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Animated Confusion
If a cartoon character is watching TV, how can you tell if the program is animated or live action?
Tropeworthy?

(permanent link) added: 2013-01-04 06:25:52 sponsor: VictorDamazio (last reply: 2014-08-16 05:52:59)

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"And then in 1998, even a Saturday Morning Cartoon was made, based on Terrance and Phillip. Terrance and Phillip themselves supplied the voices. [...] The cartoon was such a huge success that it started to breed confusion over whether Terrance and Phillip were animated characters or real people."
Narrator, South Park, "Terrance and Phillip: Behind the Blow"

It is very common in many media works to have shows within them, but a little confusion can happen in drawn/animated works.

A cartoon character is watching TV, and the show is a news show, or a soap opera, or a game show, these shows will be considered live action since they generally are in real life, but they are still animated since the whole world is, the point is, for the audience, the show within a show is animated, however, for the characters, that show is live action, after all, it has real characters and the characters themselves sometimes appear in them.

But the real confusion is when a cartoon character is watching a cartoon, if everything in that world is animated, how can you tell if something there is live action or animated?

Ways to explain/avoid this trope:

- The cartoon inside a cartoon has stuff that can never happen in the "real world", like talking animals or cartoon physics.

- The cartoon inside a cartoon has an Art Shift, like western-styled cartoon characters watching a anime-styled cartoon.

- And also, use Medium Blending, like if the cartoon is CGI, the cartoon inside a cartoon is hand drawn.

- Or even use Medium Blending for live action, the world is animated, but when the characters are watching a live action show, it is really live action, is confusing to think how can live action media be filmed in an animated world.

- Recursive Canon is used, if cartoon characters are watching their own show, no matter if they say it's animation or live action, both are acceptable.

- Or just don't care, and have the characters expose if what they're watching is live action or animation.

Examples

Animated Films
  • 101 Dalmatians has the characters watching TV several times. Among the shows seen are an animated commercial drawn in the stylized manner of the time and an old Classic Disney Short (the Silly Symphony "Springtime") from the studio's rubber-hose period. Further differenciation of the TV images is done by making them Deliberately Monochrome.
  • At one point in Chicken Little, characters in a theater watch actual footage from an Indiana Jones movie. So not only are they watching something less cartoony than themselves, but also inhabitants of a World of Funny Animals are watching human beings.
  • Subverted in WALL•E where live-action videos are shown from the past, but it is explained that humans themselves became cartoonish as a result of living in outer space.

Webcomics
  • Rice Boy (and all the comics in Overside) is inhabited entirely by Cartoon Creatures and Machine Men. One of the Machine Men, named The One Electronic, has a monitor for a face. The images on T.O.E.'s face aren't drawn by Evan Dahm; instead, they're an assortment of photographs, panels from other comicbooks, and stills from live-action and animated films. They're all black-and-white, to distinguish them from the rest of the art (which is very colorful).

Western Animation
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