcuffs, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Ironman, Whale Talk, The Sledding Hill, and Deadline) all drop anvils, but the one that appears in all these books? Child abuse is bad. Not just beatings, but verbal and emotional abuse is also given a lot of attention, especially in Ironman and Whale Talk. Given how prevalent Parental Abuse is in Real Life, not only does this anvil need to be dropped, one could argue that it isn't being dropped anywhere near enough.
- H. Beam Piper's "Day of the Moron" delvers its message with all the grace and aplomb of a Thor strike: In fields that require educated, thoughtful workers, ignorance and thoughtlessness absolutely must not be tolerated in any degree.
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day features the titular ten-year-old character having the "worst day of his life", though most of what happens are petty things like getting gum in his hair, not getting a window seat in the car, and not finding a prize in his cereal box. He get so frustrated that he wants to run away to Australia, but his mom tells him that everyone has bad days, even in Australia. In short: shit happens; deal with it.
- The Lottery shows us that just because something is "tradition" does not automatically make it good and right.
- In The Lovely Bones, the main character is Susie Salmon, a young girl who was raped and murdered. Posthumously, she longs to have her life back. It isn't until she and her family accept things as they are that they can finally live in peace again. It really drives home the aesop that bad things will happen to you, but you must come to terms that it happened, and you must carry on as best you can, live in the moment, and don't dwell on past grievances.
- John Wyndham's The Chrysalids has some pretty non-subtle messages about nuclear war, and religious intolerance too. Most of his other books are quite damning of humanity's mob mentality, and how clever people can band together to become a stupid collective. Very much a "think for yourself" message.
- Mark Twain's "The War Prayer" slams home the undiscussed side of war hard. But the real Aesop, what makes it work, is how willingly people ignore the obvious because it doesn't fit in with their world view.
- Terry Pratchett's early Discworld novel Small Gods deals with the difference between believing in God and believing in church. The only character who still believes in Om at the novel's start is a naive young boy, while His church controls an entire nation. The anvil is illustrated in the comparison between simple, honest Brutha and Knight Templar Deacon Vorbis, who is ready to incite holy war with anyone and everyone, despite the fact that Om Himself states point blank that holy war was never His intention, even more so in the distant future of the ending: Vorbis dies when Brutha is just a boy, but without his "belief" to guide him, waits between the land of the living and the dead for nearly a century, until Brutha also dies and leads him to the afterlife. The overarching message seems to be that if one twists religious scripture to suit one's own selfish desire, it becomes a completely different body of work.
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut drops the War Is Hell anvil about once a page or so. It also really, really wants to the reader to know that enjoying (even vicariously) or glorifying war is foolish and wrong:
I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.
Live Action TV
- In the Charmed episode Morality Bites, the lesson the girls learn could easily be applied to any cop or soldier. Might does not equal right. Just because you have the power doesn't mean you get to judge what it is right and wrong, who gets to live and die. As Phoebe said: "The wrong thing done for the right reasons is still the wrong thing."
- The episode "Sight Unseen" dropped a rather good one about stalkers. The possibility that Prue has a stalker is the episode's B-plot while the focus is on the Demon of the Week trying to steal the Book of Shadows. That plot gets resolved early on and then the stalker plot comes back to finish the episode off. The sisters are criticised for having barely any security at home (and allowing the stalker to easily get in) and of course the fact that a normal human was able to overpower a powerful witch shows how much threat a stalker can actually be. This was made even better by having the stalker turn out to be a recurring character on the show rather than one of Prue's men of the week. It also dropped an anvil when the stalker turned out to be a woman.
- The 1977 ABC mini-series Roots. The biggest dropped anvil in the history of television.
- The Stone/AIDS storyline on General Hospital. It took risks such as having a prominent character (Robin, who grew up on the show) get diagnosed with HIV. It was also very educational at a time when HIV/AIDS myths were still widespread. Myths such as "only gays get it", "HIV is a death sentence", "you can contract it from casual contact", and "failing an HIV test means you don't have it", just to name a few. It was also one of the most emotional, well-written, and well-acted storylines in television history.
- The Masters of Horror episode Homecoming is a brick-through-plate-glass rant against needless wars, and government corruption and duplicity. It doesn't just drop an anvil on the viewers, it drops a railroad car full of pig iron — and it only works because the message isn't hidden. Unfortunately, it spawned a Misaimed Fandom that were screaming about how Ann Coulter wasn't eaten by zombies...
- They also have Karl Rove's ersatz having his eyes gouged out and his head repeatedly slammed on a metal table until he dies. This happens 10 minutes after he says,
Kurt Rand: The three of us sold a war, dammit! We sold a war based on nothing but horseshit and elbow grease! We are the best in the goddamn game!
- The basic premise of Scrubs means that Aesops are going to occur every episode, but that doesn't stop episodes like "My Old Lady", "His Story", "My Screw Up", "My Life in Four Cameras", "My Way Home", and "My Musical" from being widely loved.
- The Twilight Zone is essentially a series of anvil drops, with some of the most didactic, moralistic writing you can imagine. And it almost always works. One of the best is "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street". Anvilicious? Yeah. Still amazing, though? Hell yes. Rod Serling's bit at the end is especially moving.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own; for the children, and the children yet unborn.
- The episode "He's Alive!" — in which Adolf Hitler comes back from the dead to 'mentor' an American fascist — can seem like Narm by modern standards... but when it first aired, the episode promped more hate mail than any other episode — 4000 people wrote in protesting the show's depiction of Adolf Hitler as a villain. There's a reason Rod Serling called that episode the most important one he ever made.
Where will he go next, this phantom from another time, this resurrected ghost of a previous nightmare — Chicago; Los Angeles; Miami, Florida; Vincennes, Indiana; Syracuse, New York? Anyplace, everyplace, where there's hate, where there's prejudice, where there's bigotry. He's alive. He's alive so long as these evils exist. Remember that when he comes to your town. Remember it when you hear his voice speaking out through others. Remember it when you hear a name called, a minority attacked, any blind, unreasoning assault on a people or any human being. He's alive because through these things we keep him alive.
- Rod Serling was especially worried about Nazism, and history's gone on to show that he had good reason. The Twilight Zone episode "Deaths-Head Revisited" not only gives a former concentration camp captain his just reward, but also ends with what seems like an Anvilicious closing statement — but the surge of Holocaust denials since then has proven that this anvil can't possibly be dropped too hard.
There is an answer to the doctor's question. All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes — all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God's Earth.
- "The Eye of the Beholder". So many anvils — one of which is in the title itself.
Now the questions that come to mind. Where is this place and when is it? What kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm? You want an answer? The answer is, it doesn't make any difference. Because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence, on this planet or wherever there is human life, perhaps out amongst the stars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be learned... in the Twilight Zone.
- "A Passage for Trumpet". The main character learns that while life can be a bitch at times, it also has plenty of good moments, if only you know where to look.
Joey Crown, who makes music, and who discovered something about life; that it can be rich and rewarding and full of beauty, just like the music he played, if a person would only pause to look and to listen. Joey Crown, who got his clue in the Twilight Zone.
- Pick pretty much any monologue from Rod Serling at the end of any Twilight Zone episode, and it usually has some important message.
- In the classic Star Trek: TOS episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", Kirk and co. pick up the last two survivors of a wartorn planet. Bele is an extraterrestrial cop who has been pursuing Lokai for thousands of years. When a perplexed Kirk questions Bele for the reason of their intense racial hatred, Bele replies, "Isn't it obvious? Lokai is white on the right side. All his people are white on the right side." Not subtle at all, but in 1969, an anvil that needed to be dropped, and hard.
- A Taste of Armageddon drops an effective anvil about how handling war with detached intellectual coldness helps facilitate it.
Kirk: Death... destruction... disease... horror... that's what war is all about, Anan. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided. You've made it neat, and painless. So neat and painless, you've had no reason to stop it.
- Similarly, there are only two usual reactions to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Who Watches The Watchers": You either love it or you hate it. No matter which side you choose, it will likely be because of the episode's morals: Religions should be disproven wherever possible. Controversial? Yes. But for those for whom it works, it only works because of the anvil.
- Another possible interpretation of that episode's moral is that you should rely on your own ingenuity, your own courage and your own strength to change and grow and learn, not rely on a god of any kind to come along and make things right for you. Religion itself is not necessarily a bad thing, it's only when you start using it as a reason to kill people or pass judgement in any other way that you have a problem.
- Also the episode Measure of A Man, which puts Data up in court to prove his rights as a sentient being. Having Whoopi Goldberg deliver the message as bartender Guinan makes this especially anvilicious. But extremely well done.
- Similarly, there are only two usual reactions to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Who Watches The Watchers": You either love it or you hate it. No matter which side you choose, it will likely be because of the episode's morals: Religions should be disproven wherever possible. Controversial? Yes. But for those for whom it works, it only works because of the anvil.
Guinan: Consider that in the history of many worlds there have always been disposable creatures. They do the dirty work. They do the work that nobody else wants to do because it's too difficult or too hazardous. And an army of Datas, all disposable... You don't have to think about their welfare, you don't think about how they feel... Whole generations of disposable people.
- "Muse" is basically a plea for understanding from the writers of the oft-criticized series Star Trek: Voyager, showing how they're pulled between the desire to create meaningful works of art, the need to satisfy those paying their wages, and the demands of the audience for action and romance — all told through the point-of-view of a struggling poet on a primitive world trying to create a play from the logs of a crashed Voyager shuttlecraft.
- Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) said to Gene Roddenberry (creator), "Star Trek is just morality tales" and he replied, "Shhh, don't tell anyone".
- M*A*S*H might have been a simple dark comedy/dramedy set in the Korean War if not for the fact that the show ran during the Vietnam War. Alan Alda and the other producers said that they never wanted the show to be a contemporary commentary, but they wanted it to be about all wars, how it is supposed to be a miserable experience. The Vietnam conflict only made the feelings stronger.
- The first really big anvil came in the episode "Abysinnia, Henry": Anybody Can Die. And they didn't even rely on just the force of gravity to drop it, either.
- The Introduction of Col. Sherman Potter dropped the "it's about all wars" anvil even harder. Potter has fought through WWI, WWII, and Korea, and often reminisces about his experiences. In one episode, he mourns some old comrades:
Here’s to you boys. To Ryan: who died in W-W-One; the war to end all wars. To Gianelli: who died in the war after that.
- He drops one himself in an episode where a specialist is brought in to inform the gang of new weapons, and the usual Class Clown antics push him to the limit:
Col. Potter: Lemme ask you this, if they can invent new ways to mutilate the human body, why can't someone invent a way to end this... stupid war?!
- The last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth dropped the same who-would-notice-if-you-were-mad-in-war-because-all-generals-are-equally-mad anvil as Catch 22, but because it dropped it on the entire cast, mere minutes after the last joke, it achieved an epic anti-war message with its famed Downer Ending.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Olivia Benson's speech in the episode "Babes" about why teenagers shouldn't have babies is as anvilicious as they come. However, since the plot was Ripped from the Headlines about a club of teen girls who all wanted to get pregnant together, some viewers thought it a desperately needed anvil. (This was less true after the revelation that those headlines were false, the "pregnancy club" never existed, and the whole thing was made up by an assistant principal with an overactive imagination.) But that doesn't excuse the fact that 20% of all teenage pregnancies are planned.
- Very similarly, the first season Law and Order episode "Life Choice" in which ADA Ben Stone prosecutes religious pro-life zealot Rose Schwimmer for bombing an abortion clinic and killing several people — including Mary Donovan, a teenage girl seeking an abortion who unwittingly carried the bomb into the clinic (having been working with Schwimmer's pro-life group, Schwimmer saw Donovan as a perfect patsy after learning she wanted an abortion). After Schwimmer proclaims on the stand that she believes murder is wrong and that abortion is a form of murder, Stone counters her ranting and raving with a very powerful line: "If abortion is murder, then no matter how you feel about Mary Donovan, aren't you guilty of the murder of her unborn child?" Schwimmer's face goes from a confident smile to a look of pure "Oh, shit" as she realizes just how badly Stone owned her. It's one of the best episodes of the entire L&O franchise, one of the most controversial episodes, and show creator Dick Wolf's favorite episode out of the entire series.
- Another good anvil was dropped in an SVU episode, "Doubt", where the entirety of the case is a he-said/she-said... the actual verdict was omitted (filled in by a poll conducted among viewers and made canon from that), to highlight just how tricky some cases really are — particularly sexual crimes where the victim and the accused have known each other for a long time.
- Quatermass and The Pit. "We are the Martians. And if we do not learn how to live together, this will be their second dead world". In the FIFTIES!
- Titus, like Christopher Titus's stand up material, works to make every episode have some sort of moral to it. But it is never a Happily Ever After ending, they don't make any disposition to paint the world as anything but a crapsack kind. But if everything is going wrong, sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh. And if you are so primed and ready to get upset over every little problem, then what has your life become? One of the best examples of that comes in "Deconstructing Erin", where Erin returned to her soul-sucking family because Titus returned to drinking. He quit drinking and tried to get her back, and she tore into him about how his behavior ruined her life. He snapped back that you can't blame someone else for your problems, and if the person you love screws up, you throw them in a sack and kidnap them. You don't let them become self-destructive and destroy you in the process.
- Another is "Tommy's Not Gay", that dealt with gay bashers and hate crimes. They hit everything from peer pressure to Matthew Shepard to Stupid Sexy Flanders moments to the social ramifications of coming out of the closet. By the end, Titus was explaining that everyone's a racist and we'd all prefer if the people we feel uncomfortable around were separated into their own little groups, pointing out "over there and over there and over there", eventually mimicking the Nazi salute. "You see how this can get out of hand."
- Judge John Deed's episode "Popular Appeal" is very little other than one giant middle finger aimed at Big Brother (and shows of its ilk) and the perennial media circus that surrounds it. The BBC frequently airs repeats of it up against the Big Brother finale. The final summing up is what makes the episode, in which the producers of a reality show called Dungeon are made to face manslaughter charges after a contestant is killed on-screen (it's made fairly clear that that was the the producers' hope — Dungeon seems to amount to a more calculated version of the Stanford Prison Experiment). They were found guilty.
Deed: Celebrity! The pursuit of the talentless, by the mindless. It's become a disease of the twenty-first century. It pollutes our society, and it diminishes all who seek it, and all who worship it. And you must bear some of the responsibility for foisting this empty nonsense onto a gullible public.
- Extras took on the "celebrity is bad" Aesop as well, but in a different way. The finale special is pretty darn heavy-handed in telling us that being a celebrity isn't worth it, if you've betrayed the only people who cared about you, celebrity or not. Making fun of Big Brother and their ilk in the process? Just bonus.
- Full House teaches us that any problem can be solved by talking it through, that your friends and family will be there for you no matter what, and that any situation can be improved by a hug.
- Nearly every segment of Rescue 911 leaves the viewer with an Anvilicious message on how those accidents could've been prevented. But really, some of that advice can help you protect your friends and family from those similar scenarios. Nobody wants to learn the hard way on keeping medicine locked in cabinets or not driving drunk under any circumstances.
- Two much-needed anvils are a constant theme in the Life After People series. One is the old "look on my works, ye mighty, and despair" warning against human hubris, because nothing we're capable of creating is going to last forever. And the other is, do not look down on the millions of blue-collar workers who trim weeds and plug leaks and operate utilities, because they're the only thing keeping civilization's handiwork from turning to rubble.
- Police Camera Action, an ITV production, has done this, not once, twice, but four times — in the episodes:
- Helicops (both the 1995 and 2007 episodes of the same title) — about why you should not play on railway lines. Anvils dropped HEAVILY.
- Life in the Fast Lane (2002 series) — why speeding is bad.
- Under Surveillance — Possibly the most Anvilicious episode of the series.
- Deathwish Drivers — Dropping an anvil on viewers like a ton of bricks.
- Glee: In "Grilled Cheesus", true Christians love their friends and support them. And non-theists may not embrace faith, but they can sure embrace loved ones and come to peace with others' faith.
- In "Furt," the school system MUST deal with bullying seriously. Sue Sylvester sugarcoats nothing, knows its reality, and does use her bullying experience (as the victim) to make her stronger. Nothing is talked down, just the firm reality of it.
- In "Theatricality", no matter how much one (gay) person is being annoying, homophobia is never justified. Also, please parents wake up because it is also your job not to let it slide, no matter what it costs you.
- "On My Way" showed exactly what kinds of pain can drive somebody to suicide and how much it hurts everybody around them.
- The Battlestar Galactica series is full of anvils. The similarities to the War on Terror are not subtle, but are all the better because of it. The reason is that, while the similarities are not subtle, they are ambiguous in their rightness or wrongness, which leads to some very thought-provoking moments.
- Dragnet became more erratic in quality and heavy-handed in execution as the years went by, but it often had strong aesops worth recalling:
- In the 1968 episode The Big Departure, Friday and Gannon deliver a grand speech to the young anarchists about just how much they have gotten from the society they grew up in, and how much it protects them, and how difficult it would be to recreate what they have from nothing.
Sergeant Joe Friday: I don't know, maybe part of it's the fact that you're in a hurry. You've grown up on instant orange juice. Flip a dial — instant entertainment. Dial seven digits — instant communication. Turn a key — push a pedal — instant transportation. Flash a card — instant money. Shove in a problem — push a few buttons — instant answers. But some problems you can't get quick answers for, no matter how much you want them. We took a little boy into Central Receiving Hospital yesterday; he's four years old. He weighs eight-and-a-half pounds. His parents just hadn't bothered to feed him. Now give me a fast answer to that one; one that'll stop that from ever happening again. And if you can't settle that one, how about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highway this year? That's nearly six or seven times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral? Show me how to wipe out prejudice. I'll settle for the prejudices you have inside yourselves. Show me how to get rid of the unlimited capacity for human beings to make themselves believe they're somehow right — and justified — in stealing from somebody, or hurting somebody, and you'll just about put this place here out of business!
- The Disney Channel movie Sixteen Wishes is about a teenage girl on her 16th birthday and wishing that she would be treated like an adult. This results in a Be Careful What You Wish For story where she actually becomes an adult and learns that adulthood is not all it's cracked up to be. In our modern society where kids are growing up too quickly, especially with what's popular on the Disney Channel of all things nowadays, this could not be a more important lesson for kids and "tweens" to take to heart.
- The Wire is generally considered to be one of the best shows ever, and part of the reason is because of how well and honestly it dropped its anvils, showing the ridiculousness and futility of the War on Drugs, that drug dealers are usually just teenagers to trying to get by, the world is not Black and White, and probably the most effective is when it showed how screwed up the city school systems are and how they are actually preparing kids for lives on the corners. Teachers and superintendents are more worried about test scores than truly helping the students.
- Degrassi the Next Generation is fond of these:
- Marco, the friend Spinner initially rejected because he was gay, was the first friend to take him back after the paint and feathers incident.
- The school shooting in general:
Rick, the shooter, dies. Also, even though he was redeemed for abusing Terri, he never was accepted by her friends.
Jimmy and Emma for initially bullying Rick. Hell, the whole school. Jimmy loses the use of his legs, and Emma acts out of character.
Spinner, Jay, and Alex. Alex is a bit of a Karma Houdini, but Jay and Spinner are expelled. Spinner is also rejected by Jimmy. Sean accepts that Jay did it, but doesn't like the other things Jay did.
Sean, one of the few innocent parties, is the one who stops the shooting by killing Rick. He doesn't react well. Toby also loses his friend, but JT and Manny come back to him.
- Paige's rape. Because it took her months to come forward, Dean was found not guilty.
- Manny's abortion. This was actually banned in America, and mentioning it on the-n.com was a quick way to get banned.
- Darcy's rape. She thought Spinner was scum for not being a virgin, and then she gets raped. She also claims her teacher raped her, and he almost gets fired.
- Riley: Being in the closet about your sexuality is not an excuse for acting like a homophobic Jerkass or even just sitting by while your teammates make gay jokes at your gay friend's expense.
- Breaking Bad makes no attempt to gloss over the effects that drugs have on not only the people who use and develop them, but the effects it has on their friends and families. If the show pulled its punches, it wouldn't be anywhere near as gripping.
- It also deconstructs the idea that easy money actually exists. Walter's plan to get quick money went wrong in many ways, and even when things begin to look good economically for him, Failure Is the Only Option.
- Supernatural: Lying to your family about super-serious affairs or secret deals is no good, okay?
- The Speculative Documentary Earth 2100 talks about the worst case scenario that could occur if we continue to pollute and waste resources. The Green Aesop basically says "The earth is our home, and we should not take it for granted."
- The episode of Party of Five where Julia discovers she's pregnant has a very powerful line from Justin:
"You know, just once it would be nice if someone asked if I was okay. This is my baby we're talking about as well"
- It's a given in any episode dealing with unplanned pregnancy that the mother-to-be will get a lot of drama but how often do you see the father's side? The father is normally either portrayed as a deadbeat or the one responsible for the whole mess, but how many examples are there where the Anvil gets dropped that the father is just a kid as well.
- Most of Steven Moffat's tenure on Doctor Who can be summarized as him dropping the anvil about what it takes to being a good person: Be kind. Don't go living your life hating someone else, blaming them for your problems, wanting to beat someone or even waste time wondering what it means to be a good man. Just do the decent thing and be kind to people. Even the Master, aside from simple spite, can't offer a retort to that argument.
- Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" is a none-too-subtle attack on mass media for the way it victimizes people and trivializes tragedy and heartbreak.
- The Clash. Corporatism, Thatcherism, Industrialism, and the Vietnam War. All songs are, naturally, still very relevant today.
- In Francis Child's collection of ballads, the annotation for "Sir Hugh, Or the Jew's Daughter" (Child #155), one of the trope originators of the "blood libel" is a lengthy explanation of how this belief is wrong and has had horrible consequences for numerous innocent people as when Child compiled the collection in the late 1800s. Given that some people still believe in the blood libel, this was probably an anvil which needed to be dropped.
- The Last Of The Great Whales by The Dubliners. It features this killer of Empathic Environment: This morning the sun did rise crimson in the north sky. The ice was the color of blood and the winds, they did sigh. Obviously it's a song against whaling.
- The Eagles
- Life in the Fast Lane
- Lyin' Eyes — "Ain't it funny how your new life didn't change things? You're still the same old girl you used to be."
- New Kid in Town
- The Last Resort
- Desperado — "You better let somebody love you before it's too late."
- Get Over It — "Victim of this, victim of that; your momma's too thin, and your daddy's too fat: get over it!"
- Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, one of the most beautiful, effective protest songs ever written.
- Handlebars by the Flobots. The clear development from childhood ambitions to being Drunk with Power is downright chilling in its bluntness.
- The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: Don't try to go to through the gangster life, in the end, it'll only ruin your life.
- Eminem is, all things considered, very good at this trope.
- The album Relapse drops the anvil of 'Drugs will fuck your life up, and it takes a lot of work to fix it' like an A-Bomb.
- The track "Beautiful" says in no uncertain terms that you should never let anyone tell you your worth as a human being; everyone is beautiful in his or her own way, and everyone else can go hang.
- Stan has "Maybe we should act as though everything we do changes someone's life, because maybe it does".
- Gordon Lightfoot's "Ode to Big Blue" is as clear as can be in its condemnation of whaling, which at the time of the song's original release had driven many species to the edge of extinction — and driven some past it.
- Also "The Canadian Railroad Trilogy", which is a commentary on how many people died for the sake of "progress" during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and how many of them were Chinese migrants who were paid much less than their Caucasian counterparts.
- Yet another Gordon Lightfoot song is his 1968 "Black Day In July", about the 1967 Detroit race riots. Radio stations in 30 states banned the song, fearing that it would incite further violence.
Why can't we all be brothers?
- "I Was Only Nineteen/A Walk In The Light Green" by Australian folk rock protest band Redgum and covered by the Herd manages to completely explain the horrors of the Vietnam war and the stupidity of war in general.
- Eric Bogle's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is an extraordinarily powerful anti-war song, not at all subtle in its message.
- Similarly, his song "No Man's Land" (covered by, among others, Dropkick Murphys as "The Green Fields of France").
- Also, his song "My Youngest Son Came Home Today" (sometimes mistakenly believed to have been written by Billy Bragg, who covered it).
- No one would call "Christmas in the Trenches" subtle, but grown men have been driven to tears by it.
"And on each end of the rifle we're the same"
- Jona Lewie's Stop The Cavalry has pretty much the same message, but people hear it as a cute Christmas song.
- Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" wouldn't gain anything by being subtle.
- Rise Against isn't a very subtle band, but that's the point.
- Make It Stop is the 9001 ton anvil that they felt needed to be dropped.
- Michael Jackson — "Man in the Mirror" . It even hangs a lampshade:
"I'm starting with the man in the mirror
- Pagan Altar's "Armageddon", "The Interlude", and "The Aftermath", meant to be listened to in sequence, describe a nuclear war that obliterates human civilization.
"Chariots of fire rode roughshod through the world,
- John Lennon's entire solo career revolves around War Is Hell anvils. He gave up on subtlety with so many of his Beatles songs (and those of the other group members) being misinterpreted, the ultimate example being the Charles Manson murders. He wanted to make it very clear what messages he was sending.
- "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
- Also "Give Peace A Chance" and "Working Class Hero".
- The oeuvre of Bruce Springsteen is filled with several of these.
- The Cranberries "Zombie"
- Gladys Knight and the Pips, "Midnight Train to Georgia": Stardom isn't important; love is. People who truly love you will stand by you no matter what happens.
- Bob Marley — "Redemption Song."
- Franco De Vita's "No basta" has the anvil "It isn't enough satisfying your offspring's material needs and wants, you also must care for them and give then moral guidance and emotional support before they get it in other places (or substances) and before they become too old to even consider hearing you". It's like a Very Special Episode in 4 minutes, but it's also one of his best songs, and, given that the song is very obviously directed to fathers (which in Latin America tend to be the biggest absence in many a kid's upbringing, even if they are living with the mother), that anvil is a very needed one.
- Folk songs. Only when the songs themselves aren't totally anvilicious to begin with. Good examples from Bob Dylan: "Masters of War," "Oxford Town," "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," and especially "With God on Our Side:"
If God's on our side,
- Phil Ochs was a particularly cutting 60s folk singer whose Anviliciousness was offset with biting wit, particularly in "Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends" (an anti-apathy song) and "Love Me, I'm A Liberal" (about the hypocrisy of mainstream leftists—it was even updated in the 90s by Jello Biafra!)
- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio" isn't at all subtle. And works substantially better because of it. CSN's "Wooden Ships" probably qualifies as well.
- Neil Young, who wrote the song, abandoned subtlety again in 2006 with the Living with War album. Dissent against Pres. Bush was discouraged, even labeled "treason" whether spoken in the press or by fellow politicians. The title track says "I never bow to the laws of the Thought Police". Another song declares "Let's Impeach The President". It was so Anvilicious that it rated a satirical promo on Saturday Night Live in which Young was credited with an album called I Do Not Agree With Many Of This Administration's Policies.
- In an interview a year after that was released, Young revealed that people had been spontaneously hugging him on the street and saying "Thank you, Neil." He said he realized just how badly The War on Terror had been terrorizing the people it was meant to protect.
- Neil Young, who wrote the song, abandoned subtlety again in 2006 with the Living with War album. Dissent against Pres. Bush was discouraged, even labeled "treason" whether spoken in the press or by fellow politicians. The title track says "I never bow to the laws of the Thought Police". Another song declares "Let's Impeach The President". It was so Anvilicious that it rated a satirical promo on Saturday Night Live in which Young was credited with an album called I Do Not Agree With Many Of This Administration's Policies.
- U2 aren't at all subtle about their beliefs and opinions, although the actual songs are usually too subtle to be called Anvilicious, in that there's usually some room for interpretation. Not always, though:
- "Rejoice" ("I can't change the world / But I can change the world in me")
- They once did a joint song with Green Day, called "The Saints Are Coming", which has an underlying message of not giving up, no matter what, you fight for your life if it's in danger. The fact that it was raised to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and that the video is part the two playing and part news clips of Katrina doesn't hurt the message.
- This list wouldn't be complete without The Legend of Billy Jack, aka One Tin Soldier. Peace on Earth, indeed.
- Bruce Hornsby's The Way It Is, and it's equally good remake by Tupac Shakur, retitled Changes.
- While political punk music basically is this trope, Propagandhi do it particularly well. They manage to sum up their entire ideology in a couple of lines at the end of the two-minute song Resisting Tyrannical Government:
And yes, I recognise the irony: the system I oppose affords me the luxury of biting the hand that feeds. That's exactly why priveliged fucks like me should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream — until everyone has everything they need.
- Queen was no stranger to this. And their most perfect Anvil that needed to be dropped was Is this the World we Created? Especially in their Live Aid performance.
- Australian band The Cat Empire has the song The Chariot:
"this song is written 'bout my friends
- Taylor Swift's "Fifteen". When every song on Top 40 radio or Radio Disney is a Silly Love Song about finding the boy that you'll be with for the rest of your life (when it's not about having sex), hearing a song telling girls not to look for love in High School comes as quite a shock. It's a message that a lot more girls in middle and high school should be paying attention to.
- Elvis Presley's song "In the Ghetto" is a clear condemnation of the cycle of violence and poverty of the ghettos, and of the apathy the problems of those communities receive.
- Sugizo's solo songs "Spirituarise" and "No More Machine Guns, Play The Guitar," which are about, respectively, respect for the world and everyone's responsibilty to save it and ending war.
- L Arc En Ciel's songs "Hoshizora" and "As One," which are incredibly strong and incredibly powerful anti-war messages. Don't believe us? Watch Hoshizora (which was written by Hyde as a protest of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) live on Youtube. Hyde is practically sobbing as he sings the last line.
- The film Dreamgirls had a segment in which Jimmy and the girls "tried to do something new", and recorded a quasi-protest song over the Vietnam war. Curtis, however, was quick to prevent the track's release because it was a "message song".
- Yellowcard's Two Weeks From Twenty. War is everyone's fault.
- Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise' bluntly depicts the horrors of gang violence.
- Nine Inch Nails' album Year Zero dropped the anvil on oppressive governments and, well, a lot of things.
- Loudness has done this repeatedly. See Protest Song on their page. Among others, War Is Hell is a VERY common theme, but everything from spammers to meta on Heavy Metal to animal testing to religion has gotten its turn.
- Frank Zappa dropped so many anvils in his time, it was like "Anvil Chorus", but the anvils never took away from the music. Some particularly anvilicious albums:
Freak Out(well, every other song)
- Jethro Tull drops them by the megaton, but this just makes their music all the more brilliant. Some of their more anvilicious albums:
- Suzanne Vega's "Luka" — Child abuse and how no one should ignore the plight of the children enduring it.
- Almost every song by Tracy Chapman has an anvil that gets dropped — greed, helping your family, racial tension, domestic abuse — she runs the gamut.
- From Behind The Wall:
Last night I heard the screaming
- "Young" by Hollywood Undead. "When adults wage war, children are the ones who pay the most." (Link is to an Avatar: The Last Airbender AMV because that series dropped that anvil as well).
- Bomani "D'Mite" Armah forgoes subtlety and metaphor: "Read a book/Read a book/Read a Motherfuckin' BOOK!" Considering the controversy around the airing of the video...
- "Waste" by Staind. While there are many anti-suicide songs out there, this one is by far one of the most brutal and honest expressions of the emotions one goes through when a friend kills themselves. Instead of going for the usual "It's going to be alright, there's so much to live for!" message that most songs of this type use, it instead says: "Suicide is a cheap way of running away from your problems, and when you die those problems don't just go away. The people you leave behind have to deal with them instead. Fuck you for not being strong enough." The message is effective--notice that one of the commenters on the linked video says that this song stopped them from committing suicide.
- Tori Amos' "Me and a Gun", which is about her real-life rape. Many victims came to terms with their rape because of it, and it lead to Tori co-founding RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the largest anti-sexual assault organization in America.
- Kate Bush's "Breathing", which was released during the Cold War. It's about a fetus knowing that a nuclear fallout has happened, but it still wants to live.
My radar send me danger, but my instincts tell me to keep breathing.
- Peter Gabriel has lots of these, especially on his third self-titled album ("Melt"). "Family Snapshot" humanizes Lee Harvey Oswald to show how even the most evil among us start out as ordinary humans, "Games Without Frontiers" analogizes the absurdity of warfare in the context of a 70s game show reminiscent of Global Guts, and "Biko" is a stirring tribute to Stephen Biko, one of the first prominent anti-apartheid activists in South Africa to gain worldwide recognition.
- Johnny Cash's song "Man in Black" explains why Johnny Cash all ways wore black on stage, say that as long as there was suffering and injustice in the world, he would wear black to remind us.
- Lily Allen's second album It's Not Me, It's You" is full of these. Including:
- "Everyone's At It": Drugs are bad. Even prescription drugs if abused. Pushing it underground won't solve it.
- "The Fear": Money won't make you happy.
- "Not Fair": In a romantic relationship all aspects are equally important including the physical. It doesn't matter how nice you are in public if you're not willing to care enough in private to satisfy your partner sexually.
- "Fuck You": No song with this title is ever going to be subtle but it's still a brilliantly effective attack on prejudice.
- Rage Against the Machine has many songs which could qualify, one song that stands out is "Darkness", a song about the greed of mankind and how it leads to genocide.
- A bit meta maybe, but members of Franz Ferdinand are willing to forthrightly state what many people need to hear.
- Metallica gets a couple "war is hell" Anvils dropped in some of their best songs. The most up-front is "Disposable Heroes", which alternates between the view of a soldier for the verses, and his commander for the chorus:
"Back to the front
- Their more famous "One", from the view of a severely-disabled veteran, hits it just as hard:
"Darkness imprisoning me \ All that I see \ Absolute Horror \ I cannot live \ I cannot die \ Trapped in myself \ Body my holding cell"
- And yet again in "For Whom the Bell Tolls":
"For a hill \ Men would kill \ Why? \ They do not know. \ Stiffened wounds test their pride.
- Also "Hero of the Day", on the same theme, or "...And Justice for All" about the failings of the legal system, and "Master of Puppets" and "Frantic" on the "drugs-are-bad" theme.
- Dyer's Eve is about someone blaming his/her parents for overprotecting him/her and leaving him/her unprepared for life.
- "Going To A Town" by Rufus Wainwright expresses his disappointment with America's role in the world under the Bush administration and the rampant homophobia used by politicians for political gains at the expense of its most vulnerable citizens. The message is loud, clear, and unforgiving.
Tell me, do you really think you go to hell for having loved
- To further hammer the point home, during at least one live performance of the song he's dedicated it to the late Edward M. Kennedy, whose successor in the US Senate Rufus is not a fan of.
- "You Say the Battle is Over" by John Denver contains a Green Aesop mixed with Humans Are Bastards.
Now the blame cannot fall
- According to Jello Biafra, Denver was dropped by RCA Records over this plus his testimony before Congress against the Parents Music Resource Center.
- Band Aid's (the original one) "Do They Know It's Christmas" drops a pretty effective anvil about not putting on blinders regarding poverty and needing to actually do something about it.
- "Father Christmas" by The Kinks, on the other hand, with its call against holiday materialism and in recognition of the poor, was a Christmas Anvil that needed to be dropped.
- Death's "Crystal Mountain", about why proselytizing is forcing yourself on other people.
- Darryl Worley's song "Sounds Like Life to Me" repeatedly hammers home that life isn't always easy, but that the hard times shouldn't prevent us from enjoying what we have, and doesn't even try to be subtle about it.
- Tim Minchin's "Pope Song" (warning: Very NSFW) does not mince words about his position on the child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.
- Angelspit's "Girl Poison" is a scathing look at how underage girls encounter sex and lose their innocence as a result of the media, which in turn feeds off their insecurities.
- Lyfe Jennings's S.E.X another song about teenagers being pressured into sex.
- Australian pub rock band Midnight Oil pretty much built a career out of dropping anvils about politics and social issues; particularly nuclear disarmament, Aborigine rights, and the working class.
- Blowin' in the Wind: "How many times can a man turn his head/ And pretend that he just doesn't see?"
- M.I.A.'s new music video for "Born Free" is extremely graphic in its depiction of young redheaded men being rounded up and executed, but it also demonstrates the horror of genocide and the absurdity of the discrimination that's used to justify it.
- "Sex is Not the Enemy" by Garbage: "Sex isn't bad, and you shouldn't be ashamed of your sex life."
- "Heaven is Falling", which Bad Religion originally released as an "emergency" 7-inch during the first Gulf War. Given the lead time for CD production — and the brevity of many "wars" against overwhelmingly-disadvantaged opponents — they didn't think people should have had to wait for the release of Generator to hear the song:
God I know that it's wrong
- Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc" is especially Anvilicious when accompanied by the video. The anvil — hedonism is not a way to live your life and it will imprison you sooner or later, leaving you yearning to go back to the little joys of your innocent youth.
- "Slow Down Ghandi," by Sage Francis:
So what's the truth, quit seeking forgiveness
- Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle". The anvil is to be there for your kids, and appreciate your time with them. The real tragedy to that song, of course, is that the son DIDN'T grow up just like the father — who would never let "... and the kid's got the flu ..." interfere with his affairs.
- Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya: War affects everyone, especially those left behind.
- India.Arie's I Am Not My Hair: Drops an anvil on the black community that is way to focus on achieving a Eurocentric look.
- Lauryn Hill, similar to India.Arie above, released some very anvilicious songs before deciding celebrity wasn't worth it. That Thing called out people in the black community who claimed to be Christians and Muslims but behaved like sex-crazed exhibitionists. It was practically a sermon, but damn if it didn't make for some fine listening
How you gonna win when you ain't right within?
- Pink's "Stupid Girls" urges young women to think.
Disasters all around
- John Prine's "Sam Stone", an anvil that needed to be dropped about soldiers' addictions after coming home from Vietnam. 'There's a hole in Daddy's arm where the money goes/ Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose.' Subtle? Not exactly. Beautiful and effective? Very.
- Billy Joel's "Leningrad": both sides of the cold war were just people — basically the same in the end.
"We never knew what friends we had until we came to Leningrad."
- Tomboy's "It's OK to be Gay" is too ridiculous to be taken seriously, yet the message is too important to ignore.
- Adam Lambert's "Aftermath" has a message which basically boils down to you are never alone. Proceeds from a remix of the song went to the The Trevor Project.
Anytime anybody pulls you down
- The Bowling for Soup song I'm Gay is essentially the message of the Justice League episode below: You don't have to be serious. Sometimes all that matters is if you have fun and enjoy doing what you're doing. And no, its not Jarret Reddick coming out of the closet.
- The band themselves also deliver the Anti-homophobia message in many other songs, to the point it becomes a little too anvilicious.
- Tom Robinson's protest song, "Glad To Be Gay". Nothing with that title is going to be subtle; the song is bitingly bitter, sarcastic, angry, and delightful — and released in the mid-seventies.
- David Bowie's "Repetition" (Lodger, 1979) is a clanging, dissonant tune that threatens to bruise the ears, but once you've digested the lyrics it makes sense that it be so — it's a blunt description of the life and mindset of a Domestic Abuser and the cowed acceptance of his victims, a subject undeserving of melodic or vocal tenderness.
Well Johnny is a man
- Rush has "The Pass" — which states that suicide is NEVER the answer, and that there is always hope.
- The Yardbirds' "Mr. You're A Better Man Than I" is a successful, bitingly sarcastic attack on prejudice.
- Simon and Garfunkel. Several songs, but notably "The Sun is Burning", which is all the more horrifying because it sounds so happy.
- According to 30SecondsToMars's "Closer to the Edge", you should never regret anything that happens in your life. Even the bad parts make you the person you are now.
- El Général, who wrote and performed the song Rais Ebled, dropped an anvil that needed dropping. It opened the floodgate and started the Tunisian Revolution.
- Elton John's "American Triangle", which is about the real-life murder of Matthew Shepard for being gay.
'Western skies' don't make it right
- Ryan Cassata seems to be very fond of this:
- The music video for "Sleeping Through" is about Transgender suicide.
- "Hands of Hate" is about the murders of Mathew Shepard and Lawrence King, and the suicides of Tyler Clementi and Jamey Rodemeyer. All four gay youth.
- "In My Hands" is about anti-LGBT bullying, and was written after he received many letters from LGBT kids telling him about how they had been bullied.
And I'm holding people's stories in my my hands
- "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World. Explicit in its theme, it is still something that many a generation of confused and insecure teenagers need repeated back to them. Don't let other people make you question your self-worth, you are worthwhile.
- Martina McBride's "Concrete Angel". Message: "Don't ignore Domestic Abuse just because you're scared. Imagine what the victim is going through. Don't ignore it until something uncorrectable happens." The music video isn't necessary as the lyrics provide enough weight but it certainly makes the blow heavier since they aren't subtle with their images — because that's the reality of domestic abuse, why should they hide it to make the audience feel better?
- The Dead Kennedys' entire career is built of this trope, but "Holiday in Cambodia" (don't assume you know how the poor suffer if you're not one), "Kill the Poor"' (the Neutron Bomb is not a good idea) and "Nazi Punks (F*ck off)" (...actually, the title pretty much says it all) deserve special mention.
- "The Irony Of It All" by UK rap/garage outfit The Streets, which all but hammers its message of marijuana's relative harmlessness, compared with the many serious issues with alcohol abuse. Tim the pothead introduces himself as a criminal in his verses, but is practically harmless to the point of not complaining when the pizza delivery sends him the wrong order. Terry the alcoholic lout describes himself as a "law-abider" throughout his verses, but gets into fights regularly and mentions spitting in the face of a police officer.
- Sabaton. War Is Hell. There in no right side or wrong side, just soldiers dying in the mud because of politicians' games. "Angels Calling" ("Hell on Earth...the ultimate test is a synchronized sacrifice...Dream of Heaven, angels are calling your name") and particularly "The Price of a Mile".
Six miles of ground has been won
- Moxy Fruvous, especially in their early days — from Bargainville, their first album, we get "River Valley" (environmentalism), their cover of "Spider Man" (over-comercialization and jingoization of products aimed at children), "The Band Played On" (dangerous binge drinking), and "Gulf War Song" about the polarization of political positions, with the inimitable line:
What makes a person so poisonous righteous
- Great Big Sea used to sing about Canadian east-coast political issues, dropping anvils regarding the loss of a valid, viable fishery due to deregulation and commercialization and subsequent overfishing ("Fisherman's Lament"), election promises leading nowhere ("Someday Soon"), and the grand-scale personal depression that follows on the heels of economic depression ("Nothing Out Of Nothing").
- Ed Sheeran's song The A Team is, by itself, a touching song about a prostitute who's addicted to illegal drugs. It's not obvious enough to be anvilicious, but the message doesn't take much decoding to understand. Little Lady is a collaboration using parts of The A Team with Mikill Pane, who raps about an immigrant whose mother worked to send her to Britain to live with her uncle, in hopes of her having a better life. The girl's uncle is a pimp who brutalises the girl, and when his attacks force her to go to a hospital, she attracts the attention of a nurse who calls the police. The girl refuses to co-operate, and when she goes home she is murdered by her uncle when he sees the number the police gave her to call. Moral:prostitutes do not deserve to be vilified and punished. They are the victims of their crime, stuck in horrific situations, and they deserve to be helped.
- The Power Metal band Metal Church dropped many anvils during their time with Mike Howe as singer (1989-94) but none so effectively as "In Mourning" and "In Harm's Way" off of The Human Factor. All children need to be given love, guidance, and a stable family, and that the lack of these is what causes school shootings, suicide, and other childhood tragedies.
Maybe if you'd listen than you'd know what I just said
- REM's lyrics are usually very cryptic, but Everybody Hurts is so plainly expressed that it might as well be being spoken directly to someone who's contemplating suicide. The message: You Are Not Alone, however much it may feel like it. Most of humanity will have been depressed at some point, and there are people who are willing to help and don't want you to end your life.
- "Never Again" by Disturbed is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face, but gives a powerful message about the horrors of genocide and how they should never happen
- Adventures in Odyssey does this every episode rather well. In fact, they've perfected it.
- In the Superman radio show of the 40s, there is a fairly famous serial in which Superman takes on an expy for the Ku Klux Klan, complete with their real-life ranks and secret phrases.
This radio show was used to expose the Ku Klux Klan what it really was; a terrorist organization that had to be disbanded ASAP. It even went and revealed the identities of individual Klansmen, hoping to induce good-hearted people to go after the Klansmen themselves and harass them until they were too broken to so much as spit upon a black man. It Worked. Suddenly, the Ku Klux Klan was forced to disband in the face of overwhelming shame, public ridicule, and vicious assaults on its members. They've never managed to regain their former power since then.
- On the radio show The Saint, during the episode "Author of Murder", Vincent Price (the voice of Simon Templar) delivered an unsubtle yet eloquent message on the evils of prejudice and racism.
- South Pacific had a great moment in the song "You've Got to be Carefully Taught." Hate doesn't come naturally, it gets drummed into people in their youth. When some Southerners asked to cut that song, Rodgers and Hammerstein said "If you cut that song, you might as well cut the whole musical."
- From Avenue Q:
- Everyone's a little bit racist, so chill out and we'll all get along better. Charity feels good.
- Also, it's ok if you don't live up to your dreams right now. You've got your whole life ahead of you, so enjoy it.
"If you were gay
- We Will Rock You pretty much lives off the 'Don't be like everyone else' Aesop.
- Wicked's 'skin colour shouldn't matter,' aesop couldn't actually be hammered home any more heavily than it is, and yet it works remarkably well.
- Also, "Don't accept moral compromises, especially not from your leaders," "go out there and fight for what you believe in", and "throw popular opinion out the window".
- Sometimes fate and matters are irreversible. But a moment with a person (the power of friendship) can prove useful for the future. After all, near the ending, Elphaba and Glinda come to terms with the fact that Elphaba's wicked reputation in Oz was irreversible. And a now matured Glinda, changed for good, is left to (positively) reform Oz.
- Don't immediately judge another person. The ditzy, popular, girly girl might turn out to be a good, loyal friend, not a complete bitch, and the Soapbox Sadie might not be a pretentious hipster, but instead a brave woman who is actually willing to go out and fight for what she believes in.
- The message of Into the Woods, as illustrated by the songs 'No More' and 'Children Will Listen', boils down to "Don't screw up your kids, or it WILL come back and bite you in the ass."
- Angels in America already has a pretty heavy message about the treatment of homosexuals/people infected with AIDS, but there's one part that's a little different. It's when Hannah Pitt and Prior Walter meet, and Prior realizes that she's Mormon. He comments "I can just imagine what you think of me" (that he's homosexual), and Hannah indignantly tells him off for being so presumptuous about her opinions. She finishes with "You don't make assumptions about me, and I won't make any about you". Incredibly obvious moral about everyone needing to be open-minded? Yep. Quite necessary? Oh yeah.
- Little Shop of Horrors drops its anvil of "Don't give into temptation" very well, especially through its finale song, "Don't Feed The Plants".
- It wasn't the original main purpose of the play, but Inherit the Wind has a powerful message about the value of human reason over unthinking faith:
Drummond: "In a child's power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "amens" and "holy holies" and "hosannas." An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters."
- Reba Mc Entire's song "She Thinks His Name Was John" is about a woman who contracts HIV/AIDS from a one-night stand. It was released in the mid 90's, a time when many people thought only homosexuals could contract the disease.
- Alice: Madness Returns: Children forced into being sex workers. This is a massive problem, especially in third world countries, that doesn't get much attention. This is the biggest form of slavery that's still around.
- The CoD games in general love smacking the player in the face with an anvil labeled "war is hell."
- Call of Duty 4: The part where you play as a soldier crawling around just before dying from the aftereffects of a nuclear explosion. The worst part of that one scene hits so much harder because of the level before, and the reason you're not at a safe distance. You stick around to rescue a downed pilot, because "No Man Gets Left Behind", and it seems like things will turn out well. And then NUKE, ruining any hopes of a happy ending. Despair hits so much harder when it has hope to contrast with.
- Final Fantasy VII dropped a clearly environmentalist anvil by literally showing a company sucking out the life out of the planet to use as a fuel source. All the over-the-top additions, such as a corrupt president, the repetition of the phrase "the planet is dying", and even a botched public execution to try to throw off the blame only added to the message.
- A subtler aesop is "Be yourself and not who you think you should be".
- The Aesop of the entire Metal Gear Solid series basically boils down to "people need to fix their problems today instead of handing them down to the next generation", An Aesop strengthened by the number of former Child Soldiers among the characters in the series.
- Nuclear weapons are bad, bad, bad.
- Everywhere, even in the subtleties. Look at RAY when you fight it using REX in Guns of the Patriots. See a tail on it? Interesting that the original Metal Gear RAY, the only non-nuclear Metal Gear, the Metal Gear designed not to launch nuclear weapons from any point on the globe, not to defend bigger nuclear-launch platforms like its production-model knockoffs, but to destroy those weapons of mass destruction, is unaccounted for and spared the fate of every other Metal Gear ever seen; destruction.
- The sheer, sheer weight of the anvil is a large part of why this works, too. The message of the series isn't just about people fixing their problems, it's about the individual, each person in the group of people, taking personal responsibility instead of sloughing blame off onto anything convenient.
Sons of Liberty is particularly genius in this, where Solidus Snake spends a good ten minutes monologuing in dramatic fashion about his plans to throw off the yoke of the Patriots, questionably making him seem sympathetic even though he was just a few minutes ago waxing nostalgia about being responsible for many of those child soldiers, the player's character included. He dies soon thereafter, and what's one of the things Solid Snake tells Raiden in the end? "The Patriots are a kind of ongoing fiction too, come to think of it."
Explored further in Guns of the Patriots, where an individual's sense of self is am important theme; the B&B Corps receive no sympathy from Snake, he even expresses annoyance that Drebin insists on telling him their backstories and how they were mentally broken. Life can be horrible, but after a certain point, this stops being an excuse for your actions, and you will never truly have absolution unless you confront your own problems instead of blaming them on others. Contrast with Otacon, who was sexually abused by his stepmother, among other things, but has turned out as Snake's best friend. Ho Yay aside, they're close in a way that Snake, as a soldier, has probably only ever known with other soldiers. It's no coincidence they first meet because Snake's old best friend — a soldier with a dark past who turned traitor out of blind loyalty — was trying to kill Otacon at the time.
- Notice that Snake seems to believe in some sort of existentialism in the end of Metal Gear Solid 2. Great way to summarize some common existentialist beliefs: A person can do anything and are ultimately responsible for everything in life, including its purpose, so you have nobody or no circumstance to blame your flaws on.
- "War is bad", especially in MGS 3. War turns two of the series's biggest heroes into villains mostly because of petty politics. Not to mention the part where every human being and animal you killed comes back from the dead to haunt you.
- The biggest anvil in MGS3 is dropped right at the beginning, when The Boss gives a ten minute speech about how "there is no such thing as an enemy in absolute terms." The first time most players hear it, they want to yell at her to Get On With It Already, because they want to get to the part where they sneak past communists in the jungle. But as they experience the story, her story, it becomes clear how her entire life is contained in those words, and when the whole thing is repeated at the end, it carries a much bigger emotional impact. It's one of the most powerful moments in the entire series, and it would not have been nearly as effective if Kojima had been subtle about it.
- The entire storyline in Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater might be one of the biggest aversions of Do Not Do This Cool Thing in video games. It's nearly impossible, even after multiple playthroughs of the game, to not feel incredible remorse and sorrow after pulling that trigger on the woman right in front of you. It also takes Naked Snake, who was originally a goofy and almost nerdy soldier, and killed him inside. In all of the games he appeared in afterwards, he was never the same.
- Midway's The Suffering brings up the biggest issue with capital punishment, the very real chance of killing an innocent person. This wouldn't be nearly as effective without it's over the top elements.
- Persona 3: Knowing you will one day die and accepting it doesn't mean you should rush towards it. It means you should make your life into something you feel is worth living.
- The Answer has another: Nothing that happened in your past was a waste. Most people have just as many bad memories as they do good ones, but if even one of those things didn't happen, you wouldn't be the person you are today.
- Persona 4's theme is about how finding the truth is never easy or simple. At first, it starts off with lots of misunderstandings, loose threads, and possibly a hasty and disastrous decision on your part, but crosses into Anvilicious toward the end when the whole population of Inaba seems obsessed with looking to TV to feed them all the answers. Considering how much of their conversation resembles exchanges of empty, baseless ideas on too many internet message boards, this is a pretty relevant Aesop. Likewise, if you went through the game without finding the true ending, perhaps the anvil didn't get dropped on you hard enough.
- Another heavy-handed anvil that plummets from the sky is "Be honest with yourself, your true friends won't care if you're not perfect, or an All-Loving Hero." This comes in all flavors. From the Shadows representing A twisted version of their persona, with exaggerated negative characteristics. Continually rejecting the feelings cause them to go berserk and attack, and the only way to obtain a Persona and fight is to accept all your feelings and traits — the good and the bad. As the Investigation Team learn firsthand, the first step to overcoming your problems is to accept them- denying them will only make them worse.
- Aside from the plot-important characters, nearly every last Social Link involves someone who is running away from his/her own reality in order to hide in complacency. From the girl in the Drama Club who only got into acting as a way to escape from her family life, to the young stepmother who doesn't know how to relate to her new husband's son, so she keeps him in daycare and tries to buy his affection with trinkets, to the man who buries himself in work to find his wife's killer and neglects his daughter because she reminds him of his late wife. In the end, although the Protagonist gently prods them in the right direction, it is each Social Link character who must realize his or her own issues on their own and solve them personally. Providing the double Aesop that you must face yourself and stop running from reality on your own, but you can (and should) also depend on your friends' support should you falter along the way.
- Also, a side-andvil: Don't allow technology, media, and fantasy get in the way of yourself. One of the more subtle themes is how people base themselves off of media. Nato disguised as a boy because of the media reinforced conception that men are the best cops or detectives. One thing that probably threw Kanji onto his path of trying to be tough is that you always see females learning how to sew, and that gay men were always the most gentle. Youske wanted to be a big damn hero, and resented that he couldn't the big boy around to save everybody, even if he was grounded in that he knew he needed his friends to beat the shadows. Chie wanted to be a strong martial artist, the kind that you see in movies and that is what drove her to want to be able to be strong and dependable. Yukiko wanted to run away because she cared too much about the people, rather than thinking that she had to be a reliable business tycoon, and thinking that she had to have a prince come get her. Teddie acts too much like a pimp sometimes. Rise was controlled by her media persona, and what people saw on the TV was everything about her that they knew, causing her confusion about herself. As you can see, there was subtle media interloping on each person's story. One thing was how they realized that they were not controlled by what they should see from media in themselves. There may parts of themselves that match up with what they have seen and read about, but that wasn't them alone.
- It's strange that Psychonauts isn't a children's game, because it has the perfect Aesop for one: "Parents are people too. And you know what? Sometimes the stuff they say is 'for your own good' really is for your own good, and they do make mistakes, but you know what? They still love you."
- Also, "don't try to force your kid to grow up to the way you would like him to grow up. It'll only create negative feelings to both sides, and after all, being different is a good thing."
- Kingdom Hearts could not hammer home its message that as long as you stay loyal to your friends, you'll always be okay any harder, and although it does become Narm on occasion, it can still be touching, and that anvil should probably be dropped as often as humanly possible, because, yes, good friends do make it possible to survive anything.
- Final Fantasy XII runs on Grey and Gray Morality, and as such it demonstrates that in a war the people on the other side are people just like the heroes. With the exception of a single minor villain, the Archadians are normal humans beings with dignity, honor, and perfectly understandable reasons for why they do what they do. Even the Big Bad Vayne is a Necessarily Evil Anti-Villain--he is fully aware that he is doing evil things but considers them needed to achieve the ends he desires.
- Dragon Quest XI teaches us that using drugs for sports is bad, since it obviously gives the drug users an unfair advantage), but it also teaches us that doing so can also have a negative impact on your health. Fortunately, Vince (who admittedly had an excuse for his behavior) learns not to do so.
- The World Ends With You has CAT's "Do what you want, wherever you want, whenever you want."
- By the end, the anvil that keeps getting dropped is "trusting in people is a really, really good thing." Mr. Hanekoma even tells Neku that his world will only extend as far as he wants it to, and if he stays a shut-in his whole life, he'll always be miserable.
- Okami has a big one: don't be selfish with your prayers. There is also a corollary to that, which is demonstrated with each NPC encountered. While most games are content to ignore the tendency of NPCs to just give you fetch quests and not do anything themselves (or at least lampshade it), Okami turns it into part of the game's message, which is that you shouldn't wait around on mystical forces to solve all your problems. You need to take responsibility for your own life and do things yourself. Amaterasu avoids taking credit for everything not out of any sort of modesty, but to give these people the confidence it takes to start doing things on their own, so that they won't need her around to fix everything. It's a very important life lesson that, while never actually stated, is anything but subtle in its presentation.
- Bioshock is very unsubtle about its aesop: Utopianism is unrealistic. People will inevitably fail to live up to their own ideals, especially when the reins of power are given to those who would exploit it. No good can come from someone believing they have the right to play God.
- Also, from the audio diaries from Minerva's Den:
Charles Milton Porter: Sure, you hear it in Rapture. One of the business types asked me, "Why don't you splice white? Get ahead!" Well, that's some idiocy! I told him, "First of all, I AM ahead. Second, in Rapture, it's your WORK that's supposed to matter, not your skin!" Too bad for some folks you can't splice in common sense.
- Chrono Trigger. The Zeal story arc is as Anvilicious as they come, but it offers an important metaphor for nuclear warfare.
- Heck, every timeframe had some form of racism/segregation:
65,000,000 BC had Reptites oppressing "humans"
12,000 BC had a very clear apartheid allegory
600 and 1000 AD had the war between the ubermensch and the humans
And 2300 AD had Robots and their genocide.
- The main messages of the game are also completely unsubtle: first, all living things have value. That even includes people who don't look like you, or act like you. In fact, that especially includes them. Secondly, nothing is decided by fate. One small change could be all it takes to change the future for the better, because nothing is predetermined.
- Heck, every timeframe had some form of racism/segregation:
- Sonic Battle hits us with an anti-war message in a very personal way. The player and characters spend the game bonding to a new character, a robot named Emerl. Emerl was created to be a weapon of war, but for the most part, Sonic and friends put it out of their minds. He's more than a weapon; he's their friend, and like Shadow, he has heart and couldn't willingly kill anyone. When it is acknowledged, Rouge finds codewords that will supposedly free Emerl's mind, disengaging the destructive programming. Then Dr. Eggman unleashes a weapon to overload Emerl with power, making him go crazy and attempt to destroy the Earth. Sonic is able to stop him, but it's too late for Emerl... his final programming was set so if the weapon ever went out of control, it would terminate itself.
- Tails hammers the point home:
Someday... If this world finally knows true peace... If this world no longer needs weapons or wars... If we can make this world a truly peaceful place when we're older... If we can make a world where there's only laughter... Do you think we'll be able to play with Emerl again?
- Mega Man ZX finally drops that anvil, in a good way: (spoiler alert)
Giro: Don't tell me you forgot your promise already. You did mean it, right?
- There is also this:
Model Z: Face your destiny and carve out a new future for yourself. That's the struggle that you and every living thing on the planet must cope with.
- Advent stays true and faithful to the Aesop:
Aile: I decided to become a Mega Man because I wanted to help people. You're fighting because you're trying to find out who you are, but don't forget. Only you can decide your own destiny. No matter what anyone says you are. The power you contain within is the key to creating your future. That's what a special person said to me.
- There's also this. Not even an insanely-powerful madman could decide your own destiny: (spoiler alert)
Grey: Yeah, you're right, I am Defective. I'm just a person named Grey. You couldn't even change the destiny of a regular boy like me. This is the destiny that I've chosen... To live together with the people of this world!
- Fire Emblem 9/10: if you destroy a country and abuse the people, you are going to find yourself with terrorists on your minds. Today's saviours may be tomorrow's tyrants. Also, justifying everything you do as patriotism leads to horror.
- Additionally, from FE 9: Every country has their own political problems and social squabbing, but abuse, hatred, slavery, and genocide of people from other nations is never, never right. And trying to stop it can, and should, be a powerful unifying force between these differing nations.
- A Drug That Makes You Dream: Bullying may be bad, but complacency is equally bad. Your loved ones and friends are more reliable than your "conventional" social circle. Ostracizing people who are different through no fault of their own is fucked up. Don't be afraid of love, either to love someone or be loved in return. Compared to those, the game's drug aesop ("the fruits of escapism are fleeting and dangerous") is surprisingly subtle.
- Mother 3 has very constant, and quite often rather soul-shakingly terrifying representations of the corruption of nature by technology (not so much "technology is bad" as it is that misuse of technology with no restraint is bad) and the rather earthly and relevant destruction, sacrifice, reunion, and all around painful examination of familial bonds.
- Live a Live: Anyone can become evil if they have enough hatred inside of them. And boy, does Oersted embody this message a hundredfold.
- Pokémon, especially Pokémon Gold and Silver, can get pretty Anvilicious about taking care of your Pokémon and treating them like friends, rather than tools, but it's a message that people need to learn, whether you are talking about people or animals.
- There's also some subtext that no one, no matter how cruel or mean they are, is beyond redemption if they truly do mean it — Silver, Maxie and Archie, and especially N are all primary villains that reform when they realize the error of their ways. And of course, Pokémon too are individuals, and many are probably just Punch Clock Villains that are simply following the orders of their trainers. The aesop gets a bit broken in later Generations, where the leaders of Team Galactic and Team Plasma don't reform, and we find out Giovanni, who since the very first games was implied to go off and try to live a peaceful life after being defeated, never learned his lesson either.
- There's some environmental/animal rights messages too, with many people preaching that truly good trainers live in peace and harmony with Pokémon, while the evil teams are universally said to exploit and abuse Pokémon for their own ends. Some things (Legendary Pokémon) are best left to nature to govern, and trying to control them will only lead to disaster. This message was actually the focus of Black and White — Team Plasma believes that humans and Pokémon cannot co-exist and wish to create separate worlds for them, and leader N was influenced by being raised among abused and abandoned Pokémon.
- Pokémon Black and White mentions that you should get along with people who have different views from yourself. Take one look at any political debate, especially those around major political parties and those on the internet, and you'd know how much that anvil really needed to be dropped.
- The Mass Effect series drops this one: There comes a time where you have to acknowledge that you can't save everyone and you won't be able to make it through unscarred. You can't win them all. Doing so will come at great sacrifice.
- The series as a whole goes to a lot of trouble to point out that old saw about how it is the destiny of every generation to overthrow their parents. Basically, you should be good to your children if you don't want them to kill you. This comes out in various ways, but the primary examples are the Geth pogrom that left the Quarians without a home and Shepard's option to kill off the Reapers.
- Another running theme in the series that becomes incredibly prominent in Mass Effect 3 is a depiction of The Chains of Commanding. It Sucks to Be the Chosen One for Shepard, and his/her job is not at all portrayed as glamorous or fun in any way. This comes to a head in 3 when Shepard is nearing his/her limit, physically and emotionally, and by the end, s/he's almost completely broken by everything that's happened.
- The third game does have a more positive message, especially for people who played Paragon through the trilogy: treat people right and they'll do right by you.
- The underrated SEGA game Feel the Magic: XY/XX does not seem like the kind of game that would have an Aesop. But the final level kicks the Love Martyr concept in the tenders, wherein the hero saves the life of his beloved and delivers the message that "Love doesn't mean dying for the one you love, but living life to the fullest for them!"
- LA Noire drops a pretty solid anvil that some people seem to have forgotten: honesty is, and always will be, the best policy. Crime does not pay, and personal integrity will always be worth more than money or prestige, period. This cannot be more clear than when Cole sticks his gun in Roy's face for badmouthing Courtney Sheldon, a war hero with whom Phelps served in the Pacific.
- All of the Oddworld games focus on horrifying effects of people putting personal gain, capitalism, and social status before morality, as all the Player Characters are on the losing end of that compromise. They typically have a Green Aesop complimenting this theme, as well.
- The Fallout: New Vegas add-ons all revolve around moving on and accepting the past.
- Dead Money takes this from the point of view of fortune-seekers. Dean and Elijah's greed for the Sierra Madre's vault (Dean's having ripened for more than 200 years), Christine's thirst for revenge on Elijah, and God/Dog's desire to lead and be lead all threaten to destroy them--only by letting go can any of them survive the DLC.
- Honest Hearts takes this from the point of view of well-intentioned meddlers trying to influence a new civilization based on their past experiences. Joshua Graham, an ex-Legion soldier looking to atone for his past by protecting an innocent group of literate tribals, Daniel, a preacher trying to preserve his culture by peacefully converting those innocents to his faith, and Randall Clark, a long-dead soldier who founded the tribe in order to replace his lost family. Aiding Graham fully turns the tribe into a vicious warband, aiding Daniel fully drives the tribe from their fertile home into the harsh wastes. The best solution is to aid Graham in defeating the bloodthirsty usurpers, then persuade him to show mercy to the defeated leader — this leads the tribe to understand how justice must be tempered with mercy, creating a new civilization.
- Old World Blues does this from a society's point of view. The titular expression is explained by a talking jukebox to be a state where one is so focused on the glories of the past that he can't concentrate on the present--or the future.
- The add-on "Lonesome Road" is a guided tour through a series of Old World military installations, frozen in the act of setting off the apocalypse, and culminating in a chance to destroy the New California Republic and/or Caesar's Legion with a nuclear weapon. The best ending is to abandon the WMD insanity of the past and solve the problems of the wasteland yourself. While this makes sense in a post-Apocalyptic world, it is still true in Real Life, particularly in the global landscape America currently finds itself in.
- Tales Series:
- Tales of Symphonia has about a million messages that aren't subtle at all, but need to be told:
- Bigotry and discrimination is evil and never, ever justifiable. Even if you're a victim of discrimination, returning the favor to the people who mistreated you is just as bad (though to many this comes off as a Captain Obvious Aesop).
- Every life is worth something; designating certain people as sacrificial lambs is worthless.
- Blindly following one course of action without thought of alternatives or how many people you'll need to step on to get there is detrimental to your psyche, and will probably hurt a lot of people too.
- Tales of the Abyss: Don't let prophecy or fatalism decide your actions. Your family, your nation, or the circumstances of your birth don't define who you are; only you can do that.
- Tales of Xillia: Everyone has both the right and the responsibility to carve their own path in life. Following the will of another will lead nowhere. The decisions we make are so important precisely because they are that- our decisions. Considering Japanese media in general tend to ram in the 'no man is an island' message, having a JRPG that supports individualism is both surprising and refreshing.
- Trust is much like a large house or tower- easy to destroy, but takes time to build. Unless you want to end up completely alone, you'd better figure out whose side you're on.
- Tales of Symphonia has about a million messages that aren't subtle at all, but need to be told:
- The demons in Strange Journey will make you think quite hard about exactly what is it that you really believe about Humanity and its role on Earth. The demon lords' Hannibal Lectures very likely will hammer in the point in ways Churchill would be proud of.
- Likewise, Shin Megami Tensei V tell us that just because someone claims they love you, it doesn't mean they truly love you. Lahmu's so-called love for Satori is ultimately nothing more than a lustful twisted obsession, and he wants her to do terrible, unspeakable things, including murder her best friend Tao. The aforementioned Tao truly loves Satori, but doesn't want her to take Lahmu's side, and she ultimately has every reason to. Lahmu more or less wants to make the world burn, and then create a one that was a living hell.
- Grandia II places a lot of emphasis on the importance of making one's own decisions. Throughout the game, Roan learns that following authority is not a way of living, Mareg teaches Tio to learn to be her own master instead of following orders, and Ryudo hammers it into Elena that even though they were playing into Pope Zera's hand the whole second half the quest, she is not a servant to anyone, not even the dead God of Light Granas or the returning Valmar. And since that game was made in a country were the interests of the group is emphasized over those of the individual, this is one anvil that especially needed to be dropped there.
- Your mileage may vary on this one: Galaxy Angel, the whole trilogy, is admittedly an idealistic metaphor for how to make truly loving relationships work. The first game in the trilogy is the "passionate falling in love" phase: Tact and his chosen Angel, whoever it is, fall in love and dang, don't they have so much in common? Tact's such a great guy, he's so understanding, the Angel's never met anyone like him before! The Angel in question is so beautiful and nice and helpful, a true Angel for Tact! Then in the second game, Moonlit Lovers, the relationship moves to the phase where the partners start to discover each other's little annoyances that make them not so perfect: Ranpha habitually jumps to conclusions, Mint has trouble relating to Tact in situations where she can't rely on mind-reading, Tact himself slacks off too much and notices beauty in others too much, etc., and so on. Finally in the third game, Eternal Lovers, the relationship is put through such enormous strain that it will break unless Tact is really and truly serious about how much he loves his girlfriend. In every route in the final game, Tact's girlfriend is driven by circumstances beyond her control to become inconvenient to love instead of a source of endless support: Milfeulle loses her memory of Tact and treats him like her commander, Ranpha develops an uncontrollable reflex to attack Tact whenever he touches her, Mint's mind-reading powers become their inverse broadcasting all of Mint's thoughts and feelings including the bad ones, Forte develops an uncontrollable fear of picking up a gun and thus loses the quality that makes her stand out the most (her love of guns and serious dedication to the military), Vanilla's nanomachine pet malfunctions turning into a monster and attacking Tact on sight, and Chitose falls under a delusion that she's in love with Lester instead. The only way Tact manages to clear up any of this is to learn what really makes a loving relationship mature instead of teenage love: you have to accept that you and your partner will eventually be in conflict, and work hard to deal with that when it happens, since love means you're more concerned with your partner's well-being than you are with your own pride. After the problem is cleared up and the enemy is finished, they eventually get happily married and show up in Galaxy Angel II, with a marriage like most of you Tropers' parents where they're still close even as mature adults.
- The Ace Attorney series has a running theme of To Be Lawful or Good, as might well be expected of games centered around the legal system. The anvil comes at the very end of the fourth game in the main series, where both the Judge and the prosecutor of that game explain outright that Good is always the right choice over Lawful, because the law is always changing... and that we have a responsibility to stand up and work to change the law if the law is wrong, for the sake of anyone else who might have to face that law. Given how many protagonists are idealized for breaking laws they don't like, it's nice to hear from the other perspective on this, and leaving it as a subtle theme rather than stating it firmly would have been far less effective.
- Dangan Ronpa: When in desperate situations and overcome with despair, people can easily turn on each other to survive. But it's important that we have hope, both in others and in ourselves, if we ever want to move forward.
- Fate/stay night has a couple of good ones:
- There's no such thing as a perfect, flawless hero. They just don't exist. If someone is a Living Legend or The Ace, chances are they had to sacrifice a lot in order to become that person.
- Living life solely for the benefit of others, and helping people out of a sense of obligation rather than desire, makes you little more than a machine who feeds off the happiness of other people. However it may sound, life does require a degree of selfishness every now and then. If you want to help others, you should do it because it makes you happy, not because it makes others happy.
- Katawa Shoujo: People with disabilities are just that — people. Nothing more, nothing less. And never ever forget that "You are not alone, and you are not strange. You are you, and everyone has damage. Be the better person."
- In addition to the main aesop, the game has a different aesop for each girl's path, as well as a couple of overarching ones for the game as a whole, and while they are varying degrees of Anvilicious, pretty much all of them need to be dropped. e.g., Hanako Ikezawa's path states that "disabled people are NOT living props to treat nicely and white-knight for", since Hanako is aware of how shattered she is after her bad experiences in life, but also detests being treated like a broken child over it; if Hisao goes too far in his desire to protect and shield her, it will lead to her bad ending.
- Shall We Date Ninja Shadow:
- One of the main themes of the game is that discrimination is BAD. And it's very anviliciously drilled into the early plot via making Kaname die protecting people that are being treated badly, making Eduard and Yuzuki the victims of lots of prejudices in their respective routes, giving Tsubaki a Freudian Excuse based on how he and others have been judged unfairly by the Japanese society, etc. But hey, it is a genuinely good message at its core, and one that every society should follow.
- Also, "violence should never be the first option. Even if there are understandable reasons behind the violent person's behavior and the government is either corrupted or mistaken, being outright violent will only bring more chaos and violence".
- "No one is alone. No one should be all alone. People must collaborate and help one another."
- Broken Saints is loaded with these, most notably about the treatment of third world countries by Western industry.
- There She Is — There's no need to stand in the way of love.
- Some say its anvil is more specifically about the animosity between Koreans and Japanese that remains to this day. Certainly needs to be dropped either way, since this issue isn't addressed very often.
- Step 4 specifically: Backing down under societal pressure will not make things better.
- Chess Piece seems to be trying to get across the message that being purely idealistic or purely a cynic is a bad thing.
- Something Positive has a comic that really drives home the point of how absurd racism is.
- Many anvils are dropped in the arc involving Davan's dad and a "Hell House" — a Haunted House aimed at scaring people into accepting Christianity. And yes — they are real. The quote on the last page is especially Anvilicious
R.K. Milholland's Dad: Never confuse the faith with the supposedly faithful.
- Winston Rowntree, author of Subnormality, often deals with Aesops and Anvils with the subtlety of a falling stack of bricks. While he can get awfully heavy-handed with his messages in his webcomic, he occasionally pulls off an incredibly effective, powerful Anvil. This is exemplified in The Line, a fan favorite which illustrates a chilling, much-needed moral about conformity.
- "I Am A Good Person" by Deviant ART artist Pa Mikoo features adorable, sobbing cartoon schoolchildren in the last panel, but it features a message that some people are remarkably thick-skulled about.
- Misfile uses a Gender Bender story to deliver An Aesop about how Transsexuals deserve toleration.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: "Every Rose Has It's Thorn", regarding Poison and the fact that she's Transsexual, and how what's in anybody's pants doesn't matter unless you want to get in them. Crowning Moment of Heartwarming for Commander Badass.
- El Goonish Shive drops one with Justin — as a gay person with gender bending technology available, he could easily turn into a woman and continue to love men without intolerance. He continues to reject this idea because he is a man, homosexual or not, rejecting the Trans Equals Gay stereotype. There's also Susan's revelation that men aren't constantly horny pigs. In her notebook, she writes how she can no longer blame her father's adultery on his gender.
- Sequential Art in strip #176 has this particularly sweet anvil:
Kate: So. Uh...d'you think Hilary looks... good? As...as a pin-up, I mean.
- Though it mostly pokes fun at the comic industry, The Gutters really hits a homerun in this one about same-sex relationships.
- The Whateley Universe is chock full of these, since the stories revolve around ideas like tolerance for people who are different. They're mutants. But most of the protagonists are also Transgender or otherwise LGBTQI, so there's less of a Space Whale Aesop than usual. Several of the main characters, like Phase and Diamondback, have been treated horrifically by their own families since they 'came out' — as mutants.
- Linkara in one of his videos ("Athena" IIRC) went on a rant about how a guy can dislike exploitation of women and not be gay/hate women's bodies/whatev. With so many people willing to accuse him of being gay just because he dislikes the way that women's bodies are unrealisticly portrayed in comics, the rant was AWESOME.
- Even more awesomely, he did it while still being respectful of LGBT people.
- Ma-Ti in Kickassia
Ma-Ti: Stop being a douchebag, it will totally backfire!
- The Nostalgia Chick's video on The Smurfette Principle. While suffering from the same flaws as the Critic's Nick Month did (as in, she probably didn't have time to look over the newer stuff properly), it was intelligent along with being funny and she never came off as a Straw Feminist.
- Ditto for her brief commenting on whether a character is feminist or not. She makes several good points as to why you could or couldn't consider some characters feminist, and then says that the bottom line is how you look at it.
- CR's character look at Anne Gwish and how subcultures like goth aren't bad, it's just conceited jerks like her who ruin it for everyone else.
- In his Green M&M vid, its ok to be attracted to fictional characters. They make them that way for a reason.
- For his "Top 11 Fluffy and Uranus Eviscirations", you can't pussify society. It's alright to hear "Respect others" and "Take care of yourselves and the environment" but its wrong to hear it 24/7. How someone crass can raise above a baser instinct and want to change something or say something straight from the heart, that is far greater than something sugar-coated. When they say something, it may be snarly and innappropriate, but it can be honest. When they sweeten it, its dishonest and insulting.
- In the I'm a Marvel... And I'm A DC's first After Hours series drops the anvil that powerful heroes like Superman aren't outdated, because they still need to be there for others to aspire to be.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the primary Aesops were "Don't fight the battles that you can win, fight the battles that deserve to be fought", and "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Do not allow evil to triumph. Do not do sit by and do nothing." Which are sentiments that need to be said quite a bit more than they are usually said.
- Film Brain pointed out in his Bride Wars review that far from being fat, Kate Hudson's character in it would look healthy if she gained five pounds. There was also the commentary for Seven Pounds, in which Film Brain continues to go on about how horrible it is that suicide is glorified as the ultimate sacrifice, when Will Smith's character had a fantastic education and could have done so much more to help others if he didn't martyr himself.
- In the same film, he snarks about one of the characters doesn't allow her dog to eat meat. ("Ya! Animals don't eat meat in the wild beat wait) Not to mention that most vets will very specifically advise you against doing this, so it's also a case of Artistic License Animal Care.
- If an innocent child is getting mistreated in a movie, The Nostalgia Critic will more often than stop the review for a long rant about it. Nice enough, but then you remember that the character is supposed to have been badly abused as a kid. It's almost poignant in a sense.
- In his The Legend of the Titanic review, he makes it clear, several times, that what the film did (outright deny the deaths of hundreds of people in favor of a "SAVE THE WHALES" aesop) is completely disrespectful to those who were related to those who died on the Titanic.
- He says over and over again that just because something is a kid's movie, doesn't mean it has to be worthless or have no effort put into it. Depending on how he much suffers in an episode, this can vary in desperation.
- Relating to that, non-stop loud music, sound or talking is annoying and takes away from building kid's appreciation for building up atmosphere.
- The Moulin Rogue review has "Even if I don't like the film, maybe you do, and neither of us are definitely wrong" as well as "Guilty Pleasures are nothing to be ashamed of."
- Todd in the Shadows review of Fifteen
A woman has more worth than her body!
- Arby and Chief is a delicious and very relevant anvil on Fan Dumb and Hate Dumb, even if delivered with crude humor, which is directed against the Halo fanbase but can be applied to everything. The episodes "Glitch" and "Panic" are a good point, because The Arbiter delivers a well-placed Reason You Suck Speech against an user named assassininja4827, who is 39 years old and freaking out because of the title glitch in the game. The moral is that there's nothing wrong with being an adult and playing computer game, but you also must act like one!
- Cracked gives us a good few:
- From David Wong:
5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't): The pursuit of things like fame and wealth are pointless. Friendship, love, and altruism are where it's at.
The God Fuse: Just because you're in the right (or you think you're in the right) about something, doesn't mean you need to be a dick about it. Also, you'll never truly harass the other side out of existence.
What Is The Monkeysphere? basically sums it up by talking about Osama bin Laden: "Now, the truth is that bin Laden is as deserving of a bullet in the head as the four-color image on some redneck's T-shirt. But what you've got to realize is this: we're the caricature on his T-shirt."
** John Cheese in general writes a lot about being a recovering alcoholic and how much of a struggle it's been. He repeatedly — and to great effect — points out that it's not alcohol that makes you an alcoholic, it's that addiction in your brain, and he also points out that you're never truly "cured" from it. A powerful message. But not the only one from him:
5 Reasons Life Really Does Get Better: The world isn't as bad as you think. When you get older, you actually have the power to do something about it.
5 Common Anti-Internet Arguements that are statistically bullshit: In the face of internet censorship, its good to remember these points.
- Christina H's "8 Tiny Things That Stopped Suicides": Yes, depressed people often build up a wall around them. Yes, breaking down that wall can be extremely difficult. But sometimes, all it takes to get started is a small crack in the wall, courtesy of a friendly phone call, a hug, or something else.
- From David Wong:
- "Why Nice Guys are often such LOSERS" from Heartless Bitches International points out the horribleness of being a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and how insecure nice guys are the worst material for boyfriends.
- "On the Genealogy of "Art Games": A Polemic" about the way the term art has been missused in videogames and the degeneration of society in general.
- "Have you ever tried *not* being a rapist?" makes a number of points about rape, starting with the title, and proceeding to cut directly to the argument that instead of teaching people how not to get raped, society ought to teach people how not to be rapists. The article is blunt, minces no words, and is beautifully direct. It was followed up with another article, "Playing the Devil's Advocate", this one on the all-too-often ignored topic of how men suffer rape just as much as women. Finally, there is "A Message to Rape Survivors", which is powerful, comforting, and hopeful.
- American Dad! does this more than once, usually about a Family-Unfriendly Aesop, but an important one nonetheless. "Daddy Queerest" for example had Terry try to come out to his homophobic father but the man point blank refuses to make peace with Terry. As Terry is told at the end of the episode, you shouldn't waste time trying to win the affection of awful hateful people who will never change or accept you when you already have people who love and accept you for who you are.
- The Gargoyles episode "Deadly Force" is anything but subtle about its message, but is generally considered one of the best episodes of the series for treating its subject matter with respect, and instead of using the easy Aesop, "guns are bad," they opt for the more mature and reasonable, "Guns are dangerous, and need to be treated with respect."
- It's also notable in that the Aesop sticks with the two central characters: Broadway spends the rest of the series destroying any gun he comes across, and Elisa is shown putting it away when she has company, and locking up her gun rather than leaving it loaded and lying around.
- The show also lays it on thick about the pointlessness of revenge and how killing causes more problems than it solves. This is reinforced by David Xanatos. Why is he such a successful, well regarded, and enduring villain? Because he doesn't go in for revenge. Ever. While villains in other cartoons inevitably forget their original goals to seek revenge on the heroes, Xanatos never even holds a grudge because, as he put it, "Revenge is a sucker's game."
It's also reinforced by "City of Stone" and "Hunter's Moon."
Goliath: No! Killing her (Demona) won't solve anything! Death never does!
- The Christmas Episode of Sabrina the Animated Series did a unique spin on the typical Christmas Carol plot where a Scrooge is scared into being nice for the holidays. Sabrina is fed up with Gem's attitude to Christmas (which itself gets cranked up for the episode, even having Gem make people line up to hear what gift they have to buy her) and tries to cast a spell to scare her with the Christmas Carol touch. However it doesn't work and only makes Gem love herself even more so Sabrina ends up giving her a gift anyway and wishing her Merry Christmas. Gem then realises that no one else cared to be with her on Christmas and so joins Sabrina's family for dinner. So the message becomes "don't try to change someone just because you don't like their attitude, try being nice in the hope they'll reciprocate".
- Though Captain Planet as a whole was Anvilicious in a negative way, the episode If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast is a remarkable exception. For all its multitudinous  and Wheeler as the embodiment of America Saves the Day, it delivers a very clear Aesop that long histories of violence and bloodshed are complex, difficult problems without clear "good guys" or "bad guys" or quick, easy solutions, and a secondary one that nobody can win a nuclear war.
- Also, the episode focused on HIV. It wasn't even remotely subtle, but the message that AIDS victims aren't subhuman diseased maggots who spread their plague by existing and are still human beings who need love and support was an anvil that needed to be dropped from as many roofs as possible in the early 90s.
- The episode about animal testing. After some of the overblown Aesops delivered by the show, the subdued message of "animal testing is sometimes necessary, but can often be minimized or avoided entirely and should never be used unnecessarily" is a breath of fresh air.
- "The power is yours!" As oversimplified and full of Broken Aesops as the show is, both kids and adults need to be reminded that they have both the ability and responsibility to protect the planet.
- South Park is fantastic for not only having Anvilicious episodes, but having that Anviliciousness most often being completely justified and absurdly hilarious. Sometimes they remind celebrities that their egos are outstripping their talents or that they have gone too far (Fat Butt and Pancake Head, The Biggest Douche in the Universe, Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset, The China Problem, and Fishsticks), how absurd some trends are (South Park Is Gay! and Smug Alert!), or just how crazy we are as a society (Freak Strike, I'm a Little Bit Country, Butt Out, Douche and Turd, Follow That Egg!, Britney's New Look, and The Ring).
- The two-parter Cartoon Wars with the message that using the threat of potential terrorism to get people to do what you want is also terrorism. This needs to be repeated time and time again.
- The episode "Trapped In The Closet," and the views of the destructiveness and nonsensicalness of Scientology. They were willing to alienate a long-time cast member and fan favorite to get the message out. Although Isaac Hayes didn't want to leave the cast; he was pressured into it by Scientology and was in tears when he went to Matt and Trey to break the news. He had enough of a sense of humour to say "they've done that to every religion"; Scientology did not.
- There's also movie, where 139 F-bombs are just about enough to remind people that there are far worse things in the world than swearing — a message that ties in nicely with It Hits The Fan, which shows that some swear words become completely meaningless if you use them 162 times. Especially since, ironically, when the movie came out, a lot of people were complaining about it, and they were acting EXACTLY like Kyle's mother. Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren't bad at predicting the behaviour of Moral Guardians. It, amidst all the uncensored swearing, also has a few big ones: violence can be just as bad as swearing, and the "blame the media for your children's bad behavior and lobby to censor it" approach to taming unruly kids is a very bad idea.
- While tracking down Norman's nemesis via his trail of destruction in Mighty Max, they arrive at a house whose occupants were slaughtered. Norman was the only one to see the carnage and absolutely refused to allow Max to enter. Max tried to reason that he has plenty of experience with violence on television. Virgil overrules Norman, Max actually does enter the house... and proceeds to run out and lose his lunch. When Max asks why it hit him so hard, Virgil responds simply, "Real violence has real consequences." It makes it clear that there is a difference between entertaining action shows and how it would actually affect the real world.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has two notable ones: No one can give you honour or self-worth except yourself. (Zuko) "Power and perfection are overrated." (Iroh)
- Late in the first season, Aang discovers a Firebending master and is eager to learn firebending. The master is reluctant because he knows Aang has not mastered water and earth (and true focus) yet. To start with baby steps, the master gives Aang a tiny leaf to burn a little. But an impatient Aang yearns to show off his potential and creates giant flames that badly burns Katara much to his horror. Distaught, Aang decides he will never firebend again and suppresses his firebending abilities (until the later 3rd season). Katara reminds Aang that he has to learn firebending someday, just not now. Even if you feel you have more potential, dangerous lessons must be learned gradually. And if you mess up real terribly, it does not mean you must abandon learning it; you will learn it someday, but not today.
- A later third season episodes completes the Aesop that a dangerious ability can be beautiful and vital once you understand control and its meaning. Zuko and Aang learns this when they witnessed the last two dragons on Earth fire beautiful flames around them without burning them.
- "The Painted Lady" had a point: Although all the miracles are blessings, you shouldn't just believe that circumstances will eventually improve, but act to make things better. It didn't matter if the Painted Lady was real or not — the fact that they thought that she was acting for them was enough to turn things around and get people hopeful again.
- Another anvil is dropped in "The Avatar and The Firelord," by Aang (they did a lot of these in the third season). What's interesting is that it brought all the random, seemingly unconnected plots of the previous episodes, where the Gaang had been laying low in the Fire Nation and interacting with the locals in disguise, and united them under a common theme, simultaneously subverting the Bad Powers, Bad People viewpoint that had been prominent in the other two seasons:
Aang: Roku was just as much Fire Nation as Sozin was, right?? If anything, their story proves anyone's capable of great good and great evil. Everyone, even the Fire Lord and the Fire Nation, have to be treated like they're worth giving a chance.
- "The Southern Raiders" takes Forgiveness, an aesop commonly found in children's shows (most of which don't handle it very well), and completely justifies it. Interesting in that Katara doesn't forgive the man who killed her mother, but she does forgive Zuko. It was an intelligent way of handling the aesop that counts as a Reconstruction.
- "Zuko Alone" has two: Even the 'good' side in a war can be morally ambiguous, and it's unrealistic to expect long-lasting enmity to be smoothed over by a single act.
- The horrific breakdown of Azula drives home the point that you can't keep people from hurting you by controlling them with fear, because love, like the love Mai had for Zuko, is more important.
- Being a good parent isn't about loving your child because they meet your expectations, it's about always loving your child even though they've lost their way. The series demonstrates this by contrasting Ozai and Iroh's relationships with Zuko, and showing that Iroh was more of a father in the three years he spent with him than Ozai was for the other thirteen. On top of that, a real parent is the one who always loves you no matter what, rather than just being related to you.
- Killing people isn't always the answer. It pulls it off rather well by means of What You Are in the Dark; "Aang? If you really want to defeat Ozai without killing him, you'll have to risk your immortal soul. How far are you willing to go for your ideals?" Answer: Aang is without a doubt The Messiah — so he EARNS his Happy Ending.
- The theme of sticking to your ideals is especially prevalent, since his mentors (previous avatars), his friends, and pretty much everyone else in the story told him to kill Ozai, but instead he stuck with what he thought was right and it worked out for the best.
- "It's okay if you've made mistakes — it's never too late to do the right thing", as shown with Zuko's Heel Face Turn, especially after it had been subverted (he had made the wrong choice) in the season 2 finale.
- The central plot of the entire series is that forcing one's way of life upon others — the Fire Nation's conquest of the world — is the most monstrous act imaginable.
Zuko: Growing up, we were taught that the Fire Nation was the greatest civilization in history and somehow, the war was our way of sharing our greatness with the rest of the world. What an amazing lie that was! The people of the world are terrified by the Fire Nation! They don’t see our greatness — they hate us! And we deserve it. We’ve created an era of fear in the world. And if we don’t want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace and kindness.
- Also, the show isn't a one-shot Anvilicious allegory that's tailor made to hammer in a bunch of talking points about the current political situation, The Fire Nation is Britain, Rome, Nazi Germany, and (especially) Imperial Japan. ATLA is believable precisely because it follows broad themes that run throughout history rather than the current zeitgeist.
- The 1939 short Peace on Earth is a Christmastime story. In it, Funny Animals discuss a not-so-funny topic; that is, how "men" went extinct due to warfare (World War II was clearly on the horizon at the time... and this was before nuclear weapons were developed, mind you). We see some of the horrors of warfare depicted WWI-style. And when the men had gone, the animals afterwards read the "humans' book of rules" and express disappointment that the humans had some good rules (e.g. Thou Shalt Not Kill) but weren't able follow them.
- On the Justice League episode "Flash and Substance" — it's okay to be happy, and feel good after a job well done. You don't have to be emo, depressed, or "dark" for people to like you — and you should always be kind to those weaker than you. Maybe this isn't an aesop-- but in a world of dark and depressing storylines to show how awful the world is, and how horrible the people are, is nice to see someone out and out say that they have good days. And you don't have to beat the snot out of the bad guys. Maybe you could help them get the treatment they really need.
- The contrast between Flash's style in Central City and that of the visiting Batman is wonderfully brought home when Flash quietly talks The Trickster down — said Trickster voiced by the King Of Bat-Villain's VA, Mark Hamill, speaking in something very close to his normal voice. Batman even looks envious, and shows his respect for Flash.
- Phineas and Ferb: The episodes "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted" and "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" dish out some Anvils about how children shouldn't have their creativity and imagination restricted, and how they should pursue what they want. While the Anvil-dropping itself isn't particularly subtle (in fact, the dropping of the Anvils incorporates some bleak themes, a lot of Tear Jerker for the characters, and even some And I Must Scream elements for a show directed to 6-11 year-olds), the Aesop is notably important (in a society where parents are keen on having their children follow in their footsteps, stifling their kids' imagination and having their true identity obliterated.)
- Phineas and Ferb also gives us one of the few bearable health food aesops that have been slipped into kids shows since ever: the episode "Candace's Big Day". Dr. Doofenshmirtz decides to feed everyone junk food and turn them into fat, despicable slobs. When he's finally ready to do it, he's surprised to find out that all the junk food is gone.
- The underlying theme of all the episodes, but made most obvious in songs like "Summer Belongs to You" and "Carpe Diem" is to make the most of what you've got. You don't need to do the amazing, unbelievable things that Phineas and Ferb do to have the most exciting, fulfilling life possible.
- SpongeBob SquarePants preached a lot of messages about honesty and not taking advantage of people. One of the best examples is Patty Hype, where Spongebob starts to sell Pretty Patties, a brand of brightly coloured Krabby Pattie. The Pretty Patties become a runaway hit, despite Mr. Krabs and Squidward laughing in Spongebob's face. First of all, it shows you that you shouldn't give up on your dreams, even if you're laughed at because of them. And then when Mr. Krabs cheats Spongebob out of the Pretty Patty franchise, it comes back to bite him in the ass. Hard!
- From the later seasons, Spongebob's Last Stand, where Spongebob opposes a highway being built through Jellyfish Fields. Only Patrick supported him, but still, he tried, and in the end, he did succeed. It was a pretty good aesop about not harming the environment and caring about wildlife.
- There's also the episode Not Normal, in which Squidward convinces Spongebob that he needs to act "more normal." Spongebob watches a self-help video on the topic, and eventually transforms into a bland, mediocre office worker. But instead of this making him happier and more accepted, it leaves him bored and miserable because he's lost all of his unique talents and the things that he used to enjoy. He and Patrick end up spending the rest of the episode trying to turn Spongebob "weird" again. The message, that "normal" is incredibly overrated and the quest to fit in can destroy the best things about you, feels very clear and strong in this episode.
- Danny Phantom had several subtle anvil droppings. Throughout the first season, Danny was terrified about telling his parents about his secret identity, because they hunted ghosts for a living. When he finally does reveal his secret to them, they were completely accepting. It goes to show that you should trust your family with your secrets. They'll love you no matter what.
- One episode of The Weekenders chronicles Tino and his overwhelming fear of clowns to the point he's reverted to the fetal position when just seeing an image of one. It's all somewhat Played for Laughs, but his friends and his mom try to convince him that his fear is wrecking his life and that he should try and face it. He admits he does need help and does face his fear... at a nearby circus clown school. By the end of the episode he isn't fully cured of his phobia, but he can "live with it now", even saying that fear is okay as long as it doesn't take over your life.
- Happy Feet: The last wild places in the world are worth protecting and preserving.
- "Your way of doing things is not inherently better than my way just because of tradition."
- Batman: The Animated Series had Villain of the Week Calendar Girl, who was once a renowned model but was fired for being unable to compete with younger models. She eventually decides to extract revenge on all the companies and networks who had fired her and ruined her career. Throughout the episode, she always wears a full-face mask since she had so much plastic surgery done before turning evil. But when the police unmask her, she begins to scream and writhe on the ground, horrified that they see her "ugly" face. She is in her late-thirties and just as attractive as the other models seen.
Batgirl: She's beautiful.
- Each episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic contains a lesson on friendship, but the episode is not written by the lesson, but the lesson by the episode. One fan of the show speculates that these lessons are the reasons why the show is liked so much.
- "Suited for Success" has a twofold moral: the first is "you shouldn't try to please everyone, because you'll often please no one", and the second is "don't look a gift horse in the mouth". "Applebuck Season" is all about how it's okay to ask your friends for help when you really need it. And "Green Isn't Your Color" manages to do a pretty good job of explaining that some secrets are okay to keep, and some aren't.
- Bridle Gossip: "Do not judge a book by its cover"- echoing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Do not judge a person by the color of his skin". The ponies are afraid of Zecora- a Zebra dressed in East African garb who speaks Swahili- and accuse her of being a witch. But Zecora turns out to be friendly and knowledgeable- and not responsible for the tricks played on the ponies at all. To drive the point home, Twilight could have saved herself a lot of trouble if she hadn't literally judged a book by its cover: she dismisses a book called "Supernaturals", only to find out it was actually a book on natural remedies called "Super Naturals", and outlined both the cause and cure for the supposed "curse" from which her and her friends were suffering.
- Over a Barrel: The natives vs. settlers conflict has no clear cut good guy or bad guy. But solutions and compromises can be reached- though not always easily, but still possible. Another moral is: sickingly sweet songs with corny lyrics are not only unhelpful, they tend to make the situation worse.
- Boast Busters: Being talented doesn't make you a bad person, but thinking that your talents make you better then everyone else does. Also, mustaches are awesome.
- The Best Night Ever: Reality doesn't always live up to expectations. Also, the company of good friends can make anything better.
- The Return of Harmony: Friendship isn't always easy, but it's worth fighting for.
- Hearth's Warming Eve: When people spend more time attacking each other than the problem, the problem does not get solved
- Hearts and Hooves Day: You don't need a "Special Somepony" to be happy on the day dedicated for it.
- A missed but important one for Ponyville Confidential: Everypony contributed to the gossip column by buying the paper to see others humiliated. They have no one to blame but themselves for their secrets coming out because everypony wanted to see them embarrassed. It's also a scathing Satire on Tabloid Newspapers in general, how easily and willingly their editors can bend their crew to their will, how they are willing to go to Murdoch-ian levels to get their way, and how, as shown in the "shun" sequence, the public is so willing to turn a blind eye to the publishers, allowing to get away with it.
- It also shows how making up lies about someone on news can be very damaging to one's reputation.
- From "Putting your hoof down", the aesop of "No means no". Given that a lot of people just assume "No, I'm not interested" to mean "Keep pressing and bugging me more — maybe I'll demonstrate interest", this is a VERY solid Aesop.
- Lesson Zero: Even if it's not important to you, the issue can be very important to a friend. Sit down, listen to their concerns and just be there for them. All they want is for their concerns to be heard.
- "Monster High and Kind Campaign: The Shockumentary." Anyone-on-anyone hostility, especially bullying, is NEVER hot or right and we should never think it can be either one no matter what. Just as bullying can be our problem, so too the solution can come from us as well. We must always try to "find kind"--the kindness within everyone.
- Lauren Faust really stresses the importance of girls needing good role models, and pointing out that things don't have to be overly cute or cuddly to appeal to girls, this mindset shows up in some of her material, and for very good reason.
- Disney's Education for Death, as a Wartime Cartoon, seems like it'd be an unlikely candidate for this. However, it hammers in the point that Those Wacky Nazis are people just like you, and most of the soldiers aren't Complete Monsters — they're victims of propaganda and a cult of personality around the REAL monsters, like Hitler, Goebbels and Goering, and they're just as afraid of Hitler as you are.
- King of the Hill episode "Petriot Act" can be "Don't let blind patriotism rule your decisions. If you wanted to do something big like care for a soldier's pet, do it after you have your huge vacation that your family has been dreaming of for awhile.
- Most of Lisa's plotlines in The Simpsons amount to this. For all that she can be a preachy Base Breaker, every cause she champions for; preserving the natural world, cherishing and nurturing unique gifts, honesty and transparency from those in power; is one that is for the betterment of society as a whole and very important.
- One early one that she had to learn: "If you want to feel sad, it's okay. Your family will still be there for you."
- "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy" had quite the Bittersweet Ending, Lisa's female empowerment rival toy to Malibu Stacy being overshadowed and only selling one doll, but as Lisa herself notes, one person choosing to break from antiquated gender roles can be all it takes for the world to become more progressive and accepting. And considering how fifteen years after that episode aired, all the left-wing fringe events, like pride parades, that Homer, Bart and Marge complain Lisa drags them to have become commonplace and celebrated, it seems like that one purchase did do some good.
- Many Family Guy episodes post-2010, most prominently "The Simpsons Guy" and "The D in Apartment 23", make clear that, sometimes, people in the media and on the internet are just making a joke, and those jokes can sometimes fall flat, especially with those who aren't their target audience. This is not an invitation to turn it into a political affair, nor justification to start sending death threats to those people. If they don't get why they offended people, don't try to kill them, explain to them what they did wrong.
- Steven Universe: Future is not shy about it. Change is very hard to do and if you feel rudderless by it, please just talk to your friends and loved ones. They're there for you and they want to help.
- The "It Gets Better" series of YouTube videos to prevent gay teen suicide.
- Iris Chang's book The Rape of Nanjing, exposing atrocities committed by the Japanese Army in WWII. To say it's anvilicious is putting it lightly--it may be one of the most horribly biased and flawed books on history ever written. But it did happen, and her book has opened the floodgate.
- Some person was kind enough to post a great Patrick Stewart Speech in the Real Life section here.
- Anything dealing with proper Gun Safety.
- The Bible is, pretty much by definition, preachy (especially when used by preachers), but some messages like "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." is about as blunt as you can get, but it's hard to argue against love for others. Jesus used plenty of parables, metaphors, and symbolic language, but there were times when something needed to be stated in simple and plain English (well, Aramaic).
- The Passion episode alone is full of these, and these are shown rather than told: "What matters is not that you fall down, but that you get up again", "Herd mentality will lead to unfortunate consequences", "The ability to feel pain is a good thing", and most important of all, "Good will always triumph over evil".
- This is also in turn equally applicable to the other two holy books of the Abrahamic faiths.
- The Passion episode alone is full of these, and these are shown rather than told: "What matters is not that you fall down, but that you get up again", "Herd mentality will lead to unfortunate consequences", "The ability to feel pain is a good thing", and most important of all, "Good will always triumph over evil".
- The growing campaign against drinking and driving can be rather over-the-top (especially the commercials), but if it gets more drunk people to stay off the road, more power to them.
- The "Give A Damn" campaign, similar to the "It Gets Better" series mentioned above.
- Cleopatra's Nose. An anvil that can't be dropped hard enough: You don't need to look like everyone else to be beautiful. You have to look like you to be beautiful.
- That moment when a complete stranger on the internet is more inspirational than most parents this troper has met in their life...
- Sex Education.
- Losing the Race by John McWhorter is about how some African-Americans' attitudes of self-victimization, blaming white people and glorifying ignorance are leading poor black Americans to fail before they even start to break free of poverty. While the book does feature a few Author Tract moments, the message of "stop blaming everyone else for your lot in life and work hard to improve it, no matter what" cannot be stated enough.
- especially in the 15th volume, which deals with the horrors of the Ishval Massacre
- with the Ishvals stating that, while they hate Amestris for what they have done, they can't sink to the level of Revenge, and must endure the hatred
- almost all grunts are good, with the villains being the upper ranks of Central who believe that they are the chosen people who will lead the world, and that the sacrifice of the people was worth it
- brought to you, un-ironically, by Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company media conglomerate
- Called "matchmaking" in Austen's day, and "lovering" in Little Women.
- But she WAS.
- This one applies to the Fate series in general.
- such as attempting to condense complex history into a version for children, complete with lots of As You Know exposition, mangled Scotirish accents