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[[quoteright:239:[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyV http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ff-v-fourthwall.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:239:Yes, [[YouTalkinToMe they're talkin' to you]]. \\
''[[MindScrew And so are we.]]'']]

->'''Major Monogram:''' Oh! Wow! What are the odds? \\
'''Carl:''' Well, it ''is'' a cartoon, sir. \\
'''Major Monogram:''' What did I tell you about breaking the fourth wall, Carl? \\
'''Carl:''' Sorry, sir.
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb''

Hey! How're you doing out there? It sure is nice to be the Breaking The Fourth Wall page on TVTropes. Sure, I don't get as much attention as some of the other pages, but I try my hardest.

Anyway, the FourthWall is the fact that in any work of fiction the characters are unaware of the fact that they're fictional characters in a work, the audience observing them, and whatever medium conventions occur in between the two.

Breaking the fourth wall is when a character acknowledges their fictionality, by either indirectly or directly addressing the audience. Alternatively, they may interact with their creator (the author of the book, the director of the movie, the artist of the comic book, etc.). This is more akin to breaking one of the walls of the set, but the existence of a director implies the existence of an audience, so it's still indirectly Breaking The Fourth Wall. This trope is usually used for comedic purposes.

It should be noted that other sources will refer to any fiction that draws attention to its fictionality as "Breaking The Fourth Wall". Our definition is a bit narrower: Breaking The Fourth Wall only occurs if the characters acknowledge the audience or the author, whether directly or indirectly, got it? It's not enough that I recognize my status as a wiki page, it's the fact that I'm commenting to you about it!

Although Breaking the Fourth Wall are mostly PlayedForLaughs nowadays, serious fourth wall breaking is not unheard of. Such if the person is suffering from insanity or goes under some kind of existential crisis.

Named for the theatrical convention of building sets with [[ThreeWallSet right, left and back walls]], while the audience observes the action through an imaginary "fourth"[[note]]or sometimes "third", depending on if or how the designers chose to number their walls[[/note]] wall located at the front of the stage. Breaking the fourth wall would occur when the actors would step through where the virtual fourth wall should be and address the audience directly.

[[OlderThanFeudalism This is a very old trope]]: Creator/WilliamShakespeare's characters often addressed the audience. They broke it regularly in [[AncientGreece Ancient Greek]] theater, too, pretty much as soon as they'd ''invented'' the FourthWall - or, arguably, ''[[UnbuiltTrope before]]'' inventing the FourthWall.

When a series breaks the fourth wall on such a regular basis that there may as well not be one in the first place, then you've gone straight into NoFourthWall.

Can be expressed using MediumAwareness. When done literally, it's CameraAbuse. See also: {{Narrator}} (this trope is their job), PostModernism (loves this trope), AsideGlance and AsideComment (particular kinds of this), AnimatedActors (an animation-specific subtrope), and WhoWouldWantToWatchUs (characters lampooning the premise). HeKnowsAboutTimedHits often involves breaking a videogame's fourth wall through necessity. For a detailed discussion of the line between this and NoFourthWall, see SlidingScaleOfFourthWallHardness. If the creator of a work, the audience, or you, personally, interact with characters in a way that isn't AudienceParticipation, it may well be FromBeyondTheFourthWall.

Often used for LampshadeHanging. But if a character lampshades without addressing or acknowledging the audience, it's ''just'' LampshadeHanging. Similarly the fourth wall can be broken with no lampshades in sight.

If somebody is not in the break and doesn't understand who the ones breaking the wall are talking to, see AudienceWhatAudience.

If it's made ambiguous whether or not the fourth wall is being broken, it's LeaningOnTheFourthWall. If something slams into the screen and literally ''breaks'' it, it's CameraAbuse.

Anyway, thanks for your time... on to a couple examples, in which I shall kindly stop smashing your computer screen with a hammer:


* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Advertising}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/AnimeAndManga
* BreakingTheFourthWall/ComicBooks
* BreakingTheFourthWall/FanWorks
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Film}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Literature}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/LiveActionTV
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Music}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/NewspaperComics
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Theatre}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/VideoGames
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Webcomics}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/WebOriginal
* BreakingTheFourthWall/WesternAnimation

!!Other examples:


[[folder:Audio Play]]
* Creator/TheFiresignTheatre used this occasionally on their albums, often either combined with MediumAwareness, or within a ShowWithinAShow, which would interact with the main characters.
* ''AudioPlay/DoctorWhoovesAdventures'' do this OnceAnEpisode, during the ending credits. Usually for the humorous asides and general funnyness.

* In Sergei Prokofiev's ''Love For Three Oranges'' the action is frequently interrupted by a GreekChorus (or rather, four or five separate Greek Choruses) of opera fans and stagehands. This on its own doesn't ''quite'' break the fourth wall. But when the stagehands decide to intervene in the plot by kidnapping the main villain, you've got to feel like some kind of line has been crossed. Relatively rare in that the fourth wall is broken from the OUTSIDE: rather than one of the characters in the play turning to address the audience, characters from the "audience" reach in and start mucking about in the play.

[[folder:Other Sites]]
* ''Wiki/SCPFoundation'', [[http://scp-wiki.net/scp-674 SCP-674 ("The Exposition Gun")]]. When SCP-674 is fired at characters in a TV show or movie, the user perceives that the characters respond to the shooting and even talk to the user.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* There was this [[SarcasmMode gem]] from HulkHogan on a November 2010 episode of ''{{TNA}} Re[==]Action'':
--> "Well, brother, we're lightening the load around here. We're trimming the fat. We're thinning the herd. I mean, you know, it's pathetic. It's pathetic, that Dixie would let this company get in the shape it's in. It's her train of thought! Raven? Who hasn't had a damn shower or bath? Y'know, with RVD, and that whole crew out there? They meant to professional wrestling what Hulk Hogan, who sold out Shea Stadium? who put 94,000 people in the Pontiac Silverdome? who slammed a 700-pound giant? They mean to professional wrestling what Hulk Hogan means?
--> "No wonder this company ''was'' in the shape it's in. It's time to get rid o' the trash, the garbage, the worthless piece of crap out here, and we started with Dixie Carter. Yeah, we're gettin' ''very'' real around here. We are so, real, it's unbelievable. Because, if you don't get over like I said, you're fired. If you don't draw number, if you don't entertain, if you don't put asses in seats, if you don't put the coinage in the piggy bank, you're fired. No more games. No more, "[[FourthWall Kayfabe]]." "It's a work." "I've won 34 tag team belts." Who gives a damn how many fake belts you won!? If you don't draw money, you get fired around here. If you don't put asses in seats, you are gone."
* ProfessionalWrestling as a whole exists in a weird space where there is no fourth wall...but there is. The universe portrayed in the ring is considered "real", for all intents and purposes. The people who enter the ropes, be they the living undead, obliviously narcissistic, or rich beyond belief; that's who they ''actually'' are. The audience has to believe that they exist both on and off the clock just as you see them. Likewise, they are constantly aware they are on television and performing before a live audience, so the concept of a fourth wall in the traditional sense is not there. The ''actual'' fourth wall is {{Kayfabe}}, which is something you generally do ''not'' want to break (as the notion is almost critical to the concept of pro wrestling making sense at all; even admitting its existence, like the above, is a surefire way to throw WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief out the window and even the audience knows it).
** CMPunk, through his scathing shoot promo, has created an on-screen character for himself where he can fly between the fourth wall and reality.
*** In that initial promo, he even explicitly mentions that he's breaking the fourth wall.
* [[DwayneJohnson The Rock]] does this a lot. For example, in reference to the brief Wrestling/JohnCena / Wrestling/ZackRyder / Wrestling/EveTorres love triangle in early 2012, Rock pointed out that Cena is married in real life.

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* The Cashore Marionettes do this occasionally; one of the most significant instances is the skit "The Quest", in which a puppet scales his own puppeteer like a mountain, accompanied by triumphant music.
* In the first broadcast episode of ''Series/TheMuppetShow'', Kermit the Frog (a puppet) is shown sipping milk from a glass with a straw; he takes a moment to say to the audience, "Think about this, friends."
** Also, comes up in one of JustForFun/StatlerAndWaldorf's [[TheStinger closing comments to an episode]]:
-->'''Waldorf:''' How do they do it?\\
'''Statler:''' How do we ''watch'' it?\\
'''Waldorf:''' ''Why'' do we watch it?\\
'''Statler:''' ''[looking at the camera]'' Why do '''''you''''' watch it?

* "John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme" uses this fairly regularly, especially in the latest episodes. Possibly the most explicit example is in Season 5, Episode 4, where one of the sketches is actor Simon Kane getting increasingly annoyed at actor and writer John Finnemore about the fact that he always plays the discontented characters. During the sketch, he frequently points out that John Finnemore has written all of this, and it isn't even his opinions.
** Series 2, episode 4: Margaret Cabourn-Smith gets grumpy about the fact that her only role in the last sketch is as an owl

* ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'': Very common. The main idea behind it is that it takes place in a video game (Minecraft specifically, although so heavily modded as to be completely unrecognizable) and many of the characters know that. Even canonically fictional ones.
** In the second game, the actual Fourth Wall of Minecraftia is broken, causing the [[{{Webcomic/Homestuck}} Homestuck Invasion]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* TabletopGame/TwilightSparklesSecretShipficFolder has Cheerilee, who knows she's in a shipping card game and wants no part of it.
* In the TabletopGame/MyLittlePonyCollectibleCardGame, the backs of the 2013 demo cards have Derpy Hooves saying "This is a demo, right?"

[[folder:Theme Parks]]
* In the former ''Ride/JimmyNeutronsNicktoonBlast'' ride, there was a scene where [=SpongeBob=] is flung through Bikini Bottom, saying hello to everyone along the way. When greeting the regular Bikini Bottom citizens, he refers to them as "secondary characters".
* In the Revenge of the Mummy Ride, towards the end ride it appears to have ended, with a worker behind glass saying the ride is over. This worker is then killed by the Mummy and the ride continues. When the ride ends, you see a recording of one of the makers of the ride, wishing you a good day. He is then also killed by the Mummy.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/AkatsukiNoGoei'' the maid Tsuki tells Kaito that he's Tae's boyfriend, bodyguard, teacher and more and he gets irritated at the long string of uninterrupted kanji. So she replies by saying the same thing, except this time it's all in hiragana, meaning it's nothing more than a long, incomprehensible string of syllables. That's why kanji exist in the first place.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* In the ColdOpening to episode 5 of ''[[http://youtu.be/Ff2QRD3nIXo Brawl of the Objects]]'', Boat is attempting to speak French with Baguette using the dictionary he purchased in a previous episode. Once Boat asked Baguette to repeat what he had just said, Baguette asked Boat if he couldn't see the subtitles. At which point the subtitles ''themselves'' address Boat. After witnessing Baguette getting hugged by the subtitles, Boat proceeds to break a wall labelled 4.
** Becomes a BrickJoke in TheStinger. When Boom Box mentions how some of the characters there (him, Party Hat and Shieldy) were recommended characters and Party Hat agrees (while looking at the screen to boot), Boat once again breaks the same wall.
* In an episode of ''WebAnimation/DaAmazinOTAdvenchr'', Deine called the show itself crap when it started "evolving".
* LetsPlay/TacoMan frequently references his cartoon state.