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[[quoteright:350:[[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ninja-prop_mvc3_6764.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:"HEALTH BAR IN YOUR FACE!"]]

This is where MediumAwareness meets ChekhovsGun.

There are certain things we're used to seeing in certain media: speech bubbles and captions in comics, wires that make people "fly" in shows, and stage hands that move props and sets around in theater. This last one is where the trope gets its name. The classic outfit associated with {{Ninja}} (black, tight suit and a mask with a slit for the eyes) actually comes from stage hands in Japanese theater. They wore black so that the audience knew to ignore them. Imagine the shock of the audience, then, when the non-entity setting the castle walls in place for scene 4 suddenly pulls out a dagger and kills one of the characters.

And thus is named the Ninja Prop. You didn't see it coming, because you were actively ignoring it as just a necessary part of the medium.

Compare ChekhovsGun. Sometimes invokes MediumAwareness. PerceptionFilter may be an in-universe related trope. See also MetafictionalDevice. In videogames, InterfaceScrew may qualify as a Ninja Prop, especially when the game simulates effects from external sources/other programs. In Comics, FrameBreak is the most common form of this trope.

Not to be confused with the variety of stagehand in live performing arts who ''handle'' props and setpieces on, off, and around the stage, colloquially referred to as "stage ninjas" due to their all-black clothing and stealthy profession (they have to be quite sneaky and unobtrusive to avoid being noticed by the audience).



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In one episode of ''Anime/{{Slayers}}'', Lina sweatdrops, then grabs the sweatdrop and hits Gourry over the head with it.
* The sun and moon from ''Manga/SoulEater'' being oddly shaped and having faces initially seems like stylization, but in the manga, [[spoiler:the characters go to the moon, which is actually shaped like that (it even has nostril caves!) and turns out to be much smaller than the real-world moon and located in the upper atmosphere (assuming this world even has an atmosphere).]] This was actually shown earlier a couple times, but in an incredibly off-hand manner: the first time we see Maka's father trying to spend time with her [[TalkAboutTheWeather he mentions how the sun setting looks tired, then realizes it's a stupid thing to have a conversation about.]] Crona also comments on the sun sleeping in their MentalWorld.
* Every character in ''Anime/KillLaKill'' gets an introductory subtitle in massive, red block capital text. Nui ends up leaning against hers upon her introduction, and then stroking Satsuki's hair through a split-screen divider.
* In one chapter of ''Manga/DoctorSlump'', Akane yells at a passing {{idiot crow|s}} making fun of her, then uses the giant exclamation point produced by her shouting to swat the bird away.
* In one episode of ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'', England is giving Russia a DeathGlare, complete with several arrows. The next time the camera pans back to Russia, ''Russia is eating the arrows.''

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Used with some frequency in ''ComicBook/SuskeEnWiske'': the characters aren't above using panel lines and speech bubbles to improvise an attack strategy.
* The characters in ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'' sometimes use the comic's panel dividers to support themselves. Also, there are two albums featuring a similar gag, where the bard is sweeping ''musical notes'' with a broom as if they were dust.
* Occasionally happened during Creator/JohnByrne's run on ''ComicBook/SheHulk''. Perhaps the most surreal example is Jennifer foiling a villain's attempt to leave her and some civilians {{trapped in TV land}} by remembering that she's really in a comic book, ripping a (notional) hole into the page, and escaping alongside her charges across a two-page ad spread back to their "real" world.
* In an Italian ''WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck'' comic, the scholars of ancient Babylon create a machine which amplifies a person's ability to think. This reaches a point where lightbulbs physically manifest above their heads when they have an idea. And then fall down to the ground.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* A ''ComicStrip/TheWizardOfId'' strip has a guard in a tower with a Z over his head. The invaders report that the guard is asleep, and go to attack. Cut to the tower, where the guard is ''holding up a fake speech bubble with a Z on it.''
* ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'':
** A cartoon in ''Here Comes Snoopy'' has Snoopy sleeping in a sitting position, complete with Z balloon. As his head started slumping, the Z balloon got tilted on its side.
** In a cartoon from ''We Love You, Snoopy'', after Schroeder finishes playing the piano and walks off, Snoopy decides to play it himself. Instead of musical notes, the staff overhead is filled with paw prints.
** There's also a strip where Snoopy goes to sleep over musical notes that Schroeder plays from his piano. Schroeder makes him fall off by hitting a sharp note.
** Snoopy once tosses and turns on his doghouse as the alphabet runs by, until he reaches "Z" and is asleep.
* Given that MediumAwareness and [[NoFourthWall constant violation of the fourth wall]] make up a good chunk of the strip's humor, it should be no surprise that ''ComicStrip/PearlsBeforeSwine'' does this regularly.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/LoadedWeapon1'', during the climax, Colt sneaks into the villain warehouse and two German, Nazi-esque guards exchange small talk, complete with subtitles. However, after they leave the scene, the subtitles remain, and Colt trips on them like they're part of the scenery.
* ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'':
** After having performed an IndyHatRoll, the heroes find themselves surrounded by Spaceball guards. Then an officer comes to gloat, but he realizes with dismay that the guards have instead captured their ''stunt doubles''.
** During the fight between Lone Star and Dark Helmet, Helmet swings his Schwartz back and hits a member of the movie crew.
* While [[ComicBook/ScottPilgrim the comic it was adapted from]] depicted it as a genuine plot device from the start, in ''Film/ScottPilgrimVsTheWorld'', Scott appears at first to have picked up the OneUp life as a throw-away joke before talking to Ramona. [[spoiler:But after being killed by Gideon, he uses it as a real extra life to [[DeathIsCheap come back to life]].]] Lampshaded by his sister on the phone to their parents, discussing it in a bored and entirely mundane way like it was a gallon of milk.
* In ''Film/{{Goldmember}}'', when Austin Powers and Foxy Cleopatra meet with Mr. Roboto, Austin keeps misinterpreting what he's saying because his white subtitles keep getting partially obscured by white objects on his desk.
* In the 2009 live-action ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'' movie with Jean Dujardin, Luke is seen standing at the gate of a gorgeous colonial house (his friend Cooper's home) which is obviously a matte painting. Then a black servant invites Luke to follow him, and as he steps away we find out that he was already inside the house and that the painting is an in-universe artwork.
* As an obvious ShoutOut to the ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'' example above, being done by the [[Creator/MelBrooks same director]]: in the climactic duel of ''Film/RobinHoodMenInTights'' between Robin and the Sheriff, at one point Robin misses a thrust and goes through a "tower window", which accidentally skewers a stage-hand's hotdog. He awkwardly apologizes and returns it, and the fight continues as if nothing happened.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'':
** Episode 14 has a scene where a woman is being interviewed about a gangster. Of course, like in many Monty Python skits the woman is played by a man in drag. So the audience would just think of this as the case here... right up until he says "... and what's more, he knew how to treat a female impersonator."
** Raymond Luxury-Yacht (pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove") appears in two ''Python'' sketches, played by Graham Chapman wearing a very large false nose. In both sketches, Raymond treats it as his real nose, only for the other character to pull it off and point out how ridiculous it is.
* In the ''Series/StargateSG1'' episode "200", there is a segment re-imagining the pilot as a marionette show, in the style of ''Film/TeamAmericaWorldPolice''. Everything is going fine until the team go through the Stargate for the first time... at which point the wormhole closing severs their marionette strings, and they fall in a heap on the other side. It should be noted that the strings originally weren't too noticeable on screen, and had to be digitally enhanced to be more visible, in order for this gag to work.
* ''Series/WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'': Justin is sitting with his girlfriend in front of fake French scenery. Because this is what one would expect as French scenery in a low-budget show such as this, this seems completely natural... until it is revealed that this actually is a fake French scenery in-story that Justin set up in the sub shop.
* Also, in one episode of ''[[Series/{{Poirot}} Agatha Christie's Poirot]]'', the first scene is of a man in full winter garb wandering over a noticeably cloth-like snow floor with a white background and fake snow falling. It was distractingly fake, but since international flights to Antarctica would be expensive for a film crew, the audience ignores it. Until the camera pulls back to show it is merely a film set, with fake snow being blown with a large fan. The episode is about the actors from this badly-made movie.
* Similar to the Creator/TexAvery example below, during one of the obligatory episode-ending [[TheChase Chase Scenes]] of ''Series/TheBennyHillShow'', a stray hair is seen trembling on the left side of the screen. That is, until Creator/BennyHill suddenly calls for a stop to the chase, and then grasps said hair before tossing it away.
* In ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'', George Michael is asked by his father how "Fakeblock", a program that can supposedly prevent piracy and take images of yourself off the internet, works. George Michael gives [[TechnoBabble a string of technological-sounding gibberish]]. [[spoiler:Turns out it's also gibberish ''in-character''; a program doing that is impossible and George Michael was just making his explanation up.]]

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* In one of the Swedish Chef sketches on ''Series/TheMuppetShow'', the Chef is trying to get his chicken to lay an egg. After it looks like she has, he angrily declares that the object is not an egg but a ping-pong ball. The humor is, of course, that the audience would expect the ball to double for an egg in the sketch, making it surprising when the Chef refers to what it really is.

* The narrator in ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods''. Counts as a prop because [[spoiler:he's forcibly pulled out of his narrator role and ''used'' as a prop, that is, the characters sacrifice him to an enraged giant]].
* In ''Theatre/ThePiratesOfPenzance'', there is a part where the Pirate King engages in a sword fight with ''the baton-wielding conductor of the orchestra''. This was [[ThrowItIn originally improvised]] by John Clark, the actor who originated the role on Broadway. Sullivan, who personally conducted the orchestra during the opening performance, so enjoyed hamming it up a little that he convinced Gilbert to rewrite the script to include it.
* ''Theatre/TheMysteryOfIrmaVep'' does this with its use of LoadsAndLoadsOfRoles, as two actors portray a total of seven characters in the play. [[spoiler:There are only five characters. Two of them are other characters in disguise.]]
* The one-act play ''The Problem'' by A. R. Gurney has an actress enter with what is clearly a balloon under her shirt and start talking about her pregnancy. The reaction of her husband substantiates the fact that she really is pregnant, and the next 10 minutes are all about figuring out if he's the father. It isn't until the end that it's revealed that it actually ''is'' just a balloon, and the entire play was just foreplay between the two.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Infamously used in ''VideoGame/IWannaBeTheGuy'' when obvious parts of the background, [[spoiler:such as the Moon and a fake Windows error message]], directly attack the Kid. As does a save point.
* Similarly, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' has a horribly surreal moment after the characters leave reality: the first thing you see when you get back to your feet is a save point, which ''multiplies'' as you step on it. Doesn't do anything else, it's just MindScrew.
* ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'':
** One of the enemies you can face in Magus's castle are '''fake save points'''.
** At one point in the BadFuture, you can try to sneak past a couple of monsters as long as you don't make any noise. The chime from touching the save point will wake them up.
* The original ''VideoGame/{{Battletoads}}'' had Space Invader expies who wouldn't attack your toad directly, but instead fly up to the HUD and literally steal blocks from their life meter.
* One of the first things revealed about ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom3'' was that {{Deadpool}} has a special attack where he grabs his life bar and pummels his opponent with it. That's his level 3 [[LimitBreak Hyper Combo]] and he wields his Hyper Combo meter as well.
* Also appears in ''Syonbon Action''. The clouds come to life and kill you if you happen to jump into them.
* In ''VideoGame/{{MUGEN}}'', [[Manga/DeathNote Light Yagami]] reads his opponent's life bar to see what their name is so he can write it in his [[ArtifactOfDeath Death Note.]]
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'': During the fight with Psycho Mantis, he uses the ''controller'' against the player. You've got to switch it to the second controller slot on the PSX.
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' features a ''vicious'' InterfaceScrew where the Scarecrow's Fear Gas causes the game to apparently crash and restart, complete with graphics glitches that make the player worry the game's burned out his graphics card.
* The ''Humbug'' series has this as a major element of gameplay, along with cheating. Examples include [[spoiler:standing on the "You Have Died" message boxes, manipulating background scenery, and taking things from posters]].
* An [[SurrealHorror astoundingly creepy]] NinjaProp can be found in the ''P.T.'' teaser for ''VideoGame/SilentHills''. At the game's start YouWakeUpInARoom that's mostly dark and hear strange vaguely-philosophical rambling, and you're left to assume it was the PlayerCharacter's internal narration. Once you get a flashlight and go back to the room, shining a light on the darkened corner shows it was actually coming from an in-world source--[[spoiler:specifically, a [[MindScrew bloody paper bag]].]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/{{Ever17}}'': You don't see face of the main character, you don't hear his voice. It's okay, many {{Visual Novel}}s are like that... Then comes TheReveal.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' has a Strong Bad Email entitled "Virus", in which a virus infects the entire website, resulting in RealityWarping. At one point Strong Bad is able to run right out of the flash video file, and into the black webpage background beyond (and the entire video moves when he tries to jump back in). Homestar also manages to pick up the text links beneath the video. In fact, both the background and links are ''part'' of the video (and in the case of the links, [[TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything perfectly functional]]), and the video itself is larger than usual, to encompass the added area. But since these elements look exactly as they normally do, the effect is quite surprising.
* The original ''AnimatorVsAnimation'' appealed by using this trope in spades on the interface of Adobe Flash, before MediumAwareness became the expected norm for the rest of the series.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' '''loves''' this trope.
** The best example would probably be the diamond from the cast page, which [[ImpossibleThief Haley Starshine stole]] ''from herself'' in order to pay for a spell in the main comic.
** In one strip, a mute Haley holds a mental argument with herself while on the road, drowning out Elan's BlahBlahBlah dialogue. In the final panel, it's revealed that he's literally been saying "blah blah blah" the entire time, hoping to set a new world record in consecutive use of the word.
** In the comic book compendium of this webcomic, the party uses the narrator to distract the monster guarding the entrance to the dungeon.
** Lien knew that Qarr was up to no good from his sinister-looking SpeechBubbles (red text on a black background).
** It's possible to [[FakingTheDead feign death]] by drawing X marks over one's eyes and lying very still.
* ''Webcomic/MSPaintAdventures'' has had a lot of fun with this, especially in ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth''. Ace Dick beating an NPC to death with part of the user interface and Problem Sleuth attacking the final boss' healthbars directly both come to mind.
* To a lesser degree, it also happens in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}''.
** Every character has a different strange InventoryManagementPuzzle called a sylladex; many shenanigans are had early on by people trying to get things out of their sylladex that they accidentally buried. But then we get to [[InexplicablyAwesome Gamzee]], who, rather than bothering with doing things the hard way, reaches up into the corner of the screen where the sylladex cards are displayed and just grabs it.
** Caliborn also annoyed everyone (readers included) when he began [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/007395/ beating the MSPA website with a crowbar]], causing it to fall apart. For bonus meta points, this particular crowbar had been much earlier identified in-story as an artifact which cancelled out temporal shenanigans, which the webcomic makes heavy use of.
** The "Prospit" and "Derse" text introducing those planets in act 6 are shot in two angles: one like the original front on angle that was used for the Beta Kids and Trolls; and another from the side that gives the letters depth, as if they are actually hovering next to their respective planet.
* Nemen Yi from ''Webcomic/KeychainOfCreation'' uses the page dividers (gutters) [[http://keychain.patternspider.net/archive/koc0228.html as a throwing weapon.]]
* ''Webcomic/CyanideAndHappiness'' uses this frequently.
* One of the competitors in the [[OriginalCharacterTournament Coliseum Original Character Battle Tournament]] had this as his gimmick; he could hop between panels to make quick escapes, and use speech bubbles as shields or weapons. Unfortunately, none of his opponents were [[MediumAwareness Medium Aware]] enough to twig to what he was actually doing or take him on using his own tricks.
* ''Webcomic/ALoonaticsTale'': Flint is somewhat [[MediumAwareness medium-aware]] and likes to panel-hop in order to get an edge, especially when hunting; [[WordOfGod in metanarratives outside the comic proper]] Flint is full-on medium-aware, genre-savvy, and [[RuleOfThree wash-and-wax]].
* At the beginning of ''Webcomic/TriggerStar'', a jumping mook gets (gruesomely) impaled ''[[http://www.triggerstar.com/index.php?strip_id=64 on his own speed-lines]]''.
* ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'':
** Squigley's MushroomSamba-inspired WOW turns into [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2007-03-25 a dove]].
** When Percy sleeps on the back of the chair, with Zs -- he rolls off and onto Pooch, and the falling Z turns to an N.
* ''Webcomic/TheDailyDerp'': Derpy [[http://dailyderp.tumblr.com/image/38575592925 using the chapter number to fuel a bonfire.]]
* Happens occasionally in ''{{Webcomic/Roommates}}'':
** Like when James noticed that the icon in his speechbubble was out of date and climbed up a panel (using the panel border for support) to fix it.
** But the best example to date is the vine border that appeared first around panels that were dreams/flashbacks until one page it just broke a panel and attacked somebody. Later they were revealed to be the tendrils of the Shadow Child, so the kid is so to speak a prop ninja.
* A RunningGag in the ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' strips of ''Webcomic/TheHeroOfThreeFaces'' is that Walter invented those floating-letter signs you get everywhere.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNN4avt56Fc&feature=player_detailpage#t=609 Episode 26]] of [[{{Chuggaaconroy}} Chuggaaconroy's]] [[{{Lets Play}} Let's Play]] of ''[[PokemonXDGaleOfDarkness Pokémon XD]]'', after obtaining a Battle CD, Chuggaa ends up talking to his own onscreen info text, before making it move and putting into a text box.
* Gleefully used in ''WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic''[='s=] [[Recap/TheNostalgiaCriticS7E19 Top 11 Best]] ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' episodes. To begin with, Creator/DanteBasco as Zuko [[FrameBreak punches down the Critic out of the video player]] and into the Website/YouTube comments section below. The Nostalgia Critic fight back by grabbing negative comments and throwing them at the firebender, in a {{literal|Metaphor}} FlameWar. And when low on ammunition, he yells "Creator/JossWhedon is overrated!" to make more appears. Then Dante seizes one to throw back at the Critic, who warns him that he's about to hit the yellow advertising line of the video. Of course, the Critic takes advantage of the commercial break to get away. Finally, still on the [=YouTube=] webpage, the Critic hides [[StandInPortrait in front of his own image on the picture]] for his ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' [[Recap/TheNostalgiaCriticS6E15 review]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. Homer is looking at a family portrait where Bart holds up an "I Stink" dialogue balloon behind him:
-->'''Homer:''' I don't remember saying that.
* In the Creator/TexAvery [[WesternAnimation/TexAveryMGMCartoons MGM cartoon]] ''WesternAnimation/MagicalMaestro'', a stray hair is seen shaking around at the bottom of the screen -- a common problem with films at the time. That is, until the on-screen cartoon singer actually plucks the annoying hair out.
* ''WesternAnimation/OverTheGardenWall'' seems to take place in a fantasy-laced version of the 19th century, but since the series is both a family cartoon and has many comedic elements already, anachronistic phrases said by the main characters (e.g. references to telephones and highschool) can go over the audience's head. [[spoiler: As it turns out, the reason those two sound relatively modern is because they ''are''. The penultimate episode reveals they're from a fairly realistic depiction of the 1980s at the earliest, and although they didn't realize it at the time, they've been TrappedInAnotherWorld since just before the first episode began.]]