Important life lessons can be gleaned from pretty much anything if you squint just right and rub your English degree hard enough. Even mindless action-bukkake like the Avengers series manages to sneak in a complex anti-Nietzschean message between Robot Man and the Jolly Green Giant smashing up New York. But merely having a message isn't enough; you also need to practice what you preach. Otherwise, you risk teaching your viewers the exact opposite of what you intended. For example ...
6The Dark Knight Trilogy Is All About The Triumph Of Cash Over Hope
The Message: A Symbol Can Accomplish More Than One Man Ever Could
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne barely stops short of facing the camera head-on and giving a heartfelt lecture on how symbols are more important than individuals, followed by a "The More You Know" star-and-rainbow wipe. In the end, one man doesn't matter; all that matters is what he means to other people.
And how harshly he spit-screams that meaning down your throat.
Through the entire Dark Knight saga, the day is never saved by hope, inspiration, or star-and-rainbow wipes. It's always science and/or cold, hard cash that comes through in the end. In Batman Begins, Lucius Fox, not a prancing unicorn, makes an antidote for Scarecrow's fear toxin. And if it wasn't for WayneTech's Tumbler, Gordon would never have been able to blow up the train tracks that the League of Shadows was using to distribute the toxin around the city. In the second movie, Batman finds the Joker using magic cell phone technology instead of magic hug technology.
Focusing on his job instead of listening to millions of people doing it is why he's Batman and we're not.
Simply put, if Batman was anyone but Bruce Wayne, millionaire psychopath, then he never would have been able to save the city. But no, it's the symbol that's important, not the private stealth battle planes or armored super suits -- any schmo could have those. What really saves the day is a bat symbol on a wall.
5Breaking Bad Makes Crime Look Fulfilling And Rewarding
The Message: Being Bad Ain't Good
Breaking Bad features a main character turning to evil (surely, there's a catchier term for that -- perhaps "shattering naughty"?) by getting into the meth business. Walter White's drug shenanigans cause the deaths of over 270 people, including an innocent child and, eventually, himself. There is no way to make the show's "crime be bad" message any clearer than that.
Malcolm In The Mausoleum.
Most of the deaths on the show were only tangentially related to Walter's actions. And even then, the series went out of its way to show how understandable and relatable his thought process was. Ultimately, Walter even admits that crime made him happy. And why wouldn't it? It finally gave him a purpose in life, and let him secure money for his family's future. We'd even argue that he died happy, because he was surrounded by what he most cared about: evidence of his own genius and power.
Sony Pictures Television
"I am the one who rocks."
In the end, it was through breaking bad that Walter White overcame his despair and became a free, self-actualized, confident man with millions of dollars who died doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky; therefore, we should all start cooking meth. Apparently.