When a character looks at the audience and comments on what is going on in the work they are in, but does not explicitly acknowledge there is an audience.
One of the mildest forms of Breaking the Fourth Wall
; often seen in works where the Wall is otherwise quite solid
and it would seem odd for the characters really to acknowledge it. It's even possible for an Aside Comment to leave the Fourth Wall entirely intact if characters are interpreted as talking to themselves (see Thinking Out Loud
) or to an imaginary audience. This type is sometimes done in a quiet voice (called sotto voce
) to indicate that other characters cannot overhear what is said. Usually, the interpretation is left open unless there are other kinds of Breaking the Fourth Wall
going on; it would be odd, to say the least, to comment on the matter if the Fourth Wall is
solid, after all.
Sometimes used as a form of exposition
where the character thinks out loud
about what they're doing so that the audience will know, too; this can be done without even looking at the Fourth Wall, however. At other times, just used to deliver a punchline
and/or snarky comment
In a non-visual medium, where the characters obviously can't look at the audience, seeming to address the audience without making it explicit may suffice for this. However, the speaker visibly not
looking at the audience disqualifies a piece of dialogue from being an instance of the trope.
Closely related to the Aside Glance
, just taking it a step further. Compare and contrast with Fourth Wall Psych
, where the idea of Breaking the Fourth Wall
by addressing the audience is presented and then disproved. See also Leaning on the Fourth Wall
Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball Z usually keeps its fourth wall unbroken, but late in the series Gohan abruptly looks at the camera and explains why Krillin suddenly has hair.
- Anime episode 298. While Ichigo is being shanghaied into making a movie, he turns to the camera and says "I need an agent."
- Anime episode 346. Riruka Dokugamine says that wearing contact lenses makes her eyes dry out as soon as she puts them in, then turns to face the camera in a close up and says "It's because my eyes are so ginormous." (a reference to the large eyes of anime characters).
- Deadpool is very guilty of this, and in his case there's little doubt as to whether he would really talk to the audience.
- The cover of The Spectacular Spider-Man #246 has 4 bizarre looking villains called the Legion of Losers. It also has Spider-Man turning to look at the reader and saying "You've gotta be kidding!". See it here◊.
- Parks and Recreation was created by veterans of the American version of The Office, and includes the same "talking head" segments that both the British and American versions of that show used. However, unlike both versions of The Office, there's never any reference to a documentary being filmed and the crew filming the talking heads never impacts the action. In practice the talking heads function very much like Aside Comments.
- The tv version of Lovejoy would have Lovejoy do this in a vaguely Shakespearean way, delivering either his internal snark, or a bit of trivia about the antique, as a way of showing how his thought processes worked.
- Zack in Saved by the Bell would sometimes do this.
- The protagonist does this in both the British and American versions of House of Cards.
- Malcolm in Malcolm in the Middle does this several times an episode, in order to comment on the goings-on around him or explain the background of certain events to the audience.
- Doctor Who:
- The opening of "The Face of Evil" starts with the solo-travelling Fourth Doctor - previously established as being a profuse self-talker - looking straight at the camera while chatting about his situation, in a sequence highlighted enough to edge into Fourth-Wall Observer. It's quite amusing but it does make it clear why they wouldn't let Tom Baker go around without a companion for very long.
- There's also the Fourth Doctor's notorious fourth-wall-breaking "even the Sonic Screwdriver won't get me out of this one" line in "The Invasion of Time".
- Corrupt Corporate Executive Morgus does this several times in "The Caves of Androzani". The first incident happened due to the actor misunderstanding the stage directions, but it was kept and done several more times because it gave the character an air of Shakespearean villainy and fit in with the story's similarity to Jacobean revenge tragedy.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: When Dr Larch says that his identity crisis as a psychiatrist drives him mad, Mr Notlob appears on a separate backdrop and says to us "A mad psychiatrist. That'll be new!"
- Detective Fish on Barney Miller does a lot of these, stopping just short of facing the camera with his sarcastic asides.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: In a singular example in this otherwise-serious series, Doctor McCoy looks directly into the camera at the end of "Journey to Babel" and happily declares, "I finally got the last word."
- Used a lot in The Goon Show, usually to allow characters to lampshade the absurdity of its plot.
- Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks makes aside comments sometimes, under the guise of talking to herself. This is more prevalent on the radio than on television.
- An important part of the Shakespearean RPG Forsooth!, where each character gets one Aside and one Soliloquy.
- This trope was very popular in Elizabethan theater, most notably in the works of William Shakespeare, who used it over and over again. Often it's even written in the stage directions.
- Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude is famous for its frequent use of often lengthy asides. It inspired numerous parodies, of which Groucho Marx's in Animal Crackers is merely the most famous.
- Parodied in Molière's play The Miser; the eponymous character's servant makes several aside comments to the audience, complaining about the guy's greed, but the miser hears this and asks him who he is talking to.
- Happens in The Phantom of the Opera during "Poor Fool He Makes Me Laugh". The husband explains to the wife that he is going on a trip and leaving her with the maid, and as an aside "Though I would happily take the maid with me".
- In City of Angels, the first two verses of "Double Talk" are sung respectively by Stone and Alaura to show the thoughts that run through each head while the other goes on talking. Later verses are contributed in a similar manner by Buddy (about Stine and, in a second-act reprise, Del) and Buddy's guests (about Buddy).
- Herman Toothrot does this all the time in The Secret of Monkey Island. Guybrush eventually asks him who he's talking to, and Herman replies "The people watching at home, of course!"
- Done by Sonic in Sonic Colors when he learns his new alien pals are called "wisps".
- Joked about with during The Exiled Prince DLC of Dragon Age II
Varric: "Hawke said sarcastically."
Hawke: You know, I hate it when you do that.
Varric: "Hawke muttered in an angry aside to the dwarf..."
- One of the many popular gags in Looney Tunes. One of the better examples is in "Drip Along Daffy" where Daffy Duck pulls this when confronting Nasty Canasta:
Daffy: "Nasty Canasta, eh? Well I'd like...*aside* I'd like? I'd like a trip to Europe...*back* I'd like to introduce myself!"
- Invoked twice in The Dover Boys
- First, when Dan Backslide is ranting about the Dover Boys.
Dan Backslide: "Dear, rich Dora Standpipe, HOW I LOVE HER!...father's money."
- Later, when the Dover Boys arrive to rescue Dora.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "Bridle Gossip", Spike seems to be looking at the audience directly when commenting he can't come up with a pun from Twilight Sparkle's name.
- In "Sonic Rainboom", both Rainbow Dash and Rarity say out loud to no-one in particular what they're going to do next at some point, but only on one occasion each do they look at the audience while doing so, demonstrating the vague relationship such comments can have to Breaking the Fourth Wall.
- In "A Bird in the Hoof", Fluttershy gives an uncharacteristically cunning look to the audience and says "Always works!" during a Road Runner Shout-Out scene where she tries to feed a bird a pill by hiding it under some seeds.
- In "Keep Calm and Flutter On", after Discord brainwashes a colony of beavers behind everypony's backs, he turns to the camera and whispers, "Oopsie!" Immediately afterwards, when he announces he's moving in with Fluttershy, she looks towards the audience and mutters, "Oh dear."
- In "The Lost Treasure Of Griffonstone", Pinkie manages to convince a grudging Gilda to go help Rainbow Dash who's stuck down a deep canyon — Gilda claims this doesn't make them friends again. Pinkie duly notes it to Gilda, then waits for her to walk by before turning to the audience and gleefully going, "Except it doooooes!"
- Raphael did this a lot in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987). This was lampshaded in Turtles Forever.
- Heathcliff did this often in Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats.
- Done occasionally on all three animated Super Mario Bros. series.
- Dr. Robotnik sometimes did this in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Frosty the Snowman when Frosty, Karen and Hocus are on the train. Karen sneezes and Frosty asks is she's cold, prompting him to turn to the audience and remark, "Now, that's a silly question!"
- Super Friends
- 1973/74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". Dr. Pelagian has captured Wendy and Marvin and is planning his next move.
Wendy: Marvin, we've got to reach the Super Friends!
Marvin: Sure. Any idea how?
Wendy: Uh uh. [Looks at the camera and the audience] Do you?
- 1973/74 episode "The Mysterious Moles". Superman is examining the cooling unit on the roof of the power plant. While talking to himself, Superman faces the camera and says "It's my hunch the thieves will try to lift this with a powerful crane copter."
- Danger Mouse does this in "Penfold B.F." As he's in flight in his Mark III car and talking to Colonel K via his videophone:
DM: Just a second, Colonel, while I put the car into a bank...(veering slightly to the right)
Colonel K: Don't try it, DM!
DM: Why not?
Colonel K: You'll never get it through the doors!
DM: (to us, quietly) Good grief , I don't know why I bother.
- "The Quake Threat". After Birdman destroys several of Dr. Kiroff's robots:
Dr. Kiroff: He's destroyed my metal men [turns to face the camera] but there's more than one way to catch a bird!
- "The Brian Thief". When Doctor Shado sees Birdman approaching his laboratory:
Doctor Shado: It's Birdman, all right. He's finally arrived. [Turns and looks at the audience] At long last!
- "Meets Reducto". The title villain does this after completing his Reduction Machine Shrink Ray device.
'Reducto: With this Reduction Machine I will soon have this country, [turns to face the camera] perhaps the entire world at my mercy!
- In The New Scooby-Doo Movies episode "The Ghostly Creep From The Deep" with the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark tricks Curly into volunteering being the first watch while everybody else gets some sleep. As Curly marches, he turns to us and says "Sometimes I wish Meadowlark would learn to keep my big mouth shut!"
- Young Samson & Goliath episode "The Colossal Coral Creature''. After the title monster shoves Samson down a chimney and puts his hands over the top, Samson looks at the audience and says "He's got the chimney blocked!"
- Fantastic Voyage
- "The Mind of the Master". Erica Lane is inside Guru's brain to repair some damage.
Erica Lane: [Sees an image of Busby Birdwell, which disappears] It's just another memory. [turns to face the audience] But a recent one! [turns away again] That means I must be nearing the wound!
- "Revenge of the Spy". Erica Lane has just arranged for The Mole to be removed by a flood of water, but danger still lurks.
Erica Lane: [Turns and looks at the camera]] Lisette may be all washed up, but we're high and dry!
- Space Ghost
- "The Cyclopeds". At the end of the episode Cyclo runs into his own Maze of Terror.
Space Ghost: He forgot his own creation, the Cyclo Terror, was in there. Things have a strange way of evening up, [looks at the camera] especially for poor misguided creatures like Cyclo.
- "Space Sargasso". After Blip retrieves Space Ghost's power bands and returns them to him, Jace says (while facing the camera) "Space Ghost has his power bands again!"
- The title character Zorgat does this in "Ruler of the Rock Robots".
Zorgat: They have seen the empty cruiser. <turns his head to face the camera> Step two of my plan is working.
- In the Jonny Quest TOS episode "Monster in the Monastery'', Jonny turns and looks right into the camera, then tells the viewers "I hope Hadji and Bandit made it."
- The Flintstones: The animals used as part of the Bamboo Technology are likely to do this.