Created By: berrFebruary 25, 2010
Troped

Fourth Wall Psych

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Alt titles: Tapping On The Fourth Wall

Launch countdown, any comments?

(Originally posted by charlestondude -- was unable to restore his YKTTW for some reason. It's not Leaning On The Fourth Wall.)

This trope takes place in a show, comic, etc., where there is either a solid fourth wall, or one with only a few gaps: One of the characters turns and looks directly out and seemingly addresses the audience. However, a moment later it is revealed that he/she was actually addressing another character "behind" the audience.


Examples

  • In Gangs Of New York, Bill the Butcher points directly at the camera after assassinating newly elected Sheriff Monk with a meat cleaver. Based on context, we find out he's talking to the (unseen) clients in Monk's barber shop.
    Bill: That, my friends, is the minority vote. Why don'tcha burn 'im, see if his ashes turn green.
  • In the Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Dr. Hibbert says that he can't solve this case, and then points at the audience and says, "Can you?" Turns out he's pointing at Chief Wiggum.
    • On The Simpsons at the end the episode "Duffless" when Homer decides he would rather take Marge on a romantic bike ride than have a drink at Moe's, the other barflies leave with him causing Moe to exclaim "You'll be back, and you" than he points to the audience and says "And yoooou". Moe is revealed to be talking to Barney who replies, "Of course I'll be back. If you didn't close I'd never leave."
  • Deadpool does this once with Arcade, though it's unusual, because that series has No Fourth Wall.
  • Scrubs does this three times in a row, with JD continually turning and asking, "What do you think?" "But what do you think?" "All that matters is what America thinks." It turns out he's asking 1. His friends 2. His residents 3. His tailor, "Americo".
  • Inverted in Furuhata Ninaburou--just before the final act, Furuhata usually pauses the action to address the home audience directly, but in "Furuhata vs SMAP", he approaches the camera to apparently yell at the fourth wall for interfering in a crime scene--except that turns out to be a SMAP staff member (I think).
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • January 28, 2010
    Aminatep
  • January 28, 2010
    Cidolfas
    This might be a subtrope of Leaning On The Fourth Wall. This is where it does make sense in context but the viewer is supposed to think it doesn't until the reveal happens.
  • January 28, 2010
    berr
    Agree with Cidolfas, although I would call it a sister trope, not a subtrope. This is not Leaning On The Fourth Wall. This is an old Dramatic Acting Trick (like Milking The Giant Cow) that is related, but completely distinct from Leaning On The Fourth Wall as described in that page.

    Leaning On The Fourth Wall is the sort of thing you see in medicine advertisements and parodies.

    Patching Up The Fourth Wall as described by the original troper is when a character adresses the audience but it's really a fake-out or writer's joke and he's actually addressing someone in-story. It's actually a more rigorous Fourth Wall because it implies the writer is trying to maintain complete in-story versimilitude while allowing for a fourth-wall in-joke.

    Whereas Leaning On The Fourth Wall makes no sense in real life except in context of the characters being in a show.

    The Gangs Of New York example is the best one I can think of for this trope, and highlights the distinction perfectly. That's what caught my attention which is why I undeleted it.
  • January 28, 2010
    SlatzGrobnik
    I think the point of Leaning On The Fourth Wall is that there's a double meaning. If it made no sense, it'd just be a a break.

    It sounds to me like this is, in general, about the camera trick, the Unsuspecting Dialog, where it's not clear who or what someone's talking to, if anyone at all. Both The X Files and The Godfather, as I recall, have similar instances.
  • January 30, 2010
    berr
  • January 30, 2010
    berr
    How about Tapping On The Fourth Wall,

    that implies a more subtle form of communication with the audience,

    and suggests that this is a drama trope.

    The phrase Patching Up The Fourth Wall sounds like it has something to do with "author intent".
  • January 31, 2010
    KnownUnknown
    I'm almost entirely sure we have this, because I remember seeing the Scrubs example, with full quotes, and several others like it (like the Simpsons example), listed on a page already. I have no idea what it's named if we do, though. If don't have text search, we should probably get it eventually.
  • January 31, 2010
    random surfer
    ^^ Look under "Tools." The first two items are title search and text search. One could also use the google search function. That being said, did you mean Aside Glance?
  • January 31, 2010
    berr
    Aside Glance appears to be a closely related trope, but that page says it only refers to instances when the character does not speak and silently groans at the audience in frustration.
  • January 31, 2010
    random surfer
    Yes, it does say that. It also includes several dialogy examples like Scrubs and Simpsons per the above. Maybe they don't belong there, but they're there.
  • February 1, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    "This might be a subtrope of Leaning On The Fourth Wall. This is where it does make sense in context but the viewer is supposed to think it doesn't until the reveal happens."

    Isn't that just a subversion of breaking the fourth wall then?
  • February 1, 2010
    Cidolfas
    That's a pretty vague statement though; Breaking The Fourth Wall can be subverted in many ways. This is a specific kind of it.
  • February 1, 2010
    berr
    Call for examples?
  • February 5, 2010
    berr
    Hmmm...
  • February 6, 2010
    Yam
    Forth Wall Bait And Switch seems like a fitting title.

    On The Simpsons at the end the episode "Duffless" when Homer decides he would rather take Marge on a romantic bike ride than have a drink at Moe's, the other barflies leave with him causing Moe to exclaim "You'll be back, and you" than he points to the audience and says "And yoooou". Moe is revealed to be talking to Barney who replays "Of course I'll be back. If you didn't close I'd never leave."
  • February 6, 2010
    berr
    Fourth Wall Fakeout?

    Fourth Wall Psych? In line with Fourth Wall Bait And Switch, but less of a mouthful. ("Psych" as in "Empty Room Psych", in the sense of "psych out") Or we could just go with Fourth Wall Bait And Switch.
  • February 17, 2010
    berr
  • February 22, 2010
    berr
    Can I launch this? Seems tropable.
  • February 22, 2010
    Cidolfas
  • February 24, 2010
    berr
    Initiating launch countdown sequence.
  • February 24, 2010
    dotchan
    Inverted in Furuhata Ninaburou--just before the final act, Furuhata usually pauses the action to address the home audience directly, but in "Furuhata vs SMAP", he approaches the camera to apparently yell at the fourth wall for interfering in a crime scene--except that turns out to be a SMAP staff member (I think).

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable