- The 2000s remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) features a memorable moment when the ghost, Marty Hopkirk, is talking to his after-life mentor, Professor Wyvern. He asks what Wyvern truly looks like. With all of the comic menace that only Tom Baker can impart, Wyvern replies, "Trust me, Marty. You don't want to know. You really don't want to know." Upon which, both Hopkirk and Wyvern turn to stare fearfully at the audience...
- From 1950 to 1958, George Burns was breaking the fourth wall on The Burns and Allen Show. In every episode, he spoke directly to the audience while predicting events later in the episode and reporting on events that he (as a character in the episode) shouldn't know about. In many of the later episodes, he was seen watching the other characters on television. In fact, the term "breaking the fourth wall" is a massive understatement when applied to this series. George Burns did some crazy things on this show that have rarely (if ever) been replicated:
- In the first two seasons of the series, the show looked like an odd hybrid of a radio show and a stage play. Because TV was still new and experimental — not to mention live — Burns and his production partners decided to broadcast the show from an actual theater where a mockup of a house had been built on stage. The house set looked like an artillery shell had hit it, wiping out the fourth wall and one corner of the house. Rather than watch scenes of the show on the TV set in his office — that wouldn't start until the show was shot on film starting in the 1952-53 season — George would lean against the proscenium arch and comment directly to the theater audience about the goings-on inside the house. See for yourself. Here's a sample episode titled "Rumba Lessons" that aired on December 28, 1950.
- In the first episode of the 1953-54 season — in what may have been the most extreme breaking of the fourth wall in history — Fred Clark (who played Harry Morton) left the series in part because he had demanded a higher salary. Literally! He left the series about twenty minutes into the episode. As Blanche was about to express her displeasure with a gift Harry had given her by hitting him with a vase, George stopped the action, turned to the audience and told them that Clark was leaving the series. Clark exited, replacement actor Larry Keating entered, and the action resumed.
- The sitcom Unhappily Ever After broke the fourth wall regualarly. In fact, almost every episode they acknowledged that they were characters on a sitcom. They would address the audience, talk to the camera, mention what the subject of the episode was, etc.
- 30 Rock: In one instance, the characters of Jack and Liz are talking about cell phones, and Liz starts talking about how great Verizon phones are, then breaks the fourth wall by asking the camera, "Can we get our money now, please?"
- On another episode, the crew of the Show Within a Show goes to Boston for plot reasons, and Jack gets an office that is nearly identical to his one in New York, leading to this exchange:
Liz: Is it identical?
Jack: Not quite. Seven items are different. See if you can spot which ones.
- "Happy Valentine's Day, No One!"
- iCarly: This dialogue about the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.
Freddie: Does Baby Spencer love Jerry Trainor?
Baby Spencer: (played by Jerry Trainor) What?!
Freddie: Do you love Jerry Trainor?
Freddie: Aw, sometimes it's OK to break the fourth wall.
Baby Spencer: No! It violates everything I believe in!
Freddie: Did you know Jerry Trainor is up in the Teen Choice Awards?
Baby Spencer: Hush! Don't talk about it!
Freddie: Don't you want everyone to go online and vote for Jerry Trainor?
Baby Spencer: Baby don't like shameless self-promotion!
Freddie: Don't you know iCarly is up for lots of Teen Choice Awards?
Baby Spencer: SHUT UP! I'm so uncomfortable with this in so many levels!
- Sam & Cat, Episode "#FirstClassProblems". Cat shows Sam a list of babysiting rules containing the following:
- Boy Meets World played numerous games with the fourth wall, culminating in the final episode, where Corey announces that he finally "gets" the meaning of the show's title. This carries right over into the pilot of the Sequel Series, where he says it's still his world and if Riley wants to make it her world, she's going to have to seize it herself.
- It also had an episode in which a character joined a soap opera called 'Kid Gets Acquainted With the Universe' and meets the cast, playing themselves (and also their usual characters in the B-plots.)
- The State had a sketch which subverted this, purporting to be a revolutionary new Sitcom that showed the fourth wall. A wall was moved in front of the set, blocking the audience's view of the scene.
- Doctor Who has a long history of breaking the Fourth Wall.
- Part 7 of the First Doctor story "The Daleks' Master Plan", titled "The Feast of Steven", featured The Doctor turning to the camera and wishing the viewers a Merry Christmas.
- A unique-footage trailer for "The Web of Fear" had the Second Doctor warning children that the story would be even scarier than usual and advising them to "hold mummy's hand if she's frightened". It ended with him hearing shouting off-camera and rushing off to help. The visual of the trailer is lost, but the soundtrack was used for a fan-animation project.
- The Fourth Doctor spoke to the camera in "The Face of Evil". And in the Fourth Doctor story Genesis of the Daleks, a Dalek shouts into the camera about how its species will conquer the universe.
- "The Invasion of Time" has an unabashed fourth wall-breaking moment where the Doctor says right to the camera, "Even the sonic screwdriver won't get me out of this one." Also, at the end of the serial, when the Doctor is getting K9 Mk II out of a box, he grins broadly at the camera.
- In The TV Movie, Grace shoots an Aside Glance at the camera after the Doctor acts confusing.
- In the Ninth Doctor story "The End of the World", one of the (CGI-animated) spiders "accidentally" collides with the camera.
- "Attack of the Graske" had the Tenth Doctor inviting the viewer aboard the TARDIS to help solve a mystery using their remote controls. The episode was shot from the viewer's POV, with the Doctor talking into camera, though this "episode" is generally not considered canon.
- In "The Shakespeare Code", a baddie speaks to the camera about how her species will return — this is reference to the soliloquies that Shakespeare used in his plays.
- In the Classic episode "The Caves of Androzani", the villain repeatedly turns to the camera and gives exposition soliloquies. Word of God says that this wasn't intended — the actor had misunderstood the stage directions in the script, but the director liked the effect it gave and told the actor to keep doing it, as it made the story similar to a classical theatre piece and played on the similarity of the plot to early-modern revenge tragedies. At the end of the story after the Doctor regenerates, this new incarnation of the Doctor speaks to the camera when he says the last half of the line "Change my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon."
- He also acknowledged the audience following his previous regeneration in "Castrovalva". He's checking out his new self, looks in the mirror and comments that "That's the trouble with regeneration: you never quite know what you're going to get." Thing is, he's not looking at himself in the mirror, but into the camera.
- This is the whole point of the Proms special short "Music of the Spheres".
- In "The Big Bang" when the Doctor is flying the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS, for a moment Matt Smith looks right down the camera lens.
- At the very end of "Blink", the Doctor looks directly at the camera and tells the audience his video warning to Sally Sparrow: "Don't blink. Blink and you're dead. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And don't blink. Good Luck." Just to add the icing to the cake, the very last shot is of the Doctor himself blinking. The effect can cause the viewer to never go near a statue again.
- This episode also breaks the fourth wall in a way that will manage to terrify the viewers even more. There are times when the Weeping Angels are on screen but none of the characters are looking at them. You, the audience, are looking at them. (Consider the scene in which the Angels move only when Sally blocks our view of them.)
- "The Poison Sky" has the Doctor realize that without the TARDIS, he's stuck on Earth as a human. Then call it rubbish. Then apologize to the camera (though in the scene he's meant to be saying that to Martha).
- Done very subtly in "Gridlock" when the Face of Boe's last four words are "You are not alone." This is later revealed to be a reference to the Master's disguise of Professor Yana, whose last name is an acronym of the four words. Thing is, the only reason note for the Face of Boe to be so cryptic rather than saying something genuinely useful like "The Master is alive" is because the Face of Boe was deliberately hiding information from the audience so that there could be a big reveal in the finale.
- The 2011 Children in Need scene has Matt Smith shattering the fourth wall into pieces.
- "The Wedding of River Song" ends with the Eleventh Doctor smiling right at the viewer while another character intones "Doctor Who".
- In "Asylum of the Daleks", Oswin, in her last moment on screen, looks directly at the camera when she says "remember [me]".
- "She Said, He Said," an online prequel to "The Name of the Doctor" has both Clara and the Doctor addressing the audience directly, although technically Clara never actually looks right into the camera; the Doctor, however, does.
- Also in "The Name of the Doctor," the character of Clarence, when intoning the Whispermen poem, looks right into the camera.
- Peter Capaldi does this frequently as the Doctor:
- "Deep Breath" has the Doctor glaring directly at us after the Half-Face Man is dealt with.
- In the prologue of "Listen", he could conceivably be talking to himself, but he still addresses the camera while talking about his theory of perfect hiding. As the episode begins, he intones the title of the episode straight into the camera, as well.
- In the Cold Open of "Before the Flood", he unambiguously breaks the fourth wall to deliver a lecture to the audience on the bootstrap paradox. At one point he even encourages viewers to google the term. The ensuing opening credits features the Doctor playing along on his guitar on the soundtrack. At the end of the episode he also looks at the audience and shrugs.
The Doctor: So there's this man. He has a time machine. Up and down history he goes, zip-zip-zip-zip-zip; getting into scrapes. Another thing he has... is a passion for the works of Ludwig van Beethoven. And, one day, he thinks, "what's the point in having a time machine if you don't get to meet your heroes?" So off he goes to 18th Century Germany. But he can't find Beethoven anywhere. No-one's heard of him! Not even his family has any idea who the time traveller is talking about. Beethoven literally... doesn't exist. [The Doctor strides up to the camera] This didn't happen, by the way. I've met Beethoven. Nice chap, very intense. Loved an arm wrestle! No, this is called... The Bootstrap Paradox. Google it. The time traveller panics! He can't bear the thought of a world without the music of Beethoven. Luckily, he brought all of his Beethoven sheet music for Ludwig to sign! So he copies out all the concertos and the symphonies... and he gets them published. He becomes Beethoven. And history continues with barely a feather ruffled! [The Doctor grabs a guitar and fires up an amplifier...] But my question is this: who put those notes and phrases together? Who really composed... Beethoven's Fifth? [...then plays the opening chords of Beethoven's Fifth]
- In "Heaven Sent", at one point he says "I'd be nothing without an audience" and gives the camera a sly glance as he rushes around the TARDIS. The episode also features the Doctor's narration throughout, something the series never otherwise features; however, as the episode progresses we learn he's actually speaking to the now-dead Clara during these sequences.
- His companion, Clara, isn't averse to this. In "Hell Bent", she tells Ohila that she has no plans of telling her the private message she had just given the Doctor, "or anybody else." When she says this her eyes flick towards the camera and the viewer. (This is easier to notice when watching in HD, due to the dim lighting of the scene.) Doubles as a metafictional moment as Jenna Coleman has steadfastly refused to reveal what it is Clara supposedly said to the Doctor.
- The Basil Brush Show refers to the 'viewers' frequently, and occasionally shows the studio outside the set and camera crew.
- Joss Whedon did a Lampshade Hanging in the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Once More With Feeling". Anya complains that during her musical number with Xander, it felt like their apartment had only three walls, not a fourth, and that it felt like they were being watched. Also near the end of the same episode the song "Something to Sing About" features the line "And you can sing along" which Buffy sings while looking directly at the camera.
- The only other time Buffy looks directly at the camera in a close-up is in the second episode of season 4.
- In the season 2 premiere where after she saves Willow & Xander, Buffy looks at the camera and asks "Missed me?"
- And the same episode has Buffy's line, "Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday." (At the time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired on Tuesdays.)
- There's a version of this as early as the Season 3 episode "Revelations". Buffy: "Some demon looking for some all-powerful thingamabob, and I gotta stop him before he unleashes unholy havoc, and it's another Tuesday night in Sunnydale."
- And then there's Willow's line; "I think this line's mostly filler."
- Again in the song "Something to Sing About", Giles calls out "She needs backup! Tara! Anya! Go!" Tara and Anya immediately run to Buffy's side and... start dancing as backup dancers. (Made even funnier by the fact that those two have less combat skills than anybody else on their team, even Xander.)
- And the fact that Amber Benson (Tara) proceeds to accidentally dance straight into a pillar, breaking character in the process. And they keep it in the final cut.
- Give them their due! They also sang backing vocals.
- Done a few times on Monty Python's Flying Circus. At the end of the "Crunchy Frog" sketch, for example, Mr. Praline turns to the audience and says "It's a fair cop," as he's being led away by the police, and the officer leading him away admonishes him with "And stop talking to the camera!"
- A recurring Python joke, it was even used in the movie, after the witch is balanced with a duck.
- You could say that Monty Python's Fourth Wall consists of nothing but holes.
- Surely the most common and well known Python example is John Cleese sat at the news desk saying "..and now for something completely different"
- We mustn't forget the Dirty Fork skit, which is even set up by a black cue-card stating "And now, the punch line."
- "Gentlemen, I have shocking news! This room is surrounded by film!"
- Rutland Weekend Television, by Monty Python's own Eric Idle, had many examples of this, mostly making itself evident through Lampshade Hanging, Medium Awareness and a lot of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, but it turned this into a joke with the "Trapped By The Writer" skit. It goes from being funny when the characters realize that everything they say or do is scripted, to hilarious when the writer realizes that he can make the characters do anything he desires them to, and consequently goes mad with power.
- At the end of the Just Shoot Me! episode "Erlene and Boo", Dennis goes to bed with Nina's half-sister Erlene, played by Brooke Shields. Halfway through the scene, Shields breaks character and questions why her character would sleep with him. Laura San Giacomo (Maya) informs her that David Spade had paid off the writers to have his character end up with beautiful women.
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm often lampshaded and outright parodied various PR conventions. Only Lothor (who wasn't Genre Savvy but certainly had a sense of humor) ever actually broke the fourth wall, however. This was in the episode "Tongue and Cheek", when after making the monster grow, he turned to the camera (with an Extreme Close Up on his face) and asked, "What'd you expect? It wasn't going to get smaller."
- In the Grand Finale, after getting his own Humongous Mecha and ripping apart both the Rangers and the countryside, he yells, "This is the most fun I've had all season!"
- Power Rangers Mystic Force has this at the end of the final episode, with Clare turning to the camera and using a vanishing spell before her voice says "The End."
- Power Rangers Samurai has Antonio, the Gold Samurai Ranger, whose Barracuda Blade attack is too fast to actually see. After he quickly defeats some Moogers, he turns to the camera and gives an instant replay of what happened, with the fight slowed down so the audience can see what happened.
- One Farscape episode had Crichton humming along with the show's music while on a bad trip.
- There tends to be a fair amount of leaning on the fourth wall with Farscape. Usually it's fairly subtle. Then again sometimes (I'm thinking of a very specific episode in season 4... John's in a coma? Trippy visions? Cartoons? yeah, you'll find it...) it's not so subtle.
- Then again that could be John-in-the-dream addressing the "real" John, who's watching.
- Similarly, one Stargate SG-1 episode had Carter whistling the show's music after meeting Pete. (Originally she was supposed to whistle the MacGyver theme- she was in the elevator with O'Neill / Richard Dean Anderson / MacGyver [really would've been no fourth wall there]- but when she couldn't remember the tune, she ad-libbed with the Stargate theme.)
- In the episode "Fallen", upon seeing Teal'c, one of the villagers from the planet of the week fearfully said, "H-He is Jaffa!" O'Neill casually responds, "No, but he plays one on TV." This is perfectly in character for O'Neill.
- In "Homecoming", upon hearing the news that Anubis has just appropriated Jonas' planet's entire supply of Naquadriah, O'Niell starts humming some ominous music which is immediately followed by the exact same piece being played as the show fades into a commercial break.
- And in "200" Martin Lloyd complains about budget cuts that shortened the third act of his film and says that now it 'just ends.' The third act of the episode promptly ends.
- Happens in an early episode of How I Met Your Mother - usually Future Ted just narrates, but in one scene he describes the attractiveness of a girl at a party, and she thanks him for the compliment.
- In the episode "History vs. Mystery", Ted talks about how "Annie Hall" was Woody at his prime and how people have been ripping off his breaking of the fourth wall ever since. Robin then looks directly at the camera and says, "Can you believe this guy?"
- In a Scrubs episode, JD shows up in an Italian suit, and he asks Carla what she thinks of it. She says something derogatory, and JD goes "Well it doesn't really matter what you think, it's what you think that counts," as he turns to the camera. Scene change, and Elliot's standing there, commenting on that he doesn't really fill it out. Once again, JD brushes this off and goes "Well it doesn't matter what you think either, it's whether or not America likes it as he looks into the camera again. Scene change and an Italian tailor is standing there going "Of course I like it, I made it! And it's Amerigo!"!
- They did this because there was a home viewer contest going on, with on-screen promos in that very scene.
- And at the end of the opening sequence, again. JD walks away from the scene, looks at the camera and goes "We'll be right back." scene change, Carla and Nurse Roberts. Carla: "Was he talking to us?", Roberts: "Mmmm hmmm."
- In the very first episode of the eighth season, which had been shown on NBC since the first season and had recently been moved to ABC, there is a scene where JD appears, points at where the ABC logo is on the screen and goes "Hmm, that's new." Apparently, he's just pointing at the Janitor's new watch. The joke is completely ruined on other channels, especially because JD has to point in a very odd way in order to point at the ABC logo.
- The Twilight Zone (1959):
- In a rather bizarre episode, "A World of His Own" (1960), a playwright (Keenan Wynn) with the ability to bring his characters to life and destroy them if they get unruly erases Rod Serling during Serling's trademark epilogue (though Serling topped and tailed every episode of the first season and all but one episode of the entire runnote , this is the first episode where he actually appears on screen). The producers felt they could do something like this as it was the (first) season finale and they could lighten up a bit.
- At the very end of the episode "The Dummy" (1962), the main character turns and gives the audience an ominous stare.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air broke the fourth wall on a number of occasions:
- In the fourth season finale, Will's character decides to move back to Philadelphia. In the 5th season premiere, he is forcibly abducted by network executives (the door on the van said NBC Star Retrieval, complete with the peacock logo), tossed in a van, driven back to Bel-Air, and the show returned as it was in a no-fourth-wall instance of the Reset Button. Why? Because the series is "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", not "The Fresh Prince of Philadelphia". In the very next scene, Jazz asks who would be playing Vivian that season, to which an inexplicably 5-year-old Nicky tells him it's the same person as the last season. When Jazz asks why Nicky is five now when he was a toddler in the previous episode, Will just shrugs, to which Jazz says he's going back on the streets where things make sense.
- In said fourth season finale, ("The Philadelphia Story"), Will decides to confront a bully named Omar. Will describes Omar as "the dude who be spinning me over his head in the opening credits".
- In one episode, after getting an 85 on a chemistry test by cheating on the person next to him, Carlton questions Will on whether he's really gonna leave the viewers with that. Will proceeds to leave and re-greet Carlton, stating that while he failed the test, he learned his lesson about last-minute cramming and plans on going to the library right then to start making up. Will then smiles at the camera and walks away.
- In one episode ("Will's Misery"), Will was lured into a cabin by a sorority member, who was out to teach him a lesson. When she revealed that it was Carlton's idea, Will convinced Carlton that he actually killed the girl, which caused Carlton to freak out. He then started to run through all the sets used for that episode and through the studio audience, to the laughter of many.
- A throwaway gag at the beginning of one episode showed Will sitting on the couch reading as several family members walk in arguing over finances. Will's uncle stops the argument saying "What are you all so worried about? We're rich." That settles things for everyone as they walk out of frame. Will waits until they're gone, then looks at the camera and comments "If we're so rich" — here he looks up, prompting the camera to pan up to a view of the studio lights — "how come we can't afford no ceiling?"
- Also, when lying to Carlton over the phone, Will turns to the camera and asks "I can't see him. You can. Is he buying it?"
- In an episode where Will gets jealous when Geoffrey dates a hot young British nanny, at the end when Geoffrey bows out and gives Will the nanny's number, Will looks at the camera with a big grin and gives the audience a tongue-in-cheek speech about what he learned over the course of the episode.
- One episode dealing with poetry ends with Will turning to the camera with a serious expression on his face and saying "If you'd like to learn more about poetry...nah, I'm just kidding. Good night!"
- In one episode Will's uncle is talking to him about something. It annoys him so he points the remote at him, presses a button, and his uncle disappears. Will then turns to the fourth wall and says something along the lines of "Ain't that fly? Don't you wish you lived on TV?".
- Will does a phony "chivalry" act with a friend of his who's a standup, all to impress a girl. When the trick appears to have succeeded, Will shoots a knowing glance at the camera.
- Boston Legal is chock-full of Fourth Wall breakage. Denny Crane has done this so often that he has earned himself a place on the No Fourth Wall page.
- Another show that did this was House, where for most of Season 3 Chase would refer to once a week reminding Cameron that he loved her. He said that he did this every Tuesday, which (not-so-)coincidentally was when FOX aired new episodes of House.
- The first episode of season three also had Cuddy yelling at House about how he comes storming into her office "24 times a year". This is the standard length of a TV season.
- Knocked on in the eleventh episode of the fourth season, "Frozen," Cuddy cuts off cable access to the room of a coma patient that House had been using. She tells him that he'll have to get by with the broadcast networks, to which he replies, "I'll be fine on Tuesdays." Tuesdays were, of course, when House aired on FOX.
- The episode "Three Stories" features a plot line that is told from House's point of view through a series of flashbacks to different time periods. At one point House suddenly decides to move onto a different time and asks his team "What about snake-bite guy?" They look at him in confusion, whereupon he realises that they have no idea of the alternate timelines taking place. He says "Oh, that's right, you guys don't know about him yet. He doesn't get bitten until three months after we treat the volleyball player." He then turns to the camera and says, "It's already been well established that time is not a fixed construct." When the camera pans back around a few seconds later, the symptoms on the whiteboard have changed to match the new case and Chase, Cameron and Foreman are wearing different clothes and sitting/standing in different positions; thereby humorously referencing the habit of TV shows never following a plausible, linear timeline.
- Malcolm in the Middle did this on a regular basis, as it was part of the show. Several times in every episode, Malcolm would turn to the audience and speak to them as if they were a diary, explaining his feelings about what was going on in the show.
- During the 2003 MTV Music Awards, Gollum wins the then-newly-created Best Virtual Performance award. Things start off normally enough, with Andy Serkis shown in the motion-capture studio giving a standard acceptance speech. Then Gollum steps in, swipes the award from Serkis' hands, and begins ranting about the awful conditions during the making of The Two Towers, verbally discharging both barrels at several key people and organizations involved in the movie's creation, including Andy Serkis himself. You can see it here; just make sure you're not eating or drinking anything, lest you cover your monitor with it from laughing.
- Done in Xena: Warrior Princess in the episode "Lyre Lyre Hearts on Fire", when Xena starts her electric guitar solo (don't ask) with a riff of the Xena theme song.
- And in the episode "The Play's The Thing" Joxer, as the producer of a particularly horrendious play, is left hanging from the ceiling as the main characters walk off to watch Buffus, the Bacchae Slayer, yells 'Hello?! You guys?! Hey! I'm the producer! Anybody?! Hello?! I'm gonna tell my brother!!!'. Now, the character does have two brothers, but neither of them would be very useful here, nor is he very close to them. The actor's brother, on the other hand, is Sam Raimi, the executive producer (with Robert Tapert) of Xena: Warrior Princess (Joxer's final line coincides with the credit for Raimi and Tapert coming on screen).
- In one of the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys AU episodes, three of the male characters start whistling the Hercules theme song while peeing at the urinals. (Yes, urinals... it's set in the present day. Long story.)
- At the end of the episode "Callisto" as Xena and Gabrielle walk pass by a captured Callisto and her army in chains, Gabrielle tells Xena 'I'm glad you saved Callisto' Xena replies 'It was the right thing to do'. After they're off screen, Callisto repeats to herself 'The right thing to do...' then looks up to the camera and adds 'That's what they think.' with a smile.
- Northern Exposure does this in the episode "War and Peace," when Maurice gets into a duel with the visiting Russian chess player. Just before the shooting starts, Joel holds up his hands, silences everyone, and announces that the show "play[s] to a very sophisticated audience" unlikely to buy the story that Maurice would kill his opponent in a duel or be killed himself. The rest of the characters then chime in about the implausibility of the plotline.
- Occurs several times, to a mild degree, in Blackadder.
- In "Bells," Queenie turns to the camera and says "I've got SUCH a crush on him!" after Lord Flasheart says she looks sexy.
- The ending theme of "Beer": "Blackadder, Blackadder, I heard that he had died. Blackadder, Blackadder, the writers must have lied!"
- And, of course, this:
Blackadder: I want to be remembered when I'm dead. I want books written about me. I want songs sung about me. And then, hundreds of years from now, I want episodes of my life to be played out weekly at half past nine by some great heroic actor of the age.
Baldrick: Yeah, and I could be played by some tit in a beard....
- In the Blackadder the Third episode "Amy And Amiability", Blackadder comments on how he has been left tied up on 'an unrealistic grassy knoll'
- In the second series episode "Chains" (the season finale), at the end, Ludwig, disguised as Queenie, stands over the dead bodies of the other main characters. He turns to the camera, laughs, and says in his deep, male, German accent, "Now this is a disguise I'm really going to enjoy. If I can just get the voice right..."
- Happy Days: At the end of the final episode, Howard is giving a wedding toast. At one point he turns to the camera and thanks the viewers for "being a part of our family".
- In Magnum, P.I., often after some event, Thomas Magnum (played by Tom Selleck) would look directly at the camera and grin.
- The Mighty Boosh breaks the fourth wall constantly, in fact the first series features an intro by Howard and Vince in character, in front of a velvet curtain, suggesting it's all a stage play. This would make sense, since in season 1 Howard and Vince work in a zoo, but but in season 2 they're sharing a flat with two other zoo residents, Naboo the shaman and Bollo the gorilla. In season three they run a shop together. Also, in the intro to 'Charlie', Howard introduces fictional actor Simon Mc Farnaby, who then goes on to play another character in the show
- Vince often speaks to the camera, and in 'Charlie', he shoos the camera away, saying he has private zoo business to attend to (in reality he is having a romantic dinner with a panda)
- In the intro to 'Bollo', Vince mentions that the episode will feature outlandish special effects, and Howard tells him they would have been better, but they spent a lot of the budget on Vince's hair. Later, when Vince tries to put his hand through Howard's ghost and finds he can't, Howard's ghost reminds him that they blew the budget on his hair.
- In season 3's 'The Power of the Crimp', Vince is behaving bleak and sad, and Howard asks whether Vince has his script.
- In 'Party', also from season 3, Howard states that he is ten years older then Vince, at which point Howard looks guiltily at the camera, everything freezes, and ominous music plays. The same thing happens later to Tony Harrison when he states that Howard is older than him.
- On Family Matters, Steve Urkel once literally broke the fourth wall by putting a cannonball through it. The screen shattered to reveal a bunch of electronic components reminiscent of the inside of a TV, then Urkel popped up and asked the viewer if they've seen the cannonball he lost. (The episode was originally broadcast in 3D, and viewers who wore special 3D glasses saw Urkel "reach through the TV screen" as though to grope for the lost cannonball.)
- In another episode, Carl and Harriet are attempting to enjoy a romantic moment when incidental "romantic" music begins to play. Both characters begin looking around, trying to find the source of the music.
- The Monkees did this frequently. One episode had a story where the band needs a great idea to get out of a bad situation, and Micky Dolenz literally walks out of the set, past the production crew, and leaves the studio to go to the writers' room. The writers (who are all stereotypical old Asian men) quickly come up with something for Micky, who returns to the set and suddenly throws the page away as terrible.
- Another episode had a hooker approach Micky, who hissed at her, "Not now; this is a family show!"
- An episode parodying Robinson Crusoe had a native character repeatedly popping up in the middle of the action to say "Who writes this stuff?"
- Too many examples to name here (watch any episode, and there's bound to be at least one...or ten). The Monkees' wacky sitcom universe literally had No Fourth Wall.
- In an episode of Green Acres, Lisa's lemonade causes a giant beanstalk to grow in the Douglas' backyard. Eb climbs it and claims a "Green Giant" lives on top, which drops canned vegetables on command. When Mr. Douglas' asks Mr. Kimball how this could have happened, he replies "You're in a TV commercial!", then picks up a can and smiles at the camera. It was All Just a Dream though.
- It's not just a dream in the rest of the episodes, though. In one, Lisa refers to the opening credits by asking Oliver about the words and names suddenly appearing on things (which he fails to notice), and characters often comment on the musical theme that accompanies every soapbox speech that Oliver gives.
- Angel has the episode "Spin the Bottle", in which Lorne speaks directly to the audience, narrating the plot, and even going as far as to say "Well, those were some exciting products. Am I right?" after one of the act breaks. His narration is framed as explaining the story to the patrons of a bar; the ending shows that the bar is empty.
- NewsRadio did this in the Titanic Parody Episode where Dave and Mr. James comment about the lack of peril around them as the "ship" sinks. They say it was probably due to the production team blowing the special effects budget on the previous breakroom scene.
- Greek Live Action series S1ngles breaks the 4th Wall constantly via various means but in the second season (S1ngles 2) the main characters go as far as taking the Director and the Script Writer as hostages, requesting changes in the plot.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide earned its namesake from Ned giving the audience advice in every single episode.
- One occasion where someone other than Ned broke the fourth wall was in "Guide to Girls". After Moze finishes writing tips, Ned adds the final thing she must do: face the camera and elaborate on the tips while the theme music plays from a boom box.
- In the "Guide to Extra Credit", when Moze shows Ned and Cookie her extra credit project, a volcano, Ned says "But it's just so played out, and it's been like on every TV show ever," after which all three of them turn to the camera and back.
- UFO ("Mindbender"). Green Rocks make Commander Straker start to hallucinate that he's an actor in a sci-fi television series. As he remembers being Straker, but can clearly see the cameras and backstage crew around him, he naturally starts to go insane.
- Kenan & Kel had a subtle one. In an episode where an X-Ray reveals that Kel's chest is orange in the inside, Kenan remarks:
: "Oh, man! Your insides are more orange than the Nickelodeon
- Actually, there was one nearly every episode. After Kenan came up with a crazy idea and Kel was unable to talk him out of it. He would often look at the camera and say: "Oh, here it goes!" This was done to prepare the audience for the hilarity that would ensue.
- The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Journey to Babel" ends with Kirk, Spock, Sarek, Amanda and Nurse Chapel all starting to argue about something. One by one, McCoy gets them all to shut up, then when he finally has silence he turns to face the camera and says "Well, what do you know? I finally got the last word."
- This television news segment on the visual language and structure of television news segments.
- Israeli Soap Opera "Hashir Shelanu" ("Our Song") went on for two seasons of the star-crossed male and female lead going through hell until they finally got together, with a proper saccharine ending of them taking their marriage vows. But, apparently, the show sort of got tired of its set of characters by that time. You can tell because the first episode of season 3 starts with the director yelling "cut" and the newlyweds coming off the set- everything that has happened up until that point was just a Soap Opera. In real life, they are Platonic Life Partners with acting careers. Now we get to explore the Darker and Edgier reality. Your Head Asplode.
- Made in Canada: Almost every episode begins with Richard speaking to the camera in the cold opener, giving some insight into the lives of producers and executive, corporate life and almost every episode features one of the story's primary characters (occasionally a guest star) saying to the camera either "I think that went well," or "This is not good."
- In one episode where each of three characters is telling their story à la Whole Episode Flashback, Richard walks into the office of Veronica and is seen speaking to an unseen entity "I think that went well," where Veronica responds confusedly "Get out of my office!"
- The BBC series Lovejoy. During the first five minutes of each episode, Ian McShane's character Lovejoy, an antiques dealer/con artist/detective, talks directly to the camera, explaining a key plot point in the episode or an obscure fact about the antiques trade. One episode, where he was scamming a crooked dealer with a forged Russian church icon, his junior partner and a friend dress as Russian sailors to complete the scam. Lovejoy turns to the camera and comments, "They look about as Russian as Stevie Wonder."
- Francis Urquart of House of Cards (UK) speaks to the camera as a confidant — after all, we're right there to see his machinations. Towards the end, it backs away from him during his narration, and he tells us it's far too late to start getting squeamish.
- His American counterpart, Frank Underwood, does this as well, constantly making comments to the audience in regards to his political machinations.
- After dealing with the holodeck-generated Moriarty in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Ship in a Bottle", Picard muses that perhaps his reality is simply a simulation being played out on a box on someone's table.
- It goes beyond that. Barclay, who is left in the meeting room alone after Picard makes that statement, is visibly disturbed. As if to test the theory, he says aloud, "Computer, End program." Seemingly pleased that nothing happens, he relaxes and leaves the room. Then the credits roll.
- In The Adventures of Superman George Reeves as Clark Kent would wink to the audience at the end of most episodes.
- One episode of Growing Pains had Ben dream he was a character on a TV series; he suddenly found himself interacting with the actors instead of his family, even calling them by the actors' real names.
- One episode of Wizards of Waverly Place ended with the cast inviting guest star Moises Arias to take their picture. They then showed him their album containing pictures taken by all their guest stars. Of course, since the guest stars took the pictures, they didn't appear in any of them. Then everyone leaves except David Henrie, who says he likes to stay behind after shooting to play with the props.
- Harper, in "Alex Saves Mason" after getting her kiss with Zeke interrupted one time too many.
- The Prisoner (1967) has a variation in the episode "A, B, and C", where Number Six is drugged so that his dreams can be manipulated to discover why he resigned. Eventually he catches on and retains control of his last dream, and when it seems the answer will finally be revealed he states "We mustn't disappoint the people watching," referring equally well to the actual characters and the audience.
- The finale episode, "Fall Out", contains more straightforward examples of fourth-wall breaking. No. 48 on two occasions looks directly into the camera (the second time basically saluting it as the actor's name appeared on screen), and No. 2 says "Be seeing you" directly at the camera in another scene.
- It's Garry Shandling's Show based its entire premise around this trope. Over the course of each episode, Garry would comment on the action to the audience, introduce new characters and occasionally even invite the studio audience to participate in the show's action. All the other characters were aware they were in a TV show as well. The meta extended right up through the show's unforgettable theme song:
Garry called me up and asked if I could write his theme song / It's almost halfway finished / How do you like it so far?
- In one episode of the 80s Canadian mystery show Seeing Things, Louis Ciccone responds to a question with "I don't know. We'll probably find out before the next commercial break."
- Just about everything with Frankie Howerd: Whoops, Baghdad, Up, Pompeii, Carry On Laughing, etc.
- At the end of an episode of Yes, Dear has Jimmy saying "How hot is that?" while looking straight into the camera.
- Space: 1999 has one in the episode "Black Sun." After a series of miraculous events result in a feelgood ending, Professor Victor Bergman starts to walk up a corridor, then turns and salutes the camera with his cigar.
- The final episode of the short-lived sitcom I Married Dora concluded at an airport where the husband, Mr. Farrell, is saying goodbye to his wife Dora and the rest of the family on his way to a new job overseas. But he suddenly returns seconds later...
Mr. Farrell: It's been cancelled.
Dora: The flight?
- Supernatural broke the fourth wall plenty of times, especially in the episode "The French Mistake", when Sam and Dean crash through a window and land in an Alternate Reality where they're actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles for the show Supernatural. When they look for Castiel, they end up finding Misha Collins, the Twitter addicted actor who plays Castiel.
- Castiel breaks the fourth wall by directly looking at the camera in "The Man Who Would Be King".
Castiel: Let me tell you everything.
- Done in Season 10 when they find a high school musical based on the books on their lives. When Marie tells Dean about Destiel's subtext (pairing Dean/Castiel)- a fan-favorite couple of the actual show- Dean looks at the camera with an annoyed look on his face.
- 1960s Batman series episodes
- In one episode, Batman and Robin are climbing up the Batrope, when Santa Claus sticks his head out of the window. Santa offers to bring them a present, if they'll tell him the location of the Batcave. Batman looks at the camera and says, "If you can't trust Santa Claus, who can you trust?"
- "King Tut's Coup". Commissioner Gordon calls Bruce Wayne and they realize that King Tut has returned. When Gordon calls Batman, Batman tells him that he knows that Tut has returned even before Gordon can tell him. Gordon looks into the camera and says "You'd think the man could read my mind!"
- "That Darn Catwoman". After Batman realizes that Robin is under Catwoman's control, he turns to the audience and says "What a dastardly development this is!"
- In the Charmed episode "The Bare Witch Project", Piper tells Godiva to keep her clothes on. It was even featured in the episode promo.
Piper: Keep your clothes on, this is a family show.
- Also in the episode Vampires, where Leo comments:
Vampires were expelled from the underworld centuries ago. As far as I know, they´re on a completely different network now.
- German comedy series Harald und Eddi uses this as a Running Gag: Each episode starts with Harald Juhnke as an old-fashioned TV announcer:
Harald: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I'm happy to announce a new episode of our sketch show Harald & Eddi -" (cut to Eddi, who's preoccupied with something, like food or handicraft, with the TV running in the background, with Harald on screen)
Harald (louder): "a new episode of our sketch show Harald & Eddi!"
Harald (even louder): "Harald & Eddi!!"
Harald: "Eddi!" (breaks the fourth wall and takes away whatever Eddi is occupied with, leaving Eddi flabbergasted)
- In the Gormiti DVD "The Legend Begins," at the end, Gheos breaks the fourth wall, first turned away from the camera, giving info about the Great War that begun, and then turning to the camera, asking us that must this be their destiny. Then, the DVD goes to a diffrent screen, and scrolling text appears, along with a voice, possibly the Old Sage. Then Gheos once again breaks the fourth wall, asking us that it could be us, and the animation ends.
- On Are You Being Served?,Mr. Humphries addresses the audience every so often. For example, in the one where they give Mrs. Slocombe her birthday present, he says to the camera, "We're not going to tell you what it is, it's a secret."
- In the episode "What a Lovely Landing Strip" on Two and a Half Men Walden's ex-wife literally breaks the fourth wall of the sitcom's main stage, which we've never seen before and was specially constructed for the scene, by driving through it with her car.
- Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell had the power to freeze a scene and then turn and address the viewers directly. He would also usually make little asides to the audience as a closing gag for an episode.
- In Gilligan's Island, the Skipper often looked at the camera in response to Gilligan doing something stupid.
- One episode of Seinfeld did this as a homage to all the times Superman pulled it off. After winning a race to impress the Girl of the Week (named Lois), to the uproaring tune of the John Williams Superman score, we get this exchange.
Lois: So will you come to Hawaii with me, Jerry?
Jerry: Maybe I will, Lois. Maybe I will. (winks at camera)
- Chyna on A.N.T. Farm does this in the episode " you're the one that I wANT. After Olive explains what theatrical asides are.
Chyna Can you believe she is pitching an idea where characters breaks the reality of the play and speaks directly to the viewer, it makes no sense.
- Raising Hope: At the beginning of the 2nd half of the episode "Throw Maw Maw From the House", Maw Maw is shown in a nursing home. She turns to the camera and begins recapping the previous episode. Cut to a pair of orderlies asking each other what she is doing. The camera cuts back to show Maw Maw is talking to the wall next to her. So, in addition to breaking the fourth wall, they hung a lampshade on it as well. The same episode ends with Maw Maw saying to the camera:
Maw Maw: Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion. (laughs) Just kidding. No, you can't stretch this crap into a three-parter.
- It's fair to say that Moonlighting did not break the fourth wall as it never had a fourth wall to begin with. It was the show that ended with a scene in which an ABC suit walks on stage to inform the characters that they have been canceled and will cease to exist in six minutes while stagehands are tearing down the set around them.
- To be more clear, there was a fourth wall which started to be broken during the second season. The No Fourth Wall bits start to appear more gradually during the fourth and fifth seasons (the later one being the one that was cancelled).
- In the final episode of The Avengers, Steed and Tara are in a rocket heading into outer space...
Mother (Steed's boss): (to camera) They'll be back; you can rely on that. (glancing upward) They're unchaperoned up there...
- Sai De Baixo (a slang sentence in Brazilian Portuguese that can be translated as "look out below") is a Brazilian sitcom that first aired on Rede Globo and the show was shot before a live audience, but instead of using a studio scenario, the producers decided to use a theatre in São Paulo, the Procópio Ferreira Theater. Result of this all? More often than not, the characters would directly interact with the audience, sometimes making queries for an answer or going off stage to interact with them.
- It went further: The premiere of a season was broadcasted live, with all the pressure that it involves being played for laughs. At the commercial break, a little interview with the director was shown, with him saying how great being live was, and that he wished all the episodes could be that way. First thing in the next block one characters tells the other to start fumbling the lines, because “the director is wanting to do this live every week and I can’t handle that.”
- In all 22 episodes of Ellery Queen, just as Ellery realized who-dun-it, he would turn to the camera, ask the viewer, "Did you figure it out?" and recap the clues.
- The Mrs Bradley Mysteries had heavy doses of both straight Wallbreaking and Fourth Wall Psych.
- Martin did this during the early episodes of Hey Dad..!, but stopped soon. The entire cast did so at the end of the series finale to take a bow.
- Mexican soap-opera La Rosa De Guadalupe is one of the biggest offenders for use of this trope. Up until 2013, the main character in an episode of the show talks to the audience to explain the moral of the chapter.
- Unlike the other characters in The Julekalender, the Nisses know they're fictional and break the fourth wall frequently. Some examples are "We could use that line in another episode", "You can't use violence in a Julekalender" and "We've spent 24 episodes on this".
- The episodes of the second series of The Thin Blue Line started with Inspector Fowler delivering a short intro to the audience, often ending with a very strange simile.
- One of the later seasons of The Cosby Show had the Huxtables hiring a construction crew for some home improvement. The crew has left for the day, leaving some of their tools behind. Cliff, notorious throughout the show's run for not being the best at home projects, picks up a hammer and looks around, his grin widening as he realizes he's alone. Finally, he looks right at the camera; "Hammer time."
- Miranda Hart does this all the time in "Miranda" - usually by commenting that someone who has insulted her is "Rude actually!" or by making faces when someone else does something silly or gross.
- Landlord Mr. Roper frequently does this on Three's Company whenever he makes a disparaging remark about his wife. He looks into the camera as if to say "that was a good one, wasn't it?"
- The Saint: Early seasons (specifically the black and white ones) begin with Simon Templar addressing the audience about the locale or circumstance he's in. A character would then usually start talking to him and the plot would begin. Simon would then break the fourth wall one more time as the Saint halo appeared over his head, launching the opening credits. For the rest of the episode, Simon would no longer break the fourth wall.
- The Full House sequel, Fuller House breaks the fourth wall a couple times. One is when DJ wants to know where her little sister Michelle is and is told by her father Danny that "she's in New York running a fashion empire." Followed by everyone on screen staring into the camera in unison. This is a blatant nod to the actresses of Michelle Tanners fashion company and how they did not want to join the rest of the cast for the reunion episode/series. Michelle's missing presence caused another fourth wall breaking during a season 2 Thanksgiving special when DJ offers a blessing that includes that fact that she misses Michelle. This causes Uncle Jesse to turn and say to the camera "Come it'll be fun". Once again referencing how the Olsen twins weren't there for the second season as well.